Amazon to pay royalties for fan fiction in new ‘Kindle Worlds’ program

kindleworldsReady to write some fan fic? Amazon may have some money for you.

The company says it will license rights to popular books, games, movies and other content to let independent authors write their own stories based on those worlds, and receive royalties from sales of their fan fiction through the company’s Kindle Store.

The unusual initiative, dubbed “Kindle Worlds,” was announced this morning with word that Amazon Publishing has secured a license from Warner Bros. to let authors write stories based on Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries. The company says more licenses are in the works, touting the program as a way for the original content owners to make more money on their popular franchises.

Even so, it’s a potentially thorny area, given the IP rights and licensing contraints inherent to building on another person’s work. Here’s how Amazon lays things out for prospective “Kindle Worlds” fan fiction authors.

Kindle Worlds is a creative community where Worlds grow with each new story. You will own the copyright to the original, copyrightable elements (such as characters, scenes, and events) that you create and include in your work, and the World Licensor will retain the copyright to all the original elements of the World. When you submit your story in a World, you are granting Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to the story and all the original elements you include in that story. This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World. We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements. We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.

Restrictions for fan fiction include no pornography, illegal or offensive content, or story elements that infringe on intellectual property outside the license.

Also, the company says, “No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted, meaning your work may not include elements of any copyright-protected book, movie, or other property outside of the elements of this World.”

Amazon says it will pay a royalty of 35 percent of revenue for accepted fan fiction of at least 10,000 words. Shorter pieces (5,000 to 10,000 words) will receive a 20 percent royalty. The company says it expects most of the “Kindle Worlds” fan fiction titles to sell for 99 cents to $3.99. Amazon Publishing will set the price.

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