50 Shades Of Copyright Infringement — How The Broken Copyright System Renders A Story Illegal

For all of the scandal and outrage over the modern pulp fiction 50 Shades of Grey, the true issue of the novel, and subsequent movie based on it, turns out to be something far more mundane than the torture chambers and Stockholm syndrome — the book is a flagrant violation of copyright laws.

For those unaware, 50 Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, began life as Master of the Universe, written by E.L. James under the online handle Snowqueen’s Icedragon, a written exploration of Stephenie Meyers Twilight saga adjusted for the idea of the central male figure being a human billionaire instead of a 114 year old vampire. Commonly called “Fan Fiction” or “fanfic” for short, these kinds of stories are written by well-meaning fans of the original piece, and utilize elements, characters or settings created by the original creative team, often times without approval. Many write unique pieces only sharing the most basic elements, while others lift whole sections of the source material in order to create their own works. This is called, in copyright, “derivative works,” and renders these pieces as the property of the original creative force. And, it also means that Ms. Meyers can decide who can make these works, to grant her approval, or no.