Diving into the Realm of Fan-fiction and What it Means for Copyright Law​​

Aparna Venkataraman​
Tamil Nadu National Law University, India.

Volume IV, Issue I, 2021

Fan fictions are exactly what the name itself suggests – fictions or stories written by fans on the basis of pre-existing original work. This original work can be anything – books, movies, TV Series, Anime, and so on. Fanfictions are not a modern invention, and can be seen across the world, with various websites to promote the same as well. However, the legality of fanfictions can be questioned because of copyright laws across jurisdictions.

Fanfictions are plentiful in existence, and so is copyright for various artistic works. The interplay between the two particularly in the legal sphere is of importance. In this context, it has to be kept in mind that fanfictions are written pieces only. Any inspired drawings or music or films do not fall under the realm of fanfiction. They fall under the specific head called “fanart,” which cannot be equated with fanfiction.

The author attempts to bring in an in depth understanding of what fanfiction is, and its connection with copyright law in the Indian scenario. This connection would be explored across foreign jurisdictions such as USA and UK too. The legality of fanfiction, whether it falls within any exemptions granted under copyright laws, whether the law can be changed to allow for the same are all points which this paper seeks to address. The scope of this paper is restricted to fanfiction alone. The research will be purely non-doctrinal, using both primary and secondary sources.

Keywords: Copyright Act 1957, Copyright, Fan Fiction, Fictional Characters

DOI: http://doi.one/10.1732/IJLMH.25609