Monday, 25 July 2011

epershand: A tied-up duck with a sign that says "beware of duck" (Beware of Duck)
In the ongoing pursuit of ways that one should and should not spread fanfic that is no longer online: what are people's general feelings about sharing links to Internet Archive caches of fic? This is a bit of a debate I've been having with myself ever since March/April, when the Fic Lost And Found Archive discussion was going on. Prior to that, I'd never had any qualms about archive.org links, but since then I've been a lot less certain.

On the one hand:
- The material is definitely there and anyone can read it.
- If I'm the recipient of a rec of a fic that doesn't resolve, then my first step is usually just to jump directly to archive.org to look it up, so I'd might as well do it for others, right?
- When you're dealing with older fandoms (the two most recent cases where I've thought about this were with Smallville fic and 90s-era DS9 fic) the odds are a lot higher that it's the original archive that's gone down, rather than the author intentionally pulling it.

On the other hand:
- Point one above was really rules-lawyery. Capability doesn't necessarily equal right, especially on the internet, where it's *possible* to do a lot of things people would rather not.
- If it was the author intentionally pulling it, I should probably respect their wishes, right? (Just as with emailing PDFs, I'm totally willing to send friends links to archive.org caches of fic; it's posting a recs list that includes the fic in question where I run into a gray area.)
- What if the story has moved? Maybe there's a copy on LJ, or on the AO3. Maybe the archive itself has moved--I was thoroughly convinced for a while that the Smallville Slashdom was completely gone, but it later turned out it had just migrated domains. Shouldn't I exert a diligent effort to post a rec to a more current location where the author can actually get feedback?

The last time I posted a link to an Internet Archive cache publicly was in a batch of DS9 recs I did well over a year ago; based on Google Analytics data, that post still gets several hits a month from people looking for links to that story in particular.

In the current case, I was trying to find a specific Smallville story to add to [personal profile] melannen's Identity Porn collection. In this case, the fic was on a personal domain hosted by the author, which is now gone. The author IS on the AO3, but she hasn't added the series in question, and she has no accessible contact information or links to other accounts in her profile. Presumably the actual answer in this very narrow case is to leave a comment on one of her other fics asking for her to put the series on the AO3. But I'm still curious for the wider case.

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