The Romantic Times magazine featured an article this month on fanfic, covering both sides of the debate, though largely favorable towards the practice. But they note:
Writing fan fiction is a violation of copyright law. But many fanfic writers are either unaware of or unconcerned with this fact. Often they’ll slap a short disclaimer at the top of the story, disavowing ownership of the characters used and consider the matter handled…
Attorney-turned-Romance author Julie Kenner says… “for our purposes as writers, copyright serves to protect our words. But when someone is using, say, Stephanie Plum in fan fictio, they probably aren’t quoting any of Janet Evanovich’s language and they think they are they’re clear of infringement. But the 9th Circuit and the 2nd Circuit — both leading courts with regard to intellectual property law — have found protection for the characters themselves under certain judicially defined parameters.”
And those little disclaimers? Ain’t gonna hold water in front of a judge, Kenner says.
Published authors reactions to fan fiction vary….Laurell Hamilton, Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon firmly believe this practice is both legally and morally repugnant and have, in some cases, hired attorneys to fight fan fiction sites with cease-and-desist actions.
Author Meg Cabot who, by the way, doesn’t mind fanfic, recounts an interesting anecdote:
“Another reason I don’t read fan fictions is because I know an author who, justifiably, freaked out when she read a fic where the writer had one of her characters get graphically and brutally raped. You could see how that would be disturbing and put you off writing anything for a while.”
Even authors who approve of fanfic have hesitations:
Both Rowling and Cabot write for children, who sometimes don’t fully understand the distinction between a published work and fan fiction — especially if they stumble upon a sexually explicit fic or one that talks of Harry whispering sweet nothings in Ron’s ear.
To say nothing of the Harry and Ron “male birthing” stories…