OTW Fannews: Fair Use and the Modern Fan

  • On the Media aired an episode on the Past, Present and Future of Ownership, which included a number of good stories, including discussion of the art piece ‘DRM Chair’ “that collapses after just eight uses.” Host Brooke Gladstone concluded with an observation on the origins of the word ‘property.’ “Eight hundred years ago or so, property’s meaning was pretty much related to the essential nature of something, as in it’s the property of water to conform to the shape of the vessel it’s in. The fact is property didn’t come to mean possession until the 17th century…Now our world runs on property…Once we dwelled in a brick-and-mortar world. Now, as poet Kenneth Goldsmith observed, we swim in a digital ocean. The only certainty is that in such a fluid situation, 20 years hence, property will not mean what it means today.” (Transcripts available)
  • Among the people interviewed in the episode was OTW Legal Committee member, Rebecca Tushnet about the legal aspects of fanfiction. “There are such things as commercial fair uses. When ‘The Daily Show’ runs clips from the news and comments on them, that’s fair use. And it’s possible to have fictional fair uses, as well. However, the bar is higher and it really would be a case-by-case determination. For example there is a preacher who wrote a version of Harry Potter in which Harry Potter came to Jesus and renounced magic because it was evil. Whether or not that’s good, it clearly does have a critical message that comments on the original and is something that would never be part of the original. And that makes it have a good case for fair use, even if he then solicits donations or even sells it for a buck.” (Transcript available)
  • Another piece about fanfiction was posted on the site by Laura Mayer, discussing how it can emerge from episode recaps of reality shows. “Hype has been swirling around fan fiction for the past few months – the idea of hoards of super-fans, sitting in their homes, solitarily fleshing out the world and the characters from their beloved fiction. But it’s not just pure fiction that gets this treatment. Since there’s so much reality television on the dial, reality TV has been getting the fan fiction treatment, too.” However, her examples all come from media sources, entirely ignoring the very long history of RPF. “This isn’t a new thing. Back in the days of 2010, Richard Lawson became the father of reality television fan fiction. While at Gawker he wrote recap upon recap of the Real Housewives of New York. Each post covered the basic details of the episode, sure. But what made these recaps so readable was the fantastical, borderline science-fiction, turns they took.”

If you have your own RPF fandom tales to tell, 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.

News of Note
  1. Colleen Theisen commented:

    Don’t know if these are interesting, but here’s some links to blog posts on manga scanlations and copyright, in case it is. Full, disclosure, my partner wrote these, so I’m biased.


    • Claudia Rebaza commented:

      Thank you for the tip! We can always use more anime and manga related content.