Everyone knows Rowling and Meyer's stance on fanfiction and the fact both writers have given a thumbs up of sorts. However, there is something I don't think either one of them would of approve of and it involves those Reading the Books
a lot of people are supposedly writing. I say supposedly writing because copying from another persons work is not writing unless you are quoting under fair use. And boy... every single Reading the Books I've come across is not
in fair use and constitutes plagiarism. I know how to write one that doesn't constitute plagiarism, but I'll save that until the end.
One of the arguments I've seen is that it is just fanfiction so it doesn't matter if they are committing plagiarism and copyright infringement in their stories because it is just for fun. However, when you publish something to the net it is not
just for fun anymore. When a person is found out to have plagiarized the rest of their work will come under question about whether or not it is also stolen or not. That is unless your a really
young writer who hasn't yet learned what plagiarism is and then people are more willing to give you a second chance. This is because plagiarists tend to be serial in what they do rather then sticking to just one piece.
The second argument is that fanfiction can't be called out for plagiarism because it is a copyright issue and to call fanfiction out on a copyight issue is to call into question the entire work as fanfiction uses copyrighted material. I am going to point out here that copyright infringement and plagiarism are two different things. Copyright infringement means you used the material without the persons permission and plagiarism means you stole the persons work and passed it off as your own. For example, you can plagiarize Shakesphere and any of the other works that have fallen into public domain. Since no one has the copyright nobody can take you to court for plagiarizing the work because it is the copyright holder that gets the money in a lawsuit.
The third argument comes from the fact some people believe disclaiming the work means you haven't committed plagiarism and you can't get in trouble for plagiarism. link
]Plagiarism.org[/url] puts it well. Under their list of things that are considered plagiarism it lists ”copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)”
So how much is to much? Some people may remember their teachers telling them that if their work is thirty percent or less then the writer is within fair use. I'm going to point out that this is for essays and not creative writing. There isn't an exact percentage, but it should be under one percent of your work when it comes to copyrighted material and even that can be too much as two to four lines per chapter is also an added limit. So what does this in fact mean? It means that the majority of the Reading the Books fanfics consitute plagiarism.
Some may say, but I paraphrased the books so I should be fine. Here is another quote from the site I gave you from the list. It includes, “changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit”
and the whole copying to much from the original source in fact also counts despite having changed the wording around and paraphrased the work And here some people may be thinking, but I use the characters so that is plagiarism right? Nope. As I've said, copyright infringement is different from plagiarism.
The disclaimers may not save you when you take the actual words, but when you admit to borrowing the concepts from the books your covered. Unless of course the writer decides to not allow people to write fanfiction for their stories and they are going to push forward their right to be the sole person to create derivative works off their work. The exception to the rule is parody as parody is protected under fair use.
The Reading the Books issue is an epidemic and it isn't restrained to just the Harry Potter and the Twilight fandoms. A lot of people claim that banning Reading the Books stories from sites infringes upon their freedom of speech or their creative freedom forgetting that what they are doing is infringing upon the rights of someone they are supposed
to be a fan of in the first place. Those who write Reading the Books or support them in some manner are in the wrong, not the site admins, not the writer nor the people calling them out for what they are doing.
That said, it is
possible to write an actual Reading the Books fanfic. I refuse to call the stuff that I've been finding fanfic because as I've pointed out, copying someone else work is not writing. Some people are probably thinking it is impossible, but then they are not thinking outside of the box.
Avoid quoting and paraphrasing the work. Particularly don't do it on sites where copying is not allowed at all. You can write sentences like “Lily read the book until she got to what a brat her sister's son was.” Do not fill your work with the above sentences but instead make each chapter a focal point around one of these sentences. For example, Lily might storm over to her sister and lecture her about how to properly take care of kids for one chapter.
Some people may say, but that defeats the purpose of the Reading the Books. As I am going to point out, the stuff that is being put out is not writing but is instead all over the place. The writers are throwing jokes left and right and the works are unfocused, not to mention so many of them are exactly the same because they are following the same restrictive structure rather then actually thinking outside of the box.
I look forward to seeing a legit Reading the Books fanfic made, because it will showcase the writers potential a whole lot more rather then the writer relying on another writers words as a crutch. So, while I'll defend the idea behind the Reading the Book fanfic I refuse to defend the ones that have been deleted from sites for obvious reasons. Support the writers of Reading the Books who are doing the right thing instead of the ones who aren't.