The Soap Bug hath bitten me once again, and this time, it was my undying devotion to one Joss Whedon that hath inspired me to create. Some of you may be familiar with the works of Whedon, but in case you are not, here is a short list of the most amazing and noteworthy things that are worth your time to watch on TV (or Netflix and Hulu if you're like me and cut the cable cord):
One binge watch through Netflix later, and I found myself on the other side of Firefly, being angry at 20th Century Fox yet again for being jerkholes and canceling the show (serious douche move: Firefly was signed for 3 seasons and they shit canned the show before the first season even finished AND they aired them out of order because reasons?). Serenity, the movie that was supposed to wrap up the show, leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. SPOILER ALERT (though I shouldn't have to give you this since Serenity came out 11 years ago), I am SO pissed that they basically just kill everyone off instead of giving a good story. Shep? Wash? Oh, fuck that shit. Injustice! Plus, the movie was designed to be for people who hadn't seen the TV series, as well as those who had, and it just...didn't work. Not for me, at least.
That aside, I figured: why not create a Firefly inspired soap? So I did! The soap is three layers and colored with yellow oxide, Tangerine Wow! pigment, and brick red oxide. The entire soap is fragranced with Tobacco & Bay Leaf from Bramble Berry. Overall, the colors and fragrance oil were super well behaved, and I am incredibly pleased with the way the bars turned out, given that it was my first time ever working with horizontal layers. :) The soap was inspired by the hat that Jayne gets from his mother in the episode "The Message." Pretty cunning, don't you think? And with a fragrance like that, any man who walks down the street after using a soap like that, people will know he's not afraid of anything!
Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for 20th Century Fox), I can never sell this cunning soap, as I'm not one to stomp all over the whole Intellectual Property thing. Some of you may remember a few years ago when Fox sent a Cease and Desist letter to an Etsy seller by the name of Ma Cobb for knitting "Jayne Hats," which stirred controversy among fans of the show. Because Fox elected to cancel the show when it was originally aired, there was never a lot of Firefly merchandise available. The show later gained a cult following, and many fans took it upon themselves to create and sell Firefly-related merchandise. Many were even (wrongly) under the impression that with the way 20th Century Fox treated the show, they didn't care about it. Given the C&D, this is obviously not true.
It does, however, raise an interesting conversation about the concept of intellectual property and copyright issues alongside of fans who make items relating to that IP, especially with the rise of sites like Etsy, and the advent of the internet, which allows fans to connect in ways they never would have been able to before. While I understand, acknowledge, and completely support the right of companies, authors, creators, etc., to protect their intellectual property and copyrights, I also feel sort of torn about the idea that fans are unable to create things (or sell otherwise unavailable merchandise) that honor their fandom due to that. Most recently, even a Pokemon fan was sent a C&D by Nintendo, claiming he was profiting off of their creation (technically he was - he threw a Pokemon party and sold tickets for an entrance fee). The line between copyright infringement and fan inspired works is generally to NOT profit on your creation, however, some creators tend to be a little more aggressive than others when it comes to protecting their works.
In addition to all of the above, another interesting (or confusing) aspect of copyright and intellectual property is that while technically companies are required to protect their creations, not many of them have lawyers who troll through Etsy, Look Human, Tee Fury, Society 6, and other related fan-based creation sites all day, writing up Cease and Desist letters. Most of the time, companies aren't even aware that these items exist until someone turns the seller in for infringement. Personally, I believe that this is confusing for fans who wish to sell fandom-related items, but are concerned about copyright infringement. While I don't know for certain, I very much doubt that everyone over at Tee Fury, Tee Turtle, et. al., have acquired licenses for everything they sell (I could be wrong, but it's more likely that they are just running with it until they get a C&D, given that it's not really worth the time/money to many corporations to try to sue them). To me, things such as that make the waters very murky and confusing for many fans who want to make or sell their own works inspired by/honoring a particular fandom.
And as if all of that isn't enough - one could reasonably argue that other people creating fan art, jewelry, knitted hats, or what-have-you that reaches other fans and brings people to the fan base are basically giving that company/creator free advertising, which essentially earns them MORE money over time. This is especially true at events such as conventions where there are tons of artists and other crafters who set up booths and sell items of their choice - have all of them acquired license to make their jewelry or sell their art? Probably not (though I wonder if the con's license itself covers these people?). Regardless, literal thousands of people go to cons, and the exposure for many companies and creators is huge at such events. They may reach an audience that would otherwise have never known they existed, all thanks to a talented artisan. The counter argument to this, however, is that some creators may see such things as lost profits as opposed to free advertising.
When it gets right down to it, from a legal perspective: profiting off of the work of another's copyrighted material is illegal, according to United States copyright law. Also, it is likely not protected under the fair use policy, so it's probably best not to put all of your eggs in that particular basket. So, alas - while my Unlikely Hero soap is cool to look at and was a fun adventure in layers, I can never, and will never, sell it to anyone. It will simply be given away to my other Firefly fandom friends who can appreciate it and want to smell cunning. And just as a CMA: I do not own nor claim any rights to Firefly or related material. All material is owned by 20th Century Fox.
For more information on Copyright infringement, check out these links below:
Elizabeth is a new to soap making, and wishes to share her journey in learning to make cold process soap with the hope that it will help other newbies who may stumble upon this site as a resource. From swirl techniques, choosing colors, combining fragrances, embeds, toppers, and textures, she chronicles her lessons and stories here.