Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
|Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
|Also Known As:
|The Saint-Germain Cycle, others
|Official Chelsea Quinn Yarbro Web Site
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is an author of fantasy books.
Intolerant of Fanfiction
She is vociferously anti-fanfic, and has filed Cease & Desist orders against fans who wrote stories using the central character in many of her books, the Count de Saint-Germain. The Holmesian Federation is one example.
In 1992, Yarbro was one of several pro authors who either brought the hammer down on or clarified their views on fanworks based on her books. This was due to The Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy.
On the Vampyres mailing list, one listmember's persona as Laybrother Bat of the Order of Saint-Germain went back to at least 1993. Most of his creative work posted to the list was original fic about his persona and other original character members of his order, and the abbey they inhabited. Elements specifically attributable to Yarbro's universe included likenesses of the order's namesake in the abbey (a statue, a portrait) and openings for laysisters of an order explicitly named for Madelaine de Montalia (of Hotel Transylvania). At some point Laybrother began adding a disclaimer to his posts crediting "material subject to copyright by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, for which attribution is hereby given."
Laybrother did not write adventures about Yarbro's characters. He merely used them as namesakes ... until Yarbro contacted him. According to Laybrother's post of 3 November 1996, "I can acknowledge my inspiration privately, but I can't invoke that inspiration in distributed material. To do so infringes upon Ms. Yarbro's copyrights and may compromise future publications." The abbey was promptly rededicated and its FAQs given a facelift.
Posts from this period are absent from the Vampyres mailing list archives. These events are reflected in a fic posted to the list a year later, "Holy Germanity!" by the Mad Bibliographer, featuring the copyrighted characters Vampire Hunter D, Captain Kronos (of Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter), and a never-named individual from the Charnas-Yarbro collaborative short story "Advocates." ("Advocates" was published in the anthology Under the Fang; the story focuses on interactions between Charnas's character Weyland and Yarbro's character Saint-Germain.)
From a May 2008 interview:
[Interviewer]: Should we set much higher standards for originality and respecting the integrity of all existing work?[Yarbro]: Absolutely. On those unhappy occasion when a fan sends me his or her suggestion for a Saint-Germain story, I always tell them that now I can't use that period in that context ever, since the claim could be made that the idea was not original with me. I have not met a writer who permitted derivative fiction who didn't in time have significant difficulties because of it. 
Robin A. Dubner (Yarbro's attorney) was a member of the public mailing list The Official Chelsea Quinn Yarbro Group. Dubner posted in July 2008:
As CQY's attorney, I have prosecuted several copyright infringement actions for her regarding fans using her characters in their own stories. She is very serious about this issue, as Judy writes. Fans who incorporate her ideas or characters in their own works will not be happy when CQY or I hear about it.-- Robin A. Dubner -- "St. Germain's Staunch Defender" 
One of the mailing list moderators replied:
It is good to know the count has a "staunch defender". Thank you, Robin, for defending St Germain. Sometimes he really needs it.I think we should better put an end to this fan fiction topic before one of us says something to regret. -- Veerle 
Communities & Newsletters
- The Official Chelsea Quinn Yarbro Group at Yahoo! Groups, founded in 2003 by two fans (Eclipse & Blood Rose) and Yarbro's online publicist (Wiley Saichek)
- Yclept Yarbro, newsletter published by Lindig Hall Harris (print, moved to email only in 2008)
Media fanzines use characters that someone else created, whether that someone was Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Steve Cannell, or Don Bellisario. We, the writers and producers, are "borrowing" these characters, all the time knowing that whoever created them has the LEGAL rights to them, i.e., copyright. Copyright was meant to ensure that an author or artist got paid for what he or she originated. However, since none of us get paid, the question becomes somewhat more personal. Most of the people involved in Media are either too busy or too rich to care whether a story appears in a magazine that runs 200 copies, which is going to be distributed at SF Conventions to a group of Fans. In fact, a lot of them consider Mediazines a kind of free advertising! This laissez-faire attitude does not prevail everywhere. The Disney organization keeps a tight rein on its characters. Now rumors are reaching us that Batman may suffer the same fate. An Australian fanzine has already been confiscated, and the Word has been Given: No Batman! There IS a Batman story in GRIP #43; we shall see what happens! Movie and TV productions are huge; an individual writer is just that, an individual. While a movie company may not bother with a mere fanzine, an author has both the time and the will to pursue those who would misuse his or her characters through the law-courts and in and out of the pages of professional publications until everyone is sick of the subject. One particular writer has already done so! I must therefore warn prospective writers for GRIP, or any other Mediazine: if you are going to use a character from a book or series of books (as opposed to one seen only on the screen, be it large or small), get permission from the original author first...and in writing! Otherwise, you may be faced with the prospect of writing humiliating letters to Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and all of the SF Prozines, abasing yourself and demanding forgiveness from the outraged creator of the original character. (And, I may add, paying full advertising rates for the privilege!) 
I am *really* tired of vampires being dragged into everything, to the point where I will generally skip, or barely skim, any vampire stories I encounter. If people want to write about vampires, why don't they go write FK or piss off Chelsea Quinn Yarbro? I don't mind vampires in their place, but not *everybody* needs to be one. 
- It's amazing that characters like Yarbro and Rice (and Gabaldon) who get paid for fanfic are the ones who are disproportionately likely to get all het up about free fanfic, isn't it? I've been super tempted for awhile to write a novel where the Comte de St. Germain is a vampire. Because he's a real (fascinating) historical personage that she doesn't own any copyright to whatsoever, any more than she does to the concept of vampires.
- I'm sad to find out that CQY is such a jerk about fanfiction, as I very much liked her St. Germain historical vampire romances. And yeah, "bookburning" offends me on a visceral level, too. Especially since every other writer in that issue of the fanzine was an innocent victim of Yarbro's vendetta. She had bad legal advice if she was told she had to aggressively pursue copyright infringement or lose her copyrights, because that's utter bullshit. And she was miserable because of all the time and money spent pursuing her unnecessary vendetta against fans? Boo-hoo, QQ more! She could have not done it. I'll bet her former fans were pretty miserable, too--bet they never bought or read or recommended anything by Yarbro again. 
- CQY's policy on fanfic: "Absolutely not. It is also against federal law." (accessed 14 May 2010)
- "Attention Yuletiders!". Posted November 29, 2005. (Accessed November 18, 2010.)
- from Interview with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Author of the Saint-Germain Series
- July 14, 2008
- July 14, 2008
- from the editorial of Grip #43
- comments at Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (December 4, 1997)
- comments by elf, kore, and dragoness_e at on swindles and fandoms, Archived version (January 29, 2019)