Burned for Fandom

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Website
Name: Burned for Fandom
Owner/Maintainer: Dee Dreslough?
Dates: late 1990s, early 2000s
Type:
Fandom: Dragonriders of Pern, others
URL:
Introduction to Fandom
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Burned for Fandom is a late-1990s website for fans that felt marginalized or threatened by other fans, or by TPTB.

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The website mentions Dragonriders of Pern, Furry, and Anime as examples.

One interesting term is Bigfoot Letters, a phrase that describes legal letters sent to fans by TPTB.

Later Recap

Some of the site's info was later reposted at a different website with the introduction:

Burned for fandom was a support group for those people who'd been emotionally hurt during their time in fandom -- in particular Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern® fandom.

It's long gone idle, but I made some lifelong friends through it. Thanks, guys. :)

If you need to find people interested in protecting Fandom activities, please visit The Organization of Transformative Works.

I hope you all do better with fandom than I did. :)

Just remember folks: "Fandom is a political monster". You can quote me on that. Some of you already have. ;) [1]

Related

What Is It?

What is 'Burned for Fandom'?

This is a set of support groups for anyone who's been emotionally hurt or scarred by being an active, public Fan of a fictional world owned by someone else. We are (I hope) coming together to give each other the love and understanding that can only come from having your heart broken and your creative work cast out or ruined by a fan-fiction organization or owner.

This means that the environment in each group is meant to be open, accepting, NO_FLAME, and friendly. Even if you were wrong in your situation -- the fact is, you were hurt, and you can come here to get over it. There is no right or wrong. If you were considered 'Wrong' by your fandom, this is an especially important place. It's a place where you can vent your frustration and work through your hurt privately without further publicly disrupting your fandom.

We also have a secondary purpose to organize a movement, and support other movements, to further the rights of fans to do their fannish activities publicly.[2]

Disguising Their Tracks

in the case of trademarked terms, first vowels have been replaced with @ to avoid search engine liststings. However, we do reserve our rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution to gather freely to discuss issues that are important to us. We're not using the actual trademarked terms, but we would like to somehow safely acknowledge the (c), tm and (r) for each property anyway. So, in general, if you see a trademarked term on here - it is the property of the rightsholder for that genre. This is not an attempt to obscure who owns what -- we just don't know how to cite them without being accused of using their notoriety to further our publicity. [3]

Parts

  • what is Fandom?
  • what is Derivative Creative Fandom?
  • examples of being Burned...
  • What is Burned for Fandom?
  • who is Burned for?
  • The 'Burned Experience'
  • What it's like to participate in the lists

Intro Page

what is Fandom?

FANDOM: The word is used for a lot of things. Generally, though -- fandom is a group of people brought to together by a similar interest at some time. Sometimes the groups evolve and the object or interest (sports team, etc) doesn't even play into their interactions anymore... they're just naturally friendly and open to discussions with each other, but they identify themselves as a fandom perhaps long after the object of interest has faded from view. It's as if the original interest was used as a common thread to bring people together who might naturally be friends, but would never otherwise meet.

Another definition of Fandom (Media Fandom is sometimes used) is the shared appreciation of your favorite books, movies, TV, comics, etc. This can be expressed either through talking with other fans at conventions or via the Internet, or phone, or by whatever means -- or not at all. You can of course be a fan in the privacy of your own home. Fandom takes a wide variety of forms, many of which are creative, like costuming, art and writing, or don't require much creativity at all, like buying a book.

This group is not actually for fandom overall, but for a subset of us who participate in sharing derivative works of fan fiction, fan artwork or by playing in roleplaying games or games based on our favorite works, and who have been hurt in this process. We'll call this kind of fandom Derivative Creative Fandom for the sake of giving it a name, because I have yet to find one exactly. [4]

Descriptions

Derivative Creative Fandom

Our subset of Fandom is where is where people (fans) create their own stories, artwork, or materials derivative of or clearly inspired by their favorite TV Show, Book, Comic, Movie or what-have-you. Creating these works in the privacy of your own home and never showing them to anyone is completely legal -- However, it's not fun. It's really fun when you get together with other fans and share your stuff, and talk about your favorite stories/episodes/movies, etc. From the start of fandom's history to today, this happens at Conventions. And, thanks to the 'net, fans tend to congregate at websites. Now, fan materials are easy to find everywhere for certain genres (Xena:Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.) Problem is, it is generally believed that sharing these stories and creations publicly is illegal. (If you have links to case precidents proving this, or government documents describing this, please email them in! Thanks!) [5]

Examples of Burning

If you have had any of these experiences (or others we haven't listed), you probably qualify as a Burned Fan.

Burning by 'Owners'

Fandom is considered both a copyright and trademark violation if not done with the permission of the owner of the original work. The veracity of this legal claim on the part of authors/creators/owners isn't something we're sure of yet, but no one we know has been able to cite a precident either way. Basically, what has been happening is that fans too poor to fight have just been backing down.

Now, to their defense, these property owners have created their work to feed their families. They have every right to do this -- it's the way America works. Some authors/creators are very generous, allowing clubs to form around their works. Others allow no fan activity at all. The owners can be downright cruel, or wonderfully permissive. In the case of TV and movies, these owners are generally profit-driven corporate types who (to their defense) are supposedly required by law to shut down or at least notify unauthorized use of their trademarks.

But, they also use lawyers and something referred to as 'Bigfoot Letters' to shut down unauthorized fans. These letters tend to be very brash and threatening, warning of dire consequences. It's like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer. This creates a betrayal on a most basic emotional level for the fan, who usually only has love in his or her heart for their favorite show and doesn't understand the corporate mindset.

Often, fans cite that they are unauthorized fan-sites, garnering no profit from their work. They also often prominently cite the owners of any Trademarks and Copyrights on their pages to further avoid confusion. This doesn't keep the genre-owners from slamming, though, for whatever reason.

What the owners don't seem to realize, and most people don't, is that Fandom is fun, but it often comes with a high price. Fans are almost always not permitted to ever make a profit on their work or to even have any money change hands - even to recoup just production costs of materials or club resources. So, you often run your activities at a loss. Profit I define strictly as: "The return received on a business undertaking after all operating expenses have been met." (dictionary.com) However, the genre owners sometimes consider 'for profit/commercial' as any instance where fees are taken, or *even on websites where bookstore affiliate programs or banner ads run!*

Only a lucky few get official permission for clubs -- in some cases people get exclusive rights to run a club -- so if you have an idea that those club leaders don't like, you're out of luck. So, basically you have to kiss some serious butt and expect to lose lots of money to run most fan clubs within the guidelines allowed by rightsholders. And, you often have to follow back-asswards rules and limitations to work in the officially sanctioned clubs. In the case where the number of sanctioned clubs is limited, you have to deal with abuses from the club owners and operators, in addition to any rules or problems the rightsholder might create too. The possibilities for abuse of players are mind-boggling.

And, if you break the rules of these rightsholders, the penalties can be steep. Trademark and copyright violation cases often have fines in the thousands of dollars, and just to take a case to court requires an intellectual property lawyer at between $200 and $500 an hour. Worst of all, fans who get into trouble may be permanently blacklisted or cast out of their fandom, and lose an important part of their life. [6]

Who is this group for?

There is a sad but growing collection of people (myself included) who have been contacted by lawyers and forced to destroy our fan materials, halt our club activities, or who have been misused, abused or excluded from clubs for whatever reason. Fandom can be a political monster -- there can be a lot of infighting, favoritism and abuse. Each fandom has it's own flavor. Some are very accepting of fans, and you probably won't see tracks here for them. But others are very restrictive, or have members or club leaders who have been abusive to others in their groups. This group is for anyone who's been hurt by an organized group around a shared fiction (either an original theme, or based on a popular TV, Book, Movie, etc). Use the Examples of Burning to get an idea if you've had an experience that might qualify you for this group. Or, just ask. [7]

Burning by Other Fans/Clubs, Character Mangling

There are those who have been mistreated by fanclubs that hold exclusive permissions (and therefore exclusive controls) over fan materials and some fan-created characters. For example: have you played in an online group that ordered your beloved character to die? I've seen it happen. I've seen people forced to mate with people they wouldn't choose themselves, or else lose their character. It was like virtual rape!

Exclusivity/Editorial Blackouts/Lack of Venue

Have you ever been told "We don't like your story, so we won't publish it, and we're the only official club", so you're stuck? I'll use a specific example, one of my least favorite experiences: a person was given exclusive rights by an author to do THE ONLY interactive online roleplaying text game based on a particular book saga. A disgruntled player from his game logged into my multi-theme, free-building educational text game and started building a version of this theme on his own. The owner of the original game (not the author -- just another fan who had gotten the rights, mind you) tracked him down and then threatened to sue me if I didn't destroy him and his works. I had to do it -- I couldn't afford a lawsuit then either. Anyone who wanted to do a different version of this game world was completely screwed. If you didn't get along with that one text-based game "god", you couldn't play happily in any text based online game based on that fan-world. Period. This guy had the whole enchilada. The author probably knew nothing of the way the 'net works, and didn't realize he was cutting off thousands of fans from having a quality interactive text-game experience; but that's the way it goes.

Another example from my personal experience relates to a fan-based text-world as well. Only a certain number of these games are allowed to exist officially. The permissions for these games seem to be given randomly, or through some process of favoritism. I know of one game that was in development that asked for permission from the owner of this theme and was told 'You can't get permission...we're not giving it out anymore', and then other games were allowed to start *AFTER* that game was shut down. Some rights holders are capricious and confusing in their management of their fan-bases. Some clubs are allowed to do certain activities, while others aren't.

Controlling People as a Hobby

There are even some original themed MU* games, RPGs and writing groups out there that exist solely for the enjoyment of the head wizard or club owner. They feel that if players come onto their game/club, they dang well better be ready to completely subjugate themselves to the will of whoever runs the game or owns the club. Problem is, people are joining these groups to be creative and have fun -- not to fall prey to some person's need for mind-control. When powerhungry groups unnecessarily edit members or abuse them, the users get hurt. This group is for them too.

Note, I said 'Unnecessarily'. There are times when a player just doesn't 'get' the jist of what the game-maker or club owner is trying to do, both in the case of fan clubs and original themed groups, and the club owner has to say 'no'. There's nothing wrong with this, but there's also nothing wrong with the person who was censured being hurt. Being hurt just happens -- whether you're 'right' or 'wrong'. If you're hurt, we're here to support you, even if you may have been the one who screwed up. Heck, in my case, I screwed up... I still need help. Believe me...I understand if you do. [8]

How does the Group Work?

Features for Members

Support Lists: This group uses an unmoderated but confidential mailing list and file system. Because of the legalistic nature of many of our experiences, we cannot publicly post our archives without risking more legal trouble from our detractors. And, I don't want members to feel the need to censor themselves in any way. When you can't feel safe to say what you really feel, how can a support group be supportive?

Public Articles and Bios: Members can create a bio for themselves for me to post off this page, either their real names or a fake name to protect themselves. They can say whatever they'd like in their public bios, providing it's factual and won't get anyone sued. :)

Private Articles and Bios: Members can also send their Tales of Woe to the list and we can all commiserate. Any article a member would like to archive for the private group can be placed in a password protected directory. These can be as vitriolic and over the top as you might like. :) Get it out of your system...that's why the group's confidential! [9]

Protection/Education for Others

Preventative: The secondary purpose of this group is to further education on the legal aspects of fandom and to lobby for changes in those laws to better suit today's technological climate. As members, if we see someone making a mistake or heading for trouble, we can warn that person before they get in trouble too. We also can create documents to help people with fan-bases or user groups to understand how best to handle situations. I've already written my own little treatise on how to deal with fans regarding legal issues. I encourage members, and even non-members to submit articles and links too!

Most importantly, we can either uncover the truth of the current law as it can be used to protect fans, OR lobby to get the laws changed. Fandom is as natural a process as Satire..and Satire is protected. Why not fandom?[10]

The Burned Experience -- What is it like to be on a Burned list?

Well, there's only one right now, so I can only describe the traffic on that one. Sometimes its quiet for weeks at a time. Sometimes it's several messages a night. Often, the topics focus on recent news and events, recent burns and new member bios, etc. Sometimes we get into heated discussions about our fandom/former fandom. But, the posts are always required to be polite, and as supportive as possible even when we disagree. To me, it feels like plunking down on the couch with a bunch of new friends, sipping coffee, and grousing about having once had the same lousy boss or job. :) Some of us are still very active in the fandom -- so you get a lot of different viewpoints, and the latest news. For me, it's a great way to stay connected to the fandom without being a fan. [11]

How do I join?

To join, you need to contact the Track Director for the track you want to join. Explain as clearly as you can your reason for wanting to join. Each track will have its own rules on who can join, and their rules will be posted on the sub-page for their track. If you fear that your true identity will be found out and you want to be sure that there will be no negative repercussions for you joining this group, please use one of the zillions of free email sites to create an alternate address for yourself. I'm going to do my best to keep all documents confidential, but the more precautions you take, the better.

Or, if you haven't been Burned yourself, or don't need/want to be in a support group, but would rather be on our general discussion list (non-confidential), click here to join! [12]

TRACKS

(We have only one track currently, however we welcome more.) Track Director for Dr@gonriders of P@rn: Dee Dreslough (dee@dreslough.com) Dr@gonriders of P@rn Track Page

Rules for Joining the Dr@gonriders of P@rn track (please read first) [13]

Tracking

Just like a good convention, fandom itself is split into dozens of different tracks. Right now, we only have one fan-track going (related to Dr-gonRiders of P-rn *cough cough*) but if I get any two members of a certain fandom (Anime, Furry, etc), I will gladly start an entirely new and separate list for that track. If you'd like to be the leader of a particular list, I'd love to have you come on board and start one. Email me and ask! Tracks receive:

1 password protected directory.
1 email <TrackDirectory@burnedforfandom.org> for the moderator of the track
1-3 Majordomo mailing lists to run their group.
1 sub-website on burnedforfandom.org. [14]

References

  1. Burned for Fandom; WebCite
  2. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  3. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  4. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  5. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  6. Examples of Burning
  7. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  8. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  9. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  10. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  11. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  12. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  13. Burned for Fandom Specifics
  14. Burned for Fandom Specifics