Robin Hobb

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Name: Robin Hobb
Also Known As: Megan Lindholm, Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden
Occupation: writer
Medium: SF/F
Works:
Official Website(s): robinhobb.com
Fan Website(s):
On Fanlore: Related pages

Robin Hobb is an SF/F author. She doesn't like fan fiction, but is fine with fan art.

Her website FAQ includes the following:

May I write fan-fiction based on your characters or set in your world?

No.

I've created artwork based on your characters or world. Can I display it on my website?
Yes.

Can I make a role-playing game based on your world or books? It’s only just for fun, not profit, for this role-playing group on the Internet. Or, Can I make a little film from your books? It’s only for a contest, or just to share with my friends or only to put on my website. I don’t plan to make any money from it. Or, may I self-publish a little graphic novel I made from a scene in your book? I’ll make sure to say that I don’t own any of the rights. Or, I made a YouTube video based on your books/story and put it up and would you link to it from your site?

Rights are a rather tricky thing for a writer. You simply want to set up an RP or make a little movie and have some fun. You are not expecting to market a game or to profit from a movie. Or you made a little ‘mash up’ video from commercial films and music and you want me to link to it.

It probably seems like it would be fun and simple if I simply said, “Sure, go ahead.”

But if the writer gives official permission or endorses something by linking to it, it can have unintended consequences in the future. If a game developer approaches the writer and wants to purchase the rights to make a game based on the books, the writer has to say, “I already gave someone else permission to do an RP of that.” Then the game developer may simply end the negotiation.

In the case of a ‘mash up’ video made from other peoples copyrighted works, we can all get in trouble.
Or if the game developer purchases the rights and markets the game, the game developer may later take issue with someone else doing for free what he has paid for. The game developer may see it as a copyright infringement on the rights he has purchased. Or the person who has made the amateur RP may look at the game developer and say, “You took a lot of the ideas that I first came up with for my RP and used them in your game that you sold for money. That’s not fair!”

Often, when an author sells a publisher the right to publish a book, the contract will specify that the publisher can sell ‘sub rights’ as in movie rights or merchandise rights or gaming rights. If the publisher does sell those rights, then the author and the publisher share in the income from those rights. The publisher might not be happy to discover that the author had already given someone those rights for free.

This is why all rights permissions have to go through my agent. The agent keeps track of what rights have been purchased and by whom. If a writer gives someone permission to make a comic or an audio book version and at the same time the agent is negotiating a sale of those rights, things can get very messy for everyone, with possible law suits.

It is also why I cannot endorse videos based on my books by linking to them from my site or Facebook or other social media.

This is a long answer to what was probably seen as a fairly simple question. But often a writer is seen as stingy or selfish if he or she simply says, “No, you can’t do that, even if you are not planning on making money from it.