« Hatch watch | Main | The Superhero Men Don't See: Evidence »

May 16, 2012

Comments

Fascinating. I had no idea Shards of Honor started as an ST fanfic. I just re-read it, but I really would have never imagined the Betans as Vulcan-derived or inspired.

And thanks for explaining P2P. I have one author in a community I moderate who insists on total control of her work and I suspect she is thinking of eventually going pro. She's certainly writes well enough.

Do you ever think of the ethics of archiving works that have been yanked by the author? It's something I've gotten into many an argument over, and it does feel like someone selling a jointly-owned resource when a story is pulled. OTOH I can see the author's POV too. It's their work and their sweat and there are a multitude of reasons to try and 'disappear' something off the Internet.

Do you think Twilight lends itself to feral fans because most of them are coming from outside fandom persay? Did Harry Potter have the same sort of surge of outside genre readers becoming fans and generating fanfic?

Looking forward to the review proper.

Thank you for another fascinating glimpse into an aspect of human creativity that I didn't know about.

I love it that so many people feel free to be creative writers and eager readers.

I'm preparing a manuscript that I will submit to Amazon Shorts, mostly because I have no idea where else to submit it. (Yes, I can type correctly, and even write fluently with correct conventions, if sufficently motivated. But I have to use Word with the font jacked up). For me, writing has been a lonely activity because I have no connections to people who are writing or interested in reading what I write. Sadly for me, I have no interest either in romance or fanfic derived from Twilight, so those communities would not work for me. I sure am happy for those people who have found a community!

I wonder when the fanfic for Game of Thrones will start?

Fantastic analysis!

I had no idea Shards of Honor started as an ST fanfic.

Well, it really didn't. Bujold talks about this at some length in the Vorkosigan companion, and says that although the original idea was for a Federation Officer & a Klingon to get stranded on a planet together, when she started actually writing, it was original fiction.

So the most one can claim is that the concept was sparked by fanfiction, but Shards of Honor itself was never fanfiction.

Do you ever think of the ethics of archiving works that have been yanked by the author?

I think it's really shady to publicly archive another person's work without their approval. Save to your hard drive, fine, but you don't have the right to put up someone else's work--they may have good reasons for limiting its distribution. But I ran into a fan who was publicly archiving and editing the work of a number of writers in my current fandom, and she just could not understand why people were upset about this. ... not coincidentally, she came out of Twilight fandom, and her defense was, indeed, this whole P2P issue. (Although I suspect there's a limited market for novel-length Narnia stories with the serial numbers filed off.)

Laura: there is certainly plenty of GoT fanfic out there, although Martin has made it clear that he hates the idea of it. If you go to the AO3 (linked in Dr. Science's post), and search through the fandom listings, you're sure to find some.

Can anyone explain why p2p is needed in the first place? Is the issue liability or is it more of a 'publishers won't take you seriously if your still-with-serial-numbers work is on the internet' problem?

I'm confused because it seems like the same story with and without serial numbers filed off would be very different works, so I'm not sure why they can't exist in parallel....

Can anyone explain why p2p is needed in the first place?

At a guess:

1. Why would anyone pay to buy the book if a roughly identical version is available for free on the internet?

2. Publishers generally don't want to pay for work that's been published anywhere before, including as fanfiction on the net.

3. Many professional writers like to keep their fan identities separate from their fannish identities, because under their fannish names they might be publishing things that their professional readership might find distasteful. To wit: Naomi Novik writes historical fantasy adventures with PG-rated heterosexual relationships. Her fannish alter ego, which I shall not name, has written quite a lot of NC-17 sexually-explicit fanfiction. Leaving the "original" fanfiction on the net would make it far too easy to make the connection between the fan & pro identities. And people have lost jobs and ruined relationships when their fan writing has been discovered, especially if it's sexually explicit.

Thanks cofax, that all makes sense!

I remember quite a bit of wank when Catherynne Valente published her children's novel "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making" online for tips, then sold it to a major publisher and removed it from the internet. Even though it wasn't fanfiction, I think some of the same assumptions were going on about the gift economy and the money economy -- the book was originally published as a gift, and taking it back to sell for money felt like a betrayal of that gift-relationship, though of course she was perfectly within her rights to do so.

Hi cofax--

That makes more sense for Shards; thanks. I haven't gotten to the Companion yet. I'm currently reading and re-reading the saga in order thanks to the free Baen download. (free except for Memory, which I bought to complete the set). I tend to skip the forewards and afterwards by Bujold as I'm concentrating on the story right now.

I agree on the save to hard drive rather than publicly archive but it's a bone of contention amongst some. Especially when it's not P2P but, 'that's older stuff, not v. good, take it down.'
The author to which I referred really didn't even like my saving her work for personal consumption but there it is. Once it's out there, there's no guarantee it won't turn up again. Publishers seem to just want the effort not the guarantee, which seems reasonable.

The author to which I referred really didn't even like my saving her work for personal consumption but there it is.

See, I think that's ridiculous. You can't stop people from saving things to their hard drives.

However, I had a fan-friend back in the day who published all her work under her legal name. It was good stuff, with a lot of romance elements and some explicit sex. She really wasn't worried about it--until she decided she wanted to become an elementary schoolteacher.

This was ten years ago, and despite all her efforts, you can still find her XF MSR stories on-line in various places, with her legal name attached. Any sufficiently-advanced Google of her legal name is going to find that stuff.

That's why I'm firmly in favor of reserving the author's right to control archiving indefinitely. Circumstances change, and nobody should suffer for decades because when they were 16 and didn't know any better, they posted some silly porn to a site and then the webmaster forgot the password, and she was never able to take it down or even put a pseudonym on it.

Which is why the AO3 gives the writer complete control over the story, and even allows for "orphaning", which keeps the story on the archive, but removes the connection with the original author.

I love AO3's orphaning concept. That seems to solve a lot of the problems.

My own feeling is that once they're set free in the wild stories develop their own life. Of course I'm old enough to not particularly care-- which I'm aware is a privilege not everyone shares.

Circumstances do indeed change. And the Internet is forever. Those two things don't always mesh.

Is there no room for the notion of "copyright" in what authors put online? So that should they choose to take it down, persisting it online would be copying and thus wrong.

Of course, that does collide with the notion of beta-reading, in which the fans actively feed back into part of the product. I am a little surprised, honestly, that they don't feel like they can make a claim that *their* work (i.e. their commentaries and corrections) is copyrighted and that the "author" has actually constructed a derivative work.

Any thoughts...?

Is there no room for the notion of "copyright" in what authors put online? So that should they choose to take it down, persisting it online would be copying and thus wrong.

Well, there is certainly legal support for the idea that a fanwriter has a copyrightable interest in their work, subordinate to the copyright interest of the creator of the original work. But enforcing that fan's copyright gets tricky, because, well, it's fanfiction. Nobody's making any money off it (or hadn't up till now), so there's never been a test case where a fanwriter filed a claim against an unauthorized archiving of their work.

I suppose that if someone re-posted Master of the Universe to Fanfiction.net or one of the other archives, E.L. James' publisher would probably go after them for copyright infringement. Which... would be really interesting, actually.

Of course, that does collide with the notion of beta-reading, in which the fans actively feed back into part of the product. I am a little surprised, honestly, that they don't feel like they can make a claim that *their* work (i.e. their commentaries and corrections) is copyrighted and that the "author" has actually constructed a derivative work.

A beta is an editor, and you volunteer for that duty. You read the story and correct typos and make comments about the plot and characterizations and prose. It's part of the web of relationships that keep fandom running. The writer posts the story and adds a note to the header thanking the beta.

I have never seen a beta claim an interest in a story which is greater than the writer's. If the beta really was so involved that a lot of the text is theirs, then they would at some point in the writing process switch over to being a co-author, and the story would be posted as co-written.

I've never seen an instance like you describe, where a beta claims some sort of superior legal interest in the final story.

For several years I've been following media stories using Google keyword search agents (or "my flying monkeys" as I like to call them) relating to bondage, and the effect of "50 Shades of Gray" on them has been more like a tsunami than a wave. It has swamped all my keyword searches that are peripherally related to bondage (hasn't invaded "sword and sorcery" yet, but it's probably just a matter of time...).

I say this because I want you to know, I'm in a position of authority with regard to 50 Shades of Gray, I have read a TON of crappy articles about it. Yours are BY FAR the best articles I've read on the topic. The others have not covered critical aspects like the fan editing that occurred when it was Master of the Universe at all. They have for the most part completely missed the gift economy vs. standard capitalism aspect of the story.

For the most part, the coverage has been shallow, the analysis halfwitted, and the writing pedestrian at best.

I'm linking to your blog, in fact I already did so when I found Part 1. I get about 1500 hits a day on average, but since I have semi-hardcore visual content you'll never see me cited in the mainstream media. Your articles deserve to be at the top of the search engines when one searches for 50 Shades of Gray, instead of the crap that's up there now. Good luck with that!

Are there any more posts in this series yet? It's been over a month.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad