Gael Cooper regularly mocks the comic strip For Better or For Worse on Pop Culture Junk Mail, a great blog she's been publishing since 1999. Reading her latest entry reminded me of something I discovered recently: The creator of the strip, Lynn Johnston, shut down a longtime fan site in 2001 by threatening legal action:
We have our own very active website and are responsible for everything that is connected to For Better or For Worse. I support the initiatives taken by my syndicate to prohibit you from continuing your site. I hope we will not have to pursue this matter further.
The fan site, published by schoolteacher Rebecca Stephenson, made extremely limited use of Johnston's work, as you can see in the Alexa archive -- some people probably have more of her strips on their fridge. Stephenson wrote in the site's FAQ she was respecting copyright:
There is a strip on each of the character's pages which showcase them, but the reason I haven't put up any others is, first, because it is possible to find them elsewhere on the web (check the main page or the other FBoFW sites page for links) and second, because of copyright laws, I feel that I should only put enough actual FBoFW strips on this page to communicate the idea of what FBoFW is and who the characters are, and no more.
The site promoted Johnston's book collections and merchandise, noted the strip's copyright and declared its unofficial status. For three years before an official site was launched, it provided a place where fans could find out about the cartoonist and the characters. Her thank you for running the site, which was comfortably within the boundaries of fair use: Legal threats from the syndicate and Johnston.
With the pull she has at her syndicate, Johnston could have permitted the site under license or recognized that it wasn't an infringement. Instead, she bullied it offline to reduce the competition for her own site.