News of Note

  • OTW Fannews: Technology and Legal Matters

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sonntag, 3 February 2013 - 6:59pm
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    • 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."
    • It's not like we need more examples of bogus copyright takedowns to prove a point, but we still give a nod to Tech Crunch for making the story entertaining with its headline Amazon Pulls Self-Published Memoir About Star Wars Because it References Star Wars. " [I]f Amazon wants to be the central repository for all paid and unpaid unpublished work, they need more than a Mechanical Turk to kick books into the 'potentially infringes' pile...Amazon cannot go the route of YouTube and other media sharing systems that are reliant on the good graces of big media and tend to ban first and ask no questions later. Instead, problems like these need a dedicated person with some authority to make the ultimate and intelligent choice."
    • An article on frictionless entertainment explained the term as the "world of streamed music and videos where the producers, broadcasters, advertisers and various others (mostly stealthy tracking parties) watch what you watch and listen to what you listen to." Discussing how services such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Kinect, Apple and Amazon gather data, they note "In almost every other setting, all these practices would qualify as cyberstalking."

    What legal developments are you concerned about in 2013? If you're interested in fair use and how it relates to fanfiction and other fanworks, write about them in Fanlore. Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Fanfiction everywhere

    By Claudia Rebaza on Freitag, 25 January 2013 - 8:29pm
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    • 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."
    • Regardless of what's being discussed in legal circles, fanfic is moving to being both acknowledged and appreciated by perfomers, and seen as a matter worth discussing by the press. A news story on the TCA session for new series The Following began "Shippers, start your engines. Ready your Tumblrs. Start combing the works of Edgar Allen Poe for excellent fan fiction titles." The reason? "FOX’s new drama “The Following,”from “Scream” scribe Kevin Williamson, is a violent, provocative drama about a serial killer and the man hunting him. But, surprisingly, it’s constructed more like a romance." And it contains a canon M-M-F threesome. A reporter "confessed that, having seen the first four episodes of the show, she’s rooting for Hardy and Carroll to kiss. Ever the crowd pleaser, Bacon happily grabbed Purefoy’s face and laid a smooch on him."
    • Zakia Uddin wrote in The Society Pages about fanfic role playing on Omegle. "We perform identities on social networks, using filters and images, and timelines, and real-time updates – but those identities are never too far removed from those we perform in real-world frames. Roleplaying on Omegle offers a way of getting closer to other writers’ characters in ways which are paradoxically more personal and more immersed in the author’s creation than ever before. While fans wait for their favourite TV series or book series to start up again, they create narratives in collaboration with others which run parallel to their ‘real’ lives. What happens to the division between the fiction and nonfiction when we can experience being someone entirely different every day, within the frames of social networks like Tumblr and Facebook?"

    Do you role play? Will you be watching The Following? Write about it in Fanlore. Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Legal and Technology Stories

    By Claudia Rebaza on Dienstag, 22 January 2013 - 7:29pm
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    • 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."
    • Nielsen is also planning to gather consumer data, in this case by following Twitter activity that occurs using the hashtags displayed during TV show broadcasts. "Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO, Fox Networks Group said, 'Twitter is a powerful messenger and a lot of fun for fans of our shows, providing them with the opportunity to engage, connect and voice their opinions directly to each other and us. Combining the instant feedback of Twitter with Nielsen ratings will benefit us, program producers, and our advertising partners.'"
    • Germany may be taking Facebook to court over its policy of banning pseudonyms. "Facebook began cracking down on pseudonym accounts in early 2011, and made a renewed effort to purge such accounts in August 2012. In September, Facebook started encouraging users to report friends who don’t use their real names." Germany was successful in its earlier effort last year when its "state data protection authority sued Facebook over its facial recognition software that automatically recognized and tagged people in photos uploaded to a user’s profile."

    Know about other fandom stories involving Twitter, pseudonyms or television viewing? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Fandom invisibility

    By Claudia Rebaza on Freitag, 18 January 2013 - 9:12pm
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    • 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."
    • A recent story at The Daily Dot on finding community through porn gives only passing mention to written material, which perhaps explains why there is an assumption that such communities are a recent development thanks to the mainstreaming of porn. "The shock value and taboo is dissipating, and the more it does, the more porn appears. But do we understand why the rise of the group mentality in porn? Why porn consumers no longer want to be alone, but rather want to belong—to other like-minded porn consumers, and to make small talk and chat about their interests?" While the article acknowledges that women have their own communities -- "Slate writer Amanda Hess points out that 'Women who engage effectively online can find resources for critically assessing [pornography’s] most sexist tropes, join communities that don’t share those norms, and benefit from a kind of increased sexual mobility they can’t always find in real life'" -- it doesn't explore their history.
    • Another Daily Dot story instead focused on deliberate invisibility -- or at least an attempt to maintain a fourth wall. "In the world of theatre, the ‘fourth wall' refers to the invisible wall that divides the characters from the audience. In fanwork-based fandom, the fourth wall refers to the invisible 'wall' of silence, pseudonyms, and covert activity that shields fans from the judgment of the outside world." However, fandoms do not react in unison to outside observation, nor are the outsiders always negative about their discoveries, even when it's about themselves. "This isn't the first time Seguin and his fellow hockey players have found slash about themselves. In July, Toronto Marlies hockey player Jesse Blacker tweeted a link to adorable fanart of himself and Segs, calling it 'awesome.'" Cult film director Duncan Jones was delighted by finding fanfiction of his work. "'Wow! I did not know about this!' responded a delighted Jones. After sharing the link with his Twitter followers, Jones followed it to an AO3 fic with 'lots of robo-feels and some clone hugging.' After reading, he left a thoughtful and flattered review for the author, Wildgoosery."

    What fandom invisibility problems have you encountered? What fan collaborations have you taken part in? Tell us about it in Fanlore. Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: The Best of 2012

    By Claudia Rebaza on Dienstag, 15 January 2013 - 6:26pm
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    • 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."
    • OTW staffer Aja Romano wrote various "top 2012" articles for The Daily Dot including The Top 10 Events in Fandom. "What events, people, and fandoms seemed to create larger discussions about fandom within pop culture? What and who created shifts in how the mainstream viewed and interacted with fandom? What were the far-reaching decisions and moments that will continue to impact fans long after 2012? Four of our most notable events this year involve fans fundraising. That three of them involved Kickstarter campaigns is interesting to say the least, and it suggests that in the future, even more creators may turn directly to their fanbases to fund projects instead of waiting on a studio or a publisher. Moreover, fans may seize even more control over projects in order to make their voices heard and have the shows they want."
    • For more formal recognition, the Hugo Awards have long been known for honoring scifi and fantasy works, but somewhat less known is that they also honor fanworks. The Hugos have awards for Best Fanzine, Best Fancast, Best Fan Writer, and Best Fan Artist and their nomination period is underway. "Any person who was or is a member of the 2012, 2013, or 2014 Worldcons as of January 31, 2013, is eligible to nominate for the 2013 Hugo Awards...If you are not a member of any of those conventions, you may join LoneStarCon 3 or Loncon 3, the 2014 Worldcon, before January 31, 2013 to become eligible."

    What fandom events, people, and fanworks did you find worth celebrating in 2012? Record them for posterity in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • The Rebellious Pixels Chain of Takedowns

    By Claudia Rebaza on Montag, 14 January 2013 - 12:42am
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    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.

    McIntosh's work, Buffy vs. Edward, is a well known video which has, as he cites in his post, been used on numerous occasions in academic settings. It is also among the Test Suite of Fair Use Vids that the OTW assembled as part of their successful case for a renewal of the DMCA exemption for vidders.

    McIntosh details months of effort to get his video reinstated which would, ironically, have been much simpler had he been making an effort to profit from the video. It was because ad placements have been disabled on his account that he was targeted by a subcontractor for Lionsgate, MovieClips, to either permit them or have the video deleted. Yet as a matter of U.S. copyright law, the non-commercial nature of Jonathan's video bolsters its status as copyright fair use.

    Though his video was eventually reinstated, it’s striking how much effort McIntosh had to put into dealing with the problem. Jonathan's video has been cited by the U.S. Copyright Office as an example of transformative fair use, yet he has had to defend it from numerous attacks and accusations. For every artist like him who is very familiar with the law and is willing to fight for his rights again and again, how many people are simply seeing their work disappear?

    This is one of the reasons we can see chilling effects, especially since this situation is a reminder that even clear cases of fair use aren’t safe from this kind of action. In fact, it appears that the video that was the subject of Lenz v. Universal, the case that established that copyright holders have to consider whether something is fair use before sending a DMCA take down notice, has once again been removed due to a copyright claim –- and this was a video which has already been litigated and determined to be fair use.

    The OTW wants to remind fans that its legal advocacy project is a possible resource for someone who finds themselves in a situation where their work has received takedown notices, and offers recommendations for vidders in particular on our Fan Video and Multimedia section of our website.

  • OTW Fannews: Threats to or from fandom

    By Claudia Rebaza on Mittwoch, 9 January 2013 - 12:30am
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    • 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."
    • Anime News Network wrote about the cancellation of various fandom events due to death threats. "Since last month, more than 20 locations linked to Kuroko's Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, including the Comic Market dōjinshi event, have received threat letters with powdered and liquid substances. A source in the investigation of Kuroko's Basketball threat letters said there is a high possibility that the liquid sent to Sophia University on October 12 could emit a lethal dose of hydrogen sulfide if vaporized. "
    • On the other hand, a TV show's fandom is being blamed for the cancellation of a popular show. "Producers and actors in North American, Asian, and European media have had a few decades to get used to the impact of organized fandom on their series. But in other parts of the world, online fandoms are only just beginning to interact with and influence television and film production decisions. Sometimes the road to harmony between the two can be quite rocky, as fans of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon?, affectionately known as IPKKND, learned when its lead actor, Barun Sobti, decided to leave the show."

    If you have stories about fan events, canon cancellations, or online wars why not share them on Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Technology and Legal Matters

    By Claudia Rebaza on Samstag, 5 January 2013 - 5:10pm
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    • 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 Daily Dot looked at just such a problem by investigating how Google's automated search for copyright violations ends up being anything from a nuisance to censorship of people creating or using royalty-free content. "Miller's saga...led him through the depths of EMI Music and Warner/Chappell Music, two labels that showed up as having management rights to the track. But when Miller made the necessary efforts to contact the labels, he learned that neither of the two actually held any rights to the song. In both cases, the two creators lost their ability to pull revenue from the ads that ran on their videos. Instead, those dollars—or pennies, as Mullins articulated—went to the purported rights holders of each composition—something that's not technically fair, if at all ethical—until the channel owner’s able to straighten out the situation. That can sometimes take days, weeks, or in Mullins case with the guitar stringing videos, not happen at all."
    • Knowledge at Wharton posted a video interview and transcript with information management professor Shawndra Hill on the topic of Social TV which is "the integration of social media and TV programming" designed to capture fan activity. "There are a number of [successful] social TV applications that have been developed by [several] businesses to allow people to basically show how big a fan they are of different TV shows...So networks in the U.S., at least, have ways for their viewers to interact with one another on the networks' websites and in fact are trying to drive them to their own websites to do just that."

    If you have technology or legal stories relating to fandom, why not share them on Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: The Year in Fanfiction

    By Curtis Jefferson on Mittwoch, 19 December 2012 - 10:09pm
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    • 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. Yet the book was an online sensation that was converted to print, and erotica sales have suffered from a lack of industry promotion rather than a lack of content. A comment to the article points out issues absent from the discussion: "[I]t might be wise for the major publishing houses to hire someone to peruse the fan-fic world in order to get an indication of where reader-trends are heading...They're still just reacting and recycling, and patting themselves on the back when they stumble across a cash cow." Indeed one might go further and point out that the real People of the Year should have been the fannish founders of James' first publishing house, which had been created to push fanfiction to the general public.
    • The Guardian article did provide food for thought in some statistics: "The award comes as analysis of James's readers shows that – despite the 'mummy porn' moniker that has been applied to her erotic novels – 30% of her buyers are actually men. Just 35% of her readers are women with kids at home, according to Bowker Market Research's analysis of UK readers, with 13% bought for those over 55. Bizarrely, 1% of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was bought as a present for a parent, while 2% of buyers categorised their purchases as for 'reference', 'study' or 'self-help'." One wonders what this might say about the demographics of fanfic readership?
    • The year's end has also brought a hilariously "infinite mirrors" news story in which Universal Studios sues a porn company for violating its copyright by producing an overly exact version of Fifty Shades, itself a pornier version of Twilight. Ironic fanfics are probably on the way.
    • While many have mocked the literary quality of Fifty Shades, it's a lot easier to ignore the critics when your financial success extends to earning every employee in your publishing house a $5K bonus. It's a lot harder when the average fan gets their work mocked by everyone from major media productions to specialty blogs and by every lazy writer looking for an easy target. Which is why it was rather refreshing to see the decision made by io9 to cancel further posts in which writer Robert Bricken takes apart fanfiction.
    • Taking it a step further, general Internet news site The Daily Dot launched a regular feature with recommendations for fanfiction, written by contributor (and OTW staffer) Aja Romano.

    If you have your own stories about the history of fanfiction, why not share them on Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Digging Into Fandom

    By Claudia Rebaza on Dienstag, 11 December 2012 - 7:02pm
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    • Hollywood.com recently decided to look more deeply at the different strains of Twilight fandom and identified people who were fans of the books, fans of the movies, fans of the genre, and fans of the fandom. "Speaking with fans, it’s clear that their interest in this franchise is not always as reductive as oiled young abs and sinful enjoyment of B-cinema. Their passionate, earnest reasons for counting themselves a part of this fanbase may not sway you to either Team Edward or Team Jacob, but at least the fandom no longer seems as frighteningly foreign."
    • A similar look at the competing strains of a fandom appeared in a much more indirect way at Criminal Element, with Lyndsay Faye writing about the Clear Distinction Between Fandom and the Baker Street Irregulars. "I trust that this article clears up any remaining confusion regarding the word fandom, and its woeful inexactitude when characterizing the Baker Street Irregulars. I likewise hope I have assured the reader the BSI cannot be both a respected literary society and a fandom, any more than Australia can be both a continent and an island. One earnestly hopes that this will settle the matter for good and all, and we can move on to other, better topics."
    • The Learned Fangirl looked at a movie about K-pop fandom because "there aren’t nearly enough pop culture examples that are from the perspective of fangirls. Fortunately, there is Answer Me 1997 (2012), a Korean drama, half-set in 1997, the starting point for K-pop’s unending hallyu wave of manufactured groups. This is a show for present or former fangirls of music — from Beatlemaniacs through the Metallica/Megadeth fan battles to those with Bieber fever."
    • Meanwhile in China, a look at the fandom of textbook characters is to see a new generation at play. "Such a large scale of nostalgia probably can only happen in China – if the post-80s generation was not the first only-child generation, if they haven’t lived through China’s sea changes in the past 20 years, if they are perfectly happy with their adult life now...Like the lyrics in song “Li Lei and Han Meimei” go, “The happiness and sorrows in textbooks, the right and wrongs outside of textbooks…like Li Lei and Han Meimei, we all live in a future that we would never have thought of before.”"

    If you have stories exploring fans and fandom, why not share them on Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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