Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Creative forerunner to blogs: genius behind FACTSHEET FIVE has a website.

FACTSHEET FIVE was the must-have publication of the zine revolution. It had hundreds of reviews of zines each month and most of it was due to one man.

Of Words and Copyrights

I've been making my living partially or entirely from "intellectual property" (primarily my words on paper, secondarily computer software) for the better part of two decades now. So why is it that I'm at best lukewarm on the notion of copyright and the idea that somehow these very words are "mine"?

Part of the answer comes from the environment where I wrote my first million or so published words: science-fiction fandom (which, I note peripherally, was also the original home of some prominent Open Source advocates). In fandom, words are the lifeblood of the community, and they seem to quite clearly belong to the community. You can (or could, at the time) get most fanzines for "the usual", a bevy of methods of which the preferred one was to swap your own words.

And of course fans, being inept in so many real world ways, generally didn't know a thing about valid copyrights anyhow.

Fandom led me into doing FACTSHEET FIVE, where suddenly I was selling my own words to other people. So, what did I do about copyright? Well, I did copyright FACTSHEET FIVE, mainly because I didn't want to wake up some day and discover that someone else had reprinted a chunk and copyrighted it. But I always included a reprint statement that granted every reader full and absolute rights to reprint whatever they wanted, with or without attribution.


Factsheet Five was an influential guide to the (mostly printed) small press, or "zine", movement of the 1980s. It was founded in 1982 by Mike Gunderloy, who later called it "the stupidest time-saving idea I ever had." Starting as a two-page dittoed newsletter, Factsheet Five grew into a massive newsprint magazine that reviewed every small publication Gunderloy could get his hands on, as well as music, books, t-shirts and the other flotsam of our creative society. Gunderloy was responsible for hijacking the term "zine" from science fiction fandom and applying it to any small press effort, from which the current term "e-zine" later sprang.

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