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News Posted on July 25, 2013

Professor Sunder Comments for PC Advisor on Intellectual Property and Fan Communities

Professor Madhavi Sunder commented for an article in PC Advisor on the conflicts that sometimes arise between intellectual property rights holders and fan community members who create memorabilia based on television shows, movies, books, and music. In one recent example, fans of an old Fox television show, Firefly, have been making and selling handmade versions of a popular character's knit cap for years. Though the show is no longer on the air, Fox recently licensed an authorized dealer to sell the caps and has sent cease and desist letters to fan crafters. 

Professor Sunder said that the law regarding such creations remains unclear.  The "merchandising right," she says, "is a monster that has grown without proper legal backing." she said.  Copyright holders generally have been reluctant to pursue fan-art creators unless they are profiting from selling items based on protected materials, she said, but this may change as companies recognize the great economic value in such merchandise.

Madhavi Sunder is a Professor of Law at King Hall whose special interests included intellectual property, law and culture studies, women's rights, and international intellectual property.

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