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FanLib.com
It has come to my attention that some members (including myself) have received very complimentary and near identical invitations to sign up and start posting work at FanLib.com. I wish to advise those of you who are considering posting your work there, that the TOS (Terms of Service) states:

"You hereby grant FanLib a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Submissions in connection with the Website."

This means that FanLib.com, a for profit site, is going to let you keep ownership of your work, but take total freedom to do what they like with it and earn from it without paying you a cent. This means that you lose control over your work, therefore losing ownership too. This is aside from the tenuous legalities of whether a site can profit from fanfiction. In my experience, fanfiction has always dodged copyright laws because it is nonprofit and written with the original author's consent or rather, lack of disconsent.

I am not saying don't post there (I will say that I have no intention of posting there myself until the TOS improves, though), but I am saying please read and consider the terms carefully because I am concerned that some members here will or have not done so. Please.

Edit: As requested, following is an unedited complete copy of the email invite that I received on Apr 20, 2007 10:04 AM. Subject was "Your Lord of the Rings fanfics":

Hi Susan,

I saw some of your Lord of the Rings fan fiction online and really enjoyed your writing. I work for a brand-new fan fiction website called FanLib.com and my colleagues and I want it to be the ultimate place for talented writers like you. In case you're wondering, FanLib's not new to fan fiction. Since 2001, we've been producing web events with people like CBS, Showtime and HarperCollins to bring fan creativity into the big leagues.

We're impressed by your writing and impact in the fan fiction community, and we value your opinion. That's why we're inviting you to be among the first to experience FanLib.com.

Feel free to take a look around, upload some fics, maybe read and comment on a few. Do as much or as little as you like. On FanLib.com, you'll be able to connect with other first-rate writers like yourself and exchange ideas with the site creators. Also, stay tuned for our sweepstakes, which will give fanfic writers and reviewers a chance to win prizes.

Don't worry, you won't get spammed. We're not selling anything. We just want you to try the site and hopefully give us some feedback.

We look forward to having you as a founding member. Together, we can create the greatest fan fiction site the web's ever seen!

Best,
Naomi
FanLib Launch Coordinator
FanLib.com

This message was sent to you from Lord of the Rings Fanfiction located at http://www.lotrfanfiction.com.


Naomi (a.k.a. railroadwings) has been a member of this site since the 19th of this month. I think it is therefore safe to assume she signed up for the sole purpose of emailing authors by way of the contact gadget thingy that is on each member page. Unless you reply to her invite by email, she will not know your email address from this site.

--Susan on 21/04/07 - 10:49 pm 67 Comments
Comments
By the way, prizes at FanLib.com are only open to US residents.
- sylc on 21/04/07 - 11:53 pm
I am curious as to how many people here recieved "invitations , and what the main content was of the original e-mail. Was this a mass spam? Was the original sent by a current member of our site? If so : isn't spamming against our rules? wink, wink. nudge, nudge.
- aelfwine on 22/04/07 - 01:54 am
Interesting ... thank you for that! I'll make note of it ... I agree ... I don't think I'll be joining anytime soon ... ;D
- BookLuva7 on 22/04/07 - 04:30 am
I wouldn't post anywhere they say that posting gives the site any rights at all except to delete the entire story or the member. I wonder where they got the email addresses to send the invitations. Obviously not from this site, because I haven't received an invite yet. Thanks for the heads up, Adora.
- Elaura on 22/04/07 - 04:30 am
I'm quite weary of Fanlib myself. Apart from everything you already stated, I wouldn't want to give out my address and telephone number (!), simply to be able to use a website.
- Michelle on 22/04/07 - 08:00 am
You're very welcome for the heads up. :) Aelfwine, I have edited the post to include the text of the original email that I received. The sender is a current member of this site; they joined on the 19th of this month so I think it is safe to assume they joined the site solely to send out FanLib.com invites by way of the contact member gadget thingy. Elaura, this gadget does not allow a sender to know a member's email address unless the recipient responds to the received email by email. Michelle, I was unaware FanLib.com required address and telephone details during registration. Eek! So far I know of six members here, including myself, who have received invites from FanLib.com, but whether they received their emails from railroadwings and through this site's contact thingy, I do not know.
- sylc on 22/04/07 - 12:02 pm
We discussed Fanlib on the yahoogroup I mod (Aragorn Angst), since a few of our authors had signed up for the beta release. If there are going to be prize drawings you will have to give your address away. And the TOS led me to believe that they would like your telefone number as well. It says there: "We collect two types of information from Users: personal data (such as names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.).." To me, it all looks a bit fishy. And even if it didn't, the layout gives me seizures. It's all a bit much.
- Michelle on 22/04/07 - 02:56 pm
*nods head sagely* Mmm ... suspicious ... *dark music plays* ... I completely agree. There's no way I would ever join a site that asks for your telephone number ... ;)
- BookLuva7 on 22/04/07 - 05:19 pm
I'll be darned! I didn't realize that was you, Susan. I also didn't know you were a moderator. Congrats. Thank YOU for the heads up. 8-)
- Elaura on 22/04/07 - 06:20 pm
Oh, no worries, Elaura, and thank you and you are very welcome - hee. For your information there are a few other new mods in addition to Aelfwine and I: Nieriel Raina, Ria, and longitudeandlatitude. :)
- sylc on 23/04/07 - 05:40 am
Thank you very much Susan. I recieved this email, and added myself to the site, but decided to wait a while before posting... Guess instinct is the thing that saves your stories as well as your life XD
- Gemini_Elf on 23/04/07 - 03:29 pm
Thanks for the warning Susan!!
- GreenWoodElleth on 23/04/07 - 09:36 pm
Thanks for the heads up! I got that email, and it sounded really suspicious so I decided not to sign up. But now I definately won't.
- ArwenUndomiel on 24/04/07 - 06:10 am
I haven't recieved that email yet and I seriously hope I do not. Even if I do, my place is at this site and this wonderful site only! :D SK xxx
- on 24/04/07 - 12:55 pm
Hi, My name is David and I'm the co-founder of FanLib.com.

I'd like to maybe clear up some misunderstandings.

WE DO *NOT* ASK FOR ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER ON THE SITE. This is purely a misunderstanding. It probably arises from when people who participate in our contests and giveaways claim a prize. At that time, we ask for this information ONLY TO FULFILL THE PRIZE. And, even then, our use of the information is STRICTLY BOUND BY OUR PRIVACY POLICY and WE DO NOT SHARE IT. Please feel free to review our Privacy Policy (http://www.fanlib.com/privacyPolicy.do) and Terms of Service (http://www.fanlib.com/termsOfUse.do).

Speaking of our Terms of Service, it says, just one sentence after the one quoted in this post, "The foregoing license granted by You TERMINATES ONCE YOU REMOVE OR DELETE A SUBMISSION FROM THE WEBSITE." So, the only rights we ask for cover what's actually posted on the site, and only while it's posted.

It wouldn't be appropriate to distribute your work without these rights. BTW, you can also make submissions private if you like. We ask for "derivative" rights only so we can excerpt and summarize fanfics when we showcase them on our homepage. We took great pains to make sure this was all done properly and in a way that's good for fanfic authors.

As for the site invitations, we scouted for serious fan fiction authors on various sites and invited only a few hundred based on their writing and impact in the community. As with any invitation, each was personalized based on an initial template. They were part of a genuine effort to find leading writers.

And, yes, we are a for-profit site -- just like LiveJournal, FanFiction.net and many others. In fact, based on public stats for those two sites, they're for-BIG-PROFIT.

Look, we really love Lord of the Rings Fanfiction. It's an awesome site. We just think that there's also room for a place where people from different fandoms can mingle more. We're working hard to showcase authors and their work, make the site dependable, listen to feedback and respond promptly to support emails.

If you don't want to a part of it. That's totally cool. But, let's be clear on the reasons. Maybe you've tried it and think it sucks. But, just because we have an "inc." in our name, or a spot for an ad banner, doesn't automatically make us evil and exploitive.

We're real people. We're real fans. We've been working at this for quite a few years and sincerely trying to do something good for fan fiction as an art form.

Thanks for hearing me out,

David.
- davidbw on 25/04/07 - 03:36 am
Susan, thanks for posting this! I have had such a bad feeling about this from the get go. Be careful people! This just smells fishy. ~NiRi
- on 26/04/07 - 01:28 am
‘I think one of his spies would—well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.’
--Frodo, from the chapter ‘Strider’, Fellowship of the Ring


Some notes from Zhie, resident Rivendell Librarian

First – Live Journal

Live Journal, yes, operates for profit. It also allows downloading of the open source code for Live Journal via livejournal.org

Also, under XIV, Paragraph 3, it states the following:

LiveJournal claims no ownership or control over any Content posted by its users.

I’ve been around since the onset of Livejournal, despite not signing up until my sister and a good friend both bugged me enough to get onto it (that was back in the between time when you needed an invite to get on). I’ve developed a long term relationship with Live Journal.

The other thing, regarding Live Journal, is that it provides a service not primarily for fanfiction, but for the thoughts and musings of their members. It is a service that some members (myself included) actually pay for. Saying that this is like FanLib is just silly.


Now – Fanfiction.net

I’ve been around since this came about as well. Check my login number over there – 12395. No, not quite since the beginning, since I wasn’t writing fic back then, but I was reading well before I was a member and posting. Point is, I’ve been there a while. There were some times way back in the way, Xing and I didn’t agree on some things, but, despite this, I stuck around. It’s huge, it’s hard to find things, but it’s getting better. And, to get to the legal stuff:

Section 4, paragraph b:

You give FanFiction.Net the non-exclusive rights to publish your uploaded writing on FanFiction.Net. The non-exclusive publishing rights end when you remove your writing.

Section 5:

FanFiction.Net does not control the Content posted via the Service and does not guarantee the quality of such Content.



Now, onto the word ‘derivative’. It seems only proper to disseminate the word, considering Tolkien was himself, more than anything, a linguist. It also seems only fair to consult the Oxford English Dictionary, which Tolkien himself helped to create:

Derivative (n):

1. A thing of derived character; a thing flowing, proceeding, or originating from another.
Consequently, Fan Fiction can be considered a derivative work of the original. However, by saying derivative works are able to be produced, this could in fact mean a work based upon the work of Fan Fiction. This would not necessarily be referring exclusively to another textually based story; another media could be used instead.

The root of the word is ‘derive’:

Derive (v)

8. refl. To arise, spring, come from something as its source; to take its origin from.

Just thoughts to think about. Now, I also happened to get the opinion of a couple of lawyers on the terms of service for FanLib. In their overall opinion, those running the site can claim some ownership of what is posted there. Whether those running the site realize it or not, whether they say on message boards or live journals or any other place that no, that is not really the case, the terms of service read differently.

However, if you care not who has claim of your fan work, then putting things there is quite fine. Obviously, with money behind it, it will be well-promoted and gain you much exposure. If, on the other hand, you are worried that somehow you will lose some control of the work (true, it says that any claims end when you remove an item, but, as the terms of service can change at any time, who knows how it could read in the future?)

Somewhat speculative on my part, I will admit to that, but Middle-earth is my home, and I do not wish to see anyone harmed in any way. I was greatly hoping that the answer I was going to get from the lawyers was going to sway the other way -- many of you know, if I am wrong, I admit gracefully my flaws, but they advised me to proceed with great caution if I were to decide to put anything there. Perhaps it will turn out that I am wrong, but that remains to be seen.

-Zhie
- Zhie on 26/04/07 - 10:12 am

Son of a balrog, you think I would have remembered the coding... let's try again...

'I think one of his spies would-well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.' --Frodo, from the chapter 'Strider', Fellowship of the Ring

Some notes from Zhie, resident Rivendell Librarian

First - Live Journal

Live Journal, yes, operates for profit. It also allows downloading of the open source code for Live Journal via livejournal.org

Also, under XIV, Paragraph 3, it states the following:

LiveJournal claims no ownership or control over any Content posted by its users.

I've been around since the onset of Livejournal, despite not signing up until my sister and a good friend both bugged me enough to get onto it. I've developed a long term relationship with Live Journal.

The other thing, regarding Live Journal, is that it provides a service not inclusive to fanfiction. It is a service that some members (myself included) actually pay for. Saying that this is like FanLib is just silly.

Now - Fanfiction.net

I've been around since this came about as well. Check my login number over there - 12395. No, not quite since the beginning, since I wasn't writing fic back then, but I was reading well before I was a member and posting. Point is, I've been there a while. There were some times way back in the way, Xing and I didn't agree on some things, but, despite this, I stuck around. It's huge, it's hard to find things, but it's getting better. And, to get to the legal stuff:

Section 4, paragraph b:

You give FanFiction.Net the non-exclusive rights to publish your uploaded writing on FanFiction.Net. The non-exclusive publishing rights end when you remove your writing.

Section 5:

FanFiction.Net does not control the Content posted via the Service and does not guarantee the quality of such Content.

Now, onto the word 'derivative'. It seems only proper to disseminate the word, considering Tolkien was himself, more than anything, a linguist. It also seems only fair to consult the Oxford English Dictionary, which Tolkien himself helped to create:

Derivative (n):

1. A thing of derived character; a thing flowing, proceeding, or originating from another. Consequently, Fan Fiction can be considered a derivative work of the original. However, by saying derivative works are able to be produced, this could in fact mean a work based upon the work of Fan Fiction. This would not necessarily be referring exclusively to another textually based story; another media could be used instead.

The root of the word is 'derive':

Derive (v)

8. refl. To arise, spring, come from something as its source; to take its origin from.

Just thoughts to think about. Now, I also happened to get the opinion of a couple of lawyers on the terms of service for FanLib. In their overall opinion, those running the site can claim some ownership of what is posted there. Whether those running the site realize it or not, whether they say on message boards or live journals or any other place that no, that is not really the case, the terms of service read differently.

However, if you care not who has claim of your fan work, then putting things there is quite fine. Obviously, with money behind it, it will be well-promoted and gain you much exposure. If, on the other hand, you are worried that somehow you will lose some control of the work (true, it says that any claims end when you remove an item, but, as the terms of service can change at any time, who knows how it could read in the future?)

Somewhat speculative, I will admit to that, but Middle-earth is my home, and I do not wish to see anyone harmed in any way. Perhaps it will turn out that I am wrong, but that remains to be seen.

- Zhie on 26/04/07 - 10:14 am
fanlib sucks
- Snowflake on 26/04/07 - 11:23 am
Um, FanLib's TOS says in V section 4:

You retain all of Your ownership rights in Your Submissions.

In addition, every page that contains a submission says:

All member submitted works are the property and responsibility of their respective authors and owners.

I'd be really happy to chat with any lawyers who feel we've somehow left wiggle room to claim ownership over your work on the site.
- davidbw on 26/04/07 - 03:46 pm