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A Few Last Words

Spain
I've just locked the comments section of the previous post. We've had about four hundred comments since the post went up last night, and the whole thing is about to collapse under its own weight. I suspect that someone or other has already said everything that can be said on the subject, so now we're starting to go around in circles.

Also, with this many comments, it's becoming obvious that some of the later commenters aren't actually reading what went before. I'm starting to get asked the same questions over and over again -- what about Suvudu? what about the Vance book? what about fan art? what about role-playing games? All fair enough questions, but I have answered all of them in responses to earlier comments. Some I have answered two or three times by now. I am not going to answer them four, five, six, or twelve times, sorry. So if you've posted a question that has already been asked and answered, your post will likely be ignored or deleted. (Yes, I know it's a pain to have to read four hundred comments. Tough. If I have to read them all, so do you. That's the price of taking part in the discussion).

Some comments haven't been unscreened yet. There have been so many of them coming in so fast that it has been hard to keep up. A few have been buried by now, especially comments on comments on comments. Ty or I will get to all of them eventually, I hope, and everything will either be unscreened or deleted.

I want to thank ninety-five percent of the people who took the time to comment. I appreciate your thoughts, and even more, I appreciate the relative calm and thoughtful tone of this discussion, which never degenerated into the kind of ugliness I've seen (and am still seeing) in the comments over on Diana Gabaldon's blog, where the discussion has long since been derailed. I don't know how many minds were changed here, but all the major issues were thoroughly aired, it seems to me, and I hope this generated more light than heat.

There were a few issues raised during the debate that I'd like to address a bit further.

A number of commenters suggested that I was wrong in my assertion that copyrights need to be defended, and suggested that I was confusing copyrights with trademarks. Perhaps so. This was raised often enough that it is obviously something I need to look into further. There were also posters who agreed with what I wrote, however, including some who identified themselves as lawyers or law students, so I don't think the issue is as clear cut as the "trademark" folks are claiming. I'll investigate this, and if I was wrong about this, I will come back here and say so (eventually, this is not my top priority in life). If I was right, I'll come back and mention that as well.

ERB v HPL. I never said that allowing others to play with the Cthulhu mythos was the ONLY reason Lovecraft died in poverty. Actually, I am a huge Lovecraft fan, and not much of a Burroughs fan at all (though Melinda Snodgrass and I did once work on the screenplay for A PRINCESS OF MARS). I know a lot about HPL. His work has been hugely influential on modern horror. But my point stands. I could write a Cthulhu Mythos novel tomorrow, and I would not have to pay a dime to any Lovecraft estate (if such exists) or get their permission. I would never dare write a Barsoom novel, though surely PRINCESS is in the public domain by now. (The later John Carter and Tarzan novels may still be under copyright).

A few people have quoted or posted links to the other side of the Marion Zimmer Bradley incident, the account of the fan involved. Fine, two sides to every story, check it out. At this point, twenty years after the fact, it all becomes she said/ she said. But the version I posted was hardly "urban legend," as one commenter called it. It was the version given by Marion Zimmer Bradley herself in SFWA FORUM, what she told the rest of the writing community. If you want to believe she lied, well, that's your prerogative.

More thoughts as I have 'em. Just now, I have work to do.

Comments

dkountz81
May. 8th, 2010 10:39 pm (UTC)
As a photographer I have had issues with my own copyrights in the past, mostly because photography's laws are often not as clear as the laws governing written works. What I can say is that in my experience if a copyright of any kind is not defended then the law will assume that the owner of the copyright has no interest in it and will not uphold the copyright. Which will infringe on the livelihood of the copyright owner. It has in the past, it will in the future.
I would like very much if you could clarify your position on fan art inspired by your work. I had no idea of your position on "fanfic" and would like to know how you view other fan created things inspired by your work, just so I can avoid doing anything you may view as inflammatory.
I would rather not have my favorite author mad at me for something I thought was harmless.
grrm
May. 8th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
I have no problem with fan art, and indeed, have featured some on the fan page of my website (which I haven't updated in way too long, alas).
dkountz81
May. 8th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
What about photography? I cannot draw, and so I use my camera to create what I see in my mind. I've had an idea for some photos for quite some time, but while I would see them as fan art, I want to be sure you would see them the same way.
kodonaa
May. 8th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
If you don't mind my asking, why is it only fanfiction?

Someone could draw horrible pornography/representations/whatever of your characters just as easily as they could write it. They could also draw beautiful pictures of your characters and write beautiful representations.

I think it goes both ways, but I would like to hear your opinion.
kittycat22
May. 9th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
What if said fan art does horrible things- or at least things you find horrible- to the characters you love? I have the feeling you wouldn't be "ok" with it, but would you be able to protect your world/characters in any way at that point?
illidanstr
May. 9th, 2010 07:22 am (UTC)
Can you explain a little bit more about this? Here's a relevant quote from the Supreme Court:

"If Congress explicitly puts a limit upon the time for enforcing a right which it created, there is an end of the matter. The Congressional statute of limitation is definitive."

Hulmberg v. Armbrecht, 66 S.Ct. 582, 584 (1946)

I've heard of some really bad court decisions where the concept was given credence, but even then they were based on specific cases where the company suing allowed the infringement to continue in order to rack up larger damages (think allowing the construction of over 200 houses to begin first..)

I cannot find any evidence you might "lose your copyright".

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