thedeadparrot (thedeadparrot) wrote,

Creative Commons and Fanfiction

So Cory Doctorow put an entire book of short stories of his on the internet under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License, which is kind of cool and kind of interesting.

This licence explicitly states that you can modify the work and distribute the changes any way you want as long as you a) credit him for writing whatever he wrote, b) don't make any money off of it, and c) license your work under the same license. Those of you familiar with such things will recognize that this license is a whole lot like, but not identical to, the GNU GPL, which is used for licensing code and has been the cornerstone of the free software/open source movement.

What's interesting about this is that it completely legalizes fanfiction, which is something that tends to live in a legal gray area. I doubt that these particular stories have enough fangirl appeal to really form an actual fandom, and even then, they probably don't have the depth necessary to spark fanfiction (which isn't a slight, really. Most short stories don't).

But what if the work was something that did inspire fanfiction? I mean, in the Yuletide Archive there are 1009 different fandoms represented, some of which are things like Penny Arcade, a web comic. If more authors also start releasing books like this (which is up to debate, of course), it's entirely plausible that one year, a novel licensed under this particular license will spark some sort of fanfiction.

And that brings up the question of whether or not the written fanfiction is automatically licensed under the same license. Or would it just exist in the same legal gray area that it does at this moment? Would fanfiction authors want it that way? Ideas in fandom spread pretty far, which is how fanon happens, but would a change like this mean more fanfiction fanfiction? More blatant fanfiction fanfiction, at least?

I think that it wouldn't, in my mind, at least. Fandom does take to changes pretty easily, but this is more of an etiquette thing than a legal thing, so while it would be nice to be legally protected while writing fanfiction, I doubt it would significantly change the way fandom works.

Anyone else have thoughts?
Tags: meta
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