Fan Fic

It seems the big debate of the moment, and having read GRRM’s post, then Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, I was going to reply to Pat’s post but don’t have a google account… so I might as well say it here!

For the two people who haven’t seen what’s been going on here – George Martin is against fan fiction

And my two cents are:

It’s not a subject I’ve been forced to think about very much, having only seen one bit of fan fic for my books and not being in the top tier of writers who do really need to consider the matter, but as a contracts geek it’s an interesting problem.

 On the Marion Zimmer Bradley example where she ended up scrapping a book, I think she handled it badly by trying to be too nice. Sounds silly I know, but that’s one situation where their agent should be getting involved and advising sensibly. My friend David Devereux said his agent told him right from the start not to read ANYTHING that was unpublished, that going doubly for fan fiction. There’s always the chance of being sued and it’s just not worth the risk of someone claiming you’ve stolen their ideas. If she’d immediately sent her MS to her publisher and their lawyers, it’d be that much harder to prove she rewrote the book in 2 days to include the idea and a similarity isn’t enough for a successful lawsuit, they’d have to prove something far more specific to win a lawsuit (and it’s almost always the publishers and their money that gets sued, not the author).


I’m not sure GRRM is quite correct that allowing any sort of fan fic is the same as agreeing to anything being published. Frankly, if someone’s trying to make money out of your work, lawyers will get involved at some point but that’s life. The jump from permitting others to produce fan fic on a strictly not-for-profit basis to that allowing thieving publishers to sell what they like, is too great in my opinion. How many instances there are of people selling fan fic works I don’t know, but the bigger the author the bigger the lawyers who come with them… Announce an e-book prequel to Harry Potter and just see how fast JKR’s lawyers kick you in the crotch!


But fundamentally I agree with GRRM on the point that the author’s wishes should be adhered to. If they don’t want it produced for one reason or another, that should always be respected whatever the legal situation of fair use. There’s no accounting for the crazy people of the interweb, but you can’t spend your life worrying about the mad few. At the risk of sounding like a complaining old man, my biggest issue with the world we live in is one that’s found fertile ground in the internet – that so many people think they should be allowed to do whatever they like and the world owes them something. I like GRRM’s books, but I don’t think being a fan gives me the right to do anything with them but read and recommend them to others. He doesn’t owe me the new book within two months, I have no right over the characters however much I love them, and being a fan doesn’t mean I have a right to read the books except in ways he’s happy with. The number of people who’re gleeful about pirating movies, books and music sickens me – you delete someone’s pirate music and just watch their indignence.

Ok, no idea how I got onto what’s wrong with kids today… back in my box.

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