'Someone is angry on the internet': copyright, creativity and control in the context of fan fiction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


These days, if someone is angry on the internet, it is likely to be about the perceived delay in the release of the latest Game of Thrones episode, how long it is taking George RR Martin to deliver the next instalment in the book series or the fact that a favourite character has been killed off, either in the book, the television series or both. But Martin is angry about something else, and not just the intense criticism he has faced lest he die before the books are finished,1 but rather the production of fan fiction based on his works (although, as we shall see, there may be some connection between the two issues). In 2010 Martin weighed in to the ongoing debate regarding whether authors should be prepared to ‘share’ their created worlds and characters and to allow others to create fanfiction which celebrates, extends or subverts those worlds.2 Martin takes issue with the very term ‘fan fiction’, explaining that when in the past he admitted to having written fan fiction himself, that meant ‘stories written by fans for fans, amateur fiction published in fanzines’ not ‘fiction set in someone else’s universe using someone else’s characters’.3 He explains that the essence of the matter for him is consent and that there are real legal and financial risks for authors who allow others to use their worlds. In addition, he views his characters as his children and he does not want other people ‘making off with them … Even people who say they love my children’.4 Bottom line for Martin? ‘No one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me.’5
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch handbook on intellectual property in media and entertainment
EditorsMegan Richardson, Sam Ricketson
Place of PublicationCheltenham. UK
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 78471 0798
ISBN (Print)978 1 78471 0781
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • author
  • copyright
  • creativity
  • fan fiction
  • social media


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