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Fic from deleted journals, fair game?

 Hello, I'm new and I have an issue/question. Recently an author deleted their fic from LJ and FF.net by deleting their accounts. The author cannot be reached. I've saved said fic as a PDF and don't know if I can distribute it.

In *my* opinion, this should be fine. After all the author posted the fic to the public. I'm not saying by doing so that they gave up the rights. I'm saying by doing so, they acknowledge the risk of doing so. In addition since posting it to the public, doesn't that mean they wanted it to be seen? That they didn't care if it was to be seen? With that in mind, why wouldn't it be ok to distribute said fic? It has the old author credited. Like I said, just my opinion.

Can I or can't I? I've looked up LJ TOS and FF.NET TOS and they pretty much, to me, say, if you post on our site, we are not responsible for whatever happens.


Mar. 24th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
This is mostly just a recap of what everyone else has said, but....

There's no legal precedent on whether fanfiction is copyrightable material or not, but assuming for the purposes of argument, it is, then what you're proposing would certainly be copyright infringement. (The same way that taking a copy of a published book and reproducing it on the internet, even with the author properly attributed, would be copyright infringement.)

Ethically, if you cannot contact the author, it would be extremely rude and potentially hurtful to distribute the fic over the internet.

(Imagine, if you will, a fiction writer whose LJ psuedonym had become known by her RL friends/family. She does not want her RL friends/family to find her fic. She might be in danger of physical abuse from a violent domestic partner who doesn't like her writing slash. She might be at risk of losing her job if her employer finds out she writes erotica. She might be shunned by her friends or family if they find about her fic. To prevent her fic from being googleable through the pen name which her RL people have become aware of, she takes down her fic. So what happens to her if you put it back up?)

This writer deleted her accounts because she did not want her fic to be accessible on the internet any more--for whatever reason. It would be deeply unethical to disrespect her wishes.

In summary, CAN you? Yes, it is highly unlikely to the point of being nearly impossible that someone would bring a successful lawsuit for this. SHOULD you? Absolutely not.
Mar. 25th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
There's no legal precedent on whether fanfiction is copyrightable material or not..

Huh what?

Of COURSE it is. Whether or not that copyright is subject to the superior rights of some other copyright holder is an entirely separate issue. The two have nothing to do with each other. If the fic has any original elements at all, those elements are copyrightable.

Don't take this the wrong way, but "fanfic" is not some new and exotic creature, a mysterious chimera of which the Congress, the courts and the counsel wot not. We got this.

And the answer to the original poster's question is: "Don't do that. Just don't do it. It's wrong on all possible levels."
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