News of Note

  • OTW Fannews: Cultural objects

    By .Cynthia on Sunday, 23 June 2013 - 6:32pm
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    • The Barnard Center for Research on Women's blog proposed feminist remixes as the next step to combating negative media representations. "Through our studies, work, and activism, many of us have learned to be critical of these images, to deconstruct them in order to understand the assumptions and messages behind them." Remixes can then create something new out of the deconstructed work. Emeritus OTW Board member Francesca Coppa teamed with Elisa Kreisenger to present at this year’s Utopia conference. "Kreisinger encouraged Utopia attendees to try their own hand at remixing as a way to take back their identities from corporate commoditization and depict women in ways that do not revolve around heteronormative relationships and procreation. Her mantra and advice to fellow feminists: 'Don’t blame the media, become the media.'"
    • The U.S. Department of Defense site Armed With Science wrote about how fandom objects are also historical markers. "From the swirls and statues of the ancient world, to the banners of the mid-evil armies, to the crests of colleges and sports teams, to iconic superhero emblems, to even the branding of large companies, humanity is filled with identifiable signs that mark the trail through our history." Discussing the impact of Star Trek in culture, the post cites how its creations "are often seen as agents of scientific and social change."
    • While some fandoms like Bronies don't lack for people willing to step forward and declare their allegiance, many in furry fandom reacted poorly to media presence at Furlandia. "Attendees started to wonder what was going on when production teams and cameras began to show up. It didn’t take long for someone to announce that MTV had arrived. According to the PR director, an announcement had been made at opening ceremonies; no written notification had been given." In comments to the post, one reader pointed out "From a television producer's point of view, furries really are a nightmare scenario" because "you have a producer who's expected to get exciting footage trying to get said exciting footage from a group of hard-to-find, reluctant, camera-shy people who may only agree under very specific and limiting conditions (which almost ensure that nothing crazy will happen), all the while letting you know that they will be scrutinizing your every movement and most likely hate anything you say about them." The poster concluded that "if a good documentary about furries is going to come from somewhere, it's going to come from within the fandom, and it's probably going to be targeted toward furries (it just won't have the appeal or the resources to make it to the mass public)."

    What fandom objects do you think will have an impact on general culture? 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: Project spaces

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 20 June 2013 - 8:56pm
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    • In the post Fandom as Inhabitation of Negative Space, Tumblr blogger Saathi 1013 addressed the common question "Why don’t fanficcers write original stories instead of fanfic?” She uses the poetic concept of enjambment to explain the differences in thinking between fanfic and original writing. "[O]ne of the cool things about enjambment is that the break is...essentially a half-second of playing conceptual mad libs before your eye tracks to the next line and you finish the sentence...the way the author wants you to. But the thing is, good poets build that moment of unknowing into the meaning of the poem...It’s not just a pause for breath or for emphasis, but it can also be the thing that gives room for the poem to do something special: to ignite from the essential spark of the reader’s imagination, to turn and twist like a living thing, never the same twice."
    • Boston Metro's take on fanfiction was decidedly different, as it described an Erotic Fan Fiction competition. "The thing is, though, that while we’re sure a fair amount of this particular type of literature is penned by pasty, 50-year-old virgins, typing sweatily and furiously in their parents basements at 3 a.m., fan fiction can also be mined for comedic gold. That’s the idea behind comedian Bryan Murphy’s Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, a monthly comedy show (soon to be made into a podcast) he’s hosted for the past two-odd years at the Nerdist Theatre in San Francisco. The premise: eight comics write — and read aloud — short pieces of erotic fan fiction based either upon their own fancy or audience suggestions. The audience decides who has written the most titillating — or just plain absurd — story by a show of applause."
    • The fan practice of remixing TV content to filter out specific storylines is presumably only as racy as its original content, but it was upsetting to at least some creators, regardless. "Mr. Lindelof, who was aware of Mr. Maloney’s chronological re-edit of “Lost,” said he could not quite bring himself to watch it, even if he appreciated the impulses that led to its creation. 'I totally embrace the experiment,' Mr. Lindelof said. 'But part of me feels like, oh my God, if it actually works better in chronological order, what does that say about me?'"
    • Twin Peaks is a show some might say could benefit from plot clarification, but The USA Today instead gave a nod to its fandom's Welcome to Twin Peaks photo project "in which fans submit pics that combine the iconic image from the series' opening credits with a road/scene in their town."

    What's your take on fannish creations? 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: OTW and the Press

    By John Bayard on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 - 4:15pm
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    • The Kindle Worlds story didn't just result in hundreds of media outlets running pieces on the story, but also quite a few requests to the OTW for comment. While some have been previously linked to and some have yet to be published, several more have made an appearance. The Verge talked with OTW Communications staffer Nistasha Perez about the Amazon's new move as well as similar efforts to commercialize fanfiction in the past. "In 2007, former Yahoo executive Chris Williams decided it was time to make money off fan fiction. 'I work for a brand-new fan fiction website called FanLib.com and my colleagues and I want it to be the ultimate place for talented writers like you,' read an email sent to hundreds of authors." But "[a]fter barely over a year, FanLib's infrastructure was bought by Disney, and the fan fiction archive was quietly shut down. Six years later, media powerhouse Amazon is giving the idea another try."
    • In "Kindle Worlds: Do fan fiction writers want to make money?", the BBC spoke to Jen West, Naomi Novik and Francesca Coppa about fanfiction writing and the potential impact of Kindle Worlds. "The thing that people don't get about fandom, especially now that it seems to be an internet phenomeom is [the idea] that fans are very isolated and are having these relationships with consumer products. But that's not true, they're having relationships with other people. There are fans they might have known for 20 years." (No transcript available)
    • Naomi Alderman interviewed Francesca Coppa last year for Radio 4 about how fanfiction is a huge chunk of the literary iceberg, with fiction published by large commercial publishers being only a small fraction of this. A small part of the interview was run again in the BBC Arts Hour. In discussing the crossover, Coppa stressed what a natural impulse this would be for writers yet due to copyright restrictions, characters need to stay in separate boxes. Alderman then did a brief reading of a Lord of the Flies crossover with The Walking Dead noting how the juxtaposition of characters and storyline revealed similarities in those tales. (0:33 to 0:38 minutes - No transcript available)
    • The CBC Radio show Q with Jian Ghomeshi interviewed OTW staffer Naomi Novik about Kindle Worlds and fanfiction's role in culture. Speaking of Kindle Worlds' vague content guidelines, Novik said "The problem with those restrictions is that it lends itself so easily to unpredictable enforcement...When you post your story, do you know if it's going to be "all right" or not? If they take it down, do you now have the rights back to it?...And part of the wonderful aspect of fanfiction is that fanfiction is about having all the tools in the box, and being able to write anything and follow a story anywhere, even if it's not the thing that's going to sell the most copies, even if it's not the story that whoever owns it wants told." (0:54 - 1:09 minutes - No transcript available)

    What other discussions have you seen about Kindle Worlds? 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: Voices of dissent

    By Julia Allis on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 - 10:35pm
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    • Journalists and bloggers who have come across only a few works about fandom have a tendency to make broad claims about those documents. Case in point, Irish Times writer Brian Boyd who says that the new fandom documentary Springsteen and I is "the first feature of its type to de-stigmatise fandom and celebrate it as a meaningful and healthy form of behaviour." However, fandom studies are going on continuously, as Canada's Metro notes in a recent feature on a graduate student who is researching female fans of Saskatchewan Roughriders. Not all examinations of fandom need to be a form of defense, either, since negative behavior can itself be informative to either fans or their culture at large.
    • For example, The Daily Dot put a spotlight on anti-fandom spaces: "The Tumblr Your Fave is Problematic (YFIP) has one purpose: making sure you have a list of all the uncool things—read: racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist, sizeist, transphobic—your favorite celebrity has allegedly done or said. Normally it flies under the fandom radar, serving its intended purpose as a resource for people looking for the other side of the endless waves of praise that fandom can bestow on its chosen heroes." The purposes behind it are varied. "[I]n an increasingly diverse, increasingly mainstreamed fandom, the number of cultural and political clashes is increasing all the time" and "The distinction between fan and critic, advocate and antagonist is widening but blurring with every baited reblog. And as anti-fandoms continue to grow along with fandom itself, it seems to be a divide that won’t be shrinking any time soon."
    • The Washington Post used sports fandom to discuss fans' monetary tributes to their favorite fannish objects. "[P]rompted by a question from his own fiancee — he’s actually thought a lot about why he felt so compelled to buy the quarterback an inexpensive gift from his registry, even though he still hasn’t bought wedding gifts for some of his closest personal friends." The fan replied that “'It’s no one else’s decision whether I buy a cake pan for a guy I’m never going to meet. And so what if he’s got 15 of them? I’m now a part of his cabinet. A little piece of me is part of that cake pan in his cabinet. It’s less about Robert than it is about the fans. We want to be a part of his life, just the same way he’s a part of ours.'”
    • On the other end of the scale Seoul Beats wrote about how some fans are deliberately disconnected from the sources of their fandom and points of fan congregation. "There does indeed seem to be a very large disconnect between the purported global aims of Hallyu, the Korean Wave, and the way that international K-pop fans are treated within K-pop fandoms. Specifically, despite the fact that K-pop companies are (and for the past few years, have been) essentially falling all over themselves to attract more interest from the farthest corners of the globe, when it comes to official K-pop fandom, international fans are, for the most part, just plain unwelcome and need not apply." The article examines discrimination in fan club memberships which affect the experiences fans can have as well as how the visibility of non-Korean fans can be limited.

    What interesting examinations of fandom have you come across? 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: Pushback on Kindle Worlds

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 8 June 2013 - 5:53pm
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    • The first wave of Kindle Worlds press coverage mostly quoted from Amazon's press release with a few reaction links. Follow-up articles proved to be more critical and more aware of fannish perspective. The Millions asked Will Kindle Worlds Commodify Fan Fiction?. "It is fitting, perhaps, that the same week as the Yahoo/Tumblr acquisition, Amazon announced a project entitled 'Kindle Worlds.' It feels like more of a broader trend than a coincidence, because the Kindle Worlds endeavor is about an organization inserting itself from the top down. 'Worlds,' we learn, are Amazon-ese for fandoms."

      By contrast "There is an enormously freeing diversity in the world of fan fiction. I don’t mean that the writers are diverse — they are mostly female, and surely there must be socioeconomic implications in the ability to sustain such a hobby...The possibilities spin off into exponentially increasing permutations, spurring weird stuff and beautiful stuff, quite often fiction that’s better written than the source material that inspired it, creating fandoms that are so broad and varied and encompassing that a person can usually find whatever they’re seeking within. If not, well, that person may as well just write it herself. If that’s not the most accurate reflection of the rest of the internet — the organic, cultivated internet, grown from the bottom up, with no contracts, no exchanges of cash — then I don’t know what is."

    • The Guardian again tackled the topic, this time declaring How Kindle Worlds aims to colonise fan fiction The "colonization" term seemed deliberately chosen. "Fan fiction writers are, first and foremost, fans: passionate ones, sophisticated ones, and knowledgable about the culture they're writing for and about. And while Amazon's not-very-exciting payment terms might entice a few into the professional fold, many more will continue to write whatever they like online for the joy and social prestige of the thing itself. Nevertheless, the attempted legalisation and professionalisation of one of the weirder and most enjoyable subcultures of the internet marks a significant moment in the history of networked literature."
    • Publishers Melville House decided to tackle the announcement in fanfiction form. "Jeff looked up from his arm screen to find that Damon had leaned in close enough that he could smell the cool death on his breath. 'Glad to see you’re up to your usual business, Jeff—taking a happy and vibrant community and doling out a pittance to exploit and corrupt it.' He placed his long-fingered hand on Jeff’s chest. Jeff heard himself whimper quietly from somewhere beyond his control. 'And what about content, Jeff? I assume there are restrictions? You have to take the fun out of it somehow.'"
    • Geek Empire noted Amazon's true target, professional writers. "In that regard, Kindle Worlds resembles nothing so much as another Amazon service, Mechanical Turk. There, business and developers commission small, iterative tasks that users can perform, often for remuneration as low as a penny. As Amazon would have it, Mechanical Turk gives businesses a “scalable workforce”—to which one might add, a workforce that is cheap and inherently disposable . That’s what Warner Bros. has gotten in exchange for the license to use its characters: a virtually free and disposable workforce."
    • Investing site Motley Fool hosted a post which noted that the move was a way to create a longer revenue stream for content owners. "Partnering with Amazon in its fan fiction program would not only help media companies, which are looking for ways to promote their television shows and movies, but it would also help laggard book publishers such as Scholastic, which need new ways to profit from concluded franchises."
    • An article in Chicago Grid reminded people that books aren't all Amazon may be after. "And do remember that Amazon also has a TV production studio. The language on the Kindle Worlds page that describes the relationship between a Kindle Worlds author and Amazon is conversational; I’m certain that authors will be required to click through something more obtuse and comprehensive when the program goes live next month. But as-is, we can’t dismiss the possibility that Amazon (and its first-look production partner…yes, Warner Studios) is buying worldwide rights to exploit the author’s work across all media for the life of the copyright, for nothing more than the possibility of royalties for the ebook."
    • A post at Tosche Station poked at all the problematic possibilities in Amazon's announcement -- such as rights granted upon submission, not acceptance, no legal protection if there's infringement of non-partner brands, and "The net revenue is based off the customer sales price, not the wholesale price, which tends to be less. That seems okay, doesn’t it? It does until you read this: 'Amazon Publishing will set the price for Kindle Worlds stories.' Hm. So that means that your royalties and revenue could change in an instant, depending on how Amazon decides to price your story–and keep in mind, Amazon could decide to price it at zero, depending on how your contract is written."
    • Another fannish blogger noted the problem with shared universes among fans -- who really owns fanon? "Lastly, what about plagiarism between Fan Fictions? Fan Fiction writers inside of fandoms can and will borrow from each other. Sometimes an idea is so great that one person reads it in a Fan Fiction, thinks it’s actually canon that they missed, and puts it in their story. I’m guilty of that because the idea that Tycho Celchu was talking to his fiance when Alderaan was destroyed was a beautiful idea and I honestly thought it was canon. When I asked the writer, they also had thought it was canon then realized it wasn’t and unfortunately I was never able to trace back to the person with the original idea. But at least in Fan Fiction, it’s free and we can call enough other out on it without needing legal recourse. Now that we start making money off of the ideas? Oh boy…"
    • The UK's Metro covered the bases with the pros and cons of fanfic as well as where best to publish it. "Tastes may be changing – Justin Bieber and The Hunger Games have made way for One Direction and Star Trek in the past year or so – but demand remains high – fanfic story uploads to the site [Wattpad] have increased by 60 per cent from 2012 to 2013, and this year is only five months old...The other issue is control –- [novelist Sheenagh] Pugh suspects that better writers will opt out to preserve theirs, particularly as Amazon would take ownership of their ideas. ‘I don’t think the best of fic will find its way on to Kindle Worlds,’ she said. ‘If the standard does prove to be low, that in itself will put off writers who care about their work, in the same way that they often won’t put their work on the FanFiction.net website because of its reputation for hosting acres of rubbish.’"
    • The Daily Dot also took note of the varied volume of content among fandom sites. "However, there is also the possibility that Kindle Worlds is aimed at a new generation of fans—ones who are growing up with the assumption that it’s completely reasonable to want payment for your fanfic. While popular Tumblr-based fandoms range from crime shows to young adult novels, and participants range in in age from 12 to 60, many are simply unaware of the seething underbelly of Wattpad-style fanfiction. On Wattpad, a One Direction fic written by a middle-schooler can receive upwards of a million hits. The fiction on traditional sites like Archive of our Own may be more tightly written, but the most popular story there only boasts a measly 360,000 hits. The question is, will the mostly teenage Wattpad audience have enough interest to pay for fanfic when you can already read ten stories on your smartphone every day, for free?"
    • At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky uses comic fandom to suggest that there's little difference between official tie-in works and fanworks. He asks "In terms of creative process and in terms of audience, does it really matter all that much if you're writing about Kirk and Spock's new adventures for free or for profit?" Then he dismisses one obvious difference with "Admittedly there's not a whole lot of gay sex in super-hero comics... but that seems more like a genre distinction than an existential one." Instead he suggests "If "fan fic" was the name of a genre and a community, it can now be the name of a marketing campaign and a marketing demographic. You could even say that Amazon is turning the term "fan fiction" into fan fiction itself, lifting it from its original context and giving it a new purpose and a new narrative, related to the original but not beholden to it. Dreams come out of the corporation and go back to the corporation, fungibly circulating. Your brain is just another medium of exchange."

    What other discussions have you seen about Kindle Worlds? 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: Uncovering fandom

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 6 June 2013 - 5:21pm
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    • The Washington Post Reader Express met with fans, including some OTW staffers, at last month's Awesome Con in D.C., then wrote about the "Unforbidden Love" expressed in fanfiction. "Fan fiction is like methadone to a heroin addict, offering a come-down from the high of the original creation. It’s a rebound relationship, filling the gaping hole left when a favorite series ends (or starts to suck)." Although the AO3 is mentioned as a fanfic resource, the article incorrectly states that people must sign up for an account to read its content, rather than to publish content on the site. A bonus for readers? Slashy fanart created for the article.
    • More perplexed is the post from the point of view of a bemused mother discovering fanfiction through her kids. "Someone asked me what genres Diana has been reading, and I had to acknowledge that lately it's been a whole lot of fan fiction (does that even get called a genre, really?). If I am lucky, the person asking is even older or more out of it than I am, and says, 'Wha?' and I get to act like I have any idea of what I'm talking about." She then cites some positive points about "kids reading fan fiction (or watching people read it on YouTube? Which is apparently a Thing?)."
    • Nebraska Educational Telecommunications did an interview with Tanya Cochran, associate professor of English at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska about bronies and fandom. "So what is the difference between a person who simply enjoys a book series, a musical album, a television show, or a video game and a person who considers herself or himself a fan? The answer is actually quite complex, but on the surface, the main difference is the amount of time and emotional investment one devotes to engagement with and extension of the central narrative." She points out that to study fan culture is to study narrative power and social assumptions. "Ultimately, Brony fandom by its very existence invites us to practice the disciplines of listening and of avoiding, in Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie’s words, 'the danger of a single story.' It is for reasons like these that I fell in love with studying fandom and exploring my own fan identity and practices. In essence, all fandoms have much to tell us about what it means to be human."

    What do you think exploring fandoms can teach people? 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: Asking questions

    By Claudia Rebaza on Monday, 3 June 2013 - 5:00pm
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    • The number of fandom groups within the general population is still a big unknown, but the MIT student newspaper The Tech decided to find out if its school's nerdy reputation was justified. In a special section that included an interview with fandom scholar Flourish Klink, they published results of an MIT campus survey. One of the more interesting findings was the list of most popular fandoms on campus by either vote (Harry Potter, The Avengers, Lord of the Rings, Batman) or write-in (Ender's Game, Sherlock & Modern Family). The paper compared these results to a survey of 386 non-MIT individuals who were asked what they thought would be the most popular fandoms on either MIT, Harvard, or a state school. The results were the same for all three -- Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Call of Duty. (Survey results can be found on pp.12-13 of the PDF version).
    • The My Little Pony site Equestria Daily also ran a user survey about fanfiction. Much of the survey dealt with how users wanted the site to deal with fanfiction availability and selection, but a few dealt with general reading tastes such as the question "What genres of fanfiction do you enjoy reading?" There were 10 categories with a choice of "Other" and the top 3 answers were "Slice of Life/Normal", "Adventure" and "Comedy" with the bottom three being "Scifi", "Human" and "Random." About 31% of the 3,634 respondents claimed to read fanfiction daily.
    • An article in Fabulous focused on "the dark and sinister side of fan fiction" which included a variety of plot types in the writer's opinion, from thrillers to slash. "Hannah...insists her stories...are about creating gripping storylines rather than wishing harm on her idols. 'I didn’t want to be clichéd and have them skipping off happily into the sunset,' she says. 'I enjoy provoking emotion through my writing. To have someone say they cried when finishing my story, although distressing, is an achievement.' Hannah doesn’t think there’s anything unusual about her violent stories. 'As a writer, if you want to make more of a splash, then an emotional, sad ending tugs at the heart-strings more,' she says. 'Plus, sometimes your favourite celebrity doesn’t seem real, especially if you’ve only seen them in magazines or on TV. Giving them a disease like cancer in fan fiction humanises them and [shows] they’re just as vulnerable to illness as the rest of the world’s population.'”

    What interesting fandom numbers have you seen? 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.

  • Help the EFF Save Podcasting

    By .Curtis Jefferson on Friday, 31 May 2013 - 6:23pm
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    The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization long committed to protecting and fighting for digital rights, is looking for help to save podcasting. Personal Audio LLC has filed a number of lawsuits over the past few months and is asserting a patent on podcasting. The company has also sent letters to some podcasters demanding financial compensation for use of their technology.

    The EFF is taking action to challenge Personal Audio's claim, but are asking for help to do so. According to an EFF release: "To do this, we need to find publications from before October 2, 1996 that disclose similar or identical ideas (this also known as prior art). The best prior art will include publications describing early versions of podcasting or any other kind of episode distribution over the Internet."

    Since podcasting is an integral part of fandom for many and because it is likely that examples of prior art could be drawn from fandom circles, we're boosting the call. The EFF has a long history of working in the best interests of fans (including their recent work on behalf of fans who lost files as a part of the Megaupload shutdown).

    If you know of any examples of prior art in this case, please submit them at the EFF's Ask Patents page or e-mail them to podcasting@eff.org. You can also read the full EFF blog post for more information.

  • OTW Fannews: Kindle Worlds edition

    By .Curtis Jefferson on Sunday, 26 May 2013 - 8:57pm
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    • Amazon's announcement earlier this month that it would be launching Kindle Worlds as a way to capitalize on fanfic writers didn't just get a lot of attention among fans and online discussion sites it also launched dozens of related articles ranging from tech publications, business publications, publishing sites, entertainment sites, journalism sites, fan-oriented media and mass-market media, in the U.S. and internationally, as well as individual responses by authors. We thought we'd take a look at some of the issues raised in this coverage and what the media was focusing on.
    • One of Forbes' articles on the topic pointed out that the content restrictions imposed by Amazon's terms mean that the juggernaut hit that was Fifty Shades of Grey wouldn't have been able to be published through this program. Writers using this program won't be making that much either. "The revenue split is considerably less generous than authors who use their own characters enjoy, with Kindle Worlds writers keeping 35% of the net. That’s for works over 10,000 words; for shorter ones, the rate is an even lower 20%. Ordinarily, writers who self-publish e-books through Amazon keep 70% percent."
    • Author John Scalzi also looked critically at Amazon's terms and what a bad deal it is for fanfic writers. "Essentially, this means that all the work in the Kindle Worlds arena is a work for hire that Alloy (and whomever else signs on) can mine with impunity. This is a very good deal for Alloy, et al — they’re getting story ideas! Free! — and less of a good deal for the actual writers themselves. I mean, the official media tie-in writers and script writers are doing work for hire, too, but they get advances and\or at least WGA minimum scale for their work."
    • Scalzi's comments about how Amazon's move was more likely to replace writers of tie-in novels with cheap, unedited writers, tied into Forbes contributor Suw Charman-Anderson's comments about how Amazon's move was yet another example of a slow-moving and risk-averse traditional publishing industry. "How many more business opportunities are Amazon going to create from things that the publishing industry has ignored or rejected? Publishers cannot allow themselves to be pushed constantly onto their back foot by Amazon, they can’t let outdated attitudes towards copyright, licensing and creativity define their future. They need to do what Amazon does only too well: Find under-served communities and then give them the tools to write, to create and to make money from their work." Megan Carter at The Daily Beast also looks at the matter from a publishing perspective, saying "The interesting thing about the Kindle Single is that it isn't just changing how long people write, but how people write. The books can be written much faster--you say as much as you have to say, and then you stop. Then if they do well, they get turned into a hardcover, which can be revised and extended based on the commentary the ebook received. "
    • Some, such as Matt Carter, are concerned about what this will do to professional writers. "The joy of fan-fiction for some has always been the pleasure of writing for the sake of writing, and then sharing among like-minded friends. The concern here is twofold in that the original author of, say, a “Vampire Diaries” script could feel slighted if a fan-fiction author suddenly pulls in more money than them, and that there will suddenly be authors who will actually take to writing fan-fiction rather than trying to create original worlds of their own, thus setting a limit on future creative projects."
    • Carina Adly MacKenzie at Zap2It pointed out what Alloy is. "It should be noted that Alloy is a book packager, so the three available properties aren't the brainchild of specific authors, but of a sort of brain trust of creative types and marketing geniuses. Alloy has a team of people who sit down and come up with plot ideas that they believe will make profitable franchises, mostly directed at young women. Then, they hire an author to write their previously outlined stories. This means that Alloy retains the creative rights to the "world" in which the books are set, because Alloy came up with it, which makes something like Kindle World a lot easier. Whether this sort of system would work with content that emerged in a more traditional way -- from the mind of one writer or producer -- is yet to be seen."
    • TechnoBuffalo raised a concern likely on many fans' minds -- what comes next. "One lingering question from this project, however, is if the studios that license the properties will continue to allow fans to publish their works for free around the Web. In theory not much should change, but there is now a financial stake in this sub-section of fandom where companies can earn money from the work of others, so there might be an incentive to drive people towards the pay version of fan fiction. We reached out to Warner Bros., the parent company of Alloy Entertainment, for comment on the matter, but had not received a reply by publication time."
    • One concern about the Worlds program may not be as restrictive as people think. "Fan fiction has never been about money. Inhabiting a beloved world and bonding about it with other fans is what's kept people publishing thousands of words for free. Doing so for dollars but being limited by Amazon's terms (one of which is no pornography, of which a sizeable amount of fan fiction is comprised) may turn many off. However, when asked if Fifty Shades of Grey would violate the "no pornography" clause, an Amazon spokesperson said, "Fifty Shades of Grey involves consensual sex between adults and does not violate our content guidelines." So how Amazon defines pornography is definitely somewhere outside the "I know it when I see it" dictum."
    • However, others are more concerned about what this development will mean for fanfiction communities, though the less they know about them, the more likely the think of Kindle Worlds as a great development. "Most fan fic authors would jump at the chance to legally write for their beloved franchise, but with a possibility of getting paid and perhaps even recognition from the creator? It's going to be an instant, phenomenal success." Others are less sanguine: "Fan fiction is a place of wing fic...and Mpreg...You can't package up a place like that and sell it. And telling and retelling stories, however we want to, is bigger even than a giant like Amazon. Fanfic existed before the internet and it will still be around when we live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. After all, it's created enough of them." And one commentator proposed the idea that Amazon spaces will become community forums for fanfic writers. "'I think it just builds the network effect, which is one of the cornerstones of Amazon’s competitive advantage,' said R.J. Hottovy, senior ecommerce analyst at Morningstar. 'The more people use (the platform) and discuss, the more powerful it is for people who sell things.'"
    • Some outlets contacted the OTW for comment, such as Wired: "Indeed, given the limited licenses, draconian content guidelines, and dubious contracts, it’s hard to imagine fans abandoning open platforms for a far-from-guaranteed paycheck. While Kindle Worlds is sure to attract a fair number of fan writers excited at the prospect of working under official license and maybe even making a buck or two off their stories, for many, the most appealing route to publication will remain the one taken by Fifty Shades of Grey author E. L. James: just file off the serial numbers."
    • At least one likely outcome to widespread media stories on fanfiction will be the continuing practice of spreading confusion about fanfiction terms and practices due to a lack of fact checking or research, including being able to accurately determine the number of Vampire Diaries stories at Fanfiction.net. But at least fanfiction readers can rest easy that fanfic's already been easily available for their Kindles since 2010.

    What additional views on Kindle Worlds have you seen? 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: Awesome creations

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 24 May 2013 - 3:18pm
    Message type:
    • Mother Jones wrote about Jennie Lamere, who recently won the "best in show" award at the national TVnext Hack event by helping fans avoid spoilers on Twitter. She did it by writing "Twivo, a new program that allows Twitter users to censor their feeds from mentioning a certain TV show (and its characters) for a set time period." She was the only solo woman participating. "Hackathons (which have nothing to do with illegal hacking) bring together programmers, developers, and designers, who compete to code an innovative new program in a limited amount of time." Lamere has already been approached by a company to market her creation. "She came up with the idea for Twivo the night before the competition, and it took her 10 hours and 150 lines of code to complete."
    • Fan creativity isn't just becoming a given, it's beginning to be demanded as well. Kotaku posted about "Little Witch Academia...an animated 30-minute short released by Studio Trigger on YouTube" which was "produced as a part of the 'Young Animator Training Project'." Noting that anime fandom had successfully instigated a series from their response to an ad, writer Patricia Hernandez urged them to do the same with this project.
    • While non-scripted TV shows tend to lag in terms of fanwork creations, there's at least one fan video out there, "Hold Up, Bro" that can make people take note that they exist. "Lisa Ferreira recreated last week’s episode in Legos, showing how three idols led to Phillip’s exit. It’s fantastic and kind of shocking that Legos are so effective at representing Survivor cast members and locations." Ferreira then added " a full-length song and musical number...written and performed by Lisa and her brother Matthew Willcott."

    What cool fanworks have you seen lately? 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.

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