Lee Goldberg's war on fanfic

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The February edition of Reason has my column on fan fiction, "The Fan Fiction Phenomena: What Faust, Hamlet, and Xena the Warrior Princess have in common," in which I discuss fan-written stories based on television, film, and book characters. (As I mention in the column, I myself write Xena: Warrior Princess fanfic.) I also discuss some of the critiques directed at fan fiction. One of those critics, writer Lee Goldberg, now argues on his blog that I misrepresented his position.

Here's what I wrote:


[S]ome arguments advanced by fanfic's foes make little sense. Thus Hobb exempts from her scorn professionally written Star Trek novels licensed by the copyright owner—even though the license comes from the corporation, not the creators of the characters. … The vehemently anti-fanfic writer Lee Goldberg, who blogs at leegoldberg.com, is the author of several authorized novels based on the TV shows Monk and Diagnosis Murder—a contradiction he defends on the grounds that he does it only for the money.

Says Goldberg:


I have written extensively on my blog about fanfiction, particularly my view that the practice of publishing it in print and on the Internet infringes on the original author's creative rights (not to mention the trademark and copyright issues). I've argued that fanfiction writers should get the permission of the author or rights holder before distributing their work. If the original author or rights holder has no problem with fanfiction based on their work, then I don't either. I have also said that licensed tie-in fiction, which I have written, differs significantly on ethical and legal grounds from fanfiction because it is done with the consent, participation and supervision of the original author or rights holder. At no point have I *ever* expressed the views that she incorrectly (and I have to assume deliberately) attributed to me.

Now, I assume the views I have allegedly misattritubed to Goldberg are, (1) that he is vehemently anti-fanfic, and (2) that he has defended his authorship of tie-in novels on the grounds that he only writes them for the money.

On the first count, I think that a read-through of Goldberg's blogposts on fanfic will suffice to prove my case. While Goldberg does in fact state in a number of posts that in his opinion, fan fiction violates copyright and intellectual property, he devotes far more space to jeering at the moral degeneracy and weirdness of fanficcers, focusing on such fringe phenomena as kiddie porn fanfic, a fan who surfs the Web searching for masturbation fic, male pregnancy fanfic, one fan's fantasies about Roy Orbison and cling-wrap, real-person slashfic in which actors, singers, and other celebrities are depicted in homoerotic sexual situations, and the like. (By the way, it's hard not to notice that Goldberg seems especially incensed by gay-themed fanfiction.) He constantly engages in gross generalization; a post about a self-professed Harry Potter smut aficionada is entitled "The Fanfic Mind." If Goldberg has ever said anything positive about fanfic writers in fandoms where the copyright holders and creators have explicitly allowed and even encouraged fan fiction—such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter—I have found no evidence of that on his blog. I have, however, found such statements as:


Money and copyright aside, what an incredible waste of creativity. Why toil on characters you don't own in a world that's not your own? It's not even literary masturbation. It's more like the literary equivalent of having sex with an inflatable woman who looks like Halle Berry.

In another post, mocking an email correspondent who asks him for a link to some fanfic he has mentioned, Goldberg says that it's "sort of like asking a Jew to direct you to some really rocking anti-Semitic screeds." Wow, Mr. Goldberg. Tell us how you really feel.

It was not my intent in my column to extensively discuss Lee Goldberg's views on fan fiction, or the debate about fanfic and copyright/intellectual property laws (an issue I briefly mentioned in my discussion of fantasy writer Robin Hobb's attack on fan fiction). I would say, however, that "vehemently anti-fanfic" sums up Goldberg's stance pretty well.

Now, on to the second part. Did Goldberg ever defend his tie-in novels on the grounds that he only writes them for the money? Sure he did, on the very same blog where he now claims to have been misrepresented. In fact, he devoted an entire post to this point on June 16, 2005:


[S]omeone asked what the difference is between someone who writes tie-ins and someone who writes fanfic… beyond the fact that tie-ins are written with the consent of the author/right's (sic) holder.

There's a big difference.

I was hired to write DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK novels. It's something I am being paid to do. It's not like I woke up one morning with a burning desire to write DIAGNOSIS MURDER novels, wrote one up, and sent it off to a publisher (or, as a fanficcer would do, posted it on the web). The publisher came to me and asked me to write them.

I would never write a book using someone else's characters unless I was hired to do so. It would never even occur to me because the characters aren't mine.

Given a choice, I would only write novels and TV shows of my own creation. But I have to make a living and I take the work that comes my way…and that includes writing-for-hire, whether it's on someone else's TV show or original tie-in novels based on characters I didn't create. Ultimately, however, what motivates me as a writer is to express myself…not the work of someone else.

That's the big difference between me and a fanficcer.

Given a choice, fanficcers "write" fanfic.

(The numerous italics are all in the original.)

More recently, Goldberg returns to this theme in a September 20, 2006 post, "Am I a Fanficcer?" While he does stress that his TV show-based novels are published with the consent and involvement of the owners, the "I'm only in it for the money" defense rears its head again:

What I do isn't comparable to fanfiction—which is using someone else's work without their consent or involvement and distributing on the Internet. I don't do it as my personal artistic expression—it's a job, one that I do to the best of my ability. … I much prefer to write totally original work and if I could make my living only doing that, I would.

In fairness to Goldberg, I should have said that he defends his tie-in novels partly on the grounds that he only writes them for the money. I singled out this argument because I found it particularly bizarre—it's the first time I have seen paid hackwork held up as morally superior to an unpaid labor of love—and because I had already mentioned the "fanfic is intellectual theft" argument in my comments on Robin Hobb. If that gave a misleading impression of Goldberg's views on fanfic, I will readily offer my apologies. However, I certainly did not put any argument in Goldberg's mouth that he did not repeatedly make on his blog.

Since we're on the subject, I will answer a question Goldberg poses in his September 20 post:

What I have yet to see any fanficcer explain why they won't to (sic) ask the creator or rights holder for permission before posting and distributing their work. … I know the answer, of course. Fanficcers are terrified of officially being told NO… and identifying themselves in case they decide to blithely violate the author's wishes anyway.

Is Goldberg kidding? Would original fiction writers be willing to spend hours every day answering emails asking them if it's okay to post a fanfiction based on their work?  In the case of movie- and TV-based fanfiction, does Goldberg expect studios to hire a staff just to field requests for permission to post a story? And to whom should the request be directed? The corporation? The creator(s) of the characters?   What's more, the writers or the studio personnel would have either to read the stories—which would be incredibly time-consuming and legally problematic—or to authorize them unread.

I do think that it would be an ideal resolution to the legal dilemma of fan-created works if authors or creators/copyright holders were to state upfront that they do not object to non-commercial fan endeavors, perhaps under certain conditions.  I also strongly believe that the wishes of any writer who has asked people not to write fan fiction based on his or her work—or has set guidelines for such fan fiction, like Rowling or Anne McCaffrey—should be respected.  In the absence of such explicit statements, given that the widespread existence of fan fiction is by now no secret to anyone, I think silence may be presumed to equal consent.  (Since a pro-Goldberg blogger indicts me for "absconding with characters" created by others, I will mention that the producers of Xena actually hired one of my fellow intellectual thieves, fanfic writer Melissa "Missy" Good, to write scripts for the show.)

Finally, since we're on the topic of misrepresentation: In a post on October 12, 2006, Goldberg suggests, on the basis of a New York Times profile of fanfic writer-turned-pro Naomi Novik, that Novik has revised her previously "liberal" views on fanfic and copyright now that she is a commercially published author herself. As some of his commenters point out, Novik has in fact specifically said that this is not so. Goldberg has yet to issue a retraction in the body of his post or even to acknowledge his error in the comments, despite having posted in the comments thread several times.

(Somewhat longer version cross-posted at The Y Files.)

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  1. (Somewhat longer version cross-posted at The Y Files.)

    Holy zombie jesus there’s a longer version?

    And, for the record, both sides are wrong.

  2. yeah, my eyes were glazed by the second paragraph. seriously, does anyone care about this?

  3. Didn’t writers of the middle ages claim that any person writing for profit would be the ruin of letters?

  4. If you guys would just read the longer version (which is actually a whole lot longer, with lots more quotes) you would see that Cathy is totally right and if you have read her Xenia fanfic, you’ll find out that you better fucking agree with her or you’ll be fucking neutered with a broad sword. And not in a nice way.

  5. Isn’t there a “fold”, as in “more below the…”, feature on this blog software? Cathy, I love your work and I can see your passion with bringing this bullshit hack down, but you had him cold after the fifth paragraph. The rest could have gone after “the fold”.

  6. Wasn’t it Voltare who said “I may not agree with what you say, and in fact find it extremely creepy and have a hard time understanding it because it is so poorly written, but I will defend to the death your write to say it”?

  7. After reading this, I plan to proceed with my “TekWar” fanfic.

  8. So it’s the publication of the work that’s so grossly offensive, correct? Otherwise fanfic would be, say, a bunch of stories taking up space in my drawer. (Well, they were, until I cleaned house last month.)

    It’s odd how blithely (and derisively) Goldberg dismisses the literary value of fanfic. Anything that inspires someone to write, and to therefore hone his/her craft, is a good thing IMO. I mean, where did Goldberg come up with his first ideas? Wasn’t he, like many of us, inspired by movies and TV and other books? God knows most of the crap I wrote in high school was based in space (Star Wars, Alien) and/or in muscle cars (Mad Max). But without having written those stories, I would never have honed the skills that serve me so ably in the Blogosphere. 🙂

    So what about fanfilms? (There’s that Star Wars again.) And don’t musicians learn to play music written by others? How else would one learn? I daresay there are some very good musicians who have never composed a single melody of their own. Is that a bad thing?

    In conclusion, let me draw upon my razor-honed literary skills to say: Lee Goldberg is an ass.

  9. I’m saddened I’ve read as much about this as I have, but Goldberg does sound quite anti-fanfic.

  10. Who is Lee Goldberg and why should I care?

  11. it’s the first time I have seen paid hackwork held up as morally superior to an unpaid labor of love

    Goldberg would fit in quite well with certain breeds of libertarians. “Instead of writing it for fun, I will let the market decide whether I write it!”

    Seriously, if he considers fanfic unoriginal, well, fine. If he admits to doing something unoriginal because he needs to pay the bills, fine. But why all the vitriol for the amateurs?

  12. I just got an idea for a Seinfeld fanfic.

    Well, actually, I’ve got as far as figuring out that it will include the following elements:

    1) It will include a guest character who always wears a leather jacket.

    2) Elaine will consider selling some ovas.

    3) The first line will be, “I’m not going to fuck you, Jerry.”

  13. That anyone has a strong opinion one way or another is pretty unsettling to begin with.

  14. “I’m saddened I’ve read as much about this as I have, but Goldberg does sound quite anti-fanfic.”

    My thoughts exactly! And that only someone who straddles the line between real writing and fanfic as closely as this Goldberg guy does could muster that much vitriol for fanfic.

  15. i had an idea for a seinfeld fanfic once, but it had too much in common with the killing fields.

    also, why are harry potter fans so fucking insane? (i know you could put why are _______ fans in there as well, but why write thousands of words about harry getting impregnanted? why not just shave your testicles and join a cult?)

  16. Goldberg’s vitriol can only be described as weird. I mean, if I were selling books I’d written using someone else’s characters that’s one thing, but if I just write some stories for fun and post them online? Who cares?

    Furthermore, isn’t this very similar to how stories were created for most of human history? There are hundreds of surviving stories about the adventures of Hercules because thousands of people made up different stories involving him over hundreds of years. The same could be said of Sinbad, or Buddha, or Jesus. Making up new stories about known characters is the human norm.

  17. I really had no opinion on fanfic until I saw this article. After reading that a woman, so hot that Reason will not post a picture of her in her bio, writes Xena stories as a hobby then sign me up for more!

    Also, where did that Goldberg guy find an inflatable woman who looks like Halle Berry? All of the inflatables I have seen look so fake that they do not look like anybody!

  18. OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You guys!!!!
    You totally missed the point.
    Those five thousand words don’t mean anything. They’re just a pretext, a cover for the true purpose of this post.
    It is nothing more
    And nothing LESS
    than a cleverly disguised excuse to link to
    ROY ORBISON IN CLING FILM
    The absolute apex of human achievement. Ten thousand years of civilization to create the internet so that it can host:
    ROY ORBISON IN CLING FILM
    ahhhhhhhhhhh

    I use to think mankind’s ultimate achievement was Alan Shepard hitting out of the bunker. But now I know, the true meaning of life is
    ROY ORBISON IN CLING FILM

    either that, or two Chinese students.

  19. it’s the first time I have seen paid hackwork held up as morally superior to an unpaid labor of love

    The first time? You didn’t catch any of the human history that just happened in the past two thousand years?

  20. also, why are harry potter fans so fucking insane? (i know you could put why are _______ fans in there as well, but why write thousands of words about harry getting impregnanted? why not just shave your testicles and join a cult?)
    As freaky as it is, I like seeing bizzare fetishes like that on the internet. I find it to be a good thing that someone could have an outlet to express what others consider to be sexual peversions without shame, and in fact has a whole community to back them up.

  21. I find it to be a good thing that someone could have an outlet to express what others consider to be sexual peversions without shame, and in fact has a whole community to back them up.

    They had better be able to express it in the privacy of their own webspace otherwise they express it with your kids. Or with the congressional pages!

  22. Hey everyone: my apologies for the longish post. I did condense it a bit more. Sadly, I haven’t gotten the hang of the new server yet, so I don’t know how to do the “below the cut” thing.

    My post actually could have been much longer, because Goldberg provides SO much fodder. Watch him carry the “Trekkies and kiddie porn” meme. Or call a TV Guide letter writer a “raging fucktard” and probably a real-person-slash-loving perv because she dared to suggest that the writers on a TV show should not “mess with canon” by putting two characters in a sexual relationship that comes out of nowhere. (Canon, you see, is whatever the writers want it to be.)

    Oh, and I had no idea my Reason website bio doesn’t have a pic. Thanks for letting me know. *G*

  23. WHO CARES FANFIC IS FOR FAGS

  24. “(2) that he has defended his authorship of tie-in novels on the grounds that he only writes them for the money.”

    I want to thank you for your lengthy follow-up to my email. While I stand by everything you’ve quoted this time (accurately, I should say), I still take issue with your statement above. I have never said that I write them only for the money. While it’s true that I’ve said I wouldn’t have written the MONK or DM novels unless I was hired to do so. I don’t think getting paid is what separates fanfiction (the theft of an authors’ work without his or her permissions) from licensed tie-ins or other derivative works that respect the original authors creative and legal rights. It’s not PAY that is the defining element — it’s PERMISSION. Fanficcers routinely and blithely disrespect an author’s creative and legal rights on the grounds that they aren’t getting paid for their work.

  25. There’s something utterly perverse about the idea that something perfectly legal in ones own head or spoken out loud becomes illegal only when it is written down. The state has a perfectly legitimate interest in protecting copyright for the SALE of derivative works. But the free speech and distribution of them? Please.

  26. Cathy, thanks very much for taking Lee Goldberg’s lunacy head on. He’s everything you say: a bully, a hack and a raging homophobe besides. Why anyone would care what he has to say on any subject, not least one in which he’s engaged in active hypocrisy as a media tie-in writer, is beyond me.

    Unfortunately, arguing with Goldberg is a waste of time, because he will twist the requirements of any such argument each time the facts fail to align in his favor. Witness his attempt in the comments here to recast his statements regarding payment into a more high-minded “I respect the creators/owners” position.

    If the issues regarding fanfic were so cut-and-dried, the matter would have been settled in court by now. For good or ill, the writing of fanfic occupies the legal gray area called “fair use,” and no amount of bluster online or on writing-conference panels will substitute for jurisprudence. And should the day ever come that a judge places his or her imprimatur on a decision supporting Goldberg’s position, I will (albeit reluctantly) line up. Until then….

  27. How can fanficcers not get that without permission of the rights holders, they’re stealing?

    And comparing tie-in writers to fanficcers is like comparing a chauffeur to a car thief – the chaffuer is hired by the car owner to drive it, ie. permission! The thief steals it and does what he wants with it, irrespective of the car owner’s wishes ie. no permission!

    Cathy, without permission, you’re stealing property that belongs to someone else. Color it purple, give it a hat. It’s theft. Simple as that.

  28. Dennis – It’s not theft if you’re not stealing, and the only way to steal in this instance would be to profit from someone else’s “intellectual property.” There’s no profit here, hence no theft. Simple as that. So your analogy is crap.

    Those on Goldberg’s side in this would probably eventually slide down the slippery slope to accusing little kids of “theft” for creating home-made comic books featuring Marvel & DC characters.

    Bottom line: As long as you’re not profiting from your “fan-fic” without the consent of the creators, there’s nothing wrong with creating it and EVEN sharing it with your friends.

    Mr. Goldberg sounds remarkably like the prostitute condemning the slut, and for exactly the same reason. No jaded professional likes to compete with an enthusiastic amateur.

  29. Does writing a fanfic without profiting from it impede the copyright holder’s ability to sell more books, or movie tickets, or DVDs, or prime time advertising for TV shows, or whatever else they’re selling? Has it taken anything away from the copyright holder? Has it harmed the copyright holder?

    Yeah, it might have hurt the copyright holder’s feelings, but has it hurt the bottom line?

  30. I could have just waited 5 minutes and posted “Yeah – what thoreau said!”

  31. thoreau: possibly. it’s often hard to quantify dilution or damage to the value of a trademark or copyrights, not that it stops lawyers from trying.

    if the next door neighbors decided to move into my house while i was on vacation, then get out just before i got home (all done w/o my permission), would you argue that they’re not trespassing because my home hasn’t decreased in value?

  32. Rob-awesome analogy.

    Thoreau is right. In order to show that fanfic is stealing, the copyright holder would have to show some kind of financial loss. Unless the copyright holder can show that, the whole argument is moot.

  33. Edna-

    Trespassing is not stealing.

    And in our society we have a First Amendment to protect speech, which means that speech is assumed to be protected unless it falls into certain narrowly-defined categories. The use of someone else’s physical property is not similarly protected, but rather is assumed to be sacrosanct (again unless there is an exception to the rule).

  34. cy argues that fanfic isn’t stealing either, just “borrowing” the property. the right of free speech does not extend to copyright infringement.

  35. All just more reasons to put an end to copyright altogether.

  36. Goldberg probably feels like a dog backed into a corner. He’s only a mediocre writer, and many of the fanfic writers are just as good, so Goldberg has to knock them down by questioning their creativity. On the other hand, he is a jaded “pro” writer defending his turf from the equally-talented amateur set. His “at least I get paid” routine just proves that he wouldn’t know passion if it was spelled out for him. In my view, we need less “hey, I wrote this crap for money” and more “hey, I wrote this because I love it.”

  37. the only way to steal in this instance would be to profit from someone else’s “intellectual property.”

    To tie thoreau’s post closer to this, I believe that to launch a successful lawsuit, one has to prove damages – i.e. loss of income or somesuch.

    Just not profitting doesn’t keep you out of the civil action wood shed.

    In any case, Goldberg’s more than a bit of a wanker. In a similar vein, copyright-infringement nut Harlan Ellison’s a wanker, too (he sued the makers of he Terminator)…but at least he’s a brilliant writer.

  38. You folks should try google some time.

    Please note the last sentence in particular. Ideas are not covered by copyright, only the expression of the idea.

    Also note the irony of quoting an extensive excerpt of someone else’s work on the concept of copyright protection 😉

    From:
    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

    Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

    1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

    The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

    Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.

  39. Only someone who has casually skimmed over my blog would identify me as “a pro-Goldberg blogger.” While I certainly like the Goldbergs, I am neither pro-, nor anti-Goldberg. Indeed, it is this lazy assumptive thinking that has spawned this unintentionally hilarious shitstorm instead of a reasonable discussion about the many issues raised by Mr. Goldberg, Ms. Young, and others.

    “Equally talented amateurs?” I ask the fanfic boosters, knowing full well that I will bear their collective wrath, in all seriousness and with genuine curiosity to explain in very clear and reasonable terms how Ms. Young’s mangling of the English language, her clumsy description, and her derivative plotting (identified in my post) translates into fiction comparable to Michael Chabon and John Updike.

  40. I’m comparing it to the hack “pro” fiction of Lee Goldberg, i.e., the subject of this post.

  41. Carrick: while tempting, literal readings of the statute won’t get you anywhere.

  42. Two nice write-ups on the protection of graphical and fictional characters.

    http://www.publaw.com/graphical.html
    http://www.publaw.com/fiction.html

  43. funny thing just happened. i went outside a few minutes ago and noticed that a patch of red flowers in my garden had turned purple. on closer examination, it appeared that blue flowers had been planted among the red ones. on questioning, my next door neighbor admitted that he had planted the blue ones there by throwing some seeds over the fence. he rather liked the color purple. maybe he was a prince or alice walker fan, i dunno.

    anyway, i pointed out the “no trespassing” sign on the garden fence and told him that i didn’t like the color purple. his response was, “well, that’s your problem, having a purple patch of flowers there in your garden doesn’t cause you any monetary damages, maybe it increases the value of your house, this isn’t trespassing, and it satisfies my creative urge.”

    understand i alone did the layout and planning, digging, planting, fertilizing, and i alone still do maintenance and expansion.

    i guess there’s no legal recourse for me. i’ll have to live with the look of my yard determined by whoever walks by and tosses some seeds in.

  44. It’s clear to me that fanfic is not covered by fair use unless the author of the derivative work is intentionally trying to parody the original work (which is probably not the goal of the fanfic writer — they usually want to pay homage to the original).

    Whether the owner of the copyright on the source characters should worry about fanfic is much less clear to me. My guess is that fanfic tends to promote future sales rather than suppress them, so the copyright holders should generally ignore fanfic.

  45. Carrick: while tempting, literal readings of the statute won’t get you anywhere.

    The statues are a good place to start.

    There is a strong anti-copyright wing here in libertarian-land. And most of the concerns raised by these folks in the various threads that arise are simply not true. So going back to “first principles” is always a good thing to do every now and then.

  46. I want the last 5 minutes of my life back.

  47. “I find it to be a good thing that someone could have an outlet to express what others consider to be sexual peversions without shame, and in fact has a whole community to back them up.”

    see, that’s not fetishization; it’s needlessly complex rulesets based on imaginary characters. hence, why not join a cult?

  48. Edna,

    You’ve got to get over using physical anaologies for intangible arguments. It’s apples and oranges.

    As far as loss value goes, most fanfic writers are.. well.. um.. FANS!

    That means that they have not only ‘been there, bought that, wear the tee-shirt’ they also have the towels, the ears, the figures, the PAID spinoff books, the vhs tape, the dvd, the director’s cut dvd, the “special extra Anniversary Edition full of stuff we could have included last time but didn’t so we could sell you another copy” DVD, the toys, the boots, the wallpaper the… well, you get the idea.

    My point here is that the people that everyone is worried about ‘damping the profits’ are in fact the primary source OF those profits.

    Does anyone really think that Serenity would have made any significant boxoffice if it weren’t for the loyalty of the Browncoats who dragged their friends and acquaintances out to the theater? Is anyone BUT a self-described Browncoat writing Firefly fanfic? I’d be plenty surprised.

    So while, academically speaking, one could argue that fanfic unfairly uses someone else’s characters, the entire phenomenon of fanfiction is ultimately an artifact of the same FANDOM that caused the ficton to be successful at all.

    Kind of biting the hand that feeds you to whine about it.

    (now if one is SELLING fiction based on another’s copyright, that’s another fish kettle entirely).

    And mostly, who cares?

  49. Oh, and I had no idea my Reason website bio doesn’t have a pic. Thanks for letting me know. *G*

    You are welcome and I am reloading as fast as I can.

  50. This increasingly frequent pissing matches are boring.

  51. “…and many of the fanfic writers are just as good”

    ROFL!!!! *snort*

    /picking myself up off the floor, dusting myself off

    OK, I’ve read some fanfic in my day, and 99.9999% of it sucked. It’s mostly written by fans, as a hobby, not by people who are serious about writing. To say that “many” fanfic writers are even close to publishable is, well…extraordinarily naive.

  52. “i went outside a few minutes ago and noticed that a patch of red flowers in my garden had turned purple. ”

    Edna,

    What an incredibly wrong example. The correct analogy would be that your neighbor _copied_ your garden in his own lawn, then planted blue flowers in it. Your garden is EXACTLY THE SAME.

    So how do you feel about parody? How dare Mad Magazine take an author’s characters and heartlessly mock them? Boo hoo.

  53. So how do you feel about parody? How dare Mad Magazine take an author’s characters and heartlessly mock them? Boo hoo.

    Parody and satire are fair use per copyright law. My personal opinion is that fanfic should be protected along the same lines.

  54. fm, the line between parody and theft of ip is an intersting one. care to expound?

    You’ve got to get over using physical anaologies for intangible arguments. It’s apples and oranges.

    unintended irony alert

  55. the line between parody and theft of ip is an intersting one. care to expound?

    Well, the supreme court said that a rap cover of pretty woman was parody. So it’s hard to see what isn’t covered by that part of fair use.

  56. The fact that fanfic writers don’t make any money off their work isn’t the key point. One can be harmed without being robbed-if Joe hits me over the head but doesn’t take my wallet, I’ve still got a legitimate complaint against him. So if someone plants unwanted flowers in your garden, or goes into your house without taking anyhing, you’re still harmed.

    I’m not sure that writers of fanfic are really doing any substantial harm to the creators of a popular work, though. It’s hard to imagine someone writing J.K. Rowling a nasty letter complaining that there’s no BDSM in Harry Potter and the Latest Sequel. You read and write fanfic because you already like the original. Maybe you read porn fanfic because you like porn, not the characters, but that still doesn’t seem to hurt the creator very much.

    By the way, I love Lee Goldberg’s Monk novels.

  57. Well this quaifies as a screed. The Reasoning, however is lacking. You can’t compare tie-ins with fanfiction, and this: “Goldberg seems especially incensed by gay-themed fanfiction.” Is a slam beyond the pale. I find it hard to believe deliberate perversion of copyrighted characters regardless of sexual orientation is defensible, but aparently Ms. Young thinks so.

    I’ll tell what I’ve discovered about fanficcers from reading them at Lee’s blog: they’re nuts. This firms that up nicely.

  58. edna,

    What makes you think it was unintended?

    Thanks for noticing though. 😉

  59. I think i once sat in college cafeteria and heard two dorks arguing about whether star trek or battlestar galactica had more political-philosophy subtext.

    I agree with most here – Giving a Shit about this particular topic is a strong indicator that you didnt get your ass kicked enough as a child.

    That said, I think porn versions of ANYTHING are awesome. One of my favorite drinking games is “Porn Title”…where you compete to be the first to come up with a quality porn title for random literature/film/theatre etc. Like, ‘Sperms of Endearment’, ‘Gangbangs of New York’, ‘Black Cock Down’, ‘Lord of the Cock Rings’, etc. as some common examples. Gay themes are helpful. Like, “You’ve Got Male” or whatever.

    Why dont you all give it a shot? Booby prize to whomever can successfully pornify “The Manchurian Candidate” or “the Grapes of Wrath”

  60. The Rapes of Wrath.
    The Man Chewin’est Candidate.

    (as a silly question…)

  61. I think i once sat in college cafeteria and heard two dorks arguing about whether star trek or battlestar galactica had more political-philosophy subtext.

    I once participated in an argument about Batman being able to kill Superman. Of course, I was right because Superman had given Batman red kriptonite and Batman had also devised ways to eliminate all of the other Justice League members or something like that too, but this is not the good part.

    The guys in the bar, in defense of their belief, actually said that must be from the comic books or something! Of course, I sarcastically responded: no, it is in real life, the comic books are fiction.

    Note: I don’t read any of that stuff. I heard it on Howard Stern and verified with the comic book nuts that I know.

  62. The guys in the bar, in defense of their belief, actually said that must be from the comic books or something! Of course, I sarcastically responded: no, it is in real life, the comic books are fiction.

    Yeah, you’d think they’d made Superman and Batman movies or something crazy like that.

  63. That means that they have not only ‘been there, bought that, wear the tee-shirt’ they also have the towels, the ears, the figures, the PAID spinoff books, the vhs tape, the dvd, the director’s cut dvd, the “special extra Anniversary Edition full of stuff we could have included last time but didn’t so we could sell you another copy” DVD, the toys, the boots, the wallpaper the… well, you get the idea.

    Quoted for truth.

  64. Amused Bystander: Please actually read something Goldberg has written, then reevaluate your post.

  65. OK, I’ve read some fanfic in my day, and 99.9999% of it sucked. It’s mostly written by fans, as a hobby, not by people who are serious about writing. To say that “many” fanfic writers are even close to publishable is, well…extraordinarily naive.

    As professional writer Theodore Sturgeon said, “Ninety-nine percent of anything is crap.” So what? I’ve also read some fanfic in my day, and while I’ve seen some that is horrible (as in illiterate), “many” other fanfic writers — “hobbyists” or not — are quite serious about writing and are pretty good at it.

  66. Just to be clear, I made the blog post about Roy Orbison and Cling-film when I guest blogged for my brother and I stand by it: It IS hot.

  67. Fan fiction ain’t my bag, but if you enjoy it, rock on.

    In all honesty, the thing I find most shocking about this this little dustup is the result:

    For the first time EVER, Cathy Young has written an article that wasn’t deliberately, nay, painstakingly even-handed.

    There’s no “on the other hand” here. And the three-handed Cathy Young fanfic is right out the window.

    I think I like the new Cathy Young even better than the old one.

  68. “And that fan fiction writers begin, in earnest, writing something where I’m a character in Land Of The Lost to the point that the theme song is re-written to show that I, too, slipped through a fissure in time during the greatest earthquake ever known, but that I fuck up Sleestacks like its my job and I’ve got that Chaka bitch on a short rope. Literally. I keep Chaka on a chain and drag him around.”

    Tod, that’s the funniest shit I’ve read all week. Bookmarked.

  69. I’m with you mediageek – that was some good stuff, Tod!

    I don’t write fanfic, but if I did, it would start with me as Ash (from “Army of Darkness”) going skeet shooting for those damn flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz!

    “Pull!” shouted Ash.

    The Tin Man complied, with a vengeful laugh, by tossing yet another doomed flying monkey out of the cupola of the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle.

    Suddenly, a sulphuric plume of smoke explodes to Ash’s left. The Witch strides out of the smoke, broom in one hand, a bony claw pointing to Ash.

    “Thou didst find me beautiful once,” the Witch said accusingly.

    “Honey…You got real ugly,” Ash replied.

    “Now listen up, you primitive screwhead. See this? This… is my boomstick! The 12-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart’s top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That’s right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about $109.95. It’s got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That’s right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You *got* that?” Ash asked the Witch with a mocking grin.

    “YOU SHALL DIE!” She screamed, her eyes bone white, possessed by the dark spirits.

    “Yo, she-bitch! Let’s go!” Ash responded.

    Her blackened lips pull back in a wild animal snarl. “I’LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL!”

    Ash leaps into the air in a flying side kick, while firing round after round into the Witch. Her lifeless corpse lands at his feet.

    As the Scarecrow nervously edges nearer, Ash stops him. “It’s a trick. Get the Tin Man’s axe.”

    “The Wizard left ME in charge,” replied the Scarecrow with all the haughty authority of a city planner.

    “Well hello Mr. Fancy-pants. I got news for you, pal. You ain’t leading but two things right now: Jack and Shit. And, Jack just left town.”

    “You think you’re a real bad-ass, don’t you?” sniffed the Cowardly Lion in a very metro-sexual tone of voice, as he stroked the ribbons in his mane.

    “Good? Bad? I’m the one with the gun.” replied Ash, as he brought chainsaw to bear, decapitating the Witch.

    “Are all men from the future loud-mouthed braggarts?” demanded the Scarecrow angrily.

    Ash replied with a grin. “Nope. Just me baby… Just me.”

    Turning back toward the castle with a shit-eating-grin as he finishes re-loading the shotgun, Ash again yells “Pull!”

  70. Stevo Darkly said “As professional writer Theodore Sturgeon said, “Ninety-nine percent of anything is crap.” So what?”

    I was responding to Lamar’s assertion that “many of the fanfic writers” write well enough to be published. Lamar also said, “[Goldberg] is a jaded “pro” writer defending his turf from the equally-talented amateur set.”

    My point is that most fanfic writers are nowhere near as talented as professional authors. Neither are most non-pro writers, for that matter. That’s why the slush pile exists. The best 5% or so are publishable. The rest? Nope. (Not unless the author heads to a vanity press, but that’s a sermon for another day.)

    Lamar’s comments strike me as ridiculous. He is attacking the person expressing the opinion rather than the opinion. The “he’s just jealous” defense is the last gasp of the desperate.

  71. So, Lee Goldberg once again denies ever saying that he writes his tie-in novels only for the money. Sorry, but what part of “I much prefer to write totally original work and if I could make my living only doing that, I would” is so hard to understand?

    To Mark A. York: actually, I hesitated to bring up the sexuality issue, because I think that implied accusations of bigotry should not be tossed around lightly. However, Goldberg’s tendency to single out gay-themed fanfics as examples of moral turpitude and general ickiness fairly leaps out when you read his fanfic-related posts. I ran them by two friends who are about as scornful of politically correct hypersensitivity as you get, and they both had the same impression. And no, I am not saying that gay-themed fan fiction is beyond criticism, particularly if it ventures into such morally dubious territory as sexually explicit stories using real people as characters. I’m saying that there’s plenty of similarly bad stuff of the hetero variety that, mostly, seems to be off Goldberg’s radar screen. To use an example someone gave in the H & R thread discussing my fanfic article: I wouldn’t be particularly thrilled if I discovered that “Cathy Young” was a character in sexually explicit “Reason fanfic” posted on the Internet by H & R regulars. However, it wouldn’t make an ounce of moral difference to me whether the stories were Cathy Young/Jesse Walker or Cathy Young/Kerry Howley. (And yep, I’m straight.)

    I have also looked at some of the comments threads on Goldberg’s blog. I don’t know if fanficcers are nuts, but I have seen anti-fanficcers compare fanfic writers to rapists and child molesters. Me, I’d say it’s “nuts” to compare fanfic to anti-Semitic screeds. But what do I know, I’m just a “fanficcer,” right?

    Looking at the comments in this thread, I find the arguments about why fanfic infringes on the rights of the creators to be utterly inadequate. No, edna, it’s not like coming into your garden and painting your red flowers purple or planting blue flowers among them. The “garden” — the original work, be it a TV show or a book — remains intact. If you really want an analogy, this is more like someone taking pictures of your garden and posting them on their website with various alterations to suit their taste. As long as they did not falsely claim that this is either their own garden or an actual and unaltered representation of your garden, where in the world is the harm to you? As for the “hitting you over the head but not taking your wallet” analogy, it’s really too silly to respond to.

    I can, at least, see some merit in the argument that a writer who single-handedly created original characters (and in the case of fantasy, an original world) and exercises full control over that character in her work has a right to object to fans “borrowing” those characters and settings for works of their own. It seems to me that in other media where there are multiple creators, and legal rights belong to the corporation rather than the artist(s), there is simply no such moral argument. If you take my own fandom: the character of Xena was originally created by John Schulian, a writer on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys who thereafter had no involvement with the Xena series despite having his name on the credits. On Xena: Warrior Princess, there were at least six writers and executive producers who helped shape the characters and settings over the course of the series (not to mention the actors!). Ironically, too, the makers of Xena were famous for borrowing from multiple sources ranging from Greek mythology to Hong Kong action movies to Wagner’s operas to American popular culture, with episodes adapted from Groundhog Day and The Producers (to name just two).

    Finally, to Ed. By “pro-Goldberg blogger,” I meant simply that you repeated Goldberg’s charge that I misrepresented his views without ever bothering to check. As for your critique of my “mangling the English language” in my stories: I really don’t want to turn this thread into a defense of my fanfiction (although, since I am a professional writer with two published books under my belt, it’s a professional slam as well). But here’s a funny thing. I took all three examples of what you regard as “mangling the English language” and ran them through Google Book search and the “search inside” function on Amazon.com. I found numerous examples of each usage in published books, many of them highly acclaimed. And I’m sure that if you decided to nitpick Lee Goldberg’s books in a similar manner, you’d find plenty of fodder.

    Finally, I fully agree that this is a silly debate and we could all be doing something much more productive right now, like humping inflatable Halle Bery dolls. The only reason I made this post was that Lee Goldberg accused me of mispresenting his blog comments in my column.

  72. Oops, sorry about those italics. And by the way, really, guys, this is not the first time I’ve written something non-even-handed. *G* Check out my writings on the Terri Schiavo case, for instance.

  73. You wrote:

    “what part of “I much prefer to write totally original work and if I could make my living only doing that, I would” is so hard to understand?””

    Cathy,

    I have to agree with you. What IS so hard for you to understand about that clear statement?
    I am told you’re ordinarily an even-handed writer, so I have to assume it’s your love of fanfiction that’s clouding your reason.

    “So, Lee Goldberg once again denies ever saying that he writes his tie-in novels only for the money.”

    Yes, I do…and am baffled by your inability to comprehend it. Perhaps if you put the quote from me in context, you would see the distinction…and so would your readers.

    I love writing about the characters in DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK. I have a strong, personal connection to them from exec-producing/writing DM and contributing episodes to MONK. I enjoy writing the books very, very much.

    But I wouldn’t be writing the tie-in books unless I’d been approached to do so because THE CHARACTERS DON’T BELONG TO ME.

    While it’s absolutely true that I am being paid to write the books, that is emphatically NOT the only reason I am writing them nor I have EVER, at any time, said that it was. To say that I have is a falsehood.

    I have turned down offers to write other tie-ins for other series because I don’t have the personal connection to the characters that I have with DM and MONK. I love these characters and couldn’t write these books if I didn’t.

    As you’ve pointed out, I’ve said lots and lots of things about fanfiction that you can disagree with…so I hope that you’ll refrain from inventing new ones that I never said.

    Lee

  74. Lee: I’ll leave it to others to decide what you did and didn’t say. I’m pretty confident that I did not misinterpret your words. If you did not mean to say in your June 15 post that you write your tie-in novels only because you can’t make a living with original fiction alone, and that this makes you morally superior to fanfic writers who actually want to write that stuff, then I think you should have expressed yourself better. I have no intention of participating any further in a “yes, you said it/no, I didn’t” food fight, so I will bow out (at least on this specific issue; I may revisit the thread if there are interesting arguments here on other points).

  75. Cathy Young wrote: “[S]ome arguments advanced by fanfic’s foes make little sense. Thus Hobb exempts from her scorn professionally written Star Trek novels licensed by the copyright owner-even though the license comes from the corporation, not the creators of the characters.”

    The only thing that doesn’t make sense is phrasing it in such a way as to create a contradiction where one doesn’t exist.

    The copyright owner, even if not the creator, has purchased the copyright from the creator.

    It didn’t somehow magically fall into the current copyright owner’s hands while he twisted his corporate mustache.

    The creator has been compensated, knows what rights he or she has sold (including novelization rights, for which the creator still, by the way, receives compensation, even if he or she doesn’t write the novelization), and has, in selling those rights, turned control of his or her characters, stories, themes, et cetera, to the current copyright owner.

    Withholding scorn for professionally written Star Trek novels isn’t a contradiction: it’s consistent respect for someone else’s property, regardless of whether the owner is the creator, or a company which bought it from said creator.

    “The vehemently anti-fanfic writer Lee Goldberg, who blogs at leegoldberg.com, is the author of several authorized novels based on the TV shows Monk and Diagnosis Murder-a contradiction he defends on the grounds that he does it only for the money.”

    Again, it’s not a contradiction — even if he does do it “only for the money.”

    As for the rest of the post, I’ll not comment, since I don’t know Goldberg, and haven’t read his blog enough to know the context of the posts quoted.

  76. Ryan: Hobb’s position makes little sense because the bulk of her argument is about the artistic integrity of the creator and her/his creations, not monetary compensation. Of course, artists who create characters routinely get shafted by corporations when it comes to licensing rights and revenues, but that’s another matter.

    The purpose of property laws is to protect a person’s (or corporation’s) financial interest in their property. Show me how fanfiction damages the financial interests of the owner(s). If anything, it’s the opposite: an active fandom means higher and more sustained interest in the original work. In the case of TV shows that are no longer on the air, many people remain in the fandom — and continue spending money on licensed merchandise, fan conventions, etc. — partly thanks to fanfic and “virtual seasons” (also a form of fanfic), which provide them with new stories in the absence of new episodes. That’s precisely why so many rights holders either openly or tacitly encourage fan creativity.

  77. Amused bystander:

    (1) Many fanfic writers are published, which leads to the conclusion that they are good enough to be published. Not sure how you get around that. At least one of the recent fanfic Star Wars movies was much better than any of the recent prequels.

    (2) You should try to argue with what I wrote, not the Lamar in your head. You say that most fanfic writers and non-pro writers are not as talented as most pro writers. Thanks for the obvious no-shit-ism. I was referring to Lee Goldberg’s level of writing, not most professional writers. I still maintain that many amateur writers are as good as or better than the crank-em-out Lee Goldbergs of the world.

    (3) “Last gasp of the desperate”? Are you trying to be a professional writer now? I don’t really know how this fits in to anything, but I can imagine Lorne Greene back in the day saying this.

    (4) Of course I criticized Goldberg (the ol’l ad hominem attack). Normally I wouldn’t care what he says, but he goes out of his way to discourage people from doing what they love, even though he does the same thing (albeit with his strange justification).

    Cathy: thanks for pointing out how the copyrightists switch back and forth between rationales for their beliefs. It’s always, “we have to respect the author”, then when it turns out that the author died alone, screwed over by his publishing company (worst case), then the argument is all of the sudden, “but it’s character stealing”!

  78. Well, as an actor who worked on Diagnosis Murder over the course of four years when Lee wrote and produced the show, I read many of his scripts and earned my SAG card from a scene in one of them. I suppose that’s a conflict of interest influencing my opinion of his work, but it also establishes a long history of writing the characters professionally. And quality work at that.

    This isn’t the equivalence of fanfic in any way. It’s professional writing, authorized by the copyright holder and work for hire. I don’t know how it is fanfic zealots can’t grasp this difference?

  79. “I am not saying that gay-themed fan fiction is beyond criticism, particularly if it ventures into such morally dubious territory as sexually explicit stories using real people as characters.”

    I think you are, or any other kind, and what besides this theme would they be venturing into? This is where most fanfic goes regardless of orientation. On the whole, fanfic writers prevert the characters, which borders on libel in my view. A bit above my legal pay grade, but not as farfetched as a fanfic theme is in general.

    “I’m saying that there’s plenty of similarly bad stuff of the hetero variety that, mostly, seems to be off Goldberg’s radar screen.”

    It may seem that way to you but it also could be proportional to the volume of that sort of fanfic. It’s a cheap shot from your end though, and this testifies to the sort of character you are. Goldberg is not homophobic and this is what you are saying.

    The over all preponderance of fanfic is nothing but cheap trash written illegally. Since you’ve chosen to join this group from free will, you have to bare the burden of your fanfic peers. As a writer who rushed two travel memoirs into print with the two biggest vanity presses years ago, I still have to bare the burden of the stigma that most of these sort of books are crap. They aren’t illegal however, and fanfic is. You lose big points in this regard.

    But at least I have an original novel. I didn’t take Michael Crichton’s lawyer in State of Fear and write a different novel with him as the lead. I wrote my own global warming novel, as perilous as that is.

    Warm Front

  80. I suppose that’s a conflict of interest influencing my opinion of his work, but it also establishes a long history of writing the characters professionally. And quality work at that.

    This isn’t the equivalence of fanfic in any way. It’s professional writing, authorized by the copyright holder and work for hire. I don’t know how it is fanfic zealots can’t grasp this difference?

    I’m not aware of anyone here suggesting that the “gets paid for it” distinction doesn’t exist. The problem, of course, is that you have professionals trying to assert moral distinctions completely unrelated to getting paid.

    When people try to argue that work-for-hire tie-in material is somehow more valid or shows greater creativity than amateur fanfic, it fails the laugh test. Media tie-ins are people working with someone else’s characters and in the huge majority of time, telling stories that the actual creators will never so much as read – and which can be merrily cast into irrelevance by the creator’s own stories. A case in point was a nice, early Star Wars tie-in novel called Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Written before Empire, the story had a subplot about Luke’s growing attraction to Leia and details like numerous “Force sensitives” working for the Empire – things that clearly didn’t fit into the later movies.

    Now, Alan Dean Foster (the author) is a pro writer and got paid to write the book. It’s also a good read. But what he wrote had no more relevance to the storyline of Star Wars than some 70s Luke/Leia story in a fanzine. In that respect, there’s no difference between the two.

  81. “It’s professional writing, authorized by the copyright holder and work for hire. I don’t know how it is fanfic zealots can’t grasp this difference?”

    We do grasp the difference. And our point is, your crank-em-out theory on novels turns us off. TV screenwriters who think they can write a novel are priceless. Diagnosis Murder is cheap pulp. If your model of copyright and what authorship means leads to more cheap, poorly written crap, why would we want to support you? Hey, Diagnosis Murder made a lot of money, as did Britney Spears.

  82. To Cathy Young: You may very well be a perfectly fine nonfiction writer (although based on my samplings of your work at Reason, I beg to differ). But authoring nonfiction (in this case, two books and an array of articles) does NOT necessarily mean that you’re capable of writing fiction. Not everyone can swing both ways. I do not see a single published fiction volume on your personal site or on Amazon. Nor do I believe your disingenuous claim that your grammatical butcherings and your incompetent syntax are comparable to other authors. You cite not a single example of an “acclaimed” mangling.

    In short, Ms. Young, and I mean this with the greatest respect possible, keep your day job.

  83. Nor do I believe your disingenuous claim that your grammatical butcherings and your incompetent syntax are comparable to other authors.

    Where does she make this claim?

  84. “You may very well be a perfectly fine nonfiction writer (although based on my samplings of your work at Reason”

    Cathy is an excellent non-fiction writer.

    “keep your day job.”

    Uh, isn’t her day job writing? You’re saying that she should quit writing and, instead, rely on her writing to make ends meet?

  85. Oops, sorry about those italics. And by the way, really, guys, this is not the first time I’ve written something non-even-handed. *G* Check out my writings on the Terri Schiavo case, for instance.

    But I didn’t have an issue with even/non-even-hanndedness, was just looking for your picture. Oh, and that doll thing but I did not see Lee’s answer to that 🙂

  86. As a legal matter, fanfic is probably in a gray area, though one could make a case that any interpretation of the Copyright Act that bans it would fall outside the scope of the Copyright Clause of the Constitution, and thereby run afoul of the First Amendment.

    As a practical matter, since no money is changing hands, litigation on this matter is highly unlikely.

  87. “When people try to argue that work-for-hire tie-in material is somehow more valid or shows greater creativity than amateur fanfic, it fails the laugh test.”

    No the laugh is on you and this ridiculous false equivalency. A legend in your own mind no doubt. LOL!

  88. Mark A. York: Nice hatchet job. Please explain, and if you can, try and conceal the context of the original post. It’s cool how you like the quick cheap shot. Once you quote outside of context, you can misuse “false equivalency,” use poor grammar and end with a cheesy online abbreviation…..only then will we know that you are a writer.

  89. No the laugh is on you and this ridiculous false equivalency. [sic]

    Sorry, pointing and going “No, you’re wrong!” isn’t very convincing.

    Also, trying to position yourself as a “real writer” and giving your publications as some vanity press work and a rough draft you’re writing for an online writing competition…that’s funny, man.

    But at least I have an original novel. I didn’t take Michael Crichton’s lawyer in State of Fear and write a different novel with him as the lead.

    So you’re saying a tie-in novel that did just that would be inherently inferior to your own novel, even if that tie-in was well-written.

    A legend in your own mind no doubt. LOL!

    I’m not entirely sure what you’re yammering about by this point, but I suspect you’re hinting that I’m an aggrieved fanfic writer. I’ve actually never written a piece of fanfic, though I know a few professional writers (those are the people who write things, but don’t have to pay people to publish them and actually get paid for their work, in case you’re hazy on the point) who’ve written fanfic and regarded it as good practice.

  90. Incidentally, the batshit craziness of this sentence – which I somehow missed the first time – wins the thread:

    On the whole, fanfic writers prevert [sic] the characters, which borders on libel in my view.

    Maybe York wants to chip into Mr. Spock’s legal fund so he can sue all those “preverts” for suggesting he had sex with Kirk?

  91. I have to go with Eric on this one, folks. By York’s measure, I’m a successful, multiply-published literary genius with the ability to pass judgment not only of him, but his entire chosen mode of expression. After all, I’ve been published on more than one occasion by mainstream non-vanity presses and created at least one character who someone else was paid to use in a work-for-hire novel. I’m a veritable industry, by comparison to him, so my opinion should be, by his measure, subsequently more weighty.

    I think he’s an ass. Goldberg can join him in that evaluation. And I don’t mean that as a personal assessment, but a professional one.

    Frankly, the argument that the creation and free distribution of fanfic is injurious to the original creator is ludicrous on the face of it … unless we assume the original writer is doing a truly, madly, deeply crappy job of what passes for their occupation. If folks whose hobby it is to write material inspired by you threaten your livelihood, my suggestion would be they actually kick it up a notch and gain some ability.

    Frankly, this discussion is silly. Copyright only applies to issues of sale. We’re just talking about free distribution. First Amendment pretty much covers that particular little situation, and it’s pretty clear.

    And, as an aside: Monk novels. I can understand wanting to extend and expand the BSG universe in one’s spare time but I cannot imagine actually taking the money to write Monk novels. OK, I can imagine taking the money, and Goldberg’s repeated statement that he didn’t do it because of any particular passion for the setting.

    Now, Monk / Psych fanfic …

  92. On the whole, fanfic writers prevert [sic] the characters, which borders on libel in my view.

    How on earth can fictional characters be “libeled” when dead humans can not be “libeled” in the USA?

    Are you from England?

  93. I don’t think even English amateur writers are generally that demented, Montag.

  94. Yeah, I know, you own the characters. Of course, those characters wouldn’t have any value if it weren’t for the fans.

    rob said what I said (see above), only more gooder: “Mr. Goldberg sounds remarkably like the prostitute condemning the slut, and for exactly the same reason. No jaded professional likes to compete with an enthusiastic amateur.”

  95. I, for one, am fully against the misuse of character names for any reason at all.

    Guy Montag

  96. As a writer who rushed two travel memoirs into print with the two biggest vanity presses years ago,

    Okay, that’s funny. Paying for “the two biggest vanity presses” to publish your work makes you a brilliant writer in the exact same way that paying for prostitutes from “the two biggest brothels in Nevada” makes you a brilliant lover.

  97. Okay, that’s funny. Paying for “the two biggest vanity presses” to publish your work makes you a brilliant writer in the exact same way that paying for prostitutes from “the two biggest brothels in Nevada” makes you a brilliant lover.

    Are we getting any closer to the source of the good inflatable dolls?

  98. JL | February 8, 2007, 12:02pm | #

    The fact that fanfic writers don’t make any money off their work isn’t the key point. One can be harmed without being robbed-if Joe hits me over the head but doesn’t take my wallet, I’ve still got a legitimate complaint against him.

    that’s because assault is illegal, as well as theft, jackass.

    Hey, Mr. York the super writer dude: did you “bare” the burden of the stigma or did you “bear” it?

  99. Well, boys and girls, this is fun. Over on his blog, Lee Goldberg still argues that he never said he writes his tie-in novels only for the money and that his real defense is that he writes them not only with the consent of but at the request of the creators and copyright holders. This is despite the fact that his entire blogpost of June 16, 2005 is about the difference between “fanficcers” and tie-in writers beyond the issue of rights and author consent. In that post, he says:

    Given a choice, I would only write novels and TV shows of my own creation. But I have to make a living and I take the work that comes my way.

    He also stresses that he was never possessed by a “burning desire” to write Monk or Diagnosis Murder novels. In this context, Goldberg’s emphasis on the fact that he ask hired and asked to write those novels looks like it’s less about the wishes of the rights holder than about the fact that for Goldberg, the writing is a paid job.

    Okay, okay. I know I said I wasn’t going to do the “yes, you said it/no, I didn’t” thing anymore. But I’m just too baffled by Goldberg’s blatant, continued denial of his own words. Help me out here, folks, is there something wrong with my reading comprehension, or …. ?

    Meanwhile, Goldberg sycophants over on his blog are giggling that I must have a crush on him. (As a friend of mine said: “How old are they, ten?”) Next, they’ll be suggesting that I have sex with an inflatable doll that looks like Lee Goldberg. (Not that I have the vaguest idea what Lee looks like.)

    I wrote one line about Goldberg in my column. (I made this post on H & R because Goldberg accused me of mispresenting his words, a pretty serious charge for a journalist.) Meanwhile, Goldberg devotes considerable space on his blog to reviling and mocking fanfic writers. Why the obsession? I’m usually not in the habit of psychoanalyzing people, but I’ll venture a guess: perhaps it’s because, in the eyes of the literary establishment, a writer of tie-in novels for a TV show ranks near the very bottom of the totem pole — not really much higher than a fanfic writer, for all that his work is licensed and paid. And, knowing this, Goldberg tries with the utmost zeal to distance himself from those despised “fanficcers” by repeatedly spitting on them.

    Incidentally, about the legal issues: last night, I did some research on the issue. It’s interesting that while Goldberg and his cronies assert unequivocally, as if it were a plain fact, that fan fiction is “theft,” “stealing,” a clearcut copyright violation, etc., there is actually no consensus on this among legal experts. For instance, this 1997 law review article by attorney and Georgetown law professor Rebecca Tushnet argues that not-for-profit fan fiction constitutes “fair use.” UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, a leading expert on intellectual property law, says on his blog that works of fan fiction “may be fair use if they’re noncommercial.” Intellectual property lawyer Charles E. Petit concludes that the legal situation is hopelessly confusing. Attorney Judith Gran — who, for full disclosure, also writes Star Trek fanfic — believes that existing precedent suggests fan fiction is legal as long as it is non-commercial and does not harm the copyright holder’s commercial interests. See also this article summarizing the issues.

    So this is anything but the cut-and-dried issue that Goldberg pretends it is.

    Ironically, one type of fanfiction that is probably the most clearly protected by legal precedent is one that Goldberg singles out as especially sick (and that is also widely viewed as sleazy in the fan fiction community): real people slash. When Jerry Falwell sued Hustler magazine over a parody ad depicting him as a drunk who lost his virginity to his own mother in an outhouse, a jury in a federal court found that the ad did not amount to libel because it was not “reasonably believable”; that is to say, a normal person reading it would not think that it was factual. I doubt that anyone reading a tale of hot sex between Brad Pitt and George Clooney could possibly mistake it for fact, particularly since all real people fic is clearly labeled FICTION. Falwell did win $150,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a decision the Supreme Court later struck down on the grounds that even hurtful political satire is protected by the First Amendment; the same reasoning probably would not apply to real people fiction. On the other hand, with real people fiction, it would probably be much harder to prove “actual malice,” i.e. intent by the writer to cause distress to the subject.

    (I should add, by the way, that just because real people fic is almost certainly not illegal doesn’t mean that it isn’t sleazy and icky.)

  100. Wasn’t there a big ta-do about Star Wars fanfic a while back? Might be some good research info there.

    On a more serious note, where are the inflatable Halle Berry dolls? They still don’t have your picture in your bio either.

  101. Cathy, it just sounds like Lee Goldwater doesn’t want to admit that although he’s not a slut, he is a whore

  102. Don’t know about the Halle Berry dolls. Lee Goldberg ones, on the other hand…

    Oh, and if you’re very anxious to know what I look like, just go to my website.

  103. “I think he’s an ass. ”

    I think you’re an idiot. So what of it? Two early morning typos is the best you have? Without an argument among the whole damn bunch you I’m not surprised.

  104. That butthead isn’t a biologist, but I am. No doubt that influenced his choice of a handle. What a shock.

    And Jennifer, they were free at the time so I paid them nothing. You missed the point though, which is one is judged by the company they keep. Cathy has that stigma to deal with and has done so badly. The professionals are laughing, but sickened at the same time.

  105. “”Fan Fiction” is fiction written by fans (recalling that the word “fan” is an elision of “fanatic” is not out of place!) and set in the universe of their fanaticism.” Charles E. Petit Esq.

    Boy howdy.

  106. Holy crap! Who left the door open to the basement of the English Departmet?

  107. and yet, strangely, I’ve been using the handle “biologist” on this site for over a year, and had no idea that you were a biologist. you’re right, though, I chose it because of you.

    also, there’s no need to assert an argument against your non-argument.

  108. Mr. York: having perused that first chapter of yours, I think I know why you’re so vehemently anti-fanfiction.

    … there was no need to report anything conclusive yet as his bosses at the Department of Interior were under command to downplay any evidence of the “climate change” phenomenon. They’d been instructed to use the softer language by the Baumgartner administration, who held a dim view of conservation, they dubbed as “environmentalism,” which now had a pejorative connotation. Government agencies, being what they are as tools of the people, must follow along at least on the surface, but behind the scene, they followed the facts and reported the results regardless of who the political figurehead was at the time.

    Your writing skills are roughly comparable to the average “fanficcer” — okay, discounting the junior high school set — but you need to feel superior to someone. It’s the same reason the “white trash” in the old South were often so vehemently racist: sure they were trash, but hot damn it, at least they weren’t n***ers!

    A number of fanfic writers have already gone pro and have been signed up by major publishers. Judging by this chapter, at least, I don’t see that anywhere in your near future.

  109. Also, the use of bare instead of bear isn’t a typo. A typo is a misspelling that results when you hit the wrong key when typing. You just used an entirely wrong word.

  110. Lamar said: “We do grasp the difference. And our point is, your crank-em-out theory on novels turns us off. TV screenwriters who think they can write a novel are priceless. Diagnosis Murder is cheap pulp.”

    While I’m generally considered to be the more talented Goldberg, I thought I’d provide a little factual back up for why I think you should do a little research before besmirching our good hack name: Lee’s been writing original novels for longer than he’s been doing the tie-ins, in addition to producing 100s of hours of television, including stuff you’ve probably written fan fiction of (I know my own fan fic involving the dolphin in Seaquest and Dick Van Dyke was actually very well regarded and each year I recite from it around the Hanukkah bush before we all get together and discuss our homophobia and honest love of aquatic animatronic animal sex…or any animatronic sex whatsoever, like, say, the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland), and his most recent original novel, The Man with the Iron-On Badge was a finalist for the 2006 Shamus Award, one of the mystery genre’s top prizes. He’s also been a finalist for the Edgar several times. He’s also the Northern Atlantic UFC champion. He also kicked my ass in Stratego for, like, a decade.

    My point is this, Lamar: I think it’s okay for TV writers to write novels. Heck, I hope one day all those lazy asses on The Wire finally turn out some fiction…you know, like Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos and Richard Price. I bet they’d be pretty good.

  111. There is no Alexander Williams.

  112. Well Cathy, you can use that desciptive paragraph if you like, but all it proves is your politic persuasion and not much else: a cinclusion of fact you don’t like. So far this holds true for every critic of it. I’m shocked a Reason “libertine” writer would be attracted to it. No doubt some anal sex scenario would be your replacement, and the industry standard, you know, according to fanficcers.

  113. Hey biologist? See this? It the middle finger. I’m sure you’ve seen it before.

  114. Tod: my use of the word “hack” referred to Lee’s statement (which is there no matter how much he denies it) that he wrote tie-in novels solely because it was a job that paid money, even though he would have much rather spent his time writing original fiction only. It was not meant to reflect on the literary merits of his original work.

    I honestly have no desire to fight with either you or Lee, and I appreciate your kind words about me on my blog. (By the way, I never got your private email — I assume because, as I just discovered, the staff bio page at Reason gives my old, no longer working CompuServe email address.) It’s too bad that, in defending Lee from my use of the H-word, you had to resort to a cheap shot at my authorship of an essay on something supposedly so worthless as Xena. (Nobody ever hailed it as a groundbreaking show? Ask Joss Whedon, or Quentin Tarantino.) You might do well to remember that the entire detective novel genre, in which Lee Goldberg writes, was once regarded as the province of hacks. In his 1944-45 essays slamming the mystery genre, Edmund Wilson dismissed The Maltese Falcon as being not much above newspaper comic strips, and wrote that Dorothy Sayers was regarded as a good writer only because she wrote in a field where most of the writing was “on a sub-literary level.” Actually, reading this recap of Wilson’s writings on the subject, I am strongly reminded of Lee Goldberg’s vitriol against fanfic.

  115. Oops. Make that “your kind words about me on *your* blog.” Unfortunately H & R does not allow for editing comments.

  116. Cathy wrote: “Well, boys and girls, this is fun. Over on his blog, Lee Goldberg still argues that he never said he writes his tie-in novels only for the money and that his real defense is that he writes them not only with the consent of but at the request of the creators and copyright holders.”

    I am baffled why you continue to twist my words. You have an agenda and it seems that no matter what I write, you are intent to misconstrue it into “He writes his tie-ins only for the money.” It’s tiresome…and transparent.

    Rather than repeat myself, here is how I responded to you on my blog:
    —————
    Cathy wrote: “the only thing that stuck in my mind was Lee’s declaration that he would much prefer not to write those “Monk” novels but a man’s gotta make a living.”

    You really can’t help yourself, can you? I never said that. And you know it…so why do you keep attempting to twist my words anyway?

    I love writing the MONK novels. What I said is that, because I am a professional writer, I would have not have written them unless I was asked to because MONK doesn’t belong to me. You desperately want to create the impression that I write these books reluctantly and shamefully just to pay my bills. Not only have I never said it, I’ve never even implied it…because nothing could be further from truth.

    What I did say is that as much as I enjoy writing MONK, I would much rather be writing entirely original work but I don’t have that luxury. You have deliberately misconstrued that remark in a transparent attempt to create a false impression of my motives. The fact that you continue to do so mystifies me. Surely there are things I have actually said that you can disagree with.

    Cathy wrote: “I never said that you argued that the *only* difference between fanfic and tie-ins is that you get paid.”

    Um, that’s not true. Here’s what you wrote in your REASON column:

    “The vehemently anti-fanfic writer Lee Goldberg, who blogs at leegoldberg.com, is the author of several authorized novels based on the TV shows Monk and Diagnosis Murder-a contradiction he defends on the grounds that he does it only for the money.”

    What am I missing?

    Cathy wrote: “In fact, in my blogpost, I actually said that I should have been more specific in my article and made it clear that you defend your work on tie-in novels *partly* on those grounds. ”

    That still isn’t accurate…and I suspect you are well aware of it. I repeat: I never said I am only doing it for the money. I said I am doing it with the permission, consent and involvement of the author and the rights holders… they came to me and asked me to write a novel using their characters. That, Cathy, is what distinguishes my work from fanfic. Why is that so hard for you to grasp? It’s you, and other fanficcers, who fixate on the money, as if that is the only issue of merit. Just because you aren’t getting paid for your fanfic doesn’t change the fact that it’s violating the creative and legal rights of the authors you casually steal from.

    Lee

  117. There is no Alexander Williams.

    Ehn, I can vouch for Alexander Williams, but I’m getting doubtful about this “Mark York” guy.

  118. Just because you aren’t getting paid for your fanfic doesn’t change the fact that it’s violating the creative and legal rights of the authors you casually steal from.

    Ranting on about how you’re horribly mischaracterized doesn’t hide the fact that you’re just begging the question. As Young has pointed out, there’s just no basis for this claim.

    And do you wonder why people aren’t taking your other complaints seriously? It’s because tie-ins are almost universally crap – and dire crap. You may well have written good tie-in books, but you’re still part of a field where only an editor’s time makes many of those books any better than the enthusiastically-written dreck complete amateurs put online.

    When you complain about the quality of fanfiction and that the people are being uncreative because they’re using other creators’ settings and characters, all the while admitting to being a tie-in writer, you look absurd. When you retreat to your defense of being a paid, authorized writer and say that’s the real distinction, everyone still paying attention finds your case pretty lame.

  119. Come off it, Lee. I never said that you didn’t love writing the Monk novels. (Though I didn’t see you talking about your affection for them in your earlier posts about tie-ins vs. fanfic.) I said you consider yourself superior to “fanficcers” because if you didn’t need the money, you wouldn’t write stories based on someone else’s characters. If that’s not what you meant in the last three paragraphs of your June 16, 2005 post, maybe you can explain what you did mean.

    By the way, how about replying to my point that according to legal experts, the issue of fan fiction and copyright is actually a very murky one? And why do you keep accusing me of “stealing” characters from their creators when you know perfectly well that the creators of Xena approve of fan fiction and even hired a fanfic writer to do scripts for the show?

    Either answer those questions or give it a rest.

  120. What Cathy said.

  121. Like the Star Trek books written by a number of professional writers such as AC Crispin, all tie-ins are hired authorized work for the literary market. This isn’t the same as pretending for an online vanity press with no editorial quality control. That lack is the only way this perversion of the original work can take place. I mean what editor would allow it to be printed anywhere, money or not?

    End of story.

  122. The following is directed at Lamar:

    “Many fanfic writers are published, which leads to the conclusion that they are good enough to be published.”

    Fine. Name me twenty writers who got their start writing fanfic and are now published through a commercial, non-vanity, non-self-publishing, non-ebook only (except for Ellora’s Cave), non-PublishAmerica publisher.

    “You say that most fanfic writers and non-pro writers are not as talented as most pro writers…I was referring to Lee Goldberg’s level of writing, not most professional writers.”

    We’ll just have to disagree on the quality of Lee’s writing then. Have you actually read any of his fiction?

    “”Last gasp of the desperate”? I don’t really know how this fits in to anything”

    I mean that attacking the person rather than his argument is what someone does when that someone has nothing of substance to rebut the argument. It’s a desperate — and logically unsound — defense. Let’s say Lee was a horrible writer (not that I think that). What on earth would that have to do with his opinion about the legality and/or morality of fanfic?

    “…but [Goldberg] goes out of his way to discourage people from doing what they love, even though he does the same thing (albeit with his strange justification).”

    He discourages people from doing something he considers wrong. Simply because someone loves to do something, doesn’t make it right. And Lee’s point is that permission is what makes using others’ characters OK. How is that strange?

  123. Fine. Name me twenty

    And the amused bystander works out how to utterly evaporate his credibility and reveal himself as a troll.

    But I’ll pretend this last bit is a real question:

    He discourages people from doing something he considers wrong. Simply because someone loves to do something, doesn’t make it right. And Lee’s point is that permission is what makes using others’ characters OK. How is that strange?

    …Because there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing.

  124. Cathy wrote: “I said you consider yourself superior to “fanficcers” because if you didn’t need the money, you wouldn’t write stories based on someone else’s characters.”

    That isn’t what I said, that’s how you interpreted it, based on your rather obvious personal agenda.

    What I said, once more, is that I much prefer writing totally original work to tie-ins. I didn’t say I prefer “superior” to fanficcers. What I said is that unlike fanficcers, I’m not trampling on an authors creative and legal rights.

    I don’t consider myself “superior” to fanficcers…I consider myself someone who respects the creative and legal rights of authors.

    Cathy wrote: “By the way, how about replying to my point that according to legal experts, the issue of fan fiction and copyright is actually a very murky one?”

    Again, that’s your interpretation and is not supported by fact. If you peruse the many threads about fanfic on my blog, you’ll see that there are plenty of lawyers and legal experts who firmly believe fanfiction is illegal and isn’t a murky issue at all. But the cost of pursuing violators is prohibitive.

    Cathy wrote: “And why do you keep accusing me of “stealing” characters from their creators when you know perfectly well that the creators of Xena approve of fan fiction and even hired a fanfic writer to do scripts for the show?”

    I don’t know whether XENA’s creator and/or rights holders approve of fan fiction or not, but I will gladly take your word for it. If that is the case, then write all the XENA fanfiction you like, I have no disagreement with you. As I have said many, many, many times, if the authors/right’s holders approve of fanfiction based on their work…or if fanficcers have sought and obtained permission for publishing/disseminating their derivative works…then I certainly have no problem with it. The authors’ CONSENT is the issue.

    Licensed, tie-in fiction is done with the author’s explicit consent and oversight. The vast majority of fanfiction is not…it’s done without respect to the author’s wishes whatsoever. I can’t make it any clearer than that. Is it really that hard to understand???

  125. I made a typo. When I wrote “prefer “superior” to fanficcers” I meant “feel ‘superior’ to fanficcers.” Sorry but that.

  126. Eric wrote: “…Because there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing.”

    Sure there is. It violates the creative and legal rights of the author/rights holder. Beyond that, it shows a total lack of respect for the writer you are ripping off. Ask for the author’s permission before posting/distributing fanfiction based on his work. Why won’t you show the authors this simple courtesy? Simple: the bottom line is that you, and other fanficcers, are deathly afraid the author will say no.

  127. In most cases the likely answer would be “No.” That’s precisely why they won’t ask. Even if they did, you’d be hard-pressed to find an author worth his salt who would allow his work to be perverted in the deviant ways most employ in this form of writing. Just look at the disclaimers they use on the websites.

  128. Lee: I already answered your question about why, in the vast majority of cases, it would be completely unrealistic for fanfiction writers to ask for permission. If I’m “afraid” of anything, it would be that authors/owners who have absolutely no objection to fanfic simply couldn’t be bothered to reply to such requests on an individual basis. Indeed, I think it would show a lack of courtesy to expect writers to spend time on such requests. (If I was a published author with a fandom, I would certainly feel that way!)

    Mercedes Lackey currently has a form on her website that she asks fanfic authors to send back to her, stating that they are writing a fanfiction based on her work and disavowing all legal claims in the event that she publishes something resembling one of their ideas. That seems like a fair and reasonable policy to me, and I would agree that anyone who writes in her fandom without complying with this request is indeed violating the rules of courtesy and decency. However, these aren’t requests to which Lackey replies. They are simply notifications that she puts on file to avoid possible legal liability. I believe Anne McCaffrey now has a similar policy.

    Actually, I think that as far as liability goes, the standard fan fiction disclaimer should include a waiver of any legal rights against the author for “stealing” the fanfic writer’s ideas.

    Finally: on your blog, you have repeatedly said that you consider fanfic to be a contemptible endeavor aside from the issue of consent and copyright. For instance:

    Money and copyright aside, what an incredible waste of creativity.

    [S]omeone asked what the difference is between someone who writes tie-ins and someone who writes fanfic… beyond the fact that tie-ins are written with the consent of the author/right’s (sic) holder.

    Ultimately, however, what motivates me as a writer is to express myself…not the work of someone else.

    That’s the big difference between me and a fanficcer.

    Given a choice, fanficcers “write” fanfic.

    (Bold added.)

    Sorry, but after all your blogposts I linked, claiming that your attacks on fanfiction are based solely on the consent/permission issue does not pass the laugh test. Among other things, you have equated fanfic with plagiarism. Yet plagiarism is not a legal concept but an artistic one. If borrowing characters is plagiarism — legal issues aside — then Updike is as much a plagiarist (for Gertrude and Claudius) as any Harry Potter fanfic writer.

    And yes, I know there are legal experts who believe fanfic is a violation of copyright. The point is, there are others who don’t. There is no consensus. It is not the cut-and-dried issue that you (and Robin Hobb) claim it is.

  129. “Amused bystander” asks to name twenty “real” published writers who have gotten their start writing fanfic.

    To take one very well-known example: Meg Cabot.

    There are four other recent examples just in this Wall Street Journal article.

    There’s also Naomi Novik.

    That’s already six, just off the top of my head.

    If you count writers published by gay/lesbian-focused small presses (*not* vanity or self-publishing), I can think of several who got their start in fan fiction, such as Lori A. Lake.

  130. Another soon-to-be published author who got her start writing fanfic: Cassandra Claire, former BNF (Big Name Fan), author of the Draco Trilogy in the Harry Potterverse (Draco Dormiens, Draco Sinister, and Draco Veritas) and the Very Secret Diaries in the LoTR-verse now has a book coming out with McElderry Books, which is a division of Simon & Schuster. Here is an interview with her where she talks a bit about her experiences as a writer.

  131. Oh, and Lee, you say to Eric:

    Simple: the bottom line is that you, and other fanficcers, are deathly afraid the author will say no.

    Actually, Eric has said in a previous post that he has never written any fan fiction.

  132. Wow. Libertarians really are raving loons. What a presposterous lack of logic. I guess taking liberies is just taking liberties. And there you have it.

  133. Wow. Libertarians really are raving loons. What a preposterous lack of logic. I guess taking liberties is just taking liberties. And there you have it.

  134. “Actually, Eric has said in a previous post that he has never written any fan fiction.”

    Well, it is largely a female thing. Why that is, is a job for a psychologist, and not a biologist. It is an accurate observation and telling in numerous ways.

  135. I’m shocked a Reason “libertine” writer would be attracted to it. No doubt some anal sex scenario would be your replacement . . . you’d be hard-pressed to find an author worth his salt who would allow his work to be perverted in the deviant ways most employ in this form of writing . . .Well, it is largely a female thing. Why that is, is a job for a psychologist, and not a biologist. It is an accurate observation and telling in numerous ways.

    It’s also telling in numerous ways how many sexual undertones Mark York manages to shove into a largely non-sexual conversation. Cathy Young says more than once that she finds sexually explicit fanfic distasteful, and York still assumes she’s on the verge of writing Xena porn?

    Projection: it’s not just for movie theaters.

  136. I wrote: “As I have said many, many, many times, if the authors/right’s holders approve of fanfiction based on their work…or if fanficcers have sought and obtained permission for publishing/disseminating their derivative works…then I certainly have no problem with it. The authors’ CONSENT is the issue.”

    Cathy wrote: “Sorry, but after all your blogposts I linked, claiming that your attacks on fanfiction are based solely on the consent/permission issue does not pass the laugh test.”

    Sigh. Now you’re changing the discussion and, in doing so, twisting my words in the strangest attempt yet to justify the error you made in your article.

    This is getting silly, Cathy. You made a mistake. Own up to it and move on. But in the meantime, let me clear up the confusion you’ve created.

    First off, you’re absolutely right about one thing: my “attacks” on fanfic are not based solely on the content/permission issue. What I have been responding to here are your repeated, incorrect assertions that I’ve said that the only reason I write tie-ins is for the money.

    I think I have clearly shown you were incorrect and that you simply don’t care about the accuracy. So now you are changing the subject.

    The tie-ins I write and publish are different from fanfiction because my derivative works are written and distributed with the permission and oversight of the author/right’s holder. That is the difference between licensed tie-ins and fan fiction, which WAS the subject we were discussing.

    Now you’ve shifted it to what I believe the difference between me and a fanficcer is. If you remove the consent issue from the discussion, then the quotes you are using are accurate. I wrote:

    “Ultimately, however, what motivates me as a writer is to express myself…not the work of someone else.

    That’s the big difference between me and a fanficcer.

    Given a choice, fanficcers ‘write’ fanfic.”

    I said that. I stand by that. And I think that’s pretty clear.

    But to sum it up one more time:

    The difference between me and a fanficcer is that it would never occur to me to write about characters that aren’t mine unless I was asked to so…because THE CHARACTERS DON’T BELONG TO ME. If given the choice, I would only write original work. That said, I love writing the MONK and DIAGNOSIS MURDER books…as much as I’ve loved writing episodes of those shows. In both cases — writing the episodes and the books — I have done so with the permission and involvement of the creators/authors/right’s holders.

    Lee

  137. Eric:

    And the amused bystander works out how to utterly evaporate his credibility and reveal himself as a troll.

    Actually, I’m a “she”. It is not trollish to ask Lamar to back up his statement that “many fanfic writers are published”. What is trollish is you calling me a troll for asking for facts. *g*

    Cathy:

    Thank you for the links. I was already aware of Meg Cabot and Naomi Novik, but I had not heard of the others.

  138. “York still assumes she’s on the verge of writing Xena porn?”

    Well, I’m going by her disclaimer, and the myriad of instances where this is exactly what is going on. You are who you associate with. My response was about her slam of a passage of my writing that is anything but sexual in nature. That can’t be said for fanfiction on the whole whether Ms. Young does it or not. Sounds like she does by her own admission to me.

  139. Adding to Lee’s definition, show me one case where an author went to a fanficcer and wanted them to write a new take on their characters? The copyright holders’ came to him, not the other way around.

  140. I’m done reading and commenting on this thread…I won’t be checking back in here again. I am repeating myself and it’s pointless. Cathy has an agenda and, sadly, it has clearly shaped her “reporting.” My views on fanfiction can be found on my blog — just click on the “fanfic” subject heading in the left-hand column. You can decide for yourself if Cathy represented my views fairly and accurately in her article for Reason. If you want to contact me, you can feel free to post a comment there.

    leegoldberg.typepad.com

    Thanks!

    Lee

  141. Whether or not Lee Goldberg is still checking this thread, I do want to point out that he contradicts himself within one post. First, he quotes himself:

    “As I have said many, many, many times, if the authors/right’s holders approve of fanfiction based on their work…or if fanficcers have sought and obtained permission for publishing/disseminating their derivative works…then I certainly have no problem with it. The authors’ CONSENT is the issue.”

    Then, he says:

    First off, you’re absolutely right about one thing: my “attacks” on fanfic are not based solely on the content/permission issue.

    Say what? Does Goldberg have a problem with fanfic disseminated with the author’s consent, or not?

    Of course, Goldberg also now wants us to believe that there is a significant difference in meaning between “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t need to make a living” and “I only do it for the money.”

    As for my alleged “error” and attempt to shift the grounds of the discussion: I said from the very start of this thread that I should have phrased my description of Goldberg’s position somewhat differently.

    The tie-ins I write and publish are different from fanfiction because my derivative works are written and distributed with the permission and oversight of the author/right’s holder. That is the difference between licensed tie-ins and fan fiction, which WAS the subject we were discussing.

    Now you’ve shifted it to what I believe the difference between me and a fanficcer is.

    Actually, that’s no “shift” at all. My point, in the disputed passage of my column, was that there’s a certain contradiction in the fact that someone who heaps scorn on people who write stories about characters that are not their own does the same in tie-in novels for TV shows. I then said that Goldberg justfies this contradiction on the grounds that he only does it for the money. What I should have said is, “a contradiction he justifies on the grounds that he does so with the consent of the owners and for the purpose of making a living, not artistic expression.” Better now?

    I do want to correct the record on one more point. I never said that I find sexually explicit fan fiction (or original fiction, for that matter) disasteful. Several of my stories do contain sexually explicit passages, though they’re not nearly as graphic as, say, your average Philip Roth novel. What I said was that I disapprove of fan fiction that depicts sexual activity by or with underage children, specifically in the Harry Potter fandom.

    As for Mark York, I quoted the passage from his novel as an example of excruciatingly bad writing that borders on semi-literate (and not, as he seems to think, because I don’t like his political opinions). What sex has to do with it, I don’t know. However, I think Mark’s mindset is sufficiently revealed by his harping on the “deviant” activities portrayed in fanfic as well as his suggestion that the predominance of women among fanfic writers is indicative of psychological aberration. Nice work.

  142. Actually, I’m a “she”.

    No offense intended.

    It is not trollish to ask Lamar to back up his statement that “many fanfic writers are published”

    It is entirely trollish to ask for for “twenty examples” of anything.

  143. Simple: the bottom line is that you, and other fanficcers

    This is the key, amusing thing to me. Goldberg jumped on a thread where Cathy Young hadn’t exactly gotten tons of enthusiastic support for fanfic and immediately assumed he was in a den of writers of Han Solo/Chewbacca erotica. Anyone disagrees with him or thinks he’s simply full of shit? Surely, a dirty fanficcer! Someone who ‘writes’ (as opposed to sings?) things he dislikes.

    Of course. It’s not that his arguments are absurd, it’s not that his posturing is farcical, it’s not even that he appears to be obsessed with a harmless, if sometimes weird and even icky hobby, and it’s not even that he spends most of his time whining about people taking him at his word.

    It’s the huge fanficcer horde surrounding him.

  144. “As for Mark York, I quoted the passage from his novel as an example of excruciatingly bad writing that borders on semi-literate (and not, as he seems to think, because I don’t like his political opinions)”

    Well I think you’ll be hard pressed to find agreement with someone with different political leanings. Nor do I rmembe ryour being crowned queen of literature and the ultimate judge of what constitutes good writing. Your published views on science, something you know jack squat about, tell the true story of your disdain for that particular quote. As for the latter, your own writings and associated warning labels sink your own boat there. Nice work indeed.

    I’ll leave you with the words of miss snark the literary agent.

    http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2007_02_11_misssnark_archive.html#117123203751177743

  145. It is entirely trollish to ask for for “twenty examples” of anything.

    Eric, Lamar said “many”. Two — or even ten — examples isn’t “many”. Again, I’m simply asking Lamar to back up his statement with facts.

  146. amused bystander:

    I guess Cathy already filled you in on published authors who got their start in the intellectually dishonest/baby stealing/monkey raping genre of fanfic.

    “My point is this, Lamar: I think it’s okay for TV writers to write novels.”

    It isn’t a bad thing. However, the above description of Goldberg’s career and awards – congrats by the way – confirm that he is a writer of low grade pulp. A Nelson DeMille without the sales. I’m glad Diagnosis Murder made him some money, but it isn’t going to put him next to Turgenev. And it’s a little hard to swallow all the moralism about creativity when his work is not very creative itself. Yes, he creates his own characters (except when he doesn’t) in the crime mystery genre. I guess that’s cool, but it hardly gives him a soapbox. I guess his point, boiled down, is that painfully derivative works that read like the last 10 mystery novels you read are OK, but something original using established characters is bad. I disagree, but I can understand, especially given his status as an industry insider.

    As to using the ad hominem: Nobody would care what Goldberg says if he weren’t an industry writer. I don’t think we should assume such a level of credibility on the issue of originality. That is fair game to me.

    Observation: anti-fanfic people are just pro-industry folks defending their turf. I really can’t blame them, but that doesn’t make their arguments or fiction any more readable.

  147. amusing bystander:
    While 6 (see Cathy’s post) might not be “many” in your book, it is more than enough to support my point.

    BTW: copyright infringement is not stealing, even if it is gross, intentional and malign. Stealing is a different act altogether. When copyright moralists talk about stealing or theft, they are trying to plant an image in your head that just isn’t accurate. Show me where burglary has a fair use doctrine. Stealing requires the intent to steal, copyright doesn’t necessarily care about intent. Copyright infringement (except for the burned DVDs for sale on the street – that’s always wrong) is a civil matter and people who call it stealing are just adding to the bluster.

  148. And I am a musician. I don’t write fanfic, though I have played a few cover tunes in my day. The Horror!! The Stealing!! The unacknowledged BMI royalties going who knows where!!

  149. “I guess that’s cool, but it hardly gives him a soapbox”

    Right, unlike you for instance? It gives us peons something to aspire to.

    In many instances it’s trademark infringement, which carries different requirements including dilution.

  150. Again, I’m simply asking Lamar to back up his statement with facts.

    You’ve had plenty of examples given to you. As for others, well, Google is that way.

  151. Mark A. York:

    Shouting from the crowd “get off of that soapbox” doesn’t require a soapbox.

    You are somewhat correct that trademark law could also apply disputes arising out of fan fiction. If fan fiction crowds the market or is better than the original author’s work, that author could lose money. Of course, he or she may be reluctant to do anything about it because the people who write the fan fiction are the people who pay his or her salary in the first place. I don’t think industry insiders give enough credit to the value given to their work by the fans.

  152. You’ve had plenty of examples given to you. As for others, well, Google is that way.

    Cathy gave me six examples — for which I thanked her. However, six is hardly “many”. It is not up to me prove Lamar’s statement; it is up to Lamar.

    For the record, I think that in any suitably large pool of writers, there will be some who are publishable. I think that the publishable percentage is lower in the fanfiction group than the writing-and-submitting-their-novel group — because the latter group probably has more members who are more serious about writing.

  153. Amused bystander:

    “Cathy gave me six examples — for which I thanked her. However, six is hardly “many”. It is not up to me prove Lamar’s statement; it is up to Lamar.”

    Now you’re just being difficult. You have the info that supports what I said, but you don’t accept it because I didn’t personally say it? Or is it that, in a country of 300 million people, naming 6 authors is insufficient but naming 20 goes all the way? Sorry, but (1) I have a job and (2) you have the info showing that fanfic writers can be excellent and published writers.

    BTW: I agree with the last sentence of your second paragraph.

  154. Amused bystander: I suspect that if one can find six examples of something on the spot, there are probably quite a few more. (I don’t know if colagirl’s example of Cassandra Clare qualifies as No. 7 or not — Clare may be the unnamed “Brooklyn, NY copy editor” referenced in the WSJ article.) There are thousands of published authors none of us have ever heard about, so obviously we wouldn’t know whether they ever wrote fanfic or not.

    What’s more, that someone wrote fanfiction before getting published is not always a readily available fact. Meg Cabot, until recently, stayed “in the closet” as an ex-fanficcer. (Btw, if we broaden the scope of this inquiry from writers to other professionals, I know of at least one comic artist who started out doing fan art. Also, Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ron Moore got his start as a writer of Star Trek fanfic. And I’m using all these examples without any kind of massive search, just off the top of my head.)

    However, you’re quite right that there will be more publishable writers among those actively seeking to get published. There are people in the fanfic community who will argue that it’s rude to offer criticism to a fanfic writer, even to the extent of pointing out errors in grammar and spelling, on the grounds that they’re not professionals, they’re just fans sharing their stories with other fans out of love for the fandom etc.

    I should note that a lot of fanfic writers also write and post original fiction.

    Regarding the trademark infringement issue: in the article I linked, Charles Pettite, the attorney, actually argues that trademark infringement law could be more successfully used against fanfic writers than copyright law. However, at the end of the article he concludes that for a variety of reasons such lawsuits would be unlikely to succeed. By the way, one overwhelming conclusion to emerge from that article is that copyright law is a hopeless mess in which the definition of legal and illegal is as often as not determined by judicial fiat.

    By the way, while conversing with Mr. York is a waste of time, I have to say I’m vastly amused by his suggestion that a writer is hopelessly discredited by the presence of explicit sex scenes in his or her writing. One can only imagine what he’d say of Nabokov apropos of Lolita. Not that I’m comparing myself to Nabokov (trust me). But the point is, there is a lot of high-quality literature that deals explicitly with sexual matters. There is no high-quality literature that serves as a vehicle for political pamphleteering, left or right.

  155. You have the info that supports what I said…

    No, I don’t have the info. I have six names, not “many” names.

    …but you don’t accept it because I didn’t personally say it?

    It’s fine with me that someone else provided the names.

    Or is it that, in a country of 300 million people, naming 6 authors is insufficient but naming 20 goes all the way?

    Actually, twenty was arbitrary — and, frankly, low — but I thought that asking for 50 would be overkill. *g*

    …you have the info showing that fanfic writers can be excellent and published writers.

    I never said that they couldn’t. But there is a difference between citing a few fan fiction writers who have made the transition to quality original writing and claiming that there are vast hordes of great fanfiction writers.

    My problem with your original statement is that it is overused hyperbole. I often hear unpublished writers claiming that they are just as good as [insert published author here] and that there are “many” good writers who just can’t get their foot in the door of the big, evil, greedy publishing business (because of some dire conspiracy against new writers, blah, blah, blah…). Then I read their work, and it’s pretty clear why they are unpublished. So that argument rings hollow for me.

    Sure there are some good unpublished writers out there — both in fanfiction and original fiction — but I seriously doubt that they number more than 5% of everyone writing.

  156. Hi Cathy,

    I was writing my last post when you posted. I do agree that it would be hard to know all the published authors got their start writing fanfiction. I have heard about Cassandra Claire, albeit from the charges of plagiarism that were leveled against her. I haven’t read any of her fanfiction, so I have no idea if the charges were fair or not.

    I’m arguing with Lamar because I think he has unrealistic ideas about the quality of amatuer fiction in general, and he seems to think that impugning Lee’s writing ability somehow affects the validity of Lee’s point of view. I’m so tired of reading arguments on the net that degenerate into name-calling, mud-slinging, insult fests.

  157. FWIW, I think 10 is plenty of “many.”

    Can we count Naomi Novik three times, since she has been published three times so far?

  158. “But the point is, there is a lot of high-quality literature that deals explicitly with sexual matters.”

    And none of it is fanfic. Like writers of vanity press novels, fanfic supporters are quick to make note of the exceptions. It’s unlikely anyone would consider Nabokov a “smut peddler” including me. That can’t be said of literary pornographers. Descerning minds can tell the difference when they see it despite your affinity for the overgeneralization fallacy.

    Just because it’s difficult to prosecute doesn’t mean it’s ethically viable.

    You’ve insulted me quite enough Madam. I’ll go back to my “pamphleteering.”

  159. “no high-quality literature that serves as a vehicle for political pamphleteering, left or right.”

    Right, just see State of Fear and Next! for examples of that. One would be hard pressed to include most of commercial fiction given this “high literary” bar, but shilling lies and smears lowers it further.

  160. Amused: I’ll gladly join you in deploring mud-slinging, name calling insult fests, but I think that the tone set by the Goldberg brothers on their respective blogs is hardly conducive to civility. That Mr. “See this? it my middle finger” is a regular on Lee Goldberg’s blog is in itself quite revealing.

  161. I’m sure Mr. Goldberg isn’t going to lose sleep because Lamar thinks his quickie detective novels are low-grade pulp.

  162. No, it only means I respond to lowball insults in the only way the slingers can understand. It’s a “when in Rome” thing really, so it’s more a reflection of you than Goldberg. Have a nice day.

  163. York, are you referring to me or another comment? I respect Goldberg for being in the trenches and making a buck, but I won’t apologize for putting him in the category of wouldn’t-miss-it-if-it-were-gone fiction. I also won’t apologize for an ad hominem (though I attacked his writing, but same thing) when Goldberg is the one using his experience as an argument.

  164. Not sure whom York is addressing or why anyone is still addressing him, but he referred to “fanficcers” and pro-fanfic people as “nuts” on this thread before anyone was rude to him.

  165. To qualify, I said they were nuts over at Goldberg’s: a rabid blogmob on every thread there. make of that what you will, but it’s verifiable. Then your people had to go and prove my case. I call them as I see them, but not out of the blue. There was a record of evidence. Carrick here doesn’t appear to be one of them so let’s give him a hand.

  166. Lee likes to feel important for writing his own brand of paid fanfic; by vilifying others just having fun, he can point out how he’s so grand having ZOOOMG all the permission in the world, writing boring-assed TV show extensions. *eyeroll* Gimmee a freakin’ break. He likes to feel important– the pics I’ve seen of him remind me of kids at school, who were dorks trying to be cool, coming off stagy and see-through. *I* was a dork myself, but…
    The funniest thing is, I found this on fandom_wank. F_Wgoes after fanfic constantly, most not liking it and making fun of overzealous fans. From what I’ve seen of their posts on the moron, they can’t STAND the guy. It’s hilarious.
    Face it, ‘Berg. We see through you, MUCH like that there cling film. Your constant validation of “haha! I get paid for fanfic, so I’m better than you, NYAH!!” makes you look pathetic.

  167. This has nothing to do with anything, but I just haveta let you know…

    Mark.

    You CANNOT write.

    The point of any sort of writing is to convey a message, and to convey that message in the clearest, most engaging manner. Sesquipedalian loquaciousness is not a mark of good writing; it makes your message more difficult to unearth. Going off on a ranty tangent mid-paragraph is also off-putting. Please, out of respect for the English language, devote your time and energy to something else.

  168. Goldberg is a dinosaur, a fraud and a twat.

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