I have recently been informed by a long time friend and beta that there is a community on Facebook downloading and sharing fanfictions without author permission.
I had a discussion with one of the admins of this community last night and they claim their reasons for doing this is are: a.) they don’t want to lose good fics when sites go down (understandable, but many of the fanfictions on the list that was screen capped and sent to me are active fics on big name fanfic sites like Fanfiction.net and AO3, and so are not in danger of being lost anytime soon), b.) authors don’t really own their fanfictions anywhere since it’s copyright infringing (incorrect, legally, as the fair use and derivative works clauses in copyright law allow for fanfiction and fanart copyrights to belong to their respective creators, despite being based upon someone else’s original copyright. It is the reason authors are able to pitch their already-written novel series and sequels for well-knowng copyrighted stories to publishing houses, for instance. Legal precedent for this has been established multiple times in a court of law in both England and the United States).
I requested my fanfictions be removed from that community and the admin finally agreed to do so after much discussion. I was thankful for her respecting my wishes.
Saying that, I just want to reiterate where I stand on the issue of people downloading my fanfiction and reposting it elsewhere:
- Download to read offline or print out a copy for your private enjoyment (not to share) - OK.
- Download so you can upload them to another site to share liberally with others without author permission - NOT OK.
- Download so you can upload them to another site and translate them without author permission - NOT OK.
- Download so you can upload them to another site and pretend to be that author because you’re a stalker or someome who trolls/harasses others for fun - NOT OK.
Believe it or not, that last actually happened to me, which is the reason I have specifically requested communities within this fandom respect my wishes not to download my stories and store them for public consumption elsewhere. It is incredibly difficult to convince other sites (especially Wattpad and Fanfiction.net) to investigate and remove accounts that are stealing your works, much less accounts pretending to be you and stealing your identity. It took me three months of fighting with Wattpad, for instance, to get them to remove someone who did just this with “When Love and Hate Collide” a few years ago. The site “FMyLife” still has not obeyed my request to remove the fake account there pretending to be me, and it’s been years. Identity theft by rabid, strange fans can be a serious problem, and combating it can be extremely time-consuming and taxing. It can also kill a muse quickly.
Let me be clear: my stories are specifically housed on certain sites (Fanfiction.net, AO3, Livejournal) because those sites provide excellent feedback for me regarding the readership’s wants/desires/thoughts (and stats for visitors). I value that input in my writing, and it keeps my muse alive so I can keep producing more works and finish older ones. When someone tromps all over my copyright or steals from me, it discourages my want to remain in this fandom or contribute to it.
I think we all understand that this fandom is shrinking and that can cause anxiety in some. Every fandom goes through these kinds of pains as people move on and acquire other interests, however. It is the nature of life to progress. However, there is also the problem of bullying and theft in fandom that appears to be rampant, and those actions ruin a good thing. Let’s not be part of that problem, for it only further shrinks the fandom.
1. Please respect authors and artists in your fandom.
2. No matter your good intentions, don’t share/retranslate/’borrow’ lines from a story without permission.
3. If a fanfic or fanart is still active on a website where the author/artist originally housed it, point fans to the URL where it is currently housed. Visitors and reviews are love and inspiration for authors and artists!
4. If a fanfic/fanart is inactive because a site goes down (not because the author/artist pulls it), try to find the original author/artist to get permission to share their works elsewhere. Only once you’ve exhausted a thorough search for them, only then would I say that file sharing is fine, so long as you do not try to claim authorship/artistship of the piece by posting it under your name. If the author/artist finds you doing this and asks you to remove it, however, do so without question. The story/art is theirs, not yours.
5. If an author/artist takes their fanfiction/fanart down, please respect their wishes not to repost it somewhere and pass it around (many of them pull their fics to republish in an original story format or their art to put them into an artbook for sale, and you are jeopardizing their ability to make a living by doing this).
Thank you for reading and respecting authors/artists in our fandom!