Thank goodness for TwitLonger, is all I can say...
OK. About the dust-up with Sony on Facebook sites this last week:
Background: Last week a number of Outlander-related fan and fan-group sites were suddenly denied access to their Facebook pages, with a notice informing them that a third party had complained of copyright or trademark infringement occurring on their pages.
The notice informed the page owners that they must resolve the issue with the third party.
The third party was an entity called counterfind.com. This is a service employed by corporations and businesses to discover and shut down sites selling or promoting the sale of illegal copyrighted/trademarked products. There was confusion about how to contact counterfind.com in order to make inquiries as to why they’d been shut down, what needed to be done to restore pages, etc.
The reasonable assumption was that Sony had employed counterfind.com to detect illegal Outlander merchandise, but the initial confusion seemed to lead to more questions than available answers, the most important of which was how could more closures be prevented?
Many Outlander fan groups hastily changed the names of their pages, in hopes of evading detection and took down photos of their group T-shirts or anything else that might be a trigger.
This naturally caused a lot of agitated comments on Twitter and Facebook, and both Maril Davis and I (separately) talked to people we knew at Sony about it.
I had a good conversation with two of the key executives that I know, and was assured that 1) Sony wasn’t trying to shut down Outlander sites willy-nilly, 2) Some information regarding illegal merchandise should ideally have been provided prior to the closures, and 3) gave me a general idea of the rationale behind the counterfind.com actions, AND 4) took immediate steps to provide a human contact (not a bot or an automated comment page) at counterfind.com, to whom people whose sites got a denied-access notice could speak.
They also told me that—after reviewing--they were in the process of restoring _all_ of the sites from the initial round of closures. Those impacted going forward will be reviewed and restored, with discussion of what elements caused the closure.
OK. The basic bottom line is that there is—as y’all certainly know—a huge amount of illegal (and usually really crummy) merchandise available. Not just for Outlander (the Sony program covered several other TV properties –along with Outlander stuff). Evidently, there’s also a problem with illegal sites photo-shopping the actors (especially Sam) into ads for sleazy shirts and other merchandise. Naturally, the actors’ agents take exception to this, and have asked for help in controlling it.
So essentially, the counterfind.com program is not searching for names or terms; it’s looking for advertising (either direct or links to) that’s selling dodgy goods.
Sony also told me that in the latest round of searches, NO sites had been closed down—but questionable advertising elements on some sites had been frozen, pending review.
OK, review. If you’ve gotten or seen one of the recent denial-of-access notices from Facebook, you’ll notice that it includes an email address for the “third-party complaint”—specifically, firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF you’ve had your site (or parts of your advertising) frozen or been denied access to them, you can email that address and your request/concerns will be answered BY A REAL PERSON.
And finally—Sony does work very hard to license rights to reputable sites. One such site is Zazzle, which has a license from Sony to use all kinds of Outlander imagery. So you can design your own merchandise through Zazzle—for charitable drives or whatever—and it’s completely legal and won’t cause you any trouble… here’s the link! - https://www.zazzle.com/outlanderfanmerch
(We didn’t get into the question of fanart or individually-designed images (drawings of Jamie and Claire, for instance) that _aren’t_ based on photos, and I’ll ask for clarification on that point. My impression, though, is that things like the SoCal Edition and Portlandia’s T-shirts, which are hand-drawn and use original images, would be fine. You could also email the email@example.com address if you have specific questions about that.)
And the BOTTOM bottom line is that Sony does indeed value and respect both the Outlander fans who support the show, and the work they do, and they thank you very much for that support!