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July 20, 2008

Is fan fiction legal?

Literary Review of Canada Online - Friction over Fan Fiction

Undaunted by this, Rebecca Tushnet, a professor of law at Georgetown University, and a keen fan fiction writer herself, wants to take fan fiction out of the legal shadows where it has operated, more or less at sufferance, for decades, and carve out a legal place for it within the US doctrine of fair use. She has recently helped found the Organization for Transformative Works, with the mandate to establish fan fiction within the parameters of legal, non-infringing use.

Tushnet argues that the writing of non-commercial fan fiction is fair use. Fair, because it takes the source material as raw material and creatively transforms it in ways that copyright law is meant to encourage – for example, by expanding covert meanings perceived to be present or implicit in the original text, presenting new interpretations and viewpoints, or reflecting critically on the original content – and because it is extremely unlikely to substitute economically for, or damage the market of, the original work. “Like a book review that quotes a work in order to criticize it, a retelling of a story that offers the villain’s point of view or adds explicit sexual content can be a transformative fair use,” she maintains.

But there is an opposing view that considers fan fiction to be insufficiently transformative. Although the characters may be harnessed to a different story vision, or even set in an alternative universe, fan fiction is essentially a narrative reworking with key fictional elements of the original; a derivative work, not a critical work, unlike a book review. In this view, copyright owners are entitled to protect their characters against fans’ distortions.

(via Scalzi)

July 18, 2008

Kay Ryan has been chosen to be the country's 16th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress.

Bookslut has many links regarding Kay Ryan and her work. NYT Web Extra | Selected Poems by Kay Ryan
A CAT/A FUTURE A cat can draw the blinds behind her eyes whenever she decides. Nothing alters in the stare itself but she's not there. Likewise a future can occlude: still sitting there, doing nothing rude. HOME TO ROOST The chickens are circling and blotting out the day. The sun is bright, but the chickens are in the way. Yes, the sky is dark with chickens, dense with them. They turn and then they turn again. These are the chickens you let loose one at a time and small — various breeds. Now they have come home to roost—all the same kind at the same speed.

July 17, 2008

I Don't Have Time For Noncontroversial Art Exhibits

I Don't Have Time For Noncontroversial Art Exhibits | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

I'm a busy man. If you know me, that's old news. Chances are, if I'm not standing in line for one controversial art exhibition, I'm on my way across town to another. It's no easy schedule, but if I'm going to keep on top of this year's Piss-Christs, I can't be dillydallying. It's got to be bim, bam, human fetus in a Coke bottle. No time for second-guessing or slowly soaking in the dynamic, geometric tension of the upcoming Cezanne retrospective. Not while there's a guy in the East Village who's going to vomit Cheerios into a piggy bank and smash it open with his penis.

When it comes to appreciating the diverse world of highly objectionable art, you've got to prioritize.

My love affair with boundary-pushing art began more than 10 years ago. Back then I had a ton of energy and a lot less responsibility. I had time for each and every marginally disgusting effrontery to common decency within a 50-mile radius. These days, my schedule is pretty packed. Take this week, for example. Monday: Abu Ghraib flip books. Tuesday: a blackface reenactment of the Reagan assassination attempt. Wednesday: drive upstate to watch an amputee roast and eat his own golden retriever. You get the picture. I swear, if my wife didn't spend her weekends making plaster sculptures of Catholic saints being fisted by famous serial killers, I'd never see her.

July 14, 2008

How Bastille Day affected the French Languages

Language Log -- Bastille Day 2008

From a linguistic point of view, however, the French Revolution was a disaster. The monarchy had been largely unconcerned with what languages its subjects spoke. At the time, the languages spoken by natives of France included six Romance languages: French, Occitan, Franco-Provencal, Walloon, Catalan, and Corsican (a dialect of Italian), the Germanic languages Flemish and German, the Celtic language Breton, and Basque. Some of these, especially French and Occitan, each had numerous divergent forms. Additional languages, such as Berber and Tahitian, now qualify as "French". A full list may be found in the Cerquiglini report Les Langues de la France.

One of the effects of the Revolution was to bring about a greatly increased centralization of the French government and a policy of establishing a standard form of French as the only language of the Republic. I emphasize that the policy adopted was not merely to ensure that all French citizens shared a common language, but to eliminate all competitors. This is readily seen in the title of the report by the Abbe Gregoire establishing the policy: Rapport sur la necessite et les moyens d'aneantir les patois et d'universaliser la langue francaise "Report on the necessity and means of annihlating the dialects and of making the French Language universal". Since the Revolution, all French governments have been hostile to minority languages.