Not that fans haven't always known about published works that have had their serial numbers filed off, but apparently the wider world is taking notice. Book Riot took a tongue-in-cheek look at YA literature to speculate on which of its works might secretly be fanfiction. "By now we know that Twilight spawned not one but TWO works of fan-fiction that became hot publishing properties...What’s super-amusing about this is that all the books in the Twilight series are Stephenie Meyers’ fan-fiction-y versions of her favorite classics...I have a feeling there’s more popular YA out there that’s secretly fan-fiction and am going to put on my Girl Detective hunting cap and jump right in and start guessing." Among her choices: "The Fault in Our Stars is just Dawson’s Creek if both Pacey and Joey had cancer" and "Matched by Ally Condie is obviously just fan-fiction for The Selected Works of Dylan Thomas."
While 2012 is now behind us, some of its legal developments may catch up to us in 2013. TechDirt warned that a proposed copyright small claims court "may have a bigger impact than the DMCA." Because prosecuting users is generally so expensive for rights holders, they're looking for other ways to target those they consider guilty of infringement. "We see a lot of the bullying and trolling that takes place in the informal copyright system, where overreaching DMCA takedown notices and cease and desist letters are common. As many people reading this may know, bogus copyright claims are regularly misused to takedown otherwise legal content. So we have to balance the need of independent creative people to get 'justice' for their works being wholly misappropriated by bad actors, while keeping life sane for average internet users."
Bob Tarantino at JD Supra Law updated a 2010 discussion about fanfic in light of recent developments in Canada. "A discussion of the legal implications of fan fiction would not be complete without mentioning two relevant matters which are not affected by the UGC exception introduced by the CMA: moral rights and trade-mark (or passing off) claims." Although the UGC exception pertains to copyright infringement, it "has no effect on an author's potential moral rights claims. And because fan fiction may make use of elements of an author's creation such as titles, character and location names to which some form of trade-mark protection applies (e.g., Star Wars fan fiction that makes use of character names like Luke Skywaylker (a registered mark in Canada), ...there remains the possibility that some form of trade-mark based action could be commenced by the relevant rights-owner."
News about a Google TV that interprets its viewers' behavior to recommend shows to them raises questions about how useful such a technology would be, and to whom, not to mention the privacy matters involved. "James McQuivey at Forrester Research said consumers will accept these privacy tradeoffs if they see an advantage to the new style of television. 'If you ask people, of course they will say no,' McQuivey told AFP, while noting that millions have accepted this type of tracing by connecting their TVs to Xbox consoles with Kinect motion detection where 'the camera is tracking you all the time'...But he said companies should be prepared to develop privacy policies to avoid government intervention."
While there have been a number of comedy troupes around the world doing shows based on fanfic readings, they have largely used fanfic written specifically for the shows by the performers themselves. A recent review of Black Swan Comedy in Toronto, a monthly comedy series focusing on fan fiction, made clear that the performers were reading material pulled from online sources instead. "'We find the best/worst fan fiction. We'll read it once to know that it's perfectly bad at the start, and then find out how horrible it is on stage together with the audience,' says Jeremy Woodcock of Rulers of the Universe." There was an aftershow by the Weaker Vessels which was labeled "a Harry Potter fan fic" making it unclear if it was simply a show based on Harry Potter or one which specialized in reading only from that fandom. Apparently the shortcut is doing well for Black Swan Comedy as the readings are a "sold-out event every month."
The end of the year always brings about many lists recognizing accomplishments, and quite a few sites make note of fans. VH-1 cited the Best Shipped Relationships of 2012 including both het and slash couples. "Maybe we just spent too much time on Tumblr over the last twelve months (we really, really did!), but 2012 seemed like a year where shipping was front and center. From New Girl to Sherlock, everywhere we looked shippers were building onto the fictional universes they loved, mostly with smooching. So we decided to pay homage to the most passionately shipped relationships of this year as part of our Best of 2012."
Last week remix artist Jonathan McIntosh had a troubling story to tell which put a spotlight on the current problems facing transformative works creators. In our current environment of automated copyright claims and the layers of entities users may have to go through to assert fair use rights, it takes real dedication sometimes to be heard.
Slate wrote about a recent hacking attack on Tumblr, reporting on how the target was a fandom. "The original target appears to have been the 'brony' tag on tumblr...The first Tumblrs that were infected...used the brony tag, and from there, it seems, thousands of other Tumblrs fell victim, including those belonging to USA Today, the Verge, and Reuters. In a press release announcing today’s attack...GNAA insults brony culture with racist, inflammatory language typical of trolls, before mentioning an upcoming 'brony-removal drive.' The group claims to have infected 8,600 individual Tumblrs with the worm."
A piece in the New York Times examined how technology, and those creating it, are censoring the Internet. "The New Yorker found its Facebook page blocked for violating the site’s nudity and sex standards. Its offense: a cartoon of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve’s bared nipples failed Facebook’s decency test. That’s right — a venerable publication that still spells “re-elect” as “reëlect” is less puritan than a Californian start-up that wants to “make the world more open.”" The article cites numerous companies at fault, the most influential being Google. "Until recently, even the word “bisexual” wouldn’t autocomplete at Google." While some cases are a matter of cultural conflict, others show corporate influence. "How do you teach the idea of “fair use” to an algorithm?"
The significance of Fifty Shades of Grey 's success in 2012 in expanding discussions of fanficion online and in the media continues to be overlooked in its overall coverage, as in this piece in The Guardian. Citing E.L. James' selection as Person of the Year by Publishers Weekly, the author notes the importance of the book for print sales and erotica.