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Thu, May. 10th, 2007, 05:30 pm
yourlibrarian: The corporatization of fanfic?

Just came across two articles today, the first hyping the release of the final Harry Potter book by featuring discussion of Potter fanfic, and the second a press release for the launch of FanLib.com which discusses its corporate partners while Spiderman fanfic is featured on the home page.

While fan fiction has existed for decades, FanLib is launching a new era by packaging it for mainstream audiences

I find the use of the term "mainstream audiences" rather interesting since the term isn't explained but I would guess it refers to fanfic content. For example a quick glance at SPN fic doesn't reveal any tags indicating pairings or even "romance" even though easily half the content on LJ is Wincest or RPS. Similary the BtVS fanfic listed does have romance as a term but nearly half the content is rated "All."

Thoughts? Are projects such as FanLib (or even fanfic.net which no longer permits NC-17 material) going to create 2 categories of fanfic -- corporate gen and back-blog explicit and dark fic -- even as genres such as slash inch their way into commercial publishing?

ETA Since this post is still getting comments I thought I'd add that the question of what constitutes "mainstream" can be answered here. Apparently it means abiding by U.S. TV network standards and practices.
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Thu, May. 10th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)

Certainly fanfic archives can decide to focus on whatever they want, whether it's a pairing, certain types of fic, characters or content. What does perturb me somewhat is wondering what effects commercialization may have in prioritizing certain types of content. Assuming one believes commercialization will become a widespread thing, of course.
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Fri, May. 11th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)

I'm curious to know what effect it will have on the perception of fanfic in the wider community. Am I right in thinking all the appropriate IP holders have given permission? Becuase that makes a huge differnece to all those arguments about fanfic being illegal and immoral, as well as the culture of flying under the radar.

Browsing through the site it did seem to be mostly PG 13 het or G rated gen, and the PG13 boundry will likely exclude a lot of slash since people seem to rate that higher than equivalent het (and a lot of it is pretty explicit anyway). That said, there does seem to be a reasonable amount of slash in the "Romance" category.

Of course, I like gen and PG13 romance, so my reaction to the site is likely to be a bit different than everyone elses :D

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)

Am I right in thinking all the appropriate IP holders have given permission?

I'm completely unclear on that, myself, especially as the sponsors don't seem to be rights holders to most of the properties.

Of course, I like gen and PG13 romance

And some fandoms do create a lot of gen fic, but it does make me wonder if there becomes a market for that, would it become more the norm for most fandoms or would there simply be less gen in places like LJ?

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)

I tried to read the press release, but the corporate marketing-speak was a bit thick for my stomach. It's unclear *who* is going to be writing this stuff, and, if it is to be self-selected fans rather than paid writers, how it's going to be screened by the various companies involved. I really doubt this will catch on with many people who use LJ as a place to write and read fanfiction, because it seems to me that a large part of the appeal of fanfic in general (both for writers and for readers) is in teasing out subtext that the primary text is loathe to explore. The press release focuses on how this "partnership" (I think that's the over-used word that's used, but I may be recalling other excercises in corporate self-love, erm, I mean promotion) is such a wonderful thing, but, it's hard to see how it's wonderful for any of the fans of the sort who write fiction on LJ. I'm not just talking about the people who write NC-17 slash, but all those fanfic writers who use the universes created in the original texts as jumping-off points for stories that diverge in interesting ways from the original, published authors' stories. So, if these writers and readers won't be interested, it's hard to see what could be left other than pale immitations of the originals, vetted not just for sex and, perhaps, explicit violence, but also freed from any deviation from the corporate sponsors' ideas, ie, any of the originality that carries *good* fanfic beyond the derivative.

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)

Those were some of my thoughts as well.

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 06:39 am (UTC)

Perhaps the shows are hiring fan fic hacks to churn out banal fan fiction and thereby hype their shows.

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)

They've been doing that for years with tie-in novels. The benefit of fanfiction is that they don't have to pay the author for it ... is what I'm thinking.

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 10:23 am (UTC)

Huh. I looked through their terms of service and didn't see anything that forbids particular content. There's that usual "threatening, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, or hateful" line, but as we know, porn-as-art is not what that is targeting, though any site can refuse or object to any content if they choose, just because it's so open to interpretation. But I don't see anything that says "no adult or homosexual material."

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)

Yes, the terms are vague enough that a lot could be covered by them. My guess is that anything someone objects to could be classified under those terms. And as I said above what makes this fanfic "mainstream" as opposed to what's already out there in plentiful form is not explained.

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)

What I'd actually like to see is whether people who actually get into fandom via this stuff stay there or wind up gravitating to the usual fannish centres; i.e. whether it'll work more like a disassociated piece of fandom or an entry drug. I suspect the creators want the former, but fandom is rather uncontrollable and with enough traffic between corporate fandom (ugh, that sounds so awful) and homegrown... well.

And may I say that seeing fanfic supported by Big Company XXX makes me wonder whether I woke up in Bizarroland today.

(And I have to laugh at the article: "FanLib.com helps these readers find each other and gives them a space to share what they've created." I think we're doing that *just fine* on our own, thankyouverymuch)

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)

whether it'll work more like a disassociated piece of fandom or an entry drug

This is also what I'm wondering. If this sort of project proliferates, will people go in search of more fanfic? I think it's pretty easy to find now as it is especially if you know the right terms to search under.

I think we're doing that *just fine* on our own, thankyouverymuch

Yes, fans have managed that even before there was mass access to the Internet. I would guess though that the press release is geared towards business types (read: potential advertisers) who are clueless as to what's out here.

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)

Can I just say how much I appreciate the fact that this thread discusses the ins and outs without name calling and nasty cracks. Thank you. I am a Fanlibber both as a fan and I work for them as well. I've been appalled by the hatred I've seen slung all over LJ in regard to this site. People can have their opinions but when they start knocking down those who like the site I get very angry.

So again, I appreciate the fact that this thread is sticking to the facts. And so I'd like to offer my answers to your questions if you want them. The one I've seen pop up most of late is about people being paid to write for the site. They're not. I work for the site as a moderator and I write the blurbs on the front page, that kind of thing. The fan fic is all user generated and all types are accepted. We do have slash but for whatever reason (the very nature of the site perhaps) we haven't had much PWP type slash uploaded. Most of what we have leans toward the romantic element.

I can honestly say at this point we have a great signal to noise ratio due to the fact that we invited great writers in at our beta stage and they've stayed on with us.

Now we're working on more readers and getting those reviews up - which have increased dramatically in the last month since we started featuring good reviewers as well as writers.

Keep up the discussion, please do check out the site and if you have questions, just ask.

Fri, May. 11th, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)

I'd like to offer my answers to your questions if you want them

Very much so, I'm curious about the site. Though overall the point of my post was that I found it interesting to see 2 examples on the same day of fanfic used to promote commercial products, especially since fans themselves have often argued that fanfic benefits rights owners.

I hadn't thought the writers were getting paid since I couldn't imagine how that would work legally. How is it that you ended up joining/working on the site? How were the writers identified for invites? Who owns the rights to the fic that's posted? Is the intention of the site to be an archive or one that promotes discussion and interaction?
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Mon, May. 21st, 2007 06:21 pm (UTC)

According to LJ's count - I have responded to 19 Fanlib related messages in the past 24 hours. Most of those responses were so long they were rejected for length and had to be trimmed.

And yet I'm still getting messages saying that Fanlib doesn't want to discuss, cooperate or answer questions. So what? I wasted the time it took me to respond 19 times (and that's just the past 24 hours?)

apparently no one is reading the answers to the questions they've asked.

Mon, May. 21st, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)

I think some people are reading and listening, some people are reading and still questioning (or not liking the answers) and some people didn't know where to look (aka the LJ scatter factor). So I don't think there is an uniform "you people" or a single response to your posts out there.

It may help if you collect the links etc and your responses and try to submit then to metafandom and the other communities now discussing fanlib along with whatever note you think would be helpful to nudge people toward the answers you have provided.

Tue, May. 22nd, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
cressida0201: "Corporate gen"

Are projects such as FanLib ... going to create 2 categories of fanfic -- corporate gen and back-blog explicit and dark fic -- even as genres such as slash inch their way into commercial publishing?

Oh man, I hope not. I'm still adjusting to the revelation that some people consider genfic to be morally suspect as it is (because it's, like, denying of relationships at best and homophobic at worst). Being tarred with the "corporate" brush is the last thing gen needs on top of that.

Tue, May. 22nd, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: Re: "Corporate gen"

Wow, I'd never heard that said of gen! In fact I always assumed that gen was most people's gateway into fanfic because it was more like what they were used to in canon. Plus they were accessible to more ages and tastes.

Thu, May. 31st, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)
pussy_in_person: Sorry I'm coming late and unexpectedly into the conversation. . .

Without even getting into questions of legal issues, C&D orders, etc. the reason the whole concept of FanLib.com confounds me is simply this: why are they doing this?
They claim they are attempting to unite fanfic writers and bring fanfic into the mainstream, but to what point and purpose?
One of the first economic rules I was ever taught was that there is no such thing as a free lunch. FanLib is entering into (let's call fanfic) a 'market' that is currently thriving, self-sufficient and happy. As a whole, we do not desire to become mainstream. There are already established places (such as ff.net) for "mainstream fanfiction". IMO the majority of us also ~avoid~ such places because of the mainstream ideas, writing, and the like. We specifically create different communities, websites, and forums for certain genres, pairings, themes etc. because we want to create our own niche.
The invisible hand of the market is stayed, there is no call, need, nor want for FanLib, so when it appears and attempts to cull writers from 'families' online that are perfectly happy where we are, people are suspicious.
The second issue that confuses me is the determination of what type of fanfic FanLib says they will host. It seems like they say they will take anything, slash, gen, romance, and so forth, but then my question is why would they allow any "taboos" such as kinkfics or R or NC-17 homosexual fiction onto their archive to be associated with certain companies when such content matter is ~the~ very reason authors/companies/and other entities would sue fic writers or archivists in the first place???
I don't see the profit for FanLib and and I don't see why FanLib would invest money into fic (as an outside party) if they are not getting a profit.
Sorry for the longwindedness, I just can't wrap my brain around the idea.