Jocelyn's Other Desk

The writings of Jocelyn Smith, aspiring author, soon-to-be lawyer, once and future politician, all-around opinionated twentysomething.

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Location: Orlando, Florida, United States

I'm a lawyer in Florida, working on three novels, a screenplay, and half a dozen pieces of fanfiction at any given moment.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My Courage Screw To Bid You Adieu!

Some of you, anyway.

For the time being at least, I think I'm well done with the Lee Goldberg blog. I swear, the collective IQ of certain parties over there seems to drop the further into the debate we go, and even a patient lass such as myself has her limits.

You can try and try and explain, but they just don't get it. Whether it is intellect fallen short or ego run amok, those mavens of the published world seem to think that the dictation and interpretation of the rules of law, morality, and just about everything else are theirs by right, all because they have achieved that shadowy dream of seeing their name in print for cash.

I hope to still engage in friendly dialogue with Claire and the Fandom Jammers and Fandom Rebels (please forgive the manner of my departure from Lee's gang. I'm simply fed up) because they have been civil and courteous and gracious in inviting me to voice opinions, regardless of whether they agree with them, and have returned that courtesy by coming to my blog to discuss these complicated and by-no-means obvious issues with me. Much can be learned by such discussion, but after almost a year of trying to participate in Lee Goldberg's discussions, it's clear that his ilk aren't learning much of anything.

Now to be fair, my side hasn't been a glowing emblem of restraint and coherence either--all in all, the feelings of the Goldberg Gang and those fanwriters bold enough to challenge them are too strong to budge, or to even entertain a rational conversation on the subject.

So I shall say farewell.

Thy lips rot off, Lee Goldberg! Thou jarring, fat-kidneyed scullian! You speak an infinite deal of nothing! And you, Paul Guyot, thou villainous, rude-growing measle! Thy forward voice is to speak well of thy friend, thy backward voice is to utter foul speeches and to detract, thou fry of treachery! And David Montgomery, thou art wither'd like an old apple-john! Thine horrid image doth unfix my hair! As for Mark A. York, would the water of thy mind were clear again, that I might water an ass in it! Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile! And last, Holly Lisle, you are as a candle, better burnt out, thou craven, pox-marked strumpet! Thou art spacious in possession of dirt.

Goldbergs one and all, thine sole name blisters our tongues. Thou hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs.

I will most humbly take my leave of you. You cannot, gentlemen, take from me anything that I will not more willingly part withal! Thou art most noble cowards, infinite and endless liars, hourly promise breakers, the owners of no one good quality. In civility thou seem'st so empty!

Fare ye well!

41 Comments:

Blogger The Boys in the Band said...

Wow. Somebody over there kill your kitten? Off to read. That's about the most dramatic hair flounce I've ever read. Anders

2:48 AM  
Blogger The Other People said...

Were I keeping score. And I'm not. I'd say the ficwriters are putting on an increasingly poor show. The really unbalanced ones are over there tossing rocks at the gates, but nobody's home.
Lincoln

3:03 AM  
Blogger 'Rents said...

I agree. They had a chance when Lee read the nice fanfic, said he understood it. Then they managed to define obnoxious in their reaction to that, snatched defeat from the jaws of near equilibrium. I'd write a paper on it, if I could keep my eyes open.
R.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thou" is singular; "you" is plural. Unless you're going for a Quaker cant.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

Jocelyn, I thought you were quite reasonable there for a while. I am surprised by this outburst.

I have to agree with 'the other people' above. The fanficcers have turned me, previously a moderate on the subject, at least partially against them.

So what is copyright law? Something you practice at work and leave there?

9:28 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

That's about the most dramatic hair flounce I've ever read. Anders

Hey, if you're gonna flounce, flounce dramatic! And if you've got something unpleasant to say, say it with Shakespeare!

I'd say the ficwriters are putting on an increasingly poor show.

You're quite right, but I think the "increasingly poor show" is just as accurate for the anti-fanfic people. That's why I bowed out of the debate. The blanket insults were increasing, the rudeness was growing, and in general, nobody was interested in being civil anymore.

Jocelyn, I thought you were quite reasonable there for a while. I am surprised by this outburst.

Apologies. 'Tis quite true, I try to maintain a rational, civil head in a discussion, but I have my limits. Just got fed up.

So what is copyright law? Something you practice at work and leave there?

No, Copyright Law is very applicable in fanfiction, particularly fair use. There's a lot of case law and general copyright doctrine that suggests very strongly that fanfiction qualifies as fair use.

I freely admit, the issue of derivative works leans strongly in the anti-fanficcers favor, but the point is that the issue is not nearly so cut and dry as Lee's crowd wants to make it. And I just got frustrated with people insisting that their own rather uninformed application of the law should dominate just because they wanted it to.

11:28 AM  
Blogger 'Rents said...

The lawyer from Scrivener's Edge made some good comments, directed to you, Jocelyn. Asked some questions. Appears he's been doing IP for a little while. Name of CEP on LG's blog. Why didn't you answer?
Nell

12:37 PM  
Blogger The Other People said...

Jocelyn? If you're going to be a lawyer, you have to get that temper in hand. No room for displays like this or some you've exhibited over there. Do it in a professional arena, let it be known you're given to it in the private arena, it will follow you. We haven't met. You seem like a nice girl. Claire likes you.
Harry.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

The lawyer from Scrivener's Edge made some good comments, directed to you, Jocelyn. Asked some questions. Appears he's been doing IP for a little while. Name of CEP on LG's blog. Why didn't you answer?
Nell


Nell, it's possible that I did, since I vaguely recall that I posted about copyright law not only in response to CEP but to several others as well.

I've explained again and again over there my reasoning behind the position that fanfiction is legal under copyright law (fair use doctrine.) I wouldn't be so frustrated if CEP and the others would admit that the issue is not cut-and-dried law and that we've no way to be certain exactly how the law treats fanfiction specifically.

But they don't. Again and again, they've ignored the very sound legal arguments that I (and a fair number of intellectual property scholars) have made regarding fanfiction, and insist that their interpretation is correct and that no alternative ideas even deserve to be taken seriously. And their position is at least no stronger than mine.

I was just tired of repeating myself. They're not listening, they're not interested in listening, and I at least had tried in the past to not belittle my opponents in a serious argument, while they failed to give me that courtesy at any point.

If you're going to be a lawyer, you have to get that temper in hand. No room for displays like this or some you've exhibited over there.

For the record, I admit that I lost my temper. But as for the "displays" you referred to, I've endurred that and worse from Mark York, David Montgomery, James Hess, both Goldbergs, and Paul Guyot time and time again without blowing my stack. I know it doesn't excuse my actions, but their side of the debate has neither the moral high ground, nor even a leg to stand on as far as manners go.

They've been incredibly vicious, condescending, and rude to me and other fanfiction proponents who have tried from Day One to engage in a civilized discussion of this controversial and complicated topic. Why should I continue biting my tongue in the face of so much rudeness, when these self-proclaimed professionals who profess to have more maturity than fanwriters couldn't be bothered to cut the name-calling long enough to discuss the legalities, moralities, and ins and outs of the matter?

I'm sorry, but I think now that I did FINALLY blow my stack, everyone is acting shocked, ignoring the fact that I've restrained myself against much worse treatment than I've dished out on them.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely sure how you define fan fiction as fitting within the pervue of "fair use." Looking at the U.S. Copyright office:

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

It certainly wouldn't seem to fit.

Put another way: since you are taking the stories of other authors and remixing them, would you expect to be allowed to take a movie, or an episode of a television show, and publish your own show using frames/scenes without first getting permission? Would you defend THAT use as fair?

11:49 PM  
Blogger The Other People said...

Jocelyn, it has nothing to do with what anybody or anything said to you. As an attorney you don't have luxury of blowing your top like this. It will follow you. It's unprofessional in any sense. You don't want to blow your chance for a place in a good firm, or partnership because you've a reputation for losing your temper. That's all.

An aside. Have you looked at this from the other side? Read the posts as somebody who's seeing the basic ethical question - is it all right to use somebody else's character, settings, etc.? Just as an exercise, not saying you have to change your mind on anything. Surely you had to do this while in school. You know, prepare the other side's case first? Try doing it without the point ot looking for an argument against first. If you want to.
Harry.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit confused reading the comments here. I thought the Shakespeare-quoting was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and funny.

But then, being from fandom_wank, I suppose I just think a lot of things are funny.

-Ignatius

1:05 AM  
Blogger Fandom Jam said...

What's confusing you, Ignatius?

SH2

1:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Partially that everyone is chiding Jocelyn for losing her temper, as if she really meant it when she said that stuff about "fat-kidneyed scullians" and stuff.

And partially that Jocelyn's defense to this chiding is a claim that she was pushed hard, and mad, instead of saying something like "Well, I thought it would be funny and ironic to co-opt my parting insults from a published work, twisting them to suit my purposes, just as evol fanficcers do! But seriously, I was doing it for dramatic purposes. I don't *actually* want his lips to rot off."

But I guess I read it wrong?

-Ignatius

2:08 AM  
Blogger Fandom Rebels said...

There's a lot of personal insults there. It's clever she did it with Shakespeare, but she's an attorney, or will be one in another year. Also, she wants to publish. That's a small world. No extra points are awarded for being clever in the insults. Not to sound condescending, but Joceyn's young and just starting out. This is her second or third post in her blog where she hauls off and has at it. Now it's immortalized at LG's blog.

Jocelyn seems a nice person, but tit for tat has no place in these sorts of discussion. I understand what she's saying, but I don't think it's so cut and dried as she sees it. She's an attorney, trained to persuade, not to insult. So...we know she can do better than this.
Carly

2:38 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

Put another way: since you are taking the stories of other authors and remixing them, would you expect to be allowed to take a movie, or an episode of a television show, and publish your own show using frames/scenes without first getting permission? Would you defend THAT use as fair?

Of course not, for a single reason: To make a movie or a television show using material from another show is commercial use. Fanfiction is not. It is nonprofit use for person entertainment, the source of the inspiration material is always cited, and it has no impact on the market for the original material. These are all factors in determining whether a use is "fair."

Read the posts as somebody who's seeing the basic ethical question - is it all right to use somebody else's character, settings, etc.? Just as an exercise, not saying you have to change your mind on anything. Surely you had to do this while in school. You know, prepare the other side's case first?

Of course I have. That's why I first went to Lee's blog. That's the whole point of engaging in these discussions with people who have such different opinions.

And yes, disbelieve me if you wish, but I still disagree with their position.

I CAN understand how it would be upsetting to see other works online based on your own ideas/characters/plots, etc (especially if said works are perverted.) But it can be just as upsetting to get a bad review or a parody.

There's nothing "immoral" about doing something someone else doesn't like. Commentary is not immoral or unethical. Neither is criticism or parody. No one who spends time on message boards of their favorite TV show speculating on how the season-ender cliffhanger will be resolved is breaking the law or being unethical.

By that same token, I believe it is not unethical to write a story resolving that cliffhanger and sharing it with other fans while they wait eagerly for "the real thing."

I'm a bit confused reading the comments here. I thought the Shakespeare-quoting was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and funny.

You're quite right, Ignatius, it was meant to be funny. I was by no means wishing gruesome fates on any of my former sparring partners--merely having a little fun with a "Shakespeare insult generator."

And while it's quite true that tit for tat has no place, I merely find it not to a person's credit when they chide me for engaging in the same type of behavior that has been flung at me for months when they steadfastly ignored it from the people who were on "their" side.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

A generator? Colour me mildly disappointed. I thought the insults clever and amusing, and I was (in spite of the outburstedness of the comments) impressed by your grasp of Shakespeare.

I didn't really think that you wanted anybody's lips to fall off.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

It looks like you took the phrase "fair use" and defined it in a way that supports your case without reading what the "fair use" law says. The "fair use" section of the copyright code is about using direct quotes in reviews, by students writing research papers, by librarians, etc. That section of the copyright code is irrelevant to the question of whether fanfic is allowed or not. Everything I've read by lawyers who are experts in the area of copyright and intellectual property law says the current law does not allow fanfic without the specific, written permission of the original creator.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course not, for a single reason: To make a movie or a television show using material from another show is commercial use. Fanfiction is not. It is nonprofit use for person entertainment, the source of the inspiration material is always cited, and it has no impact on the market for the original material. These are all factors in determining whether a use is "fair."

I didn't actually mean commercial use. I meant simply taking, say, an episode of Buffy, an episode of Star Trek, mashing the two together, and putting it up on your website for others to view. No selling, just public display.

Also, the person who says you are taking what you want to from fair use and ignoring the rest, that's very spot-on. Fan fiction isn't commentary, isn't reference, isn't, say, filming an interview in a bar where an episode of the Simpsons is playing on a television (keeping that in your shot would be fair use). It isn't parody (unless it is, but none of these discussions seem to concern actual parody or satire.

You're simply repurposing someone else's content. There isn't (arguably) any additive value to what you're doing, and, certainly, it CAN be successfully argued that fan fiction has the potential to dilute the value of that which you are repurposing. Your own example -- "resolving" a cliffhanger -- helps my point.

Looking at your example, I have to ask, how would you consider it resolved? It isn't the real story. You don't get to set the cannon. You aren't defining in any way the reality of show/movie series/book. Your fan fiction, at best, is well-regarded dander. THAT's the part I personally find the strangest about the fanfiction movement -- it's pointless.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

A generator? Colour me mildly disappointed. I thought the insults clever and amusing, and I was (in spite of the outburstedness of the comments) impressed by your grasp of Shakespeare.

I did recognize quite a few of them, having a theater major sibling, but I stumbled onto the generator by accident at the very moment I was planning on bowing out of the Goldberg debate and, well, who could resist? (At least I refrained from "you are an ass!" or "you egg!")

The "fair use" section of the copyright code is about using direct quotes in reviews, by students writing research papers, by librarians, etc.

It's also about parody, which at the moment is the closest analogical use to fanfiction that's currently included in the legislative language: the creation of a new work using the old work for a different purpose (in this case, to mock the work.) Why is it such a stretch to believe that the doctrine of fair use could also be construed to include creation of new works using the old work for purposes of appreciation or general entertainment--and parody can be done commercially!

Everything I've read by lawyers who are experts in the area of copyright and intellectual property law says the current law does not allow fanfic without the specific, written permission of the original creator.

And obviously your scholarly sources haven't included Rebecca Tushnet--and don't discount her just because she doesn't say what you want to hear. She's a very well-respected intellectual property scholar, and she (and others) have interpreted the statutes, the case law applying the statutes, and the doctrines behind the statute as most likely including fanfiction among fair uses of copyrighted works.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Amused Fanficcer said...

Well Joce, I for one salute you for leaving the blog. I'm still lurking and posting because I just can't resist beating the dead horse that this debate has become.

I don't know why people are jumping on you about your post. I thought it was brilliant. :D

12:11 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

I didn't actually mean commercial use. I meant simply taking, say, an episode of Buffy, an episode of Star Trek, mashing the two together, and putting it up on your website for others to view. No selling, just public display.

Hmm...good question. There would be some factors in favor of fair use (noncommercial, both source works already published) and it would depend on the purpose (ie, meant to parody the two shows, or just entertainment) whether the source material was cited, etc.

Factors weighing against fair use would be that there was no actual original material ADDED to this "remix video" (as there is in fanfiction) unless the video-maker could show some special way they'd combined the two to make some creative new product with a creative new message.

Sounds weird, I know. But that's the way Copyright Law works.

Also, the person who says you are taking what you want to from fair use and ignoring the rest, that's very spot-on. Fan fiction isn't commentary, isn't reference, isn't, say, filming an interview in a bar where an episode of the Simpsons is playing on a television (keeping that in your shot would be fair use). It isn't parody (unless it is, but none of these discussions seem to concern actual parody or satire.

The whole point I'm getting to make is actually stated time and time again by the lawmakers: the list of "types" of fair use is not exclusive, and changes on a case-by-case basis. This is the part that you are ignoring. THat's why those four factors are there to be "taken into account"--so that each use that comes before a court can be considered specifically.

You're simply repurposing someone else's content. There isn't (arguably) any additive value to what you're doing, and, certainly, it CAN be successfully argued that fan fiction has the potential to dilute the value of that which you are repurposing. Your own example -- "resolving" a cliffhanger -- helps my point.

Actually, under Copyright doctrine, there is value to what the fanwriter is doing: creating. Maybe it's based on something else, but the mere act of thinking and writing and speculating and creating, whatever the degree, has value in the eyes of the people who wrote the laws and the Constitution (hence the emphasis on free speech in this and other civilized societies.)

Maybe YOU don't like the stuff. Maybe badly-written fanfic has little value to society, but it has value to the kid who writes it. It gives that kid a chance to create, even if all they're doing is adding on another layer or going down a different metaphorical road.

Looking at your example, I have to ask, how would you consider it resolved? It isn't the real story. You don't get to set the cannon.

Of course not! It's speculation--that's the whole point. For the writer (and the reader) it's a combination of speculation and wishful thinking while they await the coveted "real thing."

For example, take my Harry Potter story. I'm writing as fast as I can to finish it before the sixth book comes out, because I know my readership will vanish the minute the book arrives. But UNTIL that book arrives, people are speculating, pondering, and hoping for what will happen, so fanfiction provides a "fix" if you will.

Good harmless fun, just like any other form of creative writing.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Hee! None of them are chiding over there, because they aren't posting over there. Just me. And Lincoln sometimes when he's losing a bet.

Mostly Jocelyn, the people here chiding you are adults worried that a young person who hasn't established herself yet will give the wrong impression. The law...it's just the way that professional goes. But, up to you. You been officially chided. Everybody will stop now. Right? (looks meaningfully around the room.)

Having been on both sides of this debate, seen the hobby from both sides, terms like harmless fun, creative outlet, whatever else is being used are too general. The hobby and fandom itself are entities too broad to paint with one brush. But all the chipper - it's just harmless fun comments drive me batty.

Are there wank boards for needlepoint?

You know, we keep telling the parents that everybody at FW is NOT under the age of twenty-five and they honestly think we're pulling their legs. They think it's a bunch of college kids at most - ones who aren't carrying enough credits to keep themselves busy.

1:01 PM  
Blogger The Birdies said...

ooooo...Claire. Now somebody at FW wants to kill your kittens. What ARE you saying at LG's that's sparking that kind of comment?
S.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

Mostly Jocelyn, the people here chiding you are adults worried that a young person who hasn't established herself yet will give the wrong impression. The law...it's just the way that professional goes. But, up to you. You been officially chided. Everybody will stop now. Right? (looks meaningfully around the room.)

(Laughing) Well, thanks for the explanation. And call me a cockeyed optimist, but as "youthful indiscretions" goes, blowing my stack on an internet blog and going off with fifty rounds of Shakespearean insults probably won't cause me any serious difficulty in my career. (Except for the fact that I apparently mixed up "thou" and "you".)

All the same, I shall refrain from taking further umbrage at the chiding.

Are there wank boards for needlepoint?

You'd be surprised. That's where my time on FW comes in handy--there's wankage for just about eveyrything--up to and including My Little Pony collecting.

But all the chipper - it's just harmless fun comments drive me batty.

The act of writing fanfiction or participating in fandom is just a harmless hobby. But like all harmless hobbies, people whose problems go WAY deeper than their interests in certain books, shows, or games can take that hobby and turn it into something seriously freakish that no sane member of the fandom or hobby community wants to associate with.

It's just more visible because fanfiction is almost an exclusively internet hobby.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm...good question. There would be some factors in favor of fair use (noncommercial, both source works already published) and it would depend on the purpose (ie, meant to parody the two shows, or just entertainment) whether the source material was cited, etc.

No, see, I wasn't asking a hypothetical. I'm asking, specifically, if you made your fan fiction using video instead of text, not for the purpose of parody, and you used, say, 90% of footage from two shows, added a few of your own shots (showing 'buffy' being beamed up to the enterprise, or some such thing), would you expect that to fly? Would you be willing to defend the legality of it in a public forum?

Factors weighing against fair use would be that there was no actual original material ADDED to this "remix video" (as there is in fanfiction) unless the video-maker could show some special way they'd combined the two to make some creative new product with a creative new message.

Sounds weird, I know. But that's the way Copyright Law works.


I'm actually somewhat familiar with Copyright law. Even if you threw in a few shots of your own, you'd still be reusing someone else's work. And if your positions are defensible, then it shouldn't matter what medium you use to create your fan fiction.

The whole point I'm getting to make is actually stated time and time again by the lawmakers: the list of "types" of fair use is not exclusive, and changes on a case-by-case basis. This is the part that you are ignoring. THat's why those four factors are there to be "taken into account"--so that each use that comes before a court can be considered specifically.

I understand that Copyright law is interpretive. That's a good thing, I know. It seems, though, that what you're doing is saying that something is fair use if it's parody (which I agree with, in every way), and using that as a defense of the legality of fan fiction, even though by your own admission, the fan fiction you write ISN'T parody.

Actually, under Copyright doctrine, there is value to what the fanwriter is doing: creating. Maybe it's based on something else, but the mere act of thinking and writing and speculating and creating, whatever the degree, has value in the eyes of the people who wrote the laws and the Constitution (hence the emphasis on free speech in this and other civilized societies.)

Yes, but you seem to be extending that to take a view that everything is up for grabs, and that simply isn't the case.

I know that inspiration and interpretation are central to the successful development of culture. I would never claim (as some have) that they come up with everything themselves. Our every thought is influenced by something else. So the idea of seeing something, having it spark an idea, and then working on that idea, is perfectly logical. It's wonderful, even.

There is a distinction, however, between that and thinking that it's equally wonderful to take the content of a book/movie/whathaveyou and work through your inspiration on that specific thing.

When I saw Revenge of the Sith, I was deeply disappointed. I was angry. I felt it was a hugely wasted opportunity. I thought of a hundred ways the movie (and, indeed, both trilogies) could've been handled significantly better. That impulse did not lead me to want to literally rewrite the movies, because, well, they're not mine, and that wouldn't be proving anything. If anything, it makes me want to write my OWN series of space operas, riffing on SW, but still my own. Though the archetypes I would hypothetically employ would obviously come from SW, and the overall story (race of superpowered knights protecting the galaxy, prodigal child straying from light to dark, destroying the established order) might, it would become, by virtue of not just taking the existing characters, a completely unique thing.

And that's a pretty big difference, I think.

Despite all that, I think the main issue is the intent of the fan fiction. If you're inspired and take a character in a different direction, or repurpose the character in some way, that's one thing; writing to create new canon, on the other hand, seems less. If you're writing, as you alluded, to fill in the gaps, then that has very little point. It might be enjoyable, but it's empty calories. The writer won't acknowledge it, and aside from the people who read it, there is no intrinsic value. I can write a story where we find that Harry Potter's father was buggered by an enchanted squirrel, but that doesn't mean it actually 'happened.' The counter of that is approved derivative fiction (the SW books, for example), which HAVE happened, according to the canon (Timothy Zahn named Coruscant, and Lucas used it in the movies, for example).

1:53 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Now somebody at FW wants to kill your kittens. What ARE you saying at LG's that's sparking that kind of comment?

Not certain. Maybe Godwin's Law should be extended. When they start threatening your kittens, they lose. How about when they start calling people a**hats? Or maybe when pronouncement that THEY'VE never heard of somebody, therefore that somebody must be insignificant means something?

Must admit, I was encouraged by the threats of porn about Lewis' adult works. Never know...maybe they'll abandon kiddyland, leave it for the kiddies. Unless they start aging everybody down.

*shudder*

3:14 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

I'm asking, specifically, if you made your fan fiction using video instead of text, not for the purpose of parody, and you used, say, 90% of footage from two shows, added a few of your own shots (showing 'buffy' being beamed up to the enterprise, or some such thing), would you expect that to fly? Would you be willing to defend the legality of it in a public forum?

Quite possibly not, because fanfiction and the type of activity you are describing are two different things.

Fanfiction involves using the foundations of a story (general plot, characters, settings, etc) as the "launching point" if you will for a new story. (IE, trying to tell the tale of James and Lily Potter's first date or how James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter all first met.) What you are describing is what's known as a "fan vid," using nothing but previously-filmed scenes cobbled together to make the new story.

See the difference? One involves the addition of original material from the fan--maybe not that much, in your opinion, but the issue of HOW much original material the fan adds, and why they add it, is central to the question of whether the use is legitimate under copyright law.

If you're inspired and take a character in a different direction, or repurpose the character in some way, that's one thing; writing to create new canon, on the other hand, seems less. If you're writing, as you alluded, to fill in the gaps, then that has very little point. It might be enjoyable, but it's empty calories. The writer won't acknowledge it, and aside from the people who read it, there is no intrinsic value.

But Copyright law doesn't contemplate "empty calories." You could say the exact same thing about a parody.

As for the story about James Potter (I'm substituting his first date as something a little more typical of fanfiction and less offensive), you're quite right: it DIDN'T happen in canon--and that's the material point.

I could write a thousand stories about James and Lily's first date, and that would not stop JK Rowling from writing her own story of James and Lily's first date. Nor is there a strong probability of JK Rowling's sales of that date story being affected by my little fanstory--hers is, and will always be, the "real thing."

Fanwriters (the vast majority anyway) DO acknowledge that. Hence the insistence, again and again, that it's all in good fun.

My sixth-year Harry Potter story could be acclaimed around the world, but every single fan out there will still buy Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Including me.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Per Claire's comment, here are some posted wanks involving knitting:

http://www.journalfen.net/community/otf_wank/196477.html
http://www.journalfen.net/community/fandom_wank/120918.html
http://www.journalfen.net/community/otf_wank/172045.html
http://www.journalfen.net/community/otf_wank/231651.html
http://www.journalfen.net/community/otf_wank/232282.html
http://www.journalfen.net/community/otf_wank/137682.html
http://www.journalfen.net/community/otf_wank/118402.html

You'll notice most of these are posted to a community called "otf_wank", which stands for "other than fandom" and was created shortly after fandom_wank, when we realized we were interested in all sorts of internet drama, not just that involving fandom. Otf_wank is a reasonably busy community; you should check it out.

And a random comment to the anonymous above- Lucas did name Coruscant originally; Zahn used his notes.

-Ignatius, who did like ROTS

3:21 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

When they start threatening your kittens, they lose. How about when they start calling people a**hats?

# 1: Who the hell is threatening your kittens?! THAT is not kosher!

# 2: If you have a personal objection to profanity, you need not engage in it, but please don't feel a need to cross out your curse words for my sake. I've spent five years in politics and law--profanity does not offend me.

;-)

3:22 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

# 1: Who the hell is threatening your kittens?! THAT is not kosher!

Page two of the most recent wank on LG. Threatening LG's and PG's I think also. I'm not taking it seriously.

Regarding profanity. Had a long discussion about this last night with a group of ladies who wouldn't know a fandom from a fanfare. We were discussing that we must be getting older than G*d because it's occurring to us that people say lots of stuff in public, that we wouldn't. We're not quite the debutante generation, but still, it's that adage about whether or not you'd announce something in the grocery store.

My restraint's far from perfect, but I wondered if some of this might be generational.

Thanks for the needlepoint references, Ignatius. You saved me some research. I don't check out wank communities, just fandom wank because my interest is fandom, and that interest has some specific goals. Horrible, evil, and terrible goals involving getting the porn out of kid fandoms. Didn't much like having that compared to not liking people who butter their bread on the wrong side.

And I don't much care for the Free Culture stuff. The sense of entitlement is really getting to me. Worse than before.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

By the way...

where's that generator? The Shakespeare one?

4:10 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/index.html?

Although I'm rather disappointed that nobody caught what I was referencing with the title of this post. It too is a classic, if not quite on par with Shakespeare.

And I don't much care for the Free Culture stuff. The sense of entitlement is really getting to me. Worse than before.

How so? Free culture does come into play in the issue, as it often does with issues related to writing and creativity.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

What a drunken knave was the sea to cast thee in our way!

Oh dear. I've sprained something! Terrific link!

Free Culture. Call me old-fashioned. People should ask for things before taking them. Can't handle Henry Jenkins either. Seems to think that if people don't buy into corporate ads then our entire culture will collapse. In other words, our only alternative to not keeping up on pop culture is anarchy.

The impression I have of the Free Culture movement is one which raises up undeserving crap and dumbs down the really good stuff resulting in a middle of the road, mushy morass which tastes suspiciously like a twinkie.

But that's just me.

One of the people floating around here has some pretty well developed theories on it. Maybe she'll post it up if she get's some time. You might find it interesting.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

What a drunken knave was the sea to cast thee in our way!

Oh dear. I've sprained something! Terrific link!


Isn't it? I busted a gut laughing. I owe Kate Rothwell for that one--she linked it from her blog. I think I shall do the same. (Thanks, Kate!)

I mean, I know flinging insults around was a little immature of me, but really, who could resist that?

Free Culture. Call me old-fashioned. People should ask for things before taking them. Can't handle Henry Jenkins either. Seems to think that if people don't buy into corporate ads then our entire culture will collapse. In other words, our only alternative to not keeping up on pop culture is anarchy.

Is Henry Jenkins the "Textual Poachers" guy?

As for asking for things before taking them, it depends on what the "thing" is, and whether it belongs to anyone in the first place.

The impression I have of the Free Culture movement is one which raises up undeserving crap and dumbs down the really good stuff resulting in a middle of the road, mushy morass which tastes suspiciously like a twinkie.

Alas, one person's "undeserving crap" is another person's "masterpiece." Go figure, eh?

But I rather think of Free Culture as simply trying to put as many IDEAS out into the open as possible, to be discussed and exchanged as often and freely as possible. Some of those ideas stink. Some don't. But the point is that we're all free to see them and examine them and talk about them.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

But I rather think of Free Culture as simply trying to put as many IDEAS out into the open as possible, to be discussed and exchanged as often and freely as possible. Some of those ideas stink. Some don't. But the point is that we're all free to see them and examine them and talk about them.

We've always had ideas. Millions and billions and trillions of idea. We don't need Free Culture to help us put them out there, nor to dismantle artists' rights.

There's a link of Jenkin's on the FJ blog. His 'stormtrooper' article. Very funny. Reminded me of Bush's post 9-11 speech, 'Fight terrorism, go to the mall.'

Jenkins is at MIT, so he must know more.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

We've always had ideas. Millions and billions and trillions of idea. We don't need Free Culture to help us put them out there, nor to dismantle artists' rights.

Freedom is best used more as a protector than anything else--protection of a person's right to put out an idea.

And I agree that artists' rights are important, but as I've been slowly-but-surely articulating in my Free Speech and Copyright posts, the First Amendment ALWAYS trumps, if they come directly in conflict.

However, the difficulty (as I'm also slowly-but-surely picking apart in said posts) is in figuring out when or if the First Amendment is in direct conflict with a provision or application of the Copyright Act.

There's a link of Jenkin's on the FJ blog. His 'stormtrooper' article. Very funny. Reminded me of Bush's post 9-11 speech, 'Fight terrorism, go to the mall.'

(Blink!)

See Jocelyn's mind. See Jocelyn's mind BOGGLE.

I shall read it. This I simply must see!

12:38 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

I shall read it. This I simply must see!

Many of us are protesters from way back. Carried signs and everything. Perhaps we missed the nuance, but that's sure as hell what it looked like to us. Hard to tell though. Might just be old age creeping in and atrophying those brain cells.

There's some artical about textual poaching by some lady who's name escapes that is quoted time and again also. Frankly, the word 'poach' should send up alarms for anybody who's not reading it in a culinary context.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.inelegant.net/writings.php?writingId=219

Someone went to one fo his sites after searching for "Sam Rockwell fan fiction," apparently, and he wrote this. I get the point, but it gose on a little long.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

My water is perfectly clear which isn't something that can be said for the nation, but we're working on it. My work now concerns cows dipping in the public pool.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn Smith said...

My water is perfectly clear which isn't something that can be said for the nation, but we're working on it. My work now concerns cows dipping in the public pool.

(Laughing) Good point as far as the country is concerned.

And I shall apologize for that little cyber-tantrum, although in my defense I was rather provoked at the time.

I figure if you're going to rant, you might as well rant Shakespearean.

7:38 AM  

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