Thursday, May 23, 2013

Legal Fan Fiction

I woke this morning rather abruptly with the sense that I needed to get out of bed and get dressed. And it's a good thing because I was just finishing breakfast when the contractor called to say he was on his way to look at my water heater cabinet. Normally, I'd have still been in my nightgown. My hair was pretty much the way I slept on it (which isn't that different from the way it normally looks -- I've gone to church without doing anything to my hair after sleeping on it, which is one of the reasons I normally wear it in a bun and one of the benefits of curly hair) and I had on no makeup, but I was wearing clothes. It turns out the issue goes beyond the door. There are also bad leaks. It will require removing the water heater, redoing the interior, fixing the leaks and redoing the exterior. On the up side, I don't have to pay for it (not directly, but I've contributed in HOA dues), and they said if I want to buy a new water heater, they'll install it for free while they're at it. This one is about 11 years old, so it may be a good idea.

While he was here, he looked at some other things for me, and I learned a lot about how my house is built. I also learned that my carpet is original to the house. I thought it wasn't wearing well for 16 or so year-old carpet, but it's apparently wearing incredibly well for 30-year-old carpet. Some things I thought would be major repairs (that I'd be responsible for) turned out to be relatively minor. The hard part would be moving stuff around to do the repairs. I also learned what houses like mine are currently selling for, which is a lot more than I paid. Not that I'm in the market to sell at the moment. I'm not in a position to buy something else, and this house suits me for the time being.

The big publishing news yesterday was that Amazon would start publishing fan fiction and sharing the revenue between the author and the license holder. The Internet exploded, but I don't think most people actually read the announcement (or possibly they didn't understand what they read). They've actually struck a deal with the license holder of the properties, so it's really more of a licensed media tie-in than true "fan fiction." It's also very limited, to just a few properties (like Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl) that are owned by a book packager, not individual authors.  So it's not like you can now post your Doctor Who/Sherlock crossover fanfic on Amazon and legally make money off it. But you can submit your Vampire Diaries story that falls within certain guidelines and earn some money from it after signing over all rights to it. The contract terms are pretty stiff and not something to be entered into lightly (really, you're giving up everything in the story -- they can even use your original characters from your story in future works in that universe without paying you anything beyond the royalties you earn from your story). Then again, there's not much else legal you can do with fan fiction. It remains to be seen if this is the wave of the future and if more companies will sign on. I think it would be iffy for an individual author to get on board with this because of the danger of the fanfic authors claiming you stole their ideas if you ever write anything even remotely similar to something in a story that you've received some payment for. That's probably why the contract terms of this are so stiff and require signing over all rights, but that doesn't stop someone from filing a lawsuit, and it's expensive even to hire a lawyer to point out that the person signed a contract giving up all rights to everything in the story. A media conglomerate has lawyers on staff to handle that sort of thing, but it could be financially devastating to an individual author at my level. All my money goes into maintaining my house. I'd just have to send someone with a hammer and saw after anyone suing me.

I'm still forging ahead with this story. I suspect it will end up at least novelette or novella length because I'm at about 3,000 words and just entering the second act, so it will likely be at least 10,000 words. I thought this would be quick and easy, but I'm only managing about 1,000 words a day. Maybe today I won't be quite as easily sidetracked because I don't have a lot of other stuff to deal with.

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