Fans of Warner Brothers cartoons (Looney Tunes, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs) often write their own stories and/or draw pictures based on characters featured in these cartoons (generally referred to as "fan art"). Some of these fans have made their work available to other fans on the Internet via FTP sites and WWW Home Pages.
But recently, lawyers for the Warner Brothers studio have sent "Cease and Desist" letters to a handful of cartoonists and fans on the Internet. Warners laywers claim that some of this fan material is pornographic in nature, and indeed some of it is. But they have also demanded the removal of all "unauthorized material" under threat of legal action. That means fan stories, fan art, and anything else based on Warner Brothers characters. For a synopsis of recent events, read this article by Dennis "Quozl" Falk of Fans Against Legal Harassment (FALH).
In the meantime, I encourage all supporters of free expression on the internet to do the following:
"Of course you know, this means war." -Bugs Bunny
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (D.M. "Quozl" Falk) Subject: Re: Fan art FTP site served with papers! Date: Tue, 14 Nov 1995 13:45:28 -0800 (PST)
On Nov. 1, an article was published in the entertainment trade daily, the Hollywood Reporter, decrying in a rather sensationalistic manner about toon erotica on Anthony T. Hartman's web site.
The particular site was served with a cease and desist letter--I have a transcription of the exact letter in question. The page owner is going to take up the fight.
Not long after, artist Bill Fortier was also served. He asked for my advice, which I told him that for the time being, sit back and watch the show.
Florida lawyer and toon fan Aaron Varhola jumps into the discussion in the newsgroups, defending fans' rights.
Sega of America, Inc. sends a similar S&D letter to the fan site rat.org, for much the same reason- removal of offending fanworks. I have a copy of the email as posted to the site as http://rat.org/sonic/noperv.html. The site owner complied, but is now considering fighting back...
Jonathan Woodward has also been served for his WB site.
In the meantime, I have formed the organisation, "Fans Against Legal Harassment", to serve both as a unified voice for fans to protest actions taken by the studios, as these actions violate the rights and provisions granted to fan writers and artists, both Constitutionally and under the U.S. Copyright Laws, as determined by the Rose-Acuff/2 Live Crew case (USSC, 1994), as "parody", and as a clearinghouse for legal resources for fans, ie: legal counsel, representation, etc. FALH currently does not have a home, and one goal FALH wants to do right off is have a web-based petition against the legal harassment by the studios, and to assert the rights already granted to fan artists & writers.
The action taken against the toon erotica affects the non erotica too, as the laws do not recognise a difference based on sexual content. We do feel the studios have the right to object, but not the right to demand removal because of content. This is censorship and harassment. I plan to get the EFF and ACLU involved very soon.
BTW, FALH has an open membership: whether you agree with the fanworks that are being attacked or not, anyone can get a membership simply be asking. :)
...Quozl! Founder, FALH
Presidential Candidate for the Third Millenium! Quozl for Prez in 2000! Dennis M. Falk, aka "Quozl Mephit" : 221 Huntoon St. Eureka, CA 95501-4115 USA Writer, Furry fan, Cartoon fan, Music lover : "A Novel Experience!" Skunks, skunks, skunks! : Tiny Toons forever! : Snapple me!