Op/Ed: The Free Fandom Project

by Alphaville Herald on 16/10/07 at 11:30 pm

Mighty morphin without space bucks

by Nikola Shirakawa

Fandom_1Popular books and films naturally create fanboys and fangirls, and these subcultures have taken to heart the Second Life mantra – your world, your imagination. How can we improve Second Life for these players? We need to nurture true fandom.

The fanboy title is all-encompassing, whether it is the gadget producing Stargate fans, the role-playing Starfleet Command, to the anti-griefing Justice League Unlimited and their rivals, the anime-loving Patriotic Nigras. Open up your friends list. I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that, providing you’ve been on for more than a week, at least fifty-percent who could be considered a major fan of a work of art in some way.

Some on Second Life even go so far as to build entire sims around their fandom. Look at the well-built Gotham City or Wizard’s Alley. Why have those places have spread like wildfire? They are free and open to everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you have voice or not, whether you derive your income from stipends or camping, everyone gets a chance to indulge in their fandom, without being drained financially to do it.

Very few of us started out with pocketfuls of L$ space bucks The first two weeks of a good many avatar’s second lives are spent on camping chairs just to buy basic clothes for their fandom. Sadly, a good number of people obviously get bored of this, and quit long before they get a chance to get into it.

The Free Fandom Project was established with this problem in mind. Our goal is simple. We want to provide everything you need to indulge in your fandom, whether it is props, avatars, or what, not to make a few L$s, but for the love of the media – and the role play. Our goal is to provide as full an assortment of fan-based products as possible, help others in creating their own, and honing our own crafts in the process.

Why be Free?

The truth is, we have no right to make money off of the products. Just because we put a lot of work into them doesn’t mean we acquire copyright – we are still bound by copyright law. If the companies like DC or Marvel, or Warner Bros, want to, they might shut it down. But the record does show that these same companies aren’t going to go out of their way to alienate their fan base. Provided we aren’t making profit, most of the holders are more than happy to let us play pretend.

Our goal is just to bring free, high quality products to the fans who want them. For every noob that quits before raising money for their fandom, we may have lost a creative mind. They could have become one of the greatest role-players, or scripters that the grid has seen. The danger is that due to the frustration of having to sit on their computer and stare at their screen for days on end just to buy a decent hairdo, a great mind could be lost. But if they get that hair for free, that time can be spent working on their own products. One person makes a good Supergirl. For three girls that are big fans, they now have the time to devote to working on separate X-Men Avatars. Soon, everyone has time to make the perfect avatars, everyone is indulging in nothing but the best quality of fandom and the grid is a much less ugly place, to say the least.

A message for the player haters

I imagine there are many of you that will hate this project. The thought of giving away for free what you are trying to sell is usually scary for a lot of people. But we will be doing high-quality, not perfect. Just because we are putting out good products doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do one better. The noobians will have great looking products that work for everything they want to do, and the moneymakers will be inspired to refine and perfect, leading to a rise in quality across the grid.

Join The Free Fandom Project

We are open enrollment. Anyone can join and find out what the latest events and projects we’re working on are. There are special roles with more privileges, however. The first is a special tag for Patrons of the project. The fact is, uploading does cost money, and occasionally getting a little bit of a kick-back doesn’t hurt matters any. For people that might not have talent for creation, but want to help out anyway, that’s the way to do it.

For the creators, there is a special role that identifies them as the artists they are. With this role comes the ability to post notices and news about projects, as well as receive an equal portion of any donated Lindens. Of course, this role is not open to just anyone. Despite having a great drive and ambition, many people are just not ready to do custom content yet. We focus on a certain level of quality, so items such as the majority of avatars designed with no custom texturing or prims are simply not good enough. Not to say those people aren’t welcome. Other Artists will be more than happy to help you refine your skill, until you are ready to step up to that rank.

Look up the group “The Free Fandom Project” in your search menu, or IM me in world for an invite, and a collection of the products already available. All fans from all walks of life are welcome.


25 Responses to “Op/Ed: The Free Fandom Project”

  1. mootykips

    Oct 17th, 2007

    “the anime-loving Patriotic Nigra_s”


    Man, sometimes I feel bad I made our new recruits spam you guys with PN adverts back in the day, this sort of satire-meets-trolling PN and the Jimbo articles is pretty awesome.


    also, take

  2. Carl Strickland

    Oct 17th, 2007

    To think that companies won’t come after you if you violate copyright issues, just because they might “alienate” their fanbase is naive and stupid. They HAVE done it before and they WILL do it again. Most fans don’t understand that for the company, it’s business and not a matter of heart. You may be lucky and no one will ever notice. Or you may get a unfriendly email someday. In that case, maybe you should sell your stuff for more than nothing – you might need it for your lawyer.

  3. The Grid Live

    Oct 17th, 2007

    Second Life News for October 17,2007

    Second Life, Pac Man, and Computer Chess Recently, I was asked my professional opinion about Second Life, and this is one answer.
    When I give periodic talks about Google, I demo Google Gadgets and show the variety of them, including ones that are game…

  4. moses

    Oct 17th, 2007

    i think it is a wonderful idea. since i have come to second life two and a half years ago people are very generous with me and it has become my own way. it is a good disease to catch, the generosity bug. and it will suprise you that many times if you give you will recieve in great measure also. many times in suprising ways.

  5. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 17th, 2007

    Carl, you’re more than likely right about the email. But as this is not a profit making venture, but little more than glorified cosplaying, odds are quite low they will just immediately fire off a lawsuit. I don’t doubt in the slightest we will eventually be getting a cease and desist at some point, and when that day comes, we will be more than happy to oblige.

    If we were making a profit, however, It would be much worse, as those would be measureable damages that we could be sued for in a civil suit. When money begins to be factored in, the odds of going straight to trial are significantly greater.

  6. Junkie Butter

    Oct 17th, 2007

    Hey wait, didn’t Isometric Bedlam get banned for creating and distributing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers avatars? I demand that Nikola Shirakawa have action taken against them by LL.

  7. DaveOner

    Oct 17th, 2007

    I’m a big fan of the SL “economy” tanking so that the profit-seeking people will leave and get real jobs and give way to creative people who build things for the hell of it and to see other people use their stuff.

    And yeah, all the star wars star trek warhammer whatnot that’s just a copy of stuff with no creativity of the maker involved should be free. You think the companies that own those franchises would stand for people making knock-off RL items and selling them?!? The only reason they haven’t acted on SL is because that’s still under their radar.

    It won’t be forever.

  8. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 17th, 2007

    I’ve never heard of this Isometric Bedlam, but, depending on when the avatars were created, he may have been banned for underage aspects. Power Rangers fans are largely in the younger demographics of SL, with most roughly 21 or younger. A few years back, this would have meant that they were underage. Not having more information, I cannot say what the case was, but that’s as close as I can guess.

    On another note, I would like to clarify that there is creative licensing taken from my original press release for the group here. For starters, the entire first paragraph is reworded, and I don’t believe I ever used the term “space bucks”. Furthermore, i would greatly like to stress that I did not submit a photograph, or encourage this to be focusing on myself. I may have created the group, but it is by no means, solely my vanity effort. We are getting some very creative people involved, with an open invitation to anyone, no questions asked.

  9. cube inada

    Oct 17th, 2007

    There IS original Sci Fi in SL…..built from the ground up for VR world creation and viewsers…. Starbase C3–) A world you can build up/ live in and make money on reselling approved derived contributions.—sounds like a plan- but im baised-)and stopped working for the TREK and others to create this model of worldbuilding years ago…;) Starbase C3 is not about “totally” anarchy freedom in a business around IP and entertainment…but it dose offer a plan that proatively takes its veiwsers into the vision.

    BTW- FOX recently shut down the fan run (and minor money making) BUFFY SINGALONG Theatre Showings….nothing new… Just as years ago when Viacom shuttered and licensed all TREK CON action to one or two high bidder companies…

    So if alls free- How does LINDEN under its current biz justify the money it makes on server space and subscriptions for access to even thos free content. They cant, and so untill someone gets “official” deals with the IP owner media companies all of your investments of time/money/and “love” will go unrequited.

    New media like digital networked virtual worlds require new business models and basic structures for mass involvment. The problem is the old media making the fanboy media we grew up with cant change the direction of their “enterprises”-:)we can if we want.

    cube inada
    Starbase c3 in Second Life

  10. Stroker Serpentine

    Oct 17th, 2007

    I admire the concept behind this project, to further participation and retention in fan-based environments. I feel I would be remiss not to point out that no one was selling .mp3′s on Napster. As more commercial concerns enter the hallowed servers of SL, There, Multiverse and YouTube it has been my experience that the first thing they notice is the plethora of copyright abuses and act with decisive litigation. I can tell you there is at least one major adult media concern gearing up for a tidal wave of DMCA’s in SL. I remember my first year in SL when a friend had all of his Harley Davidson t-shirts removed. It is also noteworthy to mention that the law does not distinguish between monetary transaction and distribution. The recent Elecktra v. Barker case upheld that the mere public availabilty, regardless of monetary gain, is considered infringement. I am always confounded when someone does not take the initiative to contact the Owner/Creators/Marketers and establish an SL/There/et al presence for the McCorp. Granted, many do not see the potential for social network evangelism, however I would rather err on the side of caution personally. Whether you are CopyRight or CopyLeft…tread lightly in these waters. I have had an extensive “crash course” along these lines. Good Luck, sincerely, and consult a good IP attorney. IANAL

    P.S. Trademark and Copyright Infringement are Federal Court cases. There are no “small claims” when it comes to the Federal Court system.

  11. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 17th, 2007

    Well the record with the comic companies, at least that I have seen, is that they are more apt to post a cease and desist prior to lawsuit, as is polite. Also, the sharing of mp3′s was a lot more specifically targeted than this. The closest comparison, would be us trading comic books or TV episodes, in that we are trading exact files, rather than derivative works. Furthermore, I have actually tried to open communications with the companies, but have yet to receive a reply. Personally, I believe it would turn out very well indeed if they got involved, as, most of the companies that have have given their stuff away as promotional works, despite being the highest quality, and I do not see why the comic companies would be different. When I say legal action is unlikely, I mean actual trials involving lawyers and what not. The reason is, it costs a lot of money, and when a simple DMCA takedown, or cease and desist would work and not incur those costs. When there is no money involved, a major lawsuit is usually not the first choice of reaction. The lawsuits fired off by companies against pirates, the most ready example many of you are comparing to, is slightly different in that there is no real way to contact the infringer directly except by lawsuit. Keep in mind, they use the IP address they can’t talk directly to, unlike SL, where our names are prominently displayed to contact.

  12. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 19th, 2007

    Hey guys, just wanted to give you a heads up,the perms and the photo content are badly out of date. All our items, at least that I have contributed have full rights, including mod. I’ve seen quite a few of you join from this article, and we’re ecstatic to have you. I want to make sure those of you who do join should first check group notices before asking me any questions. Much of them will be answered there.

  13. Kalel Venkman

    Oct 19th, 2007

    Nikola brings up some excellent points.

    If all the fan-based material were removed from Second Life, it would be a pretty empty place. But while holders of trademarks cannot afford to have them diluted, they can also ill afford to go searching through Second Life chasing infringers who are not diverting significant cash flow away from these trademark holders. This is the crisis of the new millenium with respect to intellectual property, but it’s mostly a crisis for the holders of the rights to the material rather than for us as fans.

    While sale of such merchandise does infringe, there are many other questions having to do with the nature of the transactions, as well as the jurisdictions of various countries’ laws regarding virtual property (where those laws exist at all) which muddy the waters to the point where one is arguing not one single legal point, but perhaps several dozen at once. Clarity is far from abundant. One thing is certain, however, and that is that in order for one of these holders of intellectual property to actually begin any sort of legal action, they have to be prepared to invest tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs to file and persue grievance with the courts. Very few of even the most successful single vendors of anything in Second Life meet the bar with respect to monetary damages, beyond a standard DCMA takedown notice.

    Here is a link to a page that consolidates a lot of information on the subject: http://tags.library.upenn.edu/dlam

    Recently Marvel Comics attempted to sue the creators of City of Heroes, claiming that their online game created the opportunity for people to create infringing characters. Unfortunately the suit was dismissed rather than producing a definitive ruling on the matter of Fair Use by users of online game services – apparently Marvel had fabricated much of the evidence presented in court, despite having access to a fair amount of actual examples of infringement.

    This case is relevant because it directly relates to Second Life as a content creation platform, and yet leaves us rudderless with respect to the matter of infringing intellectual property, especially in the area of trademarks.

    I believe that Nikola is probably on the right track with this effort – a creative cooperative is a very positive move, and just as importantly establishes a beach head with respect to Fair Use and intellectual property within online gaming. We should not be afraid to express our enthusiasm for our own popular culture.

  14. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 19th, 2007

    Thank you for that, Kalel. You know you guys are more than welcome to join the project if interested. No one gets turned away with this project.

  15. cube inada

    Oct 19th, 2007


    the big media ip owners will be “in” vr worlds like SL soon. Their attitudes are clearly stated here.

  16. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 20th, 2007

    That article seems to be targeted more towards youtube uploads of copyrighted clips, but an interesting find that would seem the appropriate action. The blocking of the content more than multimillion dollar lawsutis would seem the more likely target.

  17. Astonished Reader

    Oct 20th, 2007

    if and when that happens there goes the free fandom project

  18. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 20th, 2007

    Yes, indeed it does. But until that day comes, we might as well ahev some fun that we can.

  19. Kalel Venkman

    Oct 23rd, 2007

    I think it’s important to remember that while the licensors of intellectual property would love to gain control of the situation and dictate exactly how their material will be used and represented in virtual worlds, the practical issues will probably prevent them from doing anything to the individual users. There are only a few tools at their disposal:

    * The DMCA takedown notices.
    * Law suits against the operators of the virtual world services themselves.

    We haven’t seen much of the former at all in Second Life (though there have been a few instances, none of them have involved fandom of popular media that I’m aware of).

    Of the latter, Marvel got their heads handed them when last they tried it, and even though it was because of a technical foul on their part rather than the viability of the case, they bought themselves a great deal of ill will from their own fan base doing that and I suspect they’re not anxious to repeat that particular experience.

    And unfortunately for them, going after individuals would bankrupt them pretty fast. What’s the point of defending your trademarks that aggressively if you bankrupt your company doing it? And there lies the problem for the big intellectual property holders – defend and go broke, or not defend and lose their trademarks (and go broke)?

  20. Kalel Venkman

    Oct 23rd, 2007

    Regarding Cube Inada’s post from Animation World News, while these companies would love to be able to filter content and block it from being uploaded in the first place, in practical terms the mechanisms for doing so would be difficult to impossible to implement. I think this news item is an example of how far out of touch lawyers can get when they talk only amongst themselves without going back and checking their work against the real world periodically.

  21. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 26th, 2007

    I’m withdrawing my invitation to your group, Venkman. NO JLU members are permitted to take part in this project, due to your group’s continued vendetta, which has been confirmed to me by both GLC members and Gotham Staff. Perhaps when you guys grow up, it might be different.

  22. Anonymous

    Oct 26th, 2007

    >>I’m withdrawing my invitation to your group, Venkman. NO JLU members are permitted to take part in this project, due to your group’s continued vendetta, which has been confirmed to me by both GLC members and Gotham Staff. Perhaps when you guys grow up, it might be different.

    Look look everyone. It’s Nikola “Victim” Shirakawa. Everyone is out to get him. Oh noes. It can’t be. *sob* Poor poor deluded kid. By the way PN so enjoyed all your help in trying to take down the JLU. Gotta love turncoats.

  23. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 28th, 2007

    Not Everyone. Just their group, as can be seen in the following chat transcript from Roger Nephilim, owner of the Gotham City Sim:

    [17:50] Roger Nephilim: Hmm ok this will take some investigation. I’m busy because CSI NY has there show tonight about SL and combat systems are highlight. the point is we could have alot of new players come here tonight and I can’t deal with your ban right now.
    [17:52] Nikola Shirakawa: So That was the reason, I take it.
    [17:56] Roger Nephilim: no its a JLU thing. please give me a day, i’m extremely busy tonight.

    Roger has to his credit had the level head to reconsider this act. But That does not change the fact that JLU people have been whining everywhere they see me. This statement was confirmed to me by a prominent GLC member who relayed that they were calling for my banning at New Oa upon seeing me, despite the fact that I was not griefing, undoubtedly there to donate lindens as I do from time to time, and was probably not saying a word. I won’t say any more on the subject. You JLU people want to harass me and try to get me blackballed, I’m certainly not going to let you kids cozy on up to my areas. Simple as that. I will not respond to any more comments along that track, as this is not the place for it.

  24. Anonymous

    Oct 28th, 2007

    ROLFLMAO AHAHHAHAHAHHAHAA. Lie in bed with griefers this is what you get you fucktard. Now you know how WE feel when we simply try to go around SL for Lulz.

    Translation for all of Nickola’s comments and articles = BAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

  25. Nikola Shirakawa

    Oct 29th, 2007

    Update to the Press release:

    We currently have five distribution locations set up at the following landmarks:

    Four Freedoms Plaza, Cleary (151, 201, 122)

    The Doctor Who Experience & Card, Katrina (112, 224, 22)

    BOXED HEROES MAIN SHOP, Jormundgandr (108, 99, 62)

    Outside Marcus Propsero’s Tardis, Lippert (153, 111, 171)
    Specializing in Doctor who freebies, with a number of unique items

    Wizard’s Alley for the Finest sh, Sunset Harbor (161, 138, 27)
    Specializing in magical items, such as wands, and HP merchandise.

    Please note that some of these locations have teleport rerouting in place, so you may have to get directions to the shopping area from a local resident.

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