I Blame the Dutch (mpoetess) wrote,
I Blame the Dutch

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The difference between spoilers and a spoiler summary

Short answer: when you repost the first? It's news. When you repost the second without credit? It's plagiarism.

Grr. Argh.

You know, I love Buffyworld.com; it's my favorite transcript/episode guide site evar, due to its wonderful organization. Meanwhile, though we've never personally argued, bubonicplague and I will probably see eye to eye on some fannish issues when Satan wears ice skates. Which is why the bizarreness of me being almost rabidly annoyed at buffyworld on Bub's behalf is, well, bizarre.

The background, if you don't know it: bubonicplague writes very long, very detailed, very informative spoiler summaries. She also includes her own opinions among those summaries, and they can be very sarcastic. Some people don't like reading them; some do. Those who do? Appreciate not only the spoilers but the entertaining construction of the narrative. Those who don't? (And I'm often one of them, simply because the tone of narration can give me a negative feeling about the show, or make me want to argue or be frustrated, and I'd just rather not and say I didn't.) Can... gasp shock -- not read them. Or get a friend to summarise the pertinent details for them.

The sitch now: One of the moderators in the spoiler forums at buffyworld has taken at least one spoiler summary of bubonicplague's, and edited it to her (I believe) choosing, removing the personal opinion comments that she doesn't agree with, and bubonicplague's disclaimer asking that her summary not be edited (and giving fair warning to the reader that the delivery will be biased), and leaving the rest. A link to read the "full" version is provided, but that is in fact not the full version, since it goes to buffy.nu, who have also edited the content without permission.

When asked repeatedly to correct this -- either to remove the summary, or to replace it with the complete version, the aforementioned buffyworld.com moderator (and another who seems to tag team in this argument) has refused. Repeatedly. Rudely. Basically on the grounds that... they don't like Bub's comments, don't like Bub (at least the other, male mod doesn't; he stated that straight out), and think spoilers should be free for the masses. Between them (and no, I don't know who did what) they've either banned or threatened to ban several people who've gone over there to tell them -- at least at the start politely -- that what they're doing is Not Cool. Very specifically, they've banned bubonicplague, so that she cannot speak in the very forum where huge chunks -- far beyond anything anybody would consider fair use -- of her own work is posted in a butchered form. The related threads (should not contain actual spoilers but the unspoiled might want to be careful)are here and here.

The biggest (best? closest to not just being an asshole?) excuse being given by the mod(s) is that the spoiler info is, basically, news, and Bub can't copyright it. They're almost right -- the fact that in Episode X, Y happens, according to an unspecified source, is news, once it's released. Which is why it's perfectly ok for someone like Tensai at The Spoiler Slayer to read Bub's three page long summary, paraphrase the actual facts from it down to a few paragraphs of description, and perhaps quote a line or two with proper attribution to script or Bub as appropriate. Fair Use. Ten is passing on the spoilers, not someone else's written work. And that's why, as far as I know, no one has had a problem with Ten or anyone else doing just that. Which was pointed out to the buffyworld mods, and summarily ignored/dismissed.

Reposting without permission (and in one case without credit) almost the entire summary as written by bubonicplague, on the other hand, editing out only the lines of personal commentary or swearing that the reposter doesn't like, is not Fair Use, is not cool, and is exactly the same as taking a recap from Television Without Pity or PanFandom.com and reposting huge chunks of that without permission, credit, or cooperation with the author when requested to remove it. Bar Bub's summaries being from a spoiler source, and the recaps being done from viewing the episodes; they both contain large amounts of opinion, original text and hard work by the author. Only I'd rather like to see the re-posters try it with the re-caps1, since TWOP and PF are both professional sites who pay their recappers, and I suspect would look pretty negatively on such plagiarism/copyright infringement.

This is every bit as much an Access Denied sort of issue as theft of fanfiction or fanart; the argument could be made that bubonicplague has even more right to be protected from such things because her spoiler summaries are, essentially, an essay or a news story - and while the *news* inside a news story is public information, the written words of it belong to the author and nobody else.2


1 No, I wouldn't really; I mean that in the "I'd like to see their asses get kicked" sense, not that I'd like TWOP or PF to have to go through that crap.

2 Granted, because spoilers are frowned on by the PTB, the legal footing is about as shaky as fanfic. Until after the episode airs -- at which point? It's essentially a re-cap.

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