I used to read a lot of posts about how certain actions should not be taken lest the powers that be crack down on that fan, and as a consequence, all fans. (And these types of posts still exist.) There was frequently a Chicken Little “The sky is falling!” type pile on when some people were perceived as crossing lines that others felt that would bring down the wrath of others. CousinJean, the Star Wars self published novel, FanLib are three of the more visible examples to parts of the meta community over on LiveJournal.
And guess what Chicken Littles? The sky never fell. TPTB never unleashed that backlash. That whole exercise appeared to be more about social cohesion in a narrow community of fandom than it was ever about a real potential backlash. None ever happened. For all the talk of OTW creating a legal group because FanLib‘s existence was going to lead to a crack down and fans would need protection? No crackdown. TPTB weren’t going to do it. There was too much of a risk that they would lose in court.
When I see that argument these days, I really just roll my eyes. “Don’t do that! The Powers That Be MIGHT FIND OUT AND BRING PERIL TO OUR HOBBY!” Yeah. Right. These days, companies and individuals either actively seek to find out what is going on in fandom or hire out to have some one monitor what is going on for them. Your Harry Potter is 10 and doing Snape who is in his 30s fan art that you’ve posted publicly on a social networking site like DeviantART or LiveJournal or InsaneJournal? They know about it. That people are selling their works at conventions, on eBay, auctioning them off for donations to their favorite charities, that people are raising funds and making money in some form off those works? They know all about that too. And they haven’t done anything major about it in a long time.
So go screaming about how that’s the way things are, that by selling your fanart, the person is going to bring down the wrath of the intellectual property holders down on innocent, non-profiting fans. All you’re doing with that is demonstrating that you’re not cognizant of the existing business climate and its models, of what businesses are doing and affording yourself more privacy than you actually have: TPTB already know.