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The reason I ask the question in the post title is I can think of a lot of fanfic I've read or been given to read (and written) that was, in many cases, on a par with the franchises from which they were inspired.

I've also found that practicing playing around in another creator's universe helped me hone my dialogue writing skills, as well as my ability to write for different characters without making them each sound and act like carbon copies of one another.

So, would you, if you've written fanfic, consider releasing it free of charge as a means of expanding your bibliography, or hide it in a shameful folder somewhere on your computer, with your porn stash, where it would hopefully stay overlooked?
 

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I was a writer on Fanfiction.net until the end of April. I think my latest work has something like 740 reviews on it (though that's nothing compared to the big ones in that fandom.)

I don't publicize my connection to that account, though it isn't hidden either.

I don't openly point to it and say that it's mine because I'm not nearly as good at fanfiction as I am with original fiction. I'd hate for someone to read my work over there and assume that it's the best I've got. Some of it was pretty bad, though a lot of fanfiction is very bad.

I do wonder why you say, "would you (sic) consider releasing it free of charge"

It's a curious question that I can't fully understand. Do keep in mind that fanfiction HAS to be free though. Otherwise, it's copyright infringement falling outside of fair use.
 

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Ryne Billings said:
I was a writer on Fanfiction.net until the end of April. I think my latest work has something like 740 reviews on it (though that's nothing compared to the big ones in that fandom.)

I don't publicize my connection to that account, though it isn't hidden either.

I don't openly point to it and say that it's mine because I'm not nearly as good at fanfiction as I am with original fiction. I'd hate for someone to read my work over there and assume that it's the best I've got. Some of it was pretty bad, though a lot of fanfiction is very bad.

I do wonder why you say, "would you (sic) consider releasing it free of charge"

It's a curious question that I can't fully understand. Do keep in mind that fanfiction HAS to be free though. Otherwise, it's copyright infringement falling outside of fair use.
It's copyright infringement even if it's free. It's just that they don't go after it in most cases.

The fanfic version of games is modding. There have been a number of free mods that have been shut down by Lucasarts because they infringed on their Star Wars I.P.
 

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Asher MacDonald said:
It's copyright infringement even if it's free. It's just that they don't go after it in most cases.

The fanfic version of games is modding. There have been a number of free mods that have been shut down by Lucasarts because they infringed on their Star Wars I.P.
Read my exact words.

"Otherwise, it's copyright infringement falling outside of fair use."

As long as it's free, it falls inside fair use. That doesn't mean it's not copyright infringement.

But I don't want to get into an argument about its legalities and such. It's too serious of a topic, and quite a few famous authors actually encourage fanfiction, so it's a moot point.
 

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[Anne Rice]I wrote this stuff, so no admiring it with fanfic!!!![/Anne Rice]

I don't see why. I'm not aware of any being sold, it is mostly traded on the forums (could be wrong, but as long as it is labelled as fanfic, I still don't see the issue). I know that a lot of TV, movie and authors encourage it. Matthew Reilly often has fan competitions to make a movie trailer for his books using mash-ups. I think it is great to have fans so passionate about your work.
 
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Ryne Billings said:
"Otherwise, it's copyright infringement falling outside of fair use."

As long as it's free, it falls inside fair use. That doesn't mean it's not copyright infringement.
There is NOTHING in Fair Use law that allows fan fiction! This is one of those publishing urban legends that refuses to die. This is one of those things where people confuse "transformative" with "derivative." It is legal in many cases to use copyright material in a transformative manner (i.e. making it something else unrelated to the original). For example, an artist paints a portrait of a preacher preaching to a congregation, but instead of a Bible in his hand he is holding a copy of Harry Potter. The cover image is protected by copyright, but because it is being used in a larger work it becomes transformative and takes on a new meaning within the context of the greater image.

"Derivative" build upon an existing work, but doesn't change it into something else. And in derivative work, copyright law is crystal clear. Only the owner of the copyright may create derivative work or grant the right to create derivative work.
 
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As to the original question:

I'm a game publisher and a pretty hardcore gamer. I have used fan fiction in the past to build name recognition in the industry. White Wolf (Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocolypse, Hunter: The Reckoning, etc) actively encourages fan fiction and for a time there were even a magazine in the industry dedicated to fan fiction (Demonground has gotten permission from several major game publishers to publish fan fiction). So I wrote a series of fan fiction stories for Vampire and submitted them to Demonground. I didn't get paid for them, but I build a fan base among gamers who liked the stories. I was able to use this leverage later when I started to release my game products.

So it really is like anything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. There is no blanket answer. If you have an IP that encourages fan fiction, you can use that to build a fan base because you are seen as supporting the community. If you have an IP that discourages fan fiction, you risk being seen as a poser who is trying to mooch off of someone else's efforts (particularly if they have a rabid fan base). Some genres are more open to fan fiction as a legitimate outlet than others. A lot of sci fi writers cut their teeth writing Star Wars fan fiction, for example, because Lucas has always encouraged it (so long as it wasn't for profit or porn). And some fan fiction has been adopted into the core universe and writers have been invited to write "official" books.

So it boils down to understanding the expectations of the audience and staying on the right side of the angels. Do it right, and it can help increase your respectability in your genre. Do it wrong, you look like an unoriginal hack.
 

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I did used to publish fanfic online, though not in quite some time now. I haven't written any since I was a freshman in college. I would not, however, use it to expand my bibliography, as you say. It was wonderful writing practice and great fun at the time, but I've kinda closed the book on all my fan-fic writing. No one wants to read a 15-year-old's fangirly Beatles fanfic, and I'm not planning on taking it up again any time soon. :p
 

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I enjoy writing fanfic, in fact I think it's what helped me hone my skills in writing. I would never, however, try to bundle and sell it to the public - that universe belongs to someone else no matter my "contributions".

Now, there have been several authors able to leverage publishing careers based off a fanbase from fanfiction (Cassandra Clare, Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan [HP fandom] spring to mind) but even they never tried (to my knowledge) to make any money off the fandom stories themselves.

So no, if your intent is to sell fanfiction on a site like Amazon then I'm afraid it's illegal without express (preferably written) consent of the author, publisher, game developer etc and anyone who has a stake in the existing franchise. Aka, not gonna happen.
 
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