The argument copyright is hot like the climate of this unusually muggy September. Just today, without going into detail, articles 11 is 13 of the directive on the application of copyright (copyright) from European Parliament . This is a harsh limitation to the contents that can circulate on the web, starting from their actual enactment.
Let us, however, take a step back when these articles had not yet been approved by Parliament.
Some time ago, in the enormous flow of information that crosses the web every day, there is news that despite being like a mantra in the eyes of gamers-gamers still arouses spirits: Nintendo implements a removal of content due to copyright infringement .
More specifically, it is blocked Pokemon Essentials , a tool to create pocket-sized themed fan-games that used tilesets, assets and music belonging to Nintendo and present in many works bearing the famous mark of Pokémon.
Similar actions have already been undertaken by Nintendo itself but also by other major development and distribution companies such as the all-Italian case of From Software that hits ThePruld, a beacon of the Italian community of Dark Souls , or the same Blizzard , with its intolerant policy towards the so-called Legacy World of Warcraft servers. Each of them shares a single objective: the removal of content created by the community, so-called grassroots, created from below that violate the rules on copyright, whose infringement constitutes a potential damage to the producer.
In essence, we can speak of a sort of “gallery of hunting trophies” with the heads of all those products struck down by infringement of intellectual property rights: now Pokémon Essentials, the blockade to the streaming of the members of the Creators Program and before the fangame Pokémon Uranium and all the other products similar to it.
The phenomenon that Nintendo, and other majors, are opposing, however, has been the treasure of others. Specifically, I intend to treat the phenomenon by trying to explain why despite having the legal and undeniable right to block this kind of activity Nintendo would have all the interest, instead, in preserving them, as in any other case .
However, we should expect that this kind of action will be the norm, in light of the most recent developments .
From audience to fan audience
It must be premised that everything that happens is not born spontaneously with the creation, and the spread, of web . The network has done nothing but increase the intensity of phenomena already in place and has allowed those who were simply audience viewers, therefore relatively passive for purely technological reasons, to find a place to express themselves
The fan, therefore, is not created with the web but uses the same to access the contents of the old media to appropriate and consume them , giving life to the most lush form of grassroots creativity (literally, from the roots, which comes from below, from the public). When this happens, we speak of the so-called participation , the dominant concept of today's media reality which influences not only the world of video games but all kinds of cultural products
If the audience is that body of spectators, or consumers, who merely take advantage of the media product and if the public is composed of those who actively participate in the consumption of media products, the fan is a further subset that welcomes those who promote themselves as pioneers of new technologies; are those who live, literally, a cultural product like Pokémon, or any other, and are inspired by their enchantment for the imaginary narrative worlds to the point of becoming protagonists of new forms of cultural production
It is the most active subset of the public, which refuses to passively accept the content offered and appeals to full participation to demonstrate its affection. In fact, what is called fan culture has always existed, just like the fans, and the advent of the network has done nothing but give it more and more visibility: therefore, the network is a powerful communication channel to share products amateur.
Furthermore, the network is so vast and so widespread that the possible bottom-up productions are potentially infinite, if not of an enormously high number, which is why take an action aimed at a single localized site or community it is comparable to waging war on windmills rather than a firm claim to rights
Needless to continue saying that the reality of the fans is more than established and that it constitutes an opportunity, not an obstacle, even when it comes to whole fanmade products.
Participation builds communities
Whenever we produce content inspired by something else, we do nothing but express our attachment to it. We intend to live a narrative world, or a product or a franchise, at a deeper level. Which is why a big Pokémon fan can feel the need to create their own game, with their little monsters, set in their own region
Audiences today are inclined to combine their activity as reader of the new world, which follows scripts, scripts created by others, that of a writer of new scripts and unpublished stories (in the case of Pokémon and not, of course) that they see him as the protagonist ( Mariana Ciancia , 2016, Transmedia Design Framework ).
In this regard, the academic essayist and journalist Henry Jenkins coined two very important words: textual poachers and textual performers . Jenkins contemplates in his vision the active dimension of audiences, which from textual poachers become textual performers, that is: from text poachers (an expression that Jenkins takes from Michel de Certeau), who consume media products, implement reworking practices. Always Jenkins, identifies in this type of culture, a culture of Do It Yourself , not a will to disturb, or jamming, as claimed Mark Dery (professor at New York University of journalism and media studies), but a desire for belonging and dialogue that has nothing destructive in it or that expresses a sort of resistance to the mainstream flow. In doing so, users create real communities that are based on: the common passion for a particular brand and, above all, an economy that is fundamentally different from the one based on so-called goods commodities .
I'll explain. It is clear that not everyone has the necessary skills to be able to program a video game from scratch, and this is why we use software tools such as RPG makers, Pokémon Essentials and assets recycled from old products
It should be noted, above all, that none of these games, starting with the insane, but hilarious, Shit Brown Pokémon , obtained by modifying a ROM of Pokémon Sapphire and Ruby , up to the much newer ones Pokémon Uranium or, to enlarge, the Italian Pokémon Xenoverse , which leads further beyond the concept of affection and belonging to the world of pocket monsters, games ever developed for profit
Both for these examples and for any other fanmade game, no amateur developer has ever asked for the disbursement of a sum of money for the distribution of their product.
We need to understand what is most important in this regard. The audience shifts from a type of productive economy, one of consumption, which considers the currency as a preponderant value, to a type of creative economy .
The so-called prosumers (productors and consumers together) want nothing more than distribute your product in the networks they belong to
These networks can be particular communities which, as specified above, have their own logic and which, indeed, are beyond the exchange of money.
A commercial economy, based on the exchange of money, and a sharing economy, based on pure exchange without the intercession of any type of currency, are distinguished
The reasons for this sharing economy, or also called Gift Economy , are purely social. The purpose can also be the recognition of a certain status within the community or create a certain reputation if the egoistic dimension of the user prevails but money and economic revenue are not part of this logic. Therefore, no economic damage is inflicted on the majors, just as there is no will to do so, on the contrary, it can be seen how often the products of the fans are incomplete in the sense that they buy more and more value only knowing the original work , a fact that could, indeed, push someone to a purchase foraging the parent company that distributes the reference product.
There are also numerous successful brands that have based their luck thanks to the support of the communities or that can boast a lot of community active (also in the sense of text production). In any case, these are brands that are still as prosperous as the movie saga and that still shows no signs of giving way Star Wars (which has many fanfilm, fanfiction and myriad fanmade products I personally recommend Les Pantless Menace), Harry Potter (with blogs and websites whose the only purpose is to support the community, without counting, even here fanfictions in large quantities: just think of that misunderstood masterpiece that is My Immortal) that after a lean period is recovering with the new films dedicated to the Fantastic Animals that can rekindle the fans and many others.
Fans as ambassadors of the work
Finally, we can define how fans, with their fanculture, become real ambassadors of a work.
Placing inside the narrative world of Pokémon is quite simple, since it has a worldbuilding that allows a development and expansion of the world almost endless thanks to its very generic traits but which at the same time manage to define another reality: it is enough to invent a series of new monsters, a region and the other recurring elements in every single Pokémon game like gyms, teams, dungeons and all the rest.
Therefore, the consumption of works such as Pokémon fangame, given that they circulate within specific communities or, more generally, within the total community of Pokémon, cannot do nothing other than, at most, attract other players to the brand .
Let's say that a user goes to such video games, free of charge, to avoid spending money: the worst that can happen is that the user in question does not appreciate the game and no longer consume neither the free product nor the official product. Being the fangame by its own definition oriented towards an audience of fans and enthusiasts, if the user appreciates the game, with good probability he will want to buy the title to be part of the community of the title he so appreciates.
We can follow a similar reasoning, although substantially different, towards piracy during the first years of life of the first Playstation in Italy . Piracy, morally to be condemned as it is, this yes, a real theft of a service and a product, has done nothing but lay the groundwork to make known and spread the most famous gaming platform in the world, as well as to customs clearance of the concept of a home console in Italy
Not to mention the fact that the bulk of the revenues when it comes to brands comes from the merchandising that produces the most over the long duration . If, therefore, the consumption of a product takes place, presumably, in a limited period of time (a TV series is consumed when it is sent on the air, a film when it comes out in theaters and cetera) as well as a profit is produced within a time that is also limited, all the satellite products that can be found in any store or periodically at trade fairs does nothing but increase profits through ancillary products such as t-shirts, figures, props and much more. Especially Pokémon, then, should take advantage of this kind of strategy, since the franchise connected to it is of exaggerated proportions among stuffed animals, collectible cards, figurines and themed events with cosplayers and testimonials .
Even if the original text is illegally distributed, however, it produces profit, since it becomes visible and, therefore, a reason for purchasing merchandising.
Above all, a company will always be comfortable to have a host of fans ready to support it, or criticize it, at any time. Take Bungie with Destiny . Following for years a community like the one developed around Destiny, I learned that, as far as internally we can criticize the moves made by the development house, the same people do nothing but become more and more fond of the product and, indeed, support the software house. each time through feedback and participation
The activity of the Destiny players is fundamental and keeps the interest in the title high, whether it is the new balance that disrupted the metagame, whether it be exploits to kill the raid boss or discovering secrets, not to mention the embarrassing amount of noise that causes viral content such as memes . And Destiny, in addition to the discussions and memes, also boasts fancomic with humorous stripes, videomontages and various other contents that normally could be considered violations of copyright but that Bungie wisely wanted to protect by making the player-fan feel at ease and much closer to the product and software house in Boston.
Let's jump to another brand, while remaining connected to Bungie: Halo. Halo was the scene of one of the most imaginative communities ever existed and the Red Vs Blue phenomenon proves it . Born as Machinima , and then filmed completely within the game with capture tools, the show is the most programmatic case of production of fans who do nothing but express a strong passion for a product. Red Vs Blue would be a full-blown copyright infringement and instead became a Bungie brand ambassador coming to support Halo directly . RvB was literally welcomed also by 343 i, since it was the boys of Rooster-Teeth to shoot an advertising spot for the release of Halo 4 .
The speech continues with Valve , which has practically the PC market monopoly and has among the most successful IPs in absolute. For DotA but above Portal , Half Life and Team Fortress , fans were able to take advantage of the various assets for create games like Black Mesa, which are literally absorbed by Valve and now marketed
Not to mention the enormous popularity of videos made through Source Film Maker or Garry's Mod and which have, and probably still continue, to support the product to which they refer. And you can continue to infinity
The fortune of many brands was based precisely on this, even if at the beginning, as for Nintendo, clashes broke out between fans and majors. However, both in the case of Harry Potter and in the case of Star Wars, the result, namely the acceptance of the productions of the fans and a greater attention to the community, has done nothing but benefit the products in question. George Lucas himself caught the ball “institutionalizing” the fanfiction of Star Wars fans by creating an internal office at Lucas Films in 1977 . This office had the task of reviewing user fanfictions. Needless to say, the brand enjoyed such popularity as to have to close the office due to the excessive amount of fanfiction with erotic content. Later, through LucasOnline, Lucas Films specifically created a site for official fanfiction even if, finally, it did nothing but make its own ruin by unduly appropriating fan creations by claiming intellectual property on any content published on the site itself.
As we have seen, the presence of a community in which unofficial products circulate, which then lead to the purchase or not by non-fans, is key.
To sum up, such productions are not only inextricable and will continue to arise but they will be nothing but a manifestation of interest and participation towards the product, with all the consequent benefits . A solid, protected and united community does nothing but feed on itself, even if only with the social pretext of prestige, keeping interest alive. Nintendo and Gamefreak should take these realities into account, especially since the opportunity to create a safe pool of loyal buyers is perhaps the best thing to do in a market as diverse as today's. Longtime fans may not be enough anymore
Nintendo has every legal right to claim its copyrights on such productions but, as already explained, it would have every interest not to do so .
Finally, and I regret to add also “unfortunately”, the kind of activities analyzed in this article could be completely swept away by the reform, which threatens to demolish a type of economy that has always brought benefits to all parties .
The very last direction taken by the majority of the European Parliament , as evidenced by the lack of foresight of Nintendo and even more the sharpness of all the other examples examined, is therefore short-sighted, as well as damaging for the freedom and the modalities of expression that have always distinguished the web .