Re: Question about monetization and fanfiction

#1
I have a bit of a rules question. Sorry if this is the wrong section for this, but I couldn't find any dedicated rules thread (probably missed a clearly marked one too).

I'm creating a story that's set in the universe of the tabletop RPG "Masks". It only uses the location it takes place in and the main governmental organization headquartered within that city. The characters are all mine. The plotlines are mine. The story arcs are mine. Hell, even a lot of things regarding the stuff that I actually AM using from the game have been changed somewhat to be mine (for example, the "Exemplars" superhero team that is prominent in their fiction has been replaced by a different superhero team in my series). So while it takes place in Halcyon City from the game, and while the main characters work with AEGIS (an organization from the game), just about everything else in this story was created by me.

I've spoken to Magpie Games, the creators and owners of the game. The game is registered under Creative Commons and they gave me full written permission to write and monetize my story. So there isn't a copyright issue to be had.

My question is whether, according to Royal Roads rules, the story would still be considered Fanfiction and thus not eligible to have an active Patreon link in the profile? I didn't see anything in the FAQs regarding such a potential gray area.

Re: Question about monetization and fanfiction

#2
 When you use any CC material, you must:
  • always attribute the creator of the work (for information on how to attribute a work, see information guide, ‘How to Attribute Creative Commons Material’);
  • get permission from the creator to do anything that goes beyond the terms of the licence (e.g. making a commercial use of the work or creating a derivative work where the licence does not permit this);
  • keep any copyright notice attached to the work intact on all copies of the work;
  • indicate and link to the licence from any copies of the work; and
  • where you make changes to the work, acknowledge the original work and indicate that changes have been made (eg by stating ‘This is a French translation of the original work, X’).
 

In addition, when you use any CC material, you must not:

 alter the terms of the licence;
  • use the work in any way that is prejudicial to the reputation of the creator of the work;
  • imply that the creator is endorsing or sponsoring you or your work; or
  • add any technologies (such as digital rights management) to the work that restrict other people from using it under the terms of the licence.
At the end of the day, I do think it would still fall under a fan-fiction, because Creative Commons is a way of waiving/giving access to some rights over your IP while protecting certain others- vs public domain where no one owns the source material in any way. So it depends on the creative commons license the company has opted for- but if it falls under commercial use I'd say you'd still need express permission from the license holder (I misread the post, didn't see that you had permission already)- and even then it would still have to be labeled a fanfiction or it would be unfair to the license holder. 

I think you should submit a support ticket to the website owners along with the relevant proof and wait for a response, add a disclaimer as chapter 0 before you start writing- and you should be fine, I think. 

Though from what you're saying- if 90 percent of your work is original and only 10 percent of the world borrows from the creative commons world- you might be suited to transforming it into completely original work and enjoy copyright protections from inception along with full monetization rights. I say that because of your emphasis on how the characters, story arcs, modified themes are all yours (which from a legal standpoint doesn't matter- borrowing someone else's world is enough to lose the protections of original work), might be what you're looking for. 

Just my 0.02$, feel free to ignore. 


Re: Question about monetization and fanfiction

#5

RavensDagger Wrote: Daotist seems to have covered most of it. 

Donations (like through Patreon and Paypal) are a strange legal grey zone. It's never gone to court yet (as far as I know) so it's still up in the air. 

Honestly, I'd just rename any elements you're taking from the game. They sound generic enough that no one would be bothered.


Patreon and fanfiction- seems like an interesting topic to write a research paper on. From what I gather though, it's probably more of a logistics issue than a legal issue. The money involved in such transactions is not enough for big IP holders to take notice and jurisdiction issues would be my guess. 

Re: Question about monetization and fanfiction

#6

Daoist Wrote: Patreon and fanfiction- seems like an interesting topic to write a research paper on. From what I gather though, it's probably more of a logistics issue than a legal issue. The money involved in such transactions is not enough for big IP holders to take notice and jurisdiction issues would be my guess.

It is a major grey zone. Pretty much all old fanfiction writers are extremely wary about people trying to profit from fanfiction. They remember the era when influential writers tried to stop fanfiction of their works being written and how Anne Rice's lawyers threatened her fans. Things settled down when everyone quietly agreed to keep fanfiction on places like fanfiction.net and not try to make money off it. Then Patreon came about and threw a spanner in the works.

And then there's the question of the ongoing double standard: making money off fanart is a lot more acceptable than for fanfiction.

Re: Question about monetization and fanfiction

#7

wedgetail Wrote:
Daoist Wrote: Patreon and fanfiction- seems like an interesting topic to write a research paper on. From what I gather though, it's probably more of a logistics issue than a legal issue. The money involved in such transactions is not enough for big IP holders to take notice and jurisdiction issues would be my guess.

It is a major grey zone. Pretty much all old fanfiction writers are extremely wary about people trying to profit from fanfiction. They remember the era when influential writers tried to stop fanfiction of their works being written and how Anne Rice's lawyers threatened her fans. Things settled down when everyone quietly agreed to keep fanfiction on places like fanfiction.net and not try to make money off it. Then Patreon came about and threw a spanner in the works.

And then there's the question of the ongoing double standard: making money off fanart is a lot more acceptable than for fanfiction.
 

I feel like it's more of a moral grey zone (fan backlash, etc.) than a legal one considering the law is pretty clear on the matter. But on the other hand, modern copyright laws are highly inadequate and struggle to deal with such issues, mainly because before they can get to addressing one the landscape of the internet completely changes and creates even more complex issues that get progressively harder to address so I get that side of the argument as well. Laws take time to make, but the internet can completely transform in a matter of seconds. 

Anyway, I won't delve deeper into the matter- just found it a bit interesting. It's all my 0.02$ so there's no need to take me seriously. 

Re: Question about monetization and fanfiction

#8
Thanks for the responses, everyone. I probably will take the route of submitting a support ticket once all is said and done.

I just want to address the recommendation that everyone else has made regarding just changing the elements of the story to something else:

--Technically speaking, it probably is the best way to go and that's certainly not off the table, but there are a few other concepts that I've borrowed from the game, including the various "generations" of superheroes and a story arc (my "Eternity Sonata" arc is very derivative of their "Apocalypse Sonata" playset, insofar as they're both "trips into space to find pieces of a song that can destroy the universe before an alien emperor does"). It gets to the point where--at least I feel--that people would see me as ripping off of them if I started making these slight tweaks, whereas openly attributing these elements to them sort of dispels that a bit. "Hey, you ripped off of Masks' Apocalypse Sonata playset" versus "Wow, this is an interesting twist on Masks' Apocalypse Sonata playset". 

Admittedly, their game is very derivative of superhero fiction as a whole (that's the point of the game. You essentially are playing as your own Create-A-Teen-Titan) so it would be very hard to write any superhero fiction without overlapping with one of their game concepts, but even still.......

--I'm sort of hoping that with my series' connection to the game, that the game developers might help promote it (they'll often highlight particularly interesting stories and/or gaming sessions that take place in their game's universe).

--It just feels right for them to be in the place that they are. I know it's dumb as the story has only existed since May and only in my deranged mind, but to tell me that my superhero characters shouldn't be operating in Halcyon City is like trying to say that Batman should be looking over Philadelphia. BLASPHEMY!


To be honest, your suggestions of just renaming these things has been on my mind for a long time and I can do it if absolutely need be, but I just wanted to put that off unless absolutely necessary. For all the [not necessarily good] reasons above, I prefer to keep the story as is. I remember reading the introduction blurb to the game on my phone while I was working. I created my main protagonist and two supporting characters in 20 minutes, while working no less (writing dry research reports highlighting financial crimes doesn't exactly get the creative juices flowing), so I really do feel a connection between the game's setting and my story. I do fully recognize that my reasons for not just making these changes is at least as much emotional as they are logistical.

Re: Question about monetization and fanfiction

#10
Having reread everyone's comments, I've decided that I am going to go ahead and change the elements so that they aren't related to the game at all.

I realized that my work falls too much into that gray area that I really don't want it in otherwise, and as someone else said here, I lose many of the copyright protections over my own characters and story if it's connected to an existing universe.

Plus, there is also more fun to this. While my main series will be available for free, there is certain content that I plan to only provide to my Patrons (a companion miniseries, a Halloween short story, a creation myth one-shot, and probably a couple others). Probably not the best thing for a story that is "not fanfiction, but also not NOT fanfiction".

Thanks to everyone for giving me a bit of perspective to it. I'll have to get used to the changes. It sucks as an author, but it is what it is.