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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Must go attend to Wesley. See if he's still whimpering."
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October 19 2003

Fox act over fansite. Their lawyers ask a German site to "remove all episodes... all screen grabs, the spoilers section, and trailers relating to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel"" amongst other things.

Removing episodes, screen grabs and trailers I can understand , removing a spoiler section I can't. But then I'm not an intellectual property right lawyer, I'm just a fan who likes to read spoilers.

I don't understand what's wrong about offering trailers. The WB has them on their website and they help promoting the show. I'm not a fan of spoilers, but I agree that this rule makes no sense either.
I am not surprised, since Fox "asked" www.buffyverse.info to close immediately earlier this year. It was probably the biggest german fansite relatet to Buffy and it felt like loosing a home as it got closed.
Fox did not ask only to remove all trailers, cuts but also ALL pictures showing Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy or one of the actors in their roles.
It sucked!
It sounds like Fox Germany has gone insane. (Spoilers could conceivably be covered under US copyright law if you give large portions of the plot away and cause people to stop watching the shows you've spoiled, but it's really unlikely. Things are probably different in Germany, though, since they don't have any equivalent of the First Amendment.)
Fox in the States did it well over a year ago to AnGel X at angelicslayer.com. They sent her a letter asking that her spoilers page be removed. And she got some damn good spoilers. There was a lot of us pissed at the time.
I like the message the owner of the site sent to Fox.
"You can kill the messenger, but you canīt kill the message!".
They can try to screw over their own fans, but they'll fail. We'll keep flyin'. (Sorry to all non-Firefly watchers for that.)
Fox *has* to periodically shut down a fan site, just to protect its IP. Trademark and copyright requires that the owner of said trademark or copyright enforce their rights, or lose them.
This came up in a semi-recent lawsuit against Microsoft by a company which used the phrase "for Windows" as part of the title for one of its software packages, a very common practice as anyone over the age of 20 should be able to tell you. Microsoft sued them, claiming that this infringed on MS's ownership of the Windows brand.
They LOST, not because giving someone a trademark on the word "Windows" is lame (even though it is), but because Microsoft hadn't been enforcing their rights with any of the hundreds of other companies that did the same thing (but in a MS-friendly way) over the past decade.

Long story short: If Fox doesn't assert its rights on a regular, recurring basis, they'll lose them, and then ANYONE (CBS, UPN, Playboy, you name it) would be able to do whatever they wanted with the IP in question.

(No, I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV. Their may be a few minor errors in the post, but I am sure that the core logic is sound.) This is probably why they don't shut down EVERY site (they don't have to) all at once.

- Dave
You don't have to sign your posts, Dave.

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