Is all fanfiction a violation of copyright? Can something which draws on a copyrighted work for inspiration do so without a license? Can a fanvid be transformative and therefore qualify as fair use?
Simply, fair use is the permissible, unauthorized use of copyrighted materials. Everyone reading this has benefited from fair use–every time I quote someone in a paper, read a parody, or (I would argue) read some kinds of fanfiction, I am benefiting from this legal exception to the norms of copyright restrictions.
For the purposes of this post, I would like to group fanfiction, fanart and fanvids under the term “fanworks”. Below are three fanworks which I think qualify (wholly or partially) as fair use.
Here is a Twilight/Buffy the Vampire Slayer mash-up with a good explanation of what fair use is (thanks to Anthea for the link). Also, this video is an excellent summary of why Edward could be considered a stalker:
I think this Twilight fan video is original enough to be considered fair use. I do not think the use of the music is fair, since it is simply an untransformed copy.Tying into the impressive feminist critique of the previous video, note that the song accompanying the following fanvid is “Run” by Snow Patrol, aka, “As if You Had a Choice.” A neat summary of the disempowerment which dogs female Twilight characters. Read the YouTube description for a plot summary of the following video–this creator took a brief mention in the book (Twilight by Stephanie Meyers) about a previous relationship between vampires James and Alice, and spent months tracking down footage of those characters’ actors or lookalikes to tell the story. Impressive effort and carry-through. Enjoy:
This is a collection of fanart for the epic fantasy series by George R.R. Martin. Again, I don’t think the use of the song is fair.
“Common sense is not so common.”–Voltaire