sporangia: (Girl Reading)
[personal profile] sporangia

I have met Diana Gabaldon twice, both times when she was doing book promotion, so our verbal exchange was formal and consisted of me explaining how to spell my Mother's name correctly as she autographed books for me. I have never had the opportunity to have an informal chat with her, though I have listened to her discuss her books. I found her an opinionated and intelligent woman and I enjoyed her presentation.

When I've met a person, it becomes harder for me to dismiss them even when they are behaving--stupidly. So my reaction to Ms. Gabaldon's journal entries about her distaste for fan-fiction was shocking and puzzling rather then anger inducing. My surprise was her apparent lack of understanding about fan culture and how little she grasped the growing import of fan networks as vehicles for book promotion. Why didn't she know about us, certainly she has had years of meeting her fans, and certainly she understood how much her fans loved her characters? I wonder if her strange myopia is because she came into writing from outside of SF culture?

The event where I met her was at a fundraiser, with an expensive ticket price that would have deterred many fans. The average age of the audience was probably over fifty years old. At the time I assumed this was because the high price of admission deterred younger fans. But I am beginning to wonder if maybe her target audience is older readers. It is always dangerous to speculate about reader demographics and I usually shy away from that, but it could explain why she is so clueless about fan culture. If most of her fans are not SF fans, and if her fans are not members of organized fan networks then I begin to see how she might not understand the breath and depth of fan space and fan concerns. None of this of course excuses her ugly comments about fans or her hateful attitudes about fan writing, but I don't think she set out to intentionally insult me. But I can say with certainly that she doesn't understand me or my interests, and her grasp of her reader's landscape is very old school, and very behind the times.

Over the years I have encountered many fans and authors who share her views. she is old school in her attitudes toward ownership, but that assumes that the 'old school' had a correct understanding of copyright, and I'm not sure they ever did. I will also add that I not sure most authors today understand copyright. Copyright isa fluid and intentionally vague concept and fanfiction as a part of 'Fair Use' has never been validated in the US courts. I want fanfiction to be designated 'Fair Use' but I am not so sure that an eventual 'day of reckoning' in court will go our way. The legalistic arguments pro and con, are complex and will need to find balance among the rights of authors, individual readers and society.

I am following with much interest the efforts of all interested parties in redefining copyright in the most broad and inclusive terms. I think some of the anger directed at Gabaldon, is the knowledge that if all authors are forced to join her camp to protect their copyright licenses then fanfiction as we know it will be declared illegal.   This is a separate frustration from Gabaldon's fan writer diatribe (that we fans are all a pack of talentless thieves). She annoyed me, but it is a secondary annoyance to a larger anger at the corporate interests who are turning their greedy eyes on the re-definition of literature, monopolization via copyright, destruction of publishers and the rerouting of book distribution onto tracks that pour money into corporate coffers at the expense of readers and writers. I feel very strongly that Gabaldon along with all writers (fan and pro) are struggling to come to terms with the challenges that digital publishing has unleashed and that in spite of her having tossed professional mud in my face I still recognize we are on the same side in the greater war.  I wish there was some way I could make her see and understand that respect not theft is the guiding aesthetic behind fanfiction.





(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-13 06:52 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
she really showed just how much she did not get it. for sure.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-14 02:19 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
thanks for the links! yummy!

yeah, it's totally reasonable that an author would not worry about the internet or reviewers or fans and just sit in her garrett and write -- i can believe that.

but once the existence of fanfic was drawn to her attention somehow, she totally didn't get it.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-15 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deslily.livejournal.com
I don't write fanfic.. nor do I draw for fanfic...but whenever I hear talk of "copywrite" involved it seems their biggest concern is the fact that whoever is using their characters or copying their artwork, that they are making money on it..therefore it takes away from their fame and fortune.

I remember long ago when Frank Frazetta (artist) stated that he would go after and prosecute anyone who "copied his art" because no one could do it as well as the original artist (well duh!). but he would not paint on vans and motorcycles etc but still he ventured to state that someone was making money on HIS art, which was copywrited.

so it could be a very long haul for fanfic writers...

I am reminded of JKRowlings stating she was killing off some of her characters so no one could ever use them...this from the woman who is richer then the queen..

it's a topic that could be talked about for a long long time

(no subject)

Date: 2010-05-16 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sporangia.livejournal.com
I have been following the copyright dilemma since I started doing fan-art and fan-fiction. And I have come to the(non-expert) conclusion that even legal experts don't agree on how it should be applied. Rather then being a guarantor of specific rights to the artist/writer, copyright appears more a system of damage assessment and compensation when the artist/writer believes that his or her work's value is lessened or damaged by another party's actions. Damage can be defined in many ways and proving it is what happens in court.

Proving that fanfiction is damaging to the source material, would be the crux of a case against it.

The ethical issue is a whole other question and that is addressed in different ways in different legal systems around the world. Is it ethical to do fan fiction when the original author or organization(TV show)discourages it?
This question is very complex and MY answer at this juncture is mostly no, but there are exceptions I would make in specific situations.

What has changed is that computer networking has made all document distribution essentially free (if you are fortunate enough to have a computer and online access) and copyright law which is embedded in old media isn't a good a fit to the new publishing potentials. If people choose to, everyone can now have a space to publish their writing without over-site of publishers and editors. It is editorial over-site, that mostly polices copyright, because publishers and all their stakeholders understand that the granting of temporary monopoly (copyright) of creative work is crucial for the economic viability of authors, publishers and corporations. And as long as artists and writers could only be published through those controlled pipelines they were subject to the rules of copyright. The down side is that, now and in the past, many talented people were excluded from the old media pipeline because its carrying capacity is (and always has been) limited. This is why many people want to dismantle the publishing model that exists today, because it is perceived as being unfair and elitist. The billion dollar question is how to do this without diluting the rights of authors and artists and without damaging their ability to make a living. And corporate interests are finding profit on both side of the divide--on the ugly side, artists without recourse are ripe for exploitation and can be preyed upon even more ruthlessly than in the older publishing model.

The hope is that eventually a liveable model for all interests will emerge....(maybe)...but my hope is that fanfiction will be recognized as a legitimate part of the new model. But you are probably right in that it will be a very long haul for fanfic writers.

We are living through interesting times and I'm finding the the discussions about this fascinating.

I put these links on the DW side of my joint journal. I am adding them here. The first one is a very good article in the New Yorker which gives a quick analysis of the turmoil the publishing industry is going through. The second link is to
pir8fancier's post about fan communities and why writers should know about them.

New Yorker Article

Pir8fancier's post http://pir8fancier.livejournal.com/423186.html?format=light

Edited Date: 2010-05-18 11:37 pm (UTC)


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