The Fifty Shades of Grey movie is coming out this week and I'm planning on seeing it. I read the first book, it wasn't my favorite book, but I think this might be one time when the movie is better than the book.
A lot of people on social media refuse to see it though. They are angry because they view E.L. James as a thief. They think she stole Stephenie Meyer's characters and is using them to make millions of dollars. The books started out as Twilight fan-fiction. They've changed the names of E.L. James' original work, but little else.
I agree that it's wrong to steal from other authors, but I don't believe E.L. James stole from Stephenie Meyer. If she had, Stephenie Meyer would sue her. Don't think it's some kind of benevolence on Stephenie Meyer's part that has caused her to never take E.L. James to court. They are both business savvy people or they wouldn't be as rich as they are. Neither of them would hesitate to sue someone they felt stole from them.
When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with fan-fiction. I didn't have any money at that age, so I'd go on fanfiction.net and read a bunch of fan fiction stories about my favorite television or movie characters because I couldn't afford the amount of books I wanted to read. I loved to read and express my opinion, so I'd comment on every story. This is how I learned about the different types of fan-fiction out there.
Here are the four types I've noticed (there may be more):
Where the fan-fiction author takes a story, rewrites it completely and maybe changes a few tiny details so the story is more to their liking or who writes the story from a brand new perspective to explore a certain character and their viewpoints on things.
They take the story that's already there and try to continue it.
3.) What If's
Where the fan-fiction author takes a story and writes about something they wished would happen. Like, with the Harry Potter series: What if Harry and Hermione had fallen in love? Things like that.
4.) Alternate Universes - This is where you take a few characters from the book and throw them into your own universe and probably change aspects of their personality and appearance to fit this universe. All you really keep are the names and maybe a few references to the original story.
For instance, I once read an "Alternate Universe" version of Pride and Prejudice. It was supposed to be the same story if it took place in the 1970's. Most of the details of the story changed. There was a few similarities in the progression of the plot, sort of, (just that Elizabeth was disgusted with Darcy really) and the characters kept the same names, but they had to be completely different people. For instance, Elizabeth Bennet was a hippie. And they had completely different experiences, like going on shopping trips and things.
So essentially, it's a whole new story even though it's a fan-fiction.
The first three stories are completely dependent on the original work. The fourth one is not and could exist even if the original work disappeared from our existence. The first three would violate copyright laws if they were published, but I believe that the fourth would not as long as you changed the names and any other relevant details.
The thing about E.L. James' books is that she wrote Alternate Universe fan-fiction. Christian Grey is NOT a vampire. He has a different back story. He's a different age than Edward. Same with Anastasia Steele, she isn't a high school teenage girl with an overprotective father like Bella was. The storylines have nothing in common, I had to search really hard for the similarities in the two book series and there were only traces of this here and there. I'm pretty sure that Stephenie Meyer would be appalled at the morality of E.L. James' books. Meyer's characters do not believe in abortion and try to follow God. E.L. James...well...her characters just do whatever they want and love sex before marriage.
They are far from the same book.
I just find it really strange how confrontational people get about this. I technically am writing and selling fan-fiction right now. It's not only E.L. James who tried to do this. I write retellings of Greek Mythology. My fan-fiction is more like the rewrites-the Greek myths you know and love rewritten from a new perspective where I try to change your view of the original stories. Many other authors have stolen from Greek Mythology as well, including Rick Riordan and C.S. Lewis. In fact, most fantasy authors take elements from pasts myths in some way, that's what makes our books fantasy novels.
I just think there needs to come a point when people stop hearing the word "fan-fiction" and automatically think "stolen." Some of it is stolen work, yes, and would be illegal to publish. You can't publish a sequel to someone else's book, for instance, without their permission. And you can't steal people's books and sell them without their permission either.
But this is not what E.L. James did. This is why I am not at all offended by publishers publishing fan-fiction.