More fans for fan fiction in India

Arts & Culture India

Experts say that not all fan fictions come under copyright infringement.

Harry Potter is gay and ends up dating Draco Malfoy. Ram and Leela from Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela reunite. Jack survives the storm along with Rose.

The stories no longer have a single ending, nor a single storyline, the fans have taken the leverage to write stories of their favorite characters in the way they wanted.

Over the years, fans have evolved from being mere passive consumers of art to actively involving themselves , mentions an article published by Khurana & Khurana (K&K), a law firm dealing with patent litigation and matters related to Intellectual Property (IP) infringement.

Aparna, a  student from Kerala, started reading fan fiction stories while she was in class eight. It was her love for the pop band, ‘One Direction’ that made her try fan fiction stories, and she gradually became addicted to it.

Similarly, Aishwarya from Pune started reading fan fiction when she was 14, and over time, she started contributing to them through her stories. Though she was interested in reading books since her childhood, the moment she started reading fan fictions, she couldn’t find time for any other genre. Fan fiction stories are well-written, take less time to read, and are cheaper than hard-copy books, said Aishwarya.

Fan fiction often referred to as ‘fanfic,’ “refers to stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

 Semrush, a marketing reporting software suggests that India is the second largest contributor of visitors to Wattpad, one of the popular websites for fan fiction stories. India contributes 9.82 per cent of the total visitors to the site at present.

Similarly, India contributes 14 per cent of the traffic share that visits FicWad, another fanfic website.

According to Similar Web, a data aggregation company specializing in web analytics and web traffic, fan fiction websites like Wattpad and Archive of Our Own hold the first and second spots in the “Books and Literature” category under “Arts and Entertainment,” in India.

An analysis done using Google Trends reveals that the number of searches on ‘Wattpad,’ has shown a steady rise since 2020.

Vincy, a  student from Vishakhapatnam, said, “I read fan fiction for entertainment, it’s fun to imagine what if the story was like this or how differently could the story have ended.”

In 2019, Archive of Our Own (AO3), an online archive of fan works won the Hugo award for Best Related Work. This category of the Hugo Awards recognizes works that are non-fiction or notable primarily for aspects other than fiction. Thus, the award recognizes AO3 as a project and a platform.

Expert says that the ability to change the narrative to align with personal preferences rather than consuming content passively, and passion for writing might be some of the reasons for the rising popularity of fan fiction.

Fan fiction permits individuals to take control of a storyline that was formerly the sole domain of the author, said Reshmi Naik, Faculty, Department of English, Bangalore City University.

Many fan fiction readers think that the genre needs to be given more attention and that fan fiction stories should be considered original work. Vincy argued that fan fiction should be considered as original work, as in most of the fan fiction stories only a character or an element of another work is taken, the rest is their creativity.

Reshmi further mentions that the debate surrounding whether fan fiction qualifies as real work arise from the idea that the legitimacy of a story is derived from its original writer.

Dr. Arul George Scaria, associate professor of law at the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, said that all fan fiction works may not be considered as copyright  infringement by the court of law.  However, if the character used by the fan fiction writer is under the copyright protection, there are high chances that the fan fiction might be considered as an infringement of rights vested with the concerned author, said Dr. Arul.

He emphasised the need for conscious measures from the side of fan fiction writers, to prevent passing of their work as that of the original author. “They need to very clearly mention that the work is not written by the original author, and this is just fan fiction.”