Thursday, 26 March 2009

Train Wreck Now Boarding On Platform Two!

This one is going to be good. It's so good I wonder if it's just a staging for an elaborate April Fool's Day Special To Trump All Others. But even so, here it is for your enjoyment just in case it's for real.

An unknown writer called Lady Sybilla has announced that her book, Russet Noon, will be published in September of this year. Despite its odd title it isn't a new form of potato-porn: it's far, far better than that.

It's fan fiction. An unofficial sequel to Stephenie Mayer's Twilight series. And, children, we all know what fan fiction is, don't we? Say it with me:

Copyright infringement.

Lady Sybilla insists that her book doesn't infringe any copyrights because, as she writes in the comments thread here,

The characters in SM's novels were not copyrighted because she never drew them or hired an artist to draw them. Today she shares her character copyrights with Summit. And, no, Russet Noon does not have direct permission from SM to publish this sequel, which is why the article says that it is a "Tribute" or "Unauthorized" Sequel.
Unsurprisingly, Lady Sybilla got a swift response when she defended the book's publication at the Twilight Lexicon and pointed out that other people had also written Twilight fan fic: the Lexicon's owners responded,
So when it comes right down to it, you’re a self admitted thief whose only defense is “well they were doing it too.” (*Insert foot stamp, pouty lip, and flounce here*)
Lady Sybilla is talking nonsense, and is going to get sued from here to Pluto and back if she persists with this publication. Especially if anyone were to sell copies of the book on eBay ahead of the publication date, which someone has tried to do (you'll note, though, that the auction has ended and refunds have been promised: perhaps the lawyers are onto Lady Sybilla already).

There's an active discussion about this already at Absolute Write; Lee Goldberg has blogged about it beautifully; Fandom Wank has an excellent analysis in which Lady Sybilla's casting-call for models for the graphic novel edition is revealed; if you want to read the preface to Russet Noon it's been copied into the comments here; and there's even a YouTube reading available if you want to enjoy the full russet-rich experience.

Edited 5 April

Many of the links I provided originally are to pages which have now been taken down. The eBay auctions have been closed ahead of time; the Russet Noon website has been closed, apparently by Lady Sibilla herself. She is now complaining about Fandom Wank's postings about her, but has only encouraged more people to point and laugh. And blogger Dal Jeanis has posted a great Russet Noon Analysis, and another post in which he suggests How to Win the Russet Noon Lawsuit, and points out that titles are not copyrightable. I can feel another Atlanta Nights coming on... anyone?

30 comments:

Bradley Robb said...

You think that's bad? Fanfic at least takes effort.

However, the guys behind http://www.truly-free.org/ are just asking to get sued.

Chris said...

It can't be real. It's either a publicity stunt, a joke, or a pseudonym for SM herself. I just can't accept a universe in which this is a real thing.

The sheer delight of my first look at that web site was worth it, though. If this is a joke, it's brilliant.

Jane Smith said...

Chris, I wondered if it was a joke, too: if it is, it's brilliant. But I'm not sure: there's just so much of it, and it's all so detailed. The eBay auction is particularly good: there's even a brilliant Tweet-like bicker in the feedback for the seller concerned.

BR: good grief. Yet another pirate-site. I feel my reporting-finger twitching again.

writtenwyrdd said...

This appears to be real. I found references to the book a few days ago, and followed a link (which I cannot recall the location of) to an ad calling for models related to a photoshoot for, I believe, a graphic novel. The company in question was someting like Russett Noon Productions. Nick Mamatas has posted about it on his blog here: http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1287802.html

Emily Cross said...

thank you this is soooooo funny!!!

*shakes head in amazement*

I needed that chuckle!

writtenwyrdd said...

PS, Nick's LJ blog had the link to the advert.

Barb said...

Just taking a break from writing Harry Potter and The Unholy Rip-Off. I thought I would have a listen to the preface to see if it's worth all this nonsense.
Judge for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvoKHSC9Buo

Donna Hosie said...

I read about this a couple of days ago on Fandom Wank. Some people are just, (please excuse my language here, Jane), bat-shit crazy.

The recent legal case concerning RDR books Vs WB and J.K. Rowling has brought fair use and copyright law to the masses, so I don't imagine it will be long before Ms. Meyer and her publishers set the Volturi on this individual!

I think I may sit back and grab my popcorn though whilst it is played out online!

Emily Cross said...

I'm on absolutewrite.com and i'm raging cause i'm waiting on approval from the admins but i am chuckling away like a mad woman reading on the comments!

Oh and i linked your post on my blog & writer's forum too ;) no plagarism here

Jane Smith said...

Donna, I don't think anyone needs to excuse your language because "bat-shit crazy" sums it all up very nicely, thank you. I wish I'd thought of it myself!

Emily--ahh, it was YOU who put up that forum post linking to here. Thank you! Although you might like to add an acknowledgement for the phrase that you quoted from Absolute Write without citation--that's plagiarism and while I don't suppose you'll get into trouble for it this time, and I bet you meant no harm and didn't realise you'd not attributed it, it's not the best way to proceed. I do like the irony, though, of a writer plagiarising a quote from a writers' discussion about copyright infringement: it seems appropriate, somehow (but then I have had a margarita and my judgement is probably clouded right now!).

Emily Cross said...

Oh i actually thought i'd put a link in, but turns out i didn't (usually am good about that) whoops.

Emily Cross said...

Ok made the adjustments, and linked to your post about my post in the forum :) so the masses can see my copyright fauxpas! :)

Also pm'd Gill to apologise, who was very nice about it.

Think i'm the one needing a margarita after that lol.

catdownunder said...

Why would anyone even want to add to SM?
Perhaps someone could enlighten me about why SM's books sell so well? No, if the rest of us could work out the winning formula we would not have Jane's blog - and I have to admit it I purr over it.

R.R.Jones said...

Someone must be missing their medication if they think they're going to get away with it.
It's almost sad.
On a lighter note, isn't Fandom Wank a great name?

Jane Smith said...

"if the rest of us could work out the winning formula we would not have Jane's blog - and I have to admit it I purr over it."

Catdownunder is my new official Very Best Friend.

Jane Smith said...

RR--Fandom Wank. The name makes me swoon, it's so good. I don't care what else they write.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe SM won't care that someone is intending to publish a book about her characters without her permission.

I know how I would feel - flippin' hopping mad. Hell I would have been on to my agent; publisher and solicitor screaming at them to get it stopped now!

Stirling

Jane Smith said...

Stirling, I'll bet you that's what's happened: some of the links have already been taken down--the eBay auction, for example, has gone. If Lady Sybilla (what a name!) doesn't comply with the requests I'm sure she's getting, she's going to have one hell of a legal bill to pay.

BuffySquirrel said...

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Tora said...

I would like to agree with the suggestion that someone official has already contacted her with a cease and desist. I can't for the life of me think of another reason why the Russet Noon website would now be registered to Russet Noon at 666 Satan Dr in Lucifer, CA 66666...

Oh, wait, maybe that's to fend off the angered Twilight fans.

Mockingbird said...

Okay. I've been writing fanfic for about twenty odd years. I make no money out of it, and it's mostly posted on fanfiction.net, I used to put the heavy duty disclaimer up, but don't usually bother now, because everyone knows that the only currency is entertainment. Fanfic also tends to contain far more melodrama than would normally go into any of my original work, because fanficcers like it like that. That said, I've learnt a lot from writing it and I still do. I find it is a useful bench test of my ideas and some storylines.

This person is riding for an extremely expensive fall. However, there's no accounting for folk, and some people really are that dumb.

JPFife said...

A Writer's Life is now naming the person; apparently they did the same thing with Star Wars a couple of years ago. So very little chance of it being an April Fool, just a plain old March fool.

BuffySquirrel said...

Eh, there can be difficulties connecting the original, copyrighted work with the plagiarised version...but not when the respondent has so helpfully indicated just what they've copied.

BuffySquirrel said...

(and, of course, registering your domain to a false name and/or address is another cause for action against you)

behlerblog said...

Jane, did she self pub this book? I would think the publisher's sphincter would be puckering mightily about now. 'Course, if they're dumb enough to have pubbed it in the first place, maybe they lack a sphincter.

BuffySquirrel said...

I see the press release Jane linked to has gone.

The strongest likelihood is that "AV Paranormal" is a front for the author self-publishing, but to be honest I can't be bothered investigating further. Sqrls are supposed to be nest-building about now or something.

Jane Smith said...

Lynn, yes, this book is self-published. I just had a quick look at a few other places, and it seems that because of the fuss this has caused, the author is now planning to make the book available online rather than in print. Because as we all know, copyright infringement doesn't count if it's not in print, right?

(I am giggling softly into my cup of Earl Grey as I type this, and imagining what Meyer's lawyers are going to do with that particular little gem. They're going to have enough to make themselves a lovely tiara at this rate.)

Donna Hosie said...

Online fan-fiction is a grey area for many successful authors. Some like Anne Rice do not allow it at all, others like J.K. Rowling allow fans to "play in the sandpit" as long as they don't attempt to profit from it.

There is a huge fan-fiction community around the Twilight series and it will be interesting to see how Stephenie Meyer reacts after this blatant attempt to rip off her copyright. I think she is probably still smarting after having the first 10 chapters to Midnight Sun leaked online.

Sometimes the internet is the successful author's worst enemy!

Dal Jeanis said...

Thanks for visiting, and thanks so much for the link. I had lots of fun writing that one.

I do so want to read "Russet Noon Nights"...

Miss Gushue said...

As someone who is a fanfic writer and reader, all I can say is, it's people like this that makes life difficult for the rest of us. Most of the big shots ignore us because we usually keep to ourselves and don't bother anyone. When fans with large entitlement complexes stir up the waters, the rest of us have to duck for cover, lock our journals and pray that we don't get a cease and desist.

It's always been a taboo in the fan community to point out fanworks to people directly involved in the show/novel/whatever. It's only a matter of time before there won't be any place for fanfic writers (and I will never use the term author for myself) to share their passion.