Just saw this item on Slashdot. A classic example of a big corporation not getting the new consumer.
In a nutshell, in the guise of protecting its intellectual property (IP) against illegal merchandisers, Universal is throwing out a lot of babies with the bath-water. The whole Joss Weedon, Firefly etc. type-thing is the foundation for huge amounts of high-quality fan-art and the fans that create, buy and wear it want a stake in the outcome. They promote the TV show and want nothing more than to be a small part of the magic.
Except that nowadays, the fanart IS the magic. Without this degree of customer participation, films like Serenity and shows like Firefly just wouldn’t have the same reach, nor the same staying power (the stuff that sells season X DVDs long after the closing titles have rolled).
The core of the problem is simple. Traditional IP owners think of the IP as being the primary source of value for them. In essence, they pay guards to surround the mine and miners to extract the value. The whole idea that the consumer could be adding equivalent value is alien to them and their infrastructure doesn’t allow for flexibility or evolution (they are frozen in time by legal agreements and the lawyers that protect them).