The latest, and final, chapter in the legal struggle for Sherlock

Many fan fiction writers have been following the legal efforts of a group of Sherlockians in their pursuit to publish an anthology of fanwork without paying the hefty fee the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle alleged they were owed. The Supreme Court upheld their claim that the characters published in 1887 were outside of the 75 year copyright lockout. It is important to note that storylines and characters written after 1923 are stipulated to being still inside the copyright, and therefore not yet in the public domain.

Now the final chapter: The Court of Appeals has denied the Estate’s appeal of that decision.

More info/source: Free Sherlock blog November 2014: Petition Denied.

Resources from Otakon Vegas talks, part 2

Here is some of the information presented at my panel on fan fiction from Otakon Vegas.

Fanfiction community publishing websites:

  1. Archive of Our Own (AO3) the best that’s out there, also look up the parent organization, Organization for Transformative Works, they have a great amount of resources there.
  2. Fanfiction.net – the oldest, and with the best international fan base. (Beware of purgings.)
  3. Live Journal, Deviant Art. (Beware of purgings.)
  4. Tumblr – in my opinion, works better for graphic exchange than text exchange, but still worth a mention here.
  5. Wattpad- a good resource for publishing original fic. They recently branched into fanfiction as well.

Fan Fiction professional publishing websites:

  1. Amazon: Kindle Worlds (beware of exclusivity contract)
  2. Outlier Digital  (read about it here: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/kindle-worlds-has-first-imitator-outlier-digital-from-twilight-producers/)

Resources for talks given at Otakon Vegas, part 1

“Disappearing Women: Tracing Women’s Roles from Yaoi to Reverse Harem and Beyond”

1: “You only have two hands”

  •  Women who try to balance personal/familial life and professional ambition. The story is made up of their struggles and failures, sometimes they come out balanced, sometimes not.
  • Japanese Examples: Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Hana Yori Dango; Kimi Wa Petto; Gokusen. (Honorable Mentions: Pride, Anego, the Wallflower.)
  • USian examples: Iron Lady, Zero Dark Thirty, The Devil Wears Prada; Mona Lisa Smile; Dream Girls; Frozen. (Honorable Mentions: Twilight, Sherlock)
  • Thematic trends: Women have to chose either proffessional life or personal/familial life. We also see the emergence of the need of concealment of “feminine” or “familial” side of a woman in the professional sphere. There is also the smaller trend that women must be workaholics in order to be present (possibly succeed) in the professional sphere.

2: Feminine Body, Masculine Mask (building from ideas presented in Fanon’s “Peau noire, masques blancs” from 1952)

  • Cross-dressing and gender-bending stories
  • Japanese: Ouran High School, Hana Kimi (from manga to j drama to dramas throughout asia, then j-drama reboot a few years later with the same props.) Also from other regions but internationally popular: Taiwan’s 1/2 Prince, Korea’s Cafe Prince, to lesser success mainland China’s My Bratty Princess
  • Western Examples: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Queen Christina (1933, satisfies the Bechdel Test,) Disney’s Mulan
  • Conclusions communicated through these stories: To qualify for the possibility of success, women have to suppress part of themselves. It isn’t a way to succeed, it’s a way to get a chance to succeed.

3: Absent Women: Gender Displacement

  • The rise of Yaoi and Slash in Japan and USA
  • They arrived at the same time: Yaoi grew from male homosexual love stories written for a women’s target audience in the late 1970s and published in doujinshi (Kaze to Ki no Uta, often attributed to being the first yaoi, was published as a manga in 1976.) The first slash between Kirk and Spock appeared Star Trek fanzines in 1970s.
  • Yaoi: seme and uke as masculine and feminine
  • Slash: Even without sex scenes, we still see the main pairing as feminine and masculine. Protagonist is more often the bottom, as is the POV when applicable. USian slash is a little less gender dichotomous than Japanese yaoi.
  • Yaoi is on the decline in USian markets, but slash is on the rise, especially with the growth, strengthening, and gaining of recognition and credence of the fan fiction medium.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does it mean for our societies when the ideal woman is a man?
  2. Is forsaking our femininity the only way to succeed in the professional sphere? In what ways is our femininity an advantage in the business world?
  3. Is yaoi/slash pure escape from a misogynistic world? Why do we read it?
  4. Name a famous woman who has both successful home and professional life. (The only ones I came up with before the talk were Meryl Streep and possibility Angelina Jolie. Although, my listing Ms. Jolie may be more indicative of how ignorant I am of her life.) The groups came up with Ms. Streep as well. Still, only one name?
  5. Self-fulfilling prophecy?
    • Stories sometimes tell us how we wish things would be, but also tell us how things are. Are the telling and retelling of these negative stories disempowering women? Making them unable to envision a better world? Is it adding to the strength of the glass ceiling by saying “you cannot do this, no one has done it, even this awesome character” ?
    • If these stories are cautionary tales, do they make the women who consume them too cautious? Are women unable to take the necessary risks for success (especially in USian culture where we reward risk taking behavior)  after be informed by these stories?

Sherlock and Watson thrust into the Public Domain (in the USA)

Sherlock and Watson thrust into the Public Domain (in the USA)

A few days ago, the US District Court for part of Illinois ruled that Sherlock and Watson are in the public domain. The court case was between a Sherlockian scholar and fanfic writer Leslie S Klinger versus the Conan Doyle Estate, which stated the Sherlock was under the estates copyright since original stories were published about him post 1923.

Klinger only wanted to use pre-1923 cannon (story) and characters, and filed the civil complaint against the Estate in preparation for his (and his editor Laurie R King’s) up-coming anthology “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes” through Pegasus Books. “In the Company…” is a collection of short stories written by many different Sherlockian  fan fic writers.

This ruling has large significance. First, it clarifies and highlights that all characters created before 1923 are in the public domain. (OTW points out that this includes Borrough’s Tarzan, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, and Disney’s Mickey Mouse. http://www.tranformativeworks.org)

Secondly, it’s a huge step in the direction of proper recognition and appreciation of fan fiction writing as an art form. Not only do large corporations get to re-envision tales, myths, and characters to suit their purposes, but the everyday man can do it to, and benefit from their creative products.

I’m looking forward to seeing a boom in Johnlock fic up for sale. If there is anything that fan fiction does well, it’s challenge dominant paradigms, and now we are seeing a huge opportunity for the writers.

Additional sources:

Organization for Tranformative Work’s page on Sherlock ruling: http://transformativeworks.org/news/free-sherlock-implications-summary-judgment-sherlock-holmes-case

PDF of said ruling: http://freesherlock.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/klinger-order-on-motion-for-summary-judgment-c.pdf

NYT article about this: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/sherlock-holmes-is-in-the-public-domain-american-judge-rules/?_r=0