My Policy on Fanfic and Other Adaptations of My Work

In the wake of my recent posts about FanLib, and for other reasons, I’ve been asked a bit about how I feel about fan fiction in my universes and/or people adapting my work to other media (particularly film). So, here’s what I think about that, posted here so I can refer people back to it rather than say it over and over privately.

Note the following is not a legal agreement for anything. It’s just me talking in a theoretical sense.

First: I do retain and reserve all rights to my work. I’m not very squishy about that fact. Just so you know. If you play in my universe, you implicitly accept I have the right to come around, say “mine!” and then stomp off with all your pretty toys. Yeah, I know. I’m a dick. What can I say.

Second: As long as you can deal with that first point, as far as I’m concerned, you may play in my universe(s) as long as the emphasis is on “play.” This means that nothing you do in my universes may:

a) Generate any sort of economic benefit for you, in any form;
b) Generate any sort of economic benefit for any third party;
c) Cause me economic detriment of any sort.

Basically, don’t try to make any money of my universes, and please don’t do something that’s going to make it difficult for me to make money off my universes. My mortgages and my daughter’s college education fund thank you in advance.

That said, some quick thoughts on stuff in particular:

Fanfic: Have fun. Don’t show it to me. And for God’s sake, if you see me at a con, don’t tell me about this great John Perry/Lazarus Long/The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island slash you wrote/saw on a LiveJournal group. I don’t want to know. Seriously.

Fan art: I actually don’t mind seeing this, although you should know that me saying “Cool!” does not constitute canonical approval. As above, you can skip showing me the hentai or the yaoi, especially if it involves the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island.

Filk: I can’t imagine why anyone would want to make filk out of any of my stuff, but hey, whatever.

Movie/TV scripts: We’re aggressively trying to sell movie/TV rights, so do keep all movie/TV adaptations for your own amusement/edification only, which is to say it would make me happy for you not to float them even as specs to agents, etc. Definitely don’t send these to me.

Audio/Podcast versions: These are also rights we’re shopping. Read it aloud for your own amusement; please don’t post or broadcast.

School projects: Some folks at design/animation/art schools have contacted me wanting to know if they can use some of my work as elements of their school work. My line on this is as long as it’s for educational purposes, that’s fine. Hope you get a good grade. I’m not going to be involved with your design process, but after it’s done, if you want to show it to me, that’s fine.

Parodies: Dude, parody’s totally covered by fair use. You don’t even have to ask. Just make it, you know, good.

Actual, Genuine Licensing: If you want to license any part of my work — and you would have to if you have a project that entails even attempting to make money, or doing anything that is in a field where I could make money off it — then you need to contact me. I’ll point you in the direction of my business representatives. When in doubt, contact me.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comment thread.

12 thoughts on “My Policy on Fanfic and Other Adaptations of My Work

  1. What about performance in a class setting/ theater audition? There are several sections of The Sagan Diary that would make incredible monologues. The first would probably qualify as school, but I was actually more interested in the second. Plus sometimes audition pieces are recorded for later review/critique, and while there is no money involved, somewhere out there is a chick on a stage talking like Jane :)

  2. Kendiara:

    Doing them for class is fine. For auditions, I see them as part of getting the job, not the job itself, so go right ahead.

  3. Very interesting, but now my browser log has ‘yaoi’ in it. I really did not need to see that tonight.

  4. What is this obsession with the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island? Is this related to a past run in with fan fiction, or is it related to some long suppressed issue with the Skipper? Do you have said issues with all of the cast (even the millionaire and his wife)?

  5. “Filk: I can’t imagine why anyone would want to make filk out of any of my stuff, but hey, whatever.”

    CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I’ll let you know if I ever manage to finish it…

  6. John, i don’t know how much you’ve been around the academic-theatrical world, but a Very Big Deal in it are the acting competitions centering on KC-ACTF and the regional associations, and to keep themselves out of a sling, all those competitions require a direct and specific permission for use of copyrighted material in the auditions. Between having many theatrical/academic friends owning some nonSF materials that happen to work well on stage, I get occasional requests. It can be handy to have a form letter standing by, to the effect that:

    ACTOR is allowed to use PASSAGE (usually specify pages, edition, and beginning/ending sentences) for auditions for FESTIVAL/ORGANIZATION during the NNN School year. I am sole copyright holder. Me. (date)

    If you have something suitable, acting and directing teachers will love you for that, and you never know where it might lead; the hot young director of today, after all, may have been at regional auditions for a Ryan scholarship 5 years ago. (And it might not be the piece they auditioned with; maybe it just impressed the hell out of them. On my “plays to direct or design before dying” list there are at least ten that I first encountered while watching auditions.)

    I’m not in SFWA anymore, but one of those cheapie membership services that can buy some goodwill might be to offer an audition-permission clearinghouse website. You’ve got many other theatrical people around, even a few in the weird world of academic theatre, and perhaps one of them might volunteer.

  7. Hi John!

    I absolutely loved OMW and I’m currently on chapter 2 of Ghost Brigades. I must say, the Battle(s) of Coral were very “BSG” in my imagination when I read it.

    Is there a legal reason you don’t want to look at fanfics? Also, could we instead forward you with story ideas/plot points for you to muse over?

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