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Is fanfiction a form of copyright infringement?

  1. Stevennix2001 profile image90
    Stevennix2001posted 4 years ago

    I'm just curious is fanfiction writing a form of copyright infringement?  I'm just curious because I'm thinking about doing a series of fanfictions on my other account.  However, unlike other fanfics, mine will be more for comedic purposes to make fun of the stories it's representing; similar to what mel brooks used to do with movies, except this will be in written form obviously.

    For example, i have this one great fanfic idea about Scooby Do.  Shaggy would be the main character in this one.  You know how most villains on the scooby do shows are often some random dude in a mask?  And how it's often not a real ghost, alien, and/or monster at all?  Well I was thinking wouldn't it be funny as hell if shaggy got tired of that crap one day, and just pulled out an oozy nine milemmeter and shot the alleged monster in the face.  He would die obviously because the monster would undoubtedly be fake just like in the original "Scooby Do where are you?" episodes. 

    Then scooby would be like, "Gee shaggy.  you f**king shot him!"  Then Thelma says, "Jinkies!"  lol 

    Anyways, that's just one of the ideas that i've been coming up with.  Although it might be a while even if i do decide to do these fanfics, as i still need to catch up on my reviews on this account first.  However, what do you guys think? You think these fanfics are a good idea?  also, is fanfics a form of copyright infringement?  If it is, then i won't do it for obvious reasons.  However, if there's nothing wrong with it, then why not?

    1. psycheskinner profile image82
      psycheskinnerposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      If the original is under copyright, yes very much so. Unless you can claimnexemption for example by saying it is a satire.

      1. Stevennix2001 profile image90
        Stevennix2001posted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Actually that's kind of what i had in mind when i said my fanfics would be more for comedic purposes, as I used to love watching some of Mel Brooks' work growing up, as a lot of his films used to poke fun at a lot of old movies.  And after following all these movie news sources, and interacting with fans that take fanfiction seriously, I started to think to myself wouldn't it be fun to write fanfictions that act more like satires of the source material.

    2. Genna East profile image92
      Genna Eastposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      That’s an interesting question.  I understand that it qualifies as a “derivative work,” under the US copyright laws, but I’m not certain what this means in a legal context.

  2. swordsbane profile image61
    swordsbaneposted 4 years ago

    A friend of mine does fanfiction all the time.  As long as you're not making money directly from the sale of the fiction work, it is not a copyright infringement.  You can write whatever you want and publish, but it has to be free.

    Satire works differently.  I believe you can actually sell that, so you're idea should be fine, but m not as familiar with the rules behind satire.

    1. psycheskinner profile image82
      psycheskinnerposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      This is a common belief but is incorrect. As soon as you distribute the work you infringe copyright.  This is just more likely to be tolerated by the rights holder if you do not charge money for it.

      Also, being comedy is not enough to be satire or parody.  You need to make sure you are in that specific category.  You might still get sued but you have a basis for a defense.

      1. swordsbane profile image61
        swordsbaneposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        I have to disagree with psycheskinner.  Copyright law is very specific.  It is only infringement if you receive compensation for your work.  I know of at least two law suits that were thrown out on that basis.  They copyright holder attempted to stop fanfiction from being distributed, but the courts held that he was not receiving compensation for the publication so copyright didn't apply.

        The grey area is in what "compensation" means.  If you charge money for people buying a book, that's compensation.  If you publish it on your personal web site, even if it's ad supported, then it is not compensation.

        Hub pages model may not be considered "compensation" but I'd have to check with HubPages to see if they allow it on their site, and if they do allow it and the copyright holder comes at them, they might cease to publish your stuff because they just don't want the hassle.

        1. psycheskinner profile image82
          psycheskinnerposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          You are simply wrong.  Infringement is defined in 17 U.S.C. § 501. Infringement requires:  a protected work and that the defendant copied the protected work.  The exemptions being fair use (educational, critique) and parody.

          It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether you charged money. This is simply a fantasy some fanfic writers spread around.

          The confusion may be that in order to sue for damages (not just to make you stop) the rights hold needs to show they were financially damaged.  It is possible to do this when the competing work was free.


          1. swordsbane profile image61
            swordsbaneposted 4 years agoin reply to this

            Then it's a fantasy that the courts agree with.  Fanfiction has had it's day in court.  For better or worse, the president is set.  That's pretty much what counts.  Anyway, a lot of authors encourage fan-fiction too, so the point is moot.  If you're asking whether you will get into trouble for writing fanfiction, then answer is: no.

            1. psycheskinner profile image82
              psycheskinnerposted 4 years agoin reply to this

              I hope anyone who follows your advice has a good lawyer and deep pockets.

              You may have a friend and some story about an unspecified court case.  I have been on both ends of legal disputes over copyright.  First as a fanficcer who incurred the wrath of JK Rowling (for free work) and later as an author.

              Can fanfic get you in trouble?  It sure got me in trouble.

            2. profile image0
              hlwarposted 3 years agoin reply to this

              You can only get into trouble if the holder of the copyrights personally brings charges up against you.

              As an example: It's sort of the same idea if you try to flag content on Youtube as violating copyrights; it has to be your content legally or they won't act. There's tons of full episodes and movies on YouTube, but unless I'm Warner Brothers or Disney myself they can't do anything about it even if I complain.

  3. vmartinezwilson profile image86
    vmartinezwilsonposted 4 years ago

    As a former Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Queer as Folk fan fic writer...go for it!

    You've got the skills!

  4. profile image0
    hlwarposted 3 years ago

    Technically, I would think fan fiction is infringing on copyrights, yes. Because you are writing using characters, places, and events which someone else has legally published in some form and therefore own the rights to.

    However, it's become common practice to write fan fiction, draw fan art, create fan videos, and other various forms of fanon, and it's all but impossible nowadays to apply copyright laws against these acts unless the copyright holder personally requests its removal (or sues).

    I think with the Internet and social media rage most creators think of fan works as flattering free publicity. As long as you don't plagiarize or upload full DVDs or CDs, most don't bother to hunt you down. There are some authors who have expressed dislike for fan fiction and made public requests to fans not to use their works, but otherwise it's generally acceptable.

    I would follow and publish on FanFiction.net, however, because it's exclusive to the area of fandom.