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AUs with Names Changed

I've been wondering- what would be the legal situation if one were to write an AU fanfiction taking place either in the real world or a world of the fan's creation (or maybe an in-verse fic for a series that takes place in the real world), and then change the names?

Could they then claim it was original? Could they sell it as their own work? Would it change the situation if the original fanfic, with the names unchanged, was still available online?

I ask because I've read a lot of Twilight AUs with all werewolf or vampire characters as humans, and the characters are often so changed it seems they might as well be original.

EDIT: Also, what about real-person fiction (RPF) AUs, or fics that don't mention whatever real thing the people are a part of (their band, or the show/movie they acted in, etc)? If the names were changed, what would that mean? Could it be called original, and would having the fic with names unchanged online affect that?

Comments

e_transitions
Mar. 19th, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
I think it depends on a case-by-case basis. I do know of an author (Rosdeidre) who used to write Roswell fanfiction until she got a book deal based on one of her fics. She changed the names for the fic and altered the storyline slightly so that the lore wasn't 100% the same and now has a whole line of books: http://www.deidreknight.com/
blackat_t7t
Mar. 19th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
Wow- I'm amazed that something like that could happen! Not just that it could be done small-scale like self publishing, but an actual book deal!

Are the original fics still online? Is it generally well-known that the books used to be fanfics?
e_transitions
Mar. 19th, 2011 04:51 am (UTC)
She's said previously: "My very first fanfic, HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY served as the core basis for what later became my first published novel, PARALLEL ATTRACTION. Now, the two are in (many ways) worlds apart because I changed a lot in the new book (otherwise I'd have felt like I was rehashing something I'd already written!) "

I found How To Disappear Completely here: http://www.roswellfanatics.net/archive/AMB_AP224334875/1080.html

I think it's pretty well-known in the Roswell fan community that her fic served as a basis for the books. She has many forums devoted to her.
blackat_t7t
Mar. 19th, 2011 05:41 am (UTC)
That's very interesting. Do you know if it was completely rewritten, or if she simply atlered certain parts?
e_transitions
Mar. 19th, 2011 06:14 am (UTC)
I read it a pretty long time ago. If I remember right, she changed the character names, added in different lore (she didn't have to alter any existing lore since the fanfic assumed you already knew the lore), and then expanded on the story to make it longer. I think the rest of it stayed almost exactly the same
blackat_t7t
Mar. 19th, 2011 06:33 am (UTC)
So all she did was add things to make it understandable outside the context of a fanfic, to those who didn't know the original storyline?

Wow- I'm really surprised that it could be published like that, especially since she's so honest about it having originally been a fanfic. I guess since the plot of the fic itself was original, as long as she changed the names so she wasn't infringing on the character trademark, it could legally be published?

It's a very interesting example. Thank you for sharing.
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