It Used To Be Perilous To Write Fanfiction
kotaku.com – Thursday May 17, 2018
Fanfiction is hardly a new phenomenon, but that doesn’t always mean it was safe to write. For a time, in certain fandoms, writing fanfiction could get you a letter from a lawyer. Now, however, the internet has given fandom enough leverage to allow the dubiously legal practice of writing about other people’s characters continues to flourish.
Fanfiction, the act of writing original stories based on someone else’s creative work, exists in a sketchy legal space. While derivative and transformative works are technically protected under fair use, many authors do not believe fanfiction falls in that category. Authors that still dislike or disallow fanfiction cite an experience that author Marion Zimmer Bradley had in 1992. Bradley not only liked but encouraged fanfiction in the initial stages of her fandom, but as the story goes, she realized that an upcoming novel of hers would touch on themes that were in a fanfiction she had read, and she reached out to the author to attempt to negotiate a deal so as to avoid a lawsuit. Although not all parties can agree on how much of Bradley’s novel had been written or exactly what the terms of the agreement were with this fanfic author, Bradley said that she decided to scrap the novel rather than risk a lawsuit. This story loomed large in the memories of authors like Anne McCaffrey and George R. R. Martin, who cited it as an example of what can happen if you don’t protect your copyright. While Martin allows fanfiction as long as you don’t send it to him, McCaffrey banned all fanfiction for her series Dragonriders of Pern from 1992 until 2004.
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