RPS Reality Check

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Title: RPS Reality Check
Creator: Dara Sloan
Date(s): September 4, 2001
Medium: online
Topic: Fanfiction, RPS
External Links: RPS Reality Check/WebCite
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RPS Reality Check is an essay by Dara Sloan.

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.

It is a direct response to RPS: Writing Under the Influence.


Her statements that RPS authors could be sent to prison or convicted of crimes are just flat-out wrong. Libel and slander are torts, which fall under civil law, not criminal. It is also worth noting that every multi-million-dollar libel judgment has been levied against a publishing agency with millions in assets, and millions of readers. Let's look at the logistics of RPS: a webpage that gets a few thousand hits in a good month, run by a fan who, in all likelihood, doesn't have ten thousand dollars to his/her name, let alone ten million. The plaintiff would spend more on lawyer fees than he/she had any hope of recovering in damages, on the uncertain chance that fantasy stories would meet the definition of libel, and the publicity from the lawsuit would do more to put the stories in the public eye than the original website did. Sure, there may be some celebrities so homophobic that they would sue an RPS writer just to make an example of him or her. Writing a story where Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson shag like rabid weasels is probably a bad idea. But do they joke in interviews about having sex with each other (like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), grab each other's asses on national television (like Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie), or kiss each other on stage (like Bono and Edge of U2)? Many RPS-bashers are presuming a level of homophobia on the part of RPS subjects that probably isn't there if the celebs in question are comfortable enough to do things like these in public.
...to claim that RPS is legally riskier than character slash is an act of ignorance at best and hypocrisy at worst. Writers of fictional character fanfiction can be, and have been, targeted by copyright holders. As I write this, Warner Brothers is considering legal action against writers of Harry Potter slash. Authors like Anne Rice and Anne McCaffrey have aggressively pursued writers of any fanfic, not just slash. Face it: if a writer is that worried about getting into legal trouble, he/she would be well-advised to stick to writing original fiction.