READ THIS Gav wrote it while I screamed at her about Fanlib and franchise tie-ins and flailed a lot on twitter. A great summary of the many many problems with amazon’s new scheme to profit from fans writing fanfic.
A quote in the article: “Fandom has always been a fundamentally anti-capitalistic endeavor… it’s the only place I know of where writing is a uniquely playful act. It’s about fans taking mainstream culture and redefining it and owning it in a creative but not monetary way. Its inherently subversive. The idea that a huge corporation will be selling fanfiction and that the original creators would benefit monetarily from that is extremely disturbing to me.”
Yes. It is inherently subversive. And for some of us, that’s kind of the point.
This is truly Fanlib all over again, but seems worse. The idea of show creators and producers making profits from fanfiction disturbs me greatly. The idea of having TO PAY for fanfiction goes against the very nature of fanfiction and the spirit in which it’s created and shared.
I would hate to see this as the beginning of a trend to commercialize and monetize fanfic. Last time it flopped maginificently. They don’t understand fanfic writers or readers. They don’t even seem to know what shows people actually read and write for in large numbers. And I hope that most of us want to charge money or pay it.
There is beauty and freedom in writing about a show/book/song/film you love and sharing it with fellow fans. Once you add in money it becomes something else.
I love fanfiction. I would be thrilled to my toes if anyone ever cared enough to write fanfiction for one of my (hopefully future published) novels. But I would not want to see people charging readers, or readers having to pay. I would NOT want to make money off those sales. It would change the dynamic in a negative way for all of us.
There’s no saying what sort of restrictions would start to come into play—censorship, etc.
I also believe the EL James thing was a fluke. Plenty of fanfic writers have filed the serial numbers off their fanfic and sold it. Most of it remains unheard of. (Feel free to turn this into a debate about Cassie if you want to, but I wash my hands of that.)
There’s a separate conversation here about making money as a writer and selling things you’ve crafted. But I don’t have the bandwidth or my ideas in order for that.
Please continue this conversation and pass this link around?
My first thought was that as an author, I would be very hesitant to open up a door like this. I wouldn’t mind fanfic being written about my work at all (SOMEDAY, PLEASE), but once there’s money involved, I see the following issues:
1. Copyright. Does it hurt my copyright of the world/characters if I allow others to make money from them? Further, what copyright do the fanfic writers retain on their work using my world/characters? How would that pan out?
2. Veto power. If a fanfic writer and I are making money from their interpretation of my world/characters, I’d want approval/denial power — something I wouldn’t care so much about with open-source fanfic (as it were). If the work is being published as “official fanfic” then I would not want it to go out without MY approval as the OFFICIAL arbiter of the original world/characters.
3. Legal protection for the rest of us. I thought fanfic’s only real protection was that it made no money, so this seems a bit troubling. (I also agree: who would pay for it?) If some fanfic is “legit” does that mean other fanfic can be attacked as illegal?
FWIW, filing the serial numbers off a fanfic to publish it legitimately doesn’t strike me as a bad thing, so long as they’re filed off very well. Don’t just change the names and hair color, in other words. ;) I once read an amazing Potter fic that really shared nothing but Latin versions of family names with the original — it was set in the Roman Empire (and sadly was never finished and I’ve lost track of the author). She could have — and I hope she did! — finished it, changed the names and published it, because the serial numbers were already mostly worn away, and the story was GOOD.
I disagree in that I think if you start from having to file the serial numbers off, it’s a bad thing and plagiarism. Where your first step to seeking publication is covering your tracks.
(Also, if the serial numbers are already mostly worn away, that at best does not speak well to your quality as a fanfic writer).
However, using similar character types or ideas, that’s totally cool and expected, and I’ve done it myself.
Other than that, this is a very well thought out post that sums up my problems with this new system as well.