Mary writes a fanfic from the perspective of an original character who interacts with characters from the source material. Sue likes the story but thinks the writing could be much better and the story could be written just as easily in the form of a novel (not fanfic). The story has the potential to become a novel that wins the praise of critics and positively influences many readers. It does not reach that potential because it is fanfiction (therefore, it limits itself to a niche readership) and it is not written very well (therefore, it does not win praise from critics). Sue wants it to reach that potential. She is willing to work for free, and for no recognition, to benefit readers' lives by making a good novel available to them. In order to help the story reach its potential, she reworks the story significantly to turn it into a good stand-alone novel, maintaining the basic premise, story arc, conclusion, and themes, but changing all the characters' names and backstories and relationships with each other, merging some characters together, removing some characters, adding some characters, choosing a different setting, changing plot details, etc. This is done for the sake of improving the story and making it work without the context of the original source material, not just for the sake of making it different from the fanfic. EDIT: Assume Sue never asks Mary for permission. The intent of this question is to see if you think Mary's permission is necessary. Sue posts the novel free to read on the web. She does not put her name on it, leaving it as an anonymous work. On the first page, she states that the novel is in the public domain, she states that it is derived from Mary's fanfic, and she provides a link to the fanfic. She gets the word out by creating a Goodreads page for it and by recommending the novel to people, first on forums dedicated to the fandom (in order to reach fans of the fanfic and to create buzz), then on forums around the web (in order to reach the general public). And sure enough, the novel accomplishes everything Sue wanted it to accomplish. I have been told that this is illegal and/or unethical. Do you agree? Why? EDIT: I thought this was obvious, but this thread is not to help me decide whether or not I should do something. It is to discuss a facet of intellectual property from a legal and philosophical perspective.