The Battle for Artistic Freedom: Fanfiction and Copyright

The Tolkien Estate recently changed their copyright, stating that under no circumstances may a person “create materials which refer to the characters, stories, places, events or other elements contained in any of Tolkien’s work”. Close on the heels of this announcement came the importing of The Library of Moria fanfiction archive into the Archive of Our Own network; an archive with a legal team that works to protect the content hosted there.

This isn’t the first time that an author or estate has laid down the law regarding the creation of fan content under the arguments of copyright and protecting the integrity of the original work. Authors like Anne McCaffrey and Anne Rice have well-remembered conflicts revolving around fanfiction of their books – but what is the future of fan works in a world of cease-and-desists, DMCAs and fiercely-protected copyright claims? The majority of fanfiction and other fan work is created and consumed for free out of a passion for the source material. Is it an estate or author’s right to ban the creation of any and all fan content in the name of ‘integrity’?

  • Whoever decides to write about this topic, I highly recommend they look at Japan's doujinshi (self-published) community. Many fans will self-publish their own fan-faction of popular franchises, and it is not that big of a deal. Even when the content is NSFW no one makes that big of a deal. It is even encouraged by some creators. The artist for Dragon Ball Super Toyotarou actually started out as a Doujinshi artist for Dragon Ball and was eventually chosen by Akira Toriyama to continue the Dragon Ball series officially. I think it would be interesting to see a compare and contrast of these two different approaches to handling the fan-fiction community. – Blackcat130 1 year ago
  • There is also something to be said about the idea of commissioning fanfiction. The idea of paying someone to write about other copyrighted characters and franchises is debatable and interesting when it comes to trying to figure out whether or not doing so impacts the artists integrity or not. Is it wrong to pay someone that is not affiliated with certain works to make something with the same characters or even the same universe? – Belle 1 year ago
  • Fanfiction is just as much creating as an original story. I think people underestimate fanfiction and fanfiction writers. Sometimes they can create much more amazing things then canon, something more fleshed out and with less holes. In a way fanfiction writers are creating their own world just with familiar characters. – amalhameed 10 months ago

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