heidi: (legally)
[personal profile] heidi
Crossposted from Tumblr.

Amazon is working with WB to publish (read: sell) fanfiction from the Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries 'verses. And they said that more "worlds" will be announced soon. 

Basically, fanfic writers will be able to sell their fics - formatted for Kindle - via Amazon, and the restrictions are not as massive as you'd think!

No crossovers. 

No excessive product placement for non-show brands. 

No porn

But here's the thing about porn! Amazon says they don't allow porn to be sold on their site, so as long as your fic content is no more explicit than anything that's on Amazon's site today (see: 50 Shades and anything in the erotica category) then it won't run afoul of Amazon's content restrictions - and if they say it does, then the Internet will stand behind you as if you were a Nutella fan barred from celebrating its wonderful tastiness. 

HOWEVER, each World Licensor will be providing "Content Guidelines" for their specific 'verse - and I can't find those anywhere. THAT might make a significant impact on what types of fanfic one can and cannot sell, but until we've had a chance to look through them, we can't determine the specifics. 

I don't think it's realistic to be concerned that the existence of Kindle Worlds will mean that tv show/film/book creators will stamp out freely given fics. At this point, Kindle Worlds will only accept things over 5000 words, anyway, and the longstanding laches issue that protects fics posted elsewhere and given away will still hold. 

However, it does mean that people who write in the fandoms covered by Kindle Worlds and sell ebooks of those stories outside of the Kindle license may find themselves dealing with cease & desist letters. But there was always a chance they would because of the commercial aspect of that action. 

Also, this will leave fandom with a lot of questions on issues other than legality be on fan-created gift culture, commissions, fundraising for charity, or even the ability of pro writers to write in other universes> 

Does this further "legitimize" fan creativity (which I think has long been a pretty legit hobby), will it just create an additional outlet for story distribution, and what other fandoms will WB add? 

I wouldn't be shocked if they bring Tomorrow People into this as the show launches in the fall, but what about things that are ending their runs like Nikita, or shows with massive fanbases and almost a decade of fan creativity, like the behemoth that is Supernatural?

Oh, and here't the royalty-related info: 

  • Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to the rights holder for the World (we call them World Licensors) and to the Fic Author. Fic Author's standard royalty rate for works of at least 10,000 words will be 35% of net revenue.

  • In addition, with the launch of Kindle Worlds, Amazon Publishing will pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works (between 5,000 and 10,000 words). For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World Licensor and will pay authors a digital royalty of 20% of net revenue. The lower royalty for these shorter works is due to significantly higher fixed costs per digital copy (for example, credit-card fees) when prices for the entire class of content will likely be under one dollar.

Now, I want to be very clear - I think the possible impacts of this are serious and significant and will change fandom massively - but I'm not sure that it gives any rightsholders any additional rights/chances/ability to go after anyone who's giving their fic away for free - at least not in the US, under current IP law.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-22 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistle-chaser.livejournal.com
That's interesting and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

If I didn't know the author, there's very little chance I'd pay money to sample their fic. If I knew and loved the author, I might buy it. Very big "might". There's so much good free fanfic out there, I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay for some.

Also, I wonder how Amazon will confirm who the author of a fic is. If I went and downloaded a bunch of Pretty Little Liars fics and submitted them as my own, how would they know otherwise? The real authors might find out and protest, but someone who isn't the real author could protest and claim it's there's as well, so what would Amazon do?

Either way, it's interesting.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-22 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chinawolf.livejournal.com
Also, I wonder how Amazon will confirm who the author of a fic is.

I didn't immediately think of that. I wonder if Amazon thought of that. Imagining just how many problems they're going to have with this makes me *smile*.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-22 07:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snacky.livejournal.com
I was wondering, would this give Amazon/Alloy Entertainment a reason/cause to go after people who write fanfic of the licensed properties and publish it online elsewhere, like ff.net or AO3?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-22 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heidi8.livejournal.com
It actually shouldn't because (a) the laches defense which basically means that if an IP owner has ignored infringement for years they cannot later be heard to complain, (b) the fact that most noncommercialized fanfic (aka ffn or AO3 or FictionAlley, etc.) is a transformative work and fair use (even if there are ads on the site, or it doesn't comment or criticize the underlying work).
There are other reasons, too, but I have to drive carpool and can't answer them until later....

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-22 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] belleweather.livejournal.com
I hate this like an enormous hatey thing. I'm still not entirely sure that I can articulate why and I know it has a lot to do with gift-culture and working so hard as a community to create a fandom and a culture and then having some enormous corporation decide to monitize it. I'm also not in love with the idea of pay-to-play revenue splitting. I'll probably say something more intelligent later, especially about where this intersects with RPF and amazon's not-too-great track-record with erotica/porn and things like incest, but I've got to get over my general wrathfulness first. First the X-Box announcement and then this, it is SO not my media-geek week... *grumble*

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-22 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellid.livejournal.com
There are some real problems with this, per John Scalzi (current SFWA president); evidently Amazon and Alloy Entertainment have structured it so that it's basically work-made-for-hire, which means that a) they can use any and all characters/plots/incidents/quotes in their work, without future compensation, pretty much in perpetuity, b) if you try to file off the serial numbers, reuse a character/plot twist/quote/concept *you* could sued for plagiarizing your own work, and c) if they used any of the characters/plots/incidents/quotes and it hits big, you get zero compensation, royalties, or anything else.

In short, it's not a good idea for anyone who actually has aspirations to professional sales. I wouldn't take it on a bet.
Edited Date: 2013-05-22 11:40 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-23 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amaz0n-princess.livejournal.com
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-23 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreamlittleyo.livejournal.com
I've been thinking about this all day - and the thing that kills the entire concept for me is the blatant bait-and-switch over copyright and original elements in these works.

It's at best disingenuous of Amazon (and at worst outright devious) to claim that the writer will retain a copyright to the original elements they create, and then simultaneously call dibs on every single stick in the copyright bundle for all time. They seem to be very deliberately claiming every right they can get their hands on (derivative and original elements alike) while pretending exactly the opposite.

There's just something about this whole deal that feels weirdly predatory. The whole deal makes me uncomfortable, and glad it's not available in any fandoms I'm emotionally vested in.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-05-24 03:07 pm (UTC)
lokifan: black Converse against a black background (converse)
From: [personal profile] lokifan
Hmmmm. I am instinctively so so wary of this - firstly because it's Amazon and they have done a lot of very skeevy stuff - more than the average business, even the average big business. They already have and abuse a great deal of power over publishing and writing as an industry. Secondly because it's attempts to monetize fanfic. And I am not opposed to people getting paid for their work and I agree that people getting sued over free stuff seems very very unlikely, but... I love our gift economy.

I really can't imagine what's going to happen with this. It could fall on its face and become irrelevant, I think, depending on how fandom reacts at large. It could not - fandom-wide social norms on this stuff are shifting all the time, particularly among newer fans. It could become huge.

I'm just sort of boggled Amazon is doing this. And surprised, not least because stuff like fanlore and what came before was all about people pretending to be part of our culture and failing HUGELY AND HILARIOUSLY. Amazon's doing it the other way round: inviting us to come and be part of its culture. And so many fic writers want money, and more than that money for writing and legitimacy for our hobby.

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