Movie Producers Want Sole Ownership Of Facebook Fans

from the alternate-destinations dept

chunlou apparently is involved with a Facebook fanpage for the movie Let Me In. For over a year, the fan page has built up a nice collection of photos and videos related to the movie — much of it created by fans (fanart, parodies, etc.) along with promotional material from the film (trailers and promotional photos released by the studio) which you would think would make the studio happy to see spread. Not so much, apparently. Rather than embracing these fans, Overture Films apparently has freaked out about losing “control” of fans — and has had a partner issue a takedown notice to Facebook, demanding all of the artwork be taken down as infringing. What’s noteworthy is that in the letter itself, the company demanding the takedown, Mammoth Advertising, is pretty upfront that the reason isn’t that the works are harming the market for those same works — but that Overture doesn’t want fans going anywhere but its official site to learn about the movie. The key passage in the letter:

“… we fear that they are establishing themselves as an alternate destination and authority for the film. They could post false, misleading, or inappropriate content about the film which would be seen by Facebook users.”

Of course, if they posted false or misleading content, then the filmmakers would be able to make claims against them. That they’re trying to misuse copyright law to take down such a fan effort seems deeply troubling. It’s an abuse of copyright law, which is designed not to prevent someone from potentially doing something “misleading,” but supposedly to give the producer a monopoly solely for the purpose of creating the incentive to create the content. Is Overture really suggesting that if this fanpage is allowed to continue it won’t have incentive to make movies any more?

There’s also a pretty strong case for fair use here again. While I haven’t seen the fanart, so that could depend, if we go through the basic four factors test, it’s hard to see how any of them side with Overture. The purpose is clearly non-commercial for the creators of the fanpage. The nature of the work is that it’s a fanpage, designed to promote the original work and to provide commentary on it. It’s not showing the movie itself, but rather promotional clips that were released by the filmmakers to gain interest in the film, so it’s not using much of the actual movie. And, the user-generated content sounds at least somewhat transformative (though, again, it would help to actually see what was taken down).

Finally, while the letter accuses the fan page of pulling content off of the official site, chunlou insists that that did not happen, and claims that the official site was way too slow to update, and they usually had the content first. Frankly, the whole thing seems pretty silly. A decade ago, we would hear about movie studios freaking out about fanpages, but it had seemed like most of them had figured out that such things are a good thing. Apparently, some filmmakers aren’t quite there yet.

Anyway, we’ve posted the full takedown letter after the jump, where they admit that they’re happy that there is a fan group, but they’re afraid too many people will go there. Chunlou has filed a counternotice claiming fair use, so we’ll see if Overture takes this any further.

-----Original Message-----

Copyright Notification #: 176887627
Name: [personal name withheld]
Email: [personal email withheld]
Description of copyrighted work
Video clips, stills, promotional photos, and movie posters owned by Overture Films, of which I am a contracted agent.
Location on fb network
How Copyright infringed
[Links to content]
Additional Info
I work for Mammoth Advertising, which is contracted by Overture Films to run the online marketing campaign for a film called "Let Me In", being released in the United States on October 1 2010. Any and all "Let Me In" content approved for Facebook is located on the official fan page, of which I am an administrator:

This unsanctioned group features video clips, stills, photos and movie posters owned by Overture that have not been approved for upload to Facebook. They have ripped film clips from exclusive promotions on external websites, and from the official "Let Me In" Facebook page, and uploaded them to Facebook through their group.

The group administrators seem to be enthusiastic and genuine in their support for the film, and we certainly encourage Facebook fans to come together and discuss it. However, they do not have rights to the content they are featuring, and we fear that they are establishing themselves as an alternate destination and authority for the film. They could post false, misleading, or inappropriate content about the film which would be seen by Facebook users.

We do not wish for the group to be terminated, but we do need all the content listed above to be removed.

Thank you kindly, [personal name withheld]

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: facebook, mammoth advertising, overture films

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Comments on “Movie Producers Want Sole Ownership Of Facebook Fans”

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cc (profile) says:

Re: Afraid of having too many fans?

I think that’s the root of all our problems today: consumers are treated like shit, but never manage to react or make a stand. I’ll bet all those Facebook “fans” will still go shell out $8 to watch this movie, and the cycle will simply repeat itself again the next time this studio releases a movie.

I don’t see how we can escape this, unless people wake up and realise they have rights… but they have to care, and most people apparently don’t.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Afraid of having too many fans?

I mostly agree with you that consumers almost never take a stand. But when they do, they get results. Look at what happened to Circuit City. They announce that they are laying off employees and hiring them or new employees back but at lower wages. Their stock price tanked and never recovered. 18 months later they close their doors.

That is the power consumers have. Unfortunately we don’t wield it enough.

Daryl (profile) says:

Can't have it both ways.

Seems to me that this is a case of “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. They are using Facebook as an obvious medium to promote the movie to a quite large potential fan base, but they also do not want a few people putting up their own unauthorized media at the same time. All they have to do is host their own Fan page outside of Facebook but of course they would not want to do that.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Hollywood lacks a lot

The original (Let the Right One In) Swedish (I think it was Swedish) film was released in Oct of 2008, and here we get the hollywood remake released in Oct of 2010. The film wasn’t even out for two years before Hollywood decided to remake it. They must REALLY be lacking in imagination these days. Considering it is a remake I am still doubtful as to if it will be any good compared to the original.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Hollywood lacks a lot

The film wasn’t even out for two years before Hollywood decided to remake it.

hollywood remakes everything because it believes that americans are too stupid to understand something in its original form.

let the right one in was a good movie and exposed me to swedish cinema. since then i have also watched the millennium trilogy and a couple of other swedish films whose names escape me at the moment.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hollywood lacks a lot

Now I will go and look up the Millennium Trilogy. I enjoyed the original a bit as well. I am mainly exposed to Japanese movies & shows (& anime if it deserves its own category, but I still see it as included under movies & shows) for stuff outside of the US.
A foreign film I actually enjoyed quite a bit (despite the main aspect being about relationships) is Amelie. It is a French film that is very well done and just crazy enough without overdoing it. Not your average romance film.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Hollywood lacks a lot

Unlike American remakes of American movies, which are done to “refresh” an old movie for a new audience, remakes of foreign movies are different. The age is not important because most Americans have not seen the original. Remakes of Asian horror abounded a few years ago, and many were remaking very recent Asian movies. The same thing happened with Rec and Quarantine. This is nothing new.

Personally, I think it is a bit silly that people are so averse to subtitles, but they are. It’s not that Hollywood thinks Americans are too “stupid.” It’s that they KNOW that the majority of Americans just won’t see a foreign film. I don’t know why that’s the case. Xenophobia? Laziness? Or is it simply that subtitles interfere with the experience? I can relate to that. They used to present a barrier for me until I watched enough foreign movies that I can read the subs peripherally while still focusing on the picture. Heck, I usually forget that I am reading subs a few minutes in. I actually remember dialog in the characters voice…in English. The brain is weird.

Anyway, yes, Let the Right One In was a nearly perfect movie. Surprisingly, though, this is one remake that is getting fantastic reviews, saying that it equals or even surpasses the original. I’m pretty shocked at this, but the reviews are coming from people who flat-out condemned the idea of a remake when it was announced.

So, I’ll see it. The Facebook controversy won’t stop me. Why? Because if I boycotted a movie every time someone involved did something I didn’t like, there wouldn’t be any movies left for me to watch. I will watch the movie to enjoy it on it’s own merits, and hopefully it will be as good as some say.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hollywood lacks a lot

You sir get an insightful for that post. Now that you mention a lot of these things they feel a little more clear to me. It makes perfect sense. The first couple of times I saw movies with subtitles (anime mainly) it did feel a little weird but it took almost no time at all to adjust. As you say, after a tiny bit I forget I am doing it.

I too quite enjoyed the original one and will probably see this one. However, it being an Americanized version we will see how it compares to the first. While I have not looked at a bunch of reviews or anything more than one trailer so far, it seems like they added a bit more blood. It was funny watching a trailer for a movie that is not out yet and knowing where every scene comes from. I think that was a first for me.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hollywood lacks a lot

“Xenophobia? Laziness?”

A combination of the two, I fear.

“Anyway, yes, Let the Right One In was a nearly perfect movie. Surprisingly, though, this is one remake that is getting fantastic reviews, saying that it equals or even surpasses the original. I’m pretty shocked at this, but the reviews are coming from people who flat-out condemned the idea of a remake when it was announced.”

From what I can tell, they’re doing it the right way – or at least a “right” as these things can be. As I understand it, they’ve not so much remade the movie as made another interpretation of the source novel (which is very different in some places and well worth a read, though it goes into some very dark territory).

This, at least, leaves some room for artistic input unlike, say, Quarantine. Poetic justice there, however, since the (otherwise shot-for-shot) remake left out the original’s supernatural angle, which makes a similar remake of [REC] 2 impossible.

I’m looking forward to the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, though the original was excellent. I can’t see David Fincher getting into such a project without some strong artistic reasons and I expect the novel to be similarly re-interpreted. I do, however, wonder how the hell it can possibly translate, as some aspects of the trilogy relate directly to quirks of Swedish law that – to my knowledge – have no comparison in American law.

Call me Al says:

This is symptomatic of the mindset of the broadcast media. You will consume what they deign to feed you and only that.

Their control freakery is infuriating. People want to talk about and spread the word about films, music and books that they like. Often the “official” space for such discussion is lack lustre or just plain rubbish but rather then fix that and try and complete with the unofficial they just complain and call in the lawyers.

interval (profile) says:

So the problem is...

“we fear that they are establishing themselves as an alternate destination and authority for the film. They could post false, misleading, or inappropriate content…”

So some miscreant could post mis-leading information regarding the plot, de-railing the whole project, leading to mayhem in the streets,and an apocalyptic end to civilization. Ok…

fogbugzd (profile) says:

First Amendment

Among other things, they are suppressing a lot of reviews and opinions. That would seem like a pretty clear denial of free speech. It seems like one thing to issue DCMA takedowns of actual infringing material. It is something quite different to use copyright to sweep away protected speech. But I guess we have reached a point where the businesses that trade in IP are an authority above the constitution and bill of rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: First Amendment

And since some people are utter morons and fail to grasp the concept…the movie studio is not a government entity, and as such this has no bearing on the first amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Movie studio/publicity people/other =/= congress.

Can you try and remember this finally? Please?

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: First Amendment

There are a couple of responses to this.

First, there are laws made by Congress involved here. Congress passed copyright laws and the DCMA which the company used to sweep away criticism. Private companies may have filed the suits, but the laws they used for authority to do so are from congress. There have been conflicts between copyright and freedom of speech in the past, and that is much of the fair use doctrine comes in.

Second, there have been rulings that make it clear that the first amendment extends beyond just Congress making laws. There isn’t much question that it also applies to other levels of government. Lots of state laws have been struck down due to the pesky first amendment even though Congress had nothing to do with them. It gets trickier once you move beyond government, but there are court cases saying that the right to free speech extends onto private property if the area is held forth as a public forum. A fan site open to anyone to post comments would certainly seem to fall under the public forum doctrine.

Laurel L. Russwurm (profile) says:

There ARE alternatives

Take it down the road… if this movie company wants to go to war with their fans, the fans can always walk away. I’d suggest thumbing your nose at “Let Me In” since they obviously don’t appreciate their fans, instead moving over to the Facebook Die Beauty page.

Die Beauty is a movie that has been released under a Creative Commons License(by-nc-sa)via The Pirate Bay because they WANT the movie to be shared.

Oh and look, TechDirt has their own article about Die Beauty here. Surprised? I think not.

Look at that. Sounds like the new business model is getting a grip. Woo hoo!

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Suggestion to company

Instead of pissing fans off, Do what blizzard did and actually buy the site & incorporate it into your own. See Arreat Summit on Diablo2’s front page via And here’s a tip name it something like “community site,” and a nice big button on the page. Gives it a Nice spin even.

It’s amazing what fans can accomplish for you.

Eric (profile) says:

Fair use

…The nature of the work is that it’s a fanpage, designed to promote the original work and to provide commentary on it…

Your statement quoted above seems to be conflating the nature of the work (2nd factor) with the purpose of the use (1st factor, which you discuss later as well). The “nature of the work” in the second fair use factor refers to the nature of the original work, not the controversial one. The nature of the work is that it is highly creative (despite being a remake), rather than factual, and is not yet published (see Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises 571 US 539 at 563). In this case, the second factor would probably go to the plaintiffs, except where some of the information that is used may in fact be factual.

I still think you’re right in that fair use for the fan page itself is pretty much a slam dunk (though some of the fan art may not be), but they’re not likely to win the second factor.

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