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NET303 Policy Primer: Fanfiction.net

An overview of key issues in the Terms of Service and associated documents for the website Fanfiction.net

Melissa R

on 28 October 2012

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Transcript of NET303 Policy Primer: Fanfiction.net

Fanfiction.net Policy Primer Ever wondered what would happen if
The Doctor visited Hogwarts? So what else do the Terms of Service say? FanFiction.net is a place where you
can share your own stories about What you can do on FanFiction.net is dictated by the Terms of Service, which incorporate the Privacy policy and the Community Guidelines.
Let's have a look at what they say. You have to accept the Terms of Service when you register to use the site...

... but they apply to EVERYONE who uses the site, whether they have accepted them or not. That's what this means: 1. "A. By using and/or visiting this website
(collectively, including all content available through the FanFiction.Net domain name
and any country-specific domains or subdomains thereof,
the "FanFiction.Net Website", or "Website"), you signify your agreement to
(1) these terms and conditions (the "Terms of Service"), " 1B. "Although we may attempt to notify you
when major changes are made to these Terms of Service,
you should periodically review the most up-to-date version.
FanFiction.Net may, in its sole discretion, modify or revise these Terms of Service and policies at any time, and you agree to be bound by such modifications or revisions." We can change the rules.
Whenever we like.
Even without telling you.
(So there.) ... in other words: 5A. "The content on the FanFiction.Net Website,
except all User Submissions (as defined below),
including without limitation, the text, software, scripts, graphics,
photos, sounds, music, videos, interactive features and the like ("Content")
and the trademarks, service marks and logos contained therein ("Marks"),
are owned by or licensed to FanFiction.Net,
subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under the law.
Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information
and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, modified,
produced, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed,
sold, licensed, translated, published, performed or otherwise exploited
for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent
of the respective owners. FanFiction.Net reserves all rights
not expressly granted in and to the Website and the Content. That seems pretty fair.
But it's a long-winded way to say, "If it's yours, it's yours,
but if it's ours, it's ours." 6B. "In connection with User Submissions,
you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that:
you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents,
and permissions to use and authorize FanFiction.Net
to use all patent, trademark, trade secret,
copyright or other proprietary rights
in and to any and all User Submissions
and have all necessary consents to collect, use and disclose
any personally identifiable information contained or displayed
in any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion
and use of the User Submissions
in the manner contemplated by the Website
and these Terms of Service. " And speaking of yours and ours [and theirs] ... Or, at least, that you have a licence
to send its characters to play with
Sherlock and Dr Watson? Did you really just tell them that you own
Buffy the Vampire Slayer? But there are ten stories
about that,
by seven different authors. I thought I was making a joke there. Nothing in the Terms and Conditions
prevents you from signing up with
multiple accounts. Or are there? 6C. "For clarity, you retain all
of your ownership rights
in your User Submissions. " Just so we're clear: 6F. "FanFiction.Net does not endorse any User Submission or any opinion,
recommendation, or advice expressed therein,
and FanFiction.Net expressly disclaims
any and all liability in connection with User Submissions.
FanFiction.Net does not permit copyright infringing activities
and infringement of intellectual property rights on its Website,
and FanFiction.Net will remove all Content and User Submissions
if properly notified that such Content or User Submission
infringes on another's intellectual property rights
or contravenes any applicable privacy legislation.
FanFiction.Net reserves the right to remove
Content and User Submissions without prior notice. " (That's what this means) It's their fault,
not ours. If somebody does the wrong thing I'm so glad we've
got that sorted out. Section 8 of the Terms of Service explains how to file a copyright infringement notice.
Fanfiction.net can terminate your account
if they catch you infringing copyright.
(Or for other breaches of the
Terms of Service) 8. "Be aware that there may be
adverse legal consequences
in your country
if you make a false
or bad faith allegation
of copyright infringement
by using this process." You'd better get it right, though. FanFiction respects the expressed wishes of the following authors/publishers and will not archive entries based on their work:
Anne Rice
Archie comics
Dennis L. McKiernan
Irene Radford
J.R. Ward
Laurell K. Hamilton
Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb
P.N. Elrod
Raymond Feist
Robin Hobb
Robin McKinley
Terry Goodkind Henry Jenkins (2006, p.41) describes fans as
"reluctant poachers",
"respecting literary property even as they seek to appropriate it for their own uses".
This could almost be a motto for FanFiction.net. Shame it's in the community guidelines ...
and there's no link to them
from the rest of the site.
(I found the text in the Terms of Service
and copied it into my browser.) This is very clear.
It respects the authors' rights
and spells out the rules
for the site's users. (Why couldn't you just say that in the first place?") What about me? 12. "You affirm that you are either
more than the age of majority
in your jurisdiction of residence,
or an emancipated minor,
or possess legal parental or guardian consent,
and are fully able and competent
to enter into the terms, conditions, obligations,
affirmations, representations, and warranties
set forth in these Terms of Service,
and to abide by and comply with
these Terms of Service.
You affirm that you are over the age of 13,
as the FanFiction.Net Website is
not intended for children under 13. " Because a teenager would never
lie about having
their parents' permission.
And children under 13 love reading
Terms of Service. "FanFiction adopts the rating system from FictionRatings.com. " Oh yeah ... you need to rate your stories. From my quick scan,
I don't think many users know that ... The ratings are:
K, K+, T, M, MA.
But FanFiction.net doesn't accept "MA" rated stories. "We do not rent or sell your personally identifying information to other companies or individuals, unless we have your consent."
(That's in the Privacy Policy) The good news is: You may not be worried about your online privacy now,
but you should be.
Do you think your future employers really want to
read your stories, (however awesome they may be)
Or worse ... your grandparents? Not convinced? Just one more thing. That Privacy protection is only as good as FanFiction.net's interpretation of the law. "We do not rent or sell your personally identifying information ... [unless]
We conclude that we are required by law or have a good faith belief that access, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of FanFiction.Net, its users or the public."
[That's from the Privacy policy again] If this were Fiction, those staff would be qualified to make that decision. But in the Real World?
I'm not so sure. [That's from the Community Guidelines:] Links:
Terms of Service:
Privacy policy:
Community guidelines:
Jenkins, H. (2006). Fans, bloggers, and gamers: exploring participatory culture. New York: New York University Press. Produced using Prezi
by Melissa Rogerson
for NET303
in SP3/2012 "Conducts that should always be observed"
FanFiction Content Guidelines:
Entries not allowed
Actions not allowed
General rules
Content ratings
and that list of banned authors & publishers. Speaking of community guidelines ...
Here's what they cover. There doesn't seem to be any priority here. Is it really as important to spell-check a story (Conduct that should always be observed)
as it is to avoid plagiarism (Actions not allowed),
as it is to rate the story accurately,
and to avoid stepping on Anne Rice's toes? other people's
characters and worlds. (There are 524 stories about this) Oh wait ... Do you want to read
Grandma's fanfic? (I didn't think so!)
Full transcript