Ravensilver (ravensilver) wrote,

Ethics and legality of fan produced merchandise...

What a title, right? :)

Being involved in several fandoms, and wandering around the web over the last few years, I've seen more and more fan produced merchandise being offered for sale. Not only at conventions - like at art tables - but also on DA (Deviant Art) and on other websites.

It's not just doujinshis. It's pretty much everything from buttons to notebooks, from handy straps to figures and dolls.

Now, I *know* how the German license owners (the publishers, the film companies) react to that: they blow it out of the water. Massively. Except for the occasional doujin, you will *not* find a lot of fan produced items at a convention here in Germany. Because the license owners are keeping a sharp eye out and slapping people with C&Ds, as soon as they catch them.

But in the States I'm seeing a state of laissez faire, where that's concerned.

Which brings me back to the title of my post.

What about the ethics of the thing?

If I, as a fan, produce and sell something that is copyrighted to someone else, am I not stealing from them? And I'm not talking about the company that owns the licenses, but rather the artist, the writer, the person who came up with the original idea. Is my product hurting them?They're not getting anything off the product - I'm making the money.

And don't start with the argument that fan products "aren't made for profit". If you invest 0,05 cent in a button blank (and, of course, your drawing skill), a little bit of printer ink and paper (for printing out the button), and the little bit of time it takes to put the button together, and you then *sell* the button for, let's say $ 1, you've made a profit. Even if you've only sold one single button.

And of those $ 0,95 (or maybe a little less - you *do* have to count your time investment), *NONE* of it goes to the original artist. Or the company that has invested thousands of $$s to bring you the original product (series, movie etc.).


Is that right?
Is it ethical?

I know it's not really legal. I've read tons of articles on copyright and license ownership etc. I'm aware of the legalities.

But what I'm asking is: what about the moral of the thing?

I'm hoping for some insight from my flist here... :)

And yes, there *is* a reason I'm asking this...

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