Writing: Fanfiction or Not?

One of the blogs I really love is called QueryShark, an agent who will publicly dissect peoples’ query letters and gives advice. And puts it online to help everyone else see what they did right/wrong in their query letters. I find it very informative! Most of the time there is an idea to be supportive of a writer…

Not this time.

Seriously – read the query letter, read the blog comments, then read the comments from others at the bottom. In 2-3 years of watching this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a harsh response from either the agent or the comments below.

Now – I think there is cause for this.

I think copyright is a big deal. So the difference between re-imagining something like Romeo and Juliet and well, anything written after 1924 is like the difference between a goldfish and a blue whale. Yes, size is part of the equation – but you are also talking about fish vs. mammal.

There is a similar issue which circled YouTube recently about music copyright and “fair use” – which is kind of what this query letter is trying to claim. Both of these people are trying to claim something “transformative” in their work. The real problem that makes it probamatic (and not “just” fanfiction) is a rather important element in fair use: non-commercial.

Both of these people are crossing the line from “just fanfiction” and pings red x’s on the copyright line because they are trying to profit off the copy written works. At least from my perspective they become problematic when they seek to make money off of someone else’s work without permission. Would you agree?