1. AuroraJenkins
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    AuroraJenkins Member

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    Is this fanfiction, or an original story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AuroraJenkins, May 25, 2013.

    I've always thought the distinction between fanfic and original fiction is pretty clear-cut, but then I started writing a story that is a bit of a gray area for me.

    It's based on another person's general concept of a race of creatures. This person made up an entire species of intelligent creatures that live underground, complete with their culture and attitudes and government. They use the creatures to roleplay and write a forum adventure (which is kind of like a webcomic except for the fact that it incorporates readers' suggestions into the story). This person said that their idea for the creatures is a "free-to-use Intellectual Property in whatever format people might like" (direct quote from them) and they personally gave me permission to write fanfiction about it. The thing is, I use none of their specific characters in my story, and even the setting is totally different. The only thing in common are these creatures they made up... Just the idea itself.

    So I have two questions:

    1. Is my story even a fanfiction at all, or original fiction that simply draws influence from that person?

    2. I want to post this story on the internet to get reviews for it, and just generally get people to read it... because right now the only person who has read it is the guy who made up the creatures in the first place. Do you have any suggestions for where to put it? Is it more of fanfiction.net, or fictionpress.com? And any other sites you could suggest? Keep in mind that it's not complete yet, so it would have to be a place that lets you post it chapter by chapter.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    So these other people invented a whole new world with new characters and creatures, one of these creatures we'll call a Wumpachumpa (for arguments sake). Now you've written something completely different, in a different setting with different characters but you've incorporated the Wumpachumpa? Is that correct? If so carry on. Somebody else invented vampires and shape shifters etc and squillions have written about them since.
     
  3. AuroraJenkins
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    AuroraJenkins Member

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    Yep, that's correct. So what you're saying is that my story is more of original fiction than a fanfic?
     
  4. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would imagine so. I have a leprechaun in my book - does that mean it's a work of fan-fiction because I didn't invent the little fella?
     
  5. AuroraJenkins
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    AuroraJenkins Member

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    Nope, I'd definitely say your book is original. I was just asking the question because these "Wumpachumpas" aren't like a vague general idea (like vampires or elves or leprechauns) that can be interpreted in different ways. This guy's idea that I am using is oddly specific, down to the details of what the creatures look like and the places they live and the way their minds work and even how their society is governed... Anyway, nevermind. I don't want to debate this and ruin the good news :p Thanks for your input! :)
     
  6. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I agree with you guys, but I would also run the question by the original creator as well to see how he feels about the use of his creation.
     
  7. AuroraJenkins
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    AuroraJenkins Member

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    Thanks, Andrae. I did already ask the guy if I could write about his creatures, but maybe at some point I'll ask more specifically if I can treat the story as a piece of original fiction.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...that makes it close to fanfic and could be 'copyright infringement'... possibly plagiarism, too, if you described the creatures in or close to the same words their originators used... so, be sure to get their permission in writing... verbal permission won't be enough if one of them should change his/her mind later...

    ...you need to be asking a literary attorney for an opinion based on law, not well-meaning members of a writing site who are only guessing [that includes me]...if you don't, you may wish you had...

    ...as for posting your story, if you put the whole story [or more than a couple of brief excepts] anywhere on the net, that may hamper or completely ruin its chances of ever being published by a paying venue...
     
  9. AuroraJenkins
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    AuroraJenkins Member

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    The thing is, I'm not sure the story will really be good enough for true publication. Yeah it would be great if I could publish it, but being realistic... I'm probably not going to actually get money for it :/ My writing itself is okay, but I'm afraid that the situations won't be believable enough or that I simply won't be able to finish the story. (That happens to me a lot, if I lose interest halfway through.)

    I guess I'm just not as serious of a writer as a lot of people on these forums. So I'm considering just posting it on the internet somewhere so people can read it. Right now, my only reader is the guy who made up the creatures. He likes the story so far, but I kinda want to have more than just one reader. I feel kinda annoyed going through all the effort for the story if only me and one other person can enjoy it.

    I've heard Wattpad is a good place to post... What do you think?
     
  10. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It depends on many factors.
    If the story you are writing takes place in the same universe as the one the original creators of that race created but in a different part of that universe, then it is called a spin-off, it is fanfiction and you need to get written permission from the copyright owners for the specific use of the content you intend to use. If you don't have that 9/10 publishers won't even read your manuscript.
    If your story just incorporates the wumpachumpas (I so love that name, I am going to use it in my novel as well) and is a completely separate universe and provided the original creators clearly state that their idea is free to use for any and all purposes and everyone without restriction is allowed to use that idea for whatever purpose they want, then you should be in the clear. I am currently participating in 2 online RPGs like the one you are referring to though and in the terms of use they both specifically state that only participants in the RPG can use the copyrighted content freely for any purpose they want. You should read the fine print before doing anything.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The 'oddly specific' that you described is definitely copyright infringement if presented as your original work, unless you get a written permission from the original author. But if you are only practicing and have no intent to publish,there's no need to do anything other than attribute the race to the original author and publish on the internet as fanfic.
     
  12. JohnnyElsewhere
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    JohnnyElsewhere Member

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    This made me laugh.

    I believe that if you created something based on something else, you're good. It's not like that hasn't been done before.
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I wrote about Cthulhu, would that be fan fic or original fiction?
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    fanfic... but since lovecraft died over 70 years ago, it's in the public domain, so you can probably use it without being sued...
     
  15. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    No probably about it, if he's been dead for 50 or more years and the copyright it did not change hands then you are green lighted to use his writing for whatever you want. E.g. Pride and Prejudice, with zombies.
     
  16. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    No probably about it, if he's been dead for 50 or more years and the copyright it did not change hands then you are green lighted to use his writing for whatever you want. E.g. Pride and Prejudice, with zombies.
     
  17. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, this is actually not right. It is more or less true in other cases, but for Lovecraft there is some confusion , because there are parties who actually claim to own copyrights on his later work - and there is the fact that "Call of Ctulhu" is ALSO a role-playing game, with a copyright owner of itself... Meaning, if you do make plans of actually SELLING a manuscript based on Lovecraft you shoul ask legal advice...just in case.
    But if you are writing fanfic, the way most people go to by-pass any legal issues is to simply include a DISCLAIMER stating "I'm not making money out of this, all rights belong to company/person XY, etc" This way, you can have millions of Star Wars stories on the web, and nobody ever got sued by Lucasfilm/Disney - and if you are not scared of Disney... ;)

    Of course, if you are using somebody else's creation in any way in your work, however informal you are, it is common courtesy to include a "Special thanks to XY for Wompaxhumpas - this story wouldn't be half as fun without them!"
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    which is why i said 'probably'...

    i'm not sure a disclaimer can protect you from being sued... i strongly suspect it's not enough to do that... one should not recommend that as being fact... when in doubt, consult a literary attorney, not members of writing websites...
     
  19. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh c'mon, the OP has no intention to make money of his work! IF there was an issue of actually selling a work of fiction based on another person's settings/characters/concepts, than yes, sure there are things that should be resolved beforehand - you don't want what happened to that guy who published "Catcher in the Rye Part II" (although, to be honest, his work was prohibited only in US). But OP asks: fanfiction.net or fictionpress.com - both are non-profit.
     

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