I want to rewrite someone else's novel in a different way.
Just to show the other side of his characters.
My story will be based on these characters, but they will have more "realistic" sides.

What should I do in this situation? (I will study his story and take base tips for my story.)
What kind of consequences I may have?

  • 2
    Are you doing this for yourself, or publication? Is it a parody or a serious work? If you are doing it for publication, copyright laws apply. Apr 18, 2013 at 17:27
  • @LaurenIpsum And if my work inspired by this story? Apr 18, 2013 at 17:33
  • 3
    If your story uses recognizable elements of someone else's fiction, trademark laws may apply. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_issues_with_fan_fiction Consult a lawyer before publishing. Apr 18, 2013 at 18:09
  • 2
    Obtaining original writer's permission (possibly for percentage in royalties) would be probably the most fault-proof route.
    – SF.
    Apr 19, 2013 at 6:33
  • 4
    How should this be tagged? Should we create adaptation? (This problem arises in fan-fiction, but that doesn't seem to be the context of this particular question, nor is it parody. Apr 19, 2013 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


The best practice currently is to obtain current copyright holder's permission - a license to use the copyrighted motives; possibly, for a fee or percentage in expected royalties.

This is not always viable or possible. In this case you may either change enough that it doesn't violate copyright (but becomes a different story entirely) or pick more guerrilla solutions.

Going about commercial release is no longer viable. Even if you turn profit, you may expect a cease&desist followed by a lawsuit, and while the copyright holder is not guaranteed to win, your outlook isn't very good. Plus you antagonize the side of author on which you write, not a good marketing move.

Much more viable option is simply entering the fanfiction realm. You release for free, anonymously, and even if it's taken down on one site, you can reupload it on another... while fanfiction is "grey area" with law on the side of the original author, the "cruel reality" is that the author and the law lack technical means from preventing even most unwanted fanfiction from cropping up.

Of course this way you won't make any money, but essentially the moment the author said "no, I won't issue you any license" you lost any chance for them anyway.

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