I can’t find an Ask on Anne’s Tumblr, so I’ll reblog with a question here. Anne, did you make any “good faith” effort to contact the individuals whose work you used? I understand AO3 does not yet have a PM system, but if they cross-posted to FFN and had PMs enabled, or had personal Tumblrs referred to in the author’s notes, did you reach out to them before including their works? Your post makes it sound like you did not even make a token effort, and that kind of shocks me, I’ll admit.
Is that actually a problem though, in an academic context? (I haven’t progressed very far in the world of professional academia, so I’m asking this in the spirit of genuine enquiry). I have had a couple of articles published and it certainly wasn’t required of me to do more than provide appropriate citations; there was never any mention of needing to contact the authors whose work I was commenting on or using. Admittedly they were all secondary sources, not primary (the primary source material being centuries old, heh)—does that make a difference? *is ready to learn more*
[snipped for brevity]
My academic area is in science, so I only cite things that have been submitted for publication. I honestly don’t know what the standard in literary sources is, but to be honest this (emphasis added):
2) when I have used fanworks without seeking authorial permission or consent, it has been with the full knowledge that the authors/creators might not like it, might disagree with my use, and in some cases *would* be very angry with this use. I have done it anyway. I made a decision, as a writer, to treat fan writers as writers rather than human experimental or anthropological subjects. That’s my intent—but my intent doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt or anger anyone. When I undertook to engage and present fan writing to a broader audience in print form, in a non-academic for-profit book, I made a bigger commitment to my treatment of the subject matter than I did to individual fan feelings. If I believed a fan writer’s role or story was too important to be left out of a narrative, I wrote about it even with the full knowledge the writer didn’t want me to.
Really bothers me. I find it hard to believe that even a token effort to gain permission would be so difficult, or that any fan work would be SO INCREDIBLY PIVOTAL as to make or break the academic rigor of this book by its inclusion or lack thereof.
It sounds like to Anne this is old news and has been well-discussed, but I’ll be honest; That book sounded awesome, and now I want absolutely no part of it. I don’t think you can try to talk about the importance of fanworks to fanauthors while not giving a single token fuck for their wishes on the subject, to the point where you don’t even send an email or PM or post a review to ask if they want their work included in a publically-available, for-profit print anthology? My impression of the book that it was INVITED essays and discussion. The “I briefly considered their wishes and decided my wishes overrode them” statement here is just…ugh. I used to laugh at people who had those giant disclaimers at the start of their fics, and now I’m thinking of crafting my own. Fuck.
Anne, forgive me if I’m getting this wrong and I’m happy to correct anything, but you seem pretty clear in your statements.
I put it a bit baldly in the post, but it is true. In my discipline, we don’t ask, we adhere to fair use guidelines. So no—I don’t reproduce whole works. Yes, I do quote from work for the purposes of argument without permission in accordance with my training, discipline, and critical project. But you are misquoting. “Briefly considered their wishes and overrode them” is really far from the case.
Part of the book is cultural history. What would a history look like that asked the permission of participants? It is simply not a viable model.
To clarify: the credited essays in the book are not only invited, but paid. I invited many fan writers whose work I discussed to comment, some did, some didn’t. Some commented and wished to do so anonymously. I scrupulously respected all requests for anonymity. But where, as in the case of Snowqueens Icedragon, Cassandra Clarie, and a few other non-commercial writers, a fan writer wrote or did something that dramatically impacted not just their fandom, but fandom history, I discussed their work and I didn’t ask permission. I was telling a history and they were huge players in it—whether they wanted to be and meant to be or not. Where fanworks or fan comments were decades old, I didn’t ask permission. I quoted everything from old archived chatrooms without permission. Not to have done so would have significantly diminished the intellectual and historical value of the book.
Where other fan writers on blogs publicly commented on fan issues, I quoted them without permission. Where fanwriters were commenting or outing on other fan writers’ works in non-fan blogs (such as Scalzi’s blog) or on goodreads, and I quoted or paraphrased those fan comments and it never occurred to me to ask permission. Snowqueens Icedragon (E. L. James) didn’t give me permission to discuss her work or reproduce her fanwriting. I included posts to fanspace (within fair use guidlines) by her that I had archived and taught, that had then been removed from the web. I had her permission to teach her fic back in 2010, I discussed it with her, she engaged with my students, but I certainly didn’t ask for her permission to discuss it in the book. Now she’s a public figure—but they were fanworks. Fanworks, fan space, no permission.
In the case of one fan writer—I confess I wouldn’t have done the book at all without that person’s permission and participation. I wouldn’t have proposed it. I had that permission and participation. I had the person’s essay, I was under contract and had received an advance, and the person decided to pull the essay. I honored that request, I did not print the contracted essay, but I did warn them that I would be discussing them in the book regardless, that I had to, and encouraged them to tell their own story as planned. By that point, I was under contractual obligation not just to the press, but to many, many other writers. To not tell certain stories would have been to gut the book.
I don’t take anyone’s work. I work within the bounds of US fair use and the conventions of my discipline. It is actually fairly rare that I discuss any fanwork in great detail, and in most of the cases, I did ask—not because I though I had to, but because I thought it was better, given the amateur nature of the project and the stigma attached, if people knew and could voice any objections.
In the case of discussing the literary merits of fanworks by quoting from examples of novel-length works: I stopped asking when someone said no, and then I felt I couldn’t discuss that person’s work. In fact, it did diminish the book, in my opinion. Fanworks are not interchangeable—not from the kind of literary-critical perspective I was working from in certain sections of the book. At this point—not for the first time—I had to really think through what I was doing as a critic, and where my priorities were. I’m not an anthropologist, I’m not a social scientist, and I am not, as most acafans insist of themselves, a fan first. I am a critic first. My responsibility is to my subject matter and my argument. All my work on fandom is paid labor. This is my job—another thing that sets it apart from fan labor. If my professional argument is that fanwriting is writing and deserves to be treated as such, then I had better, I decided, put my money where my mouth is. So from that point on, I treated fan writers as writers and engaged their work in the same way I engage the work of any other writer or blogger who has made their work available. I did have other criteria, but that’s basically it.
So in answer to your question: yes, I really did it. I reproduced fair-use passages from several people’s fanworks or blogs without those writers’ permission, in accordance with US law, critical convention, and my own discipline. I thought long and hard about it, and I stand by the decision. I think it was the right thing to do. But with all the anger about use without permission, and the rage that’s getting thrown about, I thought I had better make it pretty clear.
Sorry if the snips make the thread of this conversation confusing. I’m going to respond here, and then I’ll back away from the internet for a little while.
Anne, I’m glad you clarified. It sounds like in some instances, you were respectful of fans’ wishes. But, in other instances, you did not like the answer you were given, and so you decided not to ask anymore. Seeking consent is tricky that way, isn’t it?
That, to me, is not “putting your money where your mouth is.” That phrase implies that YOU are taking some level of risk upon YOURSELF to uphold your principles. The skin in the game is not yours, it belongs to the fan creators, and I’m really disappointed to hear that you did not feel it worth the effort to reach a solution that erred in favor of protecting those individuals. I think you could have limited your criticism to works that you had permission to quote, or spoken about works that you did not have permission to quote without including direct quotes, or worked around this limitation creatively in many different ways. If your literary arguments are so fragile that a quotation one way or another makes or breaks them then they seem to built upon shaky ground indeed.
You can speak about fair use and academic rigor and the standards in your field, but what I read is, “I realized I might hurt people and I was okay with that, because BOOK WITH MY NAME ON IT.”
So, yeah. It may be your mouth, and money in your pocket, but the cost is ours.