We Make Zines

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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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i am really sick of arguing about this stuff, because i have literally been having this argument off & on for ten years & it'sreally boring to me. but i'll say that i actually do include do's & don't's instructing people on what to do with my zines after they're done reading if they don't want to keep them. i explicitly tell people not to re-sell my zines, not to put them on ebay, not to burn them (it's happened), not to make copies, etc. i tell people that they are welcome to put my zines in grab bags sold for the cost of postage, donate them to zine libraries, give them away to friends, etc.

i would really like to believe that people are smart & thoughtful enough to se their judgment on these issues. super personal & intimate zine written by a 15-year-old girl about surviving sexual abuse? yeah, maybe that's not one you re-sell to your buddy who is mostly interested in, like, comics or something. & i'd hope that that 15-year-old girl wouldn't have to dedicate an entire page/paragraph/whatever closing all the loopholes for the ways people coud violate her trust in some ephemeral zine community with which she is attempting to share her story & engage in some catharsis & maybe connect with other people who have survived similar stories. i don't like this tone of, "don't want people to do absolutely whateverthefuck they want to do with your personal work & efforts & pass it off lke they're doing you a favor because 'oh, we need to preserve these artifacts, even though i want to preserve them in a way that i understand many zine writers are very very opposed to? well, you have to make sure to draft up a document that foresees any & all mis-use or abuse of your work & you have to include it in your zine & then you have to trust the zine community that forced you to write this document to respect your wishes when they couldn't be grown up enough to consider your feelings without a fucking contract in front of them." you know? i ENJOY making zines. i like to thnk about how my friends will respond to what i write. i like to run my distro & i get excited when i make a new zine i can add to my catalogue. it's exciting when i get letters from people saying, "i just found out about zines & i want to order zines from you!" it really deflates that joy to have to stop & think, "okay, some people are going to have a lot of half-baked justifications for disrespecting the integrity of how i want this zine to be read & distributed. time to imagine all the worst-possible scenarios & tell people not to do that shit."

& by the way, i have seen my zines, that expressly say, "don't sell this zine on ebay," up for auction on ebay. so i am well aware that some people don't read, don't care, don't respect what zinesters think, & i know the only way to avoid this shit is to just not make zines at all. wouldn't it be a lot nice if the people who do have some modicum of interest in respecting other people actually put it to use? without having to have every detail spelled out for them? i mean, maranda was asked in this thread to basically justify the reasons why she wouldn't want her zines distributed once she has stopped distributing them. i think it's disrespectful to ask her to justify that position. she's entitled to feel how she feels & want what she wants. if "all you have to do" is say what you want, you shouldn't also have to justify it eight ways from sunday & engage in arguments with people who use the "preservation" defense, like that's so new & original &mind-expanding (i volunteered at a zine library for several months, i like zine libraries, & they differ from online PDF libraries inasmuch as you need to actually go to the library to see the zines; your employer can't google your name & find your zine, your stalker ex-boyfriend can't google your zine name & read all your secrets, etc etc etc...we all give up fundamental privacy when we go online--a PDF zine library open to the general internet-going public would be like if a friend suddenly uploaded every e-mail i'd ever sent her on to a website without my permission: a violation of trust, re-contextualizing things i wrote for a specific purpose & putting them in a much more public context without checking to see if i'm okay with that)...

bah. this whole conversation annoys me. hai 1997, good to see that nothing has been resolved in eleven fucking years.
oh god i dont udnerstand why there is a need to be so emotional about this.
1) it's just a discussion, i just thought i could give my 2 pence worth.
2) nobody was asking anyone to justify anything
3) and why is it that this just got to a point where the argument is making most people in the zine scene out to be thieves, liars, disrepectful and immature?

how is the value of a zine talking about sexual abuse any different than a zine about art or a zine about queer politics for that matter? and what is this whole thing about comparing a per-zine with a comic zine as if the latter is of lesser significance? i'm not being horribly unsensitive but surely the content value of a zine is what the person or the reader makes it out to be. when i am talking about value i am not referring to monetary value (ie profit) i am talking about the weight of the matter, it's significance/importance.
just beucase it's a comic zine does not mean that it is "more okay to photocopy it" than say a personal zine about sexual abuse. and vice versa.

what is the difference between:
a) i bought a zine directly from the author herself.
b) i bought a zine directly from the author herself and lent it to a friend for a few days
c) i bought a zine directly from the author herself and traded the zine in my personal collection with a friend's zine from her collection
d) She photocopied a copy of the zine for her own personal keep before lending out the "original" (itself "photocopy-of-a photocopy-of-a-photocopy-of-the-master-copy") to someone else because the zine is precious to her and zines tend to get "lost" sometimes when you lent it out to friends, as it happens


in either of this equation:
1) i would have read the zine (insert content here: eg. sexual abuse/graphic design/ humour)
2) my friend would have read the zine (insert content here as above)
3) distribution in some form or other enabled us to do this
4) NOBODY was photocopying the zine for profit, to use and pass it off as their own, to sell on eBay, to compile informaiton and keep tabs of the author's whereabouts, ex boyfriend's name, current job, favorite food etc.
5) If the distribution scale is on a less personal level and on more of a distro level then i think it is the reponsibility of the person who wish to photocopy it seek permission from the author isn't it? it's just common sense.

i dont like this whole comparison thing. comparing content values. comparing who has been in which zine community for how many years. it's boring. it's not the point.

and i dont like the way this is bordering on paranoia and personal judgement. its not that i am unsympathetic and i dont want to sound like a misinformed dick but the whole stalker ex-boyfriend/employer googling your history and stuff: that is just so unreal and totally irrelavant to the crux of this discussion.


lets get one thing straight: I HAVE NEVER COPIED ANYTHING without permission from anyone. actually, i have never photocopied anything other than my own zines, to be honest. i invite people to contribute and soemtimes have their work printed in my zine but always with persmission and always with a mention about who they are and what they do in it.

and if you have explicitly mentioned that you do not wish for your zines to be distributed without permission and this has been ignored, then they are assholes to begin with it's not something you could have taken control of.

Not everyone's like that. if we start to think they are then we should not be doing zines.
There is generally an unwritten ettiquete about zine trade/distribution etc that i am sure most people are aware of.
If you choose to share certain information in your zines to people than it is a risk/responsibility you are taking yourself.
I know i am.

oh well. i hope i've not made myself out to sound stupid here.
my argument has fuck all to do with what kind of zine content is better/worse or worth more money. these are completely subjective opinions that don't even factor into the discussion. go back & re-read my posts. the crux of my argument is that where a person stands on the to-photocopy-or-not-to-photocopy/to-sell/trade-or-not-to-sell/trade (work that is not your own) has almost everything to do with what genre of zines they are most invested in/what kinds of zines they makes/what kinds of zines they like best. people who make very very intimate personal zines often have very small print runs--sometimes as few as twenty copies, sometimes just given away to friends. while people who are making, say, anarchist political zines want to have lots of people reading their zines, sometimes even leaving stacks for people to take for free at the local infoshop. one method isn't any better or any worse than the other. the type of zine any given person prefers is subjective. but the person's motivations in making their zines are going to necessariy influence their feelings about people potentially photocopying their zines/loading them on the internet/re-selling them, et al. i really don't think this is difficult to understand. just think about it for a hot second.

my issue-the reason i am getting oh-so-emotional (actually i am just fucking pissed off & BORED with this motherfucking dumbass REPETITIVE BULLSHIT CONVERSATION) is because people ARE assigng value judgments as to which distribution method is best when they say, "i thought trading was a good thing! don't you want more readers? if you zine is really that personal, get a journal. if you don't want me re-selling your zine, i assume you yourself don't take trades & are opposed to zine libraries.if you don't want people doing X, Y, & Z with your zines, you better have no faith in the zine community at all & foresee all possibilities people could seize to disrespect your work & then dedicate a page in each zine to specifically telling them not to." basically, comments like these say, "if someone violates the trust you had in the zine community, it's your own fault for being so fucking stupid to trust us. your distribution methods are stupid. if your zine is about very personal & intimate subjects...no one wants to read that shit anyway. keep it to yourself." am i really the only one who sees this as really fucking disrespectful?

i have been in the zine scene now for EIGHTEEN YEARS. if someone had laid this shit on me when i first started out, i doubt i would have gone any further. the zine world is really big. i think there is room for all kinds of different sorts of zines, all kinds of different distribution models, zine libraries, people who like trades, everything. & obviously we are not all going to like everything that everyone else likes, but hopefully we can have some respect for each other, in general.

seriously, my frustration with this thread isn't personal against anyone who has been posting here (i actually only personally know a few people that have posted to this thread & wouldn't presume to judge anyone i didn't know just off a couple of posts in a zine forum). my frustration is with the relentless tediousness of this discussion. seriously. eighteen years i've been doing the zine thing. talks like this get old. not to say they aren't illuminating for new folks, but jeez louise.

i will say though, trent rampage, have you ever had a stalker? because i have. someone who used my zine life against me. IT FUCKING HAPPENS, & i am not the only person this has happened to. i also know people whose employers vetted them online & discovered their zine personas, which again, is maybe no big deal if you don't do a terribly personal or political zine. but what if you do a zine about how you survived a sexuallyabusive childhood? do you want your employer reading that? or a pissed-off ex? seriously. i'm not being paranoid & assuming that people are assholes. i am being realistic & assuming that some people have prvileges that preclude them from understanding that other people have VERY GOOD REASONS for feeling the way they feel about various issues, & that they don't need to justify that shit on some online forum. & with that, i'm done with this thread.
ciaraxierra said: people ARE assigng value judgments as to which distribution method is best when they say, "i thought trading was a good thing! don't you want more readers? if you don't want me re-selling your zine, i assume you yourself don't take trades & are opposed to zine libraries. if you don't want people doing X, Y, & Z with your zines, you better have no faith in the zine community at all & foresee all possibilities people could seize to disrespect your work & then dedicate a page in each zine to specifically telling them not to." basically, comments like these say, "if someone violates the trust you had in the zine community, it's your own fault for being so fucking stupid to trust us. your distribution methods are stupid. if your zine is about very personal & intimate subjects...no one wants to read that shit anyway. keep it to yourself." am i really the only one who sees this as really fucking disrespectful?

dear ciaraxierra, there are two possibilities here: 1) I didn't express myself well (in which case I can always say that English is not my mother tongue :-) or 2) you have been carried away by your emotions and your personal experiences, and misunderstood what I wrote.
First of all, I want to point out I'm not here to judge anyone. Secondly, I'm here to learn, not only to share my opinions. My questions didn't hide any judgement. I was genuinely trying to understand a part of the zine community I'm not a part of. If I sounded disrespectful, I apologise.
For example, when I mentioned zine libraries, I was reasoning that as the zines you are talking about are very personal, people probably only hand out copies to close friends and people they trust. In other words, they don't want total strangers to read them. This was supposed to be a question, actually, not a judgement. I was asking: Is this the case? Now, you tell me that such zines are often printed in very few copies, and I understand.

This said, if you are so sick of arguing, my advice is to quit arguing. That's what I'm going to do, anyway. We Make Zines has the potential to become a wonderful tool for the zine community, but arguing, like zine-making, has its rules. If I want to look at people scream and punch each other and "fuck this" and "fuck that" I can always watch bad reality TV.
actually i HAVE had a stalker. and for all i know he may still be lurking around online, somewhere, reading my blog posts etc. i have also been sent death threats through the mail years ago, when i was still living in my own country, about an article i wrote about racist/sexist boneheads and i could not walk into a gig without feeling like i was being watched.
but that's not the point.
i'm sorry to hear that you've had terrible experiences and i am not saying that they dont matter.

i just refuse to believe that a lot of people doing zines are selfish.
correct me i am wrong but i am prepared to trust them with my zines and communicate. that's why i write.

lets just drop this. it's getting nowehre and i hate tension.
*Jerry! Jerry!* :P

I have to say Gianni I'm glad, firey though this discussion has been, that you and Ciara have been having it. i'm new to zines, but not new to being a member of a subculture, it's so easy to accidentally offend people (although I think in this case C. is just miffed with the zine world in general). I have so many questions about zines that I want to ask, but given that people seem to have such strong opinions on things, I'm kind of reticent to go there.

On the subject of personal zines though, I was at a cataloging session at a zine library in my home town where all sorts of zines are mixed in together. The thing is in a complete shambles, has never really been sorted into any kind of order. We started to talk about how we would organise them, when someone suggested scanning them into a computer so that we had an electronic record... but then a couple of the people got rather upset about that so we left the topic for later. I can completely understand why someone who has written a really personal zine would take issue with it being a part of this project. The thought of contacting each and every zine maker to see if they would have an issue with it being included is staggering though, there are about 20,000 zines there... possibly more.

I guess the only solution is for zines to be labelled if people don't want them archived, passed on, etc, I know that the question has been discussed a thousand times before... but I'm going to be a part of the project, so I am trying to find out as many viewpoints as I can.




Gianni Simone said:
ciaraxierra said: people ARE assigng value judgments as to which distribution method
lofipi - I am a very different person than I was when I began writing zines, and much of what I wrote in the past is now completely irrelevent to me, and no longer something I wish to share. The thought of someone copying my zines doesn't sit well with me because I don't want those past zines out there as a representation of who I am when I am no longer that girl. They were a moment in time, and now it's over.
Gianni Simone - As long as it's not MY zines you're copying, that's dandy. I don't write my zines to be "read by as many people as possible."

My sister writes several zines, and with one of them, Fight Boredom, she also gives flats to people who are interested in copying and distributing them around the world. I think that's really awesome, but it's not something I myself would do with my perzine.
Oh, and for all those who think copyright should be stated in zines if we do not want others copying them: ALL my zines are copyrighted.
And to clarify, Fight Boredom is a comp zine that IS meant to be read by as many people as possible, but my perzine is not.

Maranda Elizabeth said:
Gianni Simone - As long as it's not MY zines you're copying, that's dandy. I don't write my zines to be "read by as many people as possible."

My sister writes several zines, and with one of them, Fight Boredom, she also gives flats to people who are interested in copying and distributing them around the world. I think that's really awesome, but it's not something I myself would do with my perzine.
That is one of my least favourite parts of interacting with people in general - having to explain myself ten million times and being expected to justify myself over and over again for thoughts that are MINE.

Thank you for being sensible.

ciaraxyerra said:
i mean, maranda was asked in this thread to basically justify the reasons why she wouldn't want her zines distributed once she has stopped distributing them. i think it's disrespectful to ask her to justify that position. she's entitled to feel how she feels & want what she wants. if "all you have to do" is say what you want, you shouldn't also have to justify it eight ways from sunday & engage in arguments with people who use the "preservation" defense, like that's so new & original &mind-expanding
Alex Wrekk said:
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.

In this case, you should certainly donate the originals. Donating photocopies would do the original zinemaker a disservice because you're making "unauthorized" copies of their work, as well as the library because you're not donating original materials.

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