paraka: A baby wearing headphones and holding a mic (Default)
paraka ([personal profile] paraka) wrote2010-10-18 05:07 pm
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The Fannish Life of a Podficer

So, last week I got metafandomed for that post I made on why people listen to podfic. A conversation in the comments however got into ownership of podfic (how much control does the author vs. podficer have) and, well, it got me thinking. So I want to talk a little bit about what I've experienced as a podficer and my thoughts on it, and invite any other podficers to chime in.

When it comes to ownership of podfic, I think it's a 75%/25% split.

Theoretically the podficer has 75% ownership. It's their work and they can do with it what they will once they have permission from the author. The author has some claims on it since it's their story but anything they want done to the podfic has to go through the podficer. But since the podficer has most of the ownership they can choose to not do what the author asks after permission has been given. This is very much supported by the [community profile] podficmeta post "Author Control (After Initial Permission)".

Practically the author has 75% ownership. As a podficer I think of a podfic as my creation. However getting into a fight with an author is... not fun. And you don't want the author leaving hating you and spreading the word that you're a horrible fannish person. Author's carry a lot more weight in fandom than podficers do. One author can complain and then their flist goes and dogpiles the podficer (hey, when I sort of had that happen to me, the author didn't even mention my name and I had everything down in under 3 hours of her making the post and I still had someone find my journal and leave a comment). And hey, even if the podficer can handle it personally, there are now all these people in fandom who are distrustful of podfic and won't allow it for their works.

So, even though I feel like my podfics are my babies, I end up giving up my ownership over it to the author, if they ask, to avoid rocking the boat. And I'm not the only one, as this post by [personal profile] general_jinjur shows.

And, the thing is, that's a terrifying place to be as a creator, having someone else control my works. At this point in my fannish life, podfic is my biggest contribution to fandom. I have more podfic than I do vids and fic put together. I've run a couple comms/challenges but a decent number of those were podfic related. So. It's extra scary because podfic is obviously my passion but the author may not even care about it beyond how it's applied to their fic.

I've dealt with 21 authors when it comes to podfic and have gotten the whole range or responses. I had one author who didn't even acknowledge me (they had given blanket permission and so I dropped them a comment and they never responded), I've had another author who created a podfic page on their website and made a special stats page so I could see the hits she gets on it, I've had one author tell me to take my podfic down and I currently have one author actively involved with my podficing process. Most authors fall somewhere in the middle, where they'll be happy and flattered when you ask permission and will pimp it on their journals/fic post when it's done but others can be indifferent. Only a handful of those authors have shown actual interest in my podfic beyond it being their story.

And I'm ok with all of that. I don't actually make podfic for the author. I make it for myself, for the podfic community and anyone who might be willing to give podfic a listen. If that includes the author, awesome! But I don't podfic with them specifically in mind.

But there's always the fear that because the author's are only interested in my podfic as it applies to them that they aren't going to... I don't know. Take into consideration what the podfic means to me and others. In some ways, as horrible as it sounds, I almost welcome the indifference from authors because maybe then they'll forget about what I've done and just leave me with it.

And, obviously, I would never want what I made to hurt someone else. If the author was in some kind of RL trouble and my podfic could get her in more trouble, then I'd gladly take it down. But, there are a lot of people that create things and then later decide they want to take it down (for non-critical reasons, like maybe they just don't like it anymore). And the idea that they'd just tell me to take my stuff down because they no longer like it? It's not a fun one! The one author who asked me to take my podfic of her story down never gave me a reason for it (it was a messy situation and so I felt I couldn't ask) and it still bothers me.

Podfic is still a newly popular(ish) thing. A lot of us are still stumbling around trying to decide how this is going to work. The podfic community is talking it out and deciding how we want things but there certainly isn't universal agreement (is there ever? :P). And the problem is, that the podficers and listeners are only 2/3 of the interested parties. Right now a lot of author's don't even know to get involved. They aren't taking the time to define what they want out of podfic. It's hard for a standard to be set when only one group is negotiating as a whole and the other group only has random representatives. And, as I said above, author's really aren't consistent in their attitudes toward podfic.

In the end it makes me feel kind of powerless, because I see what rights I want to have as a podficer but I also realize that they're called into question every time someone challenges them. I don't know, maybe I think about this a lot more than the average podficer because I had that one situation where I had to take my podfic down but I am nervous about this.

I can't really think of any way to fix this other than to meta about it. So, watch me meta :)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2010-10-19 11:23 am (UTC)(link)
I've dealt with 21 authors when it comes to podfic and have gotten the whole range or responses.

I've recorded over 100 podfics, so I've come across a lot of different responses, too. I've only had one outright "no", actually, but there have been a number who didn't reply at all. But I haven't come across anyone who wants me to take the podfic down.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2010-10-19 12:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Someone without the proper authority gave permission to podfic and, well, I'm sure you can see where that went.

Oh, that does sound messy. : (
cantarina: donna noble in a paper crown, looking thoughtful (dw - donna default)

[personal profile] cantarina 2010-10-21 03:03 pm (UTC)(link)
We had a podfic gathering on Wincon Sunday and while most of the attendees were readers, we had two writers sit in on at least a part of the discussion and recording. We talked a little bit around some of these issues, but what really struck me most about that conversation was when one of the writers chimed in and asked what she, as a writer, could do for us as podficcers. I think we were all really pleasantly surprised and touched, because it was putting the ownership back in our hands, or at the very least, making it a collaborative effort, rather than just a format shift.

I've also had mixed bag reactions to permission asking. I've had one or two authors reply cautiously or even suspiciously, but even when they're enthusiastic, I often get the sense that they feel like I'm doing it for them... which, yes, I'm thrilled that it makes writers happy and that they enjoy the work we do - I want my authors to enjoy the readings, of enthusiasm - but I wish there was a way to reconcile the conflict between "This is my fanwork" and "This is your version of my fanwork".
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
I think it makes a lot of sense, yeah. We're encouraging authors to make policy statement and give blanket permission - but not without thinking about what that means, etc - so why wouldn't we also write out our own policies... Informed consent for the win, you know? I think I'll start drafting mine out.
cantarina: donna noble in a paper crown, looking thoughtful (Default)

[personal profile] cantarina 2010-10-21 06:33 pm (UTC)(link)
That's a really good point. Why aren't we doing what we're asking of authors? I tend to put a lot of information into the permissions discussion, but it still leaves a lot up in the air. Except how do we write these posts without making it look like we're laying down battle lines? Do we want to create hard and fast boundaries at all?
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, general consensus builds up from miscellanous contemporary practices and ideas, right? If I write my manifesto down it won't be the same as yours, I assume. I don't see that an individual podficcer writing their own policies down should be perceived as laying down battle lines if that person is not belligerent in their wording, and even less if it is easily obvious that podficcers don't all have the same opinions and policies. No?

I don't want to create hard and fast boundaries especially, in the sense that I believe every system needs a way to deal with unique cases and varying circumstances... but we're not talking of building an actual system (there is and won't ever be an authority of podfic) - rather we're talking about loosely connected people each thinking through for themselves what they're ready to do and not do, and we're projecting the potential consensus that could evolve over time without any status as enforceable rules, so...

Am I making any sense? The day has been long and I'm starting to droop, I admit. :)
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 09:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, I don't think there's any way to be sure you'll never put off anyone. If an author is not ready to think about this and come to an understanding of your pov, you'll never see eye to eye. There are people who might never give you their informed consent. But do you want their uninformed consent? No, you don't, really. So you need to know that they don't agree with you before you get into bed with them... so you can avoid it.

I believe that in the case of irreconcilable differences, it's better if everyone knows they exist. And in the case where an understanding CAN be reached, well, I'm pretty sure you can write down what you think without making it sound aggressive or off-putting to the people who can potentially agree with you.

It might /seem/ hard, but I think the part of us that thinks it's hard is actually the part secretly unable to cope with the idea that we can't all agree on everything. It's the part of us that thinks, perhaps if they didn't know everything I think they might let me record their fic anyway, and I could get away with it! That's a petty and juvenile part of us, though. Wouldn't you say? *g*
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 10:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I shall be following the posts!

And yes, her Dear Author letter surprised me a lot too. I don't think of my work in the same way as her. It's so interesting. :)
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 09:39 pm (UTC)(link)
A(nother) group discussion about it would be neat! perhaps in both places? Or a post in amplificathon and a link in podficmeta?

I haven't started drafting yet. I'm thinking :D
cantarina: donna noble in a paper crown, looking thoughtful (dw - donna default)

[personal profile] cantarina 2010-10-21 06:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Agreed. When our writer made her comment, it made me want to go and find a story of hers to podfic. Someone who loves what I do and respects it? How could I not want to build that relationship.

I wonder if we couldn't take this discussion to places like [community profile] spnroundtable in some of the major podfic fandoms and get a broader dialogue going.
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 06:09 pm (UTC)(link)
That would be interesting! If that happens please could you also bring back the links, for those of us who are in podfic without being part of SPN?
cantarina: donna noble in a paper crown, looking thoughtful (dw - donna default)

[personal profile] cantarina 2010-10-21 06:30 pm (UTC)(link)
If you're not in SPN fandom, do you know of any comparable communities elsewhere? Roundtable is great, but Supernatural and CWRPF are only one piece of the puzzle.
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 06:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm not sure I know general-discussion communities... Most are focused on a pairing or a type of fanwork. I'll think about it! :)
cantarina: cam mitchell with atlantis stained glass behind him (sg - cam)

[personal profile] cantarina 2011-03-27 04:00 am (UTC)(link)
I misunderstood you completely! *facepalms* Thanks for taking the time to come back to this, though.

I think it would be amazing to have conversations outside of the podfic sphere. It wouldn't necessarily be easy since I'm sure podficcers would end up fielding a lot potentially hurtful ignorance on the subject.
Agreed all around. It wouldn't be a terribly fun conversation, but you're right when you say it might reduce hurtful comments in the future.

And unfortunately, I can't think of anywhere better with a multifandom scope to hold that conversation either. I think it's something I'd really like to see happen though; would you be up to adding it to our monster list of eventual podfic-related projects to start thinking on?
afullmargin: (Default)

[personal profile] afullmargin 2010-10-21 05:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm, from the perspective of an author (that being myself) I think podfic in general is a bit frightening. Ownership and fanworks has always been sort of a big deal, and now with the relative explosion in the popularity of audio-fanfiction (which I am well aware has been around... well, pretty much since the beginning well before my time) that fear has once more boiled to the surface.

I would be very uncomfortable putting my fanworks with a podficcer that would alter/sell/post/etc. the piece without my input. Personally, I love the idea of being recorded (I haven't been as yet, but have been considering doing one myself for the novelty and am open to the potential of others doing my work) but it would have to be with someone I either know well and trust or someone who would give me strong say in the matter - particularly when it comes to making alterations. I am very aware that you can find anything online, no matter how well you protect it. In essence, I would still very much want to have "ownership" of the piece.

I sort of see it more in the same light as someone doing a translation into another language. The piece should not be altered, and should maintain an approrpiate tone. The original author never loses any sense of ownership, the translator is simply putting it into another media. Perhaps this is an antiquated way of thinking?

Please don't think I'm bashing on podficcers, I find the concept quite fascinating, but as a writer am I missing the whole point? Is podfic (in your opinion, obviously opinions may vary) different from a voice recording or a piece? The essence I'm getting out of the OP is that podfic should be treated as a separate fanwork based on my fanwork?
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-10-21 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
You're also missing some things about translation, imo, if you think it isn't transformative* - which doesn't mean that the original author doesn't have control about the dissemination of a translation, because in the real world they certainly have. You're not the author of a translation though, the translator is. While as the author of the original piece of you have a say in the distribution and publishing of the translation, you do not have a moral right nor a copyright on the translator's text, ie, the translation. :)

* I do not mean in a legal sense, with 'transformative' being a status different from and mutually exclusive with 'derivative' - I do believe that translations are considered derivative works, legally.
afullmargin: (Default)

[personal profile] afullmargin 2010-10-22 05:10 am (UTC)(link)
Ahh, very good to know. I hadn't really thought of it that way. Thank you. :)
afullmargin: (Default)

[personal profile] afullmargin 2010-10-22 05:17 am (UTC)(link)
That way people's expectations are spelled out, especially since there's no one set of expectations

I really like the letter you linked to, it gave me a much better idea of the sort of things I would want - I think that really is an ideal compromise between reader and writer. The middle really is a good place in this sense, after reading all the information I've been sent (Thank you all! Honestly!) I have a much better idea of the whole thing than I did before and while I can say I would still be unwilling to give up full control (my opinion, of course) I think it would be fair to give more than I had previously envisioned.

Thanks for opening my brain up a bit to the ideas - a lot of this I hadn't really taken into perspective and it makes a big difference to know how my works would theoretically be approached by a reader.

I'm honestly not really sure what I was getting at in that last line. Hah. Perhaps I need to go through and read more than once before I post. ;) But honestly, thank you again for giving me a much better idea of who it all works. I appreciate taking the time to educate a noob like me. ;)
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)

[personal profile] zvi 2010-10-21 11:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Alter … how? I have listened, not everywhere, but fairly widely, and, except for flat out errors in reading/speaking, the "alteration" I generally see to a text is either the addition of music or the aggregation of several smaller works into a whole (i.e. reading several stories in a series and releasing the whole series as a book.)

What specific alterations are you afraid might occur "without you?"

Why do you think a podficcer might sell your work (in the context of western media fandom)? Western media fandom has a really strong taboo against selling non-visual fanwork? Why would you think podficcers would be different (with the significant exception that people do offer to record podfic as prizes in charity auctions, but, then, it is generally a case of "I will read so long of a fic of your choice" and not, "I will read this story by a third party who is not being consulted."

How do you react to people who make fanmixes or fanart of your fanfiction? How are your fears/desires of ownership of their work the same or different as with podfic?

P.S. I usually think of someone doing a podfic as performing the fanfiction, in a similar way to the way that a musician performs a song. The song exists as written, no matter what the musician does, but the musician's performance is their own.
afullmargin: (Default)

[personal profile] afullmargin 2010-10-22 05:34 am (UTC)(link)
See, I've never been remixed before (though I have gotten fan art, which does feel pretty darn amazing if I do say so) but I have to admit I'm a bit nervous there. The selling thought doesn't really bother me as much as the fear that they will take the credit and sort of run with it.

I really have an irrational fear in this, I think. After reading what everyone has posted (and seriously, thank you all so much for posting it and bringing me up to speed!) I am MUCH more comfortable with the transformative aspect of it. I think I've seen a couple times where podfic has been done badly (not quality wise, but authors that have not been asked permission for use, making changes to better suit the readers style, and in a few cases actually changing entire scenes or omitting them completely) and they really stuck with me far more than the much larger wealth of GOOD cases.

My primary fear of changes is as I've seen in the worst case scenarios: altering of the content, order, or meaning of the text due to reader preference. I have seen fic where entire sections have been cut out because the reader did not want to do sex scenes, or they had issues with pronouncing certain words so they were changed without the author's okay, or even in one instance complete removal of lines because the reader did not like them.

I would think for my work, I would have to make sure the reader was comfortable with the piece as it is and would not want to change it for recording. I am aware that this fear may seem irrational and you are probably right to think so, but I do get really attached to my words and I put them together the way I want them... to have pretty major changes made without consent really bothers me.

And I like your description, I hadn't thought of it as a performance before. :) It makes it a lot simpler for me to take it in the context of a cover version. Hah. Thank you for being patient with me.