In 2002, Fox launched and aired a new sci-fi TV series from the creator of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer called Firefly. Fox only aired 11 episodes (out of order, by the way) before cancelling the series, but Firefly has gone on to develop a fiercely loyal fan following. And while I’m sure Fox loves all that sweet DVD money, god help you if you happen to sell an unlicensed version of Jayne’s hat.
This fan base is increasingly Do It Yourself minded, much in the spirit of the Firefly characters. So much so that Jayne Cobb’s (Adam Baldwin) cunning and manly wool hat has become a hot seller for DIY Firefly knitters on ETSY and Browncoats alike. Well, it seems like the party is over for Jayne fans.
Recently, Ripple Junction bought the licensing rights to mass-produce and sell Jayne’s iconic hat. The hat can be purchased on geek-friendly websites like ThinkGeek, but the crafty folks who had been making their own versions are now going to have to find something else to knit.
According to Whedonesque, Fox and their lawyers are sending out cease-and-desist letters to anyone making and selling “Jayne hats” without a proper license, and even banning the sale of the Firefly item on ETSY. While it appears Fox has every right to do so, why did it take them 11 years to take action against Firefly fans? It seems like a silly thing, considering people have been making and selling these things for over a decade now.
I own a Jayne hat that I bought a few years ago from a DIY Firefly fan named Heather. Her website WearWithStyle sells all sorts of knit hats, including the Jayne version. It’s just strange that these fan-made items are now in the cross-hairs of legal issues. Hopefully Firefly fans like Heather can continue making Jayne hats without feeling like a criminal.