Can We Blame Fifty Shades?

Oh, here is something that I missed while away at ALA!

First, on Wednesday, June 26, GalleyCat reported that “Where The Wild Things Are” Revisited on KickStarter. GalleyCat quotes the two men behind the project as saying that “We have also been very careful not to impinge on Mr Sendak’s copyright and have taken the necessary legal advice around this whole project. We fully acknowledge his wondrous creation and hope that our work takes the story forward in a respectful, engaging and creative way.”

Yes. Talking about what appears to be a straight-up sequel of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, rather than something protected, like a parody.

I am quoting GalleyCat quoting because guess what happened next?

Today, Friday, July 5th, GalleyCat follows up with “Where The Wild Things Are” Follow Up Pulled From KickStarter.

HarperCollins filed a DMCA notice and because of the intellectual property dispute, the KickStarter is pulled: “BACK TO THE WILD – Inspired by Where The Wild Things Are is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and is currently unavailable.” Kickstarter even includes the DMCA notice. (Note that this says it’s a dispute — not that it actually infringed.)

If you’re curious about the project, Kicktraq has links to various news, posts and websites. More details are at The Where The Wild Things Are Sequel Got Pulled from KickStarter.

Fanfiction has existed for a long, long time. “Sophie is Max’s daughter and she too is excited to hear about the strange Wild Things, but time has elapsed. Max in our world, is now probably in his 30s and the Wild Things have been ‘marooned’ for almost 30 years.” Sounds like fanfic to me; and also sounds like it’s too little information to judge whether it fits any type of fair use exception. (If you want to read up on that, check out the Chilling Effects website.) (But honestly, if you are doing a parody wouldn’t that be in your description?)

As for me, I blame Fifty Shades of Grey for creating the notion that fanfiction is something that can now be packaged and sold.

So, your thoughts? Is this the boldest move in the world, trying to cash in on the success of a beloved, award winning book?

Or is this something that people should just chill about and let happen?



5 thoughts on “Can We Blame Fifty Shades?

  1. Personally, I find the idea of a Where the Wild Things Are sequel abhorrent. You don’t mess with perfection. (Why did we need a Peter Rabbit sequel, again?) But from an intellectual freedom standpoint, I don’t see the problem. Publishing prequels, sequels, reinterpretations, and spin-offs of classic works — from The Odyssey to The Wind in the Willows — is nothing new. Meanwhile, this seems like a different situation from Fifty Shades, which is so dissociated from Twilight that most people wouldn’t recognize the connection unless you explained Fifty Shades’ origin.


  2. Absolutely I think we can blame Fifty Shades. That, and the kerfluffle over “Kindle Worlds” which is media tie-ins but called itself fanfiction, and confused the issue.

    Have you seen Faniverse Books? They have at least a dozen ebooks set in worlds like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and the Walking Dead: They call it “parody” so maybe that’s why Amazon hasn’t taken them down yet, but they’re not, they’re just fanfic. The truly sad thing about that, is most of them could have been fine if they’d just made it a “generic” zombie story, etc, but they’re cashing in on big franchises names. *sigh*


    1. Kindle Worlds: I’m going to watch how this plays out, but it seems very limiting to fanfic writers (no slash, no crossovers, no song fics) and more of a threat (if that’s the right word) to those who get a start/make a living writing either tie ins or licensed work (like The Vampire Diaries is).

      Faniverse — I am not familiar with them, but it’s up to the copyright holders to file notice of take down. I’m sure Amazon’s position is they are just a seller relying on the author’s representations that it is legit. I’m a bit surprised that those copyright holders aren’t filing take down notices, to be honest, if it’s not really parody or another defense.


  3. Thinking about it more, I can see how a sequel to Where the Wild Things Are would infringe on copyright laws. The mainstream spin-offs I was thinking were based on works in the public domain or were published with the permission of the author’s estate. Yet I still don’t see giving Fifty Shades the credit/blame here; I think the desire to remix existing works (and, in some cases, capitalize on those remixes) is an old, old human habit.


    1. Fanfiction is not new. There are some really interesting research papers out there tracing it back in time.

      What Fifty Shades brought into play was the idea that fanfic is something that the fanfic writer could and should get paid for. Even a few years ago, the belief in the fandom circles I was part of was “the first rule of fandom is don’t talk about fandom;” and it wasn’t something one did for money. Fifty Shades has turned that upside down by pulling to pub an AU story and filing off the serial numbers, and other books have done likewise. I’m not surprised that as more people make $ the lines of how to do it blur (either as Tori notes by selling it straight out, or the kickstarter project).

      So agreed that the desire has always been there. But up until Fifty Shades, those in fandom who wanted to make $ did so by other ways, such as creating original books/stories.


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