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Publishing Fanfiction

The wildly popular Fifty Shades trilogy was initially written as Twilight fanfiction. Does this create issues related to originality or creativity? Should there be legal ramifications when a "published fanfiction" becomes as popular as Fifty Shades did? What lines are drawn to differentiate between these two series? Were enough lines drawn between the two? (The relationship between these two series are used as an example– if any other series exist with a similar relationship, feel free to use those instead.)

  • I haven't read either of these series before. But through osmosis, I believe I've been able to gather that while both series have a similar structure in regards to the development of the relationship between the two protagonists in each, and a similar atmosphere, the respective stories and the routes they travel on are completely unrelated to one another. The names, settings, situations, and general focus of each are entirely different, so I wouldn't think one could officially stake any legal claim to Fifty Shades of Gray being a knock-off or something, because it's different enough that it isn't even Parody, it's its own thing. However, I do believe there are more appropriate examples where the two works are so entirely similar that one could suggest a legal issue could arise. But one does have to be very careful when dealing with that sort of thing, because anybody is capable of coming up with an idea someone else already did, completely autonomously. Two unrelated people, who never met each other, or saw each other's work before, could come up with the exact same idea. It happened with the movie camera, and the telephone. So it can certainly happen with anything else. – Jonathan Leiter 6 years ago
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  • I took a class on fanfiction and this was brought up and the only thing that made Fifty Shade not a fanfic and it's own series was the profit. That's really all the difference is that differentiates fanfic from fic-fic or a spin-off is it's acceptance, popularity and revenue. Fanfic isn't supposed to make any money lest they be infringing on creative property so if you just change the names.. presto! "New story." It's hard to draw the line, really, because nothing is original anymore, every plot line has been done somewhere, you just have to take the old and package it a different way. – Slaidey 6 years ago
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  • I'm doing NaNoWriMo right now, and many tips I read from fellow writers involve borrowing certain ideas/themes from your favourite books/films, even just to get out of a block. Ultimately, all literature is influenced by life events and things you've watched/read. Arguably, the only difference between books published that started as fanfiction and "normal" books could be that the fanfiction authors admit their outside influences. That could be a perspective to explore with this topic. – Laura Jones 6 years ago
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  • I think the wild success of 50 Shades of Grey was certainly something unpredictable, and I believe that the major profit it made is concerning, considering it was blatantly (and admittedly) a fan fiction of another popular series. Fan-fiction fits it's name - fiction made by fans, for fans. It isn't an original product in it's essence, it uses characters created by others, no matter how good the author is in developing plots, it's still based on the work of other's. There was hardly enough lines drawn between Twilight and 50 Shades to make it it's own creative work, in my opinion. – Kathryn Connolly 6 years ago
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  • If I remember correctly, there was a time a few years ago when Square Enix (the video game publisher famous for the Final Fantasy series) was actually looking for fanfiction for contest submissions. Nowadays, it's easy to find actual contests/competitions for fanfiction. Some offer monetary rewards, some offer gift cards, and some simply offer recognition and "badges" for the site. Regardless, it's safe to say that published fanfiction as a whole is an emerging market in the publishing industry--one that should be watched carefully, as I think it will soon make its own name for itself as legitimate literature in ways. Good topic idea! – Christina Legler 6 years ago
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