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March 29 2008

Article on Fan Marketing quotes Joss saying "I like to see fan fiction of Firefly." I don't think he ever said this and I think the conclusions the author draws are a bit of a reach.

I think it's meant to be more of a representation than a direct and actual quote. That said, I still don't recall Joss saying anything in particular about wanting to see fan fiction.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-03-28 22:16 ]
I have seen a reference to Joss realizing the popularity and devotion fans had to BTVS by how much fanfic there was on (what was a relatively new media) the internet, he was touched by how dedicated fans were to the characters he had created, so I imagine he probably judged how well Firefly resonated with his fans by how much fanfic made it to the Web.
Someone asked in an interview what Buffy fans should do to get their fix now that the show was gone. He said, "Write fan fiction." As far as I know, that's the clearest he's ever been on the subject. I don't think he's ever said anything about Firefly fan fiction one way or the other, although he has said he didn't want anyone else writing in the Firefly universe (meaning original novels and such) because he had a specific plan in mind and didn't want it messed up.

The key to this article is the mention of "transformative" works, which I believe is the new buzzword for fanficcers who want their work legitimized by the copyright owners. Personally, as an occasional ficcer myself, I think they're asking for serious amounts of trouble and backlash. Amusement from the writer does not equal permission from the copyright holder.
She may have been referring to this in which Joss gets excited about the fan film Into the Black and says, "It's about damn time this universe was expanded just a little bit more." Read the whole thing and I think his feelings about fan fiction become pretty clear.
I think Joss understands fan fiction only helps brands. It increases the market, keeps brands alive, and allows fans to ask the "what if" questions the official material did not ask. I view them as "alternate universes," or more lightly, taking turns around the campfire, telling tall tales. I wouldn't be surprised if Joss has written some "unofficial" yarns in the past, playing in somebody else's playground.

While I'm not a big seeker of Firefly fanfic, I certainly am of Buffy, and more specifically, Willow and Tara. I've read some gleaming examples which I thought were better conceived and more satisfying than what Joss came up with. I've also read some stinkers. But hey, it's fanfic. You get what you get.

Now it's the suits who scare me. They may not understand that fanfic doesn't hurt them. They also may not understand morality or sensitivity or a whole host of other splendid human emotion. They do understand how to count greenbacks and hire vicious lawyer beasts, though. They excel at that. Just ask the Star Trek fans around the time Microsoft was trying to be the ONLY Star Trek presence on the web.
Yeah, it's not supposed to be a direct quote, and anytime fic has come up with Joss, it's been in a positive, not squelching way.

I also think the article is right on the mark. Buffy fandom keeps me obsessed long after the show is dead and gone. I doubt I would've had the enthusiasm to shell out over $150 for the seven season set, when I already had half the seasons separately, if I hadn't had fanfiction stoking the fire. Or, for that matter, introduced around 18 people to at least one of the three Jossian creations. Fanfiction and fanvids do anything *but* hurt the creators and owners.
Whether she has a point or not, putting words into Joss' mouth and using quotation marks around things he really didn't say seems shady and dishonest. YMMV

I may be biased since I really can't stand (even well written)fan fiction. It just doesn't seem right to me to play in someone else's sandbox that way and I won't support it.
I don't support OTW. It goes against my fan ideals. We do not need and we should not seek legitimacy. Also I think it's extremely sexist against men.
Perhaps we need a fic to English translation for those who don't live in that world?
The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.

I'm all for writing what you want to write... but that seems to maybe be taking things farther than warranted. But I don't write fanfic, so maybe I'm not a good judge of this kind of thing.

I'm afraid to click that KOL link, zeitgeist. I'm just not gonna. Not all the mysteries of the interwebs must be unveiled.
Oh, click on it, its just an entry from a wiki for an item that one can attain in a really funny/punny browser based RPG parody.
Ohhhh. That's funny.

This an example of how the best horror leaves your own imagination to do the work.
How can they defend fan-fic from legal challenge ? Aren't they technically using other people's property ? So if they're challenged don't they just, y'know, lose ?

Seems to me that if you care that much about what you've written being available to other people then you could create your own universe and characters and there wouldn't be any problem. If you're just doing it for yourself (not for distribution of any kind) then I don't see how you can be legally challenged in the first place.

Don't really read fan-fic but i've nothing against it and the few bits i've read were pretty good (on recommendations from here which is why I read 'em - otherwise the signal/noise ratio seems like a pretty bad bet).

(but yeah, claiming words as a quote when the person never said them is very naughty. Maybe it's fan-non-fic ? ;)
I can't speak for 'Firefly', but I recall an interview from a few years back when Joss claimed that 'Buffy' was a show that fan fiction SHOULD be written about.
Then, when asked how fans should fill their Tuesday nights after Buffy ended, he replied ďThey should write Buffy fan fiction!Ē
He also stated in another interview, when asked about action figures, that they should be taken out of the boxes, allowed to interact with each other and given voices.

Doesn't sound to me like a man with a huge objection to fan fic or fans extending the character's worlds. (As opposed to Anne Rice, who thinks if you write fic about HER characters then she is not doing her job as an author.)

Perhaps Joss's objection is to really BAD fic that lends nothing to the character or plot at all. And in that case, I have to agree with him.
Aren't they technically using other people's property ?

Copyright only protects the actual text: you can't copyright ideas. Repeating the dialogue word-for-word would be a clear breach of copyright. Writing an original story in your own words but set in the same 'verse... might not be. It's unclear - and not helped by the fact that different countries have different laws; and things like fair use and parody and the definition of a derivative work and so forth are often a matter of discretion rather than being set down in black and white in law.

In other words, the legal status of fanfiction is a grey area... that's the best anyone can say.

(Although there's also passing off legislation and trademark law to complicate things further...)
That's not exactly true... a story set at Hogwarts or in the Firefly universe would be a clear violation of JK's or Joss's (respectively) intellectual property rights. Fanfic exists at the whim of the IP holders, really. As long as you don't try to make money, they consider it free advertising for the official product. Some legalese:

A copyright owner can stop someone else from (1) copying, (2) distributing, (3) performing, or (4) displaying the characters without the permission of the owner. The owner also can stop someone from (5) creating "derivative works". A derivative work is a new work based on someone else's intellectual property.


For more: http://www.chillingeffects.org/fanfic/

ETA - Here's where the grey area comes in:

If a Fan Fiction author uses copyrighted elements in someone else's work in his/her story, then the fan fiction may be a derivative work. There are many elements of a work that an author can borrow. The law, however, does not clearly define whether fictitious characters, worlds, histories and names are copyright protected.


And less grey...

Authors can have a separate copyright protection for the characters in their works only if they have been developed and constitute original expression. Generic characters (the sidekick, for example) are not protected.

Fanfic strengthens the fannish community; I know that much. I'm not much into writing or reading it my own self [entirely because it seems like too much work to wade through the bad stuff to find the good stuff], but I see at conventions the positive impact it has on the sense of community ... I know a lot of fanficcers and while the suits may never appreciate it, some of them probably owe their jobs, in the long term, to the impact of fanfic.

That said, I don't think it's nice to put quote-marks around something unless it's a confirmed and actual quote :(
I really like chicken, but I hate turkey. Every once awhile someone will go "But this is really good turkey. Trust me you should try it." It looks like tastey chicken, so I try it. And then I spit it out in horror 'cause it tastes aweful. Fanfic is like that for me.

I've certainly created a fantasy episode or 20 in my head. But that's all they are...fantasies (not the dirty kind :P). They're in no need of protection, though they are creative.

Fanfic authors could just stick things out there anonymously if they're worried about legal trouble. There's a dozen or so MIDI files I created (back in the day when that was cool) floating around MIDI sites for which I have no credit for and aren't traceable back to me. I stumble upon them every once in a while and just go "aww...I made that...and it still exists"
Ghalev, I'd love to see even the smallest amount of proof to back up that claim. I'm not buying it. At all. Fanfic is simply too small and too remote to matter to any fandom at large. I have a hard time believing that more than 1 out of 100 fans of any given franchise has even read any fanfic. Most avoid it like the plague, in my experience.
TamaraC: In the context of the article, I think it's very clear that she's paraphrasing Joss, not quoting. And I think it's equally clear from a number of the comments in this thread that Joss is, in fact, quite enthusiastic about fan fiction, so it's a reasonably accurate paraphrase. (For example, in the comment I linked to above, he refers to a fan film as a "wicked cool" idea that it's "about damn time" for.)

Zeitgeist: Just to be clear, when we're talking about Firefly fan fiction, we're not talking about Joss' intellectual property -- we're talking about Fox's. He doesn't own the copyrights to Firefly, Buffy or Angel; the studios do. Which is usually the case with media properties.

One of my favorite quotes on that subject is a comment from "SeanH" on this thread at Making Light, a blog run by science fiction editors Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

If we as a culture have gotten to the point where the average citizen seriously values the right of Avi Arad (Marvel CEO) to buy himself a bigger jet over the right of creative kids to express themselves, then we, as a culture, are really dumb.


[ edited by bobothebrave on 2008-03-29 07:47 ]
Point taken, but I think my point stands. Whoever actually holds and is resposible for enforcing the copyright/IP will likely be lenient on anyone who is not trying to sell it, but they don't have to be (I'm look at Paramount when I say this).
Zeitgeist: Sure, I don't dispute any of your facts. I just wanted to be clear about who, in fact, the law is defending. I guess I just used your comment as a springboard for my own speechifying.

[ edited by bobothebrave on 2008-03-29 06:24 ]
It's a fun quote, but I'd hazard to say it's not the right of Mr. Arad to buy expensive toys vs. "creative kids to express themselves," but the right of people who invest in creative property to garner some return on that investment. How much return and for how long is a different issue, of course. And to imply that those creative kids couldn't find 10000 other outlets in which to express themselves, or simply express themselves in a more private fashion is, IMHO, not so smart either.

Fanfic is terrific if it truly builds communities and sharpens individual creativity and allows fans to express their love of a universe; what's not to like? I did much the same thing playing RPGs of Judge Dredd or Dune in my younger days, although I didn't preserve the results or share them with others outside the group.

It's when fanfic creators begin to assert their own right to the world and characters that were not created by them to begin with that I guess I back away.
Joss actually has a legal right when it comes to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I know this because I've seen him stood talking about it. After the original Buffy movie, the TV series was not Joss' idea. It didn't originate from him. They had to approach him as a legal thing to get it okayed, at which point he said he'd do it himself. Which they hadn't been counting on. Obviously, from that point on it developed with him.

Although there are copyright questions about fan fic yet to be answered, for the most part it is very explicitly clear against copyright law. If you write a book about Buffy and friends and try to sell it, you'll get sued. I actually found a Buffy book somebody had written themselves and was selling online very recently - so people DO try doing it.

As for Joss on fan fic - pretty sure that quote is made up. I do know he's said fan fic is a good way to practice creative writing - he posted that on this very website a year or two ago. I also know he doesn't like sexualised fic, because there's an interview where he points out those are his characters and his actor friends people are writing about fucking each other. That's not a quote, by the way.

I think fan fic is a very, very marginal audience and has almost know marketing value whatsoever. I do think it has tremendous value to those who read and write it.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-03-29 13:07 ]
Ah, SNT, and back we are to the chasm between fans with a sense of entitlement and, well... not. (No secret that I, too, come down on the side of Not.) I completely understand the attachment people have to stories that they've labored over and that tell tales near and dear to their non-canonical hearts. I love that people can find a creative outlet, a sense of purpose and even a little following of their own by riffing in this universe. I'm just not so on board when the cover band turns Hey Jude an alt-country lesbian protest anthem, sells it on iTunes and lobbies to have it included in the next Beatles box set.

The idea that we immensely enjoyed an artistic endeavor that others created/funded/produced, and we thus deserve or are owed anything makes me shudder with distaste and frankly, embarrassment. Whether it's how we "deserve" a video of a panel of our favorite show's creators/actors, or our "right" to interrupt someone's meal to express devotion/gather an autograph, or how we're "entitled" to legitimacy and legal protection because we know better how Willow and Tara's story should end/continue... it's all the same sort of out-of-bounds for me and makes me feel a bit queasy by association. Just saying.

And, this?
Fannish activity around a brand can elevate awareness, spur sales, and engage new fans. Novik says a lot of these conversions occur at fan conventions and other community activities.
(Please forgive me in advance for the next three words but) as a marketer, I'd say, "Really?" I'm not tracking with the notion that fan fic "spurs sales" and "engages new fans" in a way that meaningfully moves the needle. Novik says a lot of these conversions occur at fan conventions and other community activities. Um... where the fans are? In super-technical-insider-marketer-speak, that's what we'd call preachin'-to-the-converted, or at best, gathering-the-low-hanging-fruit. I'd wager that upwards of 95% of the people reading any given fan fiction, are, well, fans. While there's certainly value in the evangelizing that the converted do, I'm just not seeing a day where fan fiction is powering or really, even contributing to the marketing campaign for a show or a film that endeavors to reach a new audience.

And lastly,
I really like chicken, but I hate turkey. Every once awhile someone will go "But this is really good turkey. Trust me you should try it." It looks like tastey chicken, so I try it. And then I spit it out in horror 'cause it tastes awful. Fanfic is like that for me.

LOL. That made my morning and I wish I had written it. (Find and replace "turkey" with "fish.")
Think of all the great fiction that we would have if people took it as a figurative rather than a literal jumping off point. I know that that sentence may be offensive to some ficcers, and I'm sorry for that, but its how I feel. Use the fic as a starting point and then branch out into your own worlds and become the next great author that we're talking about over on The Library or Whedonesque.org. I don't have any problem with fic writing, I just feel like it can lead people to spin their wheels on someone else's property when they could be delivering a world-changing piece of literature and that makes me a little sad.

ETA - that actually makes it sound like I think about this a lot more than I do :P

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2008-03-29 15:52 ]
I think the difference is, with fic, you can find an immediate audience of people who read it. Pitching a story to publishers, writing it, and getting it published takes a long time.
You also drastically limit your audience, so its six of one half a dozen of the other, IMO.
To answer those who asked about Joss' view on this, some exact quotes can be found here

I'm a fan fic writer and reader for many years. I love it and the community. There are bad, like REALLY bad fics (and writers) out there but there are so much good ones (so amazing, that your eyes would go blurry before you stop reading). Buffy is the show that got me into it and the sky was the limit from that stunned first time (it was gentle *g*). I've read in many fandoms yet I am true to only a few. I've just written for the BtVS/Ats Verse (with a crossover here, a spure of the moment anime there), be they friendship, romance, general or a missing scene. It's been a while since I dabbled but that's all RL's fault, not the fandom. I really can't count how it had helped me grow as a person and much more. It was in fact a factor in me loving this fandom so (and getting stuck to Smallville for five years, but I think it was the novelty of amateur writers besting the show's writers that got me there... that and the Clex. But I kicked that habit good! *lol*)
I think it was the novelty of amateur writers besting the show's writers that got me there


LOL! Awesome. I know some people love the show, but I've always felt it had a lot of unfulfilled potential (perhaps fulfilled in the fic in this case). As a fic writer, what do you think of things like OTW? Do you feel like fighting for 'rights' is dangerous vs. the current status quo where rights holders mostly leave fic writers alone as long as they don't try to profit directly by selling derivative works? Clex... I have no words... Well, 'eww', maybe ;)

ETA - Hero of min Neil Gaiman's quote is fun:

Why? Because fan fiction is fan fiction. I don't believe I'll lose my rights to my characters and books if I allow/fail to prevent/turn a blind eye to people writing say Neverwhere fiction, as long as those people aren't, say, trying to sell books with my characters in. I don't read it (and that way no-one has to wonder whether I stole the plot of something from their fanfic).


[ edited by zeitgeist on 2008-03-29 16:03 ]
Gossi - Huh, looks like you're right.

Sandollar [Television] had the property, and Gail thought it would make a good TV series. They called me up out of contractual obligation: "Call the writer, have him pass." And I was like, "Well, that sounds cool."


Not sure how much that translates into actual ownership -- recall Joss' "I don't make the decisions" (that's a paraphrase, BTW) disclaimer after the Buffy Sing a Longs were shut down -- but yeah, looks like the situation is more complicated than I thought.

Zeitgeist:
Think of all the great fiction that we would have if people took it as a figurative rather than a literal jumping off point.


Fair enough. But from a creative (rather than legal) standpoint, couldn't you say the same about Astonishing X-Men? Isn't it essentially Joss' X-Men fan fic?

Again, not disputing any of the legal stuff you're posting, or even your general preference for more creativity -- I wish Joss had been writing a brand-new, creator-owned book myself. Just saying there are professional creative types I admire who use existing works as a "literal jumping off point," and it can still turn out okay.
There's a difference between work for hire resulting in original work with existing characters and fanfic that can't be legally sold and is not part of the official body of work. And, yeah, I'm all for Joss doing more original stuff, though I did enjoy his stint on Astonishing.
zeitgeist, I understand the lost potential of Smallville. I saw it. And I was saddened and later filled with bitterness that it was untapped. It makes the aware viewers wonder if the writers actually know what they are writing or are conscious that they are negating themselves in the same episode at times. I’ve recently caught the episode the day before that James appeared in and I had to force myself to delete a scathing review before I posted it. It was a close one though. And don’t “ew” the Clex! Michael Rosenbaum approves *snicker* he even plays it for us, the tease.

As for the OTW, I have no relation to them and have only been aware of the organization’s existence recently. I don’t know what to think about it to be honest. But something about being ‘legit’ and ‘documented’ this way doesn’t sit well with me. We’re a community that is silently acknowledged by the PTB but not directly addressed by them (most of the time. J.K. Rowling was really smart to assess a particular rocky situation, to acknowledge it and find it “flattering”, but that is more for the HP community to speak of than for me. Reading what people involved think of the fan movement –art or writing- ala Scott Cohen really makes us feel good. Or laugh. Tony Head’s reaction to the Giles/Willow fanfiction comes to mind.).

But this is like a bright red sign. I think it is the realm of the undefined that makes ficcers comfortable. There’d always been talks of lawsuits from companies or trademark users (cease and desist letters) which lead many to stop using particular rating systems like NC17, R, PG13 by the MPAA. It stopped being a big deal quickly with writers/archives creating their own ratings. Also, almost every author knows to protect themselves by a standard disclaimer or an innovative one. I think as long as fan fiction is defined by being a work by fans for fans (without any monetary profit by any concerned) and creators don’t voice any complaints (as it is their right to do so, like a particular famous authoress has done. Not that it would stop the adamant ones, but it might lead some to lose interest out of spite or fear, really, the word “harassment” was tossed around a lot lol I won’t mention her name, as I personally could care less, was never into that fandom and I won’t bring that issue again. Those in the know, know)

But, really, the community already protects itself. The issues had been brought up so many times and the court had been involved and it came in the favor of the fan. I doubt many (or any) wise investors would take such a free advertising tool that many and I mean MANY people are so attached to. The community even has watchdogs for copyrights and plagiarism within the fan fiction world and they have been proved to be quite successful. Various fandoms have already established themselves and the idea of it all grouping into one place… well, it might happen, but it will be a very slow process and not a lot of of the people who already have their own archives, websites and blogs would be bothered to move. I don’t know. We’ll just have to see. It might be a good thing.

And now I need to shut up because this is ridiculous! *points at uber-post* who’ll read this?! I’m sure I went OT halfway in there…
I just like writing stories. Never any harm in that.
Just a little tiny peep here, folks, then I'm moving on & staying out of the rest of this debate:

Back when "Quantum Leap" was airing, I got really into writing fanfic. The concept of "putting right what once went wrong" was so cool, it opened all sorts of doors, and really got me into researching to make my stories stronger.

Novels started coming out, and they were published for a couple years after the show ended. And I know for a FACT that one of them was written by a fan who had written a lot of fanfic of the show, because she used to post to the QL message board I frequented. She got permission from Donald P. Bellisario & Universal, and they gave her the go-ahead to get her book published. An official novel based on the TV show. IMS, and it's been several years, hers was the last official novel published. I have it. (And all the ones written before.)

So it can happen.
*shrugs* I read fanfic, I write fanfic...I started writing Buffy fanfic after reading a few of the sanctioned novels and thinking "did this person actually WATCH BtVS? Because, really, I can do better." Then set out to prove I could. I believe I've heard Joss has said that Buffy was a show that lends itself to fanfic - tons of subtext to give would-be writers directions that the show never went in.

The Wicked Willow series, IMNSHO, wasn't good. I set out to create a "happy ending" for Willow & Tara and I did so. Within canon up to and including AtS' NFA (in other words, pre-comics). Several have read it, even two or three non-Buffy fans, and said it's good. Would I like it published? Sure. Is it good enough? Yes. Will it happen? No. But, hopefully, all the Willow & Tara (and Buffy & Angel) fans who read fanfic will find their way to it.

I am loathe to post the link here for fear of violating the rules of linkage on the board.

I'd love to write Firefly fics but I just can't get a handle on the character's voices. There just weren't enough episodes, much as I love them and the 'verse.

And I've created my own characters and 'verses...but when Tara's voice is stuck in your head telling you to tell a story...ya kinda gotta listen.
Anonymous1, no I haven't read it and I won't read it. If Joss didn't want to ok it for whatever reason, it should have never been released at all, in my opinion. I'm sure there are plenty of people in the fandom who can write just as well as Mr. Brust (I know several) so I don't see why his fan fiction gets any more legitimacy than the Mal/Jayne slash silliness that is out there. I haven't read any of that slash, but I'm positive that it exists.

I don't understand why people can't use the Whedonverse and fandom as inspiration, but then create their own characters and story. Every single time I hear about someone re-telling the Willow/Tara thing I absolutely cringe in horror. It isn't their story to rewrite. It is just very wrong in my mind and I can't see in any instance that it would be right.
I also cringe but, in fairness, they're not re-writing it, they're just imagining another version - it's basic wish fulfilment like any other fantasy about fictional characters but in this case written down. I don't read it myself because I don't personally feel like anything needs "correcting" and even if I did, non-canonical fiction can't "correct" anything anyway.

If Joss didn't want to ok it for whatever reason, it should have never been released at all, in my opinion.

Why ? Why is it different to any other fan-fiction ?

(the only thing that's dodgy about it IMO is that he accepts donations on his website which is awfully close to being paid for fan-fic and that's asking for a world of legal hurt)

I am loathe to post the link here for fear of violating the rules of linkage on the board.

You can self-link in comments CaughtNTheQuiet, you just can't post a story with self-linkage (and though linking to copyrighted stuff is also discouraged if you mean you're worried about the greyness of fan-fic's copyright position, there've been plenty of fan-fics linked in comments before).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-03-29 20:00 ]
And, CaughtNTheQuiet, as I'm sure you know, ShadowQuest has linked to that particular story on more than one occasion.
Saje, it isn't any different than any other fan fiction. He did, however, make a big fuss about how this should have been an official novel and blah blah blah. He should have repurposed his story to something other than the Firefly 'verse and not put the Firefly name on it at all.
I dunno, he came across as very disappointed it wasn't being published but then, he's gonna be isn't he ?

Ultimately, as we both agree, it's just like any other fan-fic and so I still don't see the problem with distributing it the same way that any other fan-fic is distributed.

(though if you're saying you don't think any fan-fic should be distributed in that way then I see what you mean TamaraC, and have some sympathy with that perspective, even if I don't completely agree with it)
The community even has watchdogs for copyrights and plagiarism within the fan fiction world and they have been proved to be quite successful.

I love this more than life itself. I'm come across this before in fandom, where fans kick off when stuff they've written is reused. Er, if you're writing fanfic, you can't really wave a copyright stick at other fans.
Not even if it's a special "grey copyright" stick ?
Saje, that probably is what I am saying or at least that would be my preference. In the world in which I am supreme ruler of all things, writing fan fiction is a crime. Since that world doesn't exist (yet), I just don't want to see anyone profit off stealing other people's characters.
I didn't find the article particularly good, but at least it is giving publicity to the OTW, which I don't see as a bad thing.
The OTW, as far as I'm aware, is about letting people from outside of fandom know fandom exists. That the canon material isn't the only thing.It's about protecting the fans. and it's also about not letting big companies exploit fans for their own reasons, like fanlib.

Of course,the entire thing could go wrong and backfire but having seen the proyect grow from merely an idea, I know the intentions are good and there is a lot of smart and honest people involved.

Personally,I love fanfic.I spend way too much time reading it. more than books, sometimes more than I spend watching TV. There's a lot of crap,sure, specially if you visit places like ff.net, but there's also a lot of great things. I don't think fandom would be nearly as fun without it. Fanfic, vids, art, graphics,all that stuff is part of fandom, and I love doing them and seeing other people's work.

I've never seen it as illegal. Downloading a movie or an album is illegal, you're getting something for free that you should pay for. but writing fic is mostly a tribute, that the original source material is good enough to inspire you.

Now, trying to make money out of it, I do not hold to that.It's sleazy. You shouldn't do it.And getting paid for ad-revenue of the site where said fic is hosted is just as bad.
Which is one of the many reasons why fanlib sucks.
Which is why the OTW was created. they saw it as their duty to create something that, in a sense, was against such a site. a public place, a sort of gateway into the internet, into fandom.
So newbies wouldn't find themselves sucked in by ff.net or fanlib.
SoddingNancyTribe Yes, I know ShadowQuest has linked to my site...she's one of my biggest (and most vocal) fans.

(edited for name error...my apologies)

[ edited by CaughtNTheQuiet on 2008-03-30 01:19 ]
The OTW, as far as I'm aware, is about letting people from outside of fandom know fandom exists.


okelay - May want to dig a little deeper there, also please watch the punctuation, capitalization and carriage returns for readability.

CaughtNTheQuiet - its SoddingNancyTribe, sodden would be something totally different. If anyone wants to read Willow's Promise they need only click on CaughtNTheQuiet's name to check it out.
TamaraC, I'm kind of fascinated by the hardliner stance on fanfic. Is your work automatically stripped of any value if you use other people's characters or settings? I'm not talking about writing in a series like Astonishing. That's a case where you're being solicited and paid by the copyright holders to do so.

But there are instances of writers - published, prominent writers - playing in other people's sandboxes. The Cthulu Mythos is probably the most prominent example. Many authors have contributed stories set there. Neil Gaiman, for instance, has set foot in that particular realm more than once, and Alan Moore is certainly no stranger to those lands and creatures.
And on that subject, I dare you to tell me that League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a comic (not the movie. God, never the movie) which consists almost exclusively of characters and settings created by other authors, isn't valid or original literature. Fables, one of the best ongoing comics on the shelves today, is populated entirely by characters from fairy tales.

I'm not drawing a straight line from those examples to fanfic, but I think it's an interesting gray area. And I'm not at all trying to slam your opinions, Tamara. I think it's an interesting discussion, is all.

And finally - whoa, monster post - I do think, despite my previous arguments, that trying to make money off fanfic is, at the very least, deeply questionable.
I just don't want to see anyone profit off stealing other people's characters.


Dracula by Bram Stoker

Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Joss Whedon

And the beat goes on...
GrrrlRomeo, are you trying to equate playing in the same genre to using the exact same characters and retelling or changing the author's story like a lot of Willow/Tara fanfic does? I'm not seeing it.

Winther, I do have a hardline stance on fanfic that is probably not shared by many and I am ok with that. I don't like it, I don't think it should exist, and I think it is wrong. I don't see why creative folks can't create their own sandbox to play in. Why do they have to cheapen an author's story or vision by rewriting it? It seems a short cut to readership and somewhat like cheating. It just is icky to me and feels wrong.

I'm all for debating authorial intent, but actively changing the story to suit someone who doesn't like the story that has been told smacks of some sort of heresy to me. I know there is probably a better word than heresy to use, but I can't think of it right now. :)
I'm all for debating authorial intent, but actively changing the story to suit someone who doesn't like the story that has been told smacks of some sort of heresy to me. I know there is probably a better word than heresy to use, but I can't think of it right now. :)


Well, those wish-fullfilment fics are one discussion, but what about the use of other people's characters in new situations, which, if I understand correctly, you also object to?

After all, Buffy did (and currently, does) use Dracula, and very clearly took their cue from the original Bram Stoker character.
Ooh yeah, let's do debate authorial intent, we'll squeeze it in just after I pluck my own eyes out and disembowl myself ;-).

Working in a genre and using genre tropes is different to using the same characters and even exact style of dialogue that someone else created (and I think i'd even see Dracula as more of a genre trope than a character at this stage, he's as much part of vampire mythology as stakes and garlic and that's certainly how Joss treated him i.e. not as an actual individual vampire but more as a comment on the mythology).

It's a fair point though, stuff like 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' or the Wold-Newton mythology (as well as for instance various third party Sherlock Holmes or James Bond stories) take other creators' characters and settings and produce something really new and interesting. And certainly in LoEG's case, the whole point is that they're someone else's characters (as well as ours in some sense) - the piece just wouldn't, even couldn't work with original Alan Moore creations.

The only difference in those instances is, the authors have acquired the rights to legally use the characters (or in some cases they're out of copyright and so can be used without permission).
I think i'd even see Dracula as more of a genre trope than a character at this stage, he's as much part of vampire mythology as stakes and garlic and that's certainly how Joss treated him i.e. not as an actual individual vampire but more as a comment on the mythology


I'd still hold that while Dracula may have been used as a comment on vampire mythology in general, it is still that precise character being used, displaying the abilities defined in the original book, which would be less noticeable if they didn't (purposely) directly conflict with the set rules of the Buffy universe. And I don't necesarilly agree that the proliferation Dracula in various fiction means that he isn't a specific, unique character, regardless of how he's influenced the genre.

The only difference in those instances is, the authors have acquired the rights to legally use the characters (or in some cases they're out of copyright and so can be used without permission).


But I still think there's a significant difference between that, and writing, say, an X-men story for Marvel. And besides, League has used characters without permission, although they've had to be somewhat more oblique about it. Still, you can't really mistake the young british, womanising, gadget-using agent "Jimmy", who gets a fairly harsh treatment in Black Dossier.
I don't like the whole Dracula thing in Buffy at all even though I agree with Saje about how the character is used. It takes me right out of the story. It is definitely one of very few things I don't like about the Buffyverse.

Winter, I don't like the characters to be used at all in other people's stories. Period. The characters' stories has already been told (and the author intended) or is being told by the author and creator or those characters. Everyone else should stay out of their sandbox. I could care less if they are new stories or not.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2008-03-29 23:27 ]
And I don't necesarilly agree that the proliferation Dracula in various fiction means that he isn't a specific, unique character, regardless of how he's influenced the genre.

What I mean is, a character can so influence a genre that he basically becomes the genre (so that even when you don't reference him, you deliberately don't reference him). How people see him has got as much to do with interpretations of the character after the novel as it does with the book Dracula himself - the character is bigger than its original conception.

(also, as i'm sure you're aware Winther Dracula is out of copyright, in fact more than that, was never in copyright in the US)

But I still think there's a significant difference between that, and writing, say, an X-men story for Marvel.

Why ?

(unless it's simply that with ongoing corporate owned comics, creators playing in someone else's sandpit is a part of the medium ?)
I don't like the whole Dracula thing in Buffy at all even though I agree with Saje about how the character is used. It takes me right out of the story. It is definitely one of very few things I don't like about the Buffyverse.

Okay, that's cool. Obviously, at some point here we're just debating personal tastes, and if you don't like that kind of thing, that's just how it is. As I said earlier, I'm mostly arguing this because I think it's an interesting debate. I'm not trying to declare your opinions invalid.

Wow, that was incredibly PC.

Aargh, every time I update there's a new response!

unless it's simply that with ongoing corporate owned comics, creators playing in someone else's sandpit is a part of the medium ?


Yeah, that's probably part of it. Also, in those cases, the direction the stories take are basically sanctioned, and in some cases more than others, guided by the people who run the show. Which isn't necessarily the case when you 'just' obtain the rights to something. Pretty sure Glen A. Larson has some less than glowing opinions of the current BSG. But then, he's a bitter old coot.

By the way, speaking of previous statements, I meant to write 'Proliferation of' in the previous post, obviously. Where's the edit button?
It takes a few days after you join for 'Edit' to become available (it'll be beside your name at the bottom of the post when it does).

Also, in those cases, the direction the stories take are basically sanctioned, and in some cases more than others, guided by the people who run the show.

You've lost me there - with comics, certainly stuff like X-Men (and obviously especially stuff like Batman and Superman ;) the original creators have absolutely no say whatsoever in the direction they take and there's almost always no direct connection from the creator to the present creative team (by which I mean, editors, writers, corporate people etc. have all changed since the characters were created).

In ongoing comics the canon is really only decided by the current team. For instance Superman's canonical origin story changed when John Byrne rewrote it in '86 and then again in 2004 with Mark Waid's 'Birthright' - and now it's different again. Or do you mean it feels more official ? Maybe because more people than "just" the writer have a say in how the story progresses ?

(there's no doubt it's more "official" than fan-fic but more "official" than e.g. LoEG ? I'm not so sure)

Basically though, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have as much say in 'Astonishing X-Men' as Bram Stoker did about 'Buffy vs Dracula' ;).
I was referring to the editors and higher ups at the companies, who have the right to distribute the stories. And while some writers on some titles have a fairly long leash, there are still limitations set down from on high from time to time.
Yes but my point is, why is that more official than anyone else doing it ? They didn't create the characters anymore than Joss created Dracula.

(I get that you're talking about canon vs non-canon and with comics, since the creators are often unavailable, it's the current "higher ups" that have a hand in deciding what's canon but I don't get why someone now deciding what happens to e.g. Kitty Pryde is different to someone now deciding what happens to e.g. Dracula or James Bond or Sherlock Holmes - legal issues aside)
Winther, no worries. I seriously doubt anyone would be able to convince me that my opinions are invalid. :) And I am sure it does in some ways come down to a taste issue. I just see my own personal right/wrong line and all unprofessional fanfic falls on the wrong side of that line.
TamaraC: I'm illustrating that there is an evolution in process that has always been. When an image becomes very popular, there is some letting go of the copyright. The characters become bigger than the original work and that is a testament to the brilliance of the original creator. The evolution is only more visible to us now because of the Internet.

The first few times Dracula-ish stories bubbled up, Bram Stoker's estate sued (even when the Dracula character went by another name). Each time the story is retold, there's a copyright on any additions to the character. Universal for instance owns the copyright on Bela Lugosi's portrayal.

The stoy of Dracula has been retold hundreds of times, sometimes he is not destroyed, sometimes he is, and there are variations on exactly how he is destroyed and of course how he came to be a vampire in the first place. Is he evil, or just jaded? etc. etc.

And people can put a cape and stylish clothes on him, give him a certain accent and call him Dracula without raising a single brow as to who holds the copyright to that. Well, Universal does in part, or did until the image transcended the copyright.

Could Willow and Tara become that big? As big as say, Romeo and Juliet? (Which, if memory serves me correctly was rewritten frequently during The Restoration, and I concede that that was heresy only because Romeo and Juliet are iconic because they died and that's the point.)

So, Dracula gets to be the iconic image of the vampire that transcends copyright because Bram Stoker's story was the first to resonate in the mainstream via Bela Lugosi.

Romeo and Juliet are the iconic image of the tragic lovers, though they weren't the first, because again it was the first to resonate in the mainstream and because Shakespeare is a genius.

Willow and Tara could possibly be the iconic image of the lesbian relationship because they were the first to resonate in the mainstream. And though I don't personally read any fanfic, I certainly don't object to them being on that evolutionary path of transcendence. And it's possible that fanfic is a step on that path as it seems to have always been before it was a thing called "fanfic".
Well, I'm not really sure you can set legal issues aside here Saje. Marvel owns Kitty Pryde, and all the stories she appears in. So if Joss goes 'Hey, I'm gonna kill Kitty. Cool?', they play the role of guardian of the larger story and say 'Yes, so it shall be.' or 'That doesn't really work, dude'- Of course, I don't think they really directly interfere with a story while it's being told, they tend to retcon afterwards instead. 'What? Noooo, that wasn't Magneto, he wouldn't do that. That was someone else.'

Point is, there is an official body here that acts as arbiter of what is and isn't canon. And yeah, that's pretty much just legal crap. But in lieu of every single writer who has ever been on the title (because many of those people have contributed new characters that continue to be used) rubberstamping every creative decision, that's what we've got.
GrrrlRomeo, Shakespeare and Stoker are dead. Joss is not. If there was more story to tell about Willow and Tara then he would (or will but I sincerely hope not) tell it. Anyone else doing so , I find to be horribly presumptuous and insulting to the actual alive and kicking author.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2008-03-30 00:53 ]
TamaraC, the narrative exists beyond Joss.
Because you say so? It is his creation. It belongs to him (and Fox). Why should others be able to change his story to suit them? And adding to the story is changing it.

It is just wrong.
Because Joss says so.

And everything Joss says in canon.
...in your opinion, T. In reality, Joss has thrown his weight behind fan fic as a form of creative writing (on this website).

Personally, it's not my thing, but I care not what others do.
"Part of fulfillment is need, is longing, is being unfulfilled, thatís the nature of tragedy and a lot of drama. Very often, what the fans want, they get. But very often, what they want, they canít quite have, because we want them to feel the way our characters felt, we want them to feel how Willow felt after Tara died. Some people will never forgive me for making that statement, but Iím not saying I know better, Iím saying that the narrative exists beyond me."

I don't think he is saying what you think he is saying, GrrrlRomeo. He is saying that the story told was the story that needed to be told. It is beyond what he, or I, or you would want.

But it is THE story. Nothing else is legitimate or right.

Gossi, of course this is all my opinion as I have stated many times. I also know that it isn't a popular opinion and I don't really care. :)

[ edited by TamaraC on 2008-03-30 01:18 ]
But it is THE story. Nothing else is legitimate or right.


And what of Chris Golden's "Dark Congress"? He brought Tara back and continued the story with Fox's blessing.

If there was more story to tell about Willow and Tara then he would (or will but I sincerely hope not) tell it.


It seems to me you are saying that you do not want even Joss to add on to the story. And that is what you want. And you are, for the most part and for the time being, getting what you want.

Joss succeeded in creating the want (for Willow and Tara to be together) in at least some of the audience, myself included. Fanfic is a product of that want. He succeeded.

The statement I think he was intending to make was that the loss that Willow felt is as painful as anyone's when losing someone they love. Many people don't think it is a big deal to try and prohibit certain people from being with the person they love on the basis of sexual orientation. And if he was able to get one person who previously felt that way to feel Willow's pain, he succeeded.

As much as I want Willow and Tara to be about the thing I need as a gay person, it was really more about the thing that people who are complacent about the way gay relationships are treated in this society needed to understand how painful it is.

[ edited by GrrrlRomeo on 2008-03-30 01:53 ]
I don't know anything about Golden's Dark Congress so I won't give an opinion on it. I was never interested in any of those books since they aren't at all canon in my opinion. I feel like I have to add "in my opinion" to every sentence even though anything I type is clearly just my subjective opinion. *sigh*

I think and have always thought that Willow and Tara's story is beautiful. I adore both characters, together and alone. I just think their story is over and I am okay with that. It was a great story. It was told well and now it is over and complete. I don't fully understand why others can't let it be.

And once again, partly through my own fault, this topic like all topics seems to annoyingly come back to Tara and Willow. This was totally not my intent since I think it is a total dead horse that has been beaten way too much and has become quite boring at this point.
I don't think Golden's Dark Congress is canon either. But I thought it was nice, and sweet and made me feel all warm and fuzzy. And...I think I deserve that from a story every once in awhile.

You probably don't fully understand why others can't let Tara be dead because you don't feel the want for Willow and Tara to be together as strongly. That is simply a matter of having different life experiences and getting something different out of the story as a result. And that's okay. Different people get different things out of the story. It doesn't make anyone wrong or bad.

If people got something out of the story that perhaps Joss didn't intend, then I don't think they insult Joss by doing so, because the narrative exists beyond him. He told it, and let it go into the ether and people take it inside them....some more than others...where it begins to take on a different life...and sometimes gets outputted in the form of fanfic. (Bringing the topic back.) I prefer to keep my fanfic in my head I guess.
Different people get different things out of the story. It doesn't make anyone wrong or bad.

If people got something out of the story that perhaps Joss didn't intend, then I don't think they insult Joss by doing so, because the narrative exists beyond him. He told it, and let it go into the ether and people take it inside them....some more than others...where it begins to take on a different life...and sometimes gets outputted in the form of fanfic.


Very well-said.
I haven't read fanfic for a very long time, but I would say that, at minimum, any property that has tie-in novels that aren't direct script adaptations is open to fanfic. All those "Buffy" and "Angel" tie-in novels? Fanfic, except the authors were paid for it. Would fanfic be more legimitate if the authors paid Joss Whedon ten cents per reader? :) The pro novels are certainly not Joss Whedon's original vision -- I don't mean that they don't conform to the shows as the editors at the publishing houses understand the shows, but JW doesn't contribute plots, dialogue, okays of original characters, etc. I rather doubt he's read many (if any). I could be wrong about this (and I'll bet someone will tell me if I am), but I thought the problem with Steven Brust's book was that it had been decided not to do *any* pro-published "Firefly" tie-ins and that Joss Whedon did not want any official continuation of that particular universe because he still has plans for it. If the "Buffy" and "Angel" novels continued (and perhaps one reason that they are not continuing is the existence of the S8/S8 comics), I doubt they would be allowed to take place post-aired series. The pro novels all tend to take place "between episodes" on the aired shows. These books aren't generally considered canon, either. So it seems like the idea of people telling "what-if" stories in general is sanctioned. I don't see the creative/ethical difference between someone being paid to do it and someone doing it for fun. You'll run into a wall of objection very quickly if you say, "This happened in *my* story and therefore you *must* consider it part of the same continuity acknowledged by everyone." Otherwise, as "Bones" tie-in novels appear on the shelves by Max Allan Collins (based on the TV show, not to be confused with the Kathy Reichs books that are the *basis* of the series), "Wicked" is in bookstores and on Broadway and "Dark Congress" is available, if somebody wants to write something that can't be published for fun, practice, working out psychological kinks, whatever, why shouldn't they? In my humble opinion, of course :)
Shapenew, I have no problem with people writing. I have a problem with people publishing. Even if it is just publishing on their LJ.

And I'm sorry that I don't love Willow and Tara "enough" for some. Whatever that means. I love them as much (and more) as any other character on the show and a whole lot more than Buffy herself (of course, the Buffster is pretty far down the list of my favorite Buffyverse characters). I do get the point, that I am not a lesbian therefore there is no way that I can truly understand and I am rolling my eyes at that silliness.


I just don't think other people should try to tell a story that is not theirs to tell. And anyone who tries to profit off of it, is doing something wrong in my not so humble opinion.

And I'm done.
Tamara-There's a big difference between posting something on a livejournal and publishing something for profit.
I think that his quote about the narrative existing beyond him is often misinterpreted. Which I find odd because I believe that the context makes it incredibly plain what he meant. And I guarantee that I wanted Tara and Willow to have a happy ending as much as anyone alive, which is precisely why I am so in love with the pain of where that story goes. Only by wanting it so much can you give yourself over to feeling that despair and put yourself in Willow's place. But as happens, some rebel against the story, pull themselves out, stamp their feet and say "Hell no, I won't go! Willow and Tara are alive and eating cookies in happy happy land."

Then they probably get the strange feeling that Ben and Glory are somehow related and shiver. Plus, pie.
TamaraC: To reiterate, you got something different out of the story, and that's okay. I mean that. I'm sorry if my "some more than others" came off as "not enough", that wasn't my intent...I was just conceding to the difference. It is okay to feel differently, at varying levels. There are some things that you can't know unless you've been there, and there's nothing silly about that. I think that's something that needs to be accepted all around.

I don't read fanfic, and I think if I wanted to I'd be able to find it. Sometimes I do feel like it's being shoved down my throat. No one likes that feeling. It causes a backlash. Sometimes I think the backlash is a little harsher than it needs to be. It's futile on both ends. There wouldn't be a backlash if people didn't push. But then I think there's a difference between pushing and enthusiasm so...I dunno...I don't wanna piss on people's enthusiasm either. Well, sometimes...maybe I do. I'm known for being a buzzkill 'cause I analyze stuff way too much. Like maybe now.

zeitgeist: I do, absolutely conceded to that "Only by wanting it so much can you give yourself over to feeling that despair and put yourself in Willow's place." But I think there are people that really needed something different out of it. People who feel like they already have been in Willow's place (metaphorically) and needed something else.

The first romance story I ever related to when I was a young girl was Romeo and Juliet. I did not get Cinderella or Snow White, but I think a little of Lady and the Tramp. But when I read Romeo and Juliet when I was 12, that is what I understood of love. Love is pain because I want the wrong person. It's forbidden but I would die for it.

Willow and Tara mark the first time I ever really giggled while watching a romance. I mean, truely giggled like a little girl. I think I should've had the opportunity to when I was a little girl--to experience a fictional romance without the foreboding sense of doom, but rather with the hope of a happy ending (that a lot of people take for granted).

And...what can I say, I feel like people mock that need. It's an immature need that just wasn't fufilled when I was immature. That's the part of me that reacted when Tara died because that's the part of me that reacted to Willow and Tara's relationship in the first place. I didn't need to feel the despair, because I was up to my eyeballs in it when I came out. And I guess I pat myself on the back for finding hope my own damn way. But, it's nice to get it from an external source sometimes (the hope I mean).
Dig, GrrrlRomeo :) And I love that people are finding hope in their own way, and good on you and them. What I take issue to is the "This is how it SHOULD have been" that we get from some which to me is a step beyond "I didn't get what I needed". For one thing, it assumes that everyone needed the same thing from it, which is of course not the case. Have very much enjoyed your comments/take on this whole thing and I will be quoting your chicken/turkey thing for a long time to come :D

I would also say that what anyone wanted/needed is by necessity subordinate to what Willow's arc needed :) Ooh, look, a can of worms ;)
TamaraC, I wasn't the person who commented on Willow/Tara one way or the other (my fanfic days were in another fandom altogether). I *was* commenting on the professionally-published tie-in fiction. I have no idea if Joss Whedon was copacetic with Fox having the rights to authorize this, or if it was one of those contractual things he had to live with, but either way, this stuff is legally sanctioned (I believe Joss gets some royalties from it, but I don't know). My point was that, since this stuff is legally okay and I don't see fandom calling for a boycott of all pro-published but non-canonical books and comics, is fanfic objectionable *only* because no one is being financially compensated? Because if that is *not* the objection, I don't see a material difference between pro-published non-canon and fan-published non-canon. As an argument about across-the-board prohibition of anything in a fictional universe not sanctioned by the creator, what do you make of series that have switched showrunners? Fox, ABC, etc. would disagree that they don't have the right to publish professional but non-canonical fiction about "Buffy," "Alias," "Bones," etc., because they (not the creators) actually own the rights and can publish whatever they want.
zeitgeist: I don't know that I've ever really argued that Willow's arc should be different.

But I have only been a Buffy fan for a little over a year and a member here since December. Mmm...worms.
I haven't seen "fandom" calling for a boycott of anything here, Shapenew. To the extent that people are expressing objections to fanfic, I understand those objections to be (1) fanfic writers trying to profit from material they have no legal right to (likely a tiny minority of fanfic writers), unlike "pro-published" books/comics, which people have taken the trouble to get licensed and approved - although I'm not interested in reading either fanfic or "pro-pub," FWIW; and (2) fanfic writers who assert some sort of (moral? emotional?) authority over the characters/world or explain that they are correcting the errors of the creator(s).
Winther: Well, I'm not really sure you can set legal issues aside here Saje.

Err, I said:

The only difference in those instances is, the authors have acquired the rights to legally use the characters (or in some cases they're out of copyright and so can be used without permission).

and then you said:

But I still think there's a significant difference between that, and writing, say, an X-men story for Marvel.

so it was you Winther that set the legal issues aside, surely ? And in the case of Dracula, as i've already stated, there are no legal issues, since he's out of copyright.

So I really don't see a difference between what Alan Moore (legally) did in LoEG (let's keep it to volume 1 for simplicity) and what Joss (legally) did in 'Buffy vs Dracula'. Or, by extension, between what Joss did in 'Buffy vs Dracula' and what Joss is doing in 'Astonishing X-Men' - both cases use someone else's characters to tell a story (and may well go in a direction they wouldn't have intended). Definitionally, one is considered official and one not but they're both creative works in someone else's sandpit.

TamaraC: I feel like I have to add "in my opinion" to every sentence even though anything I type is clearly just my subjective opinion. *sigh*

It's assumed BUT it's useful to be reminded that YOU are also aware of it from time to time TamaraC (and that's the big 'you' not just the 'you' you ;). It takes the edge off of even very strident statements.

(and of course, it's not true at all that everything you type is a subjective opinion - unless you have a policy of never including facts in your posts ;)

I don't really see the objection (though, as with everyone else as far as I can tell, i'm against people profiting from fan-fic). It's not "real", not something that actually happened in the Buffyverse, what's the difference ? Course, the flip side is, that's why i'm unable to get much from it. If Tara comes back in a fan-fic it's meaningless to me and any warm fuzzy i'd get from it is offset by the fact that it never "truly" happened so, to me, the experience is hollow, there's no core of "reality" there. It's like being emotionally affected by a Hallmark card IMO, all sentiment and no truth.

Other folks seem able to ignore that (i'd bet that they also probably don't particularly care about canon etc.) and if that floats their boat then good for them, it's not hurting me and from what he says, it doesn't seem to be hurting Joss.
I've written a bit of Firefly fanfic, though I've only posted one tiny fragment of it, so far. And I don't think of myself as having taken Joss's characters; it's more like they were trespassing in my mind, not leaving even once the party was over.

TamaraC, your concept of story has such rigidity - that there is a story, and the way it is told is the only valid part of it. But so much of how a story is told is quite random. Even Joss and his teams of writers include things or don't include things based on such artistic creative forces as budgets, FCC regulations, and network notes. When I write a story, there are plenty of choices that need to be made, there are plenty of alternate versions that I like just as much and work just as well as the version that goes in, because in general, the story isn't about what happens, but about what it means, what the author's point is. And there are many different, reasonably equal ways for an author to make the same point.

So what's my point? My point is that fiction, like most other forms of communication and art, is about the sharing and exchange of ideas and emotions. It is a tool. I've written plenty of essay style posts on the fireflyfans.net or similar message boards over the years, discussing my opinions and theories on characters and the 'Verse. I can tell you how I think it is, and cite examples from the source to back my claims. But what is so much more exciting and challenging and fun to me, is to show you those opinions and theories, to encorporate them into an entertaining package that bypasses the academic engagement of the brain, and shoots straight for the understanding, for the feeling. As fans, we share a knowledge of the characters and the mythology, and use the manipulations of that shared knowledge to make our point. Sometimes that point is about larger issues, sometimes that point is just about Mal. I think we can agree on the absurdity of coming up with some original universe and characters in order to make a point to other Firefly fans about Mal.

Singling out fan fiction as an insulting, presumptuous, and unequivocally wrong way to exchange ideas just seems to expose a bias about the ideas that tend to find prominence there (particularly when such ideas become the focus of the discussion: e.g., Willow and Tara's fate). I understand debates of legality and property rights, but to place a damning moral judgment on people posting works of fan fiction to each other just seems to scream of a misunderstanding of all of the things storytelling and fanfic can be.
I really don’t see the big deal in writing and reading fan fiction. I also don’t see anything wrong in people saying they don’t read or like to read fan fiction. Fans write and read it because they love the fandom and want to feel connected to it more. It's a game of "what ifs" or fantasy tie-ins of established canon, or meaningless babble, etc. But, in the end, it is plain fun! Plus, the added bonus in Joss saying more than one time that he is aware of the existence of fics, that he finds nothing wrong in them, and that fans should write it… I really can’t understand why anyone else would object to it if the creator gives his blessing, not to mention many of his own writers like Jane Espenson. But I'm sure they have their reasons :)

Quote from Joss Whedon found here and more:

"I love it. I absolutely love it. I wish I had grown up in the era of fan fiction, because I was living those shows and those movies that I loved and I would put on the score to Superman and just relive the movie over and over," says Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, when asked how he feels about his shows living on in the fanfic community.


And here:

How do you feel about the cultural impact of Buffy? The comics, merchandise, fan fiction, etc?

Whedon: Again, the show was designed to be the kind of show that people would build myths on, read comics about, that would keep growing. So naturally, I'm wicked pleased that it's entering people's consciousness. I obviously can't read [fan fiction], but the fact is there seems to be a great deal of it, and that's terrific. I wished I'd had that outlet as a youngster, or had the time to do it now.


Now if it comes to people profiting from it in other than an emotional enjoyment, I assure you, from my experience, they are a minority and a not very welcomed bunch as well.

Although Joss doesn't mind.

A. You can also call it "the fact that people are taking it to their hearts." It's no different than fan fiction or any of these online communities. It's important to them and they wear it -- and that makes me proud. And I don't give a good goddamn who's makin' money off it.


LOL. Now I feel a bit shamefaced that I’ve spoken so much and still have WIPs hanging with people poking me to finish already. *slinks away feeling like chattering hypocrite*
All those "Buffy" and "Angel" tie-in novels? Fanfic, except the authors were paid for it.

I'm pretty sure Joss would agree with you on this. This likely be why no Firefly universe novels exist. This is also why I purchased none of them. (Sorry, novel writers).

The narrative exists beyond Joss thing, I'm almost certain people are misunderstanding that. Because he's gone on about the rules of drama existing beyond him - set in time, tried and tested - with regards to Willow and Tara before.
SoddingNancyTribe, I wasn't saying the fandom was calling for a boycott of anything -- my point was rather the opposite :). Except in rare instances, it's not so much writers getting licensing permission as the licensors *hiring* people to write the pro novels. However, we're still talking the creation of non-canonical fiction utilizing characters created by a writer other than the original author(s). I was asking if there was some sort of moral distinction between this and not-for-profit fanfic.
zeitgeist wait...are you saying that Ben and Glory are somehow...connected? Whoa...deep.

Anyone who writes...for any reason...does so because something inside them tells them to. I had never even HEARD the term fanfic before I discovered the Buffy 'verse. My "happy ending" jumped into my head, fully formed...and when you wake up from a sound sleep with a thought that won't let go... *shakes head* I can't possibly explain it to someone who doesn't write.

I am in no way saying that my works in the realm of fanfic are how it "should have been" or, in the case of "in between" scenes", how it WAS. Simple wish fulfillment, a vision of how it "might have been" and, in moments of extreme confidence "Joss would love this and wish he'd have thought of it" *G* (those moments are rare and rather fleeting).

And I wholeheartedly 100% agree that what I wanted/needed was completely different (and therefore, necessarily subordinate to) than what Willow's arc needed. I'm sure I wasn't alone in what I wanted/needed. I'm with GrrrlRomeo I'd had enough angst and disappointment and heartache by the time I'd discovered Buffy (in 2005). I was 38 years old...I wanted a happy ending. Which...naive, considering Joss.

In the past I've said that WP is the result of my "I can fix this" thought on the way W/T ended which has garnered me harsh criticism. My "fix" was for me...not because I thought Joss was wrong (hubris much?) in telling his story his way...but because I, as pointed out by sharper wits than me, needed something "else". And while "the voices told me to do it" won't stand up in court...that's the only reason I can give for spending two + years on a piece of work.

Oohhh NoSadSeven perfect analogy... And I don't think of myself as having taken Joss's characters; it'smore like they were trespassing in my mind, not leaving even once the party was over.

that's *exactly* how it feels. There were (and still are) nights (well, days, cuz I work nights) when I wanna say... "GO HOME, already, I need some sleep".

and...I think I'm done now. I'm not out to change anyone's mind about anything. I write because I'm compelled to do so. Is it gratifying when others enjoy what I write, be it original or fanfic? You betcha. But even if it was universally hated, it wouldn't...couldn't...stop me because in order to get any sleep, I need to shut up the voices in my head demanding to be heard.
I am in no way saying that my works in the realm of fanfic are how it "should have been"


Well except on the title of the Willow's Promise page ;), but I think I know what you mean.

in order to get any sleep, I need to shut up the voices in my head demanding to be heard.


I think there are medications for that... of course, now I'm imagining Christopher Walken saying "I've got a fever, and the only prescription is... MORE FANFIC!" I tease, but I've always been a writer (though not of fanfic), so I get the compulsion to write. Thanks everyone for mostly staying civil in what could've been a flamewar of epic proportions elsewhere.

ETA - forgot to mention earlier that there's a thing or two in KoL that reference Buffy, including this.
I haven't been here for the years of this discussion that have no doubt already taken place here, so I still feel that little urge to contribute. Fanfic seeking official protection strikes me as not right, and official squashing of fanfiction has always struck me as not right.

One thing that I have a strong opinion on is the (relatively popular) idea that works featuring original universes and characters are inherently superior to works using characters and settings you didn't create. The best arguments I've seen for fanfic (the best in my opinion) are the ones that take the deep historical view. Homer didn't create Odysseus, Malory and T. H. White didn't create Arthur, Shakespeare didn't create [a lot of the plots and characters borrowed from italian romances that he then transformed in his plays].

Those are some pretty damn big shoes to try to fill as a storyteller, granted. But for me they are a good demonstration of the principle that enough of the story is in the execution to leave plenty of room for originality or even genius.

And now I'm having weird thoughts about a historical Achilles sitting around in Elysium or wherever going "They wrote epic slashfic about me and Patroclus? Weird!"
siwangmu Well, here's something - I "borrow" the characters created by Joss, or Carlton Cuse or Chris Carter or Donald P. Bellisario, and put them in my own situations.

I could take any one of my "Buffy" fics, if I were so inclined, change the character names & tweak a few character traits, and have a completely original work.

Don' wanna. Wanna write "Buffy." Or...I did. I seem to have run out of steam here lately.

But I do write original works. Some of them may be influenced by a show, or even an actor I like, but all the thoughts are my very own. Same goes when I write fan fic - my own ideas, Joss's creations. I like to think they blend well. And some folks who've read my stories say so.
ShadowQuest, I must have been unclear, or possibly I'm not understanding you quite right. As far as I can tell, we agree; my point is that a work using not-your-own-characters can be original, and that looking down on such works doesn't seem right to me.

To use your phrasing, T. H. White could've written about a different hero-king-tragedy, but he didn't want to, he wanted to write Arthur. To which I say awesome, keep it up.
siwangmu As Captain Bridges used to say, "Bizactly."

I was giving a "fer 'zample" of what you were saying.

No one's gonna make me stop writing fan fiction, except my muse. I don't fic every show I watch; I have to feel a "connection" to the characters, have to want to explore another facet of them. Most of my fic is "in between" stuff - "episodes" we didn't see, not recreating or "fixing" episodes we did see. (Well, except for that short story contest entry I did called "Funky Candy," which reworked the library scene in "Band Candy" to include Dawn.) In the case of some shows, I do keep writing after they end, so then I'm doing a "fictionalized continuation" of the story, but keeping true to what we already know about the characters.

I don't put my stuff "out there" for other folks to read, because I don't handle criticism well. I tend to take it way too personally. And, when you've invested yourself in characters, whether your own or those you're borrowing from someone else, and have created a story involving them, it's hard not to take it to heart when someone comments negatively.
You guys ARE talking about the same Joss who linked a fanvid right?

Obviously he likes it. Does he read it? Nah. He's a busy guy.

As to the pros and cons of fanfic. We all probably know which side of the fence I lie on. And really, do we want to splinter our fandom based on something as innocuous as fanfic?

If you like it. You like it - if you don't. Meh. You don't.

Oh, and Buffy Between the Lines has turned a couple turkey haters into our brand of turkey lovers.

[ edited by BrownCoat_Tabz on 2008-03-31 06:55 ]
Whereas I'd love some constructively enagtive criticism and never get any.
Here ya go, DaddyCatALSO - you typo'd negative :) Crap, now I've got "Christian Woman" in my head...
I think that fanfic is, for the reader and not the writer, a form of wish fulfillment; you can, for example, give Willow and Tara a happily ever after life vastly different from the one the series gave you. And in some ways, I don't know that simply using the characters creates significant problems, either in terms of copyright or trademark infringement. I say this based on the idea that authors have often used existing characters from their tales as part of their story. For example, there are many Sherlock Holmes stories that have been published but were not written by ACD. Superman might show up in a book about a science fiction world. The simple use of the character is not likely either a copyright violation- and remember, copyright only protects the fixed expression of an idea and not the idea itself- or, as is more important in this argument, a trademark violation. These characters have all been trademarked; there is nothing to keep you from writing stories that feature a lesbian witch, but there might be from naming her Willow as well and giving her red hair.

Most fanfic I read is horrid, and I hate slashfic. But some is superb- Jet Wolf, for example, or Garner or Tulipp. These provide a means for continuing characters beyond the cofnines of the show- which the show can never do, since it is only what it is.

I also think that Joss loves the fan interest and therefore does not terribly mind the idea of fanfic. And why should he- first, there are literally thousands of Buffy fanfics out there, and they have not hurt the sales of DVD, but have helped keep interest alive. And second, pragmatically, why care for him? He can sit back and let Fox be the heavy, if they want to- but I do not think they want to, since (1) they are still selling DVD sets, adn (2) Joss would probably not want them to hurt his fans. And fic writers really are fans.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2008-03-31 16:40 ]
For example, there are many Sherlock Holmes stories that have been published but were not written by ACD. Superman might show up in a book about a science fiction world.


Well, Sherlock isn't exactly under copyright still... and a sci-fi book could certainly have a super man, but not Superman. Believe me, try to write a sci-fi book with the Superman and Time-Warner will suddenly become very interested in sending you letters with large legal letterheads. Other than that, I'm with ya :)
Apparently Superman's copyright is quite complicated.

ETA: Not saying that weakens any argument about whther or not using him in something is ok, just that even the "simple" examples aren't all that simple.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-03-31 17:32 ]
zeitgeist; I tend to eb King of the Khyber typoes anywhere I go. What I'd like to know is things like , was the line "He was fillin' a cold slot, alright,but it wasn't on a machine" funny, or effective,a nd if not why not. And I never get much of that :-().
And Happy-Happy Land can be an interesting place.

Shapenew; Well if someone wants to use either my "Children of the Dale" or "World Beyond the Wall" settings for secondary fics (ha-hah-ha like that'll happen) it'd be good if they followed from the events already specified there

GrrrlRomeo, Saje ; maybe my "Intimacy Tales" are the "Hellequin ROmance" version of Willow & Tara. Joss can be Shakespeare if he wants, I'll function on my own shelf.

I admit I've never impressed Dana5140 much but then again I've only *sent* him my smutty pieces, not my sentimental, action, or humorous ones.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2008-03-31 20:45 ]
This is true, insofar as DCA has only sent me the smutty bits...
:-)
So you're saying you were impressed with the smutty bits ;)
Yeah, the recent ruling about Superman complicates his rights (though it's good news on balance - it basically says that rights that should revert to the creator or their heirs do, no matter how deep the current claimants pockets, which is a refreshingly bloodied nose for the Time-Warners and Disneys of this world).

Basically, the Siegels now co-own everything from 'Action Comics' #1 which includes the name Superman, the name Clark Kent and that he's his alter-ego, Lois (but possibly NOT 'Lane') the costume including the 'S' shield, the characterisation as bullet proof, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings. They don't own the fact that has has an arch enemy Lex Luthor, that his home world is Krypton or the rest of his origin story and it's a grey area whether they own him being able to fly. Minefield basically ;).

(there's a good discussion here - especially if you're an insomniac with something against counting sheep ;)

Either way though, you can't use Superman in any of your own fiction without infringing either copyright or trademarks whether it's DC's or the Siegel family's. He's very much NOT in the public domain.

Holmes isn't straightforward either since as I understand it - and IANAL ;) - he's still under copyright in the US but not in the UK. Dracula on the other hand lapsed a while back in the UK and was never under copyright in the US. Twisty turny ;).

(to abstract out the details though, I don't have any issue in principle with people using and profiting from characters they're legally allowed to, no matter who created them. And I also don't have any problem with limited, low profile non-profit - of any kind - fan usage of characters for the author and a reasonable, limited number of fans to enjoy)
zeitgeist; Not to be too serious about a humorous interchange, but the fact is, like a lot of people, Dana isn't that interested in reading fictional depictions of two people having sex, and my Willow-Tara centric stories, at least the 4 longer ones, tend to be about that. (In fact,t he only other explicit sex scenes I ever wrote in Buffy-fic were one between Fiath and Harmony -since hacked and unavailable- and another between Harmony and Xander,s tressing the Freudian aspects.And the H-X scene was only part of the Chapter 1 set-up;the real plot came in Chapters 2 & 3, in which Xander's life is dependent on the Angel Investigations crowd. All my other stuff is quite chaste.)

Saje;Interesting how the details of these things can work out. (I'm honestly surprised 'Olmes is still in copyright hereabouts. The US has historically been the place where such rights are Most Likely to Expire.)

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