[personal profile] snarp
Maybe it's all a trick.

When people are talking about The Problem of Fanfic - and I would argue that there really isn't one? Unless we want to bestow the term upon Cassandra Clare, sort of as a courtesy title - but when people are talking about it as if it does exist, someone usually brings up a story wherein Marion Zimmer Bradley (allegedly) had to scrap a Darkover book she was working on, because she read a fanfic that used the same idea, and there was some concern the fan would have legal grounds for suing her for plagiarism if she published it. Obviously this breaks all our hearts because the book was about Regis Hastur, and presumably also Danilo, being angsty together. (Except apparently it wasn't really exactly like that - both Mercedes Lackey's version and the fanfic author Jean Lamb's version of the story differ from the memetic one.) I've heard a similar story about Terry Pratchett and a lost Discworld book, though I can't find any links to it now.

My question is: Even given the currently nebulous state of fanfic-related case-law in the US, would it be possible to draft some sort of license applying to this situation? The problem of writers who might want to be able to read fanfic of their stuff but are worried about the legalities, I mean. I'm thinking something in the front of the book that says, "You may write fanfic about this work, but by doing so you agree that if I read it and want to cut and paste some of it into a book later THEN I TOTALLY CAN."

I don't think many people on either side of the aisle would like that! That means it is a good compromise, and I look forward to the dystopian intellectual property future which it will produce. I will stand above the smoking ruins of the internet and cackle; someone will have run a sword through Cory Doctorow, for some reason I haven't come up with yet.

But I'm just wondering if it's even legally feasible to word that sentiment. I mean, there have been challenges to the legality of the insane agreements you have to click through to use your copy of iTunes and such, and if I understand correctly those challenges are because all the power is on Apple or whoever's side. This would seem like the same thing!

Anyway, when I am an awesome best-selling writer who everybody loves, I think I want to have some sort of license saying, "You can write fanfic and make fanart and even sell it in small zines if you want, as long as such sales (of my work and other persons' using the same or a similar license) do not make up more than $x000 a year or x% of your income. I agree not to steal shit wholesale from you and put it in my books, but in return you agree not to sue me if I make Spoonbeam and Deathle make out and you think it's totally just like your story. If I ever bitch about your charity auction, you are allowed to hit me with one of those big foam stick things in public. You can call my publisher to make arrangements. Or call Diana Gabaldon's publisher. Just to see what happens."

The stuff in parentheses is there because, if such licenses ever became commonplace, somebody would start buying up the rights to confused people's fanart cheap and putting it on t-shirts and stuff, being careful to limit how much s/he was making off fanart of any one particular artist to keep his/her income under the limits.


Discussion Question: If I cover an officially licensed Frostmourne replica with sequins, call it Sparklemourne, and declare myself to be possessed by the spirit of the Lich King Edward Cullen, does the sword itself become an act of fanfic? Or is it merely the weapon I used in the act of fanfic which I have commited verbally? Will that change if I draw a little three-panel comic on the blade illustrating the process by which I became possessed by Edward Cullen? What if there's neither a little comic nor sparkles, but I've printed up a small chapbook explaining my ideas?

In any of those three situations, is it now illegal for me to resell Sparklemourne? I mean, it's a derivative work now, right? Does the adherence of an unapproved narrative to an item render it contraband?

Can I still resell my copy of Dragonflight if I wrote on page 96, "F'lar and F'nor are totally doing it?"

Date: 2010-05-12 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mikkeneko.livejournal.com
If I cover an officially licensed Frostmourne replica with sequins, call it Sparklemourne, and declare myself to be possessed by the spirit of the Lich King Edward Cullen

I don't know, but I think you should find out.

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