July 20, 2015

Fan Fiction, Fair Use, and Commercialization

W. Michael Schuster II, Oklahoma State University, has published Fair Use and Licensing of Derivative Fiction: A Discussion of Possible Latent Effects of the Commercialization of Fan Fiction at 55 South Texas Law Review 529 (2014). Here is the abstract.

Commercial distribution of fan fiction (e.g., Amazon’s Kindle Worlds) is viewed as a great step forward by some fan authors. These individuals point out that for-profit distribution allows authors of fan fiction to reap the profits associated with the hard work put into drafting their new stories. However, it is possible that commercialization may have unforeseen, negative consequences. This Article evaluates how commercial sales may hinder the production of noncommercial fan fiction by undermining the assertion that fan fiction is a “fair use” and, thus, does not represent an actionable copyright infringement. Specifically, this Article describes how commercial distribution creates a market to license the right to draft fan fiction, and how such a market may negatively impact the assertion that fan fiction is a fair use. 

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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