Copyright Question from Rebecca

I wish to ask about the dragons of Pern because I begin to fully flesh out my novel about my own dragons. I got an idea about a young woman from our world falling into a world of dragons and other flying creatures, realizing she has the ability to hear all dragons when they speak through telepathy to their riders. Since this is based on similar characters from the Pern series, I would like to ask permission to write this into my story before I start. I am seeking to become published so that is why I ask permission. I have another, completed work unrelated to this that also plan to continue, but this idea has been in my mind for a long time since I first read the Harper Hall Trilogy.


Hi Rebecca,

Gosh, I am really glad you thought to ask.  It shows a lot of respect for Mum and her Pern.

I’m not an expert on this stuff.  My opinion has no bearing on the Anne McCaffrey Literary Trust.  You cannot use this response as a justifiation for your acts, e.g.: “Well, I asked Todd…” 

I am NO expert on copyright. Also, I am NOT a lawyer. That said, I can offer you some suggestions.

As a potential author you should make it your business to know copyright law. Check out the U.S. Copyright Office. Gain an understanding of what copyright is and entails.

You might want to read Mum’s Fan Fiction Rules. What you’re talking about is NOT fan fiction as you’re hoping to get published (and get paid).

If you’re new to writing, consider writing shorter works. The skills you’ll gain are easily applicable to longer works. In fact, Weyr Search which is the first part of Dragonflight was published as a noveltte in Analog and Mum did this with a lot of her stuff (The Ship Who Sang,To Ride Pegasus… the list goes on).

Mum was a judge of L. Ron Hubbard’s The Writers of the Future, it’s a great place to submit short work for first time authors.

You may want to consider Christopher Paolini’s Eragon series which, I’m told, has many similarities to Mum’s works.  George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has “dragons” in it (really, as they’ve only got two legs, not four, they’re technically wyverns), so do plenty of other fantasy stories.  Also note that publishers will be familiar with The Dragonriders of Pern® and will shy away from anything that’s clearly too derivative.

Cheers,

Todd