May 23, 2007

New: Law and Magic Blog

I've started a new blog devoted to law and magic. Here's the link.

A Conference on Shakespeare and the Law



University of Warwick, UK
9-11 July 2007

"I am a subject, and challenge law"
Richard II, Act II, scene III

The University of Warwick will host an international
conference on Shakespeare and the Law in association with
Warwick Law School and The Capital Centre partnership
between The University of Warwick and the Royal Shakespeare
Company. The conference will provide a unique forum for
scholarly discourse between the major humanities
disciplines of law, literature and the performing arts.


Speakers include several leading Shakespearean scholars,
theatre practitioners and scholars in the field of law and

Jonathan Bate, University of Warwick, Governor of the Royal
Shakespeare Company
Christian Biet, Universite de Paris-X Nanterre
Daniela Carpi, University of Verona
Gregory Doran, Associate Director
Mark Fortier, University of Guelph, Canada
Giuseppina Restivo, University of Trieste
Elizabeth Goldring, University of Warwick
Matthew Greenfield, City University of New York
Germaine Greer, Writer and broadcaster
Anselm Haverkamp & Katrin Trustedt European University,
Harry Keyishian, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Desmond Manderson, McGill University, Canada
Ambreena Manji, Keele University
Michael Pennington, actor, writer, director
Erika Rackley, University of Durham
Paul Raffield, University of Warwick
Anton Schutz, Birkbeck College
B.J. Sokol & Mary Sokol, authors
Ian Ward, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Richard H. Weisberg, Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva
University, NYC
Paul Yachnin, McGill University, Canada
Gary Watt, University of Warwick
Andrew Zurcher, University of Cambridge


The conference includes a social event at Kenilworth Castle
and the launch of the journal Law and Humanities:

Early booking discounts and student discounts are
available. For further details see the conference website:

"Let us haste to hear it, and call the noblest to the
Hamlet, Act V, Scene II

May 21, 2007

Copyright Doctrine and Fan Fiction

Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder, both University of California, Davis, School of Law, have published "Everyone's a Superhero: A Cultural Theory of "Mary Sue" Fan Fiction as Fair Use," in the California Law Review. Here's the abstract.
Lieutenant Mary Sue took the helm of the Starship Enterprise, saving the ship while parrying Kirk's advances. At least she did so in the unofficial short story by Trekkie Paula Smith. Mary Sue has since come to stand for the insertion of an idealized authorial representative in a popular work. Derided as an exercise in narcissism, Mary Sue is in fact a figure of subaltern critique, challenging the stereotypes of the original. The stereotypes of popular culture insinuate themselves deeply into our lives, coloring our views on occupations and roles. From Hermione Granger-led stories, to Harry Potter in Kolkata, to Star Trek same-sex romances, Mary Sues re-imagine our cultural landscape, granting agency to those denied it in the popular mythology. Lacking the global distribution channels of traditional media, Mary Sue authors now find an alternative in the World Wide Web, which brings their work to the world.

Despite copyright law's grant of rights in derivative works to the original's owners, we argue that Mary Sues that challenge the orthodoxy of the original likely constitute fair use. The Mary Sue serves as a metonym for all derivative uses that challenge the hegemony of the original. Scholars raise three principal critiques to such unlicensed use: (1) why not write your own story rather than borrowing another's? (2) even if you must borrow, why not license it? and (3) won't recoding popular icons destabilize culture? Relying on a cultural theory that prizes voice, not just exit, as a response to hegemony, we reply to these objections here.

Download the entire Article from SSRN here.
If the fan fiction phenomenon interests you, check out Henry Jenkins' blog here.
Professor Jenkins is the author of Textual Poachers, Convergence Culture, and What Made Pistachio Nuts? Read one of his recent articles in Reason Online here.

[Cross-posted to The Seamless Web]