The Oct. 17 issue of Science Fiction Weekly (www.scifi.com/sfw), included a brief note about a San Francisco performing arts group, CounterPulse, planning live performances of “Once More with Feeling” — the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It sounded like something a genre traveler would be interested in, so I went the company’s website and found a sad story instead.
All performances of the show had been canceled because Fox sent the dance company a cease and desist letter. Apparently, this little, all-volunteer group had failed to ask permission before pulling the show together. Oops.
But what’s worse, as reading the correspondence between Fox’s legal counsel and the leader of the performance showed, is that David and Goliath just don’t speak the same language. OK, that may be a no brainer, but it seems to me that someone in the Fox chain would have noticed what was really going on. (Just in case that isn’t clear– what was going on was a heartfelt homage to a beloved TV show.)
When I first looked into this, all (or so they said) the correspondence was posted. Now, only a single letter sent to Fox on Oct. 20 is posted. But, I can give you summary.
When Fox found out about the show, they sent a long, legal-ease-filled letter stating their rights to the Buffy brand and that “you, and all those who have acted in concert with you or under your direction and control, respect Fox’s intellectual property and refrain from any further activities which would undermine our efforts to maintain our rights.” Fair enough.
In response, Patrick Simms — the mastermind of this “effrontery” — sent an email explaining his, and his cohorts’, ignorance. Then he asked, “what can I do to get consent from FOX to stage this musical either now or in the future? What kind of fees, or license would we need so that we may proceed?”
What followed were a few more exchanges about possible legal action.
On Oct. 18, CounterPulse received an email from Joss Whedon’s assistant that Whedon, the creator of the TV Series based on the movie, supported having Fox give permission to do the show. As of this writing, no permission has been given.
I may be ignorant on this issue — and I probably am — but it just seems to me that working with fan-based groups like this could only help Fox build, develop and possibly even grow their “intellectual property.” I’ve heard stories like this before, and each time I just shake my head. Goliath just doesn’t get it.