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Fan Fiction : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Fan Fiction

Frequently asked questions. Go HERE and read the first thread.
lionetravail
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Fan Fiction

Postby lionetravail » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:30 am

I've written a short story based on the setting and characters of a famous set of novels, the first of which was published in 1912. The names of the setting, and many of the supporting characters, are iconic and distinct, and in no way my own. The story was intentionally written in the style of the original author (initially as a prompt response), but as it developed it became something of a nostalgic re-visit to the world of the original author's creation.

What would be the limitations on seeking publication of such a short story?

Can it be entered into competitions?

Does it require more than a statement of "This work is based on the world/characters/novels by XYZ"?

Some accurate help and advice would be much appreciated.

TerryRodgers
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby TerryRodgers » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:13 am

Normally fan fiction is not publishable, but since it's more than 100 hundred years from the original it very well may be. Recently Sherlock Holmes was declared public domain, meaning anyone can write about the characters. There are more people on this site that may have a better answer. Good luck.

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mammamaia
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby mammamaia » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:23 am

is it the work of an american author?

if so, you can check the status of the copyright at: www.loc.gov

a reference librarian there can help you find it, if you have trouble navigating the site...

if the author was british, go to www.bl.uk
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James A. Ritchie
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby James A. Ritchie » Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:47 pm

What about the second novel? Anything published in 1912 is out of copyright in every country I can think of, and you're free to do pretty much anything you wish with them.

The only thing you may have to worry about is trademark use. Trademark is a lot trickier than copyright, and while some business happening to use a character from one of those novels as a trademark should not interfere with your writing, this does not mean the business will feel that way.

This isn't common unless the novel has a super famous character that people still know and love, and unless it's the estate that owns the trademark, but it can happen. It's not something I would worry about at all, but it's best to know all the potential dangers.

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DrG2
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby DrG2 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:18 pm

Given the success of things like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", it's fine, assuming the copyright isn't in effect any more.


I'd doubt anything written in 1912 had trademarked characters.

If the author wrote later works with the same characters, that might still be under copyright.

bhaktha
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby bhaktha » Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:05 am

I really appreciate your honesty for mentioning that you write the short story with an inspiration form an old book which was published in 1912.
Some people claim they alone crafted the plot though it was already published. It is better to mention author's name and book's name to avoid further problems.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:12 pm


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mammamaia
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby mammamaia » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:07 am

how can a real person be 'trademarked'?
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James A. Ritchie
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:33 pm


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mammamaia
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Re: Fan Fiction

Postby mammamaia » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:19 am

to be clear, just the name 'ben franklin' on its own cannot be and is not trademark protected... anyone can use franklin's name in their writings and not be committing misuse of a trademark, or whatever other legal torts might be applied...

all that can be trademarked is a business or item of merchandise that uses the real person's name in their title/brand name, such as 'ben franklin kites' or 'ben franklin insurance'... in which case, it's not the real person or his/her name being trademarked, which would make no sense whatsoever and be legally impossible to do... unless it's the person him/herself who wants to trademark their own name, as i think 'the artist formerly known as prince' did...

also, it's not illegal to use a trademark protected brand name in your writings... they can sue you if you write something untrue or denigrating about it, but you can say a character used a Kleenex, or Xeroxed a document without worrying you'll be hauled into court... it's done by novelists all the time...
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