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Des
Posted on Friday, July 04, 2003 - 12:24 pm:   

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR NEMONYMOUS PART FOUR

The opening date for receiving story submissions for the 2004 annual edition of Nemonymous will be 1st September 2003. The closing date will be
29th February 2004.


You have a choice between (A) or (B):

(A) Any story that you feel suitable for Nemonymous.

Or

(B) A story that is a sequel or prequel or a shared universe of any of the 54 stories already published in Nemonymous.

It is intended that Nemonymous Part Four will constitute 50/50 of (A) and (B).

Any submission should be a stand-alone story (even if it is for (B)), previously unpublished in any medium, and between 100 and 5000 words.


The mechanics of submission will be notified on www.nemonymous.com nearer the opening date.

Payment will be £45 for each contracted story.
++++++++++++++

NEMONYMOUS PART 3 is now available. Please send cheque for £5.50 (5.50 pounds sterling) if in UK or 10 US Dollars *in cash* if elsewhere.

Reverse subscription order for a set of the first three parts of Nemonymous in one fell swoop:
£14 (14 pounds sterling) or 25 US dollars in cash

Please add £2 (two pounds sterling) or 5 US dollars if you also require a copy of a fine paperback book entitled ONLY CONNECT advertised on http://www.weirdmonger.com
Or you can have it at this special price, even if you don't buy Nemonymous!


Any cheques payable to 'D Lewis'.
When ordering, please clarify exactly what you are ordering -- together with your own postal address and, if possible, email.

Further info:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/weirdmonger/

+++++++++++++++++++++++




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Des
Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2003 - 10:23 am:   

Submission Guidelines for Nemonymous~4 have just been published as Message 372 here with immediate effect of submission:-
www.nemonymous.com
Some hopefully thought-provoking surprises involved in these guidelines and possibly the world's best payment rates for extremely short fiction.
Des
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2003 - 11:08 am:   

Des, what's with this bit?

"Please stipulate with your submission whether you wish (i) your name
to be `late-labelled' as the author, i.e. as before with previous
parts of Nemonymous or (ii) your name to be published as the author
alongside the story itself or (iii) your name never to be published
as the author of the story."

I am alarmed that (ii) exists!
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Des
Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2003 - 11:36 am:   

The operative word is 'wish'. These stipulations, Nicholas, will have some bearing but no jurisdiction on the contract that is eventually offered the author. Please remember that these guidelines are referring to a contract that will be offered pre-existing any knowledge of who the author is, in all circumstances -- and will take into account but not necessarily abide by the author's 'wish' that pre-exists editorial knowledge of his or her name. All that these guidelines imply is that it is *possible* that an author's name will accompany the author's story in print, but as agreed by the editor *before* knowing who the author is. Des
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2003 - 11:45 am:   

Better clarify that, then. Wouldn't want people (not I, of course) submitting and then getting upset when non-nemonymity isn't a possibility in the end.

Still, it does surprise me that it's even being considered.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2003 - 11:22 am:   

Question, Des: wouldn't it be better to just let people submit in categories A and B at the same address, and not declare whether or not it's a sequel? Leaves things a lot more open-ended.

I'm not out to find fault; in fact, this is mostly out of self-interest, as the story I am working on and planning to eventually submit is one I would like to consider a shared universe story as well as a thematic prequel/sequel to a previous Nemo story, but at the same time, I worry that the connection is so tangential/tenuous that submitting it in category B would lead to the impression that I'm trying to pull a fast one!
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Des
Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2003 - 12:03 pm:   

If it's borderline, anyone is free to submit to A or B. Also, no real problem if someone gets the wrong address by mistake. I'd just like the two submission streams to be *generally* divided in this way.

I'll try and keep my eye open for yours! ;-)
des
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Des
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 09:07 am:   

Clarified (but essentially unchanged) Submission Guidelines here:
http://tinyurl.com/ie7v

Important: if you do not receive an acknowledgement for your submission, this means it has not been received or it is not eligible.
(This still goes for competition entries, too.)

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JV
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 01:35 pm:   

Des:

I like the idea, but I'll have to withdraw "Mansions of the Moon" from such consideration. It's part of a novel I'm working on and the idea of someone else playing around in the same universe is anathema to me right now. Sorry!

Jeff
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Des
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 01:42 pm:   

OK, Jeff. That's fine. Des
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 02:14 am:   

Question, Jeff: how on earth would you know if it's set in the same universe? There aren't many indicators; it isn't really that sort of story, IMHO.

Note, I do not say this because my story is set in it. :p It is not.
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Anon
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 03:47 am:   

Des, I must say it could be rather murky territory. Jeff might not be the only author uncomfortable with the idea of others playing with his creation. Personally, I'm happy for anyone to write a sequel/prequel/movie script/re-write as a zombie gorefest my own story in Nemo (though I'd be surprised - and pleased! - if anyone did) but that might not apply to everyone.

Still, it's a novel idea (or a short story idea, but you know what I mean). I'm off to write the sequel to the Rhys Hughes thing (Tallest Tree?) in which a band of hungry werewolves evolve on the tree, come down it, and attack the vampires who have meanwhile evolved back on the ground, using automatic weapons and rocket launchers in a carnage of senseless violence. Hmm, kinda like the US attacking Iraq! :-)
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Anon
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 03:57 am:   

btw, I am not hiding behind the mask of anonymity - I am bound by my contract with Mr. Lewis not to reveal my identity.

Call me Cordwainer Smith.
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Anon
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 04:17 am:   

... That should have been Cordwainer Bird.

I'll slink away now in shame.
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 05:43 am:   

Let me be more blunt--no one ever has the right to write anything set in a place I create until I've been dead for 50 or 75 years, and if you try it, I will kill you either literally or figuratively.

JeffV
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 05:50 am:   

Okay, so not literally would I kill you. But I wouldn't be very happy and if I ever met you, it might well come to blows. My imagination is the most unique thing about my writing.

I'm really thinking there's a copyright issue here anyway, Des. You should probably check with each individual author to make sure it's okay. I don't mean to be prickly, but it's been a policy of mine from day one. Having been approached about an Ambergris anthology, for example, with stories by other writers, I turned that down, too.

JeffV
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 07:09 am:   

Hi, Jeff, if I'm in interested in a story submitted under Category B of my guidelines, I always planned to show it to the original author in question, before accepting it. But I must admit I didn't expect any problems.

Also - generally - cannot a writer *share* in a universe without contravening any copyright? I suppose it depends on the depth of sharing, and its various graduations of sharing. A flavour or an atmosphere or a genius loci etc etc. (And what about sequels or prequels?) This whole idea seemed highly suitable for Nemo's atmosphere and philosophy and that's why I've put the second category in. Nemo was begging to try such an idea, in my eyes.
My guidelines now say 'creatively distinct'.

This *may* be a can of worms. I didn't think it would be, till Jeff's message yesterday. I may have to abandon Category B, if things get too difficult, or even abandon Nemonymous if I tread on too many toes. Thinking aloud... Des
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Lavie Tidhar
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 07:18 am:   

Des, what you're looking at is a kind of cropshare - it has certainly been done before (The Man-Kzin Wars are a good example) but it does require you to clear the copyright with each author, and quite possibly pay them licensing fees as well! :-)

I imagine that with Nemonymous you wouldn't have a huge problem - if I were you I would e-mail the authors to get a written confirmation for either yay/nay - I would think the yay response would be quite good. Best do it now, though, otherwise you will end up accepting stories only to find the original author is unwilling to authorise their publication.

Lavie.
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 07:22 am:   

Well, I thought of that, Lavie. But I didn't think it would be worth contacting them, till I had a story to show them. I'm not accepting anything, till it's been cleared as a story by the original author. I don't anticipate any problems with that. Also, I understand I'm due to receive some very borderline 'sharing' and where do you draw the line? But thanks, Lavie.
Des
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 07:57 am:   

Still thinking aloud ... Nemo is a Small Press magazine, as I have discussed before here and elsewhere. It is experimental. It needs compromise and give-and-take to bring off some of these ideas. I'm sure the Nemo family will rally round. ;-)
Having said that, I do appreciate Jeff's point. Unlike an Anon poster earlier here today, Jeff's story is one of the few stories in the first three parts of Nemo where it is amenable to write a shared universe but difficult to do so without some element of *heavier* sharing. I respect his views and understand the reasons for them and that is why 'Mansions' is now excluded from Category B. I intend to proceed with Category B otherwise and show any 'shared' stories at pre-acceptance stage to the authors of the original stories. Most of those previous authors are on V&P anyway so should know of this new Category of Submission Guideline and have known for some time.
Des
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Lavie Tidhar
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 08:22 am:   

Des,
Don't get me wrong, I think Nemo *is* about experimentalism (is that like a heavy word) and I think it would be an interesting - and rewarding - thing to do. And as I said, I don't think you will have a problem with the majority of stories.

Copyright issues are an interesting thing. The one that gets me is Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series, which I love - he uses so many real people it's a wonder he's never been sued. I think I asked him once about it - can't remember what he said, but he didn't seem overly concerned.

'Course, the easy answer is to publish in Russia or China - no worries about copyright then... :-)

Lavie.
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 08:34 am:   

Thanks, Lavie, much appreciated. Des
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 08:45 am:   

Of course, I do genuinely expect some of the original authors will be trying their own attempts at 'sharing' with their own story and sending me an anonymous submission. So I shall probably be showing a story at pre-acceptance to the original author who wrote both stories!!
:-) Des
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Tenacious C
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 09:00 am:   

Oh, hell. I just sent you a story, Mr. Lewis, with the understanding that you were *now* accepting submissions, but now I see at the top of this thread that the opening date is Sep. 1.

I really should lay off the crack pipe.

Anyway. I'll re-send on September 1.
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 09:10 am:   

No, Tenacious, it's open NOW. You're OK. I'll go and get your submission from the in-box soon.
Guidelines are on:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nemonymous/
Des
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Tenacious C
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 09:23 am:   

Excellent!

Thanks, Mr. L!
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 09:41 am:   

Jeff, how would you feel about a shared universe story that made no reference at all to anything in yours? By this I mean one where the world depicted shares the same sort of atmosphere and internal logic without there being any explicit references; in another words, a story that one can easily imagine as taking place in the same world, though no concrete link exists.

For example, I have always thought of "Mansions of the Moon" as a shared universe story with Calvino's Invisible Cities. Perhaps I am stretching the meaning of the term a bit too far.

Another question: when does a reference turn a story into a shared universe story (by the more common definition)? If someone were to include the simile "fragile and eternal as the pale city of Murak Ubu" in a story, would that make the story a shared universe one? (Why they would want to include so perversely obscure a reference is another matter.)
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Chris Butler
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 05:19 am:   

Was just browsing through here. I must say that I would be mightily miffed if I published a story in any magazine and then discovered that the editor was encouraging prequels/sequels without my express permission in advance. But perhaps I am just not in sync with the nemo concept and your contributors may have an entirely different perspective.
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Des
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 07:26 am:   

Hi, Chris grateful for your thoughts. In hindsight, it seems that I ought to have played this differently, but there are various factors to take into account:
1. For a few months now, subscribers to Veils&Piques (where most of previous authors are members) have known these plans. There had been no complaints, but indeed praise for the new idea from some of those authors.
2. I always intended to show original authors any potential acceptances (and indeed they may well be the writers of the new stories, because all submissions to Nemo 4 will be anonymous!)
3. The philosophy and atmosphere etc of Nemo that many have become accustomed to (as you suggest). After all, all authors have trusted Nemo in being published without a by-line and most have expressed enjoyment and new ideas flowing from the experience. I would never do anything agaginst their interests or without their permission. I was merely trying to extend the experiment constructively.
4. I did assume (in my naivety) that original authors would consider any attempts to create 'shared universes' with their stories as a tribute or compliment.
5. I have now used the words 'distinct creativity' in the guidelines - reflecting what I thought would be already implied: that there are various gradations of 'sharing' and I never conceived of anything more than creating a new story within the atmosphere or place of the original story...or within another location in the plot's time-line or at a tangent with new characters etc. Again, if due for acceptance, story to be shown to the first author first.
Des
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Neil A
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:46 am:   

Thinking about this more closely, Des, I can see how some previous authors would object to having their characters hearts and minds played about with. When I originally saw the guidelines for Nemo 4 however, my immediate reaction was that you were looking more for a shared-world effect.

Personally, I would love for somebody to play around in my world, but to keep their pens off my creations.
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Chris Butler
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:54 am:   

Hi Des, thanks for the information. It seems you're on safe ground. Best of luck with it all.

With regard to your point 4: Obviously there are some projects that are clearly collaborative from the outset. The House With 87 Cabinets project, for example, and in that case I would be delighted if anybody built on my contribution.

Other projects will not be collaborative, and the author of the work owns that work and expects to reap all appropriate rewards (financial or otherwise) that might result from it. I think we can assume that JK Rowling did not regard Tanya Grotter as either a tribute or a compliment. :o)

Hmm. Perhaps that's a bad example, but you get my drift.
Chris

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Des
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 08:59 am:   

Yes, I agree, neil, there are gradations of 'sharing' that need to be addressed. I am open to suggestions for rewording of guidelines. As it happens, so far, we've had many nemo~4 story submissions for category A (even in these early days) but only a few (so far) for category B.
I intend this to be debated in full on:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nemonymous/
a brand new forum where all V&P members have been invited. And anybody else.
I'm glad Jeff V raised the issue. These are heady days!

Des
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Luís
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 04:20 pm:   

Hello everyone. As you probably know, I'm a big fan and supporter of Nemonymous, but here I have to stand by some of the criticism that's been presented re sharing universes.

If the original writer agrees to it, then all's fine and dandy, but I am opposed to sharing other people's work without their express consent. (Even more when it's done against their will: see -- or better, DON'T -- the recent Amber prequels by John Betancourt.)

There is usually much more to a story than what is simply on the page: there's an emotional link to the author, countless hours of research, and all the stories, places and people that populate the writer's head . . . It can all be like precious china neatly arranged in the living room, until some great big rhino comes along and accidentally tramples all over it. It's one thing to do it privately, through (ugh!) fanfic for your friends or roleplaying games, but things get serious when you put the broken pottery where the author and just about the entire world can find it.

These issues aside, I believe that shared universes seldom encourage creativity among writers . . . While I understand that Mr Lewis is trying inject a sense of gestalt into Nemonymous, I doubt this is the better way to do it. Demanding that 50% of the "megazanthus" be made up of shared universes is an unpleasantly artificial constraint, and one that sits poorly with the feel of "uniqueness" Nemo has accustomed us to so far.

Just my two cents.

All best,
Luís
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 05:38 pm:   

Nicholas:

There's a difference between riffing off of another author's work--influence--and a kind of second degree plagiarism. I'm flattered if I see someone stealing my techniques. I'm on the warpath if I see someone appropriating my imagination. (As for influence--who knows? I just wrote it. I didn't sit down and say, "Ah. I think I'll riff off of Invisible Cities today." Not to mention, if you see the whole novel in which this folktale is inlaid, you'd note that it's not very Calvino-like.)

Yeah, anyone can be *influenced* by "Mansions" or any other story and write their own story. But I think it's folly to specifically solicit this kind of work--and even more so not to consult each individual author first. It's one step away from sharecropping.

"Mansions" is just the tip of the iceberg re that universe. Which is why it's even more irritating to me--the idea of someone riffing off of it directly. Because they could inadvertently do exactly what I'm doing in the novel.

But more specifically--again, I just don't see that there's a good argument here. First of all, if you're deliberately riffing off of something else rather than just assimilating influences and technique, chances are if you're not Rhys Hughes, it's going to be pastiche or lesser than the original.

I'm not saying "Mansions" is great stuff. It's good, I think, but not great. But I'd never ever have given it to Nemo to publish if I'd known down the road that the editor was going to solicit work based on it or prior stories in Nemo. Nor, frankly, do I want to read a Nemo with that in it.

Sorry, Des. I respect what you're doing, but you've totally lost me with this tangent.

JeffV
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Des
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 10:42 pm:   

Ok, I shall postpone this category of submission, while it is being discussed, with the possible outcome of abandoning it altogether. Good to get this feedback. Meanwhile, my thoughts are as above in my reply to Chris Butler. Best, Des
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Neil A
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 04:50 am:   

Hi Des,

In light of the above, I've added the word 'controversial' when referring to Nemonymous on my news page ;)

http://www.fragmentmagazine.co.uk/1news.html
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Chris Butler
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 06:46 am:   

Thought about this some more overnight. It seems to me that unless you own rights in the stories then you are in no position to solicit work based on those stories. Except if you were acting on behalf of those who do hold rights.

Also, speaking purely for myself, there is no way I would write a story for this project if there is any possibility that the original author will subsequently veto it. It's too big a risk that all my efforts will be for nothing (it would not be possible to submit the work anywhere else!).

Moreover, if I was one of the original authors, I would not want to be put in the position of having to veto a story, knowing that I would be confining another author's earnest efforts to the waste paper bin.

I hate to be such a killjoy but I think these are real issues.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 07:24 am:   

Des: Why not just email all authors and find out for sure which would be okay with it? Then you could provide a list of stories which people are allowed to use as a basis, and all this controversy would be avoided.

Jeff: I get your meaning, and I agree. One thing, though: you haven't answered my question about what you think of references that, by implication, set the story being referred to and the story containing the reference in the same universe.
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GabrielM
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 08:46 am:   

Des: I'm not an IP attorney but I am an attorney, and I'm really quite certain that, unless Nemonymous holds the copyright, you need to get the consent of the original authors before and not just after the derivative work is written. Copyright gives the holder the exclusive right to authorize the preparation of derivative works, and the infringement occurs at the time the derivative work is created and not when it is published. If you solicit the work subject to the ex post approval of the author and the author doesn't give it the infringement will already have occurred.
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Des
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 08:58 am:   

Point taken. Small press experiment abandoned. I apologise for my naivety. I may revive it by asking headlease authors permission. But at the moment I don't have the appetite. Thanks for all your input. And particularly to Jeff for first flagging up the alarm bells. Des
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Luís
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 11:00 am:   

Hi Mr Lewis,

I'm happy that you reconsidered, at least for the time being. By the way, I hope I didn't come off as unplesant, but Nemonymous is a great publication and I couldn't help but see this latest experiment as a step back, and one that could get a lot of people in legal trouble too.

Best,
Luís
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des
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 11:40 pm:   

Not at all, Luis. As I said before in thanks for all the input: setbacks can summon new eyes to shine on new paths.
Someone, on the new Nemo discussion forum, has said the following (although he also expresses major reservations as to the naivety of my previous approach):

"Each issue of Nemo is at the same time a collection of independent stories and a story of its own, formed by synergies created by the various pieces in the mag. So far, this has been happening in pure serendipity, almost miraculously, and Des perhaps wanted to make sure that it would go on happening through this idea os shared universe. After all, in his mind (and in reality, as far as reality goes) Nemo's universe is already shared in some ways."

I've thought of a phrase to describe this: clan destiny.

Again, many apologies for this enormous debacle caused by myself. I am not rushing into any new approaches to Category B. After all, there is plenty of time. Current guidelines are on:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nemonymous/
Des
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JV
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 05:05 am:   

Just a quick note--when I said earlier I would not have "given" my story to Nemo to publish, I meant, of course, "submitted anonymously for possible publication". I was in a rush when I posted.

Also--please don't get me wrong: I love Nemonymous--the concept, the execution, the layout & design, the stories. It's a wonderful idea. I've always fully supported it and always will.

Nicholas--I'm not sure I understand your premise. Isn't most fiction operating that way?

JeffV
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 07:50 am:   

Fitting, then, that I'm not sure I understand your response! =P Are you saying that all works of fiction, on some level, are "shared universe" stories, or something different?
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JV
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 08:44 am:   

Yes. Doesn't every author in a sense "correspond" with or "answer" or "refute" prior authors in their work?

JeffV
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 09:33 am:   

Yeah, sure. What I'm asking, though, is whether you'd object to a story that explicitly--though in passing--places itself in the same universe as one of yours, as in the reference to Murak Ubu given in my earlier post, for example.
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JV
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 02:15 pm:   

Um, yeah, I would. Unless someone came to me ahead of time and asked. Then it would depend on the person asking and the situation.

Generally, I think it's a bad idea. Why the heck should anyone need my milieu to write their story? It seems like a lack of imagination.

JeffV
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Marge Simon
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 07:00 pm:   

to JeffV
I don't understand why you think that your shared world is the major issue? I got permission from someone who wrote a story published in Nemo previously and he/she (I'm not supposed to say who) approved it with enthusiasm. It was by no means easy to do because it had to maintain the same flavor of the main character's mindset.
Perhaps I'm mistaken in this assumption. If so, pardon me.
M
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, August 02, 2003 - 09:51 pm:   

Jeff: See, what I'm asking about is not someone borrowing your milieu, but putting a reference in that sets both in the same larger context by implication.

I hasten to assure you that I am writing no such story.
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Des
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 12:28 am:   

I would like to thank everyone for their support, input, advice, warning, scolding etc throughout this matter. I am still considering whether to revive the Category B submission guideline, as a result of this input, following further discussion with some previous Nemo authors and any further input on the Nemonymous forum. Although the planning was done on Veils&Piques prior to annoncement of the guidelines, my major mistake was not getting the *express* *prior* permission to *solicit* these submissions, for which I continue to apologise. And I think that's all my critics above are saying for which I thank them. And if anyone, for example, is happening to write a larger work themselves based on their Nemo story, I can fully understand them not giving such permission. If anyone has already written or submitted something based on category B guideline, it will be considered, prior to any possible acceptance, alongside consultation with the previous author (as I always intended), but currently I am no longer soliciting such submissions to be written.
Des
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JV
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 06:41 am:   

Nicholas:

It's not that I don't get your question. It's that I don't really see the point of it. It still feels like a colonization of someone else's imagination. But it's probably more akin to a tip of the hat than anything else.

Marge:

I don't even know how to respond to your posting. I'm glad you got permission in your case. I don't know what you're asking me. My "shared world"? What are you talking about?

Jeff
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 08:21 am:   

Jeff: It didn't have much of a point, really. I was just (idly) curious as to whether you'd consider such a reference to be imaginative imperialism or a hommage. So the answer's "both"?
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Marge Simon
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 12:35 pm:   

Jeff:
Sorry about that misunderstanding. Anyway, 'tis all settled pretty much now and I'm very glad everyone gave such candid input.

Nicholas:
Personally, I'd consider it a "hommage" if someone chose a story of mine to continue though I wouldn't give permission to do this if I didn't feel the continuation was up to par. :-)
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Eric Schaller
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 12:42 pm:   

Although no longer a controversy, I will post two recent examples that get to the rewards/difficulties with the shared universe idea. In the long run it comes down to what the story is and whether the originating author accepts the shared universe story, something that cannot really be known in advance (and not at all if the author is dead).

1. I like Jeff Ford's recent short story that used one of the fake diseases from the forthcoming Lambshead Disease Guide (Vandermeer/Roberts, eds.) as a jumping off point. This story simply accepts that such a disease exists, and then develops characters and a story affected by that disease.

2. On the other hand, I had a real problem accepting China Mieville's story "The Tain" because it seemed to borrow too much imaginatively from Borges, and used the material in a manner that I do not think Borges would appreciate.
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Eric Schaller
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 01:08 pm:   

I just realized that an even better comparison would be Mieville's "Details" (which I did like as it just borrowed some of the atmospheric approach of Lovecraft to very good effect) to "The Tain" (which borrowed too much conceptually from Borges IMO).
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 01:29 pm:   

Hey, Eric: The example of my story and the disease in the guide isn't really the same thing as what you discuss in relation to China's work, as I wrote the disease and the story. Otherwise, in reference to the issue being discussed, there is a very famous case in Comic Book history that sets the president here. An underground artist once used Mickey Mouse in a spoof called the air Pirates and Disney sued. Since it was satire, the artist should have gotten away with it, but not with the power of Disney behind the lawsuit. The fact that the artist lost the case and was successfully sued by Disney makes a president for these writers suing for the use of their original worlds and ideas. I don't know if someone has mentioned this or not yet as I only read the end of this thread. And I mention it as merely an historical event in relation to this. I'm not suggesting anyone sue anyone.

Best,


Jeff
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 01:34 pm:   

Oi, sorry. That should have been "precedent" not "president". I wrote them both too.
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JV
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 02:16 pm:   

Nicholas:

The devil's in the details. It's one of those things where you know it when you see it. With such a vague general question, I just can't give you an answer. Nor am I really all that interested in the question even if specific.

Re the disease guide--it was set up specifically to be a "shared world" in a sense. Thackery Lambshead and his Guide, however, remain the intellectual property of myself and Mark Roberts. We're not going to become the Copyright Police if some of our contributors do riffs outside of the disease guide, but it does mean if someone tried to rip off the unique details of the concept, we could sue their asses into the ninth level of hell.

And the content of the diseases remains the intellectual property of the person who wrote each particular disease. Thus Jeff Ford doesn't have to ask us permission to write a short story based on his disease, because the disease is his.

JeffV

Jeff
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Eric Schaller
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 02:31 pm:   

Jeff F.--I agree with you that your use of figurative synethesia (sp?) in a separate story is not a great example--didn't remember that you wrote it. I suppose you will have to sue yourself now...

Eric
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 03:31 pm:   

Eric: A lot of good that will do me. Instead, I will sue myself's synesthetic double.

Best,

Jeff
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 12:56 am:   

JeffV: Fair enough. As I said, I was just curious; I'm sorry if the question proved annoying.

About the diseases, etc., though: I was under the impression that it isn't possible for a writer to own this sort of idea. It would be quite rude for someone else to write a story about figurative synaesthesia without first getting JeffF's permission, but as far as I'm aware, there would be no legal way to stop him.
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Luís
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 03:31 pm:   

Jeff:

"We're not going to become the Copyright Police if some of our contributors do riffs outside of the disease guide, but it does mean if someone tried to rip off the unique details of the concept, we could sue their asses into the ninth level of hell."

Oh shit, does this mean I can't do the Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Acrobatically Licentious Sexual Positions with Notes on the Subject of Prohibited Tantric Intercourse anymore?

By the way, and to bring this back on topic: because writer bylines are at the end of each disease in the guide, like Eric Schaller I'm having a hard time associating each disease with the person who wrote it. Though briefer, this too can be a form of nemonymity or late labeling, don't you agree?

"It would be quite rude for someone else to write a story about figurative synaesthesia without first getting JeffF's permission, but as far as I'm aware, there would be no legal way to stop him."

I'm no copyrighter (though I can ask one), but Jeff would have to register the trademark for Figurative Synaesthesia if he wanted to effectivelly stop people from writing and selling fiction about it.

Again, it depends on how much of Figurative Synaesthesia would appear in derivative fiction, and wether it'd look more ike a riff or a rip. Like Jeff V says, it's hard to tell, and you'd have to analyse each story individually.

Best,
Luís
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 11:05 am:   

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

Since JeffF is not selling anything and using Figurative Synaesthesia as the name of said source to sell something, this is not an issue. However, the phrase Figurative Synaesthesia is already copyrighted to Jeff Ford. Unless JeffF sold all the rights to his stories on SciFiction and THACKERY (which I doubt he did). I would bet upon publication all rights revert to JeffF. There is a big difference between trademark and copyright. When I make my zine, I place copyright information in the front, and that legally binds anyone who wants to reprint my zine, any stories, or use any ideas put forth in it to contacting me or the author before they can do so.

However, JeffF, having created the disease Figurative Synaesthesia as a creative endeavour, does hold all legal rights to its use. If someone wrote about Figurative Synaesthesia without JeffF's explicit permission, JeffF could sue them, and would most likely win.

We're splitting hairs however. Unless the person went to make a successful movie about Figurative Synaesthesia or sign a six-figure book deal on it, it wouldn't be worth JeffF's time to pursue the matter. Probably the stink other people would make about the stealer of Figurative Synaesthesia not coming up with their own idea would be enough to shame the person into not doing it again.

On the other hand, if JeffF went somewhere public, this board for example, and said: if someone wants to write about Figurative Synaesthesia, go ahead, then he would have waived his exclusive rights to it and the rest of us could go willy-nilly writing about Figurative Synaesthesia.

Since Figurative Synaesthesia carries the same importance to the fiction it's presented in as that of a character or setting, i.e. Cley, or the Well-Built City, it is treated as the same when it comes to copyright.

Yes, in the end, you would have to analyze each story individually. But I don't see how you could riff on Figurative Synaesthesia since you'd have to assume that your audience had read JeffF's pieces to understand what you were talking about. Then, as you start explaining more about what it was, you'd be stealing more from JeffF. It's always safer to just avoid the problem in the first place and come up with your own ideas.

I do not understand why this is so difficult for everyone to wrap their heads around. If another writer wrote it, and it's published, and you see the copyright symbol © next to it, you have to assume that anything the author created for that work (i.e. the Well-Built City, and not New York City) is off-limits and you SHOULD NOT use it in your own fiction without expressed written consent of the author. There is fair use, but that refers to criticism, not to fiction. You want a funny line from JeffF's fiction to appear before the start of your novel, get his permission before you do it, or you'll be paying part of your royalties to him.

If JeffV doesn't want people running around in the world of "Mansions of the Moon" that's his right. You don't like it? Come up with your own fucking ideas, JeffV made these.

JK
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 11:08 am:   

Sorry to be so cranky, I've been asked to flip the values on some damn field in a database and I can't find any tables that it exists in so I've come here and finally offered up what working in publishing since 1993 gives you. Oh, and I'm working for a law-book publisher at the present, so this is all BIG stuff.
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Des
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 11:24 am:   

That all seems to make sense, JK, and I'm glad it's been thrashed out here -- because, with my original guidelines, I evidently (and in hindsight) was treading on areas (however blurred the boundaries and pre-planned the concept) that I should never have trod so carelessly -- with various extenuating circumstances and apologies outlined above. I'm going to start a new thread here called 'Shared Universes' to continue this one (making this post its start) as this thread is getting too long. The thread may have shot its bolt, anyway, and if it's already run its course, so be it.
But a side-issue that has struck me - what if someone started another magazine called Nemonymous - could I do anything about it? A mag using all my ideas? Not that anyone would want to do so!!
I'm sure there are other side-issues...
Des
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 11:38 am:   

No, it's a great idea, much like Nemonymous in the first place, but you need to make sure everyone's on the same page when you start.
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Neil A
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 01:53 am:   

As a sidenote, aren't there intinsic differences regarding the copyright laws in the UK and the US, and if so, how would a US originator of copyright go about suing a UK plagiarist, or vice versa? Suing is a much bigger and more common thing in America than it is in Britain.

Don't worry, I'm not intending on stealing anything, just thought it was an interesting point.

John, could you offer any illumination on this topic?
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Lavie
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 06:10 am:   

I'm just reading Isaac Asimov's autobiography, and he does mention how often people in fandom used to sue each other, often for $25,000 because it was a "nice, round number". They were usually settled out of court for "$2.50".

Before we get hysterical about the shared universe idea, the border between "hommage" and "copyright violation" is somewhat ill-defined. As I mentioned earlier, Kim Newman consistently uses other people's characters as well as real, living people in his fiction. I guess this might be ground for a lawsuit, but I suspect it would not be an easy case to win. Especially today, when we encounter a lot of post-modern fiction which uses previously-used settings, worlds, characters (take for example the vast amount of work built upon Lovecraft's universe) it will be difficult to argue the case in court. as a matter of fact, Isaac Asimov's first short story collection was going to be called something very different to what it is. When the publisher suggested "I, Robot" as the title Asimov was aghast. "That was the title of a story by Eando Binder!" he protested. "F__k Eando Binder!" was the response he got, and the name stayed.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 06:41 am:   

Does Kim Newman use characters from public domain works, or works that are still under copyright? And, could his work be seen as satire? If it's satire, you can get away with lots of things.

As for UK vs US copyright laws, there aren't a lot of differences when it comes to publishing. The author decides what type of rights he wants to sell (i.e. First North American Rights, Canadian Rights, UK Rights, World Rights, First North American Serial Rights, etc.) and the contract they sign will speak to when those rights revert back to the author. For bigger publications, Asimov's, Analog, F&SF (correct me if I'm wrong Gordon), it's First North American Serial Rights (all other rights to the story belong to the author) and they hold exclusive publishing rights to the piece for one year after publication. For books it's a little more spelled out, breaking down every sort of right that the publisher is buying (i.e. audio rights, film rights, electronic publishing rights, etc.) and the author retains any rights the publisher does not buy. Most book publishers hold on to said rights until five years after the book goes out of print, although with POD, this has changed.

Now, as for suing each other (which I do NOT advocate and feel sick when I hear of all the lawsuits that people put forth), I don't know. There has to be some sort of international law that covers this. It's outside my realm of knowledge as to how people from the UK and US could sue each other. But, I would bet that if someone in the UK starting writing about Ambergris and Duncan Shriek, JeffV would have a good case against them.

As for titles, they cannot be copyrighted, and are not copyrighted. As long as the story each title pertains to is different. So while Asimov wanted to not 'steal' from Eando Binder, it didn't matter. Even if Heinlein had written a story called "I, Robot", Asimov's publisher could name the story collection I, ROBOT if they wanted to. Most of the time, people try to avoid doubling up on titles because it's confusing. It's not illegal, or even plagiarism, it's just dumb. Take the movies 28 DAYS and 28 DAYS LATER. They have nothing to do with each other, but many Americans were confused why the crappy Sandra Bullock alcoholic story transformed into a zombie story. If you're talking song titles/lyrics, avoid them altogether. Try writing a story called "Roxanne" about a hooker and Sting will have your house. Copyright for song lyrics boils down to any recognizeable word combination from the song, whether it's one word (i.e. the aforementioned "Roxanne") or two or three words (i.e. "Stacey's Mom" or "I Will Survive"). And it's tough to get permission to use song lyrics. Typically you can be looking at $15,000 for a song quote. Unless you know the artist (a la Neil Gaiman and Tori Amos).

And as for Lovecraft (I believe, someone out there must know more about Lovecraft than I), he gave permission for people to use his world. Had he not, you would not see the proliferation of Lovecraft/Cthulhu literature. Robert E. Howard gave no such permission for Conan, which is why you have to go through the Conan corporation to write anything about that particular character.

Basically, use your own ideas.

JK
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Nathan
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 07:53 am:   

Regarding copyrighting a title: I believe I read somewhere that Harlan Ellison once successfully sued somebody for trying to use the title "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream."
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des
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 08:02 am:   

But can I copyright 'Nemonymous' as a title - or even as a *word*?
I'd be grateful if you could please transpose comments to the new 'Shared Universes' thread - as this one is getting too slow to access. Assuming there is any more mileage in the subject? Whatever the case, I've found the whole experience invaluable.
Des
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Eric Schaller
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 11:57 am:   

My understanding is that you can copyright a newly minted word (one that you made up and was not previously in the dictionary).

The coach of the Chicago Bulls copyrighted the word "threepeat" before the Bulls went on to win their third championship.

So you could probably copyright: Nemonymous

--Eric

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Jamie Rosen
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 07:33 am:   

I think, if you check, that a word like "threepeat" is a trademark, a copyright.

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on tv, and I don't feel like going into all sorts of details that I can easily get wrong. But here's (unless a lawyerly type sets me straight) a good rule of thumb:

a) a copyright applies to a creative work (a story, a piece of artwork.)

b) a trademark applies to an identifiable symbol (a brand name, a slogan, a logo, the distinctive appearance of a character, a title or character name *in specific circumstances.*)

c) a patent applies to something you design and build.

The distinction can be a major one, because the three are treated differently.
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Jamie Rosen
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 07:33 am:   

I think, if you check, that a word like "threepeat" is a trademark, not a copyright.

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on tv, and I don't feel like going into all sorts of details that I can easily get wrong. But here's (unless a lawyerly type sets me straight) a good rule of thumb:

a) a copyright applies to a creative work (a story, a piece of artwork.)

b) a trademark applies to an identifiable symbol (a brand name, a slogan, a logo, the distinctive appearance of a character, a title or character name *in specific circumstances.*)

c) a patent applies to something you design and build.

The distinction can be a major one, because the three are treated differently.
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Jamie
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 07:35 am:   

Dang. Didn't catch the mistake in time to prevent the first posting. My apologies. The second posting is the more correct one, both factually and gramatically. :-)
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Gorden Russell
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 03:54 pm:   

It's been a long time since I graduated but I did take Communication Law at Syracuse University about 1975 or 1976.

You sound right-on to me, Jamie.

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