Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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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; 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, 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 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 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.


2003-10-20 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

*sigh* and also *grrr*

Why do people have to be such assholes? If you want to post the damn summary, either give credit where credit is due(and respect the author's wishes for it not to be edited, or get off your lazy ass and do a summary of the facts given (which I still think should give credit, but that's more in the range of give-a-shoutout kind of niceness, so whatever). Legal footing or not, there's just no excuse to steal someone else's hard work and claim it as your own.


2003-10-20 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, I agree completely that even if you totally summarise the spoilres, it's only polite and respectful to credit the source. I might not feel obligated to say that I read in the Indianapolis Star-News that Schwarzeneggar was elected governor of California, but this is fandom, and the news comes from a very small pool of sources -- it's possible to give credit directly to one person who can actually see and feel good about that credit.


2003-10-20 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)


I've never been to that forum before, nor have I ever read bubonicplague's summaries but I now want to smack a few heads together over there. Then I too could be rudely insulted for being a minion and an a$$ licker of someone I don't even know, by someone who doesn't know the first thing about me.

I don't know which is worse, that they did it in the first place and refuse to honor the request of the author in question, that they called someone a 'moron' just for voicing an opinion they didn't agree with, or their threats to ban everyone just to make life easier for themselves.

What's really sad is the cries of 'ban ban ban!' that occurred in the last thread, when someone dared to point out the moderators were violating their OWN rules.

Those moderators are all three. No, wait, that's an insult to three year olds. Geesh!


2003-10-20 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

It is, yeah. (An insult to three year olds.) On the bright side (sort of) the mod in the second thread who backed off and said she wasn't interfering in the wanky mods' decision, at least seemed to understand the problem and not personally be a jerk, even if she gives way too much credit for intelligence and maturity to the other two.

And apparently people have written to the siteowner and not yet got an answer back, so there's hope (assuming he does answer) that it's just an issue of those mods, and perhaps he'll do something about it.

(I too loved the ban, ban cries, some of which were from posters, not the mods. The ones along the lines of "I don't know anything about this but we all love that mod so she can't be wrong and you're a jerk for saying anything bad about her and you're gonna get BANNED!" Granted I think at least one of those came from someone underage so at least there's some excuse for the lack of maturity there.)

(Deleted comment)


2003-10-21 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)

There's always the Adventures of Pointy Face and Puppy-Head. ;-)

I'm glad anything I've done worth stealing (subjectively anyway) hasn't been, for the most part. I've got lucky.


2003-10-20 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

This is very much the same issue with recipes and copyrighted. A recipe cannot be copyrighted, including lists of ingredients and basic cooking techniques...


Beat eggs...

However, any color commentary about how your grandma milked the cows in the old days and the milked needed to be boiled, which changes the whole texture...

is copyrightable.

It's hard to believe that this mod is this dense. You shouldn't need the technicalities to show that what she is doing is just wrong.


2003-10-21 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)

I didn't know that about recipes -- that's neat. (I think maybe I knew in the sort of folklore sense of the "Million Dollar Cookie Recipe that you should pass on to everyone right now in order to get even with [insert big corporation here]" but didn't know that you actually can't copyright the set of ingredients in a recipe.]


2003-10-21 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)


The moderators on this board make me want to puke. Where do they get off heckling any and all critics of their actions? They seem to think that because the spoiler section got 30k hits that makes it ok to steal.

Yes, the spoiler information is around in various forms, but to copy someone entire summary word-for-(almost)-word and only provide a link to a previously stolen version is just plain wrong. The summary itself is the work of the original author and should be either left intact or have only the information extracted from it.

By posting these summaries as they did, they provide a link to a source that any numbnuts among the PTB can find with their eyes shut. Suckage!

I'd register on the board and make this point, but it seems entirely pointless as it seems that as soon as someone questions anything there they are flamed and banned.
*rolls eyes*
The Internet - one big kiddies sandbox


2003-10-21 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, I considered registering and trying to give them a slightly rantier opinion while obeying all their rules technically so they wouldn't have excuse to ban me, but it doesn't really seem like they need much of an excuse at thus point. Or like it would make a dent in their demonstrably thick skulls.