by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 28th 2007 8:51pm
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has something of a reputation for being a bit overly aggressive when it comes to enforcing intellectual property rights around her characters -- though, years ago, we noted that she wasn't bothered by fan fiction... assuming it wasn't pornographic or for sale in China. Once again, Rowling is being quoted as saying that fan fiction is okay and can be posted on the web without fear of a visit from the mean old copyright lawyer, as long as the fan fiction makes it clear that it's not by Rowling and doesn't involve pornography or racism. However, it does seem a bit silly that people feel they need "permission" to write fan fiction. For years, fan fiction has always been a sign of just how popular a fictional world has become. It's the sort of thing that should automatically be encouraged, rather than having people waiting for the official "go ahead" that an author won't prosecute. In most cases, it seems likely that fan fiction is perfectly legal anyway -- but we now live in such an age that ridiculous copyright lawsuits are everywhere you look, and the simple act of celebrating fictional characters you like somehow requires "permission." For a law that's supposed to encourage creativity, it seems to have only encouraged legalistic thinking. What a shame.
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