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Crediting pro-fic and other works in our stories

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by HHP, Oct 15, 2005.

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  1. HHP

    HHP Jedi Master

    Registered:
    Jan 18, 2004
    I didn't see a thread or policy concerning this, so I thought I'd start a thread.

    My question - is there a policy on the crediting of professional work in our stories? I don't necessarily mean George Lucas or LFL; I know some people put disclaimers in their first posts, but I thought there was a general understanding that as long as it stays low-profile, Lucas won't go after fan fiction. I'm more concerned about other authors. I believe some sites - I think it was ffn - do not allow stories in certain fandoms because the authors of those original works are known to threaten lawsuits.

    So how should we deal with things when we write crossovers, or if our ideas or inspired from a novel or movie? I admit to using quotes from Lord of the Rings in my story titles, and another story was titled after Shakira's lyrics. I was careful to note this, however, either in the first post or when I used the quotations.

    Is a simple disclaimer enough? Should TFN be concerned about if, for instance, Disney becomes upset at a Lion King/Star Wars crossover? I once thought about writing an Alias version of a Star Wars story, trying to follow the show as closely as possible. To be honest, I'd essentially be stealing the plotline and throwing it into the GFFA. [face_mischief] I doubt JJ Abrams reads our boards, but should I avoid posting stories like that just in case?

    Does putting in a diclaimer really protect the author then? Should it be required of all stories like the ones I've described, if not for legal protection but out of courtesy to the pro-authors? Or should it be more of an etiquette thing and not something the mods should create a rule for?

    Or do I just think too much? :p
     
  2. Alethia

    Alethia Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2005
    I think that usually a disclaimer would be okay. Though using FF.Net as an example, you might not want to make a cross-over with one of the authors there who do not allow fan fic. But really, I think it would be fine, as long as you have a disclaimer.
     
  3. Souderwan

    Souderwan Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2005
    I'm not an expert on copywrite law or anything, but I'm reasonably sure that as long as there is no money made from it, you're not violating anything and there's no basis for lawsuits. Giving credit at the beginning of the story is a courtesy rather than a legal requirement.

    That being said, theres nothing stopping somebody from filing s frivolous law suit which costs money to respond to. So...it's probably best to just give credit where credit is due.
     
  4. Knight_Dilettante

    Knight_Dilettante Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I have just read up a bit on the issue of copyright and am paraphrasing what I have learned.

    There's a long thread somewhere around here on the specific issue of copyright. It is a confusing issue. But the reality is, you can be sued if you use someone's character or universe without permission. Some copyright holders, such as GL/Lucasfilm, are cool with it, within limits. Quite probably because they know stopping it is impossible (or at least prohibitively expensive and ultimately detrimental). Many who have accepted it do list limits (as Lucasfilm does with their PG limit which is why we here have that limit) and of course none of them would be at all happy if you were making money off of it. There is a site [link=http://www.fanworks.org/writersresource/?tool=fanpolicy]here[/link]* that lists for many authors/properties what their position is on fans creating fanfiction from their work. I use it when I am thinking of writing in a particular property/universe because I try very hard not to let myself be tempted to write (or at least not post or otherwise publish in any way) fanfic using properties that do say they don't want fans violating their copyright in that way. It can be hard but as a content creator myself I feel it is only right to respect other people's creations.

    A disclaimer will not protect you legally, but I try to always include one to show my gratitude to the author or authors whose work I am "borrowing" and/or who inspired me, and to acknowledge their ownership of the property. That goes right on to include other fanfic authors whose work or even comments about a character were enough to prompt a story. That seems to me to be only right.

    Actually, that is one of many funny-odd things about copyright. Even though we are writing in a fictional universe created by someone else, the characters we create (as opposed to "borrow" from the property in question) are in fact copyright to us. So if you borrow another fanfic author's character (such as someone borrowing Padawan Oirj who I created in "Mission") without permission you are violating copyright law just as much as you are by borrowing Obi-Wan kenobi. And even with permission, it is polite to make sure that you are borrowing the character and not just the name and the identifying characteristics (this came up in the etiquette thread I think a while back actually).

    Copyright also protects the general universe and most details of plot or character. Not however "ideas" so the "idea" of a group of warrior wizard monks who defend the galaxy against evil is up for grabs. But them having an ability to touch something called the Force (or called something else but behaving as the Force does) would probably violate copyright. Them carrying swords made of light would almost definitely do so.

    In general is seems to me to be most polite to always credit anyone whose work you use (or whose work inspires you) no matter how much of it you use. And that would include another fanfic author particularly if I am using or building on or otherwise inspired by a unique twist in the universe that they used before I did and I had read the work. For example if I were to do something about the Temple going through a downsizing phase (or even just a budget crunch) I would credit Dianethx for her brilliant work on that subject even if my story were about the different types of second jobs the Jedi took in order to keep the place running and keep from having to downsize. (Hmmm.... hippity hop, hippity hop...)

    KD

    *Sorry, took a while to find it.
     
  5. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Squirrely Community Mod star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2000
    Awesome idea for a thread HHP.

    Lots of info I had no idea about from posters here.

    As far as here, I would hope that we all remember to ask when borrowing another's OC, giving people their due with credit where it belongs when using a similar idea if only just to be courteous, it never hurts and can prevent misunderstandings and hard feelings. :D :D
     
  6. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Calling "No!" on the PG thing - that's TF.N's policy - Lucasfilm just prefers that Fan fic over all keep a low profile.

    Even a disclaimer will NOT protect you from 'frivolous' lawsuits - they are actually serious issues of copyright infringement (ie 'derivitive works' that as Authors, we can thank LFL for turning a blind eye to).

    Anyway, I am personally flattered when and author ASKS to use my characters/situations ect - and have always given my blessing because those who have are also (thankfully) people who I know I can entrust with my characters.

    On the other hand, if someone sees a great idea (say a GFFA version of Dr. Suess) that someone has done, I would hope they would have the courtesy of asking the originator, just in case they have plans to make it a series...
     
  7. Knight_Dilettante

    Knight_Dilettante Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Well, I base my PG limit comment on this quote, "Lucasfilm has suppressed Skywalker slash on the grounds that it harms the Star Wars image, but it allows PG-rated fanfic." from [link=http://www.fanworks.org/writersresource/?tool=fanpolicy&action=define&authorid=112]this page[/link] of the website I finally put the link in for above and on other information indicating an acceptance of only "family friendly" fanfic. I do know that in earlier things I have read on this subject (and even an earlier quote on that page) it was true that it did not explicitly say PG limit but rather something about "remaining family friendly". The fact may well be that tf.n did not choose a PG limit because they knew that was LucasFilms preference as much as because it was their own preference. Just as it might be that LucasFilm deciding to accept PG-13 fanfic now that RotS is out at a PG-13 level would not inspire tf.n to allow PG-13 fanfic.

    KD
     
  8. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Irregardless - that's way off the point - (I mean, even in pro-fic characters are 'getting it on' and in the Sith Novelisation, Stover implied that Anankin was a virgin when he met Padme) But I would thihnk that we're more concerned with 'borrowing' from fellow AUTHORS as apposed to nit picking thre scematics of copyright law and what not.:)
     
  9. Knight-Ander

    Knight-Ander Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Back to the original question, mentioning that certain elements of your story were inspired by a certain movie/book/song is a great way of allowing the reader to relate more to your story, I think, especially if they are familiar with said movie/book/song. The reader can understand the emotions your characters are trying to express better. Or something like that.

    Personally, I find disclaimers saying that "Star Wars is a property of Lucasfilm, blah, blah, blah," as silly and somewhat repetitive in a Fan Fiction forum. :p
     
  10. Knight_Dilettante

    Knight_Dilettante Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Well, I tend to see it as all the same thing. Having the courtesy not to use something someone else created without observing the limits they set, if any. Regardless of how sane or sensible those limits may or may not appear to be to me. It is certainly true that I have exceeded the PG limit with some things that I have written. But in general, for the most part, those things that I have written that way are not posted to any kind of wide audience out of respect for that whole "family friendly" thing since I can't very well run it by LucasFilm to see if they'll mind my particular story. It's also true that my family has probably got a much less... er, restrictive (conservative?, ???) view of what is family friendly than perhaps many others.

    It's very easy to do the right thing with our fellow fanfic authors, though. Ask before using a character that someone else created, run past them what you plan to do with the character before you post to make sure you're not taking them out of character or otherwise doing something that will bother them. Ask permission and provide credit if you are going to run with a story structure (I'm not sure I have the right label here) that is the same or even just notably similar to one that one of our fellow authors has already done (always assuming you are aware someone has done it - the great minds think alike thing does happen on occasion), etc.

    As for copyright issues, that was done to death in the other thread which I still haven't had time to find. I just hate to see things that might not be right left unnoted.

    KD
     
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