And then I said stuff.

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Meta
Title: And then I said stuff.
Creator: liviapenn
Date(s): August 23, 2006
Medium: online
Fandom:
Topic:
External Links: And then I said stuff.; WebCite for the main post; archive link that shows the comments
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

And then I said stuff. is a 2006 essay by liviapenn.

The post has 53 comments.

It is a follow-up essay to Asking permission from the pros; both are responses to The Mission Report Challenge, a SGA Flashfic challenge.

Some Topics Discussed

The Post

I said this same thing just about two weeks ago, in a post about how fanfiction isn't plagiarism [1], and I'll say it again:

Writing a story about someone else's concepts, characters and/or universe is not plagiarism. (IE, it is not "stealing.") Even if you don't have permission. As long as you are not attempting to pass off other people's concepts, characters and/or universes as your own original work, it's not plagiarism.

I was pretty sure everyone in fandom understood this. I mean, there are always a few people who are like "Fanfiction *is* plagiarism, so you are a hypocrite for saying plagiarism is bad," but I am pretty sure most people know that that's a ridiculous argument, for the reasons I set out in my previous post.

Now, here's an addendum to that statement.

Whether or not you have *permission* to use those other concepts, characters and/or settings-- has, in fact, *no bearing* on whether or not something is plagiarism.

For instance, even if you *have* permission, you can still commit plagiarism. If I offer you $100 to write a homework essay for me, and you say yes and do it, then obviously we have mutually agreed that I can use your words; I clearly have your permission to pass them off as mine. However, if I get caught, "But I had her permission!" is not going to cut any ice with *anyone*. Why? Because permission has nothing to do with plagiarism. Whether or not I had permission, I still attempted to claim your words and ideas as my original creations; it's quite clearly a case of plagiarism.

The counter-example would be fanfiction. We do *not* have permission-- but it is *not* plagiarism, because we do not claim that we invented the concepts and ideas we are writing about. No fanfiction author is trying to make people believe that *she* came up with the idea of Stargates or vampire slayers or Hogwarts or cylons. We clearly acknowledge our sources. It's not stealing. Nothing has been stolen; the original work still exists everywhere and in every way that it existed before.

Again: Writing fanfiction is not plagiarism, and whether or not you have *permission* has *nothing to do* with whether or not something is plagiarism.

People keep throwing these straw men into the current debate: "They're saying all fanfiction is plagiarism, so they ought to be able to plagiarise from their fellow fans! They're saying 'well, since we're all stealing anyway, why can't we steal from each other?'" When, in fact, no one is saying that. No one has argued that all fanfiction is plagiarism and stealing, so we all ought to be able to plagiarise and steal from each other.

What I think most people *are* arguing is this: Writing fanfiction is NOT plagiarism and stealing, therefore it's NOT plagiarism and stealing when we (hypothetically) do it to each other.

I haven't yet heard an argument about why it's morally wrong to write (for example) a missing scene from someone else's story, that *doesn't* end up sounding just like a condemnation of fanfiction from some oversensitive pro-author. "Well, if you take my characters-- even if you credit me-- that's theft!" No, that's fanfiction. And it's *not plagiarism*. And it's *not wrong*.

I had a whole second half of this post about how people often confuse a *theoretical* argument about what is *logical* with an argument that is actually advocating how people should act in reality. Realistically? If I were possessed of a desire to write fanfiction with someone else's OC in it, I'd ask them if it would be okay for me to post it, or else I'd just write it and not show anyone. NOT because it would be stealing if I didn't get permission, but because we probably have to co-exist in the same fandom and I don't want to pointlessly make someone mad at me. (Please note that having to co-exist in the same place as someone else is not the same thing as having obligations to her because you are part of a community. "But we're in a community, so you should respect my right to forbid you from using my ideas!" is an argument that means nothing. I could just as easily argue "But we're a community, so we ought to all share, and you should respect my right to write fanfiction about anything!" That wouldn't convince anyone either.)

But it gets all confusing, so I'm skipping it. The point is, just because people argue that something is logical doesn't mean they've forgotten that they're dealing with human beings who have feelings and illogical emotions and such. Like, although I will argue to the death that it is totally okay to criticize stories in public (because, after all, anything publically posted is fair game for public discussion,) I don't do it myself all that often, because it tends to cause drama. Likewise, although a lot of people are arguing that fanfiction is fanfiction and isn't wrong no matter what it's fanfiction *of*-- this does not mean that they don't understand that asking permission is a *good idea*, as was stated clearly in the sga_flashfic post that started all this. Okay? Okay.

Some Fan Comments

[miss pryss]: No, I totally agree with you. Generally, my attitude is that people can make all the moral or even logical arguments they want -- but in the end a lot of this is about pragmatism, and good sense. And not being OMG TOTALLY LAME!!!
[liviapenn]: There's drama all the time everywhere. I really think a lot of this particular drama could've been avoided if people hadn't immediately assumed the worst, read a lot into the post that wasn't there, and gone on the warpath, but then, a lot of all drama everywhere could probably be avoided if people would just chill, so I realize that's not very helpful advice. *G*
[ivy03]:

Whenever I try to explain to someone (usually not in fandom) why fanfic isn't plagiarism, I always point to Oscar Wilde's brilliant essay, "The Critic as Artist." It's been a while since I read it, but his point is that derivative works are still art with just as much merit as the original. And if Oscar Wilde said it, it must be true!

Also, definitely with you on the whole theoretical vs. reality debate. Reminds me of my days in an all female a cappella group where we'd spend hours discussing situations that had not yet arisen (and sometimes never did).
[cathexys]:

yeah, wilde reference :-)

In fact, he argues even more than that (as a non-fiction writing critic, that's the part I really love :-): he suggests that just like art may improve upon nature (turning Greek ideals of mimesis on its head), the critic allows us to actually properly see the work of art (turning the standard ideas of critics as parasitical creatures on its head). The critic is *better* than the artist, as far as he argues in his essay (and then there's this beautiful line in one of his others about how there wouldn't be the London Fog if it weren't for the Impressionists :-)

Eh...sorry ;-) I totally adore that essay, and I'm so glad you being it up!!!
[amireal]:

I've been trying to say this in the context of the current kerfluffle and failing. I have admitted that my own reactions might be irrational, but that I'd be aware of that and move on. Only ONE OTHER person has admitted that they feel it's badwrong while saying they can't really explain why.

My big thing is that it's about environment and how we all have to play in the same sandbox, but it is NOT plagiarism if someone wants to take MY specific plot and play with it. I'm just... impressed that everyone goes to that place where obviously all instances of this will be various forms of plagiarism where the new fic will have too much of the old one or how someone will try and change the ship or something. Which I have so much... twitchiness for the latter I can't begin to explain why I find that argument... many many things.
[fairestcat]:

My big thing is that it's about environment and how we all have to play in the same sandbox

I have a lot of sympathy for the argument that the difference between ficcing fan-work and ficcing pro-work is the proximity of the original author to the derivitive author. We all (I hope) agree that waiving fanfic in front of the original creators is usually rather tacky, but in the smaller community of fandom there's really no way not to. The original author is going to see the derivitive work eventually, and they're stories are going to have to co-exist in the same archives or same communities, which is a closer proximity again than between a fan-work on the internet and a pro-work in the bookstore or on TV.

But that's not a moral argument at all. It's one of courtesy and keeping intra-community friction at a minimum. And like all courtesies it's a question of personal choice not a community mandate.
[dinpik]:

“But that's not a moral argument at all. It's one of courtesy and keeping intra-community friction at a minimum. And like all courtesies it's a question of personal choice not a community mandate.”

Exactly.

There isn't a moral reason not to write fanfiction of another fan's work, except the same ones people would use not to write fanfiction of a pro's work. And that's where so many fans trip over themselves.
[liviapenn]:

Only ONE OTHER person has admitted that they feel it's badwrong while saying they can't really explain why.

See, it's fair to have an emotional reaction and not be able to explain it. Emotions don't always have logical reasons. I respect someone who says "It may not be logical, but I still just don't like it," a lot more than I respect people trying to justify their emotional reactions with (1) bad logic (2) double standards, or (3) ad hominem attacks on other people.
[fairestcat]:

I haven't yet heard an argument about why it's morally wrong to write (for example) a missing scene from someone else's story, that *doesn't* end up sounding just like a condemnation of fanfiction from some oversensitive pro-author. "Well, if you take my characters-- even if you credit me-- that's theft!" No, that's fanfiction. And it's *not plagiarism*. And it's *not wrong*.

That's the part of the whole argument that's been really getting to me. So many of the arguments people are making are things that those same people would mock and condemn overwhelmingly if they were said by a pro author. I'm hearing the same arguments that are constantly being spouted by the likes of Anne Rice and Lee Goldberg, only now they're coming straight from the mouths of other fanwriters.

And that just pisses me off.

Say that you just think it's polite to ask. Say that you think the rules for ficcing should be different within the fanfic community because there is not the automatic degree of separation between writer and ficcer. But do not try to tell me that we are morally obliged to grant fan writers a privilege that our whole community is based around not granting to professional writers.

GAH. Just... I can't even fathom that logic. If you truly think that writing in someone else's universe or playing with someone else's characters is immoral, what the hell are you doing writing fanfic? I mean, yeah, people do things they think are immoral all the time, with various justifications, but knowing there are fanfic writers out there who genuinely think what they're doing is morally wrong just leaves me feeling kind of dirty by association, you know?
[liviapenn]:

So many of the arguments people are making are things that those same people would mock and condemn overwhelmingly if they were said by a pro author.

And *rightfully so*. I mean, I'm sorry, but "Fanfiction about my characters hurts my feelings" is not a reason I should not write fanfic about your characters. It's a reason you should *not read* fanfic about your characters. I mean, again: I could say "The existence of rape/mpreg/incest stories in fandom makes me cry and freak out," but that's not a reason for people to not write those types of stories, it's a reason for me *not to read them*.

I mean, this is exactly the same discussion I was just having over on aubrem's journal about whether fanfiction writers should be able to tell people *not to discuss their story* unless it's 100% positive. No. I'm sorry, *no*. Once you put something out there in public, it *is* free game for people to discuss however they want to. (And I honestly don't see much, if any, difference between a non-fictional discussion about "what would happen if...?" and a fictional portrayal of What Would Happen If.)
[djonn]:

This is one of the reasons that I prefer to frame the distinction as between shared/collective creations (mediaverses, RPG settings, shared worlds, etc.) and individual creations (most professionally published & personally copyrighted prose fiction), rather than between "fanfic" and "profic", per my long post in the prior conversation. I think that formulation makes it a good deal easier to discuss the ethical and practical issues without running into severe inconsistencies.

So I'd agree with the premise that it's inconsistent for a fanwriter to object to some element of his/her works being borrowed by another fanwriter for use in a derivative work -- that sort of interplay is an essential characteristic of collective creation. Due credit to a creator is warranted, certainly -- pro comics generally do this now, and good fanfic etiquette would dictate similar practice.

Now as I said in the earlier discussion, I've written on both sides of the fan/pro fence (and over the same byline, at that). And I think that those professional writers who object -- some of them very strongly -- to the open circulation of fanfic derived from their individual creations have a valid ethical case at least with respect to their own works. Where these writers tend to get into trouble is in framing more general arguments against fanfic based on inaccurate or incomplete data. And it doesn't help that the professional marketplace for prose fiction is tilting more towards pro versions of collective creation all the time.

I haven't seen the fan-community brouhaha that's apparently behind the presently expressed tensions. But am I right in deducing, based on the posts here, that it has to do with fanwriters borrowing fan-created "original characters" from other fics? Because if so, I think there is an interesting question of literary ethics/practice in that situation. I've gone on too long to wade into it further in this post, but I think there's a worthwhile discussion in it.
[liviapenn]:

I think that formulation makes it a good deal easier to discuss the ethical and practical issues without running into severe inconsistencies.

I think in the case of fanfiction though, there are still inconsistencies. There's an argument that people in fandom are putting forth that goes something like, "An author creates her own characters and ideas, and so she should have a say in who gets to use them, whereas TV show characters and ideas are created by whole committees of writers, editors, costumers, set designers and actors, so nobody really 'owns' those characters and ideas."

Which makes sense to a point-- for instance what if the writers of a tv show love the idea of fanfiction but an individual actor finds it as disturbing as Anne Rice does? Whose wishes do you respect?

But then on the other hand, what about a fanfiction "virtual season" which may include new original characters or concepts... would it be okay to write fanfiction of this "virtual season" since most virtual seasons are written by groups of fans instead of a single fan? I have a feeling that the people I'm rebutting in my post would still object, since their main thrust seems to be that as fanfiction authors, we're all part of a community and so our behavior towards each other should be held to a higher standard than our behavior towards pro authors and creators. (Which I couldn't disagree more with; if I believed it was wrong to write fanfiction, I wouldn't do it to pros *or* amateurs. As I don't believe it *is* wrong... well.)

My personal objection to the premise "people ought to respect the wishes of authors who don't want fanfiction written of their work" is that so often an author's public objection to fanfiction is either (1) willfully misinformed about the purpose and nature of fanfiction to the point of being stupid: for instance, authors who think that fanfiction is about "fixing" flaws in canon or replacing the original canon with something "better," and therefore take the existence of fanfiction as an insult or an attack (2) sex-phobic or homophobic-- "How dare you do something disgusting like imply my characters could be, gasp, GAY! That is so repulsive!" -- I don't really need to explain why I could care less about an author's feelings in this case, I don't think-- or (3) hypocritical and/or condescending, especially in the case of fantasy authors who rely heavily on retelling myths, legends, fairy tales, or including mythological figures or real historical people in their work, but still dismiss fanfiction because no *real* author depends so heavily on plots and/or characters that already exist, and so fanfiction can't possibly be a legitimate form of storytelling, but more of a mere writing exercise for newbie authors who will work their way up to being "original" later.
[djonn]:

I'd agree that many professional writers' objections to fanfic in general are badly misconceived (see prior response for amplification). However, at the same time, I do see a valid argument for respecting the wishes of personal-creation authors who want to defend the legal and economic status of their personal creations. Even if their views of fanfic are limited and inaccurate, I don't think it's necessarily fair to a professional author for fanfic writers to jump into a one-person sandbox with a barbed-wire fence around it.

The best-known specific case in the annals of fanfic/pro conflict is probably that involving Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and the Holmesian Federation affair, which speaks somewhat to both sides of your (3) complaint -- on one hand, the original St. -Germain (as opposed to Yarbro's) is/was a historical character; OTOH, the fan story made quite specific use of Yarbro's particular incarnation of St. -Germain (and one of Yarbro's original secondary characters), and did so over Yarbro's express objections.

While I wasn't closely involved with that case, I was probably one of relatively few folk with fairly close connections to both sides of the unfolding carnage. I'd had a story in the issue of Holmesian Federation immediately preceding that in which the St.-Germain piece appeared -- and I was also an affiliate member of SFWA, the pro SF writers' organization, and an active participant in its online community on GEnie, where the matter was observed and discussed in depth (though without any direct participation from Yarbro).

Under the circumstances, I can't blame Yarbro for acting to preserve copyright interests in her literary St.-Germain material -- I suspect that, if the fanfic had not appeared, we might well have seen a St.-Germain/Holmes crossover novel in the series. (Under a pen name, Yarbro has since cowritten a series of "Mycroft Holmes" novels for Tor.) I also think the fans in the case didn't help their cause by publishing the fic even though they'd explicitly asked Yarbro for permission and been told "no".

But at the same time, I can't blame the fans for writing the story, and I do think that St.-Germain's status as historical figure somewhat colors the matter (the fan writers would have been on far stronger ground, I'd think, if they'd respun their St.-Germain off the original rather than relying so closely on Yarbro's version; that might well have affected the court case [2]). It was well written and thoughtfully conceived; I enjoyed reading it, and I think the characterizations were on target.
[anna luna]:

I love how you point out exactly what is wrong with the whole plagiarism debacle. Thanks a lot for writing this!

Also, I think the problem with people using other people's fanfic as bases for their remixes and fanfics without asking is not a question of morals("Oh no! It is wrong!") but rather a question of maners("It is not polite!"). I think people should(! 'should', not 'must') *ask* permission of the author (most times they get it and if they don't, as you said, they should drop it, because really? it's not worth the subsequent angst) because it is a polite way to interact with fellow fans, but if they don't ask, the author has no real ground to protest, because fanfiction on fanfiction is *still fanfiction* and should be measured by the same general rules. Even if the remix happens to change the gendre (which some authors expressed concern over) from het to slash, slash to het, fluff to deathfic. Really people, what do you do when a fanfic is *not* in the genre you prefer? *Just don't read it!*

I think that people should credit their sources for fanfics, especially if they're fanish ones because: a) It makes the author feel good. b)Lets potential fans track down the original fanfic to heighten the reading experience. c)You're not really fooling anyone into thinking you came up with this yourself since someone *surely* read the original fic and is bound to point it out *in the worst possible way*.
[anna luna]:

I think credit is 100% mandatory.

I agree and wouldn't dream of making faart for a fic without providing a link to the story.

But (and I'm playing devil's advocate here) if a person didn't credit, should anyone but the author be outraged? I mean maybe the author doesn't even care and people make a big deal out of and flame the person. I think that in case of plagiarism and crediting, people that notice can notify the writer that someone isn't crediting them, but ultimately it should be the writer that complains so it doesn't turn into the circus that is the HP fandom right now. I mean, it is wrong, but does that mean we as a community have a responsibility to angst about it? I have not yet made up my mind on this issue.
[liviapenn]:

Well, I think in the case of fanart it's a little harder to say for sure than in fanfic. Like, if I draw a picture of Rodney holding a baby-- even if I was inspired by a particular story to draw something on that topic, it's such a generic subject that I might not feel the need to say "That babyfic story the other day on sga_noticeboard made me think about Rodney and babies, so I drew this picture." Like, if it's not FOR that particular story then I might not feel the need to mention it, you know? (I mean, there's also no real reason why I *wouldn't*, and in fact I probably would, if only because, given a choice between posting art for no one and posting art for someone, I would usually choose 'for someone,' just because it's fun to give people stuff.) But you see what I mean.

In the case of fanfic, though? I think it's definitely important to point out plagiarism when you find it. (It helps to go to the community admins or the archive maintainers or list mods first before you start making public accusations, of course.)

I mean, what if I (for example) plagiarize Stephen King? *He's* not going to come in and complain.

Or, for a less dramatic example, what if I am sneaky and plagiarize from someone who posted some stories and then left fandom, or someone who isn't in SGA fandom-- she would never read my story and recognize her work, so it woud be up to other people to point it out.

I actually think that was the problem with HP fandom-- it wasn't that the writer complained, but that not enough people *in the fandom* were willing to accept that plagiarism had occurred at the time that it occurred. (And too many people willfully muddling up the definition of plagiarism, some of them apparently doing so in order to cover up their own misdeeds.)

I think that we as a community *do* have a responsibility to self-police when it comes to *actual* plagiarism. No one else will do it for us.
[anna luna]:

I like that stand on fanfics derived from fanfics: If what I made enriches your work, great, if not, whatever, it doesn't reflect on *me*.

Also I had another idea on the fanart issue: Maybe people in the fandom perceive fanart as a gift or tribute rather than as competition. It occurred to me that some of the jealousy regarding fics and OC may come in some cases from a nagging fear that the other author might actually make something better. Just an idea.
[cathexys]:

Have to counter this one:

think that people should credit their sources for fanfics, especially if they're fannish See, unlike the manners issue *this*? this is a PLAGIARISM issue! Plagiarism is not just a matter of lifting wholesale passages but also characters, ideas, etc.

Of course, much of literature is reworking of old plots, so we clearly understand not to cite Bronte every time we get a Heathcliffian character or Shakespeare for every mixed up marriage scenario :-)

But if something is a SOURCE that is not utterly clear and obvious: not citing does constitute plagiarism.

[Now, we could actually discuss the fact that plagiarism is not easily defined as a legal offense and thus is, in a way, a community created convention. And maybe there are corners of fandom (as the CC debate showed) that look kindly upon use of external sources without referencing. But Livia made an important point in separating the two! Because they are not the same to the majority of even the fans who think no permission is required for writing fanfic of fanfic.]
[ratcreature]:

Word.

You know, from a purely practical standpoint whether I'd talk about it with someone before or during creating a derivative work depends solely on whether/how well I know them, not any fan/pro distinction nor on any community-wide "politeness standards." I mean obviously if I was doing some fanart for a story by someone with whom I talk a lot I'm likely to mention it, unless it's a surprise, like maybe ask whether the scene looks right or whatever. But in that case it most likely would also come up if they were a pro creator and one did a fanwork for it, you know? It would just be really odd not to. Like, say, if you had a roommate who wrote pro fiction and you wrote fanfic or did fanart for it, most likely you would mention it as well, no?

On the other end of the spectrum is creating something based on work by someone I have never spoken with, so why would contact them specifically to tell? Obviously a lot of people in fandom fall in the middle, like maybe you are on the same community and shared a couple of discussions or feedback exchanges, but don't really know them all that well, so it for me it just kind of varies whether it feels natural to bring it up.
[liviapenn]: It was interesting to me that people brought up fan-art as a topic in this challenge-- I mean, I don't ask before I make covers & post them for people's stories. I never have. And I guess it's always possible that someone might secretly think, "Ew, that is the ugliest thing I've ever seen, I feel terrible that it's even associated with my story at all," or, "Wow, that makes my story look like something it's totally not, it's mis-representing me," but somehow I don't really worry about that when I'm doing it. My POV is that the person I'm making the cover for doesn't have to like it, they don't even really HAVE to acknowledge it... it's just something I did because I was inspired. It doesn't really have anything to do with the author *personally* (unless it's a cover I made specifically as a gift, like for someone's birthday) just like writing fanfic about a pro-authored book isn't really about the *author* or whatever her feelings are.
[ratcreature]:

Yeah exactly. I mean, when I do fanart, I usually show it the author afterwards, so if they like it they can put it up on their site with the story or link to it, but they don't have to, after all. It's not like I'm forcing them to connect it in any way to their story if they think it misrepresents it or is ugly.

The thing why I bring up fanart in these discussions is that it highlights how strange these demands for permission are, because doing fanart illustrations for fanfic is just as derivative as fanfic based on fanfic, and it can certainly be as potentially distorting or hurtful or whatever they are afraid of, yet far fewer people are make the "OMG you have ask first!" argument for fanart.
[teenygozer]: Fan art seems to be *different* from written fic in many ways and I don't know why. I've been to conventions where, say, a painting of Captain Kirk went for $2,000, and people CHEERED when it went that high. These are the same people who would club a fan writer to the ground for trying to make a profit off of her fanfiction. Artists are allowed to make a profit from their fan art, are even looked up to by their fellow fans if they do, and honestly, I know many fan-artists who do make a nice little profit off their artwork. It is a puzzlement!
[ileliberte]: Yes, I think someone else brought up the topic of fanart and it's interesting because it hadn't even occurred to me that it might be a problem. The media are so removed in my mind that any problems of appropriation didn't seem likely. Having done fan art for a relatively short time, I suppose I'm not sure about how it's generally done, but for me, I usually put it up on my journal before I tell the author since I find it easier to leave a link to the post on my journal for the author to see. I do it because I like it and feel inspired to create art. I can see how if someone really hates my work it might be irritating for them to be associated with it since I credit them as inpiration and link to the story, but no one's really complained. I've only had one author that I haven't been able to get in touch with (and that's rageprufrock, who was on hiatus. I am sincerely hoping she isn't offended because I do say explicitly that it's inspired by her story) but ultimately, if any author hates my work, I would make sure it doesn't get linked to them or I'd take it down because my pleasure at creating it has been satisfied and even though a little disappointing, the disapproval wouldn't take away from my enjoyment at the process. If anything the Cassie Claire and sga flashfic thing taught me was that I like my fandoms when it's nice and creative and "live and let live" is my favorite motto because there's enough problems in real life, I don't want more in my virtual world.
[liviapenn]:

When I saw the post on sga_flashfic, the idea of not asking permission didn't bother me, but I found it rather obvious that it *would* bother someone and people *would* complain about the fact that they have to opt-out and not opt-in.

Well, I don't think it was very *clear*, but I think the original idea (and I have not talked to any of the mods about this, so I am not working off any special secret knowledge here, and I could be wrong) was simply to write a mission report of someone else's fic. In other words, just to summarize it, like someone summarizing a story on sga_storyfinders. I mean, by the dictionary definition, making a post to sga_storyfinders that tells the plot of a story is "taking someone's story and telling it in a different way," but nobody objects to that. So is a rec or a story discussion post that summarizes the story and maybe even quotes bits of it, but nobody says you have to ask permission to do that, even though you are "using someone's words" in your post.

So I can kind of see why, if you look at it like *that*, you wouldn't have expected such an outcry.

People seemed to jump immediately to the conclusion that (1) other people were going to take their stories and *change* them, and (2) that the mods were encouraging people to *not* ask permission, when in fact the post does encourage people *to* ask permission-- it just doesn't make it mandatory.

And speaking as someone who's run challenges and communities and lists and archives before, let me tell you, just as a *practical* decision, you really don't want to make *anything* mandatory that's not life or death. because then it becomes *your job* to check every single story that comes in to see if it follows your rules or not. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, everything that you post to an archive ought to be spell-checked, right? So do you make that a rule? No, because then you have to check EVERY SINGLE STORY that comes in, and it becomes way too much work. So instead you make it a suggestion, you say "We encourage you to spell-check your work before you post." And then most people will do that. But just because it's not a *rule* doesn't mean you don't think it's a stupid idea, you know?
[teenygozer]:

Hee! So, it's not so much about plagarism, it's about HYPOCRISY! (which I hope I spelled correctly there.)

Many years ago, a couple of women I knew created and wrote a sort of parody version of a TV show that was humorous and very much "their own" and recognizable, though of course completely recognizable as the original show the stories were based on. They'd take an episode and rewrite it, filling it with jokes. This universe had its own canon, running jokes, etc. Pity the pore fangirl who wanted to join in the fun and thought it would be okay for her to write a story in that popular fanfic universe (it happened more than once.) You would think that, because these two chickies had lifted, wholesale, all the characters and situations they were writing their version about, they would be understanding of the concept of fanfic being written about their fanfic, but not so much. I felt it was a hypocritical attitude on their parts, but didn't push the point as they were friends. But yeah: people can be very hypocritical. "What's theirs is ours, but what's mine is mine" seemed to be their attitude.

Personally, re: the SGA kerfuffle, I felt there was nothing at all wrong with writing "mission reports" about fanfic stories without getting permission. It's not even a remix, it almost feels more like commentary or crit, as a mission report sounds less personal than writing an actual story with a plot. (To be honest? I see nothing AT ALL wrong with someone writing a remix or a missing scene or a continuation of someone else's fic without permission, as it doesn't affect the original fanfic in the slightest, much as I see nothing wrong with writing fanfic as it doesn't affect the original work.) And yet, and yet, I knew for a fact that there would be hysteria and angst over lack of permission even as I read the post. Of course, if those fanfic writers who got their knickers in a twist over someone mission-reporting their fic rec'd a cease & desist letter from The Powers That Be about that same fic telling them to knock it off immediately, I suspect they wouldn't see the irony.

References

  1. Happy birthday to *you*, Mr. President.; WebCite by liviapenn (August 10, 2006)
  2. There was no court case. See A Matter Of Willful Copyright Infringement.