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SXSW Interactive 2013

Catching Fire? Or Not. Fans, Creativity & Fair Use

Fan creativity is as old as storytelling, but in the online era our natural desire to have fun with something we love impacts intellectual property rights and brand-building.

It's not just Threadless's "Shirt of the Day," or fanfics like "Stephen Colbert and the Eagle of Truthiness," it's memes like "Otters That Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch," Machinima videos, and more. Fans who get playful with beloved books and shows look to the Copyright Act and the legal protections given to “transformative works;” however there is a lot of confusion and paranoia about what fans can and cannot do. Our new toolsets have expanded expression and participation, and challenged what we think we know about what is legal.

This panel will be a frank discussion about the laws that protect fan-creators of transformative works, the gray areas of copyright and fair use, why fan creativity is usually not infringement, and the issues that corporations will have when trying to capitalize on fan culture.

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  1. What kinds of fan/creator/platform relationships work and what kinds fail?
  2. Without demanding more rights than you are entitled to, how does a media property or its marketers engage fans?
  3. What if there is something you absolutely don’t want your fans to do. Can you stop them?
  4. How can you create a project so it becomes useful to the fannish community?
  5. How do you attract fans to your social networking or community platform and make them feel welcome?



Lisa Bunker, Social Media Librarian, Pima County Public Library

Meta Information:

  • Tags: copyright, creativity
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Culture and Entertainment
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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