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LeslieB
08-12-2006, 05:55 PM
I am trying to answer a question that a number of my fanfic readers have asked me. I have an extremely large fanfic epic (about 700k words) posted at a website, and people have asked me if there is any way for them to obtain a book version of it.

Now, obviously the first rule of fan fiction is "Thou shalt not try to make money from fanfic." I have no interest in making a single penny from that story, but I would like to help out my readers if I could. I first thought of LuLu, since they have a no-profit option, but their rules prohibit fan fiction. I can't blame them, because there are too many people like that Star Wars idiot running around. I looked at Cafepress, but their prices are a bit higher than LuLu's so I don't know if they are a good option.

Here's my question - what would be the best way to get print copies of my work into my readers' hands? As I said, I want it to be non-profit in every respect. Are there printers you can recommend? Or would the safest option be to put the story into a pdf version and tell them to take it to a local printer? I'm not sure how well that would work, since my readers are very international and I don't know how expensive that would be for them.

maestrowork
08-12-2006, 06:25 PM
My understanding is that fanfic violates copyright and trademark laws, and if you don't get the blessing from, say, George Lucas for your Star Wars fanfic, you can't print and distribute your work, even if you're not selling them for profits. Of course, I will let a lawyer answer this one more professionally.

Marlys
08-12-2006, 06:27 PM
I'm not a lawyer either, but as fanfic is illegal violation of copyright, there's no good way to get a print version of your stuff into people's hands.

Even authors who are happy to turn a blind eye to fanfic online might get pissed off if you tried to distribute it in book form. I wouldn't risk getting sued if I were you.

JanDarby
08-12-2006, 06:28 PM
The profit issue is irrelevant. Despite the widespread disclaimers that include a statement that the fanfic writer isn't making a profit, copyright is NOT contingent on the profit-making motive.

Fanfiction, while often tolerated by the copyright holder, is nevertheless a copyright violation.

JD, not giving individual legal advice, just general information

Medievalist
08-12-2006, 06:40 PM
One of the best discussion re: legality of fan fiction is here, by an attorney with an extensive background in copyright and fandom.

http://www.authorslawyer.com/weft/fanfic.shtml

veinglory
08-12-2006, 07:57 PM
Don't do it. In fact don't even discuss doing it online in a way that draws attention. There is a reason why zine publishers keep a low profile and it is because that activity is illegal except in the very few authorised or out of copyright fandom. if you really are not wanting anymoney make arrangements with one of the larger fanzine publishers.

maestrowork
08-12-2006, 08:20 PM
I agree with Veinglory. Some zines and online fanfics exists because the copyright holders don't know about them. Once they do, you're gone.

LeslieB
08-12-2006, 08:33 PM
I appreciate everyone's advice. To make one thing clear, the source of my fanfic knows all about me and the site I post at. It is fanfic based on a computer RPG, and one of the game designers used to be a regular on our board. In fact, he posted some stories himself, and made it clear that a good number of the company's employees were reading our fanfic. So if a C&D was likely to show up, it would have roughly six years ago. Not to mention that we could hardly hurt the sales of a game that is now found only in the $5 bargain bin.

Still, I understand the concerns about the legal issues, and to be honest I felt that this was the likely answer I would get. But at least now I have a 'third party' opinion to back me up when I tell my fans that they will have to be satisfied with the web page. :tongue

JulesJones
08-12-2006, 09:43 PM
I'll skip the legal advice...

The usual thing with fanzines is your friendly neighbourhood copy shop. Failing that, one of the big zine publishers and *their* local copy shop. Other alternatives include having access to a heavy duty laser printer with low running costs, either your own or your employer's. But whatever way you pick, it's going to be expensive compared with a book in the bookstore, and then there's postage on top. ($9 for an international flat rate envelope.)

If you want to do this, your best bet might be to provide a nicely formatted pdf (in both letter and A4 paper size) that people can download and print locally. Break it up into several parts so that people can print it off one part at a time for binding if they so wish.

veinglory
08-12-2006, 10:15 PM
Kinkos now tend to want to know you have the right to reproduce the material--people are actually being turned away!

huw
08-12-2006, 11:59 PM
Sounds like you might be in a position to get written permission from the copyright holder. I wonder if lulu would look at it on a case-by-case basis then, rather than holding to their blanket "no fanfic" rule.

JulesJones
08-13-2006, 12:09 AM
Wonder if someone sent Kinkos a C&D?

After I stopped working somewhere with its own print room, I used my local Office Depot's self-service machine, or a small local copy shop, as both were cheaper than Kinko's for small runs. But I was binding at home, and only needed the actual printing. That makes life easier. Some copy shops have self-service binding. Not fun for doing lots-n-lots of copies, but feasible if you're only doing a few. I'd go with CafePress if it doesn't explicitly ban fanfic, plus pdf on the website. Or at least price it up at CafePress (including the postage), and asking them if they'd be willing to pay that amount. Because on small print runs it's going to cost around that amount whichever way you do it, and once people realise that they're not going to get it for the price of a mass market paperback, they may be more interested in just downloading a pdf and printing it themselves.

Medievalist
08-13-2006, 12:12 AM
Kinkos was a defendant in a history making copyright decision; it cost them millions, in the long run.

JulesJones
08-13-2006, 12:33 AM
Thanks, Lisa. That would certainly explain twitchiness...

I should note that I was involved in publishing fanzines, but I was also in a media fandom where the various rights holders took an attitude of "please don't do it in public where we can see it and would have to Do Something about it". Or I wouldn't be talking about it in public, even without names. Some rights owners are a lot less tolerant. If there's any possibility of getting written permission, I would ask. It has been done, although it's rare.

Number-crunching - 700 kwords is going to run to around 800-1000 pages of A4/letter size zine. That's going to run expensive, and will have to be done in at least two, probably more, volumes.

jchines
08-13-2006, 01:25 AM
The thing is, even if the copyright owners are turning a blind eye, until you have explicit written permission from whoever owns the copyright, you're still doing something illegal. (I won't get into the ethics one way or the other.) Putting it on your website means you're the one breaking that law. Going to a printer means you're asking a business to break the law with you, and that's probably not a good idea, even if you can slip it past them without their noticing...

Standard disclaimers here that I'm not a lawyer, etc.

There have been a few good discussions about copyright and fanfic and legalities over at http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/ Lots of good stuff in the commentary, from both sides of the aisle.

kappapi99
08-13-2006, 04:59 AM
I appreciate everyone's advice. To make one thing clear, the source of my fanfic knows all about me and the site I post at. It is fanfic based on a computer RPG, and one of the game designers used to be a regular on our board. In fact, he posted some stories himself, and made it clear that a good number of the company's employees were reading our fanfic. So if a C&D was likely to show up, it would have roughly six years ago. Not to mention that we could hardly hurt the sales of a game that is now found only in the $5 bargain bin.

Still, I understand the concerns about the legal issues, and to be honest I felt that this was the likely answer I would get. But at least now I have a 'third party' opinion to back me up when I tell my fans that they will have to be satisfied with the web page. :tongue

Leslie, if you know the owner/creator of the game, and you get permission in writing from him to write and publish a work based on his game, there will be no problem, profits or no.

I am in a position where a friend of mine wrote a space based fantasy RPG and gave me permission in writing to write and publish a book. He is even going to sell it on his website once it gets published (which means I need to finish incorporating the publishers feedback...doh!).

KP

LeslieB
08-13-2006, 06:44 AM
Leslie, if you know the owner/creator of the game, and you get permission in writing from him to write and publish a work based on his game, there will be no problem, profits or no.

I am in a position where a friend of mine wrote a space based fantasy RPG and gave me permission in writing to write and publish a book. He is even going to sell it on his website once it gets published (which means I need to finish incorporating the publishers feedback...doh!).

KP

I'm afraid it isn't that simple. Computer game companies are tied up with other companies who also have a stake in a particular game. When you fire up most games, you will see the splash screens of four or five companies who had some part in producing it. So even if I got the permission of the company who actually created the game, there would still be all those other people to deal with. In the normal course of events, a company like Interplay couldn't care less about fanfic, but legal forms are a whole different matter.

The feedback from this thread has confirmed my suspicions that it would not be a good idea to try to put my story into print form. But I have to admit, I'm a softie at heart, and hate to say no, especially to people who love my writing. This gives me an excuse to spend my time on my original manuscript rather than jumping through hoops over my finished work.

dclary
09-01-2006, 06:23 PM
You've heard the advice, and you know what you have to do. I say go for it! GET HIS PERMISSION... and once you have that... it's open season.