Our good friend scott_lynch came across a rant about fanfiction (ZOMG!) written by noted fantasy author Robin Hobb. Scott, being a fantasy author himself, decided to rebutt a number of her stupider points.
Here are some highlights.
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As she writes (her words in bold, followed by mine [that is, Scott's] in plain text): [And I, your faithful posted palmer_kun will drop comments in square brackets]
"I am not rational on the topic of fan fiction. Well, actually, I can be, and in this essay, I will endeavor to be. But people who know me well also know that this is one topic that can make my eyes spin round like pinwheels and steam come out of my ears."
[In other words, it upsets her terribly to even think about fan fiction... we know where this is going]
Every fan fiction I’ve read to date, based on my world or any other writer’s world, had focused on changing the writer’s careful work to suit the foible of the fan writer. Romances are invented, gender identities changed, fetishes indulged and endings are altered. It’s not flattery.
Mmm. If you insist that the only way to value a fictional work and its characters is to treat appreciation of it as some sort of church service, in which the Inalterable Texts are to be processed by the congregation without idiosyncratic reflection, then sure, it's not flattery. I'm not suggesting I should be the one who dictates the emotional value she places on the sanctity of her own work; I'm just saying that it's fantastically presumptuous to assume that there's one and only one metric in this situation for all the rest of us, too.
While I vehemently disagree with Hobb that crafting fanfic in itself is a disrespectful or hurtful act, I concur that the presentation of fanfic online is another story. Simply put, when you post fanfic online, there's a chance that you're going to run afoul of three things, where the author is concerned:
A) The author's plain old personal preferences; and
B) The author's possible obligation to establish a history of defending the exclusivity of his or her intellectual property; and
C) The chance that your activity could be perceived as causing actionable commercial harm or restraint to the author's property.
A-- First, if you ignore a request from an author to, say, tone down the animated GIFs of her characters screwing farm animals on your archive page for man-on-animal fanfic, even before we discuss your legal obligations, you're a jerk. I'm not suggesting otherwise. You don't have any magic right to post unauthorized derivative works online-- if you ignore a direct request from the copyright holder to alter or cease such presentation, well, you're a schmuck and you make your grandmothers sad.
[B skipped as it is long and lacks teh funneh]
C-- Could conceivably come about (for just one example) in this Google-ized age if the people behind an unauthorized online derivation (say, a fanfic archive) were more enthusiastic/clever promoters than the actual copyright holders. If the very first hit that popped up when someone typed 'Harry Potter' into Google was THE AMAZING MALFOY/GOYLE BUTT-LOVE BONDAGE FETISH ARCHIVE, Scholastic's lawyers wouldn't even have to send a full cease-and-desist letter; a small pencil sketch of a man dangling from a noose would suffice.
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The whole post is here, it's WELL worth reading: http://www.livejournal.com/users/scott_lynch/135272.html?style=mine
I just wonder how long it's going to take for the first Rice/Hobb RPF femslash to turn up...