Like other transformative practices, fan editing continues its development amid ongoing challenges to accessibility that are complicated by legal and ethical disputes in online media. Because of their technical characteristics, fan edits are typically distributed through the same channels as are pirated works. However, when BitTorrent indexers and file lockers are seized by law enforcement agencies on grounds of piracy or are otherwise deactivated, fan edits like Psycho: The Roger Ebert Cut can be counted among the collateral damage. In other cases, access to high-profile projects such as Heaven’s Gate: The Butcher’s Cut and The Editor Strikes Back may be intentionally restricted by their creators. Fan editors have attempted to manually recreate these elusive works, but they naturally produce variants that reflect their own creative choices, similar to the way in which an inspired cook may deviate from a recipe.
The aforementioned home-brewed replications of fan edits, which stimulate creative variation, are procedurally different from the way in which most professional video projects are cloned between multiple parties by sharing software-based project files and edit decision lists (EDLs). These crucial files record every cut, trim, and reconfiguration of media in a video editing project, and subsequent editors can use them to reproduce the same project by automatically conforming (autoconform) identical source material. In answer to the access problems and regenerative fan editing described in this essay, further research could explore the potential for fan editors to circumvent some technical and legal obstructions by sharing customized project files or EDLs with other fans who would autoconform their own copies of fan edits using relevant source texts.
Wille, Joshua. 2015. “Dead Links, Vaporcuts, and Creativity in Fan Edit Replication.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 20.