First off, I should note that I really have only read the fanfics of about two of my friends, and then, I usually focus on the ones featuring the characters I know.
Secondly, the actual debate sprung from kitsune76's post regarding RPSs (Real Person Slash). I didn't know about them before now and find the concept disrespectful and morally offensive and most certainly don't approve of them being written.
Thirdly, here is my question to and the response from Jaqueline Carey, author of the Kushiel trilogy. It covers the basic thoughts of published authors and I will probably make reference to it.
> Good morning, Ms. Carey. Aside from loving your books, I wanted to ask
> you a quick question on your view of fanfiction writing. I noted on
> LiveJournal profile for the kushiel_trilogy group
> request that fans do not write fanfics involving your characters. A lot
> of my friends write fanfics and it seems to be the in thing to do, but,
> when I tried to write one a long time ago, I found myself bothered by
> the fact that I was attempting to do as I pleased with someone else's
> creation. So, to the point, I'm just curious as to what your opinion
> was on fanfiction writing, and particularly, why you don't want your
> characters written this way?
Thanks for your inquiry! Fan fiction presents a difficult issue for authors. On the one hand, we don't want to discourage or put off fans who love our work enough to want to spend more time with our characters -- indeed, it's a real honor. On the other hand, it's a form of copyright infringement that could create problems for authors who want to continue in the milieu they've created. So for legal reasons, I don't feel comfortable officially endorsing the writing of fanfic. Unofficially, my personal policy is more of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" variety. :)
- Jacqueline Carey
The rest of my thoughts I will neatly arrange into nice groups, complete with headlines:
Within the context
My personal opinion on writing fanfics is that, for the reasons stated above, I am not comfortable with doing them myself, but have no real problems with those who do. I don't mind reading them, but my ideal concept for fanfics is that they are an extention of the original characters, written within the context of their established nature. If the characters' personalities are changes to suit a new story that the writer feels is appropriate, then I don't see why that writer wouldn't just make an effort to write a completely new character.
As for slash, I am told that the writers are simply adding an element that they feel was missing from the original portrayal of the characters and their relationships. I understand the concept wholly, but again, for me to enjoy it, I need a rational explanation as to why Dumbledore would want to sodomize Harry. The latter is a more extreme example of slash, but one that certainly seems popular.
That isn't to say that I disapprove of slash. It's just that, for me to appreciate it, it has to fall under the whole "within the context" issue.
Copyright infringement and other legal issues
I think everyone in the fanfic world agrees that copyright infringment is an issue here, but until someone attempts to publish their works, there really isn't anything to worry about. In the arguments I hear, the fanfic world is frightened of "The Great Fanfic Purge," but I don't think there really is anything to fear. Even if someone does get all uppity and tries to take money for "their" work, authors can complain about the fanfic community, but it's not like the pirate movie/music issue (unless everyone writing fanfics suddenly decided to start selling them).
RPS could fall under the slander and liabel category, but a defendant could easily argue creative license (ref: child pornography vs. art). RPS is still just a story and is clearly written and defined as such.
What if it were mine?
I am extremely possessive about my personal creations. I've created these characters, and literally put my heart and soul into them. I have worked hard to create something and, rather than someone else creating their own something, they take mine and pervert it to suit their own needs. If they're going to alter the characters so drastically, why don't they write there own characters instead? I would be very troubled by fanfics/slash featuring my own characters.
That said, I know that it would happen anyway. And while I might be personally troubled by it, I wouldn't spend the grand amount of time it would take to police it. Likely, I'd make a request like Ms. Carey apparently did, which was that her characters not be used, though the world they appear in was fair game. If my fans respected me as writer and creator, hopefully they'd adhere to that, but I'm wouldn't condemn them if they didn't - just don't show it to me.
The idea of fanfics is fun, but I see a lot of people who want to be "real" writers writing lots and lots of them instead of creating their own stuff. Fanfic is a good kind of side exercise to practice/enhance your own writing, but I'd like to see more of these fanficers work on their own stuff. That is where they shine and prove themselves as writers rather than someone in a little clique.