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Bratty - quill
Posted on Wednesday 22 May 2013 at 3:19 pm

Amazon To Officially Offer Fanfic eBooks

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So what do all the fandom peoples on the flist think of this development?

For those who haven't seen the news yet, the general idea seems to be...

(1) Amazon will legally sell fanfic based on selected franchises (currently only Alloy Entertainment properties which includes things from Warner Brothers like Gossip Girls, Pretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries).

(2) The fanfic writers can use any aspect of the canon and legally profit from the fic with a few rules (e.g. no porn).

(3) Amazon claims an exclusive contract for the life of the copyright.

(4) Anything in the fic like an interesting plot or an original character that the original property owners see and like, they can take and use without any further compensation to the fic writer.

So... limited way to profit off a limited range of fanfics requiring the signing away of a bunch of rights that one should never sign away on an original property but which one kind of never had before on fanfic so maybe it doesn't matter. For myself, I could never see signing on for this kind of deal as a writer and suspect I'd never pay for it as a reader so my big question is if this means for properties offered through the Amazon program they will start cracking down on "normal" fanfic or not.

For anyone who wants to
Amazon's Announcement
Venture Beat take on it
John Scalzi, outgoing President of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of Amer (major union/guild/organization for professional genre writers), offers his first thoughts on it
MetaFilter (one of my personal favorite places for any internet discussion) discussion thread on it


sunshine304 at 8:50 pm on 22 May 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I ... don't like this. For me, fanfic is all about the creativity and the freedom to do with the canon material whatever I want. It's something that a writer should do for their own enjoyment to start with, just because they want to expand on the original material that they love. And if other people enjoy this work, well awesome.

But as soon as profit comes into this, making money from it.. IDK it gets a bit of a sour taste for me. Also, of course a fanfic writer doesn't have any rights to the material, but we all know this. Fanfic is somewhere in this grey area of copyright, but it's tolerated (or in the cases where authors have forbidden it fans stopped, at least openly).

Especially since it sounds to me like the writer gets very little of the profit and the studio (and Amazon of course) get the bigger part, and then can go and use whatever the fanfic writer came up with without having to compensate in any form, and yeah, I know that it's ultimately the studio's material because they've got the rights, but... they didn't put any work in that particular story. It just feels wrong, because I want to see the people who created something new by using the source material (derivative work, right) to be acknowledged.

Also, I'm a bit afraid of what this will do to other fandoms; how this will affect everyone. Because if there are rules for the writing how far will they go? Will other studios jump on the train, and will they try to influence the free fandom archives?

Obviously someone has noticed that there is a market for additional stories in their canon and there are a few studios who actually went and paid people to write more for the universe they created (the novel for POTC comes to mind).

But like this I'm not really comfortable with the consequences this could have.
bratty_jedi at 11:44 pm on 22 May 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Also, I'm a bit afraid of what this will do to other fandoms; how this will affect everyone. Because if there are rules for the writing how far will they go? Will other studios jump on the train, and will they try to influence the free fandom archives?

Yep. This kind of trickle down thing is the primary concern I have about all this. Similarly, once they start getting people to agree to contracts like this (basically signing over all rights for the term of the copyright in exchange for an OK royalty share but not enough to give up all that control), will they start trying to get naive newcomers writing original stuff to agree to similar terms? Basically, there isn't a whole lot about the specifics now that really concerns or interests me, but I can see huge potential for problems later.
dineru at 3:11 am on 23 May 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I'm extreeemely skeptical. On one hand, professional tie-in novels etc. already exist and maybe that's what Amazon wants to do. If that's so, then good for whoever makes some money out of it, I don't care too much. If they try to crack down on free fic, that's a completely different and unfortunate issue - my hope is that they'll quickly realize that the internet is too difficult to control to that extent.

I think Cleolinda offers a reasonable take on it here.
bratty_jedi at 10:40 am on 23 May 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Sounds about like my thoughts. Some individuals may find a way to make some money and some individuals may be willing to pay. I don't see myself or the majority of existing fandom peoples getting to into this, but the majority of people who watch shows aren't really hardcore fandom peoples anyway so those of us who are might not be the true audience here. The only question for me is how much will they try to change the existing rules of fanfic outside Amazon's little program (if at all) and how successful they end up being if they do try.
dineru at 3:42 am on 24 May 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it seems like fandom as we know it will probably ignore Amazon, and if it catches on it'll be with a different crowd. I guess we'll find out!
What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 11:24 am on 23 May 2013 (UTC) (Link)
If the Supreme Court can't define porn beyond "I know it when I see it", then how can Amazon? I'm kind of LOLing at that one, and I think this is going to be a gigantic flop. The average Amazon consumer doesn't go looking for fanfic!
bratty_jedi at 2:02 pm on 23 May 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I can't really figure out the audience for this. There is a market for officially licensed stories (see all the Star Wars novels for Exhibit A), but this seems like it will be some weird thing half-way between official tie-in works and fanfic. I don't see how, for a reader, it offers anything not better obtained from one of the other two. Of course, just because I can't imagine the audience doesn't mean there won't be one.

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