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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.


(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
What? No. Look, I'm not a lawyer either but that's not what public domain means, even I know that. (I'm an artist and try to keep myself informed about copyright issues.)

The act of publishing something online != the work entering the public domain.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
I'm not sure how to interpret your comment, do you think that the act of making a story available for free means that it enters the public domain? That is not the case.

If I post a story or art to LJ, for others to enjoy for free, that doesn't mean they enter the public domain (unless I specifically state so). The rights remain with me, the creator. Fanart and -fic is no exception, except that the rights situation is much more complex (and here's where you need an IP lawyer or better yet more than one) because the rights for the characters and universe lie with the original creators while there are original elements in fic and fanart, the rights of which lie with the fan creator.

Fanfic is not "never protected by copyright law".

Actually I'm pretty sure a commenter below stated the same, earlier. Ah, yes, scroll down to st_marc's comment.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
I made no mention of "never protected by copyright law." I think you're confusing me with, Ah, yes, scroll down to calliopeia17's comment.

You quoted this in the original comment which I replied to before you deleted it (copied from my mail inbox):
If you'll reread my post, I said that "freely distributed publications"
enter the public domain. To quote from your own source, "...it consists
of works that are no longer in copyright term or were never protected by
copyright law."

What I'm saying is that vickyblueeyes is legally able to distribute the fic to others; not claim it as her own or sell the work.

As long as OP is just talking about mailing fic to a few friends, I believe that would be the equivalent to lending print books to friends. I see no problem there.

Publishing the entire work in a different place would a different animal though; it wouldn't be legal for her to post it online since copyright includes the right reproduce, print or publish the work. (Now, if she did, I agree that there's not much the original fan writer could do to stop it but that's not the point.)

(Actually what OP had in mind seemed somewhere in the middle. link. A tricky situation. I'm not sure where I'm standing on this myself, haven't given it enough thought.)

Anyway, I have to go offline now.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
I just make the point that to say that "legally" one is not permitted to do so is incorrect. It's my idea (and that of the government's) that unless it can be held up in a court of law it just doesn't fit the bill; and fanfiction will not hold up as a copyrighted work.

I think maybe the problem was you didn't read my whole comment, because I clearly argued in the alternative, with one paragraph of "if you subscribe to the idea that a person has any right in fanfic" and one paragraph of "if you subscribe to the idea that none of us have any copyright in fan work." The line between infringing derivative works and transformative works that are protected (and independently copyrightable) under the fair use exception is not a bright one, and there are legal scholars and lay persons who make compelling arguments on both sides of the debate. (See http://fanlore.org/wiki/Legal_Analysis for citations to several articles published in legal and scholarly journals that debate this topic.) You've come down clearly on one side of the debate, and that's perfectly legitimate, but that doesn't make my pointing out that there are two schools of thought on this issue wrong.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2011 08:52 am (UTC)
AKA What you're doing by creating fanfiction (works created with the influence of copywrited material).

That has really nothing to do with public domain, most popular canon material is still firmly within their copyright protection period (unless you're working with older canons like, Shakespeare or Jane Austen.) Fanwriters/artist rely on the the Fair Use doctrine when we create derivative, not-for-profit fanworks of copyrighted material.
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