*Unknown user on fanfic group. He answered me this.:

All joking aside, here is the straight story on fanfiction. (Disclaimer, I am not an attorney and this should not be considered legal advice.)

WRITING fanfiction is not illegal under any circumstances. The question is whether PUBLISHING fanfiction is legal or not. US Copyright laws are very clear about some things, and not so clear about others. For example, writing a fanfiction and then SELLING it (making a profit) would clearly be illegal. But making a parody of an existing work is clearly legal. Fanfiction, being a derivative work done for zero profit, falls into a gray area.

So far, the reason the question is not settled legally is because NO CASE HAS EVER GONE THROUGH ALL THE COURTS. Why? Because copyright holders are only interested in pursuing cases that cause them obvious harm AND will result in them collecting enough money to make it worth the bother. Suing an individual fanfiction writer is not worth their time. On the other hand, as soon as any writer/publisher sends websites like Fanfiction.net a Cease and Desist Letter (for instance as Anne Rice probably has) the site immediately pulls down all fanfiction regarding Anne Rice's work and bans it. So neither side really wants to fight it out in court, and as a result it is not 100% settled whether fanfiction is copyright infringement or not. The few cases that have been similar have gone both ways, so again, no guarantee which way a court would rule.

But the short of it is: NO writer/publisher is going to sue an individual fanfiction writer. And if the writer/publisher do object, the websites will just remove that fanfiction. Most writers/publishers don't mind fanfiction, so everyone seems happy to let us play in the sandbox as long as we behave ourselves and don't try to make money off it.

August 2nd, 2012 at 01:48am