Copyright Woes and Weirdness

If you write both fanfiction and original stories, you know there’s a tension between the two – as a fanfic author you want the freedom to use other people’s characters, but as an author you kind of hate the thought that someone out there could take your precious creations and do creepy things with them…

Copyright hasn’t always existed – at one point the only way to copy a book was to write it out by hand, which definitely cut down on the number of copies of each book there were – but over time people developed the idea of “intellectual property” and created copyright laws to protect that. It’s kind of a weird idea when you think about it. Everyone can legally protect their ownership of the wild flights of imagination they came up with inside their head. I mean, plots and characters you write about don’t actually exist except in the pages of your book, but you still own them. Wow, that imaginary country I dreamed up yesterday actually belongs to me. 🙂

Of course, there are good reasons for intellectual property rights. It would be worse than frustrating to know someone took your book, changed one scene in it, and is making millions of dollars by publishing it as their own. On the other hand, a certain kind of freedom is lost. Back in the ‘good old days,’ people made up all kinds of stories about Robin Hood, Merlin or Cinderella, because no one claimed they owned them. No one would protest if you took a random character from Homer’s Iliad and expanded on his adventures. And you could take a little poem known as he Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, rewrite it as ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and became famous.

It’s a human urge, when an author or screenwriter or whoever presents you with a new world and a set of characters, to want to experiment and play around with it. No wonder fanfiction was created. There’s no way a creator can output enough stuff to satisfy the demands of all his or her fans. And people will always want to answer the question of “what if – ?”

I wonder (I’m just theorizing here) if stories used to be viewed more as collective creations, with various communities adding and adapting them over time. Whereas now we think of them as individual creations, and no one but the author can say what is allowed to be done with them.

Not that there’s any middle ground that I can see. We all have to work within the system we live in. But I’m glad the internet allows us a bit of leeway in experimenting with things like fanfiction, while the law does offer us authors protection when things go wrong.

Would you prefer copyright anarchy, or draconian legislation? What do you think?

 

(For more of my thoughts on fanfiction, see this post)

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under On Writing, Randoms & My Life

2 responses to “Copyright Woes and Weirdness

  1. Heh, interesting topic. 😉
    Like I mentioned in mine, I’m kinda torn between the two.. I totally understand the fanfiction side of things as I used to write some, but as someone who also creates/produces things on their own, it’s a bit gut wrenching to think someone can take that and do with it what they will (be it manipulating a photo you took, taking something and calling it their own..)

    I agree tho.. it’s nice to have the bit of freedom, but still in the legality of things, when it comes down to it, the authors do have full right to their work.

    Like

What do you think? Comment here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s