1. Fife
    Offline

    Fife Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2012
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    US

    What are the Legalities of Fanfiction Writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Fife, Oct 27, 2012.

    When you write fanfiction, you may end up including trademarked names and terms; however, I know fanfiction is a big hobby for several people and that it does exist in some places. Can you get in trouble for writing fanfiction and what is writingforums.org's policy on it?
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Our policy on fan fiction is that you can post it if there is no stated policy by the copyright owner requesting no fan fics, it's acceptable, and any consequences are on the author's head alone.

    In the case of actual plagiarism, of course, that is an immediate ban. If we have to remove a piece due to intellectual property disputes, there will be consequences for the author. You are responsible for your writing decisions.

    Fan fiction is mostly harmless. Personally, I feel writers' efforts are better directed toward creating their own settings and characters, and not glomming onto someone else's work.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I couldn't agree more. To me, the real thrill of writing is in the development of characters. Recycling someone else's characters is leaving out the best of what a writer does.
     
  4. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Well, having written a great deal of fanfiction myself, I don't consider it 'glomming on' or 'recycling' someone else's work. At any rate, as to the legality, it's never been really taken very far in the legal system of the US; a couple of isolated cases that were settled very specifically. Some authors don't want it, some put restrictions on it as to sex, etc, and others welcome it. Respect the original author's wishes and acknowledge their ownership (ie, don't try to make any money from it or plagiarize) and you generally won't have any problems.
     
  5. Fife
    Offline

    Fife Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2012
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    US
    Thanks for your comments.

    I was referring to borrowing someone else's lore, not their character.
     
  6. marktx
    Offline

    marktx Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    202
    Likes Received:
    8
    True, but with a caveat:

    Fanfiction can be a great way to develop your writing chops. Since the characters and their worlds are already clear in your own mind, you can focus on sharpening your skills in spinning good tales, creating great action, and sharpening the dialogue.

    I've never written fanfiction, but I have written short stories in other categories (which...ahem...I shall not elaborate on, as there may be children in the room...We shall simply say that the story forms in question tended to have very predictable endings). But even by doing that kind of writing, I found that I was improving dialogue, improving character development, and adding plot twists which took the stories out of the expected storylines expected for that (ahem) particular genre.

    The stellar advantage of fanfiction is, of course, that you don't have to worry so much about a family member accidentally stumbling across one of your manuscripts-in-progress.
     
  7. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Marktx, I think any writing you do, if done seriously enough, will improve your writing chops. As for fanfic, if it works for some, that's cool. I just don't see much benefit from it.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I see it as training wheels. Some writers don't have the confidence from the outset to manage the whole enchilada. For them, it's an easier step up than forging ahead and taking on all aspects at once.

    There are some writers who prefer to stay withing a fan fiction framework, or perhaps more accurately, writing within a franchise. More power to them, but I feel it is too limiting.
     
  9. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Well, let's just say there are a lot of fanfiction writers who have gone on to be published writers - and there are published authors who still write fanfiction. Apparently it's not a total waste of time... :)
     
  10. Ponzu
    Offline

    Ponzu New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    MA, USA
    I would agree writing original material is probably the best choice, but fan fiction has its merits. Let's not forget 50 Shades of Grey started out as a Twilight fanfic....
    Kind of makes me despise the author for getting rich and famous off a rewritten fanfic piece, but it goes to show it can get you places (even if its a long shot)
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There are published writers who have spent days at a time playing video games. There are some who still do.

    That does not invalidate the proposition that marathon gaming is a total waste of time.

    (Just an example. Substitute tweeting or binge drinking if you prefer.)
     
  12. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Well, you think fanfic is a waste of time. I don't. Many writers don't equate it with gaming or tweeting or drinking or any other derogatory one can think of. It's purely a matter of opinion. But the OP wasn't asking for opinions on fanfic itself - only the legalities of it.
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Shadowwalker, YOU made the assertion that it was not a waste of time. I was pointing out the flaw in your logic, nothing more.

    I never said it was a waste of time. I think it can be useful for helping a timid writer get his or her feet wet. It's just not my cuppa.
     
  14. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    You implied that by comparing authors who played marathon video games and added "That does not invalidate the proposition that marathon gaming is a total waste of time.", thus implying that fanfic was as well. And frankly, the things you listed have little if anything to do with writing, so why you included them as a way to show the 'flaw' in my logic is puzzling. And simply because there are authors who learn and grow through writing fanfic, there is no flaw in stating it is not a total waste of time.

    Now, perhaps we can get back to the OP.
     
  15. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    I'd make a distinction between fanfiction and writing within a franchise. Fanfiction is non-canonical, so it doesn't matter what has changed by the end of the story. Within a franchise the writer will be very much constrained by where the characters end up at the end of the story. The franchise writers that I've heard speak about their work seem to enjoy the extra challenge of working within constraints, and I can understand that. It's a character and plot equivalent to the language constraints of writing poetry to a strict form. I can see it's not for everybody, though. (The writers I've heard were writing for major franchises, by the way, and it should probably be mentioned that they also liked the way it meant receiving much larger paychecks than most writers enjoy -- and some of them got the contracts through writing fanfic.)
     
  16. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Actually, fanfiction is taking the story in another direction while maintaining basic canon - otherwise it's an original story using the character's names. :)
     
  17. Spiderman
    Offline

    Spiderman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    2
    Not sure.
     
  18. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I believe Cog was pointing out a variation of the age-old fallacy, "B follows A, therefore A caused B".
     
  19. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Exactamundo! I'm glad someone saw what I was getting at.
     
  20. Pythonforger
    Offline

    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Messages:
    405
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Amongst the Mortals
    Fanfiction is fun, but it's not exactly "serious" writing. Sure, 50 Shades of Gray got published, but 50 Shades of Gray was NOT a fanfic. It may have started as one, but eventually the author had to make major changes(such as making all the characters not vampires).
     
  21. JQJohnson
    Offline

    JQJohnson Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kentucky, USA
    Of course writers should work on their own creations, but fanfic can have a very positive effect on a beginning writer. It can be a great way to learn how to write, or polish one's writing style. It is the easiest place to get used to how to handle criticism, and the easiest place to get beta readers to help you learn how to write, and they work for free.
    Fanfic is for fun, but it can be a great tool to go from never having written anything to getting a little free experience and free editing to improve one's writing.
    Several years ago, I decided I wanted to write but realized I didn't really know how. I was in my 40’s, working full time with no time or money to take classes. I decided I would cut my teeth on fanfic. I wrote 3 novel length stories and a bunch of shorts. I was lucky enough to work with 3 talented beta readers whose suggestions really helped me hone my grammar and develop my style. I learned how to accept advice, think it over, and make up my own mind about it. I learned to accept compliments with a grain of salt, and criticisms with a thicker skin. Over the course of three years, my writing improved astronomically. In my fanfic heyday, I had around 2000 readers, and there was simply no other way to get that sort of feedback elsewhere.
    Now that I am done cutting my teeth, I have written my first complete non-fanfic novel. It is completely different from what I used to write; it’s not even in the same genre. But the lessons I learned in my fanfic writing has made my book a far better piece of fiction than it ever would have been without it. And it was great fun. There’s nothing wrong with playing around in someone else’s world for a little while. Then you find your own world.
     
  22. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,244
    Likes Received:
    1,810
    Location:
    Australia
    Don't do it if they don't want you to.

    Don't sell it.
     
  23. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Okay - fanfiction can be very serious writing. Fanfiction can be every bit as good as any published novel in terms of writing skills. Writers have gone from fanfiction to original published fiction successfully. Published writers still write fanfiction.

    As to the fallacy bit - there is no logical fallacy when merely pointing out facts. For something to be a total waste of time would mean that no one, anywhere, at any time, reaped any value from doing that something. Since writing fanfiction has indeed been of value to some writers, it is not a total waste of time. Didn't your logic/debate classes ever discuss absolutes? I know when I took such courses, eons ago, that was discussed. Of course, since then, I've found very little use for spouting the "rules" of logic, other than in some attempt to make myself look intellectually superior in esoteric discussions. But as I say, I rarely feel the need to do so...
     
  24. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,244
    Likes Received:
    1,810
    Location:
    Australia
    Agreed. But adding to this, it doesn't even need to be 'constructive'. Who gives a rat's ass if it improved your writing, as long as you had fun creating it. If you had fun, then it wasn't a waste of time. Nor could it have been.

    Not everything exists just to get better. Some things exist simply to enjoy our lives a little more, and in what deluded, horrific world could that possibly be a waste of time?
     
    1 person likes this.
  25. evelon
    Offline

    evelon Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    613
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    England
    Oh yeah! I have a sister-in-law who thinks the time I spend writing is a total waste of time and I should be doing something more relevant - like ironing or cleaning windows.
    Life's for living. (windows not so bad I can't see out of them - good enough for me!) Whatever grabs you - happiness is different things to different people and nobody should judge what you do unless it impacts
    on them.
     

Share This Page