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A R.A.D.I.C.A.L. View On Fandom

Written by Tanja de Bie


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So far we have mainly defined the R.A.D.I.C.A.L. position as a defense against the anti-role playing lobby and raising awareness over copyright issues. But it does not stop there. Fandom is a very strong influence in the RPG community. Many RPG's spring off from a movie, a TV series, or a (comic) book that people like to be part of. These fans run straight into a whole myriad of problems, both with the copyright owners and with other fans that do not look kindly upon their efforts. This article will explore our R.A.D.I.C.A.L. view on fandom and the dangers fans are exposed to.


The Benefits of Fandom

Having fans is the ultimate compliment for a creator of original work, whether that be an artist, an author, or a game designer. That also goes for fanbased derivative work as well. People like your work to such an extent that they want to be able to make it themselves and become truly part of your work.  On the internet you can find thousand of fans who have been inspired by original works to create material of their own.

Like a painter from ancient times, the apprentice learns from the master by emulating his style till the apprentice develops his own style. Like any creator, the fan likes to showcase the derivative work, for fun or to get back constructive comments. Hence the large number of  conventions and the long line of websites dedicated to fandom.

There is a good commercial reason to allow this inspiration. Fans can go a long way to promote a product and usually create more sales if they can spread the word about their fandom. An active fandom community can be the difference between a hit and a failure. And, because fans are fans, most of them will never be overexposed to the product they like by derivative work; instead it will only wet their appetites to buy more of the original product. Smart companies like Paramount, owning the Star Trek copyrights, cherish their fandom during conventions and online, and use it to generate immense revenue.


What Copyright Owners are Afraid Of

Copyright is designed to protect an artist, author, publisher, or creator of an original work by limiting the rights that others have to using that work without the creator's permission and consent. In other words, whoever created it has control over who can publish, copy, redistribute, perform, or do any number of things with their work. The reason for protecting works through copyright is that these works represent the creator's livelihood. This is how they earn money for a living. If their works are stolen and used without permission, the copyright holder will get nothing for all the time and effort put into creating the work.

So how can fandom threaten the intellectual property of the creator? Well, first of all, by reproducing part or all of the admired original work, a loss of revenue is likely. Why buy something that you can get on the net or at a convention for free?


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