• OTW Fannews: Giving people what they want

    By Claudia Rebaza on Neděle, 28 April 2013 - 6:55 odpoledne
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    • Slate wrote about how badly the DMCA affects accessibility of technology from ebooks to online videos. "[P]ublishers, video programmers, and other copyright owners lock down digital content with digital rights management technology designed to limit users’ ability to access, copy, and adapt copyrighted works to specific circumstances. And copyright owners frequently fail to account for the need to adapt DRM-encumbered works to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

      For example, e-books often include DRM technology that prevents people who are blind or visually impaired from running e-books that they have lawfully purchased through a text-to-speech converter that reads the books aloud. Similarly, Internet-distributed video and DVD and Blu-ray discs include DRM features that prevent researchers from developing advanced closed captioning and video description technologies that make movies and television shows accessible."

      What's more the process is the same one the OTW has to follow to maintain its DMCA exemption for fan video makers. "Requiring nonprofit disability groups to ask permission from the government every three years and navigate a complex legal minefield to implement urgently needed accessibility technology is not compatible with progressive, conservative, or libertarian values; the goal of equal access for people with disabilities; or common sense.”

    • Two of the OTW's Legal Committee members, Heidi Tandy and Rebecca Tushnet, recently were on a fanfiction panel with Vice President and Senior Intellectual Property Counsel for Warner Bros, Dale Nelson at the 6th Annual PIPG Symposium. Tushnet wrote about the panel and Nelson's discussion of fan activities: "Fan activity is fans having fun. Are they legitimate, are they acting from love? Or do they see fan activity as a loophole—make a fan film to showcase talent without having read Harry Potter? It’s not fans commercializing the property. We have exclusive rights; commercialization/merchandising in particular will draw our attention. But we tolerate a lot, including fan films, websites (the Leaky Cauldron, popular HP site); Dallas fan site; Lord of the Rings fan site; Quiddich players." She also responded later that it was how they interpreted fan intentions that mattered the most. For example, running ads on a website was usually not an issue because "some fan activities/sites do involve costs, and if it couldn’t run ads/raise a little money it wouldn’t exist."
    • Techdirt posted about a White House petition aimed at changing copyright for the digital age. "The petition notes that the public has lost respect for copyright law, and the government should take steps to fix that, including securing first sale rights, more transparency and a right to remix." Fan rights are expressed in the following: "[A]s responsible creators we need to be able to freely remix existing music and other forms of creative expression to create new works without undue fear of prosecution. This upholds the original Constitutional purpose of copyright, which is to promote progress."
    • Popular bookmarking site Pinboard has made it easier for fans to use it. "For months now it's been possible to declare yourself a part of fandom on the Pinboard settings page, but apart from making people feel good, the checkbox had no practical effect. I've finally changed that by offering a version of the sitewide search engine scoped only to users who self-declare as fans. This should make it easier to find fic using common keywords that would get drowned out on the main search page."

    Do you have stories about fan-focused technology or legal developments? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Public challenges and social tagging

    By Claudia Rebaza on Středa, 20 March 2013 - 5:44 odpoledne
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    • A thesis written about the AO3's tagging system "attempts to begin exploring the question of what kind of environment the site's particular blend of open social tagging and some behind-the-scenes vocabulary control, plus hierarchical linking, creates for the users who search through it for fiction." The study, conducted in 2012, had a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods and the survey was completed by 116 people. "The current online information glut calls for some sort of subject labeling to facilitate efficiency in searching, but the volume of information is well beyond a size that could ever be dealt with by information professionals. “Social tagging” is an approach to this problem that lets non-professionals attempt to organize online information via tagging, for their own and one another's use. But social tagging is a new and rapidly evolving field, and so no consensus has yet been reached on its overall usefulness, or on what best practices might be."
    • Two rather different stories about fan video game makers were in the news recently. TechDirt summed things up in its post title: "Makers Of Firefly 'Fan-game' Abuse DMCA To Try To Silence Critic". "While I think that these kinds of games should be appears that DarkCryo -- a company that is really skirting a pretty fine line concerning copyright -- decided to abuse the DMCA and file a takedown notice on [a critic's] posting of a DarkCryo logo image."
    • The other story was a little more typical, discussing how "Hasbro halts production of unauthorized "My Little Pony" video game". "This isn't the first time Hasbro has issued successful takedown notices for clearly illegal uses of its product, or even the first time it's taken down an MLP-inspired game. Previous instances where Hasbro has stepped in include the illegal download website Ponyarchive and the popular, though short-lived,multiplayer game MLP Online. Hasbro also took down the abridged series Friendship is Witchcraft, which should have been protected under under the Fair Use copyright clause afforded to transformative works within the U.S. However, issues of copyright and trademark are separate concerns with separate legal justifications. While Hasbro has so far been tolerant of copyright-protected fanwork such as fanart and fanfiction, it seems to have a rigid policy forbidding reuse of its official images and trademarks."
    • Some authors decided to challenge the claims of long dead creators' estates and, as the New York Times pointed out, highlighted a schism in the Sherlock Holmes fandom. "The suit, which stems from the estate’s efforts to collect a licensing fee for a planned collection of new Holmes-related stories by Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly and other contemporary writers, makes a seemingly simple argument. Of the 60 Conan Doyle stories and novels...only the 10 stories first published in the United States after 1923 remain under copyright. Therefore, the suit asserts, many fees paid to the estate for the use of the character have been unnecessary. But it’s also shaping up to be something of what one blogger called 'a Sherlockian Civil War.'" The battle was laid out as being between the old guard (and, until recently, male only) Baker Street Irregulars versus the Baker Street Babes, "a group of young female Sherlockians who host a regular podcast."

    What legal and technology fan stories do you have an interest in? Add them to Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Do it yourself edition

    By Claudia Rebaza on Neděle, 24 February 2013 - 7:26 odpoledne
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    • TechDirt discussed the new site, which was set up to keep track of bogus DMCA takedown requests. Those who file such claims could face punishment for those actions under section 512(f) of the DMCAbut so far it's happened rarely and with difficulty. Keeping track of accidental or malicious takedown requests might spur more cases against those filing them, or "at the very least, perhaps it will create a useful dataset to explore the nature and frequency of bogus DMCA takedowns."
    • The Daily Dot discussed the controversy over racist, homophobic, and sexist commentary found at GitHub, an open source code-sharing site used by many projects (including the AO3). "GitHub is a platform geeks and techies love because it not only lets you manage projects but allows you to share your code and your projects with the outside world." However, the sharing mentality doesn't mean all users are welcome. "GitHub sits in the center of an Open Source community that has been dealing with heated ongoing controversy over its lack of diversity. In November, BritRuby, a Manchester conference of Ruby on Rails coders, was canceled after outrage broke out online at its all-male lineup of panelists."
    • A post at TeleRead offered fans tips on formatting downloaded fanfic from and the AO3, noting that MOBI downloads from AO3 can create wide margins and non-functional tables of content. Flavorwire tips readers off to the availability of Giphy, a search engine for animated GIFs. "Even in the age of relatively mainstream blogs like What Should We Call Me, though, a glance at Giphy’s front page reveals that the site caters to the kind of dedicated fandoms that popularized the .GIF in the first place."
    • Lastly, former Board member Francesca Coppa will be speaking at the Midwest Archives Conference on April 18 about the OTW's work on the Fan Culture Preservation Project and the AO3. Her talk will discuss how fan works are "an alternative, subterranean literature and arts culture, and describe the many ways fans have worked over the years to distribute and preserve that culture through zine libraries, hand-coded on-line archives,[and] songtape circles."

    What tools do you think help keep fandom running? Tell us about it in Fanlore. Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • The Rebellious Pixels Chain of Takedowns

    By Claudia Rebaza on Pondělí, 14 January 2013 - 12:42dop.
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    Last week remix artist Jonathan McIntosh had a troubling story to tell which put a spotlight on the current problems facing transformative works creators. In our current environment of automated copyright claims and the layers of entities users may have to go through to assert fair use rights, it takes real dedication sometimes to be heard.

    McIntosh's work, Buffy vs. Edward, is a well known video which has, as he cites in his post, been used on numerous occasions in academic settings. It is also among the Test Suite of Fair Use Vids that the OTW assembled as part of their successful case for a renewal of the DMCA exemption for vidders.

    McIntosh details months of effort to get his video reinstated which would, ironically, have been much simpler had he been making an effort to profit from the video. It was because ad placements have been disabled on his account that he was targeted by a subcontractor for Lionsgate, MovieClips, to either permit them or have the video deleted. Yet as a matter of U.S. copyright law, the non-commercial nature of Jonathan's video bolsters its status as copyright fair use.

    Though his video was eventually reinstated, it’s striking how much effort McIntosh had to put into dealing with the problem. Jonathan's video has been cited by the U.S. Copyright Office as an example of transformative fair use, yet he has had to defend it from numerous attacks and accusations. For every artist like him who is very familiar with the law and is willing to fight for his rights again and again, how many people are simply seeing their work disappear?

    This is one of the reasons we can see chilling effects, especially since this situation is a reminder that even clear cases of fair use aren’t safe from this kind of action. In fact, it appears that the video that was the subject of Lenz v. Universal, the case that established that copyright holders have to consider whether something is fair use before sending a DMCA take down notice, has once again been removed due to a copyright claim –- and this was a video which has already been litigated and determined to be fair use.

    The OTW wants to remind fans that its legal advocacy project is a possible resource for someone who finds themselves in a situation where their work has received takedown notices, and offers recommendations for vidders in particular on our Fan Video and Multimedia section of our website.

  • OTW at the Library of Congress for DMCA

    By .fcoppa on Čtvrtek, 7 June 2012 - 1:59 odpoledne
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    Legal chair Rebecca Tushnet and Vidding committee members Francesca Coppa and Tisha Turk testified at the Library of Congress's Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) hearings on June 4, 2012 in favor of a renewal and expansion of the DMCA exemption for Noncommercial Remixers (like vidders and other fan video makers.) Rebecca Tushnet has been liveblogging all the hearings, including the OTW's testimony, and Tisha Turk is putting her notes and recollections online as well. You can also find copies of our Reply Comment as well as our various exhibits - our revised Test Suite and an Image Gallery comparing DVD-ripped and screen-captured images-- linked from our Legal Advocacy page.

  • DMCA Update

    By .fcoppa on Neděle, 4 March 2012 - 12:47dop.
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    On March 2, 2012, the OTW's legal team filed a Reply Comment (PDF) in support of the EFF's petition to the Library of Congress to renew the DMCA exemption for noncommercial remixers, such as vidders. Special thanks to Legal Committee members Rachael Vaughn and Rebecca Tushnet for their work, as well as to all the fans who helped us explain why high quality clips are important to vidding and why remix matters!

    Next stop: testifying in DC. We'll keep you posted!

  • Links roundup for 24 February 2012

    By Claudia Rebaza on Pátek, 24 February 2012 - 7:25 odpoledne
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    Here's a roundup of stories on commodification of fandom that might be of interest to fans:

    • The TV series Chuck's demise was covered by various media outlets but NPR focused on the fandom. "Chuck's life and death speaks in surprisingly potent ways to how television is changing" writes Linda Holmes. "More than anything, Chuck is a story about the rise of the fan. Not only because the show has organized devotees — that's not new." Rather it was that "Chuck fans, in their businesslike enthusiasm, sold themselves as a product."
    • A review of the recent novel Convent says that while it "skewers just about every aspect of organized fandom and the publishing industry (sometimes literally) there’s rarely any meanness in it, more like family poking fun at a favorite — if slightly strange — uncle. ConVent is just great fun, a laugh riot from beginning to end and largely drawn from real-life experiences at cons." There is also a sequel planned.
    • An article about a controversial YouTube user focused on how the DMCA is being utilized, not just by entertainment entities attempting to control use of their products, but also the "growing use of copyright claims as a cudgel against enemies and rivals." The misuse of the law can also hurt artists. "Last September, one person falsely claimed copyright over music videos by Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. It took hours for the videos to be restored. And that was an unusually fast response. It can normally take days or weeks for YouTube to restore a video —- and that’s if the person who posted it responds with a counterclaim against the original DMCA request. Nearly 8,000 YouTubers have signed a petition calling on Google to reform how it handles DMCA notices.""
    • By contrast, Portals is a music blog collective of sixteen bloggers raising money through Kickstarter to help artists. They describe the site as ""a daily destination for MP3s, videos, mixes, interviews, artist's writings, and cultural commentary -- curated for quality, and with an emphasis on emerging artists and musical movements that best exemplify the new grassroots, Internet-fueled DIY."" But one of the writers "balked at the idea of wielding "influence" over a readership" explaining "I'm not trying to become more influential. I guess the goal of expanding who we're reaching is something, but I don't want anyone to listen to something because I said so. I just want to let as many people know it exists as I can. I want these bands I think are amazing to at least have the chance to be heard. I just don't think influence is the right word.""

    If you are a fan of Chuck, are a music fan, use YouTube, or attend cons why not contribute to Fanlore? Additions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent Links Roundup — on, LJ, or DW — or give @OTW_News a shoutout on Twitter. Links are welcome in all languages!

    Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • Show Your Support for the Right to Remix

    By .fcoppa on Neděle, 29 January 2012 - 1:04dop.
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    --written by Rachael Vaughn, OTW Legal Committee

    Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix, is standing up for the right to create remix videos. Although the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemptions granted in 2010 helped clear some legal hurdles for vidders and other remix artists, these exemptions will expire if not renewed. The OTW is currently working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to urge the Copyright Office to maintain and reasonably expand the 2010 exemptions. Specifically, OTW and EFF have asked that the Copyright Office protect the right to extract clips from DVDs and other digital sources like Amazon Unbox for the purpose of making non-commercial videos that constitute fair use under US copyright law.

    The next step involves the Copyright Office soliciting comments from the public about the proposed exemptions and holding a series of hearings. This is where you can help. OTW and EFF need comments from fans, vidders, remix artists, and others who have a stake in seeing the exemptions granted. You can show your support for the right to remix by...

    1. Signing Kevin's Rip.Mix.Make petition; and/or

    2. Submitting comments as described in this post from EFF.

    Comments are due by February 10, 2012 at 5 PM Eastern Time so don't delay!

  • Links roundup for 6 January 2012

    By Claudia Rebaza on Pátek, 6 January 2012 - 5:12 odpoledne
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    Here's a roundup of stories on intellectual property issues that might be of interest to fans:

    • Last month reported that in a countrywide effort, police in Japan "arrested 30 people on suspicion of using file-sharing software" calling it "the largest simultaneous enforcement by the Japanese police against illegal uploaders ever." Tech entrepreneur Andy Baio concluded that young voters may be key to changing the criminalization of remix culture, and dubbed the current efforts against "piracy" as a new Prohibition. Certainly industries that have a stranglehold on entertainment distribution are able to keep increasing costs to fans and the effects are not limited to the young. A pop music critic writing about the rising cost of rock fandom noted "I’d love to continue the path I’ve been following since early adolescence, when my full membership in the rock-lover’s club began. But I’m just not sure I can afford it anymore."
    • The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently filed exemption requests to the DMCA which "asked for legal protections for artists and critics who use excerpts from DVDs or downloading services to create new, remixed works." These exemptions build on and expand exemptions that EFF won last year. "In drafting the requests, EFF had the invaluable assistance of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Organization for Transformative Works."
    • A post at TorrentFreak discovered illegal downloading being done by employees at major studios such as Sony, Universal, and FOX. "We aren’t the only ones to come up with the idea of revealing the BitTorrent habits of copyright advocates. Yesterday, the Dutch blog Geenstijl exposed how someone at the local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra downloaded a copy of the TV-show Entourage and video game Battlefield 3." The company's response suggested that their IP-addresses were spoofed, an unlikely but welcome explanation since "if it’s so easy to spoof an IP-address, then accused file-sharers can use this same defense against copyright holders."
    • To those interested in learning more about these issues some recent book reviews noted fans' stake in the discussion. The Times Higher Education in the UK discussed Fan Fiction and Copyright: Outsider Works and Intellectual Property Protection (citing the OTW's Rebecca Tushnet) and The Learned Fangirl reviewed Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back.

    If you are interested in intellectual property issues such as fair use and the DMCA why not contribute to Fanlore? Additions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent Links Roundup — on, LJ, or DW — or give @OTW_News a shoutout on Twitter. Links are welcome in all languages!

    Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • Extending the DMCA Exemption for Noncommercial Remixers

    By .fcoppa on Pátek, 23 December 2011 - 7:19 odpoledne
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    Legal and vidding committee members Rebecca Tushnet, Rachael Vaughn and Francesca Coppa have collaborated with the EFF on a proposal (download the .pdf) to the Library of Congress to renew and extend the DMCA exemption for Noncommercial Remixers. The current exemption gives noncommercial remix artists - like fan video artists and political remixers - the right to rip DVDs, breaking their encryption, for the purpose of making a fair use video, and the request covers that as well as using sources like Amazon Unbox where material isn't available on DVD.

    The papers were filed December 1, 2011 and contain statements from and interviews with a number of fans - so thank you everyone who told us their stories!

    The OTW will be sending representatives to Washington in the early part of next year to testify in favor of these exemptions, so stay tuned for more news.

    Lastly, those of you interested in fan vidding might be interested in this documentary by Abigail Christensen.


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