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April 09 2013

Fox lawyers shut down Etsy shops selling unlicensed Jayne hats. If you're really desperate for a hat, ask your mother to knit you one with this pattern courtesy of QMx and the Austin Browncoats or buy the licensed version at ThinkGeek. ETA: Since they've been sucked into the fanstorm regarding the hats, ThinkGeek posted a blog entry on the matter.

I can't wait for the day when FOX gets its just deserts. Even if it takes until I'm an old, half-blind man that can't walk more than a few feet before collapsing in exhaustion. On that fateful day, I will party like I've never partied before. There may even be music.
They kind of own the copyright.
I get it but still major bummer.
Not surprised, but very sad. I am now going to make a dress out of my green velvet drapes, and wait for MGM to sue my arse.
I wonder if the Etsy people reversed the colors or altered the design slightly if that would satisfy the lawyers. Of course Fox owns the copyright and it's their responsibility to police their mark but it's a relatively nondescript hat without a logo or any other identifying marks.

Like the scorpion that stung the frog, the Fox legal team is just doing what they's their nature.
They have an official version now, which I doubt they would have bothered with if the fan made ones weren't so popular.
Reversing the colors would make it cease to be a Jayne hat.

My wife knits and she made some awesome Jayne hats that she's given to people. I told her she should sell some at cons, but now it looks like that's a no-go.

I don't blame Fox. If it's a moneymaker then they should be making the money. As long as they don't keep people from making their own then there's no problem. has a TON of homemade Jayne hat patterns, most of which are free to use and knit/crochet on your own. (There's even a crossover version to match the Fourth Doctor's scarf!)
Blastr has posted a story about this describing Ripple Junction's purchase of the licensing rights.

Lawyers on salary, beating up crafters making the equivalent of lunch money. Thus it ever was...

EDIT: Anna, a commenter on b!x's blog post about this, shared a link to a post from an intellectual property blog that contained this interesting gem:

Although characters have an identity, persona, and other expressive elements, clothing, by itself, is considered a useful article, unprotectable under copyright (a principle that's proven a major irritant for clothing designers). In a 1989 case, a court of appeals refused to protect costume designs even though the company had registered its costumes as "soft sculptures" with the Copyright Office. Other decisions reinforced the rule that costumes are not protectable. There may be instances where a movie company that owns a series such as Indiana Jones could complain that your costume sale -- for example, hat, jacket and whip -- could violate trademark laws if you used the name of the character in your advertising. That would probably not be an issue in the examples you provided since Sweeney Todd and Moulin Rouge are both public domain stories. To be safe under trademark principles, avoid any advertising statements that imply endorsement or an official connection with characters or films.

[ edited by counti8 on 2013-04-09 16:39 ]
I suppose I shouldn't point out that the Fox lawyers don't usually attend conventions where there are all kinds of non-licensed T-shirts, weapons, dolls, and pretty much anything you can imagine. Not to mention all the boot legged DVDs for sale (that's how I got Max Headroom, until finally the studio broke down and released an official DVD set).

Luckily they (the lawyers) cannot stop us from making out own costumes (I made my Jayne hat about ten years ago out of special ordered merino wool yarn).

I agree that the suits have a right to protect what they own (there would be no point in complaining about the facts of life). But they aren't winning any fan love by focusing on every little thing (and the hat is a little thing IMO). *sigh*
All you people selling plastic dinosaurs, green jumpsuits, red buttons, suspenders, leather wrist bands, bibles, etc, you're next!
The original website page this linked to is now gone.
Luckily for me, my wife's a knitter and a browncoat so we're covered.
I've changed the link to the Blastr article (who got it from us so it's the circle of life).
The Mary Sue article points out there's a new FB post from the same people now.
Is there no limit to Fox stupidity? Homemade hats are a problem, but Defiance isn't? Oh, wait, SyFy has lawyers and such...

Is it just me or does this new Defiance trailer remind you of Firefly too?
ThinkGeek has posted a blog on the topic

Considering that Fox cracked down on shirt sellers (all those years ago) long before they were pushing licensed shirts, I'd say it's probable that any correlation between the licensed hats and this crack-down is indirect at best.

[Credit to Ellie Hall for spotting the blog post.]

[ edited by RayHill on 2013-04-09 21:24 ]
Is there no limit to Fox stupidity?

They are entitled to stop people from making money off their own products. That's not stupid. And if fans want avoid legal action then give away the designs and products for free. No one charges for fanfic. So why is it ok for fans to charge for hats, tshirts and so on?

I'll add the ThinkGeek blog post to the entry.
I think it was Universal who cracked down on shirt sellers, not Fox, as they (Universal) had sold the shirt license for Serenity to a company who complained about all the unauthorized merch sucking their profits.

Ultimately - make away, fan friends. But if you're selling it, whoever owns the rights does have a, uh, right to say 'We paid money to sell this'

[ edited by gossi on 2013-04-09 21:57 ]
Thanks for the Defiance trailer. Graham Greene!
Why shouldn't Syfy make something (at least a trailer) that harks back to Firefly? They aren't stupid and of course they want Firefly fans to watch Defiance (this fan will). And there is no infringement happening on that show or in the trailer.
I've played the Defiance MMORPG video game, btdubs (it's tied into Syfy's TV show). It's Firefly inspired - but clearly not a rip of the show in any way. For one thing, it's about aliens.
There's actually been some chatter that this crackdown very much is related to the hats now being a licensed product, FWIW. Nothing about the story so far suggests it's just somehow incidental. Unfortunately much of that chatter is in since-deleted Facebook threads.
I'm curious why the Facebook threads were deleted. Were people incriminating themselves or just being venty? Why delete?

And to reiterate my pet peeve: Fox Broadcasting Company who cancelled Firefly is not the same as 20th Century Fox Televison who is sending the C&D notices (who produced the show and Buffy and Angel and Dollhouse). Completely separate divisions of Newscorp (soon to be Fox Group).

Referring to both companies as "Fox" confuses everyone unnecessarily and I think sometimes on purpose for link bait.

[ edited by IrrationaliTV on 2013-04-09 22:50 ]
I got the impresssion it was about being venty.
I don't know - granted this is admittedly my inner crochety (see what I did there?) self talking, but something tells me that if you can't get it together to make one yourself (or at least convince a skilled relative to lend a hand) then you're not really deserving of one anyway...
Yeah, and if you can't get it together to make a scifi western TV series yourself, you don't deserve that either! ;)
It only takes one person to knit a hat...
I have made them for years, as I understand, we can NOT call them "Jayne" hats anymore, so we call them 'Cunning Hats'. There is always a way around these rules,.....screw whoever is responsible for this,JMHO. If someone has a better name please post it,...and spread the word, do not buy from these jerks.JMHO What about "Maw Cobb's Hats"? thoughts???
Oh. "Cunning Hat". That makes much more sense than my suggested "Tri-Color Girl's Name Knitted Hat". Although I notice some people using the Cunning name still reference Firefly by name in product descriptions, which I wonder if that still won't trigger the legal department at this point.
Fillygirl, you can call your hats you make anything you like, but you cannot publicly offer them for sale as 'Jayne' hats (particularly if you are advertising them for sale online). Um, if you google MaCobb'sHats you'll find an online shop which evidently hasn't been shut down yet. Years ago I bought a fabulous doll sized Jayne hat from a woman who used the Ma Cobb name, but I think she only sold within the confines of (avoiding the attention of lawyers).
I respect your opinion, you been in this Verse a long time( me almost as long),...I think most of the fans reconise that line and we(hats makers) won't need to bring up the show title, BUT what about using Adams name to reference them?

I sell my hats mostly off line, my local FF group sells them as fundraisers & auctions them off at out CSTS screening, I only post to sell them on 1 board,...and I and many others have worked out a deal with a VERY LARGE group out there who has been selling them at that VERY LARGE con out there for over 8 years. They are looking into their rights currently,....when I get any news I will post it here,
Another vote for "Cunning Hat".

Spoke to my husband who studied intellectual property law. They have no grounds for copyright infringement on the basis of the design itself. It's too commonplace as a design and the color design isn't unique enough to make it copyrightable. The case would be solely on the usage of the Firefly trademark being used without consent to sell these goods.
and spread the word, do not buy from these jerks.

None of that here please. The situation is what it is and people are not going to agree on it but I really don't want to see this thread turn into "don't buy licensed Firefly products."
So when does a Kickstarter project to raise funds for a "mass legal defense / case action suit" go up? Because a legal fight is the only way to push back when a studio goes too far.
I have no problem with Fox's actions. People need to accept that licensed property is not free for the taking, especially if they're trying to make an easy buck off it. Doesn't matter if it's within the fan community or not. Stealing is stealing.
Neither do I want to see this turn into fans calling other fans thieves for making crafts based on a show they love. The selling of the crafts for profit, that is the legal issue here.
At this rate Jayne's hat will become the Firefly equivalent of the Guy Fawkes mask from V For Vendetta.
FOX has probably spent more $$ on their Lawyers over the years than any merchandise or licensing profit they may have made. Does FOX even have a single Firefly merchandise product?
FOX the broadcaster does not license any product since they do not own the IP. 20th Century Fox TV studio (a separate company) has several Firefly products they license others to make including games and shirts and now hats.

Can anyone else remember 20th sending C&D letters to venders for Firefly consumer products before? Universal did it but I don't remember 20th protecting their property this way until now except for that Dark Cryo scam.
They sent a C&D to a RPG site.

I think there was a couple of other occasions as well.
So maybe one thing every couple years then. Wow, what must those vicious lawyers do with all their free time? :) Thanks,Simon. I had totally forgotten about that one.
Sunfire, thank you for the buzzfeed link, that is a great article (and I adore the photos of fans wearing the Jayne hats at Comic Con).
So maybe one thing every couple years then.

Paramount pulled the same thing when fans were doing their own Star Trek stuff, and there was such an uprising in the fan community that the studio realised that they were fighting a losing battle and backed off. Not only that, but there is an official fan portal on CafePress for fans to do their own Trek merchandise.

It's a pity that Fox didn't learn from this.
On a related but slightly different note, there was also that whole brouhaha with the late 11th Hour's beautiful & original Serenity artwork in which Universal also attempted to collect some thousands of sheckels from her. #Feh

If there was ever anybody that made and occasionally sold her fan art for sheer love of Firefly/Serenity, it was she.

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