According to Sci-Fi Wire yesterday the Amazon page selling the unauthorized Star Wars novel is still there (despite my reporting that it was gone) though Lucasfilm Ltd. Legal has spoken to the author/publisher about it.
theferrett admits to being one of the people whose gut reflex to fanfiction is, "Why don't you write something original?", but nevertheless says the things I'd've said the other day if I hadn't been so mad (but his way of course).
billroper writes of the steadily vanishing status of parody as fair use (Everyone remember the The Wind Done Gone case?), and the steadily growing time limits on copyrights, to the benefit of corporate intellectual property owners and the detriment of the public domain. This puts me in mind of a discussion I had on Usenet once. I'm not sure whether it'd be polite (or, considering the present topic, legal) to quote the other parties in this discussion without their permission, so I will summarize or spot-quote their comments and quote only my own in entirety.
Someone posted asking for the real legal standing of fanfiction.1
The copyright laws are actually vague, and there is little or no case law to clearly support or refute any charge that fanfiction is illegal. This point is made in an academic paper here on the Web, a paper that makes the argument that fanfiction is and of a right ought to be "fair use", like satire, as provided for in existing copyright law. The paper is Legal Fictions: Copyright, Fan Fiction, and a New Common Law by Rebecca Tushnet, reprinted on the Web with permission, from volume 17 of the Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Journal, 1997 (17 Loy. L.A. Ent. L.J. 651):
Someone stated that fanfiction is illegal even if it's not-for-profit but just isn't usually prosecuted.
These statements are true but not comprehensive. Parody of another's intellectual property, for instance, is a copyright violation, but is allowed for under the fair use provisions of copyright law. If, for instance, the editors of National Lampoon were taken to court over Bored of the Rings, their defense would not be, "No we didn't infringe on the Tolkien estate's intellectual property", it'd be, "Yes we infringed, but our work is a parody and therefore is allowed under the law," and on that basis they'd win.2
Another person responded to my last post stating profitable copyrights ought to be renewable at a nominal fee.
It was posted asking whether copyrights have a legal time limit: Isn't the time limit 50 or 75 years?
Someone reacted to my last post objecting that creators are as entitled to legal protection as other professions are.
It was suggested that copyright limit ought to be a flat twenty-five years from publication.
The same post suggested that family inheritance of intellectual property was a holdover from a form of inheritance law that U.S. law doesn't recognize.
The poster whom I told he had misunderstood me denied it, that I was saying "... some forms of artistic endevor are worthy of legal protection [his example, sculpture]; other's [written works] aren't ..."
Later I elucidated:
My response to the same person's next post:
Someone else asked about collaborations: Would the copyright not expire till the last co-creator died?
So to summarize the argument I put forward: Since death-plus-a-time-limit is the system theoretically in place, but is being abused by corporate intellectual property owners to suspend copyright expiration indefinitely, I put forward the resolution that intellectual property ought to be ownable only by actual persons and not by corporations, and ought to expire at the death(s) of the creator(s).
1 I am not a lawyer.
2 I was told this by someone whose legal opinion I trust. I've since been told by another party I don't know as well that this isn't so; that, under the law, fair use is a seperate category from infringement, not a permitted type of infringement.
3 In fact I had made the distinction, if you go back and look. What was escaping him was the definition of the distinction.
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