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Info Wanted: The Legality of Fan Projects

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 (Edited)

Just a quick question…

Anyone ever run into legal problems over their fan projects? I’m especially interested in questions of legality surrounding the documentaries such as DELETED MAGIC and BUILDING EMPIRE. Specifically, I was impressed that they guy who did DELETED MAGIC used his own name on the project.

Sure, disclaimers galore can be placed on them in attempts to prevent profiteering, and can not charge for the project, but that really doesn’t solve the questions of legality.

The reason I ask is I have a small team trying to embark on a project that will put the ‘A Musical Journey’ DVD to shame, and it may be a problem involving both LFL and Sony Classical. It is also quite an original project, and most likely doesn’t fall under the category of preservation or fan documentary projects.

Just curious what everyone’s thoughts are, or if anyone has received cease and desist orders from Lucasfilm.

  • Todd

STAR WARS: Symphony for a Saga

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Magnoliafan was invited to, and attended, Skywalker Ranch after Lucas saw his Episode One edit.

[EDIT]: This is definitely the exception, rather than the rule, but Lucas can apparently appreciate good work. Don't disappoint.

<span class=“Italics”>MeBeJedi: Sadly, I believe the prequels are beyond repair.
<span class=“Bold”>JediRandy: They’re certainly beyond any repair you’re capable of making.</span></span>

<span class=“Italics”>MeBeJedi: You aren’t one of us.
<span class=“Bold”>Go-Mer-Tonic: I can’t say I find that very disappointing.</span></span>

<span class=“Italics”>JediRandy: I won’t suck as much as a fan edit.</span>

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I know Garrett isn't worried about his Deleted Magic.
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And rightly so, I feel. GG Produced something extraordinary with Deleted Magic and I'm sure head honcho GL must see these kind of projects as exactly what they are....homages and tributes to his classic works. You don't see anything like this for Titanic do you?

FINISHED:
The Sith Revealed - A Scrapbook
Episode III The Video Game - The Movie
24: The Missing Day
Star Wars - The Interactive Board Game DVD
Battlefront - Journal of the 501st
The Clones Revealed

email me for details daveytod AT btinternet DOT com

 

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Originally posted by: PaulisDead2221

How'd that happen?



Magfan works in the film biz (more or less) so he has plenty of inside contacts.



“My skill are no longer as Mad as the once were” RiK

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Some memorable moments in SW Legality:

In the early 80s, after watching SW Rip Offs appear across the globe, i think something happened but can't find any stories of Lucasfilm cases online? (I thought i remember reading about them going after the Brazilian SW, but now i can't find that link)
Thinking about it some more, i'm probably mixing up the copyright infringement case Lucasfilm brought against the makers of Battlestar Galactica.
As already mentioned the Phantom Edit draws tons of media attention to the concept of fan edits.
Lucasfilm's spoiler policy conflicts with websites, T'Bone's "http://starwarz.com/tbone" has several editorials on the battles.
Lucasfilm endorses the parody segment of fan film culture.
Lucasfilm through a DMCA Cease & Desist, got the l337 RotS trailer removed:
http://nuar.lunarpages.com/video/SW_mirrors.htm
The MPAA successfully prosecuted the leak of Revenge of the Sith.
Lots of creative projects here at the OT.com and beyond seem to have been made and distributed without any "legal entaglements".
none
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I'd bet that they won't sue for a fan edit or spoof unless it is demeaning, pornographic or otherwise offensive. Or you are making money off of it. I can't speak for Sony Classical, though. Besides, odds are that you would get a cease and desist order first before any other litigation.
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This has been a question that has plagued me over the past few months. I admit, the legal side of my 'Building Empire' project does concern me. I am after all illegally editing someone else's property as prohibited by the legal notice at the start of the film.

I am not blasé about piracy, I don't copy commercial DVD's or buy pirate DVD's purely on principal. I also don't charge a single penny for a copy of 'Building Empire' and never will.

I sometimes wonder why Lucasfilm have turned a blind eye to such fan edits. Is it good will, ignorance, or simply that they have bigger fish to fry?

I hope that Lucasfilm see such projects as 'Building Empire' as they were intended, that is to say, they are made with the utmost love and respect for the Original Trilogy. I also hope that these projects remind Lucasfilm that they have a talented, intelligent fan base that should be encouraged to challenge the official releases. For me, 'pushing the envelope' is what its all about.

JD

Creator of Star Wars Begins, Building Empire and Returning to Jedi
Follow me on twitter @jamieSWB. Please support me at - http://www.patreon.com/jamiebenning/

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The l337 RotS trailer, was the exact RotS trailer (audio and visuals) with additional subtitles in l337 sp33k underneath. I think Lucasfilm's lack of understanding of l337 sp33k was the reason for it's requested removal. It looked like a duck but they couldn't understand it's quack so might as well get some free press and ask for it's removal.

Sluggo's mention of pr0n, brings back to mind how Lucasfilm did go after the anime porn "StarBallz"
http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/Pf/0,1527,9055,00.html
(Yet other SW inspired pr0n like Sex Wars (80s) and Spaced Nuts (00s) did not draw attention.)

The interest in Fan Edits and Fan projects is fairly dim (cultural attention wise) at the moment.

The concept of manipulating movies is still fairly new. Interest in modified trailers has become more and more blog worthy, instead of just being fun for the editor community. It's not illegal to edit someone elses movie. Fair Use is a broad statement which needs to be backed in court, if questioning of the validity does occur, but that doctrine could grant any of these projects as ok, under the right circumstances. Collage and Transformative Reuse, are ways to progress culture, if we let organizations take those methods away from creators and the creative process, society suffers. There is only some black and white after a court case, until then the world is shades of grey. The creators have to decide for themselves where they draw the line. Then if organizations like Lucasfilm or the MPAA complain, you can either agree with their actions and remove the material from the public conscious or stand up for reason why you created the project, some advancement of understanding of the material.

It's going to be interesting when a fan project creator does make a stand on their project and charges $ for it. It'll be interesting to see how this community deals.

After that there might be fan edits of fan edits. Disney didn't make up the story of Steam Boat Willie, it was a live action movie just a few years before. But society has fairly convincingly supported that form of creativity. I can't invision the project yet, but there might be a reason why the MPAA and others decide to clamp down on the fan edit community. It's a public opinion no-no though to sue the creative actions of a fan editor, it's just not good press when you think about it. How would you spin it? As for projects like DM and BE, only if Lucasfilm was going to do a similar release would it be worth clamping down. Maybe if the fan edits come out too close to release dates, that might spark some actions. It's something to think about periodically but don't dwell on it, waste your time by being creative instead.

none
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Hardcore faith based group routinely EDIT and SELL "Fan Edits" - I'm not joking here gang.

CLEANFLICKS, CLEANFILMS, Flicks Club, FamilySafe Movies and this company EVEN SELLS A STAR WARS EDIT!! Family Edited DVD's

Also there are legal actions being taken... On both sides.

As for the "legality" of the practice of fan editing... Find Law Legal News and and Commentary and AMC had a GREAT doc by ABC called Bleep! Censoring Hollywood which also airs again on Airs Tuesday, April 26 at 10PM ET/PT.


Hmmmmm....

MAYBE I should buy a stack of Episode 1-3 DVD's and market them under "SANITIZED FOR STUPIDITY" Edits

“My skill are no longer as Mad as the once were” RiK

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In the "Bleep" documentary, Steven Soderbergh (sp?) mentions Star Wars Fan edits. (thanks Rikter for the heads up)

As for those Clean Films-like peoples, they operate sorta like a Blockbuster. I'm not sure of the specifics (i'm against the idea of lazy individuals who feel compelled to "keep up with the jonses" but need those works sanitized to fit their limited sensibilities, but i'm all for the modification of films to fit alternative viewpoints) but I think you buy a copy of the film through them and they rent you the sanitized version. So your buying a copy and paying/renting for the edits. They've got special equipment which doesn't modify the original DVD (that's an obvious DMCA violation [anti-circumvention, which is a whole nother stupid legality]), they've got a special program which skips and does simple transitioning live.

Rikter, can you fit your uncompressed "Sanitied for Stupidity" versions on a CD?

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Nope some of them sell the ORIGINAL DVD and include a CLEAN version on DVDr, they also use Adobe, and Sony software for the edits JUST LIKE MagnoliaFan and ADigitalMan and the rest of the usual suspects...

My sister turned me on to this a few years back (uber-Catholic) and she bought a few movies they sent the original DVD and a DVDr with a disclaimer in a paper sleeve as for the rentals according to a few of the companies the BUY an original for EACH rental that they send out - visit the sites and check out what they offer.

“My skill are no longer as Mad as the once were” RiK

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I've blogged on this "cleanflicks" trend thing before. I'm not really symphathetic towards this whole trend of making money renting out altered versions of other people's films, but on the other hand, I understand wanting to see a film with some of the smut and violence toned down a bit. But that's a personal choice. What I don't understand is why Hollywood is so fond of tinkering their own DVD releases with "un-censored, un-cut and un-rated" extended versions, disrupting the flow of the final edit with tacked on footage, but won't experiment with their own "cleanflicks" edit. Why can't it work both ways?
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That's already on the way. On the legal front, copyright infringement suits are based around loss of earnings, so if you're distributing for free (only to those who have the official product) and you are not devaluing the brand, you are unlikely to get sued. That doesn't mean it won't happen.
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The studios have dabbled in "cleaner" versions of movies before. Saturday Night Fever got a PG cut in theaters to bring in more business from those not clever enough to bluff their way into the R rated version.
I once saw a official VHS copy of New Line's Lost in Space movie which touted on the packaging it had been toned down to a PG family friendly film.
originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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As far as studios producing "clean" versions of movies, I've often heard about the movies shown on ariline flights. These movies are apparently edited by the studios, so they could definitely release these if they really wanted to. I really don't know why they don't; there seems to be a market for this kind of thing.

Also, TV networks play films that have been "edited for content" all the time. I'm curious though: Do the networks make these TV edits, or do the studios?

You know of the rebellion against the Empire?

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Judging by the butchered versions of Bladerunner & Predator (amongst others) that have appeared on networks here, I would say it was the network's own hamfisted attempt at sanitizing them.

“I love Darth Editous and I’m not ashamed to admit it.” ~ADigitalMan

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So....tlbauerle. My vote is go for it. I would love to see the A Musical Journey put to shame.
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Thanks all....this seems to have turned to a really good discussion.

I'm all for it....its just up to my editors to feel comfortable.

I'm LDS (Mormon), so I am familiar with CleanFlicks, though I don't and have never used them. There is a big demand for that type of thing, especially since every movie now has to have some amount of sex or boobies in it. Its really starting to irritate my wife and I. I wonder how CleanFlicks, and the like, give back to the studios? Does the studio see any proceeds from the rentals? I wonder...but of course I'm not sure if the studio gets a proceed from Blockbuster either.

I'll have to bug my father in-law to use his Satellite to watch that documentary.

Continue discussing, all....it is an interesting topic.
  • Todd

STAR WARS: Symphony for a Saga

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I think it's been common practice since at least the 70's to shoot alternate versions of explicit or violent scenes if not for tv, then to cope with the wrath of the MPAA. I've seen nude scenes replaced with underwear scenes. It's painfully obvious when profanity is redubbed for tv, especially by someone who sounds nothing like the actor. (Jackie Gleason in the Smokey and the Bandit films being a prime example.) It's also funny when the phrase "Judas Priest!" is uttered plenty and often in the tv version of the Exorcist. Jack Nicholson says "freak" a lot in "The Shining". (The optically added fog over the very naked Room 327 ghost actually makes that scene more spooky.)
NBC once held up the tv premiere of "Battle Beyond the Stars" until they figured out a way to cover up Sybil Danning's ample cleavage. I doubt anybody would bat an eyelash at it now.
It's a shame that Repo Man doesn't have the tv dialog dub as an alternate track on the DVD. The director once commented he thought it was funnier with expletives replaced by the likes of "Melon Farmer!" and "Flip that!"
originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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tlbauerie, Rikter posted that CleanFlick members are buying a copy of the film (DVD) and paying an additional fee for the edited version (DVDr). Rental places like Blockbuster buy copies of the films. So that form of compensation has been agreed upon, between those companies.

The debate by directors against CleanFlick-like companies, is that the director's vision is violated by these companies, and if the people who rent the movies have any respect for artistic merits, they should not rent movies from these kind of companies.

Here's the Soderbergh clip from the Bleep! doc on SW fan edits:
http://noneinc.com/tteesstt/Bleep004.mov

I don't understand why CleanFlick members feel they need to consume media which they object to on any level. The world has so much stuff in it, why waste so much time focusing on this 'crap'. In "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" there's a great quote about the United States and breasts, and unfortunately the quote is just as relevant today as it was in 1963. That's depressing....
none
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l337


What is that and that does it mean?
"KILLING IS MY BUSINESS, AND BUSINESS IS GOOD."
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Originally posted by: noneI don't understand why CleanFlick members feel they need to consume media which they object to on any level.

- So they don't feel left out at the "watercooler"

Originally posted by: Rotten Johnny
l337


What is that and that does it mean?



- If you google l337 you'll find a few cool links (BTW - I had no idea what it was until now also )

“My skill are no longer as Mad as the once were” RiK