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Author Topic: Legal issues of fanfiction  (Read 6745 times)
Rava
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« on: Nov 22, 2008 05:42 am »

This is just a compilation of links that discuss / inform the legal issues of fanfiction.

Quote from: Forau
Any and all fanfiction is a copyright infringement because its a derivative work. Very few owners however take legal action. If somebody wants to put in links about fanfic copyrights they should have multiple sources discussing the subject.

In the below linked chillingeffects.org faq Viacom is mentioned, but I have never heard of problem a fanfic got him/herself into with writing Avatar fanfiction, but that is no guarantee for anything that might happen in the future.
I recommend the use of an standard disclaimer like this one:
Quote
Avatar:The Last Airbender and all characters and other Avatar world details are © Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko, Viacom.
No money is made by writing and publishing this fanfiction (creating this fan art.)

All the below links are about the possible copyright infringement issue when writing fanfiction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_issues_with_fan_fiction
http://www.authorslawyer.com/weft/fanfic.shtml
http://www.chillingeffects.org/fanfic/faq.cgi

I will include other sources that might be posted in this thread in this initial post so these links are easier to find for you.


Since this is not the D&D board, refrain from discussing the pros, cons or your opinion on that matter. See my 10th reply in this thread for more details...
« Last Edit: Nov 23, 2008 05:45 am by Icy_Ashford » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: Nov 22, 2008 06:32 am »

o.O

I've never heard of anyone getting into trouble for writing Avatar fanfiction too. But I guess it won't hurt to use a disclaimer just in case. Nice reminder, Rava. Maybe this should be pinned. Cheesy
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Rava
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 22, 2008 06:53 am »

I guess it won't hurt to use a disclaimer just in case.

Sure it won't...

Nice reminder, Rava. Maybe this should be pinned. Cheesy

It's on my request already included in the "Need Fan Fiction help?" post ... (thanks to Icy_Ashford ...) so no need to pin that very thread Cheesy
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 22, 2008 07:45 am »

Fan fiction is only illegal if you expect to be paid for your work, like with publishable Star Trek stories, no one really cares if its just for fun and non-profit.
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 22, 2008 11:08 am »

o.O

I've never heard of anyone getting into trouble for writing Avatar fanfiction too. But I guess it won't hurt to use a disclaimer just in case. Nice reminder, Rava. Maybe this should be pinned. Cheesy

It is respectful to add a disclaimer but this would not protect anyone from prosecution or civil law suits. The basic line of thinking is simple: If you know it doesn't belong to you, why are you even using it for your own purposes in the first place?

Fan fiction is only illegal if you expect to be paid for your work, like with publishable Star Trek stories, no one really cares if its just for fun and non-profit.

Any unauthorized use of a copyrighted property is infringement and therefore illegal.
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Rava
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« Reply #5 on: Nov 22, 2008 11:17 am »

Any unauthorized use of a copyrighted property is infringement and therefore illegal.

Not 100% true, because there is fair use and a parody even has more rights than that - free speech and such.
And a disclaimer would surely help in a possible civil law suit with the claim of "fair use" ...

Just saying ...
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 22, 2008 11:39 am »

As long as you don't sell it, thus breaking copyright law, you're perfectly in your right to write fan-fiction.
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plushu
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 22, 2008 11:53 am »

Any unauthorized use of a copyrighted property is infringement and therefore illegal.

Not 100% true, because there is fair use and a parody even has more rights than that - free speech and such.
And a disclaimer would surely help in a possible civil law suit with the claim of "fair use" ...

Just saying ...

I think "Fair Use" is being debating in the courts and has become a pretty commonplace argument for why people should be "allowed" to create fanworks without any fear of legal remedies being taken by the actually copyright holders. "Fair Use" was only ever meant to cover things like political cartoons, shows spoofing and parodying politics and pop culture (shows like The Soup, Saturday Night Live, Mad TV, etc). 99% of fanworks don't fall into this category. A link that discussion Fair Use. I don't believe fan fiction meets these criteria.

Let me put it this way. If Viacom told ff.net to remove the categorical listings of every show they hold the copyrights to from their database, I'd bet money that ff.net would do it in a blink because they wouldn't want to get sued by Viacom. The laws that govern the use of copyrighted materials and fan fiction are the same laws that give Viacom the legal rights to threaten YouTube every so often when they find that people have made use of their copyrighted shows without their consent. The day Google buys up Fanfiction.net, is the day you can kiss Avatar on ff.net good bye. Once Google got it's hands on YouTube, Viacom immediately started going after them because Google = money. Before then, YouTube had no money so suing them would have been pointless.
« Last Edit: Nov 22, 2008 11:55 am by plushu » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: Nov 22, 2008 12:21 pm »

YouTube is a different case because it can show episodes of shows for free which can steal possible viewers from the actual product. Fan-Fiction is not like that so its safe.
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 22, 2008 01:01 pm »

YouTube is a different case because it can show episodes of shows for free which can steal possible viewers from the actual product. Fan-Fiction is not like that so its safe.

If fan fiction were safe, we wouldn't be having this discussion at all about copyrights because it wouldn't be an issue. :b

I think you're confusing copyright theft, which is making money off of someone else's copyright goods, with copyright infringement, which is simply using someone else's copyright stuff without their consent.

Fanfiction.net had removed the categorical listed of all of Anne Rice's works eight years ago because she "banned" any postings of fan fiction which is why I said, if Viacom tells them to do so, they will remove all it's shows from their database.

Quote
Anne Rice has consistently, and aggressively, prevented fan fiction based on any of her characters (mostly those from her famous Interview with the Vampire and its sequels in The Vampire Chronicles) or other elements in her books, and she formally requested that FanFiction.Net remove stories featuring her characters. [4] Similar efforts have also been taken by Annette Curtis Klause, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, among other fantasy and science fiction novelists. Many authors do this, they state, in order to protect their copyright and especially to prevent any dilution, saturation, or distortion of the universes and people portrayed in their works.

And here's a running list of copyright holders who have "banned" fan fiction for their properties: (I don't know how current it is.)
    * P.N. Elrod
    * Raymond Feist
    * Terry Goodkind
    * Laurell K. Hamilton
    * Robin Hobb
    * Dennis L. McKiernan
    * Robin McKinley
    * Irene Radford
    * Anne Rice
    * Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb
    * Archie comics

...

This is cool:

Quote
Arguments for the legality of fan fiction

Fan writers argue that their work does not cost the owner of the source material any income, and often acts as free promotion, while fan writers themselves earn no profit. However, copyright (and trademark) infringement can still occur even when the infringing parties do not profit. The non-profit nature of fan fiction is still important, because it limits the damages that a court could find and also strengthens a possible defense of fair use of the copyright or trademark in question.

Since 2007, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), led by fanfic writers, fan vidders, and fan artists (including writer Naomi Novik), has sought to establish a principal in U.S. copyright law by which "all [non-profit] fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative and are accepted as a legitimate creative activity." The underlying rationale is that fanfic is "transformative," constituting a comment upon and criticism of the underlying work, and thus falls under the exemption re-affirmed in Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin Co.[1]
« Last Edit: Nov 22, 2008 01:04 pm by plushu » Logged

Rava
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 23, 2008 05:32 am »

If fan fiction were safe, we wouldn't be having this discussion at all about copyrights because it wouldn't be an issue. :b

Please, this is not the D&D board, refrain from discussing the pros, cons or your opinion on that matter. (Yes, I myself did that mistake, too ...)
This thread will be locked by mod(s) when this discussion goes on like this.

You are free to open a new thread in D&D about the legal issues of fanfiction, you can also sent me a PM with the URL to that thread and I will include the discussion URL in the initial post in this thread.
Please just post links to further sources about the legal issues of fanfiction here.

The locking of this very thread is not in the interest of anyone. I hope you all agree.


Edit by Icy: Please do not see this as arm-chair modding. I was the one who requested Rava to put up this disclaimer.
« Last Edit: Nov 23, 2008 06:21 pm by Icy_Ashford » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: Nov 23, 2008 03:41 pm »

Please be careful how you respond to other members. Unless you are a staff member or a moderator, please keep your response in the form or a light suggestion, not a direction or a discipline. Thanks much!
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« Reply #12 on: Sep 12, 2009 03:11 am »


It is respectful to add a disclaimer but this would not protect anyone from prosecution or civil law suits. The basic line of thinking is simple: If you know it doesn't belong to you, why are you even using it for your own purposes in the first place?

Any unauthorized use of a copyrighted property is infringement and therefore illegal.

If this was true, that would mean anyone who published a research paper citing other authors would be in danger of being sued.  The key there is "citing".  If you acknowledge the source of the fanfiction (original author(s), producer, copyright owner, etc.) then there shouldn't be a problem.
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Rava
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« Reply #13 on: Sep 12, 2009 05:48 am »

If this was true, that would mean anyone who published a research paper citing other authors would be in danger of being sued.  The key there is "citing".  If you acknowledge the source of the fanfiction (original author(s), producer, copyright owner, etc.) then there shouldn't be a problem.

No one really got into trouble so far, I just advice to use the usual disclaimer "me owns nothing, [insert names] do", you get the drill...
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