There is a lot of confusion about disclaimers in fanfiction. Do you need them? If so, how do you write them?
Here’s how to write a disclaimer in fanfiction:
You write a disclaimer in fanfiction by crediting the creator and owner of the source material, acknowledging that your story is an original work of fanfiction, stating that your story is intended for entertainment, and noting that you do not earn money from your story.
With that said, let’s look at what you absolutely need to put in your disclaimer and five examples of actual disclaimers (that you can copy and paste), and a complete fanfiction disclaimer template.
What Is a Disclaimer in Fanfiction?
Disclaimers are posted at the start of a fanfiction, giving credit to the author, owner, and property that inspired your story.
A disclaimer accomplishes two important things at once:
- Protects you from copyright lawsuits.
- Gives credit to the original author or owner of the property.
Fanfiction is a genre of writing where fans will “borrow” the characters, setting, or world from a show, movie, or video game.
In most cases, the disclaimer is written by someone who does not have legal rights to the original story that inspired their fanfiction. If this is the case with your, you want to include a disclaimer.
Disclaimers make it clear to readers that you did not create certain elements of your fanfiction story—such as settings and characters.
However, if you’re trying to publish your fanfiction as a book or make money from your fanfiction, it’s imperative that you get permission from any and all parties/owners.
How To Write a Disclaimer in Fanfiction? (5 Things You Must Put In Your Disclaimer)
What should you include in your disclaimer?
Here are five things you should include:
- The specific name of the author or owner.
- The specific name of the property (book, movie, video game, etc).
- State that you do not claim ownership of the property.
- Say that your story is made up and not part of the original property.
- State that you are not earning money form your story.
Let’s quickly break down each point to make sure that you know exactly what to include and why you should include it in your disclaimer.
1) The specific name of the author or owner
You want to clearly and fully state who owns the original property.
This is usually the author of a specific piece or character, such as Stephen King. However, it could be an entity like the Walt Disney Company, which owns a variety of intellectual property including the Muppets and Pixar.
Be sure to find out the correct owner and the correct spelling of the owner’s full name (or preferred name, as listed on the original source material).
2) The specific name of the property
You want to clearly state the actual name of the source material.
Saying “the source material” or “this anime” is not acceptable. Avoid anything too general or vague that is open to multiple interpretations.
For example, you can write something like, “I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.”
Using unclear language to hide the fact that you are working with copyrighted material is a good way to get yourself in trouble.
3) Say that you do not claim ownership of the property
When writing a fanfiction disclaimer, mention the name of the creator, the name of the owner, the name of the property, and any characters mentioned in your story.
For example: “Wolverine and Storm are characters created by Stan Lee and owned by Disney. I do not claim ownership over Wolverine, Storm, or the world of the X-men.
4) Say that your story is made up and not part of the original property
It’s important to state that your story is a work of fan fiction and is not associated with the original property.
This lets people know that they should not take your story’s ideas as part of the source material—whether it’s a novel, TV show, movie, or video game.
You can state, “This is a work of fan fiction, intended only for entertainment, and outside of the original canon.”
5) State that you are not earning money from your story
To safely stay within the boundaries of fair use, say that you are not profiting in any way from your fanfiction story.
This helps protects you if someone ever says that they own whatever part of your fanfiction story is based on their work. As long as you share your fanfiction freely for public consumption, you should be safe.
How To Write a Disclaimer in Fanfiction? (5 Good Examples)
Now, let’s look at a few specific examples that put all five of these parts together.
You don’t have to copy and paste these exact examples. However, you can if you want (I give you my permission).
In case you want to create your own, you can use the fanfiction disclaimer template in the next section.
Here are five “fanfiction disclaimer copy and paste” examples.
1) Harry Potter Disclaimer
“I do not own Harry Potter, or any of the related characters. The Harry Potter series is created by JK Rowling and owned by Warner Bros. This fanfiction is intended for entertainment only. I am not making any profit from this story. All rights of the original Harry Potter story belong to Warner Bros.”
2) Twilight Disclaimer
“I do not own Twilight or any of the related characters. The Twilight series is created by Stephenie Meyer and owned by Summit Entertainment. All rights of Twilight belong to Summit Entertainment. This story is a work of fanfiction and is meant for entertainment only. I am not making profit from this story.”
3) Supernatural Disclaimer
“I do not own Supernatural, or any of the related characters. The Supernatural series is created by Eric Kripke and owned by The CW Network. This work of fanfiction is for entertainment only. I am not making a profit of any kind from this story. All rights of the original Supernatural series belong to The CW Network.”
4) Batman Disclaimer
“I do not own Batman, or any of the related characters. The Batman series is created by Bob Kane and owned by DC Comics. This story is a work of fanfiction and is for entertainment only. I am not making profit from this story. All rights of Batman belong to DC Comics.”
5) Pokemon Disclaimer
“I do not own Pokemon, or any of the related characters. The Pokemon series is created by Satoshi Tajiri and owned by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures. All rights of the original Pokemon world belong to the Nintendo, Gamefreak, and Creatures. This story is fanfiction and is meant only for fun. As the author of this fanfiction, I earn no compensation in any form from its publication.”
Disclaimer: Please note that copyright and ownership can change over time. Always Google the property to find out the most updated ownership details.
Fanfiction Disclaimer Template
If you find yourself at a loss for how to translate the examples into a disclaimer for your specific fandom, here is a handy template.
Fancition disclaimer template:
I do not own [Source Material], or any of the related characters. The [Source Material] is created by [Creator] and owned by [Owner]. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only. I am not making any profit from this story. All rights of the [Source Material] belong to [Owner].
Keep in mind that you do not need to absolutely follow this template.
There are many wants to write a disclaimer for your fanfiction stories.
Do You Have To Write a Disclaimer for Fanfiction?
Yes, you need to write a disclaimer so that you meet fair use laws.
Not doing so is risky, because if the entity that owns the franchise decides they want to enforce their copyright, you could be sued.
What is “fair use” in fanfiction?
Fair use means that you can write a new, fictional story based on existing work without officially acquiring permission from the person or entity that owns the rights to the original property (such as characters).
Before you write your story, you may want to avoid using any of the properties of certain authors who don’t allow or like fanfiction.
- Robin Hobb
- Laura K. Hamilton
- Terry Goodkind
- Anne Rice
- Orson Scott Card
- George R. R. Martin
Even if an author strictly forbids fanfiction, you are usually legally safe to write fanfiction as long as you follow these four rules:
- You use only enough content from the original work to form a new, transformative, work of your own.
- Your new work is not a substitute for the original work.
- You do not impact the market for the original work, and therefore do not harm the copyright owner by writing fanfiction.
- You do not make money from your fanfiction.
Do You Need To Write a Disclaimer on Fanfiction.Net or Archives of Our Own (AO3)?
You do not need to write a fanfiction disclaimer for stories written on these fanfiction sites (but you still can).
The very nature of these sites is to host fanfiction. Also, these sites usually try to protect their fanfiction authors from any legal trouble.
However, there is no rule saying that you can’t write a short and simple disclaimer. Something like, “I don’t own XYZ” will probably suffice.
Final Thoughts: How To Write a Disclaimer in Fanfiction?
Your disclaimer can be serious, but you can also add a bit of humor.
Some fun examples I’ve read include lines like:
- “Don’t sue”
- “Nintendo is completely unaware that I or my stories exist, and they are probably much happier for it.”
As long as you include the necessary elements of a disclaimer, feel free to play around with the tone and precise language.
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