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Old August 20th 13, 13:00   #1
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Fan Films

Hey, everyone.

I've been sort of involved on the fringes of the fan film community since before there really was a fan film community (Been involved in three projects directly, one of which was my own creation, all fell apart before the production got very far), and I've been a lookie-loo and chearleader and occasional consultant since then.

I know JMS is dead-set against any B5 fan films, and I have to assume he'd sue anyone who tried such a thing back into the stone age. Most genre creators are like that, and I imagine Warners would be pretty litigious as well, assuming they even remember B5 is their show.

I've grown to think this is sort of a mistake, though. Granted, these productions are almost never very good, but they get the fans fired up and excited. Excited, fired-up fans tend to spread the word, and maybe buy stuff, or at least re-watch old stuff they're maybe sick of. Keeping the buzz going on a dead show is the first step to a revival or a continuation or a movie or something, right? And Fan Films - good, bad, or indifferent - serve primarily to keep the flag flying.

Undoubtedly the kerjillions of Trek fan films helped revive that as a movie franchise (They even gave James Cawley a cameo in the film). There's a lot of Stargate fan films, Star Wars ones, Superhero ones, and a bunch of other progects for other programs. And for B5, there's....exactly 1/2 of one film.

Yeah.

I'm not trying to round up a crew to make one or anything, I just wondered what your opinions on this might be.
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Old August 20th 13, 17:03   #2
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Re: Fan Films

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Originally Posted by Republibot 3.0 View Post
I know JMS is dead-set against any B5 fan films, and I have to assume he'd sue anyone who tried such a thing back into the stone age. Most genre creators are like that, and I imagine Warners would be pretty litigious as well, assuming they even remember B5 is their show.
JMS *couldn't* sue anybody over a B5 fan film because, as you noted, Warner's owns it. And I seem to recall that he's said some nice things about "In the Pirkinning"(sp?). What he requires is that anything to do with story ideas be kept out of his sight. He's specified fanfic in the past and one can assume that fan films would fall under the same category. But sue? Not a possibility. Warner's, yeah very likely.

Jan
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Old August 20th 13, 21:02   #3
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Re: Fan Films

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Originally Posted by Jan View Post

JMS *couldn't* sue anybody over a B5 fan film because, as you noted, Warner's owns it. And I seem to recall that he's said some nice things about "In the Pirkinning"(sp?). What he requires is that anything to do with story ideas be kept out of his sight. He's specified fanfic in the past and one can assume that fan films would fall under the same category. But sue? Not a possibility. Warner's, yeah very likely.

Jan
Well, it's entirely possible that I'm wrong here *YET AGAIN*. (Yes, it grows tedious).

Here's what he told me (Which is less emphatically 'anti' than I recalled)

>>
REPUBLIBOT 3.0
Since you spent so much time attempting to demystify the production process, I've got to know what your take on the emerging fan film subculture is. Also, I've noticed that aside from the last act of Star Wreck: In the Pirkenning, there really haven't been any Babylon 5-related fan films. What's your take on all that?

STRACZYNSKI:
I think that by and large, they're happy with where we ended, and are okay to leave it there. If we'd ended the series on a cliffhanger, or been cut off midway, then I think there would be more of an impetus to do more fan fiction and films. But we ended on "full stop," and that makes all the difference.<<

So what did he say about Pirkenning? That's not me being argumentative, I genuinely wanna' know. I've never heard a peep out of him about it.
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Old August 20th 13, 21:27   #4
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Re: Fan Films

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So what did he say about Pirkenning? That's not me being argumentative, I genuinely wanna' know. I've never heard a peep out of him about it.
I don't recall any real details, but...

Somebody at a convention walked by him while he was doing (I think) his spotlight panel at ('m pretty sure) San Diego Comic-Con back when it first came out and when pressed, the fan told him/us that it was a copy of Pirkenning and JMS put it into his bag.

Fast forward a couple of years later, somebody asked about that incident and asked if JMS had watched it and what he had thought of it. He didn't rave, but I believe that he said that he'd pretty much enjoyed it.

Sorry, that's the best I can remember.

Jan
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Old August 20th 13, 21:37   #5
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Re: Fan Films

Republibot (you've been quiet : ), and your absolutely correct. jms most certainly doesn’t like – or want – fan made video or audio.

You may have heard of Novo Babylonia. They’ve been producing a B5 audio drama for a few years – real below the radar type stuff. I posted a message about it a few months back and the fans overwhelmingly approved of it. One, however, who didn’t approve went and asked jms his opinion over on his facebook page. Here's the first thing jms said :

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I strenuously disapprove, and would imagine that Warners would come down very hard on this. That people are volunteers with the best of intentions does not make this any less a blatant case of copyright infringement. A small fanzine is one thing, but the moment you start producing things for audio or video, without getting approval or licensing the production, you've crossed a line that should not be crossed.
The full exchange can be found here – some interesting comments.
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.p...39652459402959

Warner couldn’t give a flying monkey that fans are creating an audio drama – as you say it keeps interest in the property alive, and they know it.
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Old August 21st 13, 00:06   #6
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Re: Fan Films

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Sorry, that's the best I can remember.

Jan
That's plenty. Thanks!
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Old August 21st 13, 00:27   #7
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Re: Fan Films

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Republibot (you've been quiet : ),
Yeah, life got in the way. Rough couple of years.

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and your absolutely correct. jms most certainly doesn’t like – or want – fan made video or audio. You may have heard of Novo Babylonia. They’ve been producing a B5 audio drama for a few years – real below the radar type stuff. I posted a message about it a few months back and the fans overwhelmingly approved of it. One, however, who didn’t approve went and asked jms his opinion over on his facebook page.... The full exchange can be found here – some interesting comments.
Warner couldn’t give a flying monkey that fans are creating an audio drama – as you say it keeps interest in the property alive, and they know it.
Wow! Never heard of it before now. I just checked out their website, and man is that one seriously-threadbare Wiki! Wow.

The Facebook comments were - some of 'em - kind of antagonistic. I'm a fan of Fan Films (But not so much fanfic for some reason, dunno why), and I recognize they're a MASSIVE copyright infringement, and I can totally understand JMS getting pissed about it. And I can totally understand wanting to do it anyway. But I will never in a million years understand someone saying crap like what that Sammy Yousef guy said:

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i strongly disapprove of artists trying to retain control of their work when they produce nothing new with their characters. where would you be jms without prior art to draw from? should you owe the descendants of the creators of arthurian legend or the bible money for adapting their stories. or perhaps sir arhur conan doyles for comes the inquisitor. all your hard work and brilliant story telling is worthless without the fans appreciation. if you cant appreciate them at least have the deceny untelligence and enlightenment of self interest to leave a few nerds producing a mediocre fan fict audio drama on no buget for no profit alone. they are no threat to u or warner
Seriously: what kind of jerk walks up to a writer and says "You have no rights to your work anymore, it belongs to me, and how dare you tell me I can't do whatever I want?" That's essentially what he's doing. Sheesh. I've run into a lot of people like that - Fanficers mostly - and I just can't understand that kind of attitude.

Thanks for the link!

Unrelated to that:
http://kevin-long.com/what.asp?who=kevin&id=2
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Old August 21st 13, 02:00   #8
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Re: Fan Films

It’s the nature of the beast. Any fan film, audio drama, animation, comic or written work is ‘fanfic’ – and any and all of it will be infringing copyright in a big way. So none of it should be allowed . . . . . . . or should it?

The comments on the facebook page weren’t from any of those connected with the audio drama, but a couple of the fans who had only recently been made aware of it.

As for the bit about not having rights to his own work, yeah, can’t say I can agree with that……. But then, jms’s views can be a bit fluid on the subject of solidarity, legal rights verses ethical/moral rights of ownership when it comes to written work.


DC comics own Watchman, they asked Alan Moore for years to do new projects with it and he’s declined. DC got fed up and asked jms to be one the writers brought in to produce something new – jms totally sympathised with the DC position. Alan Moore expressed some misgivings and unhappiness about that.

Warner (part of the same group as DC as it turns out) own Babylon 5, they’ve asked jms for years to do numerous new projects with it, he’s declined. Now what do you think would happen if Warner got fed up and decided to get in new writers to produce something anyway……… You’d hear the explosion from here.

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Old August 21st 13, 02:21   #9
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Re: Fan Films

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It’s the nature of the beast. Any fan film, audio drama, animation, comic or written work is ‘fanfic’ – and any and all of it will be infringing copyright in a big way. So none of it should be allowed . . . . . . . or should it?
From a strictly legal perspective? No. Not a leg to stand on, no question about it. It's 'actionable' as they say. But is it worth going after? Generally no. Some sad dude writing stories about Lannier and Delenn making hot monkey love are not really worth the time of the Warners legal department.

But Paramount has learned that Fan Films are basically free publicity for their product, and the other studios have increasingly similar opinions. So while it's strictly-speaking illegal, it's often in the studio's best interest just to let it happen when they've got nothing else cooking.

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The comments on the facebook page weren’t from any of those connected with the audio drama, but a couple of the fans who had only recently been made aware of it.
I know. I was just saying the guy was acting like a wad, is all.

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jms’s views can be a bit fluid on the subject of solidarity, legal rights verses ethical/moral rights of ownership when it comes to written work. DC comics own Watchman, they asked Alan Moore for years to do new projects with it and he’s declined. DC got fed up and asked jms to be one the writers brought in to produce something new – jms totally sympathised with the DC position.
I will confess that when someone took it upon themselves to write an epilog to one of my stories, I was pretty annoyed. And confused. I couldn't figure how someone would dislike the end of something enough to do that. It didn't make sense to me that someone would diddle with grafting their own ideology on to my story rather than just go write a story of their own, so I can extrapolate to the annoyance REAL writers must feel when someone horks their stuff for their nonprofit vanity projects.

But if Warners owns Watchman and Moore doesn't, and Warners wants something Moore won't do, then they're going to do it anyway. JMS could easily justify his participation as "I'm just doing damage control. Better me than some hack, right?" There's a clear chain of ownership there, too. If someone did that to me, I think I'd probably think it was a dick move, but I'd also understand it's not a legal issue.

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Alan Moore expressed some misgivings and unhappiness about that.
A dick move is a dick move, after all.

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Warner (part of the same group as DC as it turns out) own Babylon 5, they’ve asked jms for years to do numerous new projects with it, he’s declined. Now what do you think would happen if Warner got fed up and decided to get in new writers to produce something anyway……… You’d hear the explosion from here.
Dick move or not, I'd move hell and earth to be the guy who got to drive the franchise for a few years. Wouldn't you? Wow!
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Old August 21st 13, 11:42   #10
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Re: Fan Films

JMS surely took inspiration from other people's work. The Psi Corps seems pretty similar to Philip K Dick's Teep Corps from his 1955 book Solar Lottery. Is that plagiarism?
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