Fifty Shades of FanFic
So the latest kerfuffle to shit-stir in the world of fanfic is Fifty Shades of Grey, the e-book publishing sensation that’s become the latest must-read for women everywhere. Specifically, the fact that the book’s author, E. L. James, first posted the book to FanFiction.net as an Edward/Bella Twilight erotica work called Masters of the Universe. Masters became one of the biggest hits on the site, getting over 37,000 reviews before James moved it off the site, and repurposed a good hunk of the book as Fifty Shades of Grey.
This is an interesting twist, and has serious implications for the world of fanfic.
While I’m sure Stephenie Meyers has no legal standing–as well as no desire--to pursue legal action, one wonders how that legal landscape might change if the publishing world decides to go after more re-purposed fanfic erotica. Especially if publishers claim that the works are wholly original fiction, as Vintage Books, James’s publisher, is claiming.
Fanfic continues to draw more mainstream attention. Time Magazine did a piece on it last year, George R. R. Martin came out against it two years ago before the A Game of Thrones TV series began (I’ve mentioned before that Anne Rice and Ursula Le Guin are well-known authors also opposed to it), and literature site The Millions addresses it in depth. If fanfic continues to get this level of exposure, we may see some definitive legal rulings soon.