Is this good? I think it's opportunity.
Karla from General Mills said during the social media panel that they did an audit of what messaging existed on Facebook and MySpace to see all the unofficial sites using their logos. What to do with all these people leveraging the logos? She says that most of this is probably good for us, but how do I launch an official site without upsetting these active brand participants?
Jay from MySpace suggests that we can certainly ask the lawyers to serve a cease & desist. This has risks that you will alienate some potentially passionate fans and just inspire more angry sites. But consider that these groups have large number of fans. For example the Pillsbury Doughboy unofficial site has 9,000 fans. Don't turn that person into an enemy. Engage with them, and give him the status of "official publisher" and let him have access to information that helps him be a strong advocate for the brand.
Jay reminds us that many marketers have posted content on social networks and then don't manage those opportunities. If the content is not updated, if those fans are not empowered or given any insight or special treatment, then you are wasting that opportunity.
This is a great lesson for all of us! If you have fans naturally, take this as a great opportunity, not as a threat to your ownership of the brand. Embrace what you fear, and you will win.