Posted by Carrie Fulk Vaughn
I write fan fiction. That’s right. I said it. I write fanfiction. I take other people’s characters and write cheesy stories about them doing things they most likely would never do with people they probably would never do it with and I do it all with relish. I enjoy borrowing other people’s characters and drooling all over their creations to make a wet, sloppy mess. When I eventually publish my books, I know other people will do the same thing with my work, especially if it ends up being popular. Even without being popular, some artists have already done fanart of my characters and the works aren’t even openly available yet. Hell, I’ve even done fanfiction of my OWN work and stuck my characters in stories and situations they would never have been in. I’ve taken characters of mine and dropped them into other people’s worlds. I’ve taken their characters and had them interact with mine. I’ve taken other people’s characters and my characters and put them in worlds that are completely off the charts unbelievable and done it all with a grin. For awhile I even had people who wanted to publish my fanfiction with their illustrations and make money from it.
That was where I drew the line. I was completely flattered that anyone thought the work we were doing was anything publishable or even by any means good. I was flattered that they wanted to draw illustrations to the story. I would have even been okay with them forming it together so it looked like a book for us and them and anyone who wanted a free copy. It was the making money part of it that bothered me. Yes, I wrote it. Yes, they drew the pictures. But that is someone else’s intellectual property and making money off of it would have just been wrong. If I were the creator of said characters, I would be a little upset at someone making money off of my brainchild. I would probably be irritated if they did a spinoff and made money off of it. It’s just not right. More than that, it’s the law.
In the United States, copyright is pretty strongly enforced by those who have the money to do something about it. If you rip off something from Rowling or Meyers, you better believe you’d have it taken from your hot little hands before it ever made a single dime or, if they didn’t catch you in time, you would be required to pay restitution. That money would go to the original creator. We are allowed to create derivative works based from other’s work, but in the end, if someone has the money to come after you and does? I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.
I’m just happy that I can borrow other people’s characters and play with them for awhile and then give them back without a lawsuit. You really just need to play fair with other people, in my honest opinion. It goes back to when we were kids. I don’t go to my friend’s house, take their dolls to play with and then claim them as my own. I don’t try to sell them to the neighbor kid down the street as my own dolls. I play with them, grateful for the opportunity, and then I give them back in the original condition I got them in. We learned these lessons in Kindergarten. Or should have. That is why I have never sold any of my fanfiction. As a matter of fact, I’m damned glad the makers of said characters don’t come down and smack the shit out of me for writing their characters in homoerotic situations. (Or worse.)
If my stories become popular, I will be very happy to know people like my work enough to write stories and draw pictures of them. I would be tickled pink to see videos made of them. I would be super stoked if people sent them to me as prints because, to be quite honest, I don’t think there is a bigger honor than having my work honored in such a way. If there aren’t stories on Y-gallery about Baby and Maki, I will be so seriously disappointed. I will probably cry. Literally. I wish I were joking. Fanfiction is how you know you’ve made it into the mainstream and I would love to get there.