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The Ethics of Fanfiction

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

  1. gamarad

    gamarad Fourth Year

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    I feel like the morality section of the Wikipedia article on Intellectual Property is pertinent to this discussion:


    I find myself most in alignment with the Utilitarian position, so given that an author has had enough time to profit off their work to incentivize future artistic endeavors, I don't see much of a problem with someone profiting off of a derivative work. That being said, I am somewhat sympathetic to the Lockean and Personality viewpoints.
     
  2. cucio

    cucio DA Member

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    On the other hand, venues and events where copyrighted music is played or covered are regularly policed by copyright collectives, so I guess that's where you draw the line: where the law allows you to make a profit by policing the rights it grants you.

    Together with some sensible, easy methods to share revenue between authors and interpreters (marketplaces where you can easily purchase licenses and pay royalties, like the Harry Fox Agency) the music industry has, more or less, built a stable system to reward creators for allowing their works to be used.

    In this great scheme, street performers are peanuts and fall through the cracks. Simply not worth pursuing.

    The question is, then, whether the revenue generated by fanfiction is enough to justify the creation of a complex infrastructure to police and collect royalties. Probably not, if it is not already in place.

    Ethic issues are always going to be muddled in the creative world. A lot of Disney's so-called IP is based on folklore, in some cases compiled by people like the Grimm bros or H.C. Andersen. Do they have a moral right to hoard it as jealously as they do, or it is just a matter of having the financial muscle to do so?
     
  3. Chengar Qordath

    Chengar Qordath The Final Pony ~ Prestige ~

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    My personal opinion is that as long as the new creator is adding something of substantive original value to the work, it's not wrong to give them something for their work. Sure, it's not a wholly original creation, but a good artist or writer is still putting in a lot of their own creative effort even if the work is ultimately based on someone else's IP.

    Yeah, a big part of why I'm fine with operating in some legal grey areas when it comes to fan fiction is because I don't consider the current state of copyright law to be all that morally sound. It's far more about serving the interests of IP-hoarding corporations than authors or creators. It'll be interesting to see if we get another big fight over copyright extension soon, since 2019 was the first year in decades where anything actually entered the public domain. With no extension, Mickey goes into public domain in 2024.
     
  4. Agent

    Agent Professor DLP Supporter

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    I think the line is when your own writing results in a reader not buying the original works. In YouTube, while a YouTuber can do a Let's Play video with no issues, if someone were to do a "React" video to a whole episode or TV Show then the viewer may not feel a need to watch the original media. I think that's because a game is for the actual experience of playing while a movie/show is for the experience of watching.

    I think the equivalent in Fanfiction is "Characters reading the books". Or possibly canon rehashes that only change one or two details (Mainly just who Harry gets paired up with).
     
  5. Chengar Qordath

    Chengar Qordath The Final Pony ~ Prestige ~

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    I do feel like the amount of creative input from the fanfic author is a big part of how defensible it is as an artistic product with merit beyond what came from the original IP. "Canon retread, except with my ship" is much less creative than an original story that only uses elements of the setting and characters as a building block/common starting point.
     
  6. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I want to bump this thread now that everyone has had time to let the ideas roll around in their heads.

    I want to turn the question slightly on it's head. Rather than ask "is it ethical to get paid for fanfiction?" I want to ask the following:

    If you were determined to offer your readers an option to give you money, how would you do it and still stick to your morals? (Or could you?)

    The consensus in this thread leaned towards 'getting paid for fanfiction is a grey area but it feels wrong' IIRC. We had some people who approved of getting paid for it, especially in cases where it's mostly original content with familiar characters. We had some who were so against it that they refused to read those works.

    We had some options that fit into a grey area, such as:
    • Publish your fanfic first on a site that has ads, so you get revenue from there before posting it to ffnet.
    • Ask for donations (Paypal? Something else?) as opposed to using Patreon, which has a more 'clear cut' pay-for-content structure.
    • Use Patreon but don't provide ANY benefit for patrons, so they aren't paying for anything additional.
    • ???
    I'm still in a very grey area here. I still think that morally my mind wants to side with 'don't ask for cash for fanfiction' for the reasons I've given in past posts - but the more I've been thinking on it the more I realize that may be a naive view. Curious where this new version of the question might lead.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
  7. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    If I were determined to do it, as Ched puts the question, I'd first tell the readers I'll be switching to original fiction, then purge all my fanfic, then start writing OF, then set up a Patreon.

    But really, I stand by what I said before, I want money nowhere near fanfiction. Ideally, I'd publish original fiction and get paid for sales of that.
     
  8. kinetique

    kinetique Auror

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    I have zero problems with people making money off of fanfiction, and while I find most people begging for money on patreon fairly pathetic, I don't even care about that so much. Most fanfiction has characters and setting in name only anyway.

    A question to the people do have issues with people making money off of fanfiction, how do you feel about websites making money off of it?
     
  9. Zilly Sawdust

    Zilly Sawdust Professor

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    re: is it ethical to get paid for fan-fiction

    That is a very interesting question. It seems to fall right into the modern trap of "intellectual property", which I do not entirely support. The whole notion of "I was the first to think this and therefore have sole rights to manufacture profit from it" seems absurd to me. If your thoughts and ideas are easily reproducible by other people, then they don't deserve that much legal protection, IMO. But that is another discussion. As regards to written work it applies differently, because obviously anyone can just copy a text without any individual input.

    The question then becomes, how much creative transformation should there be in a work for it to become legally okay to profit from it?
    Twilight vs. Shades of Grey is a direct example of this, as Shades falls within the same genre of "hidden worlds" and uses the same archetypes for it's main characters for it's dysfunctional romances. However they are both distinct from each-other and no-one who is not familiar with Shades' origin would be able to tell that it is a fan-fiction of Twilight. In that case, where is the line between "fan-fiction" and "inspired by"?

    On the other hand, it is up to the fan-author to determine how comfortable they are with profiting from their beloved works' derivatives. Perhaps they love the work, but don't particularly like the author and have no compunctions about it. Perhaps they feel that their audience is there for their ideas, as expressed through familiar settings and characters, rather than any themes the original author inserted into the world. Those are both rather good reasons for somebody to accept payment in order to continue spending time writing, IMO.

    I haven't been following this thread, but I wonder what those people who think it is not okay to benefit from fanfiction have to say about people doing fan drawings for commissions? It seems to be a comparable scenario, but re-frames it in a way that seems to be more acceptable in the general world of fan-art.
     
  10. ReadingGoodStuff

    ReadingGoodStuff Squib

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    I don't think there's any major ethical dilemma unless you're pulling a Cassandra Clare.
     
  11. Zombie

    Zombie Lo-fi Snake Jazz Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Can't just throw shade and not explain for those that aren't up on who the fuck that is.
     
  12. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Cassandra Claire got famous in the Three Year Summer on the heels of her Draco Trilogy. You can still probably find fileshares of it online. She often incorporated quotes and ideas from better works of fiction into her own and all was good, but there was a stinky scandal when it was found out that she also plagiarized the published works of Pamela Dean (specifically the book The Hidden Land) without crediting those, instead presenting Dean's ideas as completely her own. Cassandra left the world of fanfiction behind and did a Joe (used her fanfic to write her original novels). Her original fiction was published as The Mortal Instruments series, which had a film adaptation in 2013 and a tv series more recently. She also changed her pen name from Claire to Clare.

    Her name should rightly leave a bad aftertaste if for no other reason than the plagiarism.
     
  13. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I remember reading those back in the day and hearing about the blow up. I remember reading a blow by blow back in the day of the plagiarism instances.

    But didn’t Pamela Dean, while initially responding against Claire, come out and say that she didn’t feel her books were plagiarized? I might remember that wrong.

    The issue there was plagiarism though. I don’t recall her getting paid for writing fanfic.
     
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