33 users responded in this post

Subscribe to this post comment rss or trackback url
mygif

This strikes me as a really bad idea for the IP license holder IF your primary business revolves around licensing that IP for the foreseeable future. So properties like the DC or Marvel characters, Star Wars, Star Trek, My Little Pony, etc. You want to make sure that you aren’t damaging your brand long term by what gets published with your name on it, and putting your stamp of approval on something (rather than agreeing that you’ll ignore it as long as the fanfic writers stay on the down low).

On the other hand – the properties that Amazon has lined up (Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girls, Pretty Little Liars) are perfect for this kind of thing – TV properties that at most are going to have a handful of licensing opportunities, so why not suck them as dry as possible now and then let them eke out a bit of profit long-term as the hardcore fanbase basically pays you to let them churn out fanfic and sell it to each other? Kind of brilliant, actually.

(I wonder how it will impact the incomes of the authors that get lined up to write the tie-in TV novels. And hey – “The Vampire Diaries” started as a series of novels – doesn’t the author get a say in this? I’ll bet they signed that right away when they signed off on the TV series but that’s still kind of crappy.)

ReplyReply
mygif
Sisyphus said on May 22nd, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Well, the Vampire Diaries author may or may not have signed off on it, but they may or may not also be getting a slice of this pie also, depending on how their contract with the CW is defined. Nah, who’m I kidding. Of course the original author’s getting screwed.

ReplyReply
mygif

“Of course the original author’s getting screwed.”

But are they getting screwed without their consent? Does an author have to consent to have their material made into a TV show in the first place, or is that strictly in the hands of the publisher?

And how do the authors usually get compensated from TV shows and such? If the author of the Vampire Diaries books 1: is getting stinking rick off the show and 2: signed away rights to what the TV network does with the material, I feel myself less sympathetic.

If they are getting “screwed by the network”… how did they get in that position?

JK Rowling has kept strict control over her IP… why can’t other authors do that, if they wish?

If you don’t want other people polluting your IP, don’t let other people use your IP… or is it not that simple?

ReplyReply
mygif

As I understand it, the novels that these shows are based on were work-for-hire for Alloy Entertainment. That may be inaccurate but it would surprise me. The right to create a novelization (even for work you’re selling) is a separated right according to WGA guidelines.

Anyway, last summer I wrote a tie in novel for the guys at Evil Hat, based on their Spirit of the Century rpg. In that contract was a clause granting them the right to use any character I created for the novel.

Really, it makes sense. In Evil Hat’s terms, they might want to make game supplements from the books. Amazon and Alloy almost certainly want to protect themselves from lawsuits: yes, they introduced a hunky vampire named Steve who lives on a houseboat, and yes, you published a story about a hunky vampire named Steve who slept beneath a canoe that one time, on the other hand… ::waves contract in air::

It’s work for hire, and I suspect most of their early submissions will be for things already written and posted online.

As for filing the serial numbers off, that sorta kills the fun of fan fiction. If you’re planning to sell it, however, it makes sense.

ReplyReply
mygif

I think it’s a fair contract as long as someone goes in with their eyes open, and knows their best additions to an existing property will no longer be under their control. In other words, if I’m adding hunky vampire Steve because I can’t figure out where to put him in an original story, it’s not a great loss that I lose control of him.

I’m worried, though, that most people who are interested in this deal won’t realize that cost until it bites them in the butt.

ReplyReply
mygif
Kid Kyoto said on May 22nd, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I don’t see if the licensor has approval or not. Does this mean the world is now open for semi-legit erotic fanfic, or stories where the whole cast is gruesomely murdered?

is there some poor fool who has to review and approve everything?

ReplyReply
mygif

I don’t see if the licensor has approval or not.

Oh they do, although it appears in a roundabout way in the description given by Amazon:

World Licensors have provided Content Guidelines for each World, and your work must follow these Content Guidelines. We strongly encourage you to read the Content Guidelines before you commit the time and effort to write.

Without seeing the actual contract they sign, I would assume that it very clearly says that if the “World Licensor” says “this violates the content guidelines, pull it” Amazon will pull it no questions asked.

Also down in the Content Guidelines they say “no porn” and “no graphic or violent material”, and I’ll lay odds there’s a clause in the contract that the judgment on where those lines get drawn is at Amazon and the “World Licensor”‘s discretion no questions asked.

ReplyReply
mygif
kalyarn said on May 22nd, 2013 at 5:52 pm

The first thing I thought of was 50 Shades of Grey and what would have happened there had the author first written her fan fiction under this type of deal.

ReplyReply
mygif
Cookie McCool said on May 22nd, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I just can’t help but feel like now we’ve let the terrorists win. On the other hand, all my Magnum P. I. fanfic might finally start paying the rent.

ReplyReply
mygif

Problems abound:
1) Not every property is getting opened up for “fanfic purchasing” I swear if it was for Harry Potter or Avatar: Last Airbender then Amazon would be making a sh-tload of money. Certain properties are not going to generate that much fanfic enthusiasm.

2) Sturgeon’s Law: 90 percent of everything (in literature) is crap, more or less. And fanfiction takes up 73.48 percent. We’re not talking a massive surge of quality story-telling here.

3) Most fan-fic is sex. Slash fic. Damn Slashers.

4) Nobody is gonna pay me .99 a download for “Scully Is a Highlander”. :openly cries:

ReplyReply
mygif

I need to edit that to : openly cries:…

ReplyReply
mygif

Thing is, if big publishers like DC and Marvel DO open up to this sort of thing, it could mean projects like Chris’ “I Should Write The Legion” – with its’ interesting characters, intriguing plots and lack of cheap “Events” – actually become MORE popular than the drek they’re putting out with established creators like Snyder or Johns.

Which means either their company evolves into a kind of free-for-all where the published comics are the ones whose authors have managed to grab the highest audience…ORRR they don’t even try to open up to this sort of thing out of the horrid phobia of any and all changes to the horrible way in which they make comics.

ReplyReply
mygif

Mummy does bring up a point: this could evolve into a free-for-all. What happens if non-canon storylines get to be more popular and acceptable than the canon (which, given the screw ups of the chiefs at Marvel DC, is a near certainty)?

ReplyReply
mygif

I’m with kalyarm.

It’s really interesting to note that if 50 Shades of Grey was published as its original Twilight fic under this form, the author would’ve gone nowhere.

Is it possible that this semi-legitimising of some fanfic’s going to be used to justify pursuing those who don’t sign up for signing away rights?

ReplyReply
mygif
Pantsless Pete said on May 23rd, 2013 at 9:41 am

Is everything they’re offering for this coming from a Book Packaging firm?

Because that is a way better royalty offer than you get for working for an actual book packager.

ReplyReply
mygif
Hypo-Calvinist said on May 23rd, 2013 at 10:03 am

“But are they getting screwed without their consent?”

This argument ignores the fact that there is a staggering power imbalance between the two parties.

“If they are getting ‘screwed by the network’… how did they get in that position?”

It might be that, compared to the network (or publisher, etc…), they had slightly less money, a somewhat smaller legal department and perhaps a less astute understanding of the language of contracts. I’m just guessing here, but I think that might put them in a slightly less favorable negotiating position.

I think people too easily conflate helpful advice like “go into it with your eyes open” with blaming the victim. In this kind of transaction you are always going to “get fucked”.

ReplyReply
mygif

Mummy does bring up a point: this could evolve into a free-for-all. What happens if non-canon storylines get to be more popular and acceptable than the canon (which, given the screw ups of the chiefs at Marvel DC, is a near certainty)?

I think “near certainty” is unrealistically optimistic, at least in the short term. Two reasons:

First, it’s easy to get mad about editorial mandates like Spiderman’s deal with the devil or which team Wolverine joined this week, but there’s still a big difference between your average fanfic and something written, edited, and drawn by professionals on a reliable schedule (more or less). The drawn part is important: I’ve read some fanfics I liked, and there are some awesome amateur artists out there, but try putting art to story on a schedule and see how often it would be worth paying for.

And second, there’s only one official character and a hundred or a thousand fanfics. The best of them will rise to the top, but it’s still unlikely that any of those would become more popular than all the rest and the original.

That being said, if it does happen, then if the companies are at all smart then they’d co-opt it. Like how Nick Fury now resembles Samuel L. Jackson in the 616 Marvel universe: the Ultimate version was popular, the movies are popular, so there was a miniseries or whatever and the old Nick Fury has a long-lost black son named Nick, apparently.

It’s really interesting to note that if 50 Shades of Grey was published as its original Twilight fic under this form, the author would’ve gone nowhere.

50 Shades of Gray didn’t go anywhere until it was published as something other than Twilight fanfic, and that’s under the current system. (I don’t know all the details, but I think that’s basically correct.) I don’t see how this changes that.

ReplyReply
mygif

The ‘content guidelines’ for this enterprise are unsurprising, but they pretty much eliminate like 90% of fanfic right off the bat: No pornography and no crossovers.

The kinds of sex you can get published in books far exceeds what you can commonly show on the screen but I have a friend who writes erotica for Kindle and participates in erotica writing communities that work primarily through e-books and all of them have struggled with fitting under Amazon’s sometimes arbitrary definition of where ‘erotica’ becomes ‘porn’; often it’s incest, ‘excessive’ kink or other stuff that appeals to a particular reading niche, but it can just be ‘too graphic’. It’s entirely subjective. Amazon’s guidelines are ‘what we think is porn, is porn’ but honestly there isn’t any easier way to define it and going into a huge list of yes/no on acts and contexts would just be a mess.

But seriously fanfic with no porn or crossovers, have they ever actually met fanfic?

ReplyReply
mygif

This is in many ways, kind of awesome. Not only is it crowdsourced content farming with virtually no risk to Alloy, but it’s like My First Work-For-Hire Contract for naive fanfic writers.

More seriously, this reminds me of the infamous Tokyopop contracts in a lot of ways.

ReplyReply
mygif

LJ Smith has confirmed that Vampires Diaries were work-for-hire, ditto Secret Circle. So no say in anything and no money from the fanfic (though it’s put some of her other work back into print, which can’t hurt).

ReplyReply
mygif

As far as the “Vampire Diaries” author, no, she gets no say in this. In fact, two years ago, she was replaced in writing the “Vampire Diaries” novels.

http://www.spoilertv.com/2011/02/vampire-diaries-author-ljsmith-fired.html

She had a work-for-hire deal with Alloy and they didn’t like the direction she was taking the stories, so they replaced her.

ReplyReply
mygif
DensityDuck said on May 24th, 2013 at 4:50 am

Remember Gary Freiderich?

ReplyReply
mygif

I guess I’m seeing this from the perspective of a software guy, if I am hired by a company to write code, it isn’t MY code… I’m writing THEIR code. I have no control over what they do with it.

If I write my own code (on my own time, etc) and lease or sell it to a company, or sell it direct to the public, I get to make my own rules. I can put clauses in the contact about how it is used, how they can repackage it, etc.

I guess I don’t see the difference. If I am hired by a company to write a story for them (the work-for-hire model), they own the story. I’m just a writer. If I write my own content and THEN try to sell it to a company, the rules are different., and I should be careful about what i put in the contract as to how they can use the IP.

As per Gary Freiderich, Comic books are messy, but it seems like they are following the “work-for-hire” model, so the author doesn’t really own the IP.

Nowadays it is so easy to self promote and self publish using the internet; I really don’t know why more comic book authors don’t go that route. There are plenty of web comics artists that live exclusively off of their comics.

But from what I’ve seen a lot of traditional comics creators are anti web-publishing so they end up building their own prisons.

I guess I see Kindle World as a good thing, the more avenues a content creator can benefit from their content the better.

And NOW the the original vampire Diaries author can publish Vampire Diaries material again! I’m sure she has fans that would jump at the chance to get at her materiel again, fans that ‘didn’t like the direction of the new author’ or something.

ReplyReply
mygif
highlyverbal said on May 24th, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Obviously, MGK, you are betting that the next Jack Kirby tragedy doesn’t result from this a few decades from now.

‘Cause that would kinda make YOU the Scott Kurtz.

ReplyReply
mygif

The more troubling bit is in their own words the royalty is based on net revenue. NET revenue which is an invitation to Hollywood Accounting. So you surrender all rights and your pay depends on them deciding if it made net revenue after expenses.

ReplyReply
mygif
NewtypeS3 said on May 25th, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Well, time to petition to get DC to toss up the rights for Legion of Super-Heroes onto this for the time being, seeing how they don’t happen to mind what happens to the license while the book’s canceled…

ReplyReply
mygif
NewtypeS3 said on May 25th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Correction: meant to have a ‘probably’ in there, to add to the ‘don’t happen to mind.’

ReplyReply
mygif
Marionette said on May 27th, 2013 at 6:49 pm

If you are good enough to write something that becomes popular enough for Amazon or whoever to make pots of cash out of it you are good enough to do original work that will make pots of cash.

The person I feel sorry for is the one who has to read all this dreck to check it complies with the guidelines.

ReplyReply
mygif
highlyverbal said on May 27th, 2013 at 7:58 pm

@Marionette: “If you are good enough to write something that becomes popular enough for Amazon or whoever to make pots of cash out of it you are good enough to do original work that will make pots of cash.”

So that’s why Jack Kirby was so darn rich!!

ReplyReply
mygif

[...] group for historical figures unfairly maligned in fiction. It’s hysterical. •Amazon has a plan for writing fan-fic, getting paid for it and giving the rights holder some money too. Consumerist [...]

mygif
ladypeyton said on May 30th, 2013 at 12:36 am

I know dozens of fanfic authors who have gone into mainstream romance writing so it’s not true that they get nothing for their fic. 50 Shades is not the first fanfic to be mainstreamed. It’s not even the fiftieth. Hell, if I remember correctly even Mortal Instruments (coming soon to a theater near you) started out as fanfic.

The Kindle deal is a crap deal all around and I don’t know a single fanfic author even remotely interested in taking Amazon up on it. (with the caveat that the vast majority of fanfic authors I know are former, or currently writing in the BTVS oeuvre).

ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Please Note: Comment moderation may be active so there is no need to resubmit your comments