Fan Fiction vs Copyrights

Graphic by Gayle Martin

I recall once having an interesting chat with a fellow author at a writer’s convention. He was telling me about another writer he knew who apparently got into serious trouble with Paramount. This other writer had allegedly written a very adult oriented Star Trek story, and Paramount had apparently taken issue with the way he used their characters.

As I recall, Star Trek conventions got started so the fans, or Trekkies, as they called themselves, could share their fan stories. However, it was a different time. Back then fanfiction authors wrote with pen and paper and they kept their stories in their notebooks. Self publishing didn’t exist. There was no Internet, no blogs, no Kindle. (I know. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?)

Times have indeed changed. Today a fan writer can write his or her own Star Trek story in their blog or post it on a fan forum. Their motive may be sincere. However, their devotion to their favorite TV show could, potentially, put them in legal hot water. I’m not an attorney, nor am I giving legal advice. That said, it is common knowledge that the rights to any artistic creation, including works of fiction, belong to the person or persons who created it.

I write my own unique stories with my own characters. However, if I were to include someone else’s character, for whatever reason, I would get their permission first. It’s only common courtesy. It could also be an opportunity for me to reach out and connect with another author. Most importantly, it would save me the worry of possibly getting a nasty letter from someone’s attorney.

For more information on copyright law, or if you have questions or concerns about something you may be writing, or may have published, please consult with a copyright attorney.

Gayle Martin

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