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 Fan Fiction:

Fanfiction: oh, such a hot topic among many fans as well as authors.

I'll admit right up front, I don't get a lot of queries about fanfiction and my stand on it. I like to think it's because I don't leave a whole lot of loose ends, but knowing how long it takes me to get a new book out, I think I might simply be dislocating my arm without substantiation. (Patting myself on the back, for those as confused as I was when I reread that sentence.) For all I know, there's a ton of fanfic out there posted blithely by authors who simply never asked me if I minded.

Do I mind? In a word. Yes. And No. (How 'bout that for waffling? )

Do I mind people posting stories based on my work without asking me? H#$l, yes. I have a copyright on these stories that can be fundamentally jeopardized by a blanket OK on flagrant copyright violation...and fanfiction is flagrant copyright violation, no matter how sterling the intentions of the lovely people posting it. If only all fanfiction writers were as sensible and kind as the majority, this kind of qualified statement would not be necessary. However, my income depends on my protection of my copyrights and my twenty pounds of black cat depends on my writing to buy him his Smoochies and Cluckers.

Trust me: A hungry Efanor is not a pretty sight!

On the other hand, writing fiction has brought unparalleled joy to me and if my work inspires other people to practice the art or even to work out personal issues in the comfortable milieu of a known world and characters...have I any right to complain?

Right, yes. Morally and legally. Desire...again, h#$l no.

I've spent a lot of time and effort over the years trying to reconcile these diametrically opposed issues. I've attended panels, I've asked the writers why they write fanfic and what they hope to get out of it, I've put my name on the line on fanfic sites, trying to find a sane and fair answer...

...and I think I've finally come to a satisfactory stand that's both fair and will protect my copyrights. (The following is subject to change as I receive new input.)

A) I categorically deny the right of anyone to publish a work based on any aspect of my original work (fanfiction) in any format where money exchanges hands for any reason. This denial includes but is not limited to the following formats:

  • Printed fanzines.
  • Web sites requiring payment in order to participate.
  • Obviously, any professionally published format.

B) I will allow the freely available distribution of stories (primarily internet posting) provided they include, within the standard disclaimer at the beginning of every posted segment of every story the following information:

  • The name of the author of the original work (that would be me! }
  • The published title of the original work from which the fanfiction has been derived.
  • The word "Thinkaboutit" (1) exactly as written here.

Any work not adhering to the above rules will be considered in violation of my copyrights. I would very much appreciate it if anyone sees such a posting, that they contact the author of the fanfiction and direct their attention to this page. My goal is not to prevent fans from enjoying the comraderie of sharing their work but to protect myself and my copyrights.

(1) The inclusion of "thinkaboutit" in the disclaimer implies the author of the fanfiction has accepted the following conditions:

  1. This is a special permission--- dispensation within ---of the copyright as owned by the author of the original work.(Again, that would be me! ) As such, special conditions and rules must be adhered to.
  2.  This is a work of fanfiction and as such all rights to the characters and milieu are retained by the author of the orginal work. (Me!)
  3. Any similarities between the original work  and the work of fanfiction are acknowledged to be the result of the story, character and milieu elements as they appear in the original work.(This applies to any subsequent books by the author of the original work, whether or not those books are in the same milieu. In accepting this part of the agreement, the fanfiction author is acknowledging the author's established preference for exploring certain themes and that overlap might well occur simply from the demands of the storyline.)
  4. The author of the original work shall never be held accountable, legally or emotionally, for any similarity between the work of fanfiction and the original work upon it has been based, or any other work written by the author of the original work. This includes, but is not limited to, (a) any perceived right on the part of the fanfiction author to sue the author of the original work based on "copyright violation"does not exist (b) the posting on any public forum of any review or article even implying such a violation will be considered libelous. [Lord, I hate that word! Don't do it!]

My feeling is, if I can trust you, the fanfiction author, with my characters and worlds, you can trust me not to use an idea that isn't mine.

Finally, I don't want to know the details of posting. I don't want you to send me copies. I don't want to see what you've written. Not because I'm not interested, not because I don't wish you well, but because the copyright laws are such that these are safety measures I simply must take, if I'm going to allow the distribution of fanfiction.

I'd dearly love to get feedback on this from those of you who write fanfiction, whether of my work or others'. fancher@cherryh.com

This policy is open to revision without notice!