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Fan Fiction vs. Copyright - Q&A with Rebecca Tushnet

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Published on Jul 20, 2012

"It takes a big studio to make The Avengers, but it doesn't necessarily take a big studio to write a piece of Avengers fan fiction," says Georgetown University law professor and fan fiction advocate Rebecca Tushnet. "Big content companies largely recognize that fan activities are really good for them because they engage people."

The growing popularity of fan fiction, a genre in which fans create their own stories featuring characters or settings from their favorite works of popular culture, raises thorny copyright issues. "Given how broad copyright is now, it's now possible to say fan fiction is an infringing derivative work," Tushnet explains. "In order to deal with that...we now talk about fair use, which allows people to make fair, limited uses of works without permission from the copyright owner."

As a member of the Organization for Transformative Works, Tushnet works to defend fan fiction creators caught in the legal debate between protected intellectual property and fair use.

Nick Gillespie sat down with Tushnet to discuss copyright law, fan fiction, and why media companies should embrace fan-created works.

Approximately 7.34 minutes.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain. Editing by Swain.

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