Fan Culture Preservation Project/Media Fan Comments: 2009
The Fan Culture Preservation Project (FCPP) is a joint venture between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa to archive and preserve fanzines and other non-digital forms of fan culture.
When the project was announced in August 2009, some media fans posted their comments at the Organization for Transformative Works page.
The comments contain a variety of reactions. Some of them are excerpted below.
[comment by Bast]:Saw this posted to Zinelist at yahoogroups and have a question. Will you be contacting each author and publisher for permission to do this?... I [don't] mean digitizing. I [mean] taking zines to a collection - my fanzines are meant for fans. Not scholars. I don't want my zines to be able to be photocopied and sent off to god-knows-who.
[reply to Bast by fcoppa]:
I'm not 100 percent sure I follow you. I can tell you that the project isn't for photocopies, meaning that we/Iowa aren't looking to collect photocopies. "Taking zines to a collection"--that's something you'd have to take up with the donors: we don't control who donates to the project and what they're donating, any more than you could control someone selling your zines on Ebay or throwing them away.We believe that this is a great option for people who have zines they don't want, or who want to will their zines somewhere after their death instead of having relatives dump them into the trash. Iowa is a fannish library that already has hundreds of thousands of SFF zines, as well as Norman Felton's papers, Sandy Hereld's collection of Blake's 7 zines, the Save Farscape collection, etc. We believe -- as does Iowa -- that zines are important cultural objects worthy of preservation.
So despite the fact that I, as the publisher, don't want that, that's my tough problem, yeah? Not surprised. I know, I saw your comments that we can't police who donates the zines etc. You're right. This entire situation makes me sad/upset/angry.
Some of us old-timers haven't stopped doing zines, despite 'The era of zines is, sadly, passing,' as you mentioned (to the poster below).
You also mentioned (to poster below): 'believe that this part of culture should be preserved *by fans, for fans*, but nobody but a research library has the resources to house the gigantic numbers of zines printed since the early 1970s. Which is why we're so happy to have found such a great (and fannish) partner in the University of Iowa.'
I'm glad you're happy. I'm not. I don't think fandom needs to be out and proud. Yeah, I know, you all disagree. 'By the fans for the fans.' If the era of fanzines is passing, then it's because new fans don't care about zines. So they're never going to go to Iowa to look at the zines.But, hey! This makes me not want to ever do another zine as long as I live. Thanks for that.
[comment by maps to Bast]:
First, you're assuming your zines are even part of the collection. Are they? Other zine publishers may like that their work is being archived, so don't presume to speak for everyone.
Second, you're upset that people might make photocopies of zines and that just anyone could walk in and request these photocopies. Your attitude seems antithetical to the whole idea of zines in the first place. Most people began publishing zines using photocopiers and sold or gave them out to people they probably didn't know. How would this be so different?
Also, all these zines are going to be housed in Iowa. I don't live in Iowa, I live in the Pacific Northwest. I'm not going to drive to Iowa just to make photocopies (at 25 cents a page) of your hypothetical zine, which is probably not in their collection in the first place.
I don't know why you're so surprised that the physical copies of any zine are beyond the publisher's control. Why did you bother publishing zines if you didn't want anyone to read them? Perhaps you should have only distributed them to your secret circle of fan-closet friends and made them sign legally binding contracts stating what they could and couldn't do with the copies of your zine. Blood oaths and secret rites should be the only way the zine-worthy cabal may enter the caves of fandom at the U of I library!You care so much about zines that you don't want anyone to be able to read them, and when they die out because of waning interest, you don't want there to have been any record of their existence. And now some other people collecting zines you didn't create or have any part in is getting you so twisted up that you're not going to do another zine as long as you live. Okay, fine.
[comment by xp]:
I am not affiliated with this project. That being said:
'By the fans for the fans.' If the era of fanzines is passing, then it's because new fans don't care about zines. So they're never going to go to Iowa to look at the zines.
Speaking as a newer fan - I do care about zines. However, I didn't know zines existed until 2 years after I got into online fandom (and that was back in the '90s) - until I got into an older fandom, I simply never encountered the medium. And once I found out about them, I found it very difficult to actually get hold of any - especially the older, out of print zines.I doubt that anyone but fans are going to be interested in older zines - there is so much fanfiction online these days that non-fans who are studying the medium have plenty of material. But with this collection, new fans will be able to read what came before, get hold of stories that otherwise would be lost.
[comment by Hindman]:
I just heard about this, and really, I don't want my fanzines included in any way. I do them for fun and sharing with friends and like minded fans, I don't want them photocopied and sent to "researchers" and "students." I keep in print those I want to keep available, and some have purposefully have been taken out of print and allowed to quietly fade away. If I wanted them made public and accessible, I'd have done it. Just because someone got their hands on one of my books through whatever source, and it could have been out of a second hand box at some convention, does not mean it's OK to put it in some college library. If I wanted colleges to have my fanzines, I'd have sent them around.
So, just how are you going to contact everyone, when so many of the fanzine folks are now dead, moved, in nursing homes, etc? What if something that was quietly underground, a few copies of a story for friends, suddenly comes to the attention of the Powers That Be, and suddenly some fan minding his/her own business with their quiet little hobby is now being sued, because your organization allowed some publisher or studio mogul masquerading as a researcher, to copy a lot of stuff?Personally, I think this is A Bad Idea, especially the part about allowing copying.
[comment by fcoppa]:
We really can't police who donates what; if fans who bought your zines are getting rid of them, OTW would rather they end up in a library than in the garbage (I understand you might feel differently!) But the truth is you couldn't stop someone from selling the zines on Ebay or donating them to Goodwill (or their local public library, for that matter), which would draw a lot more negative attention than the collection of a major research library among hundreds of thousands of similar zines.
Vis a vis the policy about photocopies, that's Iowa's standard practice for archived materials -- that's a pretty typical policy for a research library. The materials are there for those who want to have access to them, who we expect will be mostly fans and fan-scholars. And again, the zines will be in a giant collection of zines; your hypothetical situation of a single zine suddenly causing a fan trouble strikes me as improbable for any number of reasons, not least of which the idea of TPTB searching a research library in Iowa (where fan activity has been highly contextualized as valid) for fan fiction. There's already a lot of fan fiction on the internet!If it makes you feel any better, I can assure you that both OTW and Iowa are very concerned about fan privacy, so that we do not plan to digitize or make things searchable that can be connected to individual authors without permission (though we do hope to get permission to put some stories and art online.) The era of zines is, sadly, passing, and we do believe that this part of culture should be preserved *by fans, for fans*, but nobody but a research library has the resources to house the gigantic numbers of zines printed since the early 1970s. Which is why we're so happy to have found such a great (and fannish) partner in the University of Iowa.
[comment by AnnieB]:Unless I'm asked permission to have any of my zines in there. I wouldn't be happy about it. We are talking about people who now own the zines contributing them, right? Without getting permission from the author, artists and publishers to do so? I'm pretty open about my own fandom stuff (I'm fortunate to have a very open minded family and not to work in a profession where I need to be discreet about what I write) but I know there are others who need to be more covert. And what about older zines where some of the authors/artists are no longer contactable?
[comment by fcoppa]:
Again, neither the OTW nor Iowa has any control over what's donated TO us, and we wouldn't contact the author or publisher to see if its okay any more than we would contact the author and publisher of a book to see if its okay that their book is in our library.That being said, there's not a whole lot of difference between your zine being in an archive in Iowa or on a fan's shelf: it's really about who stores the copy. No author or publisher can have control of where a book lands: it could be left in a hotel room, sold on ebay, given to a public library. In fact, OTW established this project partly because many older fans were already starting to donate their zines to libraries, but they were all small and local donations. It seemed to us a good thing that, rather than have 20 zines here, 50 zines there, etc, we had a central place where fans and scholars knew to go, and where the zines (and the fans!) would be treated with respect. In Iowa, the librarians are themselves fans and they love fannish culture, particularly SFF culture. (It's Kirk's birthplace, after all!)
[comment by scribblesinink]:
Well, I, for one, think this is an awesome project. I can't remember how often I've joked, when going through my fannish collection, what a shame it'd be to eventually have to throw everything out, and maybe I should set up a museum :-) This sounds like a much more realistic solution!Anyway, not entirely sure what zines you'd be accepting, and where to draw the line. What about foreign language newsletters dedicated to (RL) rock bands? Or English language ones, but published abroad? Would those be desirable?
[comment by Drew Shiel]:
I'd just like to note that unlike some of the commenters above (and I strongly suspect there's one single commenter using multiple identities), I'm fully in favour of anything I've ever written for any zine, website, or other publication being preserved for as long as possible and put in front of as many people as possible.
I'm also vastly in favour of a collection where zines can be seen - I picked up some vintage zines at an Eastercon a couple of years back, and they're absolutely wonderful pieces of work; I feel bad that they're out of circulation sitting on my shelves.Concerned about being outed as a fan? Why on earth were you publishing stuff, then?
[comment by Dovya Blacque]:
I have no objection to an archive. But to a lending archive? One that will offer people the ability to copy (or have copied) zines for their own use? One that may digitalize my fanzines? Yes, I do object to that, especially if it's going to be done without my permission. Offering to photocopy someone else's work in a fanzine that remains in print, is called "zine pirating". (And many of the zines I see in your archive remain in print at this time.)
I know I have no control over what people do with my zines once they own them but there is such a thing as courtesy and respect for the intent of the work in question. Not everyone is excited about the idea of their writing being made public, even in an archive format. There are authors who wrote long before anyone could have conceived of something like the Internet; how are their rights being considered? Now, most of my authors write for fanzines -- rather than post online -- because they don't want their work available to the public in general; they're writing for that particular, small fanzine fandom.And, yes, some of my zines *are* in the archive already so, whatever the topic being addressed, it does concern me.
[comment by fcoppa]:
The Special Collections department at Iowa is not a lending library; they're a research library and manuscript archive. The practice of being able to copy small amounts of material is standard fair use practice among research libraries and not at all "zine piracy" any more than being able to photocopy pages of a book that's still in print at your local library is "book piracy." There's a reason that libraries--all libraries!--have photocopiers in them.
This isn't a zine selling business; this is a nonprofit research library where a librarian has to go through the effort of unearthing the right box, finding the right pages, copying, and mailing to someone who needs them. It's a lot of work, and a service to those who can't get to the library.I'm sorry that this is upsetting to you, but honestly, this is the most basic of library practices and nothing at all special to us or this project.
[comment by Loligo]:
It seems to me that your best course of action is to encourage your zine subscribers NOT to donate, then. If your small fandom is composed of people who share your views, then you won't have a problem. You can even include a statement on your Table of Contents explaining your wishes for the ultimate fate of your zines.U of I and the OTW aren't going to be scavenging eBay for zines, as far as I can tell. They are relying solely on donations FROM FANS -- the fans who bought your zines however many years ago, the fans who share your history and are part of your community. Discuss these issues within your fan communities. You might find that the people you've been writing for all along genuinely desire a way for these writings to be preserved for the future, or you might find that they're happy to agree to your requests. Either way, that's for you and your fellow fans to figure out.
[comment by db]:
While I understand your desire to preserve fannish works, I don't agree with what you propose. I dislike the idea of fannish works being used for academic purposes in general, and to have a public, lending archive of zines... well I can't say as I'm even remotely enthused.
I come from the old school, underground and wishing to remain out of the public eye branch of fandom. Those of us who do not want TPTB to be able to study us and what we do. To be able to know who we are and to send out those C&Ds or whatever else they might wish to do with people who use their properties without their agreement.
Many authors do not want their work to be public. There is a vast difference between publishing to a fairly known community and having your work suddenly available to a very different community in both outlook and number. We forget that the non fannish realm is not like the fannish one. I think you will be putting authors at risk by opening up this archive to the outside. I also am not too happy with the copying of live zines angle....
I'm also well aware of the practices of research libraries, which is why I'm not for this happening. I think perhaps you are blinded to the implications of making widely available writings, that were not intended to be widely available or wished to be so by the authors, by your desire to include this material in academic pursuits.Post internet authors have an understanding that their work will be found now. Pre internet authors did not. You are, in essence, trampling their rights in order to do what you want. You are also giving TPTB a fine repository to comb. Just because copyright is grey now, doesn't mean it will always be so. Or is that also on the agenda, fighting corp copyright? I'd prefer my work not to be used in your fight thanks.
[comment by magician]:
As you can imagine, this project has become a hot topic, and rightly so. I, too, had questions about the photocopying part of the statement. So, if I understand you correctly, the zines would be treated like copyrighted material under the "fair use" laws -- a small number of pages could be requested for reference but an entire zine would not be photocopied, even if requested.
Because most zines are not copyrighted, we were wondering what would prevent someone from asking for and receiving an entire zine. Even at 25 cents per page, it might be cheaper to copy an entire zine if it's out of print than trying to find it and buy it as a collectible elsewhere.As a reader and closet librarian, I'm overjoyed that you are saving this bit of our culture. But I also understand the very real concerns voiced by the authors and publishers. I guess I'm also a little sad that it *won't* be a lending library. How'd I'd love to peruse this bit of history!
[comment by Zooey]:Actually, in the context of archival holdings, it's not only published and officially copyrighted material which holds protections. Letters, typescripts, and ephemera are all subject to controls. I'm not a copyright specialist, so I can't speak to the specific legal situation for zines, but no archive would ever give carte blanche for making copies of their materials. Typically users have to sign a release stating that they will use any copies only for a stated purpose (usually scholarly research) - of course there is a degree of trust inherent there, but it's definitely more stringent a level of protection than zines enjoy 'in the wild'. I work in a UK archive, and we would treat anything with uncertain copyright (like a zine) under the regular rules - so we'd restrict users to copying 10% of any given zine, the same rule as for officially copyrighted material in the UK. While US laws are probably slightly different, my experience of the wider archive community is that all archivists and curators take concerns about copyright and privacy very seriously, and in the case of a fan-friendly archive like Iowa this is likely to be even more the case. ~ Zooey (In the interests of full disclosure - I'm an OTW staffer but not attached to the Open Doors project, and am speaking on a personal not an official basis here.)
[comment by elfwreck]:
In the US, there is no specific amount that's legal for "fair use." And there have been music-based cases that are just *whacked*... a tiny string of notes has been considered copyright infringement. In publishing, a few hundred words out of a book was considered infringement. (However, in that case, the book was not yet published--a reviewer got an advanced copy and posted excerpts that were determined to be extensive enough to potentially damage sales.)
In the US, there's no minimum, and no maximum; entire copies might be considered fair use, depending on circumstances. (Erm, line-by-line analysis, possibly? Certainly a possible exercise for a poem.) Entire poems are regularly copied for students. Educational use falls under fair use here; it's unclear how acceptable that'd be for longer works.
It's possible that a professor might decide to copy an entire story for a class on Pop Culture. However, that's rather less likely to damage the author's reputation or current life, than if someone got a stack of zines at a yard sale, and posted them on eBay as "HOT STAR TREK PORN! BY [AUTHOR NAME] AND [ARTIST NAME]!" And that would not violate copyright at all.(IANAL. I am a copyfight fanatic.)
[comment by Arduinna]:Yay! I've been talking about this with a bunch of people on Zinelist, and just realized I never left a comment here to say how utterly cool I think this project is. I feel like I've been watching our history dribble away between our collective fingers for years, and finally we have a bucket underneath to catch it. This is just fantastic. Thank you for getting this set up! \o/
[Don Fitch]:I'm delighted to hear about the Univ. of Iowa's continuing interest in zines, though I can't quite comprehend the idea of even a few people not approving of such a collection. (Intellectually, yes, but not emotionally.) Sure, I'm slightly embarrassed, in an amused way, by the zines I published up to fifty years ago (at least one such genzine/perzine is listed in the Horvath Collection, and there are probably dozens of apazines (not individually cataloged) in the Mailings of more than half-a-dozen APAs), but I published them -- typos, grammatical infelicities, naiveté, & all -- for people who might enjoy them, and that still holds. Perhaps even moreso now that I'm hearing Time's winged chariot with increasing clarity.
[comment by wwwzany]:
I have to admit I am of two minds in this. I can see Bast's, AnnieB's and J. Hindman's points (as well as others) as to not wanting things that were for our limited group (fandom) being studied and available to be checked out or copied. However, we were publishers, we put out a product, and in doing that we opened ourselves to be collected and studied. I have read the posts, and it seems this will be a library where not only fans but others either new to fandom or interested in what is a passing artform will be able to see the products we worked so hard on. I don't think anyone will photo copy an entire zine at the price of .25 a page, and although I cringe to think my older writing will be out there forever, I accept that as all authors do. We, perhaps unfortunately, are an interesting subset of popular culture. Someone is going to want to know about us. It may surprise them to learn who we really were.
I have my concerns over digitizing the zines so they can be, possibly, downloaded, but archiving them does not bother me. I have published, over the last 28 years, over 50 zines. It's nice to know they might have a home. I am concerned about newer zines showing up in the collection, however. While this was never a for profit hobby (more like in-the-hole hobby), things that are still available should not be available for digitzing or copying.
I can also see the concerns some have of being "outted" in a fannish sense. I do not tell people other than those in fandom that I publish and write fanfiction. Many more people are aware of fanfiction now than in the...uh...dark ages, with the availability of such on the net, but it is still looked upon as being odd. And since some fanzines are explicit in nature, I can see some people having real concerns about their family's or coworker's reactions. As for C&D's and the powers that be, I think they will not go after zines that are long out of print. Look what's on the net, now.I have no conclusions, only to say that this was inevitable. My hopes are that the people working on this collection will take a look at the concerns and address them in some way. Although many fanzine people are no longer active in fandom, and some are gone, some of us are still writing and producing our own special artform. And Bast--don't stop. There are too few of us left.
[comment by pertsovka]:
I'm definitely not in favor of this project, but it looks like little can be done to stop your barging ahead with it anyway.
That being said, I'd like a bit more information about how these zines will be used in the archive and for research.
As you've stated, the entire zine will not be available for photocopying; however, any person or organization will be able to request any amount of pages per zine that falls within fair use. What I would like to know is will those pages also include the: TOC (where writers may have used their real names); the zine publisher's acknowledgment page (which may also include real names); the zine publisher's contact/solicitation page for new stories (which will likely include their real name and address); and any page containing information on where to send an LoC to an author?
The above may only be four or five pages, certainly within fair use, but are perhaps the most worrisome for any zine author and publisher who used their real name. (I'd imagine it would be worse for those involved with APAs, who might have had no reason to ever consider using a pseudonym.) Will these pages be excluded from search requests and scholarly reviews?If through no fault of their own, a zine publisher or an author is contacted out of the blue by TPTB because of information found via this archive (eg. a zine containing fic about Anne Rice's characters/universe), will OTW provide free legal assistance should it be needed?
[comment by fcoppa]:
Yes, tables of content, acknowledgment pages, contact/solicitation pages etc. and the like could all be requested by snail mail.
I do, of course, remind you that the zine was published, and therefore already circulating: any reader could have sent it to TPTB at any time (or, sigh, worse, not even meaning to be cruel, give it to an actor or other PTB at a con, as some people unthinkingly do.)
I know that this project is crystalizing many fears (and causing some people to imagine fearsome scenarios), but all of the dangers you fear are already possible. The entire Fanzine Archive, for instance, which is the first collection we placed with Iowa, was *already listed on the internet* for ten years by Ming Wathne, the archivist. Most zines are listed for sale by their publishers (or by second hand zine dealers) with a lot more information than the Fan Culture Preservation Project is planning to attach, and some fans are selling their unwanted zines on Ebay -- for money, which attracts attention -- with a lot more information than our project provides: full titles, authors, story descriptions, etc.Our project is meant as an alternative to all that, and we reckon its actually safer for fan privacy (as well as being better for posterity.)
[comment by Neal Schlein]:
While I haven't read the entire list of posts above, I thought I'd chime in with a comment from a research and library perspective. Research on fanzines has been going on for some time, and occasionally the fans and the researchers are one and the same. Always, however, it has been conducted by people familiar with the terrain and the concerns of those involved. Standard procedure for anyone involved in the field of folklore is to contact the authors/sources involved and ask permission to reference them in any published papers. I myself have done work on fanzines as a Folklore student, but only made direct reference to things by people I know.
Now; the University of Oregon Folklore Archive and the CU Boulder archives both have specific policies regarding making archived documents public: all items come with a release form. In the case of the University of Oregon, this is due to the often sensitive and private (and sometimes illegal...) nature of it's collection. Restrictions which can be placed on archived items include: no public access before XX/XX/XXXX date; no access without contact; no access without written permission; inform upon access (contact not required); etc. Most people simply sign the waiver and have done with it, but there ARE reasons for people to care.
Normal books may be photocopied under the fair use clause for academic purposes, but fanzines are NOT like normal books. They are works of folklore. The attitude I've seen displayed in the above comments indicates that FCOPPA (whomever you are) does not understand modern folklore research or the reason people may be concerned about their fanzines. Perhaps he/she/it is not familiar with some of the content and the fact that every single one of them is an excercise in copyright infringement. Copyright notice in a media fanzine is quite fictional, and OTW and the UI need to know that. I have absolutely no idea what THAT fact would do to legal protections under the Fair Use clause. At a minimum, I suspect inclusion in a standard library would give the actual copyright holders permission to have the offending documents pulled.
Personally, as a scholar and librarian, I strongly urge people to contact the University of Iowa special collections department and ask for a release agreement to be drawn up for their documents. If they aren't doing it already, they really, really need to think about it. Even if you personally aren't concerned, your fellow authors and publishers may be, and they may need your support.
Feel free to contact me: nschlein at gmail dot com. Neal SchleinWestminster Public Library
[comment by fcoppa]:
Thank you for your comment; you're right that too often this kind of work is undertaken by outsiders. But I can assure you that the OTW's Fan Culture Preservation Project is being steered by folks who are themselves both academics and long-time fans (myself included), and that we're not only consulting with librarians but with intellectual property lawyers re: the specifying the terms by which OTW-sponsored zine collections can be viewed (these, fwiw, are still in progress).
However, if you look at the OTW's mission statement, you will see that we do not, in fact, believe that zines are copyright infringement: our position is that fan fiction zines are transformative works, and transformative works are legitimate. We also do not believe that the copyright notice on zines is in any way fictional, and we will be organizing the collection while respecting both zine story authors' and zine editor's rights.