Pixel Scroll 9/19/19 The SJW Credential That Sleeps On You From Nowhere

(1) MATCHLESS PROSE, WE HOPE. Will Frank (scifantasy), Vice-Administrator of the 2016 Hugo Awards and Administrator of the 2021 Hugo Awards, who also identifies himself as a fanfiction writer on AO3 and a trademark attorney, is trying to pour some oil onto the stormy waters that separate parts of the Worldcon community from parts of the AO3 community: “HugO3”. (Please don’t strike a match.)

…If the Worldcon-running community doesn’t police use of the phrase, someone else–someone with less humorous, less celebratory, less free-spirited intent–might be able to plausibly argue that he can call his self-published book a Hugo Award Winner just because it was fanfic, or he has an AO3 account, because the term has lost all of its significance by not being protected.

Is that likely? Who the hell knows. Is it something the Worldcon-running community wants to risk, especially so soon after a concerted effort to undermine the award, not by fanfiction authors in celebration of their validation but by a group of politically-motivated writers with an axe to grind? Definitely not.

(I’ve also seen some people saying that there isn’t any prestige in a Hugo Award given some of the historical winners, and…well, get in line behind the Oscars and the Grammys and the others, I guess. The fact is that “Hugo Award” on the cover of a book does indeed help sales. It matters. There is still cachet in being a Hugo Award winner. Or even a finalist!)

So, no, the Worldcon-running community is not saying “Hey, don’t have fun.” It is saying, “please, don’t undermine our ability to stop people with malicious intent from poisoning the term Hugo Award.”

I’m not even telling you that you have to think I’m right. But at least, please know that this isn’t just a matter of “don’t have fun.” It’s a plea for your help.

(2) HEINLEIN’S OTHER VERSION. The Number of the Beast versus Pursuit of the Pankera – not the same book at all. Arc Manor would be delighted for you to put the claim to a test — http://www.arcmanor.com/as/Comparison.pdf

It is a different book. Of the 187,000 words in the new book, it shares the first 28,000. But then is totally different. The separation occurs in chapter XVIII and here is a side by side comparison of the chapters in the two books with the point of divergence clearly marked.

(3) HISTORIC CON MASQUERADE (AND OTHER) PHOTOS. At Vintage Everyday, “Wendy Pini Cosplay: 22 Rare and Amazing Photographs of Wendy Dressed as Red Sonja in the 1970s”.

Wendy Pini does it all. In the 1970s Wendy used to hit the cons dressed as Sonja. She was born in San Francisco in 1951, and from an early age demonstrated the talents later to come to fruition as a professional illustrator, and eventually as the creator of Elfquest.

(4) CHANGES AT TOR. Shelf Awareness is reporting a couple of promotions at Tom Doherty Associates:

  • Theresa DeLucci has been promoted to senior associate director of marketing of Tor Books, Forge, and Nightfire.
  • Renata Sweeney has been promoted to senior marketing manager, Tor.

(5) ELLEN VARTANOFF INTERVIEW. From Small Press Expo 2017 (but just posted on YouTube today.)

Rusty and Joe talk to Ellen Vartanoff about her decades in the comics field and the early days of comic conventions!


  • September 19, 1952 — “Superman On Earth” aired as the pilot episode for The  Adventures of Superman television series starring George Reeves.
  • September 19, 1961 — On a return trip from Canada, while in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been abducted by aliens.
  • September 19, 1986 — The Starman series debuted with Jeff Bridges replaced in the role of The Starman with Robert Hays. The series lasted for twenty-two episodes.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1867 Arthur Rackham. English book illustrator who is recognized as one of the leading literary figures during the Golden Age of British book illustration. His work can be seen on genre fiction ranging from Goblin Market to Rip Van Winkle and The Wind in the Willows. Derek Huson’s Arthur Rackham: His Life and Work is one of the better looks at him and his art. (Died 1939.)
  • Born September 19, 1911 William Golding. Though obviously best known for the Lord of The Flies novel, I’m more intrigued by the almost completed novel found in draft after his death, The Double Tongue which tells the story of the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, critic, editor. He is the author of “To Serve Man”, a 1950 short story which became a The Twilight Zone episode. It won a 50-year Retro-Hugo in 2001 as the best short story of 1950. Wiki says “He ceased reviewing when Fantasy & Science Fiction refused to publish a review.” What’s the story here? (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixty series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. The less said about his post Batman films, including a softcore porn film, the better. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Clarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. Alas, neither iBooks nor Kindle has anything by him available. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 – David McCallum, 86. Gained fame as Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and has rounded off his career playing medical examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in another TV series that is known by its initials, NCIS.
  • Born September 19, 1940 Caroline John. English actress best known for her role as scientist Elizabeth “Liz” Shaw in Doctor Who as companion to the Third Doctor. She’d repeat her role in Dimensions in Time, a charity special crossover between Doctor Who and the EastEnders that ran in 1993. Her only other genre role was playing Laura Lyons in The Hound of the Baskervilles. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. And even wrote two Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I was more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I was of her adult work. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 67. She’s on the Birthday Honors List for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 47. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years.


(9) UNIDENTIFIED WALKING OBJECTS. Aliens have landed at the convention hotel (a couple years early) reports the Tonopah Nevada in 2021 for Westercon 74 page – see the photographic evidence there!

Starting to see some out of this world stuff in honor of Alien Weekend… these aliens came all the way from Michigan to check out the happenings…

(10) OH NO, NOT AGAIN. “False Tsunami Warning In Hawaii Triggered By Police Exercise”.

Emergency sirens wailed on Hawaii’s Oahu and Maui islands Wednesday evening, warning of a tsunami, but the alert turned out to be a mistake, sparking anger from residents who recalled a similar false warning last year of an imminent ballistic missile attack.

Within minutes of the alarm going off shortly after 5 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) authorities were trying to calm the public by getting out word of the mistake.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu tweeted: “***NO TSUNAMI THREAT*** We have received phone calls about sirens going off across Oahu, but we have confirmed with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center that there is NO TSUNAMI THREAT.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also took to Twitter. “Mahalo to everyone for taking appropriate action & tuning into local media,” he tweeted, adding that the sirens had been “inadvertently triggered” during Honolulu Police Department training.

(11) I’M MELTING! FastCompany tells everyone “Burger King is melting down plastic toys to recycle them into something actually useful”.

… Burger King has decided to remove all plastic toys from its kids’ meals. Not only that but the initiative, created by agency Jones Knowles Ritchie and starting this week in the U.K., is also calling for people to drop plastic toys from meals past in “plastic toy amnesty bins” at Burger King locations to be melted down and recycled into things that are actually useful, like play areas and surface tools, which can be recycled many times over.

People in the U.K. who bring in toys to melt down next week will get a free King Junior meal when they buy any adult meal. To promote the project, Burger King has created a cast of melted-down plastic toy characters, including Beep Beep, a jeep-driving bunny, which the brand has installed a giant melting version of on London’s South Bank to promote the project.

(12) IF YOU WERE A PTEROSAUR AS TALL AS A GIRAFFE, MY LOVE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Inside Science reports: “Newest Pterosaur Was Likely as Tall as a Giraffe”.

Ancient flying reptile dubbed Cryodrakon boreas, the “cold dragon of the north winds,” may shed light on the evolution of these dinosaur relatives.

CBC News agrees: “Giraffe-sized flying reptiles once soared over Alberta”

Newly identified pterosaur species had a wingspan of 10 metres

Mark Whitton’s 2013 article has additional details and a great illustration: “9 things you may not know about giant azhdarchid pterosaurs”

Despite their giraffian proportions, giant azhdarchid torso were relatively tiny. Witton and Habib (2010) noted that, like many pterodactyloid pterosaurs, their torsos were probably only a third or so longer than their humeri, suggesting a shoulder-hip length of about 65-75 cm for an animal with a 10 m wingspan. That’s a torso length not much larger than your own, although they were considerably more stocky and swamped with muscle. Azhdarchid shoulders, in particular, are well endowed with attachment sites for flight muscles, as are (for pterosaurs) their pelves and hindquarters.

(13) JURASSIC SHORT. Battle at Big Rock on YouTube is an eight-minute video, set in the Jurassic World universe one year after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that premiered on FX last night and was put online today.

(14) BRADBURY INTERVIEW. Here’s a 9-minute video of Ray Bradbury’s 1978 appearance on the Merv Griffin Show.

The always brilliant Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest sci-fi writers in history, talks with Merv about the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, Steven Spielberg, his mission as a writer, the future of mankind, and ends by reading from his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” from his collection “When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchccock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Kevin Standlee, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

405 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/19/19 The SJW Credential That Sleeps On You From Nowhere

  1. (6) The fact that all three events involve aliens arriving on Earth makes me really want to write the crossover linking them.

  2. The SJW Credential that secretly lives in your Home

    RE: David McCallum, and of course, Sapphire and Steel!

    2) Hmm, I want to see more of how they divergence, I think.

  3. 2
    That’s quite a divergence, just in that one chapter. Enough to make me wonder about the rest.

  4. @1: there are probably some people who will sneer even at this — but ISTM there would have been so much less agita if this approach had been used first.

    @3: that’s quite a collection; any idea who Mr. Wizard is? (Richard?) Not sure why, but at the 1976 Boskone (which had at least one costume with just as much skin), she took a different tack, dressing in swags and furbelows as Pirate Jenny (roughly — the dream version rather than the grim reality of the Brecht/Weill song).

    @6: The Budrys column with the cite about Knight confirms his reputation for an edged tongue; F&SF may have decided the review was too cruel, or Advent (or Knight himself) may have been a little loose (or curt) with the facts — e.g., it may have been a good excuse to stop burning energy on something that probably paid squat. It’s especially amusing to read Budrys’s claim that Knight was better freelancing than editing, considering that when Budrys wrote that review Knight was a couple of books into Orbit, AFAIK the longest-lasting (and probably most ground-breaking) original anthology series ever.

  5. Richard Pini dressed as the wizard, yes.

    Richard Pini dressed as the wizard, no.

    That’s Frank Thorne, artist of Red Sonja at the time, as (I believe), “Henrot the Wizard.”

    The first comicon I ever attended, I couldn’t find the con ballroom (this was the 1970s, when cons weren’t so large), until Wendy walked by me in full Sonja regalia, and I thought, “Ah! I’ll follow here, and hope she’s going to the con rather than to her room or the rest room or something.” She did, luckily.

  6. Yes, Frank Thorne. Wendy and he showed up in regalia at many conventions in the 1970s (and later?), and would do a little show.

    One of the pictures has Wendy, TV host Mike Douglas, and Jamie Farr. The fourth person is Phil Seuling, who sort of started distribution of comics directly to comic stores, instead of them going through magazine dealers, and who ran a number of successful comic conventions. Initially, he was the guest on the Mike Douglas show (to talk about comics), and wanted to bring his own superhero, so Wendy appears (to the surprise of the others on the panel) at the end of Seuling’s segment. The segment is online, and is worth seeing because of the stack of old comics Phil brought along (in addition to seeing Wendy).

  7. (missed the edit window . . .)
    The youngish guy on the left end with dark hair is singer Fabian, and the old fellow with white hair on the right is comedian Jerry Lester.

  8. Happy birthday to Nora Jemisin and Tanith Lee. I’m glad I’m not born today, I’d be intimidated.

    1) I very much appreciate the attempt at open communication, and wish this had been the first thing we’d seen (there’d be about 500% less wank). However, it still does nothing to clarify the Twitter profile issue or the legal position of the jokes. Or the issue of who, exactly, got the award.

    However, this wank has beaten itself to death, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

  9. @Muccamukk: To me the question who got the award is answered rather simple: AO3. All the contributors to AO3 are Hugo winners to me, but they are only so together.

    And AO3 is not so different from Worldcon here. The currently seated Worldcon chair might speak for Worldcon, just like Naomi Novik accepted the Hugo award on AO3’s behalf, but they are still as persons neither Worldcon nor AO3.

    An even better example might be the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m a citizen of the EU, but that does not make me—or José Manuel Barroso—into a Nobel Peace Prize Winner. It just makes us parts (of wildly different importance) of a project or organisation that won the Nobel Peace Prize.

  10. There’s quite a bit of commentary over there, a lot of which rankles, mostly these snippets (which I am not attributing because they are examples of much of the same and I’m addressing the thoughts expressed, not the individuals)

    “I mean – I get the impression that a big part of this cognitive disconnect lies with the way that SFF fandom is largely built around the paradigm of individuals creating stand-alone texts, while the fanfic community is built around the idea of shared worlds, shared creativity, shared projects & shared responsibility, and the AO3 is the embodiment of same;”

    Except, of course, that science fiction fandom has ALWAYS been about what this person is claiming for AO3’s private preserve; what the heck is a Worldcon but “shared projects and shared responsibility”? (I’d venture to guess that with a lot of research, it could be successfully argued that had it not been for Fandom, AO3 itself would not exist.)

    “And I’m still pretty convinced that A GREAT DEAL (albeit not all) of this boils down to “Fanfic ew”, with sour grapes thrown in for good measure.”

    No; in fact, where’d the “fanfic” start? Fanzines. Where’d the fanzines start? Fandom. Who gives out the Hugo Awards? Fandom.

    “a Best Related Work Hugo is not for fiction at all. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Related_Work .”

    An excellent point – thank you!

    Here we’ve got a friendly attempt by members of the Mark Protection Committee, empowered by vote to oversee intellectual property issues affecting WSFS to avoid legal entanglement, getting attacked for trying to do the right thing. With AO3 members actually calling for individual members to be served C&Ds for making Etsy buttons – and they think their members/organization wouldn’t be absolutely apoplectic the moment someone reported to the group that they’d been served a C&D by WSFS MPC? (They gave us the award and now they’re suing us for being happy about it?)

    Someone over there suggested that the “easy” solution to this problem would be for WSFS to admit that every single member of AO3 be declared a Hugo Winner.

    An even easier solution would be for AO3 to retroactively decline the award (‘in light of the fact that not every member of the organization is a winner, we’re rescinding our acceptance’). Why easier? Because then no one at AO3 would get upset if one of their members was served a C&D for continuing to make the claim. (Yeah, right.)

    The irony here is, of course, the fact that the rights (some) AO3 members want to claim (we’re all Hugo award winners) dilutes it’s prestige, rendering it less and less effective for their intended use. (You won a Hugo for fanfic? Everyone won a Hugo for fanfic; tell me something special about your work….)

    Yes it IS a clash of cultures: Fandom tries to respect other culture’s sensibilities….

  11. @Steve Davidson The irony here is, of course, the fact that the rights (some) AO3 members want to claim (we’re all Hugo award winners) dilutes it’s prestige…

    I don’t mean to single you out in particular for this, but I’ve been hearing a great deal about The Honour Of Receiving This Prestigious Award and very little about how nice it is for fans to celebrate the things they like. Maybe a little less dignity and a little more generosity would be a good thing – for the award, and for everyone involved.

  12. 1) Interesting how, once people have picked sides, new facts, or explanations cause a significant percentage to double down, to proclaim, “that can’t be true!” Sigh, it’s going to go to C&D letters and probably court, the way it’s looking to me.

  13. @Sophie Jane ?

    Had the celebration been about AO3 winning the award, no one would be saying boo about it; my magazine won an award for best mag of the year (Neffy) and we celebrated the win – but no one associated with producing the magazine has run around the internet proclaiming that THEY won an award – because they didn’t and because they value truth and accuracy.

    On the other hand, ‘I’ was designated as a “Top 100 Paintball Player of All Time” in 1999 – #75 to be precise – and whenever it is appropriate to celebrate that fact, I make sure to do so (and sometimes even when it is not entirely appropriate, like here).

    I was also on the team that created a Golden Disc Award winning educational videodisc, awarded by the IICS; I’ve contributed to several fanzines that have won Hugo Awards, voted Paintball Man of the Year for 1992, designed an edutainment installation that was voted “Best” by visitors to Epcot…and my mother still loves me.

    I am always precise about the way those “wins” are presented, because claiming otherwise is something I am not entitled to.

  14. @Karl-Johan Norén

    Oh, hey, I actually agree with you entirely! The EU comparison is a really nice one, too. As far as I can tell, that’s what the AO3 folks have been saying from the start. Not me, but ALL OF US!

  15. @ C. A. Collins: theres’ two ways to handle this kind of thing; informally mentioning the problem and requsting voluntary compliance with a fix or, the heavy-handed formal legal recourse.

    I generally believe in going the first route first as it potentially saves time and money and often preserves relationships, while not removing the second option.

    I sure hope cooler heads will prevail over at AO3, but in the face of one of their own attempting to explain the situation and getting active pushback, I am thinking that you are right.

    What really bothers me is that whomever is in leadership positions at AO3 have indicated that they are aware of the problem and yet do not seem inclined to take strong positive action, like “infringe on someone’s IP and get booted”; this really ought to be an internal issue over there as official policy, not just for the Hugos, but for any other recognition they may receive for community effort.

  16. At the risk of beating this zombie horse into crumbling dust, I think there are three distinct issues that have been identified as the main sources of the divide:

    Issue one: Some people are selling Hugo medallion pins, or pins that are close enough to weaken the trademark. Some other people may be sticking Hugo medallions on their self-pub books or claiming Hugo Award Winner in a printed byline. AO3 membership has (by and large barring what is likely an extremely small minority), agreed that these things are not okay and should be stopped. To stop them, C&D will need to be issued. We (collective “we”) have no problem with that, we understand the law is sometimes a jerk. Someone (who got snarky in the author’s notes – it’s been a long week) drafted a Cease and Desist template over on AO3 that WSFS and the Mark Committee is free to use. C&D doesn’t actually require an attorney to draft or send, and should be sent posthaste to monetizing violators.

    Issue two: The AO3 userbase and Filers (because I haven’t seen much of this disagreement outside of 770 regulars, and have seen some Hugo winners and WSFS members on Twitter saying the opposite) disagree on who should be allowed to claim credit for the winning project. Filers believe it should be a limited number of specific, named people, or nobody at all. AO3 users believe that since the Archive is and always has been a collective effort, and – perhaps more importantly – we wouldn’t even know who to name in specific since the Archive was such a collaborative effort of often-anonymous volunteers, it shouldn’t be limited to any one or two people, that all members (by members we mean users) should be able to claim credit for their part in the project. OTW, when contacted about naming specific persons, declined to do so precisely because they believed that to elevate any one handful of users over the others would exclude too many and be inaccurate to both the spirit and actual construction of AO3. There seems to be a semantic argument at work for this part – Filers believe that “Hugo Award Winner” should be reserved for specific named contributors, and AO3 folks should be saying “contributed to a Hugo Award Winning Project” instead. Many AO3 folks don’t think this semantic distinction is necessary in our casual speech, though we would certainly agree that this semantic difference is necessary in bylines, credits, resumes, and things of that nature.

    Issue three: There is considerable legal disagreement on whether casual use in speech weakens a trademark. Comparisons have been made to the Olympic committee, which is frothingly rabid about cracking down on anyone and anything using the word “Olympics” in any way, so there is precedent for large organizations to behave as if failing to police every use of their trademark will weaken the trademark. There is also precedent in that Kleenex doesn’t action against every person on Twitter who says they need a kleenex to mean they need a tissue, but Kleenex is still a protected trademark (source) – and you could apply this same principle to Google, Crock-Pot, Jacuzzi, Post-it, and a bunch of other companies where casual use of the trademark is common speech, but is not actioned against, and the trademark stands. The actual legal question of whether someone using casual speech (such as putting “Hugo Award Winning Fanfic Author” in their Twitter bio) actually constitutes a legal weakening of the trademark hasn’t been definitively answered. Will hasn’t answered this question, and seems to think that it’s a matter that would need to be litigated in court. Denise, the founder of Dreamwidth (she’s in the comments of Will’s post), cited some interesting sections of the US code pertaining to trademark that seem to imply that casual speech is protected, and doesn’t constitute a tort. I did try calling my company’s legal service like I promised, but after about half an hour of trying to explain what was going on, the attorney on the other end told me that this sounded like a really nitty-gritty intersection of intellectual property law and Constitutional law relevant to protected speech, and they weren’t really qualified to make a judgment either way. So that question is still up in the air.

    What really bothers me is that whomever is in leadership positions at AO3 have indicated that they are aware of the problem and yet do not seem inclined to take strong positive action, like “infringe on someone’s IP and get booted”; this really ought to be an internal issue over there as official policy, not just for the Hugos, but for any other recognition they may receive for community effort.

    If you have found anyone on AO3 linking to sales products related to the Hugo, please report them to the Abuse team. It is absolutely against the TOS to link to any product for sale, or to link to a Ko-fi or a Patreon. However, as discussed in my point above, it hasn’t became clear that use in casual speech constitutes a legal infringement of the trademark, which is likely why “AO3 leadership” (I’m not sure who this would actually be – the board doesn’t deal with day-to-day AO3 matters as far as I can remember, and the actual “admins” of AO3 are not named) hasn’t said anything, because the legal question is not as cut and dried and settled as all that.

    That said, I really don’t want to get into 600 comments of debate again over something that, at this point, does seem like it’s best left to legal experts who know a lot more than us armchair folks. I can say that after many long years of dealing with intellectual property law quite intimately, the fanfic community knows very well that sometimes you just have to put the legal kibosh on something, because the law is a jerk. I honestly, sincerely believe that if C&D had been the first move to people profiting off of the Hugo Award, there wouldn’t have been near this much upset.

  17. Farasha, there is now a number
    4) People are now seriously arguing that all two million AO3 members should be considered to have genuinely won Hugo Awards, and that they should all be able to officially call themselves Hugo Award Winners and market themselves that way professionally.

  18. @JJ

    People are now seriously arguing that all two million AO3 members should be considered to have genuinely won Hugo Awards, and that they should all be able to officially call themselves Hugo Award Winners

    As mentioned in point two, the disagreement over whether the use of HAW vs contributor to HAW is necessary in casual speech is pretty key to the divide. But I would like to make a correction – it’s not Hugo Awards plural, it’s a Hugo Award, singular, that was specifically awarded to AO3.

    and market themselves that way professionally.

    This I have not seen and do strongly believe would be actionable, legally, but I’m not sure whether that would be considered violation of trademark/IP or false advertising. Maybe it’s both. I mean, I’m on your side here in saying that if someone’s going to put it on a resume/byline/book cover in an official marketing capacity, it needs to say “contributor to Hugo Award Winning Project.” You won’t find any disagreement from me on that point. It’s the use in casual speech that we disagree on, apparently strongly.

  19. @Farasha

    Someone . . . drafted a Cease and Desist template over on AO3 that WSFS and the Mark Committee is free to use.

    Someone else drafted a response that is likely to be sent back.

  20. @bill

    I’m unsure what the point of that is? WSFS is authorized to protect their trademark legally and should be doing so. If they do get a snarkass reply from people who are legitimately violating trademark (and not in an unsettled, legally fuzzy, possibly-intersecting-with-protected-speech way, a clear violation), I mean, at that point the claws do have to come out and an actual lawyer does have to be retained, which would suck, but would also be understandable. Why do you think offering copies of fanfic for sale, or having fanfic-based Patreons, is such a hot-button issue in the fanfic community? Or, more to the point, why Patreon/Ko-fi/Kickstarter/personal sales site links are banned from AO3? There’s a lot of us who know very well that’s Not On, and will frequently say something like, “Don’t do that, this is how the IP holders notice us and actually start caring about our fanfic, you don’t want to ruin what we’ve built, don’t try to profit off other people’s work.”

    (Note that this also gets brought up in the fanart community, where IP holders have largely turned a blind eye to monetization unless they’re the Mouse Mafia – fanartists sell prints for profit and take commissions for money all the time, but Fanart is Different in that the industry seems to have kind of shrugged and let it be, by and large, whereas fanfic has a history of being litigated we would strongly like to not return to. The debate usually boils down to “well, the fanartists can do it so why can’t I/the work I’ve put in is my own creative energy and is worth something” vs “media corporations are huge jerks and this is a fight you will not win, please don’t.”)

    @P J Evans

    (You said it very well.)

    Thank you! I did rather hope so. It’s been a pretty exhausting discussion even just to get to where the points of contention are clearly defined, but clearly defining our points of contention is key to moving forward.

  21. I don’t buy this “semantic” argument; the people who handle the Hugo Awards, those who have been elected by the WSFS membership have stated how it is to be referred to and a lot of the membership – either active or former – are voicing the exact same sentiment: “That is NOT how you refer to winning the award when you have NOT won the award.”

    The “AO3” community does not get to weigh in on the semantics – it is not their award, it was one conferred upon them by another community.

    It’s “cultural appropriation” to use a current buzz phrase.

    But I want to get past all of that and point the finger at what the real rub is: members of AO3 who are engaging in this behavior are simply being fuggheads about it; they’ve been told numerous times, by numerous different authorities, how the award is to be referred to and how to reference it in a respectful manner and are flat out refusing to do so.

    Given the fact that this misuse and misidentification preceded the announcement of the awards (and the community was cautioned numerous times back them that their interpretation was inaccurate and unhelpful) and the level of pushback and appeals to every argument under the sun other than a simple “being jerks about it”, it is, I think, reasonable to presume that there is a faction at AO3 that is using this to deliberately cause trouble – and it is AO3’s responsibility to act directly and curtail that behavior, just as it was their responsibility to nip it in the bud back before August.

    The award handed out was given to: “Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works”. Several people walked up on stage to accept and I believe that each of them was given a rocket on a base.

    Very clearly the “project” won and very clearly the people with the rockets from OTW are the only people from AO3 and OTW who can say “As a representative of OTW, I got a rocket”.

    If they do not want to give undue recognition to a handful of individuals (how were they chosen? clearly they have leading roles) then they should not have taken those rockets, requesting, instead, a single trophy for OTW that can sit on a bookcase at some OTW office somewhere – Dublin 2019 I’m sure would have welcomed the opportunity to save a little money.

  22. @Farasha

    I’m unsure what the point of that is?

    The main point of it is that it is a very funny letter, and a little levity doesn’t hurt.
    A minor point is that it was sent in an analogous situation — someone sent a C&D under terms that were fairly ridiculous, and got an appropriate response. The meat of the discussion for the last week has been about people casually claiming to have won part of a Hugo, or claiming to be Hugo winners. The point has been made convincingly (to me, IANAL, IANYL) that casually claiming Hugoship under these circumstances (being a member of a group that actually won a Hugo; Hugo mark is not sufficiently famous to be diluted; etc.) is not at all a tort, and that for an actual attorney to be involved sending one to someone who tweets “Woot! I’m a Hugo Winner” is bordering on legal malpractice.

    Final point: To use as a template a C&D letter written by an anonymous rando on the internet is not advised. If your situation is serious enough to justify actually threatening legal action (which a C&D letter is generally received as, even if the text does not call it out), then pay a real attorney to write one for you. And if you aren’t an attorney, you have no business drafting legal documents. (most jurisdictions don’t allow people who aren’t members of the bar to practice law)

  23. (past edit window)
    I see now that you (Farasha) were more specific in targeting the C&D to people who are arguably monetizing Hugoship status than my response above gives you credit for. I still think that sending a C&D for anything short of the Etsy/Kicstarter pins is overkill.

    No traditional publisher (Tor, Baen, etc.) will let you name yourself as Hugo-winning on a cover blurb under these circumstances, and stuff posted free online (like AO3) isn’t going to actually dilute the mark.

  24. @Farasha —

    There is also precedent in that Kleenex doesn’t action against every person on Twitter who says they need a kleenex to mean they need a tissue, but Kleenex is still a protected trademark (source)

    There’s a huge legal and moral difference between saying “I used a Kleenex” and “I won the Kleenex award”. We’re dealing only with the latter, not the former.

    1 — It is fraudulent to say “I am an X award winner” when one is not.

    2 — Only persons specifically named in Hugo official documents have the right to call themselves Hugo winners.

    3 — Therefore, anyone who calls themselves a Hugo award winner who is not named in those documents is using the label fraudulently.

    4 — Allowing fraudulent uses of trademarks to go unchallenged is a really good way to lose that trademark.

    5 — Therefore the WSFS is forced to defend their trademark against fraudulent usage.

    6 — WSFS attempted to do so in the most low-key and nonthreatening manner they could manage, asking OTW to make an announcement.

    7 — OTW made a very polite and friendly, if exceedingly vague, announcement.

    8 — A Marks Committee member attempted to expand on and clarify that announcement, also politely and in a nonthreatening manner.

    9 — Instead of saying to each other “Hey, it’s not cool to disrespect the organization that just gave us this great award”, the AO3 community declared with great fervor, “Piss off, we’re having fun and we don’t care about whatever harm it might do to you!”

    10 — And thus we have our current mess.

  25. I wrote out a very, very long comment in response, but at this point I do believe my points stand for themselves – the question of casual speech has not been settled, and in the eyes of many, this is a semantic debate on what exact phrasing we are “allowed” to use (which is part of the reason many backs are up – trying to police casual use of language between peers on social media is highly, extremely likely to be viewed dimly by a group of people who have spent decades fighting censorship) to express our great pride in this award.

    AO3 is not an amorphous entity that sprang out of the ground without human intervention. Humans built it, used it, broke it, fixed it, added to it, broke it again, fixed it again, sweated, cried, and bled over it. Nobody was named specifically because no single person or group of people could be named without elevating them above the rest of the people who sweated, cried, and bled over it. Which, in our eyes (and clearly in the eyes of Novik who officially accepted the award on our behalf), means that everyone who contributed to the project is equally responsible for the win. The work won, but we built the work. As for the rocket itself, I do distinctly recall that the AO3 rocket is a singular trophy that will travel with Worldcon due to the collective nature of the award. I don’t believe Novik also has a copy to take home and put on her bookshelf next to her other Hugos, though I am willing to be corrected on this point – I wasn’t present because I’m not able to travel to Dublin for a con.

    One small aside to @Steve Davidson – cultural appropriation is not a “buzz word.” It is a serious issue that many minority communities face when their culture is degraded when associated with their own people, but when stolen and commercialized by an oppressor, becomes “trendy.” It is inappropriate to conflate a serious social issue with a fandom debate, and I would like to politely ask that you not do so.

  26. @bill; I may have enough law school and working experience to be an edge case, but my attorney has frequently requested that I do the intitial drafts on a lot of documents, to, among other things, save myself some money.

    And it’s rare that I have to be corrected on anything other than truly arcane intepretations of the law – or remembering to present the formal company name with commas correctly placed.

    More frequently, I get “that’s…..a very interesting way to approach it.”

    But, regardless: non-commercial use is not a specific defense against infringement; it’s all weeds when it comes to did they or didn’t they and, let’s not forget the over-riding tenet of trademark IP which is that the registrant MUST use it in commerce, continuously, must attempt to protect it AND it confers the right to prevent others from using it.

  27. @Steve Davidson
    I get it: you don’t like AO3 and would like it to go back into the closet where all fanfic not Meeting With Your Approval hides.
    Too. Effing. Bad.
    Can you stop beating that zombie horse and accept that you are only ONE fan, and have no control over the rest of us? And that your opinions are not universally accepted?
    (This goes for everyone else who wants to decide what’s Wrongfun.)

  28. I doubt everyone involved in Wonder Woman can call herself or himself „Hugo winner“, can they?

    Signed 2006 person of the year

  29. @Steve Davidson
    I’d be massively surprised if he allowed you, though, to release any documents under his/the firm’s name without closely reviewing it, or having reviewed similar work in the past. Just about all lawyers use help, and all the good ones double check the work.

    I don’t disagree with anything you said in your last paragraph — those are all boiler-plate statements about TM law in the US.
    But how the law applies is always fact-based, and here, sending a formal C&D under the aegis of the WSFS to someone who casually says “I’m a Hugo Winner” would be dumb; and sending it to someone who posts fanfic on AO3 who claims in their bio to be a “Hugo-Winning Author” would not be much brighter under the facts as they stand now. (Caveat — if it becomes routine for a substantial part of the AO3 base to do it, that’s different; right now, so few people are actually doing it that the best thing to do is shut up and let it pass). I think it was appropriate for the MP committee to ask OTW to pass on a request to stop, and I don’t fault Kevin Standlee for what he tried to do over there — it’s obvious to me that the reaction by AO3 is more a function of the chips on their shoulders about being told “you’re doing it wrong” past and present than a function of what Kevin said or how he said it.

  30. Steve Davidson: It’s “cultural appropriation”

    No, it’s not. You’re being a… Drama King, I guess is the best way to put it.

    I’m not happy about people claiming to be Hugo Award Winners when they’re not, but
    It is not Cultural Appropriation.

    This term has a very specific meaning — and fandom ain’t it. Please don’t use it again in this context.

  31. @JJ and Farasha:

    Thank you for addressing the mis-use of the term “Cultural Appropriation” so clearly.

    This ain’t Reddit or Facebook (thank god), but +1 to both of your comments on it.

  32. I come and go here a bit. Like I was around for the puppy stuff, used to lurk a lot, commented more around the San Jose worldcon because I attended that, though didn’t think of myself as enough of a filer to go to the filer party. I know… most of the injokes listed last post by now?

    Running into the endless pedantic mansplaining that just goes on and on and on about how one of my other community should work (and doesn’t, btw), and how my main community are bad people and should feel bad for being happy about getting an award? While refusing to listen to anyone who IS a part of that community?

    It makes me not want to hang out with filers anymore. I know that three or four people ritually beating their hobby horses to death isn’t want the community here is about (except when it is), but it sure feels like it this week.

    I’d like to think that anyone would be able to mention AO3 around here again without Steve et al popping up and sealioning about how we didn’t win anything and are incidentally big meanie pants, but…

    Yeah. I think I’m going to go back to lurking.

  33. wow.

    when one sub culture tells another sub culture that they are using their own words incorrectly and are substituting their own meanings its not appropriation?


    @bill: if you read back, I did not nor was I addressing sending C&Ds to people who merely said an inappropriate and misleading thing.

    and of course he reviews what I write – what else am I paying him for; I was merely commenting on the fact that you were making a blanket statement that was not appicable in all cases.

    @PJ Evans: if having “wrongfun” entails diminishing the value of the Hugo Awards, I’m going to keep on beating that “zombie”. I might also go on a rant about people not reading and comprehending, but I suspect that would be wasted effort.

  34. I had an experience which might be relevant to the AO3 discussion. For the record, I’m a frequent reader both at AO3 and here at File 770 although I wouldn’t describe myself as a frequent contributor.

    I worked for a small LGBT company that offered products and services in the US and internationally. Our company registered our trademark for those products/services in as many jurisdictions as we could. Our trademark was a common English word, combined with a common punctuation mark and we hired an artist to develop a font for us.

    Because our basic trademark was a common English word, with a common punctuation mark, there were a lot of people who would use that combination, both casually and commercially. Our company would notify anyone who was using that combination that we had a trademark on it and would defend the trademark if required but we seldom sent an actual C&D or sued anyone.

    Eventually, a US multinational mega-corporation decided to release a product/service in the EU using the same common English word and punctuation mark, with a similar font. Weirdly, they didn’t try to register for a trademark themselves. We sent them the same kind of letter, notifying them that we held that trademark. They responded, I paraphrase, ‘too bad, we’ve already released our product, we’ve sunk too much money in its launch and you can’t afford to sue us.’ The next step was to send them an official C&D, which they ignored. We then had to sue them or run the risk of losing our trademark protection (not the right to the actual mark, but be limited in being able to stop others from using similar ones). One of the reasons we won our case against the giant multinational, large-pocketed corporation was that we had been so diligent in the past in notifying people, even in minor situations, when they trespassed against our trademark, even if we didn’t always send a C&D. (Is trespass the right word? I’m using it here not in a legal sense as IANAL, but in its common use.)

    So, based on my experience at my company, it seems prudent for the Mark Protection Committee to at least show that they had notified AO3 about the trademark trespass (including both the instances of commercial violations as well as the casual instances). Does WSFS want to step up to official C&Ds? Or sue people? I can’t speak for them, but I doubt it. Would they win? I have no idea. But that’s not really the point. They were doing what’s necessary for any future trademark defense in court should they ever feel they have to. And considering that there is a history of a hostile community (I don’t mean AO3 here) trying to harm the Hugo Awards, they may very well have to defend themselves against attacks in the future.

    After that point, it’s been basically a slew of people from both sides all saying ‘you did a thing which is disrespectful to our community.’ Which led to a slew of people from both sides all saying ‘No, you’re the ones who did the disrespectful thing. Why aren’t you listening to us!?’ Which has somehow led to ‘you can’t feel disrespected because it’s not legally harmful and you wouldn’t win in a court of law.’

    Although the weirdest part to me is seeing one community which de-emphasizes hierarchy fighting with another community which de-emphasizes hierarchy about respecting communal efforts and the people who volunteer their efforts to those communities. This is fundamentally an argument about whether individuals in a community which won an award for a communal effort should say (not can say, or are legally allowed to say, but is it respectful to say) either ‘I’m a winner!’ or ‘I contributed to the win!’

  35. @Farasha —

    this is a semantic debate on what exact phrasing we are “allowed” to use

    I find this interpretation really puzzling, and it has been covered multiple times already. To wit:

    If a fanzine wins a Hugo award, that does not mean everyone who has ever written for that fanzine gets to call themselves Hugo winners;

    If a movie wins an Oscar, that does not mean that everyone who worked on the movie gets to call themselves Oscar winners.

    Surely this concept is not really all that complicated?

    trying to police casual use of language

    Making false claims is not “casual use of language” — it’s fraud.

    to express our great pride in this award.

    This is another claim that I find really, REALLY puzzling.

    How is it “expressing great pride” to essentially spit in the face of the organization that awarded you?

    Humans built it, used it, broke it, fixed it, added to it,

    Again: every author who ever wrote for an awarded fanzine does not get to call themselves Hugo winners. Every cast member on an Oscar-awarded movie does not get to call themselves Oscar winners.

    @PJ —

    I get it: you don’t like AO3 and would like it to go back into the closet where all fanfic not Meeting With Your Approval hides.

    It would be a lot easier to hold a productive discussion if people on both sides would stop imagining nefarious motives on their opponents. Ridicule and false accusations are how this thing got so heated in the first place.

  36. @Steve —

    when one sub culture tells another sub culture that they are using their own words incorrectly and are substituting their own meanings its not appropriation?

    That’s not appropriation. It’s Hugo-splaining. Or maybe AO3-splaining. 😉

  37. @Steve

    You’re not a subculture simply by virtue of being on a different internet platform. Get over yourself.


    If a fanzine wins a Hugo award, that does not mean everyone who has ever written for that fanzine gets to call themselves Hugo winners […]

    What everyone’s been trying to get across here is that AO3 isn’t the same thing as a fanzine, or a movie, or whatever other examples you want to pull out here. I’m not going to reiterate the points that have already been made, but look. We’ve been over this. I suggest you perhaps go back to reread some of those comments if you truly find this so difficult to grasp.

  38. Open question: is there some some history behind the MPC’s apparent reluctance to send C&Ds to, for example, the Kickstarter pin makers, where there is an infringing commercial use of the mark? I see reluctance to see the committee do so being expressed here that I don’t see anywhere else; the majority sentiment from AO3 members seems to be that a C&D should be sent and that people are increasingly confused about why that hasn’t already been done.

    @Steve Davidson:

    As JJ stated, the term has a specific meaning. This isn’t a case where the definition may be divined as the most literal interpretation of the component parts. It does not apply to simply anything you consider a culture or sub-culture, just like ‘homophobia’ does not mean ‘fear of man’, or refer only to a fear of gay people.

    Like ‘homophobia’, if you aren’t aware of what the specific term means and how to apply it, then you should not be attempting to apply it.

  39. @Contrarius

    If a movie wins an Oscar, that does not mean that everyone who worked on the movie gets to call themselves Oscar winners.

    Sort of an aside, but . . .
    I’m not sure that Oscars are a good example here. The studios behind most Oscar-winning movies have binding agreements with the guilds/unions behind most of the people who work on the movie, and those agreements go into great detail about who gets credit for what. You can write an Oscar-winning movie, and not even get credit for writing it, much less winning the award.

    Further, when you (or a studio) submit a movie for Oscar consideration, you do so knowing that if it wins, a pre-determined list of producers will accept the award. IOW, it’s all agreed in advance. Not what happened here.

    Making false claims is not “casual use of language” — it’s fraud.

    “Fraud,” too, has a specific meaning, and it includes taking money under false pretenses. This is not fraud.

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