Use of Original Characters

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Use of Original Characters

Postby eris » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:41 pm

This may the wrong place for this, and if it is, I apologize - but it applies to fanfiction.

Let me start by saying I am *not* calling anyone out on this, mainly because it involves more than one person.

Several of us have developed Original Characters for use in one shots or multi-chapter fics. Of those, some OC's have spilled over into "fanon" so that others have placed them in their own fics. I made the mistake of using a character I'm quite fond of in some of mine and now he's bled into several places (though, all of ONE person asked permission).

At first, it was kind of interesting.

Then people started using this character in ways I never would... he was one of the players in a menage a cinq.

Then people started writing him badly...

Then people started taking him to other sites for purposes other than ficcing.


Lots of us have characters we've created, and wouldn't appreciate having someone walk off with.

Any of the "freshie" characters come to mind.
Pinkie's Tara
MB's Lyla
Lucky's Sam; Danni
Lilly's Vermin... or Matthew
CatMoon's Shayne
Penina's Mohawk Shaman (also a Sam)
Clchen's Phillippe, Kristen, etc.
SusieBogle's Spike Kostan

Some of these are very unique and based on real people, and seeing them used and bastardized by others isn't pleasant. Especially not when inquiries are usually met with a shrug and an "oh well" style of response. (which is what I got when I informed the smut writer she wasn't playing with canon characters)

In my case, I may have to rewrite my book to rename one of my favorite characters because there's no way to put the genie back in the bottle.

If you're going to use something outside canon, it's common courtesy to ask first - and mention where the character came from... the same as you would for an ML character.

I'll tell you, I was less upset when someone wrote me into a fic as a character (and I don't mean freshie Eris, I mean me Eris) than I am about someone abusing my Original characters.

ETA: figured out who wrote Spike.
Last edited by eris on Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby Lilly » Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:49 pm

Eris, as a writer I am greatly disturbed by this. As a mod, I can tell you that we are discussing the situation.
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby Luxe de Luxe » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:29 pm

I totally agree eris. It must be really icky to have your virtual character 'doll' being played with in ways that don't fit within your conceptualisation.

I haven't had this happen to me, but in principle it's a form of plagiarism, which is a major, major no-no in any sort of writing. As well as that, its just a form of plain bad manners to write about a character that someone else has created without asking for permission. To shrug off original author's concern about use of their brain-child is poor form indeed.

One of the things I really like about the community here is the respectfulness that people show to one another and I have confidence that folk here will respond respectfully to the issue you've raised.

As a group, on this board we've acknowledged a desire to improve in our writing skills - thinking about, discussing issues like this can only help to further us in that direction. Thanks for raising this for our attention.
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby francis » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:35 pm

I totally understand, Eris. It would be common courtesy to at least ask you beforehand.
I used Karl once without asking before, I just didn't think about it. I'm not sure if I handled that one right.
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby Carisa ITT » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:25 pm

I'm very, very sorry that happened. And since we do sort of know each other in the ML fanfic verse (and let's face it - it IS a rather small community), I'd think it not only to be common courtesy to ask the person whose creation it is for permission to use - together with a synopsis of how we intend to use said character (because, let's face it: some of us are less comfortable writing erotica than others) - but also to credit the creator or owner of said character. After all, don't we credit the current owners of Mick/Beth/Josef etc. at the top of our fanfics?


Which brings me to another point: fanfic in general. I do believe that all of us here know what thin ice we a treading on in even putting these creative endeavors out here, correct? From what I know, most writers have it even written into their contracts by the publishers that they MUST (as in don't have a choice) prosecute any writers of fanfiction to their original creation that they are aware of. So it's a don't ask, don't tell kind of thing here... That said, some of you are aware that a few month ago I was in private contact with one of the writing staff of Moonlight. And yes, one of his main complaints was the same as Eris' - that he saw their characters being used in ways they never intended and it did upset him to see them being so used. He wanted to help, and actually stated that he'd been in contact with someone else in that regard, but that said other person had rebuffed him.... [at this junction I did need to put my teacher hat on and gently explain to him that most people on the boards are not professional writers, that we are all still learning and do have a writer's workshop for said purpose. He then understood, and applauded the endeavor. And btw., he so far has not sent me the material I was pm'ing some of you about.]

However, I am not quite clear why you would have to rewrite your original character in the book because of fanfiction out here. Yes, our OC's grow very, very dear to us. But even if they seem like our children, they are not. They are like ideas - which cannot be copyrighted. Btw., I think I saw an interesting thread in that regard earlier today on AW, with someone asking a very related question.
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby eris » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:50 pm

I know that Tanya Huff mentioned the "forced prosecution" clause - but it was only in relation to her novels, not the series. She said she didn't mind fanfic... just don't point it out to her.

And as far as changing the charrie in my book, it's not just the expanded use. Others have changed him so much that he's just not the same character. I know who he's supposed to be... but it's like he got a knock on his head and his personality changed. I can't stand to look at the one in my book anymore :( :evil:
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby Carisa ITT » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:56 pm

eris wrote:And as far as changing the charrie in my book, it's not just the expanded use. Others have changed him so much that he's just not the same character. I know who he's supposed to be... but it's like he got a knock on his head and his personality changed. I can't stand to look at the one in my book anymore :( :evil:



I'm sorry you're going through this. All I can do is offer a hug and maybe a box full of chocolates. Wish I could offer Mick to you tonight, alas, you don't have scifi...

Maybe, if you put the manuscript away for a little while; TRY not to think about it for a month, then get back to it - see if you still feel the same way?
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby mitzie » Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:28 am

Eris,

I am so sorry this has happened to you! That, to me, is downright appalling!! It must feel like such a betrayal. I can well understand you being so upset about this!! I know it doesn't help much but I'm sending positive vibes your way!

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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby Phoenix » Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:23 am

Speaking as a writer, the use of another author's OC without consent seems like plagiarism - in a moral sense even if not a legal one. (I'm not a lawyer, but it certainly sounds like it's illegal. Isn't that why we need to put clear disclaimers on our stories, when we use the canon characters without the express permission of the creators?)

Eris, I am so sorry this has happened to you, (and as Lilly already said, we are looking into our options regarding this situation).
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby eris » Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:32 am

The fact of it is, I doubt my OC's are the only ones being passed around (in fact I know I've seen at least a mention of someone else's) - and it's happening not only here. The biggest offenders (and I call them that because what they write is offensive to me) are on FFn. I'm not sure there's anything you really can do beyond asking that people make sure the characters they're using are canon charries and not ones being utilized in someone else's storyline.

It may sound odd to object to character sharing since I write fics, too, but written words are different than characters on a TV show.

The universe created in a written work is 100% upto the words on paper (or screen). Whatever you take away as the essence of a character is totally the result of what the writer put into it. This is one reason, I don't write alternate versions of books, only things on screen.

TV characters are different. They've already undergone one change from script to screen and at least half of what you see as the "character" has nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with the person portraying the character. If a new actor has to play the role, the character changes to suit that actor... and the difference is noticable. It's interpretation.
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby wpgrace » Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:33 am

Don't write but I read alot... and I've seen what you're talking about...

It is, at best, uncool.

But I think you're right... can't put the genie back in the bottle.

I can only say I'm sorry... and add the pithy, albeit true, comment that he was a kick ass character or he wouldn't've been adopted so...
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby Catmoon » Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:33 am

This was a good issue to bring up, Eris. I remember that your character was used by others. (As for the ones who are changing his personality totally -- heck then, why didn't they just make up a new character of their own?) :? Definitely rude when you don't even have the common curtesy to ask first. It's something I've wondered about: how would I feel if someone used an OC of mine in their own fic. My feelings would be mixed about it... I'd be very flattered, but it would also be disturbing on several levels. I don't know of anyone using mine -- but if anyone ever comes across an OC of mine used by another author I'd want to be informed about it! I have to say, there are some very specific reasons why I wouldn't be comfortable having others use my OC.

It's also a good point you brought up Eris, about the differences between TV characters and books. Alas the sad truth is that once you write something for a series or movie (or that gets turned into one) you 'give up' a lot of your rights to keep the character true to your own vision. There are scriptwriters, and a writing staff, and a director, and the actor portraying the role -- and even the network/production company who can have a say in what's done with the character. You can even have your own characters you created essentially stolen away from your control entirely. And that is why I would never write for TV/movies.
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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby toesofasupermodel » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:36 am

This is a very interesting thread....I agreed with all...ask first before writing it in..

sorry to hear of this, eris...But, for what it's worth, someone obviously liked your stuff to have used it (not that it is a consolation)....

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Re: Use of Original Characters

Postby lionsonleashes » Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:51 am

Hi Eris! :hug:

This thread got my attention right away because, I guess I must be the 'one' FanFic writer who asked your permission, and approval, to use your 'Karl' in my story? :rose: You were even kind enough to send me a photo of what you thought he would look like, as well as vital 'stats' on him, for which I am deeply grateful! :notworthy:

I'm appalled that 'Karl' has been abused by other writers, and used without your permission. Deffinitely NOT COOL! :mob: And I don't blame you for being angry! I would be too! If someone is going to 'borrow' an original character from another FanFic writer, there are obvious steps that I think MUST happen:

#1....The Author's permission to use that OC must be sought and received.
#2....Credit for the OC must be given to their creator at the beginning of each FanFic.
#3.....The OC must stay true to the personality they were originally given.

Otherwise....it is an offense......not just to the original author, but to our entire little community. We must respect each other & stick together! If we don't....then what do we have? Not much......

Eris.....I'm so sorry this happened to you! :comfort: And if you EVER have any problem with my use of your 'Karl' in any of my Chapters.....I hope you know you can contact me and I WILL change it! :rose:

Thanks for all your wonderful FanFics, thanks for givnig me your permission to borrow your 'Karl', and thanks in advance for the book you are writing! I can't wait to read it! :yahoo:
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