creative commons

The Travails of the eBook

Diane Duane wrote an interesting post responding to a shocking post from Teleread.  They are both facinating reads about the travails of the eBook market, and the odd problems publishers are having moving their content over, including these new editions are adding horrid typos to the text such as:

“The reader is invited to examine the next Jew chapters…” (Teleread)

Ack, how could a publisher miss that?

Enter the eBook

Publishing is in crisis.  I don't think there are any readers or writers out there that are unaware of the problems the industry is having.  The eBook market, like the audiobook market, was seen as a small niche market by the publishers, so they didn't pay much attention to the quality of either.

Now that both are taking off as preferred methods for reading their lack of attention is biting them in the butt.

Compounding issues is that as these formats are taking off, more authors are checking out of the old school publishers and moving to publish their own books.  This gives rise to new issues.

Where have all the editors gone?

Small press and self-publishers often don't have the money or the prestige to attract editors, and the work suffers.

I have had this issue.  I enjoy working with editors, and feel like it makes my work better, but as a self-publisher, the cost of an editor is a problem.  Most services are just for copy editors, and that is important, but I am more interested in having a content editor I can develop a relationship with.

There are not many options for folks like me.  We are desperately in need of a new model.

Beta Readers?

I have thought about setting up a beta reader site to control who has access to it so I can gather a group of trusted readers together to comment on my fiction while I am working on it.  My biggest problem with that is that I would probably have to consult a lawyer to make sure that everything works smoothly, and to help me write a license explaining in legalese what the relationship between me and the beta readers would be.

Wow, that is starting so sound complicated.  I am not sure if I want to get involved with all these issues.  Complexity stifles innovation.

I am not sure what the solution to this would be.  Maybe there should be a beta reader license foundation like the Creative Commons Foundation to maintain such a license, but that seems like a dream at this point, but it is something to look at.

What solutions do you have?  How can we make eBooks better?

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!

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

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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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Fan Works and Creative Commons

In Reply to my post "Dream of a Fandom Economy," Clive from Fan Cinema Today wrote:

It's an interesting idea, but it takes such efforts out of the realm of fan production, making them more akin to independent contractors. Would a studio license out its intellectual property if the money was right? Could a franchise survive an avalanche of sub-direct-to-DVD product if people were asked to pay for it? Perhaps, but if money is involved, then they’re pro productions, regardless of how qualified the cast and crew may or may not be. Professional work is measured on a very different scale by studios and viewers (not to mention unions), so if someone holding the purse strings is saying ‘no,’ they likely have their reasons, whether it’s that the franchise is too valuable, or that even high-end amateur work just isn’t pro enough.

Not that many studios threaten to sue anymore, although it does happen from time to time. Lucasfilm fired off a Cease and Desist order to The Dark Redemption in 1999, so you won't see them buying that one any time soon! Meanwhile, Shane Felux, who made Revelations in 2005, won the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge the following year when he made Pitching Lucas; the result of that is that Lucasfilm owns the rights to it for the next 10 years--it's part of the contract that all nominees in the contest have to sign.

You can read about both these stories in-depth in my upcoming fan film book, Homemade Hollywood, which incidentally, goes into the topic of whether studios should buy or license fan works as well (to be honest, that first paragraph at the top of my reply was cut-and-pasted direct from my manuscript!)

Originally posted as acomment by fanfilmbook on dashPunk using Disqus.

I am not sure that it would move these productions from the realm of Fan Works to the realm of professional work. What I am proposing is a reinvention of both the models of Production and the relationship of copyright to fandom.

Toward A Creative Commons Franchise

Creative Commons License

If a writer or company truly wanted to leverage their fanbase, they would license their content under a Creavite Commons or similar license.  Such a license would spell out in simple, human readable terms what the fans are allowed to do with the copyrighted work(s) in question.  For my books, I use a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.  This means others may modify my works so long as they give me attribution, share the work under the same license, and do so in a noncommercial way.

Licenses like this are important for both the copyright holders and the fans.  What would this offer the copyright holder?

  • They empower their fans to give them free promotion through derivative fan works.
  • They allow their fanbase to become more involved with their property which will allow they 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 fanbase 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.

Star Trek and Fandom

After Star Trek was canceled in 1969, Gene Roddenberry allowed fanfiction to thrive.  In reality, he probably saw no future for the series, and saw no reason to enforce his copyright, but whatever his reasons, the flowering of fanfiction reinforced the love fans felt for the series.  It also kept these fans activated until the animated series premiered in 1973, and again from the end of the animated series in 1974 until the first movie in 1979.

Fanfiction filled the gaps between releases of official content, and played a large roll in growing the fanbase of the series so the movies and subsequent series were even possible.  Fanfiction continued to serve this function until the death of Gene Roddenberry in 1991.  In the years following his death, the studio reminded fans what precarious footing they had as Paramount began sueing fan publications and fan sites for copyright infringement.  I know many people who were sued for simply continuing activities they had been allowed under the gentleman's agreement.

As a result of these prosecutions, and the decreasing quality of the show as it suffered from a lack of vision and leadership in the absence of Roddenberry, the fanbase began to dissolve.  Ratings fell, and attendance in the theaters fell with it.

The Status Quo

Now, all fanfilm and fanfiction exist with this same legal sword of Damoclese hanging over them.  New gentleman's agreements have been brokered, or studios have simply stopped suing over fans' infringement of copyright, but there is nothing ensuring that they will not begin again.

As Clive pointed out, "Lucasfilm fired off a Cease and Desist order to The Dark Redemption in 1999, so you won't see them buying that one any time soon! Meanwhile, Shane Felux, who made Revelations in 2005..."  What is stopping them from sending out the Cease and Desist orders again?  Nothing but the feeling that it is presently not in their best interests.

The Moral Argument

The financial argument for adopting Creative Commons or similar licenses are clear, but I think there is also a moral argument as well.  In my post, Fanfiction and Culture, I take the creative commons argument to its extreme:

Most of what we consider classics today were written by people who wrote in a setting they did not create with characters created by others, in other words, FANFICTION! All primal storytelling is fanfiction, telling retelling, embellishing and adding to that characters and setting that the storyteller enjoyed. This is the art of a story teller. Virtually every folktale and myth falls into this category (read the rest here).

This is the cultural cycle stories used to flow through.  What enrages me most about popular media is how often they use terms like myth, mythology, mythos, legend, and saga to describe their works, while simultaneously keeping them from entering the cultural cycle real myths do.

Copyright holder have a responsibility to culture to allow their ideas to follow the natural flow tales historically took and Creative Commons is a way for them to do this while maintaining their right to be the sole content creator allowed to make money off their ideas.

Creative Commons and the Fan Economy

What I proposed in "Dream of a Fan Economy" was that copyright holders should either purchase or license the best fanfilms and fanfiction and release it in a way so that both the original copyright holder and the producer of the fan work can both profit.

It is too easy for any franchise to become bogged down by group think, and if they infused fresh ideas from the fan community into their official releases they could discover new avenues they had never realized were their before.  Many franchises utilize rooms full of writers to crank out content for them.  It is strange to me that any company would turn down any possible source of revenue.

Dream vs Reality

I am not as naive as I might sound right now.  I do not expect any established franchise to adopt the model I am proposing, but that does not mean that I do not see it as something future franchises might use.

I put my money where my mouth is.  My books, Liquid Sky and Shine Like Thunder are both released under just such a license, and I know if I saw a fan work I loved I would try to bring it into the fold to reward its producer for their great work.

As media becomes increasingly fractured, new business models have to rise up to fill the void left behind by the failing studios and publishers of today.  I am not sure this is exactly the right model, but it is a proposal in the right direction.

I am curious what you think.  How could a copyright holder set up a viable, symbiotic relationship with their fans?  We need to find a path ourselves, because the big boys are not even looking.  Before you comment, read Clive's brilliant piece at Fan Cinema Today in response to my previous post

Dream of a Fandom Economy

The internet has opened the doors to many new economic models the would never have been possible without the collaborative powers of millions of people working separately in the fields they are passionate about. Fan Culture has disproportionately benefited from this. It is easier to create and distribute fanworks than it has ever been, but the monetization of these works is still taboo, and I am forced to ask myself, Why? The internet has allowed people to create and share brilliant fan fiction and films with the community, and yet these creators reap little more than promotional benefit from their work. Something is wrong with the system, and more than anything else, it is the antiquated attitudes of the copyright holders that prevents them from harnessing their legions of fans for mutual benefit.

Star Wars Revelations Official Poster Star Wars Revelations Official Poster

If I worked for DC Comics, I would snatch up Elseworlds and release it in a way that we could both profit from, or if I worked for Lucas Films I would pick up Star Wars: Revelations, Dark Redemption, and Reign of the Fallen.

It boggles my mind how many companies want to hold to their existing business models rather than reaching out to find new ways to make money.

Many of the fan trailers and music videos are far better than the official ones. So what does the company do? They send a DMC take down instead of licensing the fan content and using it instead.

"Pride goes before a fall," and these people are have more pride in crap than they do desire to produce content.

Creative Commons

This seems to me to be the best use of the creative commons license. Allow fans to do anything they want with a work except make money and pick up the best content to be released for profit.

I know that is a radical departure from the way the industry likes to work. They would prefer to sue their fans instead of earning money from them. What a wacky world we live in. Maybe someone will wake up, and the necessary revival of Speculative Fiction will come.

NIN Ghosts

nin Nine Inch Nails has released its first set of albums since they left the major label system. Ghosts I-IV is a collection of 36 instrumental tracks that have been shared under a Creative Commons Licence. Released on double CD, quadruple vinyl, and mp3.This is the first major artist to embrace the indie movement, we need to show some love. Get it here. (via Blabbermouth)

Fanfiction and Culture

C.E. Dorsett Recently, I was on a board, and someone posted the question: "What do you think about fanfiction?" The questions angered up my blood, so I have to pull out my soapbox for a minute:

Fanfiction is a story that uses the characters and/or setting of an another writer to tell an original story. So we must accept that...

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Fanfiction. Virgil's Aeneid, Fanfiction. Ovid's Metamorphosis, Fanfiction. Euripides, Sophocles, All of the Greek and Roman Classics, Fanfiction! Shakespeare almost exclusively used the settings and characters of others!

Most of what we consider classics today were written by people who wrote in a setting they did not create with characters created by others, in other words, FANFICTION! All primal storytelling is fanfiction, telling retelling, embellishing and adding to that characters and setting that the storyteller enjoyed. This is the art of a story teller. Virtually every folktale and myth falls into this category.

Before the modern tyranny of the copyright holders, this was a natural function of culture. Now it is a hobby of a few select subcultures. Stories give our lives and our world meaning. For the stories to remain relevant, they have to be retold and expanded in ways that are true to the original. This is how a healthy culture grows and evolves over time. The numerous copyright extension acts have crippled our culture. Stories, characters, and whole worlds have been lost to the commons. The culture is weakened.

For example: There is no legitimate reason that Star Trek: The Original Series, should still be under copyright today, 40 years after it originally aired. If the copyright expired on the original series, then we could still have The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and the others. But who knows how many great series we lost because they did not win the lottery to be Voyager or Enterprise. Just because the copyright on the first one expired would have no effect on the copyright status of the later ones. In fact, the iron grip of Paramount may have destroyed more great series that it could ever produce. Read the The Voyage of the Star Wolf series by David Gerrold.

It is a sad comment on our society that fanfiction is so rare. That our culture has been destined to atrophy under these conditions. With the advent of Creative Commons and other ways around the tyranny of copyright, there is hope.