PDA

View Full Version : Publishing a sequel to an existing series



Omega
05-21-2009, 05:47 PM
I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this particular question, but it looked like my best bet. :)

I've written a novel that's a sequel to an existing series by another author, who is now deceased. Specifically, this is a sequel to the Foundation series, by Isaac Asimov. Three well-known authors (Benford, Bear and Brin) were approached by the Asimov's estate and agent (Ralph Vicinanza, by all reports) to write a series of prequels about ten years ago. What I want to know is, what are the legal ramafications of what I've written? I'm reasonably certain I can write whatever I want, so I'm not worried I'm going to get sued or something just for the bare existence of the book, but what about publishing it? Do I have to have the approval of the Asimov estate? If they refuse approval or ignore me entirely, does that mean I can't publish, or that anything I do will just be unauthorized? Can I self-publish? Is there even a definite and easy answer to this question?

Thanks.

Kathleen42
05-21-2009, 06:20 PM
My two cents (and I'm not a lawyer or expert).

You cannot get sued for the existence of the work if it's in a drawer. You would be lucky not to get sued if you self-published and charged money for it. You might get sued if you posted or distributed it without charging for it (it woudl be like fanfiction - they could go after you but there's no way of telling if they'd bother).

You (or an agent - if one would take on the project even though you don't have permission) would probably need to approach whoever holds the rights to the Asimov literary properties. Not sure how you would go about this.

Like I said, though, not a lawyer.

Eric San Juan
05-21-2009, 06:45 PM
You cannot legally self-publish this book.

This book can only be published with approval from the estate, and such estates simply do not grant approvals to fans. They seek out established authors if and when they want to do work in one of these properties. You do not approach them, they approach you.

Dennis McKiernan's "The Silver Call" was initially written as a sequel to "The Lord of the Rings". He had, of course, absolutely no chance of ever publishing that. Ever. Even his publisher, Doubleday, could not secure the rights. The whole story was rewritten so as not to be a LotR sequel.

A traditional publisher is not going to touch this. Even if it's dead brilliant, chances are they won't even look at it unless you're a well-established author.

You cannot legally self-publish this book. If you were to self-publish this and the Asimov estate were to catch wind, you would hear from their lawyers rather quickly.

If you want people to read it, your best bet is to post it to a website for free. Some estates are aggressive even about squashing fan fiction, but that's very rare and not something I'd worry about.

ChristineR
05-21-2009, 06:59 PM
The estate owns the rights to the works; hence any monies you get from the the estate's properties belongs to the estate by law. In other words, don't even try selling it--it's theft.

The estate has the right to decide how prequels and the like are handled, and it does this in the way it thinks will be of most benefit to the estate. For example, they wouldn't want a hundred books to be written because they'd compete with each other and they'd all end up losing money. They don't want writers deciding for themselves what happens in a sequel, because that restricts the possibilities for series, has the potential to annoy fans whose favorite characters have died, and so on. So it's exceedingly unlikely that the estate will want anything to do with your book, no matter how brilliant it may be.

Finally, there's the fan fiction, give it away option. Although the estate could legally come after you for this, most publishers have given tacit approval to fan fiction because they know that their fan writers are also their book buyers.

There's plenty of Foundation fan fiction out there, so you probably won't have any trouble publishing it and giving it away.

Cyia
05-21-2009, 07:24 PM
Finally, there's the fan fiction, give it away option. Although the estate could legally come after you for this, most publishers have given tacit approval to fan fiction because they know that their fan writers are also their book buyers.


NO.

"Give it away" isn't an option, and no publisher gives any type of approval to fanfiction. Period.

In most cases they ignore fan fiction. However, if they're made aware of it they have to (at the very least) issue cease and desist on it because allowing it implies they've given away certain rights to the material for free. The author (or their estate if the copyright is still in effect) have to defend the rights to their work or else they can get sued by their publisher, or run the risk of implied rights.

If you've written an "unauthorized" sequel, you've written a useless sequel. Scrub the actual author's material out of it, make it an original work, and try to sell it as your own.

Omega
05-21-2009, 07:58 PM
I don't know if that's a viable idea, unfortunately. The book picks up exactly where Foundation and Earth leaves off, and a good bit of the satisfaction of the story is the fact that it's wraps up so much of that book and Foundation's Edge, plus advancing threads from various other books. I don't think trying to set it in its own universe is remotely viable.

I wrote this primarily for my own satisfaction, so if it doesn't get published I'm still okay. I can print it up, put it on my bookshelf, and call it done. I'd also say that this is another very good cause to believe that IP terms are way too long, but that's another subject entirely. One thing I'm curious about is exactly what's going on legally, though. I mean, it's got to be a trademark issue, right? What are we worried about being trademarked? Character names and places?

Thanks for the feedback. I've got an address for an agent at the company representing Asimov's estate. I guess all I can do is try. What could it hurt? :)

Oh, and BTW, it's not "theft" to violate trademarks. Theft, by definition, requires removing property from its owner. It's illegal, but it's not theft. Just one of my pet peeves. :)

Cyia
05-21-2009, 08:03 PM
Oh, and BTW, it's not "theft" to violate trademarks. Theft, by definition, requires removing property from its owner. It's illegal, but it's not theft. Just one of my pet peeves. :)

You are removing property. One dollar that goes to the person infringing trademark as opposed the actual author is a dollar stolen. That's theft.

ChaosTitan
05-21-2009, 08:45 PM
I mean, it's got to be a trademark issue, right? What are we worried about being trademarked? Character names and places?


No, it's a copyright issue. Novels are not trademarked, they are copyrighted. The characters, places, and storylines of those books belong to the Asimov estate and cannot be duplicated or used without permission.

Kathleen42
05-21-2009, 08:50 PM
No, it's a copyright issue. Novels are not trademarked, they are copyrighted. The characters, places, and storylines of those books belong to the Asimov estate and cannot be duplicated or used without permission.

It's also possible that some characters or names have been trademarked as well, in which case it's a double whammy offense.

Omega
05-21-2009, 09:28 PM
No, it's a copyright issue. Novels are not trademarked, they are copyrighted. The characters, places, and storylines of those books belong to the Asimov estate and cannot be duplicated or used without permission.

I just wasn't quite clear on how copyright, as opposed to trademark, could apply to a character. I'm used to the idea applying to an integral creative work such as a novel or a song or a movie. Character copyright is a new one to me.

Oh well. So I guess I just have to wait until the copyright on the Foundation books expire, which, since I include characters from the Second Trilogy, will be 70 years after the last of Greg Bear, David Brin, and Greg Benford dies. Maybe I'll leave a note to my grandkids. Or maybe a miracle will happen and we'll see sane copyright terms in my lifetime.

ChaosTitan
05-21-2009, 09:57 PM
From what I understand, the copyright extends to the entire work, ie, everything in the book (which includes the characters). I own the copyright to my book. So no one except me can write original material about my characters, in the city I invented, without my permission. To do so violates my copyright.

There's recently locked thread up in the Novel Writing forum about Tolkien and orcs, and it goes fairly in-depth about trademarks and characters. It's worth looking for.

Cyia
05-21-2009, 10:58 PM
Or maybe a miracle will happen and we'll see sane copyright terms in my lifetime.

This is actually pretty insulting. Because you want to have free rein to play with someone else's toys you feel the copyright terms are unfair? Allowing the copyright to end after the person (and conceivably their grandchildren) are out of the picture is more than fair.

You need to go read the thread about Lady Sybilla and her Twilight continuation.

Eric San Juan
05-21-2009, 11:08 PM
This is actually pretty insulting
I don't see it as insulting. It's a legitimate philosophical stance. Many people feel that modern copyright laws have strayed too far from the purpose for which they were created. I happen to be one of them.

To me, the very notion of copyright not expiring until someone's grandchildren pass away is absolutely outlandish. Yes, and that means my work, too. There ought not be anything insulting about having that opinion.

Omega
05-21-2009, 11:26 PM
It was not my intention to cause an argument. I will only say that intellectual property is an artificial abstraction that exists expressly to benefit society as a whole, by encouraging the creation of new work. It is not a natural right, it is a granted right. My novel, regardless of its quality, is an excellent example of how extreme copyright terms in fact stifle new work, thus defeating their own purpose.

dgrintalis
05-21-2009, 11:26 PM
This is actually pretty insulting. Because you want to have free rein to play with someone else's toys you feel the copyright terms are unfair? Allowing the copyright to end after the person (and conceivably their grandchildren) are out of the picture is more than fair.

You need to go read the thread about Lady Sybilla and her Twilight continuation.

Cyia - I am in agreement with you. If my tales become published, I do not want any John Doe with a pen to feel he is entitled to take my creations and do with them what he will. Personally, I feel that copyright should be forever. These are my ideas - they shouldn't come with an expiration date.

If you want to be published, craft your own story with your own characters. IMNSHO

Eric San Juan
05-21-2009, 11:34 PM
Personally, I feel that copyright should be forever. These are my ideas - they shouldn't come with an expiration date.
Were copyright forever, it's highly unlikely that we'd today be enjoying all that the Greek and Roman myths have given us, along with the hundreds of wonderful works of art -- literature, film, music and more -- that were spawn by them.

The hundreds of Dracula stories and the thousands of vampire tales spawned from the original.

The countless adaptations and re-imaginings and re-workings of Shakespeare.

And so on. The examples are countless.

Hundreds of classics works, priceless products of the human drive to create, would be lost to time thanks to families who did not know what to do with what they inherited or a corporation who did not see a way to monetize their holding. Pieces of art, legendary characters, people, places.

Lost.

Gone forever.

Because we decided that at no point should works pass into the public domain.

This would be a tremendous disservice to society as a whole, wouldn't you say?

Omega
05-21-2009, 11:39 PM
Cyia - I am in agreement with you. If my tales become published, I do not want any John Doe with a pen to feel he is entitled to take my creations and do with them what he will. Personally, I feel that copyright should be forever. These are my ideas - they shouldn't come with an expiration date.

If you want to be published, craft your own story with your own characters. IMNSHO

That implies my ideas are not of value because they involve pre-existing characters in a new situation.

dgrintalis
05-21-2009, 11:57 PM
Point taken.


Were copyright forever, it's highly unlikely that we'd today be enjoying all that the Greek and Roman myths have given us, along with the hundreds of wonderful works of art -- literature, film, music and more -- that were spawn by them.

The hundreds of Dracula stories and the thousands of vampire tales spawned from the original.

The countless adaptations and re-imaginings and re-workings of Shakespeare.

And so on. The examples are countless.

Hundreds of classics works, priceless products of the human drive to create, would be lost to time thanks to families who did not know what to do with what they inherited or a corporation who did not see a way to monetize their holding. Pieces of art, legendary characters, people, places.

Lost.

Gone forever.

Because we decided that at no point should works pass into the public domain.

This would be a tremendous disservice to society as a whole, wouldn't you say?

dgrintalis
05-22-2009, 12:00 AM
That implies my ideas are not of value because they involve pre-existing characters in a new situation.

I did not say that your ideas are not of value. What I said was to "If you want to be published, craft your own stories with your own characters".

If you have created new situations, which implies a whole new story, why not go the extra step and create your own characters? I don't understand why you would not.

Kathleen42
05-22-2009, 12:06 AM
My two cents on copyright and fair use:

I do not have a problem with fan fiction, fan videos, and fan art based on work under copyright provided the creators are not making a profit, that the work is clearly identified as fan created, and that the original copyright holders can object and have the work removed if they have reasonable objections based on the content and what has been done with the characters. Sometimes you so love a character that you want to play in the sandbox (I myself wrote an itty-bitty fanfic to help cope with the loss of Rose after she was horribly parted from the Doctor... ahem.. that's a tale for another time).

I do think that copyright should be respected, and I don't have a problem with it extending past the author's death - say 50 years after publication.

Omega
05-22-2009, 12:07 AM
I did not say that your ideas are not of value. What I said was to "If you want to be published, craft your own stories with your own characters".

If you have created new situations, which implies a whole new story, why not go the extra step and create your own characters? I don't understand why you would not.

Because this story is a piece of a larger, incomplete story. Its purpose in existing is to complete the story, something no author to date has been inclined and able to do. Creating new characters would defeat that purpose.

DeleyanLee
05-22-2009, 12:10 AM
Because this story is a piece of a larger, incomplete story. Its purpose in existing is to complete the story, something no author to date has been inclined and able to do. Creating new characters would defeat that purpose.

Not to spark a confrontation, but this is pretty much the exact same reason most fan fiction writers say they write.

Cyia
05-22-2009, 12:12 AM
Because this story is a piece of a larger, incomplete story. Its purpose in existing is to complete the story, something no author to date has been inclined and able to do. Creating new characters would defeat that purpose.

You know this for sure? Or are you assuming that since one hasn't been published it hasn't been done or attempted? As was pointed out, there's a ton of fanfiction in this universe, and I'd be willing to bet that at least one of those pieces does exactly what you claim no one has - just like your fanfiction does.

Omega
05-22-2009, 12:17 AM
Not to spark a confrontation, but this is pretty much the exact same reason most fan fiction writers say they write.

No argument from me. :)


You know this for sure? Or are you assuming that since one hasn't been published it hasn't been done or attempted? As was pointed out, there's a ton of fanfiction in this universe, and I'd be willing to bet that at least one of those pieces does exactly what you claim no one has - just like your fanfiction does.

It was not my intention to say that I have done something nobody else has done. (Though in my perusals of published online fan fiction, none I've seen in this series approach novel length or quality.) It was my intent to refer to published stories. I want to see a published story that finishes the incomplete story. Why should I not try to create that story myself, given as I seem to be reasonably capable of doing so, and no such story is forthcoming?

Cyia
05-22-2009, 12:23 AM
It was not my intention to say that I have done something nobody else has done. (Though in my perusals of published online fan fiction, none I've seen in this series approach novel length or quality.) It was my intent to refer to published stories. I want to see a published story that finishes the incomplete story. Why should I not try to create that story myself, given as I seem to be reasonably capable of doing so, and no such story is forthcoming?


All stories are incomplete in one form or another. The characters could conceivably exist past the last page and back cover, as their "story" is only a slice of their life. Developing a character and world for them to live in implies that they had a life before the first word of the novel and that they will go on after, otherwise the illusion is broken.

What you have to understand is that the guidelines and rules for a given universe are created by its author and anyone else contributing to it will flavor it in a new way. Your version of "complete" and "capable" may not be another reader's or even the creator's. You have no way of knowing what - if anything - he had planned to go next. It could be a simple continuation or a world shattering event. Since you don't know, you're not qualified to continue someone else's story.

Omega
05-22-2009, 12:29 AM
All stories are incomplete in one form or another. The characters could conceivably exist past the last page and back cover, as their "story" is only a slice of their life. Developing a character and world for them to live in implies that they had a life before the first word of the novel and that they will go on after, otherwise the illusion is broken.

What you have to understand is that the guidelines and rules for a given universe are created by its author and anyone else contributing to it will flavor it in a new way. Your version of "complete" and "capable" may not be another reader's or even the creator's. You have no way of knowing what - if anything - he had planned to go next. It could be a simple continuation or a world shattering event. Since you don't know, you're not qualified to continue someone else's story.

It sounds as if you define "qualified to continue someone else's story" by how well they would represent the hypothetical intent of the original author. I don't think that's a reasonable definition. At that rate, Virgil should never have written the Aeneid. Stories should be judged on their own merits, not against another story that will never exist.

ChaosTitan
05-22-2009, 05:27 PM
Because this story is a piece of a larger, incomplete story. Its purpose in existing is to complete the story, something no author to date has been inclined and able to do. Creating new characters would defeat that purpose.

If you feel so passionately about what you've written, then set it aside and write something original. Write a novel or four about original characters and places. Get an agent. Get them published. Build a name for yourself.

Then, once you have established yourself as an author people want to read, tell your agent you're interested in acquiring the rights to the Foundation series. No one is going to allow an unknown, unpublished writer to continue a much-beloved story. The fans would have a fit--not to mention the financial risk involved for the publisher.

austin
05-22-2009, 05:38 PM
My novel, regardless of its quality, is an excellent example of how extreme copyright terms in fact stifle new work, thus defeating their own purpose.

I think we've established the limit to the newness of this work. Copyrights exist to protect the creator's interests and their legacy.

Eric San Juan
05-22-2009, 06:50 PM
I think we've established the limit to the newness of this work. Copyrights exist to protect the creator's interests and their legacy.
Not precisely; 'tis only a part of the story. Copyrights exist in order to encourage the creation of new material and to promote creation and learning. In order to facilitate that, copyrights are limited (and were once far more limited in duration than now). The reasoning is simple: to encourage people who create this material to continue creating, and to encourage a steady stream of content to the public.

The desire was not for an author to create something and live off that work for the rest of their life, it was for the author to enjoy the initial benefits of having created something -- to protect them in the initial years of publication and protect their ability to public and profit -- and to encourage them to keep creating as the previous stuff passes into the public domain, which is to the benefit of society as a whole.

Those who created the concept of copyright wanted to encourage a steady flow of material from writers, and in turn a steady flow of material into the public consiousness.

This is why I think our modern view of copyright --- in some cases 100 years after the death of the author -- has veered off track. Absolutely, YES, authors MUST have strong legal protection of their work and be afforded the ability to profit from their labors. I would not argue with that for even a moment. But the other purpose of copyright was to help bring great works into the public domain, to be owned by us all, and that's something we have drifted too far from, in my opinion. I do not advocate he brief 14 years of the very first copyright laws, that's too extreme on the opposite end, but nor do I advoate the lifetime+ we see now.

For instance, Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, and rightfully so. He belongs to society. He is a modern myth. An archetype. A fable. A creation that has seen and will continue to see countless interpretations. This is, I think, a Good Thing.

Eric San Juan
05-22-2009, 06:57 PM
If you feel so passionately about what you've written, then set it aside and write something original. Write a novel or four about original characters and places. Get an agent. Get them published. Build a name for yourself.

Then, once you have established yourself as an author people want to read, tell your agent you're interested in acquiring the rights to the Foundation series. No one is going to allow an unknown, unpublished writer to continue a much-beloved story. The fans would have a fit--not to mention the financial risk involved for the publisher.
Absolutely. I couldn't agree with Chaos more. This is the route to go if you ever want to see this published.

And really, even if you could legally publish this work it's still the best option because let's be frank: Asimov fans are not interested in seeing an unknown continue their beloved stories. But if you're an established author in the genre with a good reputation? Rest assured, your involvement in such a project will cause lots of excitement.

Imagine Bob Garner writing a new work set in Middle Earth. Bob who? Why do we care? Exactly. But if Guy Gavriel Kay were asked to do something, many people would be interested.

Set this work aside, go create some stuff of your own, and when the time comes you may have an opportunity to revisit this.

IceCreamEmpress
05-22-2009, 08:01 PM
I'd also say that this is another very good cause to believe that IP terms are way too long

Asimov's only been dead 15 years or so, and his widow is still very much alive. I think that she deserves to benefit from his intellectual property during her lifetime--whether his kids and grandkids do is another question, but arguing that IP terms are "way too long" from this particular case boggles my mind.

Omega
05-22-2009, 08:20 PM
Asimov's only been dead 15 years or so, and his widow is still very much alive. I think that she deserves to benefit from his intellectual property during her lifetime--whether his kids and grandkids do is another question, but arguing that IP terms are "way too long" from this particular case boggles my mind.

It's not so much that I can't publish now, as it is that I can't publish until after I myself am dead.

Kitty Pryde
05-22-2009, 08:25 PM
Sony's making a 'Foundation' movie, so there's now a much larger and scarier lawyer squad protecting the rights to the story. Seriously, fanfic is unpublishable.

Take you love of Asimov's books and create something awesome so that everyone who reads it will say, 'This book is the bomb! It reminds me of vintage Asimov.' :D

Little Bird
05-22-2009, 08:38 PM
If I build a house, I can pass it down to my children and they can pass it down to theirs, and on and on. Other people can't just come and add on a room and move in, even if they buy the lot next door in order to do it. Why should it be any different if I build a story? A published story is something of value and benefit to me and my heirs. If the OP wants to argue against the concept of personal property and the right to determine who it gets passed onto when we die, then fine. But I don't think that's what the OP is saying. He's saying the works we publish should be treated differently than other things that are built or raised through a person's labor, time, and resources. This makes no sense to me. You can't come and sneak into a farmer's orchard or vineyard and take a cutting from his plants to start your own. THAT'S ILLEGAL! I believe it's also immoral. If he sells a cutting to you, or gives it as a gift, that is legal and moral. Is my vineyard any less mine if my great-grandfather planted the vines?

Kathleen42
05-22-2009, 08:42 PM
Asimov's only been dead 15 years or so, and his widow is still very much alive. I think that she deserves to benefit from his intellectual property during her lifetime--whether his kids and grandkids do is another question, but arguing that IP terms are "way too long" from this particular case boggles my mind.

Books are different than other types of labour and art because of the way you profit from them. The system is based on an advance (which can be huge but is more often fairly small) and royalty payments. You are not paid for the value of creating the book upfront. When you write a book you are, to some extent, banking on the hope that it will continue to be profitable. You can't leave the money and profits to your spouse your children upfront because they are earned over time.

This is why I am in favor of copyrights extending for a certain period beyond the authors death.

Edit: Little_Bird makes the point better. Only saw it after I posted.

Omega
05-22-2009, 09:35 PM
He's saying the works we publish should be treated differently than other things that are built or raised through a person's labor, time, and resources.

You are correct in that this is what I am saying. Intellectual property should be treated differently from tangible property. This is because they are different, namely in that ideas can be copied while physical property can only be removed. Theft is illegal because otherwise you don't have anything resembling a civilization. But civilization existed for millennia without any concept of intellectual property. Intellectual property is an important concept, and when properly implemented benefits all involved. But to treat ideas exactly the same as we treat physical objects is absurd. There is absolutely no equivalency between stealing a physical piece of property and depriving someone of hypothetical future profits by copying their ideas.

Kitty Pryde
05-22-2009, 09:39 PM
You are correct in that this is what I am saying. Intellectual property should be treated differently from tangible property. This is because they are different, namely in that ideas can be copied while physical property can only be removed. Theft is illegal because otherwise you don't have anything resembling a civilization. But civilization existed for millennia without any concept of intellectual property. Intellectual property is an important concept, and when properly implemented benefits all involved. But to treat ideas exactly the same as we treat physical objects is absurd. There is absolutely no equivalency between stealing a physical piece of property and depriving someone of hypothetical future profits by copying their ideas.

Really? So you're saying you don't give a crap if Author With Famous Name steals your Foundation fanfic, cleans it up a little, shows it around the ole Asimov compound, gets it published, and then swims around Scrooge McDuck style in the giant swimming pool of money he makes from your work? I don't understand why you think it's not theft.

Calla Lily
05-22-2009, 09:44 PM
You are correct in that this is what I am saying. Intellectual property should be treated differently from tangible property. This is because they are different, namely in that ideas can be copied while physical property can only be removed. Theft is illegal because otherwise you don't have anything resembling a civilization. But civilization existed for millennia without any concept of intellectual property. Intellectual property is an important concept, and when properly implemented benefits all involved. But to treat ideas exactly the same as we treat physical objects is absurd. There is absolutely no equivalency between stealing a physical piece of property and depriving someone of hypothetical future profits by copying their ideas.

:Jaw: Blunt remark follows: Remind me never to discuss any of my book ideas with someone who thinks this way. Ever.

Omega, trunk your Asimov fanfic and use the skills you've learned to write your own book set in your own universe and starring your own characters who have their own story arc. Others have said this already. That's the only possible correct solution to this.


Really? So you're saying you don't give a crap if Author With Famous Name steals your Foundation fanfic, cleans it up a little, shows it around the ole Asimov compound, gets it published, and then swims around Scrooge McDuck style in the giant swimming pool of money he makes from your work? I don't understand why you think it's not theft.

Well said, Kitty Pryde.

Wow.

Eric San Juan
05-22-2009, 09:46 PM
Really? So you're saying you don't give a crap if Author With Famous Name steals your Foundation fanfic, cleans it up a little, shows it around the ole Asimov compound, gets it published, and then swims around Scrooge McDuck style in the giant swimming pool of money he makes from your work? I don't understand why you think it's not theft.
But that's not what he's saying at all. I'm not sure how one could interpret that way, either, especially considering he specifically said, "Intellectual property is an important concept, and when properly implemented benefits all involved." He has said he supports intellectual property rights ... just not the perpetual rights people seem to be endorsing.

All he is saying is that you cannot equate intellectual property with physical property. He's right, too. It's part of the reason why your house analogy, good intentioned as it was, is flawed. The two things are not at all alike.

Omega
05-22-2009, 09:47 PM
Really? So you're saying you don't give a crap if Author With Famous Name steals your Foundation fanfic, cleans it up a little, shows it around the ole Asimov compound, gets it published, and then swims around Scrooge McDuck style in the giant swimming pool of money he makes from your work? I don't understand why you think it's not theft.

That's absolutely nothing like what I said. I said that intellectual property is different from tangible property, and thus should be treated differently. I did not say that intellectual property should have protection at all. Further, once again, "theft" by definition requires that property be removed from its owner. If I still have everything I had before the act took place, it's not theft, and calling IP violation "theft" is a misuse of language.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft

Calla Lily
05-22-2009, 09:50 PM
My opinionated opinion and should be taken as such and no more: Omega, you may be right to some extent, but you're splitting hairs here in your effort to find some way to profit from your fanfic set in Asimov's Foundation world.

In the Roundtable here on AW are 2 threads discussing a fan of Stephenie Myers attempting to do exactly the same thing. It's not going well for her. And that Myers isn't dead is not the issue.

Write your own works.

Kitty Pryde
05-22-2009, 09:51 PM
But that's not what he's saying at all. I'm not sure how one could interpret that way, either, especially considering he specifically said, "Intellectual property is an important concept, and when properly implemented benefits all involved."

All he is saying is that you cannot equate intellectual property with physical property. He's right, too. It's part of the reason why your house analogy, good intentioned as it was, is flawed. The two things are not at all alike.

I can't understand how the OP thinks he 'ought' to have the right to make money by writing about characters and a world created by Asimov, when Asimov himself was last writing about them only 16 years ago.

What's the difference between his perceived entitlement to steal other people's work, and anyone else's entitlement to steal his work?

Kathleen42
05-22-2009, 09:54 PM
But civilization existed for millennia without any concept of intellectual property. Intellectual property is an important concept, and when properly implemented benefits all involved. But to treat ideas exactly the same as we treat physical objects is absurd.

There are ideas and then there are published (and copyrighted) works. An idea you can take. A world and characters you cannot.

Did civilization exist? Yes. Were artists creating? Yes. But the circumstances they were creating under were vastly different. We are no longer opperating on a patron-based system. The printing press changed everything. The internet changed it all again.

Calla Lily
05-22-2009, 09:58 PM
This reminds me that Dickens hated US writers who stole his works outright because (IIRC) British copyright laws didn't apply in the US then.

If it's someone else's characters, then I have no right to use them. I have a right to write a vampire book because vamps are a legit myth. I have no right to write a book starring F. Paul Wilson's Father Joe, or Yarbro's Saint-Germain, or Harris' Bill or Eric. That's the difference.

Eric San Juan
05-22-2009, 10:04 PM
If it's someone else's characters, then I have no right to use them.
You do, though. You can use Dracula and Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes and Cinderella and Scarlet O'Hara and King Arthur and Odysseus and Captain Ahab and thousands upon thousands of others. It's not just your legal right to use them, either. I believe you have every moral right to use them as well.

I have a right to write a vampire book because vamps are a legit myth. I have no right to write a book starring F. Paul Wilson's Father Joe, or Yarbro's Saint-Germain, or Harris' Bill or Eric.
One day you will have that right, though, which is as it should be. You cannot do so now -- and again, that's as it should be, and I wouldn't argue otherwise -- but at some point those characters will belong to the public.

That's what we're doing when we write. We're giving something to the world. Copyright exists to afford us an opportunity to make a living at it and to encourage us to keeping giving things to the world.

Cyia
05-22-2009, 10:07 PM
If I build a house, I can pass it down to my children and they can pass it down to theirs, and on and on. Other people can't just come and add on a room and move in, even if they buy the lot next door in order to do it. Why should it be any different if I build a story?

And should someone move in and use your property, they acquire rights to it if you don't tell them to move. (Squatters) Just by allowing someone use of your property as their own, you grant implied rights of use. The same is true of Fanfiction. Rights that aren't defended are lost.


You are correct in that this is what I am saying. Intellectual property should be treated differently from tangible property. This is because they are different, namely in that ideas can be copied while physical property can only be removed. Theft is illegal because otherwise you don't have anything resembling a civilization. But civilization existed for millennia without any concept of intellectual property. Intellectual property is an important concept, and when properly implemented benefits all involved. But to treat ideas exactly the same as we treat physical objects is absurd. There is absolutely no equivalency between stealing a physical piece of property and depriving someone of hypothetical future profits by copying their ideas.

It is theft, and the future profits are far from hypothetical. What you're talking about isn't just "copying an idea", it's removal of someone's property (their characters/plot) from their control. If they allow you to use them, then they lose the rights to them (and in some cases the estate of a deceased author continues to put material out after their death, which means it still has to be in their control.)

You're free to use a basic idea as much as you want, but you are not free to use the specific characters by name as they appeared in the original works. Every dime such an endeavor earns is a dime stolen from the original author.


That's absolutely nothing like what I said. I said that intellectual property is different from tangible property, and thus should be treated differently. I did not say that intellectual property should have protection at all. Further, once again, "theft" by definition requires that property be removed from its owner. If I still have everything I had before the act took place, it's not theft, and calling IP violation "theft" is a misuse of language.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft

But a person wouldn't have everything they had before the act took place. If they (or their representatives/estate) allow the act without prosecution, then they lose the rights the fanfiction writer has stolen and their property becomes fair game for anyone else to come in and use.


There are ideas and then there are published (and copyrighted) works. An idea you can take. A world and characters you cannot.

Did civilization exist? Yes. Were artists creating? Yes. But the circumstances they were creating under were vastly different. We are no longer opperating on a patron-based system. The printing press changed everything. The internet changed it all again.

Right. The spread of available information increased exponentially since those first artists created their works with quill and ink.

Eric San Juan
05-22-2009, 10:11 PM
What's the difference between his perceived entitlement to steal other people's work, and anyone else's entitlement to steal his work?
He said naught about placing his byline on someone else's writing. Had he done so my reaction would have been far different. He didn't, though, and what he is proposing is not the equivalent of it.

The last Foundation book was published just 25 years ago, so I don't support him publishing and profiting from his fan fiction at this point in time, but in spirit he's not saying anything offensive or outlandish. The idea that our created works will eventually belong to the public is as old as copyright itself (young as it is), not to mention as old as storytelling.

No, he shouldn't be profiting from Foundation right now -- and I've advised him exactly that -- but at some reasonable point in the future? Sure.

Calla Lily
05-22-2009, 10:11 PM
You do, though. You can use Dracula and Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes and Cinderella and Scarlet O'Hara and King Arthur and Odysseus and Captain Ahab and thousands upon thousands of others. It's not just your legal right to use them, either. I believe you have every moral right to use them as well.

One day you will have that right, though, which is as it should be. You cannot do so now -- and again, that's as it should be, and I wouldn't argue otherwise -- but at some point those characters will belong to the public.

That's what we're doing when we write. We're giving something to the world. Copyright exists to afford us an opportunity to make a living at it and to encourage us to keeping giving things to the world.

I won't get into a discussion over a moral right (or lack thereof) to use characters in the public domain. (Is Scarlett even in the PD? I remember Mitchell's estate giving a romance writer official permission to write a sequel. Did that re-start the copyright time?)

To address your comment above that at some point certain characters will belong to the public and relate it to the OP: Asimov's characters most certainly do not belong to the public. Thus, a fanfic using them can't be pubbed without permission. If the OP can secure that permission, then the argument is moot. I still think (yes, the following is only my opinion) that this discussion is a waste of the OP's time and talent. We should all write our own, original books and work our butts off to get our own, original ideas pubbed.

Kathleen42
05-22-2009, 10:14 PM
That's what we're doing when we write. We're giving something to the world. Copyright exists to afford us an opportunity to make a living at it and to encourage us to keeping giving things to the world.

This is, I think the key point. I do think there are some issues with current copyright (and trademark) law but complaining about the fact that one cannot use an author's work a mere 15 years after his death is not reasonable. Authors have the right to provide for our spouses and children.

Further, if you can't understand it from a monetary position, at least think about it from the perspective of the spouse or children of the author. Do you think Christopher Tolkien would be fine and dandy if everyone who wrote a LOTR fanfic had the right to publish and sell it?

Eric San Juan
05-22-2009, 10:20 PM
(Is Scarlett even in the PD? I remember Mitchell's estate giving a romance writer official permission to write a sequel. Did that re-start the copyright time?)
Scarlett may have been a bad example. I double-checked and it appears to be in its final years of protection. The official sequel was authorized by the estate. There were two unauthorized works, one in 2000 told from the slaves' point of view (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wind_Done_Gone) -- the courts ruled it was okay and it went on to be a NYT bestseller -- and another in 2002 that was shut down.

Just to clarify. I don't think that example renders my larger point moot.

I still think (yes, the following is only my opinion) that this discussion is a waste of the OP's time and talent. We should all write our own, original books and work our butts off to get our own, original ideas pubbed.
Yes, I agree with this, in large part because despite my stance in this discussion, I've never really understood fan fiction. Tolkien, for instance, inspired me to write and create. Not to write Middle Earth stuff, but to create my own Middle Earth. So I don't "get" fan fiction and encourage people who do it to instead give the world something their own creations instead of extensions of someone else's.

Different subject than he copyright discussion, of course, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Kitty Pryde
05-22-2009, 10:20 PM
He said naught about placing his byline on someone else's writing. Had he done so my reaction would have been far different. He didn't, though, and what he is proposing is not the equivalent of it.

The last Foundation book was published just 25 years ago, so I don't support him publishing and profiting from his fan fiction at this point in time, but in spirit he's not saying anything offensive or outlandish. The idea that our created works will eventually belong to the public is as old as copyright itself (young as it is), not to mention as old as storytelling.

No, he shouldn't be profiting from Foundation right now -- and I've advised him exactly that -- but at some reasonable point in the future? Sure.

Asimov's most recent foundation book (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_the_Foundation) (Forward the Foundation) came out 16 years ago. Worldbuilding takes a lot of time and thought and creativity. Character creation takes a lot of time and thought and creativity. I'm just pointing out that the OP seems to wish that US law permitted IP theft, so I'm trying to understand why. IP theft would include theft of his own work as well, is the point I was attempting to make.

Omega
05-22-2009, 10:23 PM
My opinionated opinion and should be taken as such and no more: Omega, you may be right to some extent, but you're splitting hairs here in your effort to find some way to profit from your fanfic set in Asimov's Foundation world.

In the Roundtable here on AW are 2 threads discussing a fan of Stephenie Myers attempting to do exactly the same thing. It's not going well for her. And that Myers isn't dead is not the issue.

Write your own works.

Sorry, I guess I didn't make it clear that I'm fully aware of the legal status of my work and that it will in all likelihood never be published. I'm continuing to discuss the proper place of intellectual property in society as a concept important to me, but separate from my interest in publishing my book.


But a person wouldn't have everything they had before the act took place. If they (or their representatives/estate) allow the act without prosecution, then they lose the rights the fanfiction writer has stolen and their property becomes fair game for anyone else to come in and use.

I believe you are in error in this regard. Trademarks must be defended or they are lost. Copyrights, however, need not be defended to be retained. You can let people run amok all over your copyright for decades, if you're so inclined, before acting to stop them, and you haven't lost anything. At least, so says Brad Templeton's widespread FAQ on the issue:
http://lib.ru/COPYRIGHT/faq-copyright.txt
(Of course, various sources seem to contradict him on #6.)

So again, copyright violation is not theft, because you lose nothing that you already had. An idea can not be taken, any more than giving someone an idea means you no longer have it any more.

Eric San Juan
05-22-2009, 10:25 PM
Ahh, I misread that as 1983. Yes, 16 years after publication is too brief a time. (Which I had already said, anyway.)

That said, no, I don't think the OP is advocating IP theft. He's simply advocating a shorter period of time for copyright protection. It's a debate on which reasonable people can disagree.

Kathleen42
05-22-2009, 10:27 PM
Asimov's most recent foundation book (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_the_Foundation) (Forward the Foundation) came out 16 years ago. Worldbuilding takes a lot of time and thought and creativity. Character creation takes a lot of time and thought and creativity. I'm just pointing out that the OP seems to wish that US law permitted IP theft, so I'm trying to understand why. IP theft would include theft of his own work as well, is the point I was attempting to make.

I would hypothesize that because the characters are already borrowed, it is difficult to see the issue in the same light as someone who has created their own characters and worlds.

Much as how RTD can step down from Doctor Who and watch the show go in a new direction. He loved the characters and he changed them, but they were never really his.

Calla Lily
05-22-2009, 11:00 PM
I feel like you're looking at it very one-sided. What if your brilliant science fiction epic makes you a ton of money? And you make a movie of it, and make a ton of more money? And it's such a classic that it will continue to sell enough after your dead that you can provide for your children and grandchildren into adulthood? Do you and your team of lawyers really want to throw up your hands and say, sure! Take my world and my unforgettable characters and do whatever you want with them and feel free to sell it? Because I wouldn't.

I'm not up in arms for Disney Company to maintain its stranglehold on its signature mouse, but it's the same sort of thing. Walt started out as an unknown cartoonist, and his work has ended up an enormous success. Just because he's made a ton of money off Mickey Mouse, doesn't mean his kids and grandkids shouldn't be allowed to control his creations.

(Emphasis mine)

Thank you. If, in some amazing, surreal dream of success my agent parlays my mystery into a series with all the ancillary goodies, I darn well want my kids and grandkids to be able to go to college on the money my characters make for me/us. Because I created them and I and my family should reap the rewards.

When I cash my paycheck every 2 weeks, I don't expect the guy standing in line next to me to take half the money because hey, he's a typist, too, and all typists should be able to profit from other typists' finger skills.

Yeah, that's extreme, but it makes my point.

djf881
05-22-2009, 11:32 PM
I just wasn't quite clear on how copyright, as opposed to trademark, could apply to a character. I'm used to the idea applying to an integral creative work such as a novel or a song or a movie. Character copyright is a new one to me.

Oh well. So I guess I just have to wait until the copyright on the Foundation books expire, which, since I include characters from the Second Trilogy, will be 70 years after the last of Greg Bear, David Brin, and Greg Benford dies. Maybe I'll leave a note to my grandkids. Or maybe a miracle will happen and we'll see sane copyright terms in my lifetime.

It's a work derived from the copyrighted material, and copyright covers derivative works.

djf881
05-22-2009, 11:40 PM
It's not so much that I can't publish now, as it is that I can't publish until after I myself am dead.


If it's any consolation, even if there were no copyright law, I seriously doubt anyone would publish your novel.

BenPanced
05-22-2009, 11:49 PM
In the end, if you have to ask yourself more than once if something will violate copyright and/or trademark, it's probably easier and cheaper to write using your own characters and situations.

Omega
05-23-2009, 12:38 AM
You operate from the premise that your fanfic sequel to "The Foundation" is beneficial to society.

I do not operate from this premise. I use it as an example of something that could possibly be beneficial to society. I assume there are many other such examples, at least some of which likely would be of benefit to society, due to the law of large numbers.


he probably wouldn't have wanted you to resolve them for him. There's a lot of moral force behind his right not to have you twisting his work into whatever shape you see fit. There is a lot of moral force behind his heirs preventing you from offering some kind of closure on his characters.

There's also a lot of moral force behind me being able to take an idea in my head and not be prevented from doing something with it. Thus, balance.


If you think you're so good, go make something of your own.

I and my work am not the issue. I've believed what I believe about sane copyright laws long before publishing this novel was on my radar.

BenPanced
05-23-2009, 12:47 AM
I read it several times. Arguing that only because something becomes part of the collective psyche makes copyright law difficult to define is... well, frankly, silly. The law is clear, and she seems to be arguing that it's not. I, on the other hand, am arguing that the law should be changed. Not in any way that makes Twilight not protected, because I believe copyright should last a bare minimum of ten years, and I'd prefer more like twenty. You'll note that this would still keep me from publishing my book for another ten years, since I use characters from a book published in 1999, so this still isn't about getting my book published.
Everything you post makes me think otherwise.

scarletpeaches
05-23-2009, 12:56 AM
It's not so much that I can't publish now, as it is that I can't publish until after I myself am dead.

That may very well be a good thing.


Doctor Who is actually a very good example. Who does the Doctor belong to? I don't think you can reasonably say he belongs to any single individual. Having been around for four decades, played by a dozen actors, written for by dozens of writers, he's become part of culture as a whole. The idea that one person (or more likely, corporation) somewhere should forevermore be able to decide who can publish something about the Doctor and who can't is ridiculous.

No. Your consistent attempts to justify theft are what is ridiculous.


Or Mickey Mouse. The character is culturally omnipresent, he's been around for over eighty years, Walt Disney has been dead for nearly fifty years. Why should some corporate entity get to dictate who gets to make Mickey Mouse cartoons?

Because as an organisation, Disney invented Mickey Mouse. You didn't. Get over it.


If it's any consolation, even if there were no copyright law, I seriously doubt anyone would publish your novel.

ZING!

This entire thread is made of what-the-fuck.

BenPanced
05-23-2009, 01:18 AM
Given as that statement is in total contradiction to my posts heretofore, at this point it is clear you are ignoring the things I actually say. Why is this? Do you feel some need to be angry at me for disagreeing with you? Does this require to you therefore accuse me of believing things in total opposition to the things I have said, in order to justify your anger?
Because you're being completely unreasonable when we explain how things won't agree with your views on how the world should work to your advantage.

The fact remains: you're never going to get your sequel to Asimov's "Foundation" series published. Ever. Full Stop. NQA. No matter how much you stamp your foot and demand copyright law be rewritten to fit your demands, no matter how unfair Asimov's estate is, no matter how good you think it is. The best advice I can give right now is let it go (I know I will be) and try to write something else. If you've finished one project, you know you can finish another.

James D. Macdonald
05-23-2009, 01:48 AM
Yo, Omega?

Go here: http://www.fanfiction.net/book/Foundation/

Upload.

Simplest thing in the world.

Omega
05-23-2009, 01:53 AM
The fact remains: you're never going to get your sequel to Asimov's "Foundation" series published. Ever. Full Stop. NQA. No matter how much you stamp your foot and demand copyright law be rewritten to fit your demands, no matter how unfair Asimov's estate is, no matter how good you think it is. The best advice I can give right now is let it go (I know I will be) and try to write something else. If you've finished one project, you know you can finish another.

You continue to insist that this is somehow about my book and not about my beliefs about copyright law as a whole. I'm happy to provide documentation of my long-time stance on copyright law if you so desire. Failing that, you are either not reading what I say, or accusing me of lying about my motivations. Either way, I see no need to respond to further comments on that subject.


How long is up to Congress, which is empowered by the Constitution to make these laws.

The question was how long it should be, not who makes the laws in the US.


You imply that protection for ideas should be somehow less than protection for other kinds of rights. But for many people, including Asimov, their ideas were their livelihood, and their ability to exclude others from reproducing or deriving from their works is the mechanism that permits these people to make a living.

I imply no such thing. Copyright should be protected as much as any other right, for its duration. But copyright is inherently limited in duration.




People should benefit from their creations, because, to the extent that there is commercial value in a work or idea, it is equitable for that value to be realized by the creator or the entity that finances and commissions the work.

Such exclusive rights supply an incentive to create.

You are speaking as if I am against the idea of copyright, which I have made it crystal clear I am not.


What is your argument in favor of stripping the rights away from the creators, to allow the work to be exploited financially by others without compensating the author?

Phrasing the question as "stripping of rights" is deceptive. Copyright is an artificial and temporary right, granted by society to maximize benefit to society by encouraging the creation of new works which eventually enter the public domain. If the work does not enter public domain, the purpose of copyright is defeated. Copyright exists to benefit society as a whole, not to benefit creators, and the term and terms of copyright should be defined by what is best for society.

Omega
05-23-2009, 01:56 AM
QFT

Furthermore, the OP wants to know why. Let me ask YOU a question.

You write a novel that doesn't use other people's ideas, characters, world building. Everything is original. It took you three years, a divorce, lots of sleepless nights, lots of cursing, screaming, tears, confusion, anger and fucking IMAGINATION to write this epic novel that makes the world stop and go "Wow." You did that. You are proud. You made a difference.

Now, some snot-nosed ass hole with no clue about true work takes your hard work and bastardizes it into something not only not of your creation, but totally and completely ripping off all the work you put into creating this epic.

You, my friend, would be pissed. Anyone would be. This is not Mickey Mouse. This is not Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden. This novel you wrote was published only a few years ago. You are still alive and kicking. YOU OWN everything you created. It is on paper. It is in print.

Snot-nose has no god damned right. Neither do you. Get over it. End of story. No one should benefit from the hard work of others. You die, copyright goes defunct. Snot-nose can do whatever he wants. But until then, it's bull shit. Try using John Coffey in a novel and see how quickly Stephen King rips you a new one. He created that big man with the weepy eyes. John Coffey belongs to him. My characters belong to me because I made them.

My children are mine. No one can take them and say "These are my kids." simply because a certain number of years have gone by. THEY ARE STILL MINE! My name is still on their birth certificate. Therefore, if I publish a multi-million dollar epic, you are damned right they deserve to benefit from my work... more than any rip-off artist would.

Do you honestly think that you should have the right to take other people's work and get glory from it? Really?

How would you feel if you were a lawyer that had just won a big corporate case, but John Q. Attorney down the street got all the credit, the promotion and partnership you worked your ass off for? Wouldn't be so eager to have your glory stolen, then, huh?

I have never said or implied I wanted to publish this book without the consent of the Asimov estate. I have never said or implied I should have that right at any point in the near future. Given that, your post is yet another that totally ignores everything I've said. I'm starting to think I'm on the wrong board for rational discussion of this issue.

Epiphany
05-23-2009, 02:04 AM
I have never said or implied I wanted to publish this book without the consent of the Asimov estate. I have never said or implied I should have that right. Given that, your post is yet another that totally ignores everything I've said. I'm starting to think I'm on the wrong board for rational discussion of this issue.

Obviously, this thread should die. From reading this, I have understood two things. One, that you have not addressed the Asimov estate, meaning they have not yet consented. Two, that you are asking this question to a plethora of writers, all who are infatuated with their own characters and worlds and would be PISSED if anyone wrote a book about their ideas, although we couldn't really do anything about it after we were dead (besides our ghosts coming back to haunt the writer, of course :tongue. ) So, you have two options. Post your book on a fanfiction site (Hey, Cassandra Clare did this with Harry Potter and ended up making a HUGE name for herself, thus helping her easily publish her first novel considering she already had a massive fan base), or you could ignore all of the flames thrown at you thus far and try to gain consent from the Asimov estate. Either way, I highly doubt any of us are going to track you down and punch you in the face. If anyone does, then they really need to get a life. Best of luck to you.

TemlynWriting
05-23-2009, 02:52 AM
Omega, you might want to read this link (http://www.asimovonline.com/asimov_FAQ.html#series4) that Matera the Mad gave you in your beta reader thread (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=142489):


Something topical from the Asimov FAQ (http://www.asimovonline.com/asimov_FAQ.html#series4)

Just in case you can't be bothered to visit that link:


Is it true that a new Foundation Series written by three different authors was published? How could the publisher be allowed to do such a thing?

Yes, The Second Foundation Trilogy was published by HarperPrism. The first novel, Foundation's Fear, by Gregory Benford, was published in March 1997; the second novel, Foundation and Chaos, by Greg Bear, was published in March 1998; and the third novel of the trilogy, Foundation's Triumph, by David Brin, was published in April 1999. According to the afterword in Foundation's Fear, although the three novels are being developed as stand-alone books, they will "carry forward an overarching mystery to its end."

The novels were written at the suggestion of Janet Asimov and the representative of the Asimov estate. They approached Gregory Benford and asked him to write a Foundation book. After giving it some thought, he agreed to do so, and suggested that Bear and Brin write additional books to form a new trilogy.

veinglory
05-23-2009, 02:55 AM
Not to spark a confrontation, but this is pretty much the exact same reason most fan fiction writers say they write.

This is fan fiction, the usual restriction of fan fiction apply. Fan fiction is tolerated (which does not make it legal) in many fandoms so long as it stays under the radar--and that includes not publishing it in the mainstream.

Sydewinder
05-23-2009, 03:15 AM
Okay, I've been lurking for some time and I had to come out from the shadows to make a comment on this thread. First, Scarlet Peaches and Callalily61 - you two write some brilliant posts, and I was almost peeing myself as i read your rants. I loved it!

Omega - You wrote that you spent several years writing your piece of Fan Fiction...I feel your pain. Too bad you didn’t do a quick Google search before you invested all that time and effort. You're bitter about not being able to publish. I get that, you just wasted countless hours in the pursuit of something that was already unattainable. Dude, that sucks! But you can only blame yourself for your ignorance.

Now, you may think the world is a worse place because they cant read your knock-off version of someone’s original idea, BUT…(and I do hate to burst your bubble)... they're not.

In fact, the reason that you cant publish, is the direct result of what the MAJORITY of the people want. How do I know? It's simple. LAWS ARE THE DIRECT REPREPRESENTATION OF THE MORALS OF THE MAJORITY. That is democracy my good man. Case and point: You are in a room filled with published and unpublished authors and you haven’t had the support of a single one of them.

You are alone in your quest and the futility of your arguments--I dare say--must be obvious even to you.

And with that, I retreat back to the shadows and hope that you will come to a simple understanding: That an original idea that bleeds from our pores and fills the pages of the books you read, should not be shanghaied by some hack who thinks we didn’t do a good enough job tying up the loose ends in our creations.

I bid you good day, sir. I SAID GOOD DAY!

*disclaimer* the above used “Good day, sir. I said good day!” is a line used in the movie Tootsie. And was used only after receiving permission from Warner Brother Pictures. All rights reserved.

profen4
05-23-2009, 04:25 AM
*disclaimer* the above used “Good day, sir. I said good day!” is a line used in the movie Tootsie. And was used only after receiving permission from Warner Brother Pictures. All rights reserved.

LOL - Brilliant! good thing you used that disclaimer! :)

BenPanced
05-23-2009, 04:30 AM
The fact remains: you're never going to get your sequel to Asimov's "Foundation" series published. Ever. Full Stop. NQA. No matter how much you stamp your foot and demand copyright law be rewritten to fit your demands, no matter how unfair Asimov's estate is, no matter how good you think it is. The best advice I can give right now is let it go (I know I will be) and try to write something else. If you've finished one project, you know you can finish another.

You continue to insist that this is somehow about my book and not about my beliefs about copyright law as a whole. I'm happy to provide documentation of my long-time stance on copyright law if you so desire. Failing that, you are either not reading what I say, or accusing me of lying about my motivations. Either way, I see no need to respond to further comments on that subject.
First post:

I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this particular question, but it looked like my best bet. :)

I've written a novel that's a sequel to an existing series by another author, who is now deceased. Specifically, this is a sequel to the Foundation series, by Isaac Asimov. Three well-known authors (Benford, Bear and Brin) were approached by the Asimov's estate and agent (Ralph Vicinanza, by all reports) to write a series of prequels about ten years ago. What I want to know is, what are the legal ramafications of what I've written? I'm reasonably certain I can write whatever I want, so I'm not worried I'm going to get sued or something just for the bare existence of the book, but what about publishing it? Do I have to have the approval of the Asimov estate? If they refuse approval or ignore me entirely, does that mean I can't publish, or that anything I do will just be unauthorized? Can I self-publish? Is there even a definite and easy answer to this question?

Thanks.
Emphasis mine.

So. How again is this not about publishing the book? Several of us in several ways have answered the "can I publish?" question several times, which you seem to ignore in favor of playing the injured victim because you don't like our answers. Another law/good idea we have here at AW: own your words.

I understand you don't favor the current copyright laws. We all do. But it's going to take a hell of a lot to get them changed; the most recent round was done at the behest of the Disney Corporation because its early catalog was going to fall out into public domain and they wanted to keep the copyright protection in place (let's face it: without doing so, there'd be no way they can release the older movies on DVD in the dribs and drabs they've done over the years. The market would be flooded with every Disney title, thereby decreasing their market share and the value of anything they release for a limited time to drive up demand and prices). So they went to Congress and got the laws changed. The protestations of one author who can't play in another's playground aren't going to make much of a difference unless you can prove changing the law can benefit others and not just yourself.

Omega
05-23-2009, 06:47 AM
So. How again is this not about publishing the book? Several of us in several ways have answered the "can I publish?" question several times, which you seem to ignore in favor of playing the injured victim because you don't like our answers. Another law/good idea we have here at AW: own your words.

You are totally mischaracterizing this entire conversation. I asked a question about the law. I received my answer. I accepted the answer as being factually accurate, and acted on that answer. I then said that this was one of many examples of why the law should be changed. And then half the board jumped down my throat and called me a thief and a liar, while ignoring almost everything I actually said. I am not an injured victim because my book can not be published today. I am, however, arguably the target of persecution because my opinion differs from that of those here who seem to want to attack me for arguments I don't make and opinions I don't have and have never expressed. This does not bother me, except in the sense that I find it rather annoying to try to make my brain piece together some logical sense out of retorts that are regularly non sequiturs to the things they are supposedly in response to.


Omega - You wrote that you spent several years writing your piece of Fan Fiction...I feel your pain. Too bad you didnít do a quick Google search before you invested all that time and effort. You're bitter about not being able to publish. I get that, you just wasted countless hours in the pursuit of something that was already unattainable. Dude, that sucks! But you can only blame yourself for your ignorance.

Okay, let me say this one more time. This is not about my book. I am not bitter. I knew full well going into it, given how the Second Trilogy came about, that there was practically zero chance of it ever getting published. I wanted a book written that filled a certain hole in a story, I decided I could write it myself, and I did. I, having written nothing in my life, wrote an entire novel. A novel that, from the partial reviews I have received thus far, has the potential to even be called good. If all I can ever do is get one copy printed on Lulu and stick it on my bookshelf, I will be satisfied, because I have accomplished something that I would never have thought myself able to do. Now, it would be stupid for me to not make the relatively minimal effort necessary to publish my book, having written it. I started this thread to find out exactly what would be involved, because I was not entirely sure. Now I am. I have taken what steps I can, by contacting representatives of the Asimov estate. As far as I am concerned, that portion of the discussion is over. If you wish to accuse me of lying about my motivations, that is your prerogative, but I do not consider such accusations worthy of response.

My book, however, is an example of what is wrong with copyright law. It is not the fact that it could not be published today that is problematic to me; that seems perfectly legitimate, as I have maintained, regardless of the reactions of some posters as if I believe otherwise. It is the fact that it could not be published this century, and if some people here had their way, not at all. If the public domain did not exist, and things remained under copyright effectively indefinitely, the world would be deprived of many wonderful works. Forget my book. Anyone watch Sherlock Holmes on BBC, Jeremy Brett? Brilliant performance, could never have happened if the stories had still been under copyright. Many Oz books and Holmes stories have been written and published, to the great enjoyment of many fans of the series. The Aeneid, for pete's sake, one of the greatest works of western literature, was an unauthorized sequel for which Homer received no compensation. Should it never have existed? Would the world be a better place? And should we as a society give content creators the right to prevent such works from ever being created that we might benefit from their existence? Why should we do so? Because the content creators would like us to? That's an insufficient argument given the benefit to society of not doing so.

Cyia
05-23-2009, 07:46 AM
I wanted a book written that filled a certain hole in a story, I decided I could write it myself, and I did. I, having written nothing in my life, wrote an entire novel. A novel that, from the partial reviews I have received thus far, has the potential to even be called good. If all I can ever do is get one copy printed on Lulu and stick it on my bookshelf, I will be satisfied, because I have accomplished something that I would never have thought myself able to do. Now, it would be stupid for me to not make the relatively minimal effort necessary to publish my book, having written it.


Nope. You can't even do that. Publishing a copy through Lulu is still publication in the legal sense. You can't publish fanfiction through a company like Lulu period. ALL you can do is post it to a fanfiction site and hope that Asimov's estate never notices. You'll get whatever validation you're looking for from the fans who read there.

BenPanced
05-23-2009, 07:51 AM
In case there's any doubt, here's Lulu's policy. (http://www.lulu.com/en/help/copyright_faq#another_persons_work)

Matera the Mad
05-23-2009, 08:14 AM
When you write fanfiction, you write fanfiction. Enjoy the process, but don't spoil the enjoyment by bletching forever about how cruel the law is. If you had written something that went a zillion copies, you would want it protected for your own sake and that of your heirs. Remove head from dark place. Consider the time well spent in practice and write something else.

Cyia
05-23-2009, 08:18 AM
When you write fanfiction, you write fanfiction. Enjoy the process, but don't spoil the enjoyment by bletching forever about how cruel the law is. If you had written something that went a zillion copies, you would want it protected for your own sake and that of your heirs. Remove head from dark place. Consider the time well spent in practice and write something else.


Or (and) salvage what you can from it and adapt it to your own universe and characters. Save a copy of your fanfic so you have it to enjoy yourself, then use your work on something you can make money with legally.

MacAllister
05-23-2009, 08:20 AM
And should we as a society give content creators the right to prevent such works from ever being created that we might benefit from their existence? Why should we do so? Because the content creators would like us to? That's an insufficient argument given the benefit to society of not doing so.
Heh. You're going to have to go a LOT further to convince me that your Foundation prequel fanfic would "benefit society." Puh-leeeeze.

My god, the utterly delusional, breathtakingly arrogant, mind-boggling sense of entitlement encapsulated in that couple of sentences is...wow.


I'm just going to be quiet, and marvel for a few moments. You and Lady Sybilla (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141469) are clearly kindred spirits.

blacbird
05-23-2009, 08:25 AM
I forget who said this as advice to writers, but it is totally correct:

MAKE IT NEW.

caw

TemlynWriting
05-23-2009, 08:28 AM
Heh. You're going to have to go a LOT further to convince me that your Foundation prequel fanfic would "benefit society." Puh-leeeeze.

My god, the utterly delusional, breathtakingly arrogant, mind-boggling sense of entitlement encapsulated in that couple of sentences is...wow.


I'm just going to be quiet, and marvel for a few moments. You and Lady Sybilla (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141469) are clearly kindred spirits.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

BenPanced
05-23-2009, 08:37 AM
Heh. You're going to have to go a LOT further to convince me that your Foundation prequel fanfic would "benefit society." Puh-leeeeze.

My god, the utterly delusional, breathtakingly arrogant, mind-boggling sense of entitlement encapsulated in that couple of sentences is...wow.


I'm just going to be quiet, and marvel for a few moments. You and Lady Sybilla (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141469) are clearly kindred spirits.


I couldn't have said it better myself.
I couldn't have, either, considering what I've been deleting to remain in line with stated TOS...

Saskatoonistan
05-23-2009, 01:31 PM
Not to spark a confrontation, but this is pretty much the exact same reason most fan fiction writers say they write.

Cough .... yep.

aadams73
05-23-2009, 02:29 PM
But why should you and your descendants get paid forever for you doing one thing?

Why should leeches ride my coattails and profit from my hard work? If you and those of your ilk had any talent, you'd be able to create something of your own rather than having to beg, borrow, and steal from those with actual talent.

Wayne K
05-23-2009, 03:01 PM
Five pages later I think the question still remains: Why don't you just write your own damned book?

You've responded to everything else.

brainstorm77
05-23-2009, 03:03 PM
Five pages later I think the question still remains: Why don't you just write your own damned book?

You've responded to everything else.
:popcorn:

Omega
05-23-2009, 06:10 PM
I'm starting to think that if we're going to have a discussion about copyright laws, we need to start a new thread. Apparently nothing I say here is going to divorce the discussion about the proper role of copyright in society from my particular case. Since most of the last several posts were directly related to points about my book which I have already repeatedly addressed, they are in fact not relevant to the conversation in which I am presently participating. Only one actually addresses copyright, and thus, as I have made clear, it will be the only one to which I will respond.


There seems to be a few points you're trying to make here.

1) You seem to be saying that creators have no rights to their work.

I am saying that creators have no NATURAL right to their work. The right of a creator to control their work is and should be granted by society for the mutual benefit of all involved. Otherwise there would be no justification for the great expenditure society goes to to protect copyright.


2) Those brilliant works of art (which of course is always matter of opinion, not that I have anything against any of your references--this was just a general point) still may have come into existence, which permission of the estates or families of the writers in question (assuming such estates exist--I'm not sure Homer has one ) Many a book has been made into a tv show. I'm sure the same process could be effectively used with whomever holds the copyright of older works.

You are correct, they could have. But you must admit that the odds are significantly diminished. How many "Dracula" movies, to pick a public domain example, have been made, as opposed to, say, "Peter Pan", which as has been pointed out is under perpetual copyright? Who would benefit if those movies had never been made? No one, and many would have been harmed.

Now, I ask again of all of you, when should things pass into public domain? Some set number of years? Death of the creator? Death of the creator's children? Never? Because if it's never, as seems to be implied (though not expressly stated) by many posts, then my example of the Aeneid is a perfectly valid example of a great work that should never have been created. The fact that it was written prior to the creation of copyright law is irrelevant, given as the discussion is not one of what the law is or was, but of what it should be.

icerose
05-23-2009, 06:47 PM
From one writer to another and I can't make it any clearer. Go play in your OWN backyard. Let this one go, or make it a book that has nothing to do with the series, doesn't resemble it. And sorry, I don't want society telling me what others can do with MY work. It's mine. I've worked damn hard on it.

ChristineR
05-23-2009, 06:49 PM
Omega, I'm wondering what you expect to accomplish here, if not a discussion of the usefulness of copyright laws. Your particular case is clear. You cannot commercially publish your book without causing yourself much suffering. You can publish it and give it away for free on fan fiction sites, but only because publishers have come to a sort of understanding that they will allow this. Copyright laws are unlikely to change anytime soon. If your book is of benefit to society, it will be of benefit when you give it away as fan fiction.

Omega
05-23-2009, 06:57 PM
Omega, I'm wondering what you expect to accomplish here, if not a discussion of the usefulness of copyright laws.

I am attempting to have a discussion about the proper nature of copyright laws, so you're close. Yet being close, you then immediately follow that sentence with more commentary about my book, which as I have made clear repeatedly is only minimally relevant to the discussion which I am attempting to have. Why the jump?


And sorry, I don't want society telling me what others can do with MY work.

But you want society to expend resources enforcing your decisions on others, so therefore society must be involved in some way. Do you think society is there to do your bidding without limit at great financial and cultural expense?

Calla Lily
05-23-2009, 07:08 PM
But you want society to expend resources enforcing your decisions on others, so therefore society must be involved in some way. Do you think society is there to do your bidding without limit at great financial and cultural expense?

By the same token, who do you think society should amend copyright laws so you, specifically, can play in Asimov's universe?

For example, Laurie R. King is writing a brilliant Sherlock Holmes series starring an older Holmes and a new female assistant. Ms. King received permission from the Doyle estate to do so. And this was, IIRC, after she made a name for her own, original series of mystery novels.

Omega, I'm afraid you are still saying that many of us who have refuted your entitlement arguments in this thread are missing the point. I still contend that the opposite is true. Nothing you've said in this thread can be divorced from the fact that you--you, yourself, not a faceless entity called "society"--want copyright laws changed so you, yourself can make money off other people's creations.

As so many of us have said: stop. Shelve your fanfic (or upload it to one of the many fanfic sites and hope Asimov's estate doesn't send a C&D letter. Then, WRITE YOUR OWN BOOK, and take advantage of the current state of coypright laws.

And just to let you know I'm not talking out of the top of my hat, I'm now headed for the hardcopy of my own, original mystery, to do agent-requested edits, because my agent plans to submit my own, opriginal mystery to editors in a few weeks.

You can do this too. Just keep working at the craft. I've been working nearly five years to get here.

ChristineR
05-23-2009, 07:14 PM
I am attempting to have a discussion about the proper nature of copyright laws, so you're close. Yet being close, you then immediately follow that sentence with more commentary about my book, which as I have made clear repeatedly is only minimally relevant to the discussion which I am attempting to have. Why the jump?

Because you did not make it clear to me that you are no longer interested in talking about your book. On the contrary, I read your comments as being that you wanted to bring the discussion back to your book. Which is fine, but certainly confusing.

icerose
05-23-2009, 07:23 PM
But you want society to expend resources enforcing your decisions on others, so therefore society must be involved in some way. Do you think society is there to do your bidding without limit at great financial and cultural expense?

This whole discussion is all about what you want to do with OTHER people's works. And yes, I expect my works to be given the same amount of respect and protection as EVERYONE elses. I'm not asking for anything special. I am asking for my rights to be respected and not infringed on.

Someday, if you ever write something that's important to you, that you put a lot of time and energy that does not belong to someone else, you might understand the fact that you don't want other people parading in and taking over it for their own gain.

Omega
05-23-2009, 07:30 PM
By the same token, who do you think society should amend copyright laws so you, specifically, can play in Asimov's universe?

I tell you, for a bunch of writers, nobody here seems to read...

Calla Lily
05-23-2009, 07:43 PM
I tell you, for a bunch of writers, nobody here seems to read...

And I tell you, for a writer, you do not understand what you yourself have said multiple times in your own thread.

Omega, please wake up and see the ramifications of what you are proposing, and the incredible sense of entitlement you appear to have. Your propositions about copyright are inextricable from your often-stated desire to profit from other people's work. Your argument fails because of this--you are NOT a disinterested party. You want what you can't have, and thank God you can't have it, because no one's writing, music, or ideas would be safe in the world you want to create.

There. An idea that is original to you. Run with it--write a dystopian spec fic, possible satirical, with it.

Even my patience and stubbornness has its limits.

MacAllister
05-23-2009, 09:09 PM
Closing this thread. Split off some of the posts into a new and hopefully much calmer discussion of the function of copyright.