WHERE CAN I READ FANFICTION BASED ON ANNE RICE'S BOOKS?
Nowhere. You can't. On April 7, 2000 Anne Rice had the following message to say on her webpage:
"I do not allow fan fiction.
The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters.
It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes."
This statement was then followed up by attacks on Anne Rice fanfic authors. The attacks consisted of, amongst other things, e-mailed threats regarding not only the writing of fanfiction but any writing that any fanfic author attempted to engage in (regardless of who owned the copyright), attacks on businesses that the fanfic authors owned and weeks of harassing personal letters sent to fanfic author's e-mail addresses and guestbooks. Personal information about fanfic authors was also dug up by Anne Rice employees and used as part of the harassment. Suffice it to say, Anne Rice made her displeasure clear.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
Unable to defend themselves against these attacks, the fanfic authors responded by going into hiding.
BUT DOESN'T ANNE RICE HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO TELL THEM TO STOP? WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST STOP WRITING AND LEAVE IT AT THAT?
Yes she does. However this was not an issue of Anne Rice asking the fanfic writers to stop. If that had been the case there would have been no problem. The problem was that she was not asking or even telling, she was using the excuse of fanfic to cyber-stalk and harass the fanfic authors, even after said authors removed the illegal fanfic from their sites. Not having the money or legal resources to defend themselves against this, hiding was the only option left.
COULDN'T THE FANFIC AUTHORS JUST TRY BEING NICE TO ANNE? MAYBE SHE WOULD HAVE AGREED IF THEY HAD ASKED POLITELY.
The fanfic authors were nice to Anne. When Anne Rice fanfiction started Anne's publisher was aware of it (even going so far as to link Anne's offical Random House website to many of the fanfic-oriented sites) and quietly let it be known that there was a "don't ask, don't tell" policy in effect regarding it - as long as the fanfic authors didn't shove the fanfic in Anne's face, The Powers That Be could pretend that it didn't exist. In addition to this the early fanfic authors spent months researching the legalities surrounding fanfic and asking questions of other fandoms to see how they respected copyright law in their fanfic writing. This knowledge was then used to create a disclaimer system to make sure it was understood that at no time did the fanfic authors intend to infringe upon Anne's legal rights.
This system of mutual respect lasted for approximately five years. After five years Anne Rice abruptly changed her mind and let the fanfic authors know it by way of her lawyers. Fanfiction is now considered unacceptable by Anne.
WHAT ABOUT DISCLAIMERS? DON'T THOSE WORK IN OTHER FANDOMS?
For years a disclaimer was used in front of all Anne Rice fanfics which mirrored the disclaimers successfully used by other fandoms, namely one which pointed out that the fanfic in question was a "non-profit, amateur effort not intended to infringe on the rights of Anne Rice or any other copyright holder." While this disclaimer has worked well in other fandoms, Anne Rice considers it unacceptable. According to Christine Cuddy, Anne's lawyer "Even when done on a non-profit and/or amateur basis, such use of [Anne's] characters without Ms. Rice's permission constitutes copyright infringement."
DID SOMEBODY TRY MAKING MONEY USING ANNE RICE FANFICTION? WAS THAT WHAT CAUSED THE PROBLEM?
No. At no time did any fanfic author make money using Anne Rice fanfiction in any way, non-profit or otherwise. The only times that money changed hands were when fanfic authors and fans bought Anne's own books.
WHAT IF I WANT TO WRITE ANNE RICE FANFICTION?
Are you sure? Know what you're getting into. The threat of personal harassment is very real. Anne Rice does not want you writing fanfiction and she has the money to make you stop. Do you really want to try this?
WHAT IF I HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN A STORY AND WANT TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS?
Don't. Not if you truly want to obey Anne's wishes. That's really all that needs to be said there. However, if you absolutely have to write a fanfic story and have to show it to somebody else via the Internet (which is, again, a violation of Anne's wishes) then doing the following may be of help. Bear in mind that this is not being offered to you as a guarantee or as any kind of legal advice. You could do all of this and still get sued. These are simply suggestions which may help you avoid being harassed:
Again doing all of the above is a violation of Anne's wishes. If you are writing fanfiction based on Anne Rice's books then you are disobeying her orders. Period.
- Do not put the story up on a webpage. Share the story with others in e-mail, such as on a private mailing list.
- Do not attach your real name to the story. Use a pen name instead.
- Do not use the e-mail address provided by your ISP when sending out the story. Instead create an anonymous account for yourself with Hotmail, Yahoo or any other web-based provider and do not include your actual name and address when filling out the forms for that account.
- If you have to put the story up on a web page do not use the webpage that came with your ISP account. Get a webpage from a free server such as Geocities, NBCI or Angelfire.
- If you have put the story on a webpage do not link to the story from elsewhere on your website.
- If you have put the story on a webpage do not submit that webpage to any search engines, webrings, link exchanges or other public forum.
- Do not attach any personal information to the story, your email or your website in any way. This includes your real name, the name of your ISP, your home address, where you go to school/work or anything else that could be used to trace the story back to you. Likewise do not include any information about whether or not you are or were in the ARVLFC, as it is possible for them to trace your personal information through there as well.
- Obviously at no time should you show or send the story to Anne herself or anyone who works for her.
I'M NOT A FANFIC AUTHOR BUT I DO ENJOY READING IT. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO?
Given the sheer volume of Anne Rice fanfiction that has been written (and, as the above question shows, that people are perhaps continuing to write) it is obviously false to say that all Anne Rice based fanfic has disappeared off of the world wide web. Undoubtedly some of it still exists out there in some form or another. If you manage to find some there's nobody out there who can stop you from reading it and enjoying it. However at no time should you take what stories you find and put them up on your own webpage or even link to the webpages that you find without that author's permission. Making Anne Rice fanfiction available from your website via copying or linking to the story will get you into trouble - not just from Anne but from the author as well. Don't do it.
HOW DO I FIND THE STORIES THAT ARE STILL OUT THERE?
We don't know. And we certainly couldn't tell you if we did.
QUOTES OF NOTE
"I suppose the character is public ground. If you're willing to bring it into people's houses every week, the [fans] are entitled to certain liberties, where ever their imagination is carried by those characters."
--Paul Gross, aka Ben Fraser and Executive Producer of Due South, quoted in the Toronto Globe & Mail, Augst 8, 1998
"I am flattered and grateful for this outpouring of support, admiration and recognition. I am moved to tears actually at how my performance has moved so many others. The websites are magnificent. All the photos, artwork, chats, fiction and videos are really great. I honestly never thought I would create such a stir but I feel absolutely blessed that I have."
--Scott Cohen, aka "Wolf" from The 10th Kingdom in a letter to http://www.wolfpackclub.8m.com/letter.html. Spring 2000.
"I've read some of it... I find it very flattering that people love the characters that much."
- J.K. Rowling on Harry Potter fanfiction that can be found via the Internet. Fall 2000