Fanfic

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15

Jun 2005

“What’s Stupid About It?”

Posted by / in Fanfic, The Mail I Get / 306 comments

I got this email today:

"Fan fic writers have no deadlines, networks/producers/actors to please,
and often have a better grasp on the characters and their history than
the tv writers usually because We Are more Emotionally attached."

You said that comment is stupid. I don’t get it.  What’s stupid about it?

Okay, the email is probably a fake, but I’ll treat it like it’s not.  I create the characters and the world they live in. I figure out the relationships, what they do, and why they do it. And then I come up with every single thing that happens next.  I also hire the actors,  the directors, the writers,  the set designers, the costume designers, the composer etc. etc…. and they all are charged with interpreting my vision of the  show as I see it. We all spend every waking hour making the show (and even non-waking hours…my dreams are often filled with scenes and characters from the show I’ve spent all day working on).

And somebody who merely watches the show says he has a better grasp on the characters and their history than I do? That he’s  more emotionally involved in the series than I am? The guy who created the characters, who came up with every single thing they have ever said or done or experienced?

Okay, let’s say I’m not the creator. I’m a hired gun, one of the writer/producers. I am working hand-in-hand with the showrunner to articulate his or her creative vision of their show. All I do every day is live with those characters, whether I’m writing a script of my own, rewriting someone else’s script, plotting a story, editing an episode, prepping an episode with a director, or discussing character with one of the actors. I am as emotionally involved as it’s possible to be. The show is all that I do and all I am thinking about for most of the working day…and, because I am a writer, I can’t stop thinking about it once I go home, either (even if I don’t have a script or story to write/work on every night).

And somebody who watches the show thinks he’s more involved than that? Knows more about the  characters than I do?

That’s why it’s a stupid comment.

but I can see how the fanficcer’s emotional involvement with a show is very different than the one that I have as a TV writer/producer. A TV show is something I write, something I do, it’s not my world, it’s not my religion, it’s not who I am and my reason for breathing. It’s not my obsession.  I don’t dress like the characters, wallpaper my house with their pictures, or fantasize about having sex with them.  Whe the show is cancelled (or I leave it for whatever reason), I stop thinking about the characters and their "lives." I move on creatively and emotionally to something else. There are viewers who are incapable of doing that…who become so emotionally attached to fictional characters and an imaginary world that they can’t ever let go. And in that sense, yeah, a fanficcer is more emotionally attached than I am.  Frighteningly so.

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306 comments
  • Holly Lisle

    June 15, 2005, am30 10:01 AM
    01

    No matter how hard you fight to make them understand this, fanfic writers won’t. Anyone who suggests that creators have a legal right to maintain the integrity of their own work, anyone who hints that the author’s vision is the definitive one — anyone who suggests anything, if fact, that would interfere with fanfic writers doing what they want to do, which is spray graffiti all over the author’s vision and while calling it art, will be met by the derision, contempt, and hatred of fanfic writers everywhere.
    Fanfic is to writing what “Piss Christ” was to art. Though mostly without the sacrilege.
    But knowing that is true, stating it’s true, even getting a cease-and-desist order upholding the legality of that truth, won’t change anything.
    Sadly.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, am30 10:07 AM
    02

    There’s no doubt that the original author’s vision is the definitive one. But what many opponents of fanfiction refuse to acknowledge is that their rights concerning their work and their ideas aren’t absolute.
    An author does not have total control over their ideas, no matter how brilliant or unique. They have control over the profits made off their ideas, but not discussion/commentary/criticism/parody. And, arguably, not fanfic.
    The issue won’t be resolved solidly until a court or a legislature nails it down.

  • Holly Lisle

    June 15, 2005, am30 10:45 AM
    03

    Spoken like a typical graffiti artist busy defacing someone else’s work. Best of luck with those screenplays, Jocelyn.

  • Richard

    June 15, 2005, am30 10:50 AM
    04

    Actually, by the minor affairs of our constitution and laws authors do have a right to their chartacters and the mileau’s they create.
    So a fanfic writer wants to take the characters off into an area the copyright holder finds offensive. The Copyright holder has no rights to this?
    A Trekkie wants to write an episode were Spock molests young Tribbles? That is fine, because it is the right of the fanfic writer? Sheer giberish.
    Lee and other have noted, Fanfic is the lair of the emotionally riven in which no law or argument against their silliness can ever be accepted.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, am30 10:52 AM
    05

    I’m working on one of my novels first, actually, Holly. Once I’ve finished my fanfiction before its deadline, that is. 😉
    And again, if you have any evidence beyond your own opinion to justify your assessment of fanfiction as “grafitti,” please feel free to present it either here or over on my blog.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, am30 10:59 AM
    06

    So a fanfic writer wants to take the characters off into an area the copyright holder finds offensive. The Copyright holder has no rights to this?
    A Trekkie wants to write an episode were Spock molests young Tribbles? That is fine, because it is the right of the fanfic writer? Sheer giberish.
    Lee and other have noted, Fanfic is the lair of the emotionally riven in which no law or argument against their silliness can ever be accepted.

    Actually, Richard, fanfic is a new and relatively obscure area of expression that the lawmakers and interpreters haven’t quite figured out what to do with yet.
    The issues surrounding use of a copyrighted work is whether the use actually affects the original work.
    That’s the difference between Intellectual Property and Real Property: if I “use” your car, you can’t use it at the same time. But if I “use” your idea, you can still do just as much with the idea (ie, my writing fanfiction won’t stop you from writing new novels with your own material, etc.)
    Copyright Law is intended to make sure that the owner’s right to use their ideas isn’t damaged. That’s where “fair use” comes into play: fair uses are the situations where a person may use another person’s copyrighted work, but the use has no impact on the owner’s ability to keep on using what they own (ie, libraries, criticism, parody, etc.)
    How fanfiction fits into this, whether it has a real impact on the copyright owner’s ability to enjoy their rights to their material, is the subject of much debate.
    This isn’t delusional fanfiction fanatic rambling–it’s legal academia. Until the courts or the legislature make up their minds, all we can do is debate.

  • JDRhoades

    June 15, 2005, am30 11:13 AM
    07

    That’s the difference between Intellectual Property and Real Property: if I “use” your car, you can’t use it at the same time. But if I “use” your idea, you can still do just as much with the idea (ie, my writing fanfiction won’t stop you from writing new novels with your own material, etc.)
    I think I said this in the prior thread.
    You will be hearing from my lawyers, Madam.
    😉
    even getting a cease-and-desist order upholding the legality of that truth, won’t change anything.
    And wouldn’t it be kind of like swatting gnats with a 105MM cannon?
    Educate me, folks. I am, after all, only an egg. Is any professional writer losing money or even readers from fanfic? Is there any tangible damage here?

  • Holly Lisle

    June 15, 2005, am30 11:17 AM
    08

    Lee, in case you’re interested, here’s a fairly lengthly piece on fanfic that includes commentary on derivative works verus fair usage. Defining fanfic as “derivative works” appears to have the stronger hand; with luck it will end up being the only hand as a body of cases build up.
    And Jocelyn, no. While its interesting that you encourage copyright owners to look at your footing as equal to their own, and mention fair usage but conveniently forget derivative works, authors of original works can in fact do considerably more than debate. They can also sue.

  • claire

    June 15, 2005, am30 11:22 AM
    09

    You and I have gone around the block on this already, Jocelyn. Fanfiction is hardly new. It’s been around for decades. The exposures it gets today and the audience it reaches because of the internet is relatively new. The argument always comes back to one of ethics:
    1) Should it be done at all, after all you don’t own it.
    2) Who is harmed?
    Go to the question of adults writing dodgy material in a children’s universe…what is done to authors of children’s material which is abused by the fans who claim to respect it? Does my singular opinion regarding Rowling’s failure to put a clamp on the pornography written in a universe she describes as a children’s story important?
    Probably not. But what about many parents who understand their kid can’t google Harry Potter the same way they can google Judy Blume? What about parents who begin to understand that what JKR says and what she does are two different things and pull their kids back from what was once a fun experience? Now the author’s reputation is hurt and perhaps there are financial losses.
    How hard will Ms. Rowling cry? I can’t answer, I’m not her. Personally, if I wrote a series for children and saw people use it the way that series is used I’d be devastated to think that my intended audience is being pointed away. I’m willing to bet C.S. Lewis would think the same about his Narnia collection.
    No matter what the hairsplitting legal definitions are regarding copyright infringement, harmful to minors, etc., the question of ‘Is it right?’ should be paramount.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, am30 11:29 AM
    10

    No matter what the hairsplitting legal definitions are regarding copyright infringement, harmful to minors, etc., the question of ‘Is it right?’ should be paramount.
    But again, you keep bringing up the issue of kiddie pornfic as a means of condemning all fanfiction, which is about as logical as banning the Internet because of kiddie porn websites.
    The question of “harm” is indeed paramount, but copyright “harms” and criminal “harms” are two different areas of law. I’m not saying both can’t be applied–they can. If JK Rowling or the Lewis Estate or anybody wants to go after kiddie pornfic writers, more power to ’em. What’s more, they can bring criminal charges against people who write legally obscene material, and possibly claim a “harm” to their market by that token.
    But in general, Claire, the courts and the laws have tried to define what’s “right” for centuries, and still haven’t succeeded to anyone’s satisfaction.

  • Holly Lisle

    June 15, 2005, am30 11:37 AM
    11

    JDRhodes — Yes. Authors ARE getting hurt by it. So are readers. Marion Zimmer Bradley had to withdraw publication of a book because some fanfic writer claimed her novel infringed on his fanfic of her work.
    A fan used Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s character, St. Germaine, without her permission in a fanzine story; Yarbro had to sue in order to protect her trademarked rights to that character, and the fan and fanzine had to print retractions in a number of issues of Publisher’s Weekly. Cost her money, cost the magazine money, cost the fan money.
    Any time an author’s ability to publish his own work in his own world is damaged, the writer is damaged. While there are other cases (Sylvester Stallone, TSR, etc.), these two are fairly well known.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, am30 11:47 AM
    12

    On the Marion Zimmer Bradley and Yarbro cases, there you are opening up a different can of worms: whether a fanfiction writer possesses any ownership rights to his/her ideas expressed in fanfiction.
    Although I haven’t researched this as much as the right to write fanfic, the answer is most likely no, if the Prince ankh guitar case is any indication. (Fan made special guitar based on Prince’s symbol, Prince saw it and made one too, fan sued and lost, because Prince retained right to make derivative works on his own symbol.)
    As for trademark, that’s a different area of law than copyright, and the standards for an author to possess a trademark in their characters are very different. There are more requirements to actually have a trademark than a copyright; for a trademark, the author has considerably more hoops to jump through in registration before they can legally defend it. But if that’s what Yarbro had done prior to the fan using the character, then there was probably standing to sue.
    However, fear of a frivolous lawsuit doesn’t constitute “harm” in a legal sense.

  • JDRhoades

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:03 PM
    13

    JDRhodes — Yes. Authors ARE getting hurt by it. So are readers. Marion Zimmer Bradley had to withdraw publication of a book because some fanfic writer claimed her novel infringed on his fanfic of her work.
    I must confess, I am more than a little gobsmacked by this…why did she “have to withdraw” it? The claim was clearly bogus. If MZB’s publisher was too cowardly to defend it, that’s a problem, but not one caused by fanfic.
    Hey, does this mean I can write a Da Vinci Code fanfic and threaten to sue the publisher and get the book pulled off every shelf in the country? Man, that would rule.
    A fan used Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s character, St. Germaine, without her permission in a fanzine story; Yarbro had to sue in order to protect her trademarked rights to that character, and the fan and fanzine had to print retractions in a number of issues of Publisher’s Weekly. Cost her money, cost the magazine money, cost the fan money.
    Well, let’s not shed any tears for the fan and fanzine. And protection of trademark is an angle I hadn’t considered. Is a character actually a trademark, though? That seems to be stretching the definition a bit far.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:22 PM
    14

    JDRhoades: Is a character actually a trademark, though? That seems to be stretching the definition a bit far.
    Theoretically, you can get a trademark for a character or some other unique element of a story. (Ie, Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or other well-identified, well-known story characters/elements could probably get it)
    But the standards for registering such a trademark are tighter (don’t know exactly what they are, but I believe there’s more proof/time/money involved) and proving a trademark infringement without a registration is next to impossible, from what I know (and I admit my knowledge of this area is limited.)
    However, if Yarbro had successfully obtained trademark in St. Germaine, she could theoretically bring a successful action against a fanwriter. And, apparently, she did.
    Hey, does this mean I can write a Da Vinci Code fanfic and threaten to sue the publisher and get the book pulled off every shelf in the country? Man, that would rule.
    HA! Sorry, love, copyright damages don’t work that way, even if you (as Lewis Perdue is currently alleging) had been plagiarized by the author of the “Da Vinci Code.” You can only get back copies of an infringing book that haven’t been sold yet–you can’t take the copies that are already in stores or on people’s/library shelves.
    That’s an issue I just dredged into at my job.

  • It was a stark and dormy night

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:33 PM
    15

    Rape of the mind

    You know, it’s all very well to nitpick about the legal shimmies and shakes of fanfic, but the legal stuff doesn’t cover what it must be like for the author who feels violated by other people dipping their fingers into…

  • It was a stark and dormy night

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:35 PM
    16

    Rape of the mind

    You know, it’s all very well to nitpick about the legal shimmies and shakes of fanfic, but the legal stuff doesn’t cover what it must be like for the author who feels violated by other people dipping their fingers into…

  • claire

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:36 PM
    17

    The question of whether or not money is made on fanfiction is interesting. In general, not in the traditional sense, though one distributor of unlicensed material which I pointed out in a previous comment somewhere in a previous thread has made money off it. It’s also recently received C & D’s from various owners of properties they were selling. Did a lot of whining about it also.
    These kinds of operations operate ‘under the radar’.
    The other ways people profit by it are real, and not much less tangible. The phenomena of fandom and fanfiction itself is an academic discipline taught in our universities. Professor’s write papers on it, build their resume’s, give lectures and teach classes in it. Presuming they draw a paycheck, the correlation between their desire to legitimize the work and their livelihoods and reputations is obvious. There are plenty of J.D.’s out there building reputations dismantling artists’ rights and defending the much beleaguered ficcer’s when those artists do, *gasp* take exception to improper use of their work.
    A little googling will bring the interested person to organizations dedicated to these endeavors. They’ll find they’ve support and space from educational institutions to pursue them.
    **
    Jocelyn, I don’t use the kiddie porn issue to condemn all fanfiction in general. I told you that. It’s the natural progression for something like this. When the porn becomes the subject of academic interest, legitimitized in pseudo-intellectual discussion groups or calls for academic papers, it traverses a line that’s disturbing to consider. The fandom community’s silence on the subject is appalling and suggests complicity and agreement. Their support of the porn is doubly appalling. ‘Experts’ speaking out both sides of their mouths on the topic is triply appalling.
    Regarding the writing of fanfiction…if people kept it in private little groups, understand it for what it is – use of somebody’s else’s creation – kept it quiet, kept it respectful, don’t work hard to separate the artist from his rights, splash it all over the internet, swarm like locusts when somebody speaks up against it, declare the artist has no right to object…I don’t care. Betcha most people here wouldn’t care either. Know why? They wouldn’t know about it. Nobody would.

  • JDRhoades

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:37 PM
    18

    HA! Sorry, love, copyright damages don’t work that way, even if you (as Lewis Perdue is currently alleging) had been plagiarized by the author of the “Da Vinci Code.”
    Another dream shattered. Ah, well, back to work.

  • Harry

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:41 PM
    19

    I must confess, I am more than a little gobsmacked by this…why did she “have to withdraw” it? The claim was clearly bogus. If MZB’s publisher was too cowardly to defend it, that’s a problem, but not one caused by fanfic.


    “Cowardice” has nothing to do with it, and I find it strange that you’d even use the word in this context.
    It’s more likely that they expected court costs would be larger than the profits from the novel. Lawyers cost more than books earn, usually.

    But the standards for registering such a trademark are tighter…


    Not only that, but a trademark holder is required to defend that trademark, or lose it. “Aspirin” and “trampoline” are examples of trademarked terms that were not defended and entered the public realm.
    If Ms. Yarbro had not sued or threatened to sue, she might have lost her right to the trademark.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:49 PM
    20

    Not only that, but a trademark holder is required to defend that trademark, or lose it. “Aspirin” and “trampoline” are examples of trademarked terms that were not defended and entered the public realm.
    If Ms. Yarbro had not sued or threatened to sue, she might have lost her right to the trademark.

    Aha! And there we have it! Thankee, Harry!
    I know Frisbees are one example of a trademarked name that is still defended very vigorously (looking around nervously expecting to be served). You have to use the phrase “flying disk” to refer to anything that isn’t a toy actually made by the Frisbee manufacturers. They nailed a newspaper for referring to a Frisbee festival in a park that hadn’t actually used their “flying disks”.
    Fascinating area of law, trademarks. I’m taking a class on it next year.

  • Dean

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:50 PM
    21

    Forgive me if I’m half-informed here, but as I understand it, copyright law attempts to preserve a creative person’s exclusive right to profit from his/her work.
    As I understand it, it’s ok to create derivative works (after all, nobody can stop me from writing about Harry Potter), it’s just not ok to sell them. Where things get confusing is when someone wants to publish them. Is uploading something to a fanfic board ‘publishing’?
    As I said when Tod brought this subject up, my personal opinions on this are mixed. On one hand, Lee’s absolutely right: the notion that a fanfic author has more invested in a creation than the original author is just stupid. I’ve spent years coming up with my characters and the worlds they live in.
    On the other hand, if (when!) I am ever a published author, and (god willing) I am plagued with fanfic, I intend to look the other way, for two reasons:
    1. There’s no such thing as bad publicity.
    2. 99% of the fanfic I’ve read has been utterly awful. Terrible, wretched dreck. It’s no threat to any competent author. Hell, even good fanfic isn’t a threat.
    I suppose that the legal argument is whether or not fanfic is ‘fair use’.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:55 PM
    22

    Where things get confusing is when someone wants to publish them. Is uploading something to a fanfic board ‘publishing’?
    That’s one of the many questions relating to fanfic that the legal minds are debating. Is posting on the internet “publishing” or is it “distributing” or both or neither? New technology makes old laws very complicated.
    The legal questions about copyright infringement generally concern two things:
    1) Is the alleged infringer profiting from the use of the copyright owner’s work?
    2) Is the alleged infringement affecting the copyright owner’s ability to profit from their own work (ergo, affecting the market)?

  • JDRhoades

    June 15, 2005, pm30 12:55 PM
    23

    “Cowardice” has nothing to do with it, and I find it strange that you’d even use the word in this context.
    It’s more likely that they expected court costs would be larger than the profits from the novel. Lawyers cost more than books earn, usually.

    But the precedent set is terrible, and worth a lot of money to defend, I’d think. MZB isn’t their only author, and if some kid writing fanfic can scuttle publication by making a claim that is, again, clearly bogus, then the publisher is held hostage to the fanfic community.
    Rather than “cowardly”, how about substituting “horribly short-sighted”?

  • Holly Lisle

    June 15, 2005, pm30 1:03 PM
    24

    How fanfic is like graffiti (for Jocelyn):
    Graffiti is a form of vandalism, which is: The malicious and deliberate defacement or destruction of someone else’s property.
    Writers of fanfic don’t own the worlds they write in, or the characters they write about. They are using other people’s property.
    When they put words into the characters’ mouths that the author did not put there, when they completely alter a character in some crucial way — for example, decide that a character the author created as heterosexual should be homosexual (to use the common fanfic slash scenario), or put the characters into situations that the author did not put them in, they are defacing the author’s work.
    Fanfic isn’t discussion/commentary/criticism. Neither is it parody. It doesn’t lampoon the author’s work; it simply rewrites the author’s work in ways the author did not approve. It is derivative of the author’s work. It would not exist without it, and its existence damages the author’s rights to his work.
    So whether you’re writing Potter/Dumbledore pornfic or something you think has a bit of quality to it, Jocelyn, you’re still defacing characters and worlds that don’t belong to you.

  • Dean

    June 15, 2005, pm30 1:28 PM
    25

    So whether you’re writing Potter/Dumbledore pornfic or something you think has a bit of quality to it, Jocelyn, you’re still defacing characters and worlds that don’t belong to you.
    I disagree. Not that I’m defending Potter/Dumbeldore pornfic (ewwww!), but from what I understand copyright law does not grant you ownership of ideas. It grants you the exclusive right to profit from your creation.
    Your interpretation strays dangerously close to declaring fanfic to be thought crime, in my admittedly nonlawyerly opinion. Where would you draw the line? Are fans allowed to speculate about characters? Offer opinions?
    Look, as I’ve said, I have mixed opinions on this, as I suppose the law does, and that’s why this discussion is happening. On one hand, I understand that you don’t want people messing with your characters. I’ve created some of my own, and I know the work and love that goes into them.
    On the other hand, I have real trouble with the notion that some kinds of thought are subject to control. Profits, sure. Thoughts? It bothers me.

  • Jocelyn

    June 15, 2005, pm30 1:34 PM
    26

    Graffiti is a form of vandalism, which is: The malicious and deliberate defacement or destruction of someone else’s property.
    When they put words into the characters’ mouths that the author did not put there, when they completely alter a character in some crucial way
    No, they don’t. That’s the whole point of intellectual property: when I write fanfiction based on Harry Potter, the words on the pages of JK Rowling’s books do not change.
    To “deface” implies to “damage,” and fanfiction does not do that.
    That’s the reason we’ve been discussing the possession of “ideas.” An author does not own the IDEA, just the expression of it.
    The argument surrounding fair use and fanfic comes from the fact that I could write slashfic about your characters until I was blue in the face (which I never would, but just for the sake of argument) and that would not in any way impact YOUR ability to continue to write your stories, sell your books, sell movie rights, etc.
    An author can say, “Ew!” all they want, but that doesn’t create a legal right to stop fanfiction any more than it does to stop crude reviews of someone’s book or parodies.

  • kete

    June 15, 2005, pm30 2:05 PM
    27

    I’ve no idea how anyone can actually trademark a character named St.Germain, btw, as the Comte de St.Germain was a historical figure.
    Soon we will have some half-educated American writer holding the trademark for Friedrich Barbarossa.
    O tempora….
    kete

  • Gomez

    June 15, 2005, pm30 2:08 PM
    28

    I don’t read fan fiction, and the vast majority of our culture does not, and it’s not likely that any writers will make a bazillion dollars writing fan fiction, nor change the landscape of the show or movie or franchise or novel upon which it is based.
    Thus, and forgive me if I’m being far too dense, I don’t see what the big deal is. If Lee doesn’t like it and wants to vent his opinion on his blog, fine, everyone go back to their caves and quit bugging him. If it makes the fanfic writers feel good to write and share, then fine, and what does it matter if someone doesn’t like it? Let everyone have their opinion, and forget about it.

  • JDRhoades

    June 15, 2005, pm30 2:20 PM
    29

    I went looking for some more info on the Marion Zimmer Bradley incident and found this from Mercedes Lackey’s site, which I’ll toss out here for discussion:
    Some time ago, Marion Zimmer Bradley ended up having to cancel the idea of EVER writing a particular book, because a fan (who shall remain nameless) demanded equal collaborative credit and money, if she used a particular “idea” that had come from a fan-fiction story. It got to the point where the fan threatened to sue Marion if she did not get equal collaborative credit and money (and remember what I said in the paragraphs above). As the fan actually had somehow gotten an agent and had the resources to do just that, Marion scrapped the book altogether—one which was greatly anticipated and would have been integral to her Darkover series, may I add. When I was co-writing a Darkover book with Marion, the same fan had the chutzpah to send ME a manuscript—which, needless to say, I returned unopened.
    As a consequence, our agent (I have the same agent as Marion, Russell Galen of Scovil Chichak Galen) wanted us to forbid people to write fan-fiction altogether. And lest you think that can’t be done, there are several authors and their publishers who have successfully done just that, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro for one; all it takes is a lawyer. Neither Marion nor I wanted to deprive people of the enjoyment of playing in our worlds, so we compromised; anyone who publishes their fan fiction in amateur fanzines has to send us a complicated release form saying basically that they know this is MY intellectual property and that they understand that their work essentially becomes my property, so long as it references my world and characters.

    More at : http://www.mercedeslackey.com/text/1mlask01.shtml
    So, even though MZB did get burned by a fanfic writer, she didn’t want to totally forbid her fans from writing the stuff, or, as ML calls it, “playing in our worlds”.
    Interesting way to look at it.

  • Bill Rabkin

    June 15, 2005, pm30 2:22 PM
    30

    The legal issues over fanfic will remain unresolved and unlitigated for a long time and it’s not because it’s such a complex issue. The courts will not issue a ruling because not one case will ever go to trial.
    And it’s not because authors and copyright owners don’t care, or are afraid, or realize that fanficcers are indeed more emotionally involved with their characters.
    It’s because there’s no money in it.
    Trials are expensive. It’s unlikely an author has enough disposable income to fight this out in court. So it’s up to the Viacoms and Sonys of the world. And they won’t do it because fanfic doesn’t cost them anything — it’s not like piracy, which can immediately impact their sales. And even if they win, they know they’ll never get anything out of it, because almost by definition, fanficcers have no assets to take.
    But the fact that this whole subject is too trivial to litigate doesn’t prove that fanfic isn’t theft — just that there’s no percentage in pursuing it.
    And if you doubt that, you should start writing fanfic in which Mickey Mouse is cornholing Pluto. I think you might find that case going to court pretty damn fast.

  • JDRhoades

    June 15, 2005, pm30 2:29 PM
    31

    No one fucks with The Mouse.
    -Harlan Ellison

  • Dean

    June 15, 2005, pm30 2:31 PM
    32

    And if you doubt that, you should start writing fanfic in which Mickey Mouse is cornholing Pluto. I think you might find that case going to court pretty damn fast.
    If it did, I would bet that it was because of an alleged trademark violation, not a copyright violation.

  • Daisy

    June 15, 2005, pm30 3:07 PM
    33

    I really wasn’t going to get drawn into this, but it just seems like there’s one aspect of the debate that people keep missing; that is, what would happen if the fanficcers got their way and derivative works became legal and publishable? Do they really think that it would become a time of freedom and creativity, with all of the world’s great fictional characters available to the people who loved them the most? Or is it maybe just possible that the market would be swamped with cheap rip-offs, put out by anyone who wanted to make a quick buck? Do we really need a rendition of Star Wars brought to you by the creators of ‘The Littlest Groom’? (Actually, that would be pretty awesome.)
    Of course, that’s exactly why it’s never going to be legal- because the people who would stand to lose the most by that sort of thing are the big media companies with their massive packs of rabid lawyers, who know a thing or two about protecting copyrights.

  • Lee Goldberg

    June 15, 2005, pm30 3:51 PM
    34

    Another discussion about fanfic and copyright:
    http://www.authorslawyer.com/weft/fanfic.shtml

  • Bill Peschel

    June 15, 2005, pm30 5:31 PM
    35

    And to add a little snark to Daisy’s post, suppose fanfic writer #2 wrote and sold a novel that used elements from fanfic writer #1’s reworking of a legit author’s work. How do you think FFW#1 will react:
    a) a hearty handshake and laurel wreath to FFW#2 for publishing and profiting off his work, or
    b) a cease-and-desist order plus a demand for a share of profits?

  • Mark A. York

    June 15, 2005, pm30 5:57 PM
    36

    Hail hail the gang’s all here.

  • Brian Hogg

    June 15, 2005, pm30 6:14 PM
    37

    Just a brief note about what Daisy said about derivative works. They WERE legal, once upon a time. They stopped being legal (so far as I’m aware) when copyright holders trudged out the notion that changing a single word in a novel would be technically producing a derivative work, so screw that and all.

  • Dean

    June 15, 2005, pm30 6:51 PM
    38

    And to add a little snark to Daisy’s post, suppose fanfic writer #2 wrote and sold a novel that used elements from fanfic writer #1’s reworking of a legit author’s work.
    Nobody is suggesting that fanfic be allowed to be sold. At least, nobody sane. Nor are people like me, who are suggesting tolerance of fanfic, saying that fanfic authors be allowed to profit.
    Creating derivative works is kinda lame. Selling derivative works is actionable, and that, I hope, isn’t going to change.

  • Brian Hogg

    June 15, 2005, pm30 7:00 PM
    39

    Derivative works are not the same thing as fan fiction, certainly not within the context of this conversation. I suppose you could look at fan fiction as a subset of derivative works, but without — ha ha — the artistic merit.
    Derivative work allowed Disney to spring to popularity. For example.

  • Jonquil

    June 15, 2005, pm30 8:29 PM
    40

    “1) Should it be done at all, after all you don’t own it.”
    Did Malory own the Morte d’Arthur? At best, he could have gotten a compilation copyright on it; chunks of it are taken from earlier works (and greatly improved). Many of Shakespeare’s plays are derivative works.
    I am defending a specific point: excellent work can be produced riffing on an earlier creator’s characters and situations. Note, for a modern example, Laurie King’s Sherlock Holmes pastiches.

  • Guyot

    June 15, 2005, pm30 9:00 PM
    41

    I cannot tell you how happy I am that we are all home again. Feels good. Feels right. I do wish Keith Snyder were here…
    Okay, to clear this all up – once and for all. Everyone – THAT MEANS YOU – is missing the point. Is missing the real essence behind this whole thing.
    It matters not what the law says or doesn’t say. Some counties have “No dancing” laws on the books.
    It matters not whether it’s a trademark or copyright or is-it-right argument.
    It is simply this:
    Those that engage in fanfic production do so because they lack any real creativity or originality. Now, they will scream and shout that their work is creative and an “original” version of someone else’s original idea, but that’s crap. And they know it’s crap. Example:
    Does anyone notice that whenever Jocelyn – despite all her posturing about the law and her passion for fanfic – wants to justify herself as a writer, she mentions her original work. Not her fanfic. Because she is intelligent enough to understand that in the final analysis a writer is only truly a writer if they are creating – meaning thinking up their own characters, own worlds, etc. Not riffing on someone else’s.
    I don’t have an opinion about the legal questions re: fanfic. Who cares? The opinion I hold is simply that fanfic is not only disrespectful to the author, but personally embarrassing and a waste of time.
    I love Harry Bosch. LOVE that character. Do I wish I created him? Absolutely. Would I ever think about writing something with Harry Bosch in it? Absolutely not. Why? Because:
    1) it’s disrepectful to Mike Connelly (am I right or wrong about this? There is no right or wrong. It is only opinion).
    2) I would be embarrassed because it is saying to the world that I have no ability to create. Oh, I can take someone else’s idea and riff on that – make Harry gay or a Trekkie, or whatever – but that’s not creating, that’s not writing. Despite how hard fanfic producers will try to convince themselves they are creating – they are not.
    3) And maybe this is the most important reason – my ego. I’ve got my own ideas and my own characters. I want to write them! Because I think they’re pretty bitchin. Let Connelly have Bosch. Let JKR have Potter. I love my characters!
    The bottom line, the end-all, the final analysis is simply that if you are writing fanfic you are lying to yourself. You are not a writer. You are not learning to be a writer. You are wasting your time. If it makes you smile and makes your other fanfic buddies smile, then more power to you – go write the shit out of it. But just know that you will never be what you truly, deep-down-inside want to be – a writer.
    How can I make such a bold statement? Because to be a writer – a REAL writer – one has to have the soul of a writer. And that particular soul understands in no uncertain terms that fanfic is soulless.

  • claire

    June 15, 2005, pm30 10:12 PM
    42

    Because to be a writer – a REAL writer – one has to have the soul of a writer. And that particular soul understands in no uncertain terms that fanfic is soulless.
    Well met. I sit down.
    Thank you, Mr. Guyot.

  • anonymouse

    June 15, 2005, pm30 10:30 PM
    43

    So, Paul, what does that make your buddy Lee Goldberg? He writes DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK novels (in addition to his “stand alone” stuff). They aren’t fanfic in that he’s doing it with the author/creator’s consent/input and all of that, but that doesn’t make him or what he does any less soulless does it? And what about your work on JUDGING AMY and LEVEL 9? Wasn’t that soulless since you were writing about characters that weren’t your own?

  • Harry

    June 15, 2005, pm30 10:40 PM
    44

    … fanfic is soulless.


    Puh. Leeze.
    I’m no fan of fanfic, but this is ridiculous. Fanfic writers have published their own original works, and some continue to write fanfic. It has nothing to do with whether they’re real writers or not.
    Guyot, that whole post is embarrassingly pretentious.

  • Guyot

    June 15, 2005, pm30 11:37 PM
    45

    Anon: asking those questions just makes my point. Or that you’re an idiot.
    Harry: yes, it does.

  • marty

    June 16, 2005, am30 5:01 AM
    46

    Interesting debate. So the objections to fanfic are along the lines that it is deriviative, thusly unoriginal (or as Paul Guyot (apparently) puts it, means they aren’t a “real writer”), and the fanfic err.. fans say, well yes, it is deriviative, it’s meant to be. Mr Anonymous (or Ms) puts in that since Lee writes books based on other peoples property (mind you, that is a) with permission and b) in a world he helped put together) that makes Lee equivalent to a fanficcer. I think the point is that of permission or more accurately “Lee, can you write this book?” — fanfic is without a doubt a deriviative, but it is also unauthorised.
    As an example, the Star Wars books, set in the Star Wars universe, using (sometimes at least) the characters and settings of the movies, are obviously deriviative works. They are also with the permission of Lucas. This elevates them above mere fanfic. It doesn’t make their authors “not writers” though — Timothy Zahn, for instance, has written quite a number of his own original works.
    I own two different story collections set in the Darkover universe, both written by fans of the MZB stories (some by other published writers, but many by unknowns). Fanfic? Maybe. Perhaps these were the BEST that were found or submitted at the time. Is it that a good writer can write in another’s world, but a good writer can also write in their own world?

  • Elaine

    June 16, 2005, am30 5:26 AM
    47

    I know several professional writers who write media tie-in books or who ghost books for established series and they also must put up with pompous remarks that they have no creativity so that kind of remark isn’t limited to fan fiction writers. I’ve seen media tie-in writers mocked on message boards and in articles; told that writing books about someone else’s characters is the work of a hack or a literary loser; that ‘real’ writers would not do so and by accepting that kind of work they mark themselves forever as a writing wannabe; that they are, in fact, less of a writer than your average PA writer because the PA writer is original.
    And I’ve seen media/ghost writers also waving their original works in the air saying, “Hey, I write original stuff — stop picking on me.” Do they wave their original works because they accept the stupid labelling of their tie-in work as proof that they are losers and wannabees? Do they do so because they have an intrinsic shame for doing series work, or tie-ins? No, they wave it to get pompous assholes off their backs.
    Creating from scratch is only one slice of the pie that makes a “real” writer. And those who do work that ties in to a pre-existing world must also bring skill, creativity, and talent or they don’t get the work. They ARE real writers and writing from a pre-existing world does not strip the title from them.
    Now fanfiction, as it is unauthorized (and much of it, I am sure is horrendous — I don’t read it. I have trouble enough reading through all the stuff I have to review) also displays the skill (or lack there of) of the writer. I assume some is good, some is so-so, and a lot of it sucks. Clearly it makes some writers really upset. Well, guess what? Body piercing makes some people really upset — but the upset-ed-ness of others is not the bottom line for all things. Upset people, unfortunately tend to muddy their own arguments with absolutes and histrionics. Stupid remarks like the one about fanfic (and pornographic fanfic at that) being splashed ALL OVER the internet.
    Guess what — there is no fan fic on this site. There is none on mine. None, in fact, on any site that I have gone to in the last six months (and I spend a lot of time researching online). So, it is far from all over the internet. I assume I could find it easily enough if I looked for it…but then I could find almost anything easily enough if I looked for it.
    I suspect MOST fanfic is someone’s harmless hobby…much like collecting and trading pictures of celebrities, or drawing art inspired by your favorite book or other ‘fan’ behaviors. My husband collects sports debris and although it makes some of the rooms in our house questionably stylish, and it uses both his time and money unproductively — it hardly marks him as a sicko. He’s a fan. He likes being one. And that is how he shows it. I suppose fan fiction writers are fans of a specific show/movie/book, they like spending their time in playing “what if” with the show, they write about it. As long as they aren’t selling it or going insane trying to extort money etc from the originator through lawsuits — then about the only “damage” they are doing to the original creator is emotional (and not every creator feels they have received any damage at all).
    I know — personally — writers who cheered when they discovered fanfic from their books. It meant they had “arrived” because kids were not just reading their books, they were putting themselves into the worlds and creating. I’ve heard them run on and on about how great they thought it was. Not every writer feels fan writers are the spawn of satan. Heck, my mother thought Bill Clinton was the spawn of satan — but that didn’t make it so.
    Would the writers I know have cheered if the fanfic had been pornographic? Of course not — but not because they personally are all emotionally wrapped up in their characters so they feel personally abused or feel they now have damaged goods when they try to write the next book. They would have been upset because their readers are KIDS and they don’t want KIDS looking for more about their books and running across pornography. But they know porn is a portion of fan fiction — not a defining characteristic — and they aren’t interested in bashing all the babies so they make sure to eliminate the next generation of serial killers. If you hate men who beat their wives, you’re probably emotionally healthy. If you go on to hate all men and assuming they all WANT to beat their wives or are about to beat their wives, you’re not thinking clearly. Hating porno fanfic seems perfectly reasonable, but thinking all fanfic is evil because some is porn, seems a bit unbalanced on the issue.
    For writers who find fanfiction of their own works personally upsetting, I would love to think fanfiction writers would respect that. They won’t of course — not because fan fiction writers are evil bloodsuckers but because people (in general) tend to be selfish about catering to their own wants. Plus if the writer who doesn’t want fanfiction about his own works posts a lot of crap about how all fan fiction is soulless and evil, la la la — some of the kids (and those adults who are like them) writing it, might target that writer’s stuff just to be annoying. I will admit to doing things once or twice just to annoy people I found pompous and ridiculous — I just haven’t ever commited the sin of fan fiction to do it.

  • Mark A. York

    June 16, 2005, am30 6:07 AM
    48

    Paul’s right. This faux comparison of fanficcers to contract televison scriptwriters is beyond a straw man. They’re hired to produce the work, thus, don’t need to be the original authors. They’re not doing it for private use and that includes sale. Professionals are different from fans.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 6:29 AM
    49

    It is simply this:
    Those that engage in fanfic production do so because they lack any real creativity or originality. Now, they will scream and shout that their work is creative and an “original” version of someone else’s original idea, but that’s crap. And they know it’s crap. Example:
    Does anyone notice that whenever Jocelyn – despite all her posturing about the law and her passion for fanfic – wants to justify herself as a writer, she mentions her original work. Not her fanfic. Because she is intelligent enough to understand that in the final analysis a writer is only truly a writer if they are creating – meaning thinking up their own characters, own worlds, etc.

    Good lord, Guyot, until now I thought you were one of the more sensible of the lot!
    And again, you generalize. How can a person who “lacks any real creativity or originality” if they also write original fiction?
    Are you telling me that any hobby for which a person cannot make money is soulless and reflects badly on that person’s character?
    And by the way, I do not posture. I’ve been nothing but honest with you and everyone else in this debate. My point in explaining the VARIOUS types of writing that I do is to prove that fanwriting is neither morally nor ethically beneath original writing. My motive for fanfiction and original fiction is the same: I love writing it. I post my fanfiction on the archives and discuss it with the readers, and hope to publish my novels in the near future.
    The bottom line, the end-all, the final analysis is simply that if you are writing fanfic you are lying to yourself. You are not a writer. You are not learning to be a writer. You are wasting your time.
    And since when did being a published and/or original writer make you the be-all, end-all expert on what writing is, my friend? That to me seems to be the absolute epitome of arrogance.
    A hobby is never a waste of time.
    You are the one lying to yourself, and I’ll thank you to confine your egocentric judgments to issues where you actually know what you’re talking about.
    Forgive my bluntness, but that one peeved me.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 7:02 AM
    50

    A slightly-more-coherent but considerably more strongly-worded response to Guyot’s previous exercise in arrogance is posted below:
    http://jocelyncs.blogspot.com/2005/06/guyot-what-bit-your-ass.html

  • David Montgomery

    June 16, 2005, am30 7:30 AM
    51

    See Jocelyn, this is why you weren’t invited to participate in the Blog Short Story Project. You don’t get it.
    For those of you who miss the days of the SATs…
    Writing is to Making Love as FanFic is to Masturbation
    The latter pair are self-indulgent, vaguely embarrassing, accomplish nothing, and only temporarily enjoyable. They are largely the province of adolescent boys and are in no way practice for the real thing.
    There’s a reason that people who write FanFic are always going on about “wanking.” Even they realize what they’re all about.
    One can both make love and masturbate, but that will never mean the two things are the same. FanFic will never be writing and no amount of posturing, blathering, or arguing with every fiber of your oh-so-passionate being will make it so.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 7:38 AM
    52

    Again, David, I welcome you to explain precisely HOW you know the thought processes surrounding fanfiction and precisely HOW you are able to define writing, other than presuming that being published automatically gives you some divine power to judge.
    Writing is writing, be it research papers, biographies, fanfiction, published fiction, media fiction, or nonfiction, and no amount of posturing, blathering, or arguing with every fiber of your oh-so-arrogant being will make it so.

  • Guyot

    June 16, 2005, am30 7:38 AM
    53

    Jocelyn,
    You’re showing your ignorance. Again.
    You don’t get it. And the other fanfic people – who react to this debate very similar to Scientologists when they’re challenged – don’t get it either.
    It is in my opinion (which I said how many times?) that if you engage in fanfic as a hobby, job, whatever, you are not a real writer. Because if you were – if you had inside you what a real writer does – you have no desire to engage in fanfic.
    I’d love to see any evidence of this published original work than you and Harry speak of. I know of no fanfic people that have published original work…unless we’re going to get into thre whole POD/vanity debate again. Or is yours not published? Just another hobby? If you want some advice from a working writer: as long as you keep scribbling fanfic, you’ll never make it as a writer. Again, my opinion. Based on more knowledge and experience than you have within the environment.
    As I said – who cares if people write fanfic or not? The legal questions bore me, the fanfic people bore me – though I love how Lee’s place here as become the hotbed – and discussing issues where people don’t understand opinion vs. fact is incredibly boring.
    You know what would would make me considering changing my opinion? If someone could show me just ONE working professional writer – someone who writes for a living – that also writes fanfic as a hobby.
    If people like Lee and Claire and myself are wrong – then why is there not ONE full-time writer who also engages in fanfic?

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, am30 7:43 AM
    54

    I know of no fanfic people that have published original work…unless we’re going to get into thre whole POD/vanity debate again. Or is yours not published?
    Laura Anne Gilman. Rachel Caine.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 7:45 AM
    55

    know of no fanfic people that have published original work…unless we’re going to get into thre whole POD/vanity debate again. Or is yours not published?
    Actually, I know several. I will see about prevailing upon them to join this discussion.
    Or is yours not published? Just another hobby? If you want some advice from a working writer: as long as you keep scribbling fanfic, you’ll never make it as a writer.
    I’d never have STARTED as a writer without fanfic. But no, I am not yet published–the book isn’t finished. But I have vowed that no matter how long it takes, I will finish all my novels and get them published–without a vanity press. My original novel ideas are relatively recent–all of them got started after I started law school, and it’s damn hard to juggle writing and legal education.
    You’re showing your ignorance. Again.
    And you’re showing your arrogance. Again.
    Because if you were – if you had inside you what a real writer does – you have no desire to engage in fanfic.
    What is this mythical THING that you claim a REAL writer has inside them? Where I stand, it’s an imagination. And imagination can lead a person to speculate about an already-written world just as easily and comfortably as inventing their own world from scratch, and for a person who loves to imagine, there’s no shame in either.
    Hold that thought–I’ll email my published friend and see if I can persuade her to join this debate, although she is not as eager to spar verbally as I am.

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, am30 7:55 AM
    56

    Now, they will scream and shout that their work is creative and an “original” version of someone else’s original idea, but that’s crap.
    Laurie R. King, “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice”. Nicholas Mayer, “The Seven-Percent Solution”.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 8:00 AM
    57

    Laurie R. King, “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice”.
    That occurred to me as well, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is dead, and according to these guys, writing a derivative work based on the work of a dead author is writing, but writing derivative work based on the work of a live author is soulless.
    Go figure, huh?

  • Guyot

    June 16, 2005, am30 8:01 AM
    58

    Laura Anne Gilman. Rachel Caine.
    POD or vanity? I’m asking cuz I don’t know. And as soon as we hear from them, as opposed to someone dropping their name, I’m sure that will make things very entertaining around here.
    Jocelyn – it is mythical – for you. Because you cannot conceive of it because you don’t get it.
    Maybe if you spent less time on fanfic, your novel would be finished?
    to speculate about an already-written world just as easily and comfortably as inventing their own world from scratch
    This is why you’re not a writer. WHY would you want to do this? Uh, that’s rhetorical, Jocelyn.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 8:09 AM
    59

    Jocelyn – it is mythical – for you. Because you cannot conceive of it because you don’t get it.
    Maybe if you spent less time on fanfic, your novel would be finished?

    And maybe if I spent less time performing in shows, my novel would be finished! H-O-B-B-Y, Guyot.
    And I “get it” just fine. The “soul” of a writer is the love of writing and creating–and you can deny it all you want, but creation does go into fanfiction. Maybe not as MUCH as original fiction, but it is there–of watching a story take shape.
    I love to write. I love to daydream. If I haven’t got a pen and notebook (and free time) handy, I write in my head. Sometimes the stories grow so fast I can’t write fast enough.
    This is why you’re not a writer. WHY would you want to do this? Uh, that’s rhetorical, Jocelyn.
    Tough potatoes, I’m going to answer it anyway.
    WHY would someone want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and risk their parachute not opening?
    WHY would someone run 26.2 miles?
    WHY would someone camp out for tickets to a rock concert?
    Just because YOU don’t want to do those things doesn’t mean you can condemn and/or dismiss everyone who wants to. It’s called “different tastes,” Guyot.
    The problem here is NOT that I am not a writer. I am a writer. The problem here is that YOU are not a fanwriter, cannot understand what it means to be a fanwriter, and assume that gives you the right to dismiss fanwriting and fanfiction as a waste.
    I don’t know about Laura Ann Gilman and Rachel Caine, but Laurie R. King is an international bestselling mystery author.

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, am30 8:32 AM
    60

    “And as soon as we hear from them, as opposed to someone dropping their name, I’m sure that will make things very entertaining around here.”
    So. We have slipped from “No such writers exist” to “If I haven’t heard of them, they don’t exist” to “I won’t believe they exist until they show up on this blog.”
    A simple Google will demonstrate that both writers have given interviews about their fanfic, and that both are published by mainstream publishers.
    If you have difficulties using Google, you can find one of Ms. Caine’s interviews here.

  • mal

    June 16, 2005, am30 8:51 AM
    61

    “I know of no fanfic people that have published original work…unless we’re going to get into thre whole POD/vanity debate again.”
    Even the soulless freaks who write fanfiction can tell the difference between actual publication and vanity publication. Your comment seems almost intentionally ridiculous, given that Naomi Novik, who was on the NPR program with Lee, is both a fanfiction author and a professional author with a fantasy trilogy coming out from Del Rey books. This fact has been previously mentioned on this very blog, several times.
    As for Laura Anne Gilman. We know she writes fanfiction because she participates in fanfiction panels at conventions like Readercon and says, “I write fanfiction.” She often carries copies of her books with her, books published by HarperCollins and Ace. Feel free to check this exciting fact on Amazon.
    I can think of several others who either have books out, or books coming out. I named Naomi and Laura because they’ve already been named here, but I’ll leave the other ones out of it because it seems somehow unfair to drag them into this ugly discussion.
    “If people like Lee and Claire and myself are wrong – then why is there not ONE full-time writer who also engages in fanfic?”
    Since Naomi Novik and Laura Anne Gilman are both professional (and as far as I know, full-time) writers who engage in fanfiction, will you admit you’re wrong? Somehow, I doubt it.

  • CEP

    June 16, 2005, am30 8:51 AM
    62

    Jocelyn opined:
    HA! Sorry, love, copyright damages don’t work that way, even if you (as Lewis Perdue is currently alleging) had been plagiarized by the author of the “Da Vinci Code.” You can only get back copies of an infringing book that haven’t been sold yet–you can’t take the copies that are already in stores or on people’s/library shelves.
    I’m afraid that’s not correct. The books on bookstore shelves are, with few exceptions, still owned by the publisher (despite the characterization of “sale”, it’s a “consignment” if they’re fully returnable for full credit). A proper remedy could require the publisher to demand immediate return or cancel returnability, which would effectively get almost all copies off the bookstore shelves.
    I think what was really meant was that once the books are actually sold to an end-user they can’t be recalled.

  • Lee Goldberg

    June 16, 2005, am30 8:58 AM
    63

    There’s a big difference between someone who writes tie-ins and someone who writes fanfic…aside from the fact the books are written with the consent, and creative involvement, of the creator or rights-holder of the characters.
    I was hired to write DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK novels. It’s something I am being paid to do. It’s not like I woke up one morning with a burning desire to write DIAGNOSIS MURDER novels, wrote one up, and sent it off to a publisher (or, as a fanficcer would do, post it on the web). The publisher came to me and asked me to write them.
    I would never write a book using someone else’s characters unless I was hired to do so. It would never even occur to me because the characters aren’t mine. That’s the big difference between me and a fanficcer.
    Given a choice, I would only write novels and TV shows of my own creation. But I have to make a living and I take the work that comes my way…and that includes writing-for-hire, whether it’s on someone else’s TV shows or original tie-in novels based on characters I didn’t create.
    Given a choice, fanficcers “write” fanfic.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 9:04 AM
    64

    Given a choice, I would only write novels and TV shows of my own creation. But I have to make a living and I take the work that comes my way…and that includes writing-for-hire, whether it’s on someone else’s TV shows or original tie-in novels based on characters I didn’t create.
    Fair enough.
    But seriously: have you never watched some show or movie and had an idea pop into your head that you think would be good for that show/movie? Didn’t you enjoy working with the DIAGNOSIS MURDER or MONK material at all, even though it wasn’t originally your creation?

  • Lee Goldberg

    June 16, 2005, am30 9:15 AM
    65

    Jocelyn,
    I’ve reposted my comment about tie-ins vs. fanfic as a “standalone” post… do me a favor and ask me your question there.
    Lee

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, am30 9:26 AM
    66

    “Given a choice, fanficcers “write” fanfic. ”
    Except, of course, for the writers named earlier in this thread, who write both.
    “I would never write a book using someone else’s characters unless I was hired to do so.”
    A perfectly reasonable stance; however, there are other accepted writers (Laurie R. King for one) who choose to write books based on someone else’s characters. There’s also Jean Rhys’s “Wide Sargasso Sea”, which must by law be invoked in all such discussions.
    The universals in this discussion are giving me hives. No real writer would write fanfic. No fanfic writer also writes real fiction. No real writer has ever learned how to write from fanfiction.
    Apparently counterexamples are not sufficient to refute these universal statements.

  • Debbie

    June 16, 2005, am30 9:33 AM
    67

    “I create the characters and the world they live in. I figure out the relationships, what they do, and why they do it. And then I come up with every single thing that happens next. . . . And somebody who merely watches the show says he has a better grasp on the characters and their history than I do?”
    Maybe you have total creative control over your shows, but if you’ve ever watched a commentary on Homicide: Life on the Street, you’d know that not everybody is so lucky. The producers constantly complained about “suits” from NBC telling them to jazz things up in order to attract more viewers. The writers did their best to stay true to the show while writing these “jazzier” stories, but they didn’t always succeed. Had they had creative control, I guarantee you that the stories and characters would have been different.
    This is why I write fanfiction. Not because I consider it a highly creative endeavor, but because I like to imagine what might have been written if we lived in a universe where decisions about a show were made on creative grounds rather than fiscal ones.

  • Guyot

    June 16, 2005, am30 9:40 AM
    68

    If you have difficulties using Google, you can find one of Ms. Caine’s interviews here.
    Well, I read that and I must say, I’m surprised. Sort of. I guess when I said I knew of no writer doing it, I didn’t stop to consider all the sci-fi/fantasy paperback scribes out there. Of course they would embrace it. My bad. I should have qualified myself better. But I must admit I was wrong.
    Let me ask Jocelyn’s army: why do you think it is only authors who write in this particular genre that engage in fanfic? Why don’t any “mainstream” writers do it? Just wonder what your opinion is on that.
    I did find it interesting, though, that she doesn’t write fanfic of any of her fellow sci-fi/fantasy/Bombshell authors – only of television.
    By the way, Lee, this woman writes Monk fanfic!
    But I still stand by my opinion – and reading this woman’s comments on what she gets out of writing fanfic actually strengthens what I believe to be true.

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, am30 9:50 AM
    69

    This argument is following the phases noted by Joanna Russ in “How To Suppress Women’s Writing”.
    “She didn’t write it. She wrote it but she shouldn’t have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art.”
    We seem to be on step 4. Sure, some fanfic writers write published fiction, but it isn’t REAL published fiction.
    I note that Guyot has never addressed the issue of Jean Rhys’s “Wide Sargasso Sea”, which is a reworking of “Jane Eyre”, or of Laurie King’s Holmes pastiches.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 9:57 AM
    70

    Let me ask Jocelyn’s army: why do you think it is only authors who write in this particular genre that engage in fanfic? Why don’t any “mainstream” writers do it? Just wonder what your opinion is on that.
    (Snort!) I’m starting to agree with Jonquil’s assessment of this argument.
    When all else fails, bash the whole damn genre, huh?
    And my published friend who writes fanfic writes mainstream romance (no, not Harlequin) and Laurie R. King as I said before is a bestselling mystery writer, and another of my published friends wrote a sequel to Pride and Prejudice.

  • JDRhoades

    June 16, 2005, am30 10:01 AM
    71

    It is in my opinion (which I said how many times?) that if you engage in fanfic as a hobby, job, whatever, you are not a real writer. Because if you were – if you had inside you what a real writer does – you have no desire to engage in fanfic.
    Well, Paul, that may be a tad overbroad. Back in the mists of time, I wrote some of the stuff. Never published it, even on the ‘net, because it was awful. And I guess the fact that I took the time to do it meant I had the “desire” to do so. Now, I have moved on. I got better at it. My first book was published by a reputable house, my second is coming out, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to buy the third. So I hope “I have inside me what a real writer does.”
    Let me draw an analogy. I remember reading an interview with Keith Richards where he talked about his early days playing guitar. He learned every Chuck Berry solo, note for note. Then he started playing just like Chuck Berry. Then he went on from there to develop his own style.
    I think of fanfic as like those first tentative attmepts to learn how it’s done, how scenes are put together, what works and what doesn’t.
    If Keith had never progressed beyond playing Chuck Berry note for note, he’d probably be some aged wanker playing in hotel lounges. But because he copied someone else in the beginning doesn’t mean he doesn’t have what it takes to be a musician.
    Likewise, I don’t begrudge a beginner playing the literary equivalent of someone else’s “tunes,” maybe playing around with them a bit, making them sound different. I may not want to listen to it, but I’ll not begrudge them the practice.
    If they never go beyond that, well that’s a different story.

  • Guyot

    June 16, 2005, am30 10:07 AM
    72

    What is it you’d like me to address, Jonquil? Are you calling Wide Sargasso Sea fanfic? If you are, then I just have no response to that.
    And when you folks mention Laurie King – are you talking about her Mary Russell series, or does she write fanfic of other working writers work, like the Caine woman?

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, am30 10:15 AM
    73

    Are you calling Wide Sargasso Sea fanfic?
    I am calling Wide Sargasso Sea fiction based on another writer’s characters, which has been referred to upthread as universally despicable.
    I’m referring to Laurie King’s Mary Russell series. Are you now claiming that it’s okay to write derivative fiction as long as the original author is dead? It seems to me that many of the qualitative criteria you’re complaining about (“somebody else’s characters”) are independent of whether the writer is alive or dead.
    Note that the Baker Street Irregulars began work after Conan Doyle was dead, but while his work was still under copyright.

  • mal

    June 16, 2005, am30 10:18 AM
    74

    “But I still stand by my opinion.”
    I would imagine that nobody is suprised to hear that.
    It is not particularly surprising that Caine writes television fanfic. Most fanfic is television fanfic, because you rarely get a book that has a fan base large enough to support a significant fanfiction community.
    As far as I can tell, you stated unilaterally that no professional writer has ever or does now write fanfiction. When pointed towards several who do, you say, “Yes, but they are sci-fi/fantasy writers!” Is there something horrific about being a sci-fi/fantasy writer that you would like to share? Are they de facto intellectually and creatively bankrupt by virtue of being sci-fi/fantasy writers?
    “Why do you think it is only authors who write in this particular genre that engage in fanfic? Why don’t any “mainstream” writers do it?”
    Define “mainstream.” Would you count mystery writers, romance writers, or children’s book authors? Because I know of fanfiction writers who have written in all those genres. Some of their work is even coming out in *gasp* – hardback! That said, the biggest fanfiction communities grow up around genre works, especially science fiction and fantasy works- Buffy. The X-Files. Star Trek. Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings. It’s not surprising that people who choose to write fanfic in science fiction and fantasy worlds might also write science fiction and fantasy original work. They like the genre. I’m not sure what your point is, beyond that.
    It seems that it is very important to you, and Lee and Claire, that you be Writers and that others be Not Writers. You argue that fanfiction is not actually writing because it uses settings and characters created by someone else. When you are pointed towards, say, Caleb Carr’s The Italian Secretary, you say that it -is- actually writing because, though it uses characters and setting created by someone else, that person is dead, and apparently the fact of their death alchemically transforms the derivative work from worthless to worthwhile in the span of an instant. This is ridiculous, and on some level you must know it.
    There are legal arguments and perhaps ethical ones to be made against fanfiction, but in wildly posturing about whether it is “soulless” or “real writing done by real writers” you only make yourself look foolish.

  • Jason

    June 16, 2005, am30 10:58 AM
    75

    I think it must be mentioned that Caleb Carr was chosen by the Doyle estate to write “The Italian Secretary” (mentioned here on the publisher’s page http://www.avalonpub.com/carrollandgraf/index.html). A Work for Hire should not be considered fanfiction, no matter how much the author loves the property.

  • Guyot

    June 16, 2005, am30 11:07 AM
    76

    Jonquil and Jocelyn, and the others you’ve brought over… why are you here? Why is it so imperative for you to try and change other people’s opinions? Who cares?
    This is Lee’s blog where he posts stuff that he likes to talk about. A group of us – friends – regularly post here. You know the score, you know the feelings around here.
    Why do you waste your time with those of us that are clearly not as enlightened as you? You can’t change our minds anymore than we can change yours.
    Why not just remain at your fanfic blogs and discussing what asshats we are?
    It’s pointless to debate this. You believe what you do, just as I do. It is quite flattering that my opinion is so incredibly important to you. Thank you. But as I said; I don’t care either way. I have my personal opinions on the subject and could not care less what other people’s are.
    And one more opinion to annoy you: As for King, etc…. I do not believe the examples you’ve given are fanfic. You have made them fanfic in your mind to help your cause, but I don’t think it’s the “fanfic” that Lee was addressing on his blog.

  • Claire

    June 16, 2005, am30 11:08 AM
    77

    Define “mainstream.” Would you count mystery writers, romance writers, or children’s book authors? Because I know of fanfiction writers who have written in all those genres.
    Hey, I know of fanfiction writers who write in the children’s market who also write kiddie porn in fanfiction!
    It seems that it is very important to you, and Lee and Claire, that you be Writers and that others be Not Writers.
    Um…have we met, Mal?
    I used to write fanfiction. I don’t try to hide that fact, which is why I laugh when people insist I don’t know what I’m talking about.
    There’s a slimy underbelly to the hobby that’s claimed the mainstream. Before you go naming other published authors who write fanfiction, be damned sure you don’t drag them into something they’d rather not be dragged into. Because some judicious googling would find the type of fanfic written by some of those published authors to not be the type one would want listed on their dust cover or splashed across the front page of the New York Times.
    Regarding what I wrote. Nothing I was ever ashamed of, or worried the original creator wouldn’t like. I’d have proudly read it to the author. Most of it would have involved much spraying of beverages because it made people laugh. Very hard. Most fell legitimatelly under Fair Use Parody rules. A short-lived and stellar career, unexpected and eye-opening, not one I sought, neither promoted. Perhaps true talent shone without need. Like real writers everywhere, an experience from which I learned, and not in the way most fanfic writers try and bullshit their way through explaining how it helped them learn to write.
    By the way, Mr. Guyot, I do write mainstream, variety of genres actually. But I don’t know of another ex-fanfiction writer who does. Doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. Might just mean they keep it to themselves because, you know, I mean, shit, who the hell wants people to know they wrote THAT stuff? Then again, I was never a fan.
    The FF writers I know of write in the sci fi/fantasy genres. I’ll guess that if they have a fanfiction fanbase, they use them as part of their platform, which may be a reason publishers and writers of sci fi/fantasy are loathe to speak out on the subject because, let’s face it, these people buy books and offer tons of free promotion and have proven repeatedly their ability to get downright vicious when somebody speaks against them.

  • mal

    June 16, 2005, am30 11:29 AM
    78

    “But as I said; I don’t care either way.”
    Do you regarly take the time to write polemics on topics you have no interest in at all? Every time Lee mentions fanfic on his blog, you comment. If you don’t care, why not ignore the topic?
    “I have my personal opinions on the subject and could not care less what other people’s are.”
    That much has long been obvious.
    “Before you go naming other published authors who write fanfiction, be damned sure you don’t drag them into something they’d rather not be dragged into.”
    That is why, as I stated above, I only referenced published authors of fanfiction who had previously been mentioned by others on this blog. I did not bring up anyone else, nor do I plan to.
    “Because some judicious googling would find the type of fanfic written by some of those published authors to not be the type one would want listed on their dust cover or splashed across the front page of the New York Times.”
    I was unaware that there was a type of fanfic that one would want listed on one’s dust jacket or splashed across the front page of the New York Times. Nor was I aware that fanfiction regularly made the front page of the Times. I’ll have to start reading it more carefully.
    ” As for King, etc…. I do not believe the examples you’ve given are fanfic.”
    I didn’t say the Italian Secretary was fanfic. I said it was writing that used characters and setting created by someone else. That he had the permission of the Doyle estate puts the work on a secure footing legally but does not add to its artistic merit or make it more or less a piece of ‘real’ writing. Interestingly, when asked years ago if he’d ever write a Sherlock Holmes novel, Caleb Carr firmly stated that he never would do such a thing, and, in fact, he went on to say that he believed it was wrong for writers to use the fictional characters created by others. Looks like he changed his mind.

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, am30 11:31 AM
    79

    I chose the two writers I used as examples because both have spoken in public about writing fanfic.

  • Jocelyn

    June 16, 2005, am30 11:33 AM
    80

    Why do you waste your time with those of us that are clearly not as enlightened as you? You can’t change our minds anymore than we can change yours.

    1. Because even when you cannot change a person’s overall opinion, and the person cannot change yours, both you and they may learn something in the course of a good debate. (Although the value of the debate does go down when the insults start flying–and I admit being as guilty of that as others this time around.)
    2. Because it’s FUN to argue a complicated issue!
    Why not just remain at your fanfic blogs and discussing what asshats we are?
    1. Because everyone would agree and that’s boring.

  • claire

    June 16, 2005, am30 11:38 AM
    81

    I was unaware that there was a type of fanfic that one would want listed on one’s dust jacket or splashed across the front page of the New York Times. Nor was I aware that fanfiction regularly made the front page of the Times. I’ll have to start reading it more carefully.
    Stop being a child. The only one who brought up the name of Naomi Novik was you. The only one who brought up the other author’s name was Jonquil, I believe. You don’t know what you are talking about. Don’t name drop until you do, then do so with caution.

  • mal

    June 16, 2005, am30 11:54 AM
    82

    “The only one who brought up the name of Naomi Novik was you.”
    Absolutely and categorically untrue.
    Link:
    http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2005/06/we_are_more_emo.html#comments
    Comment:
    “Additionally, it appears that Naomi Novik has a series of fantasy novels coming out from Del Rey in both the US and UK next year, so she’s quite qualified to speak on the topic of what a professional writer might feel about her original creations being used in fan fiction. It’s a shame she didn’t do so on-air. I’d be very curious to know her opinion about her work in that context.
    Posted by: Doris Miller | June 15, 2005 11:37 AM.”
    You ought to remember that comment, you posted directly below it. But I guess you got caught up in the excitement of calling me names, and forgot.

  • Claire

    June 16, 2005, pm30 12:17 PM
    83

    In this thread, Mal. In this thread. Also, Her name was brought up in that thread by another fandom person from what I can tell. Admittedly, she was on that show, had lots to say, but I don’t think that Lee even mentioned her by name. Know what you are talking about before you start name-dropping and proclaiming. I’m not calling you names. You are being a child. Stop.

  • mal

    June 16, 2005, pm30 12:32 PM
    84

    “In this thread, Mal. In this thread.”
    You must be joking. I’m sorry, but that is stupendously absurd. I recognize that you don’t want to admit you were wrong, but really.
    Naomi Novik has previously been mentioned, on this blog, by name, by Lee (which is how I found out Naomi, who I had previously heard of, would be on an NPR show with him) and later by Doris. I said that I would only mention professional writers who also write fanfiction who had previously been mentioned by others *on this blog*, not *in this thread*, because anyone following this discussion will have almost certainly read the previous post, comments included. As for whether her name was brought up by another fandom person or a non-fandom person, I don’t see either the point or the relevance of that distinction, especially when her name had already been mentioned by Lee. On the front page of this blog.
    Nor for that matter is Naomi particularly shy or reticent about being a published author who also has written fanfiction. I referenced her after she had been already mentioned by both Lee and Doris. I did not bring her up out of thin air. Give it a rest, Claire, admit you were wrong, and stop calling me childish simply because you don’t like what I have to say. It’s obnoxious.

  • Claire

    June 16, 2005, pm30 12:48 PM
    85

    Nor for that matter is Naomi particularly shy or reticent about being a published author who also has written fanfiction. I referenced her after she had been already mentioned by both Lee and Doris. I did not bring her up out of thin air. Give it a rest, Claire, admit you were wrong, and stop calling me childish simply because you don’t like what I have to say. It’s obnoxious.
    I can’t believe how clueless you’re being. Never mind, Mal. Whatever. Talk about her all you want. Better yet, you’re such good friends with her that you can tell us how she feels about things, drop her an email, ask her to drop by. Maybe she’ll read us some of her fanfiction.

  • mal

    June 16, 2005, pm30 12:59 PM
    86

    And I can’t believe how disingenuous you’re being. I hardly need to be good friends with Lee to state that he doesn’t much like fanfiction, and I don’t need to be good friends with Naomi Novik to say that she’s stated publicly that she’s a professional author who writes fanfiction. If you want a further elucidation of her feelings on the matter, drop by her journal. Where you will discover that she’s already stated that she doesn’t want to be a part of this discussion, which is why I have not emailed her and asked her to “drop by.”
    If you want to know her opinion on the matter, read her journal. You can find it via google. And if you’re that eager to read her fanfiction, you can find that via google as well.

  • A. Nony Mouse

    June 16, 2005, pm30 1:09 PM
    87

    Writing fanfic is to being a writer like painting paint-by-numbers kits is to being a painter.

  • Elaine

    June 16, 2005, pm30 1:14 PM
    88

    So when someone who has “earned” the title “writer” does series tie-in (which Lee has told us is soley for money) and is only by that token different from fanfiction — they are moving backwards to paint-by-number work? I could see that…maybe a little harsh, but I can see it.

  • Claire

    June 16, 2005, pm30 1:18 PM
    89

    Never mind, Mal. Never mind. I’m duct-taping my fingers. This conversation is over. You don’t get it. You don’t get it. You don’t get it. Let it go.
    *off to find bucket of cold water to soak head*

  • Mal

    June 16, 2005, pm30 1:57 PM
    90

    “You don’t get it. You don’t get it. You don’t get it.”
    Now, from my persective, you’re the one who doesn’t get it. The difference being, perhaps, that- having read your comments on this blog before – I never expected you to.

  • Brian Hogg

    June 16, 2005, pm30 2:07 PM
    91

    Jonquil pointed to an interview with Rachel Caine, as a referent of a professional author who writes fan fiction.
    Did you actually read the bloody thing? She says she wrote ONE piece of fan fiction, at the age of *14*, and took out the elements that made it fan fiction halfway through writing it.
    That doesn’t discredit the other authors, but, still, if you’re going to make a cite, at least make it valid, man.

  • Lincoln

    June 16, 2005, pm30 2:16 PM
    92

    And the Mama bird tried very hard to make the baby bird understand that it’s not nice to force people who’ve made it clear they don’t wish to participate to participate. But the baby bird was willful and flounced her hair and stomped her feet and said:
    “Nyah, nyah, I already know she doesn’t want to be over here, which is why I keep bringing her up in conversation and saying what she thinks about things and…and…you’re a poopyhead anyway!”

  • Mal

    June 16, 2005, pm30 2:31 PM
    93

    Wikipedia has an excellent definition of a straw man argument in case you need a little refresher, Lincoln.

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, pm30 2:32 PM
    94

    As Rachel Caine has made clear in other contexts, she continues to write fanfic under a pseudonym. The pseudonym has now been published in tie-in fic, so I suppose that it, too, now counts as a real writer.
    http://www.artistsinresidence.com/rlc/

  • Fitz

    June 16, 2005, pm30 3:22 PM
    95

    Naomi Novik to say that she’s stated publicly that she’s a professional author who writes fanfiction
    True.
    And if you’re that eager to read her fanfiction, you can find that via google as well.
    Not true. At least, not the way most people would think.
    Mal, you’re mother’s called. Says you need to be home before dark.
    Hey, Lincoln! If you’re the straw man, can I whistle ‘If I Only Had a Brain’ into your ear?
    Soft and soothingly, of course.

  • Mal

    June 16, 2005, pm30 4:42 PM
    96

    “Not true. At least, not the way most people would think.”
    A page linking to her Sherlock Holmes fanfiction comes up as the first Google result I get on her name alone. If I google her name and “fanfiction” I get fanfiction in the Smallville fandom among others.
    “Mal, you’re mother’s called. Says you need to be home before dark.”
    My mother’s what called? *amused*

  • claire

    June 16, 2005, pm30 5:09 PM
    97

    Fine. Just keep on googling that Sherlock Holmes and Smallville fanfiction, Mal. Knock yourself out. Fine. Good.
    *re-ducttapes fingers*

  • Better writer

    June 16, 2005, pm30 5:42 PM
    98

    Who needs a soul if we don’t have to read your pathetic drivel, but can produce-consume our own for free? Trust us Paul, no one wants to read any scripts you write. Your greatest fans are couch potatos who have given up on trying to figure out how to get on the internet.
    And you, Lee whatever, with your continuous onslaught on fanfic, you just prove how jealous you are of the attention it gets while you still don’t have a place in the sun. But you have one on F_W, wear that as medal on your jacket, because it is the greatest distinction you will ever get.

  • David Montgomery

    June 16, 2005, pm30 6:12 PM
    99

    I think you guys touched a nerve with the last poster. Keep it up! 🙂
    The part I find most amusing about these discussions is that the FanFiccers don’t realize that everyone is making fun of them. Why do you think the topic keeps coming up here? Do you really think it’s because Lee is jealous of you, whoever you might be?
    You notice that no one here is going over to “Fandom Wank” (the name, no doubt, tells you all you need to know) to start arguments or complain about anything. Don’t you guys realize that the grownups are sitting around and laughing at you?
    I’d almost feel a little bad about it, if the subjects weren’t so deserving of the mockery. Anyone who would routinely visit a website and post comments to it when everyone else is insulting and making fun of you has to be a glutton for punishment.

  • claire

    June 16, 2005, pm30 6:29 PM
    100

    Took them two days, Mr. Montgomery, but Fandom Wank has FINALLY caught up with this last series of discussions. I have my theories as to why it took them so long, but shall keep them to myself. By the way, you can’t go to Fandom Wank to complain about anything. They are a closed group, lately highly concerned with the ethics of wanking. Have discussions on it and everything. Highly illuminating.

  • JDRhoades

    June 16, 2005, pm30 6:34 PM
    101

    Sigh. So much for trying to learn anything about this debate. See ya.

  • Mal

    June 16, 2005, pm30 8:19 PM
    102

    “Fine. Just keep on googling that Sherlock Holmes and Smallville fanfiction, Mal. Knock yourself out. Fine. Good.”
    And here I thought you had decided the conversation was over! What a shock to everyone to discover that you couldn’t stick to that. I didn’t google Sherlock Holmes or Smallville fanfiction, hon. Reading comprehension. Basic. Learn it.

  • claire

    June 16, 2005, pm30 8:24 PM
    103

    Isn’t that what you said? That you googled her name and got her sherlock holmes page and found smallville fanfiction? What exactly am I not saying that is upsetting you? This is killing me because, Mal, honestly, you have no idea what I’m talking about and I’m not going to explain. If that’s what you’re finding when you google, then…that’s good. That’s fine. And why don’t we stop talking about her since she doesn’t want to be here, anyway?

  • Bill Rabkin

    June 16, 2005, pm30 8:35 PM
    104

    “I love to write. I love to daydream. If I haven’t got a pen and notebook (and free time) handy, I write in my head. Sometimes the stories grow so fast I can’t write fast enough.”
    You know, this may be the heart of the whole dispute. Because the professional writers here know one thing — writing is hard work. It’s not the thing you do because you’re lying in bed and want to relax. It’s not the fun little hobby that frees up your brain to do the important stuff. It’s your work, and it’s your life.
    And that’s why so many of us — I’m one of the pros — look down on fanfic. Because we know that the stuff that’s knocked out because it’s “fun,” the stuff that’s “exercising the imagination,” the stuff that you write to free your inner self… it’s crap.
    Yeah, and that goes for me, too, and for Guyot and Goldberg — both of them — and everyone else who’s ever lived on this planet with the possible exception of Mozart.
    The spurting out of the first thing that crosses your imagination IS fun. But that’s not what writing is about. It’s taking that imagination-spurt and shaping it, crafting it, reworking it. Finding in it structure and character and theme and voice, and then sitting down and working it all out again.
    That’s one reason we don’t do fanfic for fun — because writing is hard work, and we have no interest in half-assing it.
    And that’s why so many pros don’t think fanfic is writing.

  • Bill Rabkin

    June 16, 2005, pm30 8:38 PM
    105

    “This is why I write fanfiction. Not because I consider it a highly creative endeavor, but because I like to imagine what might have been written if we lived in a universe where decisions about a show were made on creative grounds rather than fiscal ones.”
    I guarantee, having worked on a couple dozen shows, that if the showrunners were free to make all their decisions on creative grounds rather than fiscal ones, they still would have nothing in common with yours…

  • Pendrecarc

    June 16, 2005, pm30 9:12 PM
    106

    I found this thread after following a few links on LJ and thought the discussion was intriguing–before it descended into minor quibbling, anyway.
    Mr. Goldberg quoted author Jasper Fforde in a (much) earlier post on fanfiction, giving an example of another published author whose views on fanfic are similar, I gather, to his own. If, as some comments have said, fanfiction is “soulless”, worthless crap specifically because fanwriters use characters and situations that were created by other authors, then I fail to see how Mr. Fforde’s argument works. I’ve only read his first novel (I thought it was wonderful, incidentally. Very, very clever), but The Eyre Affair makes significant use of Edward Rochester. Fforde puts his own words in Rochester’s mouth, has him interact with his own characters, and sets him in his own situations, but the character is still intended to represent Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre.
    I am not classifying Fforde’s work as fanfiction, by the way. Rochester’s presence in the novel is quite different, for example, from Sherlock Holmes’ presence in many published pastiches and from the presence of most “borrowed” characters in fanfiction. I am saying that Fforde’s work used ideas and characters invented by Charlotte Bronte. The argument that fanfiction is “soulless” and not true writing because it is not completely original ought, then, to apply to The Eyre Affair, Laurie King’s work, and many other such published novels.
    If, on the other hand, the proper argument against fanfiction is that it is immoral because it uses the ideas and characters created by another author, thereby defacing them, it still ought to apply. There is no Bronte estate holding the copyright to Jane Eyre, so Fforde happened to be able to legally profit off a piece of fiction that used Rochester as a character–that isn’t the issue. Fiscal gain or no fiscal gain, he used another author’s idea.
    In case I’m accused of dragging an author into a discussion he would rather not be a part of, I’ll mention once again that Mr. Goldberg has already done so in another post, and that Fforde has publicly stated his views on fanfiction on his website at http://www.jasperfforde.com/faq.html.
    Once again, I’m not trying to say that The Eyre Affair is fanfiction. I’m also not arguing that it isn’t a well-written piece of fiction, and I’m not trying to single it out. I merely found this particular example to be relevant to the comments on this specific thread and thought I’d bring it up for discussion.

  • Mary A

    June 16, 2005, pm30 9:23 PM
    107

    When is fanfic literature? The D’Artagnan stories, including the most famous “The Three Musketeers” by Dumas, are fanfiction based on a real live person. Like World Wrestling Fan Fiction or RP fan fiction based on celebrities. They were stories that placed the popular military hero, “D’Artagnan”, in many different important situtuations, sort of like self-insert fan fiction.
    All those based-on-the-Bible stories I read as a kid, were those original fiction? Most of them just had the biblical character’s name and a lot of nonsense added.
    I write fanfiction about a character who is only referred to obliquely, and never makes an appearance, in the popular novel The Lord of the Rings and is an important character in another Tolkien book, The Hobbit, although he isn’t named. All I have to go on, when I write my stories, are clues in the ‘canon’ text and the extensive and tremendous history that Tolkien compiled as back story about his ‘universe’ and the way things worked.
    I started writing my fanfiction as a reaction to the inordinate amount of slash (male/male pairings) stories that were being written in the LOTR fandom that always portrayed this particular character as a rapist villain… ALWAYS. This characterization carried over in the het (male/female) LOTR fan fiction stories, with this character still ALWAYS being the rapist villain. I could not stomach that mischaracterization that was based solely on ‘fanon’ (fanfiction canon) and not canon. I won’t discuss slash. I don’t understand it at all.
    But most LOTR fanfiction (if not all) found on the internet is based on the movies, not the books, and this character who I write about is not even mentioned in the movies. Accordingly most fanfic writers had no clue what this character was like even in the book in which he was a character… just who he was related to in the movie.
    My fanfiction was/is an attempt to prompt het LOTR fanfiction fans and writers to see him as something other than villainous. Period.
    I cannot possibly see how I am hindering the sales of any Tolkien works with my stories and know for an absolute fact that I have compelled more people to actually purchase and read The Hobbit who had never been tempted to do so before they read my fanfiction.
    I never wrote creatively before 2003. It is now my favorite pasttime and I really am not interested in writing Original Fiction. I dont think that there is any amount of money in the world that could match the way I feel when someone tells me that they love my stories! If I got paid to do this, or had to do this, I dont think, for me, it would be as fun.
    Love to all!
    Mary A
    unrepentant fanfiction writer

  • Jonquil

    June 16, 2005, pm30 9:46 PM
    108

    But that’s not what writing is about. It’s taking that imagination-spurt and shaping it, crafting it, reworking it. Finding in it structure and character and theme and voice, and then sitting down and working it all out again.
    One of the most widely used terms among fanfic writers is “beta read”. As in “would you beta this for me? I don’t think I’ve got the flow quite right.” The writers I know write and rewrite and write again; rigorous beta readers are prized and respected.

  • mal

    June 16, 2005, pm30 9:55 PM
    109

    “Isn’t that what you said? That you googled her name and got her sherlock holmes page and found smallville fanfiction?”
    Claire, let’s go over this briefly. I said, If you want to read her fanfiction, you can find it via google. Fitz said, No, you can’t. I checked to see if this was true, and it wasn’t. Googling Ms. Novik’s name is not the same as googling Smallville fanfiction. To google Smallville fanfiction I would have had to type “Smallville fanfiction” as the search. That’s what googling something means. Smallville fanfiction was not relevant to what was being discussed. Googling Ms. Novik was.
    What is it you’re not saying that I wish you’d say? Something that’s an actual response, I guess. When Guyot says, “There are no fanfiction writers who are also professionals” and recieves several counterexamples of published writers who are publicly open about their fanfic, some response to that other than “You shouldn’t have mentioned someone who has already been mentioned, repeatedly, during this discussion! (Once by the blog owner, who called her a ‘dimwit.’) Because it’s bad to mention people! Even when they’ve already been mentioned! You should have pretended you didn’t see any of that!” Because that, frankly? Seems like a way of throwing up dust to cloud the actual issue. As well as a way of keeping the discussion focused on someone you feel the discussion shouldn’t even mention, much less be focused on. Don’t you have any actual thoughts about published writers who write fanfiction? Leaving their names out of it –any thoughts at all?

  • claire

    June 16, 2005, pm30 11:06 PM
    110

    any thoughts at all?
    Um…actually, I do. And all I told you to do was not drag somebody into the conversation who, apparently, didn’t want to be part of it. Because you really don’t know what you’re talking about. And what Fitz said is correct and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Now let it go, Mal. Seriously. It’s not worth all the typing. And it’s late. And you’re young. And tiresome. Forget I’m here, okay?

  • Chalaine

    June 16, 2005, pm30 11:11 PM
    111

    I agree with your overall sentiment. As a writer of original fiction, I agree fervently that no one has a greater grasp on the canon than the person who brought it to life.
    However, as someone who also writes fanfiction, I find your comments about being unhealthily obsessed quite offensive and a very poor representation of fanfic writers as a whole.
    I will not deny that there are fans who cling obsessively to works of fiction, sometimes to frightening degrees. There are fans that will write themselves into a fandom out of a desperate desire to be a part of something they love so much.
    Most fanfic writers are well-balanced, educated individuals, often with aspirations of someday creating their own worlds and characters to touch and inspire others. Many people use fanfiction as a writing exercise, a nice low pressure environment to polish their language skills. It can be a valuable learning tool as well as help people build enough confidence to share pieces derived completely from their own imagination.
    A number of fanfic writers write original fiction as well. For many, fanfiction is simply a hobby. It is a guilty pleasure, something fun and low-key. It’s a form of self-expression – an opportunity to show one’s enjoyment of something in the most sincere way imaginable. Some write to promote the things they enjoy and that’s one aspect that people should take into consideration.
    Many people that support your shows, read your books, and purchase your products might have never been exposed to your visions at all if it hadn’t been for a fanfic or fanart.
    Though some of us might “deface” your work, don’t forget that there are those of us that advertise it. Most of us ask for nothing more than the simple pleasure of a story well-written. Consider it volunteer work of sorts, if you will.
    As I had mentioned, I am a writer of original fiction and as such, I will state outright that I would consider it the highest honor imaginable if something borne from my own imagination touched and inspired someone enough to write a story or draw a picture based upon it. I don’t say this out of any unhealthy obsession. I say this out of genuine love and admiration for my craft which is and always has been – storytelling.
    Thank you for you time.

  • Lee Goldberg

    June 16, 2005, pm30 11:40 PM
    112

    Most fanfic writers are well-balanced, educated individuals, often with aspirations of someday creating their own worlds and characters to touch and inspire others. Many people use fanfiction as a writing exercise, a nice low pressure environment to polish their language skills. It can be a valuable learning tool as well as help people build enough confidence to share pieces derived completely from their own imagination.

    That’s all fine and dandy… if it’s just a way to have fun, or a writing exercise, explain this to me:
    a) Why post it on the Internet or publish it in fanzines?
    b) And if you ARE going to post/publish it, why not get the permission of the creator/author/right’s holder first?

  • Lee Goldberg

    June 16, 2005, pm30 11:44 PM
    113

    As I had mentioned, I am a writer of original fiction and as such, I will state outright that I would consider it the highest honor imaginable if something borne from my own imagination touched and inspired someone enough to write a story or draw a picture based upon it. I don’t say this out of any unhealthy obsession. I say this out of genuine love and admiration for my craft which is and always has been – storytelling.

    If you were the author of HARRY POTTER,would you find it “the highest honor imaginable” to read fanfic about Harry and Ron exploring the magic of anal sex? How about Harry using his magic to force all the female students at Hogwarts to give him blowjobs? Would you embrace that with your same love and admiration for the craft of storytelling? I don’t think so.

  • Maxi Rose

    June 17, 2005, am30 12:24 AM
    114

    So far, we have people posting who may have once been kinder, politer, friendlier, more understanding, etc., in their explaining of their dislike of fanfiction, however, have you considered, “friends of fanfiction”, that maybe they’ve had too many taunts, too many recriminations, too many people saying what hacks they are, that maybe they’re tired of playing nice?
    I helped run a panel about fanfiction at an anime convention and I told people, personally, that as a hobby, there’s nothing wrong with writing fanfiction for you and your friends. However, it’s much more satisfying, more rewarding, and more financially rewarding, to write your own stuff. I told them to not expect to get their fanfics published, even if it WAS legal, by more than a vanity press.
    The difference, here, is that I don’t believe fanfic writers are soulless hacks. As has been mentioned, too many REAL WRITERS, whatever /that/ means, have also written fanfic. I believe, however, that fanfic writers are shortchanging themselves to the richness that writing your own works can provide.
    However, many aren’t in it for richness of soul or pocket book. They do it for fun. To you lofty writers here, do you call a model train enthusiast a “loser” because he doesn’t work for CN railway or the equivalent American “national railway company”? Is an RC plane afficianado, who spends his Saturdays building radio-controlled model planes and flying them, a “loser” because he doesn’t work for Boeing? “But they’re not copying CN railway!” Ok. Mr. model train enthusiast paints his engine and cars to look like CN railway trains. Is he /now/ a “loser”?
    Do you consider Elvis a “loser” because he redid Carl Perkins’ song, “Blue Suede Shoes”? What about the 1970’s disco remakes of “Night on Bald Mountain” or “Beethoven’s 5th”? Are /their/ artists “losers”? Whitney Houston’s remake of the Dolly Parton classic, “I Will Always Love You”? I prefer Elvis’ remake of “Blue Suede Shoes”, yet I prefer /Dolly Parton’s original/ “I Will Always Love You”. Opinions are fickle when it comes to fans.
    Let me say only this to the “Writers” in this debate. You do your side more harm than good to call fanfic writers, “Soulless” or other derogatory terms. The very people who /buy/ your books, who /could buy/ your books, or who could /tell their friends to buy your books/ don’t appreciate being called names any moreso than you do. If you must insult them, which I don’t remember ever hearing any PR manager suggesting was a /good idea/, call them thieves. Call them criminals. However, criminals can have souls as beautiful as the innocent. It’s all a matter of perspective.
    To you fanfic writers, I see nothing inherently wrong with writing your stories and sharing them with others. However, do not expect to be lauded as anything short of a “wannabe”, an “also ran”, or even, “the best copycat writer currently in fandom”. Even if you’re really good at it, you’re still, when it all boils down to it, merely “really good at stealing/misappropriating someone else’s work”.
    Stop with the rabid finger-pointing. You know what your aunt Thelma would say… “You’re going to put someone’s eye out if you keep that up!”
    P.S. And for those who need to hear it, I’m not a published writer and have only written ONE fanfic, just because I wanted to make a point about what’s wrong with one aspect of fan fiction. I’m not trying to be a “know-it-all”. I don’t hate fanfiction or its fandom. I even read it occasionally, and some of it’s enjoyable. These are only my opinions. Think whatever you like. Do feel free to email me if you want to speak more directly with me on the topic, though. I’m not going to go to a lot of trouble to muddy up Mr. Goldberg’s blog with my uninvited thoughts.

  • Chalaine

    June 17, 2005, am30 1:09 AM
    115

    The answer is very simple. Most of the time, people have difficulty contacting the original creators, especially when said individuals are usually people in foreign countries and cannot speak their native language.
    We are not all malicious, uncouth people completely devoid of any shred of human decency. It sounds to me as if you have met a very poor representation of the whole and it’s highly unfair to judge us all based on that.
    If an author requests that no fanfiction based on his or her work be published, I comply. If an author requests that I take down a derivative piece, I comply with that as well. A large majority of fanfic writers are the same way.
    You did present a very good question. Why do people share their work? The reason for that is also very simple. People want feedback. People want their writing to be analyzed, picked apart piece by piece. Sharing fanfiction and getting a positive response helps build self-confidence and often, a person doesn’t experience the same pressure that they might when publishing a completely original piece.
    In an original piece, it’s not just the technical aspects that are open to criticism. Some people are very shy about sharing their own creations. Reasons vary from person to person, same in this as everything else.
    Personally, I share my fanfiction for two reasons: one, I want feedback on my writing so I can improve and two, it’s an expression of my enjoyment of a subject. I only write fanfiction for things that I thoroughly enjoy, things that I thought were so interesting that I want to bring other people’s attention to it.
    And as I said before, if the creator asked me to take it down, I would without a moment’s hesitation. After all, the creator provided me with something that brought me great pleasure. Why would I disrespect them by not agreeing to their request? I don’t own the subject and I never claimed that I did.
    You also brought up Harry Potter fanfiction. I’m not a fan of that particular book series or its fanbase but I understand the message that you’re trying to get across. This question actually popped up in regards to a novel I am writing. A friend asked me how I would react if one of the male characters, someone who is blatantly heterosexual, was ever slashed in a fanfic. I answered honestly – I’d be too shocked to respond initially, then I might be a little miffed because I’d never intended the character to be written that way, but after that, I’d comb through the book to see where the fan could’ve gotten the idea in the first place out of sheer curiosity.
    I’m not the type of person who gets angry over things like that. I know it’s my story and the fans know it’s my story. People can fantasize about whatever they want and write what they please. It’s not going to change the original product. I’m secure enough with my vision to not to find it threatening.

  • P M Rommel

    June 17, 2005, am30 3:15 AM
    116

    David Montgomery: You notice that no one here is going over to “Fandom Wank” (the name, no doubt, tells you all you need to know) to start arguments or complain about anything. Don’t you guys realize that the grownups are sitting around and laughing at you?
    The dear hive vagina, what would we do without it?
    Ah, no, David, love. Fandom_wank, are no doubt laughing very long and loud at you. And I salute them.

  • Michalyn

    June 17, 2005, am30 4:50 AM
    117

    As a fanfiction writer, I have to agree with Chalaine. I’m no legal expert so I can’t offer any cogent thoughts in that area, but reading through this thread I it seems like fanfiction writers are being characterized as uninspired, unimaginative nuisances who haven’t had the privilege of understanding the true rewards of real writing, and what real writers understand as the writing process. I understand this is a controversal subject, but it seems like these views are too extreme. Most fanfiction writers, myself included, have no desire to make profit from a published author’s work, nor would we dream of doing anything as ridiculous as trying to sue the author for using his own creation! This case in particular is all about greed and is not representative of most fanfiction writers.
    Most fanfiction writers are learning their craft and so model their work after the works of those writers they admire and respect. If I’m inspired to write fanfiction, it’s not because I view myself as a competitor to the author; rather it’s because I admire his or her work and want to look at it closely to see what makes it “tick” . I am not saying that there are no fanfiction writers who have done questionable, or who have attempted to undermine the author’s authority but I think what has been lost, for the most part in this debate is that fanfiction writers by and large are fans. Most fanfiction writers love the works that the author produces and have no desire to become rivals to author himself/herself. When people post fanfiction on internet lists or forums it’s because they want feedback about their writing and because they also want to promote the work that inspired them — not by claiming it as their own, but because they hope that someone will be interested enough to go check out the original.
    I don’t think imitation as a way of learning or expression should be looked down upon or dismissed simply as “not the real thing”. There are few virtuosos of any kind who can claim that they’ve achieved their sophistication by pure genius alone. Furthermore, it is the nature of literature itself — and the best literature at that — to leave many “open spaces” for fans, readers and academics to “mine”. Though it cannot be considered fanfiction, for example, Wide Sargasso Sea would have not been possible if Charlotte Bronte had full interpretative control over the text of Jane Eyre . I understand how disturbing that can be to the author, but it seems to me there should be some middle ground. If an author explicitly asks a fanfiction writer to cease and desist I think a fanfiction writer should — immediately and with no questions asked. To claim however, that fanfiction writers are just unimaginative parasites and that the text they interpret is completely static and stable is a misnomer. Writers make fanfiction possible, but fans also make sure that a writer is read. To put the two groups as antagonists just doesn’t seem right to me.
    An interesting context of this issue both in its legal and non legal aspects to me is looking at copyright law in Japan. Again, I am not saying there are not legal infringements etc. or abuses by fans, but doujinishi are an acknowledged and accepted product in Japan. Professional artists themselves also continue to produce fanworks. My point here is not that fanfiction writers or artists should have the right to make money off fanworks — they should not, period — but that the tension between fan and creator are not as simple or antagonistic as it seems they’ve been painted here.

  • Dean

    June 17, 2005, am30 7:09 AM
    118

    Just (hopefully) closing the italic tag.

  • Jocelyn

    June 17, 2005, am30 7:33 AM
    119

    You know, this may be the heart of the whole dispute. Because the professional writers here know one thing — writing is hard work. It’s not the thing you do because you’re lying in bed and want to relax. It’s not the fun little hobby that frees up your brain to do the important stuff. It’s your work, and it’s your life.
    Wow, Bill, I’m sorry to hear writing is so painful for you. Makes me wonder why you do it.
    Writing for fun is strenuous in its own way, but for me, and I imagine for others, just because something is “hard” doesn’t mean it’s not fun. I’m loving my new job at a law firm, even though it makes me want to scream in frustration sometimes.
    I have an attitude about trying to stay relaxed in whatever I do, it has nothing to do with not taking my work seriously.
    My main fanfic project at the moment is a Harry Potter 6th year fic. It’s very well-received, but I know all my readers will vanish after July 16th when the book comes out–that’s my deadline. My mother is my co-author, and we’re writing like mad outside of work to get it done in time. We’re sticklers for detail, grammar, consistency, etc. We proofread and edit and rewrite the thing within an inch of its life.
    And yet this is the most fun we’ve ever had together. When the fic is done, we’re starting on a couple of novel ideas we’ve been toying with.

  • jessica

    June 17, 2005, am30 7:50 AM
    120

    Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
    thank you, and good night.

  • Elaine

    June 17, 2005, am30 7:58 AM
    121

    Jane Yolen wrote an entire book saying that writing (for her) isn’t about opening up a vein and bleeding on the page but that she writes because she takes great joy in the process. She finds it enjoyable. Sure, it’s work but work can be fun, joyful, and tremendously exciting. So not all writers equate drudgery with excellence.
    Hobbyists can chose a hobby that involves a sizable amount of work. Gardening can be hard labor — it can also be enjoyable or drudgery. Simply because you took huge joy in the process and found a way to enjoy every element doesn’t mean you made a half-assed garden.
    A fanfiction writer might write for the pure joy of the experience and still work hard while doing it. Or, they might be lazy kids who do a half-assed job.
    Quite frankly, I once worked on staff with a lot of other writers. Some took great joy in the process and worked very hard, and got paid. Some also collected a paycheck, hated the work, and churned out acceptable prose. The ones who saw the job as more gruelling were not automatically better writers — though they certainly suffered more and might have considered themselves better than those who liked the work and considered themselves lucky to get paid for something that brought them pleasure.
    Fanfiction does not automatically create any of the absolutes stated in this thread and the use of absolutes is what draws fanfiction writers who know those absolutes are nothing but crap to come and argue.
    Many folks don’t like a balanced argument — they want the scales tipped toward them or they whine — the whiners tend to look …well …childish. BUT I’ve never met ANYONE who is cheerfully delighted and feels no need to interject when an argument is unbalanced AGAINST them. I’ve seen fanfictionlovers arguments that were wildly unbalanced against professional writers. And I’ve seen professional writers spout bizarre nonsense against fanfiction. In both cases, the speakers look narrow-minded and ignorant to the casual observer.

  • mal

    June 17, 2005, am30 8:41 AM
    122

    Claire, there is a difference between dragging someone into a conversation and stating a publically known and available fact about someone which in fact, has already been stated in the same forum. Nor was Fitz correct – not about that, anyway. And I am over thirty, so while it’s kind of touching to be treated as a youthful sprog, it’s innacurate. And when you say you’re going to leave a conversation because it’s not worth having? It’s a good idea not to come back later. Flouncing off only works if you stay away.

  • theGman

    June 17, 2005, am30 9:04 AM
    123

    I think your all stupid. And your all bad writers. AND FANFIC RULES!!! And you guys are all stupid and dumb.
    We fanfic writers are here to stay!!! And we will crush you with our brains and our pens and your going to wither and die because FANFIC RULES!

  • tambo

    June 17, 2005, am30 9:37 AM
    124

    At least the pros understand spelling and grammar.

  • claire

    June 17, 2005, am30 9:48 AM
    125

    Okay, okay, Mal. Uncle. Nazi. Whatever it is I’m supposed to say. You’re right. I’m wrong. I’m an idiot, so is Fitz, so is Lincoln. We’re all idiots, haven’t a coherent thought between us. Best you ignore us and pretend we’re not here. You’re perfectly right to drag Naomi into a conversation she doesn’t want to be part of, talk about her all you want. You’re over thirty, so am I. So can we please stop talking about this? Rhetorical question. Please don’t answer.

  • mal

    June 17, 2005, am30 10:27 AM
    126

    Claire, Claire, Claire. Straw man much? I didn’t call you, or Fitz, an idiot. I didn’t drag Ms. Novik into the conversation, and unlike you and Lee, I didn’t insult her or call her names. If you want the conversation over so badly, there’s a simple solution. Stop responding to me. Exactly like you said you were going to do about five comments ago. Remember when you duct-taped your fingers? Maybe you should try that again, and stick to it this time. If you respond to this, I can only assume you don’t want the conversation over as badly as you pretend to.

  • JDRhoades

    June 17, 2005, am30 10:39 AM
    127

    At least the pros understand spelling and grammar.
    But not, apparently, satire.

  • claire

    June 17, 2005, am30 10:40 AM
    128

    Remember when you duct-taped your fingers? Maybe you should try that again, and stick to it this time. If you respond to this, I can only assume you don’t want the conversation over as badly as you pretend to.
    *helpless laughter*
    Okay, whatever. Nazi. Nazi. Nazi. Uncle. Uncle. Uncle. You win, you win, you win.

  • mal

    June 17, 2005, am30 10:52 AM
    129

    Claire, honey, I won when you claimed you were flouncing off in a snit and then came crawling pathetically back. Now we’re just waiting to see how long it takes for you to flounce off in Snit #2. Me, I’ve got all day.

  • Sandrine

    June 17, 2005, am30 11:02 AM
    130

    Naomi Novik is a professional writer and an outspoken advocate of fanfiction. As such, it is not surprising that she would be mentioned in a discussion of professional writing and fanfiction. When you are an outspoken and public advocate of something, you can only expect that your name will be invoked in reference to it. It is not inappropriate or rude to mention her advocacy or her professional career. The pissing match this conversation has devolved into, however, is both.

  • claire

    June 17, 2005, am30 11:19 AM
    131

    You won long ago, Mal. Absolutely eons ago. Absolutely, I concede. The score is something like. Mal: 1,000,000, Claire: -34827. I never should have told you not to drag other authors into it. Never should have answered you in the first place. Not at all. Do you get a prize when this is over? Does it involve chocolate? If so, may I have some?

  • Chalaine

    June 17, 2005, am30 11:35 AM
    132

    Response to Tanbo:
    At least the pros understand spelling and grammar.
    You obviously have never read Mercedes Lackey’s writing. I highly recommend the Last Herald Mage trilogy. Misused semi-colons, grammatical errors, overuse of capitalization, run-on sentences… Thankfully, she’s improved in that department or at least her editor has. 🙂

  • Mal

    June 17, 2005, am30 11:48 AM
    133

    Alas, Claire, there is no prize involved, other than the sense of satisfaction I get every time you post. I’ve argued with some fairly petty folks before, but even they had the sense to stay out of an argument they’d loudly declared it to be so, so over.

  • mal

    June 17, 2005, am30 11:49 AM
    134

    Alas, Claire, there is no prize involved, other than the sense of satisfaction I get every time you post. I’ve argued with some fairly petty folks before, but even they had the sense to bow out of an argument once they’d loudly declared it to be so, so over.

  • JDRhoades

    June 17, 2005, am30 11:55 AM
    135

    Me, I’ve got all day.
    Well, there’s your trouble, right there.

  • mal

    June 17, 2005, pm30 12:01 PM
    136

    Fair enough, though it doesn’t seem that Claire has anywhere else to be, either.
    :>

  • JDRhoades

    June 17, 2005, pm30 12:03 PM
    137

    Yeah, but she didn’t feed me the straight line. :-).

  • Claire

    June 17, 2005, pm30 12:12 PM
    138

    I do have somewhere else to be. And I’m so getting my ass kicked for doing this. Might have to take out a loan to pay off the bets. And everytime I see a new post go up with a name, any name next to the title ‘What’s Stupid About It?’ I crack up. I’m too easily amused. Should take up embroidery or something.

  • JDRhoades

    June 17, 2005, pm30 12:30 PM
    139

    Reading this thread has turned into something very much like watching a trainwreck in extremely slow motion.

  • Jeanette

    June 17, 2005, pm30 2:57 PM
    140

    If you write characters that you didn’t create, you’re writing fanfiction. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting paid for it or not. So if comics count in your view of what makes art, Devin Grayson started out writing fanfiction and now she’s a contracted writer for DC Comics. I think there are some others, but, like I said, that doesn’t really matter so much to us, as long as people can tell good stories.
    Then again, when one of your characters is still around 65 years from now, you might change your tune.

  • jonquil

    June 17, 2005, pm30 3:16 PM
    141

    U.S. copyright duration for individuals, as opposed to corporations, is now the life of the author plus 70 years. Therefore, by definition the author is no longer alive when the work goes out of copyright. See here: Cornell copyright duration

  • Mags

    June 17, 2005, pm30 4:18 PM
    142

    Are all the defenders of ‘real writing’ – especially the ones who are writers – claiming that when you first started scribbling down stories those stories were carefully constructed works of utter originality or are you willing to admit you started out by filling a borrowed world with borrowed character types who followed Campellian hero plots?
    Out of curiousity, how do you stand on works like Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series which use copyrighted characters, with permission, but radically mess about with them (Miss Havisham as a romance reading speed-freak, for example)? Or Holmes pastishes, given that ACD remarked – after being asked if a playright could marry Holmes – “you may marry him, or murder him, or do what you like to him”? Or Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which used Allan Quatermain, The Invisible Man, Dr Jeckyll (& Mr Hyde, obviously), Mina Harker, Captain Nemo, Moriarty, Holmes and the aliens of three different Victorian Martian adventure stories? In short,if a work which borrows from other works is professionally published and the borrowed characters are either given with permission or out of copyright, do you still consider it to be a work of fanfic? Because according to the criteria being used here to denigrate fanfic – that it is unoriginal – these works are fanfic and to be derided.

  • rianax

    June 17, 2005, pm30 4:35 PM
    143

    You all take yourselves and fanfiction far to seriously.
    Fan fiction is produced by /fans/, people who breath, eat, sleep, discuss, argue, and write about their shared passion,(and spend copious amounts of time and money on it.)
    Posting a story to a blog or a website is hardly going to cut into the profits of whatever show, book, or what have you or even greatly affect it.
    Badly written, poorly plotted, or completely inane, fanfiction is an outlet and expression for the zeal that the fans feel for their particular beloved media. No more different than art being drawn in Miyazaki’s style, music created in inspiration of LOTR, or dressing up in a Stormtrooper costume to produce a fan video.
    The fan writers are not thieves, criminals, or pedophiles as it has been suggested in this forum.
    They are simply fans.

  • JD Rhoades

    June 17, 2005, pm30 6:13 PM
    144

    The fan writers are not thieves, criminals, or pedophiles as it has been suggested in this forum.
    They are simply fans.

    And here arises another point…these are people, we can assume, who are devoted consumers of your work. Even if you’re not thrilled with their attempts to duplicate it, even if it sucks donkey nuts, why kick your fans in the teeth?

  • Mark A. York

    June 17, 2005, pm30 6:15 PM
    145

    They are thieves who defile and abscond with copyrighted and sometimes trademarked material. They do so because they don’t have the mettle to create anything of their own. In short their vanity plagiarizers.

  • rosiew

    June 17, 2005, pm30 8:22 PM
    146

    Mark would you rather be a writer with no fans and no people who enjoy your work but be free from ‘thieves’ or be a writer who has a fan base who enjoys your work so much that they try to find a way to respond to it?

  • caroline

    June 17, 2005, pm30 9:05 PM
    147

    Mark–what about the writers, many of whom have been mentioned in this discussion already, who approve of and even encourage fan fiction? What about the ones who write it themselves? How can writing in those authors’ universes possibly be stealing if they encourage it? How can you say people who write it don’t have the mettle to create anything of their own when it’s already been pointed out that there are pro writers out there who DO indeed write fan fiction?
    Sweeping generalizations completely vitiate your argument.
    Creating new stories about existing people and mythologies has pretty much been around since Virgil wrote The Aeniad (well, before that, even. That was just the first example that came to my mind).
    I can understand and respect the reasons a writer might not like fan fiction. That’s fine–that’s your opinion and your right. It’s when histrionic hyperbole such as “ALL ‘real’ writers do or think this and don’t do or think that,” or “this group of people is soulless because I don’t like what they do,” starts getting tossed around that it’s a problem. Again, it only undermines your own arguments.

  • caroline

    June 17, 2005, pm30 9:16 PM
    148

    Lee–This is in response to your original entry, disregarding everything else:
    The email you received is not nearly indicative of “fandom” in general. I don’t believe that most of us would ever make such an absurd claim. If you look at shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Miracles (and many more), you’ll find that the writers are much more popular than even the actors on the shows. Many of them, Tim Minear being one example, have devoted followings of their own who will watch just about anything they take part in.

  • NOYB

    June 17, 2005, pm30 10:49 PM
    149

    Ah my. Just wandered through, and oh the illogic on the part of people who pompously regard themselves as “superior.” To begin at the beginning:
    A fan used Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s character, St. Germaine, without her permission in a fanzine story I presume that this St. Germaine is the historical figure? Based off of an historical figure? Why then, isn’t that Real Person Fanfic? Is all historical fiction then, glorified fanfic, in the opinions of the “real” authors, who are Undoubtedly superior to us Lowly plebes?
    It is in my opinion (which I said how many times?) that if you engage in fanfic as a hobby, job, whatever, you are not a real writer.
    Aren’t you then shooting this blogger in the foot with your phrasing? Because what is his job, if not fanfiction? Legally acceptable and semi-lucrative fanfiction, but fanfic nonetheless?
    The part I find most amusing about these discussions is that the FanFiccers don’t realize that everyone is making fun of them. Why do you think the topic keeps coming up here? Do you really think it’s because Lee is jealous of you, whoever you might be?
    Oh, I’m 100% aware that you Scholarly types here are poking fun at fanficcer’s expense. But the reason why it keeps coming up here is what mystifies me. Why would you repeatedly post about something that you didn’t like? Couldn’t you just wrap up why you didn’t like it in one post and be done with it? Mr. Goldberg’s insistance on harping on the subject seems to be an obsession of a sort, or some sort of insecurity on his part. At any rate, as much as you Much Lauded Types make fun of people who enjoy fanfic, the fanficcers themselves are having quite a hearty laugh at your pretention and illogic. It’s a lovely two-way street.
    Because we know that the stuff that’s knocked out because it’s “fun,” the stuff that’s “exercising the imagination,” the stuff that you write to free your inner self… it’s crap.
    Like that! Oh it just oozes off the page, doesn’t it? Tell me sir, do you ever freewrite? Or are you Above such matters as prewriting? Because writing what first comes to your head is what most people in a college-level writing class are encouraged to do by their professors.

  • Rachel Caine

    June 17, 2005, pm30 11:05 PM
    150

    Guyot said:
    Laura Anne Gilman. Rachel Caine.
    POD or vanity? I’m asking cuz I don’t know. And as soon as we hear from them, as opposed to someone dropping their name, I’m sure that will make things very entertaining around here.

    I believe the issue of whether I — er, Rachel Caine — is “POD or vanity” has been fairly thoroughly covered, although frankly I got totally damn tired reading the wanking, rudeness, and bullshit being slung around, so I’m not certain. (Surely we don’t need to dignify the question about Laura Anne Gilman. That’s just WRONG. And misinformed, at best. If you seriously don’t know who she is, for God’s sake, buy a clue.)
    But since I’m nowhere near famous, and frankly can’t understand why anybody would trouble to remember me except my creditors, I figured I’d set the record straight(er) about Rachel Caine in all her incarnations.
    (I only bother because several of the posters have not-so-kindly impugned my name, reputation as a writer, and no doubt my IQ, my moral fiber, and dress sense. For the record, I think my dress sense is actually quite adequate, except that I am currently in sweat pants and a t-shirt reading F*CK YOU, I’M FROM TEXAS that I never wear anywhere but around the house. Because I am not as rude nor as opinionated as several of those commenting here.)
    I am a writer. I have been a published writer — and I’m talking about legitimate press, thank you, Guyot, — since 1991. I have a looooong list of titles, most of which were only moderately successful in the grand midlist-y scheme of things. Horror, mystery, suspense, romantic suspense, and fantasy. All under either Roxanne Longstreet or Roxanne Conrad.
    I am now publishing with BenBella for nonfiction essays (as Roxanne Longstreet Conrad), Roc for fantasy (as Rachel Caine), Harlequin Bombshell for romance action/adventure (as Rachel Caine), and Fandemonium out of the UK for officially licensed Stargate SG-1 novels (as Julie Fortune). (And how much do you envy me getting paid in British pounds right now, with the insane exchange rate? Yeah? That’s what I thought.)
    Now, unlike some people who have strongly held — may I say fanatical? True believer? Jihadist? — opinions, I don’t pretend to be the arbiter of The One True Path To Writing Salvation. In fact, I was having dinner tonight with another author, who’s published about twice as many books as I have. We talked through story ideas and plot complications for a number of things we’re working on, and it was sheer delight — the enthusiasm and creative energy was very high.
    And yet, apparently, neither of us are “real” writers — award nominations notwithstanding. We have both written fanfic.
    Hell, fanfic isn’t evil. My mother thinks my original work is WAY more evil than anything I could ever write based on, say, Harry Potter or Stargate. My mother has had prayer groups formed on my behalf for fifteen years now, since she discovered I was writing the devil’s literature and putting things that aren’t real in my stories. I love her, but she’s a twee bit judgmental. Like, oh … some people who’ve posted here.
    So. I like writing fanfic. Is most fanfic, in general, crap? YES!
    Is most original fiction people write crap? YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES!
    And yet the prevailing wisdom seems to be that a derivative work that is well written and engaging is inferior to an original piece of total crap that has been rejected by a dozen magazines. Hmmmm. C’mon, guys. Be fair. Be reasonable, if you can’t be fair.
    Do writers have the right and indeed the duty to protect their own visions, their own work? Yes! Absolutely! And I completely respect their rights to do so. Their vision is ALWAYS the definitive version. (Mind you, in some cases, that is not a good thing. I do not exempt myself from this statement.)
    The book is always there, first, last, and always. Well … until it’s out of print and its remaindered little corpses are scattered dog-eared and pathetic around the clearance bin. And then we can all meet and whine over drinks about the good old days, when publishers really cared about building careers, and if only …
    Writers are lovely people, really, but we’re awful whiners.
    In closing, I wish nothing but success to all those writers who have posted here. Yes, even you, Guyot, who accused me of being vanity press, (hack, cough, spit) because I am a forgiving soul, it’s late, and I’m still on post-surgery pain medication, which sucks so very much.
    There. I feel better.
    — Rachel

  • Shadowed

    June 18, 2005, am30 1:35 AM
    151

    “”The part I find most amusing about these discussions is that the FanFiccers don’t realize that everyone is making fun of them. Why do you think the topic keeps coming up here? Do you really think it’s because Lee is jealous of you, whoever you might be?””
    No it’s moral indignation right? Well to quote a “Real” writer:
    Moral indignation:
    jealousy with a halo.
    Then again maybe H.G Wells isn’t up to your standards.

  • Betterwriter

    June 18, 2005, am30 6:20 AM
    152

    And what it all comes down to, is that Harry Potter gets more head than Lee Goldberg. Poor Lee Goldberg. But we are still not slashing you, even if you ask nicely.

  • Jessica

    June 18, 2005, am30 7:23 AM
    153

    I am a fan fiction author, and have been since 2000. I find it very discouraging for someone who is not a part of my fandoms (yes, I am well-rounded enough to actually have more than one) to sit and critique me without ever knowing my background or me. You have the advantage of being known, of having your background placed online, whereas I have to lock my journal online so no one knows it me because of bad experiences with people. However, that’s slightly irrelevant to the topic, at hand. But my background is one of someone who was constantly told I couldn’t write well at all, that I would never be a well-received writer. It wasn’t until I was 18 and started in fan fiction that I really started to gain the confidence to post my stories online. Why? Because I needed some help in learning to write, as an exercise. But you don’t know this (or want to know this because it’s far easier to be self-righteous without full knowledge), and lump me in with the very small majority of fic writers. Instead, you have lofty ideals and you sound as if you aren’t going to leave them for the entire world, which to me is something to be pitied. I’ve gained so many things from writing the fiction, including a better grasp on grammar (thanks to my betas, you know those proof readers that most decent fanfic writers use, and more than a few published writers could do well to use) that I never once received through public education. A lot of the betas are, in fact, English majors (or have degrees in the subject), and enjoy that part of the process as opposed to writing. I’m learning my strengths and weaknesses by using fandom because people will know what I’m aiming for, so that my original fiction will benefit from this informal education.
    And you know I am more than a little angry at being called a smut writer for underage children. I have never once written that, nor will I ever. Personally, that is nothing but trash, along with incest (and before you go all lofty again, VC Andrews helped promote that with Flowers in the Attic, so don’t just say it’s degenerative when one of the more known writers of my generation and the one before promoted it long before fan fiction did) and rape (which seemed to work for Luke and Laura on General Hospital and seems to have influenced everything media-related on the whole, since they were the “Super Couple” of the 80s after all). I found both as something I would not tolerate for my little brother to find by accident, and I when I ran my archives, I wouldn’t allow them. Did I make some people mad? Yes, but I had to do what I felt was best. Was there smut on the site? Yes, but there was a warning that clearly said if you are under 17, you may not read this, and that was all I could do, since I’m not the child in question’s parents, but I also had the option of deleting work that was mislabeled (such as incest, rape, underage sex, etc) and didn’t follow the rules. Oh, and I don’t write smut, because I don’t understand the dynamics. I know my limits. Apparently, being open-minded and asking us for why we do it is too logical than attacking someone you don’t know and ending up looking quite ridiculous.
    I am defensive, darn right. Because someone who doesn’t know me from Eve is making these snap judgments because of some people’s writings. There are always disclaimers on my work stating that the work isn’t mine and I’m not making a profit. Why? Because I don’t want the backlash. I write for the pure fun of it, as well as a learning exercise. I enjoy putting those background characters that will never be fleshed out by Mss Rowling, and giving them the chance to be important. The view is rather limited because of Harry’s perspective, and it’s only fair to me, to give the others the chance to evolve. But then, I’m soulless, aren’t I? According to you, in any case.
    If you have any issues, just email me. I’m not going to clutter up someone else’s blog. But I will be more than happy to tell all when I get back from work.

  • alden

    June 18, 2005, am30 7:29 AM
    154

    I read… about half of this, and I wanted to add my opinion.
    Yes, 99% of fanfiction is genuine, horrible, suicide-inducing bad writing. But that other 1%… Here, let me give you an example:
    I aspire to be a writer, but I don’t have the sufficient skills to completely build a world around characters, nor the age experience to write older, more interesting characters. When I see characters I relate to, that are interesting, etc. I feel like I want to write with them. I have only written for one fandom, and it is based in a complete other country. Most of the characters I use are completely ignored by the authour and only show up every so often. Yes, it is slightly arrogant to assume you can write as well as the author – I don’t, though. I just love the universe. I will write my own things, but I don’t write fanfiction because I’m a soulless asshole who wants to steal someone’s ideas. I don’t drop two characters in bed together. I actually read all the chapters, and analyse the characters so as to make sure I get everything right for that character. I try to bring the caracters to new situations, make good stories where I don’t have to spend 80-120 pages making my readers become invested in the characters.
    Do I want a profit from fanficton? No.
    Do I think fanfiction = original published writing? No.
    Do I believe that fanfiction is a haven for the people who can’t write? Yes.
    Do I think all fanfiction writers can’t write: Absolutely NOT. That is just a huge assumption on the scale of ‘All janitors are stupid and can’t get a better job’ or ‘All murderers are evil and they have evil in their hearts and should die.’
    Maybe I’m in a completely different set than those fanfiction writer’s you’re talking about. For one, I can’t (and wouldn’t) effect my fandom’s canon, and I don’t try to put myself as good as the writer, and I don’t piss all over their creations. So, really, I’m getting offended over nothing.

  • Red

    June 18, 2005, am30 7:49 AM
    155

    from here: http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2004/09/diagnosis_murde.html#comments
    “And yes, I do write DM for money… I’m a professional writer. But it’s not about the money for me — I make a lot more in television. The reason I write the books is because I have such a great time doing it…and I care about these characters as if I’d created them myself.”
    Pot, meet Kettle.

  • Kaoh

    June 18, 2005, am30 9:37 AM
    156

    Ok Red wins.
    Lee welcome to the internet, you just got owned.

  • Lee Goldberg

    June 18, 2005, am30 10:11 AM
    157

    And yes, I do write DM for money… I’m a professional writer. But it’s not about the money for me — I make a lot more in television. The reason I write the books is because I have such a great time doing it…and I care about these characters as if I’d created them myself.

    There is no contradiction or hypocrisy there at all. As I said to Jocelyn, in the comments to the “Difference Between Tie-Ins and Fanfic” post, I dolove writing the DM and MONK books. Would I write either of them if I wasn’t hired to do so? Hell no…because the characters aren’t mine. Given a choice between writing original books and tie-ins, I’d write original work.
    (And, in fact, when I had free time between assignments, I wrote THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE, which will be out in hardcover in November).
    I was offered contracts to write DM and MONK novels. I took the jobs even though the money isn’t even close to what I make in TV because I love writing books (and exercising different skills than writing scripts) and I love, in particular, writing those characters. But I wouldn’t even think of writing about someone else’s characters if a) I wasn’t asked to do so and b) without the consent of the author/creator/right’s holder…

  • Kelly

    June 18, 2005, am30 10:22 AM
    158

    The Man With The Iron Badge? There’s another book on the do not buy list.
    Honestly, I’m glad you guys are so successful that you can afford to offend a core group of fans.
    What’s that I hear in the background? Holly Lisle? You say that your books aren’t selling well? And Onyx got rejected eight times?
    Well, that really is too bad.

  • Josiah

    June 18, 2005, am30 10:32 AM
    159

    Lee, what happened, did a fanfic writer run over your dog or something?

  • rianax

    June 18, 2005, am30 11:26 AM
    160

    /They are thieves who defile and abscond with copyrighted and sometimes trademarked material. They do so because they don’t have the mettle to create anything of their own. In short their vanity plagiarizers./
    Well, the moral indignation seems in fine form this day.
    Copyrights and trademarks are not given the be all end all legal propections under US law, the confines of intellectual property are sharply timed and drawn in.
    You use terms like ‘defile’ and ‘abscond’– Harry Potter and Star Trek are hardly bastions of the sacred. You sound more like a holy roller that gets upset and pickets art galleries where Jesus is painted as an AIDS stricken gay man.
    Moral indignation aside, what real world measurable harm does fanfiction due? A hundred thousand stories might be posted on the Net,(to varying quality), but none of them cut into a drop of JK Rowling’s profits on her novels or even cause a flutter of change in the public perception of the books. Thieves of what, I ask–ideas, artistic vision, innovention? For legal theft to occur loss must be dealt and harm must be done same as legal libel.
    Posting a fanfic online is like posting an unpleasant post about someone, it might be hurtful, wrong, and stupid, but hardly a matter for cops and courts.
    Writers of fan fiction write because they adore the mediums that inspire them, nothing else. They have their own worlds, their own unique stories to play in, but that does not mean they can visit others as well.
    You might not like it but that hardly gives you the final judgement.
    I see love and occasionaly mindblowing talent; you see theft and unorginality. As the differene between beauty and debasement, it belongs in the eye of the beholder– not the law.

  • Tim

    June 18, 2005, pm30 2:06 PM
    161

    Note: the following does not reflect a like/dislike for fanfic, but addresses a real issue that goes hand in hand with fanfic.
    17 U.S.C. Sec. 106: “Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: … (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work ….” (Note that the law does not protect the author’s right to profit from derivative works, but the right to prepare derivative works, which is broader than the right to profit.)
    17 U.S.C. Sec. 101: “A ‘derivative work’ is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a ‘derivative work’.”
    Here’s one of the problems with fanfic: Assume that a fan creates a derivative work that is an “original work of authorship” (albeit unauthorized) and publishes it online. The fan probably isn’t going to have anything worth going after (i.e., no profits and virtually no chance of recovering the statutory damages for copyright infringement) and so the author/publisher is going to be out of pocket for most or all of the costs involved in stopping the fan (court costs, attorneys fees, etc.).
    However, the fan’s work is accessible to the author because it’s online. If the author later writes a book (having never seen the fan’s derivative work) that incorporates some idea found in the fan’s work (even though the author came up with it independently years earlier), the fan can sue the author/publisher (who does have money). After all, the fan created a derivative work and the author had access to the work (one of the requirements for proving copyright infringement and the reason studios return or trash submissions unopened). The fan might not win, but that doesn’t prevent the filing of a lawsuit. In fact, the fan may even argue that the author didn’t stop fanfic because the author used it for ideas. While a ridiculous argument, ridiculous arguments can win in court or at least cost a lot of money to defeat.
    Therefore, like the Marion Zimmer Bradley story related earlier in this thread, the author may be practically (if not legally) foreclosed from pursuing a story in a world that he/she created using characters that he/she created. And arguing that this isn’t a real concern is silly. If an author is making enough money, there is a real possibility that someone will find a lawyer willing to file the suit. This may be indicative of problems with our legal system, but it is our current system, and expecting authors to rely on their fans’ good graces to never file a suit is more trusting than I am. If someone is aware of a way for authors to avoid this problem other than stopping fanfic, or sees a flaw in the legal argument, I would be very interested in hearing it.
    And now on to a few personal comments that I originally promised myself I wouldn’t add.
    Copyrights and trademarks are not given the be all end all legal propections under US law, the confines of intellectual property are sharply timed and drawn in.
    Really? Would you care to discuss that? The only remaining IP consists of patents and trade secrets, neither of which applies here. The law makes it very clear that the right to derivative works is reserved to the author. You may not like it, but that’s the law and sweeping statements about IP law being “sharply timed and drawn in” (whatever that even means) are pointless unless you apply them to the facts at hand.
    Posting a fanfic online is like posting an unpleasant post about someone, it might be hurtful, wrong, and stupid, but hardly a matter for cops and courts.
    Actually, it is. That’s what copyright law is for and, as I stated above, there are real legal ramifications to publishing fanfic where it is accessible to everyone. You may not want to acknowledge the issue or you may think that it is unlikely to happen, but that doesn’t make it go away. If a fanfic writer refuses to respect an author’s wishes, the author has no other recourse than to go to court. Which leads to my next comment.
    I enjoy putting those background characters that will never be fleshed out by Mss Rowling, and giving them the chance to be important. The view is rather limited because of Harry’s perspective, and it’s only fair to me, to give the others the chance to evolve.
    On a personal note, I find it interesting that many (not all) fanfic writers seem to reflect the attitude so nicely summarized in the above comment. “Only fair?” I wasn’t aware that an author owed it to anyone to be “fair.” And I also find it interesting that fanfic authors want to be treated with respect, but aren’t willing to respect the author who created the original material and actually has the legal right to it.

  • Tim

    June 18, 2005, pm30 2:30 PM
    162

    One additional point is that, if an author consistently fails to protect his/her copyrights, the doctrine of laches may at some point be applied to prevent recovery of any damages whatsoever for certain acts of infringement. A basic “use it or lose it” principle of equity.

  • blank

    June 18, 2005, pm30 3:05 PM
    163

    Here’s what I don’t get. Lee Goldberg says he doesn’t like fanfic and hundreds of fan fiction writers go into a tizzy. If he’s the insignificant hack they all say he is, why should they care what he thinks or what he posts on his blog?

  • Crawford

    June 18, 2005, pm30 3:19 PM
    164

    I had wanted to avoid adding to the general wanking going about, but after stumbling upon so many unfounded lies being thrown out by Mr. Goldberg and his companions, I decided to throw my hat into the ring…
    What I love most about detractors of fanfiction is that, more often than not, they’ve never really read a good deal of it. Sure, they’ve read a crappy piece put out by some reject of the public schools; but they rarely (if ever) go and read the fics that are heralded as being of good quality. Every fandom has them: the sparkling gems amid the rubbish. Yet Mr. Goldberg, and his supporters don’t want to see it.
    Fanfiction is a way for the fans to show the author how much they enjoy the world that he/she has created. In some cases it may serve as a way for the author to see what it is that the fans like best/worst about their work. Yes, there are those small few who take their appreciation too far. But those types will always do so, in any number of ways. To judge an entire community on them only serves to make you look like the fool.

  • Crawford

    June 18, 2005, pm30 3:21 PM
    165

    Here’s what I don’t get. Lee Goldberg says he doesn’t like fanfic and hundreds of fan fiction writers go into a tizzy. If he’s the insignificant hack they all say he is, why should they care what he thinks or what he posts on his blog?
    The same could be asked of him. If the fanfic community is so laughable, and beneath him, why continuously bring it up?

  • theotherblank

    June 18, 2005, pm30 3:28 PM
    166

    Easy, Crawford. ATTENTION.
    ‘Cause from what I’ve seen, when he’s not wanking his private bits raw with hypocrisy and illogical moral indignation (read: jealousy), no one reads this POS.

  • Kaoh

    June 18, 2005, pm30 3:33 PM
    167

    Crawford how could you? Being as disrespectful as to suggest that fanfic is praise? Once more you use Earth Logic. Things such as that have no place here!

  • Sky

    June 18, 2005, pm30 4:25 PM
    168

    Really interesting discussion here, it’s been really enlightening.
    I’m going to comment here as a fan. Nothing more or less. I’m not an expert in copyright law or anything of that nature.
    I just think that in the end the argument about fanfiction is circular. It’s the what came first argument – the chicken or the egg. Professional writers create for an audience. Even when storytelling was an oral tradition, it was subject to interpretation, speculation, and conjuncture. I can’t help but imagine the poor guy who first told the story coming upon someone who’s telling the story for the 500th time and thinking, “what the hell is this? That’s not how it happened!”
    If professional writers want to 100% own their creations, then they should write their brilliant manuscripts, keep it tucked away on a shelf somewhere, and pull it out every once in awhile to pat themselves on the back about how absolutely genius and original their work is.
    I am not arguing that fanfiction writers have any claim to the financial rights of the original creator’s work. My point is – who’s asking for that? With the exception of a few out their people, most fanfiction writers are very careful to recognize that they don’t own the work.
    However, here’s the fact – whether it’s appreciated or not – once professional writers have their work out there to be consumed by the masses it is not 100% theirs anymore. Deal with it.
    You can argue about copyright and legal interpretation until you’re blue in the face. The bottom-line is, as it has always been, that once you have an audience reading, interrupting, speculating and conjuring about your work, there is always going to be other people playing in your world. Fanfiction is just another form of this.
    I can’t help but wonder if JK Rowling and Harry Potter would have been the international sensation they are if it wasn’t for the internet and all that it entails – including fandom and fanfiction.
    I have no doubt that JK Rowling knows that there are literally thousands of stories about her books and characters written by fans. However, to date I have yet to see her condemn fanfiction as a whole. Yes, she has commented about inappropriate material getting into the hands of her younger fans, but she hasn’t stepped up on a pedestal and proclaimed that this form of fan appreciation is “vandalism.” Why? I can’t help but think it’s because she’s smarter than that.
    There is no such thing as a completely, 100% original idea. Most professional writers are so not because they are literary geniuses (there are very few of those in the world, as far as I’m concerned.) They become professional writers because they were hired or lucky enough to find someone who believed in them and their work enough to give them the chance to be published. The notion that you can only be a “real writer” if you are published or getting paid for it is ridiculous – and talk about arrogant.
    The idea that it is “absolutely impossible” for someone who is writing fanfiction today to make the jump to professional writing is presumptions and a little ludicrous.
    I’ll conclude and say that even if so called “real writers” get their way and fanfiction starts getting targeted, you don’t win by making your fans public enemy number one.

  • pepper

    June 18, 2005, pm30 4:31 PM
    169

    So, anybody on this blog know Joss Whedon? He works in television too. Creator and exec producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, (7 seasons, 5 seasons, 1 season and a major motion picture respectively.) I’d say he’s rather successful by any means of measurement. Also, he’s signed on to do Wonder Woman.
    What does a big time writer, director, producer, and creator think of fanfic?
    http://www.buffy.nu/article.php3?id_article=1086
    I think the Internet is beyond important in terms of fans communing, becoming a community and growing. People writing each other and writing fiction, and writing, well, porn. All of these things that do what I always wanted Buffy to do, which was exist outside of the TV show. Enter people’s own personal ethos. The Internet has been a big part in how that has happened.
    http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue128/interview.html
    How do you feel about the cultural impact of Buffy? The comics, merchandise, fan fiction, etc?
    Whedon: Again, the show was designed to be the kind of show that people would build myths on, read comics about, that would keep growing. So naturally, I’m wicked pleased that it’s entering people’s consciousness. I obviously can’t read [fan fiction], but the fact is there seems to be a great deal of it, and that’s terrific. I wished I’d had that outlet as a youngster, or had the time to do it now.”
    And
    “On the subject of fanfic I am aware that a good part of it is naughty. My reaction to that is mixed: on one hand, these are characters played by friends of mine, and the idea that someone is describing them in ‘full naughtitude’ is a littlr creepy. On the other hand, eroticising the lives of fictional characters you care about is something we all do, if only inside our heads, and certainly it shows that people care. So I’m not really against erotic fic and I certainly don’t mind the other kind.”
    Quote from ‘Slayer’ the unofficial guide to Buffy the vampire slayer.
    Q: What should fans do now that they’ll have an extra hour free in their schedule?
    Joss Whedon: What should they do with that hour? Write fan fic.
    http://actionadventure.about.com/cs/weeklystories/a/aa041903.htm
    (21.04.2003)
    And I guarentee you, when someone hears Whedon’s name, they don’t think “Who the fuck is Joss Whedon” and do a google search of his name, as I was forced to do for Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Guyot.
    Or does his opinions not count?

  • Red

    June 18, 2005, pm30 4:47 PM
    170

    “Would I write either of them if I wasn’t hired to do so? Hell no…because the characters aren’t mine. … and I love, in particular, writing those characters. But I wouldn’t even think of writing about someone else’s characters if a) I wasn’t asked to do so and b) without the consent of the author/creator/right’s holder… … Given a choice between writing original books and tie-ins, I’d write original work.”
    Let’s look at it this way. I’m not contracted to prove you wrong – I’m just someone your comments coaxed out of lurkdom. You’re not being paid to attack fanfiction. In the end, this argument is pointless because you have nothing new to bring to the table and I won’t see a check in the mail. No one asked us to be here. Yet here we are – meeting on common ground and arguing our opposing viewpoints because of nothing more than our interests in the subject.
    While we’re here I’d like to introduce you to a fundamental fact: storytelling is a part of the human experience.
    Whether or not it is an original idea that human is telling stories about is something else.
    The important factor that makes or breaks a storyteller is the audience, and we do not like being compared to thieves and rapists when we further explore the original version in the form of a new story instead of intellectual discussion or pushing questions at the creator.
    The wall you think exists between your legitimate “authorized, derivative” writing and fan fiction is only as thick as the greenbacks it’s built from. The only difference between your “tie-ins” and a fan’s website is money – not so much the check you get in the mail but that some one thinks they can make money from your work.
    Lastly, since you’re so uppity about permission and rights check out http://creativecommons.org/ Creative Commons Licenses. This is intended to protect both the author copyrights and defines how much the fans can play around with that work, legally (as much slack as the author wishes to give at any rate).

  • frakman

    June 18, 2005, pm30 6:39 PM
    171

    Hey, Red, you’re missing the fucking point. Goldberg has only stated if fifty-fucking-thousand times, you moron.. Goldberg says if the creators/authors give their permission, there’s no problem. Whedon approves of “Buffy” fanfic so Goldberg’s cool with that. But you’ll notice that Whedon says that even though he approves of fanfiction, he can’t read any of it because he’s afraid he’ll get sued by some fanficcer for stealing THEIR stuff. Those are fanficcers for you. A bunch of twelve year olds with modems.

  • Anonymous

    June 18, 2005, pm30 7:27 PM
    172

    If every fanficcer sued the creators, the American court system would have to go into overload to process all the lawsuits. Just because there are a few *rare* nutjobs who try to sue doesn’t mean every fanfic writer has a lawyer in their pocket.
    Besides, if fanfic is so completely illegal, how could it stand up in court? Unless it had some status under fair use laws…

  • Marianne

    June 18, 2005, pm30 7:52 PM
    173

    Fanficcer here, feeling like she’s stepping into a nest of vipers.
    This exchange is enlightening, because although we hear rumours in the fanfic community about C&D’s, and authors being uncomfortable with the direction some fanfic takes, we usually insulate ourselves for the harsh reality of ‘real’ publishing.
    You did present a very good question. Why do people share their work? The reason for that is also very simple. People want feedback. People want their writing to be analyzed, picked apart piece by piece. Sharing fanfiction and getting a positive response helps build self-confidence and often, a person doesn’t experience the same pressure that they might when publishing a completely original piece.
    Writing fanfiction made me a writer. The original novel was daunting. My pieces based upon someone else’s works were approachable. And I could take them down and forget they existed some day. They are not real, they are practice. And yes, they are fun.
    In the year that I have written fanfiction, I’ve learned priceless lessons about writing. The most important of them were how to keep going through depression, housework, and slumps. The chapters were already posted. I had ‘fans.’ I had to keep going, or my inbox would be overflowing with ‘when are you going to update?’ emails. (I exaggerate. I only wish.) The feedback of fan reviews was my lifeline. Under the same real-life circumstances that I endured this year, my original novel never would have survived.
    You know, this may be the heart of the whole dispute. Because the professional writers here know one thing — writing is hard work. It’s not the thing you do because you’re lying in bed and want to relax. It’s not the fun little hobby that frees up your brain to do the important stuff. It’s your work, and it’s your life.
    Writing good fanfiction is hard work, if you are conscientious about it. And one of the things I’ve learned through fanfiction is just how hard it can be to produce thirty pages of coherent prose and dialogue, that have a logical flow and actually stay within the outline.
    Being conscientious, I’ve enlisted the services of ‘beta’ readers with journalism degrees and writing backgrounds. I’ve asked to tear my work to pieces. That was even harder. They do it for no charge, because they, too, love fanfiction. You don’t get this kind of feedback as a beginning writer, unless you hire someone, or spend a lot of money taking classes. If you send your manuscripts out into the world, often you don’t even get a letter back saying why it was rejected. I have three people who willingly pick through every page of my work. I do it for others, and benefit from the experience. There are little communities of fanfiction writers like this, where good writing and good writers evolve.
    As I prepare to wrap up my fanfiction stories, and move into my original creations, I know that my chances of success are about 1000x what they would have been a year ago. The writing got into my blood, and won’t let go. Before it was just a pipe dream. The story will get written faster, and be in good shape after its first draft. I know this, because I’ve already learned the process through fanfiction.
    I believe this is why J.K. Rowling is quoted as saying that when she discovered the fanfiction based upon her works it was ‘like Christmas in August.’ She’s inspired a lot of dreck and some disgusting fantasies, that is true, but also a lot of people who’ve developed their own writing talents through her work.
    And, yeah, if the novel ever gets published, I will never divulge my fanfic pen name.

  • Aaron

    June 18, 2005, pm30 9:32 PM
    174

    I would like say something here.
    There’s another view to this that many people seem to have locked themselves off from.
    You can find it, in the Japanese Manga industry. Often, after a volume is published, the fan-base responds. Doujinshi, fan-made manga, is published by small groups. Do the Japanese clamp down on their fans and their controversial creations? No, in general, they do not.
    It’s within their legal rights to do so, of course. However, they look upon the work as something greater than a mere destruction of theirs. It shows that the are fans, devoted to the story. It even may boost the popularity of the original work, as a form of free advertising.
    Imitation will always be the highest form of praise.
    I think many writers lose track of the difference between what they have given, and what they have. They have given a work to the people, they have given them inspiration. They still have the original ideas, the original work. And the fan-made fiction can’t do much but elevate their visibility.
    If one wishes to deny the results of their work on the minds of others, they clearly do not deserve access to those minds in the first place.

  • PlainJane

    June 18, 2005, pm30 9:53 PM
    175

    *giggles*
    From what I gather this all boils down to the fact that poor wittle Lee Goldberg is jealous because nobody wants to write fanficion about his work.
    *pats Lee on the head*
    Do you want a cookie? Pacifer? Your blanky?

  • Shadowed

    June 18, 2005, pm30 10:08 PM
    176

    Well Aaron two things differ here. One they actually sell doujinshi(as manufacturing them is expensive) That and the fact that most of the Manga creators of this generation started as doujin artists. So they realize it does no harm even though money is being exchanged for the work.

  • Bette

    June 18, 2005, pm30 10:43 PM
    177

    Heh. Diagnosis Murder. ‘nuf said. Oh, and I like to pirate bestsellers on Limewire.

  • Deb

    June 19, 2005, pm30 5:08 PM
    178

    I have not read all the comments on fanfic yet but as far as it being a hobby but not real writing. I have a comparison for you.
    I own horses. I have spent 40 years riding, taking lessons, listening to teachers. I will never make money off my animals, only win a few blue ribbons and maybe a trophy or two. Yet – I am every bit the horseperson as anyone with money-winning race horses. I’m a rider because I took the time to learn and the years to practice.
    The same with fanfic. I’m not interested in money – only in writing. I’m as good a writer as any pro – I just don’t get paid.
    Just like with the horses, I do it for the fun, the companionship and the ego boast.

  • Robert

    June 19, 2005, pm30 6:12 PM
    179

    I have to say I’ve been a bit surprised by the comments on both sides of this argument.
    I don’t read fanfic. I have no desire to see what random folk are pretending might happen with characters someone else created – if I like a book I’ll stick with the author’s vision, thanks all the same.
    But having said that, I don’t see that it’s quite thieving or defacing the author’s work, either. I’m a lawyer and a writer and while I would certainly object to someone attempting to profit off another’s work, or even continuing to distribute a piece if the author has specifically requested them not to, I’m not sure that there is really any damage in letting people use fanfic as an outlet (be it to improve their own writing or just as an expression of their thoughts and feelings about characters they really loved). If there is fanfic out there that the author objects to, fanfic writers should respect their wishes and remove it from public accessibility.
    I think both sides of the fence here are getting a bit too excited and a bit too snarky at each other. People on both sides have managed to say things I find offensive (such as the implication that scifi/fantasy writers are some kind of contemptible subset of writers while “mainstream” authors would never sink to such lows, or the minor comment above about ‘public school rejects’ – forgive me if I have my own personal gripes with private school snobs who think that because their parents have money they are somehow more intelligent or talented than their financially poorer peers).
    But aren’t we all – sort of – in the same camp here? Everyone here seems to be a writer (and don’t give me the crap about “real writers” – a writer is someone who writes. Period.) and whether you’re on training wheels and feel that fanfic is within your grasp but you’re too intimidated to lash out on your own, or whether you’re a full on professional, we’re all still people who write because we want to, or need to. Sure, we have different opinions about whether fans should be allowed to write their own little ‘spin-offs’, but there is still some commonality here.
    If you’re a published writer and you don’t want fans writing fanfic, say so, by all means. Post it prominently on your website or blog or whatever. I know of several authors who have. And if you’re a fanfic writer and you want to write about those authors’ worlds/characters – hold it in, kiddos. Write it if you want, show it to your friends if you want, but keep it the hell off the internet and out of reach of the public. Honor the wishes of the author you’re supposedly a fan of. On the other hand, if you’re an author who doesn’t care, or who finds it flattering – say that, too. And if you’re worried about porn spin offs, particularly if you’re writing for younger readers, please tell people to stay off that turf, too. I guarantee there are authors who sit in all different camps.
    So my bit of advice:
    Fanfic writers, it won’t kill you to restrict yourselves to writing about worlds where it isn’t offending the author to do so. The world won’t end if everyone doesn’t see your musings.
    Authors who are getting on their high horse about publishing fanfic about OTHER WRITERS’ WORLDS, particularly other writers who DON’T CARE AND WHO HAVE MADE THAT CLEAR, climb off that ole horse and leave that up to the person it concerns. You don’t have the right to tell JK Rowling she shouldn’t let people write fanfic. It’s her call.
    And geesh, everyone, stop being so damn nasty to each other!
    Bob.

  • BrendantheJedi

    June 19, 2005, pm30 6:14 PM
    180

    As a fanfic writer myself I am appualed by your comments Mr. Goldberg. We fanfic writers do not intend to steal work of these writers. A majority of fanfiction is written as a tribute to a series we like. I do not intend to claim that we are more emotionally attached than most writters (except, of course, who do care about what they have made), but we do have an emotional attachment. I know you might find a legion of Cosplayers weird, but we don’t care. We just meerly love a series, whether it be X-Files, Star Trek, or any Anime.
    Sometimes a series might have ended a little soon for a viewer. So he’ll write a sequel to applease himself. Like for example, I write FLCL fanfiction. FLCL was a series that was only 6 episodes. Sometimes a viewer wonders what would have happened if something had happened differently. Then the viewer might write a fic of what would have happened in the theoriretical situation that that thing had not happened. Say what would happened if Anakin had beaten Obi-Wan on Mustafar. Wouldn’t that have been interesting? Then the persons writes a fic about that.
    Yes, I know we fans can be a little too obsessive at times. It is evident by the amount of Cloud/Sephoroth slash, and when people imagine themselves having sex with a character. Heck there is even a site devoted to it (http://www.journalfen.net/community/fandom_wank/), which was I found out about your comments. But still many of us fans do not do this to make money, or have glory like you do. We do out of apprication most of time. Seriously you and Anne Rice should take a page from J.K. Rowling. If someone makes something based off of your work, be proud that someone care enough about your work to make their own story about your stuff.

  • Kaoh

    June 19, 2005, pm30 7:47 PM
    181

    Just about the Cloud/Sephoroth slash stuff. Sqaure based Cloud off of Gackt(An openely Bi-sexual singer) to intrest the female fans(I’m sure with the knowledge that slash would be written)
    So that could be called following the creators wishes.

  • Crawford

    June 19, 2005, pm30 9:53 PM
    182

    Just about the Cloud/Sephoroth slash stuff. Sqaure based Cloud off of Gackt(An openely Bi-sexual singer) to intrest the female fans(I’m sure with the knowledge that slash would be written)
    So that could be called following the creators wishes.

    Actually…Gackt was the base for Squall of FFVIII. Diuring his stint in a popular rock band he had donned a leather get up that’s pretty much a dead-ringer for Squall’s outfit. The only difference being that Gackt’s shirt was grey, and showed off his abs. And the lack of belts.
    Thus ends by bit of rabid fangirl knowledge.

  • Kaoh

    June 20, 2005, am30 1:19 AM
    183

    Damn, well G4 has been going downhill so it wouldn’t surprise me that Icons got that wrong.
    But hey I guess that means Barret/Cloud would be the OTP.

  • BrendantheJedi

    June 20, 2005, am30 9:30 AM
    184

    Odd, but hey, whatever works for you. I truely prefer Cloud-Yuffie (though that because Aeris is dead), but I’m sort of a Yuffie fanboy.
    Yet that is the Genius of Fanfiction. People can disagree and write what they think would happen. One person could think Tifa was made for Cloud, while others could make some Yuffie/Tifa pairing or make OT3 of Yuffie, Cloud, and Tifa. It allows us overimagintive fans to be able to go outside of the Canonacle box and do something besides debating the end of Cowboy Bebop on some lone internet forum(though you could easily create a fic where Spike lives or dies while you’re at it). It allows us young people (I’m admitably 15) to devlop writing skills. Devlop them enough and we could start creating our own original work.
    So tell me Mr. Goldberg, what is so wrong about Fanfiction. All I’ve seen is you just try to flame people who like fanfiction. That was so Genius bringing up that ubscure quote to aviod the argument by saying that we are mentally unstable. Yes, some fanfiction is bad. Yes certian fics are filled with Mary Sues, commit Canon Rape, and are just fanboy/fangirl fantasies, but not all fanfiction is like that. And if you don’t like fanfiction, just to ignore it exists. It isn’t canon, so it shouldn’t matter to a “real” writer. Plus no one claims to truely own any series of the series we base our work on (most fics have the “I don’t own this series” warning).
    Remember sir, most fanfiction is in tribute (except maybe Zero Wing fanfiction which all 16 pieces were spawned by All Your Base). So if you see some Monk fiction, pity us fans instead of calling your lawyer.

  • Kaoh

    June 20, 2005, am30 10:15 AM
    185

    I was kidding(There is an easter egg where you can get Barret to ask Cloud out)

  • brihana25

    June 20, 2005, pm30 7:05 PM
    186

    My name is brihana, and I write fan fiction. I’ve been writing it for more than 20 years, and I think I’m actually pretty good at it. However, I’m not here to talk only about myself; I’m here to introduce you to myself and my fellow fanfic writers (because it seems to me, from what I’m reading here, that a large number of you have never been properly introduced to us).
    We are fan fiction writers.
    We are mostly women, though a few of us are men, and a few more of us are children. We are obstetricians, copyright attorneys, journalists and college professors. We are anthropologists, surgeons, high school teachers and computer technicians. We are graphic artists, daycare providers, full-time mothers and corporate executives. We are business owners, museum curators, screenwriters and painters. We are college students, telecommunications specialists, system administrators and editors. We are geneticists, divorce lawyers, secretaries and factory workers. We are film critics, research assitants, video technicians and professional authors. We are political essayists and politicians. We are cartoonists and publishers.
    And that’s only a few of us.
    We are, on the whole, a group of highly-educated individuals who have a desire to tell stories, using characters that have already been established and plots that have not. We feel an indescribable urge to create situations and characters and cities and entire planets that have never been created before, and to blend them as seamlessly as possible with characters that we love.
    We are not obsessive stalkers. We not self-delusional miscreants. We are not soulless heathens. We are not liars, cheats or thieves. We are not vandals. We are not criminals. For though there is no law in existence that justifies what we do, there is also no law in existence that criminalizes it, and if such a law did exist or if the people in authority over our respective fandoms told us to stop, the vast majority of us would.
    But we are writers. We put pen to paper on a daily basis, and we tell stories that no one has ever told before in ways that no one else ever has. We do build worlds and we do spawn original characters and we do weave stories that we want to tell. We do work at our craft and we do strive to improve ourselves and our art.
    And I would argue that writing within established parameters and for existing characters is actually harder than creating originals. We must make our stories fit within clearly established guidelines. Our plots must fit the characters that we have to work with, and we do not have the liberty of creating a new personality trait in order to avoid creating a plothole. If we write ourselves, and these characters, into a corner, we must write our way out – we do not have the luxury of saying, “I created these characters, and I can make them walk through the wall.”
    Because you see, in our minds, being a writer has nothing to do with how much money we make, or how many people read our stories, or whose permission we do or do not have. In our minds, it’s the story that is important, and the way we tell it.
    We write for love, not for money.
    Maybe that’s too much for some of you to accept. Maybe that’s too hard for some of you to understand. And I doubt that a single word I’ve said will make the slightest bit of difference within the context of this discussion, because you see, I’m one of the no-talent soulless heathens, and I don’t have the “stuff” inside to be a real writer. I don’t have the “soul” of a writer.
    If I did, then I would understand that creative expression is only an artform if I make money doing it. If I did, then I would understand that having permission to write a media tie-in novel is more important than being able to tell a compelling story. If I did, then I would understand that science fiction and fantasy writers aren’t real writers either, and I’d throw my Orson Scott Card and JRR Tolkein novels out with the garbage.
    And to tell you the truth, if part of being a real writer is being an arrogant, condescending, presumptuous elitist with more regard for my profit margins than my chosen craft, then I hope to hell I never become one.

  • Courtney

    June 20, 2005, pm30 11:01 PM
    187

    “But aren’t we all – sort of – in the same camp here? Everyone here seems to be a writer”… “we’re all still people who write because we want to, or need to. Sure, we have different opinions about whether fans should be allowed to write their own little ‘spin-offs’, but there is still some commonality here.” … “And geesh, everyone, stop being so damn nasty to each other!”
    Robert really hit it on the mark, I think; but everyone sort of ignored him because he forgot we’re all here because we ALSO like to argue. 😉
    For what it’s worth, I think that would be the consensus eventually. If we stopped, that is. =P

  • CEP

    June 21, 2005, am30 6:45 AM
    188

    The real problem with this whole debate is the false dichotomy. Joss Whedon approves of fanfic? Fine. That’s his call; his legal, moral, and ethical choice. As to his own works. Whedon’s approval does not act as approval of fanfic based on, say, Holly Lisle’s works. The converse, of course, is also true: Holly’s specific denial of permission to create fanfic based on her works doesn’t act as disapproval of Buffy fanfic. There are more than two choices here (“fanfic unacceptable” or “fanfic acceptable”): Some fanfic is unacceptable and some fanfic is acceptable; the point is that it’s not the potential fanfic author’s choice as to whether it’s acceptable.
    If the author (or other rights holder—e.g., Paramount for Star Trek) explicitly approves of fanfic, or explicitly approves of fanfic with certain restrictions, have at it. Absent that approval, though, don’t take it upon yourself as a potential fanfic author to assume that approval, or force that approval, or whatever. And don’t accuse an author of some kind of moral shortcomings, or disrespect for the fans who allegedly made him/her the towering figure of letters that he/she is today, if the author denies that permission. By analogy, your parents’ refusal of permission to use the car last Saturday night didn’t (necessarily) mean they don’t respect you; maybe they had other uses for the car, maybe they don’t want the car pulled over in the part of town where you were proposing to take it, maybe it needed maintenance, maybe… you get the idea.
    The whole point of intellectual property law (copyright, trademark, etc.) is to give the originator of the property control over its use. Control, however, is a choice, not an obligation in the same way as “thou shalt not murder.” Some authors choose not to exercise some or all of that control. That’s their choice. Absent an explicit choice, though, control remains where it was originally assigned: With the originator.
    I disapprove of fanfic on a lot of substantive grounds; but then, I’m a curmudgeon who disapproves of a lot of non-fanfic on substantive grounds. Not just as a lawyer, but as a reader and literary scholar (even if I didn’t ever finish that dissertation). Sturgeon was an optimist: More than 90% of everything is crap—and I do not exclude commercially published works from either “everything” or the 90%. It’s that search for the worthwhile 5% that keeps me reading.

  • CEP

    June 21, 2005, am30 6:47 AM
    189

    The real problem with this whole debate is the false dichotomy. Joss Whedon approves of fanfic? Fine. That’s his call; his legal, moral, and ethical choice. As to his own works. Whedon’s approval does not act as approval of fanfic based on, say, Holly Lisle’s works. The converse, of course, is also true: Holly’s specific denial of permission to create fanfic based on her works doesn’t act as disapproval of Buffy fanfic. There are more than two choices here (“fanfic unacceptable” or “fanfic acceptable”): Some fanfic is acceptable and some fanfic is acceptable; the point is that it’s not the potential fanfic author’s choice as to whether it’s acceptable.
    If the author (or other rights holder—e.g., Paramount for Star Trek) explicitly approves of fanfic, or explicitly approves of fanfic with certain restrictions, have at it. Absent that approval, though, don’t take it upon yourself as a potential fanfic author to assume that approval, or force that approval, or whatever. And don’t accuse an author of some kind of moral shortcomings, or disrespect for the fans who allegedly made him/her the towering figure of letters that he/she is today, if the author denies that permission. By analogy, your parents’ refusal of permission to use the car last Saturday night didn’t (necessarily) mean they don’t respect you; maybe they had other uses for the car, maybe they don’t want the car pulled over in the part of town where you were proposing to take it, maybe it needed maintenance, maybe… you get the idea.
    The whole point of intellectual property law (copyright, trademark, etc.) is to give the originator of the property control over its use. Control, however, is a choice, not an obligation in the same way as “thou shalt not murder.” Some authors choose not to exercise some or all of that control. That’s their choice. Absent an explicit choice, though, control remains where it was originally assigned: With the originator.
    I disapprove of fanfic on a lot of substantive grounds; but then, I’m a curmudgeon who disapproves of a lot of non-fanfic on substantive grounds. Not just as a lawyer, but as a reader and literary scholar (even if I didn’t ever finish that dissertation). Sturgeon was an optimist: More than 90% of everything is crap—and I do not exclude commercially published works from either “everything” or the 90%. It’s that search for the worthwhile 5% that keeps me reading.

  • Jonquil

    June 21, 2005, am30 7:55 AM
    190

    By and large, the defenders of fanfic are making carefully bounded statements. Some fanficcers write well. Some fanfic is authorized by the creator. Some fanficcers are crazies that you wouldn’t want to share oxygen with.
    However, the other side of the debate insists on saying “All fanficcers are soulless plagiarists who live in their mothers’ basements and can’t write a simple declarative sentence.” When people bring up examples of contradictions to these statements (“Joss Whedon permits fanfic”; “I, Rachel Caine, write both fanfic and fiction”; “So-and-so wrote a sonnet redouble about Buffy”), we are greeted with momentary silence, followed in an hour or so by a reassertion of the refuted argument.

  • Nicky

    June 21, 2005, am30 8:36 AM
    191

    For me fanfiction writing was something I did when I was young, very young. It was how I … hm, figured out I wanted to write at all. As I got older I stopped writing fanfiction because it wasn’t satisfying any longer. I wanted my OWN characters, my OWN world… and my own integrity.To this day the only people who have read my adventures in fanfiction are online friends. I just can’t bring myself to show the work to anyone else.
    I think there is a place for fanfiction, but I do think most fanficcers take their hobby far too seriously. I also think if an author requests that people NOT write fanfiction, that you shouldn’t be posting your stories about that author’s works online. If you MUST write, then keep it to yourself.
    On another note, some people make big MONEY writing fanfiction, of a sorts. Sev Trek, is really just a MYST, which in turn is a form of fanfiction. Barry Trotter, once again… a MYST IE: fanfiction. I have tons of unauthorized parodies in my home that I paid good money for. Aren’t these ‘unauthorized’ parodies fanfiction?
    Just my two bits.

  • orange852

    June 21, 2005, pm30 4:35 PM
    192

    I’m not a writer of any kind, so maybe I have no place whatsoever at this table, but…I easily spend eight hours a week reading fiction, and have done since junior high. Prior to 1998, I met my reading needs at the bookstore. Post-1998, I meet the majority of my reading needs for the low monthly rate of an internet connection.
    Knock yourselves out reviling me as a mouth-breathing moron because I mostly read the masturbatory maunderings of soulless hacks if it makes you feel better. My money is in my pocket, not yours, and I strongly suspect that’s the real problem for “real” writers.
    Prostitutes get paid to have sex. Other people make love for free. Who’s soulless there?

  • Cate

    June 22, 2005, am30 2:14 AM
    193

    I’d like to ask something I’m curious about.
    Do you not consider Shakespeare a ‘real’ writer then? Because very little of Shakespeare’s work is that ‘original’ whose horn you’ve been trumpeting so much. From Hamlet to Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare drew upon older tales and works, filtered them through the lens of his own genius, and produced the works that are today regarded as pinnacles of the literary canon.
    The original works have disappeared. The fanfiction remains.
    The English Literary canon is one huge incestuous mess, which I have just spent a year of my life learning about.
    It has flame wars, too. Ever read Shelley’s To Wordsworth?
    Ever heard of Bloomsian theory? Otherwise known as the Anxiety of Influence? It describes writers’ anxieties about the literary ‘giants,’ both their fear of and fasination with, the desire to emulate and the desire to overcome. It’s all rather Freudian.
    Fanfiction writers are, at least, neither self-deluding nor hypocritical about their relationship to their master text.
    The Anxiety of Influence argues that a text cannot be viewed in isolation, but that it must be placed in its literary context and the influences that produceed it analysed.
    If you take the postmodernist view that history itself is a narrative, a story, than any historical piece of fiction, or any work that refers to historical events at all is a piece of fanfiction.
    Milton’s Paradise Lost! A rewrite of Genesis, which in many ways has come to dominate perceptions of that story over and above the Bible’s version. And many fanfiction writers would consider it a ‘bad’ piece of fanfiction, given that it plays fast and loose with the estabished canon.
    Tom Stoppards Rosencrantz and Guildernstern! The Wide Sargasso Sea! Both are what my lecturers have been calling ‘direct rewrites,’ of Hamlet and Jane Eyre respectively, but could also be called ‘fanfictions.’
    Fanfiction is not a new and strange aberration. It is a long established and deeply entrenched part of the literary tradition. To view it as an isolated occurence divorced from its context is just plain bad criticism.

  • F. O’Brien Andrew

    June 23, 2005, am30 9:18 AM
    194

    If you aren’t creative enough to make your own world, you can always write fanfic.
    If you aren’t intuitive enough to make your own characters, you can always write fanfic.
    If you aren’t good enough to devise your own backgrounds, you can always write fanfic.
    But you can’t be an artist when all you do is photocopy other people’s work.
    You can’t be published (legally) if what you wrote is based on other people’s creations. And you should be ashamed to even try.

  • shane

    June 23, 2005, am30 9:43 AM
    195

    Comparing “Rosencrantz and Guildernstern” to “Kirk and Spock Explore Each Other’s Strange New Anus” is astonishing hubris and typifies the delusional nature of fanfiction writers. If you can’t see the difference between using legends, myths, and classic works of people LONG DEAD that have BECOME PART OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN from ripping off the current works of living authors then you are, as Goldberg said, a dimwit. (And, of course, let’s not even get into the subject of comparing BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER to HAMLET!!). Fanfiction is derivative drool that has no literary merit. Comparing your fanfiction masturbation scribblings to Shakespeare is stupidity taken to the nth degree!!

  • blank

    June 23, 2005, am30 9:46 AM
    196

    Show me a piece of fanfiction based on some TV show or movie or a Harry Potter novel that compares to Shakespeare. Or Stoppard. That I’d like to see.

  • andrea

    June 23, 2005, pm30 2:41 PM
    197

    “You can’t be published (legally) if what you wrote is based on other people’s creations. And you should be ashamed to even try.”
    -Are- there fanfiction authors out there trying to get their works published? I ask out of simple curiosity. That would certainly be something to see.
    I’m a part-time English teacher and I can tell you — Many, many fanfiction writers are children and teenagers, often operating in fandoms where the authors (Laurie Halse Anderson, Tamora Pierce, JK Rowling) have *encouraged* the production of fanfiction in their fans, have seen it as encouraging creativity in young people. Ranting on and on to some thirteen-year-old about how they’re Not A Real Writer and Just Producing Derivative Drool because they entered Laurie Anderson’s “Prom” fanfiction contest is embarassing behavior in adults, not to mention mean-spirited.

  • Megan Lindholm

    June 27, 2005, pm30 1:05 PM
    198

    The Fan Fiction Rant
    I am not rational on the topic of fan fiction. Well, actually, I can be, and in this essay, I will endeavor to be. But people who know me well also know that this is one topic that can make my eyes spin round like pinwheels and steam come out of my ears. In fact, I would venture to say that knowing this brings them great delight in provoking such a show several times a year when the topic comes up at a convention or in a discussion group.
    So, rather than continue to publicly rant, unreeling endlessly my venomous diatribe against fan fiction, I thought I’d gather my bile and spill it all here, in a logical and organized flow. Hereafter, I shall simply refer those who query to the infamous red shoe gripped by the mad woman in the attic.
    To start my rant, I will first define exactly what fan fiction is, to me. Others may have a wider or narrower definition, but when I am speaking of the stuff I dislike, this is what I mean. Fan fiction is fiction written by a ‘fan’ or reader, without the consent of the original author, yet using that author’s characters and world.
    A few specific notes about this definition.
    ‘Without the consent of the original author’ This means it doesn’t include someone writing a Darkover story, with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s permission. It does include someone writing a Darkover story without Marion Zimmer Bradley’s permission, even if MZB had allowed others to use her world. It does not include professional authors writing Star Trek or X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer stories. All those stories are written and then published with the consent of the copyright owner. Media tie-in novels are not what I’m talking about here. Those stories are not, by my definition, fan fiction.
    Now that I’ve defined it, why do I dislike it so much? What, I am often asked, is the harm in fan fiction? I am told that I should be flattered that readers like my stories enough to want to continue them. Another justification is that writing fan fiction is a good way for people to learn to be writers. A fourth point that is often made is that fan fiction doesn’t attempt to make money off the stories, so it doesn’t really violate anyone’s copyright. And finally, I am usually chastised for trying to suppress people’s creativity, or suppressing free speech.
    So let me take each of those points one at a time.
    “What is the harm in it?”
    I might counter by demanding to know ‘What is the good of it?’ I’ll resist that temptation.
    Fan fiction is like any other form of identity theft. It injures the name of the party whose identity is stolen. When it’s financial identity theft, the thief can ruin your credit rating. When it’s creative identity theft, fan fiction can sully your credit with your readers. Anyone who read fan fiction about Harry Potter, for instance, would have an entirely different idea of what those stories are about than if he had simply read J.K. Rowling’s books. In this way, the reader’s impression of the writer’s work and creativity is changed. My name is irrevocably attached to my stories and characters. Writers who post a story at Fanfiction.net or anywhere else and identify it as a Robin Hobb fan fiction or a Farseer fan fiction are claiming my groundwork as their own. That is just not right.
    “I should be flattered that readers like my stories enough to want to continue them.”
    That’s not flattering. That’s insulting. Every fan fiction I’ve read to date, based on my world or any other writer’s world, had focused on changing the writer’s careful work to suit the foible of the fan writer. Romances are invented, gender identities changed, fetishes indulged and endings are altered. It’s not flattery. To me, it is the fan fiction writer saying, “Look, the original author really screwed up the story, so I’m going to fix it. Here is how it should have gone.” At the extreme low end of the spectrum, fan fiction becomes personal masturbation fantasy in which the fan reader is interacting with the writer’s character. That isn’t healthy for anyone.
    At the less extreme end, the fan writer simply changes something in the writer’s world. The tragic ending is re-written, or a dead character is brought back to life, for example. The intent of the author is ignored. A writer puts a great deal of thought into what goes into the story and what doesn’t. If a particular scene doesn’t happen ‘on stage’ before the reader’s eyes, there is probably a reason for it. If something is left nebulous, it is because the author intends for it to be nebulous. To use an analogy, we look at the Mona Lisa and wonder. Each of us draws his own conclusions about her elusive smile. We don’t draw eyebrows on her to make her look surprised, or put a balloon caption over her head. Yet much fan fiction does just that. Fan fiction closes up the space that I have engineered into the story, and the reader is told what he must think rather than being allowed to observe the characters and draw his own conclusions.
    When I write, I want to tell my story directly to you. I want you to read it exactly as I wrote it. I labor long and hard to pick the exact words I want to use, and to present my story from the angles I choose. I want it to speak to you as an individual. It’s horribly frustrating to see all that work ignored and undone by someone else ‘fixing’ it. If you don’t like the stories as they stand, I can accept that. But please don’t tinker with them.
    The extreme analogy: You send me a photograph of your family reunion, titled ‘The Herkimer’s Get Together’. I think it looks dull. So I Photo-Shop it to put your friends and relations into compromising positions in various stages of undress. Then I post it on the Internet, under the title ‘The Herkimers Get Together’, and add a note that it was sent to me from Pete Herkimer of Missoula, Montana. Suddenly there is your face and name, and the faces of the people you care about, doing things that you would never do. Are you flattered that I thought your photograph was interesting enough to use? Or are you insulted and horrified? Are you alarmed that I so clearly connected work that is not yours to your good name?
    “Fan fiction is a good way for people to learn to be writers.”
    No. It isn’t. If this is true, then karaoke is the path to become a singer, coloring books produce great artists, and all great chefs have a shelf of cake mixes. Fan fiction is a good way to avoid learning how to be a writer. Fan fiction allows the writer to pretend to be creating a story, while using someone else’s world, characters, and plot. Coloring Barbie’s hair green in a coloring book is not a great act of creativity. Neither is putting lipstick on Ken. Fan fiction does exactly those kinds of things.
    The first step to becoming a writer is to have your own idea. Not to take someone else’s idea, put a dent in it, and claim it as your own. You will learn more from writing one story of your own, no matter how bad it is, than the most polished Inuyasha fan fiction that you write. Taking that first wavering step out into the unknown territory of your own imagination is what it is all about. When you can write well enough to carry a friend along, then you’ve really got something. But you aren’t going to get anywhere clinging to the comfort of saying, “If I write a Harry Potter story, everyone will like it because they already like Harry Potter. I don’t have to describe Hogwarts because everyone saw the movie, and I don’t have to tell Harry’s back story because that’s all done for me.”
    Fan fiction is to writing what a cake mix is to gourmet cooking. Fan fiction is an Elvis impersonator who thinks he is original. Fan fiction is Paint-By-Number art.
    Fan fiction doesn’t attempt to make money off the stories, so it doesn’t really violate anyone’s copyright.
    I beg your pardon?
    Where did you get the idea that copyright is all about money? Copyright is about the right of the author to control his own creation. That includes making money off it. But it also includes refusing to sell movie rights, or deciding that you’re not really proud of your first novel and you don’t wish to see it republished. It’s about choosing how your work is presented. Under copyright, those rights belong to the creator of the work.
    I’ve seen all those little disclaimers on stories at fanfiction.net and elsewhere. Legally and morally, they don’t mean a thing to anyone. “I don’t make any claims to these characters.” “I don’t want to make any money off this story.” That isn’t what it is about, and yes, you are still infringing on copyright even if you make those statements. Yes, the author can still sue you, even if you put up those statements.
    If you don’t believe me, please go to http://www.chillingeffects.org/fanfic/faq and read what is there. They are pointing out to you that fan fiction can infringe copyright.
    “You’re trying to suppress people’s creativity.”
    No. I’m doing the opposite. I’m trying to encourage young writers (or writers of any age) to be truly creative. Elvis impersonators are fun for an occasional night out, but surely you don’t want to spend your life being a Rowling or Hobb or Brooks impersonator, do you? What is wrong with telling your own stories? Put in the work, take the chance, and if you do it right, stand in your own spotlight.
    “I have a free speech right to put my fan fiction on the Internet.”
    Do I have a free speech right to write pornography and post it under your name? Do I have a free speech right to put a very poor quality product in the public eye, and connect it to a work that belongs to you? Please try to think of this in terms of your own life and career. It doesn’t matter if you are a writer or a plumber or an aerospace engineer. You have the right to receive credit for the work you do. No one should take that credit from you. No one should be able to connect your good name to work you did not create yourself.
    You certainly have a free speech write to post your own fiction on the Internet or anywhere else, and I heartily encourage you to do so.
    If you’re really tempted to write fan fiction, do this instead.
    List all the traits of the book or character that you liked.
    List all the parts that you didn’t like.
    List the changes you would make to improve the story.
    List all changes necessary so that the changes you want don’t contradict the world, culture, morality or plot of the original story.
    Change the proper nouns involved.
    Change the setting to one of your own.
    Write your story. Write the paragraphs that describe the world. Write the ones that introduce the characters. Write the dialogue that moves your plot along. Write down every detail that you want your reader to know.
    Then publish it however you like.
    Know that if it’s a bad story, it would still be a bad story even if you had kept the original names and settings. But at least what you now have is your bad story, not your bad imitation of someone else’s story. And it years to come, you don’t have to be ashamed of it anymore than I’m ashamed of my early efforts.
    I will close this rant with a simple admonition.
    Fan fiction is unworthy of you.
    Don’t do it.

  • F. O’Brien Andrew

    July 1, 2005, am31 11:29 AM
    199

    “I’m a part-time English teacher and I can tell you — Many, many fanfiction writers are children ”
    Yes, children. Not atual writers yet. That pretty much sums it up.
    Thanks Andrea, that’s a good point.

  • Ben “Chaltab” English

    July 1, 2005, pm31 4:14 PM
    200

    I don’t get why this guy Lee Goldberg is so negative towards fanfic writers? Granted some of us suck royally, but others aren’t bad at all.
    It’s quite frankly insulting that he lumps all fanfiction in the same catagory as personal masturbatory fantasies or half-arsed mess of letters with little to no puncuation. That stuff exists to be sure, but there are some absolutely GREAT works of fanfiction out there and Mr. Goldberg shouldn’t sell us all so short.
    (And I say this as a writer of both original and fanfiction, not a mindless fan(boy/girl) who leeches off others for meaningless praise.)

  • realistick

    August 15, 2005, am31 1:13 AM
    201

    this is all crap i mean come on for crist sakes think about it ppl all books moives animes mangha arnt origanal becose at some point the author/creater of a serten serius would of ripted off somebody ealces idear and made a fue modfycashions to that idear
    take battel skippers foristents that serires has a fu well known show idears puit in to it ie whan thay have a glow aroundf tham and thay change in to thare bettel outfiots isnt that idear taken from well known anime of magigcal girls ie sailor moon and the maha idear tyaken from gundam and the fighting and laserguns taken from bubbel gum crises
    think about it nerly all the authers/creators of a serires or a show had at one point taken the idears from a nother person work
    so why dont yousd all grow up and forget the law becose thares no such thing as copyright or tradmark becose if thare was than i could see a hole crapload of authers/creators takeing a stroll down the cort house to face up to thare roung doings

  • prom

    September 2, 2005, am30 2:40 AM
    202

    Prom

    A Writers Life: Whats Stupid About It?

  • SparkyCola

    April 10, 2006, pm30 4:36 PM
    203

    “I would never write a book using someone else’s characters unless I was hired to do so. It would never even occur to me because the characters aren’t mine. ”
    Huh. Didn’t seem to bother Shakespeare. And he was making money off writing stories from other people’s work. It’s ok though because…he’s dead..? He’s…..famous?…nope you just lost your argument.
    Sparky

  • Alexiad

    April 29, 2006, pm30 11:07 PM
    204

    this discussion is not one of legality – it stopped being that the moment fanfiction writers were declared “souless” and incapable of original thought. If you wish to argue based on legalities and permissions, fine, do so. But do not mix an argument about the legalities or the ethics of fanfiction with an argument concerning the ability of the writers. The ethics of the matter have nothing whatsoever to do with actual writing ability.
    Writing approved spin-offs may be ethical and legal – but it amounts to the same level of creative input as fanfiction – if perhaps more work. You can say that fanfiction is wrong and approved spin-offs right, but you cannot argue that the mere legality of an aproved spin-off somehow gives you more artistic ability because you are legally allowed to use the characters you did not create. There is no amount of official approval that will mean you created these characters. Ethical or not, they are not yours.
    This by no means makes fanfiction right. I am not here to argue that. I am here to argue that you have no right to classify writers because they love to write in a world they did not create. I love fanfiction, I would hate it if fanfiction were illegal, I am under no delusion that fanfiction writers are owed the right to create stories in these universes. However, that does not mean they are not writers. And you may be a writer but I really doubt you have the “soul” of a writer if you cannot tell the difference between legalities and true creativity. Hide behind your permission but permission does not make you a better writer. It makes you more ethical sure, but it doesnt improve the quality of the writing.

  • Guacamole

    September 9, 2006, am30 1:47 AM
    205

    Holly’s right.
    The thing is, most fanauthors are usually completely and utterly oblivious to the distinction between passion for the story and characters as a reality, and passion for the creativity and overall statement of the story as a piece. They can’t distance themselves at all from the work and see it as a piece of art. There’s just… no way. And so they don’t understand anyone who sees it the other way.
    (Not that all fics are bad and all fanauthors are delusional.. just most.)

  • penis enlargement

    October 14, 2006, pm31 4:59 PM
    206

    Three phrases should be among the most common in our daily usage. They are: Thank you, I am grateful and I appreciate.

  • Beeje

    October 24, 2006, pm31 10:54 PM
    207

    Consider The Death of Buffy:
    That show is a classic example of how the fans understood the setting better than the people making it. When Josh departed, and turned the show over to Marti, she turned it into a biopic of her own life. Witness the deterioration of the show in the last two seasons; the abusive “dirty sex on the grass while my little sister is inside” relationship with Spike, Spike the trying to rape Buffy, Drugs/Magik, killing Willows g/f for shock value (at that, with a gun(!?) *and* with Josh’s blessing), the silly Willow “Terminator 3 – Rage of the Machines” finale of season 6. Sigh.
    Sometimes so-called professional writers (the ones that do it for money rather than love 😉 get carried away with so many people hanging off their every word, and go nuts because they can (aka. “absolute power corrupts absolutely”). Sure you can think of some other very prominent examples (Lucas/Watchowski).
    Fanfic writers, even if they’re not *good* writers, wouldn’t expose their characters to such silly concept rape.

  • kete

    October 25, 2006, am31 12:02 AM
    208

    “Fanfic writers, even if they’re not *good* writers, wouldn’t expose their characters to such silly concept rape.”
    Now, I’m really a fanfic supporter on this blog – but I wouldn’t underwrite what you’re stating above. I’ve seen as many silly, totally over the top and OOC fics (or more) than silly, totally over the top and turning OOC pro-writers’ mangling of existing canon.
    But I tend to measure the pro-writers with a stricter rule – they’re pros, aren’t they? (At least that’s what they keep telling us.) They should know better. And they should deliver better stuff for the money they’re paid.
    kete

  • Keith

    October 25, 2006, am31 7:52 AM
    209

    No, of course not. They’d have Spike banging Harry Potter instead.

  • Palabravampiress

    December 14, 2006, pm31 4:34 PM
    210

    I just stumbled across this debate. I read most of the entries, but not all.
    What are your opinions – both those who support fan fiction and those who don’t – on “legitimate” derivative works like Joseph Andrews and Shamela (Fielding’s two anti-Pamelas”), Le Morte d’Arthur, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Harold Schechter’s Poe-based mystery series, Ahab’s Wife, March, and many, many more? These all seem to be fan fiction in that they are works which are based on other artists’ visions, and yet they are clearly recognized by the world as unique works of art and sold for profit. Doesn’t this literary precedent seem to legitimize a fan fiction writer’s claim to write from source material?
    The difference here seems to be between “good” or “professional” literature and “bad” or “amateur” literature. For instance, I know that most fan fiction can’t hold a candle to anything written by Henry Fielding. Most fan fiction authors also know they can’t be compared to Fielding, so they cut their chops in another medium: fan fiction. They take another artist’s work, use it as a foundation, and then add their own creative (or not-so-creative) twists. Differences in skill aside, didn’t Fielding do the same when he created a brother for Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, gave the brother an adventure, and even had him reunite with his sister in the end? Fielding appropriated Richardson’s characters, settings, and plot into the background of his novel, and then he took it in another direction. Just because Fielding’s work is “good” or “professional” and Jane D. Fan’s writing might be atrocious doesn’t make the process any different.
    I think the existence and acceptance of works like those mentioned above render fanfiction legitimate by default. We may not all have cultivated a taste for fan fiction. Some may even see it as trash. But that can be said of any work of art. Why should writers of “fan fiction” not be permitted to engage their favorite characters and settings while Geraldine Brooks and Harold Schechter publish to their hearts’ content?
    The best answer I can come up with is that Alcott and Poe are both dead and that their work has long been part of the public domain, but people like J.K.Rowling are still alive and writing. The question then becomes is fan fiction derived from historical works acceptable while fan fiction derived from contemporary works is not?

  • Ey-up

    December 15, 2006, am31 2:16 AM
    211

    Hi Palabra,
    You’re right (this is someone who isn’t pro-fanfic talking) – the difference is that the original authors are dead and out of copyright. The problem isn’t using other people’s characters per se, it’s using the characters of a living author who doesn’t want that to happen. (JK Rowling has said she doesn’t mind, so for my money that’s fine as well.)
    Yes, the majority of fan fiction is bad, but that’s not the real question. People sometimes debate whether fan fiction is any good, but that’s usually to refute people who defend it on quality grounds. (Either that or they get sidetracked.) But a debate about whether fanfic is artistically worthwhile doesn’t have a bearing on whether it’s ethically or legally acceptable, except in one way: if something isn’t ethical, the fact that it’s *also* probably second-rate means there’s no artistic imperative overriding the ethics.
    But whether or not fan fiction is creatively valid is a side issue, for my money. The main point is a very simple one: you shouldn’t mess with someone’s stuff without their permission. It’s so simple, in fact, that it’s easy to lose sight of in a long debate, because there’s nothing to do but reiterate it which makes you repetitive. But it’s a basic, fundamental principle, which people get taught when they’re toddlers: if it’s not yours, you can’t play with it without permission, and if the owner says no, don’t grab.

  • Palabravampiress

    December 15, 2006, am31 8:01 AM
    212

    I agree that the quality of derivative works isn’t the real issue, but I do see it as an integral part of why some artists are opposed to fan fiction. Writers put their entire beings – all of their experience, heart, soul, physical and financial comfort, years of education, preparation, and rejection, etc. – into their work and into their characters. Writing is so intense a process that I have often heard the act of writing one’s first novel compared to childbirth. It is upsetting to see one’s beloved characters surrounding by bad prose and embedded in an even worse plot. Excellent prose and an excellent plot, while rare, can be just as upsetting, because that really can seem as though someone is stealing a writer’s creation. I don’t think most artists would be so vehemently opposed to the appropriation of their work if it was done in good taste and without posing any sort of material or artistic threat to the original artist. I think the concept of public domain does a good job of providing a statute of limitations so that intellectual property is only released for public appropriation after the writer has had ample time to divorce himself or herself from the emotional constraints of the writing process (usually, but not always, by death).
    That said, I believe fan fiction has value, as well. A long time ago, when I was still in high school, my AP level World Literature class did a unit in which we studied syntax. Students learn best by doing, so our teacher presented various passages from outstanding works of literature and then assigned homework in which we were forced to study and emulate those styles. In doing so, we learned why like Hemingway’s minimalism is so powerful, how Jane Austen’s understatement can state so much, that Chinua Achebe’s rhythmic prose is uniquely engaging, and much more. With the exception of fan fiction that is based on source material that has become part of the public domain, fiction written by fans seems to serve a similar purpose. Fans learn the conventions of contemporary art forms by emulating contemporary works of art and receive criticism in much the way one would in a writing workshop. Provided that the work is not published for profit, shouldn’t budding writers be encouraged to study the type of work which, as professionals, they will be encouraged to produce?
    Obviously, I am torn by this issue. I understand a writer’s desire to retain artistic control of his or her intellectual property regardless of whether or not that property is being appropriated and re-sold for profit. I also understand a budding writer’s desire to study great work. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery. Why should the courts be forced to choose a side? Why not allow fan fiction writers their practice provided they do not attempt to profit from their work? It is a true compromise; both sides receive something and both sides sacrifice something. Original artists may sacrifice some creative control, but they gain the knowledge that their work is safely and formerly attributed to them on the market on which their living depends and that their fans are not alienated. Fan fiction writers gain the right to practice, but they sacrifice any chance to succeed professionally unless they publish and promote their own original work. To me, this seems like a good balance.

  • Lee Goldberg

    December 15, 2006, am31 11:02 AM
    213

    ” I also understand a budding writer’s desire to study great work. ”
    It’s one thing to study someone’s work…or to practive writing using someone else’s characters…and to show your work to your friends. It’s a different thing entirely once you publish it on the Internet.

  • Palabravampiress

    December 15, 2006, pm31 12:13 PM
    214

    I do see your point, Lee. As I said, I am torn on the issue. It is the fact that I am torn that leads me to believe it should be permitted under the terms that I stated. When a situation is unclear, I always wish to err on the side of allowing too much freedom rather than on the side of unnecessarily restricting freedom.
    Would publishing it in a secure forum – one that requires a password, has rules, and encourages constructive criticism – ease your concerns and those of others? Publishing fan fiction in a forum that is obviously intended for use as an online writing workshop would seem more like distributing practice stories to friends than like publishing semi-unique stories online for praise. Perhaps creating a restriction like that would be a workable compromise on both sides.

  • Ey-up

    December 15, 2006, pm31 3:51 PM
    215

    Hi Palabra,
    You say ‘it’s a true compromise’ if fans don’t get paid for fanfic, but that really isn’t a compromise if the author isn’t willing to be ficked – given that fans vehemently insist that they don’t profit to begin with, it’s the fans getting exactly what they want, and the author not getting what they want at all, which is right of refusal as to derivative works.
    The point about posting on the Internet isn’t money, it’s publication – as in ‘to make public’. Writing something as an exercise is one thing, but publishing it is another.
    Fanfic defenders often propose compromises, such as your secure forums one, but I really don’t think this is open to negotiation. If it’s not yours, then you can propose alternative terms for borrowing it if you like – but if the owner still refuses, you have to accept that.
    The trouble with the compromises is that fans tend to come up with them, decide they’re fair without consulting the author, and then consider the issue settled. That isn’t fair at all, it’s a fait accompli, devised by one side and imposed on the other. There has to be mutual consent for a derivative work, and if the author won’t consent, then the fans will just have to find some other way to express themselves. It’s not as if they’re being forbidden from writing in itself, just from borrowing something that doesn’t belong to them.

  • Palabravampiress

    December 15, 2006, pm31 4:47 PM
    216

    I definitely see your point, Ey-up. I had something of mine out on the internet once in a way that I didn’t approve of, and I was livid. I just see both sides and want to err on the side of freedom rather than on the side of restriction.

  • Ey-up

    December 16, 2006, am31 12:13 AM
    217

    There’s freedom to and freedom from, and fan fiction infringes on the latter.
    Think about it in terms of options. If a fan wants to fick, and the author objects, who has the most freedom of alternatives? The fan. If they want to write, they can fick another author who doesn’t object, or write something original, including something that’s heavily influenced by the author. They can even fick the author they wish and keep the work to themselves. They have a lot of freedom to manoevre.
    The author, on the other hand, is in an all-or-nothing situation. Either their copyright is respected or it’s violated. Their freedom is highly limited by the circumstances. They can’t create copyright in alternative ways.
    As the French Revolution had it, ‘The freedom of one citizen ends where the freedom of another citizen begins.’ Fan fiction puts the fan over the line into the author’s freedom – when they were freer than the author in the first place.
    Freedom to injure someone else isn’t desirable. Between a free individual with an infinite range of possibilites, and an author with a black-or-white, whole-or-broken copyright, the maximum freedom for everyone is ensured by the fan coming up with a plan B. They have alternatives. The author doesn’t.

  • Mark A. York

    December 16, 2006, am31 6:22 AM
    218

    Someone always gets ficked in the end.

  • Palabra

    January 3, 2007, pm31 9:11 PM
    219

    I’ve been gone for the holidays, but I wanted to jump back on here and say “Kudos.” Nice post. I can’t think of a suitable argument, so I think you’ve convinced me.

  • Ey-up

    January 4, 2007, am31 1:36 AM
    220

    Hope you had a great time 🙂

  • Ey-up

    January 6, 2007, pm31 12:13 PM
    221

    Oh, and by the way, kudos back. It’s very rare to see someone change their position on an Internet thread, especially changing it that gracefully. More power to you.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 10, 2007, am31 10:46 AM
    222

    I agree with the individuals who have argued that permissions and legalities are not the same argument as the “you’re a hack writer, you loser” sentiment going around.
    Something I find incredibly interesting is that writers, people who claim to be original thinkers not hemmed in by beaurocracy have, some of them, come together and decided that anything not official “canon” shouldn’t exist in any form ever. And those not part of the borg should just jump into the volcano now. Wow. Such original thinkers. I stand in awww at your ability to think for yourself.
    If any writer/creator supports fanfic of THEIR stuff and hasn’t sent out cease and desist letters for that particular ‘verse’ then you need to get over it. If Joss Whedon or J.K. Rowling has no issue with it, fine. LET. IT. GO.
    On the other hand, Anne Rice sends cease and desist letters. And that’s her right.
    Now, on to the issue of “ZOMG if you write fanfic you are a mouthbreather who couldn’t write your own fiction to save your mother’s life”:
    I discovered writing fanfic long after writing original fic and I do it for FUN. Fun, people. Have you all forgotten what that means? I think that’s just incredibly sad.
    Do you not imagine that even a championship bowler can go to the local lanes with his family and bowl for…shock…gasp…FUN?
    That’s the primary motivation for writing fanfic. FUN. That is all. So while everyone else is wanking over whether or not a fanfiction writer is a “real writer,” I would just like to remind you that’s like wanking over whether a hobbyist bowler is actually a real bowler. Good luck with that.
    I don’t spend the same amount of time and effort on fanfic as I do on original fic. Also, most Fanfics are works in progress and therefore if you create a plothole back in chapter two, chances are you aren’t revising the whole damn thing just to fix it.
    As to the point of: “Are fanfic writers delusional people with only a tenuous grasp of reality just because they love a certain verse’s characters?” Um…I would think no.
    Most writers are in love with their characters, whether they are original characters or not. (And to those who consider writing ‘just a job’ and have no emotional attachment, I truly pity you and have no interest in spending my time reading about characters you wrote that even YOU aren’t attached to. Exactly how is this a selling point?)
    The fact that fanfic exists for certain stories and not for others, I believe is reflective of the original creator’s ability to share his/her passion and make those characters “real.”
    As a final note, I’d just like to add…for anyone here who has spent vast amounts of time denigrating someone doing for fun something which you don’t personally wish to do for fun:
    Get over it. If you are a writer, then I wish you luck in reclaiming the original passion and point of the craft of writing.
    Turning into an arrogant jackass won’t win you friends or influence enemies. If you don’t like fanfic, fine. But to make broad sweeping generalizations about all people who choose to write fanfic is as silly as making broad sweeping generalizations about any type of hobbyist.
    People are three-dimensional and have layers. If you don’t get that for reality, I hope you at least get it for your fiction.
    Zoe

  • Keith

    January 10, 2007, am31 10:56 AM
    223

    “Turning into an arrogant jackass won’t win you friends or influence enemies.”
    Maybe not, but starting out as one has worked pretty well.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 10, 2007, am31 11:02 AM
    224

    hahahahaha LMAO keith.

  • Anonymous

    January 10, 2007, am31 11:33 AM
    225

    Nobody has a problem with writing fanfic for fun, Zoe. The problem is when fanficcers PUBLISH it on the net or in fanzines. Then it crosses the line from fun to copyright infringement.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 10, 2007, pm31 12:31 PM
    226

    LMAO. You are just too cute, anonymous poster. I believe I already addressed whether or not an author minds fanfic of their work. If an author/creator says: “more power to you” then I think for THAT verse there is no issue. (further explanation below.)
    Sharing it on the internet is a free format and no one is trying to make money off of it. Arguably things like fanfic aid in keeping some fandoms alive. I’m not sayng Buffy couldn’t survive without fanfic, but the show is over. The continual fan ferver over the show, as well as conventions and merchandising is at least PARTIALLY helped by the communities formed by the fans. Some of those communities are fanfic communities.
    If not for fanfic published online I probably would have “gotten over” my Buffy fixation long ago. Copyright law exists to protect an author from having their work stolen and profit being made on it. No one is profiting from fanfic except perhaps the original author.
    I would make the argument that fanfic at least in some small way is contributing to the bottom line of the original creator/writer, by keeping fan ferver high. Hence, no actual harm, monetary or otherwise is coming to the original author/creator.
    This is ESPECIALLY true when an author/creator has explicitly stated that they have no problem with fanfic being written based on their world/works. In short, you’re fighting a battle that isn’t yours for someone who doesn’t want it fought.
    I’m not arguing that Anne Rice fans should be able to write fanfic. (since she’s sent cease and desist letters out to people.) I’m not touching THAT topic with a ten foot pole. But in my previous post I explicitly made the point that there is no issue if the original author/creator supports it.
    I’m sorry, but I’m not buying this righteous indignation. Show me an author who hasn’t in some way profited from fanfic being written about their stuff, and I’ll sell you my beachfront property in Arizona.

  • Anonymous

    January 10, 2007, pm31 12:46 PM
    227

    Obviously, Zoe, if an author consents to fanfic then there is no problem. More power to you. But if an author hasn’t given his or her consent, then it is your responsibility to get their permission **BEFORE** using their characters and their work and posting it on the internet (or publishing it anywhere else). Fanfic infringes more than copyright: it infringes trademark and is also an ethical infringement on the original artist’s creative rights. To use the “we’re not making money off of our creative theft” argument is simply disingenuous.
    Your comment about authors benefitting from fanfic is laughable and ludicrous. For example, I don’t see how Rowling has “benefitted” from fanfic about Harry exploring the magic of anal sex with Ron, Snape, and anyone else with a penis.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 10, 2007, pm31 1:11 PM
    228

    I’ll respect your view a lot more once you decide to stop hiding behind anonymity. That said:
    Characters/worlds are trademarked, actual story is copyrighted. You can’t copyright an idea, only the execution of an idea. A fanfic writer therefore cannot logically sue an original author and win. (because I can already feel that this is where this is about to veer.)
    Again, copyright infringement protects an author from someone copying and PROFITING. Show me the monetary gain of the fanfic writer from the fanfic. Break out the spreadsheet. I want to see it.
    You may believe this argument is disingenuous, but it’s the entire backbone of the concept of “copyright infringement.” Copyright infringement is all about business and money. That’s why we protect rights. For money and acknowledgment that it’s ours. (Show me one fanfic writer who really believes Harry Potter or Buffy or Star Trek or whatever is THEIR creation. Authors who have fanfic written about their stuff, no one is in doubt over who the original creator is.)
    Copyright is a fairly new concept as far as the history of storytelling goes. Pretty much everyone throughout history has used other people’s characters and settings and created derivative works. It wasn’t until storytelling became profit driven that concepts like copyright became invented. So I don’t believe my argument is disingenuous. I believe it’s the bedrock of the issue.
    Any attempt by a fanfic author to try to sue the original author is nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt on the fanfic author’s part to try to garner some type of attention for themselves and their fifteen minutes of fame.
    EVEN IF an original author for some bizarre reason stole a fanfic plot idea, there are no new plots…the actual writing of the idea would render any kind of copyright complaint void.
    Your view on how authors don’t benefit from fanfic of their works is in my view a very black and white way of seeing things. The existence of fanfic, even the “magic of anal sex” type…keeps the characters in front of the audience and keeps fan ferver going.
    Fans write it, fans read it, and they keep coming back for more. Your argument however based on only one type of fanfic I think is lacking. There are plenty of Harry Potter fanfics that are not in any way describing the magic of anal sex. Nevertheless…
    The point is…there is no such thing as bad publicity. Any publicity, attention, whatever, continues to build the empire.
    Fans/readers/viewers whatever you want to call them…your audience is what keeps you going. It’s what gives you your fame and success. When an audience becomes so enraptured with something that they create something like fanfic, you’re empire is only growing.
    Show me a no name author with lots of fanfic written about their stuff. Yeah, I thought so. It’s a chicken or the egg kind of scenario but the fact remains without fan ferver there is no “hit book, movie, or show.” I don’t care how much promotion you throw into it. If the people don’t respond, they don’t respond.
    Authors/creators would do well to remember that.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 10, 2007, pm31 2:26 PM
    229

    Guyot,
    I don’t know if you will ever see this, since I’m responding to something you posted a long time ago. I don’t think fanfic lacks originality altogether, although it’s certainly not on par with “original work” from a creative standpoint.
    I wrote original fic long before I wrote fanfic and I write fanfic because I LIKE it. (and I write in a verse in which no one has sent a cease and desist letter before someone breaks out into some kind of fit.)
    There are plenty of “real writers” who are “really published” by “real publishers” and have many “real readers” who either started out by writing fanfic or came to it later simply because they enjoy it.
    I think denigrating people who write fanfic saying they must not be able to write original fic shows your own insecurities and nothing more. Sure most fanfic is crap, a lot of my fanfic is crap.
    I’m not going to spend the time necessary to polish it to a brilliant shine because it’s a HOBBY. My deepest passions are with my own stories. But just acting like anyone who writes fanfic only writes it because they can’t write something original makes me wonder at your ability to understand that people are not uni-dimensional.

  • Anonymous

    January 10, 2007, pm31 9:13 PM
    230

    “Any attempt by a fanfic author to try to sue the original author is nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt on the fanfic author’s part to try to garner some type of attention for themselves and their fifteen minutes of fame.
    EVEN IF an original author for some bizarre reason stole a fanfic plot idea, there are no new plots…the actual writing of the idea would render any kind of copyright complaint void.”
    That simply isn’t true. An author — was it Marion Zimmer Bradley? — had to drop an entire book before publication because of concerns that it was too close to a fanfic story that was stolen from her work.
    I also notice that in your continued harping on the old “I don’t make any money off fanfic so it’s okay” argument, you completedly gloss over the ethical/creative rights issues. Ideas can’t be copyrighted…but stories, characters, and world CAN and ARE. By using the characters, stories, and worlds created by someone else in a book, movie or teleplay, you are violating copyright, trademark AND the creative rights of the author. That is an irrefutable fact. Even if you deluded yourself into believing you aren’t violating copyright and trademark, you are undoubtedly violating the creative rights of the author, an ethical and moral breach that you should be deeply ashamed of.

  • Anonymous

    January 10, 2007, pm31 9:15 PM
    231

    “The fact that fanfic exists for certain stories and not for others, I believe is reflective of the original creator’s ability to share his/her passion and make those characters “real.””
    A “passion” fanficcers piss-on and disrespect every time they fic an author’s work without his or her permission.
    I notice you haven’t addressed that, either. What’s wrong with ASKING before fic? Afraid the author will say NO???

  • Ey-up

    January 11, 2007, am31 1:42 AM
    232

    I think there’s an issue of confusion about whether or not someone is a ‘real’ writer.
    Zoe compares debating whether fanfic is real writing to debating whether hobbyish bowling is real bowling. Now, analogies almost always self-detonate when debating fanfic (‘It’s like this!’ ‘No it’s not, it’s like that!’), so I’m not going to take issue, but I think it would help if people clarified the word ‘real’.
    The trouble is, most people when they say a ‘real writer’ mean someone who does everything themselves – creating the characters, creating the setting, devising the story and writing the scenes. Fanfic writers don’t do that. They skip the first two – and I know from experience of being a (professional) writer who’s helped friends with their own stuff, it is infinitely easier to play with people’s characters than it is with your own. This, I think, is why people say fanfic isn’t ‘real’ – it avoids the hardest stuff.
    On the other hand, fanfic defenders say it’s ‘real’ writing because they’re writing stuff down that, with some major help, they made up, and writers are people who write things.
    Each side is totally convinced that they’re using the word ‘real’ correctly.
    The trouble comes, I think, when some people start arguing for the creative rights of fickers because they’re ‘real writers’ just as much as the author. Now, for my money, there is a difference, not just in the skill or status involved, but in the nature of the act itself, and because of that, fanfic is in a different camp, with a different set of creative rights attached. There may be some rights (in my opinion, entirely dependent on the author’s consent), but the situation is different enough to merit a different set of principles. Does anyone disagree with that?
    Zoe: you seemed to be saying earlier that authorised fanfic was all right because it has the author’s consent. If that’s the case, then whether or not it makes a profit isn’t relevant, it’s whether or not it’s written with permission. Am I right in thinking you believe that fans should respect the author’s right of refusal?
    If Zoe’s not arguing that fans have the right to fick without the author’s consent, everyone, then she isn’t actually disagreeing with us.

  • Anonymous

    January 11, 2007, am31 3:01 AM
    233

    “That simply isn’t true. An author — was it Marion Zimmer Bradley? — had to drop an entire book before publication because of concerns that it was too close to a fanfic story that was stolen from her work.”
    Stop spreading this nonsense, you anonymouse moron! She didn’t *have* to and that she did that was entirely her decision. I don’t know *why* she wanted to avoid a law suit she was certain to win but she probably had her reasons.

  • Ey-up

    January 11, 2007, am31 3:12 AM
    234

    Primarily, I suspect, because lawsuits costs legal fees that she and her publishers couldn’t raise, and time, which she needed to spend writing if she was going to meet her deadline.
    Saying that it doesn’t count because she didn’t take it to court isn’t reasonable. Fickers sometimes argue that it’s their legal right to fick whether the author wants them to or not, but I’ve yet to see one of them take it to court when they get a cease and desist. Both sides have a tendency to back down at the threat of legal action.
    Whatever her reasons, the fact remains that the book was dropped because a lawsuit was threatened by a ficker. Without the actions of that ficker, the book would have been completed and published. It’s a valid example.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 11, 2007, am31 6:39 AM
    235

    Jumping in here because I think it’s worth getting the actual facts straight:
    I don’t know of any source that gives reliable details about the actual case, but some facts are certain. Marion Zimmer Bradley actively _encouraged_ her fans to write fanfiction. Some sources I’ve read say she was trying to build a shared universe along the lines of Lovecraft. After the reported incident, she actively discouraged it. Details vary but the core of the story is that when one of the fanworks was too close to something she wanted to write herself, she ended up dropping the planned novel (even though significant work had already been invested) rather than getting into a copyright dispute with the fan author who apparently refused to relinquish her rights to what she’d written.
    Now MZB had half a dozen routes she could have taken to avoid these problems, from not encouraging fanfiction in the first place (therefore giving permission and opening herself to legal difficulties) to making people relinquish their rights before she would read any of it, but that was a somewhat more naive time. And one could argue that the honorable thing for the fan to do would have been to back off, but since she had permission she wasn’t under any obligation to do so. This may be a good object lesson to authors as to why they shouldn’t read fanfiction or accept unsolicited submissions, but it’s not a very good example of fanfiction hurting an author for the sole reason that the fan didn’t do anything didn’t do anything the author didn’t ask for first.
    YMMV

  • Ey-up

    January 11, 2007, am31 7:05 AM
    236

    Um – except for launch a lawsuit?
    You’re rather close to saying she shouldn’t have worn that skirt, you know.
    However naive Marion Zimmer Bradley was in the initial stages, it does stand as an example of a fan causing harm to an author through the medium of fanfic. Whatever the complexities of the case, it proves that it’s possible.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 11, 2007, am31 9:58 AM
    237

    Dear Ey-up,
    I was merely pointing out that the example is not nearly as cut and dried as you, our anonymous colleague above, and others seemed to imply. The MZB case is repeatedly held up as an example of why fanfic is eeeeviiil, yet most people aren’t actually aware of the facts. Most of what is “known” about the case is merely internet rumor. For example, I haven’t been able to find any credible evidence that there ever was a lawsuit, yet you just implied that it in fact took place (although to be fair, I’m currently limited to what I can find on the internet).
    Do you really think that taking someone at their word when they say “Yes, go ahead, I don’t mind” is the same as blaming the victim in a rape because they wore provocative attire? Because you might want to consider whether or not you’ve lost some perspective there.
    “I don’t mind other writers writing about Darkover […]. Nor do I feel threatened by stories not consistent with my personal vision of Darkover. To me, all Darkover stories written by anyone else are presumed to be in a parallel world to “my” Darkover; […]. Because, in a very real sense, I regard myself not as the “inventor” of Darkover, but its discoverer.”
    –from FanWorks.org, attributed to Marion Zimmer Bradley (unfortunately I don’t have a date for the quote, but one presumes it is before 1992).

  • Anonymous

    January 11, 2007, am31 10:12 AM
    238

    “She didn’t *have* to and that she did that was entirely her decision.”
    Oh come on. It wasn’t “entirely her decision.” The fanficcer took that away from her and forced her into this situation. If the fanfic didn’t exist, she could have written and published any book with HER characters and HER world that SHE wanted to. The disrespectful, arrogant, and thoughtless fanficcer took that choice away from her.
    Fanficcers steal and then blame the author for any complications that arise. It disgusts me.

  • Bemused

    January 11, 2007, pm31 12:00 PM
    239

    Re: MZB lawsuit
    Comment #246 here:
    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007464.html
    …provides insight from someone far closer to events than most.

  • Ey-up

    January 11, 2007, pm31 3:21 PM
    240

    I’m not saying fanfic is in any way tantamount to rape in terms of gravity. I’m just saying you shouldn’t blame the victim, or assume consent to some things is consent to everything. And being sued because you nicely let people borrow your stuff, as if by consenting to fanfic you’d consented to share profits and credit, pretty much makes you the victim, not the aggressor.
    I never said fanfic was evil. I’m saying people shouldn’t be jerks about it. Ficking without consent is being a jerk; suing the author you ficked is being an unbelievable jerk.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 11, 2007, pm31 3:29 PM
    241

    people always break out the MZB story so much that it’s almost achieved the status of urban legend. The fact was, it never went to court. And I don’t believe a case like that ever WOULD go to court. Also, the specifics of the situation are that MZB and the writer in some way knew each other. It wasn’t some random fanfic writer accusing some random author of stealing their idea. IMO this is a red herring argument. Show me something better.
    On a side note though, let’s assume this is a completely legitimate argument. Even so, people can’t live in a constant state of paranoia like this. The fact of the matter is ANYONE can sue anyone for anything these days, or at least attempt to. Take the case of JK Rowling being sued by that woman for plagiarism. It wasn’t a fanfic case. It had nothing to do with fanfic at all. And even the MZB case isn’t strictly a case of “fanfic.”
    Also, please stop harping on the “you should be deeply ashamed” tactic. I’m pretty shameless in most aspects of my life.
    You pointing a finger at me and going “ewww you’re naughty and evil don’t you feel bad?” No, not really. I’ve already stated I write only in fandoms where the author/creator has made it specifically and publically clear that they don’t mind fanfic and in fact encourage it. So don’t preach at me. Preach to someone writing fanfic against an author/creator’s wishes.
    You can’t lump me (someone who is writing fanfic in a verse where it is publically approved of by the creator) with those writing in verses where the author has asked people to stop. That’s intellectual dishonesty. You should be ashamed. 🙂

  • Zoe Winters

    January 11, 2007, pm31 3:37 PM
    242

    Let’s be really clear anonymous poster. SOME authors/creators approve of fanfic and have made those opinions public. JK Rowling and Joss Whedon to name two of many.
    SOME authors/creators disapporve of fanfic and have made these opinions public. i.e. Anne Rice.
    SOME authors haven’t publically made an opinion known one way or the other.
    From an ethical standpoint I would agree that if an author hasn’t made his/her views publically known on the matter you should either ask permission or don’t post it. (although it would seem that anyone who “looks the other way” and makes no public opinion on it is doing just that. Still, I’ve never written in any verse where the author/creator didnt approve publically of fanfic of their work.)
    If an author has said: “don’t post fanfic” just don’t do it. But one author’s distaste of fanfic doesn’t go across the board to all of them. This horse is now dead and rotting. But your righteous indignation is highly entertaining.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 11, 2007, pm31 3:45 PM
    243

    Ey-up, yes, thank you for that post. And yes, I think an author has a right to say no to fanfic and that people should respect that and not post fanfic in verses where the author has specifically said “no, don’t do it.”
    Also, as per the ‘real writer’ concept. I don’t consider fanfic “real writing” either. I consider it…FUN. However, my point was simply that some people, such as Guyot decided that they would decree that anyone who writes fanfic at all, isn’t a real writer, EVEN IF they also write original fic. The fact that they participate in fanfic AT ALL makes their claim to writerhood null and void.
    Which I think is a completely stupid point of view. Which is why I brought in the bowler reference. A championship bowler is still a professional bowler, even if on the weekends he decides to go bowling with his family. His bowling hobby alongside his professional bowling doesn’t suddenly make his professional bowling not “real.”
    It really just comes down to elitist classism. It’s also a strawman argument, because most fanfic writers don’t argue that they are real writers BECAUSE they write fanfic, they argue that they are real writers because they write original fic, but also HAPPEN TO write fanfic as a hobby on the side. That’s where the issue comes in.
    I know a lot of fanfic writers and I can tell you this is a strawman argument because those who just write fanfic and only fanfic and don’t write original fic do not categorize themselves generally as “real writers.”

  • Mark A. York

    January 11, 2007, pm31 8:00 PM
    244

    Well, that’s encouraging because they aren’t.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 11, 2007, pm31 8:19 PM
    245

    Eyup wrote:
    “And being sued because you nicely let people borrow your stuff, as if by consenting to fanfic you’d consented to share profits and credit, pretty much makes you the victim, not the aggressor.”
    You should read the comments behind that link provided by Bemused above (#246 and #253 are the most relevant) – it’s really helpful in illuminating the facts of the case (from someone who should know since she now manages MZB’s estate).
    According to one of those comments (#253), the fan author in question had reason to believe that she would have a stake in her writing. MZB had previously published an anthology that included works of fanfiction that had been previously published in fanzines – those people got credit and paid for their work. She actively encouraged fan writers, read unsolicited manuscripts and was editing additional anthologies which included fan works. This is not a simple case of the poor victim author being taken advantage of by the asshole fan writer. The situation was way more complicated than that.
    “I never said fanfic was evil. I’m saying people shouldn’t be jerks about it. Ficking without consent is being a jerk; suing the author you ficked is being an unbelievable jerk.”
    The key reason that the MZB example is disputed is because the fan author in question _had_ tacit consent. MZB encouraged her fans to write and submit fanfiction – how can you then argue that fans didn’t have permission? Other fan writers in the past had gotten credit for their work and gotten it published in sanctioned anthologies – in that context why were her expectations of credit and profit unreasonable? She may have overestimated the significance of her ideas to the story MZB wanted to write and as a result made demands that were too far reaching, but while that may make her arrogant, I don’t understand where your sense of moral outrage comes from.
    But calling people names, especially when you are passing judgment on an entire group without considering any individual case or actual facts, is never productive.
    PS. According to darkover.com, the quote I used above is apparently from MZB’s introduction to the Keeper’s Price anthology (1980), a collection of Darkover Universe fiction which included several works that had previously been published in the fanzine Starstone.

  • Lee Goldberg

    January 11, 2007, pm31 10:35 PM
    246

    My God, this post is still getting comments a year-and-a-half after I wrote it? Amazing.
    Well, I’ll add something. The Daily Telegraph is all-but-accusing Thomas Harris of stealing from Hannibal Lector fanfic for his new book HANNIBAL RISING.
    http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2007/01/a_novel_twist.html
    Does that change the parameters of your debate? Have at it.

  • Ey-up

    January 12, 2007, am31 1:29 AM
    247

    ‘Being a jerk’ isn’t calling names, it’s stating disapproval of someone’s actions. Would you prefer ‘being nasty and unreasonable’? If so, consider it notionally changed.
    I’m not morally outraged, just disapproving. (I’m quite calm and cheerful – also pleased to see you again because I always enjoy debating with you.)
    If what you say is true about the MZB case, that does complicate things somewhat, but I still think that an author’s rights over their characters always trump a fan’s. The whole incident might be taken to prove that authors shouldn’t read fans’ fic – but it could just as easily be taken to prove that they should try to prevent it being written. After all, you can’t definitely prove you haven’t read something posted on the Net – and most authors don’t have Rowling’s fortune. Lawyers’ fees are hard to afford on a writer’s income. You could argue that MZB’s case proves that authorising fic is a slippery slope.
    ‘You can’t lump me (someone who is writing fanfic in a verse where it is publically approved of by the creator) with those writing in verses where the author has asked people to stop.’
    If you’re talking to me, Zoe, I’m not. If you’ve got the author’s consent, knock yourself out.
    ‘[People falsely argue that…] The fact that they participate in fanfic AT ALL makes their claim to writerhood null and void.’
    Yes, it is possible for people to write original and fanfic stuff both together, and I agree that generalisations are always going to run into counter-examples. I think fanfic tends to attract a disproportionately high number of people who can’t write well, though, because it’s easy. If you throw a boot in a room full of fanfickers, the odds of it hitting someone talented are lower than if you threw it at a crowd of would-be original fiction writers.
    The problem comes when fickers start claiming that their fic is just as creative as original writing. That tends to provoke drastic generalisations. Frankly, I think the issue of quality should be left out of the debate altogether; it really isn’t relevant to the rights and wrongs of it.
    Hi, Lee. If Thomas Harris did nick from Lecter fic (there’s Lecter fic? Good grief), that was pretty silly of him. I’m inclined to think that if a fan ficks an author without consent and the author pinches ideas from them, it’s the fan’s look-out since they were nicking from the author in the first place and the author is only stealing back from them – but it’s kind of asking for trouble. Does Harris authorise fanfic?
    Is taking a story idea from one of your own fickers any worse than taking an idea from another writer? Writers imitate things all the time, and no one objects – you can’t copyright a story structure. It only looks like copyright infringement because the same characters are being used – and those characters are the author’s.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 12, 2007, am31 2:01 AM
    248

    Ey-up, I apologize I wasn’t speaking to you specifically when I made the “you can’t lump me” comment. I was making it to the anonymous poster/posters who couldn’t be bothered to give me at list a nick to address them and I got tired of saying: “anonymous poster.” But I should have been more clear, I was only specifically addressing you in the post that started “Ey-up,” 😉

  • Ey-up

    January 12, 2007, am31 2:11 AM
    249

    No sweat. 🙂
    For my money, I’m prepared to tolerate a good deal of ‘elitist classism’ when it comes to writing. Some people write better than others. Acknowledging that is being elistist, but it’s not being wrong.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 12, 2007, am31 2:14 AM
    250

    Crap, I meant to say “at least” not “at list” in that last post. Der de der…I’m a writer. 😉
    Ey-up, I agree that authorizing fanfic can turn into a slippery slope in some cases, although in the MZB case she was pretty closely entwined with it, she wasn’t just from a distance saying: “Go ye, make fanfic and prosper.”
    But a simple solution would be to require all fanfic authors to post a legal disclaimer with their fic stating that they acknowledge it’s all property of the author and no infringement is intended. I would think that a fanfic writer couldn’t waive their imaginary rights and then turn around and sue later.
    But then again it’s not just fanfic writers running around trying to sue authors for copying them. (again, the Rowling case.)
    I think ALL types of writing tends to attract a lot of people who can’t write. Ask any professional editor or agent how much swill they get. Pretty much any yahoo who can hold a pen thinks he can write. It’s not often true. But yeah 99.9% of all fanfic is crap, including my own. 😉 I write it for the same reason I masturbate, cause I like it. 🙂
    I agree though that the issue of quality should be left out of the debate, because it’s conflating two completely unrelated issues. I think if someone is creative they can be creative within someone else’s world, but I think you’d have to be a big goober to say it’s of the same level of creativity. It’s definitely a shortcut way of writing because you already have the world and characters and histories set up. You don’t have to dig very far so the well of creativity there is quite a bit more shallow than for original fic.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 12, 2007, am31 2:19 AM
    251

    Ey-up, oh there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging some people write better than others. It’s just IMO an exercise in retardia to just assume someone who writes fanfic can’t possibly be a good writer on any level. This is really a Guyot thing back with his whole “if you write fanfic you have no soul” stuff.
    Wow, talk about melodramatic.
    There are many different skill levels to writers. There are many different levels of seriousness in writers. Whatever I do with my spare time when I’m not writing my “serious original work” is no real reflection on anything but my level of fan obsession.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 12, 2007, am31 7:20 AM
    252

    Dear Ey-up,
    “nasty and unreasonable'” at least gives your audience some indication of why you disapprove, while calling someone a mild derogatory like “jerk” only tell us that you’ve passed judgment on them – not why. And you missed the key point – I don’t think you should pass judgment on any general class of people without considering the actual facts of the case. You passed judgment on the fan author in the MZB case without knowing the facts, and now you seem to acknowledge that it’s more complicated than you thought and MZB was not an innocent victim. How do you know that you aren’t wrong in other cases?
    Oh wait, are there any other cases?
    Even in the MZB case she apparently asked permission from this fan to use her idea in exchange for an acknowledgement – something which she’d done with other fans in the past. In other words, other fans had acted honorably even by your standards. You can argue that authors shouldn’t encourage fanfiction as a result – but if they have no problem with it or opinion on it, why should they? Especially if, like several pro-authors I won’t name because I don’t want to draw them into this discussion, they write fanfiction themselves. On the other hand, it is an object lesson on why they shouldn’t read any based on their own work. That solution has been working for a number of fanfic friendly authors for decades.
    Re: the quality issue. Here’s a thought exercise for you all.
    Take all the fanfic in the world. Most (though not all) of them are posted on-line since they don’t have any realistic expectation of ever getting published. Don’t forget published works based on stuff now in the public domain, like March, The Wide Sargasso Sea or Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead. I think it should also include media tie-ins (derivative fiction written under contract), but I’m sure Mr. Goldberg would object to that so we’ll leave them out of both categories for now. It might take you a while to find all the fanzines that were only ever sold at a few cons, but pretend we’re omniscient and can find everything. Don’t forget all the dojinshi fanfic published in Japan and the output of collectives like CLAMP. Stick them in a room; give them an average skill and quality score.
    Now go find all the ‘original fiction’ in the world. Don’t forget to add up the output of the romance novel mills and all the comic books. Unfortunately, much of Shakespeare and the literary cannon written before copyrights is excluded because those guys stole plots and characters from other authors left and right, and besides they had a very different understanding of “original” – they could almost qualify as fanfic. Also, remember, ‘original fiction” doesn’t just include those that have gotten published – that’s just the stuff that’s been filtered through a professional editor. It includes the vanity presses and small town literary magazines. It includes all those manuscripts that never saw the light of day because the author has some idea of eventually publishing it (and he doesn’t want to post on-line as a result of those aspirations). It includes the contents of publishers’ rejection piles. It includes all the original fiction that is posted on-line, with no expectation of profit, especially anything written by teenagers to share with their friends. It includes the “original fic” section over at the Pit. It includes fantasy letters to Hustler and all the porn in pay-per-viewing archives that have reading material in addition to pictures, as well as the sum total of the contents of such news groups as alt.sex.stories and alt.erotica (and other derivatives in the alt hierarchy). Give them a score as well. Don’t forget to correct for differences in volume (fanfiction has a comparatively small output compared to original work).
    Which score is higher?
    I’m being deliberately ridiculous. Comparing the quality and talent that goes into fanfic versus original work is silly, first of all because these aren’t genre’s in the literary sense – more like legal categories. Second, because the market and distribution for each is so different that the available works aren’t really comparable. Much fanfic is posted un-finished and unedited, often with the expectation that the community will step up and make suggestions and criticism. The authors don’t need to worry about keeping it to themselves or polishing it to any strong degree because they won’t be selling it. Many do the editing and polishing as a personal exercise, but others don’t bother. Some will post multiple versions as the comments come in from the community. How many unfinished original novels do you read in a year? All of it follows Sturgeon’s Law (90% of everything is crud) but it’s clear that there’s some very high quality fanfic out there, and just as there is plenty of “original” stuff that is absolute dreck. It’s like trying to compare a Pulitzer Prize winning novel like March to the latest post on alt.sex.stories.bdsm. You could do it, but would it be a useful exercise?
    (If you can’t guess at this point, in my opinion Ey-up’s statement that “If you throw a boot in a room full of fanfickers, the odds of it hitting someone talented are lower than if you threw it at a crowd of would-be original fiction writers.” is just silly. If you judge by output, then the boot in the original fic room is more likely to hit the author of an unfinished manuscript that he’ll never get published unless he at least discovers the joys of spellcheck or an on-line free porn author than a medium talent aspiring novelist. There’s simply more of them.)

  • Ey-up

    January 12, 2007, am31 9:09 AM
    253

    I’m not passing judgement on a general class of people, but on a specific action: using an author’s original characters in contravention of the author’s stated wishes.
    What seems to be becoming clear is that the facts are under debate in the Marion Zimmer Bradley case. No one has access to the lawyers’ correspondence, so there’s no knowing for certain what the ins and outs were – we have only reported accounts from interested parties, which is too imprecise. Not having any means of verifying what happened, I think I’m going to stop discussing it: without a confirmed version of the facts, there’s no knowing what they prove. You and I tend to get into quite complicated debates with each other, which would require both of us to back up our arguments, and I’ve no intention of doing that if I’m not totally clear on the facts of what we’re discussing: it would be too easy to get into an endless round of speculation and counter-speculation. Ain’t going there.
    When discussing a general point, it’s easy to get sidetracked into haggling over examples. But it doesn’t change the general principle, which is, as I see it, ficking without permission is extremely bad manners.
    You did notice I said that the issue of quality was separate from the issue of ethical conduct? Zoe’s right, it’s conflating two unrelated things.
    And if I’m not allowed to say someone’s being a jerk, you should renounce words like ‘silly’. Be nice and set me a good example. 🙂

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 12, 2007, am31 10:40 AM
    254

    Dear Ey-up,
    Fair enough – what you actually said was “I’m saying people shouldn’t be jerks about it. Ficking without consent is being a jerk; suing the author you ficked is being an unbelievable jerk.”
    You identified an entire group of people who participate in an activity (writing unauthorized fanfic) as being “jerk[s].” The word “jerk” doesn’t characterize their actions, but the people – it’s a judgement on the character of the person. It disregards the context of those actions and boils their entire life down to a moral judgement based on one thing that they did. It’s a derogative (though a minor one), not just an adjective.
    I think there are conditions under which it would be perfectly reasonable for someone to write fanfiction (not for profit, of course) even if the original author didn’t give consent – if the author is dead, incommunicado, or simply doesn’t care one way or the other, for example. If the fiction is maintained in restricted private archives or mailing lists. And in many other cases, but those are more controversial – I’ll refer you to the other threads we’ve participated in rather than reiterate all my reasons for why I think the right to profit from an idea is different from the right to absolute control over it. I object to characterizing the authors of all unauthorized fanfic (ie the majority) as “jerks” per se, but you didn’t qualify your statement.
    Bad manners? Manners are social constructions and within the society of fandom, fan fic writing is not considered rude.
    As long as we’re being scrupulously fair, then I should point out that I didn’t say that you were silly. I don’t know you – I have no grounds to make that kind of judgment of your character or personality. I said the statement and the argument were silly, and I stand by that.
    PS. I’m glad we’re going to stop discussing the MZB situation since that was my point when I jumped into this thread – that it’s a bad example because it’s more complicated that people generally acknowledge and the majority of the details have not been made public.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 12, 2007, pm31 2:08 PM
    255

    Good points Erizo, most fanfic is not nearly as rigorously edited as most original fic. (mine are all slightly cleaned up rough drafts. I’m not going to spend all the time necessary to edit fanfic to standards of published original fic. That’s stupid and anal retentive and takes away from my other writing.)
    And there is just as much “crap” in the slush piles and in general in original fic as in fanfic. It’s simply that fanfic gets posted online without having to go through some type of editorial review (though a few sites have at least some quality standard and you can’t post there if you can’t meet it.)
    So the ease with which you can publish fanfic vs. original fic, can obviously make it appear that even the worst “original fic” is better than the best fanfic.

  • Ey-up

    January 12, 2007, pm31 2:40 PM
    256

    ‘Manners are social constructions and within the society of fandom, fan fic writing is not considered rude.’
    Within the society of the writer who’s objecting to being ficked, they are. Saying the fan’s view trumps the authors is getting it backwards: the author is the creator, and their view ought to trump the fan’s.
    And within the fandom community, as I understand it, it *is* considered rude to borrow another fan’s ideas or characters without permission. I think fans understand the concept; they’re just not applying it to the writer because they’re not part of the same social circle.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 12, 2007, pm31 3:24 PM
    257

    Dear Ey-up,
    A quick reply before I have to stop for the night:
    You’re right – in some fandom circles it is considered rude to riff off another fan’s work, though certainly not in all . There are reasons for that – fan culture operates on a different market and that feeling of separateness (real or immagined) carries over into attitudes toward the outside. Because they are part of the same community, fans are generally more accessable to other fans than the original authors are, so the barier to communication is lower. There’s also the general feeling that they don’t want to draw attention of the original author to their activities thereby placing that author in a difficult legal position (I think this is partly due to the confusion between the difference between copyright and trademark, but that’s only an educated guess). Fans, like most insular communities, generally find their own internal standards more are more important to them than their relationship to the outside world – it’s hypocritical but there you are. But that is the point – it’s not a matter of whose feelings or manners trump whose. Manners are irrelevant, especially an outsider’s assessment of a relatively closed society’s customs.
    However, there is a large portion of fandom that is actually consistent in their views – there was a lot of discussion of this issue back during the SGA flashfic Mission Report challenge last summer. Most of my favorite authors came down on the side of consistency – go figure). And they are able to operate under a perfeclty adequate ethical code which results in behavior you happen to think is rude. Fine – you don’t need to participate in the community so your sensibilities need only be offended if you seek them out – and that’s hardly their fault. But if you want to change someone’s ethical code (or have them take yours seriously), you’re going to have to come up with a better argument than that it offends your sensibilities. Sorry.
    Neither are the sensibilities of the original author particularly relevant to the ethical discussion. Thier rights are, but whether their rights are being violated in any real way by fanfic is obviously controversial – in this blog alone that debate has resulted in three or four 200+ post threads in just the last six months. Obviously, reasonable people (not to mention unreasonable ones) can disagree on this issue.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 12, 2007, pm31 3:34 PM
    258

    I once saw a fanfic writer make an author note at the end of her fic denying permission for any other fanfic author to write a sequel of her story cause she might revisit it later. And I was like WTF? Granted, this is within a fandom where fanfic has been encouraged by the creator of the characters, Buffy. (When asked in an interview what people should do now that the show’s over, Joss said, “Write Fanfic.”)
    Still, I think it’s a bit hypocritical to want to play in someone else’s sandbox but not let anyone play in your own, whether the original author gave consent or not. Something doesn’t sit right with me about writing fanfic and then freaking out if someone wants to borrow a subworld you created within fanfic to write their own.
    I think anyone can write whatever the hell they want to write. They just shouldn’t share it with the public unless the original author/creator is a supporter of the action. That’s just simple respect. If you’re really a fan and the creator says “please don’t do it.” Then respect that.
    On the other hand, if the creator says, “I can’t read it, but go for it, more power to you.” Then people shouldn’t be freaking out about it. I personally respect an author/creator who will give their fans that space to play. Cult classics IMO are created with higher fan interaction and expression. And I’m a little annoyed by author/creators who freak out over fanfic, though it’s their right and if I was a fan I’d respect it.
    For some reason I think people seem to think that once someone becomes famous they are no longer human and therefore the same respect you show some other person isn’t required.
    Same with Harry Potter writers who are writing slash. JK Rowling asked that people not write sex about her characters, which is completely reasonable considering that her characters are children and it’s practically vicarioius pedophelia. Nasty.

  • Ey-up

    January 13, 2007, am31 12:54 AM
    259

    Totally agree with you, Zoe. Respect to you for respecting the author’s wishes even if they annoy you – respecting someone’s wishes only if they suit you isn’t genuine respect.
    Fans who won’t accept an author’s right to refuse permission to write fanfic are in the wrong. But people who say authors shouldn’t authorise fanfic are being just as unreasonable: they’re failing to accept an author’s right to grant permission. Each side is saying that the author has the right to say ‘yes’ but not ‘no’ or vice versa, which isn’t respecting creative rights.
    Lost Erizo:
    I didn’t say anything about my sensibilities, or the authors’, or anybody’s feelings. Please address what I actually said rather than putting words in my mouth.
    ‘Fine – you don’t need to participate in the community’
    The author is being dragged into association with the community by virtue of being ficked. That’s the point. If a community won’t respect their right of refusal, then saying they don’t need to particpate makes no sense: they’re not being allowed to opt out.
    ‘Manners are irrelevant, especially an outsider’s assessment of a relatively closed society’s customs’
    I’m talking about manners in the wider world, not inter-fandom manners to each other. I’m talking about that group’s way of relating to people outside it. Specifically, their behaviour towards the author. And if you think I mean manners as in sensibilities, let me clarify: I mean ‘manners’ as in decent behaviour towards other human beings.
    A community is only closed if it doesn’t interact with the rest of the world, and a fandom does interact: it takes material from people outside it and publishes stuff on a public forum. In its source material and in its means of distribution, it’s entirely dependent on things that come from outside the fandom, which means it has no right to declare itself separate.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 13, 2007, pm31 4:34 PM
    260

    Ey-up,
    “I didn’t say anything about my sensibilities, or the authors’, or anybody’s feelings. Please address what I actually said rather than putting words in my mouth.”
    I was using “sensibilities” as shorthand for what an individual feels is socially accepted behavior – in other words, your idea of what constitutes good manners. It’s a common use of the term, I’m sorry if it was confusing. I agree that your sensibilities (idea of manners) are irrelevant – you’re not part of the community in question.
    ‘Fine – you don’t need to participate in the community’
    “The author is being dragged into association with the community by virtue of being ficked. That’s the point. If a community won’t respect their right of refusal, then saying they don’t need to particpate makes no sense: they’re not being allowed to opt out.”
    If someone writes an academic paper that is extremely unfavorable in its criticism of a novel, and publishes it in an academic journal that is freely available on-line, are they being rude? Are they forcing the author to participate in the academic debate and larger academic world? After all, the writer doesn’t need to read or react to the criticism if s/he doesn’t want to. And academic criticism is unlikely to have an effect on book sales (95% of academic papers are so obscure that they are only of interest to other academics). If that same academic picks the author’s work apart to their face in front of friends and colleagues at a dinner party, that would be rude, but criticism in an academic context is not, despite the fact that the paper is available to anyone with an internet connection. Well, fan reactions in the form of fanfic are not considered rude in a fandom context, and the author needn’t (and probably shouldn’t) read it or participate in the community – ie. they can opt out. The existence of fanfic doesn’t change what they wrote, and it shouldn’t affect their writing in the future unless they seek it out.
    You said above “”Fans who won’t accept an author’s right to refuse permission to write fanfic are in the wrong.” I don’t believe that the author has any such right of refusal when it comes to criticism, and neither do I think they have a right of refusal in a fanfic context unless it impacts on their earnings. They don’t own these ideas – they merely have a monopoly over profits from it, which our current law grants as a total monopoly of use because the law doesn’t acknowledge a difference between for profit and not for profit work in this context. I’m going to try and avoid rehashing the rest of this argument – I know you’re familiar with it and I’ve talked about it in (excruciating) detail in other threads.
    ‘Manners are irrelevant, especially an outsider’s assessment of a relatively closed society’s customs’
    “I’m talking about manners in the wider world, not inter-fandom manners to each other.”
    What constitutes good manners is contextual. There is no such thing as universally good manners. What is acceptable behavior in a leather bar is not acceptable behavior in my living room. Manners are not synonymous with ethics. It would be rude to speak at bar volume at a formal dinner party, but it’s not unethical. In the context of a criminal enterprise, I’m sure they would consider it rude for one of their members to bring their activities to the attention of the police, but it may very well be unethical not to.
    You said that you’re talking about the wider world, but manners can’t be applied outside of their community context. The leather bar I mentioned above is part of the wider world, but behavior that is acceptable there is not always acceptable other contexts. I am part of the wider world, but the fact that my mannerisms could be considered rude in Japan is irrelevant – I don’t live there. Similarly the academic example I gave above – they are part of the wider world, but dinner party manners are irrelevant to their discourse.
    “I’m talking about that group’s way of relating to people outside it. Specifically, their behavior towards the author. And if you think I mean manners as in sensibilities, let me clarify: I mean ‘manners’ as in decent behaviour towards other human beings.”
    Ah, so you’re talking about ethics or morals. I can only reiterate that what you consider rude is irrelevant to what is ethical. It may be the polite thing to avoid bringing up at the dinner table the fact that, despite being charming, Uncle Joe is a misogynistic abuser that one shouldn’t trust around vulnerable women and children, but it’s unethical (according to my code) to invite such a person to dinner with him without warning them.
    “A community is only closed if it doesn’t interact with the rest of the world, and a fandom does interact: it takes material from people outside it and publishes stuff on a public forum.”
    That’s simply incorrect. A community doesn’t need to be hermetically sealed from the outside world to be insular. One doesn’t qualify as being Amish just because one lives in Lancaster and overhears their conversations on the street. The academic community doesn’t exist in a zone compartmentalized from the rest of the world. People with a leather kink often have jobs in perfectly ordinary offices. Yet all are relatively closed communities. That doesn’t mean that just because I am aware of their behavior that I am a member of the community or can dictate their behavior. I can read all the academic papers I want, but in order to enter the academic debate, I have to prove my qualifications and operate by their rules. If I go into a leather bar, I can’t reasonably object that their dancing wouldn’t fly at my Sunday school picnic. The rules of good behavior that have been developed in each context do not carry over into other contexts.
    ” In its source material and in its means of distribution, it’s entirely dependent on things that come from outside the fandom, which means it has no right to declare itself separate. ”
    The unnamed academic critic above is also dependant on the outside world for source material and distribution – do you call yourself a literature professor because you’ve read some criticism? If the answer is no (and if that’s your only qualification or participation, it should be) then you are not part of that community. I bought a Japanese car – that doesn’t mean that either the Japanese people or the CEO of Toyota get to dictate my driving behavior, despite the fact that I’m still dependant on Toyota for parts in the future. Insularity isn’t dependant on complete independance and self sustainability, it depends on the bars to inclusion and the rules and culture that set the group apart.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 13, 2007, pm31 5:24 PM
    261

    I think erizo brings up a good point about “fanfic as a form of criticism”
    What I wonder is…where is the line? Obviously no one considers discussing a novel or tv show any form of intellectual rights theft. Is fanfic a continuation of this discussion in a different form?
    Apart from the issue of respecting a request, not necessarily because it’s “wrong” not to, but because if you really ARE a fan, and they hate fanfic you really aren’t showing any type of appreciation for the individual. (It’s like…how stalking is never appreciated, no matter how pretty the flowers you bought are.)
    Of course maybe that’s not everyone’s point. Maybe some people like a story without giving two hoots about the author of it and I suppose that’s a valid expression as well.
    Or maybe some people are “negative fans.” Laurell K. Hamilton has this phenomenon. Quite a few people liked her series to begin with, hate it now…but due to some type of unexplainable morbid curiosity, continue to read her work.
    They might write fanfic to “fix” what they believe the original writer has butchered. I would contend that these individuals don’t give two hoots about LKH, don’t respect her, and don’t pretend to. They write the fanfic as a blatant “screw you.” So is that literary critisism? And if they aren’t trying to profit from their fic, is LKH being hurt in a way any more measurable than negative reviews would hurt her?
    Some people are of the opinion that once a story is out there it belongs to the people, not so that they can financially profit from it…but that in the greater sense, once you share a story with the world, it belongs to everyone. I can see this view and agree with it on “some” level.
    I think the issue comes down to “copyright infringement” which is a legal thing vs. Can you really OWN a story or characters in more than a legal sense. It’s like the whole: “can you own a tract of land” argument of eras past. Clearly you can legally own land. But just because you can legally own it does it really, in some greater cosmic sense make the land YOURS, or is it “everybody’s” and only social and governmental hierarchies make it otherwise?
    Aside from the issue of respect though, from a purely legal perspective…is fanfic “stealing?” With or without author consent is it actually and truly STEALING something? To steal from someone you must profit, and the individual you “stole from” must lose something.
    Fanfic writers, except for a very few terminally stupid ones, don’t in any way try to financially gain from fanfic. Nor do they try to in any way prohibit the original author from profiting. (a few crazies do not disprove this. Especially since no one has gone to court over it yet.)
    I don’t think it’s a totally black and white issue. And just because I wouldn’t POST fanfic for a fandom where the creator had spoken against it, doesn’t mean I think anyone who disregards author/creator requests are evil. Sharing something with the world makes you subject to all kinds of criticism. Is fanfic one of those types?
    Maybe.
    No one has a “right” not to be offended.

  • Lee Goldberg

    January 13, 2007, pm31 5:34 PM
    262

    Zoe wrote: “I think anyone can write whatever the hell they want to write. They just shouldn’t share it with the public unless the original author/creator is a supporter of the action. That’s just simple respect.”
    I couldn’t agree more, Zoe. I wish every fanfic writer had the same respectful and enlightened attitude that you do towards the original authors and their creative rights.
    Sadly, I get the impression from comments left on my blog over the years that you are in the minority.
    Lee

  • Zoe Winters

    January 13, 2007, pm31 5:43 PM
    263

    Thanks Lee! I’m not sure if I’m in the minority, or not. There seem to be a lot of people on both sides of the fence. But I DO think that in any group of people, the loudest ones are not necessarily the ones you want representing you! 😉
    I was reading through a lot of your fanfic posts and cracking up. I’m all for the mocking of blatant stupidity. I’m finding that for the most part I really agree with most of your views on this more than I originally thought.

  • Ey-up

    January 14, 2007, am31 12:32 AM
    264

    Lost Erizo:
    You’re missing the point. I’m really not interested in quibbling terms about whether it’s ethics, morals, manners or whatever. Sorry, but I find this disputation of definitions more a means of deflecting arguments than a means of addressing them. I think you know perfectly well what I’m getting at.
    Commentary of any kind doesn’t infringe on copyright, whether it’s popular or academic, negative or positive. The academic example isn’t relevant. And I simply don’t buy the ‘fanfic is comment’ argument: I think it’s disingenuous and doesn’t reflect what’s actually done.
    Let’s take the sexual kink example. That kink is kept out of the public sphere. If a fetishist decides to film themselves and circulate the film on the Net, that’s their own business as well. However, if they decide to dress up as a fellow office worker, use their name in the scene and *then* film and post it, they’ve involved their colleague, and saying ‘you don’t have to watch’ won’t cut it. If they play the scene in the office after closing time and post the film from the company’s network, saying ‘you don’t have to watch’ will get them fired. Something is only private as long as it doesn’t involve misappropriation, and fanfic does.
    Fanfic involves the author in a way that genuinely self-contained hobbies don’t involve non-consenting citizens. There are no real analogies for fanfic; it’s too different and complicated a set of circumstances. But while saying ‘you don’t have to look’ is a reasonable thing to say to people who don’t like it when the author has consented, it’s not a reasonable thing to say to the unwilling author.
    Zoe: speak for your people! You’re being a great example of the nice wing of fanfic.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 14, 2007, am31 1:16 AM
    265

    hehehe Ey-up. I had no idea I was becoming the “Good” spokesperson of the fanfic world. In some ways, admitting to writing fanfic is like admitting you pick your nose, so you’ll understand if I don’t want my name on a trophy. 😉
    On the conversation about “is fanfic a form of criticism?” I’m not sure it’s completely a disingenuous idea. I think it’s an interesting idea. Respect and copyright issues aside, I don’t really think anyone has an inalienable right not to be offended. (including the original author.)
    Sure, a lot of fanfic authors are rude, and just don’t give a damn how their behavior comes off, but I think wagging your finger at someone only works if they feel shame about the issue. Someone who doesn’t like or respect an author who then writes fanfic isn’t really going to care if that author says “no, don’t do it.” If their motivation for writing the fic comes from a “screw you” kind of place, some kind of anger about how the stories have been written, I’m not sure any amount of “well respect dictates…” will really sway them.
    And I’m not sure I think they are horrible evil people. Not everybody likes everybody or what they do. That’s life in the grown up world.
    People, authors included, have a right to make requests. However if those requests cannot be legally upheld, then it’s a moot point. (Although some authors do send cease and desist letters and those seem to work for the most part, at least for the individual people they send the letters to.)
    I can understand an author liking or not liking fanfic. I can also understand them worrying that if they don’t speak up that the “MZB Cautionary tale” could happen to them. So all authors aren’t necessarily asshats for bitching about it, just a wee bit paranoid. (I think Rowling is completely reasonable in her, ‘keep it PG’ request. I don’t think she falls into the “asshat” or “paranoid” category.)
    I’m not sure villainizing the fanfic writer, even the uncouth one really gets us anywhere though. Mock, sure. But saying “Oooooh you’re naughty…” Well if they are behaving childishly, scolding them only further encourages the behavior.

  • Ey-up

    January 14, 2007, am31 2:27 AM
    266

    That’s an interesting viewpoint.
    On the fanfic as comment point: I’ve seen it argued before, and like I said, I think it’s more self-serving than reasonable. If you want to write, you can either use characters you’ve created yourself or been given permission to use by the creator. If you want to comment, you can comment in your own words. You don’t have to rip off characters in order to do either thing. And if you don’t have to, you shouldn’t.
    Use of characters is only considered comment if it’s parody, and that’s actually protected under the law. Fanfic is not always parody, and if it’s not, then ‘comment’ isn’t a justification.
    As to the argument that not everyone acts the way we’d all like – well, that’s true. It’s always the case. But it doesn’t shut down the debate; if it did, no one would ever debate or do anything. The fact that you’re able to do something doesn’t mean other people don’t have a right to condemn or try to prevent you. I’m always cynical of arguments that use ‘everyone has a right to their opinion’ as a way of trying to stop someone else expressing their own. It generally translates to telling someone, ‘Everyone has a right to think and do as they please – except you.’

  • Zoe Winters

    January 14, 2007, am31 3:01 AM
    267

    Ey-up, I agree that it’s probably a bit self serving, however I’m not sure I agree with the “if you don’t have to, you shouldn’t” line of thought. Simply because…you really don’t “have to” comment in ANY way to someone’s writing or tv show or whatever.
    Many could argue that most fanfic is parody. (I mean have you read it?) 😉
    I don’t think it shuts down the debate necessarily to say “not all people act as we’d like” I’m simply saying that if the extent of the argument is:
    “i’m doing this”
    “well I don’t like it.”
    “I don’t care what you like or don’t like.”
    “you’re evil.”
    Well, you can see how it deginerates. 😉
    I think everyone does have a right to their opinion and to express it, but that includes the people I don’t agree with. I think of late, people seem to be of the opinion that they have the right not to be offended. And I think that’s a different argument altogether.
    It seems that at least this aspect of the argument comes down to “the author has a right not to be offended.” I could be wrong about that, and certainly there are other aspects to the argument besides someone’s personal feelings… But someone being “offended” by something all by itself doesn’t mean everyone else should fall in line.
    Again, I’m still on the side of the fence that I don’t play in the sandboxes of others in public when they’ve asked that I not. I’m simply playing devil’s advocate.

  • Ey-up

    January 14, 2007, am31 8:22 AM
    268

    ‘It seems that at least this aspect of the argument comes down to “the author has a right not to be offended.” ‘
    It’s more than that, I think.
    Many people, including both of us, my friend, seem to think that taking someone’s characters without permission is just against the rules. Whether they’re rules of ethics, conduct, courtesy or morality I don’t care to speculate. And it’s not because it gives offence, it’s because it’s doing something you’re not entitled to do. Not just because it offends the author, but because it offends a principle: if it ain’t yours, don’t nick it.
    There’s another, equally important point that comes into play if you’re going to argue the ‘fanfic is a closed community’ line: it’s employing a double standard. And double standards are never justified.
    People defending fanfic are saying ‘Ethics are something a person or group determines for themselves, and an outsider doesn’t have the right to comment because they’re not a member of the group.’ The author, by this logic, is supposed not to condemn them because they’re not a member of that group.
    The author is, however, a member of another group: the group that thinks fanfic isn’t an automatic right. If you’re going to argue that every group is entitled to determine its own standards, the author is entitled to hold and act on the belief that fanfic shouldn’t exist.
    Unauthorised fanfic, by this worldview, isn’t an intra-group custom, it’s an act of inter-group aggression. Ficking each other is one thing, ficking an outsider is something else entirely.
    If the fans want to argue that the author doesn’t have a right to judge their group’s behaviour, then they’ve got no right to judge the author’s. The author can criticize, mock, cease-and-desist, stalk or sue the fans, doing everything they can think of to prevent them. Why not? By the standards of the author’s group, their behaviour is legitimate.
    But let an author try that, and listen to the outrage from the fans.
    Fans who argue ‘you don’t have to look’ are basically granting themselves rights to do what they want, without granting authors the same right. They can I don’t mind in the least if people want to enjoy themselves in ways I wouldn’t personally enjoy, but I don’t think anyone, whatever their tastes, can respect hypocrisy.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 14, 2007, am31 11:57 AM
    269

    Lost Erizo:
    “You’re missing the point. I’m really not interested in quibbling terms about whether it’s ethics, morals, manners or whatever. Sorry, but I find this disputation of definitions more a means of deflecting arguments than a means of addressing them. I think you know perfectly well what I’m getting at.”
    Ey-up,
    There’s something you should know about me by now. I don’t post about anything I don’t feel strongly about and I am generally very careful about what I say – so if you dispute something I say in a public forum, I am going to defend my position. One of the things I feel strongly about is unfairly insulting people in public, and calling someone rude when they aren’t is an insult, albeit a minor one. I’m not disputing definitions for the sake of distracting you or displaying my familiarity with the English language, nor am I missing your point – I happen to think you are wrong and deserve an explanation of _why_ I think so. If I didn’t think your remarks deserved a response I wouldn’t give one. To be honest, I would have been happier to restrict my remarks to the details of the MZB issue, but the conversation snowballed, as these things do. I don’t believe in making statements in public that I won’t defend so ‘comment and run’ is not an option for me.
    That said, if you don’t want to get into a discussion about manners then you shouldn’t go around calling people rude. I did not start that line of discussion – you did. The distinction between manners, ethics and morals is important and I’m frankly surprised (I was going to say shocked, but it’s pretty hard to shock me) that you would argue that language isn’t important in a discussion of issues surrounding literature and writing.
    “Commentary of any kind doesn’t infringe on copyright, whether it’s popular or academic, negative or positive. The academic example isn’t relevant. And I simply don’t buy the ‘fanfic is comment’ argument: I think it’s disingenuous and doesn’t reflect what’s actually done.”
    I chose academic commentary as my example because it shares certain aspects with fanfic – in that it is not for profit (usually) and it’s fairly obscure and ghettoized and therefore unlikely to effect earnings from the original work. Those things are not true of popular criticism but that example is illustrative as well. There are two reasons that commentary doesn’t infringe on copyright – discussion of “sciences and the useful arts” is good for society, and it’s not making a profit directly off of the original work. However, it is still derivative and sometimes written for profit- that’s why specific exceptions needed to be made in the law for fair use, especially when it comes to copying actual passages. This exception was integral to the original purpose of copyright protections – that is to encourage progress. But that is a legal distinction – the underlying reasoning is still that freedom of ideas is good but that people should be able to get paid for their work. This is the same ethical argument for why fanfic should be allowed as long as it doesn’t impact an author’s earnings, so yes I think it’s relevant.
    As an aside, I think that the fanfic as criticism argument has legs. You say that it “doesn’t reflect what’s actually done” but, and forgive me if I’m wrong, didn’t you also say that you don’t read fanfiction? Are you really in a position to judge? I could give you dozens of examples of this type of fanfiction, but frankly that was not the argument I was trying to make, so I’ll leave that to Ms. Winters for now.
    If someone writes academic criticism of a TV show, they aren’t rudely dragging the writers and producers into an academic argument. The person is not the show they write for. Those people are involved only to the extent that they choose to participate in the academic forum. You criticized fans for “drag[ging the author] into association with the community by virtue of being ficked.” Well, as long as their income from their work remains unaffected, and no one is illegally reproducing the original, then unless the author chooses to be involved in fanfiction they are no more associated with it than they are with literary criticism.
    “Let’s take the sexual kink example. That kink is kept out of the public sphere. If a fetishist decides to film themselves and circulate the film on the Net, that’s their own business as well.”
    I think the public/private distinction there is artificial. Any adult can walk into a leather bar and anyone with an internet connection can access fanfiction.net – but both have to do so of their own volition. Browsers don’t come preloaded with the URL for the Pit – you have to seek it out. Fanfiction archives and bulletin boards are accessible to anyone – but then so is your local fetish shop. But both are also relatively ghettoized – you won’t find fetish gear in your local department store and you won’t find unauthorized fanfic at the local bookstore or library.
    “However, if they decide to dress up as a fellow office worker, use their name in the scene and *then* film and post it, they’ve involved their colleague, and saying ‘you don’t have to watch’ won’t cut it. If they play the scene in the office after closing time and post the film from the company’s network, saying ‘you don’t have to watch’ will get them fired. Something is only private as long as it doesn’t involve misappropriation, and fanfic does.’
    This is an interesting example – and it is well taken. However, the thing that is being appropriated in fanfiction is neither the author nor their image – it’s a work of fiction that will eventually fall into the public domain (though it hasn’t yet and that’s an important distinction especially to the earnings issue). On the other hand, the image and name of the person in your example will never fall into the “public domain” per se, because it’s not protected unless that appropriation crosses over into libel or fraud. Just ask anyone who’s had an “unauthorized biography” written about them. The actionable reason one would be fired in the example you gave is because one would be misappropriating company computers and equipment, not one’s colleague’s image. On the other hand people misappropriate business equipment all the time without penalty – the reason the infraction would be pursued in this case is because one’s boss and colleagues didn’t like what one had done to one’s colleague’s image and were worried about getting sued by said colleague. But unless the appropriation constituted harassment they couldn’t fire you for that alone (well they could, but they’d be exposing themselves to the risk of a lawsuit). Of course, this example probably would constitute harassment – after all it all took place in the person’s workplace. An analogy to that would be a fan that pestered the author by presenting them with fanfiction at a book signing or trying to give it away to the audience at such an event – in other words harassing the person herself. But, to do that, they’d have to be insane or at least pathetiacally socially inept and naive. In the end, the reason that all of these things are objectionable is because an actual person is being mistreated. A piece of fiction may have a life of it’s own, but it is not a person and writing derivative works is not mistreating it – the original work remains unchanged.
    “Fanfic involves the author in a way that genuinely self-contained hobbies don’t involve non-consenting citizens. There are no real analogies for fanfic; it’s too different and complicated a set of circumstances. But while saying ‘you don’t have to look’ is a reasonable thing to say to people who don’t like it when the author has consented, it’s not a reasonable thing to say to the unwilling author.”
    There’s no such thing as a perfect analogy any more than there are perfect synonyms. Analogies are illustrative for what we can learn _both_ from their similarities _and_ their differences. There are clear analogies to fanfiction, but thus far I don’t think that the ones we’ve discussed support your position. I don’t think you’ve given a sufficient argument for _why_ it is unreasonable to ask people to simply ignore activities that don’t affect them. I fail to see why the author should feel that they are “involved” in a community or activity that they neither authorize nor patronize. If they choose to comment negatively, without participating, well they have a right to express their opinion – that doesn’t mean that the members of the community need to change their behavior on the basis of that opinion alone without additional reason or justification. The way the law is written they also have the power to drive the fanfiction community underground if they choose to use their resources that way. That doesn’t mean that it would be right or wrong in an ethical sense for them to do so – just that the current law grants them that power. Laws often have collateral consequences whether intended or unintended- that’s the price we pay for having hard and fast rules.
    A counter argument could be made for why it is best for authors to simply ignore requests for permission to use their characters even if they enthusiastically support and even participate in fanfic – because that permission could be perceived as approval and therfore responsibility for the content and quality. In that case, the author really is involved and really could be harmed by fanfiction. By simply ignoring it, they abdicate any responsibility for it. Their copyright is not a trademark – they are not required to defend it in order to keep it.

  • Ey-up

    January 14, 2007, pm31 12:30 PM
    270

    Okay, first off, I had no intention of calling you rude, and I beg your pardon if I gave that impression. I think some of your arguments obscure the point rather than clarify it, but that’s not because you’re discourteous; I’m just disagreeing with your argumentative technique.
    Words are important, but this isn’t a discussion of philosophy or semantics. The issue is whether something should or should not be done, and personally I think that whether something is ethics, manners or morals isn’t germaine, especially as different people will define them differently, and my dictionary defines morals as ‘ethics’ and ethics as the study of morals. This is a debate about a particular practice, and as a result, is better kept practical rather than abstract, in my opinion. Once we start disagreeing about whether something is manners or morals, we’ve wandered from the subject. I think it’s therefore best to give one another the benefit of the doubt and assume we mean roughly what we say, rather than getting too tied up in definitions.
    To stick with the sexual kink analogy, since we seem to be in agreement on it to some extent: you say
    I’n the end, the reason that all of these things are objectionable is because an actual person is being mistreated. ‘
    Say my office mates decide to film and post a bondage scene in which one of them is addressed by my name and portrayed as like me. How am I being ‘mistreated’, by your arguments? It’s not being done to me physically. The only thing that’s being used is my name. And your name is connected to you in the same way your fiction is – it’s a collection of words that apply to you notionally but don’t have any physical existence.
    ‘A piece of fiction may have a life of it’s own, but it is not a person and writing derivative works is not mistreating it – the original work remains unchanged.’
    By that logic, the colleagues circulating a scene depicting their acquaintance aren’t doing anything to their colleage, just to their colleague’s name.
    I think few people would consider that the bondage filmers were acting reasonably.
    Saying that fanfic doesn’t affect the author is a massive statement. You’re only able to support it by saying that the only *admissible* way to measure the affect on the author is on their profits. That is simply ruling out too many things. After all, the BDSM porn film victim isn’t going to take a salary cut because of the actions of her colleagues, is she?

  • Lee Goldberg

    January 14, 2007, pm31 12:40 PM
    271

    Zoe wrote: “Again, I’m still on the side of the fence that I don’t play in the sandboxes of others in public when they’ve asked that I not.”
    And, I say again, I wish more fanfiction writers had the same attitude.
    But I have to quibble with you on one point. I don’t understand why fanfiction writers put the responsibility on the author to declare a preference. I believe it’s the responsibility of the fanficcer to contact the author and ask for permission before putting fanfiction based on the author’s work on the net. The burden should lie with the person who wants to use the author’s work…not with the author.
    Ey-up wrote: “If the fans want to argue that the author doesn’t have a right to judge their group’s behaviour, then they’ve got no right to judge the author’s. The author can criticize, mock, cease-and-desist, stalk or sue the fans, doing everything they can think of to prevent them. Why not? By the standards of the author’s group, their behaviour is legitimate.
    But let an author try that, and listen to the outrage from the fans.
    Fans who argue ‘you don’t have to look’ are basically granting themselves rights to do what they want, without granting authors the same right.”
    You’re absolutely right…and I have never seen the inate hypocrisy of that key fanfic argument stated so clearly (even though I have tried to do so myself without success).
    Lee

  • Anonymous

    January 14, 2007, pm31 12:48 PM
    272

    Ey-up, give it up! I really wonder that you don’t tire from having your ignorance paraded around by lost_erizo. I bet you’re a Harlequin writer – I can’t imagine someone with your poor sense of phrase and bigoted opinions writing anything worthwhile reading.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 14, 2007, pm31 1:44 PM
    273

    Dear Anonymous,
    Please don’t support me if you’re going to be insulting.
    Ey-up,
    I’m reading your arguments now but it will probably be tomorrow before I can respond adequately – y’all write way faster than I do. But quickly – I didn’t say that you’d insulted me personally – as I’ve said many times on this blog, I don’t write fanfiction. But you called fan authors in general rude, and I don’t think that’s justified. Regardless – you are right that it really strays from the point and I know you weren’t inentionally trying to be insulting. I concede the point.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 14, 2007, pm31 2:47 PM
    274

    Ey-up, just to be clear here. I haven’t once stated that authors have no rights. I haven’t once stated that fanfic rights are higher than author’s. (even playing devil’s advocate.) I think there is a lot of emotionalism in this issue on all sides though.
    It comes down to one thing. “Is fanfic stealing?” Is it really? Well I don’t honestly know, so I err on the side of caution and only play in the sandboxes I’ve been invited to play in. The Law doesn’t seem to know either, else we wouldn’t be having this argument. Despite what anyone wants to argue from personal perspective, legally, fanfic exists in a gray area that has yet to be duked out in court.
    At such time as it is, then we will have better definitions to work with. To steal something, the “stealer” has to benefit and take something from the “stolen from.” Is that happening in fanfic? Aside from the infamous MZB case, is that happening? And I posit that MZB had nothing taken from her, she just chose not to fight in case that it was. Which isn’t the same thing. Anyone can threaten anything.
    My opinion is that MZB individually got a little too close to her fans, and as a result had a chance of losing something. Not because a fanfic writer yelled: “Hey, you stole my idea” but because MZB got too closely involved with it.
    I’ve argued that I think if you’re getting ficked, then you’re a pretty big fish by now. And honestly and truly fanfic keeps the “fan ferver” alive. I can tell you right now, If Joss Whedon had said: “I hate fanfic, don’t write it. You’re stepping all over my rights.” I wouldn’t post it. HOWEVER I also still wouldn’t be a Buffy fan.
    It would be over and done with, and a show I liked at the time, but the blush is now off the rose. I wouldn’t buy ANY additional buffy related products, in short, MY usefulness as a consumer in the Buffy empire would be over with.
    Things like fanfic, KEEP FANS as viable consumers over a longer period of time. I know this just from observing my own behaviors as well as others. Certainly it’s not true for everyone…but obsession is often not a self-feeding fire. And if you want people to keep your characters/ideas/stories in the forefront of their mind, then give them some space to interact creatively with it.
    Therefore I believe personally that it’s LUDICROUS to freak out over it because all you’re doing is pissing your fans off, alienating them and losing them. Is this saying the author has no right to say “back off?” Of course not. I just personally think it’s not the best choice for building your empire. personal opinion. Your mileage may vary.
    This isn’t to say that I think people shouldn’t respect authors who say “don’t do it.” This isn’t to say I think a fanfic writer has more “rights” than an original author. Unless we are talking about copyright infringement and actual things being TAKEN FROM the other in a fiscally measurable way, we aren’t talking about legalities, we’re talking either about “morality” or “personal sensibilities.”
    While both are valid arguments, they aren’t the SAME argument. I think that’s important to remember.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 14, 2007, pm31 3:01 PM
    275

    Erizo States:
    I don’t think you’ve given a sufficient argument for _why_ it is unreasonable to ask people to simply ignore activities that don’t affect them. I fail to see why the author should feel that they are “involved” in a community or activity that they neither authorize nor patronize.
    Zoe replies: (just to be clear who said what heh)
    I think this is a good point and shouldn’t just be brushed aside with a “well you’re a bad person” comment. It seems to me that attempting to drag a ficker through the mud on “moral” or “personal sensibility” grounds doesn’t actually shut down the argument.
    It’s like the “well you’re stupid” argument. Well, that may or may not be so, but general stupidity doesn’t mean someone is never right. (also erizo I wasn’t calling you or anyone else here stupid, it’s just an example of how online debates usually go after awhile)
    Also…lmao @ ghetto-ized. That brings up a good point also, in order to read fanfic you have to search for fanfic. It doesn’t just jump out and attack you.
    The internet is a BIG BIG place, people. And really and truly some little “ghetto-ized” fanfic comm isn’t setting the world ablaze. I’m not sure that righteous indignation really addresses “harm.”
    Until 3 years ago I didn’t know fanfic EXISTED, at all. In 2003 I had no idea about it. I’m a big internet user. I don’t live in a cave or under a rock. I just didn’t know that it existed.
    I only FOUND it because I was looking for CRITIQUE and commentary on Buffy season six on the internet…(I believe it had come out on DVD then, if not, then I didn’t know about fanfic until 2004. Anyway, I’m fairly certain it was after I watched season six on DVD.) and I stumbled upon fanfic…which I’ll admit in some sense fed my need for “what do other people think about this.” How a character is written in a fanfic, how a storyline plays out, illustrates in many ways how the fan feels about that character or storyline, or whatever. Which brings us full circle to the “is fanfic a type of criticism?”
    I’d love to be able to separate this out and discuss it. Everybody just take a deep cleansing breath. The fact is: If an author doesn’t like fanfic and someone writes it anyway, it’s always going to upset people. So what about in “approved” fanfic communities, where fanfic has either been “okayed” or even “encouraged?” Taking the “ZOMG you’re evil” aspect out of it…what about fanfic as criticism?
    Ghetto Zoe

  • Ey-up

    January 14, 2007, pm31 3:07 PM
    276

    Anon: if you want a good sense of phrase, the grammatically correct formulation would be ‘anything worth reading’, not ‘anything worthwhile reading.’ Or possibly ‘anything worth my while to read.’
    And no, I’m not a Harlequin writer. But that fact aside, is there something wrong with Harlequin writers? What was that you were saying about being bigoted?
    Hypocrisy. Never a good thing.
    Lost Erizo: I look forward to your reply, which I’m sure will be interesting. I’m not calling fanfickers rude people as a blanket statement about them as individuals, because that would be silly. I’m talking specifically about the act of ficking without permission. Just to be clear.
    Thanks for the kind words, Lee. Hope you’re keeping well 🙂

  • Ey-up

    January 14, 2007, pm31 3:09 PM
    277

    Zoe – my post crossed yours, but I’m going to bed now. Catch you later 🙂

  • Zoe Winters

    January 14, 2007, pm31 3:10 PM
    278

    Ey-up…I think that the BDSM scene circulating about a colleague isn’t a good analogy for fanfic.
    Fanfic writers are not writing ABOUT the creator/author. If they are writing about a TV show or movie, they aren’t writing ABOUT the people who play those characters. They are writing about fictional characters. In this sense the BDSM scene is a false analogy, because the scene in your example is actually ABOUT a real live person not a fake character.
    I’m aware of “real life people fic” but for the sake of this argument, so far we’ve been discussing fanfic about fictional characters.
    Now, I’ve written some pretty dirty fic, and honestly if ANYONE should be personally bothered about it, it should be the people who played the characters that I’m making do the very naughty things. And yet this argument is about the author/creator. So from a standpoint of “involving someone” if ANYONE is involved, it would be people who actually PLAY a character, and not people who WRITE a character. (And yet no one here has discussed the right of an actor not to be portrayed in fanfic about a character they played. Because we all rightly recognize that the character isn’t the actor.)
    How many people are writing fanfic ABOUT the author. People talk often about how fans can’t seem to separate an actor from the characters they play. Is there not some inability of separating the author from the characters they write displayed here?

  • Zoe Winters

    January 14, 2007, pm31 3:21 PM
    279

    Lee,
    I agree with you on where the burden SHOULD lie. I think the issue comes down to…honestly and truly how many “big names” have time to sift through a zillion letters requesting permission to write fanfic which isn’t for profit? It’s a bit unpractical.
    It’s not that I think authors have a responsibility to make some kind of decree. It’s more that I’m not going to waste somebody’s valuable time asking them something so silly. So then you look to the author’s statements regarding fanfic. If they have given a public nod to it, it’s not necessary to say:
    “Dear Joss Whedon, I have never written a letter like this one before…”
    And if the author has said: “No” obviously there’s no reason to write and ask.
    If the author hasn’t said anything, I’d personally err on the side of caution and not post it online. I’d be unlikely to write to ask for permission, not because I’d be afraid the author/creator would say no (cause remember I’m not posting it anyway), but because why should I send a letter to go with the thousands of other letters which may not ever be found and which will undoubtedly be considered silly if and when it’s read. It’s a matter of practicality above all else.
    (And the “silly” thing. Fickers are human. And often a big fan sees the writer/creator as larger than life. It would be incredibly embarassing to directly confront them and to not be told “no” but to be regarded as “silly” or “stupid” for bringing it up.)
    Also, someone else wrote that if an author gives SPECIFIC permission to any one writer that puts them in more of a legal hotbed so to speak (my interpretation and paraphrasing of their words here.) So they would likely say NO if asked directly by an individual, just to protect themselves legally (which is probably why authors make public statemens on the matter.) In which case, I’m still at the not-posting place, and have wasted their time and my own.
    Now will SOME fickers post anyway and not give a crap what the author wants? Of course. But I don’t think that ALL or even MOST fickers are like this. On most larger posting boards, there are certain fandoms that you aren’t allowed to post based on the author’s request. By and large fandom comms are trying to cooperate with author wishes. It’s just impractical for every suzy-fanfic writer to send an individual letter.
    And it’s impractical for an author to answer every one. So at the end of the day the author will make a public statement one way or the other, or will look the other way and just choose not to get involved at all.
    Zoe

  • Zoe Winters

    January 14, 2007, pm31 3:30 PM
    280

    LMAO Ey-up I was going to say the same thing about Harlequin. Mrarrr. (that was a cat noise, for clarification.)
    People are always gonna be snobs about something. Quite frankly I write romance, though not for Harlequin, should anyone decide that I’m defending my publisher. I am at this point unpublished.
    I will ALWAYS be categorized as “not a real writer” for writing romance, no matter how high up the publishing ladder I climb, so…I give up. 😉 There’s nothing I can do to make myself seem less ‘stupid’, ‘lame’ or ‘fake writer’ simply because of the genre I’ve chosen to write in.
    And I write paranormal romance…which makes me even sillier. 😉

  • Ey-up

    January 15, 2007, am31 2:03 AM
    281

    Hey, paranormal romance sounds fun to me. Why not, say I. Have you ever seen this essay on paranormal romance? http://maura.setonhill.edu/~tobin/paranormal_romance.htm
    If not, have a look, it’s rather interesting. 🙂 Anyway, good luck finding a publisher.
    Truth to tell, so many things have been said since I last posted that I’m at a bit of a loss as to which ones to answer. Some brief points:
    Analogies always detonate, so I won’t cling to that one if you don’t like it, Zoe. If Lost Erizo wants to keep debating it, help yourself, LE.
    I’m not saying fanfic is stealing; it’s infringement. Different thing.
    In general, people seem to be saying, ‘Well, what harm does it do the author/What right has the author to object’. To me, that’s backwards. If A wants to use something created by B, then the burden of justification should be on A.
    Hope everyone’s having a nice day.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, am31 2:57 AM
    282

    Hey Ey-up. Unless someone works up some more ferver over the argument I’m about tapped. 😉
    I read the article on paranormal romances. Interesting, and I think that the “bodice ripper” aspect is what draws me to it. I honestly really don’t like “mushy males”
    They keep whining in the article though about “anti-feminism” and women who are “abused” hoping their abusers turn “nice” and I can’t help but wonder why the writer of the article seems to be so purposefully obtuse. Dominance and Submission is a classic mating dance though not the only one. The problems come in when someone who isn’t meant to submit is made to, or someone is expected to be dominant who isn’t and doesn’t wish to be. There’s a power exchange in almost every relationship, whether it’s hetero or homo, kinky or vanilla.
    There are very few relationships that are truly 100% “equal” on all sides. It’s an illusion, IMO because people are uncomfortable with admitting their desires. I wish the article had been more honest about that, instead of assuming that a woman who likes an “alpha male” is a some horribly abused wilting flower. That perception couldn’t be farther from the truth. I don’t think it’s very enlightened.

  • Ey-up

    January 15, 2007, am31 3:13 AM
    283

    Hiya Zoe.
    You may have a point. There may be some women who go for the alpha type who also will endure abuse, but it’s probably not the whole story. I think a lot depends on how the mating dance is written: having one partner be dominant can tip over into having them be abusive if it’s not carefully handled – which is more about the execution of the idea than the idea itself. But it’s basically a depiction of a sexual fantasy, and everyone is icked out by sexual fantasies that they themselves don’t share.
    In fairness, I don’t think she really argues that liking the dark hero is anti-feminine – she just quotes some other people who do. After all, she does point out ‘Many successful women with non-abusive mates enjoy stories of distressed damsels overcome by masterful men.’
    I certainly don’t think that having the female be the dominant one in the relationship automatically corrects any problems. That’s just swapping sides.
    Hope you don’t mind the digression, Lee 🙂

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, am31 3:23 AM
    284

    I should specify that when I say “equality” I don’t mean equal in worth or value, I mean “sameness.” Modern feminism IMO has made the mistake of making equality an issue of “sameness” with the whole “anyting a man can do a woman can do” stuff.
    I think this is pretty sad really because if you use a “man” as your yardstick for women, women will fall short. It’s the same as if men were measured by a female yardstick. They would fall short. Anyway, didn’t mean to get into a rant on gender politics on the fanfic comment page. heh. You just started me on a tagent. Bad bad Ey-up. All your fault. 😉

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, am31 3:29 AM
    285

    heh Ey-up. Good points. And you’re right, she is just quoting. I made the mistake of assuming that the points she quotes are her perspective and that might not be the case.
    I just kind of wish the whole “hey, maybe some people are just kinky” aspect was addressed, because otherwise it makes everyone with any type of sexual fantasy that isn’t the standard “appropriate” one, look in some way psychologically warped. And I really hate when someone assumes any woman into a certain type of fantasy is “oppressed.” It’s offensive.
    I think there is a difference in a dominant and an abusive partner. Domineering and dominant aren’t the same thing, though a lot of people can’t seem to tell the difference. (Observe the girl who goes for the “bad boy” thinking she’s got herself an alpha only to discover she really got herself an alpha asshole, which IMO isn’t a real alpha anything. To be in control you have to first and foremost be in control of yourself and an abuser demonstrates that he/she isn’t.)

  • Ey-up

    January 15, 2007, am31 3:37 AM
    286

    Not gonna argue with you there… Between consenting adults, whatever floats your boat is fine by me.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, am31 3:39 AM
    287

    hahaha. That’s the safest way to go Ey-up. 😉

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, am31 3:45 AM
    288

    you know i never intended to make 26 posts to this thread like a crazy person. ah well. I’m the queen of verbosity.

  • Anonymous

    January 15, 2007, am31 6:04 AM
    289

    Don’t flatter yourself, erizo! I didn’t write this
    -Ey-up, give it up! I really wonder that you don’t tire from having your ignorance paraded around by lost_erizo. I bet you’re a Harlequin writer – I can’t imagine someone with your poor sense of phrase and bigoted opinions writing anything worthwhile reading.-
    because I wanted to support you. I think you do quite well by yourself. I just wrote it to let Ey-up know that I think she’s stupid and that it shows.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 15, 2007, am31 9:20 AM
    290

    Dear Ey-up,
    Ok, I know in my last post I said I was going to drop the manners issue, but on rereading your comments it really ticked me off and I couldn’t let it go. However, it has devolved into an argument about manners and debate style. I probably shouldn’t tie up Mr. Goldberg’s blog with a side argument any further, so I’m posting my reply to my journal – with apologies to my flist. You can find it here:
    http://lost-erizo.livejournal.com/1200.html#cutid1
    My response to your counter example is in my next comment.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 15, 2007, am31 9:25 AM
    291

    I wrote:
    ‘In the end, the reason that all of these things are objectionable is because an actual person is being mistreated. ‘
    And Ey-up responded:
    “Say my office mates decide to film and post a bondage scene in which one of them is addressed by my name and portrayed as like me. How am I being ‘mistreated’, by your arguments? It’s not being done to me physically. The only thing that’s being used is my name. And your name is connected to you in the same way your fiction is – it’s a collection of words that apply to you notionally but don’t have any physical existence.”
    The difference is that the person using your name and image in the scene is either misrepresenting themselves as you (ie fraud) or implying falsely that you would participate in such activity and publish it (is it libel or slander if it’s neither said nor written?). They are misrepresenting you, a person. It’s also only actionable if their implication is credible – otherwise it’s parody (Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988) and protected as free speech, although it’s unclear to me whether that decision is applicable to private citizens as well as public figures like Falwell. A person who writes fanfic is not misrepresenting any person, (especially if they follow the customs of most fandoms and attach a disclaimer which specifically states that it is an unauthorized derivative not written by the author of the original work). No fan author would imply that their work was actually the work of the author. They aren’t misrepresenting the original author.
    ‘A piece of fiction may have a life of it’s own, but it is not a person and writing derivative works is not mistreating it – the original work remains unchanged.’
    “By that logic, the colleagues circulating a scene depicting their acquaintance aren’t doing anything to their colleage, just to their colleague’s name.”
    Except that their actions implied falsities about you. I can say or imply anything that I want about a piece of fiction – it’s not a person and it can’t be slandered, offended or embarrassed. It has no private life to be impugned – its entire existence is in public view. And if I said something derogatory about it in the form of dry nonfiction prose rather than fiction, even you wouldn’t object to my actions (although you might object to my opinion) – because criticism doesn’t violate copyright. I would only hope you would have some objection to me writing that kind of criticism of a person.
    “Saying that fanfic doesn’t affect the author is a massive statement. You’re only able to support it by saying that the only *admissible* way to measure the affect on the author is on their profits. That is simply ruling out too many things. After all, the BDSM porn film victim isn’t going to take a salary cut because of the actions of her colleagues, is she?””
    What other admissible (I’m not sure I like that word, but I run with it) way is there? They don’t own the ideas contained in their writing – only the exclusive right to earn a living from it. It will eventually enter the public domain at which point their estate will lose even that claim on it. They do, however, own their own person and image, and embarrassment or harassment of a person in their workplace is wrong regardless of whether they have a supportive boss who doesn’t believe the libel or penalize them for someone else’s actions.
    Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t necessarily take such a hard line in any given case. But compromises that I personally would be willing to make out of kindness or a sense of admiration are quite different from what I am _obligated_ to do because to do otherwise would be unethical and wrong. It’s also a far cry from what I am willing to judge someone else for doing.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 15, 2007, am31 9:43 AM
    292

    Mr. Goldberg,
    Ey-up wrote:
    Fans who argue ‘you don’t have to look’ are basically granting themselves rights to do what they want, without granting authors the same right.”
    And Mr. Goldberg responded:
    You’re absolutely right…and I have never seen the inate hypocrisy of that key fanfic argument stated so clearly (even though I have tried to do so myself without success).
    There’s plenty of hypocrisy in fandom, I’ll grant you. Especially among those fans that write unauthorized fanfic only to turn around and complain when another fan riffs off their own work. It’s not pretty, but etiquette is often hypocritical and contradictory. I think you’ll find, however, that hypocrisy is rife in any group of people. Dare I suggest, even among your own colleagues? They are people, after all. (If you try to tell me there’s no hypocrisy in Hollywood I may just hurt something laughing.)
    But if I, as a fan author (hypothetically ’cause I’m not really), write something (either original or derivative) and make no quibble when someone riffs off of it as long as they make no profit, how is that hypocrisy? I’m reserving for everyone else, including the original author if I’m writing derivatives, the same rights I reserve for myself – no more, no less. The original author probably wouldn’t feel comfortable reading or using my fan stuff, though they are welcome to do so, even for profit – that is their right after all (though I wouldn’t say no to a liner note). But from a legal standpoint I could understand if they chose not to put that much trust in my honor, and abstain. That, however, is a flaw in the law, not my ethics. I am not, however, going to be held responsible for making sure they aren’t offended – that is between them and their therapist.
    That scenario is an accurate representation of a large segment of fandom, and I fail to see the hypocrisy.
    Ey-up also wrote:
    “If the fans want to argue that the author doesn’t have a right to judge their group’s behaviour, then they’ve got no right to judge the author’s. The author can criticize, mock, cease-and-desist, stalk or sue the fans, doing everything they can think of to prevent them. Why not? By the standards of the author’s group, their behaviour is legitimate.
    But let an author try that, and listen to the outrage from the fans.”
    The author has every right to do just that. They can say whatever the hell they want – that is their right. The criticism in both directions is unwarranted and hypocritical, but as I said above these are people we’re talking about. However, just as the fans are dependant on the author for “raw material,” the author is dependant on the fans for readership/audience. If she or he doesn’t want to lose income as a result, it’s probably in his or her own self interest to refrain. Personally, as I’ve said before, I think that unwarranted public insults are offensive and I’m sure that would influence my willingness to buy any future books. Likewise, it’s in the fans best interest to pay attention to the author’s objections if they want the author to go on producing more work – especially if they are pathological about it like Anne Rice. But neither action is a matter of ethics – of right or wrong – merely self interest.
    Mr. Goldberg also wrote:
    “But I have to quibble with you on one point. I don’t understand why fanfiction writers put the responsibility on the author to declare a preference. I believe it’s the responsibility of the fanficcer to contact the author and ask for permission before putting fanfiction based on the author’s work on the net. The burden should lie with the person who wants to use the author’s work…not with the author.”
    Obviously Ms. Winters has a different opinion, but I don’t place any burden on the original author to express an opinion on fanfic – I don’t think that permission should be necessary if I have no intention of profiting from or duplicating their work. Frankly, I see their opinion one way or another as only a sop to some fans’ feelings of guilt because they (the fans) either haven’t thought the whole thing through or they’ve bought into this fiction that you can own an idea. To me, an author’s blessing or not is only a vague indication of how likely they are to use the power they have under law to pursue fan sites for copyright infringement. Unless one has an actual signed contract in hand, it’s not even a very good indication. They are always free to change their minds in the future, as Marion Zimmer Bradley did after the “incident.”

  • Ey-up

    January 15, 2007, pm31 3:19 PM
    293

    Hi, Lost Erizo. Sorry if I’m ticking you off, I don’t mean to. I enjoy our disagreements and find them stimulating, but I have nothing but respect for you as a person. The basic good will is there, even if the arguments are annoying.
    Here’s one of my major sticking points, I think. You say ‘Their actions are not rude, they are perfectly correct in the context of fandom.’
    I don’t think you can judge an action just in the context of fandom. The fans are members of a fandom, but they’re also members of wider groups, such as the human race. Or, if you want to narrow it down, the group made up of people who like to read books. Or of people who have read the book being ficked.
    All of these include the author. And they’re not adjoining nations, either: the fandom is the smallest circle in the centre of the Venn diagram. That’s why I keep saying that the fact that unauthorised fic is okay in a fandom isn’t a valid argument. It would be, if being part of a fandom excluded you from the other groups, but it doesn’t.
    I’m not going to argue with a lot of your other points, because they’re perfectly consistent and well made. Our disagreement seems to lie mostly in our starting points.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, pm31 4:38 PM
    294

    ERIZO SAID:
    But compromises that I personally would be willing to make out of kindness or a sense of admiration are quite different from what I am _obligated_ to do because to do otherwise would be unethical and wrong. It’s also a far cry from what I am willing to judge someone else for doing.
    ZOE SAYS:
    I agree here. Unless it’s something that is legally actionable (and again, until a case goes to court we don’t know the exact extent of what “rights” anyone has in the legal sense.) People can tout this person’s rights or that person’s rights all they want, but until some case actually goes to court and creates a precedent all we have is conjecture and argument.
    UNTIL that time comes, there really is a difference in what an individual will do simply because they have class and what they are “obligated” to do. It’s been stated that “manners” are not at issue, but if one wants to argue author rights when the author isn’t losing anything in any measurable fiscal way, then manners must come into it, because the law hasn’t clearly upheld anything else. (One could also say the author loses something in some “defamation” sense, but that’s a bit of a slippery slope since anyone in the public eye puts themselves out there for ridicule and commentary, that’s just the way it is. If their lives are not in some way measurably ruint, then we’re down to the “I don’t like you” principle, which isn’t actionable, even if someone says it out loud.)
    We’re sort of in legal limbo here. A “right” doesn’t actually exist until it can in some way be defended. It’s just an abstract idea until then. IMO.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, pm31 4:51 PM
    295

    Erizo you make some very interesting points about fickers. Gives me a lot to think about. I’m in the lucky position of writing in a fandom where the creator has all but made big fanfic support posters, who, despite being personally squicked by “dirty fanfic” of his stuff, is nevertheless supportive, even of that sort of self expression.
    I’ve never had any interest in writing in any other fandom, and personally I’m so turned off by an author who freaks out over fanfic (take the pathological Anne Rice, that I won’t read their work anymore. Last night I actually Dreamed I broke down and read an Anne Rice book. I was glad to wake up and find it was only a dream.)
    So, I’m in a situation where, I wouldn’t post it on the internet if the author said ‘no.’ To me it’s not worth the extra social recrimination since I’m putting my name out there and hope to one day be published. I suppose I could just lie about it, but I don’t appreciate “fakeness” so I try not to do it.
    I don’t judge those who do write “unauthorized fanfic” as bad or wrong. While I laugh at and mock the over the top fanfic writers who do really stupid things, I honestly don’t think they are representative of fandom as a whole, and the reason most fickers haven’t “set the record straight” for everyone else, is…they don’t care to be involved in the giant mental wank.
    I mean…really…who wants to be a part of a conversation where they’re about to be hung without even a trial? Where you are automatically considered “stupid”, “lame”, “silly”, and “souless.”
    Talking to a few wackos doesn’t make all fickers “any” one way. Stereotyping is shorthand for actually dealing with individuals on the basis of them being individuals.
    But like I said, I’m not saying author’s don’t have a right to express “no” and I personally wouldn’t play in that sandbox. But then, that would be the day I stopped being a fan, because freaking out on your fans rather than supporting them, to me is crass and ungrateful.
    I think you really can get a bit too big for your “britches” so to speak.
    It goes back to what you said about doing something out of respect or admiration or whatever being completely different than being “obligated” toward a certain action.
    Also, you are welcome to call me “Zoe,” Ms. Winters makes me feel old and i’m only 27. 😉

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, pm31 4:58 PM
    296

    Ey-up, I also agree with what you’re saying about “rude.”
    Rude is a subjective idea, like most, but basically, yes, if someone asks you not to do something and you do it anyway, it’s “rude.” (From their perspective and those that agree with them.)
    So it comes down to:
    “You’re being rude.”
    “I don’t care.” or “no I’m not.”
    The second may be an honest opinion or to save face in some larger way with polite society, since no one likes to be called names. And “rude” in some way addresses a person’s character, despite it being a subjective idea. (Clearly its subjective since not everyone agrees that the action in question is “rude.”)

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 15, 2007, pm31 4:59 PM
    297

    Dear Ey-up,
    “Hi, Lost Erizo. Sorry if I’m ticking you off, I don’t mean to. I enjoy our disagreements and find them stimulating, but I have nothing but respect for you as a person. The basic good will is there, even if the arguments are annoying.’
    I was going to say something sarcastic here, but it would be counter productive. I will say, that you might have better luck not ticking people off if you didn’t give them backhanded compliments like that. Sigh. Let’s just move on, it’s not that important.
    “Here’s one of my major sticking points, I think. You say ‘Their actions are not rude, they are perfectly correct in the context of fandom.”
    Right, I thought we agreed to drop this line of argument? Or at least move it to another venue (ok, I realize you didn’t agree to that last bit, but don’t you think it’s more appropriate?).
    “I don’t think you can judge an action just in the context of fandom. The fans are members of a fandom, but they’re also members of wider groups, such as the human race. Or, if you want to narrow it down, the group made up of people who like to read books. Or of people who have read the book being ficked.”
    I didn’t say that you could only judge their actions in the context of fandom – I said that you could only judge their manners (i.e. whether a person is being rude) in the context of fandom. Manners only apply to the context in which the etiquette was developed. If you are going to judge their actions, you should at least judge by a criteria that applies in a wider context. If someone came into my living room and put their feet up on the table, the fact that they always did that at their house wouldn’t be a good argument for continuing with the practice in my house.
    “The human race” is not a community in any real sense. There is no single code of etiquette. What is polite in my house would be deeply rude in a Japanese house. Yet for the most part, Europeans and Japanese people can agree on what is fair treatment of people and what is unacceptable (not perfect agreement, but I think this blog is evidence that that is too much to ask).
    “All of these include the author. And they’re not adjoining nations, either: the fandom is the smallest circle in the centre of the Venn diagram. That’s why I keep saying that the fact that unauthorised fic is okay in a fandom isn’t a valid argument. It would be, if being part of a fandom excluded you from the other groups, but it doesn’t.”
    I am perfectly willing to use applicable criteria in order to judge their behavior towards the original author, but if the original author wants to participate in the fan community, she has to behave according to their etiquette, not impose her own. Likewise if the fans want to participate in a social circle that includes the original author, they need to behave according to that community’s rules. The fact that both belong to larger communities is irrelevant – etiquette for larger communities is looser, and less specific, and at any rate only applies when interacting in that context. What is perfectly ok on a city street may be unacceptable in my home – and vice versa. The fact that I spend a good deal of time in both places is irrelevant. Context is everything when it comes to manners.
    You seem to think this is unfair – that’s a shame, but I don’t see why it is such an issue for you. That’s the nature of manners – they are arbitrary. Why then don’t you find an alternative set of criteria on which to judge? Oh, say, ethics? Right and wrong. Issues of larger import than etiquette and manners. Isn’t that what we’ve both been saying all along? So why do you keep harping about manners and insisting that they are being rude? It’s incorrect and offensive as well as being _irrelevant_to_the_discussion_. (Which, if you scroll up, was the statement I made in the first place that apparently sent you off on this bizzarre tangent)
    “I’m not going to argue with a lot of your other points, because they’re perfectly consistent and well made. Our disagreement seems to lie mostly in our starting points.”
    Fair enough – I certainly understand internet discussion fatigue.

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 15, 2007, pm31 5:34 PM
    298

    Dear Zoe,
    I wrote:
    “compromises that I personally would be willing to make out of kindness or a sense of admiration are quite different from what I am _obligated_ to do because to do otherwise would be unethical and wrong”
    And you responded:
    “I agree here. Unless it’s something that is legally actionable (and again, until a case goes to court we don’t know the exact extent of what “rights” anyone has in the legal sense.).”
    I should clarify here. By “unethical or wrong” I don’t mean illegal. I think it’s pretty clear that fanfic is illegal (as much as I find “fair use” arguments compelling). I won’t go into it here because I’ve written my opinion at length (ad nauseum) in other threads on this blog (Is Fanfic legal? Aug 12, 2006. The Fanfic Mind. Aug 26 2006. Etc.). To summarize – I’m concerned with the ethical argument that copyright is based on, not it’s application. I think the application of copyright (i.e. the law) is seriously flawed. The law is informed by ethics, and it helps to shape the development ethical systems and thought in the form of test cases. But the law doesn’t define the ethical principles – it’s the other way around.
    So I do think one can make a decision about the “rightness” or “wrongness” of fanfic – the law is merely more confusing than helpful in that regard because of it’s flaws. On the other hand, I think that people should oppose laws that they think are unfair or wrong if they are able and willing. But that is another argument for another day.
    “but if one wants to argue author rights when the author isn’t losing anything in any measurable fiscal way, then manners must come into it, because the law hasn’t clearly upheld anything else.”
    Despite the confusion about fanfic’s status, I don’t think that you can make a serious argument that a series of arbitrary and essentially frivolous social rules (manners) have much to do with it. Ethics should be based on something more.

  • Zoe Winters

    January 15, 2007, pm31 6:00 PM
    299

    interesting points erizo. I have nothing to add to it or argue about. 😉

  • Ey-up

    January 16, 2007, am31 12:38 AM
    300

    ‘you might have better luck not ticking people off if you didn’t give them backhanded compliments like that’
    I had no intention of being backhanded. I’m evidently upsetting you more than I mean to, so I’m going to pull out of this debate: discussing something for entertainment and interest is fine, but you sound fed up, so let’s leave it there. I hope we can agree to part on good terms, at least.
    Have a nice day… 🙂

  • lost_erizo from LiveJournal

    January 16, 2007, am31 4:58 AM
    301

    Ey-up
    You’re not upsetting me, even if you are pushing me towards sarcasm (wouldn’t be the first time in this blog). This is an internet debate, not my living room, and frankly it’s not _that_ important to me. If you want to discuss why calling someone’s actions annoying, at the same time that you condescend to grant them “basic good will,” is a backhanded compliment, I’d be happy to do it in my Journal (or if you prefer, in some venue that you control) – but here it is completely off topic. That is the last I’m going to say on the matter here.
    On the other hand I am perfectly willing to go on discussing the actual topic – fanfic. If you want to pull out, be my guest, but don’t do it on my account.

  • Kara

    May 15, 2007, am31 8:33 AM
    302

    There seems to be much debate as to if fan fiction writers are “real writers”. Well, it depends on how you define “writer”. I’ll use two definitions I found, using a quick Google search.
    “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc… as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.”
    “a person who commits his or her thoughts… to writing.”
    By definition one, fan fiction writers are not “real writers”. Unless, that is, they also write as their profession. I write fan fiction. I don’t claim to be an author. It’s something I do in my spare time for my own personal enjoyment, and for the enjoyment of my friends. That doesn’t make me an author, I didn’t create the characters I write about, or the world they’re in.
    However, by definition two, fan fiction writers are certainly writers. They read/watch a form of media. They explore it in their minds, coming up with alternate endings, missing scenes, and interesting situations to put the characters in. On the one hand, they’re not writing their own ideas. They started with a character someone else created. But if their story departs from canon, then at some point, their own ideas entered the story.
    I don’t claim to be an author. I don’t claim that fan fiction and original fiction are comparable. I don’t claim that fan fiction is a good step to becoming a professional writer. I don’t want to be a writer. I don’t want to be published. I don’t have the skill or the desire to write original fiction.
    To me, fan fiction is like a rec league basketball team, and original fiction is like the NBA. I don’t have the skill to play for the NBA. I don’t think that if I play in a rec league for long enough, I’ll be able to play in the NBA. I don’t claim that it’s only a little different from the NBA. It’s radically different. But I’m still playing basketball. I still have fun playing the game. It’s just a hobby for me, and that’s all I treat it as. But it’s basketball.
    As an aside, as to authors who are opposed to fan fiction based on their works, I respect that. And if any author I base my stories off of requested I not post them anymore, I would oblige, and keep my stories to myself. It’s the right thing to do. However, the creators of my fandoms have expressed acceptance to tolerence for fan fiction, and for that I am thankful.
    Fan fiction should be approached carefully, and treated as what it is. But it brings enjoyment to some people, and for many (myself included) it is the closest to authorship they will ever come. Insulting them, calling them soulless, and belittling them seems… A waste of your time and theirs. People shouldn’t distribute fanfiction if the author has asked them not to. Past that, it’s really a matter of what brings you personal enjoyment.

  • ey-up

    May 19, 2007, am31 3:32 AM
    303

    I’ve just realised, Lost Erizo, you may have thought that when I said ‘The basic good will is there even when the arguments are annoying’, you probably thought I was calling you annoying. Sorry if you got that impression – I actually meant I felt basic goodwill towards you even if my own arguments were annoying! I guess I should have put that more clearly.

  • Keri

    June 6, 2013, pm30 9:35 PM
    304

    [QUOTE]And somebody who merely watches the show says he has a better grasp on the characters and their history than I do? That he’s more emotionally involved in the series than I am? The guy who created the characters, who came up with every single thing they have ever said or done or experienced?[/QUOTE]

    I think it depends honestly on the writers and individual series.

    Truthfully, the writers of a TV series SHOULD have the best grasp on the series. That said I’ve seen some examples where fanfiction writers unfortunately kept the characters more in character than the real writers of the series. I remember an NCIS episode a few years ago where the character of Tony came across as a racist in a couple of scenes and I remember just sitting there thinking, “What the heck? That is NOT the Tony DiNozzo we’ve come to know!”

    And try making a biography of the character of Jethro Gibbs. They have messed up the continuity so bad at this point it’s not even funny.

    I also recall a couple of major continuity bloopers with Hart to Hart, especially in regards to their relationship. There are at least three incidents that are referred to from the Harts’ dating/meeting relationship in the first four seasons that conflict with the episode they did in Season 5, which showed their first meeting.

    Some mistakes I understand and how the fans can know it better. When you write a script and finish an ep, you’re moving right on to the next one. Meanwhile we have the time to rewatch it on DVD more than once. Some shows also have teams of writers, so I’m not sure if they always know everything the other writers are doing. On the other hand, there is also supposed to be a character bible that keeps these kind of mistakes from happening. Ideally, if you come up with something about the character, for example, let’s say you mention Jesse Travis’ went to Med School in Oregon, it gets noted. But either someone didn’t write it down or the next writer doesn’t read it, because two seasons later, you hear he went to Medical School in Florida. (Hypothetical example)

    And if you look at something like Mission Impossible, where they occasionally brought in a writer to do one or two scripts, in that case I’d highly doubt the scriptwriter grew to care about the characters as much as a fan or became as knowledgeable, because they were barely there. That’s much different than your situation, when you were on Diagnosis Murder for four years if memory serves me correctly.

    In fairness, it’s not just TV. Novel writers have done the same thing. There’s a great quote in a writing advice book, where the author’s spouse is reading one of his earliest series novels. She remarks, “I didn’t know [Smith] is the godfather of [Jones’] kids.” The author said, “Jones doesn’t have kids.” His wife replied, “In this book he did.” I also read two books by Terri Blackstock with the same baby – one book had him named Seth and the other named Caleb. (Book three called him “Caleb Seth”!)

    I guess my bottom line is that I think that you are probably more knowledgeable about your series than the fans probably are and there are lots of writers like you who are and who keep the characters more in character, but unfortunately not every TV writer is as good as you in that department:(

  • Keri

    June 6, 2013, pm30 9:53 PM
    305

    Lee, can I just add that one thing I don’t know how you can do with your job as a TV writer is when you have to pass off scripts to other writers to write about your characters. And you’ve got to trust that they will stay true to the vision of the characters, because what they do is always going to be a matter of canon. With fanfiction you have the consolation of knowing it’s just one story and not “real”, but if someone does something on the series itself, it is real.

    Example – let’s say on DM, you start with creating a recurring character like Tanis Archer. We got to know her sort of well, but there was a lot of room for writers to “play” so to speak because we certainly didn’t get to know her the way we did Mark, Steve, Jesse, and Amanda. And then another writer does a script where they need a complication of a cop messing with evidence. And because sticking a new cop in wouldn’t have the same dramatic impact, they take the trust we have in Tanis Archer and give us this “secret” that she fabricated evidence at a crime scene one time. Now for the rest of DM’s history, we have that as a part of the record. And it doesn’t matter how much you give her to show us how good of a person she really was and she made one bad mistake – that’s always part of canon now.

    I don’t think I could do that, to be honest. I know it’s not realistic for one writer to have time to write a full season’s worth of scripts, so if you work in TV you don’t have a choice, but I really don’t know how you do it. (I am so sticking with novels!)

    • Lee Goldberg

      June 6, 2013, pm30 11:09 PM
      306

      On Diagnosis Murder, William Rabkin and I were the showrunners. So nothing got on the air that we didn’t approve of. Every script originated in our “writers room,” even those we assigned to freelancers. And we usually polished each script to make sure there was a creative consistence through the episodes. That was our jobs. We were very much aware that anything we did with a regular or recurring character would have a lasting impact, so we were very careful what we did. We never “played” with our characters…we did what we thought made the most sense for them in the near term and for the long-term health of the show (in generating fresh conflicts, storylines, and new avenues to explore).

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