So, this fan fic thing may not be quite as awesome as it first seemed. My initial reaction was an insider's take. There's a lot of control at stake in Amazon's plan, and I didn't see the old school publishers conceding it.
A couple of hours later, issues of control have come to the fore of the reaction to Kindle Worlds, but not in the way I imagined. There are significant issues over who owns and gets to exploit the IP generated by the published fan fiction.
Bottom line, not the authors. And by that I mean the fan fic writers. It seems that the licensing agreement Amazon has developed gives them and the originating license holder (the publisher, not the writer) all rights to everything. I think it's known in legal circles as the All Teh THINGZ clause.
Other people with bigger brains have already started to pore over the deets. From Wired:
Wired spoke with attorney Jeff Trexler, who expressed similar concerns, pointing to a clause in Amazon’s contact that grants Amazon and the licensor rights to the text of the stories and any original elements they might contain.
“In short, if your fan fiction includes new elements that catch on with the general public, it’s likely that you’ll not be able to profit from them outside of the stories that you write,” he said. “For example, Time Warner could launch a movie series based on a character you created and not owe you a dime. While the terms state that you retain the copyright, you also give Amazon an exclusive license to your original work and Amazon in turn licenses your work to Time Warner in a license that provides nothing for you.”
Furthermore, says Trexler, if you decided to keep using that character outside of Kindle Worlds, you’d be violating the terms of your contract.
John Scalzi, writing as 'is 'umble self, rather than in his superhero tights and underpants as the chief poobah of SFWA was massively underwhelmed.
...that really cool creative idea you put in your story, or that awesome new character you made? If Alloy Entertainment likes it, they can take it and use it for their own purposes without paying you — which is to say they make money off your idea, lots of money, even, and all you get is the knowledge they liked your idea.
Essentially, this means that all the work in the Kindle Worlds arena is a work for hire that Alloy (and whomever else signs on) can mine with impunity. This is a very good deal for Alloy, et al — they’re getting story ideas! Free! — and less of a good deal for the actual writers themselves. I mean, the official media tie-in writers and script writers are doing work for hire, too, but they get advances and\or at least WGA minimum scale for their work.
Another red flag:
“Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.”
Which is to say, once Amazon has it, they have the right to do anything they want with it, including possibly using it in anthologies or selling it other languages, etc, without paying the author anything else for it, ever. Again, an excellent deal for Amazon; a less than excellent deal for the actual writer.
Both links are worth hitting up if you are in any way interested in trying to break into publishing or even just turn a modest dollar from this Amazon deal.
I don't know that the problems are a complete deal breaker for me. I can still imagine ways of publishing AoT and Disappearance fan fic into Kindle Worlds that would protect the fan writers. But it would also constrain them very severely, which is arse. If they wanted to avoid getting ripped off, they'd have to avoid using new characters or settings, I imagine. Mick's Queen of the Seven Seas might well run afoul of this.
Arse, as I said.
And, at any rate, I have my own very special issues to work through. Which publisher, for instance, gets to sign as the licensor. US? Australian? British? Polish?
Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?