Author Topic: A Question About Fan Fiction  (Read 1797 times)

Offline LRSuda

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A Question About Fan Fiction
« on: September 28, 2010, 06:56:34 PM »
I'll admit I'm completely in the dark on this one. And I really don't want to ruffle any feathers but I have to ask: isn't using another's storyline, characters, and titles a form of plagiarism? I could be wrong, and may very well be, but I thought permission was always required to use existing work, be it from the publisher of books or games, or the copyright holder of a TV series or movie. Or is this one of the gray areas as far as copyrights go?

Lisa

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2010, 07:25:34 PM »
I'm in your corner on this one. I don't think Fan Fiction is right. It would be nice to understand both sides of the point though.

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Offline Yushu na baka

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 01:29:03 AM »
I don't generally like Fan Fiction or even other writers picking up on a character or storyline. I will admit though in my younger
years I would write some stories or scripts that had similar settings (worlds, timelines, ideas and concepts) as shows, movies,
and other books that I enjoyed. I like reading something that's more "inspired by" where the person takes some of the basis
and foundation of a good story and puts it maybe in a direction that it wouldn't have otherwise gone. I don't however, like you
guys, think it's really all that creative to write something with the same characters in a different setting or say taking a story-
line and writing branches off from it. I barely like this much when a professional author does such things to their own pieces of
work. Sadly though in Science Fiction this is a pretty common practice, you milk the cow until it's passed out and heaving
on it's side so to speak.
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Offline Nick

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2010, 03:42:56 AM »
Here's my take on the subject, FWIW...

Fan fiction almost certainly breaches the intellectual property rights of the original author and publisher. However, it is often tolerated because (a) it is not for profit, and (b) it helps to publicize the work of the original author and maybe attract new readers for their books.

J.K. Rowling, for example, has said that she is happy for fans of her Harry Potter books to create stories based on them, with certain provisos, such as these works being not-for-profit and having no obscene content. Other authors, though, have taken a tougher line, and forced 'fan fiction' websites to remove any stories based on their characters. Here's a link to one interesting article on this subject.

Personally, although I'm not primarily a fiction writer, I don't see any great objection to fan fiction, unless people try to make money from it. That would be like a company using the trade-name of a better-known rival to try to steal business from them, an offence known in company law as 'passing off'. But it seems to me that genuine fan fiction is basically a tribute to the ideas of the original author and isn't really anything to get too steamed up about.

From a writing perspective, I would suggest that creating fan fiction has some value in providing practice in skills such as dialogue, description, plotting, and so on. Of course, it's not the same as creating an original work from scratch, but some fan fiction writers have used it as a springboard to greater things. In any event, anything that gets people enthusiastic about reading and writing, in my view, has to be a good thing!

That's my opinion anyway. But, naturally, I'd be very interested to see any other comments.

Nick  :)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2010, 05:27:41 AM by Nick »
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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2010, 05:16:47 AM »
I'm with Nick here.

I'm not a great fan of fan fiction (pun not intended), but I started my writing career at age seven or eight writing stories of the Five Find-Outers. Of course they all landed in the bin, but I still have fond memories of the hours I spent writing those stories.

As Nick says, you've got to start somewhere, and writing fan faction can greatly help you achieve some basic writing skills.

Offline A.J.B

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2010, 06:23:31 AM »
Depends entirely on the people who own the rights.

I used to write fan fiction set in the Warhammer universes. The Black Library (publishing house who own the rights) encouraged it and also encouraged that it be posted on their forums. They do this because they offer writing competitions and open submission windows to find new talent. So they are effectively farming a crop of new authors by havig them improve on their forum.

In instances like the above, I totally agree with it. But I do not see the point in writing in an established universe unless there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Offline LRSuda

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2010, 10:56:48 AM »
Thanks everyone, that has helped to clear up my gray area on the matter. And thanks for the link, as well, Nick. A very interesting article, indeed.

You all feel free, but I'm not going to touch the whole creative/non-creative, right/wrong, good writing/crap writing thing, as I'm aware I can come off a tad harsh at times. ;D  My question was primarily concerning the legality of fan fiction. It certainly seemed to me that the practice breaches every intellectual property law on the books, and then some. But, if publishers, authors, and the such are encouraging the practice, I guess that is equatable to a blanket permission being granted. I was also completely unaware of the competitions and open submission that A.J.B. mentioned and that fan fiction is not for profit. That casts something of a different light on the matter, as well.

Thanks again, everyone,

Lisa 

Offline A.J.B

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2010, 11:07:52 AM »
Most people do it for their own enjoyment or as a group on forums so that they can tell stories that are never told in their favourite universes. Most of it tends to be short stories from my own experience, most likely because people don't want to write a 100k novel that they know has no hope of being published.
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Offline LRSuda

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2010, 12:27:00 PM »
I can see that. And, I agree, it's very good practice for budding writers and I supposed I can even agree with the free publicity thing that Nick mentioned. It was the issue of permission that had me concerned. I would just hope that those who do write fan fiction are as responsible about it as you were in your experiences with it. Intellectual property rights should be respected and-- okay, I'll crack-- I don't think it's right for anyone to rewrite someones work unless it is encouraged and unquestionably okay to do so. Playing around with another person's work in private is one thing. It's another entirely to post it or publish such things without express permission, in my opinion. 

Offline A.J.B

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2010, 11:52:15 AM »
I agree with you on that point, Lisa. It has always been my stance too.

This thread made me think of the Black Library 'open submissions window'...which is now closed sadly :( So i went to have a look at the site anyway and found they have another one open for a short story anthology. So by making this thread, Lisa, you have given me another chance to get published :D

The thing that got my juices going the most was this: Authors whose work is deemed of a high enough standard will then be given 3 months to produce a 10,000 word short story based upon their synopsis.

They pay (if memory serves) 7 pence a word. So not a bad pay off for a short story :D
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Offline LRSuda

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Re: A Question About Fan Fiction
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2010, 02:33:33 PM »
Doesn't seem a bad payoff at all for a short to me either. It would be wonderful to hear you got in. Keep me posted, if you don't mind.

Lisa