Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Inspector Spacetime: Victim of Intellectual Property Theft?

You may recall jumping for joy on Monday at the news that there would be an Inspector Spacetime web series. Since then, it's come to light that not only are no Community actors involved in the project, no one from NBC or Community has anything to do with it. Instead, Travis Richey, the actor who played Inspector Spacetime (he's made brief appearances in two episodes of Community, with his voice used in a third) has taken it upon himself to produce, write and star in a six-part web series.

Richey's Kickstarter page asks fans to fund him up to $20,000 to film the series, written by him and writing partner Eric Loya. He says in his project video (above), "I did at first try to pitch the series to NBC and the people at Community. That's not really how Hollywood works, though. You can't just give someone something and have it made." Sure. But you also can't just take something that isn't your intellectual property and make it yourself, right?

Richey insists that he won't be profiting from fan donations, that their money will be used "for equipment only" and that he is simply doing this because "fans need this series to happen." Of course, as others have pointed out, that 20 grand worth of equipment would remain his property after this project. Not too shabby.

Luckily, now that the complete lack of authorization behind Richey's plan has been revealed, he probably won't reach that lofty fundraising goal. If he does, though, NBC would surely shut this thing down faster than you can say "the question isn't where, Constable…but when?"

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  • http://www.collegehumor.com/user:328495 Chase Mitchell

    The webseries itself isn't a bad idea, so their pitch to Harmon and the network must have really blown. Feels weird to root for NBC, but I'd rather that than see this guy get a bunch of free equipment from making glorified fan fiction.

    • http://www.allnightpictures.com KidPresentable

      @Chase Mitchell That's uh, not really a fair assumption if you know anything at all about pitching. There's a million reasons why something might get a pass besides the quality of the pitch

  • http://twitter.com/joshung Joshua Ungerleider

    If it's not for profit, wouldn't that fall under fair use though?

    • Hallie Cantor

      i suppose! chase makes a good point that its basically fan fiction, which isnt illegal as far as i know. it FEELS kinda scumbaggy to ask fans for money, but the guy may not technically be doing anything wrong.

    • http://eecunnings.tumblr.com/ Eric Cunningham

      @Joshua Ungerleider Not making a profit doesn't necessarily qualify something for fair use. Wikipedia says "Works of fanfiction are more likely to constitute fair use if they are “transformative” with respect to the original work, if they are non-commercial, if they appropriate relatively little of the original work, and/or if they do not tend to detract from the potential market for or value of the original work." NBC could argue that creating an Inspector Spacetime web series detracts from their ability to do the same when they see fit.

      It'd be kinda dickish though.

    • http://twitter.com/joshung Joshua Ungerleider

      @Eric Cunningham @Hallie Cantor Oh yeah, definitely dickish to ask for money for a project that seems to have more to do with expanding his profile than creating a webseries for "fans."

      Though, wasn't there a made up wiki for Inspector Spacetime too? I think the boat may have sailed for anybody not named Dan Harmon to do anything with Inspector Spacetime (including NBC). There's a surprising amount of information online for a show that never existed.

  • bobkipper

    I wonder if this will affect upcoming appearances of Inspector Spacetime on Community. I doubt anybody actually involved with Community is feeling very positive about this and they probably won't be super inclined to call this (kind of naive and hopefully not as asshole-y as he sounds) guy back to film more bits for the show. I'm no TV-ologist though. I don't know how these things work.

  • Garrett Palm@facebook

    Dr. Who has had plenty of different Doctors. They can just get a new Inspector.