OTW Fannews: Public challenges and social tagging

  • A thesis written about the AO3’s tagging system “attempts to begin exploring the question of what kind of environment the site’s particular blend of open social tagging and some behind-the-scenes vocabulary control, plus hierarchical linking, creates for the users who search through it for fiction.” The study, conducted in 2012, had a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods and the survey was completed by 116 people. “The current online information glut calls for some sort of subject labeling to facilitate efficiency in searching, but the volume of information is well beyond a size that could ever be dealt with by information professionals. “Social tagging” is an approach to this problem that lets non-professionals attempt to organize online information via tagging, for their own and one another’s use. But social tagging is a new and rapidly evolving field, and so no consensus has yet been reached on its overall usefulness, or on what best practices might be.”
  • Two rather different stories about fan video game makers were in the news recently. TechDirt summed things up in its post title: “Makers Of Firefly ‘Fan-game’ Abuse DMCA To Try To Silence Critic”. “While I think that these kinds of games should be allowed…it appears that DarkCryo — a company that is really skirting a pretty fine line concerning copyright — decided to abuse the DMCA and file a takedown notice on [a critic’s] posting of a DarkCryo logo image.”
  • The other story was a little more typical, discussing how “Hasbro halts production of unauthorized “My Little Pony” video game”. “This isn’t the first time Hasbro has issued successful takedown notices for clearly illegal uses of its product, or even the first time it’s taken down an MLP-inspired game. Previous instances where Hasbro has stepped in include the illegal download website Ponyarchive and the popular, though short-lived,multiplayer game MLP Online. Hasbro also took down the abridged series Friendship is Witchcraft, which should have been protected under under the Fair Use copyright clause afforded to transformative works within the U.S. However, issues of copyright and trademark are separate concerns with separate legal justifications. While Hasbro has so far been tolerant of copyright-protected fanwork such as fanart and fanfiction, it seems to have a rigid policy forbidding reuse of its official images and trademarks.”
  • Some authors decided to challenge the claims of long dead creators’ estates and, as the New York Times pointed out, highlighted a schism in the Sherlock Holmes fandom. “The suit, which stems from the estate’s efforts to collect a licensing fee for a planned collection of new Holmes-related stories by Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly and other contemporary writers, makes a seemingly simple argument. Of the 60 Conan Doyle stories and novels…only the 10 stories first published in the United States after 1923 remain under copyright. Therefore, the suit asserts, many fees paid to the estate for the use of the character have been unnecessary. But it’s also shaping up to be something of what one blogger called ‘a Sherlockian Civil War.'” The battle was laid out as being between the old guard (and, until recently, male only) Baker Street Irregulars versus the Baker Street Babes, “a group of young female Sherlockians who host a regular podcast.”

What legal and technology fan stories do you have an interest in? Add them to 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. Rebecca Tushnet commented:

    Not specifically fannish, but fan vidders know that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is broken, and Blake Reid in Slate rights about why, with specific reference to accessibility: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/03/dmca_copyright_reform_u_s_law_makes_digital_media_inaccessible.single.html

  2. Melina commented:

    So, if the Holmes estate is correct, than under the applicable revisions and extensions to the law in effect at the time, the copyright on his stuff is 95 years from the date of publication? Is this correct? So, ACD died in 1930, so the latest date any of his works would go into the public domain is 2025, under current law (assuming it doesn’t change again)?

    It’s odd that if the present law was in effect (life of the author + 70 years), all of his work would already be in the public domain.