Translating Fanfiction and the Creative Commons

I was asked yesterday if I would allow my work to be translated into Spanish.

I’ve never been asked before, though a while back I found More had been translated into Russian without my permission.

But, it was attributed, linked, they weren’t claiming ownership, so after a short and ambiguous rant I shrugged it off and moved on.

Being asked permission this time means that I had to decide whether to endorse translation or not. And I really had no clue.

So I asked advice on twitter, as you do :)

There were a few hell no’s and a few hell yeah’s. I see both sides. On the one hand, my stuff gets read by a wider audience. ON the other hand, I don’t read any language but my own, so verifying that they’ve translated faithfully is pretty much impossible.

So I had more of a think about it.

Did we ask Stephenie before we threw Edward and Jasper into bed together and made them do filthy things to each other? No. We did not. Sure, she ‘allows’ fanfiction or whatever, but she doesn’t endorse it, and I’m sure she probably doesn’t agree with half the stuff we do to her characters—and I’m not just talking about the buttsecks.

But we do it and we don’t feel bad about doing it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about fanfiction lately too. As in, fanfiction of my fanfiction. I’ve fanficced my own fanfic (Déjà Vu) and it got me to thinking about how I’d feel about others fanficcing my boys. The answer? Ecstatic. I’d love to read what others might do with them. I’d totally ‘allow’ authors to fanfic my fanfic.

But why should I have to ‘allow’ it? Once again, did the writer of the first Twilight fanfiction ask Steph if they could mess with her characters?

I bet they didn’t.

My fanfiction is the product of someone else’s intellectual property. What right do I have to say someone can’t do to ‘my’ boys what I did to Steph’s?


As far as I’m concerned, anyone can fanfic my shit. They can translate it into whatever language they like. Yeah, I’d like to be contacted, but only out of curiosity—not for any kind of permission. I might want to read it. I might want to link to translations.

I will say this: by giving this freely to anyone, I don’t have to endorse it.

Does the fact that someone writes kiddie porn using Steph’s characters reflect badly on her? Maybe if you’re an idiot. Likewise I won’t accept responsibility for what someone might write using my characters, or my story as a base.

I’m going to license all my fanfiction using the following Creative Commons license:

Creative Commons License
This work of fanfiction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

That means anyone can download it, share it, fanfic it, translate it, remix it, as long as they give credit, don’t make any money off it, and apply the same license to any derivative work (click the link to get an official explanation). Which apart from the first two is pretty much what we do when we write fanfic. I get to specify how I want my attribution (web link to my blog or FFn profile, thanks), it’s easy to understand and I won’t have to recite a long list of do’s and don’ts next time someone asks.

Problem solved.

So. Take my shit. Do what you will. Give me credit. Don’t make money. License it the same.

You might think that the NonCommercial part of the license is a bit overkill, after all, you can’t make money off fanfiction, can you?

Bwahahah! It’s there because I’m vehemently opposed to pull-to-publish. Fat chance anyone would do something like that with my stuff, but it’s the principal ;)


4 responses to “Translating Fanfiction and the Creative Commons

  • dellaterra

    Thank you very much for writing such a lucid description of this process. I tried to figure it out a while ago, but you have made it very transparent. Fanfic is long overdue for a rational approach to sharing, protecting, and giving legitimacy to what we work so hard to produce.

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