For some reason, here, that culture didn’t develop. There was sort of almost a snobbery, a feeling that fan fiction is stealing and it isn’t original. the myth of originality — everything that we right in a way is fan fiction. Everything is inspired by and feeds off of what came before, and if it doesn’t then it is probably utterly incomprehensible and not very interesting. There’s a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of people would say things like, ‘Fan fiction is illegal,’ without actually knowing the law, without knowing where that came from and without actually knowing the law. And they would pass that along as gospel. And a lot of fans themselves actually believed it, and what’s amazing is there are so many people who are so passionate about creating and responding to what they love that it didn’t stop them. And when you think about it, it doesn’t seem fair. Who is a 13-year-old girl hurting by posting her story of how she goes to Hogwarts and meets Harry Potter. The answer is, certainly not J. K. Rowling. For books, there’s not as much fan fiction. It tends to be a community activity, so there tends to be a bigger community for movies or television series that have run a long time. And anything that has a lot of fan fiction written about it is doing great.
Is there a lot of Temeraire fanfic?
There is quite a bunch. I tend not to read it myself, because I don’t actually necessarily want to find other people’s ideas of the Temeraire series. I sort of know too much, so I’ll read a piece of fan fiction and go, ‘no wait, that’s wrong.’ Only there’s no way that person can know that it’s wrong because it’s not in something that’s actually been published. So it’s not as much fun for me to read Temeraire fan fiction as it is to read Harry Potter fan fiction, but I do encourage people to write it and I do love looking at fan art.
On the OTW archive?
Yes, there’s a lots there, there’s lots of it in on Live Journal. A lot of people post it on their blogs.
Does the OTW take legal action?
We mostly feel that the problem is not that the law has to be changed, but that people don’t understand the law. Is J. K. Rowling really going to sue a 13-year-old girl for writing a Harry Potter story? It doesn’t make financial sense. We actually think it’s quite unlikely we’re going to see a legal case about it. If a fan comes to us for help or gets a ‘cease and desist’ order, we’re there to help them, and we do provide services for that. Obviously, vidders are in more of a tough spot right now, because Youtube is making these automated measures, yanking things down because the original creator says ‘this is mine.’ Which is unfortunate. We do feel that it is really about reminding people, ‘Don’t forget about us.’ And then people say, ‘oh yeah, I see. That is fair use. That is creative. That is transformative.’ You need to not crush this explosion of free speech and creativity while you prevent someone from reposting a clip of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show.