Thursday, 2 February 2012

Something that bothers me.....

As a huge Doctor Who fan, there has been something that has been bothering me when it comes to other fans and their fan art. The problem is this: Those fans who sell their fan art on t-shirts, posters etc.

Of course it is not all creators of fan art who do this, and of course not only Doctor Who fans do it - it's just that as a Doctor Who fan, I often come across t-shirts or posters on sale online in my mad fangirl search for anything Whovian. I do understand that these people have put a lot of love and effort into the fan works they create, and a lot of them are unbelievably talented, witty, moving fun etc.

But the thing is, the idea, the characters, the story - those things are not theirs to sell. In the case of Doctor Who of course, the intellectual property of the characters and the story belong to the BBC. The same is true for almost all modern stories, movies, tv shows, podcasts, websites etc. Someone at some stage, worked very hard to create those characters, that story, that script, that universe, that site. So why do people feel that they have the right to take that persons hard work and make money from it?

Now, I am sure that there are some wonderful people out there who go about these things in the right way. They do their research and contact the original creator, or the legal copyright/intellectual property rights holder, and ask for permission to use their ideas in a commercial way. But I'm also sure that unfortunately, the majority of these artists don't do that.

I wonder how those artists would feel then, if an original idea of theirs was stolen, pasted on a website for sale, and they got absolutely nothing from it? If the hours they had put into that work were essentially taken from them, and some other random person got all the monetary benefit of those creative moments of their artistic life. As an artist myself, the very thought of that happening to me makes my blood boil. So I really dont understand how others can find it within themselves to do it to the creator/s of their favourite tv show, movie or story. If they love the original work so much? Why do they basically disrespect it by stealing it to line their own pockets?

I am of course in no way adverse to people using their skills to express the joy they have towards their favorite things. Sure, display them online, show off your skills, enjoy the adulation of other fans for a job well done. But just don't sell it.

After thinking long and hard about this, and as an artist who sells online as well, I'm now making a conscious effort to go through my own works to make sure that the pieces I have on sale are not based on someone else's ideas. If that means I lose money, then so be it. I'm happy to take that hit. And I truly hope that other artists who read this, seriously consider doing the same.


  1. AMEN!!! This bugs me silly. There are so many character things out there and they are not parodies, which I sometimes still have issue with.

  2. The thing is that even though it's in principle illegal to create "fan merch", it's up to the property owner to decide if they allow the usage of their wares in this manner. A lot of owners (meaning bigger companies like Marvel, BBC, WB and so on) let creating fan merch slide. Part of it is because they simply wouldn't have the resources to go after every single creator who used their property in any way, some of it is because there's a fine line between using intellectual property in creating a work that stands on it's own (that is legal.. parody, pastiche and derivative works specifically) and part of it just that they don't want to lose their audience. The audience is the one who does this sort of stuff, some of them to make a living out of it (I'd encourage you to look at artist alleys in conventions.. there are a number of young artists who make their entire living out of creating and selling fan art of characters and series that they enjoy.
    So basically, when it comes to fan art or illegal fan merch that you see even seasoned professionals creating, it's a choose your battles sort of a thing. :T