Amazon Wants To Sell Fan Fiction With It, Originator And FanFic Author All Sharing Profits
from the interesting-move dept
Here’s an interesting one. Amazon is getting some buzz today for launching Kindle Worlds, a setup by which authors of fan fiction can effectively profit from their works without fear of legal repercussions. Obviously, there’s a ton of fan fiction out there, and while most copyright holders don’t mind it (with a few notable exceptions) as long as nothing is being sold, Amazon seems to be trying to take it to the next level. They’re basically licensing the copyrights from certain popular works (at this point, mostly TV shows, it appears), such that fans can write their own fanfic, have it sold via Amazon (of course) and the profits get split up. For works over 10,000 words, the fanfic author gets a 35% cut. For shorter works, it’s 20%.
There may be some concerns about this. The “ownership” of the new work belongs to Amazon, as you’re basically signing a publishing agreement with Amazon, who then controls the work. Given the situation, that might not be that much of an issue for most fanfiction authors, but some may be concerned (for example, imagine if this had happened with 50 Shades of Grey, which originated as Twilight fanfic, before becoming a monstrosity of its own). Also, there’s no guarantee that Amazon will agree to sell the work, but it claims it will publish “as many as possible.” It basically sounds like they reserve the right to reject ridiculously bad works.
In some ways, though in very different circumstances, this reminds me of some of the cooler aspects of YouTube’s ContentID program, in that it sets up a way for people to reasonably monetize what might be considered infringement under the law, but which most people realize isn’t what copyright law should be destroying. Once again, if you just make it so that innovation can occur, people quite frequently figure out business models that build on what maximalists consider “piracy” if they give it time and let the business models shake out.