I remember the controversy when film studios and other intellectual property owners forced numerous fan sites off the web. I'm thinking particularly about Star Trek and Harry Potter - which was a particularly mean-spirited example, seeing that most of the fansites were created by children and were about the books, not the film version.
So it's now very interesting to see that Sony is providing free templates to bloggers that promote Spiderman 2. These promotional templates are available for Blogger and LiveJournal. There are also RSS feeds on the movie's website.
In addition, LiveJournal users can download animated icons with characters from the movie.
I wonder if this is a new trend and an advance in the mainstreaming of blogging, or if it's just a quirky marketing idea which is just a dead end. A number of LiveJournal users already have icons which promote particular movie & TV characters, singers and other personalities. Of course, all of those icons are unauthorized. So is this one Hollywood studio thinking, "if you can't beat them, join them" and attempting to get some good-will from bloggers as well as free advertising? It's also a sign that the business side of big media is starting to notice the blog medium. One implication of this is that they will try to work with us and use us - and maybe there is some chance of a win-win situation here. But does this mean that bloggers will need to be more careful about recycling intellectual property? For example, I can imagine that some bloggers might download these Spiderman templates and alter them in a way which subverts their marketing purpose. What would Sony do then? Would it follow Starbuck's example in suppressing the Corporate Whore parody?
Incidentally it is a lot more difficult to find the Corporate Whore logo than it used to be. Go to the Illegal Art website, take a glance at the hilarious click-through agreement, and go into the Visual section. Salon also wrote an article about illegal art, which is well worth a read.