Fan-works & Copyright

ariestess: All right, so we’re now here to talk about Fanworks and Copyright.  Our panelist today is docwho2100

ariestess: And I’m your hostest, hopefully with the mostest.  You can take your pick of names for me: AJ, ariestess, A. Magiluna Stormwriter.  I answer to them all.

docwho2100: Hello everyone, I am not a lawyer or a politician, but I am a high school and community college teacher, so my copyright background is more in that area and also I am very interested in the concept of copyleft

ariestess: Copyleft?

docwho2100: I figured start with if there are any questions and then from there I have some resources and things I can share if interested

ariestess: Now you’re giving me something I don’t know.

docwho2100: good

docwho2100: Copyleft is the concept of creating something within copyright law, but so that it is free to be used by others, within certain limits

ariestess: Okay, so let me start with a question based off of our panel synopsis.  What kind of disclaimers/copyright info should we be listing for fics?

ariestess: Oh neat!

docwho2100: here is a very interesting link touching on disclaimers

docwho2100: realistically, disclaimers are, well, not really any legal footing at all


docwho2100: but, they do maintain a place in the copyleft world : )

docwho2100: also

ariestess: *nods* I’ve gotten hassled for having a rather detailed disclaimer, so I’m always curious.

docwho2100: when you say fics, are you talking original

ariestess: Original or fanfic.

docwho2100: or a derivative work

docwho2100: which is what fanfic falls into

docwho2100: original work, the “disclaimer” technically can serve as your copyright, because for original work, once you put it in a fixed format, it is copyrighted

ariestess: Honestly, both.  My original fic disclaimers are much shorter than those for my derivative works.

docwho2100: Unless an author/creator had granted rights to create a derative work, technically the disclaimer is just there to make people feel better and to show intent


docwho2100: I still put disclaimers on my fanfic

docwho2100: and in today’s world, copyright and how creators interact with people who create fanfic is changing

docwho2100: A great example of this and of copyleft is the Creative Commons

ariestess: *nods*  Now that I think about it, I’ve been putting a Creative Commons thing on my original work.

docwho2100: oh Qh wanted me to mention (and she is very sorry for not being able to be in two places at once) that all of these links will be available at a later date collected in one place

docwho2100: I love creative commons, but then that is because of my mindset

docwho2100: Creative commons allows for A LOT of variation

docwho2100: it does not just mean you give out your work for free

ariestess: Now, does anyone have any questions about this stuff, or comments on how they use disclaimers and copyright?

ariestess: Right. I actually like the Creative Commons stuff, just need to use it more.  And not sure if I can use it on the actual fanfic.

shaych03: what about for artwork?

docwho2100: technically on the fanfic, no

docwho2100: artwork – well are you using your own creation or altering other images?

ariestess: That’s actually what I thought re: fanfic.

docwho2100: I take that back Ari – if the original creator granted derivative rights then yes you can

shaych03: altering images, mostly for me – but i see a lot of portrait artists and cartoonists and all out there.  what kind of gray area are they dipping into?

docwho2100: images – Qh asked me to share this resource as a great example for image licenses –

docwho2100: Lots of grey


docwho2100: copyright is more grey than anything else, especially these days

docwho2100: I believe Andy Warhol liked to push the boundaries of image alteration

docwho2100: how much can you change and claim it is an original piece

ariestess: Michelle_2011 has the first question.

michelle_2011: what should you include in a disclaimer for your fan fic?

docwho2100: Well, there is no legal guidelines for disclaimers, but in terms of etiquette and such, it does vary

ariestess: Doc, would you like me to c/p one of mine to dissect?

docwho2100: I also include a nod to the original work, thank the original creator and similar

docwho2100: That would be awesome

ariestess: Give me a sec.

docwho2100: there are some great ones at that link I shared earlier as well

ariestess: This is my OUaT disclaimer,

ariestess: “Once Upon a Tme,” the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Kitsis/Horowitz, and ABC Studios. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with “Once Upon a Time,” ABC, or any representatives of the actors.

ariestess: There are variations on this theme for all the fandoms.

docwho2100: I think that hits on all the vital pieces, it also highlights a big area in fanfic that is like a secondary tier of copyright – when a fanfic author creates a new character and then other fanfic authors incorporate that character into their fics

docwho2100: it is always interesting to see someone do something to a fanfic’s character and that author gets upset…

docwho2100: But I think that disclaimer catches the big pieces a fanfic author can nod to

docwho2100: some people have the disclaimer, “I own nothing, I profit nothing, enjoy”


ariestess: I have an additional bit that I’ve used for OCs I add in, but haven’t used that in this particular fandom yet.

docwho2100: Which leads me to a question I would like to ask the audience – recently I have seen a lot of fanfic writers and graphic creators offer to write a story or create a graph and in turn people donate money to a cause

ariestess: The charity auctions, you mean?

docwho2100: yes

ariestess: I have… mixed feelings on those.

docwho2100: do you think these should be covered under the same extensions as just writing a fnafic?

shaych03: i pretty much some variation on “not mine, no money involved, enjoy” when writing fanfic

docwho2100: (I like to stir the pot when it comes to copyright)

ariestess: I am an old school fandom girl, so I automatically balk at the thought of money exchanging hands for fic.  And this is coming from someone who bought a fanzine or two in her fannish young 25ish years ago.

docwho2100: I use to buy the doctor who fan magazines as well

Gin Akasarahsmom: I bought a fanzine or two in my day…

ariestess: Mine were TNG and one Star Wars one that I had stuff published in.

Xenavirgin: Finally my interwebs is back up. Oy.  Hi kids

Gin Akasarahsmom: they were cheap though… enough to pay for the printing…

docwho2100: cools shay – would you have an issue if someone took one of your images, altered it and then released it out there?

ariestess: Exactly.,

e_m_praetorian: involving money even for charity speaks to original ownership approval

docwho2100: the idea behind many of those is, no one is profiting, it was just to cover costs

Gin Akasarahsmom: right

docwho2100: and that is the huge grey area I see developing today with derivative works

ariestess: And fanzines were much bigger before the internet came along.

shaych03: i think if they altered it more than just recropping it and slapping their name on it, yeah, that would be fine.  it’s about derivation, right?  taking something and making origami out of it?

ariestess: Which is where a lot of my hesitance on money exchanging hands re: fanfic now, even in cases of charity auctions.  If I offer fic, it’s original fic only.

docwho2100: to me it is shay

docwho2100: Which brings up another question I wanted to ask the room – what do you think of what Amazon is doing with its FanFiction program

grumpybear1031: I’ve had someone take an HG/Myka wall I did and make a firefox theme out of it with no changes or alterations and no way to make any claims about it.

shaych03: so if someone took an image of mine, and made something – not just resized it, say – then i’d be okay with that – though my ego wouldn’t mind a little stroking in the form of a credit for sources

grumpybear1031: and offer it on firefox

ariestess: I actually am seeing HUGE red flags re: the Amazon thing.

the_dhamphir: my gut says it’s a bad idea, doc. but only time will tell.

Gin Akasarahsmom: not sure how the program works… on Amazon… I’m not sure I like it all that much though.

ariestess: The clause that states the original media owners can turn your ideas into canon without crediting or paying you is where I balk at teh Amazon thing.

docwho2100: I think copyright serves two big purposes – monetary and ego/credit   and many in today’s world prefer the credit

the_dhamphir: I certainly won’t be participating

docwho2100: that is what the Creative Commons and Copyleft is about

ariestess: All right, Alkmaion, what’s your question?

Gin Akasarahsmom: it seems to just be money grubbing on Amazon’s part… they’ve see how widespread fanfic is and THEY want to profit off of it…

Xenavirgin: Not gonna touch the amazons thing with a ten foot pole

grumpybear1031: my problem is no credit more than anything

docwho2100: and for those not sure about the Amazon thing – here is a link

ariestess: It’s not just Amazon profiting though.

docwho2100: I think, Gin and others, they saw 50 Shades and said, hmmm, let’s catch that before it goes big

Alkmaion: ariestess, are you talking about such fanfic charity auctions as happened for Haiti a while back?

docwho2100: The authors do profit, in some cases more than in other publishing deals

ariestess: @Alk: Yes, that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. I love the concept of the charity auction, I just have serious issues with fanfic being offered where money’s involved, even for charity.

Gin Akasarahsmom: but Amazon does too…

Gin Akasarahsmom: for basically doing nothing

ariestess: Like I said, it’s an OOOOOOLD ingrained fandom rule that I can’t shake.

docwho2100: I personally agree Ari, plus I take it a step further, what if that original work Author had an issue with the charity at hand? Now his/her name is attached, whether they like it or not

shaych03: i get a twitch about money and fanfic, too, aj, but i’m okay with the idea of charity, because there’s no profit involved for the writer

the_dhamphir: I don’t have a problem with the charity fic auctions

ariestess: Exactly, Doc!  I the author in question doesn’t like a given charity, that can cause issues, too.

e_m_praetorian: still murky waters w/out origin consent

ariestess: I know that it’s probably a drop in the bucket situation for a lot of people, the orginal creators included, but still…

Xenavirgin: Charity fic auctions are a different kettle of fish because quite frankly people donate anyway and the fics are just an extra special thing.

the_dhamphir: exactly, XV

Alkmaion: ah, thanks. then i read you correctly

docwho2100: As to Amazon, I like the concept, it is a HUGE step in bringing creators into allowing derivative works, but the rights issue still needs work

Gin Akasarahsmom: the two charity things I’ve been involved with were okay for me because the person who ‘won’ my stories would have donated that amount to that charity anyway… even if I hadn’t written the story… I wrote the story as a ‘thank you’ for the donation because at that time I couldn’t actually donate money myself.

the_dhamphir: the fics are just a reward from one person to another for doing a good deed

ariestess: @XV: This is true.  But like I said, it’s a very old, very ingrained rule that I was “raised” in fandom with.

the_dhamphir: and the auctions i’ve been involved with the stories were private anyway, only posted if the recipient wanted them posted.

docwho2100: And some creators are really coming to accept fanfiction more and more – also there is the idea of Shared Story Worlds, where people intentionally allow thier ideas to be played with and even profited, by others

Alkmaion: @Gin: at the core, this makes money…at least someone could see it like that…

ariestess: @D: Okay, that’s a little different.

grumpybear1031: I’ve done artwork for them as well.  Sets of walls and icobs

grumpybear1031: icons

ariestess: @grumpy: Is it wrong that I like icobs better? *cheeky grin*

the_dhamphir: i’ve donated and gotten icons, and stories before


grumpybear1031: lol

docwho2100: It is a touchy place, because some authors will see this and say, ok, if people are paying money for my stuff, I want some

grumpybear1031: I can’t type.  I wish my broke ass could make some money on icons

Gin Akasarahsmom: @alkmaion – it doesn’t.. that’s what I’m saying.. the money donated would be the same, stories or not…

Xenavirgin: I’ve donated and I’ve written. The thing as I’m sure you’ve all already said about the amazon thing is the giving over the parts of the fanfic that are your original work. Especially if you’re doing an AU.

ariestess: @Doc: Exactly!  And I remember when the authors would often send out C&D letters and  take down websites, too.

grumpybear1031: or walls or anything

ariestess: I know some still do, but I don’t hear about it as much now.

ariestess: @Grumpy: Does this mean you need some inspiration?

Xenavirgin: If I went the Amazon way for my fic Lord of the Nile I might not be able to later consider publishing it properly as an original

docwho2100: Of course in today’s world, the social media backlash usually is bad for the creator – which is why it has slowed

the_dhamphir: more and more are realizing that fanfic and fanart are actually good for increasing their fan base

Gin Akasarahsmom: most fanfic writers will honor the original owner’s wishes… Anne McCaffrey for example had a VERY hard stance on fanfic from her work… but then in later years she eased up and said that so long as you didn’t use recognizable characters/places.. you could use her worlds…

docwho2100: yes, look at what Nancylee Myatt has done, she released a writer’s bible for fanfic authors for her Cowgirl Up series and those questions for N&N

grumpybear1031: I do, I haven’t really done any artwork lately.  Though I’ve been addicted to doing those desktop view things

docwho2100: With the Amazon, I think young writers will do it

ariestess: I really need to be looking at NLM’s stuff more.  LOL

ariestess: Okay, so, Doc, you mentioned Shared Story Worlds earlier.  Can we delve into the whole  copyright sitch there?

Gin Akasarahsmom: fanfiction is such an easy way to help build the fanbase for your show/book.. I don’t really know why anyone would NOT want it… unless the first ones they tried to read were just horrible…

the_dhamphir: without fanfic, the new N&N webseries would never have happened!

docwho2100: or maybe were better than the original? some creators are very nervous about that

Gin Akasarahsmom: LOL.. that too

ariestess: LOL!  When the fanwork is better than the original, that can be an issue.

Xenavirgin: Yeah it is!!  I totally avoided all Trek ever until I started reading J/7 and then BOOM watching Voyager.

Alkmaion: @Gin: I get that, but other exchanges might not be exactly like yours…it´s a bit of a grey area, I think

docwho2100: and the basics of a shared story world is the story universe is created with a creative commons type of license. The ideas and characters and pieces are meant to be used by others

docwho2100: most often they use a share, share alike or similar license

yurianimeotaku: @Gin It irks me to pay for poorly written books, so I sure don’t want to pay for poorly written fanfics (and there are more of those out there).

Gin Akasarahsmom: exactly

docwho2100: Well, that will be the crux of success or failure I think for Amazon and similar, how good is the writing

Gin Akasarahsmom: if they don’t police it, it will be very hit and miss… most likely more misses than hits…

docwho2100: With a shared story world (SSW), you can create a story, and then share in the profits from that story

Gin Akasarahsmom: and if they do police it.. then they will want to charge more for the service

docwho2100: Which is why I am keenly watching the Amazon experiment ; )

yurianimeotaku: @doc However, Amazon seems to be about flooding the market and letting us pick through the pile to find the gems.

Xenavirgin: @ Doc, why do I have an image of you in a dark room with several computers all on at once?  heheh

docwho2100:   because I live in the shadows of tech  j/k

Xenavirgin: Ahhh gotcha

docwho2100: and I could say that isn’t that the way fanfic is now?

x15a2: Hi

yurianimeotaku: @doc Yes, but the pile is free to pick through.

docwho2100: Which is why I am curious how this will work and why I believe the younger generation is the intended target with this

yurianimeotaku: I wish I could do that with the lesbian fiction on Amazon.

docwho2100: look at the three shows they offer right now?  Also, Amazon already ruled out femslash type of material, so….

docwho2100: @yuri – I agree – which is why shared story worlds are a neat alternative

docwho2100: they have an eye to setting up what Amazon is, but with a more open system

e_m_praetorian: SSW and its entitlements reminds me of Rand’s Fair Share Law in Atlas Shrugged…could be more damaging than helpful

docwho2100: and one where only the creators profit

yurianimeotaku: @doc The younger fanficers on FFN femslash almost any show.

Xenavirgin: Question.   Can someone put up someone elses fic on the AMazon system without their permission?

ariestess: @e_m: What do you mean re: SSW and entitlements?

docwho2100: well XV that is a loaded question

Alkmaion: hm

docwho2100: if they claimed it as his/her own, then yes

docwho2100: how would amazon know?

docwho2100: it would be up to the writer to look and see and start that legal claim

Xenavirgin: ANd how could you prove it wasn’t?  See I’m afraid of a slew of this happening.

docwho2100: which then the real fun begins as lawyers descend

yurianimeotaku: This is going rock the already small world of Computer Law.

ariestess: And even if someone calls plagiarism and Amazon pulls it, they’ve already made money on it.\

e_m_praetorian: Shared Story Worlds and sorry I meant to say possible entitlements…story crediting and such

ariestess: They still win in the end.

docwho2100: I tell my students interested in law, go into intellectual property for the digital world

Xenavirgin: I’ve seen a version of it happen when someone has taken a fic in one fandom and chaned the pairing names and necessary locations and then posted the fic in a different fadom.

Gin Akasarahsmom: Amazon will have to have a complaint/contesting department.. which will also take a chunk of the profits from the authors..

ariestess: @e-M: Yeah, I can understand that re: crediting.  I know that the SSW I’m involved in is very good at proper crediting.  Or rather, we will be as we get more content in.

docwho2100: There are many pitfalls, but, if no one tries it, how will we know what can and can not be accomplished?

yurianimeotaku: @XV I’ve seen someone take another writer’s work, slap their name on it, and post it in the same fandom…years after the original was posted.

docwho2100: @e-m are you familiar with the creative commons license system?  they have a number of liscenses to cover all sorts of cases

Gin Akasarahsmom: I’m not thrilled with Amazon’s pricing policy in general… I know authors who have books there… one’s that were regularly $15 that Amazon dropped to $3 in price “for a limited time”… so more books get sold.. but when the author is working on a percentage it cuts their monies WAY down… and the author has NO SAY in the pricing.. Amazon controls that

Xenavirgin: SSeriously Yuri???

docwho2100: yes @yuri and the difference here, is that magic word – money

docwho2100: @Gin, I can share a lot of Amazon horror stories like that from my friends

yurianimeotaku: @XV Yep. The writer’s readers caught it and told the writer.

Gin Akasarahsmom: yeah… it sucks

e_m_praetorian: @docwho: no I’m going to have to read up on that

docwho2100: I can share some of the different methods SSW use for sharing work and profit

ariestess: All right, this is your 10 minute “warning” for the end of this fascinating panel.

docwho2100: I work with a few people in the transmedia world where copyright is a big issue

yurianimeotaku: @doc Thanks for the article on disclaimers. It was fascinating read.

docwho2100: YW   I do not mean to make fun of disclaimers, I think they have a place, but it is interesting how the use of disclaimers has evolved

docwho2100: I also think copyright is in a weird place now

docwho2100: for those interested, I read

docwho2100: it covers a lot of copyright, digital freedom and similar topics

ariestess: Another good link I’ll have to check out after con. LOL

yurianimeotaku: @doc The internet has certainly shaken up copyright laws.

docwho2100: lots of likes and +1 for that @yuri

docwho2100: I watch my students these days and how they share content

docwho2100: I always wonder what the constitution writers would have done if they lived in a digital world

docwho2100: I also find it fun that copyright is determined more by politicians and money, than creators and users, IMO

ariestess: I hate that it’s determined by money and politicians, but what in this modern world isnt?

docwho2100: Oh another quick resource – for sound and music – check out

yurianimeotaku: @doc I pulled most of the pics I shared on FB after a photographer sued someone for passing on a photo in FB.

docwho2100: the artists on there are doing lots of things with copyright

docwho2100: Oh yes @yuri

docwho2100: as digital searches are more sophisticated

docwho2100: they can find you

docwho2100: they can find you

docwho2100: organizations now offer copyright searching services

docwho2100: they pay people to search social media for instances of work

ariestess: All right, we have 5 minutes left. Any last questions for our knowledgeable panelist?

shaych03: and then they sue like mad

docwho2100: yes they do – or bully you like mad

yurianimeotaku: @Shay This is a sue happy country

docwho2100: yes, sadly, America is, although America is not alone

the_dhamphir: 3 minutes to Beta panel

e_m_praetorian: @ yuri: Money seems to rule all

yurianimeotaku: Unfortunately

docwho2100: which is something we did not get into, sorry, which is copyright is not the same in all countries

docwho2100: fanfic is not as “bad” in some countries

Alkmaion: Thanks doc and everyone…it was an enlightening discussion

yurianimeotaku: Thanks doc

docwho2100: welcome and thank all of you for the discussion back

ariestess: Thanks to doc for some awesome information &  to our attendees for some great discussion and questions!

ariestess: And yes, all of the links will be up on the website soonish, most likely when the transcripts go up in the next couple of weeks.

yurianimeotaku: I think Crystal better copyright that word.

michelle_2011: thanks for the panel


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