OTW Fannews: Retelling Copyright

OTW Fannews Banner Retelling Copyright

  • At The Washington Post, Jessica Contrera looked at publishing and fanfiction. “‘Fan fiction has absolutely become part of the fiber of what we publish,’ said Jennifer Bergstrom, vice president and publisher of Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. ‘This is changing at a time when traditional publishing needs it most.’” Established authors are getting on the bandwagon. “English crime writer P.D. James’s Austen-inspired­ book ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ became a BBC TV movie…Scottish crime writer Val McDermid’s take on ‘Northanger Abbey’ was published in April. These books don’t typically market themselves as fan fiction. Instead, they’re ‘inspired by’ or ‘a retelling.'”
  • While Contrera’s article speculated about how to make FPF legally acceptable, another article in the Post discussed new developments regarding the right of publicity which affects RPF. “The problem, of course, is that people use others’ names and likenesses in ‘products’ or ‘goods’ all the time…An unauthorized biography, which is probably not ‘news’ or ‘public affairs’ as such, is a commercial product or good, and uses the name or likeness. So are fiction movies and books that revolve around real events…So are songs that refer to cultural items, such as in Paul Simon’s ‘Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?’ line.”
  • In an NPR interview, Cory Doctorow proposed changes to copyright so that it would apply to industries rather than individuals. “What you would say is that it’s against the law to break a digital lock if you’re violating copyright. And if you’re not violating copyright, it’s not against the law to break a digital lock. And that would – that would solve the problem pretty handily because then we could make tools that let people do things that are illegal, but that the manufacturer doesn’t want them to do, which is a time-honored tradition…The point is that if you have to care about copyright in order to just walk around in the world or use the Internet, then something is deeply wrong.”

What role has copyright had in your fandom’s history? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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