Sean Jordan opens this blog with a common sentiment about fan fiction: that it is “lazy” and generally “bad.” He is not concerned here with evaluating the merits or shortcomings of fan fiction, however, but with the opportunities that the internet has created for the dissemination of fan fiction. Fan fiction is technically illegal, but is generally tolerated provided its creators do not claim copyright or attempt to sell their work. Here Jordan compares ordinary fan fiction to Japanese dojinshi, where such fan fiction is allowed and often taken quite seriously to create polished knock-offs of original manga. The problem with either type of fan fiction today is that the internet allows any fan author to show his work to anyone else in the world, giving them just as much power as an original author to promote his/her work. Fan fiction artists today could potentially distribute and sell fan fiction on a large scale while evading publisher scrutiny. Jordan muses on the potential legal steps that could be taken to prevent internet-enabled fan fiction from becoming such a massive infringement business. He envisions a system in which the publishers themselves print and distribute fan fiction, keeping the profits for themselves but granting the fan fiction writers exposure for their work. This would make a lucrative business out of a phenomenon that can hardly be prevented anyway: the demand for fan fiction is significant, he argues, no matter how bad it is. He concludes by pointing out the painfully obvious point that authors would likely object. If the authors could be persuaded to let fan fiction writers borrow and rewrite their intellectual property, then the system would work quite well.
This blog is significant in my research on fan-created derivative work for three reasons. First, it emphasizes the problem that modern technology poses by allowing anyone to show his/her work to anyone else in the world. Creative fan work may once have been tolerated because it was generally practiced at home and in small circles of fans; today, fan fiction is so widely available that it poses a more tangible “threat” to original authors and artists. Second, the article reflects an important popular sentiment regarding fan fiction, that it is lazy and generally quite “bad.” This stigma is likely to discourage original authors from allowing the commercialization of fan fiction, for fear of tarnishing their own reputation. Finally, the blog opines that a dojinshi-like system would likely not work in the west because authors prefer to have absolute creative control of their work than to see it emasculated by undiscerning fans, even if a good deal of money could come of it. This opinion opposes applied rationale of Japanese system, where the practice of dojinshi is now so entrenched that the manga industry accepts it and attempts to reap whatever benefits may rise from it. In this sense, it contradicts (or at least complicates) my argument that Japanese fan policies could be successfully imported to the U.S..