Friday, January 30, 2009

Schwabach on fan fiction

Aaron Schwabach, The Harry Potter Lexicon and the World of Fandom: Fan Fiction, Outsider Works, and Copyright, 70 University of Pittsburgh Law Review, No. 3 (forthcoming 2009)

The good: Contains the best public account of Larry Niven and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s interactions with fan fiction that I’ve read. Also makes the obvious but oft-missed point that objecting to fan fiction does nothing to protect pro authors from accusations of infringement: “many successful works of fiction become the subject of lawsuits claiming that some other author’s idea was stolen, and the works on which these claims are based are rarely fanfic.” Indeed, I’d go further: fans are much less likely to assert claims, because (1) by definition, they like the underlying work, and (2) they have much more reason to fear losing their own authorship status, see, e.g., Anderson v. Stallone.

The bad: Misunderstands live-action vidding as a subset of anime music video; relatedly, reads “Closer” as if it were intended as parody; relatedly, misattributes “Closer” in the name of a person who posted it on YouTube (the vidders’ names appear in the vid itself). Francesca Coppa has written about the history of vidding and how that history is being written out of existence for various reasons; Henry Jenkins called attention to the context of “Closer” and what happened to make people outside media fandom see it as a parody. With luck, the published version will correct these errors in the late sections of what is a generally helpful addition to the literature.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rebecca,
You probably saw this already but just in case:


Anonymous said...

All good points -- You've inspired me to send in some changes; when the page proofs come back I'll put them up on SSRN.