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And ten thousand nerds said "...really?"
September 8, 2012 9:12 AM   Subscribe

50 Shades of Grey author E.L. James is threatening a Coventry-area housewife with legal action for throwing 50 Shades-themed sex toy parties. Says James' agent: "You can’t just hijack something someone else owns." Which is, to say the least, a little ironic. (50 Shades previously on the blue. Also.)
posted by mightygodking (127 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pottergate II!
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"You can’t just hijack something someone else owns."

Bahahaha!
posted by amro at 9:21 AM on September 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


Was anyone else disappointed upon finding out that MotU wasn't a He-Man fan-fic?
posted by symbioid at 9:22 AM on September 8, 2012 [43 favorites]


I wanna write some slash fiction about the Kool Aid Man: How he busts through your walls to give you pure Purplesaurus Rex pleasure.
50 Shades of Grape.
posted by isopraxis at 9:23 AM on September 8, 2012 [38 favorites]


...You wanna know something even more crazy?

Someone is looking into publishing her own novel that was based on fanfic -- fanfic of 50 Shades of Grey. At least, they were at one point (they may have abandoned that plan).

I want to see if this goes on long enough for someone to say "hey, wait, what if I took the plot of [insert whatever we're up to here] and rewrote it as a TWILIGHT story?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on September 8, 2012 [13 favorites]




Was anyone else disappointed upon finding out that MotU wasn't a He-Man fan-fic?
Fifty Shades of Greyskull!
posted by Abiezer at 9:34 AM on September 8, 2012 [59 favorites]


Wow. Talk about your unmitigated gall.
posted by town of cats at 9:35 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm writing a fanfic about the helicopter.

"Whir whir whir," said Charlie Tango as he hovered above my quivering...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:37 AM on September 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


fanfic of 50 Shades of Grey

Wouldn't that just be Twilight?
posted by Forktine at 9:39 AM on September 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


OH SNAP

OH SNAP II: SON OF OH SNAP

OH SNAP III: THE OH SNAPPENING

I think I just had a schadenfreudegasm.
posted by elizardbits at 9:39 AM on September 8, 2012 [84 favorites]


I try not to judge people I haven't actually met in person, but this E.L. James character really does seem rather awful.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:41 AM on September 8, 2012


OH SNAP Z: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE SNAPS
posted by The Whelk at 9:41 AM on September 8, 2012 [18 favorites]


OH SNAP TAKES MANHATTAN
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:42 AM on September 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


ASYLUM OF THE SNAPS
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 AM on September 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


THE EMPIRE SNAPS BACK
posted by saturday_morning at 9:45 AM on September 8, 2012 [23 favorites]


On closer inspection, there appears to be rather more than 50 shades of hypocrisy on this here kettle I'm holding.
posted by arcticseal at 9:46 AM on September 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


OH SNAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROWNOYOUDI'INT
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:49 AM on September 8, 2012 [49 favorites]


All posts are © their original authors!
posted by bukvich at 9:50 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meet Mr Fifty Shades: EL James's husband speaks out

Yes, when Fifty Shades Of Grey hit number one on the NYT Bestseller List we swapped our pongy old Honda for a big shiny VW, but that's about it – although now the door has fallen off the oven we may refit our tatty kitchen sooner rather than later.

Oh piss off you smug sods
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:50 AM on September 8, 2012 [31 favorites]


OHSNAPTIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD
posted by elizardbits at 9:50 AM on September 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


GINGER SNAPS

...oh wait I think I kinda screwed it up
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:51 AM on September 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


Apropos: http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=4307
posted by clvrmnky at 9:52 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


IT'S A S-S-S-NAP

(the staircase is the real snap)
posted by Rhaomi at 9:53 AM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will gladly offer to host one of these aforementioned "sex toy parties".

I see. I'm being told that I must first create a business in which I procure and sell sex toys, apologies for the confusion
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:53 AM on September 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


oh I can't wait until the movies come out..
posted by ninjew at 9:56 AM on September 8, 2012


Metafilter: All posts are © their original authors!
posted by njohnson23 at 9:57 AM on September 8, 2012


Mummy porn writer EL James

Yeah I had a definite "WHAT kind of porn?!" double-take there.
posted by olinerd at 9:58 AM on September 8, 2012


Mummy porn

Rachel Weisz nooooo.....
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on September 8, 2012 [21 favorites]


He put the ram back in Ramses.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:01 AM on September 8, 2012 [26 favorites]




How has no one yet linked the ONTD post on this? DISHONOR ON YOUR COW, METAFILTER.
posted by elizardbits at 10:03 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The woodwind sounds like creaky bed springs
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:09 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Ms. Winter rebrands her parties as Fifty Sheds of Grey, she'll be in the clear legally.
posted by lukemeister at 10:10 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Snap, the final frontier.
posted by angrycat at 10:13 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Cult of Snap
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:14 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come now, little butterfly....surely, you didn't think this would go unnoticed.

Thanks for the free advertising, now pay me for your egregious, egregious copyright infringement.
posted by mule98J at 10:18 AM on September 8, 2012


SNAPzilla vs MechOHSNAPzilla
posted by zombieflanders at 10:19 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wish this woman hadn't become the public face of the fanfic community. Please don't think all fan writers are like this, for every possible value of "like this." It's a large, diverse community of many interests and skill levels, and most of the people I've met there are self-aware and unhypocritical. They'll obey the law and authorial edict, if applicable, but they have doubts about whether inventing one's own characters is the only measure of originality, or whether originality is the only measure of creative skill. And for this reason, they generally don't mind people who riff off their own work, except in cases when someone claims someone else's fan work is their own (because, after all, no fanfic writer would ever claim to have written Supernatural or The Avengers, unless you count Joss as a fanfic writer because he is using characters other people invented).

I have to admit, though, that I don't know how I'd react if someone had a sex toy party themed after my old fic. None of it lends itself well to a sex toy party. I don't know anyone who has had this problem. Maybe once the sex toy parties get involved, all bets are off.

To be fair to James, I don't see a quote from her anywhere on this article. She does not seem like an admirable person and I'm sure she sanctioned the lawsuit, but "you can't just hijack something someone else owns" isn't her personal defense of her actions.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:22 AM on September 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


THE SNAPPENING (WHAT A TWIST!)
posted by Pistache at 10:25 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Citizen Snap (SPOILER: Ebfrohq'f Gur Fanc)
posted by KingEdRa at 10:33 AM on September 8, 2012


Judging from his twitter feed, this thread full of O SNAP movie puns is exactly the response mightygodking was hoping for.
posted by straight at 10:33 AM on September 8, 2012


Oh Snap II: Electric Boogaloo
posted by KingEdRa at 10:34 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


"You can’t just hijack something someone else owns."

Does Fifty Shade so Grey actually owe anything to Stephanie Meyer other than the names that got filed off?
posted by straight at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Creepy implausible relationships, it sounds like.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think ELJ is just pissed she's not making money off of the parties.
posted by luckynerd at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2012


I'm still waiting for E.L. James to admit that she stole her pen name from the Keebler elves.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:45 AM on September 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


SNAPCEPTION!

I love me some fanfic, even some kink meme, but ahhhh, the smell of schadenfreude in the morning. The only thing that could make this better is Cassandra Clare weighing in.
posted by immlass at 10:50 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, were _restraining_ orders issued?
posted by chavenet at 10:58 AM on September 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, were _restraining_ orders issued?

Not yet, the paperwork is still tied up in deliberations.

God this is awesome. As someone who has written fanfics myself, I would be so honored if someone actually created a party theme based on my work that I would probably show up just to thank everyone personally. But I don't think my ego could handle it. Plus, I'm still ironing out the rough edges of my latest work: Breaking Badder.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


THE SNAPPENING.
I took this photo a couple of days ago at my local Sam's Club. I call it "Fifty Shades of Snap."
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:09 AM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


BRIDE OF OHSNAPPENSTEIN MEETS ABBOT AND COSTELLO

Am I too late?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:12 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


COLM MEANY UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT
posted by zippy at 11:12 AM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Look at all those books. These books will never be gotten rid of. These books are how our civilization will be remembered.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:13 AM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I want to see if this goes on long enough for someone to say "hey, wait, what if I took the plot of [insert whatever we're up to here] NAKED LUNCH and rewrote it as a TWILIGHT story?"

Any of the Tom Clancy novels that lean heavily on domestic political intrigue rather than the usual warporn stats would also work.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2012


Did I ever tell you about the vampire who taught his asshole to talk?
posted by Suddenly, elf ass at 11:25 AM on September 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


Those books are the literary equivalent of twinkies and cockroaches.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:29 AM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I want to go to a Fifty Shades Sex Toy Party. With a camera, an oilskin and a sou'wester.
posted by Decani at 11:31 AM on September 8, 2012


Plus, I'm still ironing out the rough edges of my latest work: Breaking Badder

You'd better not tread too close to my profitable vampires-as-a-metaphor-for-meth-addiction franchise Breaking Vlad, buddy.
posted by hattifattener at 11:36 AM on September 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


OH SNAP SUPERMAN
OH SNAP JUDGE
OH SNAP MODERN MAN
OH SNAP AH-HA-HAHAHAHAHA
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:36 AM on September 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


The only thing that could make this better is Cassandra Clare weighing in.

I am so fucking disappointed in fandom as a whole that no one has profited from the publication of shitty fanfic of her books. SO DISAPPOINTED.
posted by elizardbits at 11:48 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


God this is awesome. As someone who has written fanfics myself, I would be so honored if someone actually created a party theme based on my work that I would probably show up just to thank everyone personally. But I don't think my ego could handle it. Plus, I'm still ironing out the rough edges of my latest work: Breaking Badder.

Have a free tip: you'll make a hundred times as much if it's Breaking Bladder.
posted by kafziel at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


If this Breaking Bed's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'!
posted by lukemeister at 12:00 PM on September 8, 2012


That's the theme of one of the later chapters, "Look At Me, Hector"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:00 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm writing "Metafilter: Fifty Shades of Grey posts" fanfic.

Anastasia's fingers trembled over the keyboard, knowing that Christian saw her looking at the post on BoingBoing.
"Go ahead, make a single link FPP out of it" he said.
"But another Fifty Shades post will just deleted, and Cortex is so mean when he deletes them."
He placed his hand over hers and guided the mouse pointer to "New Post".
"You will learn to enjoy the bite of the snarky comment", Christian whispered in her ear.
"But", she shyly admitted, vainly trying to pull the mouse away, "I've only ever lurked, I've...never made an FPP"
posted by 445supermag at 12:01 PM on September 8, 2012 [49 favorites]


I am so fucking disappointed in fandom as a whole that no one has profited from the publication of shitty fanfic of her books. SO DISAPPOINTED.

I'd give it some time. The first Twilight book came out in 2005. Fifty Shades was first published in 2011. City of Bones was first published in 2007. So on our Fifty Shades timeline, we could be right on track.

(And it we aren't, well, we should start on this right now, shouldn't we?)
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 12:01 PM on September 8, 2012


QUICK SOMEBODY SHOW THIS POST TO ALANIS MORRISETTE!
posted by roboton666 at 12:07 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been working on a piece of fanfic called Breaking Blood. Its about a down on his luck Vampire in Louisiana who just found out he's not going to die so he's got to find a way to take care of his family until the end of time, so he starts dealing Vampire blood to humans and shape shifters in the area. I think Starz might pick it up as as series.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's an amusing story but this is from the Daily Mirror which, like all British red-tops, has an intermittent relationship with the truth.
posted by epo at 12:38 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


50 Ha-ha's of Nelson Muntz.
posted by Iosephus at 1:04 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Judging from his twitter feed, this thread full of O SNAP movie puns is exactly the response mightygodking was hoping for.

well, that and people giving me bags of money for no reason

metafilter is always sort of disappointing on that level
posted by mightygodking at 1:12 PM on September 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


After seeing Cassandra Clare mentioned on every thread that vaguely touches on this subject, I finally looked up what she's supposed to have done. It appears that when she was a fan fiction author, she was found to be guilty of plagiarizing in the wrong way, so that it upset all the other plagiarizers, who perceived themselves to be plagiarizing only in acceptable ways?

Maybe you all should just let this one go.
posted by kyrademon at 1:16 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It appears that when she was a fan fiction author, she was found to be guilty of plagiarizing in the wrong way, so that it upset all the other plagiarizers, who perceived themselves to be plagiarizing only in acceptable ways?

This only makes sense if you believe all fanfic is plagiarism, which is utterly false.
posted by kmz at 1:34 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


kmz - Fair enough. I would agree that fan fiction is not plagiarism if the author of the original work has stated that it is acceptable.

Lawyers on behalf of J. K. Rowling have stated that she has "no complaint about innocent fan fiction written by genuine Harry Potter fans", and she has only explicitly objected to sexually explicit work. So it's certainly possible that Cassandra Clare's Harry Potter fan fiction, and the work of those in the fan fiction community who objected to it, was only plagiarism insofar as it lifted dialogue from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I'll check to see if her work, and the community she was writing in, featured sexually explicit scenes, and if it didn't I withdraw my statement and apologize for making assumptions.
posted by kyrademon at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2012


So it's certainly possible that Cassandra Clare's Harry Potter fan fiction, and the work of those in the fan fiction community who objected to it, was only plagiarism insofar as it lifted dialogue from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The lifting from Pamela Dean always seemed more egregious, TBH.
posted by rewil at 2:07 PM on September 8, 2012


Haven't read it, and was just using Buffy as a shorthand example -- it sounds like it lifted from Dean, Buffy, Roger Zelasny, Tanith Lee, and a bunch of other sources.
posted by kyrademon at 2:11 PM on September 8, 2012


Does Fifty Shade so Grey actually owe anything to Stephanie Meyer other than the names that got filed off?

I guess you can't patent terrible writing, so not much then, I suppose.

I would agree that fan fiction is not plagiarism if the author of the original work has stated that it is acceptable.

That seems to be an extremely overreaching definition of plagiarism. What you're talking about might fall under copyright or trademark infringement, but those are different things from plagiarism. No fanfic author I know of claims ownership of the original work or their characters. (Actually, I have occasionally seen people try to claim their variation of a character or something, and then they're mercilessly mocked by the rest of the community, as they should be.)

But anyway, if you can't see the difference between unattributed wholesale lifting of prose and fanfiction, this discussion (which has been going on for forever and a day) isn't going to go anywhere.
posted by kmz at 2:18 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The next person to publish anything about 50 Shades of Grey is going to get strangled.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:28 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course I see the difference. And I do appear to have been using the term plagiarusm incorrectly. Sorry about that. I should have said "I would agree that fan fiction is not copyright infringement if the author of the original work has stated that it is acceptable," and used that term in several places in my initial post.

But ... that doesn't mean I consider unapproved fan fiction to be either legal or particularly ethical. There's not really a "might" about the copyright infringement issue. Derivative work is specifically covered by copyright, with only narrow fair use exceptions that aren't considered to cover the vast majority of unapproved fan fiction.

I guess what I'm trying to get at here is ... in a post where E. L. James is being called out for trying to shut down "hijacking" of her work, I'm a little amused by the approving references to Clare being called out by a group of which some of whom, I'm now pretty sure, were indulging in copyright infringement themselves.

And believe me, I am well aware that my views on copyright are extremely unpopular here on Metafilter. So I'll drop the derail.
posted by kyrademon at 2:40 PM on September 8, 2012


So it's certainly possible that Cassandra Clare's Harry Potter fan fiction, and the work of those in the fan fiction community who objected to it, was only plagiarism insofar as it lifted dialogue from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The lifting from Pamela Dean always seemed more egregious, TBH.
posted by rewil at 7:07 AM on September 9 [+] [!]


And don't even get me started on the lifting from Paula Dean.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:48 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


And don't even get me started on the lifting from Paula Dean.

City of Butter? Mortal Instrument indeed.
posted by kmz at 3:00 PM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Coming soon to an Amazon delivery box near you:

50 Pictures of Dorian Gray.

50 Miles of James May.

50 Screens of Michael Bay.

50 Bags of Frito Lay.
posted by loquacious at 3:05 PM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]



50 Pictures of Dorian Gray.


Upon discovering Basil's power Dorian doesn't kill him, but rather uses him to cement his position by making select members of the English nobility (and a few boxers and actresses) immortal, allowing the class system to further entrench and enrich itself while Dorian keeps their paintings close at hand as insurance.

Basil, still enraptured by Dorian, needs to be convinced by a now immortal-and-hating-it-Lord henry to do SOMETHING to stop that man before he takes down the whole Empire.
posted by The Whelk at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


(e-mails agent. No, literally.)
posted by The Whelk at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2012


So...let me see if I understand what's going on here. A woman writes some popular fanfic, takes it offline, retools it a bit and sells it to a publisher and people get all butthurt. Big deal. Obviously her original fanfic wasn't that closely tied to Twilight if she could republish it without legal repercussion just by changing the character names.
posted by MikeMc at 3:12 PM on September 8, 2012


So...let me see if I understand what's going on here. A woman writes some popular fanfic, takes it offline, retools it a bit and sells it to a publisher and people get all butthurt.

The only person who seems to be butthurt is the sex toy party seller who got the C&D. The rest of us seem to be laughing.
posted by immlass at 3:34 PM on September 8, 2012


Well, somebody associated with James clearly got butthurt enough to send the C&D, immlass.
posted by hattifattener at 4:23 PM on September 8, 2012


True, but the lawyers/publisher's representatives are paid to be butthurt. It's in the job description.
posted by immlass at 4:57 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


50 Miles of James May.

the written word cannot suitably convey the majesty of James May and his hair
posted by ninjew at 5:04 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This could all be solved by outlawing fanfic and killing anyone who engages in it on the spot. The world would be much better off.
posted by xmutex at 5:11 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to write a Fifty Shades of Grey fanfic that is more scat focused.

Not because I'm into scat or anything... I just want an excuse to use the pen name E.L. Fudge.
posted by aristan at 5:33 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]




@xmutex

...what
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:07 PM on September 8, 2012


The world awaits my erotic ST:TNG fanfic, 50 Cups of Earl Grey.

Oh! I'm drinking Snapple and listening to Snap!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:42 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The world awaits my erotic ST:TNG fanfic, 50 Cups of Earl Grey.

HOT!
posted by crossoverman at 9:04 PM on September 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


50 Shades of Grape.

The Grapist.
posted by crossoverman at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2012


And also, my Song of Ice and Fire Fan-fic: 50 Grades of Shae
posted by Philby at 9:11 PM on September 8, 2012


As far as I am aware every major sex toy retailer in Australia has been pushing 50 Shades sex toy stuff for the past few weeks.

I have no idea if it's inspired by or 50 ShadesTM branded stuff or generic bondage, but ... I am withdrawing by Grey and Steele branded St Andrews crosses immediately.
posted by Mezentian at 9:19 PM on September 8, 2012


As far as I am aware every major sex toy retailer in Australia has been pushing 50 Shades sex toy stuff for the past few weeks.

There's a local sex toy shop here in Austin with a scrolling text banner by the side of the freeway on the way we went out to dinner tonight. I don't know what specifically they were advertising, but I caught the "... ades of Grey ..." scrolling by as we went past at high speed.
posted by immlass at 10:30 PM on September 8, 2012


445supermag: I'm writing "Metafilter: Fifty Shades of Grey posts" fanfic.
That's Fifty Shades of Blue. Fifty Shades of Grey is for MetaTalk fanfic.
posted by knile at 1:03 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


MetaTalk is MetaFilter fanfic.
posted by hattifattener at 1:34 AM on September 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


I should write a bible fanfic so that more of it happened in America. That sounds so great, I should sell it door to door.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:41 AM on September 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also, 50 Shades of Gray is the biggest case of false advertising ever. There was not a single pantone or HSV value in that book. I would have settled for hex, even.

Would not recommend. 1 star.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:42 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alternative version of previous joke:

50 Shades of Grey was disappointing, as it did not deliver on my paranormal romance fantasies of extraterrestrial sweet love.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:45 AM on September 9, 2012


Your bible fanfic idea is genius. It would make a tremendous starting point for an SF novel. Imagine the social impact of a nation of people (a) believing this, (b) concluding, perhaps, they were the chosen people.
posted by epo at 6:50 AM on September 9, 2012


mccarty.tim: "Also, 50 Shades of Gray is the biggest case of false advertising ever. There was not a single pantone or HSV value in that book. I would have settled for hex, even."

I am angry at Ms James for ruining Jasper Fforde's book title forever.
posted by Gordafarin at 6:55 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mummy porn writer EL James

I don't think anything can count as "mummy porn" unless it a) is erotica about two people finding time to have sex when their kids are asleep or b) involves pyramids.
posted by jb at 7:00 AM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


But ... that doesn't mean I consider unapproved fan fiction to be either legal or particularly ethical.

Unless it's really well-written, in which case we just call it inter-textuality. (some bright literature-person can add a hell of a lot more examples, if they like).

Seriously: riffing on other people's characters and stories is the backbone of literature, and not just about adding zombies. It's how we talk about our stories and expand them and question them and re-write them. Characters never have been copyrightable -- what is in copyright is the original WORDS. Yes, owners of major media franchises have chosen to TRADEMARK character names. But that doesn't mean that writers of parodies and other derviative works aren't allowed to publish.

I was going to say that I will rue the day when inter-textuality is banned, but I'm afraid that it's already too late.

And I'm sure our culture is going to fucked by this loss.
posted by jb at 7:25 AM on September 9, 2012


Unless it's really well-written, in which case we just call it inter-textuality.

Yeah, there's a lot of snobbery around the use of "other people's ideas" by people who would never dream of criticizing everyone from Homer to Virgil to Mallory to Shakespeare and on down the line to the present day for doing exactly the same thing. And Jean Rhys notwithstanding, a lot of the modern criticism takes a distinctly anti-woman tone because the internet culture of fanfic is perceived, correctly or not, to be female dominated. (Jean Rhys gets off because she's academically-approved instead of writing on livejournal. As for publication, we can see what that got E.L. James.)

Legal, which can only be determined by putting rubber to the road in a court, or not, making up more stories about characters you're interested in or telling different versions of the same old stories is pretty much what people do. So is tying in your own ideas to popular culture. What's so hilarious about this case is E.L. James is convinced that the process stops with her, and it just doesn't work that way.
posted by immlass at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


jb and imlass, I would have no objection whatsoever to a copyright term much shorter than the one that currently exists, which would leave plenty of room for Rhys, Homer, Virgil, Mallory, and Shakespeare.

And I already mentioned that fair use exemptions exist in current copyright law, which includes both parody and "vastly transformative" works. I also think that's great.

I simply don't think that copyright should be thrown away entirely, and I don't think a good deal of fan fiction falls into either parody or the vastly transformative category. Which makes me a minority voice here, but such is life.

As it stands, I think if a living author has given permission (as Stephanie Meyer has and as J. K. Rowling has for most fan fiction), awesome. If they haven't (as Anne Rice and George R. R. Martin have not), then except for a few fair use examples, I stand by what I said.

There is a middle ground between no-derivative-works-ever and all-copyright-is-an-abomination. I suspect we both live in that middle ground, actually, just in different parts of it.
posted by kyrademon at 8:21 AM on September 9, 2012


We found a 50 Shades of Gray magazine at the grocery store last night. Right between Men's Health and Cosmo.
posted by doctornemo at 8:37 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should write a bible fanfic so that more of it happened in America. That sounds so great, I should sell it door to door.

Be sure to put in more dinosaurs.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:55 AM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am angry at Ms James for ruining Jasper Fforde's book title forever.

Yeah, I get a lot of comments when people see that book on my shelf. And then I explain (a) it's a different book and (b) it was promised as the beginning of a trilogy and he's never ever going to write the next books, just a prequel, and I'm upset, and then I start explaining how the plot was interesting and then they learn never to mock my bookshelf again, because I will bore them to death if they do.
posted by jeather at 11:08 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


JASPER FFORDE IS NEVER GOING TO WRITE THE SEQUELS TO SHADES OF GREY?!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIEEE I'M NEVER GOING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS AAAAAAAIIIEEEE

*weeps*
posted by kyrademon at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think a good deal of fan fiction falls into either parody or the vastly transformative category

I don't think it falls into copyright violation territory either unless the fic writers have actually lifted text from the original, which they typically don't.

You believe that there should be a legal category of intellectual property rights which cover… um, whatever it is that fanfic writers duplicate. This is an arguable position (though I disagree with it), but as far as I know it'd be an extension to the laws we have.
posted by hattifattener at 1:23 PM on September 9, 2012


I am withdrawing from this argument on the grounds that jeather's post has driven me into a state of hysterical madness.

(I plan not to recover until I have acquired finished editions of Sanditon, The Love of the Last Tycoon, and the Mystery of Edwin Drood. In the meantime, any available copies of Singer Among the Nightingales, the final books of the War Against the Chtorr, or the conclusion of the Kencryrath series would be greatly appreciated if you could send them my way.)
posted by kyrademon at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


A PREQUEL is coming out in 2015. I don't want a prequel! I mean, I do, but first I want to know what happens next.

(Also, if the Thursday Next books aren't fanfiction, I don't know what is. Yes, it's only of out of copyright works, as far as I can recall. No doubt any in-copyright characters were approved by their authors.)
posted by jeather at 4:10 PM on September 9, 2012


Interestingly, Jasper Fforde was opposed to fan fiction until someone pointed out to him that it's kind of a lot of what he does himself.

Jasper Fforde at first: "... it seems strange to want to copy or 'augment' someone else's work ... [Any fan fiction] published in any form whatsoever - and that specifically includes the internet - I cannot encourage, nor approve of."

After, one imagines, quite a lot of people noted that he had spent most of his career 'augmenting' other people's works in his own books, he said: "After speaking to many Fanfictioneers and understanding the genre a litttle better, I have modified my opinion ... [I] would regard it more as a celebration of writing rather than simple copying."

So, to bring this full circle, I guess the logical solution is for someone to write Shades of Grey fanfic.
posted by kyrademon at 5:14 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


So much for the kinky Tudor shenanigans at my "50 Shades of (Lady Jane) Grey" potluck and beheading event.
posted by thivaia at 6:15 PM on September 9, 2012


Oh don't lose your head over it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a middle ground between no-derivative-works-ever and all-copyright-is-an-abomination. I suspect we both live in that middle ground, actually, just in different parts of it.

As hattifattener, is copyright really at issue? Does it apply to anything other than the exact words? One maybe could talk about plagiarism for the uncited ideas, but that sort of plagiarism really is an academic offense and doesn't make sense outside of an academic context. By writing a new story, there is a new creation - one which talks to the original but doesn't copy it in any way.

I have no idea how that ruling against 60 years later stood: it's a clearly transformative work, in a similar vein to Rhys, or Geoff Ryman's Was.
posted by jb at 9:17 AM on September 10, 2012


Of course, I have my own solution for all derivative works: there should just be a standard % of income that must go to the original creator. So if I make Doctor Who knitting patterns and sell them, I have to send the BBC like 10% of what I sell them for. And if I give them away for free, I have to send the BBC 10% of 0. It recognizes the contribution of the original authors/designers to the final product and protects their right to make money from their own creative work, while at the same time leaving a place for the creation of non-profit derivative art.
posted by jb at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


50 Shades of Grape.

The Grapist.


Is that legitimate grape?

I'll show myself out.
posted by grubi at 9:40 AM on September 10, 2012


JASPER FFORDE IS NEVER GOING TO WRITE THE SEQUELS TO SHADES OF GREY?!!!

My heart has just broken into a million little pieces...
posted by Gordafarin at 4:10 AM on September 12, 2012


Is there an interview or something where he talks about there never being a sequel? I went looking for one, wanting to know why, and could only find bits about how we'll have to wait a while for a prequel, but nothing about plans beyond that.
posted by rewil at 11:43 AM on September 12, 2012


I swear I read that he had no immediate plans to return to Shades of Grey in the next half dozen years (other than the prequel). I grant, that might mean he will eventually finish it, but his Nursery Crimes last book has been delayed forever, too, because he keeps going on the Thursday Next and Dragonslayer books.
posted by jeather at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2012




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