The "Clone Wars" Revisited

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Title: The "Clone Wars" Revisited
Creator: Mary Urhausen
Date(s): December 1989
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
Topic: Zines
External Links:
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The "Clone Wars" Revisited is an essay by Mary Urhausen.

The topic of the article was the unauthorized photocopying of zines.

This essay was published in Southern Enclave #24.

It is a follow-up to Ethics and Etiquette: A Proposal for the Buying and Selling of Fanzines.

A Prompt for Fans

Both Ethics and Etiquette: A Proposal for the Buying and Selling of Fanzines and this article The "Clone Wars" Revisited, generated MUCH discussion.

It also prompted individual fans to post various blanket permissions regarding their fanworks, one of the first in media fandom. See Pat Nussman, Debbie Kittle, Carolyn Golledge, and Melanie Guttierrez for examples.

For more on this topic, see Zine Piracy.

Excerpts

A fan friend (non-SW fan) commented that there were probably two kinds of fans: those who agreed with at least part of the article, and those who xerox [1] zines! But seriously, the issue obviously isn't that simple; and neither is the solution. Ironically, of the three specific incidents that originally prompted me to write the article, two of them were told to me by zine-seeking fans. One fan wrote an indignant note because she had paid $20 for an early issue of WOOKIEE COMMODE at a zine sale-and then discovered that not only was it a xerox, but that we still have originals available of that issue, and for half the price! Another fan wrote to an editor friend of mine (not SW) to berate her for the shoddy reproduction in a copy of her zine the fan had bought from a dealer at a con; my editor friend found that the fan had bought a xerox-and a poor quality one at that -which was being passed off as an original. And another editor friend of mine (also non-SW) told me that the reason she was getting out of zine publishing entirely was the epidemic of xeroxing of her whole series of limited-run zines.
I tried to approach the buying and selling of zines from the standpoint of fannish ethics and etiquette, not from the standpoint of the legalities of fannish publishing.... How about this: It's perfectly legal to hit with your car a raccoon crossing the highway, even if you could have easily changed lanes to avoid him. But is it ethical?
An original copy of a zine [is not equal to] xerox. When you buy an original copy of anyone's zine, you have the right to resell it for any price you choose, even at a considerable profit to yourself. However, you don't have the right to xerox it and sell copies.
The rights of the individual author/artist [is not equal to] the rights of the zine publisher -- because the whole [is not equal to the] sum of its parts. After a zine is published, the rights to each story and piece of art revert to its creator--who can permit as much xeroxing as they like! I can't stress this too strongly: It's YOUR story, or YOUR piece of art; please feel free to share it with all the fans you like! But -- but! - the zine as a unit, with its layout, editing, and arrangement belongs to the publisher. Someone asked me if it was "ethical" to contact every author and artist in a zine to get their permission to xerox their material, or did that constitute "stealing" the zine? In my opinion, please do contact the creators of the material you wish to copy; it's their permission you need, not mine.
As I said, the responses I have received to my article, even the extreme one, have made it possible for me to look at the problem of xeroxing from all kinds of new angles. I would like nothing better than to see all the zine collectors and new fans who are still playing "catch-up" to obtain originals, or authorized copies, of every zine they desire. You can try to make it an issue of 'Haves vs. Have-Nots', or 'Old Guard vs. New Fans' if you want, but that doesn't seem particularly productive to me.
Why not encourage all zine publisher, past and present, to publicly announce their policy regarding xeroxing? Wow -- what a concept, right?? Think of it: if everyone who has ever published a SW zine would let the fans know their wishes, even if their wish was to not allow any xeroxing of their OOP zines, the war would be over. (Notice that I an not saying that unauthorized xeroxing would be over; some of my correspondents have made it amply clear that they intend to keep on xeroxing, no matter what the zine publishers request! But so be it; that's between them and their own personal mores; I'm staying out of that!) In fact, what if not only every SW zine publisher, past and present, but also every SW author, artist or poet could be persuaded to publicly declare: 'I, Suzy Fan, hereby give all fans the permission to make themselves single, not for resale copies of any of my works, for their own personal use.' (or -- 'refuse permission')
Another possibility would be to resurrect the old SW library.
Another thing some of we 'Old Haves' could do for the 'New Have-Nots' would be to help them track down the OOP zines they are seeking; specifically, helping them find names and addresses of publishers, so they could ask permission to xerox.
Okay, Clone Warriors -- cease fire?? Seriously, I hope everyone in SW fandom will start to think of ways to solve the problems both zine buyers and zine publishers are having with the xerox issue. I mean, if you're really just looking for a good scrap, we can always go back to the old Church of Ford vs. Cathedral of Hamill days...

Reactions and Reviews

"Clone Wars Revisited" was a perfect summation of all the raging debates. It was good to see someone tackling the problem reasonably and with a clear head. My thanks to Mary for all the good sense. [2]

References

  1. Xerox: ironically a trademark that the company who owns it has been fighting to prevent people from using it as a generic verb.
  2. from Southern Enclave #25