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September 2019



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An Archive Of One's Own

**NEW ETA**: we're going to take a stab at putting this together. For more information and discussion, please join and/or watch otw_news.

ETA: If you are coming to the conversation late, xenacryst has helpfully collected up a bunch of links to a subset of noteworthy discussion threads, over here!

First, why fanfic is not illegal and why YOU should stop saying that it is even if you don't agree, by cesperanza. Please read it.

That said, the people behind fanlib (talked about many places, see astridv here) don't actually care about fanfic, the fanfic community, or anything except making money off content created entirely by other people and getting media attention. They don't have a single fanfic reader or writer on their board; they don't even have a single woman on their board. They're creating a lawsuit-bait site while being bad potential defendants, and they deserve to be chased out being pelted with rocks.

But even if they were, which I doubt is going to happen, because hey, they have people and money, we're still left with this problem: we are sitting quietly by the fireside, creating piles and piles of content around us, and other people are going to look at that and see an opportunity. And they are going to end up creating the front doors that new fanfic writers walk through, unless we stand up and build our OWN front door.

We need a central archive of our own, something like animemusicvideos.org. Something that would NOT hide from google or any public mention, and would clearly state our case for the legality of our hobby up front, while not trying to make a profit off other people's IP and instead only making it easier for us to celebrate it, together, and create a welcoming space for new fans that has a sense of our history and our community behind it.

I think the necessary features would include:
  • run BY fanfic readers FOR fanfic readers

  • with no ads and solely donation-supported

  • with a simple and highly searchable interface and browsable quicksearch pages

  • allowing ANYTHING -- het, slash, RPF, chan, kink, highly adult -- with a registration process for reading adult-rated stories where once you register, you don't have to keep clicking through warnings every time you want to read

  • allowing the poster to control her stories (ie, upload, delete, edit, tagging)

  • allowing users to leave comments with the poster able to delete and ban particular users/IPs but not edit comment content (ie, lj style)

  • code-wise able to support a huge archive of possibly millions of stories

  • giving explicit credit to the original creators while clearly disclaiming any official status

Other dream features of my own, which I throw out in a brainstorming spirit:
  • posting interface that would allow you to post to the archive, to your blog, to your personal lj, and to up to (say) three lj communities you specify

  • making it easy for people to download stories or even the entire archive for offline reading (thus widely preserving the work in case some disaster does take it down)

  • options for people to post podfic or ebook format versions, translations, links to fanart/fanvids, stories inspired by, the original story, all of which would automatically be linked back so you could see the kind of interconnecting 'web' of how our work is interrelated (with the original author able to delete any given link if she wanted to, but not the inspired-by work itself)

  • tagging

  • automatic rec lists (just click on a story to add it to your rec list)

  • charity auctions -- we could do an annual fundraiser and send whatever is left over to charity

  • mentoring: collect up writing advice, fannish history, acafandom, and create a simple FAQ (integrate a wiki?)

  • beta-editing: an interface where you could send your story to selected other readers without worrying if their email addresses had changed (like @livejournal addresses, except everyone would have them, not just paid users)

If I had thirty seconds more time I would just try to do it, but I don't right now, and so I am throwing out this plea into the ether. And I'm putting myself out here right now to say that I would help as any/all of an advisor, a fundraiser, a promoter, and I would archive my own stuff there. I would even take on coding parts; I just can't take on project management.

But I know we have project managers in our community -- and coders and designers -- can't we do this? Seriously -- we can come up with a site that would be miles better and more attractive to fanfic writers/readers than anything else out there, guys, because we actually USE the stuff.

I have to go offline to write now, but clearly the conversation is happening right now, thanks to the fanlib guys, and I really wanted to get this out there.

A couple of quick ETAs:
I don't allow anonymous commenting, but if you don't have an lj or OpenID account and would like to comment, you can get one really quick right here. ETA: sorry, OpenID doesn't work with anon commenting disallowed, oops.

Also, please have no hesitation to have conversations among yourselves in the comments; I never mind that anyway, but in this case would like to totally encourage it. You can use the lj thumbtacks to track everything being posted in a single thread even if you don't want to get inundated with everything posted to the entry.
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But what is odd is you already do. Fandom is a free-for-all remix. It's what fanfiction is. It's taking the original - be it Harry Potter, Smallville, or real life - and remixing it. Taking the words straight from remixredux, "Ever read a fic and think, wow, what a fascinating story, but if I had written it, I would have... ". Replace "read a fic" with "read a book/see a movie/watch a tv show" and isn't that why people write fanfic? They see the original idea, get an idea of their own, and write it. This argument happened (more than once) in several fandoms, but I will use an example from the Harry Potter one simply because this is the one that I still have the original transcripts of. It took place around the story Pawn To Queen (which had already had a year and half long fandom war surround it once). Someone "rewrote" the story - remixed it - and this time the story was going to be finsihed (the original was at 30 chapters and never was). The part of fandom involved went haywire, because, apparently, it's wrong to use other peoples ideas like that. Allow me to explain: these same people thought Anne Rice was wrong to hate fanfiction. These same people wrote their own fanfiction - and lets put the point out there that this part of the Harry Potter community was the Sanpe/Hermione part, which many many people find wrong because of the Student/Teacher aspects. So these people think it's wrong for people to tell them they can't write fanfic. They take someone else's idea and write what they see happening. They laugh when an author gets mad because he published work is being used in fanfiction. But then they get upset with someone for writing a fanfic of a fanfic?

Forgive me, but I don't see how fanfiction of fanfiction is any different than fanfiction of the original product, except in that the author of the first piece of fanfic is more likely to read the second piece. Don't get me wrong. I love remix challenges, where you remix and they remix and the end result isn't mass hysteria. But I don't think it's how it should have to be. Yes, that story I wrote is my story and I love it. But as long as no one is using it word for word, I don't have a claim on it. Even if they just wrote something like it, I really have no room to protest, not if I am originally writing fanfiction.

(Forgive me for butting in, but this is something that has always struck me as odd. And a double standard.)
You may think that there is no difference, but as far as I can see, there is. With fanfic per se, you can't ask permission, and the owner of the universe can't give permission. But with writing fanfic of fanfic, the fan writer is right there, able to be asked, and its RUDE not to.
Come again? This is what I don't get - when someone says, No, I don't like people writing in my universe, don't do it fandom laughs in her face and does so anyways. How is that not just as rude, if not more so, than writing a remix of a fic by someone who has issues with it happening? And no, authors are not always right there, like in the case I was quoting before. The original author had left fandom and hadn't kept in contact with more than a few people (and the rest of us didn't know she had even kept in touch with anyone, at the time). Despite that, like with recing, it would be nice to say "Hi, you gave me this brilliant idea!" and go from there, but as long as the original author was given credit? Not necissarily needed.

And yes, authors can give permission. It might be frowned upon, but they can. Tamora Pierce has said again and again that she thinks fanfiction is awesome - it's how she started writing, in fact. She won't read it, because she doesn't want to get ideas and accidentally use them (and then have the OMG THAT WAS MINE conversation), but she's fine with us writing it. It might not happen much, but it HAS happened.

Still, this type of we verse them thinking is a double standard. You might want to think that it is different for you because you are RIGHT THERE, but really, its not. It's the same thing, IT IS, it's just that those of us in fandom are closer to the actual happenings and because it's you, it hurts to see your fic, someone you labored over, being used by someone else. But then, thats how Anne Rice felt.
*Something, not someone. Oops!
If you don't get it, I can't make you get it. There IS a difference, and I don't know what more I can say to make you understand that.

As for Anne Rice, I don't laugh at her for hating fanfic. I laugh at her for declaring that she doesn't need a beta-reader editor.

I can't speak for the people who laugh at Anne Rice for hating fanfic, I can't speak for the people who laugh at J.K. Rowling for not wanting Harry Potter porn, because I'm not one of these people. I don't write that stuff. I don't write in universes where the author has said "no fanfic". I don't write slash or porn anyway. I do offer the original authors respect, and I darn well expect the same for myself.

Just because some fans are arrogant doesn't give you carte blanche to tar us all with the same brush.

'Okay to remix' option / double standard issues

I almost completely agree with you. Looking at it logically, it's a pretty big double standard, because when fanfic writers deliberately choose not to respect an original author's wishes, you'd think they'd be open to others treating their fanfiction as common property, wouldn't you? Well, I would.

That said, I think one of the reasons it would be nice to have this option on the archive is because the current convention in fandom is very strongly against remixing without permission, and doing so can cause all kinds of wankage. If I were going to try and figure out why the convention is strong in relation to fanfic authors remixing other fanfic authors as opposed to fans writing fanfiction in the first place (and as you're probably about to see, I'm not that great at figuring these things out *g*), I'd say it's the whole profit vs. not-profit thing--i.e., original authors like Anne Rice get paid for their work whereas fanfiction is much more of a gift-based culture.

Like, if I give someone a pair of hand-knitted socks for Christmas, and they decide to unweave them and make a scarf, or something. I mean, yeah, technically, I gave them the socks, but I also did it as a heartfelt gesture and didn't get anything back for it--whereas if someone purchased the socks from me, I'd probably never think about what they did with them beyond our transaction. But seeing my gift turned into something else without my friend asking me would sting.

I know this analogy falls apart (like the badly knitted socks) if you look at it too closely. *g* I guess, the way I see it is that, as fans, there's a certain kinship that links us all together--we may not all be friends, but with the six-or-less degrees of separation it's not that hard to feel like we're all interlinked, sometimes. And we're not all going to be so close that we'll knit each other socks, but in a way, when we share our fanfiction online, we are sharing a gift to the fandom: our contribution.

Then again, that analogy doesn't work in a lot of situations. But the basis of what I'm trying to get at is the level of emotion that's involved in the fan community, and how it can feel like a personal slight to have someone touch your gift to fandom without first asking.

On the other hand, for what it's worth, I'm tickled pick at inspiring people. I have an open-sequel and -remixing policy on my fic.

Re: 'Okay to remix' option / double standard issues

I'm, for the most part, in the SPN fandom and nearly every single person I know is exactly like that - completely open to sequels and remixes and 'verse writing and all of that. I understand why people feel that they should be given the respect of being asked, but I don't see how they can demand it. It would be nice if people did. But it would also be nice if people didn't cut into you brake room on the freeway and if people didn't take two shopping carts into the ONLY check out line and if people didn't smoke in front of you at concet lines and if everyone gave the little wave when you let them in. That said? It doesn't always happen. Just like not everyone leaves a review. But for someone to demand that they be asked is stupid, just like the "If I don't get 12 reviews, I won't update" thing, because, hey, reality check. That just makes people wanna do it more.

delurking to say...

Interesting paid vs. not paid theory. I'm not sure, but I think it might also be use of characters vs. use of situations - regular fanfic uses characters, but remixes use actual story ideas, with the same turning points and surprise twists and everything. Plus, of course, the internet is much smaller (fandom by fandom) so it's easier to hold people accountable.

Re: delurking to say...

Well, I've also written stories that are in some ways remixes of the original author's work--e.g. an AU where I don't change *much*, but do change enough to deviate it from the canon and make happen what I want to. It's entirely possible to write fanfic that's a remix, and I don't know many fanfic authors who have an open use policy on their OCs.

So true about holding people accountable! Also, there are a lot of cultural mores that form around these issues in the fandom community, and in a lot of ways we police ourselves, so even if technically we're holding ourselves to a double standard, to me, it's not so much about that--it's more about the cultural atmosphere and unspoken agreements within the community.

Re: delurking to say...

it's more about the cultural atmosphere and unspoken agreements within the community.

Agreed. I do think it's a double standard, and I do personally think it's silly, but it's a double standard held by a huge number of fic writers, so I can't just ignore it. Having an 'ok to remix' tag would avoid a lot of drama. People could, of course, still choose to remix something that didn't have the tag, but they'd do so knowing that they'd be likely to upset someone.