What mommies do after everyone else has gone to bed.
If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, you probably hold at least a small grudge against Fox for pulling what was arguably the best sci-fi show on television. At least we could console ourselves with fan-made merchandise, particularly Jayne Cobb’s hat.
But now Fox wants to take that away too.
Roughly two weeks ago, Fox started sending out cease and desist letters to Etsians who make hats such as these. It created an uproar in the geek craft community, especially considering many sellers had been selling their hats for the last 8-10 years.
Ripple Junction owns the right to mass produce these hats, which is why they’re now available on sites like ThinkGeek. Due to all the commotion this hat has caused, they are now donating the profits of this hat to the charity Can’t Stop the Serenity. They have also said, “The way we see it, if people want to make their own, shiny. For those out there who can’t knit to save their gorram lives, we can help.”
Granted, ThinkGeek doesn’t have the legal power to allow fans to continue making and selling their own. But if you think about it, does Fox really have a case against all of the Ma Cobbs on the internet?
Copyright law is a hairy subject, and not one I know a lot about to be honest. From what I understand, though, clothing items generally cannot be copyrighted due to the fact that they serve a utilitarian purpose. Patterns can be copyrighted (so I suppose the color scheme of the hat could fall under this, though I’m not sure) but there are a lot of minor changes an independent seller could make, such as changing how large or small the yellow and orange portions are or adding more strings to the ear flaps, which would result in a different design, and therefore, a different hat.
The way I see it, you should still be able to sell a Jayne Cobb hat as long as you don’t reference “Jayne Cobb”, “Firefly”, or “Serenity” in the description. (Phrases, however, cannot be copyrighted, so it could still be listed as a “Cunning Hat.”) Some sellers are filing counterclaims against Fox for having their hats removed when they made no mention of Firefly in their tags or descriptions, because as far as they’re concerned it isn’t the same hat that Ripple Junction has the rights to.
I actually made one of these hats for a friend back in 2011. I hadn’t watched Firefly before, so when we got trapped inside from a snow storm, I booted it up on Netflix and cast on.
And I’ve been a Browncoat ever since.
In fact, I’m almost tempted to buy this shirt on Redbubble by Geekchic Tees. Fox can’t take (the ability to make) this hat from me.