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Just an idea

docholladay

Would it be possible to change the status of Universes of Dead writers or those who have disappeared to: Open allowing writers who might be inspired to write related stories to add them to that universe similar to the "Damsels in Distress" universe or the "Swarm" universe. I am not sure if it would be ethical or not however. That is why I said this is just an idea.

Ernest Bywater

I doubt it would happen, because it's the author who originated the universe who makes that decision. However, there's nothing stopping anyone from writing a story along similar universe lines as long as they don't use any copyrighted characters or places etc.

It wouldn't hurt to ask the living authors if they'd mind opening the universes up, because it's possible they may not of thought of doing that. And you could ask them to give Lazeez permission to open the universe up if they go inactive.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Like I said its just an idea. Some writers have inspired many others to write similarly based stories and/or plot lines. I have found sometimes pulling up those universe lists leads many times to unread or missed stories.

edited to add: The idea is to give writers the chance to write in a particular universe without using the original characters. Of course that might be impractical to achieve.

sejintenej
Updated:

Not necessarily universes but I really appreciate those rare occasions when authors give other authors permission to write stories perhaps parallel to their own. By parallel I mean taking an existing character and exploring that character's past or outside involvements, perhaps even how they arrived in the original author's story..

Replies:   docholladay  EzzyB
docholladay
Updated:

@sejintenej

An idea I can agree with. I only have a few rules as a reader for those stories. The story must not make major changes in the character's personality or relationships. Friendship and other everyday relationships are fine to add since every story will always have empty time periods during any given day where the interaction can occur. In other words don't marry, disable or kill them. Treat them the same as you would historical figures such as "George Washington" or "Abe Lincoln" in any given story or plot. They are supporting or background characters.

edited to add: Treat them like the originating characters in the "Damsels in Distress" universe. They are used as supporting characters thus linking the two stories together without making any major changes.

REP

I agree with EB that it probably won't happen. The Author essentially owns the Universe/Series, I doubt Lazeez would open the Universe/Series under the current rules.

However, I don't see anything about Universes and Series being copyrighted, so Lazeez could create a Rule #17 for the Posting Agreement and give himself the right to open a Universe/Series to other Authors, if the creating Author has abandoned the Universe/Series. An additional rule may be necessary to define what is meant by an Abandoned Universe/Series.

Rule 15 and 16 talks about moving stories to the Member Only area after 5 years of no contact. Lazeez has a feature built in to restore the stories to the free area if the Author returns to the site. For a Universe/Series, the current system defines that once the originating Author declares their Universe/Series to be Open to other Authors, it cannot be returned to Private.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

Docholladay, REP. I would remind readers that I started off by writing that the original author would have to give his/her permission and would possibly / probably make it a condition that he/she has to approve the secondary contribution in advance. In those cases I have seen this did occur.

I also made the point that I was not necessarily writing about Universes but if the original author directly communicated his/her permission to Lazeez then no doubt he could be flexible.

Replies:   REP  REP
docholladay

Like I said to start with: It is just an idea

In other words it might be a bad idea, but at least it opens up a discussion and sometimes with luck it will lead to a workable idea.

REP
Updated:

@sejintenej


if the original author directly communicated his/her permission to Lazeez


I don't recall you being involved in the Rule #16 thread discussion, which addressed abandoned stories. This is sort of a similar situation. Namely, an Author has a degree of ownership of his stories, Universes, and Series that are on the SOL website.

However, if the Author abandons those things for whatever reason, does the website's owner have the right to make decisions regarding what the Author abandoned?

Crumbly Writer

@REP

However, I don't see anything about Universes and Series being copyrighted, so Lazeez could create a Rule #17 for the Posting Agreement and give himself the right to open a Universe/Series to other Authors, if the creating Author has abandoned the Universe/Series.

An author doesn't have to register a copyright to 'own' copyright protection, and Lazeez can't offer to revoke someone else's copyright protection.

The site merely posts stories, it doesn't assume ownership of the stories.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@REP

However, if the Author abandons those things for whatever reason, does the website's owner have the right to make decisions regarding what the Author abandoned?

Nope! Under no circumstances (other than the stories Lazeez or the other admits wrote themselves) would SOL own a copyright to any story posted on the site.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

However, if the Author abandons those things for whatever reason, does the website's owner have the right to make decisions regarding what the Author abandoned?


Lazeez can't make any changes to the story. However, he can make decisions on if he will display the story, or where on the site he displays the story. Since the tags are part of the site management he does have the right to adjust the tags if he thinks they need to be changed. That's all I can think of.

As to the Universes and the Series, the author who created them actually owns a copyright on them and can decide what he wishes to do about them. But that doesn't stop someone else from creating another similar to an existing one, they just have to use a different name for it.

Replies:   REP
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

Nope! Under no circumstances (other than the stories Lazeez or the other admits wrote themselves) would SOL own a copyright to any story posted on the site.


Unless the author transfers the copyright to me or storiesonline. It has happened three times already.

Warning: Controversial opinion follows.

Personally, I have a pragmatic approach to copyright.

Theoretically, and legally, copyright law protects an author's interest in what they create, giving them law-protected absolute control over their writings. Legally also, unless the author relinquishes that right explicitly, nobody has the power to do anything with the writing until the copyright period expires (which thanks to Disney et al is ridiculously long).

This philosophical question comes up a lot in a place like our sites (usually in private discussion).

Most authors posting on SOL tend to keep their writing hobby secret from everyone in their lives lest they be judged harshly. So when the author disappears (dies, or incapacitated or simply unable to visit the site) forever, then there is nobody owning that copyright knowingly, at all. An anonymous person (like the majority of posters) posts something and doesn't tell their heirs that they did it, so their heirs would never know and would never claim the right and the author is gone. Then what?

The copyright law in this case isn't protecting anybody's interests and it's hindering positive actions.

Example: cmsix. He hasn't logged into SOL for more than three years now. He may still be alive, but may not be. Hypothetically speaking, when he passes, what happens to his stories here? Is anybody who's interested in completing his works totally forbidden from touching them until the 70 years pass?

Human civilization is built on transfer of knowledge and art down the generations. This is what humans do. We come up with something and we pass it on so that others can build on it and it grows. This is what Walt Disney did. When Steamboat Willy became public domain, Walt made Mickey out of him and built a whole cast around him. Now with these ridiculously long copyright terms, thanks to the corporation that Walt left behind, nothing goes into public domain while it's still even remotely relevant. So the chance of anything being built on top of it is nearly nil. As far as I can see, that isn't good for humanity as a whole (and don't get me started on that whole 'cultural appropriation' thing starting now). A simple example of how humanity benefits from people building on each others' ideas is fan fiction. Who could deny the vast creativity unleashed through fan fiction? The more fan fiction is written, the more the original work becomes famous and celebrated. Fan fiction is illegal technically, but it's something that benefits everybody.

My approach is pragmatic. When the author disappears for a long time and nobody reaches to me about the works, I consider the works in the public domain. I would allow others to continue/finish the unfinished ones for example. The recent change in the author agreement is based on this. I consider public domain works useful for supporting the existence of the site which supports and encourages the creation of more works.

Ernest Bywater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

cmsix. He hasn't logged into SOL for more than three years now. He may still be alive, but may not be.


FYI - As of a a few months ago cmsix was still alive, but seriously ill in degrading health from the same causes as he has been for the last several years. He's still in the same nursing home he blogged about a few years back. When last spoken to about his stories (about 18 months back) he expressed a desire to finish them, but acknowledge an inability to do so.

For those who know his real name you have to be very careful when checking obituaries etc, because he has several cousins with the same name (including middle name), plus a number of others with the same name in the previous three generations and the next one.

Lazeez, if you don't know his real name and info, and want to know, send me an email and I can provide it to you.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ernest Bywater

Lazeez, if you don't know his real name and info, and want to know, send me an email and I can provide it to you


I've known Chessly for few years before he started posting on SOL.

Replies:   REP  Ernest Bywater
REP

@Crumbly Writer

The site merely posts stories, it doesn't assume ownership of the stories.


I never said it did. If an Author abandons his stories on the site, he retains their stories copyright protection. My copyright comments were addressing the Universe and Series structures not the stories in the structures.

To the best of my knowledge, the Universe and the Series structures are not and cannot be copyrighted (i.e. they are not intellectual property, just a means of grouping related stories). Lazeez gives SOL Authors ownership rights to the structures. However, if the Authors abandon the structures then ownership of the structures, not the stories, would revert to Lazeez and he could create a rule that would allow him to open an abandoned Universe or Series to other Authors once it has been abandoned.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Ernest Bywater

Lazeez can't make any changes to the story


Go back and read what I said. I never said anything about Lazeez changing a story, its codes, or other story information.

I have seen nothing on this site that says an Author owns a copyright on a Universe or Series. Universes and Series are a means of grouping stories that are related in some way - I do not see the structures themselves as intellectual property, although the Universe/Series name and descriptions could be considered intellectual property.

The actions I suggested would not change the name or description and would not violate any copyright that I am aware of.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
REP

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

including middle name), plus a number of others with the same name in the previous three


For clarity:

Ernest indicated that the Authors own a copyright on their Universe/Series.

I contend that the Universe/Series is a means of grouping related stories, and the structures are not intellectual property, thus they cannot be copyrighted. Although the name and description the Author gives the structure could be copyrighted.

Do Authors hold a copyright on the Universe/Series names, descriptions, and/or structure?

Dominions Son

@REP

Do Authors hold a copyright on the Universe/Series names, descriptions, and/or structure?


They can under US law.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@REP

Do Authors hold a copyright on the Universe/Series names, descriptions, and/or structure?


It's difficult to make a clear cut judgement.

A series or a universe is based on an author's work. Any posting in that universe would most likely use some parts that are copyrighted and would probably fall under fan fiction with whatever comes with that designation.

Technically, according to copyright law, anything you write on your own when not under hire, is yours and is automatically copyrighted. That would cover universe name and description if you were to follow the letter of the law.

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)


I've known Chessly for few years before he started posting on SOL.


I didn't know that. The last direct contact I know of is from about 18 months back when Jim and a few others dropped in to see him while moving from Florida to Arizona.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

I never said anything about Lazeez changing a story, its codes, or other story information.


In my response I covered the whole copyright side of what can and can't be done on the site without a specific authorisation being given to the site management. So it answered your concern and expanded on it.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

Do Authors hold a copyright on the Universe/Series names, descriptions, and/or structure?


Yes. The same way they own the names of the characters in their stories, and the names of made up places in their stories - unless the names are too generic or already in multiple usage. Examples being: Hogwarts is specific and copyrighted, Springfield is too common and not copyrighted.

Dominions Son

The Author owns the name and description and he owns the stories that are in the structure, but who owns the structure you created - you or the Author?


And how do you plan to write stories that meaningfully fit in that universe without using any elements of that description or referencing fictional places and or characters from the original author's stories?

Replies:   REP
REP

@Dominions Son

And how do you plan


Now I hadn't really considered that aspect of opening an abandoned universe/thread to other Authors. You are right, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible.

REP
Updated:

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Lazeez, forget my rephrased question if you have seen it. Based on DS's post, I think I'll just delete the post. It becomes a moot point.

EzzyB

@sejintenej

It is quite possible to create a universe that is public.

A few years ago some authors expressed an interest in writing parallel stories to my Chaos books. One even claimed to be writing one exclusively about Sparkles the cat. Alas, nothing ever materialized.

So there is, for instance, a public Chaos universe, that anyone can write a story in. You also have the option to limit a universe by author, or even allow creation of series within the universe.

As others say, it does require the author's approval. Then again, I see nothing that would stop someone, for instance, creating a universe called "Chaos-Unauthorized" and plunking down stories in there. Those pesky copyright laws notwithstanding. One would assume, however, creating a public universe would be seen as tacit permission.

Ernest Bywater

@EzzyB

creating a public universe would be seen as tacit permission.


Which is what's happened with the Damsels in Distress universe.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

What if a new Universe was created called "Inspired by (writer)" or something. That would give credit to the original author.

With basic rules such as: 1: None of the original characters can be changed in any way. 2: Original characters can only be used in supporting background/reference ways, not in an active role in the story.

Of course that is just a additional idea for consideration.

edited to add missing word

Replies:   EzzyB  Ross at Play  REP
EzzyB

@docholladay

What if a new Universe was created called "Inspired by (writer)" or something. That would give credit to the original author.

With basic rules such as: 1: None of the original characters can be changed in any way. 2: Original characters can only be used in supporting background/reference ways, not in an active role in the story.

Of course that is just a additional idea for consideration.


We aren't lawyers, probably this would be at Lazeez's discretion for posting on SOL (actually it most certainly would, he reserves the right to post or not any story, for any reason).

Outside of the site there are long-standing precedents for fan-fiction that I don't even try to understand.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Ross at Play

@docholladay

What if a new Universe was created ...

I think the site already offers adequate options for authors willing to allow others to write extensions on their creations.
As EzzyB noted above:

It is quite possible to create a universe that is public.

I did something to create a similar outcome with a post in the Story Ideas forum. Some readers requested a sequel to the one story I have posted. I made a post in that forum stating:

(My story) seems like a good idea for a stroke story, but I won't be writing that. I'm only really interested in writing for humour ... Others are welcome to take the idea further if they want to.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
REP

@docholladay

additional idea for consideration


I created a Universe for my Multiverse stories. At the time, I was informed that if I defined the Universe as open to other Authors, I would have no control over what they posted to the Universe. I could create rules for the Universe, but Authors would not be required to comply with those rules. The Authors could create new characters and deviate from what I wanted to happen in my Universe.

I haven't researched the original rules, but this seems to have happened in the Damsels in Distress Universe. A Hero who took his Caretaker back to Earth; and the Hero, a lawyer on Earth, who twisted the rules governing his conduct on Chaos; and the introduction of The Powers That Be. It also seems to be happening in the A Swarm Cycle Story Universe.

sejintenej

@REP

Namely, an Author has a degree of ownership of his stories, Universes, and Series that are on the SOL website.
However, if the Author abandons those things for whatever reason, does the website's owner have the right to make decisions regarding what the Author abandoned?

Please, please, please read what I wrote.
I stated several preconditions:
1 The original author must be able to decide and communicate his/her approval that another author use the original author's work or characters as a starting-off point.
2. Permission must be communicated and may include conditions.

We have seen cases where this has occurred; I was merely pointing out to other authors that this is a way of perhaps finishing their story if they cannot do so.

It doesn't matter whether the original story is considered abandoned or not; the original owner may have hit "the wall" or be too busy or influenced by a third party but otherwise would like to continue it.

Of course a reader might spot what appears to be theft of the ideas, characters and/or locations and raise the subject with Lazeez. If Lazeez is already aware of the original author's permission then he will not have to consider legal aspects.

docholladay

@REP

I haven't researched the original rules, but this seems to have happened in the Damsels in Distress Universe. A Hero who took his Caretaker back to Earth; and the Hero, a lawyer on Earth, who twisted the rules governing his conduct on Chaos; and the introduction of The Powers That Be. It also seems to be happening in the A Swarm Cycle Story Universe.


I have read some of those and they were definitely good stories. But that is also why I named the new universe idea something like "Inspired by Ernest Bywater" just one of many possibilities. Sorry Ernest for using your name but the possibilities are limited only by the number of writers here on SOL and its daughter sites.

It is also why I stated the basic 2 rules:

: None of the original characters can be changed in any way. 2: Original characters can only be used in supporting background/reference ways, not in an active role in the story.


These rules would give automatic reasons for the story's deletion by the site admins. Of course there might be other reasons as well. I don't think there could ever be a perfect method however.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Not_a_ID

@Ross at Play

I think the site already offers adequate options for authors willing to allow others to write extensions on their creations.


But does little in regards to dead authors with nobody likely to be the wiser as to "inheriting" the rights of the author to said stories.

REP

@sejintenej

Docholladay, REP. I would remind readers that I started off


go back to your post containing the above, and then go one post further back to my post. I wrote that post in response to the posts of Docholladay and Ernest.

Docholladay was addressing the Universes that were created by Dead Authors, and I believe he meant any Author who had not logged into the SOL website within the last 5 years, as required by Rule #15 of the Posting Agreement.

Ernest talked about living authors giving Lazeez permission to open their Universe if they become inactive (i.e. no contact for 5 years). Then I added my 2 cents to their comments. In that post, I was not addressing your prior post.

However, your post focused on Authors who were alive/active, so a post or two later I let you know we were talking about a prior threads Rule #16 discussion and abandoned stories; granted I did not mention the Posting Agreement at that time. The Rule #16 discussion included Rules #15 and 16 of the Posting Agreement and the discussion was about moving "abandoned" stories to the Members Only area with abandoned referring to Rule #15.

In your most recent post to me, you are still addressing active/living authors. You are failing to consider inactive authors who may be dead or cannot be contacted due to their failure to update their contact information during the past 5 years.

docholladay

I was mainly thinking of those writers who's stories have inspired so many gifted individuals to write similar stories. Both the living and the dead writers on SOL. I just hate to think of the lost inspiration they have for whatever reason given others. I am hoping that there is someway that can continue. Most of that shows up with beginning writers who for whatever reason might not have the premium access levels.

I know my ideas might not be workable, but hopefully they might lead to a workable solution benefiting everyone on SOL.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

I haven't researched the original rules, but this seems to have happened in the Damsels in Distress Universe.


This one I can answer for you. Most of the authors stay within the bounds of the universe canons set by Lazlo, and the guy who got around the Caretaker to Earth Rule did so by gaming the system within the rules, and did so with Lazlo's approval. He has approved some additions to the rules to expand them, and they appear in a couple of stories.

There are a couple of stories that break the DiD Universe Canon as regards to the night sky - Chaos has no moon, Lazlo set that out in the early stories, yet some later authors speak of the moonlight. There is starlight and it's bright, but not as bright as Earth moonlight.

................

However, divergence from canon is an aspect that the author can't control if the universe is public. There is an intermediate stage where the author can approve another author they trust to write in the universe, but that risk is still there - just smaller.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

I have read some of those and they were definitely good stories. But that is also why I named the new universe idea something like "Inspired by Ernest Bywater" just one of many possibilities. Sorry Ernest for using your name but the possibilities are limited only by the number of writers here on SOL and its daughter sites.


Just don't use my name to run up debt or commit a crime, and it's OK.

From the strict copyright legal aspect, if I write a story in a uniquely named universe or location, then I must have the permission of the original creator of that universe to publish it, i.e. post it. An example is the way the film companies have to work with Stan Lee to make films in the Marvel Universe and to get his approval to stick in a new character.

If you feel inclined to write in an existing universe, write and ask the author for permission, many will give it.

Ernest Bywater

With regards to an Inspired by ... universe, you can create one with a new name and mention it was inspired by, and not have any copyright violations as long as you stay away from existing characters and unique places.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Like I said while my ideas might not be the answer. I can hope them and the discussions will lead to a workable solution which will benefit everyone. Most of my ideas to be honest probably wouldn't work, but sometimes a bad idea when mentioned will lead those with the knowledge to a good one.

StarFleet Carl

@EzzyB

Outside of the site there are long-standing precedents for fan-fiction that I don't even try to understand.


You think those of us who write fan-fiction understand them either?

Seriously, though, the biggest one is pretty simple. So long as the author of the fan-fiction does not try to profit from his work without having permission from the creator, he's pretty well going to be left alone. It's really only when you want to make money off your writing that you have to start changing things.

Keep in mind that 50 Shades of Grey started out as a Twilight fan-fiction.

Replies:   EzzyB
Crumbly Writer

@REP

To the best of my knowledge, the Universe and the Series structures are not and cannot be copyrighted (i.e. they are not intellectual property, just a means of grouping related stories). Lazeez gives SOL Authors ownership rights to the structures. However, if the Authors abandon the structures then ownership of the structures, not the stories, would revert to Lazeez and he could create a rule that would allow him to open an abandoned Universe or Series to other Authors once it has been abandoned.

While series titles are covered by Registered Trademarks, not copyrights, series are treated much as characters in a story are. If you create books as part of an existing universe, expect to get sued (assuming it's not fan-fiction (i.e. you're charging for your work and not giving it away for free)).

It's generally easy enough to ask an author is you can continue a particular universe. I've had several authors ask about adding to mine, but I keep switching the rules of the universe with each new book. Generally, a universe needs to be 'formalized' to restrict any author from taking it in a direction which freezes other authors (like the original creator) out of it (i.e. you can have 'adventures' in the universe, but you can't change the nature or the current status of the universe).

That makes opening up new 'universes' extremely problematic.

'Cleaning up' an author's story is also complicated. While you can't legitimately claim the story, few sick authors will refuse assistance--given certain restrictions and the right of 'final refusal'.

Essentially, an author can 'open a universe', but it essentially involves never 'closing' it with another book in the series which changes the strategic elements of the story.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Do Authors hold a copyright on the Universe/Series names, descriptions, and/or structure?

Authors routinely duplicate story titles, so you're at least intellectually clear there, but that doesn't buy you much. If you have a 'new' universe, which is largely identical to the older universe, no judge in the country is going to take your 'intellectual freedom' argument seriously, as it's obvious you're 'stealing' the work, part and parcel.

That's the reason why the legal system has become so complicated. To protect themselves from such unjustified 'overreach', many 'corporations' are now trademarking titles (like "Marvel", "Avengers", "World War Z", etc.). it's generally not required, but it's now become derigor to restrict ANYONE from using the same or similar name, even in completely justified uses.

That's not good for anyone, so forcing more authors to 'protect their works' from further overreach also helps no one.

If you DO want to open a universe, feel free to open a new thread, entitled "Free Universes For the Asking". You could even offer a free 'legal copyright authorization transfer' form for each author to sign and notarize.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@EzzyB

So there is, for instance, a public Chaos universe, that anyone can write a story in. You also have the option to limit a universe by author, or even allow creation of series within the universe.

On the other hand, addressing Lazeez's 'fan-fiction' exception, if an author hasn't been heard from, and others continue his stories, if no one objects then there's no harm and no foul. If someone does object, Lezeez can easily delete the story as a 'reported copyright' theft.

The result would be a lot of wasted effort, but again, no harm and no foul.

The main problem is if the author survives and eventually returns to writing, only to discover he no longer has control over his bastardized creation. That's sure to piss them the fuck off (to put it politely!).

If you want to continue a work, try contacting the author. If no one responds, try an 'open ended' similar story (as you'll have clear copyright protections).

If no one's heard from the author for multiple years, then you could risk continuing their work, but just remember, if ANYONE complains, prepare to junk your entire invested development effort.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
REP

@Crumbly Writer

You obviously missed the reason why I asked about copyrights. DS's comment made the issue a moot point.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

You obviously missed the reason why I asked about copyrights. DS's comment made the issue a moot point.

Once again, I traditionally come to the party late, make a dozen inflammatory (and dated) posts in chronological order (as I read them) all at once. :(

I should read more, and then go back and lecture!

Replies:   REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

I have been trying to do that more, but sometimes I just have to respond before I forget my response.

sunkuwan

These questions are constantly raised in the fanfiction community.
"How can an author claim copyright protection for his creation if he didn't have permission to use them (i.e. the Harry Potter or Twilight settings) in the first place"
The argument is, that Rowling has to cope with fanfiction if she likes it or not. And hobby Authors have to cope the same.

There aren't many Fanfiction stories on SoL but what happens if someone posts a Fanfiction story in the Universe of another Fanfiction story here on SoL? What can the first Author claim when he himself doesnt live by it?
Not much, he only has the house-rules of SoL on his side.

Rowling has all the rights to delete Fanfiction on her own sites if she so wishes. But she doesn't have a ground to stand on if those stories are posted elsewhere.

The same applies to Authors on SoL. They can't post stories in private Universes but they can post it elsewhere and the original Author cant do anything about it.
(excluding plagiarism)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  REP
Ernest Bywater

@sunkuwan

Rowling has all the rights to delete Fanfiction on her own sites if she so wishes. But she doesn't have a ground to stand on if those stories are posted elsewhere.


The concept of a magic universe isn't copyrighted. However, the use of the names Harry Potter as a person in a magic universe is copyright, and so is the use of a place called Hogwarts in a magic universe. Any site carrying a story with a copyright violation is breaking the USA DMCA laws and the International copyright laws, and thus the stories can be taken down.

The same laws and protections apply to everything written by the authors on SoL.

I can write a story about Fred Flunky and Bob Basher set in a magic universe and not violate any copyright. But if I also include in that story interaction with Harry Potter and Ginny Weasly then I'm breaking the copyright law. The use of the unique names is where the fanfiction writers break the copyright laws.

Many authors ignore the copyright violations, while some don't. A large part depends on the country where the copyright is invested. Here in Australia if I ignore a violation of copyright on one of my stories due to a fanfiction story I don't weaken my right to take action against another person doing the same thing with another story. However, in some countries failure to attack the first violation weakens you ability to protect against the next violation. Thus not chasing after people who write free fanfiction in those countries can mean you can't later chase people making money from selling fanfiction style stories. It's not a simple issue.

REP

@sunkuwan

These questions are constantly raised in the fanfiction community.


EB addressed your issue very well.

The are several possible reasons for the questions, like those you presented, in the Fanfiction community.

1. People who don't know the copyright laws are just repeating what they have been told is true.

2. People who know the copyright laws and violate them do not want to admit they are doing something wrong. Admitting to copyright violation is not something that is good for an Author; it is tantamount to saying "I'm a Thief".

sunkuwan

There are several million fanfiction stories on the fanfiction site, nearly 800k Harry Potter fictions alone. I think the time to raise copyright questions against noncommercial fictions has long gone.

The question is what SoL allows.

First of all: I am just playing devils advocate, I don't have anything at stake. I don't write fanfiction and I know where to look for those types of stories. I am not against reviving Universes from inactive or deceased Authors but I currently cant remember a Universe that falls in that category that I want to be revived at all cost.

There are 12 Harry Potter stories that have the name in the title alone, I didn't search for stories that have Harry or other Potter chars in the description, it could be hundreds or more.
So Lazeez and SoL are fine with fanfiction from commercial sources.
What about Fanfiction from other sites like SoL? Lets say, an Author on another site creates a Universe and an Author here on SoL writes fanfiction of that Universe. Would that be against the rules? Would Lazeez delete such a story if the author from the other site requests it?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  REP
Ernest Bywater

@sunkuwan

The question is what SoL allows.


Read the 13th post in this thread, it's by Lazeez and answers some of your questions.

REP

@sunkuwan

Curiosity is good, but when a person goes on as long and as pointedly as you have, the person usually has a goal.

What is the point of your questions and statements about copyright issues, fan fiction, authors, and this website?

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@REP

oO

I have no goal, like I said, I was playing Devils Advocate. I saw the bit about fanfiction and gave my 2 cents. There is often a dissonance between following the law for the work of a story on noncommercial sites and for commercial stories.

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

My approach is pragmatic. When the author disappears for a long time and nobody reaches to me about the works, I consider the works in the public domain.

While I support that in principle, I have two concerns.
* *
1. I think you should not do that once you become aware an author has offered any of the their writing for sale. In that case, I think your first duty if the author dies suddenly is to protect the rights of their heirs. If that means no fan fiction for 70 year, so be it; you should assume that was their wish if they did not specify otherwise in advance.
* *
2. My guess is most authors who've never offered their writing for sale would not object to fan fiction being written by others after their death - but the Author Agreement needs to be revised to advise them that may happen. I interpret #1 and #9 as meaning the site would not allow that. I suggest a revision of #15 to warn authors SOL may consider their work to be in the public domain if they do not respond to enquiries from the site to their last known email address, and they have not specified otherwise in advance.
* *
I suggest the approach to allowing fan fiction when an author cannot be contacted should be:
- Only if they opted in, in advance, for authors who have at any time offered their writing for sale; and
- Unless they opted out, in advance, for authors who have never offered their writing for sale.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

if the author dies suddenly is to protect the rights of their heirs.


From a moral aspect only, that's only relevant if the heirs know about the stories. In that case they're likely to contact Lazeez about them.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

From a moral aspect only, that's only relevant if the heirs know about the stories. In that case they're likely to contact Lazeez about them.

Moral aspect only? I can't agree with that. My point was that the legal consequences become different once an author has been selling their work.
In that case, there's potentially money involved belonging to someone who's never had any contact with SOL. The site should not knowingly allow anything that infringes on their rights as spelled out in copyright laws. Once money is involved, I think it's irrelevant whether or not they know about the stories or have contacted the site: without explicit instructions, the site should adhere to the law.

docholladay
Updated:

I would think it would be possible to link stories or plots by taking advantage of the empty time periods and normal activities of the original writer's characters. Take the stories by DW with his characters and plots involving Steve and Chuck. Both sets of characters go to restaurants and bars around the country. They also operate highly profitable businesses. Their characters interact with other unnamed people in bars and restaurants. Not to mention all those unnamed customers of their businesses.

Those are perfect slots for linking stories. The MC becomes just another customer in a restaurant or bar. Or the MC becomes one of the many unnamed customers of one or more of their businesses. Sure the direct interaction would have limitations. But I have never been in a restaurant or bar where I failed to have conversations with other customers.

edited to add a word

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ross at Play

While I support that in principle, I have two concerns.
* *
1. I think you should not do that once you become aware an author has offered any of the their writing for sale. In that case, I think your first duty if the author dies suddenly is to protect the rights of their heirs. If that means no fan fiction for 70 year, so be it; you should assume that was their wish if they did not specify otherwise in advance.


1 - If an author were to make their wishes clear ahead of time, I would definitely comply with their wishes whatever those wishes were. Authors who do care enough usually make their wishes clear to their heirs.

2 - I've had heirs contact me as soon as the author dies claiming their right. Goldenmage is an example.

3 - Since I've seen it and done it already so many times, usually, authors who put up their works for sale to make money, remove their works from here as a first step almost.

4 - I can't and don't 'Put it in the public domain'. I don't have the right to do that. Only copyright holders can do that. I treat it as public domain because it's unlikely that anybody holds the copyright knowingly.

5 - I treat it as public domain FIVE YEARS after the author disappears completely. That's usually more than enough time for any heirs to make their presence known and claim the right to the works. After that time interval, nobody shows up usually. So far experience has shown that heirs show up either immediately or never.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


The main problem is if the author survives and eventually returns to writing, only to discover he no longer has control over his bastardized creation. That's sure to piss them the fuck off (to put it politely!).


There evidently was more than one living author who was burned rather thoroughly by a fan fiction writer. The biggest example was an author whose name escapes me atm, but had previously been very supportive of people writing fan fictions of his work....

Until it had been several years since his last publication in a series and a fan decided the story "must be over" for the author, and sussed out a number of things from the existing books. Which the FF writer then used to go about writing a fairly long, and popular FF with those elements.

The Problem being: The author had recently(unannounced) returned to writing in that same setting, and said FF writer had correctly sussed out where things were going. End result, due to the FF "getting there first" the actual author wound up with a story manuscript that couldn't be published because of the legal/other problems it presented, even if the FF writer consented to everything. IIRC, that author subsequently went scorched earth in regards to FF based on his work.

There are more than a few other cases of fan-fiction writers subsequently suing the original author when they write sequels "which include (unique) elements of their own (fan fiction) story."

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

The only reason I suggested authors who've tried to sell their writing should be treated differently was I see a potential risk to you and the site, albeit a small risk.

Can you comment on the adequacy of the current Author Agreement? My interpretation of that is totally at odds with what you've described here as your "pragmatic approach". I've no real objections to that approach, but I think authors should be explicitly advised in advance of that possibility.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ross at Play

My interpretation of that is totally at odds with what you've described here as your "pragmatic approach".


What is your interpretation?

Replies:   Ross at Play
docholladay

This is just one reason I suggested a universe name of "Inspired by writer". Substitute any author/writer's name for writer to get a universe name. That way hopefully the way they gave other writers ideas will continue without infringing on copyright or plagiarism. Any writer who has inspired others could be given a separate universe covering all of their work not just a portion.

Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

As I understand it ...
The protection provided by copyright laws continues to exist if the author does nothing, and can only be changed with the explicit consent of the holder of the copyright.
The mere fact an author does not contact some website for a period of five years does not constitute explicit consent.
You could, in my view, reasonably claim that did constitute explicit consent if there was some warning to that effect in the Author Agreement.
*
I can see valid reasons for wanting to work around "excessive" restrictions in the copyright laws, but why would you not choose to stay within them when that can be achieved so easily?

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Moral aspect only? I can't agree with that. My point was that the legal consequences become different once an author has been selling their work.
In that case, there's potentially money involved belonging to someone who's never had any contact with SOL.

The problem is, if an authors sells his works—outside of a major publishing house—and their family knows nothing about how they did it—which is easily 90+% of said authors, then the only one who benefits after their death is Amazon, who continues selling the work and holding their money indefinitely—even if no one ever claims or withdraws the funds.

I've seen them do this multiple times, which I consider beyond contemptible. If you don't know whether an author is still alive or not, then you should stop profiting from their works until you receive subsequent authorization to proceed.

Likewise, for a site like SOL, to decide to change how an author's 'for-sale works' are presented after they're gone, when they can no longer register a complaint, is merely doing something simply because 'no one complains'. It's merely robbing from the voiceless.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

I would think it would be possible to link stories or plots by taking advantage of the empty time periods and normal activities of the original writer's characters. Take the stories by DW with his characters and plots involving Steve and Chuck. Both sets of characters go to restaurants and bars around the country. They also operate highly profitable businesses. Their characters interact with other unnamed people in bars and restaurants. Not to mention all those unnamed customers of their businesses.

Those are perfect slots for linking stories. The MC becomes just another customer in a restaurant or bar. Or the MC becomes one of the many unnamed customers of one or more of their businesses. Sure the direct interaction would have limitations. But I have never been in a restaurant or bar where I failed to have conversations with other customers.

The law is pretty clear on that. As long as you aren't 'taking anything' from the original author, authors have long had 'appearances' by long dead people in their stories. The courts have rarely taken exception to these uses in stories, as long as you 1) don't demean the character (have them act in ways that is in violation of their public image) or 2) change their specific history (i.e. have Lincoln 'fighting zombies' in a 'for-profit movie') then you're generally allowed (the aforementioned movie is a bad example, simply because none of Lincoln's relatives ever brought suit against the sponsoring company).

In your instance, using fictional fellows, you aren't technically 'stealing' their universes, only their names and recognizing them as historic figures, so you'd be free and clear—though you may still be required to prove it in court. 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

5 - I treat it as public domain FIVE YEARS after the author disappears completely. That's usually more than enough time for any heirs to make their presence known and claim the right to the works. After that time interval, nobody shows up usually. So far experience has shown that heirs show up either immediately or never.

I'll admit, that's more than fair (even though, for many SOL authors, their families will likely be unfamiliar with the author's original log-in information, where they posted their stories, or other relevant information, or order to keep their accounts 'active').

Taking their accounts 'private' is actually offering their words additional protections, not lessening them.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Moral aspect only? I can't agree with that. My point was that the legal consequences become different once an author has been selling their work.


I worded my response the way i did because I was deliberately ignoring the legal aspect. As to any heirs earning any money from the stories, if they know the stories exist and can contact Lazeez they can do so and say what they want done. However, if they don't know about the stories they don't know about contacting Lazeez, and he doesn't have the information on who the heir is to contact them, so he can't initiate anything. Thus there may be a potential income, but there's no way it can be made possible without the heirs initiating it, and if they don't initiate anything, then it's a null issue.

Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

There are more than a few other cases of fan-fiction writers subsequently suing the original author when they write sequels "which include (unique) elements of their own (fan fiction) story."


A friend who reads a lot of fanfiction was recently telling me of one author who was upset at what was happening with many fanfiction stories of their characters, and not liking it, and not getting any support from the fanfiction industry. They go so upset they went an wrote a new story within their series that totally destroyed any chance of a lot of the fanfiction stories ever fitting in with the original universe by destroying the premise the majority of the stories followed. Thus making them against the proven canon. He's even heard of some authors considering killing off characters simply to stop the fanfiction authors messing them up any further, because the author can't get them to leave the central characters alone.

When a fanfiction story focuses on an existing unique character of the series concerned, then the fanfiction author is simply trying to use the original author's popularity to boost their story. It's too damn easy to use different character names to write a fanfiction story that doesn't hurt the original, but many of the fanfiction authors insist on going for the protected names.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

Take the stories by DW with his characters and plots involving Steve and Chuck. Both sets of characters go to restaurants and bars around the country. They also operate highly profitable businesses. Their characters interact with other unnamed people in bars and restaurants. Not to mention all those unnamed customers of their businesses.


Dead< easy, and I've done it in a few of my stories, but also asked DW for permission first, and got it. In Play Ball it's clear whose plane is being chartered for the flight to Florida, as one example.

Ernest Bywater

Nothing in the author agreement violates the copyright laws in any way. The agreement has always had the author giving the site permission to display the stories while the author's retain the copyright. That hasn't changed at all. The last change to the agreement was a notification of how the site will display the stories when certain conditions apply, and it's within the rights already given to the site by the authors.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

The last change to the agreement was a notification of how the site will display the stories when certain conditions apply, and it's within the rights already given to the site by the authors.

When and how have authors given the site any right to treat their creations as being in the public domain?
When and how do they give their explicit consent for that?
Doing so without explicit consent infringes on the rights of the owners of the copyright. Why would the site do that when a change to the Author Agreement is sufficient for it to comply with the copyright laws?
The Author Agreement should stipulate whatever conditions must exist for the site to do that.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)
Updated:

@Ross at Play


When and how have authors given the site any right to treat their creations as being in the public domain?


What do you think I meant when I said 'like public domain'? You seem to be very upset with that.


When and how do they give their explicit consent for that?

Doing so without explicit consent infringes on the rights of the owners of the copyright. Why would the site do that when a change to the Author Agreement is sufficient for it to comply with the copyright laws?

The Author Agreement should stipulate whatever conditions must exist for the site to do that.


Again, what is THAT to you?

All that's going to happen is that we put it behind the premier wall, which is in a way more protection from theft and unauthorized use. Two authors have in the past asked me to put their stories behind the premier wall to protect them. One of the authors have already disappeared and messages to the email on record have bounced.

And yes, if somebody wanted to finish an unfinished story I would let them if I found that the continuation does justice to the original. That's all that's ever going to happen.

Is that really terrible and unjust?

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@sunkuwan

Laws are laws and apply to noncommercial sites and commercial sites, although there can be variations defined in the laws.

I doubt you have no goal even though you claimed to be coming from a Devil's Advocate position. People with no goal don't bore in as you did.

Replies:   sunkuwan  Not_a_ID
sunkuwan

@REP

I dont know what your angle is, REP. Even if I had a nefarious, world domination goal, I don't see what the impact of my dubious nefarious "goal" would be.

My questions were more informative in nature. Would Fanfiction (either rewrites, continuations or sidestories) of Universes from other noncommercial Authors be allowed if they are not an Author on SoL itself, so they would not be protected by the Authors agreement.

i.e. is SoL only protecting the sites own Authors or ALL of the worlds Authors. If it is the last, than no Fanfiction like Harry Potter or Skyrim could be published here.
And if we are arguing Copyright, all Fanfiction on SoL would not be allowed and must be marked for deletion. Something that nearly all of the noncommercial sites are ignoring.

My own morals are, that commercial Universes are free for all if you don't monetize your story and that you ask noncommercial authors for the access to the Universe if possible.

Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

You stated earlier:

When the author disappears for a long time and nobody reaches to me about the works, I consider the works in the public domain.

There is nothing in the copyright laws that allows anyone but the owner of the copyright to do that.
An author who reads the Author Agreement will assume their works are going to receive the full protection provided by copyright laws.
I'm simply saying you should tell authors in advance if that may not be so, what may happen, and under what conditions.
There's no point in doing that here because many authors would not read the forums. It needs to be in the Author Agreement.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ross at Play

There is nothing in the copyright laws that allows anyone but the owner of the copyright to do that.


It's in an instance like this that I really appreciate the need for legalese.

When I said that I, of course, meant that I would consider the works in the public domain in a couple of aspects. One that I could move them behind the premier wall and second that I can give permission to others to continue unfinished works.

As I stated in my second post, I don't have the power to 'put them in the public domain'. I can't do that. On the site, the works will still be tagged with 'copyright© xxxx by author name' and that tag won't change to 'story in public domain' like the stuff on gutenberg.

Again, copyright laws are there to protect the financial interests of the creator and their heirs. If there is no creator AND NO heirs, then there is nobody to protect. Copyright laws become moot in that case. Remember, no creator and no heirs. So who are you arguing for? Are you one of those who put the letter of the law above the spirit of the law?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@sunkuwan

of Universes from other noncommercial Authors be allowed if they are not an Author on SoL itself, so they would not be protected by the Authors agreement.


The existing rules on SOL for fan fiction are the same whether the original is a story here on SOL or a dead tree published stories.

And if we are arguing Copyright, all Fanfiction on SoL would not be allowed and must be marked for deletion. Something that nearly all of the noncommercial sites are ignoring.


It's not completely true that noncommercial sites are ignoring copyright. Most are probably operating under US law.

Under US law (I can't speak to Canadian law, where SOL is hosted and Lazeez is located) sites like SOL are not liable for copyright violations by user posted stories provided certain conditions are met.

However, one of those conditions is that if the copyright owner notifies a site of a violation, material that is a copyright violation must be taken down promptly.

The publishing industry largely tolerates fan fiction, but there are exceptions.

The non-commercial sites are largely banking on not being noticed, but if they don't have a plan in place to respond if they receive a take-down notice from an author/publisher, they could find themselves in a very deep legal hole.

If they do have appropriate plans in place for dealing with a take-down notice, they aren't completely ignoring copyright.

and that you ask noncommercial authors for the access to the Universe if possible.


Certainly for an author here writing fan fiction of another story published here, there is no excuse for not at least attempting to contact the original author.

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Are you one of those who put the letter of the law above the spirit of the law?

I give up. It won't bother me if you get sued.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
REP

@sunkuwan

Would Fanfiction (either rewrites, continuations or sidestories) of Universes from other noncommercial Authors be allowed if they are not an Author on SoL itself, so they would not be protected by the Authors agreement.


Simple answer is NO - go read the Posting Agreement. Stories are submitted through Lazeez - they aren't posted directly by the Author. Lazeez's Rules require that the story be submitted by the original Author - if you were to submit other Authors' stories, it would be posted as your original work with your name as the Author. I doubt if your FanFic Authors would appreciate your plagiarizing their works. It would be Lazeez's decision on how to handle the situation, but I wouldn't be surprised if you and all the stories you claimed to have written would get the boot.

It would appear that you do not understand the way this story site works. Perhaps you should take the time to learn a few things before posting hypothetical situations. If that is how you are trying to learn, there are other and better ways to do so. Such as asking a simple direct question like - Can an Author post a story directly to the site?

REP

@Dominions Son

The non-commercial sites are largely banking on not being noticed,

I've found it interesting that the Authors with high-profile stories haven't formed a collaboration and filed a class action lawsuit against the publishers that have put out stories that violate the original Author's copyrights.

Any idea as to why they haven't done something like that?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

Any idea as to why they haven't done something like that?


For those located IN the US:

The safe harbor provision of the DMCA would be why they haven't. Per the law, a web site operator can not be held liable for copyright violations from material posted by third parties as long as they meet certain conditions.

The MPAA (Movie Producers Association of America) tried suing YouTube after the DMCA was passed and went down in spectacular flames.

As long as the web site operators meet the safe harbor provisions, trying to sue a fan fiction web site would be futile. A class action would face the same problem.

The owners of the copyrights at issue would have to sue the authors of fan fiction stories individually, that won't work as a class action.

And generally speaking, unless the fan fiction author is selling his fan fiction stories, a lawsuit is uneconomical (you won't get enough in damages to cover the cost of the law suit).

Replies:   REP
REP

@Dominions Son

Per the law, a web site


I was thinking of dead tree publishers.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

I was thinking of dead tree publishers.


I don't think you will find many dead tree publishers that are publishing stolen stories, or fan fiction stories.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Dominions Son

Note: If the copyright infringement is willful, the violator can be hit with triple damages. A commercial copyright piracy operation will almost always be found to be willful.

If you are pirating a registered copyright, you are really in for it. Triple statutory damages and normal statutory damages are like $10K per unauthorized copy.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

The Author Agreement should stipulate whatever conditions must exist for the site to do that.


They do, and an action analysis of them is:

When you break it down it simply says:

a. You declare the story belongs to you or is public domain, and stays the property of the author. Rules 1 and 10.

b. There's a list of restrictions. Rules 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15.

c. WLPC has the right to restrict your access. Rules 4 and 5.

d. You give WLPC limited permissions regarding the story. Rules 2, 3, 14, and now 16.

These four rules are, with my comments following each rule:

2. You grant Storiesonline, its parent company 'World Literature Company (WLPC)' and its affiliated sites unlimited rights to publish the work in any format that it supports, on any of its sites for as long as WLPC exists or until you withdraw the work with a written request for removal. You retain all copyrights that you may have for the work.

This reconfirms the author owns the copyright while the author agrees to allow WLPC to post the story in any format on any of its sites unless you, the author, withdraw the story.

3. You allow Storiesonline, WLPC and its agents to make the necessary changes to make your work suitable for publishing on our sites.

This allows them to convert the story from whatever format you submit the story to the format they use to display the stories on the site, or to a format for the readers to read the story - this is the approval to provide the downloadable formats as well.

14. If you have your own stories site and you post your stories here on Storiesonline too, you give permission to Storiesonline to take necessary action to keep your stories on WLPC's sites up-to-date and in sync with the versions on your own site at our discretion.

This is to allow the site to bring the version on the site up to match the one you have on any other site. This was brought about some years ago due to an author using SoL as a teaser site for his own pay site and book sales.

16. If you don't log into Storiesonline for more than 5 years, your stories will get moved into the archives which are accessible to premier members only.

This is an expansion of Rule 2 to inform authors of where on the site the stories will be placed for display under certain conditions. This does not, in any way, amend or violate the copyright of the story, nor does it violate any of the earlier rules in any way.

In fact, under Rule 2, the site would be justified in putting any story in any section of the site.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@sunkuwan

is SoL only protecting the sites own Authors or ALL of the worlds Authors. If it is the last, than no Fanfiction like Harry Potter or Skyrim could be published here.


The Author Agreement at:

https://storiesonline.net/author/posting_guidelines.php

1. You are the creator/co-creator of the work or you have explicit written permission from its author to post the work online. OR Submission is in the public domain (copyright has expired - which you may be asked to prove.)

So it's up to the author to ensure they comply with copyright laws, and the rule 9 comes into effect if and when a complaint is received.

9. Copyright infringement and plagiarism are not tolerated. If complaints are received about copyright/plagiarism on your part, all your work will be removed from the site, and your author account will be closed.

For those vague on the meanings of copyright infringement or plagiarism, it's simple, here it means 'Unauthorized use of the material, partial or complete'. No vague interpretation and your personal views on the issue do not matter, the definition is not up for debate.

Lazeez doesn't have the time or staff to check if someone posting fanfiction has the approval of the originating universe author, so they rely on the posting author to manage that part. If the originating universe author writes in to complain they will take action after investigating.

Thus, you post a Harry Potter universe story it's your job as the author to make sure you're doing it in compliance with the copyright laws. If you aren't Lazeez won't know so you would get away with it until such time as Rowling sends him an email with a complaint and your stories will be pulled under rule 9.

EzzyB

@StarFleet Carl

You think those of us who write fan-fiction understand them either?


Got a good chuckle out of that one. It's kind of the way i see it. No profit, no problem.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

I have read the bloody agreement and I understood what it says.
What about authors who would not want anyone completing their stories after their death? If they read the Author Agreement they're likely to assume they don't need to do anything - copyright laws say that's not allowed for 70 years, and the agreement says their copyright will the protected.
I think what Lazeez says may happen will be fine in most circumstances. I just think authors should be told in advance if the site may not provide the full protection provided by copyright laws.
What's so fucking outrageous about suggesting that?

Not_a_ID

@REP

Laws are laws and apply to noncommercial sites and commercial sites, although there can be variations defined in the laws.

I doubt you have no goal even though you claimed to be coming from a Devil's Advocate position. People with no goal don't bore in as you did.


The penultimate devil's advocate position on this is that while laws are laws, many of those laws require a "complainant of standing" with the court on the issue.

In the case of dead authors who do not pass along knowledge of IP rights to anyone after death, nobody "of standing" is likely to ever lodge such complaints. So while it may not be completely legal, a court is going to have a hard time ruling against anyone using such an IP.

Which basically leaves it as defacto public domain.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

What about authors who would not want anyone completing their stories after their death? If they read the Author Agreement they're likely to assume they don't need to do anything - copyright laws say that's not allowed for 70 years, and the agreement says their copyright will the protected.
I think what Lazeez says may happen will be fine in most circumstances. I just think authors should be told in advance if the site may not provide the full protection provided by copyright laws.
What's so fucking outrageous about suggesting that?


First, there is no evidence of that being done without any permissions. Second it is not 70 years for all copyrights. Depending on when the copyright was first activated (i.e. the story written or published) and when the person dies the time frame varies due to changes in the laws and the laws varying between countries. Although the Canadian laws are the ones most likely to apply, it all depends on where they were written.

Third, and most important, the copyright laws of most countries are silent until such time as the copyright holder states a complaint - they follow the concept of 'consent by silence' in most countries. Thus If Lazeez ever allows someone to finish another author's unfinished work he's not in trouble for doing so until such time as a person who can prove copyright ownership to stand up and say something.

Now, before this goes too much further, I had the written approval of the copyright owner to finish and take co-authorship of Shiloh before I worked on it. I had the written approval of the copyright owner before taking over and revising the stories by Cazna and revising the rest of Mike's stories. The responsibility of proving that rested on me to prove it before Lazeez would allow me to do any work on their stories. So he is protecting the author's rights, and he will continue to do so.

Another to look at is what's happening with the stories Rache wrote. She's been dead quite a few years now, but all her stories are fully protected by Lazeez. However, in that case a family member is aware of her work and has accepted the ownership of her copyrights.

Lazeez has the clear right to move stories about on the site, so I'm now ignoring that and focusing solely on the comment about unfinished stories - should it ever happen.

There is an odd grey area in copyright caused by the fact a copyright owner has full control of what they create. However, when they exercise their rights they have to be able to demonstrate to the courts they are the copyright owner and provide evidence of that. In most cases it's simple due to them having the original manuscript and it has their name on it. But when they use a pen name things are harder because they then have to show the relationship to the pen name, as happened with my stories as Ernest Edwards. When a fictional name is used and no one claims the fictional name the works they created are seen by the copyright laws as having been created by an anonymous person and are immediately placed in the Public Domain, thus available to all to do with as they wish. How the courts decide a pen name is an anonymous Public Domain name various from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and is usually based on the aspects of: (a)How long since someone was active under the pen name, and (b) The inability to link the name to any real person living or dead.

Considering all the above, I think being concerned about this is a case of attacking windmills, especially since there isn't an actual case to point the finger at.

Not_a_ID

@Ross at Play

I give up. It won't bother me if you get sued.


First he would likely be served with a takedown notice from the IP holder. Which he has said he'd honor previously(without needing to get the lawyer even). So long as the "offending material" is removed, SOL is in the clear.

Laz just happens to believe that under certain (common) criteria, no such request is ever going to happen.

Not_a_ID

@Ross at Play

What about authors who would not want anyone completing their stories after their death? If they read the Author Agreement they're likely to assume they don't need to do anything - copyright laws say that's not allowed for 70 years, and the agreement says their copyright will the protected.

In that case, that author better make sure his/her "estate" is aware of the stories, and ensure provisions are made to protect that copyright. Otherwise, if the "estate" either knows nothing, or doesn't bother/care enough to enforce the copyright, it's essentially public domain. As no litigation will ever happen.

Alternatively, they can make it clear to any/all who read their work as to their wishes, then it's blatant to all.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

if the site may not provide the full protection provided by copyright laws.


But the site does proved the full protection provided by copyright law. Copyright law does not require Lazeez (or any other site that allows third party content) to proactively vet new posts for copyright violations.

The law does require that he take certain actions (which he does) if he is properly notified of a copyright violation.

StarFleet Carl

@EzzyB

Got a good chuckle out of that one. It's kind of the way i see it. No profit, no problem.


Go see what Paramount finally had to do with the Star Trek franchise with that 'fan based' movie. It wasn't that they were cracking down because fans were making a movie - it's that the fans were crowd funding to literally create a motion picture studio to make the movie.

The big fan fiction film that caused this stink literally raised more than a million dollars, and had several of actors FROM Star Trek in it. Yeah, I can see from the perspective of Paramount why they'd jump all over things at that point.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@StarFleet Carl

it's that the fans were crowd funding to literally create a motion picture studio to make the movie.


It's worse than you think.

The crowd funding donors were not even aware that the people making the film were using the funding for the fan film to build a commercial studio.

The makers of the Star Trek fan film got it from both ends. Not only did Paramount sue them for copyright infringement, but about a half dozen of the donors and the crowd funding site sued them for fraud.

sunkuwan

@ REP

I give up.

You are arguing about holding the flame up for death or inactive Authors and ignore the living commercial ones.

It should make no difference if an Author here on SoL posts a "Harry Potter" Fanfic from commercial Author Rowling or a "Worm" Fanfic from Webauthor Wildbow.

If the copyright Law was really gunning for fanfiction Authors and websites, what would Lazeez say?
"I am sorry your Honour, how should I have known that a story about Harry Potter infringes on copyright? I clearly wrote, that my users shouldn't post such things."

It didn't work for Pirate bay and it wouldn't work here. IF the law would ever hunt those issues.

Again, what nefarious plot am I scheming here with those questions? I am arguing for Fanfiction, I am a consumer of Fanfiction, I would be a hypocrite if I would argue for not posting Fanfiction while consuming it. it would mean that I would read illegal things, would it not?

So why are you arguing for more protection for noncommercial authors when we are OK with reading Fanfiction of commercial Authors? And if you are NOT ok with Fanfiction, are you contacting the commercial authors that their copyright is infringed?

And where exactly did I argue for posting anothers Author's story as my own? We are talking Fanfiction, that includes the Universe and the Characters, NOT posting the original Story as your own.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
docholladay
Updated:

The idea of an "Inspired by writer" universe is a storyteller/writer say's I could write a story based on the same basic plot line and locale, yet have the story be mine. The story or plot is inspired by another writer's work or painting or song in some cases. Written in a new story, some are good ones but still inspired by the work of someone else. Is that stealing? And what harm is it to then place that story in a special universe named after the writer or artist who inspired the story.

edited to add: And why don't all you legal experts instead of just tearing apart ideas. Spend half that time in finding ways that will work.

Ross at Play
Updated:

Can anyone answer this simple question?
Do you believe this statement in #2 of the Author Agreement is entirely accurate?

You retain all copyrights that you may have for the work.

My answer is "No!"

To be 'entirely accurate', I think something like this is needed:

The site may treat stories as being in the public domain if the author has not specified otherwise to the site in writing, and evidence suggests the author has abandoned their stories or died. The site may deem that is so if the author has not contacted the site for five years and they do not respond to emails sent to their last known email address.

Let me spell out for the umpteenth fucking time, I do not disagree with the policy Lazeez has described - at least, not since he clarified 'public domain' may mean some else completing a story in a manner Lazeez deems respectful, but not open slather for anyone else's fan fiction.

I just think if there are any circumstances where the site may not strictly adhere to the letter of copyright laws, it should advise authors in advance of the conditions when that may happen. I cannot think of any valid reason why anyone would not agree with that.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play

@docholladay

And what harm is it to then place that story in a special universe named after the writer or artist who inspired the story.

The 'harm' I see is the original author may not want anyone "corrupting" their creations in any way. They have both the moral and legal right to insist that wish is respected.

joyR
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I have read the bloody agreement and I understood what it says.


What's so fucking outrageous about suggesting that?


Let me spell out for the umpteenth fucking time,


You are not helping yourself by resorting to needless profanity, or for that matter by making spurious claims.

For the sake of your blood pressure it might well be worthwhile to remember that whilst you are entitled to your opinion, everyone else is too.

The mere fact that others disagree with you does not make them wrong, nor is it justification for these angry outbursts.

docholladay

@Ross at Play

The 'harm' I see is the original author may not want anyone "corrupting" their creations in any way. They have both the moral and legal right to insist that wish is respected.


According to your logic. Every gun rig (holster and belt) I made when I was able to do leather work was illegal because the basic design work was not my original idea.

I never said my ideas were perfect or the best answer. Just that they were something to work from. Instead of tearing the idea apart as being illegal. How about spending a little of that time in finding ways that will work. Otherwise all you are doing is being a destroyer which doesn't help anyone. Sure say why my ideas are bad, but how about offering an idea which could work at the same time.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@sunkuwan

If the copyright Law was really gunning for fanfiction Authors and websites, what would Lazeez say?
"I am sorry your Honour, how should I have known that a story about Harry Potter infringes on copyright? I clearly wrote, that my users shouldn't post such things."

It didn't work for Pirate bay and it wouldn't work here. IF the law would ever hunt those issues.


Two items here, and they are different. First one last as it's easier.

1. Pirate Bay got hit because they weren't posting fanfiction, but the original content. That's a different to fanfiction and is a direct copyright violation that's obvious from the start.

2. Fanfiction usually doesn't have the originating author's approval, but there are enough cases out there where the originating author has given some others approval to write fanfiction. Many of the stories that turn up in the Baen Books Grantville Gazette series are written as fanfiction by people the originating author gave approval to. The stories I write in the Damsels in Distress universe are a fanfiction written with the approval of the originating author. Thus there's enough cases and evidence for it not to be a direct slam-dunk copyright violation. Which is why the law is written the way it is.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

The idea of an "Inspired by writer" universe is a storyteller/writer say's I could write a story based on the same basic plot line and locale, yet have the story be mine. The story or plot is inspired by another writer's work or painting or song in some cases. Written in a new story, some are good ones but still inspired by the work of someone else. Is that stealing? And what harm is it to then place that story in a special universe named after the writer or artist who inspired the story.


There are lots of stories out there that would meet the inspired by concept but not meet the Fanfiction definition due to them not using the unique names etc from the original story. All the time travel stories inspired by H.G.Wells' Time Machine aren't fanfiction because they use totally different names etc. for the characters.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Do you believe this statement in #2 of the Author Agreement is entirely accurate?


Yes it is

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

The 'harm' I see is the original author may not want anyone "corrupting" their creations in any way.


Then let them state that in a clear and concise manner, some authors have, but most haven't.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@docholladay

How about spending a little of that time in finding ways that will work.

You asked "What harm?" and I described the harm I saw.

Replies:   docholladay
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

Then let them state that in a clear and concise manner, some authors have, but most haven't.

The 'clear and concise' statement is doing nothing.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
docholladay

@Ross at Play

I admit my idea was not workable. But I have never seen you present any idea that was workable either. Instead you always put down any other idea as being either unworkable or as being illegal. Most of your put downs are based on how illegal the idea is. How about putting up one idea of your own which is legal. Then I might have more respect for your opinion. As long as all you do is destroy I will have no respect for your opinions. At least I am willing to risk being shown how bad my ideas are.

Replies:   Ross at Play  REP  Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play
Do you believe this statement in #2 of the Author Agreement is entirely accurate?
@Ernest Bywater
Yes it is

So nothing has changed.
Once again, I do not object to the policy, my objection is I don't think the Author Agreement adequately informs authors about what may happen to their stories.
I cannot see how authors can be said to "retain all copyrights" if conditions exist where the site may take them away, without their knowledge or consent.
Still, nobody has offered any argument here purporting to explain that discrepancy.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@docholladay

How about putting up one idea of your own which is legal.

I'm not going to contribute ideas for something I prefer does not succeed.
I would prefer a site with less fan fiction and more users reading original fiction.

Replies:   joyR
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I cannot see how authors can be said to "retain all copyrights" if conditions exist where the site may take them away, without their knowledge or consent.
Still, nobody has offered any argument here purporting to explain that discrepancy.


The site can't take their copyright away without their knowledge under any circumstances. There is no discrepancy to explain.

Look, the extension of copyright to author life + x years (x=95 in the US) has created a significant problem.

There is a huge body of orphaned works (music, books, plays, even movies) where the original author has died with no known heirs. The works are technically still under copyright, but no one knows who owns the copyright or even if anyone owns it. No one knows who to ask for permission for republication or production of derivative works.

Even the dead tree publishing industry is being affected by this.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

The 'clear and concise' statement is doing nothing.


I disagree with that view, because most people don't think of possible actions until after someone else asks them about them. Thus nothing is a null state, not a clear statement. Thus, on this aspect I suspect we'll have to agree to disagree, and leave it at that.

joyR

@Ross at Play

I would prefer a site with less fan fiction and more users reading original fiction.


Total stories available 40,189
Stories tagged FanFiction 677

Less than 2%

Obviously with only 98% original fiction is in dire risk, how do you propose to eradicate the 2% overwhelming the site? Extermination?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

THIS IS ALL 'PREACHING TO THE CHOIR' ...

Look, the extension of copyright to author life + x years (x=95 in the US) has created a significant problem.
There is a huge body of orphaned works (music, books, plays, even movies) where the original author has died with no known heirs. The works are technically still under copyright, but no one knows who owns the copyright or even if anyone owns it. No one knows who to ask for permission for republication or production of derivative works.
Even the dead tree publishing industry is being affected by this.

How many times do I need to explain I understand why Lazeez will in some circumstances 'treat a work as being in the public domain'.
*
But that IS taking away the author's copyrights.
*
I'M NOT SAYING DON'T DO THAT. I'M JUST SAYING TELL AUTHORS IN ADVANCE THAT MAY HAPPEN.
Then, any author who does want their work protected for eons, they will know they must write to Lazeez to specify that.
As it is now, they will conclude the exact opposite if they read the Author Agreement.

Ross at Play

@joyR

how do you propose to eradicate the 2% overwhelming the site?

That is good news.
I did not suggest eradicating anything.
I just explained why I would not do anything to help bring more fan fiction on the site.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ross at Play

How many times do I need to explain I understand why Lazeez will in some circumstances 'treat a work as being in the public domain'.

But that IS taking away the author's copyrights.


You seem to be misunderstanding something. Just because I may move a piece of work behind the premier wall, doesn't mean he/she lost copyright.

If the author or their heirs show up, if they simply log in, the work will be returned to general availability and if they exercise their copy rights and ask for removal, I'll comply. They own the copyright and they have the power to compel me to stop publishing it on WLPC's sites.

If it were truly in the public domain, then I don't have to do anything the author says. I could rework it, modify, sell it whatever without the need for permission.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Okay.
Replace 'in the public domain' in what I stated above, which I used quoting you, with 'allow another author to complete an unfinished story without their explicit consent'.
I DO NOT OBJECT THAT YOU MAY DO THAT.
Please explain how that is not the opposite of what an author will assume when they read "retain all copyrights" in the Author Agreement.
THAT IS THE ONLY POINT I'VE BEEN TRYING TO MAKE - if "retain all copyrights" does not mean strictly by the letter of copyright laws, I think the agreement should be changed to specify any differences.
Without some change, I cannot see how they will know they must instruct you in advance if they do not want that to happen.

REP

@docholladay

I admit my idea was not workable.


I think you might want to rethink that Doc. In your post, your explanation of the idea was fairly good until you asked the question "Is that stealing?" You failed to provide a response to support your idea. I would say, No, it is not stealing if my universe is just similar to another universe. It would only be stealing if your universe was a direct parallel to the other universe.

If you really wanted to create such a universe, you could write a general description of the stories that can be posted to your universe. For example, if you wanted to create a universe similar the Harry Potter universe, then you could call it "The Young Mage Universe". Your description could describe it as a public universe for stories about the experiences and adventures of pre-adult Mages.

Regarding stealing, something inspired Rowling to write the stories on which the Harry Potter Universe is based, and Rowling did not/could not copyright that something. If you were inspired by that same something, or by something similar, then Rowling would not be able to claim copyright infringement as long as the characters and stories in your universe are not based on her stories and characters and as long as the stories are not a parallel of what she wrote.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ross at Play

THAT IS THE ONLY POINT I'VE BEEN TRYING TO MAKE - if "retain all copyrights" does not mean strictly by the letter of copyright laws, I think the agreement should be changed to specify any differences.


Now you're starting to sound like you're arguing for the sake of argument and not for some productive end.

If the author comes back and doesn't like the continuation that they themselves failed to provide before their hypothetical long term absence, then they can simply ask for the addition's removal.

Again, they retain absolute control when they're present. That absolute control is not taken away. Copyright is that absolute control.

Providing a continuation of the work is easily covered under clause #3. An unfinished work is not suitable for publishing.

Clauses #2, #3 and #14 give the site all the permissions needed to do these things (and more), but can be unilaterally revoked by a removal request, hence the retained copyright.

Again, to what end are you arguing this?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@docholladay

I admit my idea was not workable.

Attempting to be as constructive as possible ...
A workable idea has already been suggested here: you can create a new public universe. I do not foresee any particular problems if you wanted to name it "Inspired by ..."
My impression is that you're hoping the site will allow the content of stories in these universes to be somehow different to what it currently allows you to post under your own name.
If that is so, I suggest you forget it - there are surely valid reasons for whatever restrictions are currently in place.
I suggest, if you think the current policies of the site regarding fan fiction are too restrictive, you should propose changes to policies that apply to all fan fiction. You might win that argument, but you've no chance of winning any argument if you needlessly complicate the discussion by including a proposal for some new kind of universes.

Ross at Play

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Again, to what end are you arguing this?

Answer - to respect the wishes of an author who has died and, if asked, would have specified they did not want anyone else completing stories they left unfinished. The problem is if they read the Author Agreement they will not know they must tell you in advance that is their wish: they will assume what they want will happen without any need to request it.

Providing a continuation of the work is easily covered under clause #3. An unfinished work is not suitable for publishing.

Come off it! Let me quote #3 so others can see how bizarre that statement is ...

3. You allow Storiesonline, WLPC and its agents to make the necessary changes to make your work suitable for publishing on our sites.

You cannot possibly think anyone would interpret "necessary changes" as meaning anything more than obvious corrections, formatting, and similar things - certainly not allowing someone else to write an ending different to what the author had intended.
I would agree that point does allow you to completely withdraw a story on the grounds it is never going to be completed.
*
I will not post anything more on this thread. You appear determined to maintain you don't understand why the Author Agreement is inadequate.

madnige

@Ross at Play

I will not post anything more on this thread.


Thank you.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

certainly not allowing someone else to write an ending different to what the author had intended.


If Lazeez was actively asking other authors to complete abandoned stories.

However, at least under US law, he has no obligation, none, to proactively police author submissions for copyright violations.

His only obligation is to take down stories if a copyright owner sends him a notice of a violation.

The author agreement doesn't need to be updated to spell this out, because the law as it applies to all websites that host third party content spells that out.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Dominions Son

If Lazeez was actively asking other authors to complete abandoned stories.


I have never heard of him doing that with any of the stories. I doubt he will because that would create a potential conflict of interest. Sure his own stories are a part of the site since his stories were part of the reason for creating this site. (as far as I know)

Replies:   REP
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ross at Play

You appear determined to maintain you don't understand why the Author Agreement is inadequate.


I understand why YOU think the author agreement is inadequate. I don't agree with you. I think it is what it needs to be.

First, it has never happened yet that somebody tried or wanted to try to finish an abandoned serial that they didn't start. I only mentioned it because I hope it happens and I would like to allow it.

The author agreement can't anticipate how each author would interpret the agreement or what they expect/want.

Example 1: Despite having the 'No characters under 14 involved in sex' we get daily submissions that have it and we reject them.

Example 2: Just the other day an author blew up at me demanding that I stop stripping their html code and styling and post their submissions to look as they designed them, despite #3 and despite SOL having been working this way with its own CMS providing default styling to every submission for the last 13 years.

So different authors understand things differently and I can't be responsible for spelling out each minute use case in a manner that all authors would understand them all in the same way as I meant them. The author agreement is a blanket agreement. It covers needed use cases without specifying each and every one of them. We work from the point of view that authors read the agreement, understand it as we meant it.

Other authors have tried explaining to you that the agreement already covers the use case that concerns you so much and yet you refuse to accept that fact. In a case like you, we'll need an impartial arbitrator/judge. And I'm not sure you would even accept their ruling if it doesn't agree with you.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I understand why YOU think the author agreement is inadequate.

Thank you.

it has never happened yet that somebody tried or wanted to try to finish an abandoned serial that they didn't start.

I doubt I'd have argued the agreement needs to be changed if you had said it was something that had never happened in many years.

docholladay

I admit that the idea of the "Inspired by writer", etc. Universes would because of the "Inspired by" portion of the universe name be a public domain type universe with rules if any set by the administrators of this site.

Of course the legal experts might have a better more workable method or even the many writer/storytellers here on SOL.

As the saying goes it is just an idea and not something set in stone.

I just wanted to hopefully get people to try and find something which could work and benefit everyone.

REP

@docholladay

I have never heard of him doing that with any of the stories.


If you go back, Lazeez said he would consider allowing someone to complete a story. He wasn't recruiting someone.

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