News of Note

  • OTW Fannews: What fanfic does for writers

    By Claudia Rebaza on Monday, 10 February 2014 - 5:00pm
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    Banner by Bremo of a Slaughterhouse Five book cover with falling bombs

    • Two articles examined the value of Amazon's Kindle Worlds. Slate featured author Hugh Howey. "I had read Slaughterhouse-Five in high school and didn’t really get it. And then a few years ago, I studied the work again, and the story had not just meaning but special meaning...Vonnegut’s didactic work helped me through a similar trauma. With my first work of fan fiction, I chose to use his example of writing about the bombing of Dresden in order to confront my 9/11 experiences—an event I’ve long avoided discussing directly. And what I discovered surprised me. Fan fiction is difficult. More difficult than the dozen or so novels I’d previously written."
    • Over at MainStreet, Craig Donofrio questioned what Kindle Worlds does for authors. "Another Kindle Worlds author, C.L. Marlene, began writing Vampire Diaries fan fiction for Kindle Worlds last June. It was her first venture into any kind of publishing, and she has written two novels, a novella and a short story since then. While sales have only allowed her 'a few extra nice dates' with her husband and gave her 'a minute bump or two' for her savings account, her overall experience with Worlds has been positive and she would recommend it to other authors—with the caveat to stay realistic. 'I'm not expecting this to pay my bills or launch me into a best-selling author list.'"
    • Certainly one way of getting paid for fanfic is writing a fanfic article, as Cora Frazier did at The New Yorker with her Scandal fanfiction where "Olivia Pope Fixes Chris Christie."
    • The Charleston, South Carolina Post & Courier included fan fiction in the bio of the youngest college student in their area. "Amber went on to skip third, fifth and seventh grades. Fourth-grade was her last full year in a traditional school setting, and after that year, Amber was helping high school students with algebra concepts." Her writing skills were quickly noted. "Rachel Walker, an associate professor of psychology, taught Amber in a writing and psychology class last semester, and she said Amber was 'exceptional.' The class was meant to teach students scientific writing, and Amber grasped concepts that many students find to be challenging, Walker said."

    What has fanfiction done for you? Write about it 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: How much is too much?

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 7 February 2014 - 7:41pm
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    Banner by Diane of two graph lines labeled 'fanon' and 'canon' with fanon rising and canon sinking.

    • Death and Taxes complained about What happens when fan fiction takes over the original? "It’s not unusual to do a concept production of a play or musical." But "Playbill has just announced a national tour of the long-running musical The Fantasticks that is 're-envisioned as a steampunk-inspired production.'" Writer Madeline Raynor complained "not only are you foisting a misguided concept onto the show, but you’re not actually integrating it in?" and concludes "[W]hen the creative team behind the source material uses fan fiction-like elements to change the original? That gets weird."
    • Some reviewers agreed with this sentiment in regards to the third season of Sherlock. The International Business Times said "Some people have not been too happy that the series has catered to its online fan base over more casual viewers. 'While any successful TV drama these days should generate fan fiction, it can not afford to become entirely fan fiction itself,' said Mark Lawson in The Guardian." But IBT countered "It's an interesting point, but fails to recognise the unique position of Sherlock as fan fiction since its inception, as well as how over recent years the boundaries between professional media and fan fiction have become increasingly blurred."
    • Laurie Penny at The New Statesman agreed, claiming "The BBC's Sherlock doesn’t just engage with fan fiction - it is fan fiction." However she goes further to note "What is significant about unofficial, extra-canonical fan fiction is that it often spins the kind of stories that showrunners wouldn’t think to tell, because fanficcers often come from a different demographic. The discomfort seems to be not that the shows are being reinterpreted by fans, but that they are being reinterpreted by the wrong sorts of fans - women, people of colour, queer kids, horny teenagers, people who are not professional writers, people who actually care about continuity (sorry). The proper way for cultural mythmaking to progress, it is implied, is for privileged men to recreate the works of privileged men from previous generations whilst everyone else listens quietly."
    • NPR's Monkey See blog discussed both Sherlock and the opening episode of Community when questioning the amount of outside intrusion. "Fan service is kind of a cheap gimmick, like a drug thrown out to keep the fans quiet for now, in case something happens down the line that will really upset them. It may feel really good, but it doesn't last, and like a lot of other temporary boosts, it will one day lead to withdrawal...I didn't tune in to Sherlock to see slash fiction or to Community for jokes about the people writing the dialogue. It's great that they know their fans, but they should also remember what they did to get fans in the first place."

    What percolating fandom influences have you noticed in media texts? Write about it 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: Fandom challenges

    By Claudia Rebaza on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 - 7:00pm
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    • NPR's Code Switch asked Who Gets To Be A Superhero?. "But an artist named Orion Martin noted that the X-Men comics have on the receiving end of much real-life discrimination: the main lineup in the X-Men team has been mostly straight, white dudes...So Martin decided to reimagine them, recoloring some famous panels so that the main characters are brown — a gimmick that changes the subtext and stakes for the X-people."
    • A post on Flayrah discussed what makes furries a fandom. "Fandoms revolve around a common interest, not a canon. At times the common interest will also serve as the canon, in such things as the Doctor Who fandom or the Pokémon fandom, but at other times the common interest will be more vague, such as the anime fandom, the sci-fi fandom and the furry fandom. In those cases the fans are fans of a concept that can encompass many different fandoms due to a common element. Furry certainly has what we can term a canon. Fred Patten has compiled a long, but incomplete, list of works that influenced and led to the formation of the furry fandom between 1966-1996."
    • Gamer Zarnyx discussed early prejudices and missing past experiences. "I am aware that had A Link Between Worlds been my first game in the series, I would have been voicing an entirely different opinion. I am aware that it is a little bit selfish to dismiss the game as 'just another Zelda game', just as I am aware it would be ridiculous of me (again) to dismiss Nintendo and tell you my faith is wavering. That's not my intent for a company who has given me more amazing memories than forgettable ones and continues to do so even now...But as I listened to my sister's gleeful squeals sprinkled in with the 'oh no' moments of hearing death approaching...I wanted that excitement too instead of the occasional jaded groan I mustered when encountering some of the same things I encountered on so many adventures before this one."

    What fandom challenges have you experienced? Write about it 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: Fanfiction's benefits

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 - 6:44pm
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    Banner by Erin of the OTW logo with a plus and minus sign

    • Writer Jim Hines discussed what his experience writing fan fiction taught him about writing. This included "Writing good fanfic is just as challenging as writing good anything else", "Instant feedback is dangerously addictive", "Fanfic can be freeing", "I can do 'realtime' writing", and "A writer is someone who writes. I’ve never understood why some people jealously protect the coveted title of 'Author' or 'Writer.'...Having done both profic and fanfic, I don’t get it. Calling someone who does fanfic a writer or an author doesn’t in any way diminish or dilute me and my work. Why is this even an argument?"
    • Teen Librarian Toolbox hosted a post by author Frankie Brown discussing fanfiction and writer's block. "I couldn’t invest in writing original fiction. I was too tired, too anxious, too stuck." She turned to "Fanfiction. Lots and lots of Sherlock fanfiction. Reading it, writing it (Yes! Writing it!), reviewing it, chatting with bloggers and digging through archives. Sitting down to write about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson didn’t make my chest feel tight or my throat close up. There were no expectations. If it sucked, who cared? No one would know it was me. But of course it was me. Me at the keyboard, remembering why I loved writing, and -- eventually, tentatively -- typing out the first sentences to my next novel. When I submitted my final edits to Meredith, editor-in-awesome at Bloomsbury Spark, I was as happy and excited as I should’ve been."
    • Writer A.L.S. Vossler told a similar tale. "I was sailing through some rather severe writing doldrums with my novel when I experienced this fan fiction epiphany. So, swallowing even more of my pride, I allowed myself to indulge in a little fan fiction writing and returned to my former habit of telling stories to myself. I was blown away by how much fun it was. My creativity levels soared. I wrote pages and pages of fan fiction in a few days. That was when the bonds of writer’s block fell away and I returned to my own novel, my own 'real' writing."
    • Blogger Sara K. cited a fanfiction drawback that led her to stop reading. "I think being aromantic/asexual is a big part why I could not get into fanfiction. When I first learned about online fanfiction, I imagined being able to explore many different aspects of stories I loved. When I discovered how the vast majority of fanfiction revolves around romance and sex, so much so that identifying the ‘ship is a standard part of categorization ... I felt really disappointed...Yet finding fic...is so hard that it’s not worth it ... especially when you are part of a community where you’re expected to at least read each other’s fics. I simply felt more comfortable just staying out of the fanfic arena."

    What fanfiction benefits have you come across? Write about it 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: Passing judgments

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 30 January 2014 - 9:13pm
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    Banner by caitie of Princess Tiana looking in shock at a frog

    • The visibility of fandom fights is a definite downside of social media. Stylecaster wrote about attacks on singer Lorde and dubbed it "extreme Internet fandom". "'The music and fashion industries nurture teens’ obsessions with one icon after another,' said Epstein—a professor of psychology at the University of the South Pacific...'No matter how competent teens are, we trap them with their peers 24/7 and don’t let them enter the adult world in any meaningful way. Many get frustrated or depressed or angry as a result, and they exercise power in any way they can. In recent years, social media has become a major power outlet for teens, even though it actually gets them nothing except a little attention. So when Lorde or anyone else for that matter trips up, or at least appears to trip up, they pounce in large numbers. It’s a pathetic way to demonstrate power.'"
    • Writer Ben Koo discusses how the toxicity of regional tribalism in college football sets fans against one another. "The power brokers of college football think they are onto something in nurturing a rising tide of friction, envy, and hate in the college football fan eco-system. Hate has long been an underrated tool for anyone looking to make people watch, care, and pick a side in sports."
    • At Kernel, writer Jack Flanagan manages to indict Japanese culture and fans alike. "[W]hen the internet and Japanese culture collide, these people have that haven to explore worlds far away from the suppressed ones they inhabit, for whatever reason. So, yes: it’s a shame for some that Japanese culture comes down to niknaks and samurai. But the strange and somewhat superficial interest in Japanese culture online is rooted in the need for solace."
    • The Atlantic hosted a spoilery article about the plot of Frozen. "Leslie Fielder...argued that the American novel is incapable of dealing with sex, and instead focuses on violence and death in a prolonged state of boyish immaturity. Yet he could have been writing about the state of American films today where violence gets more audience-friendly ratings than sex from the MPAA in a culture dominated by superhero franchises that are primarily aimed at boys...'We champion the culture of teenage boys every day—giving them all the comic book heroes, sports stars and porn any human could conceivably consume. Can’t we give teenage girls one thing without demonizing them?'”

    What judgments on fandoms and audiences have you seen? Write about it 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: Limiting distribution

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 - 10:56pm
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    Banner by Lisa of a close-up of a dial lock.

    • Australia's Junkee.com hosted a post by Dan Ilic who called for people to report on their copyright experiences. Similar to efforts going on in the EU, the Creationistas asked for citizens to tell their own stories. "[I]n Australia we have ‘Fair Dealing’ provisions...Under ‘fair dealing’, if you wanted to download the image and/or upload a new version of it, it would have to meet a few criteria: it would have to be for satire or parody, criticism or a review, used for legal advice, reporting the news, or created for educational purposes (arguably)." The Australian Digital Alliance, which is behind the Creationistas campaign is seeking to institute Fair Use similar to the U.S. model, which currently exists only in three other countries.
    • While not a copyright issue, the problem of closed networks and proprietary formats is another limitation for fans wanting to share content. For example, Business Insider discussed places to find free reading content. Although they mentioned fan fiction, they ended up plugging Amazon-directed content and no fanfiction archives, perhaps because they failed to mention any eReaders other than Kindles.
    • Similarly, the new app Penned is only for the iPhone. Designed for writing through mobile, the company targets include "novelist, poet, song-writer, fan fiction enthusiast, or blogger." But they are aware of fanfiction archives, saying "[Penned] is strategically positioned in between the more casual-post networks like Twitter & Facebook and longer form writing venues such as Fanfiction.net or publishing an eBook."

    What sharing restrictions to fanworks do you experience? Write about it 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: Numbers of fanworks

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 26 January 2014 - 8:42pm
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    Banner by Erin of a close up of Harry Potter with his lightning scar turned into a rising line on a graph

    • A study of primarily gaming-related fanworks was posted on Gamasutra. The study "used empirical methods to investigate how contemporary user-generated content ('UGC') platforms and practices related to United States copyright law. The motivation for the project was the relative absence of data about the copyright status of most UGC and competing claims about UGC’s predominant nature."
    • The researchers interviewed both fans and game creators and found that "There is, apparently, not very much 'groupthink' among our industry respondents about questions of IP, fair use, and user-generated content." Many also really enjoyed User Generated Content. However, industry pros creating fanworks prior to becoming paid assumed that most game players are not like them. "25% agreed that 'UGC is appealing only to a minority of gamers.'" In fact, when gamers were asked "if they had ever created new content related to video games...70% stated that they had. They reported that they spent, on average, about 5 hours per week creating content related to video games."
    • The researchers compared activity by gamers to that of fans of other mediums, specifically Harry Potter story activity on Mugglenet and Fanfiction.net. "Though we were tempted to code for works that were parodies or that somehow altered the meaning of Harry Potter, we doubted that there would or should be a clear dividing line between infringing and non-infringing fan fiction practices."
    • Researchers also "asked respondents about the fair use doctrine in the United States. 91% were aware of the doctrine. We asked those respondents if they thought fair use rights should be broaden[sic], narrowed, or if they should remain the same...64% thought it should be broadened, 26% said it should be narrowed, and 10% had no opinion."
    • Wattpad also released numbers about fan activity. "The Wattpad community spent 87 million minutes each day reading and sharing stories from their phones and tablets last year. Readers also created more than 4.4 million story covers and YouTube trailers to support their favorite stories and writers on Wattpad." The site considers mobile access vital to their success, as "85 percent of time spent on Wattpad is via a phone or tablet. Half of the writers on Wattpad have written a story from a phone or tablet."

    What fandom studies have you seen? Write about 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: Doing more with fanworks

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 25 January 2014 - 12:30am
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    Banner by Robyn with phrases about creating fanworks and the phrase 'Turn the everyday into fanworks

    • Blogger Priya Sridhar suggested that fanfiction can be used to analyze canon. "'Hitchups' first addresses one of the pressing issues in [How To Train Your Dragon]: female character development. The movie has two notable females: Astrid Hofferson, Hiccup's rival and love interest in Dragon Training, and the Village Elder Gothi...The movie limits Astrid's character by delegating her as the love interest who keeps Hiccup on Berk...Before, she was more concerned about competition and coming out on top in Dragon Training, and she loses that aggression after seeing Hiccup as a romantic partner...In 'Hitchups,' both Gothi and Astrid receive more notable screen time."
    • The Star News Online reported on a comic book collage artist. "Fluty's artwork has...become popular at comic conventions and with comic book fans in the area." Her work began as "a gift for her boyfriend, for whom she made a desk covered in Superman images. Once the desk was complete, there were leftover pieces and images. This led to canvas-based collage images of superheroes."
    • Geekosystem was one of several outlets blogging about a Wholock video. "We would’ve been way less impressed (and not a bit surprised) if the video hadn’t been much more than scenes from the two shows cut together, but Wholock‘s creator, YouTuber John Smith, really surprised us with the visual effects he pulled off. If you want to take a look at how it was made, he put together another video showing how he accomplished the effects for the mashup."
    • Librarian Colleen Theisen who works with Open Doors' Fan Culture Preservation Project discussed the variety of work surrounding the materials. "I love that we're called upon to wear every hat, and to invent some as well. In Special Collections we are librarian and archivist, but that also includes curator, teacher, scholar, conservator, writer, graphic designer, data entry specialist, genealogist, PR manager, social media content creator, web designer, historian, mentor, and even grief counselor. Recently I have added .gif animator, and video director."

    What have you seen done with fanworks? Write about it 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: Fannish practices

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 24 January 2014 - 12:58am
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    Banner by caitie utilizing tags from AO3

    • The San Francisco Examiner reported on gay fans' annual Buffy celebrations. "It was the geeky gay holiday party of the year. 'Gay men love the show because it shows strength in places that don't follow stereotypical societal or heterosexual norms,' Byrd said. 'When getting to know people, I typically out myself as a die-hard 'Buffy' fan. Rarely has a gay person not seen at least one episode of the show.' The article quotes media and religion scholar Anthony R. Mills who suggests "'Real-life practices like attending conventions and screenings create important social interactions; the continuous re-watching of episodes, both communal and individual, functions as religious ritual.'"
    • Blogger Sean Kleefeld observed the similar behavior of television and comics fans. "It's not uncommon now for not only fans to get together to watch in groups, but there are even bars and restaurants that host Scandal viewing parties. Comics, by contrast, have long been seen as a solitary pursuit. After all, part of the nature of reading is that the individual is free to take in the narrative at their own pace." However the viewing behavior of fans was different from casual TV viewers. "Taking in the story is, despite the pacing being at the discretion of someone other than the reader her/himself, an intensely personal experience. Even if everyone in the room is sharing that same experience. It would be like you and all your friends reading a copy of the same comic at the same time -- you're all seeing the same story, albeit with slightly different pacing, but the reading experience is very personal. It's only after you all finish that you can socialize your thoughts and feelings about it."
    • The Daily Dot looked at examples of fannish tagging on AO3. "[W]hen you take a stroll through its 'freeform' tags, the tags that aren’t about categorization and are all about having fun, you meet with a repository of creativity formed somewhere between 'shameless self-gratification' and 'ideas that sounded great when I was high.' Thankfully, the Twitter account @TagsofAO3 is here to catalog the best of the best."
    • The Atlantic discussed How Fanzines Helped Put Doctor Who Fans in Charge of Doctor Who. "Who offers an case study in the way that modern fandom has evolved. The fanzines where Capaldi and others got their start may have seen their numbers decline over the years, but their DNA is all over the modern fandom in a way that distinguishes it from other sci-fi fanzine communities like that of Star Trek. Doctor Who fanzines not only helped keep the fandom alive during its hiatus, they've been a long-standing venue for fans to debate and police the limits of the Doctor Who universe—and these debates have had a direct and noticeable influence on the show itself."

    What fannish practices have you noticed? Write about 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: Takedowns from all sides

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 - 7:39pm
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    Banner by Bremo of the post title curving as if it's sliding down a wall.

    • Forbes was one of many sites discussing YouTube's crackdown on fans who use video game footage to review or discuss games. "So at the same time as two major console makers are integrating video sharing into their systems, YouTube is cracking down on the video game community. Of course, YouTube’s response to this is vague and unhelpful...Now a number of video game publishers such as Ubisoft, Paradox Interactive and Capcom have stated publicly that people should fight the copyright claims, understanding full well the win-win situation for all involved."
    • On another front, booksellers are censoring erotica writers. "Some U.K.-based ebook retailers responded with public apologies, and WHSmith went so far as to shut down its website altogether, releasing a statement saying that it would reopen 'once all self-published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available.' The response in the U.S. was somewhat more muted, but most of the retailers mentioned in the piece, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, began quietly pulling hundreds of titles from their online shelves." The reasons why were never stated. "'I'd get an email from them saying, 'We found the following books in violation of our content guidelines,' she recalls. 'But they wouldn't tell me why. There were no specifics.'"
    • If copyright or censorship fears weren't enough, apparently the study of erotic fiction is being targeted by some government cost-cutters. "The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded $914,000 to help fund The Popular Romance Project since 2010, an ongoing study that explores 'the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction.'...The grants are highlighted in the 2013 'Wastebook,' an annual report ...that highlights taxpayer-subsidized programs that...are questionable or unnecessary, especially during a time when lawmakers are viciously debating spending levels and how to trim the nation’s $17 trillion debt."
    • Meanwhile Slate's Future Tense blog looked at How Artificial Intelligence Might Monetize Fan Fiction. "A fan fiction writer e-publishes a story he wrote using the main characters, a vegan vampire who runs a butcher shop and a werewolf who turns into a plumber at full moon. His book sells millions of downloads, too. Did the fan fiction writer do anything prohibited by law? Not necessarily. As U.S. copyright law anticipates only human authors, it is reasonable to read it as providing no copyright protection to authors that are not human. The fan fiction writer can use the Super Potter Brothers characters as much as he wants; they’re in the public domain. Anyone can use them and make money from them, including the movie studios."

    What fandom takedown cases have you seen? Write about 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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