maygra: (annoyed fangirl)
You know, every time I come back here and think that maybe, maybe I'm ready to come back into the fannish fold, something happens to make me think twice.

If you have access, you can read back a post or ten and find out how I feel about the outing of Fen to the rest of the world, their families, whoever-the-fuck-ever, without their explicit permission. If you are lazy, let me sum up:

It sucks. It's the worst kind penny-ante, petty, self-serving, pitiful behavior I can think of. There's no excuse for it, no justification of it, and no forgiveness for it.

And you know what else it does? it makes the person who pulled such twat-brained move fair game and a tasty target for those of us who either don't care if we're outed as porn-loving, incest-writing fen, or who it will not impact if we are. It gives us license, as few things do, to treat you badly when we find you, to make your life hell, to mock and malign you, and post and repost your badly thought out attempts at some kind of personal justice or vicious lolz, and warn everyone near and far about what a wasted piece of pixel-dust you are.

And then we get to sit back and watch you squirm and whine and complain about how fandom is so mean to you, and watch you try to lie your way out of the quagmire you've driven yourself into as you work your way deeper in with your pathetic struggles.

I don't care why. I don't care if your target made you feel bad, if you didn't like her hair, her friends, her politics, or you were just having a bad day. It's gonna surface -- your name, your journal, your website, your email. At some point either the authorities will trace your IP, Facebook will roll-over and show its belly, or you will brag quietly to a friend and they'll let something slip and we'll know who you are. And you know how I know that will happen?

Because you were stupid enough to do something that has actual criminal implications by involving a minor in your idiotic vendetta or joke or whatever.

Nobody is that stupid just once.

Best run, little fangirl. Best run now.

ETA: Not trimming my flist. If you are on my flist...oh, please, please stay while I catalogue IP addresses and then get notified every-time you post or if you try to get off my flist. Please don't leave my flist just yet, because that would be too, too, easy.

But feel free to post anonymously...just this once, I insist. Please let me invoke my state's internet harassment and stalker law.
maygra: (Default)
In case anyone had any question (or even knew) I've resigned as a sys op from Yes I was, and while I haven't done anything in awhile, and found out about the whole kerfluffle just yesterday, I cranked up my cranky laptop and removed myself as an administrator and asked Laura to remove me as a sysop.

I'm sure no one cares about the details of why I joined in the first place (although it was early on when it started) but feel free to ask if you are curious.

Otherwise, please check this post

for the reasons why I've disassociated myself from a project and person who I once tried to work with to actually provide a resource. I've got a long-standing issue about fans making large amounts of money of other fans for personal use.

Now, I'm off before I get fired.

ETA: I want to be clear, I've personally had generally good interactions with Laura. We have disagreed about things, but I felt we were able to discuss them and usually with a resolution I could live with. That said, I'm not here to make judgments or assumptions based on Laura's motives or character, only on her actions, which I find unacceptable, specifically:

1) I disagree vehemently with fans outing other fans. I can't tell you how much this pisses me off.
2) I disagree with Fans making money off other fans for personal gain. (There are exceptions to this (like art) and a certain amount of flexibilty regarding costs of goods and expenses in producing those goods, but no, I'm not willing to underwrite your car payment or so you can drive to more cons (that's an example -- not something I know or suspect her to have done.)
3) I get that everyone's got their opinion on OTW. Mine is generally favorable and I have donated (mostly because I really want that archive.) You can check back posts for what else I have to say. I do not think the OTW is all things to all fans, and I see no problem with their being multiple fan wikis or even archives. And I can promise you, if I ever suspect the OTW is somehow providing individual profit outside of reasonable operating costs for the people running it, I'll be the first one to call the IRS to get their 501(c) status revoked.

I disagree with a lot of fans over a lot of issues who I otherwise enjoy being friends with or in contact with. I don't actually know, yet (because I haven't had time to think about it) how this affects how I think of Laura as a person whom I've, in general, enjoyed talking to. I am unhappy that it has gotten to this point, and am dismayed by what I'm seeing. I am disappointed that once more, it appears that ego rather than empathy has managed to cause a shitstorm in fandom.

I'm kind of glad my computer has been dead for a week or more. I don't need this. I'm seriously at the point where I want to finish my two auction stories and then fuck off to Second Life. Because really? I have enough drama in my real life at the moment, and fandom has become less of an escape and more of a brick wall closing in on the other side.

ETA2: Two points:
1.) The only discussion I was aware of (not involved in) was the possibility of moving the wiki to a site that generated ad traffic to defer the costs. By and large I don't object to that -- archives that run adds or take donations to cover costs. Generating actual profit from the site wasn't something I knew about and I didn't discuss it beyond the idea that covering costs wasn't an issue. Then again, I wasn't a major sys op. Mostly I cleaned up page messes.
2.) In regards to fan privacy: I was involved in one issue and my stance then was pretty much as written above. That's the only major clash I had with any of the other administrators of the site, and even it was handled (from my POV) amicably if a bit tensely, but I got into it rather late in that instance. I don't even know if I actually influenced the decision to reverse the page content, but I was pretty clear on my stance on the whole thing.

Final ETA: Everyone has been really wonderful in the comments and I thank you. But I don't want to come off as being entirely in the dark about Laura's rep, even when I started. I'm not exactly new to fandom, to ego politics, or to the idea that fans can be as incredibly selfish and self-serving as they are generous and creative. So, to be really clear: I don't take the opinions of one fan or even groups of fans opinions on another fan entirely on faith. I've spent way to many hours with friends who have been hurt or attacked or misunderstood, sometimes people I really and truly love and like being at total odds with other other people I like and admire. I think I'm a good friend most of the time, but I'm not a blind one.

I've rarely felt like the decision not to take stand on someone based solely on the fact that people I respect don't like them or disagree with them or whatever. There are people in fandom who think I'm a condescending bitch or a liar or both. Trying to change their minds isn't something I waste a lot of time on any longer, but I do get that what people see and hear and what was done and said can sometimes not be entirely in synch. Not knowing about Laura's plans is not the same thing as having been deceived by her. Being complicitly involved in decisions in absentia, is as much my own fault as anything, because I didn't care to get involved in the development of the site beyond being a client provided. I disliked the bias and told her so, and disagreed rather more loudly with the idea that linking online personas with real time people was a bad idea and came off as vindictive whether it was meant to be so or not.

That's been awhile ago. As far as I know, my name or rep was never used to further the aims of some personal or business goals. I consider [ profile] astolat to be a friend and someone I respect. Had I known about this before it was all pretty much said and done, I might have said something. I'd like to think I would have.

I prefer to give people the benefit of a doubt. This became too much doubt and not enough benefit -- for anyone. Myself included. I'm not a victim of anything here. At best, I'm someone who knowingly didn't look too closely at some things. There's enough being laid at Laura's feet that are legitimate gripes and real concerns. I'm not one of them. But I'd rather be the one to say, here, this is what I did and why, rather than someone tripping over my name on a discussion page. Not so much, CYA, as head's up.


May. 17th, 2007 06:27 pm
maygra: (Default)
back in 2003 I wrote a rant about fannish entitlement that was prompted by an entirely other incident...but the end of it was rather weirdly echoing of what's going on both in regards to my previous post and of several discussions I've taken part of post the Asylum convention regarding fannish behavior.

The old rant is [[here]].

It's not flocked.

Whether its the hither and yon of asking actors and studio execs about fan fiction, the reposting of vids on you tube, the righteousness of fans telling other fans what they should and should not write, whether you think fanfic is willful but ultimately harmless infringement (I do) or a prime but untested case of "fair use", (I do this also) nobody but nobody can best us or top us when it comes to doing damage to each other both personally and culturally.

To some extent, that's a good thing, because social pressure, peer pressure can be a good thing when done in moderation. We have a loose social contract formed by a mostly common interest -- the extension of media sources beyond what is authorized and promoted and yes, part of a legal framework of ownership and economic viabilty. We are, collectively, mostly moderate and conservative in our ventures beyond the realms of fandom. We have worked for years to get fan fiction and fan culture into, not the mainstream of public consciousness, but into the somewhat more removed halls of academia and cultural studies. Some of us take our fan interactions very, very seriously and some of us flit and dance and don't take it seriously at all.

Usually, the commonality of being fans actually provides the ground zero for at least the basis of mutual enjoyment and if not actual friendship, at least civility.

But not always.

Basically, it comes down to this: despite every bugabear about studio smackdowns, despite every actual case of a C&D letter delivered and observed: in the end we are our own worst enemy.

And for those of you in denial about the frequency or efficacy of those C&D letters, please, get a grip. Corporations are perfectly capable of enforcing their copyrights and trademarks without any help from us. I'm sure they all know how to use google, and they can be completely arbitrary about where and when they choose to enforce those rights --I give six months.

Really. We are. One fan has no more legal or moral or ethical authority than any other. And I'm not in any way missing the irony of me posting this, or any other rant I've posted, with that in mind.

Fans stepping into a situation and deciding to act on behalf of fandom, isn't anything new. Sometimes it's a sincere but misguided attempt to provide some benefit or even protection for fans. Sometimes it's a lot more personal and selfish. Sometimes it really is altruistic, and some times it's merely vicious.

But really, if you're going to do it? I've got a request of you, just two questions I want you to ask yourself:

Who or what are you trying to protect, and who and what are you trying to help?

And if neither of those questions actually apply to your intervention, then seriously, what are you doing? And why?

You'll notice I didn't ask anyone not to do it.

This post is not flocked.

Note: Also, please to be reading [ profile] cesperanza [[here]], for lo, she is smart and her words are tasty.

maygra: (Default)
I probably owe shout outs to a lot of people; in fact I know I do, but I'm going to hit only one: [ profile] amothea You're a doll. I won't reiterate the conclusion you've already come to, but I will say thank you and sincerely wish you never feel called upon to do that again. Nobody, including me, is worth putting yourself through that, honey. But you know, your choice. Just thank you.

It's entirely possible I will take this down at some point, or make it private, but for now…

If you click, be aware that I am unreasonably and irrationally pissed off. )
maygra: (Default)
When I first got on line and stumbled over the thing we now ubiquitously call "media fandom", the huge brouhaha at the time in HL fandom was a disagreement some fans had with a single individual who had compiled a massive amount of links, trying to bring a central location to all of the HL sites from archives to script transcripts sites and everything in between, including a lot of people's individual sites and homepages.

Now, while online fandom had come into being and was steadily growing, there was still a lot of nervousness by fans who came in from off-line fandom who had been involved in or witnessed any number of unpleasant examples of TPTB flexing their muscle a bit. Or who had only heard about them -- friend of a friend of a friend was C&D'd and dire consequences awaited them.

It was scary stuff. It still is. Not so much because of the (mostly) idle threat of having your site (or your press) shut down, or the fear of actual court litigation, but in terms of exposure and potential liability, most fans reacted with a certain amount of skittishness. Being sued is absolutely a possibility. It doesn't seem to happen very often -- even for people who are C&D'd in the case of Trademark violation. (Which, from a legal standpoint, is a highly tetchy issue (because unlike copyright -- in the abstract -- Trademark *does* have to be defended over and over, or you do lose your right to sole use of the Trademark. Copyright cannot be lost -- however, it is possible for an artist to lose the sole exclusive right to make a profit on their work in some cases -- it's a sticky wicket to be sure.) However, (and any legal eagles feel free to correct me,) violation of copyright is a civil action, not a criminal one. Financial damages can be assessed against an infringer, but actual jail time isn't really an issue.

Back to the King of Links. A lot of people objected to this, because he would include links without permission. And upon being requested to remove a link, he would refuse. Threats were made, arguments were voiced, flame wars erupted, and the King of Links held fast. There was nothing, nothing anyone could legally do to enforce their will on him. He baited and dared people to take him to court. He posted his own legal defenses comments on the then very sketchy approach to copyright, privacy and the internet.

It went on for months. Eventually people lost interest, or he did, and as far as I know, the link page is still there but most, if not all, the links are worthless. I doubt seriously that anyone ever took him up on his invitation to court. And shortly thereafter, Geocities appeared on the scene and a few other free hosting services and on-line fandom pretty much exploded across the internet.

But his argument then boiled down to something that still holds true. If you put it on the net, and someone can find it, be it a homepage, a picture, artwork, vids, stories or your personal resume, you have pretty much lost the ability to maintain control over that bit of data You can put up all the warnings and pleas you like, you can password protect your site, you can make it unsearchable by search engines and robots, but if one person posts that picture elsewhere, or that story, or that password…you've lost the battle. Oh, you can take your stuff and move it. You can scream and shout and stomp your feet and threaten to have them TOS'd by their ISP's. You can defame their name from here until kingdom come. But in reality, your methods of control are limited and rarely infallible.

To some extent, however, you can rely on the integrity of other fans to respect what boundaries you set. But that only goes so far. One fan who has no respect for anyone's boundaries, whose focus is entirely fixated on what they want and how best to get it, is all it takes to undo the good intentions of a thousand other fans. It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong. The deed is done.

And in the nether gray world of fanfiction, fan art and fan vids, of thousands of faceless, pseudonymed participants in the hundred-plus areas of interest that is online fandom, those few people make all the difference. You can't trust them. You can't reason with them. You can't protect yourself from them and still participate on every level in every area you would like to. You can't depend on them to use common sense or common courtesy in dealing with material that is already dancing the thin wire between illegality and fair-use. They will take your work and post it elsewhere. They will take your stories and put their names on them and cry foul when you cry plagiarism -- because you, of course, don't have any legal claim to the source material either, so how can it be yours?

You cannot expect that everyone will share your ethical boundaries. While there are most certainly a lot of people who will join you in the sandbox and happily share your toys with you, there are those who will take your toys and run away with them.

And there is not, realistically, one damn thing you can do about it, except to do your very best to minimize your risk.

For most of my fannish life, my concerns have been primarily focused on not bringing enough attention to myself (or my fandom) to make the TPTB look around and notice. They seem, for the most part, willing and able to ignore me and mine as long as I don't try to make them look like idiots or fools, or try to somehow capitalize monetarily from my ill-gotten gains and hours of source material.

But the new boogey-man isn't really Fox networks, or Mutant Enemy, or George Lucas, or Anne Rice. And this boogey-man really isn't new. He/she is just an email address away, or on the next LJ or one of the people on your favorite mailing lists. He/she really isn't so much out to get *you* as he/she is out for him/herself. The boogey-man is the fan right next to you.

Some people call this boogey-man a sense of entitlement -- I've used the term myself. But even in doing so, I'm admitting that there are people out there whose ethical choices don't mesh with mine, whose rationale is so far afield from mine I can't even fathom it. We have nothing in common save for the one thing above all -- fandom.

So, the choices presented to any fan are pretty limited. And honestly, as in the movie Wargames, the only real way to win is not to play.

But if you play, be very careful about what you risk. The actual risk of losing control of your fannish output, of your creativity is pretty small in the grand percentages of these things, but it only has to happen once for you to feel violated and betrayed. If you don't want people to steal your vids, don't leave them up on your servers for long if at all. Password your site. If you don't want your stories to be taken and plagiarized don't archive them from here to everywhere. Change your URLS frequently. Be paranoid.

Or not. Raise the hue and cry if you are violated and pray that some of your basic ethical standards will be recognized. Defy the odds, and leave yourself wide open, your work available, and your creative output undaunted.

Or find someplace in the middle. Know that it can happen to you. Know that while Public Domain really isn't a status associated with every bit of data out on the internet, public access is. Trust your friends, but know that not everyone on the internet is your friend or even friendly.

And when some asshat claims that because you're already infringing on copyright, that you have no control and no right to control your output or what happens to it -- be aware that he/she is correct. You have no *legal* right to claim ownership (you know, until some fan actually gets taken to court and *wins*.)

Fandom has no Geneva Convention. Fandom has no SEC dictate or court appointed jurisdiction to enforce ethical standards. There is no fandom police. Fandom has…fans.

And lest you think I'm fortelling doom in the manner of the three witches of Macbeth -- I'm not. I have some six sites with fiction, artwork, archives, journals, blogs, rants, raves, and resumes scattered about on the World Wide Web. One of them is passworded -- with a flimsy system at best meant primarily to ensure people read the disclaimers and understand what they are about to see and read, as opposed to try and protect myself from TPTB or protect myself from content theft by other fans. And the site is virtually mirrored elsewhere with no password. I rarely allow archiving, but I do allow links. I even occasionally change those links. I have no idea, really, how many people hit my sites in any given month. For all I know, no one is and few are reading. I don't make vids, but if I did, I probably wouldn't have them on the net, or if I did, I would have them password protected (and that really would be more in response to the RIAA's rather aggressive hunt & prosecution of copyright violaters of music and lyrics, than to save myself from TPTB of major television studios.)

I don't think fandom is an evil place. I don't think the majority of fans are anything but fairly reasonable, rational, and for the most part, respectful of the rights of ownership and fannish creativity as it applies to their fellow fen (even when they may be ripping said fan a new one, or disemboweling their latest story.)

But I do think some fans, possibly even the majority of fans, are being dangerously naïve if they think that all fen are created equal, or that the only threat to their continued enjoyment is TPTB.

The Powers That Be don't need to hunt us down or look for us. We have fellow fen who quite blithely point out our caves and cliff-dwellings, slums and condos with prideful glee at how clever we all are. Who mistakenly believe that physical, tangible proof of the adoration of fans will somehow be received gratefully and thrillingly by those same powers.

There are fans who view fannish output as common property, who believe they have the absolute right to take anything they find on the internet and put it toward their own use. They don't care what you think, what your friends think, or what other fans think. To them, your fannish output is merely an extension of the source material and since the use of that is already in legal question, they are in no further violation, or in any worse violation, of claiming or using or posting your work than they are of using the original source material. If you aren't respecting that very valid legal right, why should they be in any way concerned with your incredibly nebulous and grey right to your own derivative works?

Be really clear: I don't agree with this stance. I am a firm believer that fans have to police themselves, that it is possibly more important to respect one another and extend common courtesy if only because there is no other recourse once that unspoken agreement is breached. Someone else said it far better, (SilviaKundera said it best: " If you alienate the people who go about creating these things you love... you won't have any more. It's not terribly complicated logic."

At the same time, it's easy to forget that in the fast paced life we know as on-line fandom. It's easy to drop your guard. It's easy to forget people like the King of Links. Today's battleground is the next minute's old news. So, the pattern repeats itself.

Over and over.

And at the root of it all, is the same thorny problem: fans do what fans want to get more of what they want, when and how they want it. It's true of the fic writers posting to a half dozen lists and equally as many archives. It true of the screen cappers and the vidders and the artists. They want to create, they want to share, they want to hear back from the people enjoying the fruits of their labors or there would be no real reason to make any of it available in the public access forum that is the internet. The same is true of those whose "lack of respect" drives so many of us batshit or into temporary exile. They want to create, to be seen, to share, to get accolades. The motives are the same.

But the devil, as they say, is in the details. Your sense of entitlement to create or enjoy derivative works in the way you like is not a singly-defined, universally accepted standard.

Keep it in mind the next time you put something of "yours" out there for "them".

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