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Thursday, April 20, 2006

No HOPE for this Fanficcer

10011154 Lori Jareo, a self-published author, is selling her fanfic STAR WARS novel ANOTHER HOPE as a print-on-demand title on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. Apparently, neither Amazon nor Barnes & Noble looked at the book before they listed it for sale.  Jareo talks about the obvious copyright violation issues in a Q&A on her website:

Q: Having set Another Hope in an already existing universe, I find myself wondering if there was any concern on your part regarding copyrights?

No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.

Q: I also wonder how far a writer is allowed to write in a world and to use characters introduced by another author?

If it’s not a commercial project, I don’t see any problem.

It's not a commerical project...but she's selling it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and offering it for sale on her website). What a moron.  She even had the chutzpah to copyright her novel. She offered this disclaimer on the book:

The characters in this book are trademarks of Lucasfilm Ltd. The publisher of this book is not affiliated with Lucasfilm.

As if those two sentences would make it okay to publish and sell a STAR WARS novel without permission from Lucasfilm, the rights-holder. The stupidity of the author and her publisher (which is herself) is mind-boggling.

I'm told by sources in-the-know that LucasFilm and Ingram, one of the nation's largest book distributors (and the folks who supply B&N and Amazon) are now aware of the infringement and aren't happy about it.  I don't think you'll see this fanfic listed on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for much longer.  And in the wake of this embarrassing episode, I believe the major online booksellers will be seriously rethinking their system for listing P.O.D. titles...

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to get to work on my self-published sequel to THE DAVINCI CODE. I don't think Dan Brown or Simon & Schuster will mind.

UPDATE 4-21-06: Lori's ANOTHER HOPE site has been shut down. That was fast. Lucasfulm must have hit her like a nuclear bomb.

UPDATE 4-22-06: How many different ways can you call someone stupid? Check out what the blogs are saying about Lori Jareo. Images

Here's a sampling of some of the blog headlines:  "The Stupid Is Strong With This One," "Behold: The Greatest Story of Stupidity Ever Told," "I Bet She Finds Our Lack of Faith Disturbing," "Feel The Stupid," "The World's Stupidest Human," "Soooo Amazingly Stupid," "Good Lord, How Stupid Can A Person Be?" and "Face Palm, Head Desk, and a Generous Smattering of WTF?"  GalleyCat reports that she even listed her fanfic STAR WARS novel in her bio for a poetry conference!

In this case, the fanfic community and I are in total agreement.

UPDATE 4-26-06: ANOTHER HOPE is no longer listed on Amazon. It's still listed on Barnes & Noble, but with the note: "A new copy is not available from Barnes & Noble.com at this time." I have to wonder how anyone at B&N could have read the material submitted for the ANOTHER WORLD listing and  not  realized that it infringed on Lucasfilm's trademarks and copyrights. Here's the B&N listing:

FROM THE PUBLISHER

It is a dark time; the evil Galactic Empire rules with a titanium fist. A small band of rebels, led by Imperial Senator Princess Leia, has stolen plans to the Empire’s weapon of ultimate destruction, the Death Star, in hopes of finding a weakness that might allow them to neutralize the Empire’s fearsome weapon. Then the Empire’s most dreaded agent, Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader, captures Princess Leia and brings her aboard the Death Star itself for interrogation.

Little does the Princess know that she has a secret ally aboard the Death Star, who will help her bring the rebellion into a final, catastrophic encounter with the Empire. And little does the Empire’s leaders know that the Dark Lord himself harbors a secret with explosive consequences for the galaxy...

Another Hope is Lori Jareo’s first full-length novel. She has also written technical manuals, how-to articles for the manufacturing technology sector, software help, and blogs for Macintosh computers. Lori works full-time as a book editor and lives with her family in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been a Star Wars fan since 1977.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

"In the remarkable genre of apocryphal Star Wars mythology comes Lori Jareo’s Another Hope. Mixing familiar moments from Lucas’s first Star Wars film with a mass of new story material, Jareo gives us an alternative history of what happened on Tatooine, Alderaan and the Death Star based more soundly on the now-complete three prequel episodes. We get a delightful new character, Ryoo Naberrie, a gutsy underling on the Death Star; backstage details of that space fortress; the politics of Darth Vader’s henchmen, and more insight into Vader himself; and the story of the Organas, Princess Leia’s adoptive parents. Best of all, Biggs, Luke Skywalker’s old wingman, has been promoted from the status of ‘Ensign Jones’ (the ill-fated Enterprise crewman from another mythology, who is always the fourth man on the Away Team and who never comes back) to the glory of being a regular hero."— Frederick Turner, author of Genesis: An Epic Poem

UPDATE 4-27-06: Lev Grossman talks about the controversy on NPR today. He sees Jareo as an "unsung hero" of the wired universe.

UPDATE 5-4-06: Lori Jareo certainly didn't behave like someone not interested in profiting from her fanfic. Chris Meadows found a listing in a church newsletter announcing  Jareo's book and how to buy it.

St. Timothy's members Kevin Walzer       and Lori Jareo both would like to announce the publication of their       new books. Kevin's book is called Austere Offices (ISBN: 1933456043)       and is a book of poems about corporate life. Lori's book is called Another       Hope (ISBN: 1933456027) and her book is a Star Wars-themed science fiction       novel. Both are available on Amazon.com. Both Kevin and Lori will be reading       from their new books at Over Coffee on December 3. Kevin begins reading       at 7:00 p.m. and Lori follows at 7:30 p.m. Over Coffee is located at the       corner of Clough and Eight Mile. There is a nice children's area and kids       are welcome.

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» Around Here, We Call This Kind Of Person A Fucktard from Tod Goldberg
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because he has more lawyers than you to lubricate him. And after youre done, hell do you next, and you wont have good enough lawyers to lubricate you. Why would anyone try to steal from George Lucas (Star Wars) and sell... [Read More]

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Comments

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According to the Amazon rankings, this unlicensed is currently outselling hundreds of thousands of real novels by real novelists. (Including mine, but I'll try not to be bitter; maybe next time I should remember to throw in some cameo appearances, like Matlock or Robocop.)

It should be interesting to see how this impacts the fanfic community. If this turns into something more than the author being served with a cease and desist order, that is. I figured that this kind of stuff is pretty much inevitable and, while Lucasfilm has been okay with fan works that did not infringe on copyrighted characters, they do frown on people illegally making money off of their characters. If she gets smacked with a plagarism suit, it could get real ugly. If Lucasfilm doesn't deal with this harshly, then other fanfic novels with start to appear. And it won't stop with Star Wars, it will spread to Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica (old and new), Harry Potter, The X-Files, Smallville, and any and all shows/properties with large fan communities.

Write your own damn story! Just change the names and settings and call it a homage. It's what real beginning writers do.

I wonder how many are buying it in the hope it will become a collectors item like Duff Beer did?

One thing with this one though, if they buy it through Amazon or B&N, then I am sure they wont have too much trouble tracking the majority of them down to be returned.

That opens the other question, will Lucasfilm try and have the ones already sold returned?
cheers
Dave

It's the Dubbaya defence. Yes the law is the law but not for me (or POD in this case)

I might expect this from a 16-year-old with no experience in professional writing or publishing. But Jareo states on her Website that, "She has also written technical manuals, how-to articles for the manufacturing technology sector, software help, and blogs for Macintosh computers. Lori works full-time as a book editor . . . "

Oh, okay, so it's not copyright infringement if you don't tell anyone you're a thief. Cool.

Oh, okay, so it's not copyright infringement if you don't tell anyone you're a thief. Cool.

Nope, still is.

This has been going on forever with Xena Warrior Princess fan fiction and uber fiction. It's a thriving industry and those doing it, and their rabid fans, are clueless that they are doing anything wrong. The insist that they are writing and reading original work. On the dozens of mailing lists dedicatd to this uber fiction, anyone who raises the points of copyright and trademark infringement gets trashed and harassed. There have even been death threats.

Oh dear.

Hate to say it of a fellow fan but in the immortal words of Forrest Gump (or was it his mother?) 'stupid is as stupid does'

Sigh. Off to contemplate writing some original fic.

MH

Lee-

I've got a high-concept for you. Dr. Mark Sloan is in Washington DC for a medical conference, and meets FBI Agent Mulder. (You're the writer, think of a logical way for that to happen.) Senators are mysteriously disappearing. Dr. Sloan and Agent Mulder begin to investigate, following a lead to London where they meet a British agent named Bond. The twisted trail of cross and double cross eventually leads the Three Investigators to the lair of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and a mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man, who are kidnapping senators and replacing them with mindless robots (CSM claims no one will notice the difference). They are doing all this from an underground volcano base in Central London. In a cataclysmic battle, the Three Investigators defeat Blofeld and CSM and save the world. In a twist ending, Bond returns to his offices to file a report, Mulder resigns from the FBI, and Dr. Sloan walks into the sunset with the female lead, Ivanna Doitwithu.

Okay, Lee. There's the idea. You write it, I'll split it with you. 60/40; it's my idea, so I get the bigger percentage. All you have to do is sit down at your computer and expand the plot, develop characters, dialogue, put some commas in and stuff like that. (Oh yeah..make sure Chili Palmer makes a cameo appearance!)

We can publish it POD, sell through Amazon and B&N until Jerry or Steven read it and offer us a gozillion dollars for the screen rights. I feel fairly confident that Dick Van Dyke, Chris Carter, Elmore Leonard, and especially Barbara Broccoli won't mind a bit.

P.S. Anyone who takes this seriously needs LOTS more coffee.....

This is soooo wrong. In so many ways.

Dr. Mark Sloan is in Washington DC for a medical conference, and meets FBI Agent Mulder. (You're the writer, think of a logical way for that to happen.) Senators are mysteriously disappearing. Dr. Sloan and Agent Mulder begin to investigate, following a lead to London where they meet a British agent named Bond. The twisted trail of cross and double cross eventually leads the Three Investigators to the lair of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and a mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man, who are kidnapping senators and replacing them with mindless robots (CSM claims no one will notice the difference). They are doing all this from an underground volcano base in Central London. In a cataclysmic battle, the Three Investigators defeat Blofeld and CSM and save the world. In a twist ending, Bond returns to his offices to file a report, Mulder resigns from the FBI, and Dr. Sloan walks into the sunset with the female lead, Ivanna Doitwithu.

Terrific, but Mark Sloan will need a car, preferrably one that breaks down a lot and makes a goofy sound. CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG sounds goofy enough. Then Q gves its some up grades (with UFO technology, naturally), and makes it a FLYING CAR that our heroes use to thwart the threat.

I started reading the thing (she offers a free version in .pdf format at the link Lee provides above) and it's pretty bad.

This is right after the extraordinarily clumsy opening infodump:

"The Alderaanian ship, a corvette-class vessel, sprinted between the Tatooine moons of Guermessa and its twin Ghomrassen, its hull as pocked as the bodies in its path. Its red markings revealed its diplomatic status, with a dent, scrape, or laser burn to mark each of its years in service, nearly one-and-one-half score since it was first launched from the shipyards of Corellia."

Ugh. If I were George Lucas, I'd be sending the cease-and-desist within the hour. Not only is this clear and blatant copyright violation (note, Chadwick, this is not plagiarism), it's awful. I've only read the first six pages or so, and so far it is every bit as wretched as the label 'fanfic' suggests it will be.

Having read further, now, I will say that I was wrong when I said that this was not plagiarism. The book is blatant theft.

I remain on the fence with regard to some of the aspects of fanfic, but not this one. The author appeared to be going for the trifecta: it's plagiarism, it's copyright violation, and I'm damn certain it's trademark infringement.

It's also a terrible book.

I never thought I'd agree with you over anything...but this woman is so far beyond stupid that it's not funny.

is there any intersection of "the fanfic community" with "the hip-hop community"?
i'm no writer, but i think it would be tempting to write some fan fiction based on the adventures of slick rick

As often as I may disagree with your stance on fan fiction, in this one, you have it dead right. There is no excuse for this kind of stupidity, either in her actions or in her rationale.

...

...

...

Mercy /be/, but some people are idiots.

Here's hoping Lucasfilm slap her down so hard she bounces. There's enough idiots in fandom already without the lure of (illegal) money to attract more.

The only problem I have is if this then persuades Lucasfilm (or others) to go off on one about /all/ fanfiction. That would be an overreaction, in my admittedly-biased opinion.

Oh, well.

-- having skimmed the excerpt (http://www.thenaberriegirls.com/NaberrieExcerpt.pdf) it's not even very /good/. Eesh. Half of it's redundant technical information, half is direct quotation from the films, and the rest (yes, yes, I know that doesn't add up) is just... well, rubbish. Sigh.

Lee-

Have your people call my people and I'll have them call Chadwick's people so we can set up a story conference. I think he's on the same page, and I have a gut hunch that the man can bring it to the table.

Put that in your Astroturf and smoke it, pal.

I suspect the listing will be down by the end of today (Pacific time)as it has now hit the Star Wars boards (as well as Fandom Wank).

How could she forget the Tribbles? Gene Roddenberry is dead, he can't enforce his copyright!

In addition to what Dean said...

'Having read further, now, I will say that I was wrong when I said that this was not plagiarism. The book is blatant theft.'

I've read a full third of it by now, and 95% of that is directly taken from the New Hope script. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that it was all ripped straight from the novelisation of the film. Her additions involve plot contradictions ('Luke has Anakin's lightsaber... oh, look, Inserted Female Character has Anakin's lightsaber too!') and nonsensical alterations ('The Falcon has reached Alderaan a few hours earlier than the Death Star. Nothing in the plot before or after this offers any explanation - in fact, everyone is saying and doing exactly what they did in the films'), and the whole thing is... well, rubbish.

I do hope they throw the book at this girl. Making money from fanfic is bad. That should be burned into the skin of anyone's brain who wants to write.

StarWars.com (official site) and TheForce.net (biggest fansite) boards were the *first* place it hit. The Amazon URL was posted in the VIP thread on starwars.com Thursday morning, where several LFL employees/freelancers post and read. I'm surprised it lasted the night, honestly.

This is the other side to the Dan Brown lawsuit equation we all must remember: there are people out there who will steal ideas.

This is something very serious, and all I can say is that I hope George Lucas goes after her. Seriously, he's done that before with various movies and things that have imitated his creation too closely.

To make an example of her would be a very wise thing before more people get the idea they can sell fanfiction.

She cared enough about copyright to get permission to use the photo on her cover, apparently, but not to get Lucas's permission to publish-- Sorry, my irony meter's exploding.

Sandra - it's not possible to steal an idea, as I understand IP law. It is possible to steal the execution of an idea, and that is what Ms. Joreo has done.

I rarely wish ill on anyone, but in this particular case, I hope LFL hits her with every possible lawsuit in the galaxy (this or any other).

Well, Princess Clülesse of Morona has taken her webpage down. I think she's suddenly had a swift kick in the stomach from the reality mule!

Perhaps the author has other books to sell and subscribes to the same philosophy as many other POD-ers...that ol' familiar adage, "any publicity is good publicity."

Back in the day, people would comment that my main character *reminded* them of a certain character from Lucas' series (unintended, of course). Notice, however, that I never ended up anally violated by his attorneys.

http://www.pw.org/mag/0409/newshenderson.htm

Interesting article on Lori's POD poetry business.

She was a journalist?

It never fails to amaze me how many people do things like this and don't expect or don't care about copyright violations. It doesn't matter how much you love something. You don't own it!

While I'll take the word of those who've tried to read it that this thing is awful, I've seen many other projects, especially video game remakes and fansequels, that had great potential but their idiot creators didn't have the brains or guts to swap out the copyrighted stuff with their own ideas.

I have little sympathy for this woman and others who pull stunts like this. It's not that hard to come up with ideas but they're too lazy to bother.

I've never agreed with you on your militant anti-fanfic stance, as well... hello? You write book tie-ins for TV series, which isn't horribly different from fanfiction except that you get specific permission to write these stories, and then publish them.

See, that's why fanfiction is okay. It's not published. It's just the internet, no big deal.

So when some ass-hat like this goes and attempts to publish (exceptionally terrible) fanfiction, it makes all of us look bad. Well, worse than the Mary-Sue writers and drama queens already make us look.

Trust me, the fanfic community is angry at this moron, and coming down *quite* hard on her.

Err... besides. The fanfiction community has *me* to make them look bad. Eheh.

Looks like the domain registar got involved as well:

Registry Status: REGISTRAR-LOCK
Registry Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Status: clientRenewProhibited
Registry Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registry Status: clientUpdateProhibited

heh heh heh :)

I don't suppose anyone has the pdf format that they'd be willing to send me? My email is SSJACYLA@HOTMAIL.COM

The Amazon page is still up, and I was able to add the book to my shopping cart (needless to say I wasn't planning on buying it -- I wasn't logged in). It came up listed as "ships within 24 hours."

The Lori Jareo Interview, from her now-deceased blog.

Writing an Apocryphal Book, by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

Look up “apocrypha” and “apocryphal” and you’ll come up with a whole list of words related to each other. In its least religious form, “apocrypha” simply means fictitious. In its most theological context, it refers to the fourteen books of the Septuagint which are not regarded as canonical–meaning some people don’t consider them as resulting from divine revelation.

Apocrypha has interesting word relatives, though, like cryptic, mythical, unverified, arcane, and imaginary. The list goes on, and if you pick up your thesaurus or your dictionary, you’ll find yourself occupied with referencing and cross-referencing words.

Perhaps one of the most powerful canons of science fiction is Star Wars. Conceived in 1975 by George Lucas, Star Wars follows the lives of Anakin Skywalker, his children and the Jedi Knights. Star Wars has captured the imaginations of millions of fans. It has given rise to numerous apocryphal works: short stories written on worlds created by George Lucas, works referencing lives of characters only hinted at in the original canon, and novels like those written by Lori Jareo, author of Another Hope.

Lori Jareo has been a Star Wars fan since 1977. A journalism major, she graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, USA, where she also minored in English. At twenty, she obtained her first paid assignment as a professional writer. She has been staff writer for a signage/advertising trade magazine called Signs of the Times, staff editor and writer for Modern Machine Shop, has written software manuals, and is currently senior editor at WordTech Communications LLC.

In 1999, she began writing Another Hope. It is an apocryphal novel diverging from the original Star Wars plot line and was published by WordTech Communications in 2005. Already, Lori has the basic outlines for two books that will be her own version of Episodes 5 and 6. In this column, Lori speaks of her motivation for writing and publishing Another Hope.

The Interview:
Q: Could you tell us what inspired you to write Another Hope?

As you know, the two Star Wars trilogies were presented in reverse order. Episodes 4, 5, and 6 came out some decades ago, while the first ones—1, 2, and 3—were released in 1999, 2002, and finally completed in 2005.
I began writing my book Another Hope in 1999, and I imagined how Episode 4 might be different using some of the characters that appeared in the newer episodes.

Q: How much does Another Hope diverge from the original Star Wars?

Another Hope begins to diverge from the original plot line right away. In Episode 2, the audience learns that Luke and Leia will have two girl cousins, who are ages four and six. In Episode 3, which takes place a few years later, they are at the very end of the movie in the funeral march.
Episode 4 takes place twenty years after that, and my book is an imagining of what would happen if the older cousin had been forced into the Imperial Navy, serving aboard Lord Vader’s ship when Princess Leia is captured. My storyline emerges when Vader recognizes this woman, whom he knew when she was a child.
The real break from Lucas’ story occurs in the middle section of the book when Luke, Ben, and the droids arrive on Alderaan just before the Death Star comes, and they are destroyed along with the planet they had come to save.
The next two instalments differ even more.

Q: Having set Another Hope in an already existing universe, I find myself wondering if there was any concern on your part regarding copyrights?

No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.

Q: I also wonder how far a writer is allowed to write in a world and to use characters introduced by another author?

If it’s not a commercial project, I don’t see any problem. George Lucas’ Star Wars universe is fertile territory for so-names “infinities,” or alternate storyline material. Thousands of people write them, and they are posted on hundreds of unofficial Star Wars-themed web sites on the Internet. Lucas himself said that as long as no one is making a profit, he thought such tributes were wonderful.

The entire book is downloadable here and from the About the Book page for free, or the printed book can be ordered from Amazon, of course.

Q: What was the easiest/fun part of this project?

I loved the opportunity to do more with my favourite characters, like Leia and her cousins. And Biggs, who brought a great deal of context as to why the rebellion was so popular with so many people in the Star Wars galaxy. He is present throughout my books. In Lucas’ own version, he dies in the Battle of Yavin.

Q: What was the hardest part?

The hardest part occurred during editing. A writer of science fiction has to keep a keen eye on the pacing of his or her story so the plot keeps moving forward, but at the same time the story must provide enough detail to support the plot. During the third round of editing, I eventually found a nice rhythm of action and development. The final manuscript was 120 pages shorter than the original, but some scenes were expanded at the last minute.

Q: Do you feel that writing an apocryphal novel is much harder work than if you had created a universe or world of your own? What goes into writing an apocryphal novel anyway?

The answer to that question depends upon a lot of things. If a writer is going to write an apocryphal novel set in an already existing universe, he or she has to be very careful to adhere to plausibility. In every single word and action of every single character and machine, I had to be sure that it could have happened in the Star Wars universe.
For instance, Lord Vader was quite soft in his youth but had become hardened by the twenty years between Episodes 3 and 4. How would he change when people from his past suddenly started reappearing? How would he change when he learns that Luke died on Alderaan?

Q: Given the chance to write a script or a storyline on which a Star Wars movie would be based, what would be your ideal scenario or plot?

I try to keep up with politics, so I would enjoy writing a storyline about the birth of the rebellion. It was given some treatment in a few deleted scenes in Episode III Revenge of the Sith, but not nearly as much as I would have liked.

Q: What do you think writers should take into consideration when writing science fiction?

Science fiction is a great place for fantastical ships and machines, but at its heart, it is still about compelling characters and exciting plots.

Q: How does it feel to have published your first novel?

Yippee! Only my immediate family knew I’d been working on the book, and only when I had copies in hand did I tell anyone else about it. I had a launch party for it at a coffeehouse, which was great fun.

Q. Does having this first novel create any tension towards writing subsequent books?

In the two subsequent books, I will have to be extremely careful to keep plot and character details consistent, yet different enough to warrant two more compelling books.

Q: Does your being an editor influence the way you go to work as a writer? If so, could you say in what way?

I made a conscious decision to remove my editor’s cap as I was writing this story. After so many years of being an editor, I wanted the creative freedom of being a writer. It took a whole new type of thinking to just write and finish the manuscript and leave the editing and business decisions for later. And once I got to that point, I was able to really write.

Q: I think almost every writer goes through a period of writer’s block. What do you do to overcome those periods?

If I reach a point where the narrative stalls, I really have to determine if that particular scene has reached a dead end or if I need to know more about the environment in which that scene is set so it can keep the story moving.

Q: Do you use any rituals/practices to stimulate the writing process?

Because writing can be such a sedentary activity, a brisk walk can really get the juices flowing, especially while listening to classical music. A good night's sleep beforehand also helps.

Q: Could you share some of the response or reaction to Another Hope?

Several passionate Star Wars fans, whom I have known for many years, have always told me in conversation that they would like to know how Episodes 4, 5, and 6 could have been different given the prequels.
The feedback I have gotten from them about my book has been tremendous. My family loves it. They tell me that they enjoyed seeing better character and story development in my novel, and the fact that my book uses the knowledge gained from Episodes 1, 2, and 3.

Q: What would you say to others who dream of writing a novel based on an existing world setting?

Writing such a novel is a lot of fun, especially if you have friends who are constantly saying, “Well, what if a certain character were put in a certain situation? I wonder how it would turn out.”
In 1999, that question was put to me, because as you know, the first three episodes of Star Wars were finally in the works. In these new movies, there are additional characters that could have made the older Star Wars universe even more exciting.
That’s what happened to me, as I found the characters of young Anakin and Padmé from Episode 1 and Ryoo and Pooja from Episode 2 impossible to resist. How would they grow and change over so many years? That is a fascinating question.

Acyla -- yes, I have the PDF. Do you still need it, or have you found a copy by now?

(Oh, sorry, Lee, are we using your blog to trade teh ebil fanfic?)

Interesting story. Yes it was daft to assume Lucasfilm et al wouldn't object. But hang on - why should fanfic be confined to websites, newsgroups or email? Why shouldn't the fanfic community have hard copies, nicely bound? Back in the day, fanfic was sold at cons in published form. Why shouldn't that occur now? Why should fanfic do without the pleasures of a material book?

Why should fanfic do without the pleasures of a material book?

Because it's illegal. Copyright law and all that.

This whole situation is a fascinating study in dirt dumb behavior, but I'm confused by the anti-unsold-fan-fic thing. How is fan-fic any different than Geraldine Brook's Pulitzer Prize winning novel March? Isn't that just Little Women fan-fic?

Apologies, Lee. I was linked directly to this story and stumbled upon the March discussion after posting my comment. I'm heading over there now to find out more.

//How is fan-fic any different than Geraldine Brook's Pulitzer Prize winning novel March? Isn't that just Little Women fan-fic?//

No, it's not. MARCH was authorized by the rights holders, who were paid by the publisher, for the proper permissions for Ms. Brooks to write it and for the publisher to sell it. There's the big difference between a book like MARCH (or SCARLETT by Alexandra Ripley or THE GODFATHER RETURNS by Mark Weingarten or the James Bond series by John Gardner and Raymond Benson). The authors have permission to write these works because the publisher has paid the holders of the literary rights major dollars for permission to do so.

I could be wrong, but I do not believe Ms. Jareo got permission from LucasFilm, she paid nothing for the rights, and just did this all on her own. There's the mistake.

Fanfic is a viable way to grow some chops before you step into the real world of publishing. I wrote Babylon 5 fanfic, but never put it in online. After I realized I could string a story together, I made the leap to my own worlds and a publishing contract.

But making $$ off someone else's creation is so wrong. I hope Lucas sent a couple of sand people after her. A+ for stupidity for this one.

Loni, William - Despite the best attempts of the corporate copyright cabal, LITTLE WOMEN is indeed in the public domain.

I don't have a problem with people writing fanfic - my junior high set wrote some kick-ass HARDY BOYS MYSTERIES and STARSKY & HUTCH fanfic stories back in the day - but posting it on the internet is "publishing."

Perhaps unarchived mailing lists would be the way to go.

Oh my gosh -- NPR's "All Things Considered" just ran a commentary piece on the joys of fan fiction, mentioning Lori Jareo by name! "Fan fictions are loving tributes... in the world of art, sometimes stealing an idea doesn't diminish it, it enlarges it." The commentary was by novelist and book critic Lev Grossman. He also mentioned "March" and implied that it's Pulitzer Prize-winning fanfic. Astonishing!
Link to the NPR story

"MARCH was authorized by the rights holders, who were paid by the publisher, for the proper permissions for Ms. Brooks to write it and for the publisher to sell it."

Considering that Little Women was written in 1868, I would think that it is firmly ensconced in the uh, public domain. Have fun fan-ficcing that bad boy.

I'm surprised to hear that there are "rights holders" after all this time. News to me?

The guy on the NPR segment was really stetching to absolve Jareo of copyright infringement because someone was inspired (he says) by Little Women. Yeah, that is SO the same thing. Doof.

but posting it on the internet is "publishing."

Only in the loosest and most ridiculous definition of publishing.

From the Daytona Beach News Journal
http://www.news-journalonline.com/ColTwentyFourSeven.htm

You don't tug on Darth Vader's cape

By C.A. Bridges

Everyone, at some point, has finished reading a story or watching a movie and wondered what happens to those characters next. Or what happened in the scenes we didn't get to see. Or what happened before the story started. Or what would happen if the characters had done something completely different, possibly involving leather restraints.

Welcome to the world of fan fiction.

It's a lot larger than you might think. There are literally thousands of stories available online using people and settings from every fictional universe imaginable, especially ones with multi-layered characters and rich backgrounds that just beg for more tales to be told. Harry Potter is a huge target for re-imagining, of course, and Xena and Buffy and Star Trek, but even "Picket Fences" has its group of dedicated rewriters.

Want to write about Dumbledore's student days, or Jayne and Inara's wild affair, or what would happen if Catherine lived and married Heathcliff and they went off to fight crime? Go for it, you'll find a ready audience waiting for you. Some fan fiction is incredibly good, rivaling (and occasionally bettering) the original source. With some exceptions, the original creators generally let these copyright infringements slide as long as no one does anything stupid.

Which brings us to Lori Jareo, and "Another Hope."

Some time ago Lori Jareo decided to rewrite "A New Hope" (the first in the Star Wars movie series, the fourth in chronological order) to include information added since the creation of the three prequels. She also took the opportunity to jazz things up a bit; she kills off Luke, Ben, and the droids on page 115 and the Death Star is destroyed in a remarkably undramatic manner by Biggs, Princess Leia, and her gutsy cousin Ryoo who works in the Death Star, has Anakin's light saber, and is an all-around wonderful person. So far, well within fan fiction parameters.

And it's physically painful to read, like a 20-lb technical manual dipped in bad dialogue. There are so many long, descriptive passages of tedious technological minutiae I kept expecting a warranty card for the Death Star to fall out. This is also well within the umbrella of fan fiction, where cheesy writing is more or less the base state. But that just makes it a bad book.

What made it noteworthy for the masses of delighted, horrified people following along last weekend like spectators at a scheduled train wreck was that she published it. And priced it at $20. And it showed up on Amazon, among other places. And it includes big chunks of dialogue taken verbatim from the movie. And Ms. Jareo has a degree in journalism. And she is herself a co-founder and editor of the company that published the book. And her author interview made it clear that she didn't think anything was wrong with that:

"Q: Having set Another Hope in an already existing universe, I find myself wondering if there was any concern on your part regarding copyrights?

"No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it's there."

After it was pointed out by writer Lee Goldberg and spread around by a growing network of bloggers it became very obvious that Ms. Jareo's circle of friends, family, and acquaintances was about to include the entire LucasArts legal team. Reading the assorted posts this weekend was like standing amongst a crowd of people watching a swimmer cheerfully strap on raw meat before diving into the shark tank.

Bets were taken as to precisely which geological era she'd be sued back to. Reviews were posted to the Amazon page concerning her mental capacity and how long the book would remain for sale. Writer Karen Traviss immortalized Ms. Jareo by creating a new word in an Star Wars alien language: jareor, meaning "risk your own life senselessly by p---ing off a dangerous and heavily armed adversary, e.g. Boba Fett, Lucasfilm legal team."

But the group most outraged by this, probably even more so than Lucas' legal staff, is the fan fiction community. When you know that what you are doing is, at best, tolerated by creators you respect who can make you stop at any time, you get very annoyed when someone walks up and slaps them. All it would take is for enough authors to start yelling: "That's it, everyone out of the pool," and the online world of fan fiction would fade away.

And that's why I'm writing this, as a message to fanfic writers everywhere: fanfic will never die.

Fanfic will always be around. It's been around since people retold stories by campfires; it's been around since Shakespeare rewrote old legends and histories into new plays; it's been around since people wrote their own Sherlock Holmes stories. At worst, it'll go underground again and you'll have to mail them to each other like you did back in the '70s when fan fiction was the only thing keeping Star Trek alive.

And eventually your favorite movie or book will fall into public domain and you can rewrite it all you want into a smash-hit Broadway musical (Gregory Maguire's "Wicked," a reworked "Wizard of Oz") or a Pulitzer-prize-winning book (Geraldine Brooks' "March," about a minor character from Louisa May Alcott's classic 'Little Women').

So far Ms. Lareo has been asked to pull her book, she has, and it may end there. But even if the lawyer ships come screaming out of Skywalker ranch and fly up her thermal exhaust port, you can still write your stories. You could even write about a clueless fanfic writer who came up behind Darth Vader and gave him a wedgie, and what happened next.

Just don't sell it.

chris.bridges@news-jrnl.com

The news has hit Publishers Weekly...

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6329588.html?text=jareo

'Star Wars' POD Fan Fiction Flap
by Heidi MacDonald
A copyright-infringing "fan fiction" novel set in the world of Star Wars that found its way to Amazon has created a storm in the science fiction community and led to questions about how print-on-demand books are listed on Amazon.

Another Hope is an unauthorized fan fiction novel written by Lori Jareo that last week was being offered for sale on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and Powells.com. Jareo's book offers an "alternate take" on the events in Star Wars: A New Hope, adding two new cousins of Leia's who save the day for the rebels. The book was published via Jareo's own print-on-demand company, WordTech Communications, which previously specialized in poetry. WordTech's books are available through Ingram, which is how Another Hope ended up on Amazon.

Such "fanfic," as it is known, proliferates among the followers of fantasy empires and enthusiastic fans. Copyright holders generally look the other way, as long as the work isn't for profit. By selling her novel for $20, Jareo would appear to have crossed that line.

In an interview on her Web site, Jareo claimed that the book was "not a commercial project. I don't see any problems." In a passage roundly derided by SF bloggers, Jareo was asked if she had any concerns about copyrights. She responded: "No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it's there."

Lucasfilms thought otherwise, and asked for the book to be removed. Before it was taken down by Amazon, the book at one point ranked at #13,371 in sales.

The fanfic community is worried that Jareo's action will result in a crackdown on sites featuring amateur work. However, most industry observers think this is unlikely. Keith R.A. DeCandido, the author of many authorized licensed novels, wrote about Jareo on his blog and noted that fan fiction is not considered harmful to the bottom line of franchises. "I think it'll have a much bigger effect on POD publishers," he told PW. "Book distributors and book vendors now have to be more careful with the product they get from them."

Okay, my mistake re: the copyright holders on "Little Women". I should have researched it before I posted.

Change MARCH to SCARLETT or THE GODFATHER RETURNS and it makes better sense.

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Lee On Tour

  • Jan. 24, 2009 Mystery Bookstore
    Saturday, January 24 at 3pm at The Mystery Bookstore Los Angeles Signing with Stephen J. Cannell
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