The post was made in response to this blog post by John Scalzi. I haven't read any of the comments yet, in fact I haven't even read his entire post. I seem to have gotten caught on his first and second points:
1. First, and as a simple, practical matter,there’s the OTW on one side of this legal argument, with what it identifies as fandom. On the other side of this argument is an entire entertainment industry, with almost unlimited phalanxes of lawyers and lobbyists. This point isn’t about legal right and wrong; it’s a notation of the relative amount of resources each side can throw at the issue.
2. Related to point one, to the extent that fandom currently does what it does, it does it because of the benign neglect or tolerance of the copyright holders of the works the fans are working with. If and when a fan, told by, say, NBC Universal to take down her Battlestar Galacticafanfic, decides to make the legal argument that her work is transformative and fair use, thus obliging the corporation to show up in court to make a counter argument (i.e., to throw more resources at the problem than a simple Cease and Desist) and the fan shows up in court with the assistance of an umbrella group dedicated to the proposition that all fan work is legal and transformative, I suspect the era of benign neglect or tolerance of fan activity will be at a sudden and pronounced end. Because now the fans are saying, why, yes, this really does belong to us,and corporations who have invested millions in and can reap billions from their projects will quite naturally see this as a threat. From there it’s all DMCA notices and entire fan sites going down.
See, now I'm not sure I ca agree with this guy on this. Yes the entertainment industry has a lot of money behind it, but one of the reasons it's been able to bully people when it comes to copyright issues is that they target individual small fish. There have been a few people who try to stand up to them, but get buried under the paperwork and cost of court appearances.
The OTW is starting a legal defense fund. They have lawyers working for them. They are a central organization for fans. I think if they were able to put a lot of publicity throughout fandom of a court battle they would get a lot of support. I know I'd be more than happy to donate money to such a cause. Fandom as a whole has a lot of money, if we could raise almost $15,000 for Sweet Charity what do you think all of fandom could do? I know a lot of us would feel a lot more comfortable in fandom if we didn't have to worry about it maybe being illegal. I know I would be willing to pay for that kind of peace of mind.
It also really bothers me how this guy is trying to scare us out of the OTW. Trying to imply that they will be the downfall of fandom. You know what? I'm pretty sure that fandom is indestructible, or at least the fannish activities are. How many of us, as children, would play make believe with their friends and be characters from you're favourite shows? I know that for most of my childhood years, every time I got in a swimming pool, I'd pretend to be the little mermaid for at least a few minutes. Even as a teenager I'd sit there thinking "What if I was Buffy" or "What if I were to visit Sunnydale" I never wrote them down, but that's just because I'm not really a writer. I'm sure there are a lot of other kids who did write them down, even if they never shared them with anyone.
Look at something like the Star Trek culture. They've been around for decades. They may have a bad rap, but they were the original comings together of fandom. They'd create their fanzines and mail them out. They'd have their conventions where they could get together, dress up, and geek out.
The internet has been a great breeding ground for fandom, but fandom can exist without it, even if it's just two friends getting together to talk about their favourite show.
That being said, I think if TPTB really tried, and we didn't fight back properly, they could really cripple fandom, but I still think we'd exist. We'd just get more secretive about it. We'd go back to private mailing lists. We'd start locking down webpages. We'd develop codes. It would make it much harder for new people to join, and would invite more cliques, and small circles of fans, but still, we'd survive. I remember when WB first got the rights for Harry Potter, and went around the internet telling people to take down their HP webpages. My little sister had one and was slightly nervous that she'd be caught, but she never was. Because there are too many of us. And every time TPTB would close down a site, another one would just pop up. They would have to have entire teams whose sole job is to weed us out, and I think that would be far more money to them then they'd be willing to put forth. Also, I think they'd find that they lose fans that way. I think if TPTB for any of my fandoms, no matter how much I love them, if they were to try that, I'd just stop watching that show. I'd stop buying the DVDs, and I'd stop giving them any of my money. Just on principle.
This guy, this, I don't even know who he is, I've never heard of him. He's trying to tell us to keep it down, to keep our heads down, or we'll lose everything. He's trying to tell us the the bug guys hold all the power, that we're just here because they *let* us be here. I think, like all big companies, they've forgotten that it's really the other way around. *We* are the customer. *We* are the ones with the power. Fandom is a big scary group of people, even if we never stand united on a single front, I think someone with charisma could get enough of us on their side to make a difference. How many of us would it take to boycott something for them to feel it? Hey if I was able to take the time to send out over 100 letters to TPTB to bring Carson back (as part of the campaign, I didn't write them all myself), I'd be more than willing to send endless letters out to sponsors, to newspapers, to the media. Make sure that we are heard. I'd be willing to boycott, even my most favourite shows, it it meant that I'd be able to stay in fandom, even if it's in a different section.
I don't think it'll ever come to this though. No one has been able to prove that fandom hurts the big shots (in fact, I'm sure if they were to research it, they'd find the opposite), and if they can't keep the rampant media piracy down, then what hope have they of keeping us down? With the media piracy, they've seemed to move more towards the "Well if we can't beat them, join them" attitude, which is why I think so many shows are now available officially online. I would hate to see fandom go through some of those motions, because I can see it hurting us, but in the end, they can't kill us. We're too big for them.