Follow-Up Zine Piracy Letter to Candace Pulleine by Bill Hupe

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Open Letter
Title: Follow-Up Zine Piracy Letter to Candace Pulleine by Bill Hupe
From: Bill Hupe
Addressed To: Candace Pulleine
Date(s): April 14, 1993
Topic: Zine Pirating
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Follow-Up Zine Piracy Letter to Candace Pulleine by Bill Hupe was sent in 1993.

The subject was zine piracy.

Some Background Information

Making copies of zines that were still in print could be financially damaging to many zine editors and publishers. It was an issue that was first publicly discussed in media fandom in the eleventh issue of Probe in August 1977. The editor, Winston A. Howlett, wrote:
Have you heard of the Underground? The one in ST fandom... They Xerox things. Lots of things. Like parts of fanzines, or whole fanzines, or even whole sets of fanzines. All without permission of any kind from anyone who had anything to do with the fanzine's production. And I'm not talking about just a copy for 'personal entertainment,' but five, ten, forty copies... whatever number fits their 'small circle of friends.' Sometimes they sell them, sometimes they trade them for other fanzines (copies or originals), sometimes they give them someone else who also has free access to a duplicating machine and another circle of friends. I first heard about the Underground when a fellow zine editor stumbled across a Xerox of her visual series (elaborate comic book if you will) in the hands of a neo-fan at a con. Said neo praised the artist/editor for her work and casually mentioned that 'XYZ in California' had Xeroxed about forty copies and spread them all over the country... People with free access to Xerox machines make me very nervous, if just for the built-in temptation that the devices [will be] be used irresponsibly. What good is all the extra effort and expense an editor goes through to acquire a special story or article for an issue, when somebody with the 'Start Print' Syndrome can wreck the whole process? In case you hadn't thought about it, zine editors don't just give their works that extra effort just for the sake of the art, but to acquire new readers. In short, friends, when you fellow Trekfan starts drooling over your latest zine purchase, try gently imploring them to buy their own copy, instead of running to Daddy's office [1]. Xerox doesn't need the business, but we do.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were strong feelings in fandom about some fans who were making copies of zines still in print and were, from one point of view, "stealing" from zine publishers by copying in-print zines. There were also strong feelings about zine editors who kept zines in print forever, thus continuing to make sales while the story authors never received any additional compensation. This coincided with growing resentment among other groups of fans regarding rising zine prices, often for zines which they felt were not worth the higher prices.

Many of these tensions came to a head at, and after, RevelCon 1993.

A Series of Open Letters: by Zine Publishers/Con Organizers

In 1993 and 1994, a number of Open Letters circulated in fandom regarding the photocopying of in-print zines.

See: The Revelcon Zine Piracy Letters.

Bill Hupe Sends a Second Letter to Candace Pulleine

The letter below is dated April 14, 1993. It was written by Bill Hupe and sent to Candace Pulleine, head of the Revelcon concom.

Candace then sent three letters, including this one,[2] on May 12, 1993 to every Revelcon attendee and dealer asking for help investigating Bill and Leah’s allegations.

Dear Candace,

Thank you for your response... The original letter I wrote to you I actually tried to write several times; my main problem was trying to get my point across without accusing you of anything except not being aware of what was going on (and having helped run several conventions, I know this is the norm for the people running a convention) Although I am not the best judge of character (as I am constantly reminded), having known you for several years now, I could not see you actually knowing piracy was going on without doing something about it.

To start at the beginning; as to why I did not say anything about it to you at RevelCon itself, in some ways I feel this was a bad decision on my part, but for other reasons I could not say anything to you at the convention. First of all, accusing (an) individual(s) of bootlegging zines is a serious charge, and unless I knew for certain the editors/publishers wanted something brought to light and were willing to back me up in the quest for a solution, bringing up the matter would have been pointless. As I have myself for the past several years thrown my hands up in despair over the bootlegging situation, so have many other editors; and still others encourage people to copy their zines. I could not pursue the matter unless I was certain that those affected wanted it pursued... [Bill also cites not wanting to anger fans and publishers and make himself unwelcome Houston and other places]...

However, the problem may be greater that even I originally thought, after seeing some of the other letters about what happened off-site at RevelCon. If you haven't seen any yet, the main thrust of the letters are directed at fans, not RevelCon, and what editors seem to want is convention organisers to help curtail this problem and make a stand against bootlegging of fanzines. I have not seen anything negative concerning RevelCon, but instead a general call for convention organizers, including RevelCon, to help curtail the problem and develop measures to attach a much harsher reality to those fans running to the copy shops, and conventions that simply look the other direction to not be patronized by fanzine publishers/editors, period. RevelCon simply appears to be factor that pulled this whole bootlegging problem into the light of day — that piracy is not restricted to MediaWest — and that publishers/editors will not take this theft lightly... [Bill lists a number zine titles that he either saw or heard about fans copying]...

At this point in time, Kinko's has started an internal investigation to see if any hard proof exists that the Houston International Airport Kinko's was the point of piracy that weekend. I have clearly pointed out to our manager that two closer copy shops existed, and that Kinko's may have been used as a generic term, such as xerox-any photocopy. If actual proof exists (which will require that the zine(s) have been left with title page and/or cover with the operators to run as well as a name of person picking up, so actual proof, in itself, is going to be mighty hard to come up with) we have already been informed that Kinko's itself will deal with the individuals responsible. But, as I said, coming up with this proof will be difficult, if not impossible...

[Bill then lists a number of ramifications that have come from this issue: some specific editors are saying they are going to quit publishing zines, some angry fans retaliate by encouraging other fans to increase their bootlegging efforts, that there has been a official request to ban the Professionals circuit library from MediaWest as the "legitimacy of some of the contents have now been called into question," a list of local copy shops is being prepared and several editors are "already forming possies to spot check copy shops and publish a list of all bootleggers found at the Lansing convention."]

Stupid fans are everywhere. At a con two weeks ago in the southeast, one of our contributors called me and asked if I had shipped sines there. No... Well, a dealer had 'more than a dozen' cases of fanzines, none with the proper cover color, and not only mine, but zines from at least a half a dozen other presses. I am awaiting a proper address to write both the dealer and the convention. Two years ago, AngliCon had someone ship in bootlegged zines to their orphan zine table — when I pointed this out, all affected zines were noted, torn in half, and thrown out. All from one person. I've been told that two fans intend to bring a xerox machine into a neighboring hotel at MediaWest to get away from the zine police as well as make fanzines cheaper. [B V] actually had a table at Escapade). And then fans actually discuss zines in front of me at RevelCon. Bold, yes. Stupid, definitely — if it hadn't been discussed In front of me, I probably would have remained ignorant.

I hope this all serves some purpose and gives some direction for you. All any of us want is convention support to minimize bootlegging, and those few dishonest fans to know that we are watching. As I've told more than one person, this has become a pendulum. Some people finally went too far, and editors and publishers are striking back, also to the extreme. If Kinko's actually gets some proof, they can actually legally prosecute; however, at least, it should scare the piss out of many bootleggers...

I hope this provides you with enough to go on, otherwise, please contact me and I'll see if I have anything else that can help. I want the problem stopped or curtailed, not RevelCon (or other) conventions stopped. RevelCon is a good (no, great!) convention, but as it is being advertised (rightly so) as a zine convention, this becomes a far more serious consideration than at many others. I'm not suggesting MediaWest's extremely stringent policy, but it was a policy that had to be developed to keep from tearing the convention apart and gutting the fanzine availability there. I know some panels are being hastily organized to discuss the piracy situation; as a convention chairperson you probably have scene valuable advice on how conventions can address this without going to an extreme...

I look forward to hearing from you somewhere down the road, and sincerely hope all parties can at least find a suitable middle ground; then I would be back to see how you managed to unenviable task of topping R#4!

Bill Hupe


  1. ^ Winston Howlett uses "running to Daddy's office" to infantilize fic readers, something that Fegan Black does later with her use of the phrase "Suzy Cue trotting down to Kinko's" in May 1993's open letter Open Letter to Fandom by Alexis Fegan Black Regarding Zine Pirating.
  2. ^ The other two letters that Candy included were Bill's March 19th letter and Leah Rosenthal's March 23rd letter.