Fanfiction: oh, such a hot topic among many fans as well as authors.
I'll admit right up front, I don't get a lot of queries about fanfiction and my stand on it. I like to think it's because I don't leave a whole lot of loose ends, but knowing how long it takes me to get a new book out, I think I might simply be dislocating my arm without substantiation. (Patting myself on the back, for those as confused as I was when I reread that sentence.) For all I know, there's a ton of fanfic out there posted blithely by authors who simply never asked me if I minded.
Do I mind? In a word. Yes. And No. (How 'bout that for waffling? )
Do I mind people posting stories based on my work without asking me? H#$l, yes. I have a copyright on these stories that can be fundamentally jeopardized by a blanket OK on flagrant copyright violation...and fanfiction is flagrant copyright violation, no matter how sterling the intentions of the lovely people posting it. If only all fanfiction writers were as sensible and kind as the majority, this kind of qualified statement would not be necessary. However, my income depends on my protection of my copyrights and my twenty pounds of black cat depends on my writing to buy him his Smoochies and Cluckers.
Trust me: A hungry Efanor is not a pretty sight!
On the other hand, writing fiction has brought unparalleled joy to me and if my work inspires other people to practice the art or even to work out personal issues in the comfortable milieu of a known world and characters...have I any right to complain?
Right, yes. Morally and legally. Desire...again, h#$l no.
I've spent a lot of time and effort over the years trying to reconcile these diametrically opposed issues. I've attended panels, I've asked the writers why they write fanfic and what they hope to get out of it, I've put my name on the line on fanfic sites, trying to find a sane and fair answer...
And then, wonder of wonders, I was struck. Hard. I hit a story/situation I absolute had to resolve in my own head in order to get some sleep. I wrote it out. And then another story happened and another.
Now, as we used to say in the sixties: I Grok...
...and I think I've finally come to a satisfactory stand that's both fair and will protect my copyrights. (The following is subject to change as I receive new input.)
A) I categorically deny the right of anyone to publish a work based on any aspect of my original work (fanfiction) in any format where money exchanges hands for any reason. This denial includes but is not limited to the following formats:
B) I will allow the freely available distribution of stories (primarily internet posting) provided they include, within the standard disclaimer at the beginning of every posted segment of every story the following information:
Any work not adhering to the above rules will be considered in violation of my copyrights. I would very much appreciate it if anyone sees such a posting, that they contact the author of the fanfiction and direct their attention to this page. My goal is not to prevent fans from enjoying the comraderie of sharing their work but to protect myself and my copyrights.
(1) The inclusion of "thinkaboutit" in the disclaimer implies the author of the fanfiction has accepted the following conditions:
My feeling is, if I can trust you, the fanfiction author, with my characters and worlds, you can trust me not to use an idea that isn't mine.
Finally, I don't want to know the details of posting. I don't want you to send me copies. I don't want to see what you've written. Not because I'm not interested, not because I don't wish you well, but because the copyright laws are such that these are safety measures I simply must take, if I'm going to allow the distribution of fanfiction.
I'd dearly love to get feedback on this from those of you who write fanfiction, whether of my work or others'. email@example.com
This policy is open to revision without notice!