Author Topic: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)  (Read 3164 times)

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Offline noise_chick

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Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« on: Wed, May 22, 2013, 01:02 PM »
http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/22/amazon-kindle-worlds-fan-fiction/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget
Amazon's taken a number of steps to bring different types of content to the Kindle Store, and it's now venturing into an area that has a long history with the internet: fan fiction. The company's today announced Kindle Worlds, a new publishing platform that promises to pay writers royalties for stories inspired by established works. Naturally, the original rights holder needs to be a willing participant as well, and they'll also be paid a royalty for all fan fiction stories sold (Amazon itself with retain the rights to those stories). So what are your options for now? For the launch, Amazon has partnered with Warner Bros. Television Group's Alloy Entertainment to open up three of its series to fan fiction enthusiasts, giving you the chance to write stories set in the world of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars or The Vampire Diaries. The company's promising that additional licenses are on the way, but for now you can check out the finer details in the press release after the break and at the source link below.

Hmm... well, I can't vouch for their taste, but it's a start.

(thanks to the original artist)

Offline Tiberius

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #1 on: Wed, May 22, 2013, 01:18 PM »
Somehow that doesn't feel too great ...

The Start of fanfic becoming less freely available? And of strict boundaries what fics are allowed to be written? In Order to make People Pay for fanfic, the freely available fanfic might be reduced in a Not immediate procress.
« Last Edit: Wed, May 22, 2013, 01:22 PM by Tiberius »

Offline NorthernLights

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #2 on: Wed, May 22, 2013, 01:31 PM »
Quote
Amazon itself with retain the rights to those stories


-shudder-

Offline ban sidhe

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #3 on: Wed, May 22, 2013, 04:05 PM »
I don't think I will like this...

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #4 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 08:21 AM »
Amazon will retain rights to the fanfics? How does that compare to other "publishers"? 

And I wonder if Warner Bros will start insisting that any fanfic written in those 3 fandoms be published through amazon, rather than posted for free at places like VX or ff.net?

I like to see fanfic gaining wider acceptance and recognition, so I don't want to be a spoilsport about this. It would be great if amateur writers had more opportunities to go professional. But I can't help but feel concerned. I think one of the reasons fanfic writers have had so much freedom is because we operate under the radar, so to speak. Greater recognition might mean severely limited freedom.   :think

Offline Tiberius

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #5 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 08:26 AM »
I think you're right to be concerned, Bitten.

Amazon doesn't do this to help fanfic writers to go professional. The only goal is profit made through selling the fics.

Quote
And I wonder if Warner Bros will start insisting that any fanfic written in those 3 fandoms be published through amazon, rather than posted for free at places like VX or ff.net?


That's most likely going to happen. And I'm quite sure Warner Bros won't accept just any content an author wants to write about. Not immediately, but it will happen sometime.
Some topics might going to be unwished for ... slash maybe ... Many people might think, I don't like it anyway, so no problem. But what's about differing from 'canon'? Killing of canon characters one doesn't like? Or the (truly horrendous) mpreg? Crossovers? That's just some randomly picked things, much more is imaginable.

So it's time to start hoping our favorite fandoms won't get picked anytime soon ...
« Last Edit: Thu, May 23, 2013, 08:34 AM by Tiberius »

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #6 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 09:10 AM »
From a strictly business point of view, I think Warner and Amazon are making a smart move. But as a fanfic writer/fan, I agree with everything else you guys have said.

Offline Tiberius

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #7 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 10:18 AM »
Again, I agree with you

Offline noise_chick

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #8 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 10:58 AM »
From a strictly business point of view, I think Warner and Amazon are making a smart move. But as a fanfic writer/fan, I agree with everything else you guys have said.

I just share it as an interesting premise (and to keep people updated as to what is happening that may, or may not affect our little corner of the internet.)

I think it is smart, from a business standpoint, although I feel very, very sorry for any editorial intern that has to go through those 'slush piles' of submissions by 14 yr old girls who can't spell and don't know the meaning of the word 'plot.'  :shock :puke

Submission won't guarantee a contractual purchase.  (As any freelance writer knows.)  And until they pay you for a story (or, conversely, issue you a 'cease and desist' letter - for maligning their intellectual property - which, considering they're ASKING for submissions, leaves them on uncharted - and probably unenforceable - legal ground) your generated content is still, technically your intellectual property. (UNTIL YOU MAKE MONEY FROM IT.)

It will be interesting how far they cast their nets claiming 'copyright infringement' to larger websites like fanfiction.net... but I really doubt they will care that much. That would be like Disney - who bought Marvel - suddenly trying to quash all the fan art on deviantart - or killing all the Avengers slash fanfiction.

(thanks to the original artist)

Offline Tiberius

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #9 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 11:02 AM »
This is the Start of something bad ... :oldman

Offline Montgomery Burns 13

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #10 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 12:02 PM »
I'm not sure about the implications.

If people hope to get published and eventually make money, then it may be a good move for them to try their luck with Amazon.  As for the other fanfic writers, well, they can still post their fics wherever they like.  I mean, fanfic writers have always faced the risk of a cease and desist order.  So no change here.

As for the content of those fics, well, if you want to get published, you have to make compromises.  So for instance, if the publisher doesn't want smut, you either have to look for another publisher, or you have to write something without smut.  Again, no change here.

So, if the Amazon project is supposed to be a bad thing, what am I overlooking here?


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Offline NorthernLights

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #11 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 12:14 PM »
 SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May. 22, 2013-- (NASDAQ:AMZN)—Today, Amazon Publishing announces Kindle Worlds, the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division for its New York Times best-selling book series Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith; and plans to announce more licenses soon. Through these licenses, Kindle Worlds will allow any writer to publish authorized stories inspired by these popular Worlds and make them available for readers to purchase in the Kindle Store.

Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to both the rights holders of the Worlds and the author. The standard author’s royalty rate (for works of at least 10,000 words) will be 35% of net revenue. As with all titles from Amazon Publishing, Kindle Worlds will base net revenue off of sales price—rather than the lower, industry standard of wholesale price—and royalties will be paid monthly.

In addition, with the launch of Kindle Worlds, Amazon Publishing will pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works—between 5,000 and 10,000 words. For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World’s rights holder and pay authors a digital royalty of 20%.

Beginning today, interested writers are encouraged to visit Kindle Worlds (www.amazon.com/kindleworlds) to learn more and get a head start on writing. In June, the Kindle Worlds store is expected to launch with over 50 commissioned works from authors such as #1 New York Times best-selling author Barbara Freethy, Bram Stoker Award-winner John Everson and RITA Award-winner Colleen Thompson. At that time, the Kindle Worlds self-service submission platform, where any writer can submit completed work, will also open.

World Licensors benefit from Kindle Worlds because:

    It’s an entirely new way to monetize their valuable franchises
    It allows them to extend their Worlds with new stories and characters and more deeply engage with existing fans, while also reaching new audiences
    Amazon Publishing will work with them to establish content guidelines that balance flexibility and openness for writers with what’s reasonable for the franchise

“Our books have generated a massive amount of fan fiction, and we see this as an evolution in publishing and a valuable way of broadening our brands and engaging fans,” said Leslie Morgenstein, President Alloy Entertainment. “When working with Amazon Publishing on this scale, we know we’re in good hands and everyone will benefit.”

“Seeing Pretty Little Liars fans adapt and create their own stories is both exciting and flattering and I think what Amazon Publishing is offering through Kindle Worlds is a great way to reward their ingenuity,” said Sara Shepard, author of Pretty Little Liars.

Writers benefit from Kindle Worlds because:

    Amazon Publishing has already secured the necessary licenses to write about any Kindle World
    They can earn royalties writing about established characters and universes
    The Kindle Worlds self-service submission platform is easy to use

“I loved writing the characters in this world, the dynamics of the friendship between the four girls as they deal with life-threatening situations,” said Barbara Freethy, writing in Pretty Little Liars. “I also really enjoy the ongoing mysteries and surprising twists that always keep the reader guessing. It’s great that Amazon Publishing has given those who put passion into fan fiction the opportunity to commercialize this work.”

And readers benefit from Kindle Worlds because:

    They can find a stream of new stories in Worlds they love
    They can discover new Worlds and corresponding great new stories
    As with all Kindle books these are “Buy Once, Read Everywhere”—they can read on Kindle or Kindle Fire as well as with a free Kindle app for all of the most popular devices and platforms

“At Kindle, we’re not only inventing on the hardware and software side of the business, we’re inventing new ways to create books,” said Philip Patrick, Director, Business Development and Publisher of Kindle Worlds. “Our goal with Kindle Worlds is to create a home for authors to build on the Worlds we license, and give readers more stories from the Worlds they enjoy. We look forward to announcing additional World licensing deals in the coming weeks.”

Amazon Publishing is engaged with additional rights holders from different areas of entertainment—books, games, TV, movies and music—and looks forward to announcing future deals soon. To get started writing works in licensed properties, visit www.amazon.com/kindleworlds for submission guidelines and updates on licensed properties.

About Alloy Entertainment

Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Television Group, develops and produces original novels, television series, and feature films. More than seventy-five of AE’s books have been on the New York Times bestseller list, including The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, The Clique, The Lying Game, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Private and The Luxe. AE has successfully adapted several of its top selling books into hit television shows for broadcast across multiple networks including The CW, ABC, ABC Family and Nickelodeon. Current Alloy Entertainment television series include Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Lying Game, and soon to premiere Originals, Ravenswood and The 100.

About Amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Electronics & Computers; Home & Garden; Toys, Kids & Baby; Grocery; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Health & Beauty; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Kindle Paperwhite is the most-advanced e-reader ever constructed with 62% more pixels and 25% increased contrast, a patented built-in front light for reading in all lighting conditions, extra-long battery life, and a thin and light design. The new latest generation Kindle, the lightest and smallest Kindle, now features new, improved fonts and faster page turns. Kindle Fire HD features a stunning custom high-definition display, exclusive Dolby audio with dual stereo speakers, high-end, laptop-grade Wi-Fi with dual-band support, dual-antennas and MIMO for faster streaming and downloads, enough storage for HD content, and the latest generation processor and graphics engine—and it is available in two display sizes—7” and 8.9”. The large-screen Kindle Fire HD is also available with 4G wireless, and comes with a groundbreaking $49.99 introductory 4G LTE data package. The all-new Kindle Fire features a 20% faster processor, 40% faster performance, twice the memory, and longer battery life.

Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.cn, www.amazon.it, www.amazon.es and www.amazon.com.br. As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment and data center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

Source: Amazon.com, Inc.

Amazon.com, Inc.
Media Hotline, 206-266-7180
www.amazon.com/pr

Offline Tiberius

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #12 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 12:39 PM »
I'm not sure about the implications.

If people hope to get published and eventually make money, then it may be a good move for them to try their luck with Amazon.  As for the other fanfic writers, well, they can still post their fics wherever they like.  I mean, fanfic writers have always faced the risk of a cease and desist order.  So no change here.

As for the content of those fics, well, if you want to get published, you have to make compromises.  So for instance, if the publisher doesn't want smut, you either have to look for another publisher, or you have to write something without smut.  Again, no change here.

So, if the Amazon project is supposed to be a bad thing, what am I overlooking here?



I think the project could bring unpleasant changes to the world of fanfic outside of the project, too.
In order to increase sell numbers, it would in Amazon's interest to have fics of a fandom in their project to be only published at amazon and not somewhere else. And it would be possible to legally enforce that.

The legal rights holder of a movie/series could feel the need to have only fanfiction of which contents they approve on the internet. To achieve that, the fanfiction could only be published at amazon and nowhere else. Again, that's something that would be able to be legally enforced.

Asides from that, the project brings attention to fanfiction, and with attention prosecution of authors outside the project could arise.

The bad consequences I fear aren't something that will happen right now, it's more things that could take place with time.

Offline NorthernLights

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #13 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 12:49 PM »
Kindle Worlds for Authors

Kindle Worlds is easy to use. When the Kindle Worlds Self-Service Submission Platform opens, you will be able to upload your story easily—along with a title, editorial description, and other information. Sign up to be notified when we launch the platform.

    Kindle Worlds will accept novels, novellas, and short stories inspired by the Worlds we have licensed.
    Using our Cover Creator, you will be able to design a cover for your Kindle Worlds story.
    World Licensors have provided Content Guidelines for each World, and your work must follow these Content Guidelines. We strongly encourage you to read the Content Guidelines before you commit the time and effort to write.
    Stories will be available in digital format exclusively on Amazon.com, Kindle devices, iOS, Android, and PC/Mac via our Kindle Free Reading apps. We hope to offer additional formats in the future.
    You will receive monthly royalty reports and payments for all copies sold.

Start Writing Now

Here are the details that will help you get started:

    All works accepted for Kindle Worlds will be published by Amazon Publishing.
    Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to the rights holder for the World (we call them World Licensors) and to you. Your standard royalty rate for works of at least 10,000 words will be 35% of net revenue.
    In addition, with the launch of Kindle Worlds, Amazon Publishing will pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works (between 5,000 and 10,000 words). For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World Licensor and will pay authors a digital royalty of 20% of net revenue. The lower royalty for these shorter works is due to significantly higher fixed costs per digital copy (for example, credit-card fees) when prices for the entire class of content will likely be under one dollar.
    As with all titles from Amazon Publishing, Kindle Worlds will base net revenue off of customer sales price—rather than the lower industry standard of wholesale price—and royalties will be paid monthly.
    Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.
    Kindle Worlds is a creative community where Worlds grow with each new story. You will own the copyright to the original, copyrightable elements (such as characters, scenes, and events) that you create and include in your work, and the World Licensor will retain the copyright to all the original elements of the World. When you submit your story in a World, you are granting Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to the story and all the original elements you include in that story. This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World. We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other's ideas and elements. We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.
    Amazon Publishing will set the price for Kindle Worlds stories. Most will be priced from $0.99 through $3.99.

Content Guidelines for Kindle Worlds

    Pornography: We don't accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.
    Offensive Content: We don’t accept offensive content, including but not limited to racial slurs, excessively graphic or violent material, or excessive use of foul language.
    Illegal and Infringing Content: We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously. It is the authors' responsibility to ensure that their content doesn't violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.
    Poor Customer Experience: We don't accept books that provide a poor customer experience. Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art, or product descriptions. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.
    Excessive Use of Brands: We don’t accept the excessive use of brand names or the inclusion of brand names for paid advertising or promotion.
    Crossover: No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted, meaning your work may not include elements of any copyright-protected book, movie, or other property outside of the elements of this World.

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #14 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 01:14 PM »
Quote
excessive use of foul language.


Well, that leaves me out! lol

Offline ban sidhe

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #15 on: Thu, May 23, 2013, 01:54 PM »
No porn?  fuck!

Offline noise_chick

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #16 on: Fri, May 24, 2013, 08:17 AM »
No porn?  fuck!

:giggle
Well, when you look at what titles they've optioned, it makes sense.
Still, with the "50 Shades" series making $$$, they would be STUPID to not option/allow 'erotica'.
Having worked in a book store, heaven knows those romance novels sell. :roll

Someone ought to find a porn company/erotica publisher that wants to make some $$$ by working with Amazon by optioning all the PWP and lemon stories out there. 
Then again, it's porn, most people are just giving it away. :oops

(thanks to the original artist)

Offline Tiberius

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #17 on: Fri, May 24, 2013, 08:48 AM »
Porn isn't only Pwp. A Long story with a Good plot and Sex scenes wouldn't be allowed, too, because it's Porn.

Offline noise_chick

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #18 on: Fri, May 24, 2013, 09:34 AM »
Porn isn't only Pwp. A Long story with a Good plot and Sex scenes wouldn't be allowed, too, because it's Porn.

That really depends on your definition of 'porn.' Graphic sexual content does not necessarily equal 'porn.'
Porn, by it's legal definition, is more or less sexual content that has 'no artistic merit.'  That's why I used the term 'erotica' - which is how most of those books are classified - though 'plot' is often loose.

Quote
    Pornography: We don't accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

I think the key word here is 'offensive'. Which, yes,  invariably means, it has to 'play in Peoria.' (IE - Midwestern US conservative standards - so if your mom wouldn't read it in a historical romance... it's probably 'offensive.' )

Still, we're talking about private download, not even a physical product that your 8 yr old is going to find on your nightstand without some major snooping  (which, we are not going to talk about me finding Bertrice Small novels left in the living room by my mother when I was about 11.)

Me? I draw the 'porn' line when the descriptions of body fluids and animal noises get graphic...

(thanks to the original artist)

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #19 on: Fri, May 24, 2013, 02:34 PM »
I would define porn the same way, noise_chick, but I don't think Amazon feels as we do.

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #20 on: Tue, May 28, 2013, 11:35 AM »
I saw this at NPR today:

Quote
Amazon's move last week to begin selling fan fiction has prompted a backlash in the online community. On the one hand, the deal would do away with the copyright restrictions that keep writers of fan fiction from selling their work. On the other hand, it comes at a cost: 65 percent of profits go to Amazon and the original rights holder, and the fan fiction writer hands over ownership of the text and any original elements introduced into the story. And Amazon's rules are strict — there can be no crossovers (i.e., Harry Potter can't join forces with Edward Cullen), and pornography is forbidden, ruling out works such as Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as Twilight fan fiction. John Scalzi, the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, wrote on his , "This is not anywhere close to what I would call a good deal."


OF course, I'm running late, as usual, so I haven't had time to look at Scalzi's blog yet.

Offline Montgomery Burns 13

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #21 on: Tue, May 28, 2013, 12:56 PM »
Quote
On the other hand, it comes at a cost: 65 percent of profits go to Amazon and the original rights holder, and the fan fiction writer hands over ownership of the text and any original elements introduced into the story.

I don't understand why people make such a big fuss about it.  Before Amazon started their project, nobody could make any money with fan fiction.  Fan fiction was merely tolerated by the copyright holders because the writers didn't make any money with it.  As far as I know, there's never been the possibility for fan fiction writers to make any money with fan fiction.  So IMO, for people who dream of making money with writing fan fiction, this seems actually like an opportunity.

Quote
And Amazon's rules are strict — there can be no crossovers (i.e., Harry Potter can't join forces with Edward Cullen), and pornography is forbidden, ruling out works such as Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as Twilight fan fiction.

Well, if you wanna make money with fan fiction, you have to make compromises.  If you don't wanna make compromises but still wanna make money, you have to write original stuff.  And then you can write as much porn as you like.

I really don't see what's all the fuss about Amazon's project.  Of course you could get better deals, but it'd probably get complicated if you wanna write fan fiction.  I for one would never join Amazon's project, but then again, I don't intend to make money with my writing.


Who needs love when you've got a gun, who needs love to have some fun. Black Flag
Feelings are overrated. Dean Winchester



my fanfics

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #22 on: Tue, May 28, 2013, 01:25 PM »
After giving all this more thought, I agree with Monty:
Quote
Well, if you wanna make money with fan fiction, you have to make compromises.  If you don't wanna make compromises but still wanna make money, you have to write original stuff.  And then you can write as much porn as you like.


I read Scalzi's blog post, which points out how this might be a greater risk for people who already write media-tie in stuff. I would never have considered that since I don't understand it anyway. lol  Here's the text from Scalzi:

Quote
Amazon’s Kindle Worlds: Instant Thoughts
May 22, 2013 By John Scalzi 229 Comments

The Twitters are abuzz today about Amazon’s new “Kindle Worlds” program, in which people are allowed to write and then sell through Amazon their fan fiction for certain properties owned by Alloy Entertainment, including Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, with more licenses expected soon. I’ve had a quick look at the program on Amazon’s site, and I have a couple of immediate thoughts on it. Be aware that these thoughts are very preliminary, i.e., I reserve the right to have possibly contradictory thoughts about the program later, when I think (and read) about it more. Also note that these are my personal thoughts and do not reflect the positions or policies of SFWA, of which I am (still but not for much longer) president.

1. The main knock on fan fiction from the rights-holders point of view — i.e., people are using their characters and situations in ways that probably violate copyright — is apparently not at all a problem here, since Alloy Entertainment is on board for allowing people to write what they want (within specific guidelines — more on that in a bit). Since that’s the case, there’s probably a technical argument here about whether this is precisely “fan fiction” or if it’s actually media tie-in writing done with intentionally low bars to participation (the true answer, I suspect, is that it’s both). Either way, if Alloy Entertainment’s on board, everything’s on the level, so why not.

2. So, on one hand it offers people who write fan fiction a chance to get paid for their writing in a way that doesn’t make the rightsholders angry, which is nice for the fan ficcers. On the other hand, as a writer, there are a number of things about the deal Amazon/Alloy are offering that raise red flags for me. Number one among these is this bit:

“We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.”

i.e., that really cool creative idea you put in your story, or that awesome new character you made? If Alloy Entertainment likes it, they can take it and use it for their own purposes without paying you — which is to say they make money off your idea, lots of money, even, and all you get is the knowledge they liked your idea.

Essentially, this means that all the work in the Kindle Worlds arena is a work for hire that Alloy (and whomever else signs on) can mine with impunity. This is a very good deal for Alloy, et al — they’re getting story ideas! Free! — and less of a good deal for the actual writers themselves. I mean, the official media tie-in writers and script writers are doing work for hire, too, but they get advances and\or at least WGA minimum scale for their work.

Another red flag:

“Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.”

Which is to say, once Amazon has it, they have the right to do anything they want with it, including possibly using it in anthologies or selling it other languages, etc, without paying the author anything else for it, ever. Again, an excellent deal for Amazon; a less than excellent deal for the actual writer.

Note that on its page Amazon makes a show of saying that the writer owns the copyright on the original things that are copyrightable, but inasmuch as Amazon also acquires all rights for the length of the copyright and Alloy is given the right to exploit the new elements without further compensation, this show about you keeping your copyright appears to be just that: show.

The argument here could be, well, you know, people who were writing fan fiction weren’t getting paid or had rights to these characters and worlds anyway, so only getting paid for their work once is still better than what they would have gotten before. And that’s not an entirely bad argument on one level. But on another level, there’s a difference between writing fan fiction because you love the world and the characters on a personal level, and Amazon and Alloy actively exploiting that love for their corporate gain and throwing you a few coins for your trouble. So this should be an interesting argument for people to have in the real world.

3. If this sort of thing takes off, I’m interested to see what effect it will have on the media tie-in market, and on the professional writers who work in it. Obviously it has the potential to greatly shift how things are done. If you are a corporate rights holder, for example, would you bother with seeking out pro writers any more, and paying them advances and royalties and all of that business? Or would you just open up the gates to paid fan fiction, which you don’t have to pay anything for and yet still have total control over the commercial exploitation thereof? Again, this is interesting stuff to consider, and if I were a pro writer who primarily worked in media tie-in markets, I would have some real concerns.

4. This won’t spell the end of unauthorized fan fic, and I’m very sure of that. For one thing, the Kindle Worlds program says it won’t accept “pornography” which means all that slash out there will still be on the outside of the program (Edit: to note not all slash is porn, although I wonder if Amazon won’t simply default it as such); likewise crossover fan fic, so those “Vampire Diaries meet Dr Who” stories will be left out in the cold. And besides that, there will be people who a) have no interest in making money and/or b) don’t write well enough to be accepted into the Kindle Worlds program (there does seem that there will be some attempt at quality control, or at least, someone has to go through the stuff to make sure there’s nothing that’s contractually forbidden). So if this was an attempt to squash fan fic through other means, it’s doomed to failure. But I don’t suspect that’s the point.

5. Speaking as a writer, I wouldn’t do something like this; I don’t generally like writing in other people’s worlds in any event (and when I do, I go public domain — see Fuzzy Nation) and I don’t like the terms that are on offer here. And of course I have my own things to write. Likewise, I would caution anyone looking at this to be aware that overall this is not anywhere close to what I would call a good deal. Finally, on a philosophical level, I suspect this is yet another attempt in a series of long-term attempts to fundamentally change the landscape for purchasing and controlling the work of writers in such a manner that ultimately limits how writers are compensated for their work, which ultimately is not to the benefit of the writer. This will have far-reaching consequences that none of us really understand yet.

The thing that can be said for it is that it’s a better deal than you would otherwise get for writing fan fiction, i.e., no deal at all and possibly having to deal with a cranky rightsholder angry that you kids are playing in their yard. Is that enough for you? That’s on you to decide.


Offline ban sidhe

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #23 on: Tue, May 28, 2013, 05:34 PM »

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #24 on: Wed, May 29, 2013, 04:43 AM »
Good article. It has logical, easy-to-follow explanations and descriptions for several things that are happening in the entertainment world, and an interesting perspective. Thanks for posting the link.

Offline noise_chick

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #25 on: Thu, Jun 20, 2013, 01:51 PM »
(blame the licensing fair going on this week in Las Vegas.)

Kindle Worlds Is Growing—Amazon Publishing Announces New Licenses from Valiant Entertainment and Best-Selling Authors Hugh Howey, Barry Eisler, Blake Crouch and Neal Stephenson

Any writer can soon publish fan fiction inspired by Valiant comic book heroes Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger and Shadowman

Writers can also create new stories based on Howey’s Silo Saga, Eisler’s John Rain novels, Crouch’s Wayward Pines Series, and the Foreworld Saga by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo and more
 


SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 20, 2013-- (NASDAQ:AMZN)—Today, Amazon Publishing announced that it has secured licenses for its new publishing platform, Kindle Worlds, with leading comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment and best-selling authors Hugh Howey, Barry Eisler, Blake Crouch and Neal Stephenson. Through these licenses, any writer will be able to create and sell fan fiction inspired by the popular Worlds of Valiant superhero comic book series Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger, and Shadowman, with more to be added at a later date, as well as Howey’s Silo Saga, Eisler’s John Rain novels, Crouch’s Wayward Pines Series, and the Foreworld Saga. Kindle Worlds is the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so.

“Since announcing Kindle Worlds just weeks ago, we’ve been energized by the interest and enthusiasm for this new program—from writers and readers alike,” said Philip Patrick, Director, Business Development and Publisher of Kindle Worlds. “With content from 2012’s Diamond Gem award-winning Comic Book Publisher of the Year and the work of several best-selling authors, we’re excited to expand Kindle Worlds and give writers even more options to be creative and earn royalties.”

“Kindle Worlds presents an amazing opportunity to bring Valiant’s wide-ranging universe of characters to a new medium, and empower fans and aspiring creators,” said Gavin Cuneo, Valiant’s CFO and Head of Strategic Development. “Comics are well known for their passionate and interactive fan communities, and, through the Kindle Worlds platform, we’re excited to give aspiring authors and fans the opportunity to work within the Valiant Universe, make their stories accessible to a large audience, and earn revenue for their work.”

Amazon Publishing previously announced licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division for its New York Times best-selling book series Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith. Interested writers are encouraged to visit Kindle Worlds (www.amazon.com/kindleworlds) to learn more and get a head start on writing. Later this month, the Kindle Worlds Store is expected to launch with over 50 commissioned works, including Valiant-branded short fiction from authors Jason Starr, Robert Rodi, Stuart Moore and others. At that time, the Kindle Worlds self-service submission platform, where any writer can submit completed work, will also open.

“Good storytelling for me starts with great characters, no matter the format,” said Kindle Worlds Archer & Armstrong author Scott Nicholson. “I’m thrilled that Amazon has been pushing the digital frontiers to open up even more sharing of ideas and building new communities around the most popular characters and stories.”

Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to both the rights holders of the Worlds and the author. The standard author’s royalty rate (for works of at least 10,000 words) will be 35% of net revenue. Amazon Publishing will also pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works—between 5,000 and 10,000 words. For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World’s rights holder and pay authors a digital royalty of 20%.

Amazon Publishing is engaged with additional rights holders from different areas of entertainment—books, games, TV, movies and music—and looks forward to announcing future deals soon. To get started writing works in licensed properties and for submission guidelines and updates on licensed properties, visit www.amazon.com/kindleworlds. For regular updates on Kindle Worlds, follow @KindleWorlds on Twitter.

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1831621&highlight=

More coherent article is here:
http://comicsbeat.com/valiant-officially-joins-the-ranks-of-kindles-fanfic-program/

(thanks to the original artist)

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #26 on: Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 04:56 AM »
Thanks for posting this, noise_chick. I think the whole thing is interesting. I am reluctantly eager to see which additional fandoms will become part of this.

Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #27 on: Tue, Aug 06, 2013, 04:49 PM »
From io9:

Quote
Amazon has added Kurt Vonnegut to its "official" fan fiction program

What do Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Slaughterhouse-Five all have in common? Well, now people can write and sell completely legal fan fiction based on each of them, thanks to Amazon's Kindle Worlds program. This cannot end well.

Amazon announced that the entire Vonnegut library would be joining the Worlds service, which allows people to write stories using the characters, settings and everything else, while divvying up the money among the writers, the license holders, and of course Amazon itself. In theory, the idea is solid, and as I mentioned when Amazon first announced the service, it's a great way to bring fans and a franchise together and make everybody a bit of money at the same time.

But Kurt Vonnegut? FUCK AND NO. The man is one of America's literary icons. To allow fan fiction based on his work is a disgrace to it, because while someone might write a Vampire Diaries story as good as the original Vampire Diaries author, there is no goddamned way anyone is going to write a story starring Kurt Vonnegut's characters as well as Vonnegut did.

This is just as insane as if the works of William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee or J.D. Salinger were added to the Kindle Worlds program — and just in case Amazon somehow thinks that's a good idea, IT'S NOT. DON'T DO IT.

Amazon, you can add so much else to your program without tarnishing the works of one of America's greatest authors — or without tarnishing the works of any great author. You have so many perfectly acceptable candidates to choose from that there's no way you'll suffer without letting somebody write about Billy Pilgrim turning out to be Gossip Girl, okay?

Here's a tip — if you sell it in your "Classic Literature and Fiction" section, maybe people shouldn't be able to write legal fan fic of it, all right?

[Via L.A. Times]


Offline NorthernLights

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #28 on: Tue, Aug 06, 2013, 04:59 PM »
Quote
This cannot end well.


Agreed.
I remember reading a fic based on Player Piano.
It was horrible.


Offline Bitten

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Re: Amazon & Kindle buying Fanfiction (within certain markets)
« Reply #29 on: Wed, Aug 07, 2013, 04:40 AM »
I can't imagine anyone wanting to write Vonnegut fanfic, but then I'm often surprised by things on the internet.