As a fanfic writer you KNOW that you can’t make money off of your works because you work with copyrighted material. Fanzines are spread with no eye on earning money; the costs barely cover the printing and postage. Or, these days, fanzines are spread as pdf format with the approval of the Authors; most of the time fanzines get produced because of a charity fundraiser and authors donate a story specifically for those zines.
Fanfic writers get madly pissed off when someone plagiarizes them and they’re well in their rights because even though the characters are ‘copyrighted’, the story is their own. It’s their words. Their heart and soul poured into them and fortunately, most fandoms are great when it comes to plagiarizers and their victims.
To stop people from stealing my work (plagiarizing or making pdfs and spread the joy), I post to ffnet, which has an anti-copy/paste code in their website, my own website (which has the same sort of protection) and a website where you have to log in to read/post stories called BetterInTexas. (Yes, I may be slightly less protected there, but the people there are good and respectful towards authors and there is no doubt in my mind that ‘evildoers’ will be handled adequately.)
Last year, or maybe even the year before that, I was asked to make my work available for downloading so people can read it offline, and I don’t really want that because that also means opening up the words to being able to be stolen. But I told this person that this was HER copy, and if I see it show up somewhere else, I know where to look to. (This story was Sanctuaire, btw) This person asked nicely and promised to stick to her word and my instructions, and up until this day, I haven’t encountered a pdf of it floating around.
Today, I encountered something that enraged me. Now, I have to tell you that when it comes to fandom/fanfics I am one of the most easy going people there are. Which is strange, because I shouldn’t be. But I’m generally considered to be a NICE person.
What happened? Someone – whom I’m not friends with, mind you – SOMEHOW ripped Fractured Marionette off of ffnet and shared it in a group I’m a member of on facebook (thankfully the admins are awesome and quickly deleted that post amongst the others she posted). Apparently there are websites around that where you copy/paste the URL of your fave story in, it creates a pdf for you.
Granted, this person did give proper credit to me and linked to the story within the pdf but WHY?!
WHY? Why would you do that? It’s great that you’re enjoying the story and all, and wish to share it with the rest of the world, but don’t spread the damn pdf! Or make a pdf at all! These days there’s wifi or mobile internet EVERYWHERE, there’s no need for ‘offline reading’ if you don’t want to. Hell, if you have a tablet or mobile phone, there are apps that can download the stories ‘offline’ and they’re very good, but they don’t leave a pdf on your phone or tablet and that’s fine. You won’t be able to share it.
Most Authors will state in their ffnet profile or on their websites that there’s a blanket permission slip for you to create pdfs or podfics. If there’s no such thing there, why do it?
WHY spread the pdf and not share a link to the story? That way, new readers can leave reviews on the story and the author can see the view count for that story go up.
Also; the making of the pdf and sharing was done WITHOUT consent from the author. Me. No message on ffnet, or through my website, nada.
I can hear you think; ‘But the story is awesome and it’s not like you can have control over it because it’s not protected as it’s fandom so I do what I want!’
No. No. NO. This mindset is wrong for different reasons.
- The Author loses control. – As I stated before, I post only to certain sites because of the anti theft thing they’ve got going.
The chance of the pdf falling into the wrong (aka plagiarizing) hands is HUGE, but some Authors I know are more than willing to part with a pdf of their stories. Just ask them.
While yes, legally, the Author doesn’t have a foot to stand on, it’s an UNWRITTEN rule in fandom that you ALWAYS ask the author for permission. Most of the time the author will provide a PDF for you that’s better organized than the one you use tools for to rip off a protected website.
- By sharing something willy nilly it shows that you don’t show any respect to the Author, who, in the case of Fractured Marionette, has spent MONTHS writing on that story, creating an engaging work of art for you to enjoy. The Author takes care of the distribution, they don’t need your help. We may not own the characters and the universe, but we do own the time spent writing on it, and creating the plot.
- And what about the loss of views? Had you simply shared the link to the story, the story would get more views and there’s ample opportunity to leave reviews. Kudos. While we write our stories FOR FREE (and mostly for ourselves), spent HOURS to create content, we do thrive on reviews and view counts 🙂 Take that away from us and well…
If you really think about it; creating pdfs of a fic without the Author’s consent is considered stealing. Guess what else is considered stealing in fandom (or in the real world)? Plagiarism. Sure, the intent may be different; but it’s still stealing. And stealing is wrong.
It’s an unspoken rule of fandom/fanfic writing that you treat the works as art, as books you can buy but now are able to read for free. Leave them where they are on the sites that they are without spreading the offline versions of it without the permission of the Author.
Hey, let’s do a little math;
First document created: August 29th 2015
Last document modified: November 15, 2015
This means that I wrote 101,455 words in 11 weeks. 1300 words on average a day. I wrote it. I did the research. I edited it. I formatted it and I distributed it. FOR FREE. All in those 11 weeks.
(side note: I am insane, who writes a complete, long fic in 11 weeks?)
100.000 words is about 300 pages of a book; a book you’d have to pay for if it wasn’t fanfiction and it would cost you about 27 dollars for the printing process. That’s without a profit.
I chose to distribute it to THREE websites and not as PDF because it’s my work. My art. My stuff to share with YOU. Me to get all the credit because I WROTE IT.
My work as a gift to the fandom.
And then you stole it and decide to spread the pdf as if it’s nothing. As if it’s not available EVERYWHERE.
I get it that pdfs are shared when authors remove their work from the internet, but so far, I’ve never removed fanfic off the internet (this is a lie: When I first started writing/posting online in 2004 my stuff was crap and uninteresting) and all my recent stuff IS STILL THERE. There’s no reason for you to do this.
Am I opposed to PDFs? Well… yes. Because it opens up the possibility to be plagiarized. The one pdf that I created for that girl who wanted a pdf of Sanctuaire? She’s still on my friends list on Facebook because I am still not comfortable of her having it. But I trust her. Fandom is based on trust. Respect. Love. Kudos. Mutually.
Also; she asked and adheres to the rules I set for her having that copy.
You, however, did nothing of the sort. My wifey says you’re an asshole for breaking fandom rules. Well done. *slow clap*
Thanks to you I’m going to have to experiment with not fully posting my stories to ffnet and thus likely losing eyeballs on my words and less people to enjoy them. I do not want to do this, but this will NOT happen to me again.
Congratulate yourself for making a very mellow Buggy a very pissed off one.