What's So Bad About Making Money Off Fan Fiction?

from the it-can-be-a-good-thing dept

Sometimes I read a great fan fiction and think to myself, "Gee, I wish there was a Paypal button here somewhere, because I feel the overwhelming urge to ram wads of money down this writer's throat." This is basically impossible, of course; fanfic is considered an illegal derivative work under copyright law, and even the creators that allow it have a no-tolerance attitude towards fans who try to collect money for their work. If fans were allowed to earn money, conventional wisdom claims, it would siphon money away from the original creator and they would lose business. But what if conventional wisdom was completely and totally wrong?

For-profit fan creativity is a huge opportunity, but creators are letting it go to waste because they're so anxious to protect their copyrights. It may seem counterintuitive, but letting other people make money from your intellectual property can add far more value than it costs—in some cases millions of dollars. How does this work?

It has been estimated that as of 2012, E. L. James was making $1.35 million a week on Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, it is widely known that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fanfic titled Master of the Universe. E. L. James changed the characters' names from Edward and Bella to Christian and Anna and republished her fanfic as a "new" book. Now she's a multimillionaire.

So let me ask you a question: how much money has Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, lost because she sent this brilliant piece of Twilight fanfiction out of her franchise? How many 50 Shades fans would have gone on to become Twilight fans if Edward and Bella had not been renamed? How many Twilight books would Meyer have sold in the resulting publicity frenzy if people had seen 50 Shades as an extension of her original stories? Meyer must have lost millions of dollars and sent away untold potential fans.

Now imagine what would have happened if she had shared her intellectual property with her fans, allowing them to earn money from their work instead of relegating them to non-profit status. E. L. James would not have been forced to "barcode strip" Master of the Universe in order to make a profit, and Meyer could have kept all that money and attention in the Twilight family.

Now, I admire Meyer's attitude towards fanfiction—she's one of the few authors who includes a list of Twilight fanfic sites on her homepage—but I think it's time for progressive authors to start questioning whether the taboo against for-profit fan activity actually serves a business purpose, or if it's just a reflexive attitude left over from an intolerant past.

Many authors believe that they must prevent fans from "competing" with them, or else readers will buy the fan's work instead of theirs, resulting in lost sales. This idea sounds good on paper, but it looks strange when you actually try to give an example. Can you imagine a Harry Potter fan saying, "Well, I was going to spend this $10 on Rowling's new book, but I spent that money on a fanfic instead. I guess now I won't buy the next Harry Potter book after all."

People like that just don't exist in real life. They're only a bogeyman haunting the insecure subconscious of the writing world. Even in the rare scenario where a fan like E. L. James writes a fanfic that becomes more popular than the original, it's highly unlikely that the original author will be harmed. What is more likely to happen is that all the fans who were attracted by the fanfic's success will now become interested in the original author's work and go out and buy a copy of it for themselves. That's hardly a negative consequence!

Let me give you a recent example of how this worked for me. I had a written a fanfic (nothing particularly special) that a few people clicked on and enjoyed. The story didn't attract much attention, and the internet had pretty much forgotten about it until a fan of my fanfiction (whee, recursion!) decided to pay a particularly talented fan artist to illustrate a scene from my story. So now someone is getting paid, and that someone is not me, the writer. Was this bad for my "business"? Nope. Immediately afterwards, the story got a big boost in traffic; in fact, all my stories did. Subsequently, a user contacted me to request permission to translate my stories into Russian.

Although I did not receive any compensation from the fan artist, nevertheless their work indirectly benefited me by expanding my fanbase and drawing attention to my work. If I had tightly controlled the for-profit use of my story, my work probably would have remained lost amidst a sea of hundreds of other fanfics. It's worth noting that the fan art is probably more popular than my original story—but who cares? The more publicity that picture gets, the more fans my story gets. It's a symbiotic relationship, not a competitive one.

But there are other reasons why authors break into a cold sweat when they imagine an anonymous fan's literary creations popping up alongside their own stories on Amazon. Writers worry that new readers won't be able to tell the fanfics apart from the original. The fear is that a new reader will do a search for "The Hunger Games" and discover a one star fanfic named "This Is My Frist Hunger Games FanFic About Katniss Please Read!!!!" The reader will then mistake the fanfic for the real Hunger Games, which has 4.6 stars and 21,746 reviews, and buy the fanfic instead. Mortified by what they find, they will then go and tell everyone how awful the Hunger Games is.

No, it doesn't make much sense. Nevertheless, there is a genuine concern that this could happen. Fortunately, most fans are scrupulous about giving attribution, and search engines are very good at pointing out the most popular items and sending unpopular work into oblivion. But for the extra-cautious, there's a simple solution to prevent reader confusion: just require fans to label their work as a fan creation by placing the word "[Fanfic]" "[Fan Art]" etc. in brackets after the title. This would make it impossible to mistake a fan's work for the original. Simple, no?

But there is another argument often made against for-profit fan creativity. Meyer was at one point threatened with a lawsuit by a fan who claimed that she had stolen the fan's idea in one of her books. The lawsuit didn't go anywhere, but you see the problem: if a creator and a fan creator both happen to come up with the same idea, the resemblance between the two creatives' work could give the fan an opening to sue the creator. For this reason, even authors who approve of fanfic typically refuse to read it for fear they might be held liable.

Such incidents do not happen frequently, but the danger they represent has led many creators to categorize fanfiction as a threat instead of an opportunity. Fortunately, an easy fix for this problem already exists. The solution is to use a ShareAlike license in which creator and fans formally agree to share ideas with each other. This explicitly ensures that creators and fans do not face legal repercussions even if resemblances occur. Such terms are already incorporated into tried-and-true open licenses like Creative Commons ShareAlike. Why worry about a problem that has been solved for years?

Of course, there are many non-monetary reasons why a creator might not want fan creators' work to become as popular as their own or to appear in a search engine next to theirs. I can't address these concerns; all I want to point out is that for creators interested in earning as much money as possible, fan creativity is financially beneficial.

In fact, let's go a step farther. The 50 Shades story is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making profits from fan work. Let's talk for a bit about the untapped potential of crowdsourced creativity. We all know why Wikipedia beat out Encyclopedia Britannica: Wikipedia has (approximately) umpteen zillion contributors who each contribute a single thought to the sum of human knowledge, whereas Encyclopedia Britannica has a relatively small team of paid staff who are experts in their fields. We can learn something very interesting from how Wikipedia completely slam-dunked the traditional encyclopedia biz.

When looking at franchises like Lord of the Rings, there is a clear division of labor. On one hand you have the "official" creators, namely Tolkien, his heirs, the movie studios, and the marketers and designers behind the various toy lines, games etc—a few thousand paid professionals, all told. And on the other hand you have hundreds of thousands of unpaid fans who each contribute a single piece of creativity to the pool: a work of fanfiction, a set of comic strips, a costume, a graphic novel, a short film, a kitbashed action figure. Taken as a whole, the fans have done a Wikipedia on the official creators, haven't they? They've created thousands of spin off novels, a gigantic toy line, and enough artwork to fill a thousand coffee table books. Not all of it is high quality, but even if we assume that 90% is crap and 10% is quality, that remaining 10% is massive enough to totally whomp the efforts of the franchise owners by any measurement.

All this unmonetized fan creativity is money lost for Tolkien's franchise. Even if they tripled their team of paid professional creators today, they could never hope to satisfy the whole demands of the market, because somewhere out there is a guy with $20 in his pocket who likes Lord of the Rings but is completely obsessed with dinosaurs. Unfortunately for him, LOTR doesn't have dinosaurs of any kind, so instead our potential customer will spend his money on Jurassic Park merchandise.

Under normal conditions, the owners of the Tolkien franchise would not be able to take advantage of such a tiny $20 niche market; they simply do not have the means to meet the unique needs of all the world's individuals. But there is another way by which this vast untapped market could be broken into. You see, somewhere out there is a fanfic writer who is working on a Lord of the Rings rewrite with the elves as raptors and Gandalf as a stegosaurus. (I have seen much, much stranger things than this become wildly popular.) This fan—one of hundreds of thousands of unpaid volunteers—has the ability to harvest that $20 in our prospective buyer's pocket. But none of that money would to go the owners of Tolkien's franchise. Or would it?

Imagine what would happen if the fanfic writer was allowed to accept the $20. The writer would have a strong incentive to write another dinosaur LOTR fanfic, wouldn't they? If the money kept flowing and the market kept responding, eventually other fan creators would join in with fan art, a short Flash cartoon, some comics, translations into various languages, a line of 3D printed toys, etc. Meanwhile, the dinosaur fan is now being slowly converted from a guy who was mildly interested in LOTR into a True Fan of LOTR who will now buy "official" merchandise from the franchise owners. But could this ever happen in real life?

It happened to me recently. As a kid, I used to be a big fan of Garfield; as an adult, I had pretty much forgotten about it. But that was before I discovered Mezzacotta's "Square of Root of Garfield Minus Garfield," a hilarious reinterpretation of Garfield which combines playful mathematics, Garfield scholarship, and ingenious twists to put a whole new spin on strips I had read dozens of times as a kid. After reading through all the Mezzacotta strips, I needed MOAR, so I headed over to Jim Davis' website to read through his archive of Garfield comic strips. Lately I've also been hunting through the local thrift store for his books. I'm still way more fond of Mezzacotta's interpretation than Jim Davis' original comics, but the odds of Davis getting money from me have increased dramatically with my renewed interest in the series.

So you see the progression: Fans tap market unsatisfied by original creator. New fans are converted and become curious about the original works. New fans go on to spend money on products offered by the original creator.

Once fan creators begin making money, it starts a virtuous cycle of profits and reinvestment that will allow the creation of ever more complex and expensive productions. Right now, fans are limited in their ability to create movies, games, merchandise lines and TV series because such things are out of their budget range. (It's not that they haven't tried; see, for example, this crowdfunding drive where a fan tried to raise $400,000 for a Final Fantasy web series, only to be shut down.) Yet if this stifled creativity and entrepreneurship was allowed to run its course, the results would be impressive.

How many writers dream of seeing their work translated into 24 languages and made into a TV series, graphic novel, toy line, video game and movie? Fans will do much of that for free out of love. But add in money as an incentive, and they'll take on increasingly expensive, complex and time-consuming projects like the aforementioned Final Fantasy series.

Yet most creators balk at the idea of giving fans the freedom to raise $400k for a project, and here again we run into another deep-seated fear: the idea that someone else will use the creator's idea to make a zillion dollars, and not give the creator any of it.

Actually, it's hard for me to imagine how a creator could NOT make money in such a scenario, provided that he was smart enough to use a ShareAlike license. Suppose, for example, that Tolkien was still alive today, and a group of fans raised $10,000,000 on Kickstarter to create a smash hit LOTR web series—all without paying him a dime in royalties. Apparently the expected response is for poor Tolkien to bemoan his predicament on a street corner as he rattles coins in a tin cup. But what about the massive publicity boost? What about the fact that new fans drawn in by the series will be reading Tolkien's books for the first time in their lives? What about the fact that Tolkien could write a new story set within the expanded universe of the series and get a guaranteed audience? What about the fact that under a ShareAlike license, Tolkien could record his own version of the series with author commentary, then sell it himself as a special edition? Even in this, the most-dreaded of all scenarios, there are tons of opportunities to make money.

But let's make it easier, shall we? All Tolkien needs to do is change his license terms to read, "You can make as much profit off your fan work as you want, but if you make more than $100,000 a year, then you have to pay me a 5% royalty." So now Tolkien can still make money off the series in the traditional way, and ambitious fan creators can still get funding and start working on that new MMO or animated series. Meanwhile, all the smaller fan creators are not faced with burdensome profit-reporting requirements that would require them to send over $0.25 whenever someone dropped a $5 tip in the bucket.

A license with just four simple rules can overcome almost all of the problems with allowing fans to monetize their creativity:

  1. ShareAlike—every idea gets shared with the original creator and all the other fans who want to use that idea. This prevents lawsuits and keeps good ideas from being "claimed."

  2. Require fan creators to give credit to the original creator. This drives new fans to the original source so that the creator can share in her fans' prosperity.

  3. Fans should mark their work as being fan-produced by putting [Fanfic] or [Fan Art] after the title or thereabouts. This prevents reader confusion and protects the creator's reputation.

  4. Fans who make more than $100k a year on their activities must pay a 5% cut of the profits to the original creator. This gives creators a share of the wealth if a fan strikes gold, but does not burden casual fan creators with reporting requirements.

It's time for creators to let go of their old fears and begin to reap the rewards of the crowd. Indie creators can benefit from the added attention their fans' creativity draws to their work, while bestselling creators can take advantage of hits like 50 Shades to expand the borders of their franchise into new markets. Give it a try: turn your fans into business partners, and see what they can do for you.


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  • icon
    Rikuo (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 1:44pm

    I agree with this article. I wrote a fanfic about two or three years ago (well...started it really, never finished it) and to help advertise it, I paid for a commissioned drawing off of a well known fan artist on DeviantArt. I remember with much surprise seeing the comments on the art (the artist had forgotten to leave a link to my fic), as pretty much everyone was going nuts over it, demanding to know just why these particular characters were in this scene together and where the fic was. The artist made money off of me and I considered it well spent.
    I await Whatever to chime in here (or Antidirt) to say what I and the artist did was wrong and illegal and whatnot.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 1:45pm

    That's why you start a website , and ask for help maintaining the site " The upkeep of this site is quite expensive ,please if you can chip in or donate to keep it going" , not for the works enclosed.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 1:45pm

    You lost me with this...

    "I wish there was a Paypal button here..."

    So far as I am concerned Paypal is a criminal organization that absconds with their clients money, without recourse. There are plenty of article depicting this, and none as I am aware clearing them. I do not do business with entities that use Paypal, either for payment or payment processing. One cannot trust what they might do with your info, or money. Raspberry Pi is the most recent organization to lose my business, I tried to buy a couple of codecs from them, but could not since they have no other alternative for payment.

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    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:19pm

      Re: You lost me with this...

      [citation needed]

      I've been using PayPal for over a decade, for many different types of financial transactions, and never had a single problem with them stealing money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:31pm

        Re: Re: You lost me with this...

        Here are some, just from Techdirt:

        https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?company=paypal

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: You lost me with this...

          I see a few stories about accounts frozen on accident because they run afoul of fraud prevention algorithms, and then getting fixed quickly once attention is called to it. There's a huge difference between that and "stealing their clients' money."

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You lost me with this...

            I don't like my bank, or any bank for that matter, but need one in today's environment, and there is recourse for those, in the law.

            There is no true recourse with Paypal, unless you find a way to create a media storm. Creates a huge trust issue in my book.

            You run your risk assessment, I'll run mine, thank you very much.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You lost me with this...

              That's all well and good to say after the fact, but you didn't let others run their own risk assessment - you dismissed an entire article due to your personal issue with a single reference which could have easily been substituted for any of the other online payment services out there.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:41pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You lost me with this...

                First of all, I did not stop anyone from running their own risk assessment, I stated an opinion, "So far as I am concerned".

                Second, the author could have used a different payment service as an example, and would not have heard from me.

                Third, there are several pages of links to Techdirt articles behind the link I posted. Oh look, one of them is from just about a year ago, and go back all the way to 2008. Did you look into them? A few of them talk about Paypal backpedaling in the face of media storms, not the kind of business I want to do business with.

                My opinion stands.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 6:43pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You lost me with this...

                  I'm saying your tangent didn't contribute to the conversation. Yes, I looked at the link. As Mason Wheeler said, those stories don't conclude: "never use Paypal because it's evil and greedy and will take your money." You made a gripe about a payment service that wasn't essential to the article and dismissed the whole article for it. That's the equivalent of, "you spelled something wrong, so your argument is invalid!"

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tracyanne (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:49pm

      Re: Paypal

      Exactly. I won't use them, and any organisation that uses paypal exclusively doesn't get my custom, no matter how much I agree with them, or desire the product.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 6:03pm

      Re: You lost me with this...

      "You lost me with this..."

      Then you missed the whole point of the article. Mentally replace Paypal with 'a method of payment I like' and go read it again.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:02pm

    For an authors view on story telling listen to FLOSS weekly 307 where Hugh Howey is the author of the bestselling Wool series and talks about the parallels between his writing process and open source. He remarks in this episode that traditional story telling involved people modify and embellishing the original story as they repeated it to each other. He also notes that getting fans involved help to shape and refine a story.
    He also has a few words to say about traditional book publishing, and how many best selling authors have a day job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:23pm

    You know there is actually an industry wide model of exactly this sort of behavior. It's the japanese manga industry.

    Fan driven and organized conventions allow for amateur authors to distribute their fanarts(called doujins) that can be both original stories or blatant ripoffs. Despite any copyright infringement the Japanese publishers never crack down because they know that these people drive interest in other products and because these conventions are the best harvesting grounds for new talent. It's where many of the most popular manga including bleach was discovered.

    Another area that is tangentially related is the video game industry. Mods have for a long time been a driving factor of the value of video games. Just look at Skyrim. The standard retail price remained $60 for the PC version far far longer than the console version which dropped down to $30. The only explanation for this was that the pc version was selling far better, and the only difference between the two versions was the steam workshop integration which allowed the game to have access to thousands of high quality gameplay mods, patches and overhauls.

    The point that I am trying to get to is that there is industry wide precedence for the value of user generated content. Even Gabe Newell aknowledged user generated content is the future of their company.

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    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:34pm

      Re:

      A better example than Skyrim would be Dota 2 and League of Legends, two games that would never have existed where it not for Dota, a mod for Warcraft III.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:58pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Sep 23rd, 2014 @ 2:23pm

      Heck one only needs to look at the Touhou series in particular to see that a strong fan driven community actually helps the source works profit. The sheer amount of fan works that are sold for profit at every Reitaisai and Comiket is astounding, and Zun has done nothing but profit as well from such a creative fanbase

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  • identicon
    Theodora Michaels, 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:40pm

    The Tolkien estate's position on fan fiction

    In 2007, I emailed the lawyer for the Tolkien estate to ask for clarification of their position regarding fan fiction and the use of Tolkien's elvish languages. This was for a talk I gave at Dragon*Con, the text of which is here. You can skip to here for discussion of the estate's position specifically. From a quick look at the estate's website, their position is the same now as it was then. "The simple answer is NO."

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 2:55pm

    For-profit fan creativity is a huge opportunity, but creators are letting it go to waste because they're so anxious to protect their copyrights. It may seem counterintuitive, but letting other people make money from your intellectual property can add far more value than it costs—in some cases millions of dollars. ...

    It's time for creators to let go of their old fears and begin to reap the rewards of the crowd. Indie creators can benefit from the added attention their fans' creativity draws to their work, while bestselling creators can take advantage of hits like 50 Shades to expand the borders of their franchise into new markets. Give it a try: turn your fans into business partners, and see what they can do for you.


    Yes, authors may choose to permit fan fiction, and they may even benefit from it, but I disagree that there's anything wrong with "letting it go to waste because they're so anxious to protect their copyrights." The work is THEIR property, and they can do with it as they please. Whether they want people like you infringing on the fruits of their intellectual labors is THEIR choice. It's a shame you don't respect this decision on their part. One could easily list all of your property and think of ways that it could be put to uses that some deem to be better than the uses you put it to--even uses that don't interfere with your own uses and which make your property more valuable--but the fact remains that it's YOUR property and others don't get to make those calls for you. And we all respect your wishes to determine the uses of YOUR property. But when it's the work of others, you apparently don't have that same respect. It's a shame, really.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:10pm

      Re:

      That's a nice straw man you've built there. I don't know why you needed to spend a whole paragraph on it though. Waste of effort.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:56pm

        Re: Re:

        That's a nice straw man you've built there. I don't know why you needed to spend a whole paragraph on it though. Waste of effort.

        Could you explain why you think it's a straw man?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Probably because the article didn't say you claimed it did.

          Of course, you're just playing dumb, so you already knew that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            say what*

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 5:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            average_joe's entire premise is based on what people didn't say.

            He'll fight to the death to ensure his version of reality is accepted as law, nothing less.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Probably because the article didn't say you claimed it did.

            Of course, you're just playing dumb, so you already knew that.


            Exactly which claim of mine was false? I'm not playing dumb. You just aren't being clear. Thanks.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You can't play what you already are.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You can't play what you already are.

                Oh look, personal insults. My suggestion would be to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 8:11pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Coming from the chicken who keeps squawking for Mike Masnick?

                  Yeah, no. Your advice has a consistent history of straddling between horrible and bullshit.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 8:21pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Coming from the chicken who keeps squawking for Mike Masnick?

                    Yeah, no. Your advice has a consistent history of straddling between horrible and bullshit.


                    And, yet, I'm here in the comments having a productive conversation with several other people, while you're doing nothing but trolling me. Funny that.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 2:15am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I've seen the productivity of your comments. It's nothing but bullshit about "blah, blah, my dick hates Masnick", and being angry when people call you out on it.

                      You're a joke, and not even the good kind. You're the kind that makes people go out in droves to wash their brains in bleach just for the knowledge that something scummy like you exists.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 5:57am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Like you did here?

                  The double standards you have is staggering, but not surprising.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jameshogg (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:12pm

      Re:

      Do you reckon there is something noble in, say, Disney going around to public schools and suing the schools if their kids happen to paint Mickey Mouse on the playground walls? Or Disney sending lawyers round to bakers to sue on the spot if the baker ends up baking cakes with Mickey Mouse icing?

      Because both of these things have happened. All in the name of three black circles.

      If that is the case, feel free to call the many loving fan artists of deviantArt, and those who view the fan art, thieving scum-of-the-earth pirates who don't know any better, and call for the website owners of deviantArt to be thrown in jail for mass piracy.

      Your position really begs historical condemnation. There are many people across the planet who have plenty of liberal argument behind the claims to freedom of expression - a freedom that does not just defend the right of the person to speak, but the audience to listen - and folk such as yourself who think "well, I won't fall for any slippery slopes you are all freaking out about when it comes to expression because I have ownership of expression to focus on" are going to be pushed past in the moral Zeitgeist one way or another.

      Ownership of expression is a euphemism for prior restraint.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:07pm

        Re: Re:

        If that is the case, feel free to call the many loving fan artists of deviantArt, and those who view the fan art, thieving scum-of-the-earth pirates who don't know any better, and call for the website owners of deviantArt to be thrown in jail for mass piracy.

        I save the "thieving scum-of-the-earth pirates" appellation for people who simply pirate works wholesale. Derivative uses are different, and I actually support broader fair use and personal use rights. But fan fiction is a closer call for me. I don't think those who write it are all terrible people, I just think that what the author wants matters too.

        Ownership of expression is a euphemism for prior restraint.

        All ownership involves the owner's right to administer the uses of the owned property to the exclusion of others. It's not prior restraint in the First Amendment meaning of the term, if that's what you mean. It's simply respecting the rights of owners to determine how they want their property to be used.

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        • icon
          jameshogg (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I save the "thieving scum-of-the-earth pirates" appellation for people who simply pirate works wholesale. Derivative uses are different, and I actually support broader fair use and personal use rights. But fan fiction is a closer call for me. I don't think those who write it are all terrible people, I just think that what the author wants matters too.

          Fan artists must be treated the same as wholesale pirates according to copyright property theory, especially when hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake. There is no way you can avoid it. DeviantArt makes tons of money from advertising, merchandise, extra website features, etc. Anime conventions make tons of ticket money from the infringement of art via cosplays. Meme generator websites are guilty, too. Facebook is guilty via all the fan stuff that circulates around there. You have to face up to it and not take the cowardly option of saying "well they're just different", just because it's an uncomfortable conclusion. It is the natural end-result of the "ownership of expression" mentality.

          All ownership involves the owner's right to administer the uses of the owned property to the exclusion of others.

          Ah. I see you agree with the above, then.

          It's not prior restraint in the First Amendment meaning of the term, if that's what you mean. It's simply respecting the rights of owners to determine how they want their property to be used.

          "It wasn't murder, officer. It was a meditated preemption of an unwelcome incitement to outrageousness that was justified through my expression of lethal and calculated aggression."

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The only true way to retain control of your "property" in the form of a work of art is not to publish it. It's hard to respect an author for saying, "hey, look at what I made, come play in my world! but don't you dare think about touching it with your dirty hands!" If it is of any quality and/or popularity, a piece of art enters into the collective mind of society that we call culture. That act is not just a one-sided transmission from creator to audience. The audience contributes with their eyes and ears and word-of-mouth and forum discussions and fan fiction and remixes and daydreams and retellings and derivative works. If you just want to make art for the sake of making money, go into advertising. If you want your art to be a part of culture, learn to let go of the concept of ownership, because you really do lose control once you publish - unless you buy into the IP maximalist position that you have to own your piece of culture and kick puppies if they sniff your property too closely.

          Only a selfish child with a favorite toy is as fixated as IP maximalists are on property "rights" and ownership when it comes to culture and works of art.

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          • icon
            antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's hard to respect an author for saying, "hey, look at what I made, come play in my world! but don't you dare think about touching it with your dirty hands!"

            That's not hard for me to do.

            Only a selfish child with a favorite toy is as fixated as IP maximalists are on property "rights" and ownership when it comes to culture and works of art.

            I think that only a "selfish child" would rationalize appropriating the work-product of authors, without recompense and against the author's wishes/rights, under some inane theory that it's "a part of culture" so that makes it OK.

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            • icon
              Niall (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 8:35am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Then the artists can stop 'appropriating' other culture (Tolkien 'stole' elves! No-one else can use elves now!) or fuck off into obscurity like they deserve.

              Really, no-one is forcing artists to create or share their products - but once published, the whole world can play with it. The only question is how will the creator monetise (or otherwise benefit from) their creation? However, they are not owed a 'fair' living, especially not in perpetuity.

              Go do something productive and work for a charity or a factory. If you're in it for the money, go and create new derivative scams.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:39pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You're so deep in the mindset of IP maximalism and, I would strongly guess, your income depends on your ability to ignore the cognitive dissonance of what you're arguing for, so I'm not surprised that it's not hard for you.

              Your argument regarding "appropriating the work-product of authors" makes works of human creativity into some form of cold, calculated factory output and artists into factory workers and robots. Humans aren't machines. The expression of creativity isn't equivalent to screwing a fastener into a board. I doubt you are yourself artistic since you appear to think human creativity is just work. You ignore that no piece of art or any human creation is generated in a vacuum. All human beings who create have absorbed the culture around them and filtered it according to their own internal identity and produce it to communicate their perspective to the world.

              Every author absorbs the works of others in order to learn how to express themselves. In your youth, you likely learned your language skills from parents and teachers and peers. You likely learned your IP maximalist jargon from greedy corporate shills, lawyers, and politicians who lack artistic creativity but have exchanged their ethics for greed. None of the arguments you're presenting are original. You've appropriated the rhetoric of those who stand to profit from a world where all human culture is locked up behind a paywall. You stamp your feet and throw a fit when someone hasn't paid a corporation for use of a piece of culture that they pretend to "own" because they bought off the right politicians.

              People acting like normal human beings and sharing the culture that is the language between those people, and thus not playing by the rules that your corporate shill-masters paid for is not the act of a selfish child, but rather the acts of the adults who ignore the fussy brat who insists that the world revolves around him just because he threw some money around.

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              • icon
                antidirt (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 11:34am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Your argument regarding "appropriating the work-product of authors" makes works of human creativity into some form of cold, calculated factory output and artists into factory workers and robots. Humans aren't machines. The expression of creativity isn't equivalent to screwing a fastener into a board. I doubt you are yourself artistic since you appear to think human creativity is just work. You ignore that no piece of art or any human creation is generated in a vacuum. All human beings who create have absorbed the culture around them and filtered it according to their own internal identity and produce it to communicate their perspective to the world.

                That's hilarious. My view is that authors have a moral claim to the fruits of their labors. I think they are humans, and I resent those who think they are robots. IMO, Techdirt often treats authors like robots. I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 7:48pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Oh indeed. Authors definitely do have a moral claim to the fruits of their labors. The corporations whose opinions your copy and paste here, however, do not. Corporations are not people and should not be allowed to "own" copyrights. You claim to support creators, but I never see you defend authors in the face of the corporations who regularly abuse them and make it difficult for them to create and release their work.

                  Where is your tirade against payola, Hollywood accounting, unfair contracts, collection societies that embezzle money nominally intended for artists, studios wasting money suing fans for money that never goes to artists the studios pretend to represent? Where is your support of pro-artist laws instead of pro-copyright laws?

                  Copyright primarily benefits corporations who cannot themselves create art. An artist has their talents and can create more until they die, become disabled, or expend their audience's interest in them naturally. A corporation relies on artists to create the works of art the copyrights of which the corporation can own in perpetuity because corporations don't naturally die and when the copyrights are up, they just buy more laws to extend them out a few more decades.

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        • icon
          JP Jones (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          All ownership involves the owner's right to administer the uses of the owned property to the exclusion of others. It's not prior restraint in the First Amendment meaning of the term, if that's what you mean. It's simply respecting the rights of owners to determine how they want their property to be used.

          The only issue is that copyright owners don't actually have that right. They have very specific rights granted to their intangible property by copyright statute. These rights are not the same as the rights granted to a property owner of a tangible property.

          Copyright owners have the right of reproduction, distribution, creation of derivative works, and public performance/display, within limitations set forth by statute, such as the duration of copyright and fair use (among other limitations).

          Nowhere do they have the right to "determine how they want their property to be used." The classic example of the difference between tangible and intangible property rights involves books; if I buy a book, I possess the tangible property rights to that book, but not the intangible property right. I cannot copy the book (again, with certain limits) or mass distribute it, but I can sell the book or use its pages as toilet paper and the copyright holder has no right to stop me.

          As other people have pointed out, respect is earned, and is not a right. You can keep using tangible property terms, such as property use and theft, but they never apply to intangible goods.

          Sorry.

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          • icon
            antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The only issue is that copyright owners don't actually have that right. They have very specific rights granted to their intangible property by copyright statute. These rights are not the same as the rights granted to a property owner of a tangible property.

            Copyright owners have the right of reproduction, distribution, creation of derivative works, and public performance/display, within limitations set forth by statute, such as the duration of copyright and fair use (among other limitations).

            Nowhere do they have the right to "determine how they want their property to be used."


            Those rights you listed (reproduction, distribution, etc.) are the rights to use that I'm talking about. If I own the copyright to Book X, I get to determine who can make reproductions of it, who can distribute it publicly, etc. I'm sorry if that was unclear. Those use-rights are what I was referring to.

            As other people have pointed out, respect is earned, and is not a right. You can keep using tangible property terms, such as property use and theft, but they never apply to intangible goods.

            From this comment, I assume you have never actually studied property law. Am I right?

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            • icon
              JP Jones (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 8:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              From this comment, I assume you have never actually studied property law. Am I right?

              I'll ask you the same question. Show me a case in which an intellectual property was infringed where the defendent was charged with theft.

              I'll wait.

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              • icon
                antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 8:39pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I'll ask you the same question. Show me a case in which an intellectual property was infringed where the defendent was charged with theft.

                I'll wait.


                Yes, I have studied property law, which is why I know that many theft statutes apply to intangible property. That seems to be the point where you're stuck. The problem with what you're asking for as far as people being "charged with theft" for copyright infringement is that the Copyright Act preempts such state law theft statutes. For example, the defendant in Crow v. Wainwright was convicted under a state theft statute. The state supreme court upheld the conviction, after which the case was appealed to the federal courts. The 11th Circuit held that the theft was really copyright infringement, so it reversed the conviction: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?q=720+F.2d+1224&hl=en&as_sdt=2,19&case=1460316155 2739797984&scilh=0 But if you're looking for theft statutes that are still on the books for acts that are otherwise copyright infringement, I can point you to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/18/00.039.031.000..HTM "Property" and "theft" aren't limited to tangible personal property, as you appear to think. Most, if not all, states have statutes for the theft of intangible property.

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                • icon
                  JP Jones (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 12:40pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Yes, I have studied property law, which is why I know that many theft statutes apply to intangible property.

                  You apparently have a different definition of "studied" than I do. I usually consider this to mean comprehension.

                  If you read the Crow v. Wainright decision you linked it rather specifically points out that statues that treat copyrighted material as theft are invalid under federal law. From the link:

                  "On and after January 1, 1978, all legal or equitable rights that are equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright as specified by section 106 and works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression and come within the subject matter of copyright as specified by sections 102 and 103, whether created before or after that date and whether published or unpublished are governed exclusively by this title. Thereafter, no person is entitled to any such right or equivalent right in any such work under the common law or statutes of any state."

                  So, you are correct, states do have statues for the theft of intangible property. It's just all invalid under federal law, since states are forbidden from establishing their own copyright law under the Copyright Clause of the Constitution.

                  Either way it doesn't fit with the actual definition of theft, which is "the taking of someone else's property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it." You cannot permanently deprive someone of intellectual property by infringement. Therefore, by definition, copyright infringement cannot be theft. It doesn't matter how many idiots have made stupid laws that attempt to change reality.

                  This is like when people try to explain how killing chickens is murder. Murder, by definition, involves killing humans (and only illegal killing of humans). You can call it murder all day, and a state could pass a "chicken murder" statue, but it still would not fit the definition of the word.

                  Ultimately, though, this is all a straw man argument, because the original article never said anything about ignoring author's rights. It simply said it was in the best interest of authors to permit it, due to economics. You're arguing against an imaginary point that you think the author is making.

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                  • icon
                    antidirt (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 11:31am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    You apparently have a different definition of "studied" than I do. I usually consider this to mean comprehension.

                    No need for the personal insults. Just a suggestion, but, considering that you haven't studied law, perhaps you should be more open to the possibility that maybe it's you who doesn't understand the concepts you've never spent any time studying.

                    If you read the Crow v. Wainright decision you linked it rather specifically points out that statues that treat copyrighted material as theft are invalid under federal law.

                    I think you're missing my point. The state supreme court said that what the guy did was theft under state law. The federal courts said that those same acts which constituted theft under state law were in fact copyright infringement under federal law. Thus, copyright infringement = theft. Those state theft laws are preempted by the Copyright Act, so that's why you won't see a lot of cases where an infringer is charged with theft. It's not because infringement isn't theft, it's because theft IS infringement.

                    Either way it doesn't fit with the actual definition of theft, which is "the taking of someone else's property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it." You cannot permanently deprive someone of intellectual property by infringement. Therefore, by definition, copyright infringement cannot be theft. It doesn't matter how many idiots have made stupid laws that attempt to change reality.

                    This is where your complete lack of law studying really shows. Many states in fact have theft statutes that apply to intangible property. This is so because deprivation doesn't necessarily mean deprivation of something tangible. It can also mean acting in a way that is inconsistent with someone's rights. Your "reality" is just an incomplete understanding of the actual law.

                    Ultimately, though, this is all a straw man argument, because the original article never said anything about ignoring author's rights. It simply said it was in the best interest of authors to permit it, due to economics. You're arguing against an imaginary point that you think the author is making.

                    Please link to the comment where I said that OP said she wants to ignore author's rights. Otherwise, the straw man is completely yours.

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    • icon
      jameshogg (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      It is folk like you who would deny 1984 EVER be translated into Chinese if the copyright owner (not necessarily Orwell) did not want such a thing.

      And you would cheer on the Chinese regime's "clampdown" on pirated editions of 1984 like a useful idiot.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

      I don't see anything in your comment that would cease to let the author continue to make/turn a profit from "their" collective works , What I do see is putting an invisible lock on something the fans want , with those locks in place it becomes useless to anyone , If the work is dated and newer, brighter ideas come along ,basically wiping any worth to culture as a whole away.

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      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:00pm

        Re: Re:

        To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

        I don't see anything in your comment that would cease to let the author continue to make/turn a profit from "their" collective works , What I do see is putting an invisible lock on something the fans want , with those locks in place it becomes useless to anyone , If the work is dated and newer, brighter ideas come along ,basically wiping any worth to culture as a whole away.


        I'm not sure why you're quoting the Constitution. Could you explain? My objection is to the notion that authors should have to permit fan fiction even if they don't like it. It's not only about what "the fans want." It's also about what the author wants. As it stands right now, authors have the choice to permit fan fiction if they want to. I take issue with OP's suggestion that authors shouldn't have that choice.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:38pm

      Re:

      Except for plagiarism, which is not what we are discussing here, fan fiction is a new work built in an existing (fictional) world. Why should someone building on the tales of Achilles be treated different from someone building on the tales of Harry Potter?

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      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Except for plagiarism, which is not what we are discussing here, fan fiction is a new work built in an existing (fictional) world. Why should someone building on the tales of Achilles be treated different from someone building on the tales of Harry Potter?

        Because Rowling or whoever owns the copyright to the Harry Potter character may not like it. I respect the author's/proprietor's choice. I don't want to take it away.

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        • icon
          JMT (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 6:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I respect the author's/proprietor's choice. I don't want to take it away."

          And right there is the strawman argument you were accused of making earlier. Nothing in this article talks about taking away authors' choices, it only encourages them to consider making other choices that may be of great benefit of them.

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          • icon
            antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            And right there is the strawman argument you were accused of making earlier. Nothing in this article talks about taking away authors' choices, it only encourages them to consider making other choices that may be of great benefit of them.

            Did I say that OP wants those rights taken away? It's true that I wouldn't be surprised to learn that OP felt that way, but my comment explicitly mentioned what I perceive to be a lack of respect on OP's part for the wishes of authors.

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            • identicon
              AnonyBabs, 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:31am

              Then your perception is wrong. The OP is saying "Hey, authors, want to make MORE money? Then you might consider these strategies." Sounds like respect to me.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:01pm

      Re:

      Keeping with the "Tolkien" theme, I call this kind of thinking the "Gollum syndrome": my preciouss...

      Look, I understand why many authors think that way. But once you have published anything, no matter how small (like this comment), it becomes part of the collective consciousness of humanity. Even if on a subconscious level, your work becomes part of the base upon which your readers will create their own new works. One can't compartmentalize their memory; whatever they have seen or heard, it has become tangled into their being.

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      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:08pm

        Re: Re:

        Keeping with the "Tolkien" theme, I call this kind of thinking the "Gollum syndrome": my preciouss...

        Look, I understand why many authors think that way. But once you have published anything, no matter how small (like this comment), it becomes part of the collective consciousness of humanity. Even if on a subconscious level, your work becomes part of the base upon which your readers will create their own new works. One can't compartmentalize their memory; whatever they have seen or heard, it has become tangled into their being.


        I don't disagree. It becomes part of culture. But becoming part of culture doesn't mean the author should lose all rights in the work, IMO.

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        • icon
          Niall (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 8:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So who did Tolkien pay for use of orcs, goblins, dwarves, elves, his use of Old English, or the plotlines he nicked from various sources?

          Go on, I'll wait...

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          • icon
            hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 8:56am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Please educate yourself on the concept of threshold of originality.

            Oh, and tell us where Tolkien stole "orcs" from. Even the word is from one of his invented languages. Without Tolkien, you would also never have written "dwarves" - it was Tolkien who popularized that plural form. The regular plural is "dwarfs". His concept of Elves is likely not directly lifted from any tradition.

            And seriously, paying for the use of English? Who are you paying to be allowed to write such nonsense?

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            • icon
              Watchit (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Wait, I thought the Threshold of Originality was just the law that made it so you can't just copyright simple text and geometric shapes? Is there some deeper part of the law I'm not aware of?

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              • icon
                hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 10:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Yes, it also means that there has to be a level of originality to what you do. Minor adjustments don't cut it. Much like in patent law, there needs to be some manifest contribution of your own.

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                • icon
                  John Fenderson (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 10:27am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "there has to be a level of originality to what you do"

                  True, but the amount of change needed to meet the threshold of originality can be surprisingly low. Since the "threshold of originality" is a subjective call, this is determined on a case-by-case basis and is a judgement of the total affect of the change rather than the amount of it. Minor adjustments might well cross that threshold, depending.

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          • icon
            Watchit (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I think all those stuff were in the public domain back then considering how old the concepts were, so he wouldn't have to really pay any one.

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    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:23pm

      Re:

      "Whether they want people like you infringing on the fruits of their intellectual labors is THEIR choice."
      Here's how one is able to tell when an argument or claim is not very well thought through. It's when one is able to turn the argument right back around and it is still "valid".
      In this case, using your logic, it is just as valid for me to say that Raymond E Feist is infringing on the fruits of my intellectual labors when he doesn't allow others to even have fruits of their own, in not allowing them to publish their fanfics to fanfiction.net and other sites.

      "It's a shame you don't respect this decision on their part."
      Respect is earned, not torn from people by force of law. Why should I respect Feist (or any other author who doesn't like fanfics) when they don't respect me?

      "One could easily list all of your property"
      Of course, you don't bother actually thinking this through at all, in that property rights for scarce, rivalrous, physical goods are not the same thing as copyright. If you take my car for an afternoon without my knowledge or permission, even if your intention is completely benign (such as repairing it), I have no ability to use that car during that time. The same cannot be said for stories. If I write a fanfic, I have done nothing at all to the ability of the original author to use his work.

      "But when it's the work of others, you apparently don't have that same respect. It's a shame, really"
      In order to enforce this respect for intellectual works, my property rights in my computer hardware must of necessity be infringed upon. For example, the producers of a movie that is on a Blu-ray disc sold in stores have put DRM on it, such that I have to choose which region my Blu-ray drive is set to, and that I can only change that region a handful of times. Now my property rights have been completely infringed upon. How come you're not supporting MY property rights?

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 5:36pm

      Re:

      But when it's the work of others, you apparently don't have that same respect.

      Hey, speaking of 'respecting the work of others', where's your respect for the work of the person writing/drawing the fanfic/fanpic? They put time and effort into their creation, just like the 'original' creator, yet you don't seem to care too much about their creativity, their creation, or their rights.

      If the claim is that they should make their own characters/worlds, and not base their works on what's been done by others, then that applies just as much to the 'original' creator, who I can all but guarantee based their creation upon, or were inspired by, the work of others as well, making their work no more 'original' than that of the fanfic/fanpic creator's.

      They build their works on what came before, once they add their works into the tapestry of culture, it's sheer hypocrisy for them to then cry 'No one may build upon my creations, which were built upon that which was created before them!'

      If someone doesn't want derivatives of their creations made, the solution is simple: Keep it to yourself. Don't publish the story, don't make public the painting or artwork or song, and you can maintain the iron-tight grip over your work that you so dearly desire.

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      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:48pm

        Re: Re:

        Hey, speaking of 'respecting the work of others', where's your respect for the work of the person writing/drawing the fanfic/fanpic? They put time and effort into their creation, just like the 'original' creator, yet you don't seem to care too much about their creativity, their creation, or their rights.

        For the parts that are original (in the copyright law sense), I do care for their rights just as I do for any author. It's the infringing parts I'm not fond of.

        They build their works on what came before, once they add their works into the tapestry of culture, it's sheer hypocrisy for them to then cry 'No one may build upon my creations, which were built upon that which was created before them!'

        Of course that's true. But it's also true that new works are created all of the time that meet the originality requirement.

        If someone doesn't want derivatives of their creations made, the solution is simple: Keep it to yourself. Don't publish the story, don't make public the painting or artwork or song, and you can maintain the iron-tight grip over your work that you so dearly desire.

        No, I prefer that authors who want to share their works do so however they choose. I can want that at the same time that I want their rights to be respected by others. It's not an either-or. And it's certainly not true that I want an "iron-tight grip" over works for authors. It's true that I think some uses of those works should be determined by authors.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 11:05pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          For the parts that are original (in the copyright law sense), I do care for their rights just as I do for any author. It's the infringing parts I'm not fond of.

          Which is meaningless in fanfiction, as saying 'you can use all the parts except what is under copyright' would be like telling an artist 'you can paint what you want as long as you don't use these colors, and these shapes'.

          Fanfiction by it's very nature includes parts, whether characters, the world, or whatnot, from another work, that's what makes it fanfiction. Blocking people from being able to use those parts is nothing less than blocking fanfiction itself.

          Of course that's true. But it's also true that new works are created all of the time that meet the originality requirement.

          Possible, but likely even those 'original' works are inspired by, or based upon, some other work that the creator enjoyed or that struck a chord with them, even if it's not as blatant as a fanfic. The creator may not even realize it at the time, they may think that their idea came completely out of no-where, and had nothing to do with anything they'd seen/watched/listened to, but the frequency of such 'zero-input creativity' is likely close to zero. The mind takes in outside stimulus, whatever the form, mixes it up, and then comes up with 'new' ideas, that's how creativity works.

          It's true that I think some uses of those works should be determined by authors.

          Why? Parody for example, based upon that system would take a massive hit if the author had veto power over it. Just because a creator may not care for a particular derivative work, does not suddenly make that work of no value, and requiring permission or authorization to create derivative works would stifle a hell of a lot of creativity, which is the exact opposite of what copyright law was originally intended to do.

          As well, you're going on about the 'rights' of the original authors, but what about the rights of the fanfiction creators? Why are their creations of less value? Why are their rights to create of less worth, simply because their particular 'inspiration' is more obvious?

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        • icon
          Niall (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 8:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So "Master of the Universe" is evil theft of Stephanie Meyer's property and EL James should be shot?

          But "50 Shades of Grey" is protected creation and should be lauded? Anyone else who steals from her by writing BDSM fiction should be shot?

          Just because some names were changed?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:19pm

    Copyright is not Trade Property

    What I've never understood is why some copyright holders work so hard to defend their copyright, as if not doing so will cause it to vanish.

    Unlike trade marks, you still keep your copyright, even if you allow others to create derivative works. In fact, copyright is even set up to make doing so easy. But for some reason, some copyright holders see each use/profit on top of their copyright as "lost revenue" and attempt to suppress it.

    So why haven't book/movie/audio publishers realized this in any significant way? In my mind, fan fiction is similar to "theming" operating systems -- replacing the interface with widgets that function the same but look a bit different. In the software world, this isn't considered a copyright violation -- but if someone creates a spinoff work based in someone else's fictional universe, that's somehow derivative enough to get slammed for copyright violation instead of to get approached for a copyright agreement.

    Now one argument I've heard is that the overall quality of fanfic work will degrade the public image of the copyright holder -- but this is specious, as unless they put their seal of approval on something (which they CAN do, at a profit), it's not going to be mistaken for the original, especially if it's truly bad. And again, this is using copyright to prop up trade law, which should be able to stand on its own.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 5:51am

      Re: Copyright is not Trade Property

      Actually talking to some people involved you CAN lose your copyright if you don't defend it. Apparently there is precedent that if a company is lax about defending copyright another infringer can use that as a defense in court.

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      • icon
        Watchit (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re: Copyright is not Trade Property

        Really? I thought that was only Trademark law. at least in the US.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Copyright is not Trade Property

          Yes, in the US, this is a trademark law thing, not copyright. You can't lose your copyright through a failure to "defend" it. Even with trademark law, this is dramatically overstated. You don't actually have to react to each and every instance of trademark infringement to maintain your trademark (and your reaction to trademark infringement doesn't have to be a lawsuit.)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:31pm

    If Tolkien were alive today....

    He would very nearly be the oldest person ever (whose age was verified). Couldn't you at least have also posited that he hadn't aged since, say, his mid 70s? Given his metaphorical self some semblance of health to enjoy his radically expanded copyright period?

    And it's not so much that he'd rattle his cup aside the road as he'd be getting those movie royalties himself. He'd go on an immortality-inspired road trip promoting his Finished Tales, and expanded edition Silmarilion.

    There's no telling precisely where he'd land on the copyright extension debate because, being immortal, his works would never go OUT of copyright in the first place. "After his death" would be meaningless applied to him.

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  • identicon
    Nimas, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:54pm

    With regards to the "ram money down people's throats" I really wish I could do that for one fanfic I read (dungeons & dragons/harry potter crossover which is hilarious) but in that case you'd have 2 copyright holders to deal with.

    Something similar occurs with things like Teamfourstar and abridged series. Absolutely hilarious parodies, but I can't provide them with money for their hard work (and frankly it'd be amazing if they could have making those as full time work) because the original copyright holder's would consider that 'lost revenue'.

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    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:33pm

      Re:

      I completely agree with your mention of Teamfourstar and the various abridged series.
      In fact, here's a question for Antidirt. Take a look at this Youtube channel.
      https://www.youtube.com/user/HitokageProduction/videos
      They make live-action fan videos of various anime series. I've only watched about three or four of their videos, but they're decent at it. In particular, this one
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDULWUrzVPs&list=UUof9ppdHcniLAS_pFoRkqfw
      which is a live-action version of a fight between two characters from the anime series "Naruto" (Kakashi Hatake and Itachi Uchiha). Should they or should they not be allowed to receive compensation for their work?
      Antidirt, if you say no, then what about Naruto itself? That work, and many of the characters within, are very heavily based on the Chinese legend, Journey to the West. Why should Naruto's author, Masashi Kishimoto, receive any legal protections for his work, and not the live-action crew? Is Naruto not itself a fanfiction of Journey to the West?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 3:57pm

    Trolls

    The problem with being able to profit from fan fiction is trolls. If money could be made by creating quick nock-offs that destroy the characters, people would do so.

    Imagine if someone had written and mass published a fan fiction harry potter book where Harry rapes Hermione and become Valdemort's apprentice. If they had this all over the shelves before the second volume came out, it would have sold a lot and caused real trouble for the series, and JK Rawlings would have made fewer billions. Maybe only millions.

    You would also have publishing houses set up hack writers to turn out hundreds if not thousands of volumes in any series that looked promising. In the time it took JK Rawlings to write the second Harry Potter book, the market would have been flooded with poorly written Harry Potter books and no one would have cared about hers.

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    • identicon
      teka, 23 Sep 2014 @ 5:12pm

      Re: Trolls

      First, your entire idea hinges on distributors, resellers, wholesalers and the actual book stores, not to mention readers, being idiots.

      Second, I havn't seen anyone suggest that counterfeits (falsly claiming to be the Nth book of a series and/or claiming to be written by the actual author) are desirable or defended. Being the real J.K. Rowling and writing the real series has a cachet that no fan fiction can overwrite and that should continue to be protected by law to an extent.

      Why can't J.K continue to swim in her scrooge mcduck vault of money while letting people get a few coins for writing an exploration of early days at hogwarts or Lily and James' marriage?(for example)

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    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 6:01pm

      Re: Trolls

      In the time it took JK Rawlings to write the second Harry Potter book, the market would have been flooded with poorly written Harry Potter books and no one would have cared about hers.

      Interesting theory. Completely imaginary, but interesting.

      People already do this, for free. You don't think there's Harry Potter smut fiction out there? Heck, there's Harry Potter porn (see Rule 34). I seriously doubt it affected her sales in any negative way.

      Unless they infringed on her trademark or otherwise tried to pass off their work as hers (by putting JK Rowling as the author even though she didn't write it) they can write whatever they want and it's not going to affect the original work. Your theory isn't backed up by what's already happening, "legal" or not. Adding a price isn't going to somehow make people prefer knock-offs more.

      Either way, cheap smut isn't going to be "all over the shelves" because publishers probably aren't going to pick it up, and online communities are great at self-reviewing quality material.

      I've seen this concern before and it's both not substantiated by data and completely irrational.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 7:35pm

      Re: Trolls

      Have you ever read Splinter of the Mind's Eye? It's a Star Wars novel written by Alan Dean Foster and released right after Star Wars (i.e. Episode IV: A New Hope). I like Foster, but it's a terribly bad Star Wars novel. It's not fan fiction though. It's officially commissioned material. Fortunately, Star Wars was a box office success and Lucas was able to make a big budget sequel, so the novel wasn't important anymore.

      You know what Star Wars fans who don't care for this novel do? They ignore it.

      You know what [insert franchise here] fans who don't care for a story, official or unofficial, do? They ignore it.

      Some Star Wars fans pretend Episodes I-III didn't happen.

      Some Star Wars fans pretend the Expanded Universe didn't happen.

      Others delve deep into whole series of fan fiction stories.

      The audience determines the success or failure of the story, regardless of whether its officially sanctioned or not. The official status just changes how it can be distributed.

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    • identicon
      Sarah, 7 Mar 2016 @ 8:59pm

      Re: Trolls

      Here you assume that anyone would be able to get anything they want published and read wide scale. I've read a lot of fanfiction, and while many IDEAS are good, most of the authors are terrible at writing and have zero editing skills.To get published or widely known, they would have to have a well written story that people would be willing to read. Even if it was online and not in print, if (to use your example) Harry raped Hermione and became Voldemort's apprentice, it would never become popular and people would shun the fanfiction author for even thinking of it. Plus, I know very few series that are early enough along to be damaged by stuff like this that are also popular enough to have fanfiction written about them.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 4:10pm

    Fanfics create demand for the original

    Most fanfics I've seen expect the reader to have seen the original work.

    A Harry Potter fanfic, for instance, wouldn't waste its time describing the book's protagonist. If it does, it's usually to create a contrast between the original interpretation of the character and its own; for instance, the fanfic could be a "What if Harry Potter had been raised by a different foster parent?"

    Given that, readers are more or less required to become familiar with the original to truly enjoy the derived work. Consequently, a popular Harry Potter fanfic creates demand for the original Harry Potter books (UK edition preferred): "I really want to read that fanfic, because everyone's told me it's awesome; so I have to buy the original books and read them first, so I won't get lost in the story."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 5:19pm

    I don't know how far the concept of "derivative work" extends, so here's my question:

    Suppose I write a story that I state exists in Tolkien's universe, but I don't use any of Tolkien's written materials. No Bilbo, no Gandalf, no One Ring, etc. All original characters and storyline. Does my work infringe copyright simply because it takes place in Middle-Earth, even though Tolkien actually didn't write anything even close to my story? Can the "idea" of a story universe be copyrighted?

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    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 5:38pm

      Re:

      Tough question, but I'd have to disagree with your assertion of not using any of Tolkien's written materials. By definition, your work is set in the Tolkien'verse, therefore at some point, you'll eventually make mention of places, eras and nations that Tolkien did write about. I suppose it depends on how strict you want to be when saying you don't use his written materials. Perhaps you want to write a story about a sailor from Numenor, travelling back to Middle-Earth and reintroducing civilization to humankind? Tolkien only briefly touched on that, as far as I can recall (a few lines at most in the Silmarillion)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2014 @ 6:50pm

    I agree it might be difficult with Tolkien so perhaps that's a bad example. It might not even be possible to do it in a way that meaningfully put the story in that universe. I guess my point is, if the work is such that you wouldn't know it was set in Middle-Earth (or a similar argument for other fictional universes like Harry Potter or Star Wars) unless the author stated as much (externally to the story), would copyright apply?

    Or to use a more specific example than an entire story universe, let's use Numenor since you mentioned it. Since Tolkien named the place, does that make anything written as taking place in Numenor a derivative work, or is there some legally determined threshold where it's not derivative if you don't reference the original source too heavily?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:58am

      Re:

      or is there some legally determined threshold where it's not derivative if you don't reference the original source too heavily?

      Currently the answer to that question, every tine it arises, is it depends on who can spend the most money on lawyers, the original copyright owners, or the author of the new work.

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  • identicon
    Digitari, 23 Sep 2014 @ 8:21pm

    Question?

    Is this going to affect my homo-erotic Star Trek fan fiction reading habit?

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  • identicon
    Editor-In-Chief, 23 Sep 2014 @ 10:42pm

    JRR Tolkien - A Fan Fiction writer

    Regardless of what Chris Tolkien thinks of his father's works and any special category in which he adoringly places his father's writings, JRR, himself, has written about the background of his own stories. In modern parlance, he was a fan-fiction writer, end of story.

    He developed all his stories based on the histories and mythic stories from a variety of cultures, including discussions he had with various close colleagues at the time. The originality was in retelling - there are many who find much of JRR Tolkien's stories long-winded, convoluted and quite boring. They actually prefer the non-Tolkien derivatives.

    I don't know what Chris Tolkien's hangup is, but you get the impression that he is actually a no-talent person riding on the shirt-tails of his talented father and is afraid to be found out as such (irrespective of whether he has talent or not). It appears that to protect his own reputation, he has had to raise his father's to almost demi-god status. From what I have read of JRR Tolkien, this would have been anathema to him personally.

    David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

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    • icon
      hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 2:17am

      Re: JRR Tolkien - A Fan Fiction writer

      "Regardless of what Chris Tolkien thinks of his father's works and any special category in which he adoringly places his father's writings, JRR, himself, has written about the background of his own stories. In modern parlance, he was a fan-fiction writer, end of story."

      You clearly have no idea about Chris Tolkien. And no, writing on the background of one's own world creation is NOT being a fan-fiction writer in whatever parlance, modern or other. I suggest you read up on the meaning of "fan".

      "He developed all his stories based on the histories and mythic stories from a variety of cultures, including discussions he had with various close colleagues at the time. The originality was in retelling - there are many who find much of JRR Tolkien's stories long-winded, convoluted and quite boring. They actually prefer the non-Tolkien derivatives."

      Yes, especially people devoid of any understanding of literature or culture in general.

      "I don't know what Chris Tolkien's hangup is, but you get the impression that he is actually a no-talent person riding on the shirt-tails of his talented father and is afraid to be found out as such (irrespective of whether he has talent or not). It appears that to protect his own reputation, he has had to raise his father's to almost demi-god status. From what I have read of JRR Tolkien, this would have been anathema to him personally."

      Chris Tolkien happens to be a retired professor, just like his father, in the same disciplines as his father. The talentless hack here is evidently you, who is bitching and moaning about others having the audacity to invest some time into their education and consequently, lacking any intellectual heft whatsoever, has to resort to mudslinging.

      That you suggest you are able to judge JRR better than the son he was written some of his work for, and he showed most material before publication and he himself appointed his literary executor is highly ridiculous and merely underscores your utter megalomania.

      If anyone here is raising anyone to demi-god status, it is your rather pitiful attempt to do that with yourself.

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      • icon
        Watchit (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re: JRR Tolkien - A Fan Fiction writer

        Actually JRR Tolkien wrote some Sherlock Holmes fanfiction.

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      • identicon
        AnonyBabs, 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:38am

        Re: Re: JRR Tolkien - A Fan Fiction writer

        If you are not indeed Christopher Tolkien himself, then you are a fan who is not doing his reputation any good. Just as Chris's litigiousness has harmed his father's reputation more than any derivative works might.

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        • icon
          hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:55am

          Re: Re: Re: JRR Tolkien - A Fan Fiction writer

          "If you are not indeed Christopher Tolkien himself, then you are a fan who is not doing his reputation any good. Just as Chris's litigiousness has harmed his father's reputation more than any derivative works might."

          I would suggest you read up "litigiousness" in the dictionary. And while you're at it, do a little bit of homework on the reputation of his father. If anything, it has increased, not decreased.

          You evidently do not have remotely any idea who Christopher Tolkien is or what he does, you simply have a heap of prejudice. I don't like everything the man has done, but what you are doing is nothing but pompous delusions of grandeur. Your belief to be better able to understand JRR than he, never mind that he had direct exchange with him whereas you had not, and he has read a hundred times more material than you could possibly have read if you have read everything that's been published, would be cute if it would not be utterly nauseating in its presumpteousness.

          I could equally well state that your mother would be utterly ashamed of your statements without ever having spoken to her.

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  • icon
    Tobias Harms (profile), 23 Sep 2014 @ 11:29pm

    Been and Eric Flint

    The author Eric Flint does something a bit like this for his ring of fire books. His publisher has released a couple of books with collected fan fiction.

    Of course, I wouldn't have had my 16 books by Eric Flint if baen hadn't been supplying free ebooks of some of their books

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  • icon
    hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 2:07am

    You might have had a point if....

    ...all there was to books was mindless entertainment and money-making. But the thing is that plenty of authors have something they want to tell their readers. And the dilution, if not drowning out of that message by fan fiction is very much a valid concern for them.

    It is ironic that you cite Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey as an example given, regardless of its popularity, the literary quality of Twilight could be argued to be hardly above that of average fan fiction.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:24am

      Re: You might have had a point if....

      To me this seems to be a very elitist point of view. The quality of "the message" is highly subjective.

      AND there is no such thing as a dilution or a drowning out of "the message". The original message is still there, unaltered, ready to be received by anyone who wants it. The original work has not been replaced by the derivative work - it has been complemented.

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      • icon
        hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:07am

        Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

        "To me this seems to be a very elitist point of view. The quality of "the message" is highly subjective."


        So would say that the opinion that Walt Whitman or Charles Dickens are among literature's greatest is purely subjective?

        "AND there is no such thing as a dilution or a drowning out of "the message". The original message is still there, unaltered, ready to be received by anyone who wants it. The original work has not been replaced by the derivative work - it has been complemented."

        You should read up on the meaning of dilution. It doesn't mean that the original is gone either. No replacement is implied whatsoever. Your argument thus simply fails to address the issue.

        The original message is still there. FINDING it is another issue altogether. Plenty of people confuse quotes and concepts from the LotR movies without any basis in the books as actual Tolkien quotes and concepts.

        And even if the original message is still there, people will be inundated so much by the derivatory messages that there is the risk of interpreting the original in light of its derivatives instead of on its own.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 11:24am

          Re: Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

          "You should read up on the meaning of dilution. It doesn't mean that the original is gone either. No replacement is implied whatsoever. Your argument thus simply fails to address the issue."

          Oh, but by diluting something you definetely alter it, don't you? So, yes, the original is gone, when you dilute it.

          "The original message is still there. FINDING it is another issue altogether. Plenty of people confuse quotes and concepts from the LotR movies without any basis in the books as actual Tolkien quotes and concepts."

          Attribution is due - and the article says so. And PJs interpretation of JRRs LOTR is declared as such, whenever you watch the movies and read the title screen, it says: Peter Jackson's The Lord of the rings.

          "And even if the original message is still there, people will be inundated so much by the derivatory messages that there is the risk of interpreting the original in light of its derivatives instead of on its own."

          Any interpretation - even your own - is derivative per se. Because it's your interpretation and you can't be sure that you interpreted it the way the author intended anyway. Interpretation is also depending on cultural Background - would you then demand that only People with a certain background are allowed to Interpret an author's work?

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          • icon
            hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 11:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

            "Oh, but by diluting something you definetely alter it, don't you? So, yes, the original is gone, when you dilute it."

            No, it isn't, and no, you don't. Dilution alters nothing about anything.

            Seriously, did you sleep through chemistry in school?

            "And PJs interpretation of JRRs LOTR is declared as such, whenever you watch the movies and read the title screen, it says: Peter Jackson's The Lord of the rings. "

            When you watch the movies. Not when people post quotes on sundry websites or on Facebook, attributing PJ quotes to JRRT.

            "Any interpretation - even your own - is derivative per se. Because it's your interpretation and you can't be sure that you interpreted it the way the author intended anyway. Interpretation is also depending on cultural Background - would you then demand that only People with a certain background are allowed to Interpret an author's work?"

            You completely miss the point. An example: When the Washington sniper murdered several people, after the first incident, people reported seeing a white van. On subsequent incidents, people continued to report a white van. In the end, it was found out that the father and son team had operated out of a dark blue limousine. But because people were primed to see a white van wherever they struck, they "saw" a white van. Instead of reporting their actual observation, they reported a contruct they had built out of expectations.
            At that point, the "interpretation" ceases to be an interpretation, because it is not, actually, an interpretation of the material in itself, but it is the deliberate search for things you "know" are there and the inattentional blindness to everything else.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 1:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

              "No, it isn't, and no, you don't. Dilution alters nothing about anything.

              Seriously, did you sleep through chemistry in school?"

              No reason to be rude, is there?


              Dilute: to make (a liquid) thinner or less strong by adding water or another liquid.

              If you make something thinner or less strong, aren't you ALTERING it's consistency?

              "You completely miss the point. An example: When the Washington sniper murdered several people, after the first incident, people reported seeing a white van. On subsequent incidents, people continued to report a white van. In the end, it was found out that the father and son team had operated out of a dark blue limousine. But because people were primed to see a white van wherever they struck, they "saw" a white van. Instead of reporting their actual observation, they reported a contruct they had built out of expectations.
              At that point, the "interpretation" ceases to be an interpretation, because it is not, actually, an interpretation of the material in itself, but it is the deliberate search for things you "know" are there and the inattentional blindness to everything else."

              Which would mean that reading any review of LOTR will set up expectations that might lead to "inattentional blindness to everything else" - and maybe many authors would prefer their audience to access their work without having been influenced before accessing it, but there is no way to achieve that.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 1:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

              "When you watch the movies. Not when people post quotes on sundry websites or on Facebook, attributing PJ quotes to JRRT."

              They can still be corrected, because the original is still there to counter-check.

              Your chemical dilution analogy fails because in it many properties of the original have changed. The original and the derivate do not exist at the same time. Original artwork and fanfic do. You can do a live-comparison.

              And I'm sure the authors of the many swastikas through human history didn't want their work and the inherent message they had meant for it to be used by people like the nazis. Nevertheless, it happened.

              The only thing copyright-holders can do, is delay the inevitable by not allowing fanfic. I mean, what else are the Percy Jackson books other than a good fanfic of Homers work? And maybe Tolkien's work is an EXCELLENT fanfic dedicated to ancient northern mythology. And this Label doesn't diminish LOTRs value in the slightest - au contraire.

              You build upon what you come to know - and most of the time it comes from work and knowledge others before you have made.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

          "So would say that the opinion that Walt Whitman or Charles Dickens are among literature's greatest is purely subjective?"

          No. But it still says nothing about the very personal concept of quality: Someone might still qualify Twilight as more meaningful to himself than A Christmas Carol.

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      • icon
        hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:08am

        Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

        Adding - I was not even talking about "quality of message" but purely about existence of message, so your accusation of an elitist point of view is missing the point just as your other point.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 11:33am

          Re: Re: Re: You might have had a point if....

          "Adding - I was not even talking about "quality of message" but purely about existence of message, so your accusation of an elitist point of view is missing the point just as your other point."

          Which, as I wrote, existence is still given.

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  • icon
    DaveK (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:54am

    [CORRECTION] You have your webcomics mixed up.

    Mezzacotta's "Square of Root of Garfield Minus Garfield"

    Mezzacotta's comic is called "Square Root of Minus Garfield". You have conflated it with Dan Walsh's "Garfield Minus Garfield", which inspired the title for Mezzacotta's mash-up but is otherwise unrelated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 24 Sep 2014 @ 1:02pm

    Copyright Protects the Expression, Not the Idea.

    Remember that copyright protects the written expression, not the idea. You can write derivative fiction by systematically changing the names, dates, etc. A classic example would be August Derleth's Solar Pons stories. Solar Pons is a fictional detective, who resembles Sherlock Holmes in a number of ways, but is located in the post-1920 period. The Conan Doyle estate made legal threats, but Derleth stood his ground, and found himself a less risk-averse publisher. Of course, the Conan Doyle estate had a competing product, because they were renting the Sherlock Holmes brand to Hollywood script writers, who were producing scripts for actors like Basil Rathbone, set in the present. It soon became became apparent was that movie studios were fantastically risk-averse, much more than the stodgiest of publishers, not only in terms of copyright, but in terms of branding, and even publicity, as well, and the Conan Doyle estate needn't have worried.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Derleth
    http://www.batteredbox.com/AugustDerlethMycroft/F inalAdventureSolarPond.htm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hydroxide (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 2:23pm

    "They can still be corrected, because the original is still there to counter-check. "

    "Can" and "are" are two very different things.

    "Your chemical dilution analogy fails because in it many properties of the original have changed. The original and the derivate do not exist at the same time. Original artwork and fanfic do. You can do a live-comparison. "

    The original element is also still there. It's just among tons of other stuff.

    "The only thing copyright-holders can do, is delay the inevitable by not allowing fanfic. I mean, what else are the Percy Jackson books other than a good fanfic of Homers work? And maybe Tolkien's work is an EXCELLENT fanfic dedicated to ancient northern mythology. And this Label doesn't diminish LOTRs value in the slightest - au contraire."

    Except that there's plenty of Finnish and Greek stuff in there, too.

    "You build upon what you come to know - and most of the time it comes from work and knowledge others before you have made."

    Yes, but that doesn't mean you're not doing something original. Simply using someone else's creation as a Trojan horse, on the other hand is neither particularly creative nor truly original.

    You are confusing achieving a synthesis of your own with simply taking something someone else invented 1:1 and adding some stuff of your own.

    I'm not saying fan fiction should not be done. But wanting money for it despite the fact that you are basically piggybacking on the fame of someone else is not really fair any way you want to spin it. It's freeloading on someone else's marketing success.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 12:40am

      Re:

      "Can" and "are" are two very different things.

      Yes - so? The interested person will do the fact-checking, the other won't.

      "The original element is also still there. It's just among tons of other stuff."

      Thus it's original form and properties become unrecognizable. Not so for original work and fanfic - they can still be discerned.

      "Except that there's plenty of Finnish and Greek stuff in there, too."

      It still remains a fanfic, even if the base broadens.

      "Yes, but that doesn't mean you're not doing something original. Simply using someone else's creation as a Trojan horse, on the other hand is neither particularly creative nor truly original."

      Would you say the BBC-series "Sherlock" is neither particularly creative nor truly original? It uses sir Arthur Conan Doyles work as trojan horse.

      "You are confusing achieving a synthesis of your own with simply taking something someone else invented 1:1 and adding some stuff of your own."

      I don't - I say it's not that easy to draw a line between the former and the latter.

      "I'm not saying fan fiction should not be done. But wanting money for it despite the fact that you are basically piggybacking on the fame of someone else is not really fair any way you want to spin it. It's freeloading on someone else's marketing success."

      Thus every Shakespeare-Play is piggybacking on the fame of someone else and not really fair, any way we spin it, right? It's freeloading...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        hydroxide (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 12:59am

        Re: Re:

        "Yes - so? The interested person will do the fact-checking, the other won't."

        Meaning the vast majority will have a skewed view of the author of the original work - NOT the author of the derivative work

        "Thus it's original form and properties become unrecognizable. Not so for original work and fanfic - they can still be discerned."

        Not any easier than with a dilution. You can still get the original out of there, you just need effort.

        "It still remains a fanfic, even if the base broadens. "

        Nope. By that notion, there is no original fiction, thus rendering the term absurd. Even if you would consider that justified, your personal assessment is not relevant and it flies in the face of the very purpose of language.

        "Would you say the BBC-series "Sherlock" is neither particularly creative nor truly original? It uses sir Arthur Conan Doyles work as trojan horse."

        House MD is also an adaption of Doyle's work. Which would you say is more original? One that simply lifts the characters into the modern world or one that lets itself be inspired by the original but comes up with an entirely new environment.

        "I don't - I say it's not that easy to draw a line between the former and the latter."

        It is quite easy when you use the same characters and the same environment.

        "Thus every Shakespeare-Play is piggybacking on the fame of someone else and not really fair, any way we spin it, right? It's freeloading..."

        No, it isn't. Because no one demands money for the play, for the text, but rather for the staging of it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 2:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Meaning the vast majority will have a skewed view of the author of the original work - NOT the author of the derivative work"

          And that is why I consider your view elitist. You have a preconception of the so-called "vast majority".

          "Not any easier than with a dilution. You can still get the original out of there, you just need effort."

          Of course it is easier. The original work still exists in it's original form, unaltered. The dilution on the other hand needs to be altered.

          "Nope. By that notion, there is no original fiction, thus rendering the term absurd. Even if you would consider that justified, your personal assessment is not relevant and it flies in the face of the very purpose of language."

          And maybe I'm right and there is no original fiction. Maybe it's time to rethink the application of a term like "original". Language evolves and terms get new meanings: 30 years ago the term "pirate" had a different meaning than today.

          "House MD is also an adaption of Doyle's work. Which would you say is more original? One that simply lifts the characters into the modern world or one that lets itself be inspired by the original but comes up with an entirely new environment."

          House MD. But by using the phrase "more original" you are suggesting that there must be a clear threshold between "acceptable and unacceptable" originality. And I say that this is up to the audience to decide.

          "It is quite easy when you use the same characters and the same environment."

          Star Trek 2009 uses the same characters and the same environment as the original show. Original enough?

          "No, it isn't. Because no one demands money for the play, for the text, but rather for the staging of it."


          That doesn't address the point: It's still piggybacking on the fame of someone else.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            hydroxide (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 3:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "And that is why I consider your view elitist. You have a preconception of the so-called "vast majority"."

            You can just as well call all of academia "elitist".
            I have no preconception whatsoever, the necessity of effort reduces those accessing the information to those who can be bothered to invest the effort, which will necessarily be a significantly smaller part than the grand total.

            "Of course it is easier. The original work still exists in it's original form, unaltered. The dilution on the other hand needs to be altered."

            You can simply pour the solution out on a plate and put it in the sun - voila, the original substance. Much less effort required than finding the original among all the chaff.

            "And maybe I'm right and there is no original fiction. Maybe it's time to rethink the application of a term like "original". Language evolves and terms get new meanings: 30 years ago the term "pirate" had a different meaning than today. "

            And maybe you are simply full of yourself to believe YOU are the one who decides such things. And no, the term "pirate" still has very much the same meaning as 30 years ago, except for a tiny counter-culture, with which plenty of sea captains would like to have a word or two about their trivializing of some really horrifying experiences they went through.

            "House MD. But by using the phrase "more original" you are suggesting that there must be a clear threshold between "acceptable and unacceptable" originality. And I say that this is up to the audience to decide."

            No, I'm saying there is a more and a less. And sorry to say, your presumption that it is up to the audience to decide what legal standards are fulfilled is cute. There's courts for such things.

            "Star Trek 2009 uses the same characters and the same environment as the original show. Original enough? "

            It illustrates the point quite well: Just because you have characters with the same name running around something resembling the same world doesn't mean you have actually captured the essence of the original work.

            "That doesn't address the point: It's still piggybacking on the fame of someone else."

            Yes, it does address the point. Kindly read the article we're talking about. Making money off something IS the whole point of this discussion.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cyber Killer, 25 Sep 2014 @ 3:59am

    Please make this a real license

    Please go to the good people at Creative Commons or some other legal organization and have them write a proper license with the content of those rules at the end of the article. If even some of the big authors would approve this license for fan works then it would be a great boost to everybody.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aaron Wolf (profile), 6 Oct 2014 @ 9:50am

    Why link to outdated license??

    Please change the "Share-Alike" license to link to the full version 4.0 International: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

    Why the heck would you link to an outdated version 2.5??

    Otherwise, superb article, thanks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sandra, 22 Oct 2014 @ 1:11am

    It is very arguable question. I think it should be solved with the author or his or her rightholder, because if you use someone's idea you have to pay money for this at first. And many of authors will choose to stay unknown, but not changed by some fans. It is up to the person. If you have your own ideas you may create a piece of art and make a perfect financial solution to promote it. But if you are just amazed by other book or movie, you should contact the author in order to receive permission for your own work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    britney, 9 Mar 2015 @ 9:11am

    This is the difference betweeen scum and true literary artists.

    I miss the days when people were original. And came up with their own ideas rather than let true artists slave and then bite off of them. Why can't you come up with your own ideas you worthless scum. You people make me sick.

    These writers spend years forming plots and building their worlds and you people think you deserve the right to profit from them. I hope you're killed. I swear to god I hope you fucking die

    You people are truly pathetic. This is why society is this shit place...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2015 @ 7:28pm

    I have honestly never seen such a thoughtful defense of fan profiteering. In my mind I considered it progressive enough to allow fan works to exist, but this actually lays out a great model to benefit everyone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 20 Apr 2016 @ 7:12am

    This is far too late for any chance of a response, but oh well...
    Many authors believe that they must prevent fans from "competing" with them, or else readers will buy the fan's work instead of theirs, resulting in lost sales. This idea sounds good on paper, but it looks strange when you actually try to give an example. Can you imagine a Harry Potter fan saying, "Well, I was going to spend this $10 on Rowling's new book, but I spent that money on a fanfic instead. I guess now I won't buy the next Harry Potter book after all."
    I believe this misses an important angle.

    It does indeed seem at least mildly ludicrous to imagine a fan saying "I won't spend the money on the next book, because I spent it on a fanfic". However, I think the most ludicrous part of it is the idea of spending money on a fanfic - not the idea of using fanfic as a substitute for the original material.

    There are a fair number of settings (mainly movies and TV shows) for which I have never seen the original source material, and do not feel particularly inclined to do so, but from which I read fanfic. In some cases, I am consciously using the fanfic as an alternate source, as the more convenient and - to me - more enjoyable way of being exposed to the setting.

    In the absence of the fanfic, I might never have taken any interest in these settings - or I might have encountered them in their original forms, and (presumably) in such a way that the quote-unquote "original" creators would have received compensation. Instead, the creators have received nothing tangible from me, and may well never do so.


    Returning to the original example, it's much easier to imagine someone saying "I want to read more stories about Harry Potter, and there are plenty of good ones available for free in the form of fanfic, so I won't bother spending money on the next official one at all." - or "I'm satisfied with the way the story came out in these fanfics, and I've heard that the next book does things with the story that I don't like, so I won't bother buying the next book".

    Particularly in that latter case (where the next story in the official series takes things in a direction which the particular fan in question doesn't like), it seems entirely possible that some fans may indeed choose to use fanfic as a substitute for the source material.


    I recall having read an anecdote about someone who was reading a leaked copy of the seventh Harry Potter novel on his computer and had someone glancing over his shoulder mistake it for a fanfic - and one of less than superlative quality, at that.

    If fans can think of some items of fanfic as being of quality equal to or better than the author's own work, it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable for the author to be afraid that the fans will choose to go with the fanfic instead of with the official stories - particularly since the fanfic tends to be available for free.


    Thus, there are ways and cases in which fanfic can effectively serve to compete against the original source material, reducing the demand for the latter.

    Whether this effect can be sufficiently strong to justify restricting fanfic is another question, and one where I come down strongly on the side of fanfic, for multiple reasons. The author's position in this question is not as irrational as the article makes it sound, however.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sankar, 25 Aug 2016 @ 1:33am

    Hilarious post

    Although I disagree with many of your points, the article is well written and was a carnival to read.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    c_reed, 20 Feb 2017 @ 12:29pm

    Agree!

    Thank you for writing about this! Totally agree with you. There is such a wasted opportunity for both original creators and fan creators. And honestly, franchise series about books are really just corporate monetized fan fic. What makes it ok for HBO to make a series about fantasy books but not the fic author who wants to do a web series. So, why not open it up?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mr. Casey Lee Anderson (profile), 25 Jul 2017 @ 9:10pm

    I don't see the big deal

    What's the big deal, most fanfic authors will be stuck in a deadend job they hate, would you rather them be miserable enough b/c they'll never be a big hit like the original authors and might kill themselves b/c their lives fucking sucks or they'll waste away and. either become loners or abusive thugs, no would you want that to become of your fans? B/c the people who write fabrics are hardcore fans literally and b/c they had a taste of the boring world where you are stuck in a discount retail store working for minimum wage and still living with their parents sooner or later those people who aren't allowed to make money off of fanfics will most likely kill themselves others like myself will just be like the 40yr old virgin minus the waxing part of course, b/c I see what you are saying but it doesn't seem fair b/c well, what if they can never come up w an original idea, they'll be stuck in a menial job that they loathe for the rest of their lives and all. Imagine that original authors, if you don't allow fanfic authors to make a profit you will, 1. Ruin a percentage of your fanbase. 2. You will be signing their death certufs even if you never touched them and its still counts as the original author killing the fanfic authors even if the fanfic authors killed themselves and all I'm just saying. People don't like working menial jobs they would rather get paid for something they love doing or they would rather not be alive anymore, it would be a struggle b/c they would have nothing to live for at all, if you don't allow fanfic authors to make a profit from original works think on this folks would you rather have fanfic authors kill themselves if you do then THE ONES THAT DO WISH THAT FANFIC AUTHORS WOULD KILL THEMSELVES ARE NO LONGER REAL HUJMAN BEINGS, ONCE YOU CROSS THAT LINE OF WISHING SOMEONE HARM LIKE THAT YOU ARE NO LONGER CONSIDERED HUMAN IN MY EYES YOU ARE CONSIDERED A DEMON(LIKE THE ONES IN THE TV SERIES "CHARMED") AND DESERVED TO BE VANQUISHED. SO LISTEN UP YOU PEOPLE ORIGINAL AUTHORS AND FANFIC AUTHORS ALIKE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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