Fanfic for profit? Who thought that was a good idea?

I’ve seen the kerfuffle from the fans over the new site Now, I’m curious as to what those outside of the immediate community think. Check out the link for all of the details if you’ve never heard of it, but basically, it’s a for-profit fanfiction archive.

[OT]I’m disappointed in Firefox’s dictionary that they’re missing “kerfuffle”, one of my favorite words.[/OT]

It’s a dangerous area, since most fanfic violates copyrights and trademarks. At the very least, they’d need to pay the trademark holders for the rights, and their disclaimer isn’t likely to shift the blame to the authors. By hosting, they can get in a lot of trouble.

Hell, half of Star Trek: Voyager’s scripts were fanfic for profit.

Or maybe they just seemed like it…

You’d think, but to the contrary - the Terms of Service are verrrry interesting reading.

“You shall be solely responsible for Your own Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. In connection with Submissions, You affirm, represent, and/or warrant that You own or have the necessary rights or permissions, either from third parties, or through an ultimate determination of fair use under copyright law, as applicable, to use and authorize FanLib to use the Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these TOS.”

You can guess how much the authors who read this were rushing to sign up.

They can put that in the TOS, but ain’t no way in hell that’ll ever stand up in court.

The only way something like that would make sense to me is to use familiar copyrighted characters that have long since passed into the public domain that aren’t held by the author’s estate… early science fiction, adventure stories and early detctive fiction spring to mind. The Rediscovered Mystery Files of Jacque Futrelle’s The Thinking Machine. The Singular Origin of His Lord Greystoke and his Later Adventures in Africa, from the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Declassified Secret Military Campaigns during the H.G. Welles’ War of The Worlds. Jules Verne’s Steampunk Romances. That sort of thing, where you can play with milieus, characters, and follow-ups in Holmesian pastiche.

I’ve done fanfic before-- I’ve written fanfic that people would have been happy to pay for – there’s no way I would sign up for something like this.

Wow. I write fanfic, and this site triggers alarm bells the equivalent of the Robot running around with its little metal gears whirring going “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”

Just… wow. (Not that I wouldn’t love to be paid for what I do, but…)

But, in case it isn’t clear, you wouldn’t be through this either. The only people profiting is the glorified scam artist(s) who created the site. Actual authors get occasional T-shirts and gift cards if they are LUCKY. It’s a website trying to earn money off the creative writing of other people who are using the intellectual property of some third party in exchange for trinkets and the assurance that should a lawsuit happen they’ll try to throw the fanfic writer to the dogs.

“Hey, bud, have I got a deal for you… You hack the code to Microsoft Windows and give it to me. I’ll sell it to people, pocket the profits, give you happy face stickers for your trouble if you do better than the other hacker volunteers working for nothing and send the lawyers your address when they come knocking.”

Of course the faults in their great plan is that most people aren’t that stupid and any lawyer who decides to sue isn’t going to go after the kids writing the stories, they’re going to go after the owner who got rich off of Google. I hope they are just successful enough to attract a huge lawsuit that bankrupts them, because this is one of the most calculatedly evil and inept plans to try to make money off the Internet ever, even above the madness of the dot com bubble and Napster and so forth years back.