The 1988 Blake's 7 Bootlegged Zines Discussion

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In 1988, fans discovered that five UK Blake's 7 zines had been reprinted in the United States with substituted authors, stolen artwork, and were being sold with different titles. All for a hefty profit.

Horizon, a Blake's 7 fan club created a leaflet called "Bootleg Information Leaflet" as one response. The club also published a lengthy expose in several issues of their club newsletters, mainly #20-#22.

The Horizon newsletters also published a letter they had received from both Terry Nation, who'd been contacted regarding the situation, as well as from the publisher of said-pirated zines, a company in Tennessee called "Star Tech."

There were also lawyers involved, as well as accusations of slander, insults to Blake's 7 fandom in general, and much outrage.

Tracking Down the Culprits

AN ADDRESS... Possibly the most interesting thing in this bootleg copy of ORACLE is the last page - but one. This page gives an address to order all the other bootlegged things, plus other B7 material. It list's BETWEEN BLACK 4 WHITE, SANCTION, OMNIBUS VOLS. 1 & 2 plus other 'legal' merchandise available through them. SPECIAL OFFER - any 2 B7 fanzines for $11, 3 for $16 or 4 for only $20 plus postage, (or only $9.60 if you bought them from-HORIZON!)

It then says: to order from this list, send a check or money order at the above prices plus $2.00 for shipping and handling. Thank you. BLAKES SEVEN OFFER, P0 BOX 652a, DUNLAP, TN 37327, U.S.A."

AND AT LAST ME HAVE A CLUE... . but who OWNS 'Blakes Seven Offer'?? We asked a couple of people to order the illegal merchandise for us from this PO Box. Back came the items FROM QUITE A WELL KNOWN DEALER - STAR TECH, PO BOX 456, DUNLAP, TN 37327, U.S.A. So, although the company name Star Tech with its address of PO Box 456 Dunlap does not appear on any of the above mentioned bootlegs, THE BOOTLEGS ARE SENT FROM THAT COMPANY, STAR TECH'S ADVERTISING LAYOUT IN ITS CATALOGUE FOR B7 MERCHANDISE IS IDENTICAL TO THE PAGE DETAILED ABOVE IN THE BOOTLEG 'ORACLE' , AND BOTH ADDRESSES ARE PO BOXES IN DUNLAP, TN. PLUS 4 separate people in the States (INCLUDING 2 dealers) have confirmed that Star Tech (run by a Mr Bill Anchors) is the company producing and distributing these fanzines, and has claimed (to the dealers) that he has 'permission' to reprint ORACLE from us...

We at Horizon think this blatant and fraudulent copying of our fanzines, changing of the authors' names, misrepresentation, and charging exorbitant prices STINKS, hence the info bulletins, and campaign against the perpetrators (with much support from many members - our thanks). We have also been sent addresses
 of 2 other dealers (in Florida) advertising the bootlegs for sale through their catalogues (who we will be contacting to see where THEY got them!) Starlog has NOT replied, but we will be pursuing this avenue, with the support of someone EXTREMELY important - Terry Nation - creator and copyright owner of all

things B7... In reply to my letter, Terry wrote back to us immediately, pledging his full support, and
 I reprint here under the relevant portion of his letter: [1]

The Terry Nation Letter

REPRINT OF RELEVANT PORTIONS OF LETTER FROM TERRY NATION "Dear Diane, Thank you for your letter. I must tell you that I totally share your sense of outrage at the (what I believe is criminal) theft of the literary work of Blake's Seven fans. It is the most blatant and cynical rip-off I have ever encountered. I say cynical, because I think the thieves involved realise the difficulties we all have in catching up with them or bringing action against them.

I had my attention drawn to Bill Anchors of Star Tech when he advertised audio tapes of B7 for sale. These have never been authorised anywhere in the world. I passed on the information to my London agent, who in turn advised the BBC. And that, as you might expect, was the end of that.

Over the years, going way back to the start of the Daleks, I have been aware of 'pirates' who market unlicensed products. I dread to think how much income has been lost over the years - major corporations are deeply concerned by this passing off. Everything from Levi jeans through video tapes, Rolex watches, record albums and so on and so on, can be bought on the cheap. What I think is unique in fan fiction theft is that the cost is often greater than the original. But what to do about it? Resort to law would be impossibly expensive (and isn't that a sad reflection on the state of justice?) A possibility is taking an advertisement in Starlog magazine and making a brief statement. Or indeed a journalistic approach that produces an article 'exposing' the ramp and how the fans are being taken. If chairpersons of B7 fan clubs world wide would agree on an informational flyer that is circulated to all members, and is distributed at all 'cons', it might help. I'm sure Servalan would have a very simple solution to the problem (and painful) but for we mortals it remains a very frustrating situation.

If you come up with a solution in which I can help, you can count on my total support. Please keep me updated on this. Sincerely, Terry Nation"
The editor of Horizon Newsletter added:

Well, I think that just having Terry's support in this is likely to be of more help than just about anything else I can think of, and this is particularly interesting in view of the following...

We had been put in touch with an American lawyer, who offered to do a little research and a couple of 'official letters' on our behalf. Once we had got some feedback from the leaflets and the article in N/L 20, the lawyer was supposed to write to Mr Anchors at Star Tech demanding an explanation, and - if he WAS responsible - an undertaking to stop reprinting and selling all our work in the future, and some financial restitution. In fact, Mr Anchors received a copy of the Information Bulletin before the letter from our lawyer reached him, and his reply was most illuminating. We reprint it for you to see:

Bill Anchor's Letter

REPRODUCED COPY OF LETTER FROM BILL ANCHORS OF STAR TECH, DATED 01 SEPTEMBER 88

"To Whom it May Concern,

One of your readers was considerate enough to send a copy of the slanders printed in your N/L. This is a lot more than you have shown us, as your 'witch hunt' seems to have burned us at the stake without so much as contacting us & asking where we got the 4 poorly-written fanzines you are complaining about. Thanks.

For your information, I do know where they came from, and we were told that they were legitimate reprints. We even paid the person to run an ad for us (which gathered at least 2 or 3 responses, evidence of the sad state of B7 fandom). Clearly, we got screwed if - and I emphasize if - what you are saying is true. If you had taken the time to contact anyone here (over here one is tried before being considered guilty!I I would have gladly passed on the information you desired. But since you have screwed us over even worse than the supposed unlicensed reprinter, I feel that I owe you nothing. As it stands, I have less than 5 each of the fanzines in question, having unloaded the turkeys on sale for less than I paid for them. Rather than be hassled about the situation, I'm just tossing out the last of them out into the garbage, which, considering the writing quality in question, seems only fitting. I only wish I had read them before buying them, as I do feel I did my customers a disservice selling them 'zines of such poor caliber. They were, at least, printed correctly so that they could be read, which is the direct opposite of Horizon efforts I have seen in the past - with entire pages unreadable because of poor printing quality. Selling stuff like this is a rip off.

Horizon's Response Regarding Bill Anchor's Letter

Diane Gies goes on at length about Anchor's response. Some points she makes:

  • the man is either a terrible businessman or a their, probably both
  • she concedes that Horizon should have contacted him earlier
  • while she concedes that the printing quality of early issues is sometimes poor, the quality of the fiction is stellar
  • she notes that the zines are no longer being sold in the catalog, and that the catalog says:
    All five B7 fanzines in our catalog have been discontinued. There are several reasons for this (the most important one being that we were almost sold out of them), but to make a long story short, we are now led to believe that the 'zines may be unauthorized reprints. Certain subversive Federation-types from England have been free and easy with their accusations as to where they originated, which may end up in legal proceedings against them. With B7 fandom rapidly reaching a comatose state, we have dropped the books rather than get hassled about their origins by a few self-righteous British fans who have made accusations without contacting us.
  • the editor say that she will double check to make sure the club's American lawyer has sent Anchors a letter as well as Terry Nation's letter
  • the editors said she
    would be delighted if he DID sue Horizon for slander, since we have told the truth in all our statements, and the truth is the best possible defence in any slander or libel action.

Zines Specifically Addressed

References

  1. Horizon Newsletter #21 (December 1988)