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Negotiating copyright in online creative spaces: how Canadian fan writers navigate and learn about law




Katz, Rebecca

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The Internet makes it easier than ever for users to access, transform or "remix", and distribute content. This technological and cultural revolution makes creators of us all - and makes copyright more relevant to more people. However, despite the ease of creating and sharing media online (as opposed to simply consuming: see Lessig, 2004), public copyright literacy has not necessarily increased. Amateur online creators typically lack formal copyright training, which may lead to legal misunderstandings or concerns, as well as an amateur-grown culture of informal copyright norms for negotiating the law. This research uses fan fiction writers as one example of online creators. Fan fiction refers to stories based on identifiable segments of popular culture, such as books, movies, or TV shows (Tushnet, 1997). Fan fiction is typically amateur-written and shared in free online communities. Fan fiction writers are one among many online subcultures who create second-generation works drawing on pre-existing media, and who are therefore copyright stakeholders. Prior research with fan creators indicates that copyright norms are prevalent in fan communities. Norms may track or integrate legal doctrine to varying degrees; however, misinformation also circulates in fan spaces, as creators may refer to peer sources and find legal texts inaccessible (Fiesler, Bruckman, 2014; Fiesler et al, 2015; Freund, 2014). This presentation reports on the author's preliminary dissertation findings regarding fan writers. It is interdisciplinary, drawing on scholarship in law, information studies, and fan studies. It presents a literature review of the subject as well as results from a pilot study and early qualitative interviews addressing how Canadian fans negotiate copyright. This research adds a Canadian perspective to the literature on online creators' copyright knowledge, research, and needs. It also adds further qualitative data about how stakeholders outside law, libraries, and traditional publishing negotiate copyright law in a global, digital context.



Intellectual property, copyright, user-generated content








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ABC Copyright 2019