Immortals of the Insurrection
Louis
The Fan Fiction Controversy


LOUIS'S STATEMENT
"There is no God, therefore Anne Rice cannot be God. Besides, Anne is ignoring me, she doesn't even particularly like me, so what does she care what Spec Writers do with me?"


Specs, or speculative fiction (fan fiction) based upon the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, were first posted to alt.books.anne-rice in the early 1990's and can definitely be proven to exist as of 1994.

Anne Rice did make statements that she did not like nor appreciate fan fiction written with her characters, but she took no action against it.

Specs grew and flourished involving more and more fans, and attracting new fans to The Vampire Chronicles.

On April 8th, 2000, the following was posted on the Official Anne Rice Website:


IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM ANNE ON "FAN FICTION"

Anne has posted the following message regarding fan fiction on her site:

"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."


Of course this caused quite a stir among the Vampire Chronicles Fandom.

DarkAngel's first reaction was this:


Silly Spec by DarkAngel

Disclaimer: Anne Rice has all rights to herself and any and all characters which appear in her specs. No money is being made from this.

Author Note: Had to get this out of my system. This is actually satire, but there isn't an archive for 'satirical specs' *grin*
DarkAngel
8 Avril 2000

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ANNE FROM GOD ON "FICTION"

"I do not allow fiction.

The characters Jesus Christ, Satan, Saint Michael and all of the Angels, Saint Veronica and all of the Saints and The Blessed Virgin Mary, are copyrighted.

It upsets me terribly to even think about fiction with my creations. I advise you to create your own beings and then you may write your own stories with them.

It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes."

GOD

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +


DarkAngel's second reaction was this:


Anne must realize that fan fiction authors make no money from their works.

She says she is very hurt that HER characters are being used.

Sorry Anne, we're just following your example.

Let's get obvious.

Anne stole Sleeping Beauty, plot, characters and all. Then she took it in a direction that the original author/s never intended.

Just because Sleeping Beauty is a fairy tale, with no one discernable author, doesn't make it Anne's.

It was a WELL-KNOWN story when it was ORIGINALLY COLLECTED by the Brothers GRIMM. From then on it was known as GRIMM'S FAIRY TALE SLEEPING BEAUTY.

Then Anne stole it.

Beauty, the Prince, the King and Queen.

She put them in an EXTREMELY Non-Canonical situation, and them added scores of her own original characters, in the process COMPLETELY DESTROYING the original work.

She did it to the Brothers Grimm and to hundreds, if not thousands of unknown bards, storytellers and troubadors who had come before.

But we can't do it to her??

Can we say HYPOCRITE?

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

If Anne wants to go after someone, she sould go after Warner Brothers for the DESTRUCTION of Queen of the Damned, in the DAMNED movie, which they WILL make money off of.

-----

(a reply from someone else to my post above)

Sorry but there's a difference. One is public domain (S.B.). The vamps, Mayfairs etc. are copy-righted to Anne Rice.

(My Reply)

That is a legal difference, not a moral one.

The difference in that is that Anne did not include a disclaimer aknowledging that the characters she was using in the Beauty books actually belong to someone else.

Fan fiction authors do include a disclaimer aknowledging that the characters are Anne's.

There is another difference too.

Anne made money off of the Beauty books.

Fan fictions authors do not make money off of their works.

Would it be morally okay now if fan fiction authors only wrote fan fiction with the Beauty characters?

No, Anne could now claim them for her own, with no aknowledgement to the real originators of them.

Anne put Cleopatra in The Mummy, does she own Cleopatra now too?

What is legal is not necessarily moral, or logical.


DarkAngel's final reaction was this:

I am a spec writer, that is a writer of VC fan Fiction.

Some authors encourage fan fiction, some turn a blind eye to it, some are oblivious of it, some discourage it, some despise it.

Anne Rice despises it.

Many Anne Rice fans write and/or read and enjoy it.

Fan fiction is a copyright infringement.

Copyright infringement is not a criminal act, it is an act of civil disobedience.

Fan Fiction is protected under the 'FAIR USE' provision of copyright law.

"The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art.

-- Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 US 340, 349(1991)"

"The genius of United States copyright law is that, in conformance with its constitutional foundation, it balances the intellectual property interests of authors, publishers and copyright owners with society's need for the free exchange of ideas. Taken together, fair use and other public rights to utilize copyrighted works, as confirmed in the Copyright Act of 1976, constitute indispensable legal doctrines for promoting the dissemination of knowledge, while ensuring authors, publishers and copyright owners appropriate protection of their creative works and economic investments."

"Without infringing copyright, the public has a right to expect:

* to read, listen to, or view publicly marketed copyrighted material privately, on site or remotely;

* to browse through publicly marketed copyrighted material;

* to experiment with variations of copyrighted material for fair use purposes, while preserving the integrity of the original;" the above three quotes from FAIR USE IN THE ELECTRONIC AGE: SERVING THE PUBLIC INTEREST http://arl.cni.org/scomm/copyright/uses.html

Those are the facts on those issues.

As to the creativity of fan fiction writers, ie: writing with pre-established characters, this is a common practice.

People who get paid to write with pre-established characters, or characters created by others include:

Screenplay adapters (those who adapt novels for movies - and some even win Oscars for it)
Television series writers (some of whom win Emmys for it)
Comic book writers
Writers of Arthurian Fiction (including Mallory, T.H. White and Howard Pyle)
Writers of Star Trek Fiction
Writers of Star Wars fiction
etc.

They are not ashamed of their work and I am not ashamed of mine.

It is an old and respected creative process originating with the very first myth-makers and storytellers and continuing to this day.

I am sorry that Anne doesn't like it, but it isn't intended to hurt her, and fan fiction has been proven to increase an authors fanbase and affect sales in a positive way. It has never been proven to affect sales in a negative way.

Fan fiction is everywhere. Go to www.fanfiction.net to verify for yourself how many varied works and mediums inspire fan fiction. It is a normal outgrowth of creative fandoms and not an attack on Anne Rice.

*****


On April 20th, 2000, this was posted to alt-books-anne-rice by Martha


BELOW IS A SATIRICAL PIECE OF WORK.

HOWEVER, IS IT A SATIRE OF A WOMAN WHO WORKS FOR A MAJOR PUBLISHER? OR IS IT A SATIRE OF A SATIRE AND THEREFORE AN IMPORTANT STATEMENT THAT ANNE'S WARRING FANS SHOULD READ?

YOU USE YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT AND DECIDE WHETHER THIS MESSAGE IS REAL OR NOT.

I SAY ITS A SATIRE, WHETHER YOU BELIEVE ME OR NOT IS UP TO YOU!

Many of you have been very upset about Anne Rice's stance on fan fiction. Many of you have stated over and over again Anne's position.

Some of you think there are motives other than those Anne has stated. Some of you think she is concerned about protecting her fiction.

You are both right, for reasons neither of you understand.

I work for a publishing company that was until recently considering biding on the paperback rights to Anne's upcoming book Merrick. After meeting with her people we and at least one other publisher have decided to not even bid.

The fiction Anne is aiming at protecting through her latest statements on fan fiction are not her present works but her future release - Merrick.

Some of you may have noticed that she has been asking whether or not she should release Merrick in serialized form on the internet before she releases the hardback. One of the reasons we have decided to not even bid is that the decision has been made to do exactly that. The "feedback forms," whether they started out as legitimate or not, are now just a vehicle to drum up market demand.

How magnanimous, some of you think, that Anne will be posting her work on the net for all to read. Actually, like everything on her website, down to the screen savers, comic books, and bottles of "Lestat wine" these works will be for sale via Amazon or Barnes & Noble, not free. Which she has every right to do.

Perhaps some of you noticed that Stephen King's electronic work "Riding the Bullet," a short story, sold 400,000 copies the first day and has become his most personally profitable work to date. Anne certainly took note of that fact.

However, although the text is supposedly distributed in a manner that is unreadable to anyone without a specific code and piece of software, anything that can be displayed can be electronically copied. Regardless of the fact that this is his most personally profitable piece of fiction to date, this has already occured and has undeniably cut into Stephen King's profits. Anne has taken note of that fact as well.

There is nothing wrong with Stephen King being upset with the fact that his original work is being stolen and money is directly coming out of his pocket. There is nothing wrong with Anne Rice worrying that the same will happen if she sells "Merrick" over the internet. I will not lie to you and say that publishers like mine are saying to themselves "we told you so." I will be the first to admit that we don't like being cut out our role as middlemen. While few will enjoy reading a very long book like Merrick on the internet, they will do so if that is the only way to get their hands on it. Of course, the moment the hardback comes out fans will plunck down even more money and buy it as well, even if they went to Amazon.com and spent their $2.00 per chapter already, because they naturally enjoy the feel of actually holding a physical book in their hands. Since my company was considering bidding on only the paperback rights, finding out that Anne is committed to publishing Merrick on the web is a tremendous disincentive. We may or may not turn a paperback profit. Web publishing will probably have no effect at all on hardback sales, but it's effect on paperback sales is a complete and utter unknown. Since that's the case, our company decided it was far to risky a proposition.

Efforts have been made by Anne Rice's people to assure us that very few copies of her electonic work would be redistributed among her fans, efforts and claims that we found totally unconvincing. You see, they feel that they have come up with a way to get her most "loyal" and most uncontrolable fans(i.e. writers of fan fiction) to, in the midst of vehement arguing amonst themselves, both commit publicly over and over again that Anne's literal works should never be posted or copied onto the web.

By raising so much ire amongst both her most rabid literalist fans against fan fiction writers she gets them to attack and scream that they are stealing Anne's stories and characters, etc. Implicit in their attacks is the charge that fan fiction writers are theives, and that furthermore it plainly goes without saying that no one should ever dream of posting Anne's works verbatim on the net.

In defending themselves against such accusations(accusations that went on for years without turning into legal threats and indignation until recently) fan fiction writers have of course been quick to agree with Anne's most orthodox champions of each pearl that escapes from her lips on one issue. Agree you ask? I haven't seen the two camps agree on much you say. True. However, if you read all of the arguments made by both camps of late you will notice that even the most rabid proponents on each side have at every opportunity agreed on one seemingly small point. It is a point which neither side has often devoted more than a single sentence in making, yet is the most important point as far as Anne's people are concerned.

In all of your yelling, all of you have been goaded into stating over and over again that Anne's actual writing should never be posted on the internet for free. That such a thing would be an unforgivable and reprehensibly criminal act.

Do you, as fans of Anne's eloquent prose, really believe she was as blunt and inflamatory in her language as she was by accident?

Do you really believe that a woman of her age is as thin-skinned and overly sensitive as her statement would lead you to believe?

Especially after the professional publicly humiliating travesties that have been committed against her work for the entire mainstream and fan world to see by Hollywood; do you really think she takes much genuine offense at fan fiction that she has said time and time again she doesn't even read?

Or is there another explanation? Perhaps the explanation my company was given...

Anne Rice doesn't care in the least about fan fiction one way or another. She doesn't hate it, she is simply protecting herself from unwarranted accusations. She simply returns any manuscripts sent to her unopened and refrains from reading it because of the very simple fact that she doesn't want any fan fiction writers to be able to claim she has stolen an idea of theirs. Although the fan could not have copyrighted anything sent to her she just doesn't want to deal with any such creative accusations, even though such fans would have no legally standing.

However, by posting so prominently her last, very pointed and seemingly emotional statement Anne's handlers have been able to pit two very large groups of her fans against one another. In the process of their arguing they have both quickly taken the stand that wholesale copyright violations should never be tolerated. Anne's pretorian guard fans say this matter-of-factly as an afterthough. Fan fiction writers say it in self defense in order to show that they are defenders of Anne's writing rather than theives of it.

Therefore, when Merrick is serialized on the web, Anne's people predict that both groups will rabidly hunt down and report anyone who decides to repost her soon to be mega-profitable electronic version of Merrick. Thus her electronic venture will not only be more profitable for her, more people would supposedly buy more paperbacks from us because anyone asking for free copies from their internet buddies would be treated like lepers by her emotionally whipped up fans.

You will all be, for free, unwittingly doing for Anne what a thousand lawyers could never accomplish. Even more importantly, since all of you by that time will have gone on record against illegally copying and/or posting Anne's original works; most of you will not even email copies to many of your fellow friends and email penpals, out of fear of being untrue to your stated views - even if you and your fellow fan friends are the only ones that would know.

That phenomenon would probably never have occured if both ends had not been played so shrewly against one another. It would have never occured if so many of you had not been egged on into arguing so vehemently with one another.

Thus, when Merrick is released electronically, Anne's people expect far less numbers of copies to be pirated and shared and will thus greatly increase her profits.

And all it took was getting thousands of fans vehemently upset and hostile towards one another! Of late, fans have been viewed by Anne's "handlers" as little more than resources. Perhaps this is genuinely due to her recent illness and not a fault of hers. Sometimes truly nice people end up being represented by not so nice people. Regardless of the reason, however, both groups on both sides of the fan fiction debate have essentially been had.

Unfortunately though for us, though it seems to be working, paperback profits are "ifey" at best so we had to take a pass. Don't get me wrong and think we did it out of concern for the way you fans are being manipulated. It was purely a business decision. As were Anne's statements about fan fiction.

Continue to be pawns, or respect one another and put down your weapons. ***


I believe it.

On April 25th, Anne announced that MERRICK would not be placed on the web.


I set up a poll and guestbookon the VampChron Speculative Fiction Controversy. Please use this to let your opinion be known. Thanks!


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