Fan-Fiction: The New/Old Trend in Creative Ideas and Publishing. (Part IV of Fifty Shades of Grey vs Twilight)


Part IV of  Fifty Shades of Grey vs Twilight


Here are 3 serious issues to consider when writing fanfic for publication:


  • Editing a story that origionated as a fanfic posting poses new copywright challenges that requires close attention given to the fan-fiction elements.


  • When it comes to copyrighted issues, there is very fine but defined line that must not be crossed. It is illegal to profit from copyrighted literary works. However, there is a loophole.


  • The mjoriety of unpublished fan fiction is posted free of chrge nd qualifies as fair use under copyright law, providing the creator does not try to profit from it.


How are Fanfics edited to void copyright issues?


  • Anything that could be seen as a characteristic of the work from which it originated must be removed.


  •  Direct quotes and obvious  physical atributes like Edward’s signature messy hair in Twilight.  Mr. Grey’s hair is almost never out of place and although his warnings concerning friendships with his victims are much like Edward’s, they are not direct quotes.  


E.L. James has not been slapped with  a copyright lawsuite despite obvious similarities to Twilight so she must have a fantastic fan-fic editor who know is aware of the copyright fine line.  


Literary Work Knock-offs: How to stay legally safe while walking the “fine” line.


FinFic e-books appear to be to literary work what knock-offs are to the fashion industry—close but within the 20% mark of being different enough to still be legal. The idea itself is as old as the hills. Pair a successful pattern with new material and fasten shinier buttons. The only thing missing is the original spark of imagination. It is a concept  used by many companies in the business industry and exemplified by a  TV comercial that states, “We don’t make your cars. We make your cars run better.” Fan-fic on wheels.


Anyone with a drop of artstic and sewing skill could sketch a designer dress from a fashion magazine, sew it and wear it. Yet, they could could not sell it without  making obvious changes such as removing trademark symbols like the double intertwined Cs for Chanel or the LV of Louis Vuiton.   


WalMart has jeans that are very similar in color, style and stitching  to expensive designer jean labels, but they don’t cross that “within 20% similarity copyright line.” However, street venders carrying  Louis Vettion and Channel  “hard to distinguish copies” could be closed down, their products confiscated and face a heafty fine.  They crossed the fine line. The same rules hold true in the literary world.


Fanfic may or may not be ethical,(another fine line)  but it is legal.  That may a difficult fact to swallow if your original idea is being simulated and sold by others. Perhaps it will help to remember an old saying that states; emulation is the height of being complimented.    


What are the advantages to this new twist in publishing that thumbs its nose at the traditional indestry where great but unsolicited manuscripts rarely make it through the door? It cuts out the middleman like agents and…


 Fan-fic democratizes the literary process and lets the reader decide.


Bio: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos is an author, radio host & Patheos blogger. To learn more, follow her @; listen to her  4 radio shows from her website @

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