Amazon says its new Kindle Worlds system is the "first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so." The idea is that fans of big-name TV shows, movies, and other content franchises can now write and publish work based on these shows and even profit from the effort, as will the original rights owners. It's a clever way to sidestep plagiarism issues.
For launch Amazon is partnering with Warner Bros. Alloy Entertainment, a TV producer that has book rights to titles like Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and more.
Under the scheme, Amazon will pay royalties to both the rights holders and the fan writers—with the authors themselves getting the standard 35% of revenue if the book is over 10,000 words. They will get 20% for shorter works between 5,000 to 10,000 words.
Amazon says Kindle Worlds is great for publishers because it is a new way to monetize franchises, extend the original story to new audiences, and create content guidelines to help shape what's written.
But the move has potential for controversy: Amazon's press release says the guidelines will balance "flexibility and openness for writers with what’s reasonable for the franchise." But how much of the stories will Amazon want to control? Ninendo recently found itself embroiled in controversy over its exploitation of fan-created content on YouTube. Gamers uploaded video of themselves playing Nintendo games for fun and for the benefit of other fans, but Nintendo claimed ownership and has now added adverts to monetize what is arguably free PR.