Stumbled across this post by meinterrupted (originally on Tumblr) on OTW, AO3, and creator rights
and after hesitating about reading it (there has been a lot of OTW hate around lately, I've been having to limit my reading because sometimes it feels like being kicked repeatedly in the gut, even though I don't think most of it is meant that way; I think most of the folks who wank on the OTW don't ever bother considering that the Org is made up of actual human beings with feelings, who are working hard to make the Org work, and try to make it better.) - anyway, I went ahead and read the post and found, not wank, but a nicely succinct summary of my own feelings on transformative works. So I made a comment that I'm putting up here and expanding on a bit.
(I admit, I feel somewhat awkward making grand proclamations as to the worth of fanfic. Fic has been one of my major hobbies for years, it's given me great pleasure and I've made a lot of friends through it. But the vast majority of fanfic (mine most definitely included!) is extremely lightweight entertainment. It's not culturally insignificant; but it's neither humanity's greatest achievement. So while I can and will defend its artistic merit, for the most part that's not what I look to it for. That being said...)
As a writer, I personally feel that censorship, that the attempt to prohibit or control the sharing of ideas, is dangerous to the production of art, to the creators of art, and to society as a whole. Regardless of whether it's government censorship banning books, or an original creator's censorship of an interpretation of their work that makes them "uncomfortable".
If you respect a creator and want to honor their wishes by not writing fic of their work, that's awesome, good for you. But there is absolutely no rule that says that because you have read something by an author means you have to respect that author
. There are quite a lot of authors I've read the works of who I do not respect, either because of the work itself, or because of what I know about the author otherwise (yes, Orson Scott Card, you homophobic asshole, I'm talking about you.) So to say that I should be required
to respect a creator's wishes, that a creator has the right to stop me from expressing my opinions of their work - whether they're expressed by writing a critical essay or smutty fanfic - makes me wonder what's the point of art, of experiencing other's ideas, if I'm only allowed to engage with them in "approved" ways and aren't permitted to have thoughts of my own?
I will admit this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy; any author who opposes fanfic etc. based on their work I automatically lose respect for (and therefore don't feel obliged to listen to their wishes about making fanworks). To me, any attempt by an artist to try to limit others' creative expression feels like they're trying to keep the "art" to themselves, that they feel that they
should be allowed to create what work they like, but "other people" aren't worthy of that right. Because there is no artist who has never been influenced by, inspired by, other art, others' creations - whether or not the original creators of those
works meant to inspire anybody.
If you don't want to inspire anybody else, if you want to keep your characters and your worlds all to yourself and not let anyone play with them, there is a very simple solution - don't publish
. If you make art of them, don't share it with anyone else; or else only share with trusted friends who respect you personally enough to not do anything with your creations that you don't want them to do. As soon as you give a stranger access to your art, then you are giving them the right to have any and all thoughts about that work, and to express those thoughts publicly, and they should be legally protected to do so, in any fair, just, and healthy society.