Ha! I was just about to post about this too to see what you all thought, since we recently discussed fan fiction.
From a Publisher's Weekly article:
"Amazon will own global publishing rights to all Kindle Worlds stories for the entire term of copyright and Amazon will set the prices (99 cents to $3.99). While fan-authors own copyright to any original elements in the stories, like new characters and events, the original World Licensor retains copyright to the original context of the fictional world."
Personally I think fan fiction should be free. I mean, if they print and bound it and sold it at conventions that's ok to charge but I dunno... maybe I'm just used to the idea of it being something people do for fun and nothing more.
I wonder if this means sites like Fanfiction.net will be told to remove stories that fall under one of 'worlds' now owned by Amazon?
Honestly the whole thing seems a bit weird to me, and sort of going against the point of fanfiction. At the same time, will it be any different really then the books that are written based off tv shows already? There are Charmed books, Alias books, Buffy books sold...probably a lot of different kinds of books too based off shows, that are officially licensed.
They call it fanfiction but really all this is, is a formal way to license someone's world so you can write in it as well. Which covers fanfic, to be sure (though they're not going to allow slashfic so, um, it doesn't cover *all* of fanfic) but it also covers creating unique characters and stories "In the world of" other characters.
Which was something I was fond of doing -- I was on a few fanfic boards that didn't really tell stories about established characters in other works, we told stories of characters we created in those worlds, and occasionally a pre-established character would show up, from time to time, but not in any big way. It was loads of fun.
It will be interesting to see how that goes.
Amazon doesn't "own" stories -- they're licensing them from Warner Brothers (and potentially others) so that they can make royalties, kind of how a tv network will pay studios for shows and then make money off commercials.
It's actually quite smart, in a way -- there are tons of people writing fan-fiction anyway, and now the companies who own the source material can find a way to use it as a cash resource -- people are going to write fan-fiction no matter what, so instead of punishing it, they're tapping into it as potential audience.
Whether anyone will actually buy it or whether it will have quality is a different matter.
But in theory, it could become just like most long-term series (like Nancy Drew, written by multiple authors) or comic books, with constantly changing creative teams.
They can't prevent free fan fiction, they're just trying to create a profit stream from some of it. Will I buy it? Nope. But someone will.
Yeah what they're doing with WB is the big news, but what they're making it available to *anyone*. If I wanted to open up the Foldspace universe I could (eventually) configure it through KDP. This is the information I'm getting from the self-publishing places I nose around in.
*That* is an interesting development, because it allows you, the writer, to decide whether or not you want to license your material through Amazon and a) get paid for it and b) benefit from the work others do in your world, if they choose to do so through Amazon. Because if they do, you have the right to use anything they invent and incorporate it into your world -- not republish their work, but take a character or an event in something they wrote and use it in your own work, or tweak it somewhat to align it more closely to your canon.
Which is kind of brilliant on Amazon's part, because one of the reasons some authors don't like fan fiction is the fear that they will accidentally read it and then get accused by a fan of "stealing his/her story." Amazon takes care of that, at least so far as anything published through them.
It would be possible, using this, to do all kinds of interesting things. And probably dastardly things to. It'll only be a matter of time before someone tries to turn this into a pyramid scheme.
I'm excited about it for purely selfish reasons: My girlfriend--before she passed away--was very active in the fanfiction community. I am terrified that all of the beautiful fanfic that she wrote will eventually come down when the sites inevitably come down (they always do). This gives me a chance to publish her work and let the world give it the recognition and permenancy that it deserves.
ubersoft hit my feelings exactly. That said, I would totally write for a fiction I like, with the possibility of my stuff being used, for free, because thats FAN FIC in my opinion. (dude, a contest, 12 stories selected by the original story writer, one month, story with the most sales becomes canon. )
From a legal standpoint one wonders how chilling this might be for free fanfic writers. If Amazon has a legitimate license for fanfic, that puts other fanfic writers for certain license properties in a bad place.
Your "free Vampire Diaries" fiction may infringe because it destabilizes the saleability of legitimate licensed work. Actually yeah... now I feel uneasy about this.
Curious whether this will take off into many fandoms. Based on some tweeting by Chuck Wendig, it sounds like the three properties mentioned so far all originate from the same packaging house? So will they struggle to get big author-driven products like Buffy/Angel on-board?
As long as it's only a handful of properties, it'll struggle to be a real gamechanger, but it'll be an interesting experiment for people who did write in those fandoms.
I've never written fan-fiction, but if they have properties that I actually care about (and if I have time which I don't), I might consider trying it once just to see if I attract fans to my own stuff. The original story would have to have a similar audience to my own though. I'm betting that's not the case with any of the currently available properties.
I don't actually consider this fan-fic... it's like Eoin Colfer writing "And Another Thing..." for Hitchiker's Guide. It's somebody writing another title for the series, under license. The only difference being that this stuff won't be canon, or written by the authors of NY Times bestselling authors.
^ Yeah, no, not doing this. Basically a way for Amazon to steal any good ideas/plots etc and sell them off. Got a fic that would make for an awesome movie? You'll get a pittance, while the licence owners make a mint out of it. It's intellectual robbery.
I gave up writing fanfiction a while back when I saw that fandoms were more interested in porn than they were good stories. I would struggle to keep characters IC, recreate the tone of the series, add in new ideas and plots, really do the source material justice ... and then an erotic slash fic that does none of the above would get ten times the number of reviews, favourites, follows etc. Oh, and people who write erotic/porn fanfics get book deals that become the next bestsellers. Depressing.
It's all about how relentlessly the copyright owners pursue infringements. I see a potential Jayne Hat situation (http://io9.com/fox-bans-the-sale-of-unlicensed-jayne-hats-from-firefly-471820413) - Fox didn't care about the cottage industry until it had a "legitimate interest" to maintain. I don't see that this can be anything but bad news for fanfic writers.
Yeah, I've seen the above point raised elsewhere. If "authorised fanfiction" becomes widespread, will it then be in the licence-holder's interest to clamp down on the unauthorised free stuff?
And another one pointed out in a blog post by Chuck Wendig - if you're an author who makes a living from writing novels etc about licensed characters, does this mean you'll find it harder to get work, or at least, harder to get paid as much?
I don't know if we'll see all that yet, as it would require a lot more fandoms to sign on to Amazon Worlds or start their own competing systems, but if enough do, these things may come up.
From a business perspective I think this is a very smart move from Amazon and WB.
I'm not particularly comfortable with it from a content creator/sometime fanfic writer perspective. Mostly because I think the types of fanfic that other platforms (Livejournal I am looking at you) have always hated will also be hated by Amazon, which will shrink the spaces available for people to write that kind of fanfiction, which, in my view, has a place and is a legitimate form of expression, responding to the text, and exploring reactions to the text.
Also curious how this is going to affect existing free fanfic sites like Fanfiction.net and the excellent AO3 and whether they're going to start coming under pressure to close down or restrict hosting of fanfic in 'worlds' licensed by Amazon. We just got to a point where networks/publishers had laid off persecuting fanfic writers and hosts, and this feels like it may start up a whole new round of persecution.
FYI, copyright law makes any derivative work the property of the author of the thing it was derived from. Unless you receive a license from the author, you don't own your fan-fiction anyway.
I don't think that's universally true, Chris. Parodies and pastiches are derivative works of other material but they aren't treated as owned by the author of the source material. If they were the owner of the source material could shut down a parody he or she found insulting.
Yes, copyright law expressly allows things like parody and other commentary. However, we're talking about fan-faction. 99.9% of it is the very definition of derivative work.
* under copyright law