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I hate debates about fanfiction and whether it's legal or not - especially when those debates are conducted by the fans themselves. There's usually a lot of self-loathing involved, and most of the fangirls I know generally go : "we shouldn't, we really shouldn't be doing this, what we're doing is illegal, I know it's illegal, okay? I'm an outlaw and a bad person" - and the only thing I want to say to that is "STFU and enjoy your fucking self, idiot, because nobody cares about your guilt and nobody's gonna arrest and sue you". But now one of my favourite authors ever writes crap about fan fiction, and I just can't remain quiet.

George R.R. Martin wrote this note

recently on his "Not a blog".

I'm a ficcer, and a comics author, and I encourage fanfictions about my works - I'm not lying, there's an LJ community about it already. Why would I do such a thing? Okay, first because it's very flattering, and I love seeing my characters having a second life under someone else's hands. I don't feel robbed, because I know who my characters are in my head and I know what I'm going to do with them - because what's going on in other people's mind has no impact on me either. I don't care if someone imagines a love story between Baptiste and a chair, if that makes that someone happy. It doesn't mean I will make Baptiste fall in love with a chair in my series.
Second, because I don't pretend to control the impact my work has on other people's mind, and their fantasies about it. Because that's what fan fiction is - fantasies. Just like you can fantasize about a guy or a girl you meet on the street.
I, for one, can't stop imagination. Can you?
George R.R. Martin allows drawings of his characters made by fans - even publishes them on his official site; hell, he even posted a fan video made with different shootings from LOTR and such which is a fake trailer of his series - but he doesn't allow fan fiction? How hypocritical is that? Those drawings and videos are as much viewpoints on his works as fan fiction is. If you ban fan fiction - and let's say that's your right - well you should also ban all forms of fan works about it too, why the exceptions? You allow this stuff only when it's representative of your work, when it suits you? Fuck you. You don't own my mind, and I'm not your artistic monkey.

Also, the main point of fan fiction being - WE DON'T MAKE FUCKING MONEY OUT OF IT.

They're fantasies solidified into words, and that's the only thing that separates them from the usual fantasies, okay?

Third, if you want to talk about money and copyright, let me tell you something interesting about it.

Once I asked about it, as I was having a chat with the president of the french Comickers Association at that time, Cyril Pedrosa. I wanted to copyright the first comics project I had with Nephyla, and asked him how to go about it. He told me that it would simply be a waste of money - anybody could write a story very similar to mine, except that, for example, the main character had blue hair instead of pink, and I couldn't do a fucking thing about it - in a lawsuit, I would most definitely lose. That's how copyright works.
There's a story to illustrate this : once someone wrote a story about a boy with abusive parents who receives a letter inviting him to join a school of wizards. On his way, he meets two friends, a boy and a girl. The girl is super smart and the boy is kind of goofy. And those aren't the only similarities with another story called "Harry Potter".
The guy who wrote that story is named Anthony Horowitz, he's a successful children's books author, and he wrote that long before one J.K. Rowling. Horowitz does fairly well, but he's not a multi-billionnaire - still, he can't do a fucking thing about it. How's that fair? It isn't, but if he tries to sue Rowling about it, he'd lose, and not just because she would have super lawyers. In this case, the only form of trial that would work is the public opinion. And that's that.

Martin claims to know what fan fiction is, but he keeps spewing bullshit like :

One of the things I mislike about fan fiction is its NAME. Truth is, I wrote fan fiction myself. That was how I began, when I was a kid in high school writing for the dittoed comic fanzines of the early 1960s. In those days, however, the term did not mean "fiction set in someone else's universe using someone else's characters." It simply meant "stories written by fans for fans, amateur fiction published in fanzines." Comic fandom was in its infancy then, and most of us who started it were kids... some of whom did make the mistake of publishing amateur fan-written stories about Batman or the Fantastic Four in their 'zines. National (what we called DC back then) and Marvel shut those down pretty quickly.
The rest of us knew better. Including me. I was a fan, an amateur, writing stories out of love just like today's fan fictioneers... but it never dawned on me to write about the JLA or the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man, much as I loved them. I invented my own characters, and wrote about those. Garizan, the Mechanical Warrior. Manta Ray. The White Raider.

That's precisely what fan fiction is NOT, Martin. That's original fiction, amateur fiction, it's not fanfiction, except if you explicitly set your original characters in a DC or Marvel universe. I'm quite certain the term "fan fiction" at your time pretty much meant then what it means today. But, whatever.

And then there's the scary ghost stories, ooh :

Most of us laboring in the genres of science fiction and fantasy (but perhaps not Diana Gabaldon, who comes from outside SF and thus may not be familiar with the case I am about to cite) had a lesson in the dangers of permitting fan fiction a couple of decades back, courtesy of Marion Zimmer Bradley. MZB had been an author who not only allowed fan fiction based on her Darkover series, but actively encouraged it... even read and critiqued the stories of her fans. All was happiness and joy, until one day she encountered in one such fan story an idea similar to one she was using in her current Darkover novel-in-progress. MZB wrote to the fan, explained the situation, even offered a token payment and an acknowledgement in the book. The fan replied that she wanted full co-authorship of said book, and half the money, or she would sue. MZB scrapped the novel instead, rather than risk a lawsuit. She also stopped encouraging and reading fan fiction, and wrote an account of this incident for the SFWA FORUM to warn other writers of the potential pitfalls of same.

That was twenty years ago or thereabouts, but that episode had a profound effect on me and, I suspect, on many other SF and fantasy writers of my generation.

Oh, come on. I think MZB handled that shit pretty badly - first, if you're incapable of drawing the line between fan fiction and what you write, don't fucking read fan fiction. Just do your thing in your room and don't touch that Internets, you could be hurt, okay?
Second, considering copyright law, she could have written her book and nobody could have filed any lawsuit against her. Maybe the public opinion about it would have been bad, but then again, sometimes the public opinion just doesn't give a shit.
Third, if a fan outwrites you, maybe it's time to improve and get more original ideas - or, at any rate, start to ask yourself some questions.

But wait, the real Bullshit train is arriving, with another ghost story :

Okay, it was one incident a long time ago, you may say. Fair enough. Let me bring up a couple other writers, then. Contemporaries of an earlier age, each of whom was known by a set of initials: ERB and HPL. ERB created Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. HPL created Cthulhu and his Mythos. ERB, and later his estate, was extremely protective of his creations. Try to use Tarzan, or even an ape man who was suspiciously similar to Tarzan, without his/ their permission, and their lawyers would famously descend on you like a ton of bricks. HPL was the complete opposite. The Cthulhu Mythos soon turned into one of our genres first shared worlds. HPL encouraged writer friends like Robert Bloch and Clark Ashton Smith to borrow elements from his Cuthulhu Mythos, and to add elements as well, which HPL himself would borrow in turn. And in time, other writers who were NOT friends of HPL also began to write Cthulhu Mythos stories, which continues to this day.

Fair enough. Two writers, two different decisions.

Thing is, ERB died a millionaire many times over, living on a gigantic ranch in a town that was named Tarzana after his creation. HPL lived and died in genteel poverty, and some biographers have suggested that poor diet brought on by poverty may have hastened his death. HPL was a far more beloved figure amongst other writers, but love will only get you so far. Sometimes it's nice to be able to have a steak too. The Burroughs estate was paid handsomely for every Tarzan movie ever made, and collected plenty on the PRINCESS OF MARS movie I worked on during my Hollywood years, and no doubt is still collecting on the one currently in development... though the book is in the public domain by now. Did the Lovecraft estate make a penny off THE DUNWICH HORROR movie, the HERBERT WEST, REANIMATOR movie, the recent DAGON movie, the internet version of CALL OF CTHULHU? I don't know. I rather doubt it. If they did, I'll betcha it was just chump change. Meanwhile, new writers go right on mining the Cthulhu mythos, writing new stories and novels.

Okay, first, I know a thing or two about Tarzan, and I don't know about the effectiveness of Rice Burrough's lawyers, but let me tell you there was a FUCKLOAD of Tarzan look-alikes and apemen that were contemporary to Tarzan himself, and they lived long and prospered, thank you very much, without being bothered by copyright law, precisely because of what I explained earlier in this post about the nature of ideas and copyright. I saw a whole exhibition on Tarzan and his look-alikes recently, I should know.
Second, Lovecraft didn't authorise "fan fiction" so to speak, since the guys who borrowed Chtulhu from him and such were PAID and commercialized that stuff - with Lovecraft's benediction, but that's his problem, isn't it? Also, maybe if Lovecraft didn't make billions of dollars at that time, it's because of other reasons than THE SCARY "FAN FICTION", what the fuck do you know? This is bullshit. It reminds me of japanese ghost stories, that go like "it was a man who lost his ceremonial hat and found it on a dead man's head on a spike, so the man retrieved his hat and put it back on his head and guess what? Five years later, HE WAS DEAD."

But what I'm noticing is, as usual, the main problem Martin seems to have with it is about the money. Fair enough, but do I have to say it again?


That's what fan fiction is. It's free. Like fantasies. Maybe not legal, but we don't rob money out of anybody - not even potential money, on the contrary : potentially, it helps selling your stuff. Stop saying you know what fan fiction is if you keep misusing the term.

Finally, I love that sentence :

Once you open that door, you can't control who might come in.

You know what? The door is open the minute your book is sold and somebody reads it - nobody can actually control who might come in, so SUCK. IT. UP.

I can understand authors who authorize fan fiction - I'm one of them, I'm even one of the authors who encourage them. I can understand authors who don't care about fan fiction and don't want to read it or even hear about it.

What I can't understand is authors who go out of their way to ban fan fiction. That's just plain idiocy to me.

Date: 2010-05-08 04:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think banning fanfiction is also totally stupid in an economic viewpoint. Once a fandom is created it will spawn, how do you think I began readding Harry Potter ? I read the books because I wanted the fics ! How stupid are you to spit on the fans when they are the one who will pay your bills ?

Like you said, the door is already open and all the horses are loose even if you ban fanfiction because fans will always find a way to write fanfiction if they so badly need it (and some time we just do !) and published it on a reclusive part of internet but it will exist and yelling about it is not going to change anything ! I know Lauren K Hamilton has banned fanfic about Anita Blake but fanfiction exists on the internet (rule 34) and one of this days I will read the books anew and write one myself because : hey, I can and the only thing it is ever going to get me is a good tendinitis and bad eyes for passing too much time in front of my computer...

It's worse than taking a copyright on a silver haired elf topless and with incredible muscles.

Date: 2010-05-08 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(Oh and thanks to your post I was able to use my Kurt Brittany icon for the first time so yay !)

Date: 2010-05-09 07:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey ! I just remembered something that makes JRR Martin a total hypocrite. He has signed for an RPG of his work, and what is RPG if not fanfiction, I mean you create your character that will evolve in his world ! Hello, this is fanfiction even if it's not written down (and some players will write it down) !

Date: 2010-07-07 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think I have a new idol here. :3 I completely agree with everything you said, so -thank you- for finally putting it in words.
I -love- fanfiction, it's the only reason I'm not bored out of my mind. I've read all the interesting books I can find at my local library, I kid you not. I just can't get into a lot of movies sometimes, and video games are just so plain frustrating sometimes that I can't enjoy the plot line like it deserves to be enjoyed. The only reason I can play Call of Duty is the fact that one of my favorite authors has a fanfiction series based on it.
Fanfiction is the only reason I bothered to get into Torchwood, Doctor Who, the -ENITRE- Stargate series, Glee, True Blood, The Vampire Chronicles, all the various CSI shows, Highlander, Resident Evil, Supernatural, Primevil, Psych, and I don't even know how many others. Hell, fanfiction can even make me like Twilight, and isn't it sad that the fans of the book could make me like it more than the damn author? Considering Twilight makes me want to set the franchise on fire and use it to burn my eyes out for even reading the books, yeah, that's saying a lot.
Hmm... I think this is getting into 'rant' territory, but yeah, I think I'm going to favorite this page so I can read it when the idiocy of the world gets to be too much and I just need someone to smack me in the face with the facts on how stupid people can be. So thank you, again! You have just made my week. :3

Date: 2010-07-12 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't write masses of fanfiction, but I love reading it. Personally, if I had created a character that other people wanted to use in fanfic, I'd be flattered. Authors will only interpret a character in one way and will often leave certain aspects of their lives un explored. People will always have their own ideas about these characters and as long as they don't try and pass the characters off as their own for money, I really don't see why they have a problem. Seriously, we post it on websites purposely set up for it under a big heading explaining that it's a fictional interpretation of whatever book, film or show etc. We post disclaimers to tell the readers that we're not affiliated in any way, that these characters are not ours and that we'll never sell them, and will (usually) thank the creators for making said show/movie/book and letting us explore their characters in an alternative way. We've gone to that much effort, and are still accused of being evil people who are ruining the name of fanfiction (on said subject, what he describes comes nowhere near my definition of fanfic, that's original fiction) and are out to make said creator penniless by stealing their ideas. If you were to count the number of fanficcers who innocently post to share interpretations and get critiqued on their writing to the number that've tried to make money and ruin the original owner, what do you think you'd find?


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