In the last column I wrote (that would be two weeks ago, Straczynski), I ran a story about a fan fiction website posting stories based on CrossGen characters. CrossGen has been actively trying to shut down the site. The reason? Some of the fan fiction features the characters in pornographic situations. I asked CrossGen to send an official response and they emailed the following. I�m told it will be the last word from them on the subject:
As our readers will tell you, CrossGen is a fan-fiction friendly company. In fact, we have authorized dozens of fan sites to use our stories and characters, and we even have a section on our own Web site for fans to creatively explore our universe. Our policy has been, and always will be, for fans to simply email us and ask permission to use our material, characters, artwork, logos or any permutation of our intellectual property on their sites, and we will generally grant it. The primary no-nos in the process are 1) using our intellectual property without our permission and 2) using our stories or characters in a non-family friendly manner. The site in question did both, and then posted links to their stories on our boards. In fact, it was our own fans who populate our message boards who brought the offending posts to our attention, and asked us to do something about it.
When we read the stories, we were surprised to see that the individual responsible for the posts and the stories saw fit to place some of our under-age characters in sexual situations. That concerned us greatly, and if we didn't challenge such an unauthorized use of our characters, it is even possible that CrossGen could be considered complicit in proffering offensive material over the Internet. For a company that just launched an educational program being used in public schools, a company developing its stories and characters into TV and film projects and a company that will soon launch DVDs featuring some of these characters into toy stores, we clearly could not allow this situation to go unchallenged.
The first issue to be addressed was the lack of permission for the usage of our material, which we always need to pursue. In order to maintain the integrity of our copyrights, the law mandates that we act on all infringements we are made aware of, regardless of the severity. If we do not act, we open the door for more infringements, and we reduce our legal footing to defend against them. The secondary issue was the fact that many of our characters whose stories are being sold in comic shops, bookstores and being prepped for film and TV adaptations were being depicted in situations that are diametrically opposite to the family friendly way we portray them.
So, we thank our fans for bringing this specific set of fan fiction to our attention, and we're happy to say we still encourage fan interaction and fan fiction in the same way we always have: ask our permission to use our copyrighted material, and we'll generally grant it, as we have done so consistently for the last three years.
This Has A "Cross Your Legs, Miss Sephie" Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten