The Mail I Get — Fanfic, again

I got this email from someone this morning on the DorothyL list…

Lee Goldberg wrote: How is appropriating an author’s characters “praising” his ideas? In fact, you’re doing the exact opposite… you’re showing your lack of respect for their ownership of their own creations by stealing them. Unless the author says you may use his characters, fanfic is indefensible.

Lee, have you quite finished? I gather you are quite something in TV over there. As a poor limey I’m afraid I’m not familiar with your work altough I had a look at your impressive CV on IMdB. You’re very lucky, you’ve got to places others can only dream of. Instead, they strive towards their dream by emulating their idols. Notice that they don’t emulate what they don’t like. There’s a convention amongst pioneering climbers that they leave their pitons in place to help those who follow. You are like a mountaineer who, having conquered the mountain, surrounds it with barbed wire to stop anybody else from following. I wonder if you were bitten by a fanfic when you were a child – your reaction is so out of proportion.


I don’t see how allowing other people to write about your characters is “leaving pitons in place to help those who follow.” I’m not against “fanfic” because I don’t want other writers to succeed. Quite the opposite. I want to encourage them to write original work that showcases their unique talent and creativity. That’s how they will succeed. Encouraging young writers to steal someone else’s intellectual property isn’t helping them learn their craft… it’s hurting them.

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