With the upcoming interview with the moderator of one of the fandoms I write in, I thought this week we could touch on a topic that is as controversal as it could be. I've heard every argument out there about fan fiction being a copyright infringment, about it being a useful tool to a writer, and everything in between.
Being an author of fan fiction I have to admit that using another person's character to write a story is a harmless tool. I don't see the difference in borrowing a well known character to write a story and borrowing a pattern to make an afgan. As long as the writer/creator doesn't make a cent what's the harm? Personally, if people are so enamored of a character or show that they're willing to spend their free time (Something that there isn't much of in today's world) writing about it, take it as a compliment.
A fictional character is just that a piece of imaginiation by some really intelligent, creative people. Stan Lee is one of the most renowned super-hero creators of all time and with good reason. He's come up with some of the most famous characters of all time such as the X-Men and many many more. Each of his characters belongs to him, but should the public have a right to play with them? That's the million dollar question that has caused some serious debate. Fan Fiction borrows a character or a place and lets an author explore it before returning it. No harm in that, I say.
However, fan fiction is just that - fiction based upon an imaginary person. It's when it goes the other way that it becomes an issue in my humble opinion. Now there are certain lines I agree should never be crossed. For example I've started to read some fan fiction and stopped before I'd even finished the first page because the author has drawn the real person into the story. We're all exposed to the gossip and rumors of the tabloids and the celebrities, but really we don't know them as a person. How can anyone say that John Doe would do this dispicable thing or that good deed if they don't know him personally.