Monday, April 9, 2012

On copyrighting and selling your fanfic...

Someone brought 50 Shades of Grey to my attention...

Okay, a lot of people brought it to my attention, hence my renaming the story 50 Shades of Suck and watching Cookie Monster dramatically read part of the book to me. (Yeah, you can see Cookie here. And, no, I don't think it is any worse for this video maker to have stolen Cookie's voice than it was for James to borrow Meyer's world.)

I know, I know. A lot of you out there love 50 Shades. Probably a lot of you love the Hermione Granger erotic that I was alerted to yesterday. (I'm not kidding, sadly. Let's just say they found a creative way to use the Room of Requirement which JK would not have...uh...used.) But you love the world (that another writer created) and the we love the theft of characters?

Apparently, you do.

Or so the numbers would have me believe.

Personally, it grates on my nerves. Hawthorne said that, "Easy reading is damn hard writing." He wasn't lying. Part of being a storyteller is creating your world and creating the rules for it. No, it really isn't easy to create a world as full of flavors, sights and sounds as Rowling's. Though I may have issues with some of the directions that Meyer pointed the moral compass in Twilight, her world was full of textures, too (and some of them sparkled.)

But that is the thing...they created them. Fanfic is it's place. It shows that the book got someone thinking...thinking so hard that they wanted to tell a story in your world. A lot of writers come out of the fanfic world and become authors by their own right.

But to sell stick copyrights on your fanfic and make a profit off of them (which is what 50 Shades and the Hermione story did) is sort of like me grabbing up a Nike teeshirt, ripping out the label, sticking my name and copyright on it and dipping it in pink food coloring. Yup, I did change the color of the shirt but it is still Nike's checkmark that makes it cool. Not my food coloring.

Me, I would rather you fall in love with my unique creation...which looks nothing like Nike's and isn't depending on my readers to recognize Nike's swoosh to sell copies. Maybe this means it is going to take me a bit longer than James to make it big. Maybe I won't ever make it big. But my worlds are mine...Not borrowed.

So for those of you who have been asking what I think of 50 Shades...

I think it is sad. I think it is like saying it is okay to steal whatever and that copyrights don't matter.

I think it is stealing. And I think the copyrights on both 50 Shades and the Hermione story are hypocritical as hell. "Don't steal from me the ideas I stole from another author!"


And then I have heard that I should be thrilled that 50 Shades came out because it will turn the public eye to my erotic works...that 50 Shades is opening the door for books like mine to gain popularity.

Yes, 50 Shades is erotic. Yes, it does seem to have opened people up to discussing erotic. But if the thing to blow open the door let in the idea that theft is okay...perfectly acceptable, even, and a great way to make tons of money and wriggle in overnight success...

I, as an author, cannot think that it's a great thing. I'll save the champagne and streamers for a party that doesn't let so much negative possibility in the door with it's entrance.

Ugh. Off my soapbox now and back to my writing cave. Where, yes, I am writing stuff that isn't copyrighted by someone else.

Because I am badass like that.

The picture above is James, by the way. I'm sure she won't mind me 'borrowing' her image for my blog. It is, after all, a nod to her success, isn't it? Borrowing is a compliment. Or so her own book would suggest.

Happy writing! (Note:I said writing, not borrowing. There is a difference.)


  1. WTF?! You can't take somebody's character, lift them out of that person's story and write your own story with it! THAT'S THEFT.

    That's like me taking a Degas, splashing a little ink on it and calling it a Lisa Pietsch original!

    This book is actually on shelves?!?

  2. Bestselling in the case of 50 Shades...She was required to rename them when she transferred over from online fanfic to publication. But...yeppers, borrowed.

    In the case of the Hermione story, she renamed the characters things like Hermiony and Ron Wesley. Oh, and my faves, Voldemore and Harry Podter. She has only been up for about a month so hopefully...she gets taken down.

    50 Shades isn't going anywhere. Can't put the pink elephant back in the box...

  3. Great blog, Virg! I feel the same way about "fan fiction". I haven't read 50 Shades of Grey and not planning on it. I didn't realize it started as fan fic. What story did she lift?

  4. Twilight. The characters were originally even named the same. There is a comparison up here: