Joss Whedon Speaks on Fox Shutdown of Fan Gathering

by Paul William Tenny

buffy-once-more-with-feelin.jpgNews has been circulating the web over the past few days about how a number of fan gatherings have been shutdown by Fox, generating a great deal of negative press for virtually no gain for the studio (we're not talking about the broadcast network here.) Short story: Joss Whedon wrote an episode of his series Buffy The Vampire Slayer called "Once More, With Feeling", which was a musical - one that was nominated for an Emmy, Hugo, Nebula, and won a Golden Reel Award.

Buffy was nominated 99 times and won 30 awards in seven seasons, just in case you were thinking this show was pure corn.

Fans gather and sing along with the songs that Whedon wrote specifically for the episode (which was pretty darn cool) but have been taking things up a notch lately by renting out theaters, and playing (and singing along with) the episode in question, a very clear instance of willful copyright infringement. Whedon posted a brief message about it on a fan site.
This is hugely depressing. I will do everything in my power to find out the exact reasoning for this and try to convince those responsible what a mistake it is. Of course, the words "my power" might confuse my gentle readers into believing I have any. I don't know what I'll be able to do, and I've no idea even where to start. Nor do I think this was done maliciously or capriciously. But it's lousy news and it's bad business. I'm hoping the latter element might prevail. I'll keep you posted.

The exact reasoning is just how I described it. Even if one of the fans owned a DVD with the episode in question on it, playing it for a mass audience, one that is unquestionably more than just your personal friends and family, then that's copyright infringement. I know that most people don't consider simply playing a DVD that you lawfully own to be making a copy, or being infringing, but it is. That's just how the law works - trust me.

Whedon and I agree that this was probably a move of stupidity because Fox wasn't losing money on the deal, the fans obviously had no intent to profit or malice in mind, and the studio could have even used it a marketing ploy. "The series so good and loved that fans actually sing-along to it.."

Still, it's not Whedon's property, it belongs to the studio that created it, and what the fans were doing was unquestionably illegal. It's their right, so whatever.
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