reprinting zines in for-profit books

September 9, 2010

Zine World recently released an article about  the controversy concerning Teal Trigg’s forthcoming book Fanzines.   You can find it here.

It is interesting that Zine World chose to use the word “appropriate” for the title of its article.  As zinesters, we often appropriate images, words, and ideas from other (usually print) media.  We often do so with no regard to source material.  When making Your Secretary #3/Identify This #1 with Alex we sat around with magazines, cutting and pasting whatever we pleased.  I included a pithy “thanks to anyone who’s artwork I appropriated” in my intro, but none of the artwork was credited.  I do see some people mention where they got artwork and ideas, but this is the exception rather than the rule.  We are a medium which often borrows from other sources.  This is something we celebrate.

ZW requests any publication with paid staff ask for permission before reprinting. This is an important distinction.  I would go so far as to say the intent of this statement on ZW’s behalf goes to the heart of answering the question, “What is a zine?”  To me, a zine has always been more about communication, art, and sharing stories than commerce.  While zines can be and increasingly are commodities, as creators of zines I think (hope) we realize that no one is getting rich from their zines alone. By their very nature, zines, unlike their distant cousins magazines, are about self-expression, not profit.

The hullabaloo over Teal Trigg’s book speaks to this distinction.  Zines themselves are a wild west of citing and sourcing, but are not for money.  Rarely do we use artwork that it would even be possible to contact the artist – old, out of date children’s magazines, teen clothing catalogs, and defunct magazines.  Zinester come from many disciplines, inside and outside of academia and professional life, with different rules and regulations for citing material. Triggs claims to be a personal fan of zines, but has not made any personal contact within the zine community, at least with the people whose zines she has reprinted in her book. By their nature, zinesters are approachable. We often beg for contact.

Suggested guidelines:

1. Ask for permission. Nine times out of ten a zinester will give permission.  If not, there is usually a good reason for it.  For example, maybe permission is not theirs to give.  A friend had a piece from their zine republished in a for-profit-book without permission.  The piece was actually from another published book. My friend was horrified to find the piece attributed to her and worried about repercussions from the original author of the piece.  The piece was well-known and she had assumed most people would know the source material.   It had also been one of her first zines.  If nothing else, zines are often a learning process.

2. Get your sources right. Zinesters use pseudonyms.  Zinesters change their names.  If in doubt, contact one of the many zine librarians who has an ongoing and active relationship with(in) the zine community.  Zinesters that are still active in the community are often easy to find on We Make Zines, Facebook, and/or through personal blogs.  If the zine is recent and the zinester wants the zine to be attributed (ie it is not done anonymously) there are many ways to find and contact that zinester.

3. Offer a free copy of the book. We do zines for free.  Usually we do not expect to get paid.  Most of us are just happy to see ourselves in print and possibly reaching a larger audience.

Personally, I have only had one experience with my work being republished.  No Better Voice #25 was featured in Alison Piepmeier’s Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism.  Piepmeier had her work cut out for her tracking me down and emailing me  for over a year to get permission to reprint the cover of NBV #25, but she did it.  It took so long mostly because I was in my last year of undergrad, having a well documented (yay zines!) breakdown, and in the process of moving.  Also because I am a flake.  Regardless, I was happy to give permission and despite the fact that I got a few negative reviews of NBV #25, I felt honored at its inclusion in Piepmeier’s work.

Have you had images or text from your zine reprinted? What are your experiences? What do you think the protocol for reprinting zines in for-profit and/or academic texts should be?

It is important to note that not all zines use artwork from other sources.

Here are the other posts I have written on this topic:

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3 Responses to “reprinting zines in for-profit books”

  1. [...] “It is interesting that Zine World chose to use the word “appropriate” for the title of its article. As zinesters, we often appropriate images, words, and ideas from other (usually print) media. We often do so with no regard to source material.” Includes suggested guidelines for reprinting from zines. Read more… [...]

  2. [...] Teal Triggs’ book Fanzines, like the incomparable Amber (Hello) Forrester of Culture Slut, Your Secretary and hometown-ish hero Ramsey Beyer of List along with many other zinesters on We Make [...]

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