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So I’m on AO3 and I see a lot of people who put “I do not own [insert fandom here]” before their story.

Like, I came on this site to read FAN fiction. This is a FAN fiction site. I’m fully aware that you don’t own the fandom or the characters. That’s why it’s called FAN FICTION.

Oh you youngins… How quickly they forget.

Back in the day, before fan fiction was mainstream and even encouraged by creators… This was your “please don’t sue me, I’m poor and just here for a good time” plea.

Cause guess what? That shit used to happen.

how soon they forget ann rice’s lawyers.

What happened with her lawyers.

History became legend. Legend became myth….  And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.

I worked with one of the women that got contacted by Rice’s lawyers. Scared the hell out of her and she never touched fandom again.
The first time I saw a commission post on tumblr for fanart, I was shocked.

One of the reasons I fell out of love with her writing was her treatment of the fans… (that and the opening chapter of Lasher gave me such heebie-jeebies with the whole underage sex thing I felt unclean just reading it.)

I have zero problem with fanart/fic so long as the creators aren’t making money off of it. It is someone else’s intellectual property and people who create fan related works need to respect that (and a solid 98% of them do.)

The remaining 2% are either easily swayed by being gently prompted to not cash in on someone else’s IP. Or they DGAF… and they are the ones who will eventually land themselves in hot water. Either way: this isn’t much of an excuse to persecute your entire fanbase.

But Anne Rice went off the deep end with this stuff by actively attacking people who were expressing their love for her work and were not profiteering from it.

The Vampire Chronicles was a dangerous fandom to be in back in the day. Most of the works I read/saw were hidden away in the dark recesses of the internet and covered by disclaimers (a lot of them reading like thoroughly researched legal documents.)

And woe betide anyone who was into shipping anyone with ANYONE in that fandom. You were most at risk, it seemed, if your vision of the characters deviated from the creators ‘original intentions.’ (Hypocritical of a woman who made most of her living writing erotica.)

Imagine getting sued over a headcanon…

Put simply: we all lived in fear of her team of highly paid lawyers descending from the heavens and taking us to court over a slashfic less than 500 words long.

all

of

this

Reblogging because I can’t believe there are people out there who don’t know the story behind fan fiction disclaimers. 

Yep I used to have disclaimers on all my Buffy fic back in the day. The Buffy creators were mostly pretty chill about fandom but it’s not like it is now. You did NOT talk about fandom with anyone except other fandom people and bringing it up at cons was a massive no no because of stuff like this.

I think Supernatural (and Misha Collins specifically) was when that wall between fandom and creators started to break down. It’s a relatively new thing.

I remember going to a Merlin panel down in London and a girl sitting next to me asked the cast about slash and I thought she was going to get kicked out!

Fandom history is important.

Oh, this brings back some not so-awesome ‘90s fandom memories! 

Oh man, let me tell you about the X-Files fandom. Lawyers for FOX sued, threatened, and generally terrified the owners of fan websites on a regular basis. God help you if you wrote or created original art set in their (expansive) universe or worse - dared to write about their characters. Even people who weren’t creating fanworks, just hosting Geocities pages about how much people liked the show would be sent C&D orders or actually fined. When I was first discovering the concept, the first rule of fandom was you do not talk about fandom because the consequences could be devastating.

It was such a strange and uncomfortable experience for me when fans in LOTR and Potter fandoms suddenly started shoving their work in people’s faces speaking publicly about fandom and wanting to engage in dialogue with the creators and actors of the Thing they were into. Fan stuff was supposed to stay online, in archives and list-serves and zines we passed around because it just wasn’t cool to talk about it and it could get you in a boatload of trouble. The freedom we have to create and gather together in a shared space, or actually be acknowledged in any way by people outside the fandom was inconceivable to my fannish, teenaged self. I want fans these days to understand how amazing modern fandom really is, cherish the community, and appreciate what it took to get us here. 

“if you found this by googling yourself, hit back now. this means you, pete wentz”

Oh hey, even more blasts from the past.

I was one of the ones who got a love letter from Anne Rice’s lawyers. Bear in mind that up until that point her publisher had encouraged fanfic and worked with the archive keeper (one of my roommates at the time) to drum up publicity for upcoming books and so on.

I could tell such tales of how much Anne screwed over her fans back then. The tl;dr version is that she and her peeps would use fan projects as free market research and then bring in the lawyers once it was felt Anne could make money off of it herself. (Talismanic Tours being one of the most offensive examples of this.)

But where fanfic is concerned not only did we get nastygrams but one of my friends had Anne’s lawyer trying to fuck up her own privately owned business which had NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING ANNE RELATED. Said friend was a small business owner with health issues who wasn’t exactly rolling in money, so guess how well that went?

On top of that when yours truly tried to speak out about it I discovered that someone in Anne’s camp had been cyber stalking me to the point where they took all the tiny crumbs of personal information I had posted over the course of five years or so and used it to doxx me (before that was even a term and in early enough days of the WWW that this wasn’t an easy task) and post VERY personal information about me on the main fandom message board of the time. Luckily for me the mod was my friend and she took that down post haste, but it was still oodles of fun feeling that violated and why to this day I am very strict about keeping my fandom and personal lives separate online.

Hence why those of us in the fandom at the time who still gave enough of a shit to want to keep writing fic DID keep writing fic, but shoved it so far underground and slapped it with so many disclaimers they could’ve outweighed the word count of War & Peace. It wasn’t just for the purpose of protecting fic but for trying to protect our personal lives as well.

(Also would love to know who @tiger-in-the-flightdeck knew. Life paths crossing after so many years….)

Lucasfilm also sent cease-and-desist letters to Star Wars fanzines publishing slash.

My favourite bit I read from one included the idea that you weren’t allowed to have any explicit content, of which anything queer, no matter how tame, was included, to “preserve that innocence even Imperial crew members must be imagined to have”.

Yeah. The same Imperial crew members who helped build the Death Star to commit planetary genocide.

(It’s one reason Sinjir Velus, while I still have some issues with him, feels like such a delicious ‘f*** you’.)

Later on, they were apparently persuaded to ‘allow’ fans to write slash, provided in ‘remained within the nebulous bounds of good taste’.

(On a related note, if I wasn’t quite so attached to my URL, I would 100% change it to ‘Nebulous Bounds’, because that’s just downright catchy)

Anne McCaffrey had this huge long set of rules about how exactly you were allowed to play in her sandbox. Dragonriders of Pern was my first online fandom, and I was big into the Pern RP scene - and just about every fan-Weyr had a copy of these lists of rules McCaffrey wanted enforced. One of which was ‘no porn’ and another was basically ‘it can’t be gay’ (and for a while ‘no fanfiction posted online’? which??? anyway.)

She relaxed a little as time went on, but still. 

Let’s not forget: the reason AO3 is called ‘Archive of our own’  is because it was created in response to some bullshit that assholes were trying to play with fan creators. Basically (if I remember the fiasco correctly) trying to mine fandom creators for content which they could then use to generate ad profit on their shitty websites. When the series creators objected, the fans tried to pull their content, only to find that the website hoster resisted, claiming their content was all his now.

That wasn’t even all that long ago…

fandom history class

Interesting! wow

I remember back in the days having to put a disclaimer on EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of my Twilight fanfic chapters. That’s what everyone did. Even though sometimes it was simply a: I don’t own these characters. I play with them.

It was so strange not doing it on AO3 at the beginning.

I still disclaim. Fandom may be more mainstream, but you never know who might get lawyer happy. You can bet I’ll cover my arse best I can at all times.

Oh man, Pern fandom. I was originally in Pern fandom in the early 00s, when the Rules were still going strong. When I left the fandom and came back and found that there were FORUM CLUBS?! With the posts just where ANYONE COULD READ THEM?! AND NEW DRAGON COLORS?!?! Holy shit, mind blown.

And I remember the list on ff.net of authors whose work you weren’t allowed to fic, including Anne Rice. And literally everyone putting some kind of disclaimer on their fic. It was just how fandom operated.

This isn’t even ancient history. Back in 2010, there was an extremely nasty incident in which Diana Gabaldon (the author of a number of formally published Doctor Who self-insert fics the Outlander series) put up a blog post that began like this…

OK, my position on fan-fic is pretty clear. I think it’s immoral, I _know_ it’s illegal, and it makes me want to barf whenever I’ve inadvertently encountered some of it involving my characters.

As if this weren’t already a strong statement coming from a woman who seems to be oddly invested in writing sexy assault scenes (not that there’s anything wrong with subversive female fantasies, but I’M JUST SAYING), Gabaldon continued in the same vein, comparing fanfic to home invasion and adultery (as well as other bizarre and unsavory things in her responses to the comments on the now-deleted post). When “fandom” rose from the depths of Livejournal to challenge her, she became even more offensive and belligerent, and other popular writers (such as George RR Martin, who was ironcially part of the Livejournal fandom culture himself) came to her defense. This “debate” led to a number of think pieces in mainstream media about how entitled and ungrateful fans were destroying traditional publishing, not to mention high-profile male creators publicly complaining about cosplay, teenage girls attending comic conventions, and other visible manifestations of fandom.

What has changed since then is that the young people (primarily women) whose work was nurtured in fandom communities have become professionals, and they’re transforming the entertainment industry from the inside. Fanfic writers are now publishing original novels and editing their own literary magazines for genre fiction. Fan artists are now working for Marvel and DC and putting out original graphic novels with major presses. Video game fans work as programmers and localizers, and cosplay enthusiasts have become character and set designers.

This cultural shift is not just a white thing and not just a straight thing and not just an American thing. Representation in fiction and art - traditionally published or otherwise - is hugely empowering, as is being part of a supportive community. I don’t mean to suggest that fandom is changing the world… but it kind of is.

one thing i particularly love is how shows have characters that write fanfiction because shows have writers that wrote fanfiction. current fan culture hasn’t been this way for very long, but it’s been this way for long enough, and now it’s in children’s cartoons like adventure time that if you like a book or a show, you might write your own adventures for it and read it to your friends, no big deal. i don’t remember seeing any girl in any show writing fanfiction where that wasn’t the punchline, that she was a sad freak…you still see that joke sometimes, but increasingly there’s also support and approval for the collaborative, imaginative storytelling fans do for fun, and that’s really cool.  

Oh man. I remember my first fan war, part of which was “any gayness is automatically rated R/18+ and thus not acceptable on this forum THINK OF THE CHILDREN.” Good times.

THE NORTH REMEMBERS.
Fanfic, and why I’ll never read an Anne Rice book: https://youtu.be/bHVCQuJvAB4

There is a reason livejournal took off so well and became the home of fandom for almost 15 years. It was easy to use. You could filter your posts by friend locking it or allowing certain individuals to see it, so you can interact with real life and online friends. LJ cuts made it easy to post long fic (you see it today in the “keep reading” thing on tumblr) and it was easy to join communities. Communities had similar properties to individual LJs. You could also filter your friends list so it was easy to catch up on stuff. The tagging system actually functioned well! The expression of things through icons! Comment threads were wonderful. You could actually organize and talk about stuff without it being all over the place!

I miss LJ ok?

On that note, I remember when it was common practice to bump the rating of a fic up if it contained slash. At all. Two dudes holding hands? PG. Two girls kissing? PG-13. There were so many het fics that were complete smut (which we called lemons) that were rated R, but the same smut for gay characters was NC-17. And that was before ff.net changed its rating system.

and don’t even get me started on the backdoor hidden speakeasies where RPF was forced to hide. these days 1D fic gets pulled to publish by mainstream publishers, but once upon a time not so long ago to write anything about real people was so taboo you risked losing friendships and being kicked out of forums and mailing lists and shunned to hell and back.

whispered passwords to locked forums passed through private messages, praying the person you were inviting wasn’t just looking to out you and get you kicked from the main fandom areas.

it was a whole different world not even ten years ago kids. be grateful for what you have and never forget the burning times.

Remember back in the old days when we used PG-13 and R to rate fic, before the Motion Picture Association of America attacked with claims of copyright infringement, forcing ffnet and others to switch to “Teen” and “Mature” because the MPAA “owned” the letter R?  And for weeks, there were fics everywhere written without the letter R at all? 

Remember when literary agents would message fanfic writers and tell them they would NEVER represent anyone who had ever in their entire lives written even a single fanfic, and that the only shot anyone had at ever being published was to delete their fanfic and never write any again?  And then if you dared talk about this, you’d be told a confusing jumble of “that’s absolutely true, nobody wants to represent someone who doesn’t follow the rules” and “you’ll never be published anyway, why give up your hobby for an impossible pipedream?”

Remember when all fanfiction was considered plagiarism in academic circles and students could face disciplinary actions for writing it even though it had nothing whatsoever to do with their classes?

Remember that scare when fanfiction was on the verge of being declared criminal in the US, as part of some draconian anti-net-neutrality legislation (there have now been so many I’ve forgotten which one), and everyone was frantically backing up their favorites lest sites go dark?

Never take fanfiction for granted.  Never take AO3 for granted.  Never take the fact that Stephanie Meyer declined to sue EL James for granted.  (I’m no Twilight fan and I loathe 50 Shades but in truth that could have been a disastrous test case, so God bless Meyer for her decision.)

Don’t forget the last year’s affair that sufficiently ended all fanfilm work in Star Trek. And you now can make a movie of maximum of 15 minutes and two parts, no more epic stories. And you have to put the disclaimer there. 

yep, all of this.

This is such a good read. I would totally teach a class on fandom history xD

There is literally a fanfiction class and workshop at the art school where I teach. So many of my creative writing students write fanfiction, mostly girls but a lot of the boys as well. When I tell them I write fanfiction, they get starry-eyed. “What’s your tumblr?” they say. “I’ll tell you when you graduate,” I say. I’ve had girls in my college classes, too, say to me, “I have no idea how I’m going to find time to write this paper. I have way too much fanfiction to write,” to which I have replied, “I have no idea how I’m going to find time to grade these papers. I have way too much fanfiction to write.” Fandom is a unifying force. I’m glad we’ve come this far.

Wow, this is really fascinating to read. I’ve heard some bad stuff about people getting sued for writing fics/drawing fanarts, but I never thought it was THIS bad. Having grown up in Japanese fandom where fanfics and fanarts are encouraged (despite technically still illegal) by the industry. I was somewhat surprised at how many secretive western fandom were back during mid-2000s and how many people are shocked when they’re told about how people in Japan are talking or even selling fanfics and fanarts with little to no repercussions (they do have some rules, but nothing too extreme). You guys has gone through a lot of hardship to get freedom to talk about fandom.

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