Fandom has copyright issues. And then it has copyright issues. Some of the stuff that fans do falls into a legal gray zone. It could be or it might not be legal. And really, we don’t want to know because most fans can’t afford the money and the time to fight such a battle. We just want to be left alone. We’ll keep our suspect copyright material and issues to ourselves if you make things affordable, portable and offer us a platform where we can engage in our activities in a way that makes us happy. For the most part, this system works.
Except when it looks like it doesn’t and the law will come down on us. How do you help the economy? You make copyright violations a criminal offense and give the courts the right to seize property associated with copyright infringement. This doesn’t work well for fandom at all.
How much of an impact will this have on fandom? Probably not much. I don’t think the average fan will think their is much of a consequence to them. I don’t think that they believe that studios will come after them, that sports teams will come after them, that recording companies will come after them. Non-American fans probably won’t care because not their jurisdiction. But if you’re an American fan (or company) who runs a fansite with potentially infringing material, while you might not be worried, I would be because this isn’t just a fine but potential jail time.
Seriously, copyright law in the US needs a major overhaul to protect consumers who aren’t hurting a company’s bottom line with their activities and to encourage business to deal realistically (and creatively) with a changing climate for business plans.