One of the problems is that I don't know that SFWA has defined what a professional production IS.
Is it a production that earns money? Then Wizard of Oz was not a professional film for many years.
Is it a production that was intended to earn money, regardless of how successful it was? Well, then Plan Nine from Outer Space qualifies, but I don't think it's going to make the ballot.
Is it a production that was exclusively made by people with previous paid experience? That lets out the writer/director/creator of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. It also lets out any other production where it's someone's first paid experience, doesn't it?
Is it a production that meets a certain standard of quality? Well then, it has to actually go through a panel of judges to see if it meets that standard. Which is what the Nebulae are all about
: a panel of judges deciding on the merits of several submissions.
Is it a production made in which professionals (not necessarily PAID professionals) have made significant and substantial contributions to? Phase II qualifies on two points, because they use many professionals, and many of them are actually paid for their participation.
Just what IS a "professional production"? Has anyone, including SFWA, actually come up with a formal definition, or do they simply rely on an informal definition that "everyone knows"?
is right that legal and illegal are pretty much binary values: something may fall into an area where no interpretation has been made, giving the illusion of a third "grey" value. However, eventually, a ruling will be made and it will then fall into either legal or illegal.
However, they have missed the point that SFWA is NOT discussing whether World Enough and Time is legal or not. SFWA is discussing whether it is "professional" or not. It is debatable as to whether they SHOULD be addressing that issue or not, but until they do, it is utterly irrelevant to bring it up. Doing so is somewhat akin to deciding whether Mike Tyson won a fight or not by bringing up the fact that he is a convicted felon and thus perhaps should not have been allowed to compete in the first place.
Thus, the sole issue remains at this time, is it a "professional production" or not. If they choose to disqualify it because it is not an authorized derivative work, it still won't settle the issue of whether it is a professional production. And what they decide on THAT issue is going to set important precedents for the future.