Serenity/Firefly Fans Send Universal a Bill for Volunteer Marketing Efforts

Originally published: 10/2006 by J Wynia

Last year, I mentioned some of the fan-created merchandise for the movie Serenity and the TV series, Firefly. Most of that merchandise, put up on sites like Cafepress was created in part because Universal (the people in charge of the movie) hadn't really put out anything. Like all good markets, when demand outstrips supply, there's an incentive to create, and the fans did just that.

Now, a year later, Universal shut pretty much all of those sites down. Many of the people in charge of those shut-down sites were OK with that. After all, the trademark *is* owned by Universal. Not worth fighting. However, one site got a bill from Universal for $9000 in back licensing.

This struck fans odd, and given that the big damn heroes in the series (the Browncoats) were rebels against the central authorities, they acted as you might expect. They've put up a site to gather all of the billable marketing hours that fans put in to promote the movie. Many, many people put in dozens of hours of work to promote the series *without pay* that Universal benefitted directly from.

The logic makes sense to me. After all, if the merchandiser made $9000 that Universal "deserved", then the fans deserve the $1.2 million that the free marketing adds up to as I'm writing this.

I've been tempted to bill service companies for my time spent waiting when service people don't show up and seeing this Browncoat invoice just makes me smile.


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© 2003- 2015 J Wynia. Very Few Rights Reserved. This article is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Quoted content or content included from others is not subject to that license and defaults to normal copyright.