by Krypton Radio intern Hannah Carter
Amazon struck up a controversy this week after announcing plans for a fan fiction publishing platform called Kindle Worlds. Groups of people writing satire and “what if?” scenarios for their favorite stories and characters is nothing new. Fan fiction has been around almost as long as intellectual property. However, Amazon’s platform, offered through the Kindle store, adds a whole new element to the process of fan fiction writing: money.
Kindle Worlds allows anyone to upload short stories, novellas, and full-fledged novels based on certain fictional universes which Amazon has licensed. Writers can upload their work, fill in an editorial description and other information, and create a cover. Once published, the stories will earn writers monthly royalties for each copy sold, plus a royalty to the owners of the intellectual property.
In general, Kindle Worlds does not accept pornography, offensive content, crossover, content that infringes on other people’s rights to their intellectual property, or works which provide a poor customer experience. In addition, each licensed “world” has specific guidelines, in regards to content, which must be followed. For a full list of the worlds and their individual rules, check out the Kindle Worlds page on Amazon.
This announcement has, understandably, become a hot topic. Many fans are excited by the prospects of being paid for writing and publishing their fan fiction, while some authors and publishers are not too keen on having other people make money off of their intellectual property.
Thomas Galvin, author of The Vampires of St. Troy, tweeted that “from an ‘I have characters people might want to write about’ point of view, [Kindle Worlds] is fascinating.”
Malinda Lo, a Young Adult writer, points out in her blog that “Fan fiction is for fans; it’s done for the love of a TV show/movie/book/whatever. It’s not done for money. When it’s done for money, it becomes officially licensed tie-in media. It’s regulated, and it takes the fan out of fan fiction: it basically turns you into a work-for-hire writer.”
John Scalzi, author of Old Man’s War and The Androids Dream, has other problems with Kindle Worlds. In his blog, Whatever, he expresses his concerns over “red flags” in the publishing platform’s policies:
“Note that on its page Amazon makes a show of saying that the writer owns the copyright on the original things that are copyrightable, but inasmuch as Amazon also acquires all rights for the length of the copyright and Alloy is given the right to exploit the new elements without further compensation, this show about you keeping your copyright appears to be just that: show.”
One thing is sure: people all over the country will be waiting to see what happens as a result of writers using Kindle Worlds.
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