Fanedits are fan-created versions of officially available movies. Fans spend huge amounts of time with sophisticated software to add, cut or alter scenes to improve the original or simply create different versions of a movie. Fanedit.org is the largest such community in the world and the MPAA has, in the words of the admin, just ‘castrated’ the site.
Faneditors consider what they do to be an artform. Taking famous movies as a base, faneditors spend huge amounts of time editing with sophisticated software in order to create improved or just plain different versions of existing movies. Most of the time, faneditors try to improve what is wrong or bad with a movie, using advanced techniques to create a new piece of art based on the original. Of course, faneditors love to share their work with others in the community, something the movie industry wants to bring to an end.
In existence since 2006, Fanedit.org is the world’s biggest fanedit site and the people there clearly have a passion for what they do. Visited by around 2000 people every day, members of the site have created dozens of new versions of existing movies such as sci-fi greats Alien, The Matrix, Terminator and Star Trek, and regular movies like Titanic, Harry Potter and Pulp Fiction. However, things started to turn sour for the site recently. TorrentFreak caught up with the admin of Fanedit.org, boon23, for the lowdown.
TF: Please introduce yourself to the readers
boon23: I am boon23, faneditor and administrator of the biggest fanedits website in the world. I’m a preschool teacher from Europe and as faneditor I post under the name CBB (created by boon) and have so far created 29 fanedits, which is quite a lot. It is my hobby, my art, the thing I really love to do and will continue to do.
TF: Tell us a little about fanediting.
boon23: It’s actually a bit like creating a mix music CD or deleting tracks from a music album, but even more like remixing music to your own liking. Creating fanedits is a desire as old as movies themselves. People love to make things more their own or enjoy a variation on the original.
TF: How long have people been sharing fanedits online?
boon23: The online sharing of fanedits started 2004 with the fanedit: The Phantom Edit, a fanedit by Mike Nichols based on The Phantom Menace (SW Episode 1). It was shared millions of times, because people had such a big desire for a grown up version of that movie. The latest incredibly successful fanedit is Adywan’s Star Wars Revisited, which corrected every little flaw from the 2004 release of A New Hope. New special effects, sharper image, better and corrected coloring, new and improved scenes, new music, additional and corrected sound effects. It was created by one guy in 2 years, in which he did nothing else but work on this project.
Fanediting is strictly non commercial (on fanedit.org). We expect everyone interested in a fanedit to buy and own the original movie, have links for that on every page and ban and report everyone that tries to sell a fanedit. With this we are trying to keep it as legal as possible.
TF: The MPAA don’t like what happens on the site. When did you first hear that they had the site in the cross-hairs?
boon23: Three days ago I heard for the first time from them through my webhost, who was contacted by them. They filed a DMCA complaint and wanted two pages containing loads of Rapidshare download links removed. They did not get into detail, or say which fanedits were concerned. Both pages contained links to five or more fanedited movies.
TF: What exactly is their complaint?
boon23: Their problem is that people are sharing movies for free and they do not earn money from that, even if those movies are not the original versions. They see a copyright infringement in this, despite our warnings and disclaimers for legality. The MPAA demands are not clear yet.
TF: Not all studios have a huge problem with the site – tell us about Lucasfilm.
boon23: Lucasfilm tolerated and accepted fan films. A year ago we were contacted by their anti-piracy department regarding one fanedit they wanted to be removed, but they clearly stated that they had looked through the entire website and did not find anything offensive – and fanedit.org has about 80!!! Star Wars fanedits!
TF: You had a BitTorrent tracker on Fanedit.org, could you tell us more about that?
boon23: We used TorrentTrader but linked from it to external torrents only. No torrent was ever transferred by our own tracker. On the tracker we had about 400 torrent links to fanedits.
TF: Is this the first threatened legal action against the site?
boon23: Fanedit.org started in 2006 and we have not had any kind of legal problem before (except for the small and rather positive incident with Lucasfilm). The page was never private and open for all search engines.
TF: What steps are you taking in the face of these MPAA threats?
boon23: Dreamhost has informed us of the consequences – being shut down, lawsuit filing etc, so that is why we are taking down all the download links from Fanedit.org and the according forum now, which is an incredible amount of work. We deactivated our tracker yesterday and cannot bring it up again on this webhost.
TF: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, and good luck in the future.
Boon23 told us that he feels this MPAA action is a serious blow against an artform that is not harming the industry and was certainly never based on anything commercial, and he is saddened that this previously-tolerated ‘gray area’ (such as with Lucasfilm) has now come to an end.
Time will tell what the future is for Fanedit.org and fanedits in general. In the meantime, it seems clear that a US-based host is causing difficulties for the site, which may have to relocate in order to survive. Any offers of hosting will be gratefully received.