So What’s This Thread For?
As a writer or cover designer you will come across Copyright at some point and this thread aims to add a little more information around it, specifically around how folks on Wattpad tend to use the platform.
Wattpad has an existing help page here for your reference, and that talks about what constitutes a copyright infringement, what copyright does and doesn’t protect, how Wattpad deals with copyright infringement, how Wattpad protects your work, how to report copyright infringements on Wattpad, what you can if your work has been copied and published on Wattpad or another website, the DMCA take-down procedure and also Copyright Language and Licensing.
We’d recommend that you read through that if you upload any content to Wattpad.
What is Wattpad’s Stance on Copyright?
Wattpad encourages all storytellers to express their creativity and imagination through original stories. We do not allow any copyright infringement or pirated material on the platform and will remove any works that we discover to have been published illegally. While some users may not be aware of copyright law, we do our best to educate and inform our community while building an engaging audience for all writers.
So What is Copyright?
Copyright can be quite complex so we thought we’d share this little video which explains things rather neatly in terms of Canadian Copyright law and, as Wattpad is a Canadian company, we work to Canadian laws. This means that we are strict when it comes to Fair Dealing (Fair Use) so unless it’s only using a very small amount for reviewing purposes or satire, we will consider it a copyright infringement unless it’s not All Rights Reserved, public domain, etc.
There’s also a Copyright FAQ section in our Guidelines which is well worth a read.
Ok, so what IS a copyright infringement on Wattpad?
- Posting the copyrighted works of others without their legal consent
the most common thing we see here is someone who loves a story and can’t put it down. So, they find a copy of their beloved text and upload it to their profile so they can read it on their phone.
Sorry, but if you haven’t got permission from the person who wrote the story, this is copyright infringement.
- Posting on behalf of an author and giving credit to them. This is still a violation of copyright and will be treated the same way. Consent is ALWAYS required from the author.
exactly the same as the previous one. Stating “I love this story and all credit goes to…”.
Still copyright infringement
- Adaptations or slight alterations to a work, such as changing names, copying the events and writing them in your own words, changing character point of views, are a violation of copyright.
an example of this would be taking something like Harry Potter and changing the main character from Harry to Harriet, or writing them in 1st person instead of 3rd person, or writing things from Hermione’s point of view instead of Harry’s.
Still copyright infringement
- Using an image that you do not own. This includes making a cover with an image that you do not own the rights to (unless it’s in the public domain).
So, see an image you love on the internet, slap a title on it and your name. Tada, instant cover. And still Copyright infringement.
The examples listed above are probably the most common ones we see on Wattpad, but that’s not an exhaustive list. Ultimately if you’re using someone else’s images, or someone else’s words then you may have an issue. As with all things, if you’re unsure about what you’re writing, it’s usually best to consult a specialist legal advisor if you’re not sure what you’re doing constitutes some sort of copyright violation.
Help! Someone’s Stolen My Idea
This is something we see stated by Wattpad users sometimes, often if they’re reporting in a story they believe is a copy of their own. But it’s important to note that Copyright only protects the physical representation of an idea, not the idea itself. Similar plots, story themes, and titles are not enough to constitute a copyright infringement. This is why there are many stories and movies that are very similar to each other.
So How Does Fanfiction Fit Into All This Then?
We have an incredible diversity of content on Wattpad, and one of the most popular story forms is Fanfiction. But what exactly is Fanfiction?
Fanfiction is writing that remixes characters, places, or plots from existing narratives to tell new stories. Existing narratives could mean things like popular books, tv shows, movies, games, comics, creepypasta, or plays. Some types of fanfiction even cast real people as characters in the stories. Fanfiction can expand the story world (like sending Katniss into the 76th Hunger Games) or can take known characters in completely new directions (like having Katniss battle it out with Pikachu).
What IS Fanfiction?
the story features a fictional/imaginary plot
AND it features a character from an existing fictional world (e.g. Harry Potter) or using the setting from an existing fictional world (e.g. you in a Lord of The Rings setting) or uses a real person as a character (e.g. Niall Horan)
Fanfiction as a genre is ever changing, ever evolving and truly plays to modern social writing. But fanfiction is not new. Many old stories such as Robin Hood and the Arthurian legends were written, re-written, added to and embellished during the 12th and 13th centuries, and indeed we continue to do so today.
Within the realm of copyright law, fanfiction is a bit of a grey area though, so it can often come down to what the original author / creator is comfortable with. If that author / creator submits a DMCA takedown request, Wattpad legally has to remove the fanfiction. This however is very rare unless original story text is being used.
Fanfiction is an interesting genre, and for a lot of people it’s often their entry point into the world of writing.
Fancy Testing Your Knowledge on Copyright?
Just for fun, and only if you wish to, you can have a go at this quiz and let us know how you got on in the comments below