1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Amazon selling fan fiction legally

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Mckk, May 23, 2013.

    I just saw this on one of my FB groups - I don't write fanfic myself but I thought it'd interest others (given that there's a whole fanfic workshop). What do people think? I can't imagine how much royalties you'd actually get as the fanfic author though - and what if you self-pub? I guess since you have to publish in Kindle, Amazon would keep track of it.

    Like, how do people think this is gonna work? It sounds like it'll be a success to be honest. Any thoughts on this?

    This is the article: http://io9.com/amazon-is-going-to-start-selling-fan-fiction-legal-fa-509364648
     
  2. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm wondering who'd pay for fan-fic if you can read it for free all over the internet. To read something of better quality? I mean, that's the point right, you pay to download a piece of fan-fic to your Kindle?

    I think it's nice fan-fic writers can get compensation for their effort, even though I don't think much of the genre...
     
  3. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    This might not be a popular opinion, but I personally think it's great that the content creators (i.e. the people who actually came up with the original stories) will make money off it. Plus, fan fiction writers can do their stuff legally. Before it violated copyright, but was mostly ignored. Now there is a list of worlds they can play in for free. If the original writers are cool with it, I don't think anyone can have an issue with it.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, first, it's one licensor who's contracted with Amazon to allow 'legal fanfic' for 3 fandoms. You can't just put your WigiWorld fanfic up and expect a check. And there are restrictions on what they'll allow (like no porn, no AUs). Also, it appears that anything the author writes - including original characters/concepts - belong to the licensor. So you write a 'legal fanfic', get paid royalties on that book, and the original owner takes your OC and idea and makes millions in a movie - you get nada.

    I'm watching developments, but it basically looks like Amazon doing what they do best - tossing a few crumbs to authors and making a lot of bread for themselves.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There have been authors who have embraced fan-fiction for the compliment it is. Storm Constantine has an entire website dedicated to the promotion of fan-fiction based on her Wraeththu series. She also makes her own works available in places like Smashwords, where the line blurs slightly between book-seller and writing-forum. There aren't many writers who would be so generous with their babies, but it happens.
     
  6. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Ditto. Seems like a win for everyone involved.

    I'm not a fan fiction writer, but hopefully it will prove successful and more authors and publishers will license their rights. It would seem a particularly good idea for those who've written a series people like and have no intention of writing any more.
     
  7. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    Seems like a very good idea. Even if it totally fails, no one will be hurt by it. +1 to Amazon!
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, the only ones who will be hurt by it are those who think they can take an original character from one of their fanfics and put it into an original story. No. The licensor now owns that character. And of course, they get paid nothing if the story goes nowhere. So other than possibly earning some pocket change, it seems the benefits belong more to Amazon and the licensor than to the writer - they now have a lot of authors working for them for free, Amazon and the licensor collect the majority of the profits, and the licensor can cherry-pick the stories that can enhance/further the series (making money for them without paying the author anything).

    Being highly skeptical of anything Amazon does, I'm not getting overly excited about it. Like they say, if it sounds too good to be true...
     
  9. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    If it sells, the author makes money. If it doesn't sell it doesn't make money, but they wouldn't have made money if they weren't in the program.

    Perhaps the posts I've read on the subject were wrong (or I misinterpreted them), but I was under the impression that the author kept the rights to any characters, settings or stories they created, while giving the licensor the right to use them. That's very different to actually handing over ownership.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course they get paid nothing if the story goes nowhere. If they wrote an original story that went nowhere, they wouldn't get paid either.

    And if a writer wants to profit from his or her original characters, why would they put them in someone else's universe? If you want to own your characters, own your universe. Write something original rather than an addition to someone else's world.

    Shadowwalker, it doesn't look to me like this is some kind of conspiracy on the part of Amazon and others to cheat fanfic writers out of money or rights. It looks like an opportunity for fanfic writers to publish legally and get paid. Surely that's good for fanfic writers, isn't it?
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The one thing that bothers me is this clause:

    "We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you." (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=amb_link_375976362_1/186-0667329-7454039?ie=UTF8&docId=1001197431&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=0XFBBAYP8G2E6VVMK9TR&pf_rd_t=1401&pf_rd_p=1558872522&pf_rd_i=1001197421).

    So the fanfic writer comes up with a really successful story - and other than royalties on that story, they get nothing if the original creators decide to take it and run with it. And if the story itself doesn't sell that well, but there are elements in it that work well, the author can lose that as well. Not to mention that other fanfic writers can also take parts from your story and create their own 'version' (fanfic of fanfic, basically) and make money off your stuff - again, without compensation to you.

    There is also this: "Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright." Pretty much signing over everything to Amazon.

    Sure, it offers a chance for writers to get paid something for their fanfic - but it appears to benefit others a lot more. I guess I'm just not willing to believe that Amazon is going to do anything out of the goodness of its monopolistic heart.
     
  12. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Why should you expect to make money of other people's ideas and characters anyway? Fanfic writers should go in expecting nothing in the first place.
     
  13. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    From what a couple of media authors have said on blogs, it appears to be a fairly standard clause when writing tie-in novels for trade publishers.

    Without that clause, I don't see that any established writer could really enter the program. If they later wrote a story which shared elements with a story a fan-fiction writer in the program wrote, they'd be facing a lawsuit even if they never read that story. I've seen several established writers saying they never read fan-fiction in their universe for that reason.

    You can't sell the story anywhere else in any case, because only Amazon has the rights to do so at this point. It would presumably also include them taking movie and other media rights from the writer, but I imagine you'd be unlikely to retain those if writing a Star Wars tie-in, say, for a trade publisher.

    Of what I've seen, that looks like the most dubious clause to me just because it does seem to be so inclusive.

    Amazon want to make money. And if the writer is getting a good royalty rate, the more money Amazon makes on the books, the more the writer makes.
     
  14. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    Is this really any different than people writing Star Wars books? Granted, the Star Wars books are usually novels or encyclopaedias, but most of them are using characters created for the movies and by George Lucas himself. If the fanfic being sold was actual novels or at least approved by the original creator, I wouldn't have a problem with it, but they probably aren't.
     
  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The whole thing looks a bit fuzzy to me.

    I think this is a given. But because I don't understand fan fic writers in the first place, I won't understand why they'd ignore this. It'd suck though, if I had written some Pretty Little Liars (not sure what the show is about and can't be arsed to google it) fan fic with the sexier prettier awesomer myself inserted in it, and the character was so amah-zing the show's producers wanted to take it and incorporate her into the show and I got no compensation of it... Hell, I'd be pissed.

    I do wonder has Stephanie Meyer gotten any money from E. L. James...
     
  16. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    I haven't read twilight or 50 shades, but my understanding is that although it started as fanfic E.L. James then changed it so it was a different story, characters etc (no vamps, etc). She never sold 50 shades as a twilight fanfic so she wouldn't need to pay.

    As for the other stuff, I have a friend who ghost writes children stories (he has also written a number of successful books using his own name, all of those he owns), he enters into the agreement knowing that everything he invents belongs to someone else. Sometimes he doesn't get royalties, just a one off payment.

    As long as you know what you are agreeing to in the first place it is all good.
     
  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course she wouldn't. Ok, I haven't read 50 Shades and I read Twilight very haphazardly, but I brought it up because there the line is quite blurry and the law is not on your side there. James makes millions with a work that started off as a raunchy story of Bella and Edward. If I was Meyer, I'd be both flattered, but at the same time a bit miffed -- maybe -- because James was so heavily "inspired" by her works. Of course in Meyer's case she wouldn't need any more money anyway, but what if she had been a very small-scale writer? I do recognize that we are all influenced and inspired by others' works, but perhaps at times some works are a bit more inspired than others.

    Sorry, this was a bit OT.
     
  18. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Well I have written fanfcition. why? because it is easier and quicker. No need to do a lot of world building, no need to 'create' characters. It's fun, but I will never ever want top get paid for it and nor will I pay for it.
    The story I am writing right now start off as a fan fiction. A friend and I tossed some of our favourite musicians in a story and made something of it just because we are crazy like that. But now we are rewriting it so it is an original story.
     
  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bear in mind, this whole deal is not contracting to write tie-in novels. If it were, the risk of no or low sales would be on the license holder, not on the author. Authors would be offered X dollars to write the book; they choose to accept or reject. Here, the writer posts a story and hopes it sells well, and everything else belongs, in essence, to the license holder and Amazon. It's just a cheaper way to get tie-in novels out there.
     
  20. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I suspect we're on the same facebook group Mckk.

    I read this and see it as a legal minefield. There are copyright issues all over the place. First it only applies to those "world" owners that sign with Aunty Amy. Currently that's three worlds and they aren't huge ones. Next the details of the contract seem to largely favour Aunty Amy and the "world" owners, - no surprise there. But consider that Aunty Amy's looking at this purely as revenue, but the "world" owners are looking for more than just revenue. They need whatever is written to match their "world's" rules. Their bible if you like. So for example the gay relationship between Kirk and Spok is not going to go down well with them. So they will be wanting to stop certain works being written for reasons other than commercial. The contract will have to be rewritten to account for this allowing the "world" owner to have final say over whether something can be published.

    Then there's the fact that many fan fics are already published. But they aren't sold so they sail under the copyright boom. Even if its a transgression lawyers aren't really interested in sueing people for proceeds of their clients works if they aren't earning anything. Fifty percent of nothing is still nothing. Now however, many of those same works could suddenly appear in Amazon World, thus being both existing as free copies from the fan fic sites and sold for dosh on Amazon World. That's going to make for some interesting headaches at Aunty Amy's accounts dept and more legal headaches. The basic clause will have to be that any work written and sold through Amazon World won't be able to be published anywhere else, even for free. (Actually especially if its free.)

    And then as above what if said writer creates a brilliant character / world / plot etc of their own within the "world". They get nothing. At present as an author if I write such a thing, I have proprietary rights. This arrangement changes that. Each party shoul have proprietary rights over their own creations, but as to how you decide who created what - that will be a legal battle.

    Having said that it still does open the door to fan fics which is great for those who write these things simply because they love the world. But I would say that if you want to do this, don't go into the deal with your eyes closed.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  21. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    Here's hoping yugioh eventually joins in on this so I can make my imagined ygo seires DT Chronicles a reality. In all seirousness, though, I both like this but also fear it. Reason being for every quality fanfic there is at least five horrible ones. Fanfics are notorious for, well, being bad. As a result I hope that this venture has some form of quality control to prevent the horrors of fanfic.net from crawling out into the professional market, but you can never be sure. On the other hand, it throws the good fanfic writers a bone, which is nice to say the least. Still wondering if any anime worlds will join in on this since anime fanfic is so popular.
     

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