Fan Labor as Paid Labor?

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Slide deck for my presentation (scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009) for the Internet as Playground and Factory Conference, Eugene Lang College, The New School.


  • 1. Fan Labor as Paid Labor? Abigail De Kosnik Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley The Internet as Playground and Factory November 14, 2009
  • 2. Fan discussion/commentary/speculation (AMCs Mad Men Talk)
  • 3. Fan knowledge archives (Wikis, etc.) (Lostpedia: The Lost Encyclopedia)
  • 4. Fan costumes/props (Bluetooth Star Trek Communicator)
  • 5. Fan films (Sandy Colloras Batman: Dead End , 2003)
  • 6. Fan fiction (
  • 7. Fan Fiction (In Fair Veronas Storybook Endings, Gossip Girl universe)
  • 8. Fan art (Gary Mayoralgos Star Wars art)
  • 9. Fan vids ( Brokeback Mountain -Inspired Spoof Trailers)
  • 10. Fanmixes (ToCourtDangers History Involved Itself, Harry Potter universe)
  • 11. The End of the Distinct Media Product
  • 12. Fans are Produsers
    • From Axel Bruns The Future Is User-Led: The Path towards Widespread Produsage ( Fibreculture Journal , Issue 11, 2008):
    • Community-Based
    • Fluid Roles
    • Unfinished Artifacts
    • Common Property
  • 13. Produsage is Community-Based
    • Produsage is based on the collaborative engagement of (ideally, large) communities of participants in a shared project. [] [P]rodusage assumes that the community as a whole, if sufficiently large and varied, will be able to contribute more than a closed team of producers, however qualified.
  • 14. Produsers Roles Are Fluid
    • Ideally, produsers in a community of produsage participate as is appropriate to their personal skills, interests, and knowledges; such participation further changes as current points of focus for the produsage project change. Active content contributors on one aspect of a project may participate in quality assurance processes on another, or may at times act only as users.
  • 15. The Artifacts of Produsage Are Unfinished
    • Open to the input of users as produsers of content, content artefacts in produsage projects are continually under development, and therefore always unfinished; their development does not follow the discrete versioning and revisioning processes of traditional content production, but instead proceeds along evolutionary, iterative paths.
    • Content produsage, therefore, is palimpsestic content artefacts [] resemble the repeatedly overwritten, erased, restored and further overwritten pages of ancient texts.
  • 16. Produsage Calls for More Permissive Approaches to Intellectual Property
    • The community-based development of any form of content necessarily requires members of the produsage community to adopt more permissive approaches to legal and moral rights in intellectual property than is the norm in traditional, corporate content production.
    • While content producers by legal default hold copyright in their work, this is not feasible for content produsers , who after all are participating in a collaborative, ongoing, and iterative process of content development which explicitly requires its participants to work on the content already contributed by their predecessors.
  • 17. Current Copyright Law Has Given Rise to a Permission Culture
    • [A] palimpsest cannot be created on the basis of existing, standard copyright law, unless extensive permissions for re-use and redevelopment are granted by each participant.
  • 18. Fans Operate in a Tacit Ignorance Culture
    • Fans give their work away for free in exchange for being ignored by the copyright holders of source materials.
    • Fans can never charge for their work for fear of becoming the targets of copyright infringement lawsuits.
    • Fans police one another to ensure compliance with the tacit agreement that fan labor given away for free is free from all threat of legal action.
  • 19. Alternatives to Free Fan Labor
    • Microdistribution (Let fans distribute their works for profit amongst themselves.)
    • Changes to Copyright Laws (Force copyright holders to accept fans right to profit from transformative works.)
    • Officialization of fan work (Media companies recognize ability of fan productions to create value.)
  • 20. Microdistribution in 2006
    • Lori Jareos Another Hope (2006, fanfic book, Star Wars universe), distributed on and
      • The stupid is strong with this one
      • Feel the Stupid
      • The Worlds Stupidest Human
  • 21. Microdistribution in 2009
    • Penny Lane and Jenny Wrens Stand By Me (2008, real person fanfic book, John Lennon and Paul McCartney), distributed on in paperback ($19.30) and e-book/pdf (free):
      • Its great to have it as a complete book
      • I love this fic!!! Im so gonna buy it
  • 22. Changes to Copyright Laws
    • Limit on time for authors exclusive rights
    • Rules governing sound recording covers: no permission, payment scaled by distribution size
    • Soviet copyright law: no permission, mandatory payment
  • 23. Officialization of Fan Work
    • Hiring fan artists
    • Offering licenses to fans
    • Incorporating selected fan works into franchise canon
  • 24.
    • See also:
    • Should Fan Fiction Be Free?
    • Cinema Journal (48:4, Summer 2009)
    • Abigail De Kosnik
    • Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley
    • Berkeley Center for New Media
    • Department of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies
    • [email_address]
    • Twitter: @De_Kosnik