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24 August 2013 @ 11:50 am
[Meta] Permissions Statements Are Awesome  
Okay, so a recent casual mention of blanket permission statements on Twitter taught me that:
  1. There are a lot of authors who would love to be podficced who don't have blanket permission statements. (If you're in this boat: a permissions statement doesn't guarantee anything, but the lack of one certainly lessens your chances considerably.)
  2. Many of these authors don't necessarily know what a BP statement is, or how to write one. (Spoiler: I'm going to cover this in considerable detail starting in about three paragraphs.)
  3. A lot of people don't know that podficcers keep track of who has a blanket permission statement and refer to the list regularly. (In other words, you basically only have to do it once, and then you're done unless something changes. Good deal! Also, good idea to check to be sure you're on it if you want to be.)
  4. A lot of people don't know how important having a statement - any statement, even if it's "no" or "maybe" - is to other fans.
So I thought I would talk about permission statements, since they are the greatest thing ever and I want everyone to have one.

Many years ago, I used to have the following experience:
  1. PM arrives from a person I don't know.
  2. I cringe and recoil and try to pretend it hasn't arrived, because PMs freak me right out.
  3. I avoid with varying levels of success for varying levels of time.
  4. Eventually I open it (maybe).
  5. It is a podfic request! That's awesome!
  6. ...Now I have to PM the podficcer back. Oh no.
  7. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. Because communication is hard.
  8. If I don't, guilt.
  9. If I do, podfic!
It was an elaborate and moderately horrible process, obviously made that way entirely by my own idiosyncratic brain, and I loved that podfic happened but wished there was a way to tell podficcers to JUST DO IT PLEASE DON'T ASK JUST DO IT. For a while I tried putting JUST DO IT in my profile, but my profile was wordy and no one ever read all the way through it, so it didn't help (that I know of).

And then someone told me of the concept of blanket permission. And it was like the sun had risen. There was a way! A way to say yes, fine, go transform with my very best wishes, no need to ask! So I left a comment on some long-ago post saying so, and my relationship with podfic became a guilt- and stress-free one. Bliss.

Blanket permission is wonderful, is what I'm saying. Since I know podficcers now, I know that the stress was not entirely or even mostly on my side during my long, drawn-out struggles with my brain; the podficcer, who I used to sort of blithely assume had sent the PM and then forgotten about it, was actually probably checking her email reeeeeally regularly and hoping hoping hoping and oh god just GET BACK TO ME I just want to KNOW either WAY oh god are you even ALIVE? So blanket permission saves considerable wear and tear on both sides.

I am a big fan, basically. So, first, here's an example blanket permission statement. If you're already sold on permissions statements, go write one or modify this or just copy it and add it to your AO3 profile or wherever else you post your stories (if you comment here saying you've done so, I can make sure you're on the BP list, even!) and you're done.

"If you want to podfic any of my stories, go right ahead - no need to ask permission. Just please link back to the original story when you post your work, and let me know so I can go revel in whatever awesome thing you've done. Same goes for art or other creative or transformative works you might feel inspired to do. Just don't use my work for anything commercial, please!"

If you want to know more, or you aren't sure, or you have special circumstances, read on!

If you're thinking, yes, but I don't actually just want to say yes to everything, fear not! Blanket permission is a misnomer. (Or, okay, it isn't - it just means "this is the statement that covers everything you need to know." But it sort of sounds like you have to say yes to everything, no limits, no conditions when you give one. You don't!) You can say "sure, do what thou wilt" in one, but you can also be more specific. It's more like negotiated consent, actually - you say what you're comfortable with and what you want and need, and then a podficcer who is thinking about doing one of your stories can read it and decide if it matches what she wants and needs, making the process safer and easier for everyone.

So, for example, you can say, "Feel free to podfic anything except any story I've tagged juvenilia." Or you can say, "Feel free to podfic anything, but if it's posted archive-locked, I would like the podfic to also be archive-locked." Or whatever! State your conditions up front, basically.

You can even say, "I'm very open to podfic, and I will mostly say yes, but I still would like you to ask." This seems like a useless statement, but it includes two very important points: you are open to podfic and you will probably say yes. Many podficcers spend time trying to figure out if an author is potentially podfic-friendly before they ask permission. I have seen people do a LOT trying to figure this out, including:
  • Checking the blanket permission list
  • Checking all the author's profiles and masterlists everywhere, hoping one got missed (it happens, which is why it's a good idea for you to check, too)
  • Checking to see if there are other podfics of the author's work (which means she gave permission before and thus might again)
  • Checking to see if the author has pro-podfic friends
  • Asking the author's pro-podfic friends or betas if they know how the author feels about it
  • Asking other podficcers to see if they've ever asked the author for permission
  • And so on
Seriously. This process is a tense one for podficcers. Many of them work really hard to alleviate that tension somewhat before they take the leap of emailing a stranger for permission to do a fanwork. (Many of them have given up entirely and only podfic people with permissions statements, which is why not having one really reduces your chances of getting podficced.) So just saying somewhere public that you're into it is useful.

Your blanket permission statement can even look like this: "Please do not podfic any of my stories." (Or, in other words, a blanket no.) If you're going to say no to every request you get, why not just say that no in front and spare everyone, including you, the extra work? Plus, if you put yourself on the blanket no list, it will apply forever. Podficcers keep track. (Truth. When I started modifying my blanket permission statement, I was surprised to discover that the exact comment I'd left on that long-ago post had been carefully copy-pasted to Fanlore, which started years after that comment was made.) If you make a public statement of blanket no, you're done with podfic (unless you change your mind), and you've made everyone's lives easier. GO THERE, is my suggestion.

If you have other questions, I'm here to help. (Or more likely just ask people who know the answers, actually, but I stand willing to do that.) I want everyone to have a permissions statement, so we can have a world of blissfully consensual transformative works! (And don't forget to comment if you've added one, or if you've got one already but you're not on the list.)


Thanks to [twitter.com profile] ParakaPodfic for reading over this and giving me a podficcer perspective on it. Further viewpoints welcome, of course, from podficcers, authors, lurkers, fanknitters, all kinds of people - comment away. But please don't say "podfic is creepy" or similar. I want this to be a place of fanwork acceptance. Thank you!

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: [meta], podfic
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Music - alienthefourthvine on August 24th, 2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
YAY! Um, where is it? That way I can put a link in my list of people to put on the list!
sheldrakesheldrake on August 24th, 2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
I want you to know that I wrote a really amusing comment here, you'd have love it if I hadn't accidentally clicked on a link and got it eaten.

But I did, so I'll just say that I have blanket permission on my AO3 profile, but I'm not on the list. Possibly because NOBODY LOVES ME. (j/k everybody loves me)
Fleur Rochardfleurrochard on August 24th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
You're on the list now. :)
(no subject) - sheldrake on August 24th, 2013 09:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on August 24th, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sheldrake on August 24th, 2013 11:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The RCKtherck on August 24th, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
I have a blanket permission on my AO3 profile: http://archiveofourown.org/users/the_rck/profile and at my website: http://www.therck.org/ Those are the only two places I regularly post fic.
tried to eat the safe banana: Music - alienthefourthvine on August 24th, 2013 10:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, excellent! I am adding you to the list of people who need to go on the list of people. Yay!
(no subject) - bessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sylvia: squee!rheasilvia on August 24th, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
I added a "Transformative Works Policy" to my LJ profile a year or so ago because a podficcing friend told me what an important thing it is. I still feel a bit guilty that I haven't granted an unrestricted "go ahead" on all kinds of transformative works, because I am odd about remixes and sequels to some of my stories. But for podfic, I am most certainly and unrestrictedly all there!

All of which I explain on my LJ user page, although I have no idea whether anyone has ever actually looked...

I had no idea that there was an actual list - although of course it makes perfect sense! Sadly, I'm not on the list in either of my common online personae - Sylvia or rheasilvia - so I would be very grateful if you could work your magic to change this. :-)

Thank you very much!

ETA: Just added the policy to my AO3 profile - and it was already on my Dreamwidth profile.

Edited at 2013-08-24 08:40 pm (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: Music - alienthefourthvine on August 24th, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
You have no reason to feel guilty! The whole point of a statement is to be clear about what you're comfortable with, so your fellow fans know. And that is what you've done. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

And I have added you to the list of people who need to go on the list! Thank you.
(no subject) - bessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rheasilvia on August 28th, 2013 12:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Just a Janellyladyjanelly on August 24th, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
I just went ahead and gave blanket permission for any kind of fanwork on my LJ and DW on sticky posts, and on the profile of my AO3 account.

I was reading this: http://bookshop.tumblr.com/post/37075331312
and I just decided to open everything up to any kind of transformative work, if people want to write in my AU 'verses or whatever, that they should be able to do that as much as they're able to write in a published writer's 'verse.

I had someone just before I did that ask to write in one of my 'verses and she was like "Thanks for letting me write in your 'verse even though you didn't know if I was any good or not" and I didn't feel like it was my job to judge her or her job to be good. If it makes a person happy to write or whatever, in one of my 'verses, then they should happily write, with my blessing (but the fic she wrote really really was awesome and inspired me to go on writing more in that 'verse so it all worked out great).

I put up my blanket permission, and someone messaged me that she had written a 5000 word fic in my "Today's Tom Sawyer" 'verse but been afraid to do anything with it but put it in a 'drawer,' and now she's gotten it betaed and is close to posting it.

That's just really awesome and makes me happy. I don't think we should expect more grace from pro writers than we're willing to exhibit ourselves.

Edited at 2013-08-24 11:29 pm (UTC)
Bessyboo, Queen of the Purple-Eyed Creaturesbessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)
I've added you to the fanlore BP list! :)
(no subject) - ladyjanelly on August 28th, 2013 04:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
tesserae_ on August 25th, 2013 12:10 am (UTC)
Someone was talking about this a while back, so I put one up on my LJ profile; I'll add it to my AO3 as well. Good idea!
Bessyboo, Queen of the Purple-Eyed Creaturesbessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
You were already on the list, but I've updated the wording of your BP statement at the fanlore list! :)
Shineshinetheway on August 25th, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
"You can even say, "I'm very open to podfic, and I will mostly say yes, but I still would like you to ask." This seems like a useless statement, but it includes two very important points: you are open to podfic and you will probably say yes."

This is completely and totally my own opinion, and since I'm still pretty new to the podficcing world I may be alone, but I don't find this type of statement particularly useful. At times, honestly, it can be a bit frustrating. It basically acknowledges the difficulty and tension inherent in the situation that you described--both author and podficcer attempting to negotiate an agreement regarding a text, overcoming all the obstacles that can appear--and shrugs.

"I'm friendly to podfic but I still want you to ask" can also be interpreted as "I'm the one with the power here. I know this is a fraught conversation, but I choose not to give that power up. Ask anyway." It's a statement that, to me, solidifies a power differential between podficcer and author instead of finding a graceful way of making the situation win-win. It's someone who knows about and likes podfic, went to the trouble to create a statement, and then proceeded to do nothing except maintain the status quo.

Personally, I don't consider these types of statements as blanket permission statements, since they aren't actually giving permission to do anything. I sort of assume that everyone who doesn't have a blanket permission statement or a blanket no posted falls into this category, a generic openness to the concept without actually granting permission to do anything. It's possible someone who's been podficcing for longer than I have would see it differently, though.
Narahtemily_shore on August 25th, 2013 11:16 am (UTC)
Well, this is disheartening, because this is the sort of statement that I was planning to write. It honestly seems simpler to me, and less anxiety-provoking on my side, not to have to create an exhaustive bullet-pointed list covering all contingencies. Plus I actually enjoy communicating with people and offering thoughts on thorny issues like "how should the Icelandic dialogue be handled?"

What I've heard from other people during this discussion is:

1) The main point of transformative works policies (which I think is a more useful term than "blanket permissions statements") is communicating the author's wishes around their work.


2) Communicating that you feel positively towards transformative works/adaptations is vastly more helpful than saying nothing.

But it sounds as if you would disagree with both of those?
- shinetheway on August 25th, 2013 01:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: - emily_shore on August 25th, 2013 01:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - busaikko on August 25th, 2013 12:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shinetheway on August 25th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - busaikko on August 25th, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shinetheway on August 25th, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - busaikko on August 25th, 2013 10:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emily_shore on August 25th, 2013 04:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paraka on August 26th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - maryaminx on August 25th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shinetheway on August 26th, 2013 06:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - penguineggs on August 26th, 2013 06:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shinetheway on August 26th, 2013 12:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - penguineggs on August 26th, 2013 01:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paraka on August 26th, 2013 08:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paraka on August 26th, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - busaikko on August 27th, 2013 12:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Imaginary Researcher: Bob Dylan - thedeadparrothannahrorlove on August 25th, 2013 03:35 am (UTC)
Do you have any advice on extending permission-request statements for other fandom productions besides podfic? Because I'd like to make sure to cover all my bases as best I can.

Do you think there's any chance anyone, anywhere, might have any interest in doing such a production for something I've made? Because while I doubt this is possible, or even vaguely realistic, I haven't yet learned to live without hope.

Has the word "podfic" reached critical mass and suddenly lost all meaning? Because it pretty much has for me.
Shineshinetheway on August 25th, 2013 10:52 am (UTC)
You might simply put a blanket permission statement out that specifies that permission is given for artworks, translations, remixes, sequels, podfics, fanmixes, critiques, or fannish transformative works of any type. I've written something similar for my BP.

The other thing to remember is that fandom is a wide and wonderful world. I've found podfics done for my own stories that I had no idea existed. Just because you don't know of a podfic of your work right now doesn't mean that it isn't out there somewhere enchanting listeners, or it isn't on some person's To Do wishlist of projects. :)

Speaking only for myself, I almost exclusively try to podfic works by authors who have BP statements up, so if you've got one you're already in a very advantageous position. Having a BP statement means that a podficcer can take their time selecting the perfect story to fit their time, mood, and voice, and can edit it leisurely (instead of feeling guilty that the person we asked six months ago is still waiting for something to be posted because we got a new job in the meantime and now life is crazy).
(no subject) - hannahrorlove on August 25th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shinetheway on August 26th, 2013 06:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Moony McMoonsomethe_moonmoth on August 25th, 2013 03:35 am (UTC)
I've had a permission statement for years on my LJ profile, but am not on the list. How do I remedy this?
æthel the aardvarkaethel on August 25th, 2013 10:16 pm (UTC)
remedied :)
(no subject) - the_moonmoth on August 25th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
T Verano: Clint!t_verano on August 25th, 2013 06:50 am (UTC)
I hadn't really thought about this stuff before, so thanks for making me think about it! I've added a permissions statement to my AO3 profile (below), if you want to add that to the list.

T. Verano Permissions Statement

Thank you!
Bessyboo, Queen of the Purple-Eyed Creaturesbessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:17 pm (UTC)
I've added you to the fanlore BP list! :)
E: gift-givingstarbrow on August 25th, 2013 09:22 am (UTC)
I thought I had done this ages ago but apparently I hadn't! I've always loved it when people have podficced me and wished more people would. I'm totally cool with people doing other stuff based on stuff I made as well - I've written stories based on/inspired by other people's fic so it would be unreasonable of me to deny that pleasure to others.

My AO3 profile is here: http://archiveofourown.org/users/amyfortuna/profile
Bessyboo, Queen of the Purple-Eyed Creaturesbessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
I've added you to the fanlore BP list! :)
Caro Dee: Talk Fastcarodee on August 25th, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
I've had a blanket permission up at AO3 for years but I'm not on the Fanlore list. Most of my stories are The Sentinel but there's a handful of short, old, rare fandom fics that might be fun for someone to play with.

æthel the aardvarkaethel on August 26th, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
I added you just now :)
(no subject) - carodee on August 28th, 2013 06:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
a pioneer woman without a frontier: [etc] moobarbed_whispers on August 27th, 2013 03:09 am (UTC)
i have a blanket permission on my AO3 and i'm not on the list! http://archiveofourown.org/users/weesaw/profile

also thanks for doing this! i wasn't even aware that there was a list, so this is much appreciated :)
Bessyboo, Queen of the Purple-Eyed Creaturesbessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
I've added you to the fanlore BP page! :)
Cimorene: doesn't remind us of musetta's waltzminkhollow on August 27th, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
Oh hey, that is a thing. So now I have one, on my AO3 profile! (Same username as here.)

Edited at 2013-08-27 03:20 pm (UTC)
Bessyboo, Queen of the Purple-Eyed Creaturesbessyboo on August 27th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
I've added you to the fanlore BP page! :)
Bombadilthe_hobbet on August 30th, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
Blanket Permission is the wrong term
I think a lot of confusion will be cleared up by changing the name of this from Blanket Permission (or Blanket No) to Blanket Statement.

A statement that says "I'm open to podficcing, but please ask" is perfectly legitimate and gives the potential podficcer at least one valuable piece of information. They may get a no, but they will be treated politely, which should allay the most common anxiety expressed by podficcers. This is not useless.