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February, 2004 : Feature:

The Fan Fiction FAQ

The other day, someone expressed surprise that there are over 100,000 works of fan fiction devoted to Harry Potter and Friends over at FanFiction.net ("unleash your imagination and free your soul"). No, what surprised me was that there is more Homeric fan fiction ("Hector's hands wandered for the last time as he met that sacred place with his fingers. He knew that she was nearly drunk with the need to have him within her."), and even more Jane Austen fan fiction (including Darcy/Wickham slash) than there is Dune fan fiction. I always wanted to write about House Harkonnen, myself, especially after I saw the version with Sting as Feyd-Rautha.

Some loathe fan fiction, some love it (to write it anyway, it's hard to find anyone who really reads it much), and there are even those who embrace both reactions. Like an alcoholic who loves to drink, and hates the drink, and hates himself for drinking, and loves the blissful glow of being drunk.

No matter who you are, where your feelings lie, or what your questions might be, in this FAQ I will answer every important question pertaining to fan fiction. Reasonably, authoritatively, and respectfully.

Fan Fiction for Professional Writers

Is Fan Fiction a New Phenomenon?

In geological time, perhaps, but it's no newer than the human species. Fan Fiction is close kin to the oral traditions of hunter-gatherer societies, or the epic poetry of ancient Greece. Humans have always told stories about common characters, adapting, expanding, remolding the familiar people and places of common myth to their own purposes.

Fan Fiction as we know it today, however, is generally believed to have begun with Star Trek adaptations by fans, many of whom wanted to imagine a little Kirk-on-Spock nookie. (This was called K/S fiction, and the slash between K and S gave rise to the term 'slash' which now refers to any homo-erotic, male-male fan fiction.)

Why do People Write Fan Fiction?

As you might expect, different people have different motives.

An unscientific sampling reveals that about two thirds of writers are genuinely fans who just feel inspired or moved to keep imagining stories about the characters and worlds they have fallen in love with. Many are young adults. Remember: "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

But there are other writers, and these tend to be the more prolific producers of fan fiction, who are less interested in the source material and are instead exercising their writing addiction. Fan fiction is easier to write than original fiction, and there is no minimum standard, and there is a small but ready-made audience. What could be better? The better fan fiction writers do get some notice and regard from their peers in the sub-culture, which in turn feeds the habit.

Finally, there are people who are basically working through some kink or fetish using the medium of other people's fiction. Slash and other X rated stuff often falls into this category. These are usually the works that makes professional writers queasy.

Help! People are stealing my characters! What do I do?

Quite frankly, you are in a lose-lose situation, unless you are successful enough for it not to matter, in which case you are in a win-win situation. Once again, the deck is stacked against the little gal.

Your options include:

  • Prosecute the bastards.
    Benefits: You assert your copyright ownership, and let other would-be character thieves know that stealing your stuff could land them in hot water. This may dissuade, say, 5% of potential fan fiction writers.
    Drawbacks: Don't forget the 'fan' in 'fan fiction'. If you are at that stage of your career where it makes a difference what people think of you, prosecuting your fans may be a bad idea. Unless your publisher is paying for this, it's also going to be expensive. Furthermore, it's largely ineffective. You aren't going to find most of them, and they can always publish their little storylets under pseudonyms and other hard-to-trace technical obfuscations. Finally, you are not going to get anything out of it. A great percentage of works of fan-fiction begin with the caveat: "Please don't sue me, and I don't have anything worth taking anyway." This is almost certainly true.

  • Ignore it. And I do mean ignore it! See What else can they do to me?
    Benefits: The path of least resistance, and it costs you nothing. And there's always the remote possibility that you will develop a cult following based on serendipitous action of word-of-mouth networks.
    Drawbacks: Someone, some day, is going to come up to you and say, "My kid loves your work, but I am a little concerned about the bestiality themes."

  • Make a public statement, or put guidelines specifying what people can and cannot do in fan-fiction derived from your work.
    Benefits: You actually retain some control over what they do with your characters, and you may also retain the good-will of the fan-fiction community. Besides, this is what J.K. Rowling did, and look where it got her.
    Drawbacks: You will be seen as encouraging fan fiction, and in all likelihood, fans will try to send you their efforts. Those who hate fan fiction will think you are pandering (which you are) and fans who want to write stories that would make Dan Savage blush will do so anyway.

Note that while legally, fan fiction steals your creative material, your characters, your ideas, or the world that you have invested so much of your life creating, there is no evidence that fan fiction has any negative impact on your sales. A significant percentage are kids just doing what comes naturally: telling stories about the characters they care about.

(For more about the legal issues, particularly which elements of your fiction are not protected by copyright law, spend some time at Chilling Effects.)

I must mention that there is actually one other possibility. You could actually encourage fan fiction: running contests to reward the best stuff, and co-authoring works by the most competent fans. Read on to learn why this is a Bad Idea.

What Else Can They Do to Me?

They've stolen your beloved characters and put them into revolting (not to mention, biologically impossible) sexual situations. They've littered all over your pristine world. They've written five thousand utterly contemptible variations on your next book. What else can they possibly do?

Well, someone could write a reasonably good variation on your next book, perhaps even anticipating the plot twists you have been thinking up for years. When your book comes out they might conclude you read their version and copied it. They might attempt to sue you for part of the profit.

Sound absurd? Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to Marion Zimmer Bradley. She ran a fanzine for her own work, and in 1992 a fan who had submitted fan fiction demanded part of the profit of Bradley's next book, as well as credit for co-authoring it. There were law suits, and the net result was, Bradley never published the book. All because the fan was able to make the case that Bradley had read (or might have read) the fan fiction.

Conclusion: Never read fan fiction about your world. If fans send you stories in email, delete them unread. If fans mail you stories, return them unopened. Even if this offends your only living fan, you have to do this. Consider a worst case scenario: you read some fan fiction on the web, and some detail, some image, some plot twist enters your sub-conscious and comes out later in one of your own stories. Not only can this fan make the case that you took their idea--he may even be right.

Fan Fiction for Fan Fiction Writers

Is Fan Fiction Really a Copyright Violation?

Yes.

If you publish fiction about someone else's characters, you are, in fact, breaking the law. The police are not going to come after you, but if the author or her lawyers do, I'm afraid you don't have a leg to stand on. You should do whatever they tell you to, up to and including burning your last living manuscript in the barbecue at midnight.

However: writing fan fiction is not against any law. If you write it in the privacy of your own room, and never show it to a single soul, you have broken no law. So, what is publishing then, you ask? Read on...

(For more about copyright law for fan fiction writers, spend some time at Whoosh.org.)

Is Putting Something on the Web Really Publishing?

Yes.

Publishing doesn't mean paper, and it doesn't mean getting paid. Publishing means putting it in a place where other people can read it. If the right lawyer gets involved, leaving your original ball-point scribble version in the coffee shop by accident could be considered publishing.

Is Fan Fiction Unethical?

This depends on what the author has to say about it. The author legally owns his or her characters and creations, and owns the rights to all derivative works, which is what fan fiction is. Additionally, the author has put a huge amount of his or her life into the work. What the author says, goes.

Some authors are stingy with their creations. Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro are a few writers who don't cotton to fan fiction. And if they say fan fiction is forbidden, it might make them mean, but it also makes it unethical for you to write about their characters.

Otherwise, if an author sets some limits on fan fiction, than you are ethically obliged to respect those limits. If they say no sex, or no slash, or no furry, then that's what they mean. Think of yourself as a guest in someone's house. You don't take your shoes off and plop your smelly feet on their table. You certainly don't rape their children. Whatever the house rules are, that determines what is ethical.

If you read through the section for authors, above, you will also understand that authors can't read your fan fiction. Even though you are well-meaning, they still can't read it. So don't send it to them. Instead, write them letters telling them how much you love their stories.

You Keep Mentioning Characters. What About Worlds?

This is a grey area. Ideas are not subject to copyright. The law doesn't specify exactly what, in fiction, is subject to copyright, but court cases have generally focussed on stories and characters as copyrightable elements. Worlds, such as Tolkien's Middle Earth, do not seem to be copyrightable. You might be able to get away with setting your fan fiction in Pern so long as you don't use any of McCaffrey's characters. On the other hand, she might sue you anyway, and the judge might set some new precedent against you. Using the letter of the law to bypass ethics is not the recommended course, here, because the precise configuration of those letters are so blurry.

People say Fan Fiction isn't creative. Why?

Although some fan fiction writers may do some creative things with their stories, the essence of the idea is derivative. If you are using someone else's characters, or world, or concepts, or magic system, then this is something you have not invented on your own.

One argument against writing fan fiction is that if you have any desire to be a writer, it may be quite bad for you to practice at fan fiction because you are not exercising the full creative faculties. It is like an athlete just strengthening one leg.

Why Do People Think Fan Fiction Is Bad?

Because most of it is bad.

The problem of all self-publishing, fan fiction or not, is that you don't have any standard to reach. You can call it done after just a rough draft, or when you are tired of it. You post it on the web, and maybe a few people will read it. Serious writers, however, must work all the time to improve their skills, to deepen their insight, to court the mysterious subconscious that drives true creativity. They know if the next story isn't better than the last one, they are going to start to lose their audience. Editors won't buy it. No one will see it. If something shoddy ends up in print, the critics will jump all over it. It's a tough life, but it has the result of forcing writers to get better.

Nothing is forcing fan fiction to get better. Occasionally you may stumble over some fan fiction that is really quite good, but even then, you have to wonder why the writer isn't writing his or her own stories, and trying to publish them for real.

In fact, one of the dangers for writers in getting deeply involved with fan fiction is that immersion in that much amateur writing will lower your own standards of what is good. Once your brain starts glossing over awkward constructions, clumsy characterization, and filling in for inconsistencies, you will find all of that gunk creeping into your own writing.

Fan Fiction for Everyone Else

For Readers: Is there any Good Fan Fiction?

Of course. You may have a hard time finding it, but there are some talented people out there playing around with fan fiction.

Although I am personally sympathetic with the desire to write fan fiction, I have no real understanding of why anyone would read it. Do you remember the Oz books? There were whole sets of Oz books written by people other than L. Frank Baum. I always thought of them as the fake books, because only Baum's Oz was the real Oz. I feel the same way about fan fiction.

Even the stuff that is technically good, or inherently entertaining, is still not part of the canon. It's like reading a book in which there's a long dream sequence that doesn't mean anything for the rest of the story. Even if it's kind of interesting, or well written, it still feels like a waste of time.

For Parents: My kid is writing Fan Fiction. Should I be worried?

Most parents are so happy when a child shows any interest in reading or writing that they will do anything to encourage the habit.

If your child (or your friend, or, for that matter, your parent) is writing fan fiction, it is worth checking out what author the writer is aping. If it's one of those litigious ones, you might want to suggest a new direction.

But even if it looks safe enough from a legal perspective, you probably want to encourage original fiction even more. Parents know that kids love to rebel, so laying down a rule against fan fiction is unlikely to be successful, particularly since the whole culture of fan fiction is already pretty defensive about the passion. (Remember: "Unleash your imagination and free your soul?") So, gentle encouragement to write creatively, and positive reinforcement on the work there is the best tactic.


Copyright © 2004, Irina Khadiz. All Rights Reserved.

About Irina Khadiz

Raised by wolves in the Azerbaijan/Naxcivan exclave, Irina was discovered by missionaries and brought to Palo Alto where she now plays video games for a living. Life is crazy like that.

Enquiries may be directed to irina.khadiz *at* gmail.com. Go ahead, spam me. Google doesn't mind.

COMMENTS!

Feb 21, 20:46 by John Frost
I tried to get Irina to put that joke in her article somewhere, but she wouldn't do it. What's your view on fan fiction?
Feb 22, 08:54 by Anthony Murfet
I met Julie for the first time at the age of ten through the LOC section in Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space. That would be 1963. I met Julie for real a couple of years ago as a member of the AACC (American Association of ComicBook Collectors). I got to know "Uncle Julie" at our annual dinners in San Diego. As some of you may know Julie was a founder member of 1st Fandom and participated in the creation of one of the 1st fannish publications "The Time Traveller". Julie passed on a few weeks ago and I am wondering what will happen to his collection of fannish memorabilia. I for one would like to see those early issues of the Time Travellar scanned and published so I could read them. Assuming they actually exist will these important SF artifacts be preserved and made available? The upcoming SF Museum in Seattle comes to mind as a suitable repository.

Best, Tony Murfet.
Feb 22, 12:18 by Jed Hartman
I was a little perturbed by the what I perceived as the tone of this article.

It begins with a claim that the questions will be answered "respectfully," but I don't see much respect for fanfic writers or readers in this piece, and especially not for those who write and read sexually explicit fanfic. Perhaps I misread the tone here, but the section oriented toward pro writers seems to me to suggest that fanfic writers are "stealing," are "bastards," are "litter[ing]," are writing "revolting" and "utterly contemptible" work. At first I thought perhaps it was just that that section was trying to take the point of view of an established writer who's dismayed by fanfic, but the section oriented toward fan writers seems to me to say, in essence, "Don't write fanfic." (Publishing it is a copyright violation, it's unethical if the original creators don't like it, it's not creative, exposure to it will make your own writing worse.) I'm not seeing much balance here, nor much respect to anyone other than the original authors. Note that I certainly believe the original authors deserve respect; I just felt that a respectful FAQ about fanfic ought to provide some answers that represent the points of view of the people who read and write it.

In fact, it struck me as odd that someone who can't understand why anyone would read fanfic would write an FAQ about it. Although I neither write nor read fanfic myself, I know a fair number of fanfic writers, and as far as I know, all of them read the work of other members of the fanfic community. It might be interesting to hear from their points of view what they enjoy about reading and writing fanfic.

As a side note, I'm a little confused about the argument pertaining to the Oz books. The Ruth Plumly Thompson Oz books, for example, *are* part of the canon, much as the officially published Star Trek novels are part of the canon. The line between fanfic and officially sanctioned material by another author can come down to a question of permission. The question of what counts as canonical in a given world is a fascinating one; note, for example, that the Silmarillion was pieced together out of Tolkien's notes, some of which were contradictory. Who gets to decide whether a given work is canonical or not? And is a non-canonical work automatically bad? What about non-canonical work that's by the original author, such as Kim Stanley Robinson's stories set in slightly-alternate versions of the world of his Mars books? And is _Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead_ fanfic? A reader may have a different idea of what's canonical than the original author had. I'm not trying to make a coherent argument in this paragraph; I'm just saying that the notion of canon is an interesting and complex one that I felt received too short shrift in this article.
Feb 22, 12:47 by sheffield zarquon
It's hard to know where to begin to argue with someone whose experience of fanfic is so widely different from my own. I have found the fanfic community to consist of thoughtful, ethical, respectful people on the whole - unlike "conventional" fandom, where I have met a significant number of ****s. I do not, however, jump to the conclusion that this is the way "conventional" fans typically behave and would ask for the same courtesy to be extended to the fanfic community.

As to the arguments expressed, is it "disrespectful" of the Arthurian mythos for someone to write a novel from the women's viewpoint? (The Mists of Avalon) Shared worlds were, I would argue, the earliest form of fiction and it is only in the last hundred years that we have begun to expect to make money out of "owning" the copyright in our creations. I would argue that fiction, like information, wants to be free!

And I find the article quite "revolting" in its view of all fanfiction as BAD fiction.

Or is this piece just flamebait, and you're hoping that the fanfic community will rush to sub. to your journal to read the disputed argument? I was, in fact, going to post a link to a fanfic mailing list for comment, but on reflection I think I'll pass, thanks. I think you're wrong, but I respect your right to express your opinion. But that doesn't mean I'll help you stir up a nice hit-generating storm.
Feb 22, 15:25 by Irina Khadiz
QUOTE: I was a little perturbed by the what I perceived as the tone of this article. /QUOTE

Apparently I didn't convey my own feelings -- which are complex -- as well as I had hoped. I'm not nearly as harsh on fan fiction as I guess I came across.

QUOTE: The question of what counts as canonical in a given world is a fascinating one .... Who gets to decide whether a given work is canonical or not? And is a non-canonical work automatically bad? .... I'm not trying to make a coherent argument in this paragraph; I'm just saying that the notion of canon is an interesting and complex one that I felt received too short shrift in this article. /QUOTE

Well, it certainly wasn't the topic I was trying to discuss, but you're right -- it IS a fascinating one. Maybe you should work an article up on it yourself! Or someone else might want to tackle this.

-KDZ

PS. Bluejack! Get a quote feature working, will you?
Feb 24, 06:00 by Sean T. M. Stiennon
And I think she's absolutely right in saying that fanfic is harmful to writers who might be in danger of having people write about their stories. She makes a crucial point: You MUST NOT read fanfic about your characters, worlds, etc., because of the thorny legal troubles that might ensue, and you should not send fanfic to authors you like.
Feb 24, 06:40 by Brendan Hogg
I was interested, in an abstract, theoretical way, in the idea of a writer setting up "rules" for the use of fanfic in their world, and it seems to me that doing so might provide a way round the problem Asarec notes above. Is there any legal way a writer could say "You're welcome to play in my world, but to do so you have to give up your own rights in anything you create in it; if I like it, I'm entitled to use it" -- or would it be too easy for the fanfic writer to claim that they were unaware of this clause? (I would have thought a fair number of fanfic writers would be quite happy with the outside chance that something they write might become canonical, and if they're really fans -- which I believe the majority sincerely are -- they wouldn't _want_ to sue in the first place.)
Feb 24, 15:28 by Irina Khadiz
QUOTE: Is there any legal way a writer could say "You're welcome to play in my world, but to do so you have to give up your own rights in anything you create in it; if I like it, I'm entitled to use it" /QUOTE

You should consult a lawyer with experience in copyright law and licensing about this issue. There ARE some interesting possibilities with regard to licensing, particularly as pioneered by open source software innovations (see our own QPL for one example). Still, only a lawyer can answer this question authoritatively.

One thing you DON'T want to count on is the 'niceness' of your fans. 99.9999% of are probably well disposed to be friendly and generous towards you -- but it only takes one bad apple to ruin your whole book/year/etc.

-KDZ
Feb 29, 19:34 by Allan Rosewarne
Well, the article did come out really harshly against fan fiction, both writers and readers; regardless, of ones original intent. (as far as I can tell the essay is totally dismissive of fan fiction readers)I am unsure, but I am presuming this article and discussion are only concerned with fan fiction that is derivative work from existing original material, literary or media (most of my discussion concerns derivative material). To clarify there are fan writers who write work that it is not derivative, for example, the work of fan fiction known as _The_ _Eye_ _of_ _Argon_.

As to the legal arguments is anyone discussing this an attorney, if not all discussions carry almost no weight at all. However, concerning any author who gets involved with fan writers, one word applies BEWARE. AFAIK, Marion Zimmer Bradley went down this path and to the best of my knowlege the only party that came out happy were the attorneys involved. I am sure MZB took no joy in taking an aspiring writer and fan of her opus into court, and one can be certain that the fan did not find it a happy experience to be taken to court one of their favorite authors. With the existing U.S. laws concerning intellectual property, I am not sure there is a resolution. But I am not an attorney, so my opinions really do not count. (IMO, if this issue could be resolved with the fan universe of writers and "pro" universe of writers freely exchanging ideas. The reading universe would become very interesting. See above by Irina)

Of course it goes without saying that fan writers should honor the wishes of the original authors, to not comply would be extremely bad manners and just plain rude(minimally) (IOW, if one is just dying to write a story about Lestat a vampire, do not do it)

Furthemore, to characterize fan fiction as mostly "adult" oriented (IOW, "smutty) is not really accurate. Probably if most fan fiction is surveyed, most it is in the same degree of explicitness (sexual content and violence) as the original work. An empirical example, about one year or so ago, fanfiction.net, removed their NC-17 (their designation for adult stories) material and the website is still hold thousands of stories and receives dozens of submissions per day.

As for the seriousness of fan stories, well according to information available to me a Dr. Levy at the Uni. of Portland is doing a serious study of fan fiction writers. A researcher doing a survey of Buffy fans last year took in to account the fan's fan fiction reading habits as part of her survey. Donald Palumbo in _Erotic_ _Universe_(copyight 1986, Greenwood Press) devoted one chapter to fan writers (his primary focus was the Star Trek universe). Henry JenkinsIII Ph.D. of MIT, has compared fan writers to the early bards of yore, and says that fan writers are reclaiming the mythos for the populace and taking it away from the corporate controlled structure.

Penultimately, I am adding my own experience. Reading fan fiction on the Internet, primarily Buffy fiction. Got me interested in reading fiction (primarily scifi and fantasy)again. Something I had not done much of for about 15 years (since then I have read _Ammonite_ and _Glory _Season_ and others, and then revived my long dormant fannish nature). And that has lead to me finding things like IRoSF. And to elsydir above I do not think this is an elaborate "troll", probably many SciFi and fantasy types feel this way.

Lastly, would one ever give this harsh a treatment to the other derivative fan creation, filk?

Hope my now hopelessly long message has not bored everyone to death and I hope it has made some sense and made some applicble and relevant points to the original essay.
Mar 2, 10:14 by Irina Khadiz
QUOTE: To clarify there are fan writers who write work that it is not derivative, for example, the work of fan fiction known as _The_ _Eye_ _of_ _Argon_. /QUOTE

Taraswizard: this is just called fiction. The term 'fan fiction' refers specifically to fiction that *is* derivative. Many people who consider themselves fans have written original fiction, and I would suggest that a great many authors in the field *do* consider themselves fans.

QUOTE: Of course it goes without saying that fan writers should honor the wishes of the original authors, to not comply would be extremely bad manners and just plain rude(minimally) /QUOTE

Actually, I think it needed to be said, and should be repeated. There are enough fan writers who do not honor the wishes of authors that there is ongoing, and if you speak with authors, even an increasing problem. In the article I really did focus on things from the authors point of view, and I pointed out that most fans really are just well intentioned fans, inspired to their own creativity by the world the author has created. But that's not the whole story, *everyone* wishes that it were. It's the rest of the story that needs to be understood -- and solved.

QUOTE: Lastly, would one ever give this harsh a treatment to the other derivative fan creation, filk? /QUOTE

Filk is a different phenomenon, both culturally and legally. In the first place, just about all filk would be exempted from copyright action because it is parody. Second, filk is primarily a performance phenomenon, which is culturally different than something that is published. Third, the presence of filk doesn't have any of the dangers for authors that fan fiction does. It can't be confused with the original work, nor can it be used in legal action against authors.
Mar 7, 22:36 by Allan Rosewarne
this is just called fiction. The term 'fan fiction' refers specifically to fiction that *is* derivative
Your use of the definition that excludes non-derivative work while maybe in common usage of the day, and maybe the common usage today only calls derivative work as fan fiction, but that does mean this usage is correct. Except, work such as _Eye_ _of_ _Aragon_ originally was printed in fanzines (ipso locuter) and it was written by a fan author. Furthermore, at a recent con I attended the above mentioned story was called "fan fiction". I guess what I am trying to say is 'there are two types of fan fiction' derivative and original.

That's all I have to say
Mar 29, 05:02 by A.R. Yngve
Certain genres, while not necessarily "born bad", work as lightning rods for the terminally insecure. Especially fan fiction.

I mean: if you're so keen on writing stories, why not create your own characters? Why is it so important to control other people's fiction? It smacks not of "liberating" or "taking back" the stories, but rather insecurity... or obsession.

But fans often have this tendency to think that "Whatever I like, I own." They honestly believe that they have a rightful "claim" to a commercial property like Star Trek or Buffy the Vamipire Slayer.

What kind of claim? A moral one? Explain that.

An emotional claim? Emotional claims to commercial properties have no validity. At all.

"Captain Kirk must behave as we want because... because... because we, the fans, love him!!"

In the immortal words of that master thespian, William Shatner: GET A LIFE!
Mar 29, 11:04 by Bluejack
In the immortal words of that master thespian, William Shatner: GET A LIFE!


Speaking of which, has anyone noticed Shatner playing a somewhat-insane lawyer on "The Practice"? He's been hilarious.
Mar 29, 13:03 by David Gardner
Certain genres, while not necessarily "born bad", work as lightning rods for the terminally insecure. Especially fan fiction.

I can go both ways on this argument. I prefer what has come to be called literature, and I'll read The Sound and the Fury for the dozenth time before I'll spend my time on Buffy. In the universe I'm describing there, it's clear that fanfic is something other than literature.

At the same time, even if it's not lit, and even if it's poorly written, and even if it does nothing other than serve as an ego-boo for those who write it, why not let them? I don't perceive that I'm being hurt by it, and I think it's likely that there are writers who are done a world of good by being able to wrestle with their issues in this manner.

To the extent that producers respond to what they think fandom wants to see, I do perceive the product being hurt. At the same time, I'm a firm believer in natural selection, and Enterprise is now showing that that strategy will not necessarily lead to success.
May 21, 22:42 by Allan Rosewarne
OK, sorry to revive this issue. But I do have one last question, sort of based on a recent discussion at a convention I was at. I was only a bystander to the conversation.

One side of the conversation was the economic objection to fanfiction. The point of was that such amateur derivative work diluted the economic value of the original creation, and that economic value is protected through the legalities of copyrights. If that is the case then how would the feeling go concerning fan fiction derivative of work in the public domain, for example, Sherlock Holmes(and I believe Sherlock Holmes is public domain in the UK and US, if I am wrong disregard this discussion). As far as I know, fan writers have been writing in this universe for decades.

May 24, 11:01 by Irina Khadiz
One side of the conversation was the economic objection to fanfiction. The point of was that such amateur derivative work diluted the economic value of the original creation, and that economic value is protected through the legalities of copyrights. If that is the case then how would the feeling go concerning fan fiction derivative of work in the public domain, for example, Sherlock Holmes(and I believe Sherlock Holmes is public domain in the UK and US, if I am wrong disregard this discussion).


People can feel whatever they want, but any kind of fan fiction for works out of copyright is perfectly legal and ethical. People who don't like to read fan fiction probably won't be any more likely to do so, but that's their problem.

Once works go out of copyright, there is no "owner" to have his or her economic interest diluted. The creator is, by definition, deceased, and any subsequent owners have had plenty of time to milk the cash cow.
May 24, 11:07 by Irina Khadiz
I guess what I am trying to say is 'there are two types of fan fiction' derivative and original.


What you are calling original "fan fiction" is simply fiction written by people who are in fandom, or consider themselves science fiction fans. By that standard many professionals are writing "fan fiction."

Usually, the term fan fiction refers only to works written by fans of some particular book or series about that particular series: characters, settings, etc. To bring in the fact that fans write original fiction simply muddles the term. In any case, none of the discussion -- either my article or any others you are likely to read -- have any bearing on the rights, ethics, or quality of original fiction written by fans.
Oct 4, 09:47 by Naamen Tilahun
I just wanted to mention that someone who encourages and also reads fan fiction about his creations is Mr. Joss Whedon creator of Angel,Buffy and Firefly. Getting Jossed has become a term among writers for having a line or plot point show up in the show after it was written in fan fiction. When asked what his recommendation for his fans was now that the show was over, his response. "Write Fan fiction"
Jan 16, 10:17 by Allan Rosewarne
Sorry for resurrecting this issue. However, in August 2005 a new book came out regarding this subject. The Democratic Genre: fan fiction in a literary context by Sheenagh Pugh, ISBN 1854113992. One can read a sample of the first chapter on the Refractory website. http://www.refractory.unimelb.edu.au/journalissues/vol5/vol5.html
Feb 5, 13:32 by Jennifer Hough
I almost never read fan fiction, as it takes a certain level of obsession that I can only rarely attain to be willing to risk the waste of time that it almost always is. Sometimes it's even better than the source material though, and the relevation of experiencing a higher quality version of something one already loves to death should be something everyone should experience at least once. Copyright is overrated. Or overextended rather. It's changed from something designed to support the creator in their creative endeavors to a suppresor of creativity in favor of pure monetary profit. But that's completely off the topic.
Mar 5, 07:44 by Allan Rosewarne
User going by name Lythea wrote
Sometimes it's even better than the source material though, and the relevation of experiencing a higher quality version of something one already loves to death should be something everyone should experience at least once. Copyright is overrated. Or overextended rather. It's changed from something designed to support the creator in their creative endeavors to a suppresor of creativity in favor of pure monetary profit. But that's completely off the topic.[/Q} Your conclusion concerning your messages point is erroneous, your discussion is "ON TOPIC" and if you have more thoughts, continue please.
Apr 27, 09:15 by Allan Rosewarne
Fanfiction wins the Pulitizer Prize, and again another point to add to this conversation. The Pulitizer Prize in Fiction is given to March by Geraldine Brooks, I've been told the plot of this book covers the life of Mr. March, the father of Jo, Amy, Beth and Meg, before the events of Little women. As a few comparisons, I know there're fanfictions that cover Giles life before he became Buffy's watcher, or Mulder's career before he got the Xfiles, or Kirk's life at Star Fleet academy.

Looks like, walks like, quacks like. Must be.

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