“Writing from and for others”: the fan fiction illegitimate authorship
As a work of fiction written by fans for other fans taking a source text as a point of departure, fan fiction seems to question some of the most important cornerstones of modern literary writing such as original creativity and intellectual property. This peculiar kind of writing therefore raises problems of both legal and artistic nature. Is it legal to write using someone else’s story and characters without his permission? Where is the boundary between the rights of the author and the rights of the reader? Can a transformative writing aspire to authorship?
All those controversial subjects were almost invisible as long as fan fiction was a private practice published in fanzines and read during conventions. But nowadays, on the Internet the invisible – so to speak – has become visible and fan fiction has to cope with new challenges (censorship, criticism, external rules) as well as old habits (ethical constraints, open discussions, self-imposed rules).
This article examines the complex nature of online fan fiction both on the legal and on the authorial side and shows how a fan fiction community works and organizes itself through the analysis of the largest Italian community, Efpfanfic.net.
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