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Fan Fiction Authors Receiving Patreon Donations for Stories is Wrong!

Updated on October 28, 2017
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Natalie is a writer who also has a YouTube channel. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing videogames.

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Fanfic Authors, You should not use Patreon to Get Donations for Fan Work:

I love writing fan fiction. It is a hobby I’ve had for years. It’s a fun way for me to write when I need a break from writing reviews or articles. I’ve always seen it as a fun hobby and I’ve never made money off writing it.

But I have seen a disturbing trend among fan fiction authors recently. They’ve been using Patreon to make money off writing fan fiction. People pay them every month and in return they write new chapters of various fan fiction and either upload them early to their Patrons or just update their fan fiction regularly.

This is wrong. I find it disgusting!

But it’s fan fiction, shouldn’t I be paid to write it? The answer is a resounding NO!

Fan fiction is already a legal gray area because it could be considered a transformative work. It is also using someone else’s intellectual property to create your own story. It is not an intellectual property that you created yourself and own.

The minute money is involved with authors receiving money to write something based off someone else’s intellectual property, the argument used for fan fictions existence that, “It’s free and I’m not making money off it” is completely gone.

Fan authors who create fan fiction are not like YouTube critics who create videos discussing a property, critiquing and analyzing it. You are using someone else’s IP for your own financial benefit while giving the original creator no money! And that leads to a major concern I have as a fan: A creator seeing a Fan Fic Patreon and possibly suing the Patreon user for damages and lost profit!

The Original Creators Are Within Their Rights to Possibly Sue or ask Patreon to remove Fan Fic Author’s Pages:

Fan fiction has always been divisive, some authors love it and some are staunchly against it.

With the rise of crowd funding, people honestly think it’s fine to use someone else’s creation to create their own stories and profit off it!

Parcasious, you might be a great Fate/Stay Night fan fic author, but the money you’re getting every month, how much of it goes back to Kinoko Nasu, the creator of the Fate franchise? Oh that’s right, none! It all goes to you!

It is not your right to create fan fiction for profit via “donations”!

I cringed so hard when I saw this on his/her Patreon:

“Patreons who support me to this value can suggest short story ideas which I will write out and incorporate at the end of each update. If there are too many at a time, I will do my best to incorporate them within the month. If there are way too many, patreons of this level may decide between themselves through a vote of sorts.

Thank you for all those who have donated to this level!”

You want me to pay you $10.00 a month to give you SUGGESTIONS?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

$20.00 a month for editing someone else’s fanfic! That’s disgusting! There are free programs I can use to edit my fan fiction and my articles that don’t cost me a cent!

There is nothing stopping the creators of any IP from going after anyone who has made a Fan Fiction Patreon, because a creator can say that by accepting “donations” that fan fiction author is cutting into their potential profit because they can say that the fan story is affecting the market value of the original work!

My deepest fear with this fan entitlement to money to write fan fiction is this, that someone will sue and or creators will start to take a “no fan fiction policy” to prevent the creation of Fan Fic Patreon accounts.


Patreon should be used for original writing, not fan fiction!
Patreon should be used for original writing, not fan fiction!

One of These Days, There’s Gonna Be a Lawsuit and We the Fans are going to be the ones who don’t Get Nice Things, because someone Got Greedy and Wanted Money!

It’s only a matter of time before someone is sued because they’ve been taking Patreon donations for fan fiction.

People have been sued over fan fiction by authors before. See this quote from a user on Reddit Ktrenal:

“I've said this before, when we've talked about this issue, and I'll say it again: it's going to end in disaster.

I'm old enough to remember what it was like when intellectual property owners went after fanfic writers. I myself had a “cease & desist” letter from Anne McCaffrey's lawyers over Dragonriders of Pern fanfiction and roleplay (all because GASP I had white firelizards, which are pets that characters could have. Firelizards don't come in white in canon. I'M A MONSTER!) And I knew someone who actually got sued, not because she was making money, but because her roleplay didn't follow the canon rules. Can you imagine that? A teenager taken to actual court by an author for writing about purple and red dragons. She argued fair use and parody, but her site still got shut down regardless. All over a couple of non-canon dragons.

Over time, attitudes towards fan fiction have softened. Most intellectual property owners at least tolerate it, and many actively encourage it. But that's still under the principle that nobody is making any money off of it.

Now, some people say "well, Patreon's been around for ages, and nobody's got in trouble, so it's fine", but really, it hasn't been that long. Patreon was founded in 2013, and in the legal world, four years is nothing. As more and more fanfic authors start trying to be paid for their stories, the more selfish people flood to Patreon to make real money off someone else's intellectual property, the higher the risk that someone will take notice.

Many large companies already employ vast armies of lawyers to go after fans making money out of their intellectual property. Disney are by far the most aggressive about it, but other companies do it as well. Just try selling Mickey Mouse art on Etsy or RedBubble, and see how long it takes to get sued. Disney literally employ people whose whole job it is to scour the internet for people doing this. That is their job. They are paid money to sit on the internet and search Etsy, eBay, Amazon, RedBubble, and dozens of other places like it, to track down people selling stuff based on their intellectual property. And then they sue. And they win.

Right now, you can't even use a small clip of video or music on YouTube - even under fair use situations, such as doing a review or doing a parody - without getting cease and desisted from the owner of that song, movie, TV show, whatever. Videos on YouTube managed to get away with this stuff for years... until one day intellectual property owners took notice.

It's only a matter of time before they turn their eyes to Patreon. It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when. Right now, Patreon is young and still relatively small. But once Disney or some other intellectual property owner finds one fanfiction author on Patreon, that will be enough to make them say "hey, maybe there's a few more". And they'll pay someone to search Patreon. And other intellectual property owners will hear about it, and they will pay someone to search through Patreon as well.

It's easy to say "they won't go after small fry like one fan fiction author". But that's not the case. When fanfiction authors start gathering on a single site like Patreon, then it is worth intellectual property owners going after them. Because all they have to do is search one site. They don't have to spend hours and hours Googling a broad array of sites. They just have to look through Patreon. And when you have writers making $162 per 3k words, it will be worth their time to look through Patreon.

And they do go after small fry on other sites, too. Those Etsy and RedBubble sellers that get sued, they're not always these massive companies selling thousands of items. On Etsy in particular, they're often individual people who basically make items for the love of it, not so different from fanfic writers. But if they make one Mickey Mouse - just one - then Disney will go after them.

And if making money from fan fiction is perceived as being a common enough occurrence, intellectual property owners crack down on fanfiction as a whole, because it would be easier to say "no fanfiction ever" than it is to weed out the ones making money from it. People who try to make money from fan fiction are, in essence, putting the entire fandom at risk.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Patreon is used for many things, but Fan Fiction commissions shouldn't be one of them!
Patreon is used for many things, but Fan Fiction commissions shouldn't be one of them! | Source

Audience Poll:

Is it ethical for Fan Fiction Authors to Ask for Donations for Writing Fan Fiction through Patreon?

See results

This Can Only End Badly for Everyone!

It’s only a matter of time before a creator of a popular intellectual property discovers someone is using Patreon to make profit off their intellectual property, using stories created by using their IP, and then a big lawsuit happens and fan fiction is ruined for entire fandoms because someone got greedy and thought they could use someone else’s creations for their own profit.

When this does blow up, I’ll be able to say, “I told you this was a bad idea!”

I have never believed it is okay to make profit off fanfiction by accepting money for writing it. Fanfiction.net runs off ad revenue, and admit it, you probably block ads on that site too, but I don’t hear anything about Xing Li making enormous profits from fanfiction.net.

Anne Rice, P. N. Elrod, Archie Comics, Dennis L. McKiernan, Irene Radford, J.R. Ward, Laurell K. Hamilton, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Raymond Feist, Robin Hobb, Robin McKinley, and Terry Goodkind are authors who do not allow fans to create fan fiction using their work. This list could grow if other creators discover that fans have created Patreon accounts using their IP to get “donations” from fans.

Authors had enough against fan fiction before people started trying to get donations for “commissions”, now it will be even worse!

Fan fiction has always been a hobby. It should never be done for money, even “donations for commission”, once money is involved, it becomes a nasty can of worms that one day, a creator will open and then find themselves an intellectual property lawyer to sue the fan fic author.

But you’re saying, “But I should get paid for my creative writing!”

If you want to get paid for creative writing, then write aritlces about writing, write about fandom or even fan fiction itself, don’t use someone else’s intellectual property to ask for Patreon donations, sure it’s a legal gray area, but one of these days, it’s going to get someone in trouble. Either a popular author and creator will sue someone or ban fan fiction for their entire library of work and it will just end badly for everyone!

Fan fiction is free and you should never make money by being paid to write it for commissions or anything else!

Now I look forward to all the angry fan fiction authors insisting they should be paid while I receive ad revenue for this article!

I’ll go back to writing fan fiction for free now, but you can support me by turning off ad block on Hubpages, no Patreon account required.

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    • Katie Armstrong profile image

      Katie Armstrong 

      8 months ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      What is your opinion on fan art? Many fan artists have Patreon pages and receive hundreds of dollars a month to support them; they skate by on the premise that the patrons are paying for their original works, with the fanart being bonuses at certain levels of support. Many artists build their skills and portfolios on the back of the experience and fundamentals they practiced via fanart--not to mention build their fanbases, which can be highly important when submitting portfolios to companies. (In the case of artists, the problem usually isn't 'you drew a piece of fanart and that's bad', but 'because of people reposting your fanart without sources, we can't tell if you actually drew a piece fanart, and that's bad from a fact-checking perspective'.)

      Is there a qualitative difference between a fan artist charging $50 for a digitally painted commission and a fanfic writer charging $50 for a 5k word written commission?

      In my years of experience in fandom, your position is very common, and I vividly recall the days of the eternal threat of the C&D. But people who hold this strict stance on fanfic are usually more lenient when it comes to fanart for some reason. (Perhaps because, for example, The Avengers isn't a painting, so if someone paints a beautiful piece of Stucky fanart in a unique style, it's obviously not the original work and not pretending to be the original work--but since The Avengers isn't a novel, wouldn't a great Stucky fanfic with neat rhetorical flourishes also be 'obviously not the original and not pretending to be the original' just as much?)

    • Richard-Bivins profile image

      Richard Bivins 

      11 months ago from Charleston, SC

      I disagree with the ethical issue you present. Fan fiction can have a positive effect on the original creator as well as the producer and contributor of fanfic.

      It has been estimated that as of 2012, E. L. James was making $1.35 million a week on Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, it is widely known that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fanfic titled Master of the Universe. E. L. James changed the characters' names from Edward and Bella to Christian and Anna and republished her fanfic as a "new" book. Now she's a multimillionaire.

      After this revelation, Twilight experienced an increase in fandom and sales.

      Patreon is not paying creators of fanfic to do anything illegal, they are a crowdfunding source for individuals to share their talents and provide content. As a crowdfunding source, how is it any different from the crowdsourced content and earnings of Wikipedia? Sure, individual contributors are not being paid but the Wikipedia Foundation is killing it and worth billions $$$, instead of the original creator Jimmy Wales

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