OTW Fannews: Restricting fandom

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  • OTW legal staffer Casey Fiesler has written a paper on “Remixers’ Understandings of Fair Use Online” which found that fans’ understanding of fair use is often incorrect. “What the community typically believes and does can actually affect what is judged legal,” says Amy Bruckman, professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and researcher on the study. “So it’s in their interests to have cohesion to craft codes of best practice.”
  • The Australian government has released a report on Copyright and the Digital Economy that supports the development of fair use, and specifically mentions fan fiction as a reason to adopt it. “Fair use in relation to quotation may provide more room for some artistic practices, including the sampling, mashup and remixing of copyright material in musical compositions, new films, art works and fan fiction. More broadly, some artistic practices based on appropriation, including collage, where images or objects are ‘borrowed’ and re-contextualised might be covered by fair use.” (p.212)
  • When commercial entities get sold, or decide that a particular project isn’t sufficiently profitable, fans can lose both the product and the work they put into it when it’s shut down. “An enormous fan outcry began as the remaining [YoVille]players were the most dedicated the game had, and they didn’t want to lose everything they’d invested in their virtual lives. They threatened Zynga boycotts and made heartfelt YouTube videos pleading their case. Their response got the attention of the original creators of the game, Big Viking, and now there’s a new push to buy back the title from Zynga, rather than having it be killed outright.”
  • Another problem is when businesses fight to restrict new technology that can help consumers influence those decisions. “Studios and broadcasters argued then that [recording] technology would end civilization as we know it. Instead, it opened up a universe of new opportunities. Just last week, my colleague Ryan Faughnder reported that the Fox comedy Enlisted may be saved from low-ratings death by a surprising surge in DVR and on-demand viewing.”

What legal and business stories have you come across that involve fandom? Write about them on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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