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Author Topic: Fanfics and Copyright Infringement  (Read 14755 times)


  • Lochage
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  • Posts: 440
Reply #20 on: February 18, 2007, 09:29:55 PM
I like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen approach: there are lots of fascinating characters that are out of copyright -- and clearly resonate if they're still well known today -- who can be co-opted for fun F+SF purposes.  I know that doesn't help if there's a particular copyrighted character that you want to write a story for, but it does give you options if all you want to do is save yourself a bit of character-building, or have fun subverting your readers' ideas of who a character is.

See also any of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books.


  • Palmer
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  • Posts: 55
  • Mark Anderson
    • dokeinblog
Reply #21 on: February 18, 2007, 10:15:23 PM
Is the core of your idea really that specific?  Is there any way you could take what you consider the interesting part (say, memory transfer for survival) and take it in a totally different direction?

Thanks for your thoughts, Steve.  I guess I'm having trouble separating the viable original story in there from the prequel story that I, as a fan, would love to see on film but (considering Proyas hasn't been terribly prolific or commercially successful) never will.  I'd love to set up all those little "Ah-ha!" moments that explain tidbits from the movie -- what the previous detective saw that made him crazy, why Schreber is collaborating, why one Stranger's vessel is a young boy, how/why the Strangers caused Schreber's scars and heart condition, etc..  It's really tempting to try and fill in the gaps, especially with lines in the movie like:

I'm sorry.  I don't remember.  None of us remember that.  What we once were, what we might have been somewhere else.

But connecting to the original story is the least original aspect of my idea, and considering how intergral the aura of mystery was to the original film, I suppose anything that tries to explain it further would do a disservice.

Honestly, the far-backstory has been where I've had the most original ideas, so there probably is potential to take the memory transfer aspect in another direction.  I'd still really hate to lose the perspective of the sympathetic cowardly collaborator, but maybe I can take that character somewhere else too.


  • Hipparch
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  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #22 on: February 19, 2007, 12:19:53 AM
Practical part of the post:
George Alec Effinger wrote a story called White Hats that seems germaine to this discussion.
Effinger, George Alec, "White Hats"

Arthur and Audrey Trent are mugged on their way home from a Chinese restaurant in New Orleans.  They report it to the police but the police do not expect to find the culprits.  The next morning many heroes of the old radio and film serials begin showing up to help solve the crime (Klaatu and Gort make a small cameo appearance).  After a weekend with the Trent house crowded with supporters or law and order the crime is finally solved by Lamont Cranston.  The Lone Ranger rides off on Silver leaving Arthur Trent with a silver bullet.

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine 8:4 April 1984 (pp.26-44)

That Old Funny Stuff: Author's Choice Monthly Issue 1, Pulphouse, October 1989 (pp.27-48)
from here.
In an SF writing class taught by Mr. Effinger he described this story to us.  After dealing with unhelpful police the narator wishes there were actual heroes in this world.  Then Superman shows up at his house.  Of course he is stunned and has him inside.  Then the Green Lantern...The Lone Ranger, Spiderman, Dr. Strange. etc. until his house is full of these heroes and he's run out of drinks and dip and he wishes they would all leave.  The above is based on my memory, and I have no idea if those were the actual heroes used in the story.

Part of the post where I like hearing myself think:
I remember a copyright lecture from college.  The professor said that Disney is known as The Great White Shark in legal circles.  And Peanuts sued a church for putting Snoopy in their bullitin even though the writer was a kid and obviously no one made money from it.  Paramount has decided that the Star Trek fan fic helps build community and strengthens the brand, so the let it happen.  Lucas feels that giving up control of his characters would damage the brand, so he does not allow it.

If your story is close enough to another idea that you are worried about copyright infringement, then I would say come up with a new idea.   Of course nothing is stopping you from writing your own story for fun, and writing anything is better than writing nothing.


  • Hipparch
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    • Escape Artists, Inc.
Reply #23 on: February 19, 2007, 01:36:40 AM
Paramount has decided that the Star Trek fan fic helps build community and strengthens the brand, so the let it happen.  Lucas feels that giving up control of his characters would damage the brand, so he does not allow it.

To be slightly more specific: Lucas has a problem with people using the specific characters from the movies and stories, but fan fiction within the Star Wars setting is thriving and Lucas has explicitly said he has no problem with it, so long as there's no money being made and the characters are original.  There are full-length fan feature films, produced on a shoestring, that look really damn good.  And Lucas has expressed his own appreciation of short films like "Troops" and "George Lucas in Love."  (Though I'm pretty sure that last one doesn't infringe on copyright anyway.)

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine