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The Ethics of Fanfiction

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Arthellion, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    If you can get people to show up to a website where you have ads to read your fanfic I guess that side steps some of the issues? I dunno though. The whole thing is a grey area and I'm not sure which shade this is. I think it's better than outright asking to be paid, though.

    Never thought about it, since it's so rare to see anyone read fanfic on sites that aren't designed for it (ffnet, ao3, sb, etc). You'd have trouble making that a reality, unless you wrote a super popular fic and then stopped updating it everywhere except your own site.
     
  2. VanRopen

    VanRopen Death Eater

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    Strangely enough, I find that the Patreon work around does push things into the clear for me despite it clearly being a hack.

    If the content is ultimately offered up as free, but then people want to pay something for it anyways, I guess I just...don’t mind? It’s enthusiasm. There’s an element of profiting off the enthusiasm originally generated by the IP creator, but it doesn’t diminish that enthusiasm which is still there for the creator to take advantage of - if anything, larger fanwork environments enhance it.

    I find the begging can be quite gauche, but it’s really only attempts at “patreon exclusive content” or whatever that I find outright objectionable.
     
  3. Agent

    Agent Professor DLP Supporter

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    Yeah, the ideal way would be for FFnet and AO3 to start doing ads. But with nearly two decades of no adverts, the userbase would probably rebel. Plus, there's no guarantee that the website would split the profits with the writers.
     
  4. Ankan

    Ankan Groundskeeper

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    Doesn't FFnet have a shitton of ads?
     
  5. Agent

    Agent Professor DLP Supporter

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    I think it's only on the mobile website. I've never seen anything on the desktop or the app.
     
  6. Zombie

    Zombie Lo-fi Snake Jazz Moderator DLP Supporter

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    There are mobile and desktop ads if you don't have an adblocker installed, yes. I'm not sure about the app since I always just download as epub and read elsewhere.

    Ads are what keeps FFN running, the authors shouldn't get money from the content they produce there. If they want to develop their fan base into something of a following for their actual works, more power to them. I've seen that go either way. Positive for Joe, negative for Jbern.

    People that hold storys ransom or gateway updates through patreon are bullshit artist and the money they make off that gives them the wrong opinion of a) worth of what they're producing and b) talent. People spend money on dumbshit. If you put your price low enough, you can get a lot of dumb shit purchases for no reason, and therefore make a decent chunk of change.

    Patreon posting isn't as prevalent in the FF world that I'm aware of. I've seen it more in the web-serial fanfic world more commonly and its for people that want to "donate to people so they can keep writing, not the content they're producing." The best example for this would be the dude that writes A Bad Name, a fanfic of the webserial Worm.

    I'd say is all pretty grey and ill defined but if we started defining it, then a lot of content would and could be pulled just because they're misinterpreting the premise of fanficiton. You take a world you love and you write stories set with in it, not for monetary gain. Fanfiction predates the internet, FFN and Ao3 have just made it easier to consume.

    DLP in general has always wrote fanfic in an effort to become better writers because many of us here want to publish and go public with their works. They use FF as a framework as a way to develop their talent.

    Whether that translate to actual authorial talent is debatable. There are many FF authors that go big and never really make it in the real world.

    In all honestly, I think Joe is the biggest success story that I'm aware of. I know a lot of other people have done it, but they're not in fandoms that I follow.
     
  7. cucio

    cucio DA Member

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    Didn't "50 Shades of Grey" start as a "Twilight" fanfic? It doesn't get any bigger than that.

    Unless you broaden the definition and consider "Star Wars" started as a crossover fanfic of "The Hidden Fortress" and "Flash Gordon", which you could make a case for, and it would take us back to the murky distinctions between creation, influence, tribute, collective unconscious... Some of those lawsuits about plagiarism you read about in the news render rather shocking results.

    Since we have @Joe in the discussion, I wonder what would he feel if someone started to earn cash out of fanfic of one of his published works. I guess if you are small fish it may feel flattering. But if you are wildly popular and hear there is some guy out there making a few grand out of fan-servicing slash fics of your characters, maybe it starts to irk a bit. And if you read the reviews and someone is saying "Dude, that's loads better than canon, you write better Joe than Joe!"... heh.
     
  8. Zombie

    Zombie Lo-fi Snake Jazz Moderator DLP Supporter

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    You missed the part where I said of fandoms that I read and follow. I give zero fucks about Twilight.
     
  9. cucio

    cucio DA Member

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    I haven't read either of those, either. (Caught pieces of the first Twilight movie in the TV, if I am being honest, so I guess that sullies my honor enough.)

    But somehow that bit of trivia made it my way. Probably via some fanfic forum or another, it is widely talked about among aspiring writers in fanfic circles.
     
  10. Heleor

    Heleor EsperJones

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    For those who dislike Patreon for fics - what do you feel about commissioning writers to write for you? Does it make a difference whether you ask them to write something original versus fanfiction? Is it different based on whether you give them a specific outline versus a general idea? What if you just pay them for their time to write whatever?

    (I haven't made up my mind yet - personally I think patreon specifically for fanfic feels a bit scummy. But I have no issue supporting authors who I know primarily write fanfic. This is weird.)
     
  11. thattin

    thattin Second Year

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    Isn't FFN having ads even more questionable than a fanfic author making money off it? I'm pretty sure FFN must make money or it wouldn't still be a thing. Is it really better for the company to make money from hosting fanfics as opposed to author's for writing them?
     
  12. Zombie

    Zombie Lo-fi Snake Jazz Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I have no opinion either way. Obviously whatever ad service they're using allows them to do it. So its not against their guidelines. Wether its ethical for them to serv ads on a fanfiction site isn't easy to determine. I look at it from a perspective of a site host trying to make ends meet on something they make no other profit on other than ads. I've never seen them take donations and largely unknown on any other income streams (I doubt there are any).

    Taking money for writing the fanfic is entirely different and something I can easily form an opinion on. You're using someone else creative work to make money on. You've done none of the heavy lifting, you've done none of the world building, or the plot development or anything other than take a pre-existing world and use context to inform your reads of whats going on instead of really laying it out there and developing something new.

    I feel like making money off that infringes on the author. I could care less if the ads on a site are used to pay for the hosting of said site, the writers are not getting any revenue from the traffic other than their patreons and other money making services (which FFN tries in large part to block by not allowing external linking) We all enjoy the content, hence the grey area and my lack of opinion.
     
  13. Heleor

    Heleor EsperJones

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    I'd much rather the writers get paid than a third-party hosting site, though.
     
  14. VanRopen

    VanRopen Death Eater

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    What about fan art? I haven’t really seen a lot of commissioned fic (outside of porn), but fan art commissions I’ve seen plenty of.

    Does it change when you’re paying for drawing ability? That’s certainly a demonstrable technical skill, and something beyond the original work - and yet the artist probably wouldn’t have that business if they weren’t for the original IP, since people are often commissioning for a fandom.
     
  15. Hymnsicality

    Hymnsicality Seventh Year

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    I think I agree emotionally with this sentiment but logistically there are a few things to nitpick.

    Firstly in terms of legality and copyright infringement, if the work has entered public domain, would writing fanfiction about it still be morally wrong? It's no longer in any way illegal, intuitively I'd argue that it wouldn't. It might be lazy storytelling, but it strips it of the issue of morality. If that's the case then it enters the weird ongoing debate about how long copyright should last for.

    On the other if it's just about the rights of the author, what happens when they die? Does an author's right to their character's and worlds transcend their mortality? And then there's this weird conflation in my mind with copyright and an author's lifespan. It feels like the intuition should be that a copyright should last until the original creator expires and then everyone gets free reign of the sandbox, but then there are large corporations and author estates that logically wouldn't want that to happen.

    All that this is resulting in is a system where media controlled by those with money may never legally permit fanfiction long after issues of morality are resolved. The current system of the life of the author + 70 years + extensions just seems rather excessive.
     
  16. thattin

    thattin Second Year

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    So if a fanfic author started his own site with ads just to host fanfiction that started making him money would that be morally acceptable? If not, I don't see how that gets any better if he somehow convinces hundreds of his friends to then use that website, which is pretty much what FFN does.
     
  17. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    If the measure is Twilight-levels of success then those aspiring writers are missing the point. The success of Twilight is not something that can be replicated. Those writers should focus on telling good stories and hitting achievable targets/measures of success. Sure, one of them may be the next big thing, but you're playing with lottery odds at that point. More hope than action.

    Feel free to paddle in my (admittedly small) pond, but don't piss in it.

    I would have no objection, and would be quite the hypocrite, if an author wrote fanfic of my stories and used those fanfics to filter readers toward their original work. That should be encouraged, even, up to and including the point of monetizing the original work.

    We need a flowchart for this stuff - I'm going to work on a flowchart.

    And at a certain point, reading reviews is just punching yourself in the dick. I try not to these days, save for the feedback of trusted readers and on forums such as this one.
     
  18. CleanRag

    CleanRag Professor

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    Has anyone ever seen a patreon user shut down by the original creator? The authors and publishers can't be completely ignorant of this. Most patreons I've glanced at seem to be making pissant amounts of money. I'm guessing that anyone who wants to pursue legal action ends up in a long talk with their publishers about the negative PR from going after fans. The chance of it going badly just isn't worth stopping someone from making $500 a year. Especially when that money comes from die-hard fans of your work.
     
  19. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    We’re discussing the ethics of it, not the ease of doing it or the lack of effort to stop it.
     
  20. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Fanfiction should always be free (as in, the author shouldn't charge or hold the story hostage in exchange for donations), and I can see the argument for people feeling ethically compromised should they take money for fanfiction.

    However, we tip street performers who cover songs that exist as someone's intellectual property, we tip people who stream video gaming online...

    Where's the line?
     
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