Friday, March 14, 2008

Fanfic and Copyright

Fanfic or fan fic or fan fiction -- stories written by fans using someone else's world. For example, lots of kids write their own Harry Potter fanfic stories.

Readers and writers of fanfic often ask about the legality of writing stories using media or book characters.

IN A LEGAL SENSE, fanfic is a copyright violation, but the owner of the copyright can choose to ignore it or prosecute it at their discretion.

The essential rules of writing fanfic are--
• If the owners of characters in any media are fanfic friendly, it's okay to write and share it as long as it's not for profit.
• If the owners of the characters, etc., in any media aren't fanfic friendly, don't share your fanfic in that universe if you don't want to be chased by lawyers disguised as pit bulls.
• If the owners of the characters, etc., are friendly to fanfic but ask that you not write slash (heterosexual characters taking a partner of the same sex) or erotic stories, don't write it. Appreciate the creator's generosity in allowing you to use their universe and respect their wishes about their characters.

Lots of fans like to thumb their noses at the copyright and trademark laws for various reasons, but it boils down to a matter of respect and thanks. If you enjoy someone's work, don't screw them financially or trash their characters.

How does this relate to those of us who write original fiction?

According to most publishers, we should ask readers not to write fanfic using our characters because it endangers our copyright.

Copyright violation is much more severe if the violation is in the same media. In other words, fanfic is more dangerous to the fiction writer's copyright ownership than it is to a movie's copyright.


Unknown said...

Fan Fiction can be nice at times since it just shows how attached are the fans of a certain book or movie but proper citation or acknowledgement must be present. As part of an essay writers community, we do have our own part in fan fiction and to be honest, we are loving this activity. But we set our limits and we define our rules. We focus more on our essay writing activities above all things.

Rowan Mcklain said...

I personally have been reading fan fiction for years, and most of the time a fan fiction is created because someone doesn't like the ending or how the "Love intrest" turned out in the end. For me Rose and the tenth doctor are big in my realm of not the ending I was looking for. Fan fiction is a passion for people who see diffrent endings but lack the skill and imagination to create their own realities. I wrote quite a few of them myself and as a seasoned fan fiction writer, we always give the discalimer that it is not our property and that we do not own any rights to anything. There is also a common aggreement to report other writers in the community that steal from other writers. For me its mostly I lack the ability to write the beginning and find an end to my own stories, I come up with great ideas and tend to never complete them. so in a way it also helps you work on any thing that you lack in your writing skills, its a network of friends that help you learn to write better, imporve grammer and spelling. (All of which have grown rusty for my self over the years) Its a way to live a dream without the money, some of us just enjoy writing adn reading what other people think about it.