Exactly what I was thinking of mentioning here. I myself enjoy reading
fan fiction web sites, full of third-party free stories, but let's not
forget they run a large risk by getting out there and releasing this
stuff. Legally I've heard of cases where it has gone both ways. Free
fan fiction is sort of a legal gray area, and I'm not familiar enough
here with the case law to give you any kind of statistics. However, I
can say this.
I've known of a number of cases were the original copyright holder
heard about a fan fiction web site hosting free stories based on his
books/movies. They turned around took them to court were they ended up
getting the fan fiction web site shut down, and the author had to pay
some sort of fines to the copyright holder for copyright infringement.
So putting it out there for free and saying I have the right to do
this doesn't mean it won't come back to haunt you and give you grief.
On the good side I've also heard of cases where the oppisite
happened. The copyright holder took the fan fiction site and/or the
author to court and lost his/her case. Apparently there is some
dispute amung courts as how to handle free fan fiction, where to draw
the lines as far as the law is concerned, and in the case of free fan
fiction those cases were won on the author's basic right to freedom of
speech. The fact the material was released as free, and the original
author was given credit helped them win their case. However, we can't
always expect a court to render that sort of judgment all of the time
as I've mentioned above.
When you use a specific copyright you always run a risk of getting
crosswise with the copyright holder and getting dragged into court
over it. There is no absolute certainty you will win your case, and
not have to pay for it in the end. No matter how unfair, unreasonable,
or unjust you might see it copyright law is something you have to
consider before going public with a product or free project that might
infringe upon an existing copyright. Personally I think it really is
unfair, but who ever said life is fair?
On 4/19/10, Bryan Peterson <bpeterson2...@cableone.net> wrote:
> Michael, jst because someone else has done it doesn't necessarily mean that
> everyone would. I've heard of web sites being shut down for hosting
> fanfiction based on a given movie, game or book, and yes it was the original
> copyright holder who did it. Releasing something as freeware is no absolute
> guarantee that you won't at the very least be ordered to cease all
> distribution of the product and destroy it. That's why not many of our
> developers have actually done this.
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