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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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This is a really interesting discussion. I have kicked around the idea of copying some really old Utah zines that I feel deserve to be in the zine Library in Salt lake but I have never done it. I thought about sending my own copies but I can't seem to let myself part with them so I guess I'm at an impasse.

I do feel that there is some sort of social contract with receiving a zine though.
I have kicked around the idea of copying some really old Utah zines that I feel deserve to be in the zine Library in Salt lake but I have never done it.
I like the suggestion in one of the comments above: that if it's for the sake of a zine library or exhibition, you could make one copy and mark clearly (or stamp - woohoo!) that it's a copy made for archival purposes only. I don't know who would object to that. The onus is on you though to ensure it looks as close as possible to the original, especially in the case of irregular formats.

I do feel that there is some sort of social contract with receiving a zine though.
Definitely, definitely. Definitely!
I actually referenced this thread in the other thread about getting rid of zines. I create sell, buy and trade zines to be for peers, not for collecting or their future worth. I value zines for what they are or my personal friendships and conections to the people who create them.


I do feel that there is some sort of social contract with receiving a zine though.
Definitely, definitely. Definitely!
@blackcarrot (Apologies to all for my testing out different formats when responding. I'm just... testing out different formats when responding. Trying to get used to this forum. Yeah, that.)

The thing is, I don't think 'good intentions' are enough. I think they're the major component of any behaviour, but not enough in/of themselves. I do know my intentions are good (quite possibly pure, even), but there's at least one commenter here who still wouldn't want me to copy and redistribute her zines, and I'd really want to know that first. Yet sometimes people are untraceable. That's why I asked if there was a commonly held belief. In those cases, I suppose you take a chance - or not. You get to a stage where you have to make a decision all by yourself, I mean.

Re-recording home-made demos is different to me. Performed music infers a desire for an audience, and audiences of music often comprise more than just one person at a time. But even logic doesn't answer this one. It just seems different, even though it's arguably equally personal as zine-writing. My gut instinct is that copying and disseminating music - old and forgotten music especially - is a good thing to do.

As for ripping people off to the tune of a couple of bucks, you're right - no sensible person would bother. But, again, this isn't necessarily a monetary/profit issue. Or a copyright issue. Or an issue of disrespect, scam-artistry, or impeachability. It's all that and more. All that and none. Opinions are multifarious and more complex than you'd* ever think.

* not you. 'One'.

Thanks for all your food for thought.
Actually, in your case I think it is a reeeally good idea. I run a market stall once a fortnight, which is awesome fun, but If I didn't have a display copy for everyone to leaf through I'd lose far to much stock.

However careful people may be, the sheer volume of lookers means stuff gets old quick. Maybe you could make them all wear cotton gloves ;)

Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go said:
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)
Sounds like you're skirting around a lot of issues that are (in Australia) covered by Creative Commons. It's basically a more customiseable form of copyright. Covers a lot of these sorts of issues.

And you're right, it is so SO tricky to talk about these sort of issues, because first before you can you have to make it clear where everybody stands, so that there are no accidental offenses of panty rants :P

I sort of decided not to care whether people copy me, my artworks, because it was a whole lotta angst about something I could do pretty much nothing about. I've created plush toys then a month later seen their doubles on someone else's stall, some of my cast-off photos from my photography majorwork (last year of school) in someone else's submission... it's pretty much par for the course, if you're creating stuff that people like, you're going to be copied, so um... yeah... letting go helps me ;)

lofipi said:
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)

*snicker* "Fartbag" ?

Awesome.

blackcarrot said:
I should add my 2c. (3c now due to inflation)

I think for the most part, you'll know it if what you're doing is wrong or right. So there isn't really one answer.
To me... making an electronic copy... is far worse than a photocopy. If i ever saw my zines scanned (aside from the cover for distro purposes)... i'd probably lose my shit. But, that is my opinion which is extremely strong in the separation of reading "zines" on the internet. Part of a zine for me is paper.

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 appreciate that you feel this way, but can you clarify why you feel this way? Is an electronic copy more than just a means to an end - in this case, expressly a means for a person in a far-off location to print the zine onto paper? I'd feel very exposed chancing upon an electronic version of anything of mine as well, but I don't know that it wouldn't be both a good and a bad feeling. I just don't know how I'd feel or why. Do you know, for you?

NicoleIntrovert said:
To me... making an electronic copy... is far worse than a photocopy. If i ever saw my zines scanned (aside from the cover for distro purposes)... i'd probably lose my shit. But, that is my opinion which is extremely strong in the separation of reading "zines" on the internet. Part of a zine for me is paper.

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.
Yeah, you're right about Creative Commons licensing. And I often feel that need - and the desire - to remove any shadow of doubt about my ultimate intentions, but to me, respecting what the original writer truly wants is the most important factor. It's always their zine, no matter who's paid for it or not. That's how I feel about it; I truly don't wanna step on any toes.

Emma Stronach said:
Sounds like you're skirting around a lot of issues that are (in Australia) covered by Creative Commons. It's basically a more customiseable form of copyright. Covers a lot of these sorts of issues.
And you're right, it is so SO tricky to talk about these sort of issues, because first before you can you have to make it clear where everybody stands, so that there are no accidental offenses of panty rants :P I sort of decided not to care whether people copy me, my artworks, because it was a whole lotta angst about something I could do pretty much nothing about. I've created plush toys then a month later seen their doubles on someone else's stall, some of my cast-off photos from my photography majorwork (last year of school) in someone else's submission... it's pretty much par for the course, if you're creating stuff that people like, you're going to be copied, so um... yeah... letting go helps me ;)
Like lofipi, I'd really love Maranda Elisabeth to elaborate more on her position, that I respect but I can't agree with. In this sense I'm totally with blackcarrot. The way I see things, we (at least most of us) want to be read by as many people as possible. At the same time, most of us don't have the money to make and circulate thousands of copies. If someone offered to photocopy my zine(s) and give them away to other people for free, I'd be more that happy.
I personally don't care what happens to mine, as long as no-one's making money from it or trying to pass off my stuff as their own. Other people feel differently though, and some people like to keep their zines extremely close, so I would never assume that other zine writers felt the same as me.

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