“Bond” Can’t Just Jet Off To Mecca Because You Want Him To

Yesterday, spy novelist Jeremy Duns – creator of the Paul Dark novels – shared this discovery on Twitter:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

It’s a “James Bond” novel.

However, there’s just one small problem with it:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

The “Bond” character, created by Ian Fleming, who died in 1964, is still in most jurisdictions protected by copyright. You cannot just self-publish a “James Bond” novel on Amazon without copyright issues. The copyright holder has to give you permission to do so.

If you want to be a novelist, you need to learn about copyright: a Google will answer most basic questions. Generally anything first published in the U.S.A. before 1923 is now out of copyright. Britain and most other countries’ laws vary, but they are similar.

So you could self-publish, say, a re-written tale based on a Jane Austen character. She died in 1817 and her books are no longer in copyright. If you are desperate to write that Elizabeth Bennet, Vampire Fighter series, that’s fine.

I don’t know much about the recent so-called “fan fiction” phenomenon, but the concept fundamentally troubles me. I could not on a whim decide, “Oh, I’ll write a Milo novel,” and do so without Adele Archer’s express permission. “Milo” was created by her in 2015, so he is her intellectual property. She owns the copyright.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of literature text book.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of literature text book.

As a general rule, if it was first written in the 20th century, and certainly in this 21st, chances are it is still in copyright. This isn’t just about being awkward or picky. Copyright exists for a very good reason: it protects what a living (or recently deceased) writer created from theft by others who would steal his or her idea to make money for themselves.

The most professional thing to do as a writer is to be original. If you wouldn’t want someone else swooping down out of the blue and stealing your unique story idea and your invented characters, don’t “borrow” someone else’s even out of a self-proclaimed love for them. They aren’t “yours.”

The best way to show you admire any novels and characters is simply to buy and enjoy those novels that author worked so hard to write. And perhaps give them a nice review, and maybe drop him or her a message saying you like them. That’ll quite possibly make their day. πŸ™‚

2 thoughts on ““Bond” Can’t Just Jet Off To Mecca Because You Want Him To

  1. Adele Archer May 28, 2016 / 8:45 am

    Thank you for the mention, Robert! Tell you what, let’s do a collaboration spin-off on that ‘Milo’ novel! But you’re right – fan fiction is a bit weird, isn’t it? Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • R. J. Nello May 28, 2016 / 8:53 am

      Thank you! I just find the whole “fan fiction” thing unsettling. It will be interesting to see how long that “Bond” book stays up for sale on Amazon if the Bond people find it.

      Liked by 1 person

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