Frequent readers know we have brought up the question of fan fiction before on this blog. You can read some previous comments here and here. Recently, the blog It's All Straw posted links to some articles on the web about the legality of fan fiction. Also, Niall Mor, proprietor of the blog, links his own fan fiction piece.
The links start with an article at FindLaw, where Julie Hilden argues that original works must be protected so that authors can get their money. I imagine very few people would argue with that, even ones who favor fan fiction and fan art. Personally, I think fanworks should be considered fair use as long as they are noncommercial.
That brings us to the blog 43(B)log where Rebecca Tushnet responds to Julie Hilden's article. What I find most interesting is this claim: "Noncommercial fanworks are fair use, which is one reason there are already millions of them freely available online."
Is that true? Do we have any lawyers out there who can tell me if that's true? Because if that's true, I'm going to put my Bone fan fiction back on the Internet and shamelessly promote the heck out of it.
My understanding, after some searching on the subject, was that fan fiction is always technically illegal, which is why I removed my own works. Now that I've read Tushnet on the subject, I'm not so sure. Can I get a witness from the audience?
Oh, and go read Niall Mor's fan fiction if it's not illegal.
Also, see Eve Tushnet on the subject. Her thoughts are quite deep and a little trippy. I wish I were that deep (or trippy) while talking about fiction. She makes an interesting comment: she can't write fan fiction, she says, because she wants so much to write about original characters who are her own creations. Not a bad dilemma to have, if you think about it.
And don't forget to see Niall Mor's thoughts. I have to add that because I just stole all his links.