Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening!
Remember Axanar, the Star Trek fan film that we talked about last year? Well, it’s back in the news this week since the lawsuit between the film’s production company and CBS/Paramount has been settled. As reported by Canadian Lawyer magazine, the lawsuit was going to go to a jury “to ultimately decide whether there is ‘subjective’ substantial similarity” between Axanar and the Star Trek property, in addition to the “objective substantial similarity” agreed upon by the court, which was unconvinced by a Fair Use defense. But, as SlashGear (not that kind of slash) reports, a settlement has been reached whereby Axanar may still be produced. The fan film will go ahead with significant changes in order to comply with CBS and Paramount’s “fan film guidelines” for the Star Trek franchise. This means that, among other things, Axanar will go from being a feature-length film to being two installments of no more than 15 minutes each. Details are still being finalized, but it looks like fans will still be able to see (this version of) the Four Years War.
JD Supra also published an article about Axanar, but from a bit of a different perspective. Since the court was unconvinced by Axanar’s claim that the film constituted Fair Use, the JD Supra article explores whether fanfiction in general is “permissible fair use,” and whether it should be. The OTW is, of course, of the position that fanworks are transformative and that transformative works are legitimate, but there’s often a lot of confusion surrounding the details of that. If you have any questions about the legality of fanworks, or if you’ve been approached about the legality of your fanworks and need assistance, you can always contact the OTW’s Legal committe for help.
In other news, JSTOR recently published a discussion on their blog about an academic article on fanfiction. The article, written by Bronwen Thomas, is a sort of meta-meta analysis of the nature of acafandom that contends that the discipline “has gone through at least three waves of theory.”
The first, Marxist-inspired wave focused on fanfic as an act of rebellion against commodified, corporate narratives. A second wave influenced by the theories of Foucault explored how new media brought fans together, allowing them to create their own hierarchical structures. A third wave looks at how fans are contributing to culture with their fiction, and explores how fandom can exist across “high” and “low” cultural lines.
In a pleasant turn of events, Thomas’ article is available for free online and does not require an account to access, though it may have been edited for length. What do you think of the article’s main point? Do you agree? Have you witnessed different trends, either in acafandom or in fannish meta in the wild? Let us know in the comments!
We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.