Tuesday, November 18, 2008

IP/Gender - April 24, 2009


IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections
6th Annual Symposium
April 24, 2009

Special Theme: Female Fan Cultures and Intellectual Property

Sponsored by American University Washington College of Law’s
Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
Women and the Law Program
Journal of Gender Social Policy & Law

In collaboration with
American University’s Center for Social Media
Rebecca Tushnet, Georgetown University
Francesca Coppa, Muhlenberg College

Deadline for submission of abstracts: December 19, 2008

The 6th Annual Symposium on “IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections” seeks papers on female subcultures and their relationship to intellectual property and copyright regimes, with a particular emphasis on fan works and culture. Appropriate topics include: fan arts, including fan fiction, arts, music, filk, crafts, and vids; and fan communities: including clubs, forums, lists, websites, wikis, discussion groups, rec sites, and other creative, celebratory, or analytical communities.

Introduction & Context

Historically, the study of subcultures has been biased toward male groups and activities: first, because male activities (e.g. punk rock, motorcycling, football hooliganism) tend to be public, and therefore visible; second, because many male groups have been seen as overtly resistant to mainstream norms. In contrast, many female subcultural activities took place in private, in the domestic realm or in other less visible spaces, and those that were visible tended, in the words of Sarah Thornton, to be "relegated to the realm of a passive and feminized 'mainstream' (a colloquial term against which scholars have all too often defined their subcultures)"; in other words, the things women did and do have often been framed as mainstream, passive, commodified, and derivative; consuming (in the negative sense of passive product consumption), rather than consuming in the sense of a passionate obsession or devotion to art or criticism.

This has changed significantly in the last twenty years, not only due to a rising feminist interest in subculture studies but also with the rise of fan and audience studies. In their pioneering "Girls and Subcultures" (1975), Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber presciently suggested that scholars turn their attention "toward more immediately recognizable teenage and pre-teenage female spheres like those forming around teenybop stars and the pop-music industry." Even they had trouble seeing what girls do as interesting and importing, noting that "[b]oys tended to have a more participative and a more technically-informed relationship with pop, where girls in contrast became fans and readers of pop-influenced love comics." McRobbie and Garber don't associate being "fans" with participation, and they see girls as "readers" only. In fact, as we know from fifteen years of fan and audience studies, fandom is a highly participatory culture, and female fans also write, edit, draw, paint, "manip," design, code, and otherwise make things.

However, even within this brave new world of mashup, remix, and fan cultures, what boys do (fan films, machinima, music mash-ups, DJing) is often seen by outsiders and critics as better--more interesting, more original, more clearly transformative-- than what girls do (fan fiction, fan art, vidding, coding fan sites, social networking). This normative judgment risks legal consequences.

We are seeking projects that investigate the ways in which issues of originality and ownership as related to copyright and other issues of intellectual property intersect with this gendered understanding of cultural productions and engagement, especially since these historically female subcultural activities and practices have increasingly become culture.

IP/Gender Mapping the Connections Organizational Details

· DEADLINE for submission of abstracts is DECEMBER 19 at 5:00pm.

· To submit an abstract for consideration, fill in the web-based form at https://www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/ipgender/proposals.cfm . Participants will be notified if their paper has been accepted for presentation by January 15.

· The symposium will begin at 6:00 Thursday, April 23, 2009 at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. The symposium will convene from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm on Friday, April 24, 2009.

· To view papers and programs from prior IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections symposia, please visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/go/events/ip/gender/ip/gender-mapping-the-connection

· Papers may be published in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law.

· If you are interested in attending the event, but not presenting work, please contact Angie McCarthy, Women and the Law Program coordinator at angiem@wcl.american.edu for details.

Open Access to Privately Funded Research - Autism Speaks

If private funders of scientific and scholarly research want to maximize the impact of their investments, they should condition their funding on a promise from grantees to make any resulting peer reviewed journal articles openly accessible on the Internet within a reasonable time after publication.
To date, the most prominent private funder on this front is the United Kingdom's Wellcome Trust, which funds medical research and requires resulting articles to be deposited in PubMed Central or UK PubMed.
Private philanthropies in the United States have lagged on open access. But the tide is finally turning. On November 12, 2008, Autism Speaks, the United States' largest autism advocacy organization announced that effective December 3, 2008, all researchers who receive an Autism Speaks grant will be required to deposit any resulting peer-reviewed research papers in the PubMed Central online archive, which will make the articles available to the public within 12 months of journal publication.
This is a very important initiative. As Peter Suber notes, advocacy organizations that seek cures for particular diseases should have a particular interest in making sure that their communities have access to published research. I would add this is further evidence to refute the elitist argument against open access.
To learn more about Autism Speaks, see www.autismspeaks.org

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jillian Raye and the Bard: The Vitality of the Public Domain

So, my family recently lost a friend, Jillian Raye.
I'd keep my remorse to myself, but Jillian had a special relationship with William Shakespeare, and that relationship is emblematic of why copyright's public domain matters and how it maintains its vitality in our cultural life.

When we lived in Takoma Park, Maryland, Jillian, her husband, David Minton, and their daughter, Imogen Minton, moved into our neighborhood and changed it forever.
Jillian founded Lumina Studio in their home as a community youth theater to stage primarily Shakespeare's plays. Jillian and David trained as Shakespearian actors and met onstage and off in a production in Dallas, Texas.

Jillian built her casts from the community, and the ages ranged from young children to middle-aged adults, with young teens as the principal actors. My daughters had their first stage experience as fairies in Midsummer Night's Dream, which we subsequently staged outdoors on a midsummer night. Jillian's vision for the show required that all the lights be turned off near the end of the show so that these three-to-five-year-old fairies could flit about the stage with lit candles. Jillian's will overcame parental objections, and the result was pure magic.

For each show, Jillian developed a highly distinctive but adaptable vision, and she drove hard to realize it. Her visions were animated by her deep understanding and personal relationship with Shakespeare's works. The kids in the cast would begin rehearsals for each show as usual middle and elementary schools would for any after-school activity. But, Jillian would quickly impress upon them that this was serious fun. She worked with the actors to understand their characters and the context for the action.
In the course of these interactions, she breathed life into the Bard's alien language and demanded that the actors make it their own. And, they did. I can still distinctly hear the young actress playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, as she stalked the stage, poised for the fight, and spat out:


Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?

What wouldst thou have with me?

Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine
lives; that I mean to make bold withal, and as you shall use me hereafter, dry beat the rest of the eight. Will you pluck your sword out of his pitcher by the ears? make haste, lest mine be about your ears ere it be out.

I am for you.

Jillian could stage the shows as she envisioned and as she wished because the works of William Shakespeare are in copyright's public domain. She could not legally have applied her prodigious talents to the works of playwrights whose works were still under copyright without a license. And, those licenses often are quite expensive or not available at all.

So, the fundamental policy that copyrights must expire was necessary for a unique institution like Lumina Studio to exist and to grow. And, those who care about this policy need to document how creative individuals like Jillian Raye keep works in copyright's public domain alive and relevant.
While her family mourns, her community has institutionalized her vision and will carry on staging plays and making magic. Perhaps Jillian has joined Oberon and Titania in the kingdom of Shadows and Fairies. It's hard to say, but I know that we will miss her.

With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.

(Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V)

Goodbye Jillian.