practicing what I preach

Georgina posted a question: “How do you feel about fanfic involving the characters from your books?”
The short answer is: As long as the basics are observed, I’m fine with it. The basics, to be specific:

1. Appropriate disclaimers. From the BBC fanfic article: “Fan fiction websites invariably contain a host of disclaimers, acknowledging the borderline legality of the pursuit. While not done for commercial purposes, fan fiction inevitably involves the use of copyrighted characters and settings, and fanfic authors basically operate at the mercy of [the copyright holder/author]. The good archives all recognise this – hence their clear legal disclaimers – and are usually only too willing to take down any material if [the copyright holder/author] ask them to. …Any responsible site which archives fanfictions will have a blanket disclaimer on the main page and any index pages, stating that the stories were written for fun and are reproduced on the web for the enjoyment of other fans, and that there is no commercial intent. This is preceded or followed by a copyright disclaimer, stating – for general fanfic sites – that all characters and settings are the copyright property of their creators, or on specific sites stating to whom the rights belong.”

2. Anybody writing fan fiction about my characters must understand that I cannot and will not — primarily for legal reasons — read it. This is to protect myself from claims that I have stolen ideas that might show up in any such fan fiction. I just have to stay away from it, no matter how wonderful it may be.

I quite like reading the disclaimers on fanfic sites — they are often quite funny. Somebody should compile a sampling and post it somewhere (not me; nope). But. This is what I mean:

From Jess’s Buffy fanfic:

DISCLAIMER:  What’s the Numfar of this fic?  In other words, Joss [Wheldon] is the malevolent god that owns all, although sometimes I sneak Spike out the side door and do wicked things with him.

And from Ann Harrington’s Farscape fanfic:

Farscape is owned by The Jim Henson company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network Australia and the Sci-Fi Channel. They own all rights to characters mentioned within this story. I have merely borrowed these characters to play with, and promise to return them in good working order.