Fifty Shades complicates the concept of prosumption, however, as (E.L.) James “built a following within a community founded in part on the explicit rejection of monetary gain in favor of fannish love, and then used that community and the work it helped her to produce in order to make a name—and a fair amount of money—in mainstream publishing” (Wanenchak 2012). James thus straddles the line between producer and fan, stealing from commodified culture to create Master of the Universe while stealing from fandom to make a success of Fifty Shades. The question of whether James’s fans would have been so involved in supporting and reviewing her work if they were aware that their efforts would result in her profit—although ultimately unanswerable—is nevertheless a valid one, and I would suggest that these debates suggest a subtle change in the relationship between fan and producer. From being in a position of cultural marginality where they poach from texts, fans are now the ones potentially being poached from (Andrejevic 2008; Milner 2009).
Bethan Jones, Fifty Shades of fan labor: Exploitation and Fifty Shades of Grey ift.tt/1kEIfyT
Of course, fandom has never been isolated from market values, not least because it tends to respond to capitalist-produced media. But normatively, the counterpublic hailed by fan texts was a noncommercial one. This has given rise to contentions that Kindle Worlds is not really fan fiction, that E. L. James betrayed the fans of her Twilight fan fiction, and that both of these cases are not really fandom. In Karen Hellekson’s (2013) inimitable phrase, “if you define fan fiction as ‘derivative texts written for free within the context of a specific community,’ then this isn’t that. True, they are fans. And they write…fiction,” but who’s doing what alone is not enough to make it fan fiction in the absence of those norms of authorship and ownership. Indeed, “you could even say that Amazon is turning the term ‘fan fiction’ into fan fiction itself, lifting it from its original context and giving it a new purpose and a new narrative, related to the original but not beholden to it” (Berlatsky 2013). However, considering that fandom must be continually reconstituted through being addressed, and given this question of generations and fannish continuity, is there a critical mass of fan subjects who will feel hailed by industry’s invitation?
Here’s an hour-long presentation on copyright law and fan art from San Diego ComicCon 2012, presented by a lawyer from DeviantArt who once worked as a copyright enforcer for Paramount. It’s a pretty good overview, though — predictably enough — the presenter waits until quite late to talk about fair use and other public rights in copyright, generally downplaying them and omitting the de minimis exemption to copyright (the idea that it’s not infringement if you take a small enough piece, for reasons that are separate from fair use) altogether.
During the Q&A, he also mischaracterizes SOPA and PIPA as having been concerned with “mass-scale” infringement (the laws allowed for censorship if there was a single link to a website that infringed), but makes up for it somewhat by plugging EFF, Public Knowledge and other public interest groups.
So Universal is suing Smash Pictures, a porn company who’re making a “parody” of 50 Shades, which they are, uncreatively, calling “Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation”. (Obvious trademark issues, hence the suit.)
If this was just a suit filed by Universal to block distribution of this porn film, it’d be relatively run-of-the-mill, but because of the absolute ridiculousness of Smash’s lawyers – or possibly their PR flacks nudging their lawyers to ridiculousness – it’s becoming interesting!
Read more at http://fanhackers.tumblr.com/post/44698421952/fifty-shades-of-grey-in-public-domain-the-mary-sue
Very large linkspams to all sorts of mentions of fanfic in the media, posted weekly. Includes quotes from the pertinent bits. Beautifully formatted, and especially great for getting an instant overview of what people are saying when something fandom-related happens that’s remarkable enough for non-fannish media to pick up on it.
For instance, I was surprised to see that throughout the initial Fifty Shades of Grey uproar, many media outlets were being quite reasonable and even positive about fic. Often awkward and rarely 100% correct, and often a bit sensationalist. But the ones that got it completely backwards or dissolved into “think of the children” angsting seemed to be a blessedly small minority.