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Someone Is Angry On the Internet

My position on so-called "fan fiction" is pretty well known. I'm against it, for a variety of reasons that I've stated previously more than once. I won't repeat 'em here.

My position is not unique. It is not universal either, I realize. Some writers actually encourage fan fiction (I know some of them, have heard their arguments), others don't seem to care one way or another (I know many of those). Many writers have no idea that it exists, no concept of what it is (in part because of the confusing term "fan fiction," which subject I will return to later), and have given the subject no thought. So there's a wide range of opinion on this matter, even among writers.

There are lots of us who oppose fan fiction, though. One such is my friend Diana Gabaldon, author of the mega-bestselling OUTLANDER series... and the occasional terrific short story and novella, some of which Gardner Dozois and I have been privileged to publish in our anthologies. Diana recently outlined her own feelings about fan fiction -- especially fan fiction involving her own world and characters -- in a series of posts on her blog:


Subsequent to Diana's first post, all hell broke loose. (As it seems to do more and more often on this "interweb" thingie). A thousand comments on her first two blog posts on the subject. It's all there, for those who want to check out the "debate." Which soon, alas, became heated, as hundreds of... what's the correct term here? fanficcers? fan fictioneers? fans of fanfic? defenders of fanfic?... arrived from all over the internet to take issue with Diana. A good number of them seemed to open their posts with variations on 'I don't know who you are and I've never read your books and I've never visited this blog before, but I've come by specially to lambast you.'


I have a colorful metaphor in mind to describe what this reminds me of, but I won't use it. Metaphors seemed to spark much of the outrage here. Writers have a natural prediliction for the colorful phrase, the striking comparison, but in political discussions -- and this is, at base, a political discussion -- that can lead to hyperbole, which can lead to anger.

So let me try to eschew all that and remain calm.

I am not going to rehash the arguments for and against "fan fiction." If you want to read those, go to Diana's blog. In between the shouting and the abuse and the endless restatement of the same three or four points by several hundred different posters, there's actually some fairly cogent posts on both sides, arguing the pros and cons of the issue.

I would like to say a couple of things that I don't think anyone else covered, however (and yes, I read all thousand-plus comments, though admittedly I skimmed some that just seemed to be more of the same).

As I said, my reasons for opposing fan fiction have been stated in the past. They are more-or-less the same reasons as those cited by Diana Gabaldon, and pretty much the same reasons that would given by any writer who shares our viewpoint on the matter. So I won't repeat them here. But I'll add a few thoughts.

One of the things I mislike about fan fiction is its NAME. Truth is, I wrote fan fiction myself. That was how I began, when I was a kid in high school writing for the dittoed comic fanzines of the early 1960s. In those days, however, the term did not mean "fiction set in someone else's universe using someone else's characters." It simply meant "stories written by fans for fans, amateur fiction published in fanzines." Comic fandom was in its infancy then, and most of us who started it were kids... some of whom did make the mistake of publishing amateur fan-written stories about Batman or the Fantastic Four in their 'zines. National (what we called DC back then) and Marvel shut those down pretty quickly.

The rest of us knew better. Including me. I was a fan, an amateur, writing stories out of love just like today's fan fictioneers... but it never dawned on me to write about the JLA or the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man, much as I loved them. I invented my own characters, and wrote about those. Garizan, the Mechanical Warrior. Manta Ray. The White Raider. When Howard Keltner, one of the editors and publishers of STAR-STUDDED COMICS, the leading fanzine of its day, invited me to write about two of his creations, Powerman and Dr. Weird, I leapt at the chance... but only with Howard's express invitation and permission.

So that's the sort of fan fiction I wrote. How and when the term began to be used for what is called fan fiction today, I don't know. I wish there was another term for that, though I confess I cannot think of one that isn't either cumbersome, vague, or prejorative. But it does bother me that people hear I wrote fan fiction, and take that to mean I wrote stories about characters taken from the work of other writers without their consent.

Consent, for me, is the heart of this issue. If a writer wants to allow or even encourage others to use their worlds and characters, that's fine. Their call. If a writer would prefer not to allow that... well, I think their wishes should be respected.

Myself, I think the writers who allow fan fiction are making a mistake. I am not saying here that the people who write fan fiction are evil or immoral or untrustworthy. The vast majority of them are honest and sincere and passionate about whatever work they chose to base their fictions on, and have only the best of intentions for the original author. But (1) there are always a few, in any group, who are perhaps less wonderful, and (2) this door, once opened, can be very difficult to close again.

Most of us laboring in the genres of science fiction and fantasy (but perhaps not Diana Gabaldon, who comes from outside SF and thus may not be familiar with the case I am about to cite) had a lesson in the dangers of permitting fan fiction a couple of decades back, courtesy of Marion Zimmer Bradley. MZB had been an author who not only allowed fan fiction based on her Darkover series, but actively encouraged it... even read and critiqued the stories of her fans. All was happiness and joy, until one day she encountered in one such fan story an idea similar to one she was using in her current Darkover novel-in-progress. MZB wrote to the fan, explained the situation, even offered a token payment and an acknowledgement in the book. The fan replied that she wanted full co-authorship of said book, and half the money, or she would sue. MZB scrapped the novel instead, rather than risk a lawsuit. She also stopped encouraging and reading fan fiction, and wrote an account of this incident for the SFWA FORUM to warn other writers of the potential pitfalls of same.

That was twenty years ago or thereabouts, but that episode had a profound effect on me and, I suspect, on many other SF and fantasy writers of my generation.

Okay, it was one incident a long time ago, you may say. Fair enough. Let me bring up a couple other writers, then. Contemporaries of an earlier age, each of whom was known by a set of initials: ERB and HPL. ERB created Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. HPL created Cthulhu and his Mythos. ERB, and later his estate, was extremely protective of his creations. Try to use Tarzan, or even an ape man who was suspiciously similar to Tarzan, without his/ their permission, and their lawyers would famously descend on you like a ton of bricks. HPL was the complete opposite. The Cthulhu Mythos soon turned into one of our genres first shared worlds. HPL encouraged writer friends like Robert Bloch and Clark Ashton Smith to borrow elements from his Cuthulhu Mythos, and to add elements as well, which HPL himself would borrow in turn. And in time, other writers who were NOT friends of HPL also began to write Cthulhu Mythos stories, which continues to this day.

Fair enough. Two writers, two different decisions.

Thing is, ERB died a millionaire many times over, living on a gigantic ranch in a town that was named Tarzana after his creation. HPL lived and died in genteel poverty, and some biographers have suggested that poor diet brought on by poverty may have hastened his death. HPL was a far more beloved figure amongst other writers, but love will only get you so far. Sometimes it's nice to be able to have a steak too. The Burroughs estate was paid handsomely for every Tarzan movie ever made, and collected plenty on the PRINCESS OF MARS movie I worked on during my Hollywood years, and no doubt is still collecting on the one currently in development... though the book is in the public domain by now. Did the Lovecraft estate make a penny off THE DUNWICH HORROR movie, the HERBERT WEST, REANIMATOR movie, the recent DAGON movie, the internet version of CALL OF CTHULHU? I don't know. I rather doubt it. If they did, I'll betcha it was just chump change. Meanwhile, new writers go right on mining the Cthulhu mythos, writing new stories and novels.

Cthulhu, like John Carter, is in the public domain by now, I know. But it wouldn't matter. Because HPL let so many others play in his sandbox, he essentially lost control of his own creations. That's what I mean by (2), above. The fan fiction door, once opened, is hard to close again.

A writer's creations are his livelihood. Those copyrights are ultimately all that separates an ERB from a HPL. Is it any wonder that most writers are so protective of them?

Those of us, like Diana Galabdon and myself, who prefer not to allow fan fictioners to use our worlds and characters are not doing it just to be mean. We are doing it to protect ourselves and our creations.

Furthermore, we HAVE to do it. That's something no one addressed, in those thousand comments about Diana's blog. There was a lot of talk about copyright, and whether or not fan fiction was illegal, whether it was fair use (it is NOT fair use, by the way, not as I understand the term, and I have a certain familiarity with what is and isn't fair use thanks to my own experiences with THE ARMAGEDDON RAG), but no one mentioned one crucial aspect of copyright law -- a copyright MUST BE DEFENDED. If someone infringes on your copyright, and you are aware of the infringement, and you do not defend your copyright, the law assumes that you have abandoned it. Once you have done that, anyone can do whatever the hell they want with your stuff. If I let Peter and Paul and Nancy publish their Ice & Fire fanfics, and say nothing, then I have no ground to stand on when Bill B. Hack and Ripoff Publishing decide they will publish an Ice & Fire novel and make some bucks. Peter and Paul and Nancy may be the nicest people in the world, motivated only by sincere love of my world and characters, but Bill B. Hack and Ripoff don't give a damn. They just want the bucks.

Once you open that door, you can't control who might come in.

No one would ever do that, I hear someone muttering in the back. Hoo hah. The history of publishing is full of such cases. Even the famously and fiercely litigious ERB estate was famously victimized back in the 60s, when someone forget to timely renew the copyright on a Tarzan book, and a bottom rung comic company noticed and promptly started up a completely unauthorized (and unpaid for) Tarzan comic.

Those are some of the reasons writers like me will not permit fanfic, but before I close, let me put aside the legal and financial aspects of all this for a moment, and talk about more personal ones. Here, I think, Diana Gabaldon absolutely hit the nail on the head in the latest of her blog posts on the subject. And here, she and I agree completely. Many years ago, I won a Nebula for a story called "Portraits of His Children," which was all about a writer's relationship with the characters he creates. I don't have any actual children, myself (Diana does). My characters are my children, I have been heard to say. I don't want people making off with them, thank you. Even people who say they love my children. I'm sure that's true, I don't doubt the sincerity of the affection, but still...

I have sometimes allowed other writers to play with my children. In Wild Cards, for instance, which is a shared world. Lohengrin, Hoodoo Mama, Popinjay, the Turtle, and all my other WC creations have been written by other writers, and I have written their characters. But I submit, this is NOT at all the same thing. A shared world is a tightly controlled environment. In the case of Wild Cards, it's controlled by me. I decide who gets to borrow my creations, and I review their stories, and approve or disapproval what is done with them. "No, Popinjay would say it this way," I say, or "Sorry, the Turtle would never do that," or, more importantly (this has never come up in Wild Cards, but it did in some other shared worlds), "No, absolutely not, your character may not rape my character, I don't give a fuck how powerful you think it would be."

And that's Wild Cards. A world and characters created to be shared. It's not at all the same with Ice & Fire. No one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me.


I have gone on longer than I intended, but I think this is important stuff. "Fan fiction" -- or whatever you want to call it -- has been around for a long time, but never like now. The internet has changed everything. Whereas before the fanfic might be published in obscure fanzines with a circulation of a hundred, now tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, can read these... well, let's just call them "unauthorized derivative works." (Except in cases where the writer has authorized 'em, which I suppose would be "authorized derivative works.") More than ever, we need some boundaries here.

I salute Diana Gabaldon for opening the debate.

And now I step back, and await the onslaught.

(But a word of warning. I'm not nearly as nice a person as Diana is, and this Not A Blog is screened and monitored by my assistant Ty. Diana was willing to let everything go in her comments section. I'm not. So -- my roof, my rules. Disagree, if you want. Disagree vigorously. Argue your points. But no name-calling, no abuse, no threats. And you can spare me the "I have never read any of your books, but now I'm not going to, and I'm going to tell all my friends not to read your books either" posts as well. Fine, you just want to read books by authors who support fan fiction, go ahead, do that, there are a number of very fine writers in that group, we don't need to hear about it here. No derailing the discussion, please. Let's talk about the issue, not tone. I'd love to see some rational discourse here, thanks).

(And yes, the title of this post is a reference to the classic xkcd cartoon that can be seen here: http://xkcd.com/386/)



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May. 8th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
Oh, and since this might be relavant soon, due to the *squee* upcoming series, what is your stance and fanmade music videos? (Commonly known as vidding).

A vid takes the source (such as a tv series), chooses a song relevant to statement they wish to make, and cuts and chops until they have a (hopefully) well cut music video that discusses the media without using so many words :p
May. 8th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
I suppose fan fiction is also another way for impatient fans to try to get more of their chosen setting. Also I imagine in the growing times of instant gratification, fan fiction may be seen as a quick fix for the addicted. I am sure you are flattered by the desire but your points make an awful lot of sense. Maybe these fans need a sanctioned 'sandbox' to play in that is far from the garden but still has a lingering aroma about the place. It would be interesting to see if you just wrote two paragraphs on a location and let the fan ficts have at it. Just a thought.
May. 8th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC)
A very well thought out argument, sir. When I became a fan of yours some years ago, I was at first really disappointed you didn't allow people to write fanfic of your 'verses, and since then I've always kind of wondered why. I won't lie and say it didn't affect my view of you to some degree.

But you present a very well thought out, reasonable argument, and for that, I thank you. It was enlightening. I still think you're wrong to not allow fanfic, but it's your position, and I respect it, and I hope other people respect it as well.

Thanks for writing this; it was really fine reading.
May. 8th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
This post really interested me because I've been euphorically writing fanfiction for the last couple years, after looking down on it for most of my life. I had a borrowed-world story pop into my head and started writing it out on a whim, and was surprised by how much the exercise helped me develop skills I could use for my original fiction (which oh so desperately needs development).

I'd heard that my favorite author (one GRRM) didn't like it, and shrugged because I wasn't interested in borrowing Westeros anyway. If I had been, though, I never ever would have touched it without knowing if I had the creator's approval. Copyrights and food on the table aside, that's just crass, and it's not that hard to find out which worlds are sanctioned for public use.

The world I use is from a TV show, and its creator has openly encouraged fanfiction using his setting and characters. But even beyond that, the difference I see between doing what I'm doing and using A Song of Ice and Fire in fanfiction is the medium. The creative team that goes into making a single TV show is already pretty huge, and each character is already the child of many minds. Also, I already know that I can't offer visuals like TV does, and TV can't get into the minds of characters like the written word does, so the separation of the original work and the fan product is nice and clean. Anyone looking for profit this way is one lost puppy.

I'd be curious to hear what you think about the possibility of fanfiction being written for the HBO show. Don't get me wrong, I still wouldn't do it and I'd discourage anyone I know from doing it, but does it strike you as any different from directly ripping off your written work?

(Also, for some reason I was thinking about that same xkcd strip while I was walking home today. I'm blog-psychic!)

(Also, your user icon today is terrifying. Nice!)
May. 8th, 2010 07:24 am (UTC)
If the HBO show is a hit, I am sure it will generate reams and reams of fan fiction.

Whether HBO will encourage it, tolerate it, ignore it, or try to shut it down, I cannot say. That's their call.

For my part, I don't intend to read any of it, and I don't want anyone sending any of it to me.
May. 8th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
...Totally Off-Topic?
Ahaha, I read the subject line and instantly thought "Wait, XKCD?" I didn't know you read it, that's awesome!
May. 8th, 2010 02:42 am (UTC)
I wish to salute you...having written fanfic myself in the past, I was prepared to disagree with you. But your argument is valid, and has made me reconsider some things.

I never used another author's characters...only a world setting. I realize that this is in a sense, standing on the shoulders of giants, but I never considered myself a great writer. I was just having fun.

Do you think a clear legal disclaimer would be helpful, or no? Our fanfic site clearly stated "the works here are based on the world setting created by Author XYZ; everything is owned by him, none by us, no profit is made from this site and no profit will ever be made by us from the works created here". If the fanfic writers openly and clearly disavow any claim whatever on what they create, would this help to mitigate some of the potential for copyright infringement? Possibly not, from the way you described defense-of-copyright requirements (which, btw, I find ridiculous...it's like claiming that unless you open fire with a machinegun on every intruder to your home, people are free to call your house abandoned and take all your stuff).

The above question is not an attempt to change your mind; you made it clear your reasons are personal as well as legal/financial.

In closing, I've never written Ice and Fire fanfic, though I have played the excellent role-playing game by Green Ronin press...which involves a fair bit of collaborative storytelling. That's all fanfic ever was to me. A chance to take something awesome and tinker with it for a bit.

I think your novels are superb, and am eagerly awaiting the next.
May. 8th, 2010 07:28 am (UTC)
You may find the concept ridiculous, and I don't disagree... but there's plenty of precedent for it in law, and not just copyright law. Consider easements, for instance. When we first bought our present house, the back yard was unfenced, and we soon discovered that kids from the houses back of us would cut through our yard on their way home from school to save having to go around the corner. Our attorney warned us, "Better put up a fence as soon as possible. If you don't, and this goes on long enough, you won't be allowed to put up a fence. The law will consider that, by tolerating the shortcut, you have created a public easement across your property."

I don't want any easements across my intellectual property.
May. 8th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
Hm, it would be kinda interesting to compare this with that of the Japanese anime fandoms, where the authors pretty much turn a blind eye to fanworks created by their fans. But then the Japanese companies have a different way of looking this sort of thing.

Edited at 2010-05-08 02:56 am (UTC)
May. 8th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
Japan's copyright laws are much different than the United States' laws. Fan works (doujinshi) can be published in small runs and sold for a profit without risk of lawsuit, and without the original author/publisher losing their copyright privileges (most importantly in terms of anime and manga-the privilege to license those rights as they see fit for adaptations and merchandising). But, if you talk to most publishing houses and anime production studios, they generally dislike fan translations of the work into English, because that can interfere with their ability to license a work to an American distributor.
May. 8th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
Copyright must be defended?
I definitely agree that an author's rights (whether it's of written fiction, graphical works, software, etc.) extend to controlling derivative works. They should be able to determine, based on their own comfort level and preference, where they want to draw the line. It would be nice if in cases like that of MZB (mentioned above) that the fact that you are using someone else's characters would waive your right to sue them.

But, I don't believe the following is true:
"If someone infringes on your copyright, and you are aware of the infringement, and you do not defend your copyright, the law assumes that you have abandoned it."

I certainly believe this to be true of trademarks. From wikipedia (I know that is not a definitive source, but I was unable to find anything that addresses the issue on anywhere more official (e.g. USPTO).) "As a trademark must be used in order to maintain rights in relation to that mark, a trademark can be 'abandoned' or its registration can be canceled or revoked if the mark is not continuously used. By comparison, patents and copyrights cannot be 'abandoned' and a patent holder or copyright owner can generally enforce their rights without taking any particular action to maintain the patent or copyright. Additionally, patent holders and copyright owners may not necessarily need to actively police their rights. However, a failure to bring a timely infringement suit or action against a known infringer may give the defendant a defense of implied consent or estoppel when suit is finally brought."

This (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/faqEditorial-29067-6.html) lists several defenses to copyright infringement. Abandonment of the copyright is nowhere mentioned as a defense.

I'll grant you I wasn't able to come up with any truly convincing sources to support this, but all of the not-so-authoritative sources that mention the necessity of enforcement describe it as part of trademark, but not of copyright.
May. 8th, 2010 08:32 am (UTC)
Re: Copyright must be defended?
Ah! Thank you. This is what I was trying to express above, but you did it much more cogently.
Re: Copyright must be defended? - cuddlycthulhu - May. 8th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Copyright must be defended? - tropism - May. 8th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Copyright does not need to be defended - elysdir - May. 8th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
Copyright v. trademark
no one mentioned one crucial aspect of copyright law -- a copyright MUST BE DEFENDED. If someone infringes on your copyright, and you are aware of the infringement, and you do not defend your copyright, the law assumes that you have abandoned it.

I think that's trademarks that you have to defend, or risk losing 'em. Hence the bits in writer magazines about Xerox and Kleenex being brand names & trademarks, not verbs or generic terms. I googled*, and found this -- see #5.

(*I do wonder how Google, Inc., feels about becoming a verb. Maybe I should google & find out! ;) )

But anyways, that's a nitpick, and not meant to try to go all xkcd ("wrong!"). Personally, I've never been much into fan fiction; probably because the first few examples I found back in the '90s weren't terribly good. I'm sure there's some awesome examples somewhere, but I've got so many books that I've bought and need to read, I don't have time to search for good fan-fic.

I will however, shamelessly borrow stuff for RPG sessions or campaigns. :)
May. 8th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Copyright v. trademark
It is almost certainly true at this point that "google" has become genericized and even if defended could not be rescued in the same that kleenex and xerox got genericized years ago. Google does have a history of vigorously defending their trademark though, so it is possible they haven't crossed the line yet. Google is very aware that their brand is their power and they really really don't want to see it go public domain, but sometimes these things are unpreventable.
Re: Copyright v. trademark - elysdir - May. 8th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
I've been torn on the issue for years now. I don't write fanfic, taking other writers' worlds and characters - I have enough of my own characters bugging me day and night - but I wondered what I'd do if I were faced with the question. I've heard people talking about how MZB allows fanfic with open arms, but they seem to have the story a little skewed, and are telling it as though she readily shares payment with co-authors or something. Interesting to hear the corrected story told.

I see what you're saying, and I think I agree. Still have loads of time to consider, myself, but I do think I agree with this stance.
May. 8th, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
I have nothing to add, but I do want to thank you for writing this.
May. 8th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
I came late to the fanfiction party, as a reader (in my 4th decade). Apparently I'd been writing it since I was about 13--stories for my own amusement, set in the worlds of TV shows I loved (oddly, it has never occurred to me to write in the worlds of books I loved). And I remember well when MZB stopped her interaction with fans' fiction set in Darkover.

I'm fairly sure, short of constant litigation (for which few independent authors have the resources), that fanfiction as currently defined is impossible to stop. Curbed, yes, and as long as there is the periodic "cease and desist" I believe the copyright issue will be protected. And of all the arguments against fanfiction, that is the one I think matters most. I know too many working artists not to be sensitive to it.

Ultimately it has to be the generating author's decision, and I think the fan community has a responsibility to follow that author's wishes. For me that means if an author allows fanfic, then I will read it. If, like you and Ms. Gabaldon, you don't want printed and shared, then it is my obligation to not read it, and to do my best to see that others don't.

I am under no illusion that will be something embraced by all, but I think that's the ethical thing to do. That said, I will continue to fill the notebooks beside my bed with the stories I think of that are filled with other people's children. No one else has ever read those, and no one else, I hope, ever will, except over my dead body (literally).

That may be a contradiction, but if so, it is one I can live with. I draw a sharp bright line between the things I write for my own pleasure, and those I write to share.
May. 8th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
I agree with all the points made in Mr. Martin's original post.

I also want to reiterate one of the points that Ms. Gabaldon has made on fanfic, which is, the publishing of it makes a world of difference.

For those who want to write fiction using pre-made characters and world settings, doing so in their own privacy is something between them and their own typewriter/computer. Nobody else needs to know about it, and as long as it remains private, unpublished, it is nobody else's business. No more than it's anybody's business if a fan has a fantasy of being one of the characters in their own heads.

The difference comes when the work is published. Whether it is published on the web, in your blog, on your FB, or in print, or if you just scrawl it on the local truckstop's bathroom stall. At that point, it ceases to be harmless.
May. 8th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
I'm curious what the harm you see in it being published is. I can see how it's harmful if they're collecting money for it, absolutely... but on your website for free?
May. 8th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
I see your point, George. I understand it and I can accept it, although I can accept those writer's decision too who support fan fiction.

It should be (very simply) always the decision of the writer, if he/she allows it or not.

Myself, I prefer the 'original' stuff, so I only read from the original authors always.
May. 8th, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
Though I may disagree with what you have to say, I will defend to the death your right to say it.
It's your story, your characters, and thus your choice. As has been mentioned Webmasters are generally willing to take the authors side, likely for the same reasons publishers do. Especially since they are likely making even less per story posted on their site than a publisher is per book they pop out.

Other peoples opinions on whether or not your work is open to others are moot. They are, by all means, entitled to their opinion don't get me wrong. But it is possible for an opinion to be wrong, and this is a perfect example of such a time.

However I don't think any hard or fast law should be fashioned to cover all fan fiction since as you note yourself there are authors who actively encourage their fans to write fan fic. And as has been mentioned here, and I'll assume in the blog that sparked this entry, people use fan fic to hone their writing skills and massage their creative juices into flowing. And lets be fair it seems an authors major issues are getting those juices flowing so learning tricks while borrowing others ideas to help them is likely a good way to get started on before graduating to getting their own worlds.

Does that mean they should be allowed to publish works that use your, or other, authors worlds/characters? Not without the express written permission of said authors. Writing for fun and practice is one thing, doing so to make a living is another.
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