Amazon and legal fan-fiction

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Angry Fanboy, May 29, 2013.

  1. Angry Fanboy

    Angry Fanboy Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Is this something of a watershed moment for we in the fan-fiction community?




    Briefly, Amazon has purchased the licencing rights to a number of television shows (these being Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries), and will be allowing people to write their fan-fiction so that it can be sold on Amazon via their Kindle service.

    The proceeds from these sales will go to the rights-holders, and if the story itself is over 10,000 words then the authors get the standard book royalty rate of 35% of total sales.

    Surely this is a game-changer?

    Amazon has found a way to make fan-fiction legal and get themselves, the authors and the creators paid for it!

    Granted at the moment the only television shows included are those mentioned above, but I'd venture that if fan-fiction generated by these turns a profit then we'll soon see more shows added to the list.

    Possibly even Star Trek? :)
     
  2. jespah

    jespah Commodore Commodore

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    I'm thinking that this is a few things, many of them rather mercenary.

    Amazon does an end run around publishers, printers and writers' agents. Writers with agents push for bigger profits (which they do anyway) and withhold their product if it isn't as exclusive, thereby driving up prices for quality. Agentless writers may end up being like union scabs. Traditional publishing companies shut their doors to unsolicited manuscripts (to be fair, they have been doing this for years as it's a flood, mostly of crap).

    I also predict a slanted payment structure in favor of Amazon and the franchises, and the writers will have no bargaining/negotiating positions whatsoever.

    Sorry - I am a total cynic. I equate this to the kind of work and profit that can come from writing for The Examiner - read - a lot of effort for nearly nothing, and the vast, vast majority are suckered into it because of the success of very, very few.

    Further, what happens to fan ficcers in franchises that don't support this? Will their legal departments crack down even more, despite the fact that this fan fic (e. g. our own) is out there and not for profit? I like not being sued.
     
  3. Angry Fanboy

    Angry Fanboy Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Angry Fanboy

    Well I suppose there are various ways to look at it.

    For example fan-fiction writers are already spending time creating these stories and publishing them online for no money, so if they become able to actually generate an income doing something they've previously been doing for nothing then I can certainly see the appeal.

    Of course Amazon and whoever created the franchise being written about will gain full control over whatever fan-fiction they publish via Kindle - I'm almost certain that by signing up you would relinquish your own claim to the characters, ideas or scenarios featured in the story.

    But even so, is that any different to how it stands now?

    For example if the writer of a new Star Trek series read my own Majestic on TrekBBS or Ad Astra, surely they could use it verbatim if they wished with no recourse from me?
     
  4. jespah

    jespah Commodore Commodore

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    Likely, yes - but you technically are supposed to be in ownership of your original characters as things stand right now.
     
  5. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    On the flip side it could potentially get a lot more authors and material out there, when they might not ordinarily be able to sell it.

    My main question is... who's going to spend any money on fanfiction when by it's very nature you can find it free in any number of outlets and easily get it onto a kindle if that's what you want?
     
  6. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

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    That was my first thought as well.

    In a worst case scenario, copyright holders could decide that fan fiction is another lucrative income stream and therefore attempt to aggressively shut down unauthorized fan fiction in order to capitalized on it.

    The good news for fan fiction writers and readers of course is that any such previous efforts by say the music or movie industry have not been all that successful.

    And fan fiction writer's getting paid for their work could lead to an overall improvement of the quality of fan fiction available. It could of course also be the death knell to niche genres and stories.

    Either way I'm curious to see how this develops.
     
  7. SeerSGB

    SeerSGB Admiral Admiral

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    I talked about this in the thread over in the lit forum.

    1) Is there a market? Decades of getting fanfic for free and suddenly fans are going to pay for it?

    2) Potential to screw over popular tie-in authors or at least put them in a position to cut into their paychecks. You (fanfic writer) work for free and the studio gets part of your sell; versus a pro who gets and advance and--once they earn out the advance--royalties.

    3) What happens if a studio pulls out of the program? Are you fucked? They pull out, does that mean all your work is pulled down, you don't get paid?

    4) Fanfic sites? How screwed are they going to be now?

    It's an interesting change, but I'm pretty cautious about what this means to the future.
     
  8. Sandoval

    Sandoval Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Don't kid yourself - nothing is gonna change day to day as far as fanfic is concerned. You'll still have all the same fanfic sites.

    If, and it's a whopping big if, Star Trek ever gets included in Amazon's master plan, you'll just end up with three levels of Star Trek author rather than the two you've got now - amateur and professional. A new category slips in between those two that combines a little from column A and a little from column B - an amateur Star Trek writer who gets paid a little for their work.

    As for why people will pay for fan-fiction when it's abundantly available online, the answer is easy - the vast majority of fan fiction, whether it's Star Trek or whatever else, is complete shit.

    Official Star Trek books are ultimately fanfic like everything else, but fanfic that has been edited multiple times to increase the quality.

    Amazon are gonna check the fanfic it puts up to make sure it's legal, family-friendly, legible and has at least some level of literacy to it, again unlike most fanfic that is put onto the internet.

    If people who are already writing this stuff can make a quick buck from it then more power to them, cos don't pretend you have any ownership over the stuff now whatever characters you create.
     
  9. Sandoval

    Sandoval Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You said it - technically. But then technically you're not meant to be writing and self-publishing the stuff on the interweb already, so it's knock for knock.

    We all know no fanfic writer is gonna get anywhere if Brannon Braga or whoever feels like stealing their story or characters.
     
  10. SeerSGB

    SeerSGB Admiral Admiral

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    1) Paying for it doesn't mean it isn't going to be shit

    2) And Amazon isn't gong to check for anything other than the most basic forms of compliance with formatting and the no slash rules. They're not going to curate the submissions for content quality--just like Kindle, they don't really give a shit one way or the other. Kindle is a platform, not a publisher in the traditional sense, there's no editors or proofreaders to go over your work; no editor to say what is and isn't worth publishing. Freeing and fair in one way, a damn slog through a swamp other ways.

    Don't think for a minute that this is going to be much more than a revenue generating scheme version of fanfiction.net at the end of the day.

    As for Trek getting into the party: If CBS thinks they can make free money on it, they'll likely do it.
     
  11. Sandoval

    Sandoval Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Did I say it would?

    But it will decrease the likelihood of it being shit.

    Unless you work in that department of Amazon then you have no idea what they will or won't do, since this is a new venture.

    Unquestionably.
     
  12. SeerSGB

    SeerSGB Admiral Admiral

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    It's how Kindle works, it's in their guidelines.

    Kindle Normal Rules

    The way Kindle works is if people don't complain, they don't care.

    As for quality:

    Kindle (Amazon) does not edit or proofread; that's all out of your own pocket. Unless they get a high number of complaints, they don't really care. They're a platform not a publisher.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013