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To Owners of Fictional Properties, online games, and rightsholders in general:

Please: Your fans are humans. If you can, handle them gently. They won't mean you any harm and they *will* accidentally step on your toes. They'll love your stuff, they'll love you, and they'll make mistakes. See them as human, and treat them gently, and they will remain your staunchest allies. Even if you suspect otherwise, assume that they didn't mean you any harm. If they prove themselves to be insensitive, then you can hit them hard. But, until then, believe me -- it's in your best interest to treat them as you would a friend you'd like to remain your friend. They'll buy your next book, promote your works and continue to love you, even if you shut down their activities, PROVIDING YOU DO IT RIGHT.

A simple first rule: DON'T use your lawyers as your first form of contact in the case of a dispute! Many lawyers come from a different culture from most fans. They know that standard procedure in the legal world is to send out a brash and threatening 'Bigfoot' letter. This just hurts your fans, and drives them off. And, lawyers charge a lot of money for these letters, so not only are you paying for something -- you're not getting an optimal result for your money. So, what should you do?

Just ask nicely first. Don't even mention lawyers in the first letter if you can avoid it. The fact that you, the creator of their favorite thing, has 1. noticed them and 2. taken the time to ask them nicely will go an amazingly long way. Believe me. Try this method first.

If this fails and you can't come to an agreement nicely, then call in your lawyers and land on them like a ton of bricks.

Thanks for listening, and -- for whatever fandom property you've made -- thanks for making it. I've probably enjoyed it at some time myself.

-Dee Dreslough