Recently, and since the start of the year especially, the MLP fan community has watched project after project, many being long-standing staples of the fandom, become blinked out of existence, due to an ongoing series of cease and desist orders from Hasbro. In just the last few months, we've seen the likes of Princess Molestia, JanAnimations, and even FurryDakimakura fall to the legal banhammer. Some concerned fans have already begun preemptively archiving works by popular artists who might be next. To many, all seems lost, as nobody has the power to challenge the corporate might of Hasbro's legal team. Since yesterday's JanAnimation cease and desist a website called "SaveOurFandom.com" has appeared.
It's unclear at this time who started the site, or how effective it could even possibly be, but it offers those with concerns the chance to do....something. The site briefly outlines the "threat to the community" and provides an email submit box with a pre-written (but still editable) text area with a message to Hasbro. The prefilled message reads:
To whom it may concern: I am contacting you today as a proud fan of the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Recently, I have started to see a growing trend of fan-created projects being forced to shut down due to Cease & Desist letters sent by Hasbro's legal department. This concerns me greatly, because the fan community depends on this creative content being created to thrive and expand. These pieces of art are nothing more than free advertisement for the show. They bring countless new people to the fan base, where they watch the show and buy the toys, DVDs, clothing, and more. This creativity and expression should be encouraged, not stifled. Our creative fans aren't nefarious or criminal. They're hard-working young people who put countless hours into projects that they're passionate about, but some of these projects never even see the light of day. This has a chilling effect on the fan base, and almost every artist wonders whether they'll be next to receive a "C&D", because Hasbro has no clearly stated rules for what is acceptable and unacceptable in the fandom. As a fan, I love the show, and I want to see it succeed. I encourage the Hasbro team to reconsider its approach to sending legal threats to creators of fan content, and to establish clear boundaries for acceptable content that foster creativity and help the fanbase grow. Thank you for your time.
The reasons laid out in the email echo the opinions of FDaki, one of the recent cease and desist recipients who said in an email:
"This is the real problem. Hasbro has no clear policy on what they are and aren’t okay with. IF I’d known that they weren’t okay with this stuff, we would never have made it in the first place, demand be damned."
Though the effectiveness of these emails is debatable (it's not even exactly clear where the emails are ending up, the form states "Hasbro's general information e-mail") they may assist more than one might expect. Yesterday, after the JanAnimations takedown Mike Vogel (a.k.a. mktoon) responded to concerns on twitter.
The following thread was started on 4chan, shortly after the site became active:
Many continue to debate the site's necessity and effectiveness, as well as the legality of many of the fan works in question, and the fact that this is >fan of the fandom material. This effort has been condemned by the majority as being ill-conceived, ridiculous and inviting of a terrible backfire. Still others believe that this is the "crest of a wave" that has broken on the shore, where the fandom has spread and will soon be sucked back to where it began.
Only time will tell.