The vehemently anti-fanfic writer Lee Goldberg, who blogs at
leegoldberg.com, is the author of several authorized novels based on
the TV shows Monk and Diagnosis Murder—a contradiction he defends on the grounds that he does it only for the money.
So I wrote a letter to the editor:
A number of people have sent me Cathy Young’s thoughtful and
about fanfiction. I have written extensively on my blog about
fanfiction, particularly my view that the practice of publishing it in
print and on the Internet infringes on the original author’s creative
rights (not to mention the trademark and copyright issues). I’ve argued
that fanfiction writers should get the permission of the author or
rights holder before distributing their work. If the original author or
rights holder has no problem with fanfiction based on their work,
then I don’t either. I have also said that licensed tie-in fiction,
which I have written, differs significantly on ethical and legal
fanfiction because it is done with the consent, participation and
supervision of the original author or rights holder. At no point have I
*ever* expressed the views that she incorrectly (and I have to assume
deliberately) attributed to me. It’s a shame, because her article would
have been far more informative, and fair, if she’d bothered to
accurately reflect my actual opinions on the subject.
I look forward to seeing a correction in the next issue of REASON.
Do you think they will have the journalistic integrity to run a correction? Or should I assume that they have the same standards for accuracy as Cathy Young?
UPDATE 2-8-07: Cathy Young has responded to my email and still misses the point. I’m not surprised. She argues that because I said I wouldn’t have written the MONK books unless I was hired to do so proves her argument that I believe the only difference between fanfic and tie-in work is that I’m getting paid for it. I replied:
I want to thank you for your lengthy follow-up to my email. While I
stand by everything you’ve quoted this time (accurately, I should say),
I still take issue with your statement above. I have never said that I
write them only for the money. While it’s true that I’ve said I
wouldn’t have written the MONK or DM novels unless I was hired to do
so, I don’t think getting paid is what separates fanfiction (the theft
of an authors’ work without his or her permissions) from licensed
tie-ins or other derivative works that respect the original authors
creative and legal rights. It’s not PAY that is the defining element —
it’s PERMISSION. Fanficcers routinely and blithely disrespect an
author’s creative and legal rights on the grounds that they aren’t
getting paid for their work.
She also makes the same old, weak excuses for not seeking permission before publishing fanfiction. Like other fanficcers, she takes no responsibility for violating the creative and legal rights of authors and rights holders — instead, she believes the burden should be placed on authors or rights holders to issue a blanket approval or disapproval of fanfiction (not that fanficcers would honor such a statement anyway). Sadly, her bitter disrespect for creative rights, trademark and copyright are all-too-common among the fanfiction community.
UPDATE 2-8-07: My brother Tod enters the fray.
It was an interesting article and Lee was just a tiny portion of it…which makes her following screed
a rather odd ancillary argument as it would appear she’s more angered
that Lee dislikes fan fiction (and more angered about Lee in general,
as a human and as a hack) than apologetic that she misrepresented his
well-known views, which is fine. People the world over hate Lee, but in
the space of her story in Reason the inclusion of Lee at all was odd,
but is now grossly apparent: She thinks he’s a dick and wanted the
world to know, just in case there was ever any question.