copyright

Writing, NaNoWriMo, and Copyright Crazy?

"Work continues on my writing project, which despite my best effort looks like I am going to be writing it in November, so maybe I should turn it into a NaNoWriMo project. Marathon writing is fun, but at any rate it looks like I will have a new book out next year.

It has engendered a new debate in me about about how much to share about my creative process. As usual, I have a lot of inspirations feeding into this project, and I feel like they will be obscured in the final version so that the story and its elements are uniquely mine, but with some of the more recent copyright claims going around, I am seriously waiting for someone to claim a right to inspiration.

You might think that I am being overly cautious about this, but after the recent Rhianna S&M case, I don't think that is too far fetched. I might share them, just because that is my instinct, but I'm curious to see how it will all play out.

The Wand and Weaver mini-series is in editing, so hopefully you will all get to see it soon. If you are interested in beta-reading it, let me know. I am really looking for notes on the stories. I like them, but they are very different from the kind of stories I already write."

The History of Copyright

Thanks to +Denise Howell who shared +Scott Beale's post about this video from Laughing Squid:

Star Wars quips aside, I love this video.  Copyright has outlived it's usefulness on so many levels.

I don't want to rehash my older arguments about this, but I would like to ask you all, what do you think is the way forward?  Honestly, I can't really see one anymore without going outside of the law to something like Creative Commons.

Alright, fine, Happy belated Birthday to Robotech Macross

Robotech
Image via Wikipedia

War rages within me... anger and excitement, and I am one of those people for whom anger usually wins...

March 4th was the 25th anniversary for Robotech: Macross Saga.  I was one of those kids whose life and tastes were forever changed by this groundbreaking series, but a dark cloud looms over the celebration: Harmony Gold.

February 17th, I read this on RobotechX:

UEG Productions Statement:

Sadly UEG productions has to inform the public that we are no longer able to continue producing the Genesis web series as planned.

The group received a Cease and Desist order from Harmony Gold USA (the rights holder to Robotech and all related materials), in-spite the well known non-commercial nature of Genesis. The situation at hand does not leave us with another alternative then to remove all Robotech and Macross related materials or derivations from the website. The genesis trailers and all related imagery, containing the materials in question will no longer be available.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the creation of Genesis project for the past 6 years. All the fans that supported us. And we are sorry we are not able to release it in this form.

We were already planning ahead to create our very own animation. So we are proud to announce the birth of the Artemis project. An complete original science fiction / Mecha animated feature film. Which will be unlike any other sci-fi, with its unique storyline and characters. More information on this new project will be available soon.

Thank you for your understanding.   UEG MANAGEMENT 2010

When a company shows such disdain for their fans, it is really hard to care about them...  I love Robotech, but I want to buy the rights from Harmony Gold just so I know the rights are owned by someone who will cherish the fans rather than the current owners that is now treating us like dirt.

Deep breath... in... out... ahh... that's better.

So I am going to bite the bullet and say Happy Birthday Macross, and Frak You Harmony Gold in the same breath.  Macross is too good to be lost in the milieu of a spiteful company.

If you've never seen Macross, check it out:

[reus name="Robotech Macross Hulu"]

or check it out at Amazon Video or Robotech: The Original Series - Robotech: The Macross Saga.

and don't forget to join our Robotech Group!

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Would Cutting Off Internet To Movie Pirates Work?

The chief executive of Fox Filmed Entertainment said Monday the U.S. should join France in cutting off the Internet connection of users who repeatedly download copyright-protected films. (via Entertainment News)

Statue of Liberty (more formally, Liberty Enli...
Image via Wikipedia

No surprise to see Fox on the attack trying to squeeze every cent out of their audience.  Piracy is an issue but there are many better ways to reduce the problem.

Address the global distribution issues and a lot of the piracy will be reduced.  Marketing has done a brilliant job on all of us in creating the desire to see a movie as soon as it comes out.  Nothing is more frustrating than to not be allowed to pay for and watch a movie then geographical restriction when all of our peers are online talking about it.

My big concern with this whole process are:

  • What kind of restrictions are placed on the term copyright-protected films.  Are they going to enforce films that are no longer available to buy but are still copyright-protected?  Should the pursuit just focus on those violating new releases?
  • What kind of restrictions are placed on the term repeatedly download.  How many downloads qualify?  two, twenty, or over one hundred?
  • Should a government be allowed to force people into a market of tangible medium only completely shutting off the digital market.

This attempt seems like it will just cause more problems and overreaching of authority than benefit.  I would rather see the studios spending money, time and effort resolving the distribution issues and cultural issues rather than accusing the majority of being thief's while trying to chase a small minority of actual violators.

What do you think should governments be allowed to cut those accused of being pirates from the internet?

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What is a Vid

Vids, Vidders, and Vidding is a growing cultural expression of fandom, music, and video.  See an example above.

A vid is a short video that tells a narrative by combining the video from a Movie, TV show, or Web Series and a song for the audio track setting the tone and direction of the story.  In other words it's a cross medium mashup.

Vidders are those artists / fans who cut together the vids whereas vidding is the act of producing a vid.

Cultural Advantages

  • Fans can express and play in the franchises that they love.
  • It becomes a great promotional vehicle for both the music artist and the franchise.
  • It enhances our cultural experience of both video content and music.

Controversy

  • There is much fear, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding the topic.
  • Fear of reprisal from the copyright holders.
  • Fear amongst copyright holders of loosing control over their content and loosing money.

What We Need

  1. Recognize the cultural value of vids.
  2. Get over our fears.
  3. Open a dialogue to come up with a compromise that will allow both parties to win.

If you would like to join in the conversation head over to Project: Shadow  what is your definition of a vid? - Project: Shadow.

Vision of a Fan Works Economy

Last time we talked about the Studio/Publisher side of the new marketplace.  Last year, Clive from Fan Cinema Today and I went back and forth about the merits and flaws of Creative Commons system in Dream of a Fandom Economy and Fan Works and Creative Commons.

The Importance of Fan Works

The Studios/Publishers have to understand that they do not own the media franchises like they used to.  If they allow their fans to have a sense of ownership over franchises under their care, we will feel a greater sense of responsibility for the future of the franchise.  Fan works are the strongest way fans connect with the franchises they love.

The amount of time it takes to produce a fan work ties the fan to the franchise.  Lately, the best trailers for many films have been fan made, not to mention the T-shirts, posters, and desktops.  The problem is the studios/publishers have not found a way to bring in the fan works in a way that benefits them and the fans.

The studios/publishers need to license their works in such a way that fans understand what they can do and how.

Licensing Fan Works

A license like this is important for both the studio/publishers and the fans.  What would this offer the studio/publishers?

  • They empower their fans to give them free promotion through derivative fan works.
  • They allow their fan base to become more involved with their franchises which will allow them to become more involved and deeper connected to the original work.
  • By allowing their fans to produce derivative works, they are able to fill in the gaps between releases at no cost to them.
  • They increase their footprint which will help them to convert more casual readers/viewers into fans.  An increased fan base will increase sales.
  • With fans providing them free advertising, they will be able to focus their efforts more on content than marketing.

Fans would benefit from this approach nearly as much as the copyright holder.

A Fan Works Economy

Towards a Fan Works License

I approached the Creative Commons Foundation with a proposal for a Fan Works License:

Some of the rights holders I have talked to are reluctant to use the CC because they are concerned they are giving up too many rights to their works.  A Fan Works License would allow rights holders to clearly state what they will allow others to do with their characters, content, and settings.

It would be a bit more complicated than a standard CC, stating whether others may make original text, video, music, or art projects based on their works.  It would also allow them to set the content rating they would allow fan works to have.  This could be aligned with the MPAA ratings or the ESRB ratings system or an original system.  The reason for this is so a young adult novelist could set a max rating of PG-13, allowing others to know what standards they would apply to determine whether a fan work is legitimate or not.

The other terms would be the same as in the standard CC.

You may not think something like this is necessary, but the current state of fan works is hazy.  While few have been sued in the last couple years, at any time, rights holders could decide to start suing again.  By creating a license that covers works with the same characters and settings rather than a particular book or movie, I believe we could get more rights holders to use the license to allow for the creation of fan works, which is a step on the road to open up works to the commons.

They responded with a simple, “CC probably isn’t going to be expanding the license offerings, and in fact, over the past few years CC has been reducing the number of licenses.”

This type of license may not be the best, and it is by no means the only way to move forward, but it is the best way to end the tyranny of copyright and by showing the fans that they are a part of the franchise.

The d20 Model

One alternative is for the studio/publishers to institute something like the d20 License.  The d20 License allowed registered participants who followed the strict rules to produce for profit tie-ins to Wizards of the Coasts' games.  Rights, responsibilities, and penalties were clearly laid out.

Wizards made money by requiring that the licensed works refer back to their works and not retell certain aspects of the setting and system.

This is not the best solution, but it is one that has already been tried.

An Improved Music Licensing Model

The music industry allows for music to be licensed through an overly expensive but easy to use system.  The studios/publishers could attach a licensing fee and rules for each possible use of the material, then they could earn a royalty and the fan work can be made.

The Best Solution

The best solution is probably one that has not been developed yet, but it won't if we don't start the conversation now and keep it going until the answer is found.

The market in all forms of media will not be restored until the studios/publishers and the fans are brought back into balance in a way that is mutually beneficial and forward looking.

Next on the agenda, Fandom Strikes Back!

Vision of a Fan Based Economy

Ira Rubenstein is the Executive Vice President of Marvel Comics' Global Digital Media Group.  Dave Roman is associate editor of Nickelodeon Magazine and a cartoonist.  Stuart Levy is the chief executive of Tokyopop.

This is a conversation they had at ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference:

Rubenstein: But Dave, I think there’s a difference. No one can write about Spider-Man or X-Men except for us.

Roman: I disagree.

Levy: Totally.

Rubenstein: Those are our characters. How could someone else write another Spider-Man story?

Roman: Because fan fiction is becoming so powerful. I’ve seen the power of fan fiction. Working at Nickelodeon, there are people out there doing ‘Avatar’ comics that are soooooo much better…

Rubenstein: But that’s like saying YouTube is a real entertainment channel. It’s not.

Roman/Levy/like five people in the audience: It is (THE BEAT).

They just don't get it.

Caretakers of Legends

As I said in What makes a fan a fan, studios and publishers have to stop thinking of themselves as copyright holders and more as caretakers of the franchises we love.  The good and the bad of the dialogue above is that Dave Roman and Stuart Levy seem to understand, but Ira Rubenstein still doesn't.

I have a feeling that many companies will go out of business before their leaders who do not understand the changes in the marketplace are replaced by people who do understand.  If there is a future, then we have to change the economic model from the owner/consumer model to a new fan based model.  Here are some of suggestions for a possible way forward.

Studio/Publisher Side

Producers of media have to come to terms with the fact the days of closely controlled monopolies they once held over the franchises in their care are over, and that they have to open up to accept new methods of distribution and a new relationship with their fans.

National Borders are meaningless

The first lesson may be the hardest.  We have believed for so long that National Borders were meant to limit trade.  Where media is concerned this is a recipe for piracy.

With the advent of digital downloads, online streaming, and print on demand, it is easier than ever for any and every release to be global.  Distribution models have to built that will allow for a studio/publisher to monetize their work in every country simultaneously.

Ads, Subscriptions, Purchases and Give-aways

Studios and Publishers have to realize that they will never again be able to rely on a single method to monetize their works.  There are four main ways businesses make money on the net:

  1. Ads: Not too many or it turns people off, but the opportunity to direct targeted ads to reader and viewers.
  1. Subscriptions: Allow readers/viewers access to ad free versions of your content that they pay a regular recurring fee.  There are two major subscription models:
      1. All you can eat:  Allow your subscribers to full access to your content library so long as they pay the subscription fee.
      2. Ala carte:  Allow your subscribers the right to own so many files a month based on subscription level.
      3. Purchases:  Allow your readers/viewer to purchase copies of your work.
      4. Give-aways:  Sometimes you have to give your work away to find an audience and make your money some other way.  For example: give away the streaming, but sell the file.

      Platform Independence

      Don't tie your work to one platform.  Give your readers/viewers options.

      Let us stream with ads or subscribe by the season or purchase outright.  You offer every method, we chose the one we want.

      Don't tie our purchases to a single player or device.  If I want to watch my DVD on my AppleTV, let me.  If I want to watch my digital files at a friend's house, let me.  If I want to watch my iTunes purchases through Boxee, let me.

      The more restrictions you place on your files, the more you encourage piracy.  The more freedom you allow you readers/viewers, the more money you will make.  You cannot expect to be respected by your reader/viewers, if you do not treat them with respect.  If you treat them like pirates, don't be surprised when they act like pirates.

      Our Media

      You have to understand that you do not own this media.  If you allow your fans to have a sense of ownership over franchises under your care, they will feel a greater sense of responsibility for the future of the franchise.

      Next time we will discuss the Fan Side of the new marketplace.

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      Myth Makers

      All well written Speculative Fiction tales are a part of the fabric of the new mythology.  This is true whether the author meant it or not.  Every story we see/hear/watch is unconsciously compared to the stories we live by.  If the new story aligns with, adds to, alters, or changes that story, it has become a part of an individual's personal mythology.  Simply calling something myth or mythos does not make it so.  Only when that alchemy occurs and the story is adopted by others does the story become myth.

      Pure Mythology

      While that may sound pretentious or mystifying, it is, in fact, a plain statement of fact:  Pure mythology...

      • is fiction that gives the reader/viewer a true experience of being alive.
      • is drawn from the archetypal well of dream that invests meaning into the text.
      • is written in such a way that it connects with the reader to impart clues to understanding profound mysteries.

      Any writer who truly engages their imagination in the creation of their work does all three of these things, often without conscious thought or action to do so.

      When a writer or artist is set free of commercial and popular demands, and allowed to penetrate and explore their own creative vision, the result can be pure unencumbered art.  The more corporate the art of writing becomes, the less interesting, and true the result.

      Many fans are tired of the homogenized work that is becoming more and more common in the industry.  We do not need another company driven by profit margins, or another author whose self-important propaganda obscures the art.  We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.  That is why we are here.  We are looking for something better.

      Return of the Cultural Cycle

      mythos Project: Shadow Manifesto As we discussed in the Project: Shadow Manifesto, In the era before copyright, "stories, heroes, melodies, and lyrics belonged to the people.  Stories were told, and retold.  Numerous visions of each story competed against each other.  The best were remembered, collected, retold, embellished, and built upon.  The rest were forgotten."

      Stories used to have to fight for the attention and memory of  the populous.  Now they fight for the attention of an editor or producer who is often more interested in making a quick buck than telling a great story.  But things are changing!

      The advent of the internet and the various methods of print on demand have opened up the floodgates for anyone to publish a story, movie, or song that wants too.  We are returning to the old survival of the fittest model but with one major difference.  We lack the common space for this free exchange of stories to take place.

      Only a small fraction of YouTube's traffic searches for the video they watch.  Most rely on others.  And when it comes to text or audio, where do you go to find what you are looking for.  The chance of discovery has increased, but so have the odds against being able to find something new.

      For the vital role of the Cultural Cycle to return, we have to discover new and better ways to enable discovery of the new stories.

      Copyright, not the only problem

      Each generation must retell the tales of the preceding generations in their own context to keep them relevant.  This cycle has been broken by copyright, but this is not the only problem facing us.

      • We are not teaching writers to create lasting works.
      • We have not made it easy to find these works.
      • We have not made it easy to share these works.
      • We have yet to find a way for these to writers to easily make a living from their work without repeating the problems of the past.

      And there is one last problem, and its a big one:

      Marketing Mythos

      The word “Myth” has become a marketing term.

      It has gotten so bad that people have started rebelling against the very notion of myth making, assuming it is nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

      We have to fight this trend and realize that myths are just the stories that give our live a sense of meaning and purpose.  Without them, life is dreary hollow place.  To quote the Manifesto again:

      We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.

      We need fans who are not afraid to speak their minds.

      We need places in our towns/cities and online where we can meet and share the few gems that we find from the industry and from the independent artist, writers, and filmmakers who are still following their bliss rather than the dollar.

      Now we need to look at what a myth really is, and how we can spread them easily.

      Where have all the SF Fans gone?

      Where are all the SF fans?Long time passing

      -SF Fans

      Generation Gap

      The rise of throw away media in the '90's and '00's sapped the passion of a generation of would-be fans away.  With the exception of a few cult classics like Firefly, Lexx, and Farscape, the last two decades have produced little quality content.

      Firefly and Stargate produced the most rabid fan followings, but they were slow to adopt the fan culture established by earlier franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars.  As a result, a gap in fandom grew between the older generation of fans and the newer generation coming up.  The new fans were not brought into the conventions, filk,  and fan works until lately, and they are still few and far between.

      Enter the web

      Compounding the problem, through out the '90's, the Internet began to take over the work of more traditional media.  The BBS became the forum.  The fanzine became the website.  The local fan club became the blog.

      These newer form of fandom introduced new issues:

      • Unlike fanzines, fanfiction sites are not edited.
      • Fan clubs went from being collections of local friends to a collection of anonymous strangers on the web.
      • Fans stopped sharing new finds, and specialized in one franchise.

      Fandom became increasingly less personal.  I have watched the average age at conventions and filksings go up.  Then it happened:

      Revenge of the Corporation

      Star Trek vs Star Wars
      Image by Metal Chris via Flickr

      Paramount started suing fan sites and clubs.  The few fan clubs that went online had their sites taken down.  The corporate obsession with copyright pushed more would-be fans away.

      What had been a nascent culture was now under attack by the copyright holders.  Viewership dwindled, and the corporate media assumed there was something wrong with the shows and not with the alienation of their fanbases.  So they started changing to shows.  Retool, remake, reboot, and reimage became common terms used by the corporate media to try to garner attention.

      Their final assault was on the conventions themselves.  Corporate conventions started signing exclusive deals with celebrities changing the convention from a gathering of fans into little more than a weekend shopping spree with the sole purpose of milking as much money from the attendants as possible.

      Retaking Fandom

      It is time to take fandom back for the fans.  I grew up in the vibrant fan culture the once was, and now that it has been lulled to sleep, and not destroyed.

      Like I said in Speculative Fiction: The Lost Art of “What if?”, it is time for us to dream again, but more than that, it is time for us to organize again.

      It is incumbent upon us to:

      • defend fandom from those who would abuse it.
      • promote the culture to those new to the scene.
      • spread the franchises we love that treat us with dignity.
      • organize a revitalized fan culture, filled with conventions, fan works, and filk.
      • seek out solutions to the problems that still plague fandom.

      Seeing the problem is the first step to finding a solution.  Together, we can take fandom back!

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      Project: Shadow Manifesto

      Project: Shadow Logo To mark the 10 year anniversary of the Project: Shadow Manifesto, we thought it was time to overhaul it again, but this time to open up the project to all of the like-minded fans out there who are tired of the status quo, and who are hungry for something new. Brian and I drafted the original Project: Shadow Manifesto in 1999 as an outline we saw in professional publishing.  The original draft was heavy on problems, light on vision, and even lighter on solutions.  We took years investigating the limited options available at the time, built the original Project: Shadow, and I started writing.

      In 2004, we revised the manifesto, and re-launched Project: Shadow.  The new draft focused on the solutions possible through new technologies.  The world/culture presented us with newer challenges.


      We are fans.

      We love our music, stories, characters, and settings. We know about what we love. We participate in what we love. We support what we love. What we love supports us.

      At heart, a fan is not someone who enjoys a movie, a song, a band, a book, or a show.  A fan feels an intense connection with the object of their love.  Fans decorate their homes, offices, and desktops with items that announce their allegiance with their favorite bands, movies, shows, and books.

      The problem with our popular culture is that it doesn’t blink at a sports fan wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with their favorite team, or even a replica jersey, but wear a Star Wars shirt or dress like a goth and they think they have the right to mock you.

      What is the difference between a fan wearing a jersey to a game or fan bringing a light saber to a movie?  Or for that matter, what is the difference between a sports fan painting themselves up to go tailgating or a fan dressing as their favorite character at a convention?

      Perception.  Pop Culture has classified sports fans as acceptable and speculative fiction fans as geeky.  I have to say, it is just as geeky to now all of the stats for everyone who has ever played for a particular sports franchise as it is to know the stats for every creature in the Monster Manual.  The only real difference is one fan accepts they are a geek, and the other pretends their geekiness is proof they are a jock.

      The disapproval is the least of the problems facing today’s fan.

      From Storytellers to Copyright

      Problem: People are natural storytellers.  We hear a story, embellish it, and pass it on.

      Solution: We tell each other stories, sing songs, write books, make videos, and create art to share these stories with each other.

      Every story we tell is not original.  We like to tell the same stories over and over.  We borrow stories from any where and retell them in our own vernacular.  It is intrinsic to who and what we are to share stories with each other.

      Problem: The only constant in the world is change.

      Solution: We ask ourselves the question, "What if," and share the answer with each other.

      Problem: Artists and Writers need to make a living singing their songs, writing their books, making their videos, and creating their art.

      Solution: We establish systems of Copyright.

      The Cultural Cycle

      Before the era of Copyright, stories, heroes, melodies, and lyrics belonged to the people.  Stories were told, and retold.  Numerous visions of each story competed against each other.  The best were remembered, collected, retold, embellished, and built upon.  The rest were forgotten.

      Who told the first story about Hercules? Or Jason? or Troy?  Who started the legends of King Arthur? or Beowulf?  The first tales and their countless reiterations have been lost, but the best, most iconic stories survived.

      Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, only a few comedies have no obvious sources, and even they rely upon well established patterns and archetypes.

      This is the Cultural Cycle that keeps important stories alive.  Each generation must retell the tales of the preceding generations in their own context to keep them relevant.  This cycle has been broken.

      • Problem: Companies lobby to prevent Intellectual Property from reentering the commons of the culture.
      • Problem: Companies control the instruments of culture, making it harder to engage culture creatively.
      • Solution: Fans retell these stories as not for profit tales, films, and  songs.
      • Solution: Fans organize themselves into clubs and conventions.

      These solutions are are not enough.  Fanfiction and film relies on the good will of the copyright holders and the fact that the fans do not make money from their works to slip through the thinnest of loop hole in copyright.  As a result, pop culture is unaware of the cultural developments and retelling of these new stories.  The subculture may be enriched by them, but the culture as a whole is not.

      The Creative Commons and the Cult of the Dollar

      Problem: Publishers and producers focus more on the commercial and popular value of a work, and the creative energy of the work suffers.  Readers/viewers will not become fans, and fans will not continue to accept passionless works of Speculative Fiction.

      Solution: Placing honesty over consumerism, we fans must stake out our own home to create and share the works we love.  We must stand between the darkness and the light:  This is the purpose of Project: Shadow.

      Problem: The Companies and Rights holders lashed out against the fair use of their properties.

      Problem: Some Rights Holders have lulled fandom into a false sense of security by not suing and even encouraging those who produce fanworks

      Creative Commons is one of many proposed solutions to this problem.  Others have lobbied for copyright reform.  Neither of these is a solution to the problems.

      Copyright reform is a doomed enterprise while corporate lobbyists have the power they do over the congress.  While it is a goal to work for, it is just not realistic in the short term.

      Creative Commons is closer to a solution, but the adoption rate has not been sufficient to even start chipping away at the problem.

      The reason Creative Commons is an uphill battle is that it is a major evolution in the way rights holders handle permissions to use their work, and exists without an intermediary form.  Existing rights holders have not adopted it because they are unwilling to give up all the rights entailed under Creative Commons.

      I approached the Creative Commons Foundation with a proposal for a Fan Works License:

      Some of the rights holders I have talked to are reluctant to use the CC because they are concerned they are giving up too many rights to their works.  A Fan Works License would allow rights holders to clearly state what they will allow others to do with their characters, content, and settings.

      It would be a bit more complicated than a standard CC, stating whether others may make original text, video, music, or art projects based on their works.  It would also allow them to set the content rating they would allow fan works to have.  This could be aligned with the MPAA ratings or the ESRB ratings system or an original system.  The reason for this is so a young adult novelist could set a max rating of PG-13, allowing others to know what standards they would apply to determine whether a fan work is legitimate or not.

      The other terms would be the same as in the standard CC.

      You may not think something like this is necessary, but the current state of fan works is hazy.  While few have been sued in the last couple years, at any time, rights holders could decide to start suing again.  By creating a license that covers works with the same characters and settings rather than a particular book or movie, I believe we could get more rights holders to use the license to allow for the creation of fan works, which is a step on the road to open up works to the commons.

      They responded with a simple, “CC probably isn't going to be expanding the license offerings, and in fact, over the past few years CC has been reducing the number of licenses.”

      I do not believe that a fanwork or Creative Commons license is the ultimate solution, but as a possible stepping stone toward an open culture.

      Progressive Speculative Fiction

      • Problem: Modern and Post-modern fiction is antithetical to hope, imagination, and community
      • Problem: Success is easier through snark, hate, and discrimination.
      • Solution: We will promote, support and create Progressive Speculative Fiction.

      What is Progressive Speculative Fiction?

      Progressive Speculative Fiction is a story told in any medium which has a "What if" at its core and is filled with hope for the future and promotes a sense of community.

      How can disaster fiction be progressive?

      Watch a Godzilla movie or either The Day the Earth Stood Stills.  If there is nothing worth saving, then there is no tragedy.  The heroes must at least try to save someone or something worth saving.

      How can horror be progressive?

      Watch nearly any horror film made prior to 1990 or for the best example read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or anything by Anne Rice.  If life is not worth living or there is nothing worth defending, where is the horror.  If life is worthless, then death is merely a release from a nightmare.  There is nothing scary about it.  If there is no free will, nothing is lost by imprisonment or possession.  If sanity is not worth preserving, why bother.

      What works are Progressive Speculative Fiction?

      There are too many to mention all of them, but to offer a spectrum:

      Just to name a few.

      Mythos

      • Problem: The word "Myth" has become a marketing term.

      Homogenized works are released more often by the industry every year.  Focus groups and market analysis have replaced quality work, but since the cultural cycle is broken, industry has no alternative.  It is safer to release works like the ones that sold last year than it is to seek out new talent/ideas that would be more of a risk.

      They know what the fans want.  We want myths, stories that speak to us on a deep level while entertaining us.  Myths are hard to make.  It is easy to add in a wizard or a starship and call it mythology.  Fans see through it, but the masses are looking for little more than sex, violence, and humor.  Speculative Fiction has been watered down to little more than:

      • imitation space opera
      • knock-off cyberpunk
      • repackaging of the rings
      • martial arts boom-boom
      • torture porn

      They, then, wrap it in a shiny box, slap the word myth, saga, legend, or reboot on it, and wait for the masses to spend their money on it... and they usually do.

      We do not need another company driven by profit margins, or another author whose self-important propaganda obscures the art.

      We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.

      We need fans who are not afraid to speak their minds.

      We need places in our towns/cities and online where we can meet and share the few gems that we find from the industry and from the independent artist, writers, and filmmakers who are still following their bliss rather than the dollar.

      That is why we are here.  Project:  Shadow and dashPunk will provide a platform for writers, artists, filmmakers and fans to “follow their bliss.”  We are dedicated to finding and promoting the best Speculative Fiction out there: the little/well known writers, filmmakers, artists and works, fostering their talents, and helping them to not only follow their hearts, but to share that vision with others.

      But we cannot do it alone!

      Fandom Strikes Back

      • Solution:  We must seek out and support the writers, artists, and producers that encourage and support fan works.
      • Solution:  We must get writers, artists, and producers on the record about their position regarding fan works.
      • Solution: We must live according to our values of hope, imagination, and community.
      • Solution: We must build a community around hope, imagination, and community, and reject the rote cynicism that defines the faux-fandom that loves to tear things down rather than build things up.
      • Solution: We must spread the stories, videos, songs, and art that speak to us.

      Together, We can make dashPunk and Project: Shadow more than an idea or a website, but a vibrant community of fans who share the things we love with each other.

      Together, we can make it easier to find and share the things we love and find new things to love.

      Together, we can build a community of fans who support and engage one another for our mutual benefit.

      Alone, none of us can stand up to the corporate powers who control the music, video, text, and art that we love, but together, our voice will be heard.

      Fandom is a vibrant culture with its own music (filk), events (conventions), games, and myths.  Until now, we have gathered periodically, or in disparate groups. 

      Now is the time to bring the great multitude of fan bases together.

      Now is your time!  Copy this Manifesto.  Print it, post it, email it, share it!  Tell a friend, and most importantly Make your voice heard.

      Download

      • [download#1#size#nohits]
      • [download#2#size#nohits]
      • [download#3#size#nohits]
      • [download#4#size#nohits]

      Creative Commons License Project: Shadow Manifesto by Project: Shadow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at dashpunk.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://dashpunk.com/about/.

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      Project: Shadow Manifesto

      Project: Shadow Logo To mark the 10 year anniversary of the Project: Shadow Manifesto, we thought it was time to overhaul it again, but this time to open up the project to all of the like-minded fans out there who are tired of the status quo, and who are hungry for something new. Brian and I drafted the original Project: Shadow Manifesto in 1999 as an outline we saw in professional publishing.  The original draft was heavy on problems, light on vision, and even lighter on solutions.  We took years investigating the limited options available at the time, built the original Project: Shadow, and I started writing.

      In 2004, we revised the manifesto, and re-launched Project: Shadow.  The new draft focused on the solutions possible through new technologies.  The world/culture presented us with newer challenges.


      We are fans.

      We love our music, stories, characters, and settings. We know about what we love. We participate in what we love. We support what we love. What we love supports us.

      At heart, a fan is not someone who enjoys a movie, a song, a band, a book, or a show.  A fan feels an intense connection with the object of their love.  Fans decorate their homes, offices, and desktops with items that announce their allegiance with their favorite bands, movies, shows, and books.

      The problem with our popular culture is that it doesn’t blink at a sports fan wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with their favorite team, or even a replica jersey, but wear a Star Wars shirt or dress like a goth and they think they have the right to mock you.

      What is the difference between a fan wearing a jersey to a game or fan bringing a light saber to a movie?  Or for that matter, what is the difference between a sports fan painting themselves up to go tailgating or a fan dressing as their favorite character at a convention?

      Perception.  Pop Culture has classified sports fans as acceptable and speculative fiction fans as geeky.  I have to say, it is just as geeky to now all of the stats for everyone who has ever played for a particular sports franchise as it is to know the stats for every creature in the Monster Manual.  The only real difference is one fan accepts they are a geek, and the other pretends their geekiness is proof they are a jock.

      The disapproval is the least of the problems facing today’s fan.

      From Storytellers to Copyright

      Problem: People are natural storytellers.  We hear a story, embellish it, and pass it on.

      Solution: We tell each other stories, sing songs, write books, make videos, and create art to share these stories with each other.

      Every story we tell is not original.  We like to tell the same stories over and over.  We borrow stories from any where and retell them in our own vernacular.  It is intrinsic to who and what we are to share stories with each other.

      Problem: The only constant in the world is change.

      Solution: We ask ourselves the question, "What if," and share the answer with each other.

      Problem: Artists and Writers need to make a living singing their songs, writing their books, making their videos, and creating their art.

      Solution: We establish systems of Copyright.

      The Cultural Cycle

      Before the era of Copyright, stories, heroes, melodies, and lyrics belonged to the people.  Stories were told, and retold.  Numerous visions of each story competed against each other.  The best were remembered, collected, retold, embellished, and built upon.  The rest were forgotten.

      Who told the first story about Hercules? Or Jason? or Troy?  Who started the legends of King Arthur? or Beowulf?  The first tales and their countless reiterations have been lost, but the best, most iconic stories survived.

      Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, only a few comedies have no obvious sources, and even they rely upon well established patterns and archetypes.

      This is the Cultural Cycle that keeps important stories alive.  Each generation must retell the tales of the preceding generations in their own context to keep them relevant.  This cycle has been broken.

      • Problem: Companies lobby to prevent Intellectual Property from reentering the commons of the culture.
      • Problem: Companies control the instruments of culture, making it harder to engage culture creatively.
      • Solution: Fans retell these stories as not for profit tales, films, and  songs.
      • Solution: Fans organize themselves into clubs and conventions.

      These solutions are are not enough.  Fanfiction and film relies on the good will of the copyright holders and the fact that the fans do not make money from their works to slip through the thinnest of loop hole in copyright.  As a result, pop culture is unaware of the cultural developments and retelling of these new stories.  The subculture may be enriched by them, but the culture as a whole is not.

      The Creative Commons and the Cult of the Dollar

      Problem: Publishers and producers focus more on the commercial and popular value of a work, and the creative energy of the work suffers.  Readers/viewers will not become fans, and fans will not continue to accept passionless works of Speculative Fiction.

      Solution: Placing honesty over consumerism, we fans must stake out our own home to create and share the works we love.  We must stand between the darkness and the light:  This is the purpose of Project: Shadow.

      Problem: The Companies and Rights holders lashed out against the fair use of their properties.

      Problem: Some Rights Holders have lulled fandom into a false sense of security by not suing and even encouraging those who produce fanworks

      Creative Commons is one of many proposed solutions to this problem.  Others have lobbied for copyright reform.  Neither of these is a solution to the problems.

      Copyright reform is a doomed enterprise while corporate lobbyists have the power they do over the congress.  While it is a goal to work for, it is just not realistic in the short term.

      Creative Commons is closer to a solution, but the adoption rate has not been sufficient to even start chipping away at the problem.

      The reason Creative Commons is an uphill battle is that it is a major evolution in the way rights holders handle permissions to use their work, and exists without an intermediary form.  Existing rights holders have not adopted it because they are unwilling to give up all the rights entailed under Creative Commons.

      I approached the Creative Commons Foundation with a proposal for a Fan Works License:

      Some of the rights holders I have talked to are reluctant to use the CC because they are concerned they are giving up too many rights to their works.  A Fan Works License would allow rights holders to clearly state what they will allow others to do with their characters, content, and settings.

      It would be a bit more complicated than a standard CC, stating whether others may make original text, video, music, or art projects based on their works.  It would also allow them to set the content rating they would allow fan works to have.  This could be aligned with the MPAA ratings or the ESRB ratings system or an original system.  The reason for this is so a young adult novelist could set a max rating of PG-13, allowing others to know what standards they would apply to determine whether a fan work is legitimate or not.

      The other terms would be the same as in the standard CC.

      You may not think something like this is necessary, but the current state of fan works is hazy.  While few have been sued in the last couple years, at any time, rights holders could decide to start suing again.  By creating a license that covers works with the same characters and settings rather than a particular book or movie, I believe we could get more rights holders to use the license to allow for the creation of fan works, which is a step on the road to open up works to the commons.

      They responded with a simple, “CC probably isn't going to be expanding the license offerings, and in fact, over the past few years CC has been reducing the number of licenses.”

      I do not believe that a fanwork or Creative Commons license is the ultimate solution, but as a possible stepping stone toward an open culture.

      Progressive Speculative Fiction

      • Problem: Modern and Post-modern fiction is antithetical to hope, imagination, and community
      • Problem: Success is easier through snark, hate, and discrimination.
      • Solution: We will promote, support and create Progressive Speculative Fiction.

      What is Progressive Speculative Fiction?

      Progressive Speculative Fiction is a story told in any medium which has a "What if" at its core and is filled with hope for the future and promotes a sense of community.

      How can disaster fiction be progressive?

      Watch a Godzilla movie or either The Day the Earth Stood Stills.  If there is nothing worth saving, then there is no tragedy.  The heroes must at least try to save someone or something worth saving.

      How can horror be progressive?

      Watch nearly any horror film made prior to 1990 or for the best example read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or anything by Anne Rice.  If life is not worth living or there is nothing worth defending, where is the horror.  If life is worthless, then death is merely a release from a nightmare.  There is nothing scary about it.  If there is no free will, nothing is lost by imprisonment or possession.  If sanity is not worth preserving, why bother.

      What works are Progressive Speculative Fiction?

      There are too many to mention all of them, but to offer a spectrum:

      Just to name a few.

      Mythos

      • Problem: The word "Myth" has become a marketing term.

      Homogenized works are released more often by the industry every year.  Focus groups and market analysis have replaced quality work, but since the cultural cycle is broken, industry has no alternative.  It is safer to release works like the ones that sold last year than it is to seek out new talent/ideas that would be more of a risk.

      They know what the fans want.  We want myths, stories that speak to us on a deep level while entertaining us.  Myths are hard to make.  It is easy to add in a wizard or a starship and call it mythology.  Fans see through it, but the masses are looking for little more than sex, violence, and humor.  Speculative Fiction has been watered down to little more than:

      • imitation space opera
      • knock-off cyberpunk
      • repackaging of the rings
      • martial arts boom-boom
      • torture porn

      They, then, wrap it in a shiny box, slap the word myth, saga, legend, or reboot on it, and wait for the masses to spend their money on it... and they usually do.

      We do not need another company driven by profit margins, or another author whose self-important propaganda obscures the art.

      We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.

      We need fans who are not afraid to speak their minds.

      We need places in our towns/cities and online where we can meet and share the few gems that we find from the industry and from the independent artist, writers, and filmmakers who are still following their bliss rather than the dollar.

      That is why we are here.  Project:  Shadow and dashPunk will provide a platform for writers, artists, filmmakers and fans to “follow their bliss.”  We are dedicated to finding and promoting the best Speculative Fiction out there: the little/well known writers, filmmakers, artists and works, fostering their talents, and helping them to not only follow their hearts, but to share that vision with others.

      But we cannot do it alone!

      Fandom Strikes Back

      • Solution:  We must seek out and support the writers, artists, and producers that encourage and support fan works.
      • Solution:  We must get writers, artists, and producers on the record about their position regarding fan works.
      • Solution: We must live according to our values of hope, imagination, and community.
      • Solution: We must build a community around hope, imagination, and community, and reject the rote cynicism that defines the faux-fandom that loves to tear things down rather than build things up.
      • Solution: We must spread the stories, videos, songs, and art that speak to us.

      Together, We can make dashPunk and Project: Shadow more than an idea or a website, but a vibrant community of fans who share the things we love with each other.

      Together, we can make it easier to find and share the things we love and find new things to love.

      Together, we can build a community of fans who support and engage one another for our mutual benefit.

      Alone, none of us can stand up to the corporate powers who control the music, video, text, and art that we love, but together, our voice will be heard.

      Fandom is a vibrant culture with its own music (filk), events (conventions), games, and myths.  Until now, we have gathered periodically, or in disparate groups. 

      Now is the time to bring the great multitude of fan bases together.

      Now is your time!  Copy this Manifesto.  Print it, post it, email it, share it!  Tell a friend, and most importantly Make your voice heard.

      Download

      • [download#1#size#nohits]
      • [download#2#size#nohits]
      • [download#3#size#nohits]
      • [download#4#size#nohits]

      Creative Commons License Project: Shadow Manifesto by Project: Shadow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at dashpunk.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://dashpunk.com/about/.

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      Fandom is not Obsessive Weirdoism!

      Patch belonging to First Fandom member Emil Petaja
      Image via Wikipedia

      Margaret Guroff  is health editor of AARP The Magazine. In her first story for Urbanite, she takes out her inability to build an annotated Moby Dick website out on all fans who are not so swift to give up.

      One distinctly modern form of obsessive weirdoism is fandom: becoming so devoted to a work of art that you want to augment or even inhabit it. Out of this impulse was born the Klingon Language Institute (www.kli.org), the phenomenon of “fan fiction” (unauthorized stories by civilians advancing new plotlines of beloved films and TV series) (The Urbanite Magazine),

      Merriam-Webster defines Obsession as:

      a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling ; broadly : compelling motivation (M-W)

      What she fails to see is that fandom is a nascent culture:

      a: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture><southern culture> c: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic (M-W)

      Fandom began to form in 1960's and 70's, as Speculative Fiction began taking on the role of mythology.  It gave a set of values, goals, and practices that have developed and grown over time.

      Through our conventions, filksings, fanfic, and fanfilm, we have developed a culture that is uniquely ours.  Like all subcultures, it is misunderstood and mocked by the dominate culture.  The very idea that we are merely obsessing over favorite stories is an insult not only to us, but to every culture.  These characters are our heroes, and these stories are our folktales.

      The problem we are having is that all of the foundations of culture now ( not just those of fandom) are copyrighted and sold by corporations that neither understand nor care that they wield so much power.  Just because our mythology is copyrighted does not change the power these stories have over our lives.  In fact, it only increases our outrage when our stories are treated with the same disdain that corporate media has for the mythology of the Greeks, Romans, or even the beloved stories of the Christian Bible.  The Corporation cares only for its own profits, not the effect it has on culture.

      While our interest in these stories may seem obsessive to some, I wonder how they feel about those who share other folktales, or folk songs.  I wonder if she shares this same disdain for others who do not subscribe to her culture.  People mock what they don't understand, and it is clear she just doesn't understand.

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      Will There be a Sequel to Harry Potter in Court?

      harry_potter_1-7 Earlier this year a New York Federal Judge ruled that Steven Vander Ark’s Harry Potter reference book was a violation of J.K. Rowling’s copyright.  This main argument of the case was over what is fair use.  Although I had mixed feelings over the case as it was going on I have hope that the results could still be positive. Instead of continuing the fight in appeals court Steven Vander Ark rewrote the Harry Potter reference book using what he learned from the trial on what is fair use.

      "We learned a lot at the trial about what was acceptable, what would follow the fair use guidelines," said Vander Ark, 50. "That was not clear before. There was no law on the books that made it clear what was acceptable and what wasn't. (via AP)

      The new book contains a lot more critical commentary.  This will have to be seen in application.  If the entries consisted of clips of actual Potter text on the topics then of course it was copyright infringement but if the entries was just facts on the subject then it was not plagiarism.  Did they require him to put in a lot of opinion into a reference that has the expectation of facts.  If that is the result of the case then a great injustice has been done to a society that already has issues differentiating between fact and opinion.

      Steven Vander Ark also removed the plot spoilers from the new book.  I’m not a fan of spoilers being used carelessly but a reference book comes with an expectation that it would contain a reasonable degree of spoilers.  Once again this will have to be seen in application before I let my ire build but it concerns me.  I would understand removing major spoilers from the text but some spoilers would have to happen because they are tied into the facts and should be included.

      On the plus side it appears that this Harry Potter reference book will make it to publication since a lawyer for Rowling’s Literary Agency is “Pleased to hear that rather than continue to litigate, RDR have themselves decided to publish a different book prepared with reference to Judge Patterson's decision."

      J. K. Rowling to Fair Use: "Avada cadavra!"

      A federal judge on Monday ruled against a Web site operator who was seeking to publish an encyclopedia about the Harry Potter series of novels, blocking publication of "The Harry Potter Lexicon" after concluding that it would cause author J.K. Rowling "irreparable injury (CNN)."

      How anyone could claim to own a copyright on the facts related to the characters in a book is beyond me.  Many series have benefited from these types of books: Star Trek, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and oh, that's right, Harry "freaking" Potter!

      Between each of the seven  books, a cottage industry of books speculating on the contents of the following books.  They would recap the events of the books that had already been published, and pontifficate on the most minutia of each character's life in hopes they could divine the content of the next.

      This is all about money.  Rowling wants to write one of these reference books and either fears the competition from a fan work, or in a shocking level of disdain for the culture, believes that she owns her stories completely and will fight tooth and nail to keep them from becoming a part of the cultural fabric that requires fair use rights.

      Filk: "SF Fans" Bittersweet

      This is a new filk that makes me feel a little sad inside.  I sometimes wonder if the SF fan is being replaced by FX fan.  I can see myself sitting in a filksing belting this song out.

      Title: SF Fans ttto: Where Have All the Flowers Gone by Pete Seeger

      Where are all the SF fans? Long time passing Where are all the SF fans? Long time ago Where are all the SF fans? Gone to work cons, every one When will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

      Where have all the CONsters gone? Long time passing Where have all the CONsters gone? Long time ago Where have all the CONsters gone? Gafiated every one When will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

      Where have all the ex-fen gone? Long time passing Where have all the ex-fen gone? Long time ago Where have all the ex-fen gone? They are all geeks, every one When will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

      Where are all the science geeks Long time passing Where are all the science geeks Long time ago Where are all the science geeks Shunned by mundanes every one When will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

      Where are all those shunned by most Long time passing Where are all those shunned by most Long time ago Where are all those shunned by most They do fanac, everyone When will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

      Where are all the SF fans? Long time passing Where are all the SF fans? Long time ago Where are all the SF fans? Gone to work cons, every one When will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

      My lyrics copyright 2008 by Arthur Tansky. License granted for non-commercial archiving and performance as long as: 1. copyright notice is maintained, and 2. no money changes hands.

      New filk SF Fans :: NNSeek

      Internet Radio and Louis XIV

      I am franky speechless.  The new ruling against Internet Radio will make me have to reconsider the Live365 station...  I am waiting to see what the fall out will be..  If you do not know what i am talking about:

      A decision this month by the Copyright Royalty Board, a three-member panel of judges under the Library of Congress, would significantly increase what radio companies pay to air music over the Internet (Baltimore Sun).

      I am still waiting for a response from Live365, but I am frankly worried about this...

      One bit of good news:

      Louis XIV should have a new album out by the end of spring (blog.myspace.com/louisxiv).