Understanding The Legal Ramifications of Fan Fiction

from the creating-for-fun-not-profit dept

Fan fiction is one of those areas that treads that fine line between what some people find to be fair use and others find to be infringing. These derivatives of the original work often take form in ways that the original creators did not intend, expect or find reasonable. When it comes to some creators, fan fiction is something to be embraced, but some also feel that it violates their copyright. So with such murky water in this area, how are fan fiction writers to know if their creative work is fair use? This is where Rebecca Tushnet comes in with an interview with Reason.


In this interview, Rebecca highlights the ways in which many companies have accepted fan fiction and other fan created derivative works as a necessary part of getting consumers to engage with the content.

It takes a big studio to make The Avengers, but it doesn't necessarily take a big studio to write a piece of Avengers fan fiction. Big content companies largely recognize that fan activities are really good for them because they engage people.
Additionally, Rebecca is a member of the Organization for Transformative Works, which helps fan fiction creators understand their legal rights and defend themselves in those cases where the original creator seeks to take down such works—something that happens far too often, even when the creator has shown support in the past.

Regardless of the potential legal ramifications, creators need to realize just how much of a cultural impact their works have on their fans. As people grow to love certain works, they seek to express that love by creating and distributing content that they feel expresses their fondness for it. What we shouldn't see, and what makes this organization so important, is creators lashing out at fans for being fans. Think about how ridiculous that sounds. Why would anyone want to punish a fan for nothing more than loving the original work or artist? Sadly, ridiculousness is not above the mindset of many people and companies. However, by embracing such fan creativity, not only are you fostering the overall community and culture that surrounds your work, but you are also allowing real and powerful growth. As more people find your work through derivatives, they will seek to support you as well.


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  1. identicon
    hrosanna, 22 Oct 2012 @ 7:35pm

    It's really stupid that people complain over their fans basically showing their adoration of their work. You'd think that the authors/ directors etc. would take fanfiction as the massive compliment it is!

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