Is Fan Fiction Legal?

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Title: Is Fan Fiction Legal?
Creator: Michela Ecks
Date(s): very early 2000s, perhaps 2001
Medium: online
Fandom: multifandom
Topic: Copyright, Fanfiction
External Links: online here, via Wayback, Archived version
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Is Fan Fiction Legal? is an essay posted at Writers University. It is by Michela Ecks.


That's an interesting question that should be addressed. Based on my own research (links to those sites where I found most of this information can be found in the legal section of Writers University.), the answer seems to be no... but you can get away with it for the most part with in certain limits.
I have probably established that fan fiction is illegal because it is a copyright violation but that there are some unanswered questions about its actaul [sic] legal status especially as it pertains to the Internet. It should also be noted that there doesn't seem to be much legal presedence [sic] surrounding fan fiction on the books though there have been several cases that I believe were dropped in the proceeding. These tended to revolve around book based fan fiction by Anne Rice, Mercedes Lackey and Chelsea Quinn Yarbo. (Fan sites have never really been legally challenged to my knowledge. At the time when FOX, Viacom and other networks were sending out cease and desist orders, most web site owners closed shop rather than take those people to court.) Because of that material, most of the legal theory around the status of fan fiction is just that : theory. It makes the outcome of any case related to fan fiction some what difficult to predict because of that.
I hope that clarifies the punishment that those people can inflict upon you for violating people's copyright.