Fan Fiction Authors and the Grey Area

Writing and posting fan fiction has always been a grey area when it comes to intellectual property of the source materials. Normally, the original owners turn a blind eye for the most part to it because it is a great way to drum up more fans who go out and buy or watch the original source. Fan fiction started out as something shared in pulp mags, and BBC boards, but as time has gone on it has grown into a huge part of the internet experience for most people who love to read or write.

A new trend has started to appear in the fan fiction arena, paid stories. Some fan fiction authors have started to move their work over to Patreon and other pay sites. This is actually illegal, but, at the moment they are being let to get away with it since it is such a small number of authors. Today I had two stories that I have been following on Archive of Our Own from the same author get an update. In that update they say that they are moving all the stories they have been writing on AO3 to their Patreon and that if we wanted to keep reading them to go follow them there. They are basically demanding to be paid for stories that legally should be free. I left a comment on one of the stories letting them know that they have lost my respect. That what they are doing is actually illegal. Then I wished them well and unfollowed the stories. I then made sure that I hadn’t yet bookmarked one of them as I will not recommend a story author who does this.

If this trend of demanding money for fan fiction continues to grow the consequences are going to be bad for everyone. Fan fiction will be wiped from being accessed by the masses and we will have to go back to private clubs, bulletin boards, and the like in order to find new things to read. That is if we are lucky. Not everyone is like me and has been keeping a private archive since the mid-90’s of different stories they love to read over and over again. The owners of the various intellectual properties will lock their stuff down and sue people. I guess it has been long enough that people don’t remember the fight that a lot of fan fiction authors and readers had to go through in the 90’s that made the various archives possible today.

To sum it up. Fan fiction is considered Fair Use. It is considered that because the authors of the stories don’t make any money using the intellectual property they are writing about. Fair Use for written things is already a very grey area compared to other media types. Please, please, please keep in mind that if you ask to be paid to write fan fiction you are no longer in compliance with Fair Use law when it comes to written works.

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