Discussion in 'General Writing' started by colorthemap, Jan 14, 2011.
Is it legal?
Can we legally read it?
Can we legally write it?
Can you, as a website, host it?
If you plan on publishing it, get permission from the original author (chances are you won't have much luck with publishers if you're trying to publish fanfic). You're not going to get in trouble for reading it.
As long as you don't attempt to profit from it, there's no legal infraction of any kind.
Right I know no one will ever track me down and sue me but I'm more concerned about the actual legality.
You can legally read just about anything.
Writing it isn't illegal, but you could still be taken to civil court in some cases for copyright infringement or trademark violations - it could get complicated.
Usually it is merely tolearated, but if you tried to publish it for profit, that could change.
This website does permit fanfic, provided there is no posted statement by the original author against derivations.
Personally, I consider fanfic mostly like writing with training wheels. It gives you a stable foundation, but until you take them off and ride without them, you don't really experience the ride.
However you are aware it does not fit into the copyright criteria, unless of course you spoof a character's name a wee bit.
I agree with Cogito. Most companies allow (and promote) fan fiction, as it promotes their material. It's also a great way to focus on character creation. You don't need to explain everything that occurs in your world. Instead, write under the assumption that people already know the material. It's actually pretty good exercise.
Just make sure that the fandom you write in allows it. Some authors and companies don't like it, while others either don't care or encourage it. Hell the show Supernatural included their insane fandom into the shows canon.
There is an episode where the main characters, Dean and Sam, meet an author who is basicly writing their life story. Dean and Sam, brothers by the way, also look into the fan following and learn of the countless shippers for Dean and Sam and fanfics for it.
So not only can it be encouraged but it can also be apluaded by the writers and producers.
Though if you are going to try and publish it... then you are pretty much out of luck.
My take on Fanfiction is that its just a fun exercise.
It's legal unless you profit, or unless the copyright holder specifically forbids it. Try fanfic.net
I know Anne Rice does everything in her power to remove fanfiction from the internet and persue whatever legal ramifications she can. Back in 2000, she posted on her site, "I do not allow fan fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes" (AnneRice.com).
But then you have the other side of the coin. Lucas Arts encourages fan films, and even holds an annual competition:
Fan fiction is really no more illegal then a fansite, or a piece of fanart. Sites like DeviantART would be purged by the millions of some great pieces of artwork of companies and property owners took the law literally.
However, if you write a fan-fic then the original property owner can call dibs on it and use it and not give you any credit. Just something to be wary of.
"...However, if you write a fan-fic then the original property owner can call dibs on it and use it and not give you any credit...."
No - the fanfic is still copyright of the person who wrote the words. However, the characters, settings etc identifiable to the original work may be trademarked. In other words, publishing fanfic needs permission of both the writer of the fanfic (as the copyright holder) and the author/publisher of the original piece (as trademark owner).
Only if both agree can it be published.
And if the publisher does use it without permission, they open themselves up to a costly lawsuit from the writer of the fanfic. And vica-versa.
This simply isn't true, at least under U.S. law. Copyright infringement does not require that you profit from a work or attempt to profit from it. If a piece of fanfic infringes the original authors copyright (for example, the right to prepare a derivative work), then it does so regardless of any profit and any reproduction, distribution, display, etc. of the work is infringement.
That's the law in the U.S. at any rate. I believe Canada and Europe are similar.
What about "real-person" fanfic? Personally I think it oversteps bounds. But I don't even know if it's illegal. Basically some people write My Chemical Romance fanfic where the band members get together with each other or some random girl and if it were me I'd be creeped out you know. And of course certain authors like Robin Hobb. Marion Zimmer Bradley saw a fanfic that had some of her ideas in it, when she had already written the book...basically she requested it taken down for some reason but the author demanded royalties and credit and all of that. So she doesn't allow it either. Rowling on the other hand says it's fine as long as it's not X-rated.
Fan fiction, what a joke. How could someone be creepy enough to actually write a fan fiction story and then pass it off as something they created? I would never read one--not ever. I think I'm a bit like Ann Rice in that regard.
Not all fan fiction is unpublished and some of it is the most stunning pieces of work I have ever read. Like with Literary Fiction it is worth trawling through the unpublished stuff for those gems that are simply mind blowing brilliant.
Of the published stuff:
The sequels to Heidi are better than the original, Pride and Prejudice sequels are not even close to being as good but are fun to read. I would love a Jane Eyre one anyone know if there is? Peter Pan in Scarlet is not bad.
I love Star Trek and Dr Who books. Some of the Star Trek ones set on Vulcan are amazing, intelligent and thought provoking.
In someways I think characterisation wise fanfiction takes MORE talent not less - you have to take a character and get to know them in such a way that people who know and love them can recognise and accept them. The descriptons have to be your own but fit within that setting.
Again with plot and style it has to be your own whilst being believable as a fanfiction piece for whatever it is fan fictioning for. Even with RPGs like Suikoden etc they still have to fit in their time and place.
Those that knock fanfiction should maybe try writing a piece. I am struggling enough with my Reverend Allsopp - which is an original story about a gay love affair but I want it to feel like it is a Jane Austen/Barchester Towers type novel. Since coming up with it I have new respect for those that write it well.
I'm with Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowlling on this one - it is flattering and interesting, would love someone to take my characters and add to them. It also allows characters and stories to develop and grow beyond what one mind can accomplish.
There's no need to be rude.
But yeah, tons of people write fanfiction. It's not a big deal. Just go to fanfiction.net, it's one of thousands of places on the web that has fanfiction, and no one gets in trouble. Livejournal also hosts a lot of fanfiction as well.
In the end, no one really cares about it enough to do anything about it. But it's fun to write and imagine when you're bored with your own work.
Yes, much like that British hack of a playwright, who stole characters and settings from other writers and then passed it off as his own work. He didn't even get it right most of the time - for example, Hamlet's father was murdered in a coup, not assassinated.
But he was damned good at it - even if he did do a hatchet job on Macbeth lol
There have been lawsuits by copyright owners against fanfic authors. It doesn't happen all that often when compared to the sheer volume of fanfic out there, but it is something to be aware of. With statutory damages for copyright infringement, it can prove to be costly. It is worth knowing whether the a copyright holder of the underlying work is rabid about enforcement or doesn't care.
"...How could someone be creepy enough to actually write a fan fiction story and then pass it off as something they created? I would never read one--not ever...."
Ed - if you would never read one, how do you know to dismiss them? Granted, most are, indeed, "writing training wheels", as noted earlier, but I don't hold that in any less regard than other "I just wrote my first story" posts.
I mean, is "Grendel" a joke? Or "Wicked"? May not be ones cup of tea, but are at least competent.
"...What about "real-person" fanfic?..."
Lacie - it depends on two things: Is the person "in the public eye", and does the work make them look bad.
It should also be noted that (far as this non-lawyer knows) such things are not considered crimes in the USA. They may, depending on specifics, violate civil laws - meaning that the other person can file a lawsuit against the author.
So we can read just not write?
In the ninties when Darkhorse had the rights to produce Godzilla comics in the states, they created "G-Force" (Fantastic 4 in orange jump-suits) in 1992. In 1993, G-Force premiered in the film of that time but were changed drastically. In 1996, the plot for Issue #16 was ripped of for a Mothra film that was released in 1998; the last bit I can confirm was done without the writers consent.
In the eighties Alan Moore wrote an elaborate treatment for a comic book series called "Twilight of the Superheroes" and submitted it to DC while in their employment. They said no thanks, kept it handy, then in the nineties a suspiciously similar story called Kingdom Come was released.
Just because a company doesn't completely adapt a story or an element from a fan-fic, doesn't mean they won't tweak it and then use it. I do know that Toho, when someone sends them "Hey check out my sweet Godzilla script!" by e-mail, they ignore the message then keep the idea they sent to them on record. I find that a little unsettling, personally and is why I don't suggest writing fan-fics.
To be fair, a lot of the examples brought up in the defense of successful fan fiction exist because they've fallen into fair use, either because the copyright has expired or they were commissioned specifically by publishers to already established authors. Otherwise, if you're over sixteen, I don't think there's much of an excuse to be writing fan fiction. To borrow the established metaphor, it's time to take those training wheels off.
"...In 1996, the plot for Issue #16 was ripped of for a Mothra film that was released in 1998; the last bit I can confirm was done without the writers consent...."
BUT, as far as I know, they didn't take the words from issue 16 - just the plot. Ideas (including plot) can not be protected with copyright. If they had used the same dialog, they would have had to get permission.
Likewise, the "Kingdom Come" arc was, by all accounts I've heard, similar to "Twilight of the Superheroes", but does not use the actual words or artwork.
Certainly, an idea can be taken from fanfic and written differently by a professional author.
You can write all you want, but must have permission to publish. The grey area comes from authors/publishers who have not explicitly said "go for it", but have a practice of not getting in its way.
Separate names with a comma.