- Variety gave the entertainment industry a heads up on a critical fair use ruling in a case involving viral videos. Fair use is the key copyright provision protecting fanworks in the U.S. “‘Equals Three’s use of Jukin’s videos is admittedly commercial. Nevertheless, the commercial nature of the use is outweighed by the episode’s transformativeness,’ Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California wrote in the Oct. 13 decision. What makes the use ‘transformative’ is not clear-cut, the judge noted: ‘Determining whether Equals Three’s episodes parody Jukin’s videos is a difficult and nuanced task.’ But Judge Wilson ruled that even if Equals Three’s episodes are not parodies, the episodes comment on or criticize Jukin’s videos and are therefore allowable under fair use.”
- An article in The Atlantic discussed the importance of the Google Books decision for fair use. “This isn’t only good news for fans of Google Books. It helps makes the legal boundaries of fair use clear to other organizations who may try to take advantage of it, including libraries and non-profits. ‘It gives us a better senses of where fair use lies,’ says Dan Cohen, the executive director of the Digital Public Library of America.” What’s more “Experts say that the Supreme Court is unlikely to hear an appeal, because so many district court judges, and two different federal circuits, have found themselves so broadly in agreement about the nature of transformative use online.”
- Another writer in The Atlantic noted that transformative use is everywhere in both authorized and non-authorized forms today. “The question for authors to consider in this brave new world of mimicry, both professional and otherwise, is to what extent they consider their characters to be theirs and theirs alone. For most, it isn’t something that will become an issue during their lifetime: Copyright law stipulates that books only enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the author, even if most fanfic writers aren’t limited in terms of what they can post online.”
- Digital Book World proposed that publishing focus on the content not the wrapper when producing work. “[F]an fiction has quite possibly become the biggest sleeper hit of the digital age. According to some estimates, around a third of all the content posted on Wattpad and Tumblr is created by fans. As a commercial proposition, fan fiction is embryonic, but I think publishers have a lot to learn from its speed and agility. Fan fiction stays close to its audience (indeed, creator and consumer are often indistinguishable), it centers on recognizable brands and it iterates quickly. And most importantly, it’s platform-neutral. The wrapper—whether this is a Tumblr post, Wattpad story or ebook—isn’t the end product; it’s a means of transmission.”
What do you think have been the key moments in the spread of fanworks? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.
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