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Well, I have already watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And, the movie is easily available for everyone (won't disclose the source as SE doesn't allow sharing illegal things). So, I think lots of people would be able to answer my questions too (otherwise, it'd be pointless).

Can I ask The Force Awakens questions now (Spoilers would be hidden)? Or, would such questions get closed because of our future works policy?

Personally, I think that Future Works policy shouldn't be applicable because it's not longer a future work for lots of people. So, questions and answers won't be guesswork. But, I want to discuss it with the community because it's a special case.

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    Given that (in the recent past,) maliciously posting spoilerish questions has resulted in at least one user being suspended for 6 months, I'd strongly advise against it. – Valorum Nov 30 '15 at 22:12
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    It really wouldn't be fair if the only way to answer a question is to do something illegal. – Möoz Dec 1 '15 at 20:52
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  • Patience Padawan, just a few more days... – Wikis Dec 4 '15 at 12:19
  • Honestly, opening your presents way before Christmas... bad form man. – Paul D. Waite Dec 17 '15 at 11:00
16

I would be happy with a policy that said it was askable when it's answerable. The only repeatable metric, for its answerability is its release date.

Otherwise anyone can say they have an answer, and that isn't verifiable.

12

Several times in the past, an illegally-distributed copy of a movie turned out to be different than the final, theatrical release. The example that pops to my mind is X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which had a nearly-complete-but-not-quite copy circulate around the torrenting circuits, downloaded (by some estimates) 4.5 million times before it was released to theaters.

Given these examples, and the many discussions that come up in meta related to canonicity of specific versions of source materials, I think it's best to wait for an official release, and consider the existing copies - even if they turn out to be identical to the final release - to be merely "work drafts", and not the actual work.

  • Holy crap, now I need to know which version I saw. – Möoz Nov 6 '17 at 4:07
6

I would be a distinction between a work being available and a work being released.

A work being available just means you've seen/consumed it it; a leaked Star Wars movie, or an accidentally-released Harry Potter book.

A work being released means that the producer has decided to make it available in your region, as with Age of Ultron being released internationally weeks before it was released in North America.

To my mind, the Future-Works policy is more concerned with when works are released, rather than merely when they're available.

If the only way you can see the movie is to download it illegally, I have a hard time calling that "released."

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    How are the asker's means of watching something relevant at all? You can't even know how he watched it in the first place. You can't be 100% sure he's not a crew member or some kind of journalist and it simply isn't SE's business at all to judge and police this. As far as we know there are millions of questions about already released movies that were asked by people who watched a pirated version. So what about those questions? – TARS Nov 30 '15 at 22:13
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    @TARS For me it's an (admittedly imperfect) means of establishing "release". If the only way to see the film is downloading it illegally, I have a hard time calling that "released." On the other hand, you could choose to legally see a released work; if the option to see it legally exists, that counts as "released" to me, even if you chose to see it illegally – Jason Baker Nov 30 '15 at 22:18
  • That actually sounds like a much more relevant reasoning (and seems to be in line with AncientSwordRange's answer. But as it stands your answer sounds like you're judging how the asker watched the movie, which seems to go too far. – TARS Nov 30 '15 at 22:34
  • @TARS Not my intention at all; mercy knows I can't throw stones on that issue. Truthfully I started writing that answer planning on going in a slightly different direction, but didn't end up revising the whole thing; I've edited for clarity – Jason Baker Dec 1 '15 at 1:50
6

This whole section of Stack Exchange, Science Fiction and Fantasy, is about works of fiction. That makes this site, among other things, a celebration of the hard work of many writers of fiction, along with the producers, directors, other crewmembers, and casts of the finished works. We depend on these people to create the content we love and on which this site is based.

There is another question (Have we had ANY professionals participate in SFF?) in Meta about whether we have had any professionals participate in this forum. Such participation is to be desired and good for the community and this site.

Supporting illegal (and many of these authors would argue, immoral and even damaging) distribution of material on this site would not only discourage their participation, but is a slap in their face and a showing of extreme disrespect. I follow several SF writers on FB and feel that if an appropriate question showed up, I could send them the link to see if they want to answer it.

If this site is going to accept questions that can only be asked by people watching illegal pirate copies, then it is not only supporting or giving an implicit acceptance of such activity, but it also discourages the participation of professionals in the industry and is quite disrespectful to them.

I have a chance to have some of my work shot soon by an indie film crew. If someone asked me to visit a site and answer some questions, and I found out that site was accepting questions on pirated and unreleased works, I would shun that site in the future and probably cease communication with the person who invited me.

It's rude and disrespectful to those who create the content to allow questions in this way.

3

If content is available to the general public (and thus community) only through illegal activity/pirating, then I would not say it's "easily available" for everyone. While our website is generally made of tech-savvy individuals, not every user is tech-savvy enough to understand how to safely pirate content without reprisal from the MPAA and their ISP.

There are other obstacles in the way of acquiring such content, namely the moral and ethical dilemmas for many users.

Asking questions about such works that aren't intended to have yet been seen by our community of "science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts" is needlessly exclusionary. While there may be the occasional journalist or industry person on the site that could respond to such questions, the heart of the matter is not the question or the answers, but the voting.

How can the community vote if they have no reasonable way of safely verifying the information, or otherwise trust the credibility of the responding user?

I doubt it'll be a VTC, if it's obvious you've seen the work and have a question based on actual viewing. But, I suspect you may not garner as much attention as you would as waiting until the general public has seen it. So, the community may vote by not voting at all. By asking early, you'll attract a much smaller pool of people to answer, and then might be sacrificing quality for immediate (maybe) gratification (maybe).

Personally, I'd wait until the day of release (wherever it's earliest), to ask, just to get as much attention to the question as possible, or even wait until the opening weekend is over, unless you think someone else might ask the question before you.


  • Thank you for including the moral and ethical issues. Since I've always been working toward creating my own film company, and have changed to where I'll be working with someone else who would produce, I think of this from the content producers end as well and, with that in mind, I can't see how people can claim they love the material and yet be so willing to obtain it in ways that hurt those who create it. – Tango Dec 1 '15 at 6:59
  • Lol, "safely pirate", I like that. – Möoz Dec 1 '15 at 20:49
  • @Mooz Arr, it be a good turn of phrase. – user31178 Dec 1 '15 at 20:50
1

I'm admittedly not that sure about the general intricacies of the "future works" policy and its application to your case of a not-so-future work. But seeing that it's AFAIK primarily intended to prevent ungrounded speculation about a work noone knows anything about, it doesn't seem to apply that much in your case. When looking at why "future works" are bad it seems this doesn't really apply to a question that asks about the specific content of a movie you have definitely seen. You're not asking "Where is Luke Skywalker in TFA?" without having seen it. You're asking "Why did Luke have to kill Han only to stop Leia from turning to the dark side?" and clearly address an audience that has seen the movie.

However, adressing a different viewpoint on the matter regarding the issue of asking a question about something you supposedly watched in some illegal way, then I don't think that this is of the community's concern so much at all. While assuming piracy might be a reasonable deduction, we just don't know. And even more than that, it seems irrelevant. As long as the question does not propagate or encourage piracy or link to pirated content, it seems not relevant where and how the asker has watched the movie or read a book. And in the end, he might as well have watched it in a preview screening as a journalist, or even a sneak preview accessible to any public moviegoer.

Likewise might there very well be questions about already released movies asked by people who also watched a pirated copy, but we don't worry about those either, since neither can we prove anything nor does it matter for the site or the question. (Likewise we wouldn't talk about this matter had the question been asked some days later, which makes the whole problem somehow "too localized" anyway.)


And last but not least and while I know a precedent doesn't necessarily make a rule, the existing questions about the leaked Supergirl pilot episode asked before its official release and apparently left untouched might be of at least related interest on the matter (hell, there's even a whole blog post on it.)

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    Yes, but it was almost certainly CBS who 'leaked' Supergirl as part of a viral marketing campaign. As evidenced by their refusal to comment on the issue, high quality of the release, lack of watermarks and total failure to issue any DMCA takedown notices. They also screened the show a few weeks after the 'leak' at various conferences. – Valorum Dec 1 '15 at 9:27
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    @Richard Sure, so what? Unreleased content is unreleased content, though. The assumption that the leak was intentional has as much provable grounding as the assumption that a user watched a pirated copy (and is of as few relevance once the work has been released officially). – TARS Dec 1 '15 at 9:49
  • I was merely pointing out that the Supergirl leak is drastically less "leaky" than, for example the workprint of Wolverine or a Cam copy of Star Wars VII – Valorum Dec 1 '15 at 11:22
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    @Richard intentional or unintentional leak, rule should be same for both. – Ankur Rathee Dec 4 '15 at 10:06
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    @AnkitSharma - I disagree. In the absence of a definitive statement from the broadcaster confirming that the show was leaked illegally, we have to assume that it was released intentionally and legally, albeit through an unconventional channel. – Valorum Dec 4 '15 at 12:31
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    @Richard you mean you will accept QA from leaked episode/movie till broadcaster doesn't say a word and when he said that its leaked, you will close those question? – Ankur Rathee Dec 4 '15 at 12:36
  • @AnkitSharma - I would consider that a sensible position. Generally it's pretty obvious if something is illegally acquired. Let common sense prevail. – Valorum Dec 4 '15 at 13:31

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