PDA

View Full Version : WHEN DOES FAN FIC CROSS THE LINE INTO PLAGIARISM?



citymouse
09-27-2009, 11:34 PM
Over the years I have been approached by people asking for permission to write fan-fic knockoffs of my published novels.

My question is, at what point would / does a fan-fic story cross the line into plagiarism?

My apologies if this has been addressed before. I did a search but the word fic or fiction triggers a torrent of hits. Way more than I care to sift.

Thanks in advance for any input.
C

Marian Perera
09-27-2009, 11:41 PM
My view is that lifting entire sentences, paragraphs, etc. would be plagiarism. If someone used my characters and my world to tell a new story, that would be a fanfic. If someone quoted my writing word-for-word without proper attribution, that would be plagiarism.

katiemac
09-27-2009, 11:45 PM
We've had a lot of threads on fanfiction in the past, but usually from people who are writing it. It's interesting you're on the other side.

Really, all fanfiction is copyright infringement, not necessarily plagiarism. If you hold the copyright on your original work, you have the right to create any derivatives of that work. But a lot of authors, like JK Rowling, choose to ignore fanfiction of their work. Furthermore, I believe some contracts state if the author becomes aware of a fanfiction work, they're obligated to report it to the publisher. So even if you don't mind people are out there writing fanfiction, it can put you in an awkward position. Fanfiction has almost become a "norm," and I think most people are okay with ignoring it UNTIL someone tries to profit. That most definitely crosses the line.

I would never grant anyone permission to write fanfiction, because the legalities of that could get very messy. Just ignore those e-mails.

JoNightshade
09-28-2009, 12:08 AM
Like katiemac says, I don't think fanfic should ever be officially "approved" by the author. That gets into all kinds of weird legal territory. As long as the fans are doing it for fun and not making any sort of profit, and you don't have any sort of intense moral feelings against it, I'd say ignore it. Absolutely DO NOT read it, though. Ever. If you do that, then anything you may write in the future may be subject to fans saying "I thought of that first!"

I know that the creator of the Gargoyles animated TV show basically gave silent approval to a group of fanfic writers (I was once among them) to "continue" the show after it was cancelled. It was a group effort to continue the storyline in written, episodic form. He would answer all sorts of questions we put to him about what he had planned and envisioned for the future, but he would never, ever read anything we had written. Basically his position was that if he ever had the opportunity to contribute more to the universe, he did not want it influenced by fan work. Anyway, the fan effort benefitted him because it kept the fan base alive even after the show went away - and a decade later he got to do some more in comic form because the audience was still seen to exist.

BlackBriar
09-28-2009, 12:31 AM
But a lot of authors, like JK Rowling, choose to ignore fanfiction of their work.

Just a correction that she didn't ignore it. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3753001.stm

Parametric
09-28-2009, 12:47 AM
Just a correction that she didn't ignore it. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3753001.stm

Which is just as well when you think of the number of recent fantasy authors who got their start writing Harry Potter fanfiction. Cassandra Clare, Jaida Jones, Sarah Rees Brennan, etc. (I'm hoping that the amazing Sam (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/sam-storyteller.livejournal.com) is next.)

Not that I read fanfiction. Ahem.

katiemac
09-28-2009, 12:49 AM
Just a correction that she didn't ignore it. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3753001.stm

You're right, I'd forgotten she'd done this. However, in terms of ignoring, I doubt she read it, for reasons Jo said. I'm forgetting the author's name where a fanfic writer claimed the author stole the storyline for a published novel from a fanfic work.

veinglory
09-28-2009, 01:23 AM
Author approved fanfiction can actually help your legal position if you do like mercedes lackey who has the author sign that their work is set in an AU, and they agree not to use her characters, just the world setting.

veinglory
09-28-2009, 01:25 AM
I'm forgetting the author's name where a fanfic writer claimed the author stole the storyline for a published novel from a fanfic work.

I believe this happened to MZB but it falls under the general category of frivolous/crazy lawsuits--you can't stop those from happening no matter what you do.

katiemac
09-28-2009, 01:33 AM
I believe this happened to MZB but it falls under the general category of frivolous/crazy lawsuits--you can't stop those from happening no matter what you do.

Yep, that's who I was thinking.

JimmyB27
09-28-2009, 03:44 PM
What's an MZB?

Parametric
09-28-2009, 03:48 PM
What's an MZB?

Fantasy writer Marion Zimmer Bradley.

KTC
09-28-2009, 03:59 PM
I always wondered about this. I see 100% of fanfic to be plagiarism. Why isn't it? If I was asked the OP question, I would say it crosses the line into plagiarism the second somebody else uses one of your characters. I don't get why this isn't the case. I have zero tolerance for fan fiction. I JUST DON'T GET IT.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 04:13 PM
I'm amazed that they asked permission. Fanfic generally operates on a "don't ask, don't tell" kind of system. The next time it happens tell them that since they've brought it to your attention, you are contractually obligated to inform them that writing such material will force you to take legal action against them so your publisher won't take legal action against you for not defending your copyright.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 04:15 PM
I believe this happened to MZB but it falls under the general category of frivolous/crazy lawsuits--you can't stop those from happening no matter what you do.

Except in her case, it was her habit to solicit fan input for stories. Since there was a chance that the fan in question really had submitted a story for consideration, they pulped the novel rather than deal with the legal issues.

Ken
09-28-2009, 04:20 PM
... never read or wrote fanfic, myself. Don't think it's cool, either, unless sanctioned by the author. So it's good readers are asking your permission. If you do wind up giving it down the road, of course be clear what you are allowing them to do with your books and characters. I could see this being a fun thing for fans of books to engage in, and also for writers to manufacture. But again, I feel that authors should be notified first and that their permission be sought. Otherwise I'd also have to qualify it as a form of plagarism or theft.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 05:11 PM
Generating significant fanfic is a sign your work has made it, that it has enraptured readers so much they want to continue the story. Fanfic between "legit" books can also keep the enthusiasm alive and spark new readers of the "canon."

Too bad there are so many legal complications surrounding copyright. It would be nice if writers could give fanficcers explicit permission for use without profit. However, considering the dangers to themselves and their publishers, that's not possible now, to my knowledge.

Claudia Gray
09-28-2009, 08:10 PM
I always wondered about this. I see 100% of fanfic to be plagiarism. Why isn't it? If I was asked the OP question, I would say it crosses the line into plagiarism the second somebody else uses one of your characters. I don't get why this isn't the case. I have zero tolerance for fan fiction. I JUST DON'T GET IT.

Plagiarism is taking credit for someone's work as your own.

Fanfic, by definition, assumes that the readers know the true source of the borrowed characters/setting/history and virtually always includes disclaimers to that effect.

Ergo, no fanfic is plagiarism by virtue of being fanfic. (Although, however, fanfic writers can plagiarize by taking paragraphs/dialogue/plot twists from other, unacknowledged sources as well.)

I am both a happy author of fanfic and a happy author whose books have inspired fanfic.

citymouse
09-28-2009, 08:31 PM
This woman describes herself as a fan and has read all my novels. She reviewed them so I know that's true. It was nice that she asked and it showed that she doesn't know much about entertainment law. I refused her offer without comment.
C



I'm amazed that they asked permission. Fanfic generally operates on a "don't ask, don't tell" kind of system. The next time it happens tell them that since they've brought it to your attention, you are contractually obligated to inform them that writing such material will force you to take legal action against them so your publisher won't take legal action against you for not defending your copyright.

citymouse
09-28-2009, 08:33 PM
I don't read fan-fic and I kinda don't approve. I'm a live and let live sort but I stop short when someone wants to move in uninvited.
C


... never read or wrote fanfic, myself. Don't think it's cool, either, unless sanctioned by the author. So it's good readers are asking your permission. If you do wind up giving it down the road, of course be clear what you are allowing them to do with your books and characters. I could see this being a fun thing for fans of books to engage in, and also for writers to manufacture. But again, I feel that authors should be notified first and that their permission be sought. Otherwise I'd also have to qualify it as a form of plagarism or theft.

KTC
09-28-2009, 08:48 PM
Plagiarism is taking credit for someone's work as your own.

Fanfic, by definition, assumes that the readers know the true source of the borrowed characters/setting/history and virtually always includes disclaimers to that effect.

Ergo, no fanfic is plagiarism by virtue of being fanfic. (Although, however, fanfic writers can plagiarize by taking paragraphs/dialogue/plot twists from other, unacknowledged sources as well.)

I am both a happy author of fanfic and a happy author whose books have inspired fanfic.

I don't buy it at all. I will not be convinced that it is not plagiarism. It's theft...plain and simple.

BenPanced
09-28-2009, 08:56 PM
Generating significant fanfic is a sign your work has made it, that it has enraptured readers so much they want to continue the story. Fanfic between "legit" books can also keep the enthusiasm alive and spark new readers of the "canon."

Too bad there are so many legal complications surrounding copyright. It would be nice if writers could give fanficcers explicit permission for use without profit. However, considering the dangers to themselves and their publishers, that's not possible now, to my knowledge.
Those "legal complications" are there for authors to protect their property.

DeleyanLee
09-28-2009, 09:02 PM
I believe this happened to MZB but it falls under the general category of frivolous/crazy lawsuits--you can't stop those from happening no matter what you do.


Yep, that's who I was thinking.


Except in her case, it was her habit to solicit fan input for stories. Since there was a chance that the fan in question really had submitted a story for consideration, they pulped the novel rather than deal with the legal issues.

The difference between the MZB case and fan fic is that the work in question was NOT a fanfic by the standard definition.

At the time MZB edited a Darkover anthology series ("Friends of Darkover" was in the title, IIRC) which she opened to everyone. This series gave several Fantasy writers their "break" and was very successful on pretty much every level.

She received a submission from a fan whose plot/storyline greatly resembled the book she was presently writing. IIRC, MZB rejected the story and went on to publish her like book. The fan sued for copyright infringement. The matter was settled out of court and MZB paid damages to the fan.

This was NOT fanfic in the sense that everyone thinks of today. It was a submission to a legitimate Fantasy publication.


However, this was the case that made reading fanfic by the original author such a bad legal idea and started the downturn in the respectability levels given to fanfic and fanfic writers. It also closed down "Friends of Darkover" and other open-submission anthologies that had been open at the time, which was a great loss, IMO.

Apsu
09-28-2009, 09:16 PM
Didn't MZB use characters, settings, and plot devices from other books herself?

Aren't all Arthurian tales a form of fanfic themselves? Are they not just because the story is older?

I mean, I read a story about the life of Jesus, with Jesus as a main character, a couple years back. What's the difference between that and the Arthurian tales and fanfic?

Nakhlasmoke
09-28-2009, 09:23 PM
If I ever get to the point where people are ficcing my work, i'll be ecstatic.

I love the idea of people writing fic about the things I've created - doesn't mean I ever want to read it (and I really don't - I'm sure I'd be majorly squicked) but I'd def just turn a blind eye to it (unless someone was going all crazy and trying to make money.)

katiemac
09-28-2009, 09:23 PM
Aren't all Arthurian tales a form of fanfic themselves? Are they not just because the story is older?

I mean, I read a story about the life of Jesus, with Jesus as a main character, a couple years back. What's the difference between that and the Arthurian tales and fanfic?

Nobody owns a copyright on these stories. Arthurian legend is just that, a legend, and you can debate Jesus as legend as well. Either way, both have legitimate historical roots, and historical characters and history have different rules since no ownership is involved. You can write a different version of these stories just as someone can write a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

But that doesn't mean you can write a sequel to Disney's version of Beauty and the Beast, or a sequel to Beauty by Robin McKinnley, because those specific characters in those versions are trademarked and copyrighted.

Claudia Gray
09-28-2009, 09:43 PM
I don't buy it at all. I will not be convinced that it is not plagiarism. It's theft...plain and simple.

It's not "plain and simple." It's your opinion, period. My opinion is that, as a fanfic author, I have stolen nothing and added a great deal to my enjoyment of a number of TV shows, movies and books, and, as an author of books about which fanfic has been written, that I am enormously flattered and fortunate to have such enthusiastic readers, and absolutely none the poorer.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 09:44 PM
If I ever get to the point where people are ficcing my work, i'll be ecstatic.

I love the idea of people writing fic about the things I've created - doesn't mean I ever want to read it (and I really don't - I'm sure I'd be majorly squicked) but I'd def just turn a blind eye to it (unless someone was going all crazy and trying to make money.)

It's probably a good idea for writers not to read fanfic for more than legal reasons. Most fanfic is HORRIBLE. And most of it is some kind of author self-insert fantasy. There's no attention to characterization or canon, and much of it is porn style smut or slashing of characters who aren't gay in the original story. It goes totally contrary to the original material's direction and intent.

It's really weird to see a character you designed acting like a pod person under someone else's control. I used to write fanfic for a defunct TV show and had a character of my own that I used in several stories. Other fans declared him "fanon" and started using him in their own stuff - usually in ways that made me want to rip my hair out. One group even took him to use in their Role Playing game. It's disturbing in a strange way, and gives a feel for how those who disapprove of novel fanfic must feel seeing their creations at someone else's mercy.

Now there is some good writing out there, but you have to slog through a lot of garbage to get to it... kind of a like a slush pile. The "virtual seasons" for cancelled series can be okay, too, but not usually.

KTC
09-28-2009, 09:45 PM
Claudia...you stole characters. setting. whatever else you used. that is theft.

Nakhlasmoke
09-28-2009, 09:57 PM
Claudia...you stole characters. setting. whatever else you used. that is theft.


Your opinion only.

And obviously one that means a lot to you, but still just an opinion.

KTC
09-28-2009, 10:01 PM
Your opinion only.

And obviously one that means a lot to you, but still just an opinion.

I'm sorry...but I truly believe this is NOT my opinion. Please...go ahead and publish a fanfic as your own. How is it not theft? How? You're taking somebody else's characters...stories...and making your own from them. Theft. Not a matter of opinion.

JoNightshade
09-28-2009, 10:02 PM
If someone comes over to my house and says "May I have a cup of sugar?" and I say, "Sure, take however much you want, just as long as you're using it for your own baking and not selling it on craigslist," does that make the sugar-taker a thief?

I think it's disrespectful to write fanfic if the author is adamantly against it. I would never, for instance, write a fanfic of anything KTC wrote since he obviously hates it.

But many authors like it, are flattered by it, and view it as a very positive element of developing and keeping a fan base. (Examples already cited in this thread.) If that's the case, there is no "theft."

KTC
09-28-2009, 10:06 PM
If someone comes over to my house and says "May I have a cup of sugar?" and I say, "Sure, take however much you want, just as long as you're using it for your own baking and not selling it on craigslist," does that make the sugar-taker a thief?

I think it's disrespectful to write fanfic if the author is adamantly against it. I would never, for instance, write a fanfic of anything KTC wrote since he obviously hates it.

But many authors like it, are flattered by it, and view it as a very positive element of developing and keeping a fan base. (Examples already cited in this thread.) If that's the case, there is no "theft."


Not just because I hate it. I have a DEEP sense of right and wrong and lose it when wrong has been carried out. Call me self-righteous...but I'd rather be that than a thief.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 10:06 PM
Those "legal complications" are there for authors to protect their property.

I know. It's just too bad that the law doesn't allow for fanfic as well.

Pre Internet, it didn't seem to be much of an issue. But with the Internet, popular fan fiction can get a huge readership. See Cassandra Clare, for example. Also in the Harry Potter realm, we saw a huge brouhaha over fan nonfiction, when the famous HP Lexicon threatened to cross over into for-profit publication.

Like it or not, fan fiction is a massive endeavor now that its distribution is so easy. If authors and publishers were to launch a crackdown en masse, that would make for some very interesting culture battles.

:popcorn:

DeleyanLee
09-28-2009, 10:07 PM
Like it or not, fan fiction is a massive endeavor now that its distribution is so easy. If authors and publishers were to launch a crackdown en masse, that would make for some very interesting culture battles.

Not to mention a lot of pissed-off fans and a threat to future profits if one's fanbase turns against one.

BenPanced
09-28-2009, 10:12 PM
I know. It's just too bad that the law doesn't allow for fanfic as well.
Why should it? The original characters, settings, and situations somebody else has created don't belong to the fans; why should the fans be permitted to capitalize on them?

ChaosTitan
09-28-2009, 10:16 PM
I Also in the Harry Potter realm, we saw a huge brouhaha over fan nonfiction, when the famous HP Lexicon threatened to cross over into for-profit publication.

Like it or not, fan fiction is a massive endeavor now that its distribution is so easy. If authors and publishers were to launch a crackdown en masse, that would make for some very interesting culture battles.

:popcorn:

As long as fanfic authors keep their noses down and don't get too stuck in their ideas of "ownership," then most authors and producers have no reason to go after fandoms en masse. It's the folks who try to "publish" their Star Wars novel on Lulu that shines the spotlight on the rest of the folks quietly writing away for their own personal enjoyment.

Like Claudia, I started in fanfic (television fanfic). And I would be ecstatic to know someone likes my future novels enough to write fic about them. Obviously, I couldn't read them, but it would be hypocritical to come out say "Don't you dare! Mine!" If my book inspires someone to write a story, and then another, and then maybe, one day, an original novel of their own...well, I should be so lucky to inspire that. Because that's how I got where I am today.

I haven't written a word of fanfic in years, but it's still out there. And if my having written it makes me a thief to some folks here, so be it. Your opinion of me doesn't change my opinion of fanfic.

Fanfic authors are usually the most loyal and outspoken fans of any particular book or TV series. It was a contingent of fanfic authors and readers who helped resurrect at least one TV show over the years (although I'm sure there are more), giving them another season when TPTB wanted to cancel them. So yeah, sometimes fanfic benefits the original creator, even if they can't legally acknowledge it.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 10:21 PM
I'm sorry...but I truly believe this is NOT my opinion. Please...go ahead and publish a fanfic as your own. How is it not theft? How? You're taking somebody else's characters...stories...and making your own from them. Theft. Not a matter of opinion.

The point is, you don't publish fan fiction at all, not for profit. And fan ficcers don't claim the borrowed characters and milieus are their own. The disclaimer topside is de rigeur. The psychology behind fan fiction is also vastly different from the psychology behind theft, as admiration and emulation are different from greed and intolerance of personal property.

Don't write it myself -- I want a chance of getting paid for anything I work on. ;) But I've read some better than the original models. Sometimes way better.

katiemac
09-28-2009, 10:22 PM
I know. It's just too bad that the law doesn't allow for fanfic as well.



I, admittedly, used to write fanfiction when I was younger. I credit a lot of that to why I stick with writing now--not only did I write it, I posted it. I was fifteen and I didn't suck, and people often told me I should become a writer. That's a really great thing to hear when you're fifteen and you do want to become a writer. I worked on original writing, too, but the only thing I ever shared was fanfiction.

So, I see both sides of this. Fanfiction definitely is its own culture, and it has in some circles become acceptable. If the author is okay with and turns a blind eye to fanfiction, and those fanfic writers understand the limitations they have, I don't consider those fanfic writers in bad form. But legally, technically? Yeah, still copyright infringement.

However, I strongly disagree with the notion fanfic writers should have rights over the author or that fanfic should ever be legally recognized. That just opens up so many bad things for a writer. If the author wants a story taken down or not written at all, you do what they want. Period. And you never ever EVER try to publish. I will always side with the author on those cases. The HP Lexicon wasn't even fanfiction, and they were still out of line IMO.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 10:22 PM
So yeah, sometimes fanfic benefits the original creator, even if they can't legally acknowledge it.

Sometimes they do acknowledge it, after a fashion.

Supernatural gave fanficcers a nod in one episode (the boys find a cache of slashfic, I think... "don't they know we're brothers?!!!")

Moonlight's final episode incorporated several specific details from the more popular fanfics of that show. The night it aired, the fans on the boards were pointing them out as they came on screen.

And then you have the situations like with Forever Knight (the single worst ending in the history of lousy endings) where the fans decided to rewrite the finale and keep the show going on-line with fanfic episodes.

Nakhlasmoke
09-28-2009, 10:23 PM
I'm sorry...but I truly believe this is NOT my opinion. Please...go ahead and publish a fanfic as your own. How is it not theft? How? You're taking somebody else's characters...stories...and making your own from them. Theft. Not a matter of opinion.

My opinion of your facts is that you have no understanding of how fanfic works. *shrug*

Anyway, when/if (i have no idea about your publishing status) you get published, it is your right to state your feelings about people writing fanfic of your work and for the most part (there are always bad apples) your wishes will be respected.

KTC
09-28-2009, 10:25 PM
The point is, you don't publish fan fiction at all, not for profit. And fan ficcers don't claim the borrowed characters and milieus are their own. The disclaimer topside is de rigeur. The psychology behind fan fiction is also vastly different from the psychology behind theft, as admiration and emulation are different from greed and intolerance of personal property.

Don't write it myself -- I want a chance of getting paid for anything I work on. ;) But I've read some better than the original models. Sometimes way better.

so if i steal your watch because i admire it--not because i want to fence it for money--that makes it okay? Great. give me your watch.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 10:26 PM
Why should it? The original characters, settings, and situations somebody else has created don't belong to the fans; why should the fans be permitted to capitalize on them?

They don't capitalize. Unless they publish for profit. Which would definitely deserve legal action by author and publisher.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 10:26 PM
It's worth pointing out that the main places for fanfic (like FF.net) maintain lists of authors who have "no fanfic" policies, and they don't allow those characters to be used on their sites.

Nakhlasmoke
09-28-2009, 10:31 PM
so if i steal your watch because i admire it--not because i want to fence it for money--that makes it okay? Great. give me your watch.


lolwhut?


That analogy makes no sense - the writer still owns and retains all rights to their work. Their work has not been taken from them.

if you can't wrap your head around the basic concept of fanfic, then think of it as a continuation of the oral tradition of storytelling, where one person's story inspires another person's creative take on those characters, plots etc, only now re-emerging in a new format.

KTC
09-28-2009, 10:33 PM
lolwhut?


That analogy makes no sense - the writer still owns and retains all rights to their work. Their work has not been taken from them.

if you can't wrap your head around the basic concept of fanfic, then think of it as a continuation of the oral tradition of storytelling, where one person's story inspires another person's creative take on those characters, plots etc, only now re-emerging in a new format.


I used it because of the bad example used in the post I referenced. Besides...didn't I mention...I was going to paint the watch strap red...you know, make it my own and all that jazz. Works for me.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 10:34 PM
so if i steal your watch because i admire it--not because i want to fence it for money--that makes it okay? Great. give me your watch.

The real equivalent would be if you were to copy certain features of my watch into a watch of your own. How am I out anything?

Another watch analogy. Say you copy features of my line of watches (selling for profit) for your own line of watches (selling for profit). If I have some kind of legal proprietorship in the copied features, then you're in trouble. But if, as in the first example, you've made a single watch that borrows from mine, for your own use, no profit, again, how am I hurt? I bet you had to BUY at least one of my watches in order to copy from the "canon!"

Anyhow, I don't own a watch. How primitive -- isn't keeping time what cell phones are for?

;)

KTC
09-28-2009, 10:37 PM
The real equivalent would be if you were to copy certain features of my watch into a watch of your own. How am I out anything?

Another watch analogy. Say you copy features of my line of watches (selling for profit) for your own line of watches (selling for profit). If I have some kind of legal proprietorship in the copied features, then you're in trouble. But if, as in the first example, you've made a single watch that borrows from mine, for your own use, no profit, again, how am I hurt? I bet you had to BUY at least one of my watches in order to copy from the "canon!"

Anyhow, I don't own a watch. How primitive -- isn't keeping time what cell phones are for?

;)


Your first example was bad...this one is bordering on ludicrous. Maybe you shouldn't argue.

katiemac
09-28-2009, 10:40 PM
Consider, also, how television writing works. Most often you break in to TV writing precisely by writing a script for an existing television series. Writers nab agents this way. Many programs--Warner Bros., ABC, NBC--ask writers to submit an episode script for acceptance into their writing programs. The caveat here being that usually whatever the writer produces in these programs belongs to the network, and second, that script has zero chance ever of landing on television without the approval of the producers/network.

But this is an example where using characters and storyline created by someone else without permission is still acceptable. Legal? Honestly I don't know where the line is drawn here, but it is culturally acceptable to shop a script for an existing series to get a writing job. In fact, you MUST be able to write for an existing series because they want proof you can write in someone else's voice and style.

Not the same thing as fanfiction, I understand, but interesting nonetheless.

Ken
09-28-2009, 10:41 PM
... another thread on the issue:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=70589


Just remember than publishing fanfic is illegal unless you have the permission of whoever owns the copyright, and some writers and publishers can get extremely nasty when you take it on yourself to steal their universe and characters. Odds are you won't get caught and blasted, but it can and does happen.

Writing fanfic might be fun, but it is nearly always useless, and it is stealing someone else's universe and characters. Many seem to think it should be an honor to have fans write fiction based on your work, but it isn't. It's a pain in the ass.

Kathleen42
09-28-2009, 10:47 PM
They don't capitalize. Unless they publish for profit. Which would definitely deserve legal action by author and publisher.

Not to mention the fanfic communities.

I don't write fanfic, but I do love reading Doctor Who fanfics. In my experience, the fanfic communities don't take kindly to people trying to profit.

katiemac
09-28-2009, 10:49 PM
Let's not let this get out of hand. This is a touchy subject. We've had threads on this subject escalate before. Take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard if you need to.

CaroGirl
09-28-2009, 11:06 PM
I'd never heard of fan fiction before I came here and I still can't quite understand the appeal of either producing or reading it. It seems like a waste of time. If you want to hone your writing skill by doing this fan fiction as a kind of writing exercise, have at 'er but I disagree with posting it anywhere public or otherwise sharing it in any way. It just doesn't feel "right" to me.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 11:08 PM
Your first example was bad...this one is bordering on ludicrous. Maybe you shouldn't argue.

Hmm, an ad hominem attack from a defender of justice? Doesn't seem quite in character.

But, no biggie.

You're Rorschach, I'm Ozymandias.* I'll leave it at that.




*Well, actually, I'm more like Nite Owl, but that doesn't make as good a kinda fan-ficcy analogy.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 11:09 PM
Not to mention the fanfic communities.

I don't write fanfic, but I do love reading Doctor Who fanfics. In my experience, the fanfic communities don't take kindly to people trying to profit.

Another taboo - mainly for TV/movies - is "real person" fanfic, where the author uses the actor in the story as opposed to the character. (I know of at least one actor who read fanfic a lot ... until someone slashed his real self with his character.)

That's usually considered crossing a line because it can affect not only the actor, but also their family/real life.

(LoL, Phaeal)

KTC
09-28-2009, 11:13 PM
Hmm, an ad hominem attack from a defender of justice? Doesn't seem quite in character.

But, no biggie.

You're Rorschach, I'm Ozymandias.* I'll leave it at that.




*Well, actually, I'm more like Nite Owl, but that doesn't make as good a kinda fan-ficcy analogy.

pointless

cwgranny
09-28-2009, 11:15 PM
Fanfiction isn't theft and the fact that you can get in trouble for publishing it doesn't make it theft. All legal issues don't equal theft. You can break a myriad of laws without ever being guilty of theft. Fanfiction of works under copyright are copyright violations (they are derrivative works, which only the original copyright holder can create or authorize) but they aren't theft.

For something to be theft, someone has to take something from you which you then don't have. I can steal your car -- your car would then be gone unless I choose to bring it back or the police recover it. But if someone writes fanfiction, your own personal work is not affected at all, just your feelings...your sensitivies...your emotional state...most of the time it doesn't really affect anything else. You don't suddenly not have the characters anymore unless the fanfiction writer gives them back. It's actually nothing like theft.

It IS a copyright violation -- that's why it's a legal violation. But it's not theft. Theft is a criminal act. Copyright violation isn't criminal law. The two are not the same. If you force "theft" into a new definition that is not parallel with what it means LEGALLY, then you're stating an opinion. In your opinion, it is theft. Legally, it is not. And by definition, it is not. But in your OPINION, it is. And to you, your opinion is completely valid.

It's also not plagiarism...which I don't think is a legal violation (except in the instances when it is also a copyright violation...but not all plagiarism is a copyright violation, some things might ethically be plagiarism but legally be fair use). Plagiarism is about ethics more than about the law. And like "theft" it is defined very specifically and most fanfiction doesn't fall within the definition.

But a copyright violation...oh, yeah, most of it is.

KTC
09-28-2009, 11:17 PM
it's theft.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 11:18 PM
pointless

Actually, it's very pointy. I like it more the more I think about it. Come along, Bubastes. I have a very large can of kitty tuna over here, mmmmmm-mmmmmm.

And I'm still Zooey, too.

cwgranny
09-28-2009, 11:19 PM
It would be more impressive if you hold your breath and stamp your feet while you say it.

Kathleen42
09-28-2009, 11:19 PM
I'd never heard of fan fiction before I came here and I still can't quite understand the appeal of either producing or reading it. It seems like a waste of time. If you want to hone your writing skill by doing this fan fiction as a kind of writing exercise, have at 'er but I disagree with posting it anywhere public or otherwise sharing it in any way. It just doesn't feel "right" to me.

To really understand it, I think it helps if you really are fanatical about a series. The fanfic writers aren't acting out of a desire to improve their writing skills or see their work on a bookstore shelf they just really love a character or series.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 11:22 PM
It would be more impressive if you hold your breath and stamp your feet while you say it.

:roll:

Your first post made me think you were a lawyer. Now I know you're a mother, too. Or a father -- I don't want to go all assume-y due to your avatar and forum name. ;)

katiemac
09-28-2009, 11:25 PM
Hey, guess what, I already asked people once to calm down and walk away from the keyboard if you need to. Jabbing at others will get us nowhere and I'm not enjoying the show. Face it: No one will change anyone else's mind. But you would still like to contribute to a thoughtful DISCUSSION, that would be wonderful.

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 11:26 PM
To really understand it, I think it helps if you really are fanatical about a series. The fanfic writers aren't acting out of a desire to improve their writing skills or see their work on a bookstore shelf they just really love a character or series.

Yup, this.

Parametric
09-28-2009, 11:27 PM
To really understand it, I think it helps if you really are fanatical about a series. The fanfic writers aren't acting out of a desire to improve their writing skills or see their work on a bookstore shelf they just really love a character or series.

It's also about positive feedback and a sense of belonging, I think. You belong to a community of fanfiction writers. You give and receive positive feedback. Everyone gets warm fuzzies.

benbradley
09-28-2009, 11:28 PM
It's theft of intellectual property. :)

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 11:31 PM
It's also about positive feedback and a sense of belonging, I think. You belong to a community of fanfiction writers. You give and receive positive feedback. Everyone gets warm fuzzies.

This, too. 'Cause, as most of us know, it's hard to get the warm fuzzies while you're querying and subbing your own work. ;)

Bubastes is warm and fuzzy, too.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 11:32 PM
It's an extension of a group of kids running around the backyard playing out their favorite stories. They make up new adventures because they enjoy the characters; fanficcers do the same (though usually without the cardboard swords and pillowcase capes ;) )

At some point in these threads it usually gets pointed out that a few best sellers started off as fanfiction, then the authors scrubbed off the copyrighted material and used their own characters. That's the only real delineation there. The plot and original aspects belong to the fanficcer, if they remove the copyrighted/trademarked elements, they have a saleable product (assuming they can actually write).

My own stuff was generally OC (original character) heavy, and those characters were extremely popular in the fanfic community for the show I wrote about. They came from my own universe, and I transplanted them into the other one. I can still legally use them to make my own novel. Likewise, I could use some of the plots from the ones I wrote that involved canon characters and set them in my own universe. It's only the copyrighted elements that make fanfic any different from original writing.

cwgranny
09-28-2009, 11:34 PM
Actually, it's not. Theft of intellectual property would require theft, and that's a very specific act that removes the property from the possession of the property owner. Again, copyright violation does not equal theft.

[psst...Katiemac, sorry about the breath holding remark, but KTC's remark made me laugh and my fingers...um...slipped...right, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.]

Parametric
09-28-2009, 11:37 PM
This, too. 'Cause, as most of us know, it's hard to get the warm fuzzies while you're querying and subbing your own work. ;)

Bubastes is warm and fuzzy, too.

Exactly. I used to do forum-based roleplay in the universe of a major epic fantasy series, which is basically interactive fanfiction. And the warm fuzzies were awesome. Original fiction is a harsh, cold world in comparison.

(That's why I like the Purgatory thread in Rejection & Dejection. Warm fuzzies on tap. :LilLove:)

Phaeal
09-28-2009, 11:37 PM
It's an extension of a group of kids running around the backyard playing out their favorite stories. They make up new adventures because they enjoy the characters; fanficcers do the same (though usually without the cardboard swords and pillowcase capes ;) )



Cosplayers get to wear capes until they're too old to drag em around. Speaking of which, I wonder what (if any) legal restrictions there might be on copying costumes from illustrations or film productions. I imagine it would be the same: overlooked unless the copier is trying to profit from it.

Cyia
09-28-2009, 11:40 PM
Cosplayers get to wear capes until they're too old to drag em around. Speaking of which, I wonder what (if any) legal restrictions there might be on copying costumes from illustrations or film productions. I imagine it would be the same: overlooked unless the copier is trying to profit from it.

Probably about the same as those on the "knock-off" Oscar dresses that pop-up on morning shows the morning after the awards.

geardrops
09-28-2009, 11:48 PM
Cosplayers get to wear capes until they're too old to drag em around. Speaking of which, I wonder what (if any) legal restrictions there might be on copying costumes from illustrations or film productions. I imagine it would be the same: overlooked unless the copier is trying to profit from it.

SquareEnix settles lawsuit with sword pirates (http://kotaku.com/5159871/square-enix-settles-lawsuit-with-sword-pirates)

Clifton Hill
09-28-2009, 11:58 PM
I agree with Nakhlasmoke. It is a great compliment for fanfic of your work to exist. I understand there are legal issues to consider. But honestly I don't think taking a hard line to fanfic is appropriate. Your fans love your world and characters. If they want to experience that world outside of the limited books/stories produced officially what is wrong with that? Seems like the unofficial "don't ask/don't tell" response is more than adequate to letting it happen to keep your fans happy and still avoiding legal issues.

KTC
09-29-2009, 12:23 AM
And I'm still Zooey, too.


okay. the rest i can put up with. this is the last straw. actually...i want my straw back.

Sign me,
ZOOEY!

KTC
09-29-2009, 12:24 AM
It would be more impressive if you hold your breath and stamp your feet while you say it.

Clearly internet conversations aren't always clear. I WAS holding my breath and stamping my feet. Le sigh.

Richard White
09-29-2009, 12:28 AM
Pros and cons from a media tie-in writer.

Con: As a media tie-in writer, especially in the fields I write in, the publisher's lawyers have asked us to NOT read, listen to, contribute to, edit or have anything to do with fan fiction, especially in the same area we write in. Too big a chance for lawsuits ("You stole my idea"). Lawyers aren't just for suing big-name authors *sigh*

Pro: A publisher and an editor were doing a "Charmed" anthology. They had four authors back out at the last minute. Editor was familiar with the Charmed fan-fic community and invited eight of what they considered to be the "top" of that community to try out for the anthology. Four made it and two are still writing media tie-in work and have also sold original stuff.

Yeah, doesn't happen very often, but sometimes there is an advantage to writing fan-fic.

(Note: Personally, I like doing media tie-in work. It's vetted, approved, edited and I get a check. All in all, a good thing. I save my "fan-fic" tendencies for writing homemade D&D modules. ;) )

citymouse
09-29-2009, 01:00 AM
The reality is unless some tells me my books are fan-ficked (is that a word?) I'd have no way on knowing. I certainly don't go out of my way looking for it.
M

Marian Perera
09-29-2009, 01:34 AM
I write fanfics (that's what the "guilty pleasure" link in my sig is about). And I wasn't even aware of the source material before I started reading other people's fics. Those got me interested in the show, I watched episodes and became a fan because of fanfics.

So if someone wanted to write fanfics based on my characters and my world, they'd have automatic permission (though I wouldn't read or comment on any aspect of it). I wouldn't consider this plagiarism or theft unless the fanfic writer either lifted chunks of text or passed my work off as their own.

Phaeal
09-29-2009, 01:57 AM
okay. the rest i can put up with. this is the last straw. actually...i want my straw back.

Sign me,
ZOOEY!

Sorry, you're an alternate universe Zooey. I'm Zooey in this plane of reality, and I'm keeping all the straws I finagle in the desk drawer next to Seymour's shirt-cardboard journal. Seymour would have wanted it that way.

KTC
09-29-2009, 02:10 AM
See...I would have kept the straws in the medicine cabinet. This is why I'm the real Zooey. Wait...this isn't bordering on fanfic, is it? Are you trying to entrap me?!

Phaeal
09-29-2009, 02:19 AM
See, I just KNEW you were a closet F&Z fan-ficcer. Or was that a medicine cabinet fan-ficcer.

Anyhow, in my plane of reality, Bessie picks all the straws out of the medicine cabinet as fast as I can put them in. Then I tried hiding them in the scrapbooks screwed into the wall, but Les would find them and chew them to soggy pulp. That time when Jesus came to the kitchen and wanted a small ginger ale? I didn't even have a straw to give him. But he was gracious about it and all.

KTC
09-29-2009, 02:38 AM
You're good. You're very good. (-;