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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
I received an identical invitation too.
- on 27/04/07 - 02:41 am
Just a note. Anything published anywhere can be plaigiarized. Also, anything you put in writing can be copyrighted, by you, just by writing "This work [or character] is copyrighted."


That said, there is a thing called archiving of webpages. Google does it and there's also a site called the "Wayback Machine". Internet sites are cached and although you might delete a story, or a whole website, the information can be retrieved later by anyone on the net.


As Zhie said, if you're just looking for exposure, or reviews, or you're just writing for the fun of it, go ahead and upload anywhere.


If you are looking to publish your work, Amazon.com has a do it yourself-type publishing service.


In any case, singling any site out for possible ownership violations, OR getting emotionally attached to one site or another is getting a little too personally involved for my tastes. "Let the poster beware" is a good motto.


I say that because any site can be taken down or changed at any time, regardless of "for-profit" or "not-for-profit" status.


There aren't many laws governing the web and clicking a box or a link -under an assumed name- isn't the same as signing a contract.


Just my thoughts.

- Elaura on 27/04/07 - 06:41 pm
David, Why on earth would we wish to join a site that has so blantantly spammed the members of this community? We love lotrff.com and it greatly disturbs me that you and your co workers joined lotrff.com simply to send out invites without the admin's permission. Talk about unprofessional! And you want us to trust you? If you would do this, I can imagine your business standards and you won't find me or my works there ever. I am appalled by your conduct on this site! ~Nieriel Raina
- on 27/04/07 - 06:52 pm
Thanks, NiRi. I second your point. FanLib's methods of contacting and marketing their site have left much to be desired. 'Tis no wonder we are suspicious. By the way, David, JD, Naomi, etc. I understand there has been some confusion on your part as to my identity. I'll clarify that now. I am not the webmaster of this site. I am merely a concerned mod. Adora/Adoralyna is the webmaster.
- sylc on 27/04/07 - 09:39 pm
Hi Nieriel,

I just want to say that we totally messed up with how we approached this community. I am really sorry for that and have also expressed my apologies to Susan.

At the time, we didn't see this as spamming because we selectively scouted a couple of dozen people who made an impression with their writing and individually contacted them one at a time.

This isn't an excuse. It was a major mistake. But, it's a little different than having an email program robotically send messages to hundreds or thousands of people based on some broad generalization.

Recently, when we sent invites to some selected people on much larger sites, we got very positive repsonses.

Again, I'm not trying to excuse what we did, I just want you to understand how we ended up making such a bad mistake and that it's far from our intention to spam anyone or abuse the trust of communities like this.

But, bottom line, it was bady handled and I am truly sorry.
- davidbw on 28/04/07 - 01:12 am
I am inclined to believe the guys at FanLib are not corporate monsters and accept their apology, but let others do as they may. Imagine, what if the webmasters and mods of FanLib are really just fans like us who accidentally offended? I could be offended by the fact they didn't consider my works worthy of an invite . . . but I'm not. I really hope this doesn't turn into some kind of one-sided flame-war; I think we are above that sort of thing.


I appreciate anyone who takes the time to honor the works of fine authors, fanfic writers and webmasters alike.


Good Luck in working all of this out. I'm going back to writing my story so the voices in my head will let me go to sleep.

- Elaura on 28/04/07 - 03:16 pm
I second Elaura! *silence* Wait ... that sounds cheesy!! Erm ... *to Elaura* I agree ... We ARE above that sort of thing ... ;D
- BookLuva7 on 28/04/07 - 06:40 pm
I still regard FanLib, as I do any commercial site for fanfiction, with considerable unease due to the questionable legality of it. I have not received your apology yet, David (perhaps you meant you expressed your apologies to Adora), but regardless, I acknowledge your apology with regards to your site's poor marketing approach towards members of this community.
- sylc on 29/04/07 - 02:21 am
Hi Susan, I addressed an apology directly to you through the Contact Us form assuming you were in charge of the site. I then received a message from Adora explaining that she was the webmaster. Nonetheless, I thought you had received my initial message. Here is what I sent...

Hi Susan,

I just wanted to personally apologize for transgressing on your community and inappropriately soliciting LOTRFanficion members.

We honestly just got carried away. A previous outreach to a different audience had gone well we just lost our sensitivity to the personal relationships and trust that are such a defining part of sites like yours. Believe it or not, there are other sites where no one's really minding the store. And we forgot that when the person at the top really cares about his or her community, our approach can be taken as very underhanded.

There's no doubt that we should have come to you directly in the first place. I am truly sorry.

Congratulations on building such a great site with close-knit members. It's a real achievement.

If there's anything we can do to make up for our mistake and get back in your good graces, we'd welcome it wholeheartedly. Please feel free to contact me anytime.

Respectfully,

David B. Williams Co-Founder, FanLib, Inc.
- davidbw on 29/04/07 - 04:27 pm
I see. *nods* David, thank you and apology accepted.
- sylc on 29/04/07 - 09:30 pm
Thank you, Susan. Since trust must be earned, we will work toward that end over time.
- davidbw on 30/04/07 - 12:11 am
I appreciate you making an apology, David, but I for one do doubt the sincerity. The wording of the TOS also still gives me the heebie-jeebies. Apology or no, such actions in business do not give confidence in leadership of such sites. I'm afraid there is not much you can do to remove my very bad first impression of your site. Not to mention when I tried to join initially, it DID ask for personal information and I'm not the only one, yet you deny this. Sorry, you won't find me there. ~Nieriel Raina (please note I am NOT Nieriel, but NIERIEL RAINA There are two Nieriels at this site and I do not wish my opionions to be taken as hers. )
- on 01/05/07 - 12:29 am
Hi Nieriel Raina.

I'm really sorry you feel this way. I am, however, 100% certain that the FanLib.com registration has only ever asked for email, member name, birthdate, gender, zip code, country and postal code -- Nothing personally identifiable.

It is possible that you are thinking of one of the sites that we operate with partners, such as www.harperteen.fanlit.com or lword.fanlib.com

Since these sites were born as contests with major corporations, they ask for full names at sign-up. But, not FanLib.com.

Also, as a result of this discussion, we have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to better clarify the points of confusion: We don't claim any ownership over your work, we don't collect personal information at signup and we don't share personal information.

We always appreciate feedback that helps us improve. Thank you.
- davidbw on 01/05/07 - 07:01 pm
I'm sorry, David, but I have never heard of your partner sites. I am not a big net surfer. I'm only here for fan fiction and email. I am 100% certain that I went specifically to your site and it asked for personal information such as address and phone number. I have talked to others who say the same. So, I'm still not impressed. No other site I post at asks for information such as birthdate, gender or zip code. I really just don't think your site is for me. ~Nieriel Raina
- on 01/05/07 - 11:06 pm


I have no doubt that the site's not for everyone. And, you sound as though you sincerely believe what you're saying. But, it's just not true. The FanLib.com registration has never included name, address and phone#.

Maybe this is like that time you and your friends saw me kicking that puppy?
;-)

But seriously, I've made some pretty moronic mistakes and taken responsibility for them (some right here on this page). This was not one of them.

I'll just say that anyone who cares to do some research on FanLib may conclude that, despite missteps, we're not a gang of charlatans.

Also, in case there's another site out there with a similar name or something that could be causing this confusion, please feel free to let me know because I'd really like to get to the bottom of it.

Thanks,
David.
- davidbw on 02/05/07 - 12:12 am
You know, the more you write, the more you piss me off. Kicking puppies is nothing to joke about. I work in the pet industry and just joking about something like that turns me off in a HUGE way. If you thought this was funny, think again!

I'm not a teen who is confused about a site I visited. I am a 35 year old single mother who researches things well before joining. I did not go to another site, it was YOUR site. And since you don't believe me and keep insisting I don't have a clue about what I'm talking about and joke about animal abuse, I'm done with this conversation. ~Nieriel Raina
- on 02/05/07 - 11:29 pm

Okay, I really don't want to upset anyone. My assertion about FanLib.com's registration is based on intimate knowledge and reference to innumerable site plans, mockups, archives, etc. But, we're all free to believe what we like.

Thank you lotrff.com for this forum,

David.
- davidbw on 03/05/07 - 12:20 am
Um... Just to ask a question...Is it safe to post there or not?
I'm not asking whether or not I should, because I know that's personal choice.
I just want to know if it's SAFE.
- Gemini_Elf on 03/05/07 - 12:22 pm
Hi Gemini_Elf,

Because I am a FanLib co-founder, I am obviously biased. But, we are honorable, if imperfect, people. We have longstanding professional reputations online that you're free to research. Every page of the site with submissions states that we don't own them. We don't collect your personal data and have a Terms of Service and Privacy Policy that have been pro-actively improved as a result of this discussion.

I respectfully request that you please take these factors into consideration when evaluating your decision.

Thanks, David.
- davidbw on 03/05/07 - 01:00 pm
Small clarification: If you win and claim a prize from one of our contests, we will request your name, address, etc. for fulfillment purposes, but we keep it private.
- davidbw on 03/05/07 - 01:04 pm