On some fanfiction sites, crossovers–stories that are fanfiction of two or more other unrelated storylines–are actually fairly easy to categorize. That is, they are labeled as “crossovers,” and they can probably be found among other crossovers for each story they represent.
But what about sites that don’t have a crossover category?
Should you label your Doctor Who/Star Trek fanfiction as Doctor Who, or as Star Trek? What criteria would you use?
And what about stories that aren’t typically labelled as crossovers?
What if I wanted to write Doctor Who fiction about one of the actors meeting the Doctor? Is it fanfiction… or real person fiction? And, since many of the sites I’m on don’t actually allow RPF, would such a story, such a crossover, be permitted on those sites?
Fanfiction.net’s most recent policy, updated as of 2008, specifically lists among the forbidden stories: “Stories with non-historical and non-fictional characters: actors, musicians, and etc.”
It does not state “real person fiction” is not allowed, but that stories “with non-fictional etc” is not allowed.
My interpretation, then, is that this prohibition includes crossovers between the real person and the fictional character, so “David Tennant meets the Doctor” plots are… probably not allowed, no matter how much focus is put on the Doctor.
That being said, I have seen quite a few such crossovers on the site, which suggests that either readers have not reported them or the site does not always enforce the rule as such. Which still leaves the question up in the air on whether or not they’re actually allowed.
- The Fabulous Fandom of Fanfictions (venikaforever.wordpress.com)
- FFillustrated: a FanFiction/DeviantArt crossover (inimbi.wordpress.com)
- Fanfiction (shm2983.wordpress.com)
- Fanfiction (booksdreamslife.wordpress.com)
- About Fanfiction (persephonemagazine.com)
- Fanfiction Update (jdroxburgh.com)
- Fan Fiction: Why I’m a Fan (Guest Blog) (leakybrains.co.uk)
- Copyright, Fanfic, and crossover stuff (farmerbob1.wordpress.com)
- Talk the Talk: A Guide to Fanfiction (acollectivemind.wordpress.com)
- The Pros and Cons of Fan Fiction (azureskyler.wordpress.com)
I got your pingback link, and this is an interesting discussion. From my point of view as a writer who has made no income from writing, but who is considering publishing some Ebooks soon:
IMHO, the whole fan fiction and crossover thing is too complex for simple rules about content, unless you just say “yes” or “no”. If you don’t simply say either “yes” or “no”, then you leave yourself open to hair-splitting content arguments like the one you expressed above. I’d rather write than split hairs.
For me, the important part is income generation. I have no problem with people playing around in a universe I created, and/or with characters I created, as long as they attribute the original work to me. If you sell that derivative work, that’s a different story. I haven’t even started selling my own work yet, in this case.
If someone were to come to me with a request to create some sort of derivative work that would generate income, that would require me to have at least some oversight if I were maintaining creative rights. Why make that distinction? Payment for a product or service, in my eyes, carries with it an expectation of legitimacy. I feel that I am the only person who can verify legitimacy of a work that is derivative of my work.
There is also the matter of income. I certainly won’t say income generation possibilities don’t carry weight, but at this point, since I have yet to generate any income from writing, I’m far more concerned about the legitimacy of income generating derivative works than any income they might generate. In the right situation, I would certainly accept some sort of payment to hand my creative rights over and only be a consultant. I am not so attached to my own work that I couldn’t create another universe to write in.
That’s my 0.02
Thanks for the input, the like and the follow.
And yes, income generation is certainly an important factor in terms of ALLOWING fanfiction of your own works.
I certainly need to figure out copyright concerns with some of my own fanfics (a few that I’m rewriting precisely because I want to publish them legitimately and have no clue who to ask for permission to publish as is), but I wouldn’t mind giving fanfic writers the opportunity to play around in some of the worlds I’ve created as I went… or at least including it as a possibility. So many of my stories allows for alternate universes and the like, anyway, that one could assume that someone else’s story, fanfic or otherwise, could take place in the exact same storyverse as anything I’ve created, and vice versa.
Although to be honest, the above article (written in–checks original post–May 2013, and only updated today, which is where your pingback came from) was a very minor nitpick and only a matter of curiosity on my part, rather than “splitting hairs” as you phrased it–though I expect it’d be a bigger deal to some writers than others, particularly when the fanfic/real person fic that some people enjoy comes into play.
And when I’d originally written the article, I was approaching it from the perspective of the fanfic writer, not from the actual copyright holder. I was looking less at copyright and more at websites that have their own pre-established categories. Categories which, I assume, are intended for to make it more convenient for the reader to find stories in the series they enjoy, and have little concern for what the writer might need to upload them in the first place.
Example: a Doctor Who/Star Trek crossover could be uploaded to fanfiction.net as such, because both categories exist on that site, allowing Doctor Who readers and Trek readers alike to find it. But not all sites have a “crossover” category, which prompts the question of which series to file it under. Also, my DW/Spies of Warsaw fanfic would have to either be a DW/Misc crossover or straight DW, for the simple fact that there is no Spies of Warsaw category… which may make it more difficult for Spies of Warsaw (or Alan Furst) fans to find it. On deviantArt or my personal website, however, there are only those categories that I choose to create, but tagging the stories to help readers find them is no harder than tagging anything else I might write.
Good luck on your writing and income generating.
Thanks for the well wishing, and please accept some well wishing from me in return!
As a side note, it is possible to have at least some fan fiction websites create additional categories. “Worm”, for instance, didn’t have a fanfiction.net book entry of it’s own when I wrote my one piece of fan fiction to date there. When I found out that there was a specific entry for it, I took my fan fiction out of the miscellaneous category and plopped it into the Worm category.