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It's fairly well-known that most companies don't mind the production of fanart, though it's usually considered a(n illegal) derivative work. However, what happens when such an illegal derivative work is distributed without permission from the originator of the derivative work?

For example, let's say Company A produces a cartoon series. There's a large fan community for that cartoon series, and Company A tolerates and even encourages fanart for it. Fan B makes a piece of fanart using the cartoon's characters without a license from Company A. Company A doesn't pursue legal action. Now Fan C does something with the piece of fanart such as posting it online or making another derivative work based on it without permission from Fan B, though Fan C gives credit to both Fan B and Company A. Fan B gets mad and sends a cease-and-desist letter to Fan C. Fan C refuses to cease and desist and Fan B wishes to pursue legal action against Fan C. Would Fan B have a case against Fan C? Would Company A have to get involved?


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