Linda...let me explain how this might work, also for the benefit of
Let's start with the assumption that every person currently here on line
is honest, intelligent, trustworthy and not suit-happy. (Fill in your own
Tomorrow, Billy Ray Marzipan signs onto the B5 conference. He's big on
the show, wants to be in the discussion. We're cool so far. One day, BRM
writes, "Hey, Joe, how about an episode where Sheridan is swallowed by a giant
space whale, discovers an ancient Shadowman text, and escapes."
Now, it just so happens that let's say we're doing such a story already.
I can choose to say nothing. Then, six months down the road, "In Harm's
Esophagus" airs, and becomes one of the all-time favorite B5 episodes. BRM is
sure that I stole his story...he broods over it, gets more and more
agitated...and one day finally decides to sue.
Or, I can choose to say, at the time, "Hey, we're doing a story like
that, just so you know," and do it anyway...but BRM has no objective way of
knowing *for sure* if I was doing it already...so six months later... same
We are a litigious, lawsuit-happy society. And not everyone out there is
as sane and reasonable as the people currently here on line. So the only
thing I can do, short of signing off every BBS I'm on, is to make it as clear
as possible that we cannot have story suggestions. If one is made, I have to
be sure to either not do it, or if we're doing it...kill it.
Further, on-line disclaimers are meaningless. You can't prove that the
phosphor-dot "signature" was really made by the person. Further, it can be
argued that since the agreement not to post story ideas was required for
admission, one can say that any such offer of disclaimer was made "under
duress," and thus not binding.
It is not a sane or reasonable position to put people in, and I am fully
aware of that. But society for the most part is itself neither sane nor
reasonable, and in the interests of my show I have to put safeguards in place
that I may neither like nor want.
On the issue of fanzines...I don't see them, and generally instruct
people, "don't ask, don't tell."