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Old Oct 25 2011, 02:55 PM   #2
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
Gender: F
Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: copyright questiion

You can't copyright an idea. You can only copyright a particular implementation of it.

If your gryphon looks like Lackey's, and acts like hers, and lives in a world that's essentially hers with only the slightest of things changed, then you're infringing.

But if you take gryphons and, oh, put them in space, or make them feathered reptiles that evolved naturally rather than magical constructs made by an Urtho-analog, you're moving far enough away from Lackey that the implementation is your own.

Have you read Naomi Novik's Temeraire series? She flat out takes the idea of intelligent dragons working with riders in a quasi-military setting from Anne McCaffrey. I think she might have even written Pern fanfic at one point; she IS a Pern fan. But her world is SOOO different from Pern (since it's an alternate earth during the Napoleonic wars) that she's not infringing. It becomes, instead, a sort of long-winded literary answer to AMC's dragons. AMC's even reviewed Novik's books, and liked them!

So. Yes, you can take ideas. But you want to transform them into something of your own, add in things that are uniquely yours. A thinly re-painted cover won't do.

Edit: Also, one thing...it's better to go to a source than to make a copy of a copy. Meaning...if you took Lackey's idea of trade items, your own story is limited by what SHE came up with, and you're missing on possibilities that she didn't think of, or that she decided not to use. But if you jump over to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Currency you can start to get an idea of the real-world facts she based her own information on. That's often a much richer source than a fiction book.
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Read my Pern and Talent fanfic on Archive of our Own.

Fanfic WIPs: The Day Benden Went to War (Pern/Talent); Slosh (Pern); Weyrbred Lads (Pern); When You Fall Asleep /Between/... (Pern)

Completed Fics: Flight (Pern), Flight v2 (Pern), Golden Glow (Pern)

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