Britney’s #1 Fan Site to Close

Lured out of my vacation slumber by breaking Britney Spears news! (sarcasm not dulled by the holidays)

According to the Online Wire, Britney Spears’s “#1 Fan Site” is shutting down on account of not being “able to find credible material”

…With the internet exhausted with brutal photos, news exclusives and millions of blogs on Spears one can’t blame webmaster Ruben Garay.

In an exclusive interview with ABC Radio News, Garay says he has ”exhausted his attempts” to make Spears “show appreciation for the millions of fans who have been waiting for her comeback after all these years.”

Her buddy Paris Hilton says it just ain’t so. Me, I just can’t believe that ten years later, we’re still paying attention to Britney.

Wishing you all peace and love in 2007.

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Holiday

Online Fandom is going on holiday for a week or so.

Wishing you all peace and light in the New Year.

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List of Lists

I don’t know about you, but I generally find myself overwhelmed by year end lists. So much I haven’t heard, and experience tells that a pretty good chunk of it, I wouldn’t like. So what to make of the Largehearted Boy’s 2006 Lists Archive in which he’s keeping a running list of 2006 Best of Lists. Now I realize I don’t even have the insight to keep up with the LISTS, let alone the things listed. Kind of drives home the information overload dimension of it all. Especially now that every blogger gets to have his or her own top list. I’d like a meta-analysis of the most-repeated ones across lists. Till then I’ll stick with my trusty sources and Metacritic.

Since it’s just not information overload if I’m not doing some of the loading, here’s the list of my favorite Scandinavian records this year that I wrote for Its A Trap:

01. Hell On Wheels – The odd church (Hybris/PlayRec)
It’s catchy, it’s quirky, it’s consistently strong. And it’s interesting too.

02. Skywriter – Where both worlds never meet (Iceberg Records)
The slow ones drag a bit, but the fast songs are a sublime mix of sexy, cool, driving and restrained.

03. Consequences – s/t (BOW/Groover Recordings)
Puts the “infection” in infectious pop. I can’t stop listening to it and really don’t want to either.

04. Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s block (V2/Wichita)
Not as good as last year’s “Falling out”, but an okay Peter Bjorn and John record is still better than most.

05. Pelle Carlberg – Everything. Now! (Labrador)
He’s thoughtful, he’s sensitive, he’s twee, but most of all he’s the perfect mix of soothing and beautiful. Frazzled nerves be gone!

06. The Phonies – Gran tourettes (Money Laundry Records)
Inconsistent record from Finland’s Phonies, but it’s best songs are exhuberant enough to carry the rest.

07. Billie the Vision & the Dancers – The world according to Pablo (self-released)
While I’m From Barcelona gets all the buzz, I prefer this. It’s kind of mellow, a little dark, sort of conceptual if you bother to figure it out, but most of all, it just sounds good.

08. David & the Citizens – Stop the tape! Stop the tape! (Bad Taste)
David Fridlund‘s a melodic genius and the music may be better than ever, but Fridlund‘s angst runs too close to whining too much of the time.

09. Starflower – Moment in the sun (Music Is My Girlfriend)
Tranquil and poppy, youthful and tuneful, it’s a gentle little debut from a band I hope will diversify its sound in releases to come.

10. The Charade – Real Life Drama (Skipping Stones)
Half of this is too sweet for me, but the rest is charming as all get out, and “September” easily wins the award for catchiest sugar pop song of the year.

Honorable Mentions:

Sivert Høyem and the Volunteers – Exiles (Hektor Grammofon)
It’s not out yet and I’ve only heard 2 songs, but given his track record with Madrugada and his last solo record, it’s guaranteed a spot in my top 10 when I do get to hear the rest.

Tiger Lou – The loyal (Startracks)
It came out in 2005 but now I’ve finally heard this record. It’s got such a cool consistent vibe, such a unique sound, and I’m under it’s spell completely.

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EMI vs Cricket Fans

The Serenity and ABBA cases may have been resolved, but as far as I can tell, this Cricket fan site is still under threat of legal action from EMI. The crime? Altering lyrics to copyrighted songs for parodies included in a free booklet”

EMI says The Fanatics’ Ashes songbook breached copyright because it included altered lyrics to songs such as Go West by the Village People and Daydream Believer by The Monkees.

The Daydream Believer parody included the lines: “Cheer up Michael Vaughan, How bad must it be, To a be a poor pommie whinger, And you’re watching on TV?”

The group put the songbook together in a bid to get Australian fans to outsing England’s Barmy Army during this summer’s Ashes series.

Fanatics founder Warren Livingstone said the group had removed the songs from its website and was considering what to do with 100,000 booklets that have already printed.

“We need to work out whether we have to shred these or whether we can in fact hand them out outside the ground,” he said.

“We’re giving them out for free so it’s a little bit astounding actually. We’re just a supporter group, we’re just trying to have a little bit of fun and so to have this action from EMI seems pretty heavy-handed.”


(link from ABC Sport)

Why oh why do people think it’s a good idea to get so legalistic on stuff like this? I mean, ok, if you’re selling copies of copyright material, alright. But FREE PARODIES? Eventually we will all be afraid to be fans in case we accidently sing aloud in public and find ourselves the target of litigation.

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Universal vs. Serenity Fans

Back in October a Serenity fan site got not just a cease-and-desist letter, but also a PAY UP NOW demand from Universal Studios, apparently for violating copyright in t-shirts being sold through the site.

“11th Hour Art’s offering for sale and sale of unauthorized “Serenity” shirts may give rise to multiple violations of law, giving rise to various causes of action for copyright infringement, counterfeiting, and unfair competition, among other claims. Recovery on one or more of these claims may include attorney’s fees, treble damages, statutory damages, and punitive damages.”

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The Demand continues, and includes such stipulations that within 72 hours I must agree to: pay a retroactive $8,750 licensing fee; the permanent closing of my shop; turn over any merchandise referring to the Universal Property; and provide the last 12 months complete sales records… there’s more, but that’s the gist… oh, except for the threat of federal court and the statutory damages thingy of $150,000 per infringed work… don’t want to go leaving that part out.

The questionable image in my shop were, for the most part, already pulled down by Cafe Press after the first email notice I got last week. I was then already going through my shop and revising the wording in some descriptions as needed to fully comply with the notification. At present, the only instances where the word “serenity” is mentioned is to explain the translation of the Chinese characters, but without any references to the movie of that name.

I can confidently state that my Cafe Press shop is totally free of any associations with “Serenity” the movie… unless of course Universal now claims ownership of the actual word “serenity”, no matter how it is used, both in English and Chinese. In that case, there’s a certain adult diaper manufacturer who’s in deep doo doo now… pun is like, totally intended…

I’m exhausted, emotionally and physically. I’ve spent most of the past few days since the notification overhauling my shop. I’ve put aside all other projects, and haven’t gotten that much sleep doing this. I’m actually starting to feel ill… this whole thing is just sickening…

As you can see if you click that link, outrage ensued, not least in the form of hundreds of comments. The matter now seems to have been resolved, but, as is always the case in these episodes, not without cost to the would-be plaintiff:

Guess this whole traumatic episode is a variation on the Mars vs. Venus way of seeing things. I think like an artist and guerilla marketer, not a lawyer… and it’s mighty surprising just how much fuss can arise from that different way of seeing things. So *that’s* how things got so complicated. As a die hard guerilla marketer, I thought the image was a modestly mild way to put the word of Serenity out in the world; but the legal point of view sees the image as taking advantage of the intellectual property. Honestly, my intent was just the opposite of taking advantage of our shiny movie… but y’all knew that.

Live and learn. Or rather, live, get hit with a scary demand become a tortured wreck before it’s resolved over a week later, and learn…

But lest you think that suing fans is all damage and no fun, this does seem to have strengthened the sense of community amongst the already-tight fans of this fan-driven show:

Actually though, despite all the torment and stuff, the part of this story that is truly mythic, wonderful, and will, always, always be the heart of what makes this ‘verse so gorram amazing is all of you… the Browncoats… who stepped up, had my back, stood at my side, and, most assuredly, were taking strategic tactical positions from high ground too. Folk came from all around, even revealing themselves from the cover of lurkdom, to let me know I wasn’t alone in this… and when I heard, “Browncoats got your back”, I knew that no matter how scary or crazy it got, somehow, things would work out. It’s been a rough time, it’s taken it’s toll on me… but I discovered something rather wonderful, or perhaps re-discovered something wonderful… the people that have come into my life because of a work of art disguised as a TV show, are the best folk it’s ever been my privilege to know.

How are fans to know when they’ll be appreciated and when they’ll be sued? Especially when these lawsuits seem to get dropped or ‘resolved’ so very frequently after they’re threatened?

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