unjapanologist: (Default)

Hi! Sorry about the months of silence, I hope everyone's doing well... Dreamwidth seems quiet these days. More soon about the ten million things I've been busy with. First though, a crosspost of a quick analysis thing I wrote for Fanhackers about Amazon's new great idea. The tone of this post is restrained because Fanhackers is not a private soapbox, but my personal objections to the idea of Amazon trying to revolutionize fanfic distribution are, um, extreme.


PaidContent reports that in June this year, Amazon will be launching Kindle Worlds, a legal publishing platform for fanfic. According to Amazon's announcement, Kindle Worlds will start out by allowing fanfic based on Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries.

It's not necessarily bad news that companies are trying to create options for "licensed" fanfic, and I'll leave the in-depth analysis of the legal aspects of this to professionals. Legal issues aside, though, I certainly hope that Kindle Worlds won't become a model for other attempts to legalize fanfic. This concept seems to repeat a lot of fan-unfriendly aspects of previous forays by companies into the weird world of fic monetization. Kindle Worlds would allow fic authors to sell works "without hassle", as PaidContent says, but apparently also without many rights, and within the boundaries of extremely strict content guidelines.

The platform refers to fandoms as "Worlds". Copyright holders can give Amazon Publishing a license to allow fic writers to upload stories about licensed media to Amazon Publishing, which will then offer the stories for sale. Since this is not a self-publishing platform, Amazon Publishing will be setting the prices:
Read more... )Again, I'm not against the idea of "licensed" fic in and of itself, and those who want to agree to Amazon's terms certainly have the right to do so. However, something like Kindle Worlds can be only one option among many for licensing fic, and it definitely shouldn't be a model for other "solutions" to the legal uncertainties surrounding fanworks. The only option for publishing fic legally can't be a platform that takes or licenses away many rights, doesn't give fic authors the option to set prices, and excludes large numbers of fans with its content guidelines. Hopefully, alternatives that strike a better balance between the rights of fans and copyright holders will emerge soon to counter this.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Remember Aaron Swartz, the information freedom activist who set off a broad online discussion about academic databases in 2011 when he downloaded about four million articles from JSTOR to make a point about how knowledge shouldn't be locked away from the public?

Swartz never put those four million articles online anywhere, or did anything else with them besides downloading, but the way he downloaded them (edit: better link) was in violation of JSTOR's terms of service. JSTOR recognized that they were dealing with an activist doing a stunt, not some kind of pirate who wanted to deny them income; they declined to press charges. However, a federal prosecutor decided to make an example of Swartz and pursued him relentlessly, threatening to slap him with a million-dollar fine and up to thirty-five years in jail. With the upcoming trial looming over him, Swartz hanged himself on January 11 at the age of 26.

We often point to examples of incidents that show how broken copyright law is, but this is just too enraging for words. Karl Fogel at QuestionCopyright.org and Lawrence Lessig say best exactly how shameful the prosecutor's behavior was, regardless of whether or not Swartz' actions were wrong (they differ on that). This guy did not deserve what he was being threatened with. The people who wasted public money hounding him to his death instead of dealing with actual crimes should be too ashamed to ever look in the mirror again.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
In The New Imperialism: Forcing Morality Shifts And Cultural Change Through Exported IP Laws, the always-informative Techdirt gives a rundown of recent incidents where pressure from US media companies forced countries to change their IP laws in ways that are against the interests of their own citizens. The whole thing is interesting and also contains a lot of links to related relevant stuff, but here's the important bit:

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (internethygiene)
I'm increasingly convinced that all schools from the primary to higher level should establish new classes on the history and functioning of the internet. Every adult in the world should be forced to attend at least a semester of such a class. Policymakers who are involved in regulating the internet should be forced to attend and come back for remedial classes at regular intervals, because they need a well-developed bullshit radar to deal with the horrendous policy proposals that are lobbed at their heads all the freakin' time.

Read more... )We've seen a lot of bad recommendations for internet policy in the recent past, a lot of it related to misguided copyright enforcement initiatives, but this is really special. No anonymity? Constant oversight? Only real pictures as avatars? No using languages that the internet police doesn't speak? How on earth does this sort of baffling nonsense make it into the recommendations of an official body made up of grownups with brains?

The noxious influence of business interests is strong in this one; EDRI calls the whole initiative "little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry". What's kind of shocking here is not that business interests are trying to influence policymaking, though. That's been happening ever since businesses and policymaking came into existence. The real issue is that these sorts of recommendations have some chance of getting somewhere. They may or may not make it into law, but they will almost certainly end up influencing the policymakers who will lay eyes on them. Far too many of these people have no earthly idea how the internet works and what is necessary to keep the internet gears from turning. They don't have the necessary background knowledge and practical experience to recognize these "recommendations" for the harmful crap they are the moment the papers land on their desks. I shudder to think that serious lawmaking people will be looking this over, nodding along and assuming these ideas are very reasonable and terrorist-stopping.

Nobody can be expected to have a thorough grounding in every topic in existence, but the internet is no longer a "special" issue that you can ignore until some proposals come around, at which point you call in a "nerd" to explain things and tell you what to do. Knowing about the workings and needs of a functioning internet is as essential for a 21st-century public official as knowing about traffic rules. Every time you make a new rule, you should consider the effect it will have on the internet, and you should know how to do so. Back to school for everyone.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Remember Cecilia Gimenez, the lady who tried to restore a fresco in a church near Zaragoza and did it wrong? The story is twisting down some interesting paths, copyright-wise.

According to El Correo (in Spanish, English via gTranslate), thousands of people started visiting the church in the town of Borja after the botched restauration became famous on the internet. The church placed a collection box next to the "creatively restored" fresco, but few people left donations, so it was decided to charge admission to the building instead. Apparently they've earned about 2000 euros in just four days. Now Gimenez' family has called in lawyers to claim that she should get royalties, because the foundation that operates the church is making money off her work.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Busy with AdaCamp right now, where we've had a couple of great sessions on fandom/fanworks and open culture/open source software. More on that later.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Japan has passed a new law that criminalizes unauthorized downloading and copying, even for personal use, of copyrighted music and video. That means that by October, anyone who illegally downloads a song will be committing an offense worth maximum two years of jail time. The new law also mandates high fines for illegal downloading, up to two million yen.

Much of the Japanese- and English-language internet seems in agreement that this new law is not a good idea (here, there, everywhere). I'd just like to add that the new punishments for illegal downloading are so out of proportion with the severity of the offense that this law is completely counterintuitive, and therefore doomed. Nobody is going to understand these new rules, meaning that nobody will follow them. 

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
There seems to be some confusion around here and elsewhere on the interwebs that ACTA is something local, like the EU equivalent of SOPA/PIPA. Unfortunately, ACTA is a treaty that was secretly negotiated and quietly pushed through by many governments from around the globe. It's already been signed by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea. Many EU countries also signed, although some of the national representatives who did so immediately regretted it and confessed that they had no idea what they'd put their signature under.

But ACTA can't become law in any EU country unless all individual countries also ratify the treaty and the overarching EU parliament also approves it. That's what the big push right now is all about: the EU countries, even those whose representatives already signed, will all dodge ACTA if the parliament decides to shoot it down, which it actually might. There is also still a chance that individual countries might still backtrack, and Poland already halted the ratification process. This is a nice example of the EU's "nothing happens unless every country agrees" ethic actually working for good instead of just stalling things: if one national government wakes up and gets ornery about something quiet and nasty like ACTA, they can actually save the citizens of all other EU countries, because some kinds of big treaties and proposed laws cannot be turned into actual law in any EU country unless everyone agrees they're a good idea.

I'm not certain what people from the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea can still do to prevent ACTA from becoming law in their countries, or even if it already is law in some of them. That all depends on the political process in those countries; like with the EU, a signature may not mean automatic ratification. There must be activist websites about ACTA for all of those places that inform citizens if there's still something they can actually do. For instance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a US perspective on ACTA here.

unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
We know the story by now, I suppose? ACTA is bad, but the European Parliament still needs to approve it, and there is a real chance they can be convinced not to do so if the people they represent make enough noise. Stop ACTA has summaries of and links to everything that's relevant. Here are some of the actions they recommend, in order of how much time they take to complete:
  • Signing these petitions:
  • Sending a message to all your country's representatives in one go using this form.
  • Checking the stance of your country's individual representatives on ACTA on this handy site and then using the contact info provided to call or mail the ones who still need to be convinced to vote against.

Please consider doing one or more of these, I've been following this ACTA nonsense for a couple of years and it's only barely less noxious now than it was in the beginning. Those who claim that all the bad things in the treaty have been ironed out by now are either uninformed or lying. The European Parliament is hardly perfect, but they actually have managed to vote against similar anti-internet and anti-consumer nonsense in the past, and there's good hope that they can do so again.

I sent a personal mail to all the Belgian MPs (including the far right ones *grimace*) and a thank-you note to the two who had already come out against ACTA. Fingers crossed.

ETA: Three! Got a reply from an MP listed as 'stance unknown' that he won't support the treaty as it is. Come on, come on...

ETA 2: Four!
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
In this post:

*Grumblings about the "I don't speak for the OTW" disclaimer and about diversity
*Very lengthy rantings about copyright legislation and why the OTW should do its utmost to make sure all fans feel comfortable approaching it for tools and resources
*An endorsement of Betsy Rosenblatt for the board

If you're pressed for time, please skip the grumblings and rantings and go straight to the endorsement. Lucy Pearson withdrew her candidacy while I was writing this, so I feel it's doubly important to stress why Betsy deserves a vote. Also, [personal profile] general_jinjur explained the OTW's voting system with pictures of smarties on a pai sho board yay very clear graphical representations, and what it comes down to is, the order in which we rank candidates during voting can matter a lot.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
The Kyoto International Manga Museum live-streamed its conference on the "virtual children" problem earlier today -the video is still available here. It was a good symposium, with many of the most important problems of this proposed legislation being explained by some very knowledgable people. I'm writing a longer post after I've gotten my grubby hands on a summary of Ito Go's presentation -he was the only one who spoke a bit too quickly and indistinctly for me to follow, and I don't want to misrepresent his words. For now, just a quick word on one of the topics raised that resonated the most with me: what happens when people are unwillingly faced with sexual imagery in public places.
Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
Attention, all who know Japanese and are interested in the recent legal wrangling in Japan on virtual children in sexual situations in manga: tomorrow (Sunday) the Kyoto International Manga Museum will be hosting and livecasting a symposium on the subject. Details about how to follow the livecast will appear on the museum's Twitter. The symposium starts at half past one in the afternoon; check here to find out what time that is in your location. I will attempt to follow and summarize what's said; hopefully the audio will be good and my less than stellar academic Japanese will be up to the task. Interesting people such as Ito Go, Takemiya Keiko and Jaqueline Berndt will be among the speakers.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Dan Kanemitsu has a great post up about why the proposed Tokyo ban of depictions of "nonexistent youth" in sexual situations is dangerous nonsense. Discussion about this proposed legislation has only been postponed at this point, and the city of Osaka has apparently decided they want to appear vigilant as well (and will engage in added vigilance by regulating women's comics and boys' love/yaoi. Thank heavens someone realizes that women's expressions of sexuality need extra policing! </sarcasm>).

Getting up in arms about nonexistent children seems to be a real trend these days. A similar law has gone live in the UK only a few days ago. With the February sentencing of US citizen Christopher Handley for possessing “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children" and Australia recently mulling criminalization of viewing or linking to online depictions of what might be nonexistent children in sexual situations, it almost looks as if countries are egging each other on to see who can look toughest on child pornography.
Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
(Beware, lots of links to Japanese-only sites in this one.) While I was in Japan last month, my Japanese advisor dragged me to Haru Comic City so I could chat with a former student of hers who is now active as a dojinka in Tokyo. This was my second time at a big dojinshi convention (sokubaikai), but since I was only there for about five minutes at the very end on that first occasion, that one probably doesn't count. The one-day Haru Comic City was held in the same building as the more famous Comiket (the one with over half a million attendees), but in the end I didn't even get to see the fabled big halls because there were so many damned people in the way. The number of attendees was staggering and I was afraid of losing sight of my advisor, so I stuck to the smaller (heh) west halls. It sounds very abstract to say that the dojinshi market is worth 50 billion yen, but this is suddenly much easier to imagine when you're standing in the midst of an ocean of dojinshi-toting women. (The total manga market, pockets and magazines but minus dojinshi, is estimated at 450 billion yen. That's only nine times the value of the fannish manga market. 50 billion isn't peanuts by any definition, and the dojinshi market is still growing, while the manga market for pockets and magazines appears to be shrinking. Interesting.)
Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
The copyright crazy has been particularly strong on the internets these last few weeks, and I seem unable to concentrate on other topics and finish that blasted Textual Echoes post until I've burned off a bit of steam. So, please have a few random links on the general topic of "die, copyright legislation, die":

Links links links... )
unjapanologist: (Default)

Originally published at Academic FFF. You can comment here or there.

A new Australian law could impose penalties on anyone who views slash fic or other (fan) media that feature fictional minors in a sexual situation. This isn't throwing out the baby with the bathwater, it's also throwing out the bath, the parents, the dog, and a couple of people who were just walking past the house.

Read more... )


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