Links roundup for 11 August 2012

Here’s a roundup of legal and technology stories that might be of interest to fans:

  • Tiffany Stevens wrote in Construction magazine about how non-transformative fanworks could impact fanworks as a whole. “Most fan fiction poses no threat to professional authors, but some takes advantage of the art’s borrowing and adapting. Uninventive authors have been creating stories nearly identical to ones already in existence, and some even borrow pieces of dialogue or scraps of descriptive language. In a relatively new phenomenon, some writers copy entire passages of novels and scripts with only minor changes. This latter trend—called ‘The Characters Read’ (or sometimes, ‘The Cast Reads’)—is what should be of chief concern to writers worried about fan fiction’s future in the face of pending efforts to curb piracy. ‘The Characters Read’ phenomenon should raise alarms for any person who felt concerned for the fate of Internet artists during January’s SOPA/PIPA battle—especially since easy comparisons can be made between fan fiction’s repeat plagiarists and the music industry’s worst pirates.”
  • A recent hacking attempt of Yahoo accounts led CNET to point out a different lack of fan originality. “CNET’s Declan McCullagh wrote a program to analyze the most frequently used passwords and e-mail domains that surfaced in the breach.” There were some familiar terms in the bunch. “133: The number of times ‘baseball’ appears as a password. It’s the most popular sport on the list, proving that it is indeed America’s national pastime. It just may not be the best password. 106: The number of times ‘superman’ is used as a password. That’s nearly double the amount of times ‘batman’ is used and triple the frequency of ‘spiderman.’ 52: The number of times ‘starwars’ is used. The force is not with this password.” The analysis awarded no points for extra geekiness. “27: The number of times ‘ncc1701’ is used as a password. For those of you who aren’t trekkies, that’s the designation code for the Starship Enterprise. ‘startrek’ is used 17 times, while ‘ncc1701a,’ the designation for the Enterprise used in later Star Trek movies, is used 15 times. Chances are, if you’re a trekkie or comic book fan, you should probably change up your password.”
  • Canadian outlet The Tyee tied together fanfiction going pro to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This international treaty “criminalizes copyright infringement not only by the creator but also the distributor, even if the distributor is unaware. Not only would EL James be liable for posting her fan work, so would any website that hosted it.” The group OpenMedia is trying to raise awareness. “‘One of the TPP’s many vices is that it doesn’t really distinguish between different ways that people can use content, and different levels of infringement, of non-commercial versus commercial, for example. It imposes very strict penalties on anybody regardless of what their use is, whether that would constitute fair use in the average market or whether that would actually be an infringement on creator’s rights,’ says Lindsey Pinto, communications manager for Openmedia.ca. Fanfiction.net and other sites that host fan fiction stories could shut down. Youtube, Vimeo and other video hosting sites could be forced to police their users and not only remove infringing content like fan-made music videos, but to hand over their users’ personal information to big media companies for civil and even criminal charges.”

If you’re concerned about fannish freedom to create, create some links of your own at Fanlore. Additions are welcome from all fans.

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