thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Keep Hoping Machine Running ([personal profile] thefourthvine) wrote2013-08-24 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 [ 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!
commodorified: (nothing like the sun)

I sense podficcers will check these comments

[personal profile] commodorified 2013-08-24 07:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Podfic/transformative works policy: blanket yes if I have no co-writer. Contact me about cowritten fics and I will check with my co-writer(s) for you and let you know. Please drop me a link. If there is a creative commons licence on the work, it must be reproduced in the transformative work with the same OR LOOSER conditions. Listening to podfic of my own work gives me a wiggins, so please don't take it as a slam when I don't listen and review. Re: historical fic in particular: ping me for pronunciation help with odd words, if you like.
teaotter: Da Qing looks up (orange color scheme) (Default)

[personal profile] teaotter 2013-08-24 07:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Blanket permission statements *are* awesome! I haven't had anyone actually take me up on mine yet (*sadface*) but at least people know where I stand on the issue.

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[personal profile] celtprincess13 2013-08-24 07:26 pm (UTC)(link)
OK, so do I put that blurb in the bio section at AO3? *is confused* That's what I've done, but if it needs to go somewhere else, please advise. And yes, please add me to the list. I would be over the freakin' MOON if someone actually wanted to podfic one of my stories, so.

Also, I am SUPER GLAD you answered the first PM I sent you. My life would not be the place it is without you.
teaotter: Da Qing looks up (orange color scheme) (Default)

[personal profile] teaotter 2013-08-24 07:39 pm (UTC)(link)
I have mine in my bio at AO3 profile, but it looks like there's a good chance that commenting in this post will also get you on the list.

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[personal profile] ellen_fremedon 2013-08-24 07:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I've had a blanket permission statement on my AO3 profile for ages, but I don't seem to be on that Fanlore list. (So, to podficcers I know will be reading this-- I love fanworks based on my fanworks! Add me to that blanket statement list!)

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[personal profile] duckgirlie 2013-08-24 07:47 pm (UTC)(link)
y! I'd also add that if for whatever reason you don't listen to podfic yourself, and are worried about giving permission because you'll be expect to give feedback, that it's perfectly fine to mention that you don't listen to it if you want to make sure it won't be an issue - so long as you don't give a reason like "Because it's weird" or whatever, most podficcers won't be offended.
go_gentle: (Default)

[personal profile] go_gentle 2013-08-24 07:47 pm (UTC)(link)
there is now a permission statement in my ao3 profile!

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[personal profile] soc_puppet 2013-08-24 07:48 pm (UTC)(link)
I got a comment from someone on a fic saying they loved it, and then, before I even had a chance to reply to the first comment, a further comment that they had seen the permission statement and had made a recording of the fic in question with a link to the AO3 post. That's how fast this can work. Admittedly, there was a good eleven hour gap due to me being somewhat busy and/or sleeping, but if that is not completely rocking and an amazingly quick turnaround, I don't know what is.
soc_puppet: Words "Mad Fangirl" in blue (Mad Fangirl)

[personal profile] soc_puppet 2013-08-24 07:53 pm (UTC)(link)
And it looks as if I'm not on The List, so 100% yes to that, too <3 I am across the board delighted with the idea that people love anything I've done enough to make tribute to it through further transformations (fanart, fanmix, podfic, remix, etc etc) and would only like to get a link to said transformation eventually so I can gush all over it.

Afterthought: Here is my AO3 account, for ease of locating. A lot more of my stuff can be found at my fanfic tag here on Dreamwidth.
Edited 2013-08-24 20:09 (UTC)

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[personal profile] gloss 2013-08-24 07:50 pm (UTC)(link)
This is a great post, and mot just because I share your weirdnesses around PMs. Thanks for making it.

I'm not on that list OH NOES. I have had my pemission statement on my DW profile for a while, but somehow I never thought to put it on my AO3 profile. Need to fix that.

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[personal profile] klb 2013-08-24 08:10 pm (UTC)(link)
This post is incredible.

Can we go back in time to when I was sitting in front of you at Vividcon premieres so I can hug you?

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[personal profile] isweedan 2013-08-24 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
This is such a lovely post <3333333333

(And yes, possible other/future people who are reading these comments - like @duckduckgirlie said having a "I don't listen to podfic pls do not expect fb" is TOTES APROPES!)

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[personal profile] pennyplainknits 2013-08-24 08:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much for this!

For people thinking of having a blanket statement and wondering where to put it, I always check am author's profile on their journal, or on AO3, so that would be a good place!

Also if you tag a lot on AO3, there is also a 'podfic welcomed' tag you can use, if you'd like
malnpudl: (Default)

[personal profile] malnpudl 2013-08-24 08:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I LOVE THIS POST! And I love you for writing it! ♥

In case anyone is wondering how to get on the Fanlore list: Writers who have a podfic permission statement (yes, no, qualified or whatever) are invited and encouraged to comment on this post at Amplification on LJ. This will automatically get you onto the Fanlore list! It's like magic! (There are other places that will also accomplish the same thing, but that's the big one.)
elfin: image:  olivia;  text: invincible (Default)

[personal profile] elfin 2013-08-24 09:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I was wondering about that.
naraht: (Default)

[personal profile] naraht 2013-08-24 09:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for the reminder about this. I have been considering posting a policy for a while but wasn't sure how to get on the list (which I think has been answered in comments) and had a few reservations which I'm still pondering.

Unlike you I am happy to get PMs, so at its simplest my policy would probably be "please get in touch and we'll talk about it," which I suppose didn't seem to me terribly different from the status quo of not having a policy. I can see that it is for some/many people, though.

There seems to have been a spate of discussion about permissions at the end of last year, so that may have been when I was considering it. I came across this post by [personal profile] akamine_chan which was both helpful and daunting at the same time:

As you're figuring out how to word your statement, keep in mind that permission to transform is an issue loaded with power differentials that most authors aren't fully aware of. The author has the power to withhold permission. And in wielding that power, too often authors tie their permission to conditions that are not actually essential to them and sometimes have negative effects for the person creating the transformative work. Saying something like "Drop me a link to the completed work" is a requirement which, depending on a person's mental state, could cost significant emotional energy to fulfill. Compare that to "I'd love it if you drop me a link to the completed work." See the difference? Put a little thought into what you're saying, because otherwise you may end up in a situation where someone gets hurt because you didn't see the difference.

Watch out for contradictions. Don't say "Yes, I give permission for all transformative works but please ask first." Those are two separate things. Which is it, fanwork creator? Do I have to ask first, or can I just go ahead and create?

It gave me a feeling of you will hurt people if you do this wrong, which is the same reason that I still have a huge amount of anxiety about warning/tagging even though I'm convinced that it's a worthwhile thing to do.

So I still have to decide whether having a long bullet-pointed list of conditions, or saying "please PM me and we'll talk about how it might work," is more or less harmful than simply not having a policy. I suppose what I'm saying is that the process can be a tense one for writers as well as podficcers, and given how rules-lawyery I can be, the very process that diminishes other people's tension is very likely to increase mine!
Edited 2013-08-24 21:19 (UTC)
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[personal profile] maryaminx 2013-08-24 09:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't think tying yourself up in knots to craft the perfect permission statement that causes the podficcer the least amount of trauma is necessary: permission statements are primarily about the author and how they would/would not like to be approached. If your "barrier to entry" to be podficced is being contacted, say so, and the podficcer can decide for themselves if they're up to it. If you're interested in ever being podficced however, having some sort of statement out there is incredibly useful, even if it "talk to me first", because it demonstrates that you know what it is and aren't automatically going to say no.

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[personal profile] elfin 2013-08-24 09:28 pm (UTC)(link)
I find the best things on my network. This was really awesome. Thanks for writing it.
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[personal profile] sophinisba 2013-08-24 09:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks so much, this is a great post!

(Anonymous) 2013-08-24 09:49 pm (UTC)(link)
For those of us who have written a few stories in old fandoms with little attention, it seems kinda pretentious to even have a statement. Sigh.
soc_puppet: Words "Mad Fangirl" in blue (Mad Fangirl)

[personal profile] soc_puppet 2013-08-24 10:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Have heart, dear anon! People discover and fall in love with old fandoms every day. There's no knowing when the fandom in question could be yours.
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[personal profile] cofax7 2013-08-24 09:54 pm (UTC)(link)
I fantasize sometimes about having my really long stories recorded, but it's never going to happen: hardly anyone records gen epics in smaller (or older) fandoms. Ah, well. It's nice that the shorter stuff gets the love.

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[personal profile] christycorr 2013-08-24 10:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, that's a great post! More people being aware of blanket statements = awesome!

Um, I have a blanket statement up on my AO3 profileā€”I keep meaning to add myself to the Fanlore list and forgetting. Well, if anyone checking this post's comments adds people to Fanlore, by any chance, here's the link! :D ♥

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[personal profile] ghost_lingering 2013-08-24 10:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I sort of feel weird giving or withholding permission for transformative works based on other transformative works, and yet at the same time I would like to be asked for my opinion if the work in question is to be based on something I made. Ahhh, my finicky brain.

Here's what I've settled on as an official statement:

If you ever want to podfic, remix, transform make a fannish thing based on any of my fics, vids, etc, I would appreciate it if you let me know. If I'm not comfortable with it for any reason then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. But I don't anticipate that happening; I'm pretty sure I'll be amenable to anything that isn't plagarism or reposting, which doesn't fall under the category of fannish transformation anyway. The best way to contact me is ghost [dot] lingering [at] gmail [dot] com. (I don't use the word "permission" here because I find the idea of my giving or withholding permission to be a complicated one for reasons I'd rather not get into.)

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[personal profile] china_shop 2013-08-24 10:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Great post! What finally convinced me to get around to posting a BP statement (after over a year of wibbling about what it should say, oh noes, I want to exclude my RPS is that okay!??!) was being told that one of the problems with not having one is that the podficcer has to make an implied commitment just by asking. I mean, it would be weird to PM and ask and go through all that, and then not deliver, right? But a lot of the time, life intervenes, or technical disaster strikes, or you just don't know if a fanwork is going to work out until you get started. So it's infinitely easier if you can create/record in private, without raising the original author's expectations. And if there's a risk it might not work and the author doesn't have a BP, and you're not feeling very confident, it might seem better not to even go there.

Since I'm a believer in minimising the sense of obligation/stress in fandom, and I'm hugely flattered whenever anyone wants to transform my works, that was a really convincing argument for me. :-)
Edited (clarity) 2013-08-24 22:36 (UTC)
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[personal profile] naraht 2013-08-24 11:05 pm (UTC)(link)
This makes a lot of sense. Though my own statement will almost certainly say "please ask," so I suppose that leaves the podficcer right back where they started.

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[personal profile] mermaid 2013-08-24 11:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I've had a statement in my AO3 profile for a while (, but I've just updated and expanded it:

If you wish to translate, create a podfic, or make artwork for any of my stories, please contact me first! I'll very likely say yes. However, I will almost certainly say no to anyone wanting to remix or produce a prequel / sequel / companion piece to anything I've written.
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[personal profile] elucidate_this 2013-08-24 11:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for this post.

Blanket statements added at DW, LJ, and AO3. Statement reads:

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 see. 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! Be aware that my levels of fannish energy vary and I may not have the space in brain for your work. Please do not be offended if I don't comment.
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[personal profile] malkingrey 2013-08-24 11:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for posting this; I've just now added a blanket permission (for my scant handful of fics) to my AO3 profile.

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[personal profile] ladysorka 2013-08-25 12:07 am (UTC)(link)
I have a statement in my AO3 profile so that if anybody's looking, they find it, but I've never added myself to any of the lists because it just feels so presumptive. Like I'm saying that of course someone out there would want to do that with my fic, when I primarily write in older fandoms and am not a Super Amazing Popular Writer.
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[personal profile] melannen 2013-08-25 05:09 am (UTC)(link)
It's totally worth adding yourself to the list even if you think nobody will care - I've had two podfics made of my work, and they were both in obscure/old fandoms and not popular pairings. Because of the way the Amplificathon awards points for obscurity (at least, historically), if you aren't a super-popular author, you actually seem to be *more* likely to get podfic for older fandoms and rarepairs - I'm pretty sure both of mine were podficced because amplificathon people were deliberately looking for obscure stuff for points-maximizing purposes.

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[personal profile] kindkit 2013-08-25 12:30 am (UTC)(link)
It seems I'm on The List, but it never occurred to me to put a permissions statement on AO3 as well as on my journals, so now I've added one there (including [personal profile] duckgirlie's helpful caveat that I don't listen to podfic of my own stories, so I can't leave feedback).

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