Question for Authors

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by HOoftheKinshaya, May 17, 2020.

  1. HOoftheKinshaya

    HOoftheKinshaya Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Are you able to use a person, place, ship type, or species that appeared in any prior Star Trek novel or do you need the consent of the specific Author in whose novel it originated to use it?

    Thanks
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Everything created for Star Trek is the property of CBS, which owns the franchise. It doesn't belong to the authors, because we're just building on the concepts and universe belonging to CBS. So any licensed Trek author can use any Trek character or concept, unless CBS says we can't. If authors do consult each other about using their creations, that's more a matter of courtesy than requirement.
     
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  3. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Christopher is correct. The only consent required for anything in any work of fiction in the Star Trek universe, whether novel, short story, comic book, TV episode, or movie, is from CBS, who owns it.
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Exactly. It all belongs to CBS, which is pretty much standard procedure for tie-in books. This is not just a STAR TREK thing. This is how it works for pretty much how it works for Marvel novels, DC novels, Planet of the Apes novels, Cleopatra 2525 novels, whatever.

    Granted, as Christopher mentions, if I wanted to do something drastic to a character Christoper or Keith created, I might consult with them first simply as a matter of courtesy, but, to be clear, I would be under absolutely no legal obligation to do so.

    Basically, we're hired contractors, like a carpenter you hire to build a back deck to your specifications. I'm going to want to build the best deck possible, given the budget and deadlines, because I take pride in my work, but the finished deck doesn't belong to me and I have no say in what the homeowners do with it afterwards.

    And if a different carpenter wants to remodel it later, that's not up to me. :)
     
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  5. Extrocomp

    Extrocomp Captain Captain

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    Not all tie-in books. Bernice Summerfield was introduced as one of the Doctor's companions in Virgin Publishing's Doctor Who novels, but when Virgin lost the Doctor Who license, they continued publishing novels starring Bernice Summerfield, only without the Doctor. So, apparently Virgin had a deal in place where they retained ownership of their original characters.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The rules are different in the UK, or at least they used to be. Freelance Doctor Who writers retained ownership of the characters or species they created, which was why Terry Nation could pitch a Dalek show to US networks and why there could be an Australian K9 series without the BBC's involvement. But in the United States, writing for TV or movies is work-for-hire and the studio that owns the franchise also owns every writer's work within it. That's why the copyright notices at the end of movies say something like "XYZ Studios is the author of this work under British law."
     
  7. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's kind of a shame, I'd get a kick out of seeing Trek novel OC's transplanted into weird bootleg Trek universes. A bit like those Not Trek: Renegades novels based on the fan film but with Diane Duane (happy birthday) writing for Herb Tanzer on a new ship or Peter David taking Mackenzie Calhoun through a wormhole into an original universe.
     
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  8. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Doctor Who tie-in writers formally hold the copyright on the text and are able to reuse elements they created in a non-Doctor Who context, but I don’t believe they have full ownership in the context this thread is asking about, where they would be in control of how their creations were used in other Doctor Who products.
     
  9. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    At least some of them do. I had to get permission from Ben Aaronovitch to allow Peter David to write a sequel/prequel to "Battlefield" for The Quality of Leadership, the Short Trips anthology I edited back in 2008.
     
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  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But that was a show writer, and Brendan specified tie-in writers.
     
  11. Angry Fanboy

    Angry Fanboy Commander Red Shirt

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    Amazing analogy! :lol:
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I've been constructing it for years. :)

    And, yes, we should draw a distinction between writing the actual TV shows and movies, and writing for the tie-in books. Completely different rules, due to the fact that screenwriters are unionized and book writers are not.
     
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  13. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    You're right, yes, but it's all part of the same quirk of UK copyright laws. I didn't need Tracey Torme's permission to use Lwaxana Troi in "The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned," but I did need Ben's to use his versions of Morgan Le Fay, et al.
     
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  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, so that's why.
     
  15. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think it might depend on contracts? I seem to remember that when Lawrence Miles invented Sabbath for the Eighth Doctor Adventure The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, he kept copyright of the character, but also gave BBC Books the right to use the character in any way they wanted. So Sabbath did a lot of stuff in later books that Miles didn't like, but Miles could also carry Sabbath over into his original fiction.
     
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  16. Brendan Moody

    Brendan Moody Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Yeah, I would imagine it comes down to contracts. A TV equivalent would be Nyssa, who (as I’m sure Steve knows) wasn’t originally devised as a recurring character. When they decided to turn her into a companion, they had to make a separate arrangement with Johnny Byrne to keep using her. He allowed whatever use they wanted, but got paid whenever she was used (and his estate still does to this day, I believe), and retained his copyright in the character.

    Given how serialized the NAs and EDAs were, it doesn’t seem like it would have been practical to have had the authors who devised certain recurring elements exercising veto power over any further use, especially given how, ah, colorful some of them were.
     
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