Archive for the ‘legal issues’ category

Fan History Wiki copyright switch: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (“CC 3.0″)

December 12th, 2009

We’ve been doing a lot of backend improvements on Fan History. In the course of fixing things up, we’ve been looking at other fundamental issues to our going forward and excelling at our mission. One of the things that we realized was that we needed to make a switch in our copyright policy. We’ve chosen to go with Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (“CC 3.0″).   We feel that this will help us in several areas:

  • Be able to use text contributions from other CC 2.0+ licensed projects. This includes Wikipedia, Wikia, and many, many more.
  • Have a more secure legal position. The enforceability and legality of our current copyright is a big potential issue. This would solve that problem by using a recognized, legal copyright.
  • Become future compatible. CC 3.0 will automatically upgrade to the latest version.
  • Help attract new contributors from other projects. People expect a certain license type if they want to be involved. Our current one is discouraging to some people in the wiki community.

If you have any questions about what this switch will mean, please read the rational for this.  If you made any contributions and object to this change, please comment on the page with refuse and we’ll work with you to reach some sort of resolution.  If you have yet still  more questions, comment here or on the talk page for the license upgrade switch.

International copyright law could spell big problems for fandom

November 4th, 2009

If you haven’t seen it, read Cory Doctorow’s Secret copyright treaty leaks. It’s bad. Very bad. It spells out some of the details of proposed international copyright law that the Obama administration is looking to change the world with.

If this changed happened, it would be bad news for fans and their families. It looks like it would also squash a lot of fair use rights that fans rely on for things like fanvidding and fan fiction archives. For fan fiction archivists, there is always the question of “Is this material legal?” For the most part, archivists just ignore this question and only deal with the issue when legal threats are issued. There is no precedent for the material so we just don’t know. If archivists are going to be held liable for user uploaded material, then there will be an incentive to close archives. Why? Most archivists run their archives as a labor of love and cannot afford to the liability.

Fansites are in the same spot. Most of those are also labors of love that rely on their promotional aspects and fair use to rely on what they host or allow contributors to their site to upload.

There are so many other issues with this and how it is bad news for the fan community that I can’t fully articulate them. This is not change we can believe in. Let the US government know that this is not good and is not necessary for national security, that our current implementation of this has been a total failure and unAmerican in that it does not allow due process.

Copyright Issues In the Air For Halloween?

October 29th, 2009

Through the years, many individuals and companies have been come face to face with cease and desist orders over copyright infringement. Zazzle, a type of CafePress website for users to be able to create their own designs and sell them on various bobbles and clothing was sued by Summit Entertainment for selling Twilight swag.

Courthouse news mentions it in their article Moviemakers Sue Site Over ‘Twilight’ Swag

Though the main event this Halloween season seems to be Ms Marmite Lover.

Then Warner Bros sent their own ceast and desist letter to a blogger by the name of Ms Marmite Lover who wanted to have a Harry Potty Dinner in her home for the cost of recooping the fees of the meal. She has placed the ordeal on her site and changed the name of her party, but still drew up drama to try to get support for her idea. Her blog entry, Generic Wizard night illustrates the issue, but also boiled over to in her article – Harry Potter and the chamber of lawyers. It was even mentioned in the site in the article Muggle lawyers ban Harry Potter feast

Some of the commenters tried to tell her through her site and the Gaurdian site that if her feast had been not for profit, it would have been no problem and there was no reason to pitch a fit to the public if she changed the name already. Yes, even if it might sound ridiculous, it is unfortunate that society has come to horde anything in the name of money.

Some reactions to Ms Marmite Lover and the Case of Copyright Infringement:

‘Screw You, Mrs Marmite Lover’
Warner Bros. to fan: No Harry Potter dinners for you!
Harry Potter themed dinner banned for ‘infringing copyright’
Harry Potter dinner disappears

You might have to wonder if Halloween just might end up ruined with all the greed amok…

written by Nile Flores (@blondishnet on Twitter)

After Lawsuit Threat, LyricWiki Is With Wikia

September 23rd, 2009

Written by Nile Flores (@blondishnet on Twitter)

A recent article in The Register called US music publishers sue online lyrics sites. TechDirt also covered this in their article Music Publishers Now Suing Lyrics Sites And Their Execs. One of the sites included was LyricWiki. Basically this lawsuit would shove the site in with those who burn and sell music without a license.

Also, recently Wikia acquired LyricWiki. As explained in their LyricWiki:Wikia Migration FAQ:

The dream will live on – Yay! Wikia has arranged a licensing deal so that royalties can be paid to music publishers, which will avoid the nasty risk of the site being sued out of existence. It’s good to know that our years of hard work won’t be evaporating any time soon! This is a gigantic relief for me and I’m sure many of you as well.

It is unfortunate to hear such things have to happen to some sites. I am willing to bet it was more for the money to sue in these economic times, rather than to stick it to another for copyright infringement. With so many sites out there that involve lyrics.

No offense, but when I go to a lyrics site, I am usually thinking of a tune or maybe a friend asked and here I am searching to find the song. Not all artists print their lyrics within their albums. I know, I have quite a few CDs on my shelf to prove that. So – these lyrics sites are really useful. Some of these lyrics sites I have gone to for years have been open for over a decade. How is a .ORG site (which technically by definition means the site is not really for profit) actually profitting from this?

As Michael Masnick said in his Techdirt article about his opinion on these lyric sites being sued.

I’d really like to see them prove that. These sites aren’t profiting off the backs of songwriters, they’re helping more people find and understand the lyrics of songs they like. That gives fans a closer connection to the music and more reason to buy things which will actually bring songwriters money. It’s stunning how shortsighted and backwards the music publishers are being here.

Although it has been said years ago that it was indeed illegal to do such, these sites have been harmless. Anyway…

For me to LyricWiki, I guess it kind of was a forced move to go to Wikia. Myself, I probably would have done the same if faced with being sued and the licensing price alone was insanely expensive. Sorry to hear about it – may Wikia not kill your site.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – fighting mob mentality in fandom

July 29th, 2009

Metamobs can be hazardous to fandom. Particularly when they don’t get their facts straight before launching into attack mode.

A recent example of this? The attempted lynching of Doctor Beth which nearly turned into an entire anti-fanzine crusade in some circles.

See, Doctor Beth sells used media fanzines. She sells them on ebay. She sells a lot of them, and at rather hefty markup (but hey, have you ever tried to run an ebay store? Those fees are pretty steep. You’ve got to sell things at good prices to make any money at all doing so.) I’ve seen her in action at MediaWest: she’ll look for people unloading large collections of old ‘zines in room sales and in the dealer’s room, try to haggle them down to buy the whole lot at once at a bargain price, only to turn around and sell them on ebay.

Is that proper fannish etiquette? Well, everyone may feel differently about that. But it’s not anything illegal (leaving aside the questionable legality of fanzines as an issue for now. She’s not publishing them. She’s selling them as collectibles for specific fandoms). She’s buying what she believes to be genuine, original copies of fanzines and looking to resell them elsewhere on a market where there may be limited supply, and more demand. Not any different than running a used bookstore, is it?

Problem is, not everyone selling used ‘zines at MediaWest or elsewhere is always on the up-and-up themselves with what they’re selling. Despite rules about not allowing the sale of bootleg zines at the con, some people still do – not in large quantities, perhaps, but here and there. Someone might have borrowed and made a private copy of a hard-to-find/out-of-print ‘zine for themselves in the past. Many people print out and may even nicely bind copies of their favorite stories for their own personal reading and enjoyment. Months or years later, they may no longer want them and feel, “well, I paid for the ink and paper to print this, let me try to get a couple bucks back for it” and throw some of those home printing jobs in among their genuine ‘zines to resell. Or they may give those print-outs along with their ‘zines to a friend going to the con, to try to sell for them, and that friend may have no idea which are “real” ‘zines vs. not.

Stuff happens. However it happens. End result, Doctor Beth ends up with hundreds of genuine fanzines to resell – along with a couple “fake” or “unauthorized” ones in the batch. Not a big deal – until the author of one of those stories who never authorized its publication in a ‘zine stumbles across their story for sale on ebay.

Naturally, said fan has reason to be upset. The problem comes when the news begins to spread through the fandom blogosphere. A statement that “One of the authors on my flist discovered an ebay listing for her work printed, bound and listed as a ‘fanzine’ without her knowledge” soon becomes twisted as it is passed and reprinted, rephrased, and a mob called to action against this great injustice! Soon it becomes a cut-and-paste message stating firmly, “it looks like everything doctor_beth2000 is selling is stolen, printed and put in a cheap binder with fanart without the knowledge or permission of the writer or artist.”

But it doesn’t end at that. The enraged mob decides that they must take action on their own beyond spreading a warning: they must attack the offender directly. Report Doctor Beth to ebay for copyright violation! “And don’t stop there,” argue those who, in this internet age of fandom, have issues with the publication of fan-fiction in ‘zines sold for money, period. “Let’s report other fanzine sellers on ebay! Whether they’re the publishers themselves! It’s wrong to sell fiction for money no matter what! In fact, no one publishes fan-fiction zines anymore, so they must all be bootlegs! Get ‘em all!”

One or two people try to spread a voice of calm. Doctor Beth removes three – three out of 700! – listings, which turned out that yep, they were private copies of stories never meant to be sold or resold. People are asked to revise their statements of outrage and accusations about what Doctor Beth was doing. Many do, some don’t. Some are rather passive-aggressive about it, either only striking through their accusations or adding an “ETA” after them instead of removing them completely or making a new follow-up post to retract what they’d said earlier.

Of course, the damage is done already no matter what. Doctor Beth has been labeled a wrongdoer in fandom; the viral warning spread like rapid fire in a way that retractions of the attacks against her never will (because apologies about misinformation never are as much of a “fun” bandwagon to jump on, are they?) This isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone in fandom targeted like this, and I have no doubts it will be far from the last time, either.

Should Doctor Beth been more careful about what she’s selling? Perhaps. There are plenty of resources out there to verify the origins and authenticity of fanzines, and they should be utilized by anyone who may have reason to doubt the origins of a publication they come across. FanHistory’s Fanzine Category indexes thousands of fanzine titles by genre and fandom. There is also a useful resource list here of fandom-specific ‘zine indexes.

At the same time, though, perhaps fans can be more careful and at least try to think calmly for a moment before joining a mob attack. Make sure you’ve got the facts straight about a situation; make sure the person or persons making the accusations are being honest and are trustworthy, and not working on their own questionable agenda in leading an attack; make sure the accused has had some chance to respond and correct a situation first. Otherwise there is little to be gained except potentially aiding in the spread of misinformation and damaging another’s reputation in fandom – or fandom as a whole.

AT&T Blocking 4Chan

July 27th, 2009

The following was originally posted by girlvinyl on her LiveJournal and is reposted here with her permission. She articulates her position for better than I feel I can on this issue…

I’m not normally one to make ‘statements’ on things in regard to internet drama. Even when that NYT article came out last year, I didn’t comment on it. Most things happen and I know that it’s wiser to sit quietly and let people fight things out amongst themselves. For a variety of reasons.

But today something happened that I feel I should comment on because it affects me and will eventually effect you too.

AT&T has started blocking 4chan for it’s customers. Right now there are just internet forums and posts with people chiming in and no real word of exactly what is happening and how widespread it is. It doesn’t appear to be all customers right now, but it does appear to be geographically diverse.

I do not use 4chan. I don’t understand it and I honestly find it sort of boring. I’m an obsessive gawker devotee, to give an idea of my browsing habits. I like faux news and lol news and some light politics. The content at 4chan is too much for me to handle in general. But 4chan and ED have a close and strange relationship. ED was not started to catalog 4chan, it was started to make fun of LJ, but a lot of 4chan users and ED users started to overlap, so the content began to overlap. 4chan’s founder became Time’s person of the year, 4chan has grown and grown and grown. ED has grown too. And a lot of that growth comes at times when 4chan is down. When 4chan experiences downtime, ED experiences significant increases in traffic. ED appears to be the second stop for 4chan users when their main site is unavailable.

It’s not my place to judge the merit of content on ED or 4chan, but I am an avid proponent of free speech. I understand that AT&T is a business and that that business has the right to shape it’s network traffic as it sees fit. And of course it’s customers have the right to choose another ISP [well, unless AT&T has a monopoly in that locality, in which case they have the right to file an anti-trust lolsuit, which is a dismal reality]. However, the FCC affords common carrier status to AT&T. This means that they have a responsibility to provide the service in a way that is conducive to the public good.

4chan is the cesspool of the internet. I think most people will agree on this. That’s why this battle has started with 4chan. It’s easy to justify to the general public that this censorship is “good” censorship and that 4chan shouldn’t be accessible to anyone, for any reason. Other websites will then be blocked by AT&T, ED being one of them. The smaller ISPs will follow suit, citing AT&T as precedent and eventually there will be blacklists of sites that all ISPs implement for the “public safety”. Thus we have internet censorship with no laws necessary. Even if there are laws against it, Obama has made it clear that he and the congress are happy to excuse this kind of behavior by internet companies and will protect them from any kind of law suit.

If you have AT&T, I highly suggest you switch to another ISP as soon as you can. If you switch to another provider, you can probably get a better deal with a 6 month promotion anyway.

Get a list of ISPs in your area

And here is the ED article which is being formulated currently. It includes a list of numbers to call to cancel your AT&T service.

Why Australian fansites – and fans – need to be careful with Shotacon

July 8th, 2009

Wondering why archives such as SkyeHawke(wiki), based in Australia, have such strict rules disallowing shotacon and chan?

This is why.

Man convicted of child porn.

In December 2008, a conviction was upheld in NSW Supreme Court, in which a man was brought to trial for cartoons based on the child characters of The Simpsons, showing them engaged in sexual acts. The fact that “no real children” were depicted or harmed–often the argument used by fans in defense of shota–was irrelevant, according to the judge in the Supreme Court appeal.

“In my view, the magistrate was correct in determining that, in respect of both the Commonwealth and the NSW offences, the word ‘person’ included fictional or imaginary characters … the mere fact that the figure depicted departed from a realistic representation in some respects of a human being did not mean that such a figure was not a ‘person’.”

The LiveJournal community sf_drama may be wanking over the subject currently, but that doesn’t change what the law is for Australian fans. And it’s probably something all fans should keep in mind: make sure you know the laws regarding child pornography and how it is specifically defined in your country, or another country if you are sharing images, stories, etc with fans worldwide. You may be putting yourself or others at legal risk and not realize it.

Not a parody? Then not fair use. Precedent is bad news for argument that fan fiction is legal!

July 2nd, 2009

There have been endless debates in fandom as to the legality of fan fiction.  The general consensus, with some noted exceptions, in the community is that fan fiction is highly derivative and would not be covered under fair use.  Some of the most noted proponents of fair use for fan fiction claim that fan fiction is a form of parody. I’ve generally found this type of rationalization rather ridiculous, as most fanfics are easily perceived to not be parodical in nature. (And you’re never going to convince me that your post episode story is, or that your chan story featuring Harry Potter getting butt sex is a form of parody either.)  We’ve just been rather fortunate in our community that there is no legal precedent in US courts, which say that fan fiction is a copyright violation.  We’ve also been fortunate that copyright holders have largely managed to ignore fan fiction or saw ways that they could fit fan fiction into their business plan.  In the past several years, there have been almost no cease and desist letters and DMCA takedown notices for fan fiction.

But it looks like we have finally come close to having that precedent that everyone should be concerned about. By concerned , I mean they need to be concerned about keeping fan fiction out of the courts if this holds up on appeal.  Why?  This court case shows that we could damned well lose.

There was a court case in the United States.  It involved an unauthorized sequel to a work by J.D. Salinger.  The court wrote the following:

To the extent Defendants contend that 60 Years and the character of Mr. C direct parodic comment or criticism at Catcher or Holden Caulfield, as opposed to Salinger himself, the Court finds such contentions to be post-hoc rationalizations employed through vague generalizations about the alleged naivety of the original, rather than reasonably perceivable parody.

Or as Ashby Jones at the Wall Street Jones said, “did not fit into the fair use exception in copyright law because the book did not constitute a critical parody that “transformed” the original.” This sort of ruling doesn’t help the case for the legality of fan fiction.  The court saw through the same sort of bullshit rationalizations for the legality of of this work that fan fiction writers have made.

Will this change the situation in the fan community at all?  No, it won’t.  What it hopefully will do is quiet those voices who claim that fan fiction is transformative, not derivative.  that rational may end up doing more harm than good.

Torchsong Chicago

June 5th, 2009

A lot of my friends are big Torchwood fans, and a number of them have been planning on attending Torchsong Chicago this weekend, especially to see prominently advertised guest and main series star John Barrowman.

Well, at the last minute it’s been announced that both John and Kai Owen will not be attending (John due to injury, Kai for undisclosed personal reasons). Understandably, there is huge upset over this, particularly given the very high cost paid by many attendees for the event, photo-op tickets, and a cabaret that was advertised primarily as a showcase for John. The convention organizers are so far insisting that absolutely no refunds will be given, not even partial ones, which no doubt they’ve covered their butts legally in their ticket sales to do this, as most all conventions do. Yet given the high prices paid by some for the event — upwards of $1,410 a person in an auction for front row seats and $500 for “Premiere Memberships” — one wonders if they’ll really be able to get away with that or if there might be so much public outcry (and potential legal troubles) that they may have to relent. Even if not, I doubt many Torchwood fans would go to another event sponsored by this same promoters again.

Who knows what will happen yet? I’ll be following the fall-out and looking forward to reports back from my friends — some of whom were already in transit to the Chicago area before news of the cancellations was released.

Whose art is it, anyway?

April 28th, 2009

Art theft.

It’s a major problem in the science fiction and fantasy art communities–and not just for the artists. It’s also a problem for those who may be looking for artwork they can use for their fandom projects, be it a website, a self-published book, a fanzine, etc. And the problem lies in how one makes sure that they really have the rights to the image they wish to use, when there are a lot of people out there selling art they claim to be rights-free/copyright-free when that is not in fact the case.

I see it reported almost weekly at SciFiFantasyHorrorSpace_ArtShows (wiki), a major mailing list for artists who work (both professionally and at the hobbyist level) in the Science Fiction & Fantasy illustration and fine arts fields. Constantly, members are finding people listing for sale on ebay cds of “public domain/copyright free” artwork – work which in fact they’ve stolen from various artists’ websites (or scanned from books, calendars, etc) without permission and burned onto disk. These sellers have no rights to these images, yet they figure no one will catch them doing this. And even when people DO catch them – often by recognizing a piece of artwork shown in one of the listings – ebay will do nothing about it unless the specific artist whose work is being featured in the listing submits a claim, and they don’t make it especially easy to do so. (Their “Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program” involves a complicated procedure that puts the burden of proof, and effort, on the artist whose rights are being infringed upon instead of the seller claiming those rights illegally.) And often it seems like an uphill, never-ending battle to these artists fighting this type of copyright infringement, for as one listing gets shut down, ten more just appear in its place.

Many artists try to do what they can to protect their work: watermarking images on their websites, disabling direct downloads, yet crafty thieves still will find their way around these blocks to take what they want to sell. And even beyond people selling artwork they don’t have the rights to, others with less nefarious goals don’t think anything of taking a piece of artwork they see on an artist’s site and using it on their own website, MySpace page, LiveJournal icons, craft projects, etc. This happens with fan art as well as just fantasy and science fiction art and is a huge problem for artists trying to maintain the rights to their work.

A case that shows how this can affect not just an artist but someone unknowingly using an image they (at least claim they) didn’t realize was copyright protected is that involving Russet Noon. The author of this controversial Twilight tribute novel, Lady Sybilla, apparently “purchased a CD collection of allegedly ‘royalty-free’ images” which included “Blood Roses” by Charli Siebert. The artist never gave up rights to this image, and yet, the impression of this exists on-line due to the image’s inclusion on this CD and, as Lady Sybilla commented elsewhere in the Russet Noon debates, “it’s being used and edited by people all over the internet”. Here, just like with the rights-infringing ebay sales, the burden of proof was directed back at Charli Siebert to have to prove ownership of the rights to the image (and eventually Lady Sybilla acquiesed and announced she was looking for new cover art for her book.)

My point in bringing up this issue (both in general and this one specific case) is that when either creating or using artwork, one needs to be very aware of not just protecting your rights as an artist, but also being certain you really have the rights to an image you want to use. Artists, take care to protect the images you share on the web, and be vigilant about cracking down when and if you are alerted to someone violating your rights. To those using other’s artwork, be careful where you obtain it. Be wary of third-parties claiming to sell you “public domain”, “royalty free” and other kinds of “clip art” collections. If you’re looking to publish or create something for profit yourself using someone else’s artwork, consider biting the bullet and purchasing the rights to use an image either directly from the artist, or through a stock image clearinghouse site that will provide evidence and stand behind their rights to sell you that image for use. Don’t assume just because you see an image “everywhere” that everyone–or specifically anyone other than the artist–has the rights to use it.

Can LadySybilla and Russet Noon hang on long enough to change fandom?

April 20th, 2009

I’ve been following the Russet Noon situation with a lot of interest; it’s like the Star Wars book situation meets RDR that’s been crossed with a Harry Potter Lexicon with a bit of CounsinJean mixed in.

I’m really curious how this will turn out. The author of Russet Noon, LadySybilla, has done herself no favors in some regards by using Wikipedia for self promotion, engaging in alleged socketpuppeting and alleged  trying to sell the books behind the scenes to bloggers. This falls pretty much into the realms of what happened to CousinJean and the Star Wars writer. Their actions might have fallen into a legal “gray zone”, but fandom pressure came to bear and both were punished so much by fandom that they largely left the fandom field of battle before they could get sued.

So far in this case, it doesn’t look like LadySybilla has been threatened with legal action. Why? I’m not certain. She might have been and we might not have heard about it. Or the intellectual property owners could be hoping that fandom makes the situation go away, like they did with the CousinJean and the Star Wars book. Or, the intellectual property holders could be scared of LadySybilla having lawyers, like Steve Van der Ark and RDR had at the Harry Potter Lexicon. The last one is the big worry potentially because if LadySybilla has lawyers and is willing to go to court, she could win and then things could become really difficult for the entertainment industry.

If LadySybilla isn’t pushed to take her book off the market by fandom and if she isn’t sue, she could open fandom’s pandora box. The conventional wisdom is that the Twilight fandom is feral where people aren’t grounded in media fandom’s historical traditions. If they see that some one can get away with this, they might be willing to try to do similar. The flood gates might swing wide open with this and fandom could very well change in unexpected ways.

So I’m taking the wait and see approach because this is all fascinating to watch play out and think of what might be if LadySybilla can deal with fandom pressure long enough to get her story published.

Well ouch. MySpace turns super fan unfriendlier…

December 30th, 2008

MediaPost is reporting that MySpace has come up with a new way of dealing with infringing fans. Instead of DMCA takedown notices, cease and desist letters, etc., companies can now overlay the content on your MySpace contributions with their own advertisements:

Once a site publisher enables Auditude, every piece of content gets a unique ID. First, a content owner has to supply Auditude with copies of all content it wants “fingerprinted,” and Auditude adds it to a database. Once deployed on MySpace, for example, the technology can scan every digital file queued for uploading to see if there’s a match within the indexed content. It can then take any action the content company prefers, including blocking the upload. MTV Networks is one of the first entertainment companies to sign up for the MySpace service – and it’s going the ad route for content from BET, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

That kind of sucks the big one. It probably helps explain why MySpace has never really caught on big with hardcore fandom who have instead opted for services like LiveJournal, FaceBook, Quizilla, FanFiction.Net, YouTube, etc. Well, that and a number of teen fandom friends I have music wise were put off when they posted their bandfic, bandslash when they were contacted by people that they characterized as pedophiles.

That sort of heavy handed tactic could result in a loss of people tuning in to MySpace because it is hugely intrusive and doesn’t offer any form of recourse. (Of course, considering that MySpace offers some unique things that you can’t get elsewhere and a lot of people won’t ever notice that, and it will help MySpace with their revenue stream, I can’t see any change happening to dissuade media companies from responding this way to alleged copyright violations. )

Yay! The RIAA isn’t going to sue John Doe!

December 19th, 2008

I sort of follow the RIAA news in terms of their rabid desire to sue anyone who downloads content a certain way, be the content legal or illegal. So I was pretty happy to read this Mashable post which said that the RIAA was going to stop their stupid and costly John Doe lawsuits. About time.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like fandom and the entertainment community will be safe from continued wrath of the RIAA because the RIAA has a new tactic: Get your ISP to shut you down. Ick. That’s worse because it denies people of due process and you’re probably not going to be aware that it is going on.

Don’t do that! TPTB might find out!

November 13th, 2008

I used to read a lot of posts about how certain actions should not be taken lest the powers that be crack down on that fan, and as a consequence, all fans. (And these types of posts still exist.) There was frequently a Chicken Little “The sky is falling!” type pile on when some people were perceived as crossing lines that others felt that would bring down the wrath of others. CousinJean, the Star Wars self published novel, FanLib are three of the more visible examples to parts of the meta community over on LiveJournal.

And guess what Chicken Littles? The sky never fell. TPTB never unleashed that backlash. That whole exercise appeared to be more about social cohesion in a narrow community of fandom than it was ever about a real potential backlash. None ever happened. For all the talk of OTW creating a legal group because FanLib‘s existence was going to lead to a crack down and fans would need protection? No crackdown. TPTB weren’t going to do it. There was too much of a risk that they would lose in court.

When I see that argument these days, I really just roll my eyes. “Don’t do that! The Powers That Be MIGHT FIND OUT AND BRING PERIL TO OUR HOBBY!” Yeah. Right. These days, companies and individuals either actively seek to find out what is going on in fandom or hire out to have some one monitor what is going on for them. Your Harry Potter is 10 and doing Snape who is in his 30s fan art that you’ve posted publicly on a social networking site like DeviantART or LiveJournal or InsaneJournal? They know about it. That people are selling their works at conventions, on eBay, auctioning them off for donations to their favorite charities, that people are raising funds and making money in some form off those works? They know all about that too. And they haven’t done anything major about it in a long time.

So go screaming about how that’s the way things are, that by selling your fanart, the person is going to bring down the wrath of the intellectual property holders down on innocent, non-profiting fans. All you’re doing with that is demonstrating that you’re not cognizant of the existing business climate and its models, of what businesses are doing and affording yourself more privacy than you actually have: TPTB already know.

Posessing pornographic Japanese manga? Go to jail!

October 14th, 2008

The full story is told by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in a press release published by Comic Book Resources. The long and short of it:

Mr. Handley’s case began in May 2006 when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content.

And for that, he might go to jail for 20 years. I applaud Random House and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for taking an important and necessary stand on this because the potential consequences for it are scary for fandom, large parts of which exist in a text and art based medium.

Guns N Roses

August 28th, 2008

Are you following the Guns N Roses Chinese Democracy leaked music situation?  If so, please help improve the article on Fan History about Guns N Roses and fill in the details or link to your own post about the topic.  Was the response called for?  Are the actions overkill?  Are “fans” like this killing the music industry or are actions like this killing the music industry?

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