[FFML] Fic archiving and FF.net

Craig fanfic at magister.net.au
Thu May 7 21:00:26 PDT 2009

On Thu, 7 May 2009, Richard Lawson <nouma at msn.com> wrote:

> One of the last anime conventions I went to a couple of years ago, 
> everyone on the fanfic panel blasted Fanfiction.net.  I felt the need to 
> defend it because I have a couple of my Ranma fics posted there.

Purely from a pragmatic standpoint, I'd do likewise.

> The general feeling was that no one should be allowed to profit from 
> fanfiction.  A hosting site that earns ad revenue for its owners goes 
> against the very concept of fanfiction, which technically violates 
> copyright.  The only way fanfiction should be allowed to happen is when 
> it is freely available in a format that doesn't earn money for anyone.

Hmm; a charming little theory perhaps, but (more or less as you say) 
absurdly naive, when one has fees to pay to maintain a site.  I've no 
problem at all with ff.net/fictionpress.com save that _any_ attempt to 
mirror either would be staggeringly difficult, bordering on impossible, 
and should either go down, the loss would be catastrophic for everybody 
who have things posted there and nowhere else.  Even should an independent 
mirror be feasible, I'd be astounded were the sites not dynamically 
generated (i.e., you could only get a static snapshot, which would be 
useless in recreating the sites as a whole).

> The problem is that the internet isn't free.  Usenet is going the way of 
> bulletin boards; there are a niche of people who still use them, but 
> because they are awkward to access and not well-moderated, they're not 
> generally useful.  More and more ISPs have given up on Usenet 
> altogether, and who can blame them.  It required a lot of infrastructure 
> for a seldom-used feature.

Perhaps, but it's possible (and simple) to post to moderated newsgroups 
without Usenet access.  Usually, this wouldn't be very useful (`What's the 
point of posting if I can't read anything?'), but RAAC is an exception, 
since the main point of posting (at least nowadays) is to get the fic 
archived.  Even if Usenet is dying, FTP certainly isn't.  Again, a 
text-based FTP archive is *very* simple to mirror (I've maintained a 
complete copy of the RAAC archive for nearly 10 years).  I'm not 
suggesting everybody who starts a fic should post it chapter by chapter to 
RAAC (as tended to happen in the 90s).  What I'm asking is that everybody 
who has finished a fic (whether now or years ago), and who once posted 
portions to RAAC without completing that posting, now finish doing so, so 
that at least the RAAC-Archive version is complete.

> Free, non-ad-revenue-generating hosting sites aren't the answer either. 
> This thread alone shows how ephemeral such sites are; here one day, gone 
> the next.

I couldn't agree more.  Look what happened to moonromance.net. 
Unfortunately, WWW-based sites are inherently clumsy to mirror, especially 
now that they are becoming cluttered increasingly with garbage such as 
excessive and unnecessary javascript navigation, Flash, Java applets, 
bloated graphics, dynamically-generated content, and God alone knows what 

> Honestly, about the only way a long-term fanfiction hosting 
> site is going to exist at all is if it generates revenue for the owners.

Exactly.  And (so far as I'm aware), fanfiction.net/fictionpress.com 
aren't making money from the _fiction_ per se; if they were selling it 
directly for profit, or claiming exclusive rights, then certainly people 
would have cause to complain.

> There are exceptions, loving fans with money to spare to host a site for 
> a certain fanfiction genre - I can think of at least two.  But I 
> honestly think the future is going to be sites like Fanfiction.net.

> What this means with regards to copyright I don't know.  Most publishers 
> turn a blind eye to fanfiction because they realize it keeps interest 
> high, and the more fanfiction there is the more likely people are to 
> seek out the source material.  Down the line, however, FF.net may find 
> itself facing a Cease & Desist order from a persnickity author.  We'll 
> have to wait and see.

I suspect that even were that to happen, the author in question could 
demand only that they remove all references to his/her work.  It's 
possible even that an author/publisher demanding the _entire_ site be 
taken down might well find themselves embroiled in a counter-suit filed by 
another author who is happy for the publicity fanfiction generates.


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