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What is the consensus on photocopying zines?

What is the consensus on photocopying a zine you really loved for a friend?

I've occasionally wanted to do this but have stopped short every time.
The conditions I envisage are that:

(a) the zine is sold out;
(b) the zine is out of print;
(c) the zine maker's contact details net no response when you contact them re availability or for permission;
(d) it's a zine you don't want to give away because it's so good;
(e) a zine you're nervous about lending out in case it doesn't make it back to you (which can happen for a whole host of reasons; your friend is not greedy or sly!);
(f) you do not charge your friend (or anyone) for copying it for them.

What's your stance on the topic? Are there variables I've omitted that make any difference? Does copyright come into it? Is there an unspoken consensus on this that I've never unearthed in 20+ years of reading zines?!

I'm really curious to hear what people think about this.

- lofipi -

Tags: consensus, contact, copy, copyright, details, friends, maker, of, out, permission, More…photocopy, print, sold, zine, zines

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if the zine is super old, i don't think anyone would mind you making copies. if i can contact the zinester, i ask permission. any zine i make my own copies of, i wouldn't charge more than the cost of copying.

all zines i'm able to make my own copies of (i have a laser printer that does 2 sided) i put in my donation zines, and i just let people know that toner and paper costs money.
The rule we always went buy at uni was that anything more than 10 % is plagarism, but with a zine sometimes that is a whole page. In this particular case though, if you had exhausted all the options, then I really don't see the harm.

A big thing for artists, authors, zine makers... is getting your name out there. If you like something enough that you want to give it to a friend, recommend it, then do so. Because that is how people have favourite artists, they see or read or hear their work.

Sharing is cool ;)
under those conditions, I see nothing wrong with making one or two copies to give a friend.
I've never thought about photocopying someone else's zine, and I'd be weirded out if I knew someone had copied mine. Once my zines go out of print, there is a reason I do not make more copies, and although I would appreciate the fact that someone liked my zine and wanted to share it, I would not be okay with them photocopying it.
This has come up for us recently because we are organizing a zine exhibit. We also have a collection that we share with the public in other settings.

I am considering making a copy of some of the zines that have been loaned for exhibition to ensure the safety of the original.

This discussion thread has brought up an idea though, that of identifying the copy as such... [THIS IS AN UNAUTHORIZED COPY FOR EXHIBITION PURPOSES ONLY]... or something to that effect.

There have been other offers to send copies of zines from personal collections, but I'm making an effort to buy or have donated "originals" before I resort to that.

I put "originals" in quotes because for the most part these are xeroxed zines, so that does beg the question of whether this should be a problem if no money is being made from it. That ol' Walter Benjamin thang...

Margarat (1 member of GZAGG)
I have to admit that I probably would've just copied it without thinking about it, considering it's just for a friend.
I recently made a pdf scan of a long-out-of-print zine to share with friends. Zines are historical documents, often representative of movements and cultures and tell their stories. It is important that they remain accessible. It wouldn't copy a zine that is currently in print without the zinester's permission (unless the zine states that it's okay, which many do). That's just my opinion.
I think sharing is cool too! My fear is that other people might see it as being a blatant rip-off when that's not the intention at all. (But then, I don't think 'good intentions' are always enough.) The 10% rule - that's copyright law, I think, which is related but a bit different. It's really not easy, this topic!

Emma Stronach said:
The rule we always went buy at uni was that anything more than 10 % is plagarism, but with a zine sometimes that is a whole page. In this particular case though, if you had exhausted all the options, then I really don't see the harm.

A big thing for artists, authors, zine makers... is getting your name out there. If you like something enough that you want to give it to a friend, recommend it, then do so. Because that is how people have favourite artists, they see or read or hear their work.

Sharing is cool ;)
What is the reason you don't make more copies? Has a finite run of your zines got anything to do with monetary worth or artistic merit, or is it simply a gut instinct/feeling? Why would you not be OK with people copying your zine? (eg, loss of money? copyright reasons? loss of control?) This is the type of thing I genuinely want to understand because those aspects really don't concern me. Well, actually, they do concern me in the sense that I do mull them over, but ultimately I feel the opposite way to you, but we're not all the same (thank goodness! zines, for one thing, could be so boring if that was the case) so I'd love to understand it from your point of view. Thanks in advance.

Maranda Elizabeth said:
I've never thought about photocopying someone else's zine, and I'd be weirded out if I knew someone had copied mine. Once my zines go out of print, there is a reason I do not make more copies, and although I would appreciate the fact that someone liked my zine and wanted to share it, I would not be okay with them photocopying it.
That's a good excuse to design a cool rubber stamp if ever I've heard one.

The Walter Benjamin thing? Is this gonna require wikipedia...? OK, I now understand that he wrote an essay in '36 called The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. What's his central philosophy, if there is one? Because what you said about whether it "should be a problem if no money is being made from it" might not be justification enough for people who think differently about their zines than I/you/whoever do/does/whatever. That's what I want to know about. How not to offend or ride roughshod over other people's beliefs or politics when they're (usually) the sole artist/writer/theorist responsible for their output (their zine). Tricky.

Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go said:
This discussion thread has brought up an idea though, that of identifying the copy as such... [THIS IS AN UNAUTHORIZED COPY FOR EXHIBITION PURPOSES ONLY]...

...for the most part these are xeroxed zines, so that does beg the question of whether this should be a problem if no money is being made from it. That ol' Walter Benjamin thang... Margarat (1 member of GZAGG)

Your opinion is exactly the same as mine, gawd love ya. Thanks for commenting. I want to hear all sides.

redguard said:
I recently made a pdf scan of a long-out-of-print zine to share with friends. Zines are historical documents, often representative of movements and cultures and tell their stories. It is important that they remain accessible. It wouldn't copy a zine that is currently in print without the zinester's permission (unless the zine states that it's okay, which many do). That's just my opinion.
I've thought of doing that but something just makes me feel it's wrong somehow. I take independent publishing much more seriously than commercial/mainstream publishing, which I wouldn't have a problem photocopying for a friend, as there's a social contract involved as soon as you purchase or otherwise receive a zine. To me, that's just the nature of the thing, and that's what I love about them. There's such a great amount of trust and respect involved, and the rules are mostly unspoken ones. For some reason, they're the rules I want to honour. Is this a case of me only really respecting those who respect me first? I want to know!

Ciaran Power said:
I have to admit that I probably would've just copied it without thinking about it, considering it's just for a friend.

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