Fanfic

Your long search is over. You've found the home page of Lee Goldberg - author, TV producer, and charming man-about-town.

14

Oct 2004

Godawful Fan Fiction

Posted by / in Fanfic / 239 comments

I came across a fanfic discussion group called “Godawful Fan Fiction” that, despite the topic of the discussion, isn’t too pleased about my comments regarding fanfic.

Lee Goldberg, in my opinion, is nothing more than a glorified fanfic writer himself. He didn’t create the series, he just wrote some of the tv-episodes and followed up the series with several books…Basically, although I see Lee Goldberg’s point, I don’t think he is in any position to critisize, and I don’t think it’s his place to, either.

Obviously, he or she doesn’t understand the distinction between someone who steals the intellectual property of others (ie fanfic writers) and someone who is authorized by the copyright holders to write about their characters (ie me). He or she also doesn’t realize I was more than just someone who wrote a few episodes…I was an executive producer of the show (with William Rabkin) and, prior to that, a supervising producer… and we wrote DOZENS of episodes… and those are just the ones we took credit for.

I did learn something from reading these posts, however. Apparently the slash/impregnation fanfic is a genre all its own called “mpreg.”

Yuck.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:

Did you like my post?

If you did then feel free to share it with your community and friends on Facebook or Google Plus, just click on the icons to share.

SIMILAR POSTS
239 comments
  • Jim Winter

    October 14, 2004, pm31 1:53 PM
    01

    Once again making me proud I went off and did my own stuff. More satisfying, pays better, but I still manage to piss off the creator of the characters almost daily. But then he has to stare back at me while I shave, so what’s he gonna do? Sue me? Wouldn’t that make hair grow on my attorney’s palms?
    (Don’t laugh. Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is situated, actually sued itself earliet this year.)

  • Teresa

    October 14, 2004, pm31 2:40 PM
    02

    Lee, love the blog but I need to set you straight on one point. Not all fan-fic writers steal the intellectual property of others — there is an entire branch of fan-fic writers out there (i.e.: me) who write fan-fic from works in the public domain.

  • David Montgomery

    October 14, 2004, pm31 2:45 PM
    03

    I took some flack just for agreeing with Lee on DorothyL… can’t imagine how much abuse he’s getting.
    He’s right, though: fanfic is lame and generally offensive.
    Can’t people just create their own galaxy-hopping, over-sexed spaceship captains?

  • Coyote

    October 14, 2004, pm31 3:53 PM
    04

    ::He’s right, though: fanfic is lame and generally offensive.::
    For the love of Christ, will you people stop stating opinion as fact? Jason Voorhees on a pogo stick… Also, generalizations bad. Very bad. What is lame and offensive about a fic that takes a minor character and tell the story through their eyes? Or that speculates on what would have happened had a certain decision not been made?
    Fanfic – just like original work, who’dathunkit? – runs the gamut from very very bad to very very good.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 14, 2004, pm31 5:01 PM
    05

    Theresa,
    Writing stories using characters in the public domain is very different from the “fanfic” I’m talking about –using characters from movies, tv shows and books without the authors consent. I would argue 99% of the fanfic out there falls under this category. There is nothing wrong with writing about characters in the public domain.

  • R.C.H. Mulhare

    October 14, 2004, pm31 5:08 PM
    06

    Mr. Goldberg, please leave us fanfiction writers alone. We aren’t trying to steal from anybody. We aren’t trying to hurt anybody. We don’t make a single red cent from our creations. I don’t understand what’s the big deal about a simple, inoffensive hobby like fanfiction writing. Would you rather we were sawing off our own shotguns in our basements or posting bomb-making recipes online or kidnapping children and making horrible pornographic movies of them?

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 14, 2004, pm31 5:14 PM
    07

    So…it’s either let us write fanfic, or we’ll kidnap children for pornography? Gosh, if I knew that was the alternative to fanfic, I would never have said a word.
    You don’t understand what’s offensive about fanfic because you aren’t an author who has had your characters stolen… and used in swill like “male birthing” and “slash” stories. You haven’t had fanfic authors tell you the characters belong to them because “we’re writing for love, and you’re writing for money.”
    Here’s an idea. Try writing an ORIGINAL story of your own, using characters YOU CREATE (I know, that’s asking a lot). Put your heart and soul into it. Then see how you feel about people taking your characters and doing whatever they want with them. Would you be flattered to see two of your characters having anal sex? Perhaps having a sex change operation? Or urinating on one another?

  • Coyote

    October 14, 2004, pm31 5:38 PM
    08

    //So…it’s either let us write fanfic, or we’ll kidnap children for pornography? Gosh, if I knew that was the alternative to fanfic, I would never have said a word.\\
    A tip, sirrah – sarcasm is much more effective when you aren’t warping the person’s words.
    //You don’t understand what’s offensive about fanfic because you aren’t an author who has had your characters stolen… and used in swill like “male birthing” and “slash” stories. You haven’t had fanfic authors tell you the characters belong to them because “we’re writing for love, and you’re writing for money.”\\
    Blah, blah, blah, pity me for I make money and my ego is wounded by the scrawlings of fans who make no money off it. Don’t like what’s being done to your characters? Hunt down the fansites and let it be known that you want no fic written about them. Then the fic stops. Amazing what getting off your ass can do.
    Also, I have never known a single honest fan of anything to claim that they have more a of a right to a character then the creator. Only badfic writers do that, and they are an enemy of any sane human being.
    //Here’s an idea. Try writing an ORIGINAL story of your own, using characters YOU CREATE (I know, that’s asking a lot). Put your heart and soul into it. Then see how you feel about people taking your characters and doing whatever they want with them. Would you be flattered to see two of your characters having anal sex? Perhaps having a sex change operation? Or urinating on one another?\\
    *Yawn* Fine. I will. If you promise to write a fanfic that is fully-researched, keeps everyone in character, and conforms exactly to the predetermined laws of the chosen world.
    Of course, your ever-so-precious ego won’t allow you to take up my challenge. Because after all, it might turn out you’re wrong and we can’t have people running around exposing themselves to new ideas and opinions.
    *wanders off humming American Idiot*

  • R.C.H. Mulhare

    October 14, 2004, pm31 5:52 PM
    09

    “So…it’s either let us write fanfic, or we’ll kidnap children for pornography?”
    I was using the most morally offensive thing I could think of as a (somewhat hyperbolic) contrast to fanfiction writing. My point was that if you compare fanfiction writing to something that truly violates morality and decency, fanfiction writing shrinks down to size on the scale of morality.
    “Here’s an idea. Try writing an ORIGINAL story of your own, using characters YOU CREATE (I know, that’s asking a lot). Put your heart and soul into it. Then see how you feel about people taking your characters and doing whatever they want with them. Would you be flattered to see two of your characters having anal sex? Perhaps having a sex change operation? Or urinating on one another?”
    It’s funny you should put it that way: One of the original characters I created for a couple of my “A.I.” fanfictions (and I’m also planning a completely original novel based on his complex life story), is a polyamorous pansexual (or to quote his own self-description in one of my jottings, “I’ll f**k anything that moves.”). If I published this novel, I could see people writing all kinds of strange fanfictions involving this guy. But would it offend me? Sure, I’d be annoyed, but I wouldn’t take it personally. People are entitled to their imaginations, however bizarre, but as long as they weren’t trying to profit from their fan-creations, I’d have no problem with it. I actually had someone borrow one of my original characters without my consent once or twice, but I shrugged it off as no big deal: I was actually rather pleased by it, since it showed that someone had read my stuff and clearly liked it.

  • David Montgomery

    October 14, 2004, pm31 6:55 PM
    10

    These geeks are positively frightening. What total whackjobs.
    I still don’t understand why the hell they can’t just make up their own crap.

  • David Montgomery

    October 14, 2004, pm31 7:05 PM
    11

    Quality stuff here!
    ======================
    From R.C.H.’s website:
    http://mechahuggermr.tripod.com/id14.html
    Title: Blush, Blaze, Burn
    Author: Sapphire Rose
    Disclaimer: Nothing in this story belongs to me except the character I made up. And I used some lyrics to a song by Linkin Park song (‘One Step Closer’); I don’t own them either.
    Excerpt:
    “When Aimee walked past him, she could tell it was the one everyone wanted. She thought he was very handsome, and she knew who he was. And she knew he was artificial. Features such as his could only be artificial. She directed her steps more towards him, until she was very close to him.
    ‘Hey, Joe, whadaya know?’ she said as she ran her finger under his chin. ”
    ======================
    This is worthy of defense?
    I’d rather read the grafitti on the walls of a bathroom in a Times Sqaure sex shop.

  • Coyote

    October 14, 2004, pm31 7:11 PM
    12

    *eyeballs fic*
    Hmm. That’s really not enough to judge the fic by. If it’s about – as she insinuated – a sex worker… then I rather like the sleazy feel she invokes.
    And Times Square no longer has sex shops.
    “These geeks are positively frightening. What total whackjobs.”
    Suggestion: Speak not, unless you have something intelligent to say.
    “I still don’t understand why the hell they can’t just make up their own crap.”
    Many of us do. Others prefer not to, because we don’t think it’s as fun and rewarding. It’s a _hobby_. Get over it, and yourself.

  • Bill Rabkin

    October 14, 2004, pm31 8:28 PM
    13

    Hey Lee,
    Can’t say I’m nearly as upset as you by what you see as immoral pirating of copyrighted characters. I don’t think it’s a crime — although one idiot’s notion of the reasons it doesn’t violate copyright does make me want to think of it as a crime — but I will agree that it is a pathetic waste of time, not only for the slobs who write the stuff, but even more for those who read it.
    I mean, at least the writers — or do they give themselves a cuddly pet name like “ficcers”? — can grant themselves a feeling of accomplishment at having finished some magnum opus in which, say, Magnum has sex with Opus (if you want to do the Magnum PI/Bloom County crossover). But what do the people who have used a chunk of their lives to slog through this slop get? I admit, I probably spend more time reading fantasy novels and thrillers than I do reading books that Really Matter, but I think I’d poke out my eyeballs before reading this swill. Heck, I might even pick up a Sidney Sheldon before diving into Captain Archer’s amorous adventures with Jessica Fletcher.
    I’d probably be harsher on losers who write fanfic, but I just finished fast-forwarding through The Day After Tomorrow, and it’s hard to imagine any unpaid writer doing much worse. But I’m fooling myself, I know…

  • Bill Rabkin

    October 14, 2004, pm31 8:35 PM
    14

    By the way, the idiot who said you were little more than a glorified fanfic writer is exactly right — in the same way Donald Rumsfeld is just a glorified version of that guy who plays Risk all day long.
    Pardon me for sounding a little hostile, but we ran that show for two years (a little more than that, if you count the end of our Supervising Producer season). We are probably responsible for at least a third of the episodes produced, more than anyone else who ever worked on the show. And yeah, we got paid for it, too.

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, am31 1:02 AM
    15

    Writing and TV programmes are products in the same way that Coca Cola or telehones or cars are products. People are, surely, entitled to use or enjoy them in whatever way they choose, assuming that that choice does no harm to others. It appears to me that fanfic is one way of enjoying a product.
    Clearly, it is not one that you (or some of your friends) understand or like, but I’m always a bit wary of those who say or imply that the public (or sections of the public) can enjoy a “product” only in particular ways which they deem “suitable” – even when those unsuitable ways do no harm. That does not seem to me to be reasonable.
    If you can point out to me a way in which fanfic authors harm others, I might be more sympathetic to your argument, but so far all you seem to have come up with is, ‘I don’t like it, therefore it is a bad thing.’ We all have to endure things we don’t much care for, but in this case you have the option not to go to these sites and not to read that, as one commentator put it, ‘swill’.
    And, as others should have pointed out but seem to have omitted to do so, it’s not ‘stealing’ – where I am, the term ‘stealing’ has the connotation of ‘intent to permanently deprive the owner of an object or thing’. It would only be stealing if a fanfic author said, or implied, “Now I have written this story about these characters, nobody else can do so including the original creator.” No fanfic author, to my knowledge, has ever claimed any such thing, and nor would they be likely to. If they did, the rest of the fanfic community would be down on them like a ton of bricks with extra spikes.
    Fanfic, if it is anything, (a matter that has yet to be determined in court) is copyright infringement, which is an entirely different matter. You do your argument no good by using an incorrect analogy.

  • Lara Neil

    October 15, 2004, am31 1:53 AM
    16

    Dear Lee
    < >
    I’m puzzled by this quote which you made in response to a comment by Teresa.
    It seems to me, that the only difference between writing about a character in the public domain and writing about a character still under copyright is the _legality_ of the thing.
    Whether the original creator is in a position to have a legal claim over the character or not, the actual process is the same. If a writer posts, online for no profit, a story based on Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and another on Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ there is notthing wrong with the first, while the second is “a waste of time, talent and creativity”. Yet, the difference between them is just the letter of the law.
    You seem vehement in your attacks against fanfiction in a ‘moral’ and ‘ethical’ light. Is your problem with fanfiction based purely on the legalities of the issue, or is there something more in your dislike of the genre as a whole?
    Could you possibly clarify your position? I find this an interesting debate but I’d like to understand more clearly your stance, free from the emotive and ad hominem attacks coming from both sides.

  • Lara

    October 15, 2004, am31 1:55 AM
    17

    Apologies. The quote which began that bpost ought to have been this one:
    “There is nothing wrong with writing about characters in the public domain.”

  • Lara Neil

    October 15, 2004, am31 1:59 AM
    18

    David Montgomery,
    Your quoting of a particular fanfic is something of a nonsequitor in this debate. The quality of fanfiction is not what’s at issue here. I could just as easily post a poor piece of original fiction from Fiction Alley, or from a published work for that matter and use it to demostrate that all forms of fiction are indefensible. That, I will take for granted, is not a position any of us would find logical.

  • Annie/Miss X

    October 15, 2004, am31 3:42 AM
    19

    I wasn’t going to add anything else to this debate, but after logging on and reading some of the comments this morning, I felt obliged to reply.
    “Lee Goldberg, in my opinion, is nothing more than a glorified fanfic writer himself…”
    Yes, that was my comment. Probably not the most intelligent thing I’ve ever said and I’m slightly bemused that you quoted it, especially when there were so many arguments posted by others that were more coherent and accurate. I was disappointed by your original comments (I’m a student, and we are renowned for being DM fans) which was probably why I stepped out of line. But I won’t go back and edit it, although I do think this quote is misleading as to the purpose of GAFF. I’ll leave it up to people to visit the site themselves and make their own opinions!
    Secondly, if you are that anti-fanfic there are things you can do. It has already been mentioned many times how Anne Rice doesn’t allow fanfiction of her work, and on the whole most fans are perfectly happy to follow her wishes. A simple email to fanfiction.net (and similar sites) will remove the Diagnosis Murder section, if that is what you wish.
    I think the amount of venom directed at you was purely due to the fact that instead of being pro-active and actually doing something about it, you instead chose to visit a fanfiction community and insult the majority of members. We don’t like whingers! If something is wrong, you try to fix it instead of complaining (especially to people who don’t care/can’t do anything about it). Thanks for apologising and leaving once you’d realised your mistake, it was very magnanimous of you.
    And good luck with the new DM book!

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, am31 9:37 AM
    20

    Coyote,
    //*Yawn* Fine. I will. If you promise to write a fanfic that is fully-researched, keeps everyone in character, and conforms exactly to the predetermined laws of the chosen world.//
    That’s exactly what writers on a television series do every day — and what I do as a writer/producer on MISSING, as a writer on MONK, and as author of the DIAGNOSIS MURDER books.
    The big difference between what I do… and what “fanfic” authors do.. is that I always work with the creative involvement and direct consent of the creators/owners of the characters. Nothing gets written without their approval and ultimate control.
    I suspect your argument would be the big difference is money, that I get paid for my work and “fanfic” writers don’t. It’s a specious argument. Whether you get paid for “fanfic” or not, it’s still an actual, and ethical, violation of the intellectual property rights of the creator/author of the TV show, movie or book.
    Let me pose a question to you. If you create a character and a world… for a TV show or novel… wouldn’t you agree that it’s yours? That you own what you’ve created? That it should be your decision what the characters say or do and how they intereact with one another? Wouldn’t you be offended and upset to see your characters used without your consent… doing and saying things you would never have them say or do? Would you be flattered if two of your heterosexual, male characters are appropriated for a “male birthing” story?

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, am31 9:45 AM
    21

    Annie,
    //I think the amount of venom directed at you was purely due to the fact that instead of being pro-active and actually doing something about it, you instead chose to visit a fanfiction community and insult the majority of members. //
    You’re right, that was poor judgement on my part and I apologized. As I said in my last message there, it’s like going to a Bar Mitzvah and screaming “I Hate Jews.”
    I have complained about DM fanfic, particularly of the slash variety, to website owners in the past… though I can’t recall if I ever sent an email to the website you mentioned. The response I got was, basically, go to hell, we’ll do what we want.

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, am31 9:50 AM
    22

    “If you create a character and a world… for a TV show or novel… wouldn’t you agree that it’s yours? That you own what you’ve created?”
    I may be able to sell it to a publisher, but once it’s hit the real world, I lose control over how the readers imagine it, and what they use it for in their own minds and whether they write those fantasies down to share with others. It’s only really and truly mine as long as it’s on my PC and shared with nobody.
    “That it should be your decision what the characters say or do and how they intereact with one another?”
    How can I control the fantasy lives of other people? I wouldn’t even want to try. That’s an idea I find deeply creepy – you do seem to be trying to say that there are suitable and unsuitable fantasies.
    “Wouldn’t you be offended and upset to see your characters used without your consent… doing and saying things you would never have them say or do?”
    Er…no. As I said, my absolute control even over characters I’ve created ceases when they are made public. Others can’t make money out of them, but they can use them in their imaginations how they choose and I cannot prevent that. Nor can I prevent them sharing those fantasies with others if they choose to do so.
    “Would you be flattered if two of your heterosexual, male characters are appropriated for a “male birthing” story?”
    That would depend on the ability of the writer to make me believe it. Even in the fanfic community MPREG as a concept has a reputation of producing dreck, but even despite this not all MPREG stories are dreck. 99.99% of them, but not all.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, am31 9:54 AM
    23

    PM,
    //Writing and TV programmes are products in the same way that Coca Cola or telehones or cars are products. People are, surely, entitled to use or enjoy them in whatever way they choose, assuming that that choice does no harm to others. It appears to me that fanfic is one way of enjoying a product. //
    There is a big difference between art and other products, like Oreo cookies and coca-cola… and c’mon, we BOTH know that.
    TV shows are works of art (and I don’t mean that as pretentiously as it sounds). You can’t make products using TV shows (and their characters, logos, etc) without being licensed by the copyright holder. You can’t copy a painting and put it on t-shirts without the permission of the painter.
    We write and produce TV shows for people to VIEW… they aren’t granted an implied license to re-use the program, its characters, or its trademarks as novels, short-stories, t-shirts, etc.
    Manufacturers make cookies and drinks for people to CONSUME. You can use Oreo cookies as an ingredient in a cake, and even sell that cake to others, without getting permission. What you can’t do is make a cookie and distribute it as an Oreo, which is a copyrighted brand name.
    You may consider TV shows and writing as the equivalent of buying a Big Mac… (and, I’ll grant you, some TV shows and writing may have the same artistic value, even many that I have done!).. but they aren’t the same thing.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, am31 10:02 AM
    24

    PM,
    Of course people are going to fantasize about your characters and perhaps imagine other possibilities for them. What I object to is when they put those fantasies on paper as stories, publish and distribute them (or distribute them on the Internet).
    But beyond my ethical problems with “fanfic,” I also think its a ridiculous waste of time, energy and creativity. Fanfic is pointless. You want to write? Terrific. WRITE. Create your own characters and worlds…truly express your artistic potential and your unique voice. Don’t waste yourself writing “male birthing” stories about JAG characters (not that I’m saying that you, personally, have such stories. I’m just making a point).

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, am31 10:22 AM
    25

    “I also think its a ridiculous waste of time, energy and creativity.”
    Ah…I write for money. Not, perhaps, writing as you would understand it, and it doesn’t say ‘writer’ or ‘author’ on my CV, but I sit all day in front of a computer screen putting words together. In my real life job, I have learned not to be prissy about people taking my words, because if I was prissy about that, I woud spend my days in a world of pain and life is just too short.
    To an extent, all writing is pointless and none more so than fiction. I’m not sure how fanfiction is more pointless than published work, with the sole exception that fan writers aren’t paid for their work.
    It seems clear to you that creating your own worlds is somehow more – admirable – than borrowing someone else’s. Why this should be isn’t at all clear to me – there is a long history of writers using the work of other writers as a base, sometimes altering the storylines to flatter their current paymaster. It’s possible, if you get your mind around it, to see fanfiction writers as the inheritors of that tradition. And it’ll cause you considerably less grief than you currently seem to be running into.

  • Charles Ellis

    October 15, 2004, am31 11:04 AM
    26

    Yes, they weren’t pleased. Partly because you showed up telling us all how we were committing MORAL offenses. This is plainly bunk- writing fanfiction is not causing physical or mental harm to anyone (well, good fanfiction anyway).
    As for stealing… well, nobody’s making money off it and it doesn’t prevent anyone buying the originals. Fanzines of fanfiction have been published for decades now, and the holders of copyright don’t seem to care unless the fanzine makes money off it. Then there’s fanfiction like Neon Genesis Evangelion R, which got a letter of approval from Gainax (the company who made the show), and Terry Pratchett stating he doesn’t care if people write it as long as he doesn’t come across it; not every creator has the same strong negative feelings about fanfiction that you do.
    And you think mpreg is bad? Us GAFFers have seen a lot more and a lot worse. We have stronger terms for it than “yuck”. Gah- everything I’ve said in defense in fiction gets discounted when it comes to the horrors of mpreg.

  • A Clouter

    October 15, 2004, am31 11:05 AM
    27

    Okay. Read the article, am a GAFFer, and so forth, and I just thought I’d toss in my own two cents. Mind you, this is rapidly turning into a debate of Anne-Rice-like infamy.
    Mr Goldberg, you seem to be addressing more than one issue in your article. First of all the plagarism claim – which is, after all, the legal term that you appear to be describing.
    As we have stated, numerous times. We do not make profit from fanfiction. Often, the prelude to it is a particularly interesting comment, or scene in the show/book/movie, that sparks thought. This leads writers to develop ideas and come up with scenarios of their own, involving the characters of the show.
    To defend it on a ‘moral’ point of view – I’ll give you an example that I know fairly well.
    I’m seventeen, I don’t mind admitting. I’m in the process of two books, both children’s fantasy, a genre that requires an immense amount of work to prevent descending into generic ‘fantasyland’. I’ve sold stories to magazines. I am a good, original writer. I have worked on characters to the point of lavishness, and my worlds.
    But I could never have written to the level that I do at my relatively immature age, if I hadn’t learnt the laws of writing through fanfiction. I began writing fanfiction when I was twelve. I’ve had a five year education in the conception of plot, character development, foreshadowing, humour and getting a feel for the ‘pace’ of writing.
    Fanfiction has introduced friends of mine who were never ‘writers’ perse to the intricacies of grammar, because they have had interest sparked by books. As JK has done for reading, fanfiction is a similar story for writing. Yes, you have met a particularly bad example of the lower end of the slash genre. However, you have not seen a writer grow from a new, immature and faulty writer into someone who can wield words with confidence. I am loathe to suggest that you, someone who makes their way with words, would criticise a system that encourages development of talent, and better writing, but this is the conclusion I am drawing.
    I am a slash writer, though not of the hideous concotions above. Writing slash has helped me, personally, to have a sensitivity toward relationships in my writing, and to go slowly in development. I have male friends who have been through ‘coming out’ and in reading what I’ve written, they’ve expressed feelings that they can see I understand, that I’ve treated an issue that can be intense to someone young with kid gloves.
    I have used other writers’ characters to explore canonical situations with added subtext and been able to express greater emotions through writing. Is my learning to write a bad thing?
    Your main point seems to be ‘write your own, invent your own characters’. Mine is this.
    When writing your own characters, you have to have an awareness of -how- to do this. How to give distinct personalities to characters, how to develop them. Fanfiction -prevents- people from attempting to write original fiction with flat, two dimensional ‘wish fufillment’ characters. The VERY site you have so scathingly turned up on, and proceeded to slough on disdain for, is one such site that ..well, not -encourages-, but discourages flat characterisation, what we call ‘Mary Sues’.
    If working in the fantasy/magic genre, as I do, to create something worthwhile, you have to discover the way limits work. If you are working in a preconceived universe, you learn that there have to be limits on power in order to create adversity. If you’re working in Tolkien – Jeez, you expect fifteen year olds who admire the great man to come up with their own world, and language, like say, a linguistics professor at Oxford?
    Writing fanfiction means also that you are met with -harsh- critique. When people send off manuscripts, if they’re lucky, they get an editor commenting, looking them over, pointing out grammar errors, poor human qualities and so on. Fanfiction similarly works like that. Someone in a fanfiction forum will have about ten people comment on things like, ‘well, spelling, and grammar are wrong’, and as you get into more developed fiction, characterisation.
    We fans are incredibly protective of the characters. Unlike the example given, we try to keep within the ‘canonical’ bounds given us, ie, we will try and write with similar style, description, to that which is given us. If someone steps out of line, and writes Godawful Fiction – small hint – we are there to point it out, and also add comments like, ‘Tolkien would turn in his grave if he saw you making ‘x’ do this’. We’re not trying to take anything away from the original creator, we’re in effect adding something.
    Fanfiction is a living community. For some, it’s just a teacher, before moving on to original writing. For others, it’s a viable way of entertaining themselves, expressing themselves, and writing out ideas that were possibly not explored in canon. Sometimes, it’s a method of working off writer’s block.
    For example – a good friend of mine. She’s been writing three years. She’s just sold a book to Random House. She’s an -incredibly- popular fanfiction author, and writes because she enjoys the shows.
    This has been a long-winded examination of some of the reasons for fanfiction. However, I felt it necessary. You are entitled, most certainly to your opinions on fanfiction. Anne Rice has expressed hers, as has Anne McCaffrey. Fanfiction can certainly be made illegal for certain books/shows/films, and can be addressed simply by a solictor’s letter published, or shown, and thus clearing up your own sector of fanfiction.
    But please – don’t attack something that thrives, and is passing on a dying art. Grammar has been phased out of schools. Writing and reading has been replaced by television, sex and movies. Fanfiction might hold thousands of bored people who churn out revolting examples like those above. But it also contains dozens of the next generation of writers; who will have learnt to accept criticism, to address problems in their writing efficently, and to take on ideas and originality.
    Don’t dismiss us, Mr Goldberg. We’re here, and we’re settled. Your dissent is fine – we’ll accept your opinion. But don’t make undue assumptions, or cast aspersions on our own creativity. If you don’t know what you’re discussing – please refrain from comment.

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, am31 11:08 AM
    28

    “There is a big difference between art and other products, like Oreo cookies and coca-cola… and c’mon, we BOTH know that.”
    Sorry, I don’t see it. Perhaps a closer analogy would be legal advice, but it’s still a product. Art – in this sense, a book or TV show – is packaged fantasy in the same way as Tesco sells biscuits, or Coca Cola, or cucumbers. Some of it is not only packaged, it’s pre-chewed fantasy to the point almost of being the artistic equivalent of baby food. No wonder fans want to take it into their own hands and do something with it.
    Like Tesco, the producer doesn’t have any control over what use the buyer puts those products to. They can’t tell the buyer she can’t use the biscuits as very small frizbees, the cola as drain cleaner and the cucumber… well, perhaps we’d better not go there!
    “TV shows are works of art (and I don’t mean that as pretentiously as it sounds). You can’t make products using TV shows (and their characters, logos, etc) without being licensed by the copyright holder.” I’ve never met a fanfiction author who was trying to pass herself off as the copyright holder.
    But this is a legal question, and (as far as I’m aware) it has yet to be tested in court. I wanted to find the web site where this is discussed, but unfortunately I seem to have lost the link – I’ll post it if I find it again.
    “We write and produce TV shows for people to VIEW… they aren’t granted an implied license to re-use the program.”
    True, but nor do you have a right to control people’s fantasy lives, or to prevent them telling their friends about them, however bizarre you may think them to be.
    Before fanfiction was on the internet, it was to be found in fanzines – they’ve been around since the early 1970s. It’s a bit late to turn the clock back on public and participatory creativity now.
    “What you can’t do is make a cookie and distribute it as an Oreo, which is a copyrighted brand name.”
    Which is why most fanfiction (and I really wonder how much of it you’ve read) has a disclaimer along the lines of, “I’m not (name of original creator) and I’m not making any money out of this,” somewhere before you turn the page or click on to read.
    As I said, I don’t know how much you know about fanfic – but do, before you go very much further, obtain and read the book “Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture” by Henry Jenkins, ISBN 0-415-90572-9.
    Published in 1992, it’s a little dated now, but perhaps it may serve as an introduction to the world you’ve just managed to storm into with all guns blazing. The discussion you’re having with the GAFFers has been going on since the 1970s, and despite the millions of words which have been written, there are no real legal precedents, fandom still exists, fanfiction is bigger than ever and the only people making any real money out of it are the fan artists. And I really wouldn’t back your chances at winning the arguement if you wanted to stop people drawing pictures.

  • David Montgomery

    October 15, 2004, am31 11:27 AM
    29

    Appropriating another person’s ideas (call it plagiarism if you’d like) is wrong, regardless of whether or not you profit monetarily from it. (And anyone who fancies themselves an artist or even a creative person should realize this.)
    A. Clouter mentions that she’s 17, which leads me to believe she’s a student. If you turned in a paper to your teacher in which you copied someone else’s ideas, do you think s/he would approve of this practice? Why should fiction be different? Aren’t you still ripping someone else off, no matter how many disclaimers you provide?
    Although a person might have the “right” to fantasize about the characters they see on TV, they don’t have the privilege of writing about those characters and disseminating that writing to others.
    Why is this such a hard principle for people to understand?
    Aside for the legal/ethical question, I also maintain that any writer, in any circumstance, would be better off creating their own characters, scenarios, etc.
    It boggles my mind that anyone would want to waste their creative energies writing such derivative stories. Can anyone really be so obsessed with a television show?

  • Jim Winter

    October 15, 2004, am31 11:41 AM
    30

    I know why people write fanfic. What I want to know is why you bother arguing with the producers and authors. I don’t get that. I never sent Rick Berman anything I wrote. Why would I? I’m sure he either wouldn’t like it or care one way or the other. The wise course of action would be to let it slide. He’s got a point. You don’t. And this comes from one who’s been on both sides of the equation. Granted, no one’s written fanfic based on my work, and if they did, I’d probably ignore it. It’s fanfic. It’s meaningless. Quit pretending otherwise.
    You write fanfic for only one reason: Shits and giggles. (Or is that two reasons?) You get no prestige from it (and don’t kid yourself. I won awards at it. You’ll never see it in my Bouchercon bio or cover letters. They have less worth than your average blue ribbon in a peeing-for-distance contest) You’re playing with someone else’s toys (which, I might add, makes most, if not all, the attacks on Lee disingenuous), and in the end, it’s wasted creativity. You can’t sell it. There will be no critical studies of it. And no matter how original, it’s always going to be in someone else’s imagined universe, one in which you have no hand in creating or changing. NONE!
    At best, if you’re serious about writing, it’s an excercise in learning dialogue, plotting, characterization, etc. Kind of hard to make that case when 90% of people who do it don’t learn these things, opting instead to go for such idiotic cliches as the Mary Sue, hurt/comfort, and slash. That’s not storytelling.
    So if you are serious about writing and you’re doing fanfic, ask yourself, “Am I learning anything from this excercise?” If you’re not, you’re wasting your time. If you are, then it’s time to come up with something you can call your own.
    And then if your lucky, someday YOU can either be tickled pink by knockoffs on your work like JMS or morally outraged like Lee. But neither sure as hell ain’t going to happen while you’re wasting hours upon hours banging out that LAW & ORDER story that brings Claire Kinkaid back from the dead.
    So, am I kicked off DorothyL now without having subscribed?

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, am31 11:51 AM
    31

    The Romantic Times magazine featured an article this month on fanfic, covering both sides of the debate, though largely favorable towards the practice. But they note:
    //Writing fan fiction is a violation of copyright law. But many fanfic writers are either unaware of or unconcerned with this fact. Often they’ll slap a short disclaimer at the top of the story, disavowing ownership of the characters used and consider the matter handled…
    Attorney-turned-Romance author Julie Kenner says… “for our purposes as writers, copyright serves to protect our words. But when someone is using, say, Stephanie Plum in fan fictio, they probably aren’t quoting any of Janet Evanovich’s language and they think they are they’re clear of infringement. But the 9th Circuit and the 2nd Circuit — both leading courts with regard to intellectual property law — have found protection for the characters themselves under certain judicially defined parameters.”
    And those little disclaimers? Ain’t gonna hold water in front of a judge, Kenner says.
    Published authors reactions to fan fiction vary….Laurell Hamilton, Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon firmly believe this practice is both legally and morally repugnant and have, in some cases, hired attorneys to fight fan fiction sites with cease-and-desist actions.//
    Author Meg Cabot who, by the way, doesn’t mind fanfic, recounts an interesting anecdote:
    //”Another reason I don’t read fan fictions is because I know an author who, justifiably, freaked out when she read a fic where the writer had one of her characters get graphically and brutally raped. You could see how that would be disturbing and put you off writing anything for a while.”//
    Even authors who approve of fanfic have hesitations:
    //Both Rowling and Cabot write for children, who sometimes don’t fully understand the distinction between a published work and fan fiction — especially if they stumble upon a sexually explicit fic or one that talks of Harry whispering sweet nothings in Ron’s ear.//
    To say nothing of the Harry and Ron “male birthing” stories…

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, am31 11:55 AM
    32

    “If you turned in a paper to your teacher in which you copied someone else’s ideas, do you think s/he would approve of this practice?”
    It’s not quite that simple (darn, I really wish I still had that link). As I understand it, ideas can’t be copyrighted. You can write as many stories around the idea of ‘boy meets girl’ as you like, likewise ‘boy meets boy’.
    Names can be copyrighted and trademarked, but even then it’s not as straightforward as you make it out – if I wrote a story about a good looking English spy and called him James Bond, the estate of the late Ian Fleming might well come after me. But if I wrote a story about an eighty-year-old cobbler called James Bond, they wouldn’t have much of a case. If I wrote a story about an American detective called James Bond, people might be a bit suspicious, but how derivative it would be would depend on the plot.
    Again, as I understand it (I am not a lawyer) copyright comes into the question the closer a derived work is to its original, and it’s a matter which has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.
    “Although a person might have the “right” to fantasize about the characters they see on TV, they don’t have the privilege of writing about those characters and disseminating that writing to others.”
    Given what I’ve outlined above, why not? The claim that the copyright holder would have against the writer would depend, as I understand it (in UK law) on proving (1) that the work was so derivative that, stripped of its disclaimer, the public might be fooled into believing it to be by the original creator, and (b) that he has thereby suffered a loss.
    Now, if you’re talking morally wrong, that’s a different question entirely – and I’m not sure that it is morally suspect. There is an alternative view that it is morally suspect to prevent creativity, whatever form that takes. The modern business model surrounding creative work, after all, is not that old and one day will be gone.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:02 PM
    33

    To A Clouter,
    //I have used other writers’ characters to explore canonical situations with added subtext and been able to express greater emotions through writing. Is my learning to write a bad thing?//
    That’s like saying you’ve filled in the colors on a “paint-by-the-numbers” Mona Lisa, so now you know how to paint. Give me a break. Fanfic doesn’t teach writing. It teaches laziness and stupidity. It teaches you to take the ideas of others rather than come up with something original of your own. It reinforces the notion among teenagers like yourself that plagiarism is okay…in fact, it’s more than that, it’s noble. Or, as you put it:
    //Please don’t attack something that thrives, and is passing on a dying art.//
    A fanfic story where Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock have anal sex is an example of a dying art? Spare me.

  • Coyote

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:04 PM
    34

    “The big difference between what I do… and what “fanfic” authors do.. is that I always work with the creative involvement and direct consent of the creators/owners of the characters. Nothing gets written without their approval and ultimate control.”
    Ex-fucking-xactly. What we write is not canon. We never claim that it’s canon. Therefore, what you write is not fanfic because it’s done to add to the canon. Which ours isn’t. Are you grasping my point? We don’t write what we think is the way it should have happened. We write what we think could have happened.
    “I suspect your argument would be the big difference is money, that I get paid for my work and “fanfic” writers don’t. It’s a specious argument. Whether you get paid for “fanfic” or not, it’s still an actual, and ethical, violation of the intellectual property rights of the creator/author of the TV show, movie or book.”
    Specius but true. We don’t get paid – it wouldn’t stand up in court. Copyright laws exist to to prevent someone getting the money you earned by your idea. Wherther or not it violates the _spirit_ of the law is up for debate, along with what that spirit is, but it doesn’t violate the letter.
    And what if the creator doesn’t care or actively encourages it?
    “Let me pose a question to you. If you create a character and a world… for a TV show or novel… wouldn’t you agree that it’s yours?”
    No. To quote a friend – “When you write a story – it’s not yours. The story belongs to itself. You have been granted the privilage of communicating it to the rest of the world. Don’t abuse that.”
    “That you own what you’ve created?”
    And this is where you and I seem to differ – I don’t think I do. By the time it’s been published, editors will have gotten their hands on it and it will no longer be my original creation. Then, afterwards, it belongs only partly to me – but mostly it belongs to the people who read/watch it and are caught up in it, who believe in it and love it. And to have a story of mine spark some sort of inspiration in another… I can think of no greater honor.
    “That it should be your decision what the characters say or do and how they intereact with one another?”
    No, it’s not. I can’t say it enough – the story owns itself. I am just a medium.
    “Wouldn’t you be offended and upset to see your characters used without your consent… doing and saying things you would never have them say or do?”
    Depends on how extreme the deviation is. Perhaps someone’ll find a way of looking at a character I’d never considered, and I’ll be blown away by the insight. Perhaps I’ll see the author’s own fears shining through their portryal of a character and while I may not gain insight into the characters, I’ll gain insight into the author and insight of any kind is valuable.
    “Would you be flattered if two of your heterosexual, male characters are appropriated for a “male birthing” story?”
    I would mostly be amused. It’s anatomically impossible, after all, and ever so much fun to watch the MPreggers try to explain it away.
    Let me put it this way – in my world, writers serve stories, and stories serve the human race. You seem to think the stories serve the writer.

  • David Montgomery

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:08 PM
    35

    Rommel, you obviously missed Lee’s post right above yours about the legality of fanfic. (You were probably posting at the same time.)
    Although the individual expression of an idea can’t be copyrighted, characters certainly are the sole province of their creators, and thus are legally protected. We’re not talking about a “boy meets girl” story — we’re talking about “Buffy meets the Borg.”
    Slapping a disclaimer on a story changes nothing. You might as well not even bother.

  • Charles Ellis

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:09 PM
    36

    “Another reason I don’t read fan fictions is because I know an author who, justifiably, freaked out when she read a fic where the writer had one of her characters get graphically and brutally raped.”
    Well, I can understand that. I don’t like those fics either. But let’s face it- sick buggers exist, and they’d probably write this stuff even if there was less of a fanfiction scene.
    As for the Rowling/kids not understading stuff- a lot of fanfiction sites are clearly marked as not being suitable for kids under a certain age because of that problem.
    “Writing fan fiction is a violation of copyright law. But many fanfic writers are either unaware of or unconcerned with this fact.”
    And many copyright holders turn a blind eye to it. When copyright holders like Gainax, Squaresoft, Hasbro, Marvel, BBC, Paramount (at least over Star Trek), Donna Barr et al aren’t bothered by it… well, then it’s really hard to think it’s an actual violation. If creators do find it a violation, then often sites (like Fanfiction.net) will take _down_ fics based on their work out of respect. This is more of a grey area legally than something set in stone.
    There’s also fan-art and fan-comics, from which professional writer/artists have emerged. Fan-art and fan-comics are in the same ballpark as fanfiction, I’d say.
    Some of the comments I’ve been hearing round here also make it sound like it’s legally dodgy for people on the Internet to discuss what they’d have prefered to have seen on a show.

  • A Clouter

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:10 PM
    37

    //A. Clouter mentions that she’s 17, which leads me to believe she’s a student. If you turned in a paper to your teacher in which you copied someone else’s ideas, do you think s/he would approve of this practice? Why should fiction be different? Aren’t you still ripping someone else off, no matter how many disclaimers you provide?//
    Entirely separate point. When you are writing fanfiction, you are not copying large chunks of text out of another’s work! You’re using it as a spinoff point, and using it to develop your own fiction. It’s not about doing it for recognition, fame, fortune, and whatever – it’s about amusing yourself and developing as a writer.
    And my teacher, hmm… I think his argument, and just to put it into context for you, Cambridge, graduate with a first –
    ‘In Dante’s Inferno, large sections of the Aeneid, translated from Virgil were lifted from the text, and inserted. Virgil himself was added, as well as Dante. This was not considered plagarism, but a compliment to the writer..’
    Rather an extreme case, and of course, in this age of legalities, plagarism is the first thing that springs to mind.
    As to the fanfiction argument – Jim Winter, I completely agree – But then I’m a writer that learns from experience. The stories I write now are developed, thought out, and I actually research them – for example, JK Rowling (whose books are becoming decidedly darker, and yet more artificial as she attempts to write young adult characters in a children’s book) I use the ‘shipped relationship, Sirius/Remus, and did a lot of research on the sixties and seventies, prejudice and law and so forth. I don’t see that excercise as anything but progressive for my writing. I learnt about an issue, explored it, moved on.
    But I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. Yes, Anne Rice and co have made their point. They see the law as protecting their work, and have employed solictors who will ‘attack’ – note the inverted commas, I’m being slightly ironic here, just thought I’d point this out as we’re rapidly approaching the typical, fanfiction newbie author argument session on GAFF *sigh* and my words will be twisted – But the point stands. If you look at fanfiction.net, it has a hefty disclaimer. If it were illegal, it would be shut down by the service provider.
    For example, the writers who go into Mary Sue, hurt/comfort and slash (separate point there, it’s home ground) are also developing. I wrote Mary Sues and so forth when I was starting out. Fanfiction means they’re heartily shoved by readers into writing -better- fiction. Some will stay at that point before getting bored, others will move on.
    Slash – separate category, gentlemen. I’m not about to go into my own personal standpoint on slash – suffice to say, some people are those who will go far down the line, and ignore canon, others will attempt to develop from canon. I’m one of the latter.
    If you want fanfiction to stop, there are a number of ways.
    1) Continue insulting fanfiction writers. Of -course- they’re about to nod, smile, scrape and bow before the ‘published author’ who dictates to them. It’s not like -any- of them are published themselves..*sigh* Not like I gave examples, or anything.. And yes, I’m being drawn down into sarcasm.
    2) Take action – ie, email the fanfiction boards. Then your work will be free from nasty people daring to find it a creative startpoint to develop themselves.
    3) Destroy your fanbase – then you won’t -have- anyone to write fanfiction on it.
    And yes, I’m more than a little annoyed now. If someone could just address the points made in my post, then I’d be far happier in this rather one-sided debate.
    But you’re coming off a wee bit arrogant. By all means, defend other authors from fanfiction, in your own mind, but don’t take on their battles. JK Rowling has her own website in which, funnily enough, she awards -prizes- to fansites. She’s commented on fanfiction before, supports it in fact. Joss Whedon loved fanfiction on the Buffy/Angel shows. Therefore, when you’re defending your own standpoint, you’re fine and dandy on your own ground. But try and encompass other areas – and you’ll find yourself meeting resistence. Anne Rice and McCaffrey have supported you. Yes. The others haven’t, so don’t presume on their opinion. We have to fact check our way through canon to write fanfiction – no reason why you can’t fact-check your argument.

  • Coyote

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:10 PM
    38

    Forgot…
    “So if you are serious about writing and you’re doing fanfic, ask yourself, “Am I learning anything from this excercise?” If you’re not, you’re wasting your time. If you are, then it’s time to come up with something you can call your own.”
    “Give me a break. Fanfic doesn’t teach writing. It teaches laziness and stupidity.”
    You’re missing the damn point. Fanfiction is FUN. It’s a HOBBY. You do know what a hobby is, right?
    My more esoteric side also wishes to add that real fanfic should be nothing more or less then an expression of pure love for the source story – saying “I wish to know you better, I wish to get closer to you by exploring the boundries of the world.”
    “It teaches you to take the ideas of others rather than come up with something original of your own.”
    Oh, yes, because there’s not such thing as archetypes and Joseph Campblee was just a crazy old man.

  • Charles Ellis

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:25 PM
    39

    “Fanfic doesn’t teach writing. It teaches laziness and stupidity. It teaches you to take the ideas of others rather than come up with something original of your own.”
    That’s inaccurate. To quote Stephen King, you learn to write by writing a lot. Writing fanfiction is writing, even if you don’t like what’s being written. If you’re putting the effort in, you can improve basic writing skills by practise (description, setting the story, gramma, etc etc). You can learn how to write something interesting within an existing framework (setting, characters, time etc) which YOU had to know for writing parts of Diagnostic Murder (and a useful skill to know if setting stuff in, say, the past). You can improve how you handle characters, your plotting, etc etc…
    And the Mona Lisa analogy is a flawed one. That involves copying _the entire painting_; in fanfiction, that would mean a Star Trek fanfic is directly copying an entire episode. That’s not what happens. An old Trek fic of legend was about what the Redshirts do when they’re not being killed in the first five minutes, which was NEVER shown on Star Trek before.
    “A fanfic story where Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock have anal sex is an example of a dying art?”
    Strawman argument. Not every Star Trek fic is Kirk/Spock sex. Not even the majority are Kirk/Spock sex (unless you go on really weird sites).

  • David Montgomery

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:35 PM
    40

    “You’re using [fanfic] as a spinoff point, and using it to develop your own fiction. It’s not about doing it for recognition, fame, fortune, and whatever – it’s about amusing yourself and developing as a writer.”
    The lie of this is proved by the “author” publishing it on the ‘net. If it’s not about “recognition or whatever” then leave it on your hard drive.
    Plagiarism isn’t simply “copying large chunks of text out of another’s work.” It is stealing another’s ideas and using them as if they were your own.
    (As a former college professor who saw this all too often, I can state with certainty that this is a concept of which far too many people are ignorant.)
    To paraphrase Truman Capote…Fanfic isn’t writing, it’s merely typing.
    Are we going in circles yet? 🙂

  • A Clouter

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:40 PM
    41

    //To A Clouter,
    //I have used other writers’ characters to explore canonical situations with added subtext and been able to express greater emotions through writing. Is my learning to write a bad thing?//
    That’s like saying you’ve filled in the colors on a “paint-by-the-numbers” Mona Lisa, so now you know how to paint. Give me a break. Fanfic doesn’t teach writing. It teaches laziness and stupidity. It teaches you to take the ideas of others rather than come up with something original of your own. It reinforces the notion among teenagers like yourself that plagiarism is okay…in fact, it’s more than that, it’s noble. Or, as you put it:
    //Please don’t attack something that thrives, and is passing on a dying art.//
    A fanfic story where Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock have anal sex is an example of a dying art? Spare me.
    Posted by: Lee Goldberg | October//
    I missed this. Believe me, I have more than enough of an answer.
    //Fanfic doesn’t teach writing. It teaches laziness and stupidity//
    No, it doesn’t. It’s practise for original writing. It’s also a hobby. If you want to state this as blind fact – google ‘beta reader’. And find a whole host of picky editors who demand grammar, spelling, and characterisation to be spot on. Who will make you re-check and re-check. Then tell me I’m being ‘lazy’. Please STOP making generalisations based on the one piece of awful writing you’ve read. Until you have read a decent amount – and from your comments on articles and so forth, you haven’t – you are not entitled to judge it. You are uninformed. I wouldn’t -presume- to comment on how ‘lazy’ you might be as a writer due to you writing tie ins rather than the next great novel of the 21st century, until I’d understood a little bit more about it. Have some courtesy, mm’kay?
    //teaches you to take the ideas of others rather than come up with something original of your own…//
    Again, wrong. You’re repeating yourself, sir. What fanfiction does is use the original as a -basis- for further exploration. It allows you to become familar with the medium of writing before you develop your own original writings. When you are learning to write fantasy, for example, having established characters to work with allows you to strengthen how you -deal- with characterisation, ie, allows you to learn how to use motifs in characterisation, how to make characters recognisable, how to look at speech patterns and so forth. Of course, I’m assuming that these things, that make up decent writing, are of course, important.
    //It reinforces the notion among teenagers like yourself that plagiarism is okay…in fact, it’s more than that, it’s noble//
    Plagarism – not okay. Plagarism – and look, I’m using the Oxford English dictionary, where words come from – ‘to take and use the thoughts, inventions of another person as one’s own. pass off the thoughts of another as one’s own’.
    And it’s there, I believe, your legal definition falls through. Because fanfiction is NOT plagarism. It’s not attempting to pass original fiction off as ‘one’s own’. It acknowledges the original basis, makes no profit from it, and certainly, in its very DEFINITION, declares its intentions. Which is not, sir, plagarism.
    Furthermore, using this basis as a way to teach writing – yeah, THAT’s okay. Because writing needs to be taught. It gives pleasure to both reader and writer, and oh yeah – don’t you make a career from being a developed writer? Don’t you need some basis of skills and knowledge of that which makes up a story to be a writer?
    ////Please don’t attack something that thrives, and is passing on a dying art.//
    A fanfic story where Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock have anal sex is an example of a dying art? Spare me.
    //
    Being deliberately provocative, Mr Goldberg, is a tactic I recognise. I’m not familar with the Star Trek fandom, so let me offer this in contrast.
    Harry Potter – where the life of Harry is written were he to take Draco Malfoy’s hand in Madam Malkin’s, and a convincing, well-worked and well-written, in good prose, story in which the motivations of characters are examined, and the circumstances have to remain clear?
    Or, how about this? A poem written in the same stylistic tradition as Tolkien’s example of the Elves, written in painstaking Quenya as befits the stylistic ‘age’ of the poem, on the same thematic ideas as the Elves would follow?
    That, I consider an art. That, I consider a tribute to the original artist, and also a way of developing that dying art. Anal sex between two characters, taken out of context and thrown aside in some attempt to make a disparaging repost, no. But then, you -did- take my quotation out of context.

  • Charles Ellis

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:48 PM
    42

    “Plagiarism isn’t simply “copying large chunks of text out of another’s work.” It is stealing another’s ideas and using them as if they were your own.”
    But fanfic writers aren’t claiming “these are all my ideas”, they aren’t trying to make any profit out of what they’ve done, and will sometimes use these ideas as spin-offs for things the official material never had time to deal with (see the Redshirts fic mentioned in the last post). Technically yes, this is plagiarism, but I’d argue it’s not damaging in any way (I’m excluding really vile things like the aforementioned graphic rape fanfictions).
    “To paraphrase Truman Capote…Fanfic isn’t writing, it’s merely typing.”
    Again, I disagree, see last post.
    “Are we going in circles yet? :)”
    Y’know, we should probably agree to disagree and team up to go after our mutual enemy- The Judean People’s Front! And the mpreg writers. We’ll attack with the rage of pissed-off fans, you can hit them with the destructive force of Legalness. 😉

  • David Montgomery

    October 15, 2004, pm31 12:57 PM
    43

    I admire the passion that so many fanfic writers have for their efforts. I would be less than honest, though, if I didn’t say I am dismayed to see that it is passion in support of something that seems unworthy.
    As a professional reviewer (and someone who makes his living writing), I admire writing of nearly every sort. But this just doesn’t qualify.
    I would have much greater respect for these would-be writers were they to create their own material. I also think they would be so much better off.
    Please, folks, give it a try. I think ultimately you will be much happier, more satisfied and eventually rewarded.

  • Charles RB

    October 15, 2004, pm31 1:04 PM
    44

    “I admire the passion that so many fanfic writers have for their efforts. I would be less than honest, though, if I didn’t say I am dismayed to see that it is passion in support of something that seems unworthy.”
    We’ve reached the ‘agree to disagree’ state, it seems. Well, seeing it as unworthy is your right and all.
    On the original works- well, writing original works is always preferable to fanfiction, unless said works are crap. No argument on that. Doesn’t stop me enjoying a good fic though (i.e. not bloody mpreg).

  • Jim Winter

    October 15, 2004, pm31 1:04 PM
    45

    Dave Montgomery writes:
    “Please, folks, give [creating original work] a try. I think ultimately you will be much happier, more satisfied and eventually rewarded.”
    I can wholeheartedly vouch for what David has said. I ditched fanfic back in 2001 (Well, maybe a little later, but the days were numbered in ’01), and I’ve never been happier.

  • A Clouter

    October 15, 2004, pm31 1:05 PM
    46

    The sheer facetiousness of that remark is staggering. As you feel the need to qualify every statement with your profession, I shall do the same. I -write- original. I find it satisfying. But being frankly derogatory about something which aids better writing, and helps people TO move on to original is ridiculous.
    First of all, your argument is woolly. Second of all, you refuse to address the points made by your opposition – a serious flaw in your rebuttal. Thirdly, by patronising said writers, your ignorance shows. I may be 17. I know better fanfiction writers who are 40+. Learn a little more about that which you criticise, or please, stop attempting to condescend to me.

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, pm31 1:57 PM
    47

    “I would have much greater respect for these would-be writers were they to create their own material. I also think they would be so much better off.”
    I would have a great deal more respect for you and for Lee himself if you would stop leaping to these conclusions. Several people have said or implied that they write both fanfiction -and- original work. I do myself. To imagine that the original work has some inherent worth not shared by the fanfiction…I don’t see it. Other than the fact that that the original work can be sold, I don’t see it.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, pm31 1:59 PM
    48

    //As I said, I don’t know how much you know about fanfic – but do, before you go very much further, obtain and read the book “Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture” by Henry Jenkins, ISBN 0-415-90572-9. //
    Actually, not only have I read the book — I own it. I just re-painted my office, so all my reference books are boxed up. It would be interesting to browse through that book again in light of this discussion.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, pm31 2:18 PM
    49

    A Clouter,
    //When you are writing fanfiction, you are not copying large chunks of text out of another’s work! You’re using it as a spinoff point, and using it to develop your own fiction.//
    You’re doing something far worse… you are taking their chacacters, their plots, and their settings. It’s more than just taking an exact passage. Do you know how much thought and creativity and sweat goes into creating characters? When you are taking a writers characters, you are taking EVERYTHING.
    I wrote “Fanfic doesn’t teach writing. It teaches laziness and stupidity”
    You replied:
    //No, it doesn’t. It’s practise for original writing.//
    I love that! To me, it says everything you need to know about the people who “write,” and I use that term loosely, fanfic… and it perfectly sums up the idiotic rationale behind what they do…and proves most of my points far better than anything I’ve said in this debate so far.
    But beyond that…
    You need PRACTICE to be original??

  • Coyote

    October 15, 2004, pm31 2:26 PM
    50

    “You need PRACTICE to be original??”
    Strawman, strawman, come and see the strawman!
    Actually, yes. It’s damn hard to do something that someone, somewhere, hasn’t done before. It’s even harder to do it well. Fanfiction helps you get a grasp of basic characterization and plot structure as well as the technical aspects of writing. And beyond that – IT’S A FUCKING HOBBBY. OF COURSE IT’S A WASTE OF TIME. GET THE FUCK OVER IT.
    And since you need to qualify everything you say with how you’re an original writer – I do write original fiction. I’ve yet to work up the courage to submit anything but I have done it. In fact, many fanfic writers aspire to be published or are published, as you would know if you pulled your head out of your ass and did some goddamn research.

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, pm31 2:38 PM
    51

    “You’re doing something far worse… you are taking their chacacters, their plots, and their settings.”
    There you go with the leaping to conclusions again. When I write fanfic, I might borrow -one- of the three (usually the settings or the characters) but I’m unlikely to borrow -all- of them. And of the three, the plot is the least likely.

  • P M Rommel

    October 15, 2004, pm31 2:40 PM
    52

    “You need PRACTICE to be original??”
    No, but you need practice – constant practice – to be good.

  • A Clouter

    October 15, 2004, pm31 2:48 PM
    53

    Yes. You do. And clearly, your argument has lost its thread. We seem to have proved, time and again, that fanfiction serves a useful purpose. As it is, your debate skills are sorely lacking.
    Did JK Rowling write Harry Potter full of errors? Did Tolkien possibly spend a while in the conception of his universe? Basis of fanfiction – some people pay homage to the original writer. Some people learn the basics of writing and the nuances of expression through fanfiction. Some people write awful trash that reads like poorly written romance novels. And some – some make facetious remarks and come across like those that do not know their subject matter..
    You wrote
    //You’re doing something far worse… you are taking their chacacters, their plots, and their settings. It’s more than just taking an exact passage. Do you know how much thought and creativity and sweat goes into creating characters? When you are taking a writers characters, you are taking EVERYTHING//
    Oh? We’ve moved on from your original standpoint? All right then – do notify me when you’re going to make a definition and stick with it, so far I’ve had to define plagarism, and what constitutes it. Now we’re moving on to the original matter.
    How is it worse? How? When tv writers write spinoffs – for example, the ‘Charmed’ tieins, or ‘Angel’ – they work with characters already created. This is not detrimental to the original characters, they’re carefully respecting that which has gone before.
    I really don’t see your point at all, and am disinclined to aquiesce to your point of view.
    //Do you know how much thought and creativity and sweat goes into creating characters?//
    Yes, I do. I’m an original writer, remember? I -have- put in the blood, sweat and tears. But then, the idea of those characters being realistic enough to appeal to an audience is that which spurs me on. And fanfiction is proof that such a thing has been accomplished – as seen in the inspiration it gives?
    We might not do it for the same reasons, but we put just as much trouble into fanfiction (I speak for the likes of myself, not the mpreg writer and similar, just so we’re clear) as we do into original. Sticking close to the original character, following the ideas of that character that are set down in canon.. We call them ‘laws’ for a reason. Hermione will never rate appearance over intelligence. She will never be stunning, she will always be bossy, and irritating, and have firmly defined opinions. Similarly, Draco is a weaselly-faced, cowardly bully. Such things can be followed on logically to a different manifestation of behaviour – bullying can be a character trait that one grows out of, but the inherent traits remain the same.
    Fanfiction writers work -hard- to maintain the characterisation given to them. They’re not detracting from them, in fact, in some cases, fanfiction writers can do better jobs with the character of a show they love, have seen many, many times and have considered thoughtfully their actions and opinions, than those paid to write books following episodes.
    You said //When you are taking a writers characters, you are taking EVERYTHING//
    And it is here I wholeheartedly agree with you, in two interpretations of this statement.
    1) If the writer attempted to claim a character as their own. If a writer had read, say, Harry Potter, and liked the characterisation of Hermione. They then trot off, and write a piece of original writing, which has a character that IS Hermione, to a tee, and place it, low and behold, in a magic world and so on and so forth – but with enough difference from HP that it treads the bare line between plagarism and original.
    Now is that better than using preconceived characters respectfully? For that’s a damn sight closer to plagarism than fanfiction is.
    2) If all that the characters bore resemblance to the original was in name-only. Now this is something GAFF loathes and condemns. Where the characterisation of the original is warped beyond belief. Where Hermione becomes a slut. When binges of angst are indulged in, when Snape becomes a fluffy-puppy – we do NOT like this, I am certainly not defending it. Here, I cringe at the idea of the author meeting the piece of tripe in shape and form, at the desecration to the original characters.
    But fanfiction is not that. Fanfiction can pay homage to the original characters – and at risk of repeating myself – Can explore angles not studied in canon. JK has a page on her website of the ‘lost bits’. Scenes that got cut from manuscripts. A character that almost existed. Fanfiction is about exploring through the original bounds, -BUT STICKING WTHIN THE LAWS- and moving thoughtfully off the original springboard.
    Furthermore, people must learn *how* to create original characters. An often phenomenon in fandoms is the ‘Mary Sue’, a flat, dull character who is a faceted avatar for the author’s ego. It’s a wish fufillment, a character without flaws, who is powerful, and challenges the hero, blah blah blah.
    If this was made original, it would be equally dull. But in original, there are no pre-made laws governing what characters can and can’t do. If in Harry Potter, I made up a Voldemort’s daughter-Sue who fell in love with Harry, mouthed off at Snape, and swam through life with nary a care, I’d have foaming-at-the-mouth fanficers telling me that I could NOT do this. That I had to follow canon – Snape wouldn’t allow a girl to mouth off at him without severe consequences, the power of Voldemort is Voldemort’s alone, and Harry is unlikely to fall in love with an unloveable Sue.
    Boundaries have to be learnt, and a feel for them given. In order to create suspension of disbelief in writing, there has to be some guidelines for people to follow. Before you can create them, you have to learn how to go along with them.
    If my plot line was in original fic, I could do whatever I liked, and it just wouldn’t be popular. Nobody would like it, nobody would tell me what was wrong because I have not created guidelines to follow.
    Working within the original bounds teaches you to respect them – or you are met with criticism.
    If I’m looking at Hermione, there are qualities emphasised in her that are instantly recognisable – bookworm, hard working, very very bright, and bossy. These are her ‘character’, and if she said something ‘bossily’, it conjures more of an image of Hermione than if she she just ‘said’.
    Working with these characters gives you an idea of how to create them. To characterise properly, you have to -de-construct what the original writer has done, examine the pieces, and put it back together properly.
    You learn by doing, and fanfiction allows you to learn efficently. Hopefully, I’ve made my points coherently, objectively, and without the unnecessary venom that seems to be aimed at my person. If I have failed to convince you, I personally believe it a lack of consideration on the part of the opposition, but that is as it may be.
    As far as it goes, this is what it is – a silly debate on the blog of someone who should know better than to embroil themselves in an argument with those considerably better informed. Paddle in our pool, Mr Goldberg, and you will be regarded with bemusement if you then try to tell us where to swim.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, pm31 3:18 PM
    54

    To A Clouter,
    //When tv writers write spinoffs – for example, the ‘Charmed’ tieins, or ‘Angel’ – they work with characters already created. This is not detrimental to the original characters, they’re carefully respecting that which has gone before. //
    Big difference between this an fanfic. Let me say it again, as clearly as I can…
    When a character is spun-off from a series, it is done with the full consent, authorization, and creative control of the creator/copyright holder of the characters and series. That is why the spin-off isn’t detrimental… it’s done with the AUTHOR’S CONSENT AND PARTICIPATION.
    How hard is this to grasp? Fanfic is stealing an authors characters and using them as YOU see fit, without the authors consent.
    //Fanfiction writers work -hard- to maintain the characterisation given to them.//
    That’s just it… it hasn’t been given to them. It has been TAKEN.
    //They’re not detracting from them, in fact, in some cases, fanfiction writers can do better jobs with the character of a show they love, have seen many, many times and have considered thoughtfully their actions and opinions, than those paid to write books following episodes.//
    Ahhh, here it comes. The “hey, we’re doing it better than the actual writers are” argument or the “we’re doing it for love, they’re doing it for money” rationale. It doesn’t matter whether you think you’re doing it better or not. The people paid to write the books or episodes are approved BY THE CREATOR OF THE CHARACTERS…as are their stories. Whether you like it or not, those writers are reflecting the creative desires of the owners of the work. It doesn’t matter what someone who “loves” the show and has watched it many times thinks is right for the characters… the characters don’t belong to them. They belong to the creator/copyright holder. Period. End of story.
    //Working within the original bounds teaches you to respect them – or you are met with criticism. //
    If you truly respected the original works, and the authors who wrote them, you wouldn’t write fanfic.

  • Majoranka

    October 15, 2004, pm31 3:39 PM
    55

    I am not a GAFF poster, but I am quite a regular lurker there and as a fanfic reader and poetry writer, I couldn’t resist the temptation of joining this discussion. And yes, I write original poetry too. I would like to address the whole fanfiction is worthless / unoriginal / plagiarism argument, and in particular David Montgomery’s essay analogy, as I believe it clearly shows the basis of the disagreement here.
    Yes, it is plagiarism when ones quotes original phrases or sentences as one’s own. It is also plagiarism when one uses someone else’s ideas as one’s own in an essay. However, it is not plagiarism when one mentions another author’s thoughts (while giving the author due credit) and uses them as basis of further argumentation (agreeing, disagreeing, comparing, exploring further possibilities). As a college teacher Mr. Montgomery must be well aware that this is standard practice and in fact, no quality philosophy, sociology or other work can be written without it.
    What good fanfiction writers do is little different. They take the author’s original work (or ‘canon’), acknowledge that it is not theirs, and explore its further possibilities. I would like to object here to the constant making of sweeping judgements about fanfiction while pointing only at the bad examples. Creating strawmen does not seem like the most proper form of argumentation to me. As has already been repeatedly pointed out: there are serious character pieces, well thought out plots, good poetry… Frankly, I am quite puzzled at how any of this is inherently worthless or unimaginative. Contrary to Mr. Lee’s (misinformed) opinion, good fanfiction writers do not copy the original work, they add to it and explore its possibilities (what would happen if…? What was the character X thinking when…? etc.).
    Building upon already existing stories is a long established literary tradition, it is nothing new under the sun. I know of a very talented poet in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fandom: why are her poems, regardless of their quality, inherently worthless just because she works with some concepts and characters of J.R.R.T.’s universe, while adding her own thoughts and style? Last time I checked, nobody accuses Ovid of being an unoriginal plagiarist for basing his Metamorphosis on Greek mythology. Ehm, Milton’s Paradise Lost also uses someone else’s characters and storyline. Technically, Shakespeare’s Hamlet could be classified as fanfiction, since it is based off the story of the prince Amlet written by the Danish scholar Saxo Grammaticus. And, similarly, Tom Stoppard’s Rozenkrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead would be a piece of exceptionally good Hamlet fanfiction, were Shakespeare alive.
    From technical point of view, the only difference between these authors and fanfiction writers is that Ovid, Shakespeare, Stoppard and Milton refer to stories that are old (thus copyright issues are of no consequence) and are an established part of our culture’s literary canon. They can be widely understood, and can be sold. Fanfiction is something obscure because the fanbase is often not very large, and thus only few people can relate to the story. Notice, please, that I’m not saying that fanfiction writers are as good as Shakespeare or Milton. I’m talking about the principle here, not the quality of execution, and I would very much appreciate if people would not take my words out of context (i.e. cries of “she’s comparing fanfiction to Shakespeare, how pretentious can you get?”, implying that I think most fanfic writers are as good as the Bard, will be ignored unless backed by argumentation and evidence).
    It is true that a lot of fanfiction is low quality. However, I would argue that this is not something inherent to the form of fanfiction itself (i.e. further working with established characters and plot). It might be worth consideration that published works go through editorial control, while internet is a free medium. There is a lot of awful original fiction, too. Were I to judge original fiction as a whole according to what I stumble across on the ‘net, I would have to say that it is, indeed, worthless and unoriginal.
    It is easy to refuse to acknowledge the existence of good fanfiction, point at things like mpreg and say: see those sickos?
    Fanfiction is a hobby and as such, it is, of course, a ‘waste of time’, meaning that it will not bring the fanficcer fame, money, credit or recognition. S/he does it for pleasure and for love of the original work. Whether it is ‘useful’ is, ultimately, of no consequence. It seems to me that in a lot of above arguments there is an inherent notion that an activity is worthwhile only if one gets paid for it or if it furthers his / her career.
    If you feel writing fanfiction is immoral simply because it happens without the consent of the original writers and because it alters their creative vision without their supervision, I would have to ask you how it is that you find writing fanfiction in the public domain morally allright, as you have stated above? What does it matter whether the author and his immediate heirs are dead or not? We still can’t get their consent. We still alter their creative vision.
    For the record, I do not write in your fandom, I write in Lord of the Rings and Rurouni Kenshin fandoms. English is my second language and I apologize in advance for any mistakes or blunders I might have made.

  • David Montgomery

    October 15, 2004, pm31 3:52 PM
    56

    Majoranka wrote:
    “Yes, it is plagiarism when ones quotes original phrases or sentences as one’s own. It is also plagiarism when one uses someone else’s ideas as one’s own in an essay. However, it is not plagiarism when one mentions another author’s thoughts (while giving the author due credit) and uses them as basis of further argumentation (agreeing, disagreeing, comparing, exploring further possibilities). As a college teacher Mr. Montgomery must be well aware that this is standard practice.”
    When you appropriate the essence of another’s work, though, and portray it as your own (and surely this is what the majority of fanfic does), EVEN WITH ATTRIBUTION, that is plagiarism, copying, stealing, wrong. I saw students thrown out of school for doing exactly that. Doing it with fiction is no less wrong. A disclaimer does NOT absolve the writer of responsibility. (This is a very clear legal and, I think, ethical point.)
    Majoranka wrote:
    “Fanfiction is a hobby and as such, it is, of course, a ‘waste of time’, meaning that it will not bring the fanficcer fame, money, credit or recognition. S/he does it for pleasure and for love of the original work.”
    Then don’t publish it. If you don’t distribute it, no one will ever know, no one will ever care, thus the point becomes moot.
    But despite the repeated claims that writing fanfic is a hobby solely for one’s own edification, these folks are still running around disseminating this stuff.
    Bottom line: you can write whatever you want, but when you start publishing it, even if you aren’t making money directly, you are crossing the line.
    Oh… and you’d still be better off writing your own stuff. 🙂

  • A Clouter

    October 15, 2004, pm31 3:52 PM
    57

    I applaud the previous poster’s coherency on this issue. Clearly, she has wrapped up the matter far better than I could.
    To Mr Goldberg – when you decide to refute actual argument with objectivity, I will deign to answer your points. It’s both amusing and irritating to find that someone who has supposedly become better informed as to the time to give up, has not. Perhaps my working with words from an early age has leant me a confidence with which to express my argument, free from the het-up emotion you so clearly indicate yourself suffering from.
    Look at our argument. Read it when you are once again calm. And then laugh at yourself for entering in an argument with a bunch of fanfiction authors, and losing.

  • Majoranka

    October 15, 2004, pm31 4:04 PM
    58

    Thank you for your reply. I understand your position as an author, however I would be still glad if you addressed the Shakespeare – Stoppard comparison, and answered my question about fanfiction in the public domain. Was Stoppard’s using of Hamlet’s plot and characters an act of plagiarism? If not, what is the difference?
    I do not believe Stoppard portrays Hamlet’s plot and characters as his own. Neither do fanfiction writers. IMHO, you can hardly “portray something as your own” with an attribution to the original author. I’m afraid I see this a a bit of an oxymoron.

  • Majoranka

    October 15, 2004, pm31 4:29 PM
    59

    I forgot to address sharing fanfiction with others in my previous post; my apologies.
    In my opinion, sharing fanfiction is little different that talking about your ideas about a show or a book, or inspired by the show or a book, with friends. Basically, that’s what it is, only written down, expressed in an art form and polished. I can hardly see something immoral in it, as long as the author is credited.
    A fanfic writer, as any other writer, writes primarily for his own enjoyment. Yet as a fanfiction reader, I must say my life would be poorer without some excellent pieces of fanfiction I’ve read. They shown me other possible interpretations, details I did not notice, perspectives I did not know were possible. I was granted the privilege to see the novel through another person’s eyes, and it was certainly a very enriching experience for me. It did not replace the original novel, it did not erase my original perception of the novel, it opened a new point of view.

  • D. Kelly

    October 15, 2004, pm31 5:40 PM
    60

    Hmm… let’s see if I can cast some light on a few things here.
    Before I do so, though, I wish to argue against a point made by David Montgomery. This point: ‘When you appropriate the essence of another’s work, though, and portray it as your own (and surely this is what the majority of fanfic does), EVEN WITH ATTRIBUTION, that is plagiarism, copying, stealing, wrong. I saw students thrown out of school for doing exactly that. Doing it with fiction is no less wrong. A disclaimer does NOT absolve the writer of responsibility. (This is a very clear legal and, I think, ethical point.)’
    I’m curious as to how you can ‘portray it as your own’ when you also have a disclaimer explicitely stating that it is /not/ your own. If I was writing, say, a fact sheet on creating polymers, would it be plagiarism if I started that sheet with a credited quote from the OED defining a polymer? And if so, isn’t it equally plagiarism for you to be quoting other people in your arguments? But that’s all rhetorical. What I’m actually here to address is the question of /why/ people write fanfiction. And yes, I’m going to include the bad reasons too. In fact, I’ll start with one.
    #1: Wish Fulfillment
    There are people, many people, who watch, say, the Lord of the Rings films (apologies for all of the Tolkien analogies I’ll be making, LotR/Silmarillion is my own primary field of fanfic-writing) and think ‘Legolas/Aragorn/Frodo is so hott! I wish I could marry him/sleep with him!’. Some of them then write a story in which they do so. These kind of stories tend to be badly written.
    If you want to know, my own first fanfiction (which is not anywhere online, has been seen by about three people including myself, and was written before I had discovered that fanfiction had been thought up by other people) was based on the thought ‘Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Pern’ is so cool! It’d be really great to go there… but I can’t… hey, wait, I could /write/ that I did…’. One thing I learnt in that is that it actually increased my enjoyment of the books. In attempting to write about dragons, I had to visualise them better, which meant that when I re-read the original works, I could see what was happening better, giving it more of an impact. Of course, that argument doesn’t work for more visual art forms, such as film and TV, but eh.
    To move away a little from that first ‘fic — which I recently re-read and thought ‘The interaction here is really good, I’ll have to remember it to use in my original story’, on which subject more later — writing fanfic also helps you empathise more with the characters. If you watch a film in which there is a depressed character, you think ‘Oh, she’s depressed, move on’. If, however, you think a bit more about it, and go ‘/Why/ is she depressed? It wasn’t in the film, but she didn’t seem to like /him/’, and then proceed to write a fanfic about how, ten years ago, ‘him’ was in a relationship with ‘she’ and they parted violently, the next time you watch it, you feel more sympathy, even if it’s for the wrong reason. Of course, not everyone is a good enough writer to do that, so they go onto sites like http://www.fanfiction.net and read what other people have written about why ‘she’ is depressed.
    Whee, long paragraphs… losing track… onto reason #2, methinks.
    #2: Practice
    We’ve now reached one of the reasons I, personally, write fanfic. I’ve got an original hopefully-going-to-be-novel in the works, currently resting around 30,000 words. I started writing this a couple of years back, and that fact really shows. I’ve recently begun rewriting the first section, and it is /amazing/ how badly it was written at first. I just skipped from plot point to plot point, hardly building up my characters at all.
    In the middle of writing this, I took a long break from it — in fact, I got stuck. So I wrote more fanfic. I then proceeded to post this on the internet. People then proceeded to tell me that my characters were flat, 2D, and pretty boring, all told. I looked at them, and lo and behold, it was true! I had never noticed this, because no one had actually pointed it out. If you write Original (and I’m talking before it’s published, here), who are you going to get to look at it? No one will know anything about the world you try to create, so they won’t actually be interested enough to read it thoroughly and criticize it. In fanfic, however, people /do/ know the world. They can say ‘Aragorn would never do that,’ or ‘Why are you making Legolas act like a lovestruck teenager?’. And they will point out if your main character is Too Perfect — if everyone adores her, she can do anything, etcetera etcetera. Even the term for this type of character, ‘Mary-Sue’, comes from a fanfic (Star Trek, I’ve been told). And we all know that Mary-Sues can appear outside of fanfic — my two main characters in that novel-to-be that I mentioned have a habit of being /horribly/ ‘Sue-ish at times. Yes, it’s possible that I’d have noticed this by myself, but then again, I might not have. People tend to believe their own work is good until people tell them otherwise.
    — have I gone and digressed again? Hum. Erm… right. Reason #3, then.
    #3: Fun
    It’s fun, for crying out loud! If you enjoy writing, then yes, you could create your own universe from scratch. If you enjoy football, you could kill a pig and inflate its bladder. If you enjoy walking, you could learn to be a cobbler and make yourself some boots. Alternately, you could buy a football, or buy a pair of walking boots. What do you do if you enjoy writing? You buy some material to start from. And no, you don’t need to buy the right to use it, in the same way that you don’t need to pay to put your boots on, or pay to kick that football.
    Okay, so maybe you, personally, have the ability to create universes quickly and easily. Some people /don’t/. The two, three I’ve come up with have horrible intrinsic flaws which make them hard to work with. Yes, sometimes I enjoy the intellectual challenge of trying to work out exactly where to put the secret base so that it’s at the exact centre of a triangle of three cities, but sometimes I prefer just to pull out the ‘Atlas of Middle-earth’ and say ‘Oh, Tirion is in the Calacirya, so from the walls you’d be able to see both Valinor and the sea, and that will make a great backdrop for a scene.’
    Yes, it’s ‘lazy’, in a sense. Yes, it’s quicker. Yes, it may even be pointless. But if you really think that because something is pointless it shouldn’t be done, then I hope that you have never played a game. Because that is even more pointless — it provides enjoyment only to yourself, whereas fanfic provides it to other readers too.
    Yes, that’s right. We know that professional writers can’t be constantly churning out new material. If they could, then great, we’d always have something to read/watch which we’d never seen before. But we can’t. So what do we do? We write it for each other. (By the way, I think I wandered into reason #4: For Other People somewhere around here) And yes, sometimes what we write is useless garbage — I’ve got a profile full of that on Fanfiction.net. But sometimes it isn’t, and we actually give other people who know the Canon some enjoyment.
    Tolkien, for example, is dead. There will be no more Canon written in Middle-earth and Valinor. We’ll never know whether Eldarion was a good king, whether Eowyn enjoyed life with Faramir, or whether Luthien ever regretted forsaking immortality for the love of a Mortal. But we want to know. We care about these characters, and want to keep them /alive/. That’s why /I/ write Fanfic – to explore an untapped world of possibilities.
    And yes, there are people who will abuse that – they’ll write Mpreg, they’ll write horribly out-of-character characters. But they are not everyone. Don’t judge us all by the actions of a few, or I might have to start saying things about how a single terrible episode in a TV series makes the whole series abysmal and not worth watching.
    Oh, and if you still want to say that it’s plagiarism and stealing and such, consider that the authors of the Canon actually gain from this. If I read a crossover between, say, Lord of the Rings and Star Trek, and it’s /good/ (Never met one yet, but there are good crossovers), then next time Star Trek comes onto the TV, I might think, ‘Hey, I wonder if Kirk would really act like that, I’ll just watch this episode to see’. And then I could get hooked, and end up as a regular ‘Trekkie’. I’m sure there are people that has happened to.
    What I’m trying to say by all this is pretty much this: It’s not harming anyone, it may actually /help/ the original authors, it brings a lot of people enjoyment, and for that, I’d say it’s worth it.
    Right, I think I’ve had my say in this. I’ll finish here, post this, and then think ‘… I should have said /that/ instead’ and curse myself for it. But hey, that’s the way of the world.

  • Morgul

    October 15, 2004, pm31 5:44 PM
    61

    *shakes head* Really? This is all unneccessary. If authors don’t want Fanfic written about their stories, they tell us and we stop.
    It’s worked for Anne Rice and Anne McCaffrey, hasn’t it?
    Also, fanfic is written by fans who use their time to expand upon the given story. One writer has written an amazing story about the first meeting of Celeborn and Galadriel. Sure, it’s in the Silmarillion, but what are the opinions of those who aren’t given a point of view. She expresses and explores this very well.
    And before anyone goes into what we learn in school, let me tell you a little story. “Creative Writing” in my English class is us given a plot, a summary and a topic. We then have to write a 300 word story about it. Tell me what’s creative about this? How does it expand our writing skills?
    Another story about “Creative Writing” is something that happened at the beginning of this year. I wrote a story about an Anglo-Saxon woman who’s husband had been killed in battle against the Normans. I explored her feelings, how she coped with her grief and how the event affected her family. I nearly failed. I would have failed had I not made a single grammatical or spelling error (a trick I picked up from writing fanfic). The person who got the highest mark in the class? It was a Mary-sue suicide note, full of errors.
    But if this is getting me no-where and you want to see some of the horrors of one-handed typing, e-mail me. My e-mail is above.
    However, if you want to see some truly amazing stories, e-mail me anyway, tell me what fandom you’re in, what you most want to see in a fanfic and I’ll happily send you one.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, pm31 9:52 PM
    62

    Charles,
    //That’s inaccurate. To quote Stephen King, you learn to write by writing a lot. Writing fanfiction is writing, even if you don’t like what’s being written. //
    I agree with Stephen King. That’s how I got to where I am (though hardly anywhere near Mr. Kings success or stature!). I didn’t do it writing fanfic. Not once. Not ever.
    Writing fanfic isn’t writing. As I said in a comment to another post, writing is more than just laying down words. It’s creating character, plot, voice and place. When more than half that job is done for you, you aren’t learning anything. You don’t learn how to paint by filling in a paint-by-the-numbers coloring book. You learn by painting on a blank canvas.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, pm31 10:31 PM
    63

    Someone asked a while back — I’m afraid there have been so many posts in-between I’ve lost track — what the difference is between writing about a character in the public domain and “fanfic.”
    Once a work of art falls into the public domain it becomes part of our shared culture, it belongs to all of us now. Anyone can use it.
    But that reply doesn’t address the person’s question about what I see as the artistic distinction between writing about, say, Sherlock Holmes and fanfic.
    The legal and ethical issues aside, isn’t it the same thing?
    In a way, yes, I suppose it is. You are writing about a character and a setting that already exists and, in most cases, mimicing the authors voice as well.
    When a work becomes public domain, the author is dead. He or she no longer exists to create new works or protect his artistic rights. If the characters are to continue, it’s up to new writers to do it. And since the works are in the public domain, it’s fair game. (Which is also why we’ve seen Sherlock Holmes as a mouse, a robot, a cartoon character, time-traveling to the future, to the past and what not… or Robin Hood as a gay man with a band of very merry men).
    I know someone is going to ask: Isn’t this the same as when a TV show is canceled or an author choses to stop writing books we love?
    No, because the work still belongs to the author. It’s up to him to decide when, or if, there will be more works… not the audience.
    But I am digressing…the question was, from an artistic/writing standpoint, is there a difference between writing Sherlock Holmes, for example, and fanfic?
    No, there probably isn’t. Once you strip the ethical and legal issues from the discussion (and those are MAJOR issues), you could say that, for example, Nicolas Meyer’s “Seven Percent Solution” is exceptionally well done fanfic.
    Do I think writing short stories about Sherlock Holmes is useful way to learn writing… or do I put it on the same level as fanfic?
    As a learning tool, yes, I put it on the same level as fanfic.
    So it’s also a “waste of time and talent” too?
    I think so, yeah.
    Tell that to Nicolas Meyer and Laurie King, why don’t you?
    On this issue, it’s a matter of taste. I have nothing against people writing novels or movies or anything else using characters in the public domain. Where I draw the line is with works that clearly ARE NOT in the public domain, that belong to no one BUT the creator/copyright holder. Fanfic infringes on the authors creative, ethical, and legal rights to his work.
    Would I be railing against people who write Sherlock Holmes stories on the net or elsewhere?
    No.
    Why?
    Because they aren’t infringing on the author’s right and intellectual property.
    But what if they were writing Sherlock Holmes male birthing stories… with Watson as his bedmate?
    Just as sickening and stupid as “male birthing” WEST WING fanfic…

  • Leto

    October 15, 2004, pm31 11:29 PM
    64

    Mr. Goldberg,
    You have sickened me several times with your round arguing.
    Not all fanfic writers write about “male birthing” fanfic, which you are so quick to go back to, and you ignore what we have to say!
    But the points that I want to make are these:
    1. You were once a ficwriter, not in the sense that you would immediately recognize. Several times you said that you wrote for a TV show. How is that not like fanfic? First of all, you are given the characters, the plot, the setting, and the laws of the continuum. You are not even allowed to take any artistic licence in the writing. Fanwriters go farther than you by CREATING their own plot and views on the story.
    2. By writing for a TV show, you gained plenty of writing experience. You learned about writing three dimensional characters, and about what can and can’t be done in a story to make it believable. This experience is what we are trying to achieve when we write fanfiction.
    I have to say, by your constant snide remarks to us, fans and potential fans, I have been turned off by you. I have never read any of your book, and I have to say, if I had a choice right now, I would never read anything written by you again. So I guess you can say that you have started to complete your goal and stop fanfiction by killing your fan base.
    Leto *is peeved*

  • Leto

    October 15, 2004, pm31 11:44 PM
    65

    Mr. Montgomery,
    I have a hard time believing that you are a professor. The reason for this is that you said that you have seen the amount of people being thrown out of university for plagiarism.
    Yes plagiarism is a huge deal in the university setting (I know as I am a uni student), but is it not your job to teach us how to cite and make a proper bibliography? And how have I not been kicked out of uni by using a sentence of two ver battem in a report or paper, after properly citing the resources?
    Your argument falls under this heading. We are saying that we lay no claim to the original works. And generally if we do use a passage out of the original works, we usually indicate it by having it double indented or in a different font.
    If you truly are a professor, and not someone masquerading as one, you must have done citing and be able to recognize it on sight.
    Leto *doublely peeved*

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 15, 2004, pm31 11:59 PM
    66

    Leto Doubly Peeved,
    Allow me to make you “triply peeved.”
    //1. You were once a ficwriter, not in the sense that you would immediately recognize. Several times you said that you wrote for a TV show. How is that not like fanfic? First of all, you are given the characters, the plot, the setting, and the laws of the continuum. You are not even allowed to take any artistic licence in the writing. Fanwriters go farther than you by CREATING their own plot and views on the story.//
    Okay, I’ll say this for the 100th time, because it seems to be a difficult concept for you…
    When you are writing for a tv show, you are writing with the creative consent and direction of the author — the creator or executive producer of the show. Often, you are all in a room together, cracking the stories. We go as far creatively, or to put it in your terms, we take as much creative license, as the showrunner allows us. Many times, I have been that showrunner (Diagnosis Murder is one example… and now I have been entrusted by the studio with the books as well).
    Get it?
    Fanfic writers do not have the consent of the authors or creators of the works they steal.
    Got that?
    The thing is, I think you do get it. I think all fanfic writers do. It’s just easier to keep doing what you’re doing by pretending you don’t.

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, am31 12:26 AM
    67

    So you’re saying that what makes us evil and you saintly and blameless is that you have the approval of the creators?
    Well, I guess you just lost part of your argument there as several authors, such as Mr. Terry Pratchett, have stated that they don’t mind people writing fanfic about their books.
    Are the Discworld fanwriters singing in your heavenly choir now?
    And stealing? Are we making money from this? Do we get anything out of it save for the joy and experience of writing and having critism made about our writing styles?
    A very popular author who goes by the name ‘Magic Rat’ (If you don’t want to be mentioned here I apologise fullheartedly) who writes the most amazing original stories. They’re absolutely enchanting, but her fanfic is no less good. I’ve seen her earlier fics, the spelling and grammar aren’t all that great and the plots definately need work, but what she does now is far superior than most drivel that is posted today.
    She learned this through fanfiction. I’ve passed my english classes through fanfiction. How is this a negitive?

  • Majoranka

    October 16, 2004, am31 1:25 AM
    68

    Mr. Goldberg wrote:
    //”Once a work of art falls into the public domain it becomes part of our shared culture, it belongs to all of us now. Anyone can use it.
    But that reply doesn’t address the person’s question about what I see as the artistic distinction between writing about, say, Sherlock Holmes and fanfic.
    The legal and ethical issues aside, isn’t it the same thing?
    In a way, yes, I suppose it is. You are writing about a character and a setting that already exists and, in most cases, mimicing the authors voice as well.”
    (…)
    “But I am digressing…the question was, from an artistic/writing standpoint, is there a difference between writing Sherlock Holmes, for example, and fanfic?
    No, there probably isn’t. Once you strip the ethical and legal issues from the discussion (and those are MAJOR issues), you could say that, for example, Nicolas Meyer’s “Seven Percent Solution” is exceptionally well done fanfic.
    Do I think writing short stories about Sherlock Holmes is useful way to learn writing… or do I put it on the same level as fanfic?
    As a learning tool, yes, I put it on the same level as fanfic.
    So it’s also a “waste of time and talent” too?
    I think so, yeah.” //
    Thank you for addressing my argument. I am glad to hear that you, in the end, do not see the simple fact of basing off another author’s story as an act of plagiarism (well, this is the logical conclusion of your arguments – you do not mind people writing in the public domain).
    I understand you are morally opposed to fanfiction only because it, as you say, “infringes on the [living] authors creative, ethical, and legal rights to his work”. I fail to see how so, but here we will probably have to agree to disagree. I only ask you to realize that not every author feels the way you do. If you are against fanfiction because it infringes on the author’s rights, and the author says “It doesn’t matter / It isn’t so,” well, the point becomes moot.
    Thus we can say that writing fanfiction is only wrong when it goes against the wishes of the original author, which is what the fanfiction writers here have been saying from the very beginning.
    If you feel uncomfortable with D:M fanfiction, if you feel it violates your rights, let the D:M fanwriters and archivists know. Please, do not speak for original authors as a whole, because not all of them feel the same.
    On your perceiving writing based off another’s story as “a waste of time and talent”, be it a published Sherlock Holmes story or a fanfiction (as you see them on the same level), and regardless of its quality: it is a matter of personal opinion which I respect. I only wonder why, then, you are wasting your time and talent as a TV writer, because writing based off another’s story is exactly what you do. That the original creators / copyright holders have a say in it is of no consequence here. Nicolas Meyer wrote nothing less and nothing more than a next episode of Sherlock Holmes, yet you see it as a waste, regardless of the enjoyment it gives to other people. If such is the case, I wish you the best of luck on furthering your career as a novelist.

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, am31 1:31 AM
    69

    *cheers and applaudes* Thank you! You said it far more eloquently than I ever could!
    *hugs Majoranka*

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, am31 1:55 AM
    70

    //Well, I guess you just lost part of your argument there as several authors, such as Mr. Terry Pratchett, have stated that they don’t mind people writing fanfic about their books.//
    If Terry Pratchett doesn’t mind you writing fanfic based on his work, then it’s fine. I still think it’s a waste of your time and creativity, but I certainly have no quarrel with you doing it. You have his consent.
    //On your perceiving writing based off another’s story as “a waste of time and talent”, be it a published Sherlock Holmes story or a fanfiction (as you see them on the same level), and regardless of its quality: it is a matter of personal opinion which I respect. I only wonder why, then, you are wasting your time and talent as a TV writer, because writing based off another’s story is exactly what you do.//
    You’re right, I do. That’s a fair question.
    Episodic television is a medium that depends on hundreds of new episodes being written, one each week for years. For most creators, this is an impossible task to do on their own… so they hire other writers to help them execute their visions. By it’s nature, television is a collaborative medium. You aren’t writing prose as much as you are writing a blueprint for others … actors, directors, costumers, set designers, location scouts etc… to contribute their talent and skills to bring the creators vision to life. Episodic television writing is a unique form of writing. You’re absolutely right…like fanfic, you are given a set of characters and a world to work in that makes it MUCH easier to write than an original story.
    Therefore, unless you are a showrunner, it’s hard to feel that a TV show is a persoal expression of your talent and creativity. You are, ultimately, mimicing the voice and the vision of the creator of the show. You are servicing his vision. That’s why so many episodic writers yearn to create a series of their own… to have the control they lack as hired hands.
    And, to be honest, it’s why I write books on the side, to get the creative satisfaction that television doesn’t entirely provide (even when I am running a show, because you still get notes from the actors, the studio, the network, the line producer, the guy giving out donuts on the set, the drivers…..)

  • Majoranka

    October 16, 2004, am31 2:51 AM
    71

    Well, then we have little to argue about, and I am glad to see that we can come to a sort of agreement here: fanfiction is not morally wrong as long as it doesn’t go against the author’s wishes.
    Regarding the worth of work based off another people’s stories, you are entitled to your opinion, as long as you are aware that it is only your opinion. What you perceive as worthless, other people perceive as fun and fulfilling hobby. Some fanfic writers write original stuff as well, others are content to play in other people’s worlds. They are glad to serve to someone else’s vision. I must say, by the way, that I applaud the calm and consistency of your last post, as well as your ability to look at your own position critically. Thank you.
    I would argue that basing off another’s stories per se does not need to result in worthless and uncreative work but that is, again, only my opinion. However, it is an opinion I am willing to back with arguments, if you’re interested in further discussion. I personally find this discussion fascinating. 🙂

  • suzycat

    October 16, 2004, am31 4:13 AM
    72

    It seems pretty clear to me that Mr Goldberg’s real issue is not with fanfic but that someone imagined “his” characters having anal sex and wrote a story about it. Now he’s traumatised. So the underlying issue, I suspect, is really homophobia.
    Quite frankly, Mr Goldberg, slash isn’t *for* you, it’s for the fans. For the ladies, actually. There is some excellent slash out there, written by academics and professional writers who happen to like writing gay porn in their spare time. Get over it. It’s not hurting you. In fact, I know of several television viewers who *started watching* a show *because of the high quality of the fanfic*. Which is usually slash, by the way – the best and the worst fandom has to offer tends to be in that genre.
    You could, of course, stop fanfic of your own work, but you seem to prefer whining about how fanfic is so terrible and timewasting. You seem remarkably insecure. It’s really not that terrible a thing, you know? In the words of William Shatner: get a life.

  • Charles Ellis

    October 16, 2004, am31 5:53 AM
    73

    I think it was the idea that A MALE CHARACTER WAS GIVING BIRTH that threw him, really. Traumatised me the first time I discovered mpreg too.
    Mpreg is different to slash in that slash only violates the canon half the time (for the live of Primus, Kirk is _heterosexual_), while mpreg violates the canon and all laws of biological science.
    I still think Goldberg’s wrong on most of his views on fanfiction but ye gods, reacting violently to mpreg is what makes us human. There’s nothing homophobic about thinking men giving birth is a stupid thing to write fanfiction about. Course, labelling people who are against it homophobic is a nice way to ignore them, I guess…

  • D. Kelly

    October 16, 2004, am31 6:35 AM
    74

    I’d like to agree with Charles Ellis on this one – Dislike of Mpreg or even slash is not equal to homophobia. Putting aside the biological impossibility of the former – although there are probably a few Canons were it /is/ possible – I, personally, dislike slash because it’s not true to the original characters. Aragorn and Legolas, Holmes and Watson, whoever – these people were not together in the mind of the original author, in some cases they have very good reasons not be be (eg Arwen), and it’s just… not right without a very plausible reason.
    And before I’m accused of homophobia myself, I’ll just point out that I have three, four homosexual friends. So I’m /pretty/ sure that’s not the case.
    Oh, and just to pick a point to argue with, Mr. Goldberg said this: ‘Episodic television is a medium that depends on hundreds of new episodes being written, one each week for years. For most creators, this is an impossible task to do on their own… so they hire other writers to help them execute their visions.’
    This is, in effect, exactly what fanfic writers aim to do, at least some of us. No real author can churn out books fast enough to keep their readers constantly occupied, so we write more stories with our favourite characters to fill the time. The differences are that we don’t get paid, and that we haven’t been asked to do this by the original authors. I guess it all comes down to who you think published works/TV series’ are for – the author, or the consumers. If the latter – which is what I think it should be – then fanfic is a way of taking something good and extending it so that the consumers get even more pleasure from it. I don’t see how that is wrong.
    Of course, you can’t actually agree with me on that – you’ve put far too much time into this argument to ever change your opinion.

  • Tamsin

    October 16, 2004, am31 6:42 AM
    75

    Hmmm. Well, firstly, Shakespeare based several of his stories on works by others- Boccaccio springs to mind, but Romeo and Juliet wasn’t exactly original either, and as for Julius Caesar… so was Shakespeare in your mind a talentless hack, feeding off the hard work and creativity of others? What of the numerous versions of Faust? Is Geothe a hack? Or is it somehow better/different when copyright has expired?
    >>Let me pose a question to you. If you create a character and a world… for a TV show or novel… wouldn’t you agree that it’s yours? That you own what you’ve created? That it should be your decision what the characters say or do and how they intereact with one another? Wouldn’t you be offended and upset to see your characters used without your consent… doing and saying things you would never have them say or do? Would you be flattered if two of your heterosexual, male characters are appropriated for a “male birthing” story?<< Well, Barthes talked about the death of the author, didn't he. The notion that every writer creates a world- but that every reader recreates it anew, bringing their own life experiences and prejudices to the interpretation of the text before them. One of the oddest experiences as a writer is just how differently a character can be perceived by a readership. You make a lot of assumptions about fanfiction writers. One of my friends writes extraordinarily good original, which she labours over with painstaking care. She's had short stories published and has won literary prizes in the USA, and she's very young. She happens to be extremely talented, and attitudes such as yours are why her fanfic is her dark secret. She uses a pseudonym to write it as a light relief, a way to enjoy creativity without the pressure. Fanfiction is self published, so most of it will naturally be absolutely terrible. Such is the tradition of vanity publishing. But not all. Edith Wharton and Jane Austen both had their works published first at their family's expense- I don't imagine you'd regard them as wholly without talent. Some writers, of whatever genre or background, will be extremely good. And some fanfiction writers will (and do) also write original. The argument that most puzzles me is the notion that somehow, being commercially motivated lifts you onto a higher moral plane. It's certainly a quality control, in that to get paid, you must be of a certain standard. But it's not a lot more than that for a scriptwriter. The team that wrote the last few series of Friends were gifted, no question. But they were writing for characters created by others, set within an imaginary world also created by others. The difference is they were commissioned and paid. So in effect, your argument becomes one of commerce- of intellectual property. fanfiction.net is where most ff is written. They won't host fic where the copyright owner objects. But a lot of those with rights don't object- because ff writers generally are very loyal fans. They love their fandom. I personally don't like reading very out of character stuff. My big interest is in well written stories that are from the perspective of minor characters- that round out an existing imaginary world. I really enjoy reading those. And though I wouldn't personally read a male pregnancy, that's because I couldn't believe in it. I don't share your anxieties around homosexuality, so when it comes to NC-17 fic my only interest is whether it's well written and plausible. Not what the protagonists' plumbing is. Oh- I got into Cambridge University in England to read English Lit. So I'm not exactly unacquainted with great literature- I have, you know, read some. So I'm not about to argue that any fanfiction I've read is great literature. But mainstream TV isn't great art, either. So what's your damage?

  • Anna

    October 16, 2004, am31 9:52 AM
    76

    Mr. Goldberg– I disagree with you whoelheartly on most, if not all of what you say. Fanfiction is NOT plagarism. If it were, then my TEACHERS would be promoting it. On several books I have read for class, an assignment has been to make up a different story, based on that book.
    I also know for a fact that not all fanfiction is bad. I am a fanfiction writer myself, and have published eleven fanfictions in various fandoms. I also write original, and have published three stories on the internet. The review systems give eneryone critsism, which is good, as it helps polish writing.
    I know for a fact that in just the Lord of the Rings fandom, a favorite fanfictoin author of mine has written /40/ Well-Written stories and is now nearing the 50 mark. I personally love her stories, and I think that reading just ONE of her stories will change your mind. Unless you really are the close-minded dumbass you appear to be here.
    Her website is http://www.aragon-legolas.5u.com/fanfiction.html. If you really read ONE of her stories, and then tell me that you still think the same way, think I will agree to disagree.
    Anna *at war*

  • Bill Rabkin

    October 16, 2004, am31 9:52 AM
    77

    Tamsin,
    As you are currently reading English Lit at Cambridge, I think you must know how disingenuous it is to claim Jane Austen as a parallell for fanfic simply because her family paid to publish her first works. As I’m sure you know, the publishing “industry” was substantially different in those days, and it was generally necessary to take up a subscription in order to raise the money to get a book published. It is not the equivalent of a vanity press today.
    And while fanficcers for some reason seem to feel this is splitting hairs, I do believe that there is a huge difference between basing works on current (or recent) copyright books and drawing on the vast well of human culture, which is what Shakespeare, Ovid, and, yes, Tom Stoppard have all done.
    If you read the deliberations that went into the formulation of American copyright law, you’ll see this very argument. There was concern for a balance between the protection of the author and the original work on one hand, and the indoctrination of that work into the world’s culture. It was decided that copyright should belong to the author (or his heirs) for a certain number of years, in order to allow him to enjoy the fruit of his creation, but then, if the work still existed, it was to be considered part of our collective consciousness.
    Unfortunately, due to corporate lobbying, that timespan has grown ridiculously over the past few years — most because Disney is terrified of seeing Mickey and Pooh lapse into the public domain.
    But I’m going to side with Franklin and Jefferson on this one. You want to write Hamlet fanfic? (Hey, what’s he doing with Polonius? Eww.) Go ahead. You want to dabble in Middle Earth? Why not do yourself and the world a favor and create your own world?

  • P M Rommel

    October 16, 2004, am31 10:10 AM
    78

    Disney is terrified of seeing Mickey and Pooh lapse into the public domain
    Pooh was originally the property of A A Milne. I have never forgiven Disney for the mess they made of those books. Bloody fanficcers, can never leave anything alone.

  • D. Kelly

    October 16, 2004, am31 10:46 AM
    79

    You want to dabble in Middle Earth? Why not do yourself and the world a favor and create your own world?
    Great! We will! Let’s see… I want to write about elves who are tall, fair, immortal, sing beautifully, have talked to the Gods, and are currently at war with a Dark God. Why? Because I think there’s a lot to explore around that concept. Would you prefer me to write an almost-exact clone of Middle-earth, or to write a story set in Middle-earth? If you want, I can go and change a few names, and send you one of my fanfics as an original…

  • David Montgomery

    October 16, 2004, am31 11:17 AM
    80

    Leto wrote:
    “I have a hard time believing that you are a professor. The reason for this is that you said that you have seen the amount of people being thrown out of university for plagiarism.
    Yes plagiarism is a huge deal in the university setting (I know as I am a uni student), but is it not your job to teach us how to cite and make a proper bibliography? And how have I not been kicked out of uni by using a sentence of two ver battem in a report or paper, after properly citing the resources?
    Your argument falls under this heading. We are saying that we lay no claim to the original works. And generally if we do use a passage out of the original works, we usually indicate it by having it double indented or in a different font.
    If you truly are a professor, and not someone masquerading as one, you must have done citing and be able to recognize it on sight.”
    Actually, as I stated, I’m a former professor…taught U.S. History for 5.5 years. Regrettably, I did see students on several occasions receive varying degrees of sanction as a result of plagiarism, including being expelled. It’s a very serious matter, made all the more so by the rise of the internet.
    I think the error you’re making, though, is in assuming that students plagiarize inadvertantly or unknowingly. I never saw a student get into serious trouble for doing that. (I certainly never punished students for making honest mistakes — I also taught them how not to do it.)
    The problem, of course, is that many students deliberately steal from the works of others, whether lifting entire papers, pages or paragraphs, or the less-obvious offense of stealing ideas. Both, of course, are plagiarism and are a matter of great concern to all teachers.
    Something important to keep in mind, though, is that it is still unacceptable to use more than a very limited portion of another person’s work, even if proper attribution is given, in a work of own’s own.
    In the academic world, it is not acceptable to, for example, lift another person’s argument, or to take lengthy passages, or to copy research, and place it in a paper of your own. (It is, of course, acceptable to quote, say, a sentence or two, if properly cited. Nothing wrong with that, although I still urge students against it.)
    Obviously this has little to do with fanfic, but it’s still an important topic.

  • Airawyn

    October 16, 2004, am31 11:24 AM
    81

    The big difference between what I do… and what “fanfic” authors do.. is that I always work with the creative involvement and direct consent of the creators/owners of the characters. Nothing gets written without their approval and ultimate control.
    As a fanfiction writer and an aspiring television writer, I find this a very interesting argument.
    I’m wondering, how did you become a television writer? Did you write reams of original fiction until someone discovered your brilliance and hired you? (If so, congratulations. It doesn’t work that way for most people.) Or did you write spec scripts? Because I don’t imagine you had the approval of each creator to work on specs for their shows.
    You may argue that you didn’t publish them on the Internet. Fair enough. But did you show them to people? Did you have others read your work and give you feedback? Did you learn from that?
    I have been working on a “virtual series” with several friends. It continues on after the shows Buffy and Angel ended. During this project, I have learned how to work with character arcs and long term story arcs, how to write with others, and many other elements that I believe will be helpful in writing for television.
    By the way, Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy and Angel) has expressed his approval of for fanfiction multiple times. The legalities regarding fanfiction may be questionable (although I believe it is fair use) but I’m pretty clear on my moral standing.
    (And yes, I do write original fiction as well.)
    If you turned in a paper to your teacher in which you copied someone else’s ideas, do you think s/he would approve of this practice? Why should fiction be different?
    If I was taking a class in writing for television, my teacher might expect me to use existing shows for material. UCLA Extension’s Beginning Writing for the One-Hour Drama specifies, “All student projects must focus on current shows; no pilots.”
    I understand if you’re offended by mpreg stories. There’s a lot of terrible fanfiction that I have no interest in defending. But it’s not all that there is. You wouldn’t judge all television based on The Swan, would you?
    Even if I never succeed in television, I’ll be able to use the storytelling techniques I learned in fanfiction for my own fiction. No creativity is ever wasted.

  • David Montgomery

    October 16, 2004, pm31 12:17 PM
    82

    Airawyn,
    Television writers grant the use of their copyrighted characters for other writers to use in spec scripts — presuming, of course, that they’re solely used for audition purposes and the writer doesn’t try to profit from them.
    I think the crucial here is that writers can allow others to use their copyrighted material if they wish, but without that specific approval, no such right exists.
    (In other words, their is a presumptive right of copyright, which needs to be actively waived in order for others to utilize such materials.)
    For those of you interested in reading even more on this topic…
    Lee Goldberg vs. the FanFic Universe
    If you’re sick of it, you don’t have to, though. 🙂

  • David Montgomery

    October 16, 2004, pm31 12:19 PM
    83

    ugh… that should be “there” not “their” of course, in the 2nd to last graf.

  • Jocelyn

    October 16, 2004, pm31 12:39 PM
    84

    Dear Mr. Goldberg (and other assorted skeptics):
    I appreciate completely your horror at stumbling across mpreg and slash fanfiction. As someone who “owns” the Diagnosis Murder characters, I can only imagine what it must have felt like to see them twisted in that fashion.
    But I do think that you are doing the fanfiction community as a whole an injustice.
    Fanfiction IS writing. Not necessarily GOOD writing, I freely admit, but writing is the expression of ideas, whether they belong to you or to someone else (or are a combination of yours AND someone else’s.) I think you were being rather unfair in referring to fanfiction as “lazy and stupid” in response to A.Clouter, especially since the young lady took the time to write such polite and well-thought-out arguments. She deserves your respect for that much at least.
    You are perfectly free to dislike fanfiction’s use of your characters. But when all is said and done, fanfiction does not HARM your interests in any way (other than weirdness like mpreg and slash giving you nausea.)
    As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m also a fanwriter. I’m what’s known as “canon purists” who believe it’s very important to stick PRECISELY to the characterizations/facts/storylines laid out by you, the original authors. To us, your word is law.
    I don’t watch Diagnosis Murder, but do you ever cliffhang at the end of the season and leave your poor fans in suspense for months? Isn’t it perfectly natural for fans to speculate/hope on how the cliffhanger will be resolved? THAT is the starting point for much fanfiction. And I truly think you’re misguided to tell us that such speculating is morally wrong. Your fanwriters’ (meaning the fanwriters of Diagnosis Murder) flights of fancy while they wait for a conclusion does not in any way detract from the REAL conclusion that you produce at the season premiere following the cliffhanger.
    You claim the all-important difference between yourself and fanwriters is the author’s/producer’s permission. But how did you get to be a writer for the show? At some point, didn’t you begin to dream up ideas for the show that you thought might be good BEFORE submitting them to the producers?
    Even if your very first script idea was accepted by the show, for that brief time BEFOREHAND, my friend, you were a fanwriter. I am not insulting you. You achieved what the vast majority of us only dream of achieving. Writing and publishing are not the same thing. For us, the writing part is the imagining, and it begins in our heads, speculating/wishing/agonizing over What Comes Next. What hasn’t the original author told us? What happened in the scenes we didn’t see? What Happens Next. Those are natural questions, and it is not in any way immoral or unethical for a group of fans to get together on a website and start posting their ideas (in narrative form) on what the answers could be/should be.
    Whether slash and mpreg are immoral and unethical…that’s another question. I despise it, think it’s disrespectful of the original author, and you’ll find many of my fellow fanwriters feel the same. I know it seems like the internet is teeming with such garbage, but that’s the downside of the ease of online self-publishing. You have to sift through a lot of dirt to find the gems, but they are out there.
    In closing, perhaps you’re right: I would be “better off” writing original fiction. As it happens, I’m working on two novels and a screenplay, but I will never stop fanwriting. After all, “better off” is a relative term. I’m in law school (studying Copyright Law at the moment, ironically) and fanwriting is an easy, pleasant way to relieve stress. My original fiction is “work” writing, fanfiction is “play” writing. Each has its benefits.
    Please don’t dismiss us offhand.

  • Birdfood

    October 16, 2004, pm31 2:23 PM
    85

    Now, I have absolutely no comment on the question of whether or not fan fiction is legal (although I’m pretty sure it would be, with consent of the authors, which is why no one writes about the Vampire Chronicals anymore), but I would like to address a few points.
    Firstly, I’m a terrible writer. I have no ability to form coherent, fictional, realistic sentences. But I love reading. I have read from Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare, through JK Rowling, and JRR Tolkein, to Stephen King, to Dr. Seuss. And a helluva lot inbetween.
    I have been reading Harry Potter fan fiction for… around six years now. I was here on the internet reading Gypsy’s works (the one who suggested a Harry Potter category on ff.net, and who practically created several popular SHIPs), and I’m still here. And do you know why?
    Because it’s fun. It’s an enjoyable way for me to pass the time, and there are amazing stories out there, that could easily be published, if the law was different. It’s the equivilent of playing a board game, or watching a TV show (like yours, maybe?): it’s worthwhile to me as long as it makes me happy. That’s the most important thing, isn’t it? You might as well tell all the fans of your show and books to go fuck themselves for liking them, because it’s not “worthwhile”, or it’s a waste of time. That’s about what you said about readers of fanfiction, isn’t it? So how is reading something the author made money off of any more worthwhile?
    Another thing: I don’t read Mpreg. I’ve never once read a good Mpreg fic (except a parody, but I don’t think that counts, as it was supposed to be bad), but I certainly love slash, as long as it remains within the boundaries of the fictional world we’re borrowing, and it’s well written. But that’s just my personal preference.
    I had another point, but it’s lost now, I think. Oh well.
    Oh, and feel free to email me for any fan fiction reccomendations. There’s some amazing stuff out there, and it would be a shame for you to just sit there and hate it, without experiencing the other side of the coin. I’m afraid I can only give out Harry Potter recs though.

  • Phil

    October 16, 2004, pm31 3:40 PM
    86

    I get why some 12-year-old kid writes BUFFY/ALIAS cross-over fanfiction… but an adult who does it? That’s pathetic. Imagine the loser who spends his days writing 30,000 word fanfiction. Scary, huh? This is a guy who is never gonna get laid….except by some other big fat fanfiction loser with bad skin and a too-tight Lucasfilm t-shirt.
    You notice how most of this fanfiction shit is written by science fiction geeks? Maybe if they got their heads out of their asses… and stopped watching so much TV…they would actually function in society like normal people.

  • Leto

    October 16, 2004, pm31 3:41 PM
    87

    Mr. Goldberg
    I think I understand the main problem that you face here. And that is that you are not able to say yes or no to fanfiction of Diagnosis Murder.
    The reason that I come to this conclusion is that you do not own any of the rights to the ideas in your books (or at least on the primary ones). That is because, they belong to the original owners of the TV show, thus you cannot touch them. Now following on this line of thought, it occurred to me that you would have no right to go to the various archives and ban fan fiction of your books and the TV show.
    Also, I think you have about as much right to dictate on this as Michael A. Stackpole or Timothy Zhan have to the Star Wars rights on fanfiction. That is right they have none, as do you. While they do write there own works, they also write for other universes as well, writing excellent stories I might add.
    So, unless you have bought the entire right to the TV show and all that goes along with it, your entire argument here is for not. And if you are as adamant as you seem to be, go to the owners of the rights and have them do something, either get them to ban writing of fanfiction of you books and the TV shows, or do nothing and stew in your own juices. I don’t really care.
    To Mr. Montgomery,
    I would love to know how you expected any of your students to write a paper?
    Is a paper not an argument of both sides? Is it not supposed to be researched? Plus, it was history, how are we to know what has happened at the time? It is not as if we can hope into our personal time machines, go back and observe what is happening.
    A good paper has a counter argument that cannot come from the original writer, or why would we read it in the first place, it would be confusing and illogical. Is it not an unique view point on someone else’s idea of what happened?
    How can this be done without using anyone else’s viewpoints and observations to work off of?
    Yes this is relevant to this discussion, by how people learn. I is known that people learn anything by imitation. If learning by imitation is not allowed, how are we to learn?
    Leto

  • D. Kelly

    October 16, 2004, pm31 4:01 PM
    88

    I get why some 12-year-old kid writes BUFFY/ALIAS cross-over fanfiction… but an adult who does it? That’s pathetic. Imagine the loser who spends his days writing 30,000 word fanfiction. Scary, huh? This is a guy who is never gonna get laid….except by some other big fat fanfiction loser with bad skin and a too-tight Lucasfilm t-shirt.
    You notice how most of this fanfiction shit is written by science fiction geeks? Maybe if they got their heads out of their asses… and stopped watching so much TV…they would actually function in society like normal people.

    Ah, nice to see a well thought-through response from Mr. ‘Phil’ there. To use a term from the horribly heniously evil world of Fanfiction, this is a flame – a personal attack on someone with little-to-no regards for the actual topic in hand.
    Now, let’s see. I’m eighteen, and British, so I’m technically an adult. Hmm… okay, my skin isn’t particularly good, I’ll admit. And hey, I spent two years with the name loser. But I don’t have a Lucasfilm t-shirt, sorry. Nor am I big, or fat. And, let’s see, most of the writers are girls, you know that? I’m actually in the minority. And, hey, do you realise that sitting and writing is actually something you do instead of watching TV?
    Oh, and why not, as I’ve been insulted, maligned, and given a physical description merely because of my choice of pastime, I’ll say this to ‘Phil’: If functioning in society like normal people means randomly insulting thousands of people you’ve never met in what is effectively a racist attack (No, we’re not a race, we’re a social subset, but there’s no real difference, is there?), then I will quite happily barricade my door and spend all my time sitting at the computer talking to fanfic writers, who actually know how to think.
    Have a horrible day, ‘Phil’.

  • Laurel Whitney

    October 16, 2004, pm31 4:10 PM
    89

    Try writing an ORIGINAL story of your own, using characters YOU CREATE (I know, that’s asking a lot). Put your heart and soul into it.
    And writing ‘Diagnosis Murder’ novels i is original fiction? To me, using that looks like fanfiction, or do your novels not count as fanfiction because the creators know you’re writing and publishing?
    Not a single person I know that writes fanfiction would ever attempt to lay claim to anything the original author created. We abhore that kind of behavior and firmly believe in giving credit where credit is due. We’re aware we’re playing with someone else’s toys, as it were, and we acknowledge that if we post our stories on the internet. We do not believe that just because a novel is on the market that anyone can do anything they want with the characters and plot and the world of that novel and the author can’t do anything to stop it. If the author or their estate were to ask that all fanfiction cease, we would stop.
    We believe in being true to the world that was created, and that can often mean digging into materials from the real world that the author drew inspiration from. My friends that write fanfiction and I do not simply rehash the same plot order and dialogue from the same point of views that were presented in the book. Our writing looks at a situation from the novel through the eyes of a character whose point of view was not presented (which sounds like what you do with the DM books); a scenario that might have resulted had a character made a different choice; a time period not discussed in the novel; or create original characters within the world the author created, not using any of the characters and presenting different views on what occurs throughout the novel.
    We are not lazy, nor do we lack creativity. We do not just lay down words. We don’t ‘paint by numbers’ any more than you do with the DM novels. Fanfiction is not merely typing as Mr. Capote would suggest. There are those out there that do post ‘paint by numbers’ drivel, but there are those who do not simply paraphrase what the author wrote, and that is what my friends and I strive to write and what we enjoy reading. We take the time to know about the world and characters the author created and pay attention to grammar; spelling; mechanics; plot; and characterization. I’ve learned more about the last two through writing down fanfiction ideas than I ever did in school. In writing fanfiction, I have practiced writing good plot and well-developed characters. I then took those skills and applied them to writing original fiction.
    A fanfic I’m currently working on is set in the land of Rohan in Middle Earth. It does not involve any of the Canon characters and only refers to events Tolkien set down in passing, as my characters aren’t involved in the main action. To ensure that I present the land of Rohan and the Rohirric people correctly, I’ve looked at ‘An Atlas of Middle Earth’to get an idea of what kind of climate Rohan would have. I’ve researched the history of Rohan in ‘Histories of Middle Earth’ and ‘The Encyclopedia of Arda’; what, if any, contact the people had with other nations and in what context; the kind of day-to-day life the people would have had, which requires synthesizing what Tokien wrote about Rohan with what’s known about the Anglo-Saxons. I’ve looked at the military structure of Rohan and done research on the use of the calvary during early feudal times, and I’m currently working on sythesizing that with the Anglo-Saxon culture, which did not use horses for combat. I’ve looked at the clothes worn during the Anglo-Saxon period. I’ve looked at gender roles; how women and men were seen in society; and the legal rights each gender had. I’ve looked at what kind of foods the people of Rohan would eat and how they would make their utensils. I’ve looked at what kind of animals they might have had. I’ve looked at the language and the names people would have had and how surnames were given. Why do I research like this? Because I want to portray Rohan as accurately as possible in what I write. I’ll likely show it to a friend or two to get their feedback on what I did right and what needs work, and in the next story I write, be it original or fanfic, I’ll work to avoid making the same kinds of mistakes and repeating what I did right. Is this lazy? Paint by numbers? Just typing? If I’m putting so much time into it, why not just write something original? I likely will in the future. Is this a waste of time? Only if you consider learning about other cultures and practicing research skills a waste of time, not to mention that it gives me a chance to practice my writing skills and learn from the critiques given.
    If I did a Masters/Ph.D thesis that took an idea proposed by another researcher and ran with it, citing the original work when appropriate while presenting my own work, data, and conclusions, I doubt that would be considered plagerism. Was I the one that came up with the original idea? No. Am I the one that came up with the criteria that idea was proposed within? No. Am I the one that decided to test the theory out and see where it went? Yes. Beyond the idea and constraits, it’s all my work and sweat and the smoke you see is coming from my overworked brain. I may have tested the original idea and found it lacking and gone on to find a way to acheive the original goal. That would be considered engineering and inovative. But run with an idea proposed in a novel and set it within the world of that novel, and now it’s crap and a waste of time. Unless, of course, you write fanfiction with official permission and get published. Then you’re Lee Greenburg and a Real Writer(TM), who comes up with original ideas and doesn’t write spin-offs of a book/TV show/movie. Pot. Kettle. Black. If we just paint by numbers and waste our time and it’s only typing, then you’re lazy and wasting your time as well, regardless of if you sat in on idea crunching sessions for the episodes. We come to know our fandom through studying the author’s works and researching areas they drew inspiration from. Knowledge of the area is knowledge of the area, however you gain it, and fanfiction is fanfiction, regardless of if you have official blessing or not.
    You’re welcome to your opinions, but don’t insult and dismiss all fanfiction just because you’ve seen a few crap stories. Not all of us write that trash or approve of what’s written. I dislike slash and mpreg and am disgusted by rape and gratuitous violence and/or sex.

  • Emma

    October 16, 2004, pm31 4:28 PM
    90

    I am actually extremely offended by some of your comments, Mr Goldberg. Many of the things that you have said have accused hundreds of people – many of them brilliant, talented writers – of being nothing more than common thieves.
    This is an entirely illogical argument, that clearly does not hold water. YOU say we are ‘stealing’. Point out to me then, if the characters/settings/worlds are the intellectual property of the author or creator, exactly how they become less so when we write about them.
    The author is still free to write about them, no?
    They are still the intellectual property of the creator, yes?
    What the author has written has not become any less worthy of being read, any less well-written or any less popular by our little stories, has it?
    Exactly what you think fanfiction authors are taking away from the original creators, Mr Goldberg?
    Absolutely nothing.
    What are we giving to the authors? A damn lot of respect, that’s what. We like their stories enough to want to extrapolate on them. We can relate to their characters. We want to be a part of their worlds, to be more involved than just passive viewers.
    How can this harm anybody? It’s a huge compliment.
    You are continually touting the fact that plagiarism is frowned upon in universities. Well, here’s something I learned in sixth-grade English: So are broad, sweeping generalisations based upon a tiny fraction of information.
    Mpreg is bad. We can cheerfully agree on that. However, you, after your one experience of badfic, appear to be bent on condemning all fanfic and its writers to a slow, lingering legal death and an eternity of fire.
    You, sir, are completely ignoring the enormously broad range of very good fanfiction that is out there. Admittedly you are also ignoring a lot of very bad fic, but it’s probably safer that you continue to do so.
    I don’t read slash or mpreg. I find it distasteful. But nobody forces me to read it. The stories are clearly marked and easy to stay away from. Why don’t you try that?
    Fans are going to think about what might have happened/what was happening/what this person was thinking in their favorite book/movie/TV show. Is that okay with you? Yes?
    Fans are going to write it down. Many of us use this as a simple exercise in honing our writing skill and writing believeable characters. Is that still fine? Saving a bunch of words on our computers?
    Some fans might like to share their ideas with others. Or maybe they might want feedback on the quality of their writing. So they might email it to a friend, or print out a hardcopy and give it to somebody to read. Is that okay still?
    Nobody is claiming to own anything. Nobody is taking anyhting away from the actual authors. What the hell is your problem?
    As to the presumed ‘illegality’ of fanfiction: Erm, no. If it was illegal, the attorneys of people like Anne McCaffrey and Rice, and Laurel K. Hamilton would have gotten sites like ff.net shut down years ago. The most they could do was to have them stop hosting stories about their own works.
    Even if it is illegal in America, I live in Australia, so American law doesn’t apply to me. Welcome to the world. Lots of fic writers come from places outside America – you do know that there are places outside America, right? You’re not one of those idiots wh is deluded into thinking that Amercia is the world?
    America law applies to American. Not Canadians, or British, or Europeans or Australians. It’s very arroganty of you to assume that YOUR precious American law rules the world. Not yet, buddy, by a long shot.
    Do you know what I think? (Do you care? Clearly not, but I’m telling you anyway.)
    I think you made a mistake. You stumbled on something that squicked you, and reacted violently. And now you feel obliged to defend a point of view that is clearly just plain ridiculous, out of bloody stinking pride.
    By the by, how many communities here? GAFF, obviously, and I know the PPC, but anybody else? Roll call!

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:07 PM
    91

    I’m GAFF, PPC and Barrowdowns.com. So that’s three. SHould I send this to the people at legolas.com. They aren’t the best writers but they may like to add something.

  • Majoranka

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:14 PM
    92

    “should I send this to the people at legolas.com”?
    Do not do this to me! I got nearly choked on coffee.

  • Bjam

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:15 PM
    93

    I wasn’t gonna comment, but… Heh..
    “I get why some 12-year-old kid writes BUFFY/ALIAS cross-over fanfiction… but an adult who does it? That’s pathetic. Imagine the loser who spends his days writing 30,000 word fanfiction. Scary, huh? This is a guy who is never gonna get laid….except by some other big fat fanfiction loser with bad skin and a too-tight Lucasfilm t-shirt.
    You notice how most of this fanfiction shit is written by science fiction geeks? Maybe if they got their heads out of their asses… and stopped watching so much TV…they would actually function in society like normal people.”
    Oh my my my. The humour value of the mis-infromed. Okay, I’m 14, female, live in the US, grew up in the UK, am certaily not fat or wear ‘too-tight Lucasfilm t-shirt’s, although I certainly wouldn’t mind one (Mmm… R2D2/C3-P0… Just kidding, ya 😛 Get that?! Humour! It’s funny! Laugh! Ha! Ha! Ah, forget about it…) I have fairly clear skin aswell, for a teeanger. I also write fan-ficiton, not much though, because, ah you have to love the insecurities of a teenager, but I have written a few little ficlets.
    In the Posting Board I’m on there are probably… four guys that post regularly. On a board with probably… 100-150 people. You are ‘sterotyping’. That bad thing they teach you about in school? Remember that? Yeah, you’re not meant to do it. Meant to be nice and respectful and all that jazz? Yeah, why don’t you try bloody well doing it?
    You’ve read one fan-ficiton, Mr. Goldberg, and you think it’s all bad? Dear Gods… That’s like reading one shoddy paragraph in a book and automatically saying the author sucks.
    Goldberg, dear, please stop this drivel. You’ve just managed to piss off a lot of fanbases. Some fans don’t like fan-fiction, some do. Some people like porn, some don’t. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s truly as simple as that. However, if you don’t like it, don’t blast(what we’d call ‘flame’ in the fan-fic community ;)) those of us that do. Got me? Right, thank you very much for your time.
    ~Bjam

  • Laurel Whitney

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:15 PM
    94

    I’m with the OFUM, Henneth Annun, Riddermark, and Gathering of the Fellowship Yahoogroups. I think I’ll pass this on to them. I know the Henneth Annun group will LOVE to hear how they’re wasting their time and lazy and doing ‘paint by number’ and have their work lumped in with all the crap out there. I’d love to see Cam Sandman respond to this. *smiles serenely*

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:16 PM
    95

    So you know them then? *wonders how Cannonball and his ilk would react*

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:18 PM
    96

    What about AW and the House of MST? *goes off to inform*

  • D. Kelly

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:32 PM
    97

    So, we’ve got GAFF, the PPC (the only one I’m in), Barrowdowns, OFUM, Henneth Annun, Riddermark, Gathering of the Fellowship Yahoogroups, on another page there’s The RPG Duelling league (these people) and F_W… wow, Mr. Goldberg, you seem to have about half of the Fanfiction Purists up in arms against you. Quite an achievement, I don’t think I’ve seen it before, ever.
    But it’s still very one-sided. I’m sorely tempted to take Morgul up on her offer of telling Legolas.com or other Suvian/badficcer haunts. Then we can have both sides of the Fanfiction Wars fighting together for once, in what I’m fairly sure should be called the Battle of Goldberg.

  • Tamsin

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:35 PM
    98

    Dear Bill,
    Please don’t patronise me, I don’t appreciate it. I’m not “currently reading Eng Lit” as I switched to Law, and graduated some time ago. Yes, law. Handy, hmmm? So thanks also for the “Dummies Guide to Basic Legal Concepts.”
    And yes, I’m aware the publishing industry is very different from that which existed in the 18th century. Though I note you ignored the Wharton point, because it didn’t suit your argument. Never a very good sign. You also entirely ignored the argument that no writer can control the way his or her audience interpret the work- particularly if the writer is any good. Good writing has a certain amount of ambiguity, of shades of meaning. It relies upon the intelligence and subjective interpretation of the reader. It isn’t solely the writer’s anymore- it’s interactive. And that is what makes for great literature, in my opinion.
    Copyright protects the right of a creator to earn a decent living from their creation. It’s wholly right and fair that it should do so. It’s also right that the author should be able to protect his or her intellectual property from others. Fanfiction doesn’t interfere with that in any way. IT’S FOR FUN. IT’S AMUSEMENT. It’s frankly silly that so much fury is expended upon people who like to write stories about something they love. It isn’t that important, it’s not a big deal. Some people enjoy kicking a ball around a field while other people try to stop them. Some people like to lie prone upon a sofa watching soap operas and stuffing their faces. Other people like to write stories on something they are passionate about- and other people like to read more about the same. Fanfiction actually increases the loyalty to the original work, so making the following more cohesive and committed. What exactly is the problem? Do you really believe fans interested enough to write their own stories, or read those of others, will cease to buy the originals, or watch the films or television series that they spring from?
    It seems to come down to control. The writers who oppose fanfiction want to control how their characters are perceived. But that simply isn’t possible. You only have to go and read some of the forums at http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com to see that. Characters the writers very evidently mean to be sympathetic are utterly hated and seen as unpleasant people. Shipper wars rage between fans of different pairings. Once work is in the public domain, people can and do interpret it for themselves, with who they are, just as the writer creates with who he or she is- with their life experiences and prejudices coming into play.
    Fanfiction is infinitely variable. A good story will be well written, well structured, well plotted and well characterised. To achieve that, the author will be a good writer, period. And good writers are rare. To say most fanfiction isn’t any good is about as intelligent an argument as saying most horses wouldn’t win a major race. It tells us nothing and advances the argument not at all.
    Finally, I’ve never read or written anything about Middle Earth, because I loathe Tolkien’s writing style, and fantasy isn’t a genre I’ve ever liked. I’ve written one piece of fanfiction in my life which I never even finished, I did it for fun at a time when my working life was immensely stressful. It was A HOBBY. So kindly don’t tell me to “do myself and the world a favour” by writing original, because I have no ambition to be a writer and never have had. I have other things I want to do with my life.
    I am just baffled as to why an innocent hobby should cause such outrage.

    • Neville Ross

      August 27, 2016, pm31 11:24 PM
      99

      TL:DR (and also TL:CC [Too Long:Complete Crap]). You’re not going to change Mr. Goldberg’s mind on this topic, and maybe you might consider what he’s said about it yourself.

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:49 PM
    100

    “I’m sorely tempted to take Morgul up on her offer of telling Legolas.com or other Suvian/badficcer haunts.”
    *grins* because I, and most of the other GAFFers here, know quite a few of those.
    And I really want to see what the Legolas.com people would do.

  • D. Kelly

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:55 PM
    101

    Oh, go on, Morgul. Pleeeeeeeeease?
    NotthatI’mcondoningstartingaflamewaragainsthimohnoofcoursenot. Ahem.

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 5:58 PM
    102

    *has done so* I even bribed them with Close-ups of OB should they come and join in. *sniggers* This. Will. Be. Fun.
    *is grinning in antici…
    …pation*

  • Majoranka

    October 16, 2004, pm31 6:08 PM
    103

    Oh no, I just wanted to say that, though I don’t want to spoil the fun, I think letting the fangirls here would be too cruel. Mr. Goldberg himself hasn’t reacted in quite a long while, so maybe he’s content to drop the thing.
    I think we should just simmer down and relax.
    And to think that I just hoped my keyboard, me, and the rest of my coffee would not have to face any further dangers… ^^

  • Bjam

    October 16, 2004, pm31 6:08 PM
    104

    Morgul, ye’re stirring trouble 😛
    But, yes, it will be interesting to see what they’ll say.
    (And, Mr. Goldberg, vaguely, totally off-topic question, have you ever seen RHPS? That’s one awesome musical/movie.)

  • Birdfood

    October 16, 2004, pm31 6:13 PM
    105

    I’m a newbie GAFFer, a two year Fiction Alley member, and that’s about it, really.
    Oh, and in relply to Phil: I’m 18 years old, female, and 120 pounds, which is perfect for my size (petite). I don’t like Star Wars particularly, and while I may be described as a nerd by some, I’m certainly not a geek (and confusing the two is one of my pet peeves). My skin isn’t perfect, but it’s all right.
    Now, considering that writing adults take the time to write a well thought out story, {see the LotR writer above soemwhere} I’d say we watch less TV than the average person. What about those who write about books?
    And, as someone said already, if you’re considered to be a normal, functional guy, I’d rather not be normal. I’m quite happy to be myself, without having to conform whenever some dumbass, bigoted, arrogant dick head tells me to.
    And one more thought, this time on Mr. Goldberg: so, if you don’t like fan fiction, yet you clearly don’t have the power to do anything about it, why do you persist in making an ass of yourself? Hakuna fucking Matata. Why worry? It’s just pissing everyone else off, including yourself. And this goes double since you’ve only read one. Sweeping generalizations don’t convince anyone. In fact, if you like Harry Potter at all, I hereby reccomend this fic:
    http://www.pineapplegirl.net/thebelljar/ialv/
    I Am Lord Voldemort. Amazing. It fills in canon, it’s completely in character. Be aware that it’s pre Order of the Phoenix, so some of it contradicts current canon, but it was written quite a while ago, and it’s still great. Read it and then tell me that all fan fiction writers are lazy and suck.
    If you don’t like Harry Potter, however, and lots of adults don’t (they don’t know what they’re missing, even if it is marketed to children), there’s very little I can do except encourage other people to reccomend a Lord of the Rings fic, Star Wars, or something else.
    ~Me.
    ps I also have approximately fifty slash fics that might as well be published best sellers, for how good they are, that I can reccomend, if you you’re ever curious about the good, in character, and possible (even plausible) side of slash. Not likely, I’m sure, but just a thought.
    pps. It’s only 7:00 here, so I’m not actually posting on the 17th.

  • Birdfood

    October 16, 2004, pm31 6:20 PM
    106

    Oh, and about what someone posted right before I did:
    Rocky Horror Picture Show is awesome. I totally reccomend it. In fact, I dare you to watch the entire thing. If you do, and tell me what your favourite (or least favourite part, as the case may be), I swear I will buy one of your books and read it.
    Oh, and apparently it didn’t show my posting on the 17th, like it said in the preview. Crazy commenting place.
    Oh, and (I swear, last thing), I can’t wait until the Legolas.com-mers get here. *rubs hands in glee* This seems to be one of the times where I may have to join forces with the “enemy” for the common good of all.
    Goldman: Don’t forget what I said about RHPS. Hell, I’ll buy five of your books if you see it and comment on it, proving it. In return, I will post a paragraph from one of your books to prove I read it. Please?

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 6:40 PM
    107

    Mr. Goldberg: RHPS is our slang for Rocky Horror Picture Show. I appreciate that we have a lot of slang in our particular hobby and will gladly explain any you don’t get.

  • Siofra

    October 16, 2004, pm31 6:55 PM
    108

    Mr. Goldberg,
    “Her website is http://www.aragon-legolas.5u.com/fanfiction.html. If you really read ONE of her stories, and then tell me that you still think the same way, think I will agree to disagree.
    Anna *at war*”
    I (un)pleasantly am surprised you have not yet taken Anna up on her offer! Perhaps you are afraid? The safe wall that you have built around your argument shattered by some hard evidence. The author(s) of these stories (yes, there are two of them, it is a joint work) painstakingly assemble each and every word of their stories. True, some fanfiction authors are lazy, and could care less about the laws of grammar, characterization, and punctuation, the vast majority of them do care. A good deal of them have works that are far better then most published authors.
    Out of curiosity, Anna, are you following her stories on fanfiction.net and on the MC Yahoo!Group? The first two chapters to the next fic have been posted.
    I was pleasently surprised to see this on both the Henneth-Annun list, and on the OFUM list. I eagerly await my fellow HA’ers reactions, and I get the feeling that Miss Cam’s paddle of Canon will be working overtime.
    Going back on topic-
    I am a lawyer. I have delt in several cases of copyright laws, and I do my homework. Believe it or not, fanfiction actually *is* legal. Here’s how it works.
    *If a person writes a story, say, to use Tolkien for an example, about a midget named JoJo whos godfather goes off and finds a necklace, leaves it to JoJo who must then destroy it, along with the help of a genetically enhanced clone, the man who mowes his lawn, and a luberjack… well, you get the idea. That would be illegal.
    *If a person writes a story where, clearly stated at the top, a disclaimer gives all the credit where the credit is due, and writes a story Frodo’s dream while he was, for lack of a better term, incapacitated by Shelob, that would be legal.
    If the former example gave credit to Tolkien, it would be legal, but it would most likely not be considered fanfiction.
    Simply put, as long as the credit is given, it’s legal. Well, so long as credit is given, and the author agrees. If the author dislikes fanfiction, then all that needs be done is state that they dislike fanfiction, and do not wish it to be written. Remember Anne Rice? Go to fanfiction.net, one of the biggest (and most poorly managed) fanfiction sites on the internet. You will see that they refuse to archive fanfiction on her stories.
    Again, look at fanfiction.net. If fanfiction wasn’t legal, then the lawyers would be having a field day with them. There is a multi-million dollar lawsuit buried deep beneath fanfiction.net’s innocent exterior. If they catch so much as a whiff of copyright laws changing, and not in their favor, they would be off-line before you could say ‘canon.’
    Fanfiction is not so much a matter of legality as a matter of morality. And, as you may have noticed, this discussion has long since become a matter of morality as well.
    ~Siofra

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:01 PM
    109

    The reason I haven’t commented much today is… I’ve been doing Dad-stuff and working. My daughter had a soccer game and I’m rushing to meet a Nov. 30 deadline on my fifth Diagnosis Murder novel.
    And even if I didn’t have other committements, there’s way too many posts to comment on each one individually. I’d also be repeating myself a lot… since many of you are bringing up questions and issues I’ve already answered four or five times already.
    Someone asked, I think it was “Leto,” what gives me the right to be upset about “Diagnosis Murder” fanfic since I didn’t create the show and am just writing books based on it, thus having no more stake in the characters than Timothy Zahn does in “Star Wars.”
    That’s a good question. The difference between me and Mr. Zahn is that I was the executive producer and principal writer (with William Rabkin) of DM for several years… and for that time, they were my characters to do with as I saw best. I was given guardianship of them, so to speak, by the studio.
    The same is true today as I continue to write about the characters in book-form. So I’m not just a hired hand brought in to do a tie-in novel.
    But Leto is absolutely right, the characters aren’t mine. And what I am doing isn’t as creative as writing an original novel with my own characters (though I have come to think of the DM characters as my own, after writing about them for over 100 episodes, four books, and over many years).
    The difference between what I am doing and fanfic is that I have been given the consent of the copyright holders to use these characters. I’m not stealing them from the author and doing with them as I please.
    That said, I would much rather be writing original novels with characters that are entirely my own. So I am also writing other books. My last novel, THE WALK, came out in January and my next one, THE MAN WITH THE IRON ON BADGE, comes out in late 2005.

  • Siofra

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:01 PM
    110

    RHPS- lovely, lovely show, by the way. You really should watch it sometime.
    “I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds, and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.” — JRR Tolkien
    That particular quote is clearly in favor of fanfiction, if you ask me.
    ~Siofra

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:03 PM
    111

    Someone asked how I felt about SEAQUEST fanfic…
    That’s a loaded question. It was my experiene as a writer/producer on SEAQUEST, dealing with some ardent fanfic writers, that inspired my novel BEYOND THE BEYOND.
    Here is a link to an earlier post on this blog that details that encounter…
    http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/614026

  • Jocelyn

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:07 PM
    112

    Just out of curiosity, Mr. Goldberg, how did you first get to write for Diagnosis Murder and Seaquest? (Well, this does tie in to my previous comment, but it’s long since buried with the others.) Did you write a script/novel and submit it to the producers as part of the “audition process” or were you specifically invited to come write for them?
    I haven’t read much of your bio, so I don’t know (although it’s a shame about what happened with Seaquest. That was a great premise that never quite seemed to get off the ground, for lots of reasons.)

  • suzycat

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:16 PM
    113

    For those wondering where we all are: I’m at LJ and TWoP and I’m in feelthy, feeelthy slash-loving Smallville fandom.
    For those wondering *who* we all are: I’m a 40 year old journalist and copywriter whose published poetry (from a former life, ack) is listed in a national archive which also includes such respected figures as Janet Frame and Denis Glover, with a short-listed for award short story under my belt. Everything I’ve published, with the exception of a couple of fanfics, I’ve been *paid for*. I’m not really a ficcer, though I knocked out a couple for fun once. I wouldn’t consider them sterling examples of the genre.
    I’m also a mature student at post-graduate level whose return to academia (which is where I’ll probably end up) was directly prompted by my discovery of online fandom. It’s my research area. I think it’s swell, mostly. The very last place you should look for good fic is ff.net, by the way.
    Oh, and I’m hot and so is my lover. Neither of us smells, is fat, or owns a Lucasfilm t-shirt. And he doesn’t have a problem with slash, or cultural appropriation, or post-modernity in general.
    Why am I defending myself to the man who writes Diagnosis Murder spinoff books anyway?

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:17 PM
    114

    Bill Rabkin may have to correct me on this, but if memory serves, we were hired on “Seaquest” because we’d worked with one of the producers before on another series… and he thought we could help him turn the troubled show around.
    We got on to “Diagnosis Murder” the first time because we’d worked with the then-executive producer, Michael Gleason, on another series, called “Murphy’s Law.” He hired us to write five freelance scripts…a deal we signed just before we became supervising producers on “The Cosby Mysteries.” So we did those two shows at once. That same season we also worked on “Sliders,” and turned down an offer to join the show.
    A year or so later, we were hired on “Diagnosis Murder” as supervising producers by Tom Chehak, who was running the show at the time, and then eventually we replaced him. After “Diagnosis Murder,” we ran “Martial Law,” wrote several pilots, and worked on shows like “Nero Wolfe” and “Monk.” We’re currently writing/producing the Lifetime series “Missing,” starring Vivica A. Fox, which, by the way, is based on a series of novels by Meg Cabot.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:20 PM
    115

    I have seen THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, many times. It’s a great movie. I like the soundtrack even better.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:26 PM
    116

    Someone here wrote that fanfic is a compliment to the author of the TV show, movie, or book…
    To which I say, if you want to compliment the author, pay them the respect and courtesy of not stealing their characters and their work.
    Few, if any, authors are flattered when they stumble on the “slash,” “mpreg,” and “crossover” fanfics of work they’ve put their hearts and souls in to. In fact, I know for a fact that this is true. I just got back from Bouchercon, the world mystery writers convention, and this topic came up. Nine out of ten of the authors I spoke to were out-raged by fanfic… but turn a blind eye to it because it would be to expensive and time consuming to fight it.
    I went to a booksigning at the anniversary party of a local mystery bookstore today… and talked to some authors there about it. Every one of them felt the same way about it as I do… they just aren’t railing about it on their blogs or in the media because they feel they are powerless to stop it.
    That said, I know my friends Janet Evanovich and Meg Cabot (both of whom have blurbed my DM novels) aren’t bothered by fanfic based on their work. For more about their views, I invited you to read the Romantic Times magazine article on fanfic, which includes interviews with them both.

  • Leto

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:48 PM
    117

    First of all, thank you for your reply.
    But,
    The difference between what I am doing and fanfic is that I have been given the consent of the copyright holders to use these characters. I’m not stealing them from the author and doing with them as I please.
    Is a very merry-go-round argument. You replied that to my last statement and questions as well.
    But this time you gave us more information, you do not have the copyrights to the characters that you write about. But, as you also said that the characters were put into your guardianship, so to speak.
    To me, this says that you do not want to put in the work to get rid of the larger portion of the fanfiction on the characters and the show/books. In most cases, all it would take is an e-mail to fanfiction.net (aka the pit of voles) and to the other larger achieves out there.
    But I think that you do not want to do this because you like this. You like the attention that you are receiving from many different groups here. All of which followed you back here.
    Just remember this:
    You brought us here to argue with you, we didn’t come here on our own.
    Leto

  • Erin

    October 16, 2004, pm31 7:56 PM
    118

    Hmm …
    As someone who writes fan fiction, but who has never written ANYthing sexual, and who certainly doesn’t read that crap, I have to wonder … Why is fan fiction always defined by critics in terms of its sexual content? Doesn’t anyone out there read the *non*-slash fan fiction archives? Trust me, there is a whole lot of good, clean fan writing out there. One really does have to get away from FanFiction.net – that is like looking for gold at the bottom of a fishtank.
    As for *why* I am too lame to create my own characters and stories … I’m not, personally. But what *does* compell me to fan fiction is when a story ends and the reader is left hungering for what happens after, or before, or behind those much-loved scenes. It is what happens when a story so inspires and lingers in me that a new story bursts into being. I’m actually rather good at it, but cowardice prevents me posting any links here, as I really don’t need the flames.
    As for how I would feel if it were *my* work being illegally pirated by fan fiction writers … Well, I am endeavoring towards publication. Fan fiction and the communities it supports have been of enormous value to me in perfecting my writing craft. (Yes, amazing as it may seem, many fan fiction writers DO aspire to craft, and some go on to mainstream writing.) If one day I were ever so fortunate as to gain the fame that invites fan fiction … I think I would find myself operating under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation.
    I would hate to see any character of mine slashed – which is one of several reasons I don’t write the stuff – but I would be honored if ‘general’ fiction writers felt moved to carry my stories on. However, I would be most comfortable if fic writers just kept it off my radar scope, as I’d have no means of policing the quality of writing – and I won’t deny that fan fiction does include a lot of crap.
    Anywho, so that’s that. I’m one of the villains, but I do strive to honor those whose works I am so basely pirating, by adhering as closely as possible to the premise(s) of the original storyteller’s plotlines, characters and situations. Don’t worry, I’m trying to fly as low as possible. 😉
    Cheers ~
    Erin

  • Erin

    October 16, 2004, pm31 8:10 PM
    119

    Few, if any, authors are flattered when they stumble on the “slash,” “mpreg,” and “crossover” fanfics of work they’ve put their hearts and souls in to.
    In that I could not agree more. If anyone reads my previous, over-long comments, my suggestion is that there is far more to fan fiction than slash and sexual situations. There also exists a very strong, if less-vocal, faction of “gen”-writers who simply want to carry on in the shadows, by filling in the blanks or looking beyond the original tale for those stories left untold.
    Please do note, however, that I am in no way saying published creators should *not* be upset or offended by fan fiction. I won’t argue that there’s enough bad writing out there to warrant upset. But there is also some darned good stuff, if one really wanted to find it. There are also some brilliant fan fiction writers who simply do not have the inclination or emotional fortitude required, to disappear into the void of submission and rejection that is mainstream writing. I’ve done just enough of that to realise what a lonely process it can be, especially if one has no access to real-world writers groups.
    Please forgive my taking up so much space on your forum. Good day to you and good night. 🙂
    Cheers ~
    Erin

  • Emma

    October 16, 2004, pm31 8:41 PM
    120

    //Few, if any, authors are flattered when they stumble on the “slash,” “mpreg,” and “crossover” fanfics of work they’ve put their hearts and souls in to.//
    Again with the broad, sweeping generalisations about the fanfiction communities. You truly have no idea about how to conduct an argument, do you?
    I will say it again, just in case repetition could make some sort of impression on you:
    NOT ALL FANFICTION IS SLASH, SMUT OR MPREG.
    Do you understand me now? Fanfiction is NOT about living out the perverted fantasies of the author. It’s about exploring the deepers levels of the work, becoming more involved in the story. On one level, it’s about living vicariously, yes.
    But there is good fanfic out there. It’s not all bad, a fact you seem to be unable to grasp.
    For the love of all that is sacred, kindly stop using evidently ridiculous arguments that apply one very small sub-genre of fanfiction to the entire community. It’s incredibly offensive.
    As to the supposed ‘expense’ of stopping fanfiction: a simple cease and desist notice will do the trick in most cases, and certainly shut down ‘your’ sections on the major servers.
    Here’s the thing: fanwriters respect the authors. If the authors say “fanfiction bad”, fanwriters will stop posting their work in that section. (This is not to say they will stop writing it, but nobody can really stop that, only the posting of it.)
    Methinks, perhap, that this discussion is going around in circles. Hooray!

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 8:43 PM
    121

    Leto,
    //Just remember this:
    You brought us here to argue with you, we didn’t come here on our own.//
    Indeed! I have no problem with this lively debate. I’m glad to have you here.

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 8:49 PM
    122

    *sighs* Round and round and round we go, where we’ll stop, no-body knows…

  • Leto

    October 16, 2004, pm31 9:11 PM
    123

    If you are happy with this debate (if you can call it that), why are you avoiding what I said in the first half of my post. I will repeat it here again for you:
    To me, this says that you do not want to put in the work to get rid of the larger portion of the fanfiction on the characters and the show/books. In most cases, all it would take is an e-mail to fanfiction.net (aka the pit of voles) and to the other larger achieves out there.
    Why will you not do this, if you need help to, I am sure that Ann Rice’s lawyers would be only to happy to help you.
    Leto

  • Josie

    October 16, 2004, pm31 9:15 PM
    124

    Is it just me, or is our esteemed Mr. Goldberg only responding to those e-mails where he can repeat his same, original reasons? The e-mails with strongly backed claims are being sadly, sadly ignored. Mr. Goldberg isn’t even giving them the much deserved typical debate ‘Harrumph, harrrumph, harrumph, harrumph.” Making the key mistakes that everyone learns in debate class- how to say, “Good point, but I have a more important one.” Heck, he’s not even saying, “Good point- I can’t respond to that.”
    Am I the *only* one here who saw Siofra’s post? Concrete evidence on copyrights? Anyone?
    Basically, what I see here is the saddest excuse for debate possible- we have two once-sided arguments. Please, people- acknowledge each other’s points- not just Mr. Goldberg’s, but EVERYONE’S. It’ll make for a much more productive, and much less looping discussion.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 9:38 PM
    125

    Josie,
    You must have missed the post from the Romantic Times. I’ll post it here for you.
    //Writing fan fiction is a violation of copyright law. But many fanfic writers are either unaware of or unconcerned with this fact. Often they’ll slap a short disclaimer at the top of the story, disavowing ownership of the characters used and consider the matter handled…
    Attorney-turned-Romance author Julie Kenner says… “for our purposes as writers, copyright serves to protect our words. But when someone is using, say, Stephanie Plum in fan fictio, they probably aren’t quoting any of Janet Evanovich’s language and they think they are they’re clear of infringement. But the 9th Circuit and the 2nd Circuit — both leading courts with regard to intellectual property law — have found protection for the characters themselves under certain judicially defined parameters.”
    And those little disclaimers? Ain’t gonna hold water in front of a judge, Kenner says.//
    The studio lawyers I’ve talked about it say the only reason they don’t pursue fanfic more aggressively is the enormous time and cost associated with it… at a time when they are marshaling their efforts in other areas (DVD piracy, file-sharing, etc.).

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 9:42 PM
    126

    Leto,
    //To me, this says that you do not want to put in the work to get rid of the larger portion of the fanfiction on the characters and the show/books. In most cases, all it would take is an e-mail to fanfiction.net (aka the pit of voles) and to the other larger achieves out there. Why will you not do this, if you need help to, I am sure that Ann Rice’s lawyers would be only to happy to help you.//
    First off, I have asked fan fiction sites not to post DM fanfic…to which I was told to fuck off. But as someone else accurately pointed out here, I am not the creator/copyright holder of DM… Paramount Studio is. It’s their charge to lead…if they chose. I am simply the person they’ve entrusted to write the books based on the show, which I also wrote and produced (with William Rabkin).
    But I certainly have not been shy… (as you can see!)… about expressing my views on DM fanfic… and fanfic in general.

  • Birdfood

    October 16, 2004, pm31 9:59 PM
    127

    All right. Just what in the hell is wrong with slash? If it’s for religious reasons, I’m certainly not going to get into that sort of debate here. However, I see many of you complaining about wide, sweeping generalizations “NOT ALL FANFICTION IS SLASH, SMUT OR MPREG.” No it is not. But you use that sentence in such a negative way, as if all slash and smut (I agree that about 98% of Mpreg is crap) is shit.
    I can rec you tonnes of great slash right here right now, if you’d like (all Harry Potter, I’m afraid, but it’s what I read).
    http://notquiteroyal.net/switchknife/index2.htm
    There, go, read.
    If you don’t like it because it doesn’t fit with canon, well, all I can say to that is it certainly isn’t realistic to have every single character in a given fandom straight-as-a-ruler. There will be gay/bi/lesbian characters. Even if a guy and a girl are in a relationship, most homosexuals have been in prior relationships with the opposite sex. Even more bisexuals have. A good writer can work around even the most damning evidence of straight-as-a-ruler-ness, and many of them do.
    If it’s because you must shield “the young virgin ears from the horrible slash”, there’s a huge chunk of it that’s not more than PG or PG-13. Slash DOES NOT = Smut.
    If it’s because it squicks you, there’s very little I, or anyone else can do about that, so I’m not even going to try. But remember, just because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean it’s all horrible.
    ————————–
    Oh, and Mr. Goldberg? It’s great that you like RHPS. Honestly, I think I forgive you by three quarters just because of that. But, then again, I’m very biased towards RHPS fans 😉 The soundtrack is awesome, isn’t it? See, this just proves that some things are more important to me than reading fan fiction :)! Thanks for the two hours of reading these intriguing posts, and I hope your original fiction is successful!
    ~Me.

  • Josie

    October 16, 2004, pm31 10:30 PM
    128

    I saw the romantic times post, but you missed Siofra’s post- two conflicting points of view, both putting up valid arguments. I feel that both should be acknowledged.
    What many authors do is simply *not read* fanfiction. Many un-canonical things are done with their characters, and they see it best to ignore it.
    A quick note on slash/smut: I don’t mind slash and smut itself, as long as it’s not graphic, but I don’t write it, because I feel it’s too non-canonical. Often times authors who are okay with the idea of fanfiction, but have never read a fanfic, don’t take action until they suddenly click on a page, thinking, “I might as well see what all this fanfiction mess is about,” and find two of their maine characters, who are, in canon, only friends, in a rather compromising position.
    In my opinion (as much as they should be avoided) Fanfiction as a whole is an innocent practice. It certainly does not negatively effect the copyright holder financially. In fact, often times it provides financial support! Star Trek would most likely never have had a second season if it were not for fanfiction. Many times fanfiction keeps a fandom alive during extended times while waiting for an update. Star Wars certainly wouldn’t be as popular as it is (with it’s long breaks in between) if it weren’t for the fanfiction to keep the fans active in that fandom. What starts out as an innocent venture in to a fandom, once combined with fanfiction, can become an obsession, leading to the collection of merchandise- and no one can argue that buying the merchendise doesn’t help out the copyright holder.
    On a whole, this seems to be an argument of morality. Copyright laws, illegal or legal, seem to be only a side-note in this conversation. It’s there, but what it keeps coming back to is morality. Not so much a criminal act as an act of deviance, whether it is technically criminal or not. (Which, believe me, I know far too much of. Blasted Sociology teacher…)
    Could you possibly direct me towards the entire article from Romantic Times? It would be most interesting to read.
    Josie

  • Morgul

    October 16, 2004, pm31 10:39 PM
    129

    The Romantic Times article sounds very much like the one from the Rolling Stones.
    ‘cept the Rolling Stones one was funnier. *giggles*

  • Erin

    October 16, 2004, pm31 11:01 PM
    130

    If it’s because it squicks you, there’s very little I, or anyone else can do about that, so I’m not even going to try. But remember, just because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean it’s all horrible.
    As erotic writing, no – not all slash is bad. I know several writers who are incredibly gifted at writing erotica, creating lush, evocative, beautifully sensual stuff.
    My own personal squick with most slash is what someone else mentioned above – 99% of it screams OOC to me. Some fic writers sometimes chose to slash the most manly, clearly heterosexual characters ever to hit the screen or page, (at least in my perceptions) and I am left at a complete loss as to where slash writers ever found those sexual connotations in the first place.
    That just bugs me, especially as I find powerful friendships to be so rare and precious. Stories about strong same-sex friendships have been favorites with me since reruns of The Lone Ranger and Tonto were still on TV. Thus it dismays me to see sex somehow made a qualifying addition to, or proof of, the depth of same-sex relationships. I’d hate to have my real-life friendships viewed that way!
    Sure, the world is made up of all sorts of people, and if a character is played as being rather ambiguious – say, like Captain Jack Sparrow – then I can’t blame anyone for reading him as bi. But if someone were to slash Han Solo and Luke Skywalker … Uhh, no. Just … no.
    So for me, an avoidance of slash has most to do with it deviating from my perceptions of the characters, and my grasp of what the story-creator intended for them. That’s all. Out of character is out of character, and I’ll turn away from any story wherein the characters I know and love longer behave as themselves – whether sex is involved or not.
    But the point I will repeat is that slash or mpreg is *not* the defining face of fan fiction, any more than Nascar is the defining face of the American automobile driver. They’re related, but they ain’t in the same class.
    ~ E

  • Birdfood

    October 16, 2004, pm31 11:06 PM
    131

    Yeah, I agree with most of what you said, Erin. I definitely agree that true friendships are great things, but remember: the most lasting relationships tend to begin as friendships. But hey, I love friendship fics too, so it really doesn’t matter to me. My only criteria is that it be well-written.

  • E

    October 16, 2004, pm31 11:37 PM
    132

    Writing fanfic isn’t writing. As I said in a comment to another post, writing is more than just laying down words. It’s creating character, plot, voice and place. When more than half that job is done for you, you aren’t learning anything. You don’t learn how to paint by filling in a paint-by-the-numbers coloring book. You learn by painting on a blank canvas.
    I respectully find the above statement wrong. The plain fact is, writing *good* fan fiction does require skill – else there would not be so much badfic about. It requires as much skill to correctly, truly and successfully capture a pre-drawn character and place as it does to write an original one. If the depiction is ill-done … that original character, plot, voice and place are utterly lost, and the reader goes away disappointed.
    *There is an art to re-capturing that character, plot and place!*
    Lastly, the fundamentals of plotting, pacing, grammar, punctuation, dialogue and character development can be and are practiced by those fic writers truly wishing to grow. The reason badfic exists is because some writers have no interest in learning, and will be forever happy with paint-by-numbers. However, good fan fiction will read as an extension of the original, and the highest praise a fan fiction writer can hear is, “That was just like seeing a sequel/new episode.” If one does *not* learn the craft of storytelling … they will never create good fiction, fan or otherwise.
    As for being better off writing original stories … Well, the vast majority of aspiring writers never will see publication, and even more give up after trying. The unassailable allure of fan fiction is that people are out there. We have readers and critics who respond in real words, not just pre-typed rejection letters that tell a writer nothing, and there is an audience that assures the writer that yes, they are being read.
    From that … those who want to, learn.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 16, 2004, pm31 11:51 PM
    133

    I’d love to read the Rolling Stone article on fanfic…do you have a link to it?

  • Laurel Whitney

    October 17, 2004, am31 6:24 AM
    134

    I was shocked and dismayed when I read that you were told to bugger off. That’s not right. I’m sorry that happened to you. Debates over fanfic aside, you’re hardly Joe Schmo off the street asking them to stop. I’d have a dim view of fanfic if that kind of thing happened to me, too. For what it’s worth, if I knew an author wanted me to cease and desist, I’d stop posting, and so would my friends.

  • Josie

    October 17, 2004, am31 8:49 AM
    135

    I agree with Leto on this- if you’re so happy with the debate, why aren’t you debating? Here- I’m going to quote Siofra’s post, to save you the trouble of digging through it. Avoiding issues in a debate is exactly what makes you lose. You keep on bringing up legality and posession in to the debate, but you’re only taking your opinions from one side. Here’s evidence contradicting what you say, yet you ignore it- hey, all! Let’s play a game! Let’s see how long Mr. Goldberg can go on ignoring other points of view!
    //I am a lawyer. I have delt in several cases of copyright laws, and I do my homework. Believe it or not, fanfiction actually *is* legal. Here’s how it works.
    *If a person writes a story, say, to use Tolkien for an example, about a midget named JoJo whos godfather goes off and finds a necklace, leaves it to JoJo who must then destroy it, along with the help of a genetically enhanced clone, the man who mowes his lawn, and a luberjack… well, you get the idea. That would be illegal.
    *If a person writes a story where, clearly stated at the top, a disclaimer gives all the credit where the credit is due, and writes a story Frodo’s dream while he was, for lack of a better term, incapacitated by Shelob, that would be legal.
    If the former example gave credit to Tolkien, it would be legal, but it would most likely not be considered fanfiction.
    Simply put, as long as the credit is given, it’s legal. Well, so long as credit is given, and the author agrees. If the author dislikes fanfiction, then all that needs be done is state that they dislike fanfiction, and do not wish it to be written. Remember Anne Rice? Go to fanfiction.net, one of the biggest (and most poorly managed) fanfiction sites on the internet. You will see that they refuse to archive fanfiction on her stories.
    Again, look at fanfiction.net. If fanfiction wasn’t legal, then the lawyers would be having a field day with them. There is a multi-million dollar lawsuit buried deep beneath fanfiction.net’s innocent exterior. If they catch so much as a whiff of copyright laws changing, and not in their favor, they would be off-line before you could say ‘canon.’
    Fanfiction is not so much a matter of legality as a matter of morality. And, as you may have noticed, this discussion has long since become a matter of morality as well.
    ~Siofra///
    Responses? Anyone?? Lively debate is what I want here. can we PLEASE have it?

  • Jonathan K.

    October 17, 2004, am31 9:33 AM
    136

    On the fifteenth, David Montgomery wrote, “A. Clouter mentions that she’s 17, which leads me to believe she’s a student. If you turned in a paper to your teacher in which you copied someone else’s ideas, do you think s/he would approve of this practice? Why should fiction be different? Aren’t you still ripping someone else off, no matter how many disclaimers you provide?”
    I was interested to see this point brought up, but disapointed to see a limited response to it. So, I will attempt to adress it.
    In writing an essay, the MLA format instructs the writer to give credit to the intellectual owner of the ideas used. So, when using the information of others, the writer is presented with a choice: paraphrase the information and cite the source, or present an actual quote, and, you guessed it, cite the source. The essay is then followed up by a Works Cited page giving more information about the sources. If you do not cite the source, then you will be punished for plagiarism.
    I’ll be honest, here. I am not familiar with the precise workings of the law; I’m an english major working towards a certification in secondary education, not a law student. On the side, I write original poetry. But comparing fanfiction to plagiarism in a student’s essay is actually a good idea, Mr. Montgomery, though it does not really help your case. In an essay, you can quote and work off of other’s ideas, so long as you give the person credit for their work. Most fanfiction writers give credit to the original writer/producer/whatever. The main difference here is that fanfiction writers give credit to the owner through a disclaimer, rather than the MLA format’s Works Cited page. Again, I’m not familiar with how the law works, but if a fanfic giving credit to the owners is tantamount to plagiarism and doesn’t hold water in a court, then I hardly see how giving credit in an essay can.

  • Siofra

    October 17, 2004, am31 10:25 AM
    137

    I applaud you, Jonathen K. It is for those exact same reasons that fanfiction *is* legal- because essays, scientific works, and biographies are legal. The vast majority of the time there is no correspondance between the authors of the works cited, and those writing the essay. Copyright holders (and, in the case of scientists, those with patents) can not sue if credit is given where credit is due.
    There had been one court case done, in the case of music, with sueing parodies. However, credit had been given to the orginal artist of the song parodied. There was another case where a song, nearly identical, was done without giving credit. It was a lawsuit for the record books. Another case wanted to make varying laws- the copyright code is rather broad- for specific categories. This law would make it illegal to parody, re-mix, or even sing, credit given or no, without the consent of the copyright holder. Obviously, the law fell through- after all, what would happen to some garage bands if it passed?
    Sticking to the garage bands analogy, (yes, this is a good one, as they both fall in t the same legal spectrum) here’s another way of looking at fanfiction:
    Before a band can write it’s own songs, it performs other songs. This teaches the band how the music sounds together, how to read the notes, how tiny inflections differ. As the band grows in skill and talent, they will experiment with tempo, keeping the original lyrics and tune, but fiddling with the over all schematics of the song. Finally, if they decide to take that step, they will attempt to compose their own songs.
    In fanfiction, before a person can write their own stories, they read the stories. This teaches them how the words sound together, how to read between the lines, and how a tiny comma can differ the meaning of the scentence. Then, they write fanfiction. They keep the same background to the story- the same lyrics and melody- but they compose something semi-original with it. Finally, if they wish to take that extra step, they will attempt to compose completely original works. Some will, some won’t, but yeah.
    If courts were to make fanfiction illegal, the blasted beurocrats would also have to make performing in garage bands illegal, as they are far, *far* too stubborn to simply change part of a law.
    Sure, a disclaimer wouldn’t hold water in court- but a person would be insane to take a fanfiction author to court (as long as they were not making money off of it.)
    If the fanfiction author doesn’t have a disclaimer, then they can take it up in a small claims court and make a few hundred. If it does have a disclaimer, and the person is making money off of it, then they can make a few grand. If it has a disclaimer, and no money is made, then it’s perfectly legal, if vaguely deviant.
    In the other cases, it’s not so much a matter of what’s legal as what would pass in court.
    ~Siofra

  • Bill Rabkin

    October 17, 2004, am31 10:26 AM
    138

    //Oh, and Mr. Goldberg? It’s great that you like RHPS. Honestly, I think I forgive you by three quarters just because of that. But, then again, I’m very biased towards RHPS fans 😉 The soundtrack is awesome, isn’t it? See, this just proves that some things are more important to me than reading fan fiction :)!//
    And I think I speak for both Lee and myself when I say that one of the high points in our professional lives was the day we spent working with Tim Curry, who was playing the evil master villain in several episodes of Martial Law. (Voice only, alas, when it came time to reveal his face, Mr. Curry had already signed on to a big feature which was paying far more than we could ever afford!)

  • Bill Rabkin

    October 17, 2004, am31 10:36 AM
    139

    //Please don’t patronise me, I don’t appreciate it. I’m not “currently reading Eng Lit” as I switched to Law, and graduated some time ago. //
    Sorry, must have confused you with someone else or misread your post.
    //And yes, I’m aware the publishing industry is very different from that which existed in the 18th century.//
    Then it seems disingenuous that you brought up the idea of Jane Austen paying to be published as somehow equivalent to fanfic.
    //Though I note you ignored the Wharton point, because it didn’t suit your argument. Never a very good sign.//
    Actually, I ignore the Wharton point, because aside from a mediocre Martin Scorsese movie, my acquaintance with Ms Wharton’s work and life is just about zero, and I don’t like to argue when I don’t know what I’m talking about. And since I felt your Jane Austen example was so, if I may say so again, disingenuous, I can’t say I felt compelled to do research on Edith Wharton.

  • Anna

    October 17, 2004, pm31 12:57 PM
    140

    Mr. Goldberg–
    I still don’t see why you have obiviously not gone to that website. Could you possibly be afraid of what you’ll find there? Let me put your fears at rest– she doesn’t believe in slash or smut. Happy?
    Siofra–
    yes, I have read Cassia’s next two chapters of Between darkness and Dawn. I’m on author alerts and MC Yahoo group. I absolutely adore her and Sioban’s writing. I have read Tears Like Rain three times.

  • Sprite

    October 17, 2004, pm31 1:00 PM
    141

    Ah, good quality writing congregating in one place… *sighs in contentment*
    Mr. Lee:
    I too am sickened by the fact that the person/persons running the website you found replied as they did. I’m sure many others here are too. Unfortunately the people who write drivel like that are not generally prone to logical thinking for any consecutive period of time. Please do not think those kinds of sites are typical and a good representation of the people you have replying to you here. They are actually from the following noble places (in order of being mentioned for the most part):
    GAFF: God Awful Fan Fiction; I don’t know too much about them, but they’re here (http://go.to/godawful)
    PPC: Protectors of the Plot Continuum; I love these guys… criticism and critiquing in the most painful and amusing way. (http://www.oddlots.digitalspace.net/PPC/)
    Barrowdowns.com: a popular Lord of the Rings website, don’t know too much else…
    OFUM: Official Fan-Fiction University of Middle-earth; one of the more famous fanfics I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, found here (http://www.misssandman.com/LOTR/ofum.html)
    Henneth Annún/HASA(Henneth Annún Story Archive): Quite possibly the BEST place for encouraging creative writing that I’ve ever seen. Amazing, downright amazing writers found there. Lord of the Rings based. (http://www.henneth-annun.net/)
    Legolas.com: Let’s not even go there *shudders*
    You’d be surprised, most of these you can find by google searching their short form.
    I have only one point to make since those who have posted before me have been so efficient in their criticism (taking and using all my points before I could make them 😉 ), and that is the following:
    Last year, in my first year of university, I was required to do a cover letter, business memo and business letter as one of my assignments for my “Technical Communications” course. This being a justifiably boring and tedious assignment, I wondered if I could make it more amusing by having them written by various Lord of the Rings characters. I asked my prof and she said it would be fine as long as I included a disclaimer after my title page. So I wrote a cover letter for Mudlick the orc, a business memo from Nazgul number Nine to Nazgul number Eight, and a business letter from Saruman to Sauron proposing a meeting to discuss his recent achievements with the Uruk-hai.
    Did I get in trouble with my university for plagiarism? No. I did get bonus marks for my creativity though…
    ~Sprite
    And before you start in about my name being plagiarism, the kind of ‘Sprite’ I’m referring to is the woodland variety as opposed to the beverage :p

  • Siofra

    October 17, 2004, pm31 1:37 PM
    142

    Anna–
    I have a neice on the Yahoo!Group. She got me in to fanfiction in the first place, while wondering about (Gasp) fanfiction legality and all that good stuff.
    Mr. Goldberg–
    I too apologize for some of the comments some on here have said (and I myself have said) they were written in a moment of emotion without much thought.
    Amazing- it appears that discussion is actually becoming civil!
    Perhaps we can come to an accord?

  • suzycat

    October 17, 2004, pm31 3:14 PM
    143

    I’ve been thinking and thinking about this argument, and there are a couple of things I’d like to add to it.
    Firstly, I’m going to say straight up that I don’t understand bookfic. I can’t see the point, myself – the stories, the characters already exist in written form. All the fandoms I like are based on television and/or film, and therein lies the key difference. It’s a horrible thing for a writer to have to acknowledge, especially given writers tend to get all the blame when a fan dislikes the way a show is going (“those writers have gone totally OOC! THey ruined my show! Waaah!”), but when it comes to what screens, the writer’s input is just a tiny bit of the resulting product. The way a scene is shot, the music, the set, and particularly the nuances of the actor’s performance are what create the shows we love, and frequently the non-canon pairings we love, too. Fan writers, as ME Curtin has argued quite effectively, analyse *all* the data onscreen – much more than the writer’s dialogue – and develop their material from all of it. (http://www.alternateuniverses.com/TLC paper.html) As you’ll know, being the author of spin-off novels, that is a skill in itself. It’s not a simple matter of imitating the writing team’s dialogue style (though that’s part of it). How do you convey the *mood* of a show? The idiosyncratic performance which adds so many layers of meaning to “I’m curious, Clark”? To do this successfully isn’t easy, which is why it so frequently fails. But, by God, there’s some beautiful writing out there. And I’m not comfortable with your insistence that it’s crap purely because DC and Warner Brothers aren’t paying the writers to do it.
    I’d also like to address your regular suggestions that young writers who want practice should write original fic instead of fanfic. Well, you know, that’s a really good idea. Except. There’s no “market” for it. If I were to write an original story and post it online for feedback… well, where might I post it, for starters? In my LJ? On a personal website? Who’s going to read that? And why should they? I could take my story to friends and family, that’s true, or a writing tutor (if there is one in my town). But this is a limited and biased pool.
    On the other hand, write in an existing fandom and you have a ready made, and very critical, audience of hundreds, even thousands. They’re strangers – they don’t care if you’re only 17, a sensitive little soul who needs coddling, or that you won the poetry prize when you were 10 and were reckoned the top writer at your high school. They want to be convinced and entertained, and if they’re not, you’ll know about it. Moreover, if you read around the fandom and discover some writers whose style you really like, you can approach these people directly for input and help. It’s as if a fan of horror novels were able to email Stephen King and have him look over their latest story. That’s a powerful resource right there. Any non-TV writer knows the writer’s life is a lonely and difficult one. Having access to a whole bunch of others, who also know your characters, is a wonderful buffer.
    I’m not about to argue legality with you (drugs are illegal and people still take them), but I will defend the purposes and quality of much fanfic till the cows come home.

  • Jaster

    October 17, 2004, pm31 4:19 PM
    144

    Mr. Goldberg,
    I’ve been lurking here in the blog once attention from several of my PPC friends have brought be here. I’ve watched flames, critiques, and logical/illogical reasons being batted from one side of the argument to the other, and now I feel as if I should step in and say something. Don’t worry, sir, I won’t attempt at reiterating what others have stated…as I’m sure you may find it just as annoying as I do.
    You mentioned before how writing fanfiction is not only pointless, but a waste of time as well. This seems to be from the opinion that all writing should be of a utilitarian purpose, when, in actuality, it is for most people of intrinsic nature.
    You see, Mr. Goldberg, we write for the sake of writing. We /enjoy/ it. We do not look for any reward, or even view writing as an utility. Let me ask you this: Do you write novels and screenplays for the sole purpose of the end reward, be it money, fame, or pleasing the boss? Or do you simply write for the enjoyment of writing?
    That is not to say that you cannot do something intrinsically and not receive a reward anyway. An Olympic athlete may run for the sake of running. It’s when theyre truly alive. Their reward from that may be a medal or media popularity. If they don’t win, then they simply keep doing what they like doing the best.
    My girlfriend lives to dance. For the longest while, I couldn’t understand why she would put herself through such extremities with no end result at all. I thought like how you do with fanfiction, sir. I saw no point, it being a mere waste of time. Then I understood as I came into college: she dances because she /enjoys/ dancing. There is no real end result she strives for–she doesn’t care if she becomes a famous dancer (although I believe she may prefer that 😉 ). She would still dance.
    We fanfiction writers don’t write because we expect anything in return, but simply because we enjoy writing about these characters we’ve fallen in love with, and, at times, we wish to show others the joy we’ve felt in writing such stories.
    I don’t explain this to justify us writing fanfiction, sir, but merely to point out to you just why we “waste time”. We may not win a medal, or we may not dance the right steps in our performance, but we will retain at least one thing: joy.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 17, 2004, pm31 5:47 PM
    145

    I write because I love it… and can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s my hobby as well as my profession. I’m not happy unless I am writing.
    As I’ve said before, I wasn’t born with a tv gig and a book contract… I got where I am by writing, writing and writing. Not once, even as a child, have I written “fanfic.”
    I can understand why people might write stories about TV, movie and novel characters for fun, for the pleasure of writing. I am okay with that (Hey, I’d love the chance to write a James Bond movie). What I find objectionable is when those stories are published and widely disseminated. Then I think it’s wrong… and enormously disrespectful to the authors of the original TV shows, movies and books that stories are based on (unless, of course, the author/copyright holder has given his or her consent). I think I’ve repeated that argument a few dozen times… I know I am tired of it… and most of you probably are, too.
    I can understand why kids would write fanfic and put it on the net… but adults who do it, well, that strikes me as rather sad. Like a grown man who is still wearing diapers and sucking on a pacifier.
    The people who write “slash,” “Mpreg,” “Hurt/comfort” and the like are just indulging their sex fantasies and their trash doesn’t merit discussion.
    I actually get mail from DM readers imploring me to write:
    a) hurt/comfort scenes
    b) scenes of characters grooming themselves and one another
    c) scenes involving bare feet and massaging of them
    d) scenes involving two heterosexual characters suddenly declaring, and acting on, their homosexual attraction to one another.
    Since I won’t write those scenes, presumably some of these readers write the stuff themselves. Hey, if that’s what gets them off, fine. What bothers me is when the publish their swill.

  • D. Kelly

    October 17, 2004, pm31 6:35 PM
    146

    What I find objectionable is when those stories are published and widely disseminated. Then I think it’s wrong… and enormously disrespectful to the authors of the original TV shows, movies and books that stories are based on (unless, of course, the author/copyright holder has given his or her consent).
    But, you see, the author/copyright holder has the ability to forbid fanfiction from being written. The majority choose not to do so. Obviously, there are some who do not know about it, and so do not have this chance, but most do. Doesn’t the fact that they have /not/ said it can’t be done tell you something? Like, they don’t actually /want/ to stop it? We know it’s possible to ban it — the oft-mentioned Annes McCaffrey and Rice have done so, and bar my own /unpublished/ Pern ‘fic, I’ve never seen anything in either of these universes. — no, I tell a lie, I’ve seen one massive crossover which featured a short appearence by Lord Jaxom and Ruth, and another crossover which included LeStat. The former, which was good, has since been edited. The latter was badfic, and I believe has since been taken down. So it /is/ possible to do. If people /don’t/, then we write.
    Oh, and here’s something I’d nearly forgotten. I’ve had a story written about me, actual me, which I did not actually say ‘Yes, Twiggy, you can do that’. It was a story in which I was completely unlike myself, and had random sex with someone who I know, who was also completely unlike herself. Here’s a sample paragraph:
    Then Kiatlyn Silverdust Moonstone saw how true this was, and she took Huinesoron into her fair arms and led him to a secluded grotto lit by moonlight. And he kissed her passionately, and all her hurt and despair fell away as she kissed him back underneath the stars, which were the spirits of her ancestors, smiling down on her. She slipped out of her gown and he caressed her flawless curves, running his manly hands over her perfect skin, as they melted into one another’s arms.
    (Huinesoron, by the way, is the name I go by on the PPC Board. So it’s my intellectual property, too!)
    You can see how bad it is. You know what I did? I laughed about it. I didn’t sit and whine about it. But hey, maybe because I’m a Real Person it doesn’t matter? After all, I can’t possibly be said to own the rights to myself, can I? Hmm?

  • suzycat

    October 17, 2004, pm31 8:32 PM
    147

    I can understand why kids would write fanfic and put it on the net… but adults who do it, well, that strikes me as rather sad. Like a grown man who is still wearing diapers and sucking on a pacifier.
    Presumably you also think someone who plays football on the weekends, yet is not and never could have been a pro, is rather sad. I hope you don’t go to the gym and lift weights even though you’ll never be Mr Universe – you’re wasting your time. Or go for a run, because, you can’t be an Olympian. What a sad and pathetic individual such a person would be.
    Oh, and by the way? The vast, vast majority of fanfic writers, as you’ve been told repeatedly, are women. So this “grown man sucking a diaper” analogy of yours is flawed.
    You’d gain a lot more respect if you’d a) get cease and desist orders against ficcers you hate or b) shut up about it already. Because it’s very clear you don’t have the capacity to understand a social phenomenon that’s not going anywhere sometime soon. Please, by all means, live in the 1950s but allow the rest of us to bask in the wonders of postmodernity, will ya?

  • Morgul

    October 17, 2004, pm31 8:48 PM
    148

    //I’d love to read the Rolling Stone article on fanfic…do you have a link to it?//
    It’s on the Barrowdowns.com. I’ll search it out later for you if you’d like, it’s quite far back.
    And Hs, I remember that one. It was brilliant! And Mr. G, there was one about me too. I’m a New Zealander and I was slashed with an Aussie! An Aussie! I ask you? But I, too, found it insanely funny.
    Here’s a sample: //Morgul’s perfect, full lower lip trembled. “I don’t want to be pedantic. I want you, and I don’t want him here! He hates me!”
    “Well, you are the daughter of the Evil Dark Shadow Night Samurai Lord Chief Blood Magic Evil King Guy,” Randomelf the Sensible pointed out reasonably. “My father only wants the best for me.”
    “But I repented!” wailed Morgul. “I turned my back on the Evil Dark Shadow Night Samurai Lord Chief Blood Magic Evil King Guy! He is no longer kin of mine! I am good! Good I tell you!”
    “I know! He’s so unreasonable!” agreed the taller woman, waving her arms about like a loon – I mean, making a dramatic gesture. Then she paused, thoughtfully. “It might be because you are mortal.”
    Morgul gasped. “How – primitive!” she exclaimed, an expression of disgust marring her perfect face. “It’s quite commonplace nowadays.”//
    As you can no doubt tell, I do NOT act like that, but it was still amusing to read. I particularly like the way I died:
    //Morgul’s prone form keeled over gently, hitting her in the shoulder. “Oh, Morgy, darling, wake up!” It was then that Randomelf saw the blood smeared on her dress and smelled the fumes of the many and assorted cleaning products within the cupboard. “Oh!” she gasped, clutching her lover’s body. “Morgy, no! You can’t die like this! You can’t suffocate on elven environmentally friendly but deadly to humans cleaning fluid fumes while waiting for me to finish having dinner with my over-strict traditionalist father who hates you because you are an evil mortal woman so we can have sex as a part of our ongoing illicit love affair! I won’t let it end like this!”//
    *is giggling a little madly at this point* Still, full marks for creativity, no? If people chose to use me to further their writing I wouldn’t mind, indeed, I think I’d rather enjoy seeing what they came up with.
    *goes hunting for Rolling Stones article*

  • Josie

    October 17, 2004, pm31 10:05 PM
    149

    Goldberg still hasn’t adressed Siofra’s points.

  • E

    October 17, 2004, pm31 10:05 PM
    150

    I can understand why kids would write fanfic and put it on the net… but adults who do it, well, that strikes me as rather sad. Like a grown man who is still wearing diapers and sucking on a pacifier.
    The people who write “slash,” “Mpreg,” “Hurt/comfort” and the like are just indulging their sex fantasies and their trash doesn’t merit discussion.

    Why, why, why does the argument against fan fiction always end up propped against fanfiction that contains explicit sexual content?
    That is not the sum total of fan fiction!!! I dare say the majority of writers responding here are NOT slash writers, and not a single one of them writes mpreg, and every one of them deplores bad writing, lousy storytelling and mangling of characters.
    I understand and respect your stance against fan fiction, and I won’t pretend any of us are going to change your mind. As the old saying goes, I’ll defend to the death your right to disagree with me. But please, for heaven’s sake, do not lump those of us here with the trash writers! These people are demonstrating over and again that they are intelligent, articulate, well-written, creative folks who adhere to fan fiction’s ultimate purpose – To Write More Of the Story.
    Not smut. Not porn. Not deviance. Not High-school-girl-teleports-into-the-story-and-wins-the-hero’s-undying-devotion. Our purpose is to explore and carry the original story beyond the bounds which the original creators leave us. The story ends. Our imaginations do not. And we don’t all require indulgence of sexual fantasies to do it.
    Please don’t beat that poor dead pony. Your objections are valid, but holding up lame sexual content as the poster-child of your objections is … frustrating. Slash and Mpreg do not define who all fan fiction writers are. Read Jaster’s post again. That is perhaps the most eloquent and heart-felt explanation I’ve seen here yet. We write because we love it. And most of us really don’t have any illusions of ever achieving conventional print publication. You know better than I do the odds in that business. Sincerely,
    E
    P.S. My comments on that are here at the tag ‘Posted by: E at October 17, 2004 10:09 AM‘.

  • Josie

    October 17, 2004, pm31 10:05 PM
    151

    Goldberg still hasn’t adressed Siofra’s points.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 17, 2004, pm31 10:35 PM
    152

    //It is for those exact same reasons that fanfiction *is* legal- because essays, scientific works, and biographies are legal//
    I spoke with my lawyer who, with all due respect, says you are operating from an incorrect assumption. Fan fiction is about as straight-forward an example of copyright infringement as you can get.
    Although she couldn’t cite specific case law regarding fanfiction (and I certainly don’t want to pay her to research it!), one of her colleagues represented a writer/director against an author of a non-fiction book about an historical event. The author sued because “red herrings” (intentional falsehoods) planted in his book appeared in the director’s movie.
    The court ruled that the author wrote a reference book and should expect his book to be referenced by others in their works. The judge also said the author should be ashamed of himself for publishing falsehoods in a scholarly work.
    The same lawyer represented an author who sued when someone wrote a book that was a thinly veiled sequel to one of his client’s bestselling novels. In that case, the guy the author sued didn’t even use the same character names (as they do in fanfic)…but it was clear to the court all the same, which ruled in the author’s favor.
    The examples you cite are non-fiction and can be considered reference works. Quoting from reference works, articles, etc. is covered under fair use up to a certain point. Fiction is entirely different. You are appropriating the unique, creations of an author’s imagination. Fanfiction is clearly and inarguably copyright infringement from a legal standpoint. The reason more authors don’t pursue the matter legally is due to the tremendous cost and effort involved. You simply can’t win.
    Defending fanfic on the basis that it’s not copyright infringement is silly. It is. You know it. I know it. Any reasonable person knows it. Let’s move on.
    While the issue of copyright infringement has ethical importance to me, it’s obviously a meaningless issue to those who write fanfic (which, to me, speaks volumes).
    We can debate, however, the other arguments/defenses for fanfic, for which there is no clear-cut right-or-wrong —
    a) it’s a way to learn how to write, a stepping stone to writing your own, original work.
    b) it’s the only way to get real feedback of your writing from a wide audience of people.
    c) it’s a way to explore aspects of the shows/novels/movies that the film-makers/authors don’t.
    d) it’s a way to celebrate and enjoy shows/novels/movies that you love with other fans.
    e) it’s an expression of appreciation to the film-makers/authors
    f) it’s self-policing…when fanficers violate the canon and write out-of-character stuff (mpreg, slash, etc), they get slammed for it.
    g) it’s harmless fun, give us a break.
    Did I leave one of the arguments/defenses out?

  • suzycat

    October 17, 2004, pm31 10:47 PM
    153

    Lee, please DO! It would be so nice to read some responses to something other than “wah wah legality wah”.

  • Tamsin

    October 18, 2004, am31 1:00 AM
    154

    I’m intrigued that you declare with such conviction that no decent writer would ever write fanfiction. Jill Paton-Walsh was nominated for the British Booker Prize for “Knowledge of Angels,” an original work. She has also won the Whitbread Prize, and several other major literary awards. Yet quite recently, she published a (licensed) Dorothy L Sayers fanfiction. I in no way wish to be unkind, but do you truly regard yourself as a more talented writer?
    I’m also interested that you conflate “illegal” with “unethical.” Until 1992 it was perfectly legal for a man to rape his wife in England and Wales. Would you therefore regard all marital rape prior to that date as ethical? And using a work telephone is as illegal as shoplifting, yet most people find it acceptable and therefore it is not an offence that is ever prosecuted.
    Copyright laws are there to protect intellectual property. I presume that you are aware that Anne Rice and Anne McCafferty have stated they are opposed to fanfiction, and therefore it isn’t disseminated, because no reputable site will archive it. I am also therefore presuming that you don’t possess the copyright to the show’s you’ve worked on, as you haven’t taken any steps to get people to cease and desist.

  • Casey

    October 18, 2004, am31 1:16 AM
    155

    //Here’s an idea. Try writing an ORIGINAL story of your own, using characters YOU CREATE (I know, that’s asking a lot). Put your heart and soul into it. Then see how you feel about people taking your characters and doing whatever they want with them. Would you be flattered to see two of your characters having anal sex? Perhaps having a sex change operation? Or urinating on one another?//
    I’m late to the party, but I felt like I needed to respond to this.
    I’m an unpublished original fiction writer, and I would be *delighted* if I wrote something that inspired fan fiction. The first time I discovered someone had written a fic, I’d probably chatter excitedly about it to all the friends who’ve put up with my moaning about the day job cutting into my work time and similar oh so fascinating topics. As far as content of those hypothetical fics goes, I don’t really see any reason for me to get upset one way or another. I’m hardly compelled to read it (and probably won’t — there are not enough hours in the day to be that self-absorbed)… meanwhile well written fan fiction, even well-written fic that deals with themes that may make some readers uncomfortable, has the power to bring new readers to the original source material. I think we can all agree that more readers for the original material is a good thing.

  • P M Rommel

    October 18, 2004, am31 1:29 AM
    156

    Did I leave one of the arguments/defenses out?
    You did, actually. It’s only been touched on obliquely, and I think only by me, but it’s that fan fiction is a challenge to the ‘business model’ and thereby a political act. Had you read the Jenkins book with the care it deserves, you would have discovered that he fully develops this argument in the way that an exchange in blog cannot.

  • suzycat

    October 18, 2004, am31 3:04 AM
    157

    Go, Rommel!
    It astounds me that anyone could have read Textual Poachers and *not* see fannish activities in a more respectful light, but there you go.

  • Tamsin

    October 18, 2004, am31 4:14 AM
    158

    >>And since I felt your Jane Austen example was so, if I may say so again, disingenuous, I can’t say I felt compelled to do research on Edith Wharton.
    << Wharton's family paid to have her earliest works published in the late 19th century, when she was a teenager, I think. (I can recommend "The Age of Innocence." It's an extraordinary piece of work. It manages to combine a harsh social critique with nostalgia for a vanished age. Most of her work fails to impress me overmuch in execution, though the themes are interesting- but that novel is a masterpiece.) I have noted above that a very acclaimed contemporary novelist has published licensed fanfiction. In addition, Mr Goldberg himself has been paid to write spinoff novels- themselves arguably fanfiction. I really fail to see any distinction, in terms of literary merit, as to whether the writer is licensed or not. A good writer will write good fanfiction, a bad writer will not. Legality is an altogether different issue, of course. You continue to patronise. I continue to be baffled as to why you choose to conduct a debate in that fashion. Belittling those who disagree with you is generally the refuge of the mediocre mind. Or the politician, of course.

  • Chrystalline

    October 18, 2004, am31 4:17 AM
    159

    I’m also late to the party, and should be in bed at this ghastly hour (4 am, here), but no one has mentioned something that I believe to be relevant, here. (I checked the GAFF thread you linked, and it was mentioned on the second page, after you left, in Saleha’s post of the 15th)
    I think it’s interesting that you appear to be ignorant of the origin of Official Spin-Off Novelization, in the first place. When Star Trek was cancelled, the fans wrote fan fiction. They published it in ‘zines, which they sold at break-even prices, just so they could share it. They corresponded by snail-mail because that was all they had. Guess what? Several of those fanfic authors became Paramount-authorized published authors. AC Crispin is one of them, and one of my favorites. Read her introduction to TIME FOR YESTERDAY (sequel to YESTERDAY’S SON) in the Official Pocket Books Paperback if you need her version. Actually, I’d recommend you read the intros to both books, just to see a much better way of dealing with readers than what you seem to have managed so far. But it is worth noting that prior to Star Trek fanfic, no one published TV series spinoff novels, and without the fanfic, no one would have seen the market, most likely.
    Guess what else? Some of the Paramount-authorized novels are drivel. Quite frankly, the books written by authors who were fans first are always better than the ones written by previously published authors who had only a passing acquaintance with the TV series. As far as percentage goes, I would have to say the novels are generally better than a lot of fanfic, but then, some of the really good fanfics so far outstrip the “published” works as to make the comparison ridiculous. It’s not a one-for-one comparison; you seem to be of the attitude that, because the majority of fanfic writers are adolescents (and yes, they’re usually FEMALE, not male) who do not yet have the maturity to write well, no one should be permitted to try.
    I don’t write fanfic, but I do read it. I read a lot of fanfic, and I prefer well-written, thought-provoking stories about characters I know and love. The reason I don’t write fanfic is that I hate MarySues and lame plots, and I know that is all I would manage. Why? Because I am much better at writing nonfiction; analyzing an existing story, or writing a report.
    Here’s the thing: fanfiction harms the copyright not at all. I know nothing about Diagnosis Murder, so I focus on the fandoms I know and understand. I like Star Trek. I have the movies on VHS, and yes, I plan to get them on DVD when I can afford them. I buy the novels when I can, and someday I want to buy the series itself on DVD. I’m involved in Lord of the Rings fandom, as well. To be brutally honest, my interactions with fanwriters and their stories have increased my interest in the published works of Tolkien, and in fact, HAVE resulted in additional book sales. Fanfiction spurred my interest enough to actually buy MORE of the officially published work. Someone else pointed out that fanfic kept Star Trek alive for more than one season. Do you think George Lucas would have seen the kind of reaction he got to the opening of Episode 1 if the fanbase had not kept themselves primed for more Star Wars adventure? There are not only fanfics and fanart, but fanFILMs in that fandom. With Lucas’ permission, if you hadn’t noticed, not on a case by case basis, but an overarching “as long as there’s no profit, you’re okay” standpoint.
    It is also worth noting that the authors who aggressively pursue fanfic writers tend to alienate their fans. Since finding out how aggressively Anne McCaffrey squelched fanfic about her worlds, I have lost interest in actively pursuing her books. There are gaps in my collection, but somehow I just don’t care enough to go looking for the books I don’t have. I’ve never been into Anne Rice’s work, but there are other authors, too, who prohibit fanfic. Patricia C. Wrede is among them, I believe. Most unfortunate, to my way of thinking, because that means her world is out of sight, out of mind. As far as I know, I already had all her Enchanted Forest series before I ventured into the realm of fanfic, and so the story simply stops. The fans do start getting tired of being slapped for LIKING the series, and *will* eventually lose interest. Sounds like a class issue, at this point: the Upper Class Author, and the Lower Class Reader. Reader is supposed to “know his place,” apparently. Not happening.
    And regarding the troll who pointed out that a lot of us seem to focus on SciFi; I don’t suppose you’ve noticed that SciFi and Fantasy fans tend to want intelligent discussion of the stories we read, hmm? I find it a lot easier to have an intelligent discussion of, say, Orson Scott Card’s work than some General Fiction author whose work seems little more than a bio of some nondescript person in a modern day setting who manages to get lucky with a co-worker. I don’t want to read about my neighbors, thank you, and I’m not the least bit interested in Jerry Springer. Oh, and I don’t watch TV anymore; too much sleaze and not enough thought.
    It seems to me you see the fanfic writers as competition, since you are not the original creator of those characters either. Given what I see in your sample chapters on your site, I would say you really have little room to complain about “swill” in the realms of fanfiction. Truly, it is comparable. Ordinarily, I would not comment on fiction of that sort (badfic writers seldom want constructive criticism), but your complaint, as if you were so much better than the badfic authors…no. If you’re want to denounce them, you’re not to be like them.
    To PM Rommel: Thank you for bringing my attention to Textual Poachers; it has gone on my Amazon wishlist for purchase at my next opportunity.
    Chrystalline
    fan of LOTR, B5, ST:TOS, ST:DS9, DragonLance, Orson Scott Card, Robert A. Heinlein, and a whole bunch of other writers of whom a comprehensive list would take up too much time and space.

  • Laurel Whitney

    October 18, 2004, am31 5:30 AM
    160

    Chrystalline, I was trying to think of a polite way to comment on the quality of his work and failed. I’m glad someone did speak up, because it needed to be said. Published or not, when the characters are weak, the plot appears thin at best, and 95% appears supported by things such as “coming like Vesuvius”, I laugh at the idea of that person telling me I’m wasting my time or it’s just typing or not real writing.

  • msdaccxx

    October 18, 2004, am31 10:09 AM
    161

    Glad you’re enjoying the debate, lee. It’s just a shame your argument is specious in the extreme.
    Here’s an example for you, now – Jean Rhys’s “Wide Sargasso Sea”. You are familiar with this novel, yes? It takes a minor character from literary canon – the insane and imprisoned first wife of Edward Rochester “Jane Eyre” – and imagines a past for her, a story hinted at but not fully explored in the source novel. Wide Sargasso Sea was an immediate critical success. The book received enormous critical and popular acclaim, and won two prestigious awards, the W. H. Smith Literary Award and the Heinemann Award of the Royal Society for Literature. Yet Rhys neither sought not obtains the permission of the Author (deceased) or the copyright holder (lapsed) before publishing this work. You argue that writers who wish to use characters and situations devised by others in their own worlds have not merely a legal, but also an ethical obligation to seek and obtain such permission. Where does this ethical obligation end? Is an author’s work fair game once they are deceased? Or should Rhys have refrained from writing the novel at all, considering that she wasn’t in a position to obtain Charlotte Bronté’s blessing for the project?
    What distinguishes Rhys’s work from fanfic, apart from the fact that “Wide Sargasso Sea” was published and sold on a for-profit basis? Literary merit? The critical consensus says so, but it is nevertheless a subjective opinion. Based on the samples provided on this site, I have formed an unfavourable opinion of your literary merit, but no doubt you and the people who buy and enjoy your books would disagree.
    Another example: A fanfic author (not me) decides to write a story based on HBO’s prison drama Oz. Rather than using the canon setting, she decides to run with a similar, highly-disciplined, enclosed all-male society – the games at Olympia in Ancient Greece. She chooses alternative names for her characters, appropriate to the ancient Greek setting, and based upon the personalities and character traits of the canon characters. There’s scads of extremely explicit gay sex in this story, btw, but that exists in the canon material so that’s okay (as long as neither reader nor writer is getting off on it, right Lee? Can’t have those smutty sexual fantasies polluting the purity of the text, now can we?). So, we have a story that uses neither the canon setting or characters by canon name, but one which fans and show creator Tom Fontana would clearly recognize as Oz fanfiction. Any laws broken? No. Ethical violations? Maybe. Any more so than what Jean Rhys has done? You tell me, Lee.
    As regards authorial intent, how do you judge this with regard to characters such as, say, Clark Kent and Lex Luthor as portrayed in The WB’s Smallville” series. You may be aware that these characters in this incarnation are slashfic favourites. So who “owns” these characters, morally if not legally? Jerry Seigal and Joe Schuster (deceased), the creators of the Superman comics? DC comics? Miles Millar and Al Gough, the creators and producers of “Smallville”? The literally hundreds of writers and artists who have contributed to the Superman mythos in the comicverse, the movieverse and the various TV-verses over more than half a century?
    Specifically with “Smallville”, if we take the broadcast material as the text, who is responsible for the characters? DC comics? Millar and Gough? The scriptwriting team? The episode directors? The WB network execs that approve the broadcast version? The editors who choose the shot order and mise-en-scene? The ensemble of actors who interpret the script? A filmed text is more than the screenplay read aloud. In a visual medium, non-verbal material – looks, gestures, visual symbolism – have parity with the spoken word. With so many individuals and groups, each with their own artistic and political agenda, contributing to the final filmed text, who can say what the authorial intent is?
    An example: Al Gough has stated in interview that he doesn’t see the homoerotic interpretation of the text as valid. He’s not vehement on the matter, he just doesn’t get it. Michael Rosenbaum, the actor who plays Lex Luthor, is fully aware of and comfortable with the homoerotic interpretation of this text. He’s made numerous humorous references to it in interviews and even on the DVD commentary for season two of the show. And fans will tell you that his performance as Lex Luthor, his interpretation of the scripted material, is a major contribution factor to the “slash” reading of the text by fans. So who is right, Gough or Rosenbaum? Who “owns” this version of Lex Luthor? Whose “intent” should the fanfic writer respect here? Both have creative input into the filmed text.
    I would argue that there is no conflict. Every person who contributes creatively to that text can claim his or her interpretation as valid. So can every reader. Texts don’t exist in isolation. They don’t exist at all, for all intents and purposes, until reader or viewer engages with the text and interprets it for herself. The act of reading or viewing is creative. Unless authors or film-makers want start issuing decrees along with their work, detailing the “correct” interpretation of the material, that’s how it’s going to be. You could tell me all your novels are bloody marvellous and I wouldn’t be permitted to argue otherwise. And ever were such decrees to be issued, the reader would still be free to ignore them, if only within her own head.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 18, 2004, am31 10:48 AM
    162

    //You argue that writers who wish to use characters and situations devised by others in their own worlds have not merely a legal, but also an ethical obligation to seek and obtain such permission. Where does this ethical obligation end? Is an author’s work fair game once they are deceased? Or should Rhys have refrained from writing the novel at all, considering that she wasn’t in a position to obtain Charlotte Bronté’s blessing for the project?//
    I’ve addressed this issue — copyright infringment vs characters in the public domain — many times in this discussion already. Rather than repeat myself again, I suggest you scroll back through the posts.

  • Majoranka

    October 18, 2004, am31 11:22 AM
    163

    And we have answered many times that there is a distinction between ‘ethical’ and ‘legal’, a distinction you are fond to ignore whenever it helps you avoid addressing a point you are unable to counter, and that majority of authors do not mind, so the copyright infringement point is moot in their fandoms, and that we do not condone writing fanfiction when the original author disagrees, and that it can be prevented. If you own the rights, that is.
    Rather than repeat yourself, I suggest you actually start to answer your opponents’ points. You know, argue back and all, instead of sidestepping, making generalizations and belittling your discussion partners.

  • msdaccxx

    October 18, 2004, am31 11:40 AM
    164

    Lee, sweetheart, I’m well familiar with the contents of this thread.
    I’m not addressing legal copyright infringement, as I think is clear from my post. You raised the ethical argument – that a writer is under an ethical obligation to seek approval from the creator of source characters/situations. Not a legal obligation (though that too may apply), an ethical obligation. The original author’s intent is sacrosanct and no use should be made of their characters/situations without their express permission or approval. You made that point, Lee. By your own logic, works using characters or situations created by deceased authors are out of bounds, regardless of the legal situation.
    Love your points vis a vis the rest of my post, btw. What? You didn’t make any?

  • msdaccxx

    October 18, 2004, pm31 12:48 PM
    165

    Lee, you don’t like the Rhys example? Fine, how about something like “Barry Trotter and the Shameless Parody” by Michael Gerber (published in the US as “Barry Trotter and the Unauthorised Parody”), a really quite vicious parody of the emeinently lampoonable Harry Potter novels? This work is most emphatically not authorised or approved of by J.K. Rowling, as the author delights in telling us on the cover blurb under the heading “obligatory legal mumbo-jumbo”. He doesn’t use real character names; rather he used very similar comedic versions. Legally, he’s fine and this work is published by a mainstream publishing house and is available from any high street bookseller or online retailer. But if it’s legal, does it make it right, according to your ethical standpoint? Is J.K Rowling having her intellectual property stolen and abused? The law doesn’t think so. Do you?

  • anonymous

    October 18, 2004, pm31 3:43 PM
    166

    What an interesting discussion to peruse. It seems there are several conclusions to be drawn from the anti-fanfiction camp. I won’t attempt to argue its legality, as many have, since I personally feel it falls into a very grey area. I’m almost certain that at least one or two fandoms have been hit with cease-and-desist orders from the creators.
    However, I find some interesting viewpoints here. These include:
    1) Unauthorised fan fiction is written by pathetic people with no lives, if they are over the age of 13.
    2) Authorised spin-off novels are written by honorable people who may be proud of their accomplishments.
    3) Those who write fan fiction without approval are presumed to be of dubious moral, emotional and sexual character.
    4) Getting legally paid absolves all stigma associated with writing derivative stories from copyrighted works by entities such as George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry, Marvel Comics, etc, etc.
    5) Getting licensed and paid makes fan fiction better than if it is unlicensed and unpaid.
    Interesting.

  • Chrystalline

    October 19, 2004, am31 12:34 AM
    167

    //Chrystalline, I was trying to think of a polite way to comment on the quality of his work and failed. I’m glad someone did speak up, because it needed to be said. Published or not, when the characters are weak, the plot appears thin at best, and 95% appears supported by things such as “coming like Vesuvius”, I laugh at the idea of that person telling me I’m wasting my time or it’s just typing or not real writing.//
    Laurel, as I said, I normally don’t comment on works I don’t like, but hypocrisy sets me off even worse than bad grammar and flimsy plotlines. I tried to be as civil as possible, but really, I don’t think there is a politic way of telling someone, “Your stuff stinks.” I daresay that’s why editors turn down manuscripts with, “Sorry, your story doesn’t fit our needs at this time,” and jobseekers are told, “The position has been filled,” even when it clearly hasn’t. It’s easier not to tell them why they aren’t acceptable.
    And speaking of wasting time, I think I’ve wasted enough on this blog. (although I did meet some interesting new fanfic writers here, so it wasn’t a total waste) There are some elements to this whole thing that make me suspicious of a deliberately-picked-fight for the main purpose of raising awareness of that book he keeps mentioning. Maybe I’m right, or maybe I’m just overly suspicious; I am, after all, someone who likes to read the fine print on all “Free Gift” and “Sweepstakes” offerings. So, ta, see you ’round the list.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 19, 2004, am31 1:10 AM
    168

    BEYOND THE BEYOND was published in 1997 and is out-of-print. So if I began this discussion with the notion of selling copies of the book, it was an awfully stupid scheme!
    I know you weren’t fond of the book, but it got some pretty terrific reviews, if I do say so myself. Here’s a sampling of just a few:
    “The novel’s satiric slant is strong enough to have an effigy of Goldberg beamed into outer space at the next “Star Trek” convention.” Los Angeles Times
    “An outrageously entertaining take on the loathsome folkways of contemporary showbiz,” Kirkus Reviews
    “This sharp roman a clef goes where no Hollywood satire has gone before, a stingingly funny novel,” Entertainment Weekly
    “Goldberg has an observant eye and a wicked pen, and he employs both,” Washington Times
    “As in his riotous novel My Gun Has Bullets, TV writer/producer Goldberg once again bites the hand that feeds him, laughing all the while,” Publishers Weekly.

  • suzycat

    October 19, 2004, am31 4:57 AM
    169

    “As in his riotous novel My Gun Has Bullets, TV writer/producer Goldberg once again bites the hand that feeds him, laughing all the while,” Publishers Weekly.
    I presume an editor got rid of that little shifting point of view problem you had in the sample chapter, then. Because a professional writer with a reputation to protect wouldn’t put something he hadn’t re-read or, God, even spell-checked (it’s Vesuvius, by the way), on the Internet for all to see, would he? See, because you’re so determined to “bite the hand that feeds” you, I won’t ever read that book in its published form; not only because the sample chapter bored me rigid but because you, a TV writer and producer, say you think the people who watch your shows are morons, and I don’t want to support that kind of an asshole.
    I know the only people you *really* care about are the advertisers, Lee, but it *is* your capacity to mollify the morons that pays your bills, so… do think about it. Please. As an *ethical* thing.
    PS: Can I please slash Eddie Hyphenate and Daddy James Woods? They’d be so HOT together and I’m sure I can find canonical evidence to work from if I try.

  • Bill Rabkin

    October 19, 2004, am31 8:16 AM
    170

    //I’m intrigued that you declare with such conviction that no decent writer would ever write fanfiction. Jill Paton-Walsh was nominated for the British Booker Prize for “Knowledge of Angels,” an original work. She has also won the Whitbread Prize, and several other major literary awards. Yet quite recently, she published a (licensed) Dorothy L Sayers fanfiction. I in no way wish to be unkind, but do you truly regard yourself as a more talented writer?//
    But this is specifically NOT fanfiction. It’s a licensed, hired work, just like the TV scripts we’re hired to write, and the DM books Lee is contracted to write.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 19, 2004, am31 10:42 AM
    171

    Suzycat,
    I’m sorry you don’t like MY GUN HAS BULLETS. Here’s what some other folks had to say:
    “It will make you cackle like a sitcom laugh track. Goldberg keeps the gags coming right up to the end.” Entertainment Weekly
    “A very funny novel -a pinch of Carl Hiaasen, a dash of Donald Westlake,, and a heaping portion of avarice and inanity Hollywood Style. It’s boffo!” Booklist
    “A rousing send-up of everything and everyone in the world of show-biz.” Washington Times
    “The giddiest debut of the year!” Kirkus Reviews
    “It’s Bullets over Baywatch!” USA Today

  • kete

    October 19, 2004, pm31 2:05 PM
    172

    —But beyond my ethical problems with “fanfic,” I also think its a ridiculous waste of time, energy and creativity. Fanfic is pointless.—
    If it gives the writer joy and perhaps also a few people who read it, how can this be pointless and a waste of creativity? Not everyone desires to become a published author, some of us are quite content to write for a few dozen friends. I see it as a hobby like knitting or building model planes. I don’t want to be a fashion designer, I just want to knit a scarf.
    As for the copyright issue, fanfic is a means of promotion, I think. For example, I’ve just ordered the complete series of ‘Due South’ on DVD, although I never watched the show, just because I fell in love with a fanfic series about its characters.

  • suzycat

    October 19, 2004, pm31 2:56 PM
    173

    You didn’t answer my question, though, about the errors in your sample chapter. Did you fix ’em? Or did your exciting notion of “authentic breasts” distract you?
    I’m not knocking other people’s right to enjoy your book. It reads like misogynistic swill to me, but that’s purely my opinion. Of course, I haven’t actually *read* it, just the poor sample chapter, but if making assumptions based on a couple of poor examples is good enough for Published! Professional! Lee Goldberg, then it’s good enough for me.
    (Oh, by the way? Publisher’s Weekly on My Gun Has Bullets: “This brash satire of television fare is as empty as the idiocy it aims to prick. Lots of T&A and no wit.”)

  • A. Hamster

    October 19, 2004, pm31 5:50 PM
    174

    I don’t have anything even approaching the free time it would take to read this thread in its entirety, but I’ve skimmed it, and I failed to notice anyone making the point that fanfic is esscentially filling a hole that nothing else is attempting to plug.
    If the types of character interaction showcased in fanfic (and I’m talking about the good stuff, here, not the dreck you keep referencing) were available in an authorized medium that would benefit the creators of the show/film/book, I would be 110% behind that– throw out your fanfic and head down the bookstore.
    The reality is that these situations *can’t* be addressed in a lot of cases– for example, authorized merchandise in the Harry Potter franchise has to be suitable for children. So books featuring the characters at a much older age will never be authorized and available– and I’m not just talking about smut here, either. Any adult situation couldn’t and wouldn’t and shouldn’t be authorized, for the protection of younger readers. Does that mean that people don’t want to read such stories? No. And provided that the hypothetical reader in question is above the age of the majority, why shouldn’t they?
    Furthermore, consider the sheer volume of fanfic available. Realistically, what one person (or team of people, even) would have time to review and authorize/reject this amount of work? It’s unfeasible. So, if they only stories available to the public had to go through such a process, there would be an awful lot less material for readers to enjoy– I wouldn’t even begin to speculate on the percentage reduction in volume, but I bet it’d be huge.
    The bottom line is that fanfic is fulfilling a need that clearly a large number of people have. It is not in any way lessening the rewards reaped by the original creators. So where’s the harm?
    So, in closing, I’d say the same to you as I would to any flamer of a fic: If you don’t like it, don’t read it. That’s what the little ‘x’ in the top right-hand corner of your browser is for.

  • queenmab_223

    October 24, 2004, pm31 5:55 PM
    175

    >>You don’t understand what’s offensive about fanfic because you aren’t an author who has had your characters stolen… and used in swill like “male birthing” and “slash” stories.<< So homosexual stories = swill? Verrry interesting, Mr. Goldberg.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 24, 2004, pm31 8:14 PM
    176

    Gay literature isn’t swill. “Slash” fanfic is.

  • A Clouter

    October 25, 2004, am31 9:54 AM
    177

    //Gay literature isn’t swill. “Slash” fanfic is//
    Um, no. Not all of it. Mpreg is Teh Devil, though.

  • suzycat

    October 26, 2004, am31 12:23 AM
    178

    Oh, God, I can’t stay away.
    So, wait. If someone writes a powerful, erotic piece about two men having sex, that’s literature. If said two men are characters from a TV show, it’s swill? The quality of the writing, the characterisation etc don’t matter? Just whether or not the characters “belong” to some large corporate entity?
    Riiiiiiight.

  • Lee Goldberg

    October 26, 2004, am31 12:43 AM
    179

    You’re right. There’s a whole lot of literary merit in fanfic about Captain Kirk exploring Mr. Spock’s final frontier. Or Monica and Rachel learning what it really means to be friends. Or Brisco and Greene detecting the Law & Order of manly loving. Or Catherine Willows and Sara Sidel learning the forensics of orgasmic bliss. Or Harry Potter and Ron experiencing the magic of male sexuality. “Slash” fanfic is right up right up there with the finest works by John Rechy, Christopher Isherwood, or Jeanette Winterson. By God, anyone who doesn’t see that has got to be homophobic!

  • suzycat

    October 26, 2004, am31 2:31 AM
    180

    You haven’t read any good slash, have you?
    And, you know, I’d *link you* to some if I didn’t a) think you’d go into it with a closed mind anyway, and b) fear you’d unleash slavering lawyers onto the authors. Not that they slash your characters, mind.

  • A.Clouter

    October 26, 2004, pm31 2:05 PM
    181

    Hmm. Why do I feel like I’m being wound up? Probably because Mr Goldberg is doing it deliberately. Dearie, you don’t like slash. We do. Go…campaign to get it off the net. With large posters. And expensive campaigns.
    And watch us laugh.

  • suzycat

    October 26, 2004, pm31 4:10 PM
    182

    In all seriousness, Lee, I’m wondering what it is exactly about slashfic that makes you call it “swill”. Is it simply that you don’t like gay erotica full stop? In which case, it’s a horses-for-courses issue;much as your TV shows don’t really interest me that much, that doesn’t stop them giving some other people a lot of pleasure, and slash is the same.
    Is it that you feel only a single author should have control over a particular character? Again, can’t help you there – and as a TV writer you know such an approach is fraught with difficulty, none of which I want to go into here because you know them all and I’ll be online all day if I do.
    Is it the legal issue? Fair enough, fanfic is illegal. Ish. It hasn’t been tested in the courts because nobody, thus far, has seen fit to test it, and you know why? A, because it’s a minefield, and someone’s going to have to spend a LOT of money on in, and b, because it is not, thus far, hurting the pockets of production companies and publishing houses. When/if the latter happens, then we’ll see action – but in all honesty, I doubt it ever will.
    Is it the “why can’t you make up your own characters” issue? Well, I know one excellent slash writer who’s working on her own novel right now. No, actually, make that two or three. So they’re doing it, they can do it. It’s just that in most cases, fans don’t actually *want* to; they’re hobby writers, experimenting and having fun, with a ready-made audience to give them feedback. The best slash writers I know are academics; it’s a creative break, and most importantly, one that can be done *in community*.
    Is it that you feel making erstwhile straight characters engage in homoerotic activity is out of character? Maybe so – but it comes down to interpretation, and you can’t force everyone to interpret a text the same way. Besides, it’s extraordinarily rare for a character on TV, or in a book, to state “I am not gay” and unless they do, you can’t discount a history of same-sex experimentation. (Indeed, if Kirk stood up and said “I am not gay, Spock”, some fan would immediately cry “Denial!” – why else would he need to say it, and to Spock? – and write a fic whereupon hot gay sex ensued and everyone was happy.)
    Moreover, look at the facetious example you gave of Monica and Rachel on “Friends”. Rachel canonically had a lesbian one-night-stand in college, *all* of the characters were initially in that late-20s, questioning previous notions of identity phase that single people frequently go through during the Saturn Return (if you believe in that stuff), and the show played, frequently, with ideas of sexual difference. Ross’ ex turned lesbian, Phoebe’s ex turned straight – now that I think of it, “Friends” was a slasher’s goldmine…
    Is it the *slash* you object to most, or the gooey romantic drivel the characters are inclined to speak? Now, there, I’d agree with you. A lot of slashfic is, well, pukey. Not because it’s gay, but because it’s sappy in the extreme. But not all slashfic is this way, and that’s the stuff I prefer. However, even though stories wherein Clark and Lex get married and have children (via mpreg or, more usually, raising Lex’s biological child with Random Woman together) bore me rigid as a rule, I still defend other fans’ right to write and read ’em. Why? Because slash fanfic fills a niche that mainstream romance does not. Some of its readers like mainstream romance, but with hot men and more explicit sex – those are the ones who write the sappier stories, and they make a lot of women very happy. Other readers (I’m in this camp) like epic (but short) tales of angst and crossed wires and no easy answers – stories about difficult relationships that resonate better with us than “happy ever after” domesticity. Oh, and with hot men and more explicit sex.
    As to why slash, why not such stories about men and women together, well, we’re still working on that one. The older view tended towards thinking that there were insufficient female characters strong or interesting enough out there for women to want to write about, so they slashed the guys instead. But of course, that doesn’t hold water these days. And indeed, the strong female characters will usually find themselves in relationships with each other, fanficwise.
    The view I’m leaning towards (and I might get back to you when I’ve done my thesis, because it’s likely going to be the topic) is that slashfic offers a kind of sex, eroticism-wise, that its readers can never experience, either because they don’t have dicks or they don’t sleep with other women. It thus takes on a more highly-charged and romantic quality – it’s out of your world. And because the characters are same-sex, conventional issues of male/female power inequality don’t apply. Much as we like to think we’re all equal now, we’re really not; slash removes that problematic power dynamic. On a darker note, slash (I’m talking m/m here, not femslash) actually allows its writers/readers to engage in some significant powerplay with male bodies. We do horrible things to our boys, sometimes. Mpreg is actually a good example of this, and you must realise – mpreg is frequently *a joke*. A rather mean one, when you think about it. See what happens when the guy *really* has to deal with having a baby.
    Slash is so common now one could argue it’s lost its subversive quality, but it’s still an excellent playing field wherein writers and readers can explore issues of identity, gender and alternative sexualities.

  • same person as some person

    October 31, 2004, pm31 11:34 PM
    183

    That’s a really big bunch of comments I don’t want to read.
    I can understand why you’d be mad that someone took the characters you helped create and wrote horrible stories about them. I mean, I’d be mad too (unless I didn’t like my characters that much, then it’d be funny). But here’s teh real deal: you can’t stop it.
    No really, you can’t. NO REALLY, YOU CAN’T.
    Just be happy that other people like your work, there’s no use in trying to stop it. Hey, if other people want to write out your series, good for them! Let it be known that you did not approve that. Yes, that is about as much as you can do. At least I’d respect your opinion higher than say, anyone else.
    With that said, I have some final words:
    I can’t believe there are people who write Diagnosis Murder fanfic. It’s “What If Matlock Was A Doctor”. If you deny that, let it be known that I didn’t say that THE-OLD-WHITE-GUY-WHO-SOLVES-CRIMES eats as much hot dogs as Matlock did. Man, when I’m old and have heart issues, I want to eat like Matlock.
    Person before me: Shut up, you write too much and make no sense.

  • same person as comment above

    October 31, 2004, pm31 11:37 PM
    184

    Oh man, I wrote “teh” instead of “the”.
    Now nobody’s going to REALLY read my comment. This is teh last time this happens to me.

  • Hellfire

    November 1, 2004, pm30 1:38 PM
    185

    You are so fucking sad that I have no words, have you nothing better to do with your free time that whine about GAFF? Sorry, rhetorical question.
    Hellfire

  • Alan B

    November 1, 2004, pm30 2:50 PM
    186

    Here’s a few questions for Mr. Goldberg. have you ever written anything for the show that was turned down? Have you ever had any ideas that you really wanted to do, but were rejected?
    Now you’ve said time and time again, that the only thing that makes fanfiction different from “real” fiction is the consent. What happens to those rejected ideas? What are they? It’s something that was obviously written without approval. Did you learn anything from what you wrote? How did you feel when your work was rejected?

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 1, 2004, pm30 3:08 PM
    187

    Suzycat,
    How can I put this? Stumbling across “slash,” “mpreg,” “urination,” “mutual grooming,” “foot fetish,” or “hurt/comfort” fanfic is like walking in on someone who is masturbating. It may feel fine for the person pleasuring themselves…and there may even be some who enjoy watching the activity…but most of us, it’s just icky.
    You may think that fanfic about Capt. Kirk & Mr. Spock having gay sex, or impregnating one another, or urinating on one another, or bathing each other, or standing by in wretched emotional agony while the other suffers near death, has a wonderful “subversive quality,” and some sliver of literary merit, but I respectfully beg to differ.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 1, 2004, pm30 3:11 PM
    188

    Hellfire wrote:

    You are so fucking sad that I have no words, have you nothing better to do with your free time that whine about GAFF?

    What does that say about all the folks who came here and left comments on my blog? Are they “so fucking sad” too? Hmmm? In fact, what does it say about you? Don’t you have anything better to do?
    Sorry, rhetorical question.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 1, 2004, pm30 3:23 PM
    189

    Alan B. Wrote:

    Have you ever written anything for the show that was turned down? Have you ever had any ideas that you really wanted to do, but were rejected?

    I’m not sure what show you are referring to… but yes, of course, I have had many story ideas rejected for one reason or another. That’s true for every writer working in television.

    What happens to those rejected ideas?

    They are usually stuck in a folder. Perhaps some day, if the idea was for a murder mystery, I might resurrect a clue or twist in a new story I’m devising. But in most cases, the stories were unique to the characters and the show and can’t really be used elsewhere.

    It’s something that was obviously written without approval.

    Huh? It may be obvious to you, but it doesn’t make any sense at all to me.
    When I come up with a story for a show I’ve either been
    a)invited to come in and pitch, and to do that, you are expected by the producers to actually have ideas, or
    b)I’ve been employed as a writer/producer on staff and am expected to come up with stories for the show to earn my salary.
    …I don’t waste my time coming up with episodic story ideas otherwise. What makes you think ideas were, as you put it, “written without approval?” (I certainly don’t consider writing them up and publishing them on the Internet as fanfic, if that’s what you are getting at).

    Did you learn anything from what you wrote?

    Always. I learn more about the needs of the show, the expectations and point-of-view of the executive producer, the budgetary limitations of the production, and the creative preferences of the studio and network.

    How did you feel when your work was rejected?

    That it was time to go back to my office and come up with some new ideas better suited to the show, the producer, the budget, and the preferences of the studio & network, that won’t get rejected next time.

  • DarkMark

    November 1, 2004, pm30 4:16 PM
    190

    Lee: I can see your point and feel your pain in some of these matters. And, yep, I’m a fanficcer. (Don’t worry…though DIAGNOSIS: MURDER is a good show, I don’t think I’d ever go near it ficwise.) You’re right in that most of it IS crap…the over-hormonal types who just want to fulfill a personal fantasy, or the immature ones who want to see how far they can go (Incest! Necrophilia! Mpreg!) have, IMHO, no defense and should leave the stuff on their hard drives.
    Also, let’s face it: the Internet is TOO democratic, has too few editorial fences, and is open to anyone who has a hookup and a keyboard. Including me. Unlike the print or visual (or aural) media, there is no editor here to tell us, “This stinks! We won’t buy it!” (And don’t we wish sometimes there were…)
    I also have an appreciation of the creator’s and / or copyright holder’s rights. But I wanted to do quality stories about some of the characters I loved. What to do? What to do?
    Well, for one thing, I made sure they WERE quality stories, for the most part (and boy, am I gonna get bombed for that one!). If you respect the source characters, treat them as a commercial writer might, and don’t get them into any immoral or illogical absurdities, I don’t think you’re harming them in the least. Respect for the characters should come first. If not, forget the whole shootin’ match.
    Second, besides putting the old disclaimer up there, I tried to make sure there would be nothing really bad for which a company would be eager to whack me. Of course, at any point, that could happen anyway. But if you’re in a cow pasture, it’s good not to unduly anger the bull. I have seen sites taken off by the copyright holders for using their characters in a too-sexual or flatly pornographic manner, or for posting commercially published stories without permission. You’d think folks would be smarter than that, but, let’s face it…some of ’em ain’t.
    Third, I’ve been careful about which characters I ficced. If the ones I might want to use belonged to an owner who was known to go after ficcers with the proverbial meat axe, I didn’t use them. Also, I never sent examples of my stories to the copyright owners, and only a few to pros working in the field. Thankfully, the ones who read ’em liked ’em.
    So I think it’s all a matter of respect. If the entire fanfic community treated their sources with that, we probably wouldn’t have nearly the problem with it we do now. It’d still be actionable, but far fewer actions would probably be taken.
    And as an aside, I notice that DIAGNOSIS: MURDER is fond of using a gimmick much practiced in fanficdom: the crossover! Or don’t you think anyone was looking when Joe Mannix or some 60’s-era spies guest-starred? On the latter, I certainly was. And I hope you keep doing it.

  • suzycat

    November 1, 2004, pm30 4:43 PM
    191

    Lee, obviously you and the bulk of academia involved in fan studies are never going to agree, and that’s sad, but fair enough.
    However, I’ve got to point out – you shouldn’t be “stumbling across” those fics. Fics usually come with warnings, genre and pairing information and a rating along with those disclaimers, right at the top of the page. Some sites will allow a “pairing withheld” option but in the main fanfic is almost ludicrously laden with warnings so it won’t hold nasty surprises. Mpreg, character death, rape, incest, character having sex with someone not in the holy pairing, alternate universes – they’re all signposted to avoid offense.

  • D. Kelly

    November 1, 2004, pm30 5:00 PM
    192

    Dear Eru, is this still going on?
    Mr. Goldberg wrote:
    What does that say about all the folks who came here and left comments on my blog? Are they “so fucking sad” too? Hmmm? In fact, what does it say about you? Don’t you have anything better to do?
    Sorry, rhetorical question.

    [Pulls out a checklist] Let’s see… sad, yep. Nothing better to do, yep. Having immense fun winding up professional people, yep. Having more fun wondering when all the questions asked will be answered, yep.
    So, actually, yes, I personally don’t have anything better to do than come and fill your blog with repetitive arguments. Oh, that and write fanfic. See, wasting time is fun.
    D.Kelly

  • David Montgomery

    November 1, 2004, pm30 6:07 PM
    193

    Wow! This nonsense is still going on?
    Priceless! 🙂

  • I_Lam_Edhellen

    November 1, 2004, pm30 8:55 PM
    194

    I am amazed that so many profession/excellent writers are being so immature.
    Everyone is so busy generalizing that no argument can be won. No one listens to the other side. Wouldn’t it be nice if less people bashed their heads against brick walls? I expect this behavior from my kid brothers, not adults.
    If anyone feels the need to rid the world of fan fiction they may feel free to start prosecuting the millions of fan fiction writers, web page makers, fan artists, and role players. (Or, in Tolkien’s fandom, linguists like me.) I’d be amazed if they got more than 10% prosecuted before the perpetrators died of old age.
    Galu (Tolkien 397) a (Tolkien 387) teithad (Tolkien 437) vain. (Tolkien 389) Translation: Good luck and fair writing.
    I_Lam_Edhellen
    Work Cited:
    Tolkien, J.R.R., and Christopher Tolkien. _The Lost Road And Other Writings_. New York: Random House, 1987.

  • stardust rain

    November 2, 2004, am30 1:01 AM
    195

    Oh Goddamn. I don’t know what your problem is, but I bet it’s hard to pronounce
    You don’t ever give up do you? You’ve lost, deal. Honestly, you are very sad man, and as Helfire said, really *don’t* have anything better to do than whine and bitch in your journal about us. Get over it already.
    //What does that say about all the folks who came here and left comments on my blog? Are they “so fucking sad” too? Hmmm? In fact, what does it say about you? Don’t you have anything better to do?
    Sorry, rhetorical question.//
    …We’re all very refreshed by you unique point of view.
    Theoretically, you started all this shit by ranting in your blog and you can’t expect people not to notice can you? Yeah, we’re wasting our time, but we have worse things to do than defend our hobby and interest. Besides, it’s out time to waste. Give us a break, godammit.
    Also:
    //the court ruled that taking all the elements of a work and using them as a basis for another work was illegal because a potential market for the derivative works existed. This reason is irrelevant to fan fiction, because there is no fan-fiction market. Fan-fiction is non-profit.//
    ha-fucking-ha. Living proof that fanfiction is perfectly legal.
    Oh dear. Did I just crush you over-blown ego? Moron.
    /stardust

  • AJ Marks

    November 2, 2004, pm30 2:11 PM
    196

    Mr. Lee,
    I am a fan fiction writer, the horror!! I also write original sci-fi stories as well. You will not find any of my original completed stories on any web site but you will find my fan fiction there. Why you ask, simple. I don’t want them ‘stolen’ by someone else and published using my story (saw that happen to a friend).
    You may argue that I’ve just defeated myself, but I have not. I used ‘story’, not the universe in which the story was created, there is a difference but I am not sure you would understand that.
    Now if I was to have one of my stories published (which I am working on) and someone did write fanfiction on it I would actually be flattered. It means that someone bought my book, read it and enjoyed it enough to expand it. Perhaps I’m not as thin skinned as you are Mr. Lee but if two of my characters were involved in sex (hetro or homo) I would not care.
    Having read most of your posts I am beginning to think it is not the fan fiction that bothers you, but a gay relationship.
    You also say that writing fan fiction is a waste of time. How? You have yet to give any arguements besides your ‘opinion’ of readers and writers. I write in several areas including my original stories because I ‘ENJOY’ it and others who read it enjoy it as well (and I DO get more feed back with the fan fiction stories than any original that I had posted).
    AJ Marks

  • David Montgomery

    November 2, 2004, pm30 3:13 PM
    197

    Let’s see…AJ doesn’t post his original fiction on the internet because he doesn’t want anyone to “steal” it (not sure who that would be), but he has no compunction against stealing other people’s work (aka writing fanfic) and posting that?
    I think his post distills the whole argument into one tidy package. Bravo!

  • Oro

    November 2, 2004, pm30 5:46 PM
    198

    I’ve been lurking here for a while, watching this thing get larger and larger. Why am I still here? Quite frankly, it’s got to the point where it’s entertaining. However, the last post compels me to reply.
    AJ clearly stated his worries lay in people stealing his work word-for-word, not that they would write stories about his characters.
    Fanfic is not stealing. It is simply making use of characters already in existence.
    I would also like to point out that once original work has appeared on the net it’s almost impossible to get it published, so I can’t blame him for keeping it under wraps.
    In case you were wondering, yes, I’m a fanfic writer, primarily in the Lord of the Rings fandom. I write mostly about smaller characters that owe much of their popularity to fanfiction. I write both gen and slash. Yes, slash. I’m not ashamed of it in the slightest. I even have a sibling incest fic. As far as I am concerned, the real issue lies in quality. There is crap fanfiction. There is also a vast amount of crap published. I take pride in my work, unlike some authors I’ve seen. The only reason that I am not linking to it here is because I have no desire to be flamed by people who haven’t even read it.
    While I’m here I’d like to draw your attention to a book called ‘Strange New Worlds.’ It’s a Star Trek book. It’s fanfiction pure and simple. The stories were picked out because they were so good and authorised by Paramount. They were not written ‘with permission’. Now tell me that fanfiction is worthless.
    At the end of the day though, I like playing in Tolkien’s world. It’s fun. I’m not in it for money I’m just enjoying myself with a harmless hobby. It’s not a waste of time to me and shouldn’t even be an issue to you.
    If nothing else, I have met some of my dearest friends through fanfiction. If I really have to validate why I do this, then that’s why. Friendship with like-minded people. I can’t see how anything that lets you meet people can ever be classed as a waste of time, the legalities be damned.

  • yilesse

    November 2, 2004, pm30 6:01 PM
    199

    I have to ask something. You say writing about characters that you didn’t come up yourself is lazy, uncreative and morally wrong somehow. Yet you did this yourself seen as you didn’t invent Diagnosis Murder. How is that different? Does the money you got paid make you original? The creator’s blessing may absolve you from the intellectual, creative and moral violation (I love that quote) but that doesn’t cover the other half of your arguement. I’m not asking is fanfic illegal and I’m not asking for a huge response full of legal waffling.
    All I want to know is from a creative point of view, how does writing for a program that you didn’t invent the characters for differ from writing fanfic?
    If someone already asked this I apologize but I’d really like to know what you have to say.

  • David Montgomery

    November 2, 2004, pm30 6:18 PM
    200

    By its very nature, writing fanfic is certainly lazier and less creative than writing original fiction. It would seem extreme, though, to call it utterly lazy and completely uncreative. Say it falls somewhere in between; where you draw the line depends on how you view its worth.
    If you don’t think taking someone’s characters is theft, though, you must have a rather loose sense of ethics. What could be a more personal creation of a writer than his/her characters?
    Let’s keep the discussion going…It’s the thread that cannot die! 🙂

  • Bill Rabkin

    November 2, 2004, pm30 6:20 PM
    201

    //All I want to know is from a creative point of view, how does writing for a program that you didn’t invent the characters for differ from writing fanfic?
    If someone already asked this I apologize but I’d really like to know what you have to say.//
    Why don’t you read back through the comments and find the multiple times Lee has answered this.
    Geeze, no wonder you write fanfic. If you’re too lazy to find the answer to a question when it’s sitting right in front of you, how could you ever be expected to come up with your own material?

  • Oro

    November 2, 2004, pm30 6:28 PM
    202

    I simply do not see it as stealing. Stealing, to me, is taking something and not giving it back. I am not doing that. I do not ‘keep’ these characters; I simply borrow them! You are of course, entitled to think differently.
    Perhaps it helps that the fandoms I have written in have been ‘unofficially supportive’ of fanfiction, but that is another discussion.

  • yilesse

    November 2, 2004, pm30 6:31 PM
    203

    I don’t write fanfic and I never said I do. I have read through the comments but I couldn’t see the answer and I haven’t been given it just now.
    I didn’t ask about fanfic compared to original fition and if we’re going to be like that, Bill, try reading what I said and you actually quoted then come up with a decent reply that isn’t just a flame.
    I wasn’t trying to be controverial or rude, I was asking something that I’ve been wondering since the start of this.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 2, 2004, pm30 8:36 PM
    204

    Fanfic is not stealing. It is simply making use of characters already in existence.

    Fanfic is stealing… it’s stealing characters that belong to the author and not to you. The characters didn’t just “appear” out of thin air…they arose from the imagination and hard work of an author. We may disagree on the value of fanfic…but surely you can show the decency to acknowledge what you’ve taken from the original authors.

  • Sam

    November 2, 2004, pm30 8:40 PM
    205

    “I can’t see how anything that lets you meet people can ever be classed as a waste of time, the legalities be damned”
    I agree. I met some great friends when we firebombed a Negro church.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 2, 2004, pm30 8:47 PM
    206

    All I want to know is from a creative point of view, how does writing for a program that you didn’t invent the characters for differ from writing fanfic?
    If someone already asked this I apologize but I’d really like to know what you have to say.

    Did you even bother reading the original post that sparked all these comments? You might try reading it again. But to save you the trouble of scrolling up to the top of this thread:
    Fanfic: You write stories based on characters you didn’t create and you do it WITHOUT the consent, participation, or creative control of the original author/creator.
    Writing an episode: You are hired by the author/creator to write stories based on his characters WITH his consent, participation and creative control.
    See the difference?

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 2, 2004, pm30 8:49 PM
    207

    I simply do not see it as stealing. Stealing, to me, is taking something and not giving it back. I am not doing that. I do not ‘keep’ these characters; I simply borrow them! You are of course, entitled to think differently.

    Using your logic… I guess it’s okay if I kidnap your daughter as long as I don’t keep her? Or take your car for a joyride as long as I bring it back?

  • Mike Iller

    November 2, 2004, pm30 8:49 PM
    208

    And with that comment, Lee, you offical crossed the line between moron and over to shithead. Nice work. Here I was thinking you couldn’t say anything else dumber. Bravo, buddy.
    So, if you had your way, there’d be no more fanfiction. I’d imagine that goes right down to the point where kids couldn’t create their own stories with the GI Joes they play with and what a wonderful world it would be.
    Seriously dude, shut up. You’re just making yourself look like a bigger and bigger idiot everytime you open your mouth.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 2, 2004, pm30 8:52 PM
    209

    “I can’t see how anything that lets you meet people can ever be classed as a waste of time, the legalities be damned”
    I agree. I met some great friends when we firebombed a Negro church.

    I wouldn’t compare writing fanfic to firebombing a church, but I agree with your underlying point. Plus, you made me laugh out loud, which I appreciate.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 2, 2004, pm30 8:55 PM
    210

    So, if you had your way, there’d be no more fanfiction.

    Yes.

    I’d imagine that goes right down to the point where kids couldn’t create their own stories with the GI Joes they play with

    No.
    I think even you can see the difference between writing stories based on someone else’s work and publishing them in fanzines or on the net…and kids playing make-believe with their toy dolls which, judging by your message, you still do a lot.

  • Mike Iller

    November 2, 2004, pm30 9:14 PM
    211

    Sorry. I put away my old action figured decades ago. Still, everybody needs some form of toys to play with. Which is part of the reason why I write. It’s my way of playing with my “toys”. Nothing more or less than good old fashioned fun.
    Judging by your message however, you seem to think that people shouldn’t be allowed to play make belive once they reach adulthood. For that, I pity you. Honestly.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 2, 2004, pm30 9:38 PM
    212

    Still, everybody needs some form of toys to play with. Which is part of the reason why I write. It’s my way of playing with my “toys”. Nothing more or less than good old fashioned fun.

    On this point, I couldn’t agree with you more!
    Where we differ is on whether that fun should include using characters created by others without their consent.
    But I must admit I am tired of this round-and-round. My views are clear and have been stated many times over (You might also look at my Oct 18 post “What I’ve Learned From the Fanfic Debate”).
    I’m done now.

  • Lee Goldberg

    November 2, 2004, pm30 9:40 PM
    213

    Apparently, a lot of folks here haven’t read my Oct. 18th blogpost, “What I’ve Learned From The Fanfic Debate.” So, to save you time searching for it, here it is again…
    ——————–
    I’ve found this passionate discussion about fanfic fascinating and informative. And I have to say that some of your well-considered, heartfelt arguments have made me seriously reconsider some of my long-held views on the subject.
    In particular, a comment yesterday from “Morgul” really got me thinking…

    “Would you be so offended if, in one of your episodes one of the characters died of cancer, a fanwriter chose, instead of writing the Slash and MPreg you are so fond of mentioning, to write about that person when they realised that they were going to die? Or perhaps go AU and make that person live a year longer, exploring what that character would chose to do with that time?
    Because, if you had an episode in which a character died of cancer, you’d get truly Godawful stories that would tell how true love will conquer all and be boring, but you would also get some amazing stories about how the character’s family coped with that loss, or even how the nurses and doctors that looked after the character reacted. You may have to sift through dirt, but there are gems out there.
    That’s what we’re trying to get across to you here. The people who are taking the time to tell you what they think are the people that truly care about their fandoms and would never desecrate them like the people who use fanfiction as a form of masturbation.”

    I think he’s right. I think my exposure to the fanfiction community – first with Seaquest and later with DM fanfic – didn’t show the field, or its writers, in the best light, establishing and strengthening my negative views.
    I went back today and found that GUNSMOKE fanfiction I stumbled on some time ago… and yes, it’s very good and, as a GUNSMOKE fan, I enjoyed reading it very much.
    In retrospect, I believe I have made some unfair generalizations about fanfic and the people who write it. But that’s not to say I don’t still have some strong objections to fanfic.
    Defending fanfic on the basis that it’s not copyright infringement is silly. It is infringement, and it violates the intellectual property rights of the author/creator. You know it. I know it. Any reasonable person knows it. While the issue of copyright infringement/violation of intellectual property has strong ethical and artistic importance to me, it’s obviously a meaningless issue to those who write fanfic, so I won’t try to argue that any longer. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that score.
    We can debate, however, the other arguments/defenses for fanfic, for which there is no clear-cut right-or-wrong —

    a)it’s a way to learn how to write, a stepping stone to writing your own, original work.

    The arguments here have persuaded me can be… but I still believe it’s a mistake for an aspiring writer to spend too much time and effort on fanfic… that they are better off, and will learn more, and will develop their own voice, by putting that effort into original work. It might be a useful exercise for a 12-year-old, but I think anybody, particularly an adult, serious about becoming a professional writer should concentrate their efforts on original work. That is the only way you will truly develop the skills you need to succeed (and, I believe, any aspiring or professional writer should respect the intellectual property rights of their fellow authors).

    b) it’s the only way to get real feedback of your writing from a wide audience of people.

    I’m unpersuaded. Personally, I don’t think this is a valid argument at all. There are many, many ways to get feedback on your writing without having to do fanfic.

    c) it’s a way to explore aspects of the shows/novels/movies that the film-makers/authors don’t.

    This was something I didn’t fully appreciate until Morgul’s post. My view has been far too influenced by all the slash/mpreg/hurt-comfort/etc. sludge out there and by strident fans who think their fanfic is the canon the TV writer/producers should be following. But his post opened my eyes.

    d) it’s a way to celebrate and enjoy shows/novels/movies that you love with other fans.

    I can see the point. .. though I think you can enjoy & celebrate a show/book/movie without writing and disseminating stories based on them.

    e) it’s an expression of appreciation to the film-makers/authors

    I suppose it is when you’re doing the things “Morgul” was talking about. But not when you pervert the authors intentions with garbage like mpreg, slash, hurt-comfort, etc. That isn’t flattery or appreciation. It’s aggressively offensive.

    f)it’s self-policing…when fanficers violate the canon and write out-of-character stuff (mpreg, slash, etc), they get slammed for it.

    I’m not persuaded… there’s far too much of the swill out there to believe “self-policing” is at all effective.

    g)it’s harmless fun, give us a break.

    On this, I have to say… you’re right. I’m a schmuck.

    h)It’s a challenge to the ‘business model’ and thereby a political act.

    This is a popular rationalization among all kinds of copyright infringers and product pirates and I simply don’t buy it.

  • yilesse

    November 2, 2004, pm30 9:43 PM
    214

    Does anybody here understand the word creative? I’m not asking is fanfic legal as I stated quite clearly. I was asking aren’t you everything you said about fanfic writers being lazy and uncreative because they don’t invent their own universes seen as you have done the same thing.
    I’m not an idiot and if you are going to be patronizing you might want to be correct in what you are accusing me of saying. It’s sad to see supposedly intelligent people stooping to sniping and name calling because they can’t think of a reasonable reply.

  • kete

    November 3, 2004, am30 2:22 AM
    215

    I’m sorry, I can’t follow your argument that characters/storylines/universes etc. belong to the person who invented them. Because once you’ve sold them by getting your story published or your script filmed, they stop being yours and become the property of all those who read or watch. You can’t have the cake and eat it. What remains yours for a while (and I think the timespan varies from country to country) is the right to financially exploit your ideas. That’s it and it should be enough. Because ideas don’t belong to single persons, they’re communal property.

  • Oro

    November 3, 2004, am30 3:56 AM
    216

    Lee: Point 1 – I do acknowledge the original author. That’s what a disclaimer is. I have never and would never try to claim them as my own.
    Sam: You’re pathetic. I refuse to waste my time with you.
    Lee: Point 2 – Oh dear Lord. I think I’ve figured out what the problem is – you can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality.
    Yilesse: There is no difference. However they can’t actually bring themselves to admit that, so they’re dancing around the issue.
    Finally, in response to the opinion that fic writers are slammed for writing OOC stuff like slash – sorry, it doesn’t happen. If the writing is good and the plot is solid – you’re fine.

  • Neant

    November 3, 2004, am30 4:08 AM
    217

    Perversion is in the eye of the beholder. An important part of fandom is the ability for the viewer, previously forced to accept what they see on the screen, rebel in their own small way against hegemony by taking a story or a character and reincorporating them into an ideology that no network in their right minds would express. If you watched “the Celluloid Closet”, you would notice that a lot of the film was devoted to those characters and storylines in classic cinema that portrayed coded references to “queerness”. these characters were otherwise expressed as ‘straight’, but in the eyes of some desperate to find identity in mainstream culture, desperate to not feel like social outcasts based on sexuality, they decoded these characters to create a ‘queer’ reading. This is in its own way a form of fanfic, or as some fans would refer to: ‘speculation’. what worries me is every time producers of mainstream popular culture begin to come out in acceptance of fandom, people like you smash their good will out of the sky. J.K. Rowling, The Gaurdian, Dec 9, 2003, accepted fic as long as measures were taken to prevent minors from viewing/reading pornographic material. she is one of the few that see expressions of fandom as flattery. fans dont make money through their fic. are you so confronted by the theft of intellectual property because of preservation of your show, or because you’re worried that others are thinking of better storylines than you? this post has increased in harshness from what i began as saying, but seriously, everyone below the age of forty has some knowledge and appreciation of fandom. these are the people that you are going to be calling for jobs in the next few years. i don’t know what else to say, only that monitoring this discussion has shown to me that unfounded, unresearched comments happen for the most apolitical of things.

  • A.Clouter

    November 3, 2004, am30 7:45 AM
    218

    Does this thing -ever- end? We’ve conceeded that Mr Goldberg has got published, people. Could those of you commenting over n’over on the ‘legality’ of fanfiction please read backposts? You’re on my side – you’re just making my side look -stupid-.
    I think we rounded this off a while back, and arguments trotted out now are needless in face of what Morgul (we had a celebration on board) said. Fanfiction is good when it’s done carefully, exploring sensitive issues in a canonical way, and it teaches things.
    We conceeded that it’s lazier than fiddling around with all the intricacies of our own world, but reading Tolkien, and having a passion for his languages is -less- lazy than watching tv, and being passive.
    I think fanfiction has to be considered -relatively-. Yep, it does a lot of good in that it’s beneficial to spelling/grammar, development of being able to write, and it’s a better waste of time than doing something passively, because at least you’re being a -bit- creative.
    However, on the other hand, it’s a grey area legally, and if someone did decide to contest it, they might win, if they didn’t have the pragmatic situation of going about it, it’s lazy compared to the creation of original, and it IS a waste of time compared to studying for a Nobel Prize, or writing the next Anna Karenina. I’m an English student – damnit I should’ve spelt that correctly. Anyway…
    But I think best point – Lee’s conceeded that it’s -fun-. We do it cos it amuses us, and it amuses others. Changing one man’s opinion is pointless, because if he doesn’t agree, he has a right not to. On GAFF, we’ve dealt with trolls/argumentative fangirls who don’t listen to us, and don’t change. At least it’s been…interesting. Even with all the insults.
    C’mon people, if we’re proving our creativity, come up with a little more interesting insults to hurl than ‘moron’!

  • yilesse

    November 3, 2004, pm30 4:01 PM
    219

    Thank you Oro for taking the time to actually read my comment.
    I’m not surprised that I didn’t get a reply that dealt with my question properly because it would involve Lee Goldberg contradicting himself. However, I was surprised at the implication that I’m stupid, the childish insults from his fellow professional and the rote response about copyrights considering I initially pointed out that my question was nothing to do with that. Did he even bother to read the full thing? Perhaps he was too lazy…

  • Brian

    November 3, 2004, pm30 7:06 PM
    220

    Are you people still talking about this? Let’s just make it all cut and dried right now.
    Lee Goldberg: professional writer who doesn’t care for what you do, has his own blog and said so. Big fucking deal.
    Fan fiction writers: morons who think Goldberg has nothing better to do than continue talking about your insane fandom. The man likely has a job, a paying one where he doesn’t have to wear a uniform, and thus probably doesn’t spend hours each day waiting for your responses to his blogs notes from a month ago. Just go write some stories and be goen with your Buffy loving selves.
    Me: entertained mightily by how glad I am that I’m not Goldberg or the fan fiction people or someone who voted for Bush.

  • Sarah

    January 1, 2005, am31 1:19 AM
    221

    This is just a reply to Brian and I hesitate to call this reader up on it on your own blog, sir. I am not touching the argument with a ten foot pole as my peers have repeated points I agree with ad nauseam.
    Brian, “morons” you say? Aren’t you from the class of commenters who called the more argumentative of our bunch uncreative for using such a term? Pot meet kettle. It appears you are of the same hue.
    That is basically my only complaint, as I never react well to having my intelligence insulted.
    I’m sorry for responding to this on your blog, Mr. Goldberg.

  • Fear and Loathing in America

    February 14, 2005, am28 4:05 AM
    222

    Okay… I’ve waded through approximately four different threads in several locations, and I still haven’t finished reading all of the comments. If you will indeed permit me to speak (because it seems as if you aren’t fond of other people having opinions), I’d like to say a few words.
    I’m an aspiring writer and a fan fiction writer in addition- wait, don’t say a bloody word yet, I haven’t finished- so I have some experience on both sides of the fence. I personally find it quite petty to trivialize the interests of others, but at the same time, I respect your right to have an opinion. I simply feel that you are not giving us the same level of common courtesy in return.
    If you had perhaps stated your opinion in a polite manner, you wouldn’t have alienated the supporters you lost after your first post. You could have expressed your personal views in a non-derogatory fashion that didn’t seem so asinine and/or abrasive. You discredited yourself by way of blatant biggotry the instant you posted the first piece and its subsequent sequels. I find it a bit ridiculous to attack someone who is no longer living, but over something so sickeningly trivial.
    As I mentioned briefly before, I write both original fiction and fan fiction. I have to strongly disagree with your statement that it is practically highway robbery to write fan fiction. Not only is no profit being made, but it is basically an exercise of freedom of expression. You seem to be taking fan fiction as a slight against an author- this is most certainly not true. It can be considered a compliment of the highest sort- an homage, if you please.
    If I am ever blessed enough to have my work published, I know the day that I have people write fan fiction based on it, I’ve made it. I’ll consider it the most flattering sort of praise, even above compliments from another esteemed author.
    And theoretically, for a moment please imagine that I have indeed made it and people write fan fiction based upon my work. Guess what? I won’t give a flying fuck, in all honesty. I don’t care if they write MPREG, slash or any other possible theme/idea/notion/whatever you can come up with until kingdom comes.
    I’m certainly not obliged to read anything that they write. After all, they aren’t holding a gun to my head and screaming: “READ OR DIE!” And really, you make it seem as if an author is actually being coerced into reading the fan fiction in question. I can assure you that human beings have this wonderful facet called “free will”.
    This means if Little Susie wants to write about my main character getting it on with a freaking snail, let her do it. It isn’t actually hurting anyone since I’m not forced to read it if I don’t want to. A very convienent feature of internet explorer is the handy “back” and “X” button which allows me to essentially exit/ignore/etc. the content of any given window.
    You seem to be suggesting that ALL authors routinely gather and express a burning hatred/loathing for ALL fan fiction. That is such tripe that I am quite literally laughing myself silly. If that is honestly the case (which I supremely doubt) than maybe the fans should attempt to find other authors to honor and respect. The authors you are describing appear to have too much time on their hands devoted to whining about such a trivial matter.
    There are great atrocities and subjects actually worth time and effort. Feed the children, save lives- there are so many worthy causes out there and yet these “authors” you claim are disgusted with fan fiction waste time worrying about something that really has little or no meaning or sway, unless you allow it to.

  • V. Annoyed

    April 29, 2005, pm30 11:00 PM
    223

    Okay, I will say this once, and I hope everyone will understand this very simple concept: Opinion does NOT equal Fact.
    Fact: Star Trek: TOS was cancelled after two and a half seasons.
    Opinion: Star Trek: TOS sucked, and they were right to cancel it.
    Opinion: Star Trek: TOS rocked, and they were wrong to cancel it.
    See the difference? Now, let’s try that with something actually relevant.
    Fact: Fanfiction is mostly written without permission from the original creators. (I’m still not clear on the legality issue.)
    Opinion: Fanfiction is wrong, and bad, unless it’s about something in the public domain; no one should write it ever unless it’s about something in the public domain.
    Opinion: Fanfiction is fun to write, whether or not the fandom is in the public domain.
    Opinion: Lee Goldberg and Fanfiction.net Admins agree; both of them are a**holes.
    Get it? Good.

  • Anonymous Man.

    May 26, 2005, am31 5:52 AM
    224

    “You seem to be suggesting that ALL authors routinely gather and express a burning hatred/loathing for ALL fan fiction. That is such tripe that I am quite literally laughing myself silly. If that is honestly the case (which I supremely doubt) than maybe the fans should attempt to find other authors to honor and respect. The authors you are describing appear to have too much time on their hands devoted to whining about such a trivial matter.” –Fear and Loathing in America
    The above words are so true that they merited me quoting them here just to make sure the point got driven home. These are the words that everyone (particularly the antifanfiction camp) in this discussion should take a good hard look at for about five minutes consecutively.
    Okay, I will say this once, and I hope everyone will understand this very simple concept: Opinion does NOT equal Fact.
    Actually, that’s precisely the problem. Lee Goldberg came parading out here with the full conviction that his opinion was fact, and followed it up by tellin’ all the authors here to go find something better to do with their time. His intentions become quite clear in his actions, never mind his debate. Looks to me like he came to this dicussion with the sole intention of starting a fight; to that end, he got he wanted. For that matter, it seems that a lot of effort has gone into the act of trying to convince FF-authors that they’re lawbreaking felons-in-the-making whose only hope for repentance and salvation can be found in discarding their illegal practice in favor of creating something socially acceptable. Uh-huh…sure.

  • Sinbad

    June 18, 2005, am30 4:08 AM
    225

    Just a question for the pro-fanfic crowd.
    Some of you have made the point that the fanfic community is relatively scrupulous about respecting the expressed wishes of authors/owners. The argument goes that if guys like Goldberg don’t want people writing fanfic based on their ouvre, they can just say so, and for the most part that’ll be the end of it. McCafferey and Rice are cited as examples.
    My question: Why is that the responsibility of the author/owner? If it’s so sand-poundingly simple for the author/owner to opt out, wouldn’t it be equally simple — not to mention considerably more respectful — to invite the author/owner to opt in? What’s the problem with seeking permission and then writing?

  • Mark A. York

    June 18, 2005, am30 6:43 AM
    226

    His opinion IS fact if the facts back it up and in Lee’s case he’s got one more nail in the fanficcer’s coffin concerning opinion: appeal to authority. He is, you ain’t. Game set match, straight from Copi’s “Logic.”

  • Amused Fanficcer

    June 20, 2005, am30 7:28 AM
    227

    “His opinion IS fact if the facts back it up and in Lee’s case he’s got one more nail in the fanficcer’s coffin concerning opinion: appeal to authority. He is, you ain’t. Game set match, straight from Copi’s “Logic.” ”
    … Do you even KNOW what you are talking about? Appeal to authority? Who’s authority? Lee’s? Lee doesn’t even have a fandom. Why would I appeal to him? Are you speaking for other writers, producers, etc.? FYI, generalization *isn’t* your friend, especially when there are authors who allow fan fiction and some who actually encourage it.
    And yet, whenever this is brought up, it seems like you and other fanfic bashers avoid this point and go right back to generalizing and being snobs.

  • Mark A. York

    July 31, 2005, am31 6:38 AM
    228

    Circular. The authority in this case would be the writer sans a fandom of this sort. The author who shines the activity on is an exception and based on their wild success just don’t want to be bothered by the readers. They want them reading. The rest is chaff.

  • SparkyCola

    April 5, 2006, pm30 4:25 PM
    229

    People are so cute sometimes. Like little kids. Hmm. Maybe, little kids who got stranded on an island and end up trying to kill each other?
    Welcome back Lee Goldberg, lord of the flies.
    My apologies, on this website, the extended metaphor above infringes on the copyright of the author of Lord of the Flies. This must be because I am incapable of spending the time and energy required to make up my own metaphor. Also because I’m a sad loner nerd with no friends who’s only ambition in life is to make such parodies and post them on boards such as this. However, were I to SELL this, like our dear lord of the freakin flies, i’d be scott free, because somehow that’s ok, I guess it’s ok if you’re a lord like Lee. Because i’m killing so many people with this metaphor, and because so many people are ALREADY starving to death in the world and people are killing each other on a regular basis, the best thing all of us can do about this CLEARLY, I mean, blatantly OBVIOUSLY, is to debate this basic disagreement to over the top proportions to in some way alleviate the pain and suffering in the world…
    ..or something like that? I’m ok though, because I wrote that metaphor, that means i’m a sad stupid oh so mindless person, who doesn’t care about suffering in the world. Now then, what about the rest of you superior types? About to get off your arses and do something? No, I didn’t think so. Oh well. Fair enough though, I mean, Take Lord Lee for example- what on EARTH can HE, as a WRITER do to help people? Write letters to people like Amnesty International? Write political slanted fiction? Write fanfic he gets paid for no matter how much he denies it’s fanfic on a “technicality”? Oh, gotta be the latter. Thank goodness for our hero Lee, man, he really IS someone to respect and look up to.
    In case you’re tiring of the dripping sarcasm (though I highly doubt it if you’re a regular of this site) – let’s just take a look at this argument from a different slant shall we? What if the whole argument were about Islam? I think we all know what would happen from Lord Lee’s point of view:
    There are Islamic extremists out there so man Islam must be terrible lame awful religion everyone in it sucks and is a lame stupid loser blah blah blah….
    Thank God we live in a democracy, most of us only concern ourselves with MAJORITIES not stupid extreme minorities and focus in, point, laugh, mock, cos it’s so much easier to do that than to try and understand, especially when you don’t WANT to understand, isn’t that right, our favourite false idol, our favourite false ideal, our little sad king on a sad little hill, Lord Lee Goldberg? Is it not? Heaven forfend you look at a good piece of fanfic, LIKE it, and maybe glimpse a reason as to why fanficcers write. Heaven forfend you listen to people and respond to them instead of react. Heaven forfend you should talk to a person before posting stupid things about htem behind their back, spreading stupid childish insults around like they’re made out of paper, when you know that paper’s made out of wood.
    It doesn’t matter though because when the time comes, it’s not fanfic writers you’ll have to explain yourself to. When God asks you what you’ve been doing all your life I won’t even be there to watch when you say ‘criticising other people for doing something harmless and mildly creative and enjoyable’. Let’s hope for your sake God just finds it funny. cos when he draws up a list of all the people you have personally upset over this stupid little crusade of yours, he’ll need to buy more paper just to see the whole list. And that’s something you have to reckon with yourself. Can we imagine the response already??
    “Lame little fanfic supporter claims I am going to hell. Next week’s contest- how gorram easy it is to slag other people off on the internet. Including prize for person who truly believes the way forward is in LESS understanding and tolerance between our family, the human race.”
    That’s ok. You can be all holier than thou if you want. Just never ever quote the bible again because God might call you up on Copyright infringement at the pearly gates. To Mr Inner Anger himself, lots of love, a fan.

  • Vincent O Moh

    March 7, 2008, am31 9:03 AM
    230

    I must add that in Japan it is common for amateurs to write “fan comics” of series and distribute *limited* quantities of them – “Dojinshi” can refer to self-published works, including that and original self-published works.
    And it is common to see these authors to become original authors in their own right.

  • Rosy

    June 4, 2008, am30 5:34 AM
    231

    I saw this blog until now, so don’t kill me, kay? I definitely have more important things to do, but there are some comments that I just HAD to reply.
    We, fanfic writers, are not interested in money or fame and I don’t see why it would be a pointless waste of time if you’re not getting paid for your work. If it’s something you enjoy doing and it satisfies you, then why not do it?
    Is it better to do a job you hate and whose outcome is something you don’t feel proud of just because of the money?
    I write because I’m not a native English speaker and this way I develop my vocabulary and grammar, so for me, fanfiction is not only a way to express myself and make a story that (fortunately) others find interesting, but also a way of self-development.
    Before you ask, no, I don’t write slash/mpreg fics. Though I really don’t like the genre (and I’m still amazed it’s actually a genre), I respect every author. Sure, a lot of the stories out there need serious work to make them readable, but still they are doing an effort.
    //*Yawn* Fine. I will. If you promise to write a fanfic that is fully-researched, keeps everyone in character, and conforms exactly to the predetermined laws of the chosen world.//
    I think this is very important and I totally agree that there are some things that MUST NOT be changed and twisted in the way most fanfic authors do… at least not without a VERY VALID reason.
    I’ve seen works that are definitely masterpieces, not only because of the plot, but also because of the way they portrait each character and their personalities. Sometimes – as is in the case of videogames – the characters are very poorly developed and there are authors capable of making them more likeable than in the original concept without losing the escence of the character’s personality.
    And that, trust me, is not easy to achieve.
    //You don’t understand what’s offensive about fanfic because you aren’t an author who has had your characters stolen… and used in swill like “male birthing” and “slash” stories. You haven’t had fanfic authors tell you the characters belong to them because “we’re writing for love, and you’re writing for money.”\\
    In the end, our characters (those of us who have included an original one and have worked hard not to turn it into either a damn Mary Sue or Gary Stu), belong to our readers. THEY are the ones to judge whether our work is worthy of encouragement or flames.
    And despite the fact that you poured your very soul into each and every character, if readers (or in your case, audience) say it’s crap, then it’s crap and your work (paid or free) is useless.

  • SilverServal

    February 12, 2009, am28 6:28 AM
    232

    So I see an argument that comes up a lot here. “Make up your own crap.”
    What if you write fanfiction just to get out of a writer’s block, and that’s it? I’m an original author, and I don’t see why you have to swing one way and just stick there. That’s just . . . boring.

  • Anneka

    February 23, 2009, pm28 10:23 PM
    233

    In my art class, we sometimes do a study. We take a masterpiece by one of the great artists, and we copy it as exactly as we can. We do this, not for personal gain or glory, but simply to understand HOW to produce such amazing works. In doing this, do we wrong da Vinci and van Gogh?
    For those who have suggested that fanfiction isn’t useful because it doesn’t produce money- shame on you. If writing is only of value when profitable, then why study Beowulf? Why study the Bible? Why study anything not written solely for gain?
    The assertion that fanfiction authors are somehow inferior writers, simply because we choose a different avenue for expressing ourselves, is offensive beyond belief. Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is quite clearly a retelling of Ovid’s “Pyramus and Thisbe”, yet he’s still lauded as one of the greatest writers of the English language. Why? Isn’t he just another uncreative fanfiction writer, unwilling to come up with his own play?
    J.K. Rowling and other fantasy writers have openly admitted that they based strong elements of their works on the legends of King Arthur. Does this mean they do a disservice to Sir Thomas Malory and others who assembled the legends of Arthur? Did Malory and the others, in turn, wrong those who created “Beowulf” by taking elements from it?
    It is, at this point, simply impossible to create a completely original story. I might suggest that it never WAS possible. The Epic of Gilgamesh describes the journeys of a heroic man, doomed to face tragedy throughout his life, establishing the tradition of the epic poem. Do Homer, Vergil, Ovid and Hesiod all, therefore, merely steal from the Babylonians? If so, surely Shakespeare, Tolkein and Rowling are hundredth-generation thieves at best.
    Trust me, sir- we fans only write that which we adore. Rest assured that the author of a Harry Potter fic views J.K. Rowling with a reverence and respect bordering on hero worship- and she graciously recognizes this. Far from dismissing the beauty and genius of original fiction, we embrace it. In fact, I know a number of professional authors who post beautifully written fanfiction (and yes, some of them even include slash! The horror!).
    Fans aren’t a given, sir. You’ve managed to gain recognition and admiration for your work, and good for you for doing that- but that doesn’t mean that you can carelessly insult your supporters without any consequences. I honestly don’t understand how good conscience would even allow such a thing. We compliment you, the original creator, by praising and emulating you. How could you reply with insults and dismissal?
    Sir, are you telling us that, once you’d finished reading “The Lord of the Rings”, you never gave so much as a second thought to the further adventures of that band of heroes? To suggest that sharing these thoughts with our fellow fans is tantamount to senseless theft is spectacularly narrow-minded.
    Instead of assuming that every fanfiction ever written contains “male birthing”, as you call it (and, in fact, even mpreg, when well thought out, can lead to a story as moving and powerful as anything “normal”), perhaps you should actually go and look around on fanfiction.net or another site. Granted, you’ll find a number of depressingly incompetent idiots writing unspeakably pathetic fics, but there are a surprisingly large number of amazing authors out there. Stop blindly assuming that we all rob authors of their work and refuse to exercise our own minds at all, and look at how well fanfiction illuminates corners of a story you might have never even imagined.
    Beyond that, though, it’s FUN. It allows you to enjoy characters you love beyond the original work, with a fresh approach and fresh ideas- but remember, the original work trumps all, so it’s not that we’re trying to rewrite the work. An author builds the playground, and has a monument erected that proclaims for all assembled that they get all the credit for construction. Would you begrudge us a sand castle or two?
    I understand, of course, that you might not be willing to give fanfiction a try, and I respect that. I’m not asking you to wholeheartedly embrace fanfiction, but don’t be so quick to write it off, either. At the very least, sir, show a little more respect for YOUR FANS who happen to enjoy a little harmless fun. I think we deserve no less.

  • Anneka

    February 23, 2009, pm28 11:15 PM
    234

    Ok, apologies for posting a second time, but I’ve been reading further and further into this hellscape of a debate.
    What’s WRONG with slash? What’s wrong with sexual content, or violence, or any of that? It’s part of life. I don’t understand how these subjects make fanfiction somehow morally questionable- or of lower quality.
    Oh, and by the way- why can’t publishing fanfiction online still fall under the umbrella of enjoying yourself? Who doesn’t enjoy feedback?

    • Attani

      April 19, 2014, pm30 6:24 PM
      235

      Agree. It’s the Internet. Let people have a little fun, God knows it’s the only fun some people are allowed. I hate all of this “let’s make the web a corporation” attitude. I get all Fight Club when that kind of tude starts up. No, I do not write FF. I write orig. BUT my belief in a free and open internet includes people writing fanfiction and seeing cat’s heads on works of art. THAT is what the Interwebs are for.

  • sbg

    April 9, 2009, pm30 4:12 PM
    236

    To quote Wilco:
    And if the whole world’s singing your songs
    And all of your paintings have been hung
    Just remember what was yours is everyone’s from now on
    And that’s not wrong or right
    But you can struggle with it all you like
    You’ll only get uptight

  • Rosy

    January 14, 2010, pm31 3:40 PM
    237

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with violence or slash or whatever you want to write about, as you say, it’s a part of life. Some may not see it “morally adecuate” but that’s just their opinion.
    I’ve read some slash fics (at fist I had my reserves, ’cause I’d never read one before), but I stumbled into some very nicely written stories and I can’t deny that I enjoyed them a lot.

  • unknown

    October 28, 2010, pm31 5:31 PM
    238

    Please do not put all fanfic writers in one boat we all do not treat the characters as trash and abuse them. Why are you so hurt by the fanfics? Fanfics are a celebration of the world that we were sucked into, infact that goes for any fan creation, music videos, pictures, fanfiction of a world that we really enjoyed. Most fanfics if written well, gives us a chance to add in our own ideas, that we’ve had spiraling around in our own head. We’ve been sucked into the world and enjoyed it so much that we can’t forget about it, forums discuss the works and discuss theories about the characters, fanfiction just gives us a chance to explain those theories in more detail. Perhaps someone wanted to see a sequel and therefore decides to write what could happen next, while trying their best to keep the characters in character and perhaps adding some of their own characters into the mix too.
    Fanfiction is just a hobby and does no harm, shouldn’t you be pleased that someone loved you story so much that they are thinking so deeply about it that they feel the need to write it down? If you truly don’t like this, then you are a little stuck up. If you wanted to keep your characters to yourself then you shouldn’t have wrote a book sharing your story to the world, people write fanfics for a hobby they don’t do any harm, they only do it for fun. And lots of authos have commented on fanfiction in interviews feeling pleased that someone took the time to think so intently on their story.

  • Attani

    April 19, 2014, pm30 6:06 PM
    239

    If you’re an author, some day there will be fanfiction. If you’re an artist, some day there will be a cat’s head planted on your subject. The way of the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *