Here’s a roundup of fanfiction stories that might be of interest to fans:
MTV’s recent announcement of a fan fiction contest for Teen Wolf fandom has had some fans contacting the OTW with concerns about the contest rules. While the content restrictions are pretty wide ranging, OTW Legal Chair Rebecca Tushnet notes that the language does not throw up the kind of concerns seen a few months ago in an audio contest hosted by Random House. She writes:
“Crucially, it specifies that the rules apply to your entry, and don’t require you to say that “all my fanworks are done only with permission” the way Random House did, so it has no effect on your ability to create other Teen Wolf fanworks. Here’s the relevant language:
Entrant shall retain all copyright in and to his/her Essay; provided, however that entrant agrees that by entering into this Contest he/she is granting Sponsor (and any and all of Sponsor’s subsidiaries and affiliates and affiliated broadcast stations and networks, successors and assignees and licensees) the non-exclusive, worldwide irrevocable right and license, but not the obligation, to exhibit, broadcast, copy, reproduce, encode, compress, encrypt, incorporate data into, edit, dub, superimpose, rebroadcast, transmit, record, publicly perform and distribute and synchronize in timed relation to visual elements, the Essays and/or any portions or excerpts thereof….
This language is broad in what it lets MTV do with your entry, because MTV might not be sure exactly how it’s going to deal with the winners. But the language is not broad in what it claims: you just gave MTV a license, and you can’t take it back, but that’s pretty much the minimum that MTV needs to be confident that it can promote the winning entries.
One possibility is that they might incorporate your story into a later actual script, whether the story wins or not. A far more likely scenario: a submitted story is broadly similar to a storyline they were going to do anyway. In either case, this language prevents someone who submits a story from successfully suing MTV saying “you used my submission in your canon!” But this is probably a fair trade from the fan’s side, though if you wrote for TV you might start to worry about what happens to your salary if this becomes common.”
In short, “Random House treated fan fiction like a foreign and risky thing it wanted to control, but there are alternatives even for official producers engaging with fans.”
- At least some in the press are not eager to see more fanfiction making its way across professional borders. In The Independent, columnist John Walsh acknowledges “It wouldn’t do to be sniffy about works of fiction that feed off others. Literary history is full of important works that are shameless retellings of others.” However there is still panic afoot. “But we might begin to wonder what has become of readers. Once they were content to read a book, enjoy the plot and feel warmth or dislike for the characters. Now, increasing numbers are driven to invade the book’s pages, wrestle the characters away from their creator and provide their own plot twists. Most, of course, are wholly unequipped to write their own novel or to handle prose with much grace or vividness. But what happens if, in the free-for-all of online publication, a spin-off book starts to eclipse the original from which it derives?”
- Sometimes, though, those original authors are interested when they have inspired others to create, as is the case with poet Sarah Kay whose work inspired a Teen Wolf fanfic hosted at the AO3. “A friend of mine forwarded me this link and it took me a while to figure out what was going on…this particular entry seems to be a piece based on the TV show “Teen Wolf.” The catch? This author finds a connection between some of the characters on the show and my poem “B.”…I have never seen Teen Wolf before, so I don’t know anything about any of the characters referenced, but the general concept of fan fiction fascinates me.”
If you’re writing for yourself, others, or fanfic contests, why not include yourself in Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.
We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent Links Roundup. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.