Frequently Asked Questions
Our first goal is to create a new, free, open-source software package to allow fans to host their own robust, full-featured archives, which can support even an archive containing hundreds of thousands of stories and which has the social networking features to enable fans to connect to one another through their work.
Our second goal is to use this software to provide a noncommercial and nonprofit central hosting place for fanfic and other transformative fanworks, where these can be sheltered by the advocacy of the OTW and take advantage of the OTW's work in articulating the case for the legality and social value of these works. Unlike other archives, the Archive of Our Own isn't run by individuals whose interest in fandom may wax and wane, but by a nonprofit organization run by an elected rotating board of committed fans. We hope that this will lead to more permanence and stability than some other archives or services.
No one, including the OTW as an organization, makes money from the archive or its content; in fact, the opposite is true because the OTW pays to host the archive. Advertising is not shown. Instead, we hold public radio-style pledge drives to ask for support from our users. No donation will ever be required to use the archive or any of its tools.
Building the kind of archive the OTW envisions is not a simple process. We're not just setting up an archive using existing software, but building new open-source archive software designed around fans' needs, that can be easily maintained and easily reused, and that can handle potentially millions of stories from hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users.
This work is being done by a group of volunteers, including a group of trainees learning how to write and maintain code, to help build the fannish community of coders. This is a group of people who can help to maintain the archive software in future. In other words, we're not just building the Archive, we're building the builders.
We have also taken the time to develop comprehensive and fan-friendly policies with as much input from fans as possible; you can see our resulting Terms of Service on the Archive of Our Own.
This is taking a little while to do, but we absolutely believe it's worth the time. You can follow the progress of the Archive's development in our newsletters and our blog. To get involved, contact the Volunteers committee.
No. In fact, we hope that other fans will use our archive software, which will be open-source and free to use and modify, to build their own archives.
In the Archive of Our Own, we hope to create a multi-fandom archive with great features and fan-friendly policies, which is customizable and scalable, and will last for a very long time. We'd like to be fandom's deposit library, a place where people can back up existing work or projects and have stable links, not the only place where anyone ever posts their work. It's not either/or; it's more/more!
The Archive of Our Own entered open beta in November 2009. To create an account, you need an invitation. We're using the invitation code system so that the Archive can grow in a controlled manner. We need to add new users gradually so that our account numbers don't grow beyond what our hardware, bandwidth, help and support can cope with. This helps us ensure that everyone using the Archive gets the best possible experience. Once you receive an invitation email, click the link provided in the email to go to the account creation page. If you've been provided with an invitation link by another user, clicking this link should take you to the right place.
Contact Open Doors for access to the archive importer. Please let us know from the outset if you have special needs — for example, if you'd like us to take over maintenance of the old domain, or if your archive contains multimedia content.
Fanlore is a wiki—a multi-authored website—that any fan can contribute to. Our goal is to record both the history and current state of our fan communities—fan works, fan activities, fan terminology, individual fans and fannish-related events. For more information, see the Fanlore website.
The scope of the Fanlore wiki includes fandoms and transformative fanworks of all kinds. We want to host contributions from a diverse range of fans as they share experiences about the history of their own fannish communities. All fans are invited to share their stories.
In a fiscal sense, no one; OTW is a nonprofit organization, so any revenue the organization takes in goes into the organization's coffers to support the work the organization does. The OTW does not currently have any paid staff and is run by volunteers. Our official conflict-of-interest policy is the one recommended by the IRS for nonprofits.
The OTW is incorporated in the state of Delaware, in the United States.
The OTW uses funds to purchase goods and services that cannot be provided by its volunteers, such as expenses related to operations and certain administrative costs. Such operational expenses include the purchase of software and server space to create and maintain the archive. Administrative expenses include a variety of items typical to a nonprofit organization, such as insurance, payment processor fees, and monthly charges to maintain a bank account. As the organization grows, additional administrative and fiscal management resources will include the services of an independent accountant, tax preparer, and auditor.
The Board is ultimately responsible for these decisions as part of its fiduciary obligation. For smaller transactions, the Board will delegate responsibility to OTW’s committees to determine what goods and services may be necessary. All expenditures are reviewed by the Financial committee to ensure that they fit the goals of the individual committee and overall goals of the organization, as well as the established budgets. The Financial committee is responsible for making payments.
The OTW is able to accept donations from all over the world via online donation, or by check via mail to our post office box. See Support the OTW for the details.
Our payment processor will not reveal credit card or bank account numbers to the OTW. Personal checks received by mail will necessarily have account information on them, but that information will not be retained.
Yes. The IRS has approved OTW's tax-exempt, nonprofit status. One of the benefits of our nonprofit status is that any donation that you make to the organization, including your US$10 OTW membership fee, is now tax-deductible in the United States! Even better, your past donations are also tax-deductible, back to our date of incorporation: September 5, 2007.
Please note that if you are located outside the US, your contribution may or may not be tax-deductible. You should consult with a tax adviser and see whether a gift to a US 501(c)(3) qualifies for a tax deduction under your local laws.
It is important for donors to realize that the OTW must track the names and some contact information about donors to comply with IRS regulations. Given the prevalence of fans using pseudonyms in their fannish life, this information will be held closely by the OTW and will only be available to those individuals on the Board and the Development and Financial committees who must have access to this information to perform their duties.
Completely anonymous donations can only be made in cash. We are considering what security procedures can be put in place should these kinds of donations represent a significant portion of our donor base.
The OTW is a nonprofit corporation, subject to laws and regulations dictating its fiduciary responsibilities to conduct activities in a manner that upholds the public trust. The OTW will be scrutinized not only by its members and fans outside the organization, but also by the IRS and the State of Delaware, our incorporation state.
There are a number of additional safeguards in place. Misuse of OTW funds constitutes fraud and could be subject to prosecution. This operates as a solid deterrent. Distribution of the OTW's funds will follow generally accepted accounting principles with regard to oversight and authorization of expenditures. Finally, the OTW is required to file Form 990 with the IRS each year to report the organization's financial activities.
The OTW produces an annual report, which includes a summary of OTW’s activities over the previous year, as well as the organization’s financial statements. This is made available each year on the OTW Web site. The Form 990 is a public document; however, it will not be available on the OTW Web site, as it contains personal information about individuals that should not be made available via the Internet. Individuals can obtain a paper copy of the annual report and the Form 990 for the cost of duplication and postage by contacting the Treasurer. Please put "Annual Report/990" in the subject line and provide a mailing address.
Copyright is intended to protect the creator's right to profit from her work for a period of time to encourage creative endeavor and the widespread sharing of knowledge. But this does not preclude the right of others to respond to the original work, either with critical commentary, parody, or, we believe, transformative works.
In the United States, copyright is limited by the fair use doctrine. The legal case of Campbell v. Acuff-Rose held that transformative uses receive special consideration in fair use analysis. For those interested in reading in-depth legal analysis, more information can be found on the Fanlore Legal Analysis page.
Fair use is the right to make some use of copyrighted material without getting permission or paying. It is a basic limit on copyright law that protects free expression. "Fair use" is an American phrase, although all copyright laws have some limits that keep copyright from being private censorship.
Fair use favors uses that (1) are noncommercial and not sold for a profit; (2) are transformative, adding new meaning and messages to the original; (3) are limited, not copying the entirety of the original; and (4) do not substitute for the original work. None of these factors is absolutely necessary for fair use, but they all help, and we believe that fanworks like those in the archive easily qualify as fair uses based on all these factors.
There is a distinction between plagiarism (the unacknowledged use of someone else's words claimed as one's own), fanfiction (the acknowledged or obvious borrowing of story elements to tell a new story in the fanfiction writer's words), and quotation (the acknowledged or obvious use of small excerpts of another's work).
By "obvious" we mean that even if a fan writer didn't put a disclaimer on her story, readers know that she did not invent Wonder Woman or Voldemort, or the phrase "Use the Force, Luke."
Plagiarism is deceitful and prevents the original author from receiving credit for her own original work. Fanfiction and quotation are important fair uses which acknowledge the original author and her work. The OTW does not support plagiarism; we do support fanfiction and quotation.
No. While case law in this area is limited, we believe that current copyright law already supports our understanding of fanfiction as fair use.
We seek to broaden knowledge of fan creators' rights and reduce the confusion and uncertainty on both fan and pro creators' sides about fair use as it applies to fanworks. One of our models is the documentary filmmakers' statement of best practices in fair use, which has helped clarify the role of fair use in documentary filmmaking.
The OTW's Legal committee is consulting with the Stanford Fair Use Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The mission of the OTW is first and foremost to protect the fan creators who work purely for love and share their works for free within the fannish gift economy, who are looking to be part of a community and connect to other fans and to celebrate and to respond to the media works that they enjoy.
These fans create vibrant and active communities around the work they are celebrating, tend to spend heaps of money on the original work and associated merchandise, and encourage others to buy also. They are not competing with the original creator's work and if anything help to promote it.
While some transformative works legitimately circulate in the for-profit marketplace — parodies such as The Wind Done Gone (the retelling of Gone with the Wind from the perspective of a slave), critical analyses that quote extensively from an original, "unauthorized guides," etc.—that really isn't what fanfic writers and fan creators in general are doing, or looking to do. We just want to enjoy our hobby and our communities, and to share our creative work, without the constant threat hanging overhead that an overzealous lawyer at some corporation will start sending out cease & desist notices, relying not on legal merit, but on the disproportionate weight of money on their side.
Not at all. The OTW does not oppose the derivative works right that allows copyright owners to authorize a mass-market film adaptation, for instance, or allows a writer to authorize a specific individual (such as the author's son or daughter) to publish sequels commercially. The founding Board Chair of the OTW is Naomi Novik, herself a professional novelist, whose work is under copyright and who has a stake on both sides.
We are absolutely willing to help if we can find someone with the necessary legal knowledge. Fortunately, our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are making a major effort to develop global legal expertise, and we plan to call on them in such situations. In any situation, US or non-US, we'll see what we can do based on the facts and our resources.
We have no plans for a test case. We are focusing on building relationships with legal advocacy groups like the EFF and developing legal resources of our own.
One of the most exciting and helpful developments in copyright of late has been the development of "best practices," principles and procedures establishing what constitutes fair use in the judgment of a community of creative users. Best practices can successfully defend fair use rights even without litigation—see the statement of best practices in fair use. It is our position that, at a minimum, noncommercial, transformative fanworks are fair use, and the OTW will defend that position, just as the documentary filmmakers are using their best practices to make films and do business without litigation.
No. Profit matters, and the degree of transformative quality matters: telling stories around a campfire, freely sharing nonprofit fanfiction, summarizing plot in a book review, or making a documentary film about fans is not the same as a major commercial derivative enterprise like making a major TV miniseries out of a novel.
Most countries have exceptions to copyright rights for various purposes. In Europe, the more common term is "fair dealing." Countries differ in their treatment of the scope of copyright and exceptions.
For example, in Canada, parody is not a specifically recognized defense to copyright infringement, although it can be fair dealing in appropriate circumstances. Australia has limited protections regarding the freedom of communications. The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property in the UK is expected to bring about changes in UK laws regarding parody and transformative use.
In other words, it's complicated. And it's ever-changing.
Because the OTW and its servers are based in the US, we believe that US law applies to content in the Archive of Our Own, even if the author is a resident or national of a different country. However, different countries make different claims about the reach of their laws. Your country of origin's laws are likely to apply to you. It is possible that some sections of the OTW policies are broader, or perhaps more restrictive, than a specific jurisdiction's laws.
Other organizations that serve an international audience are dealing with the varying legal regimes under which their users live, work and play. Creative Commons, for example, has developed a multi-step process to "port" their licenses internationally by "both linguistically translating the licenses and legally adapting them to particular jurisdictions."
Ideally, we would like to develop a similar process within the OTW, but for the time being, we are happy to work with our friends at EFF when engaging in legal advocacy outside the United States. If you would like to work on non-US legal issues or education, please contact the Volunteers Committee.
This is essentially a personal decision. If it will upset you to read, view, or watch fanworks based on your works, then don't.
Authors are sometimes advised to avoid reading or acknowledging fanfiction transforming their own work, as it is in theory possible that an author could read a story, go on to write something similar, and face a claim by the fan that they copied the fan's work. There are many reasons to discount this risk, the least of which is that U.S. case law is all in the first author's favor: no court is going to be receptive to a claim that a later work by the first author in the same universe infringes the fanwork. Among other things, when people begin with similar premises, it isn't at all surprising that they will end up with similar ideas — but U.S. copyright law protects the specific expression of an idea, not ideas. Even if a fan work is similar to a later work in the same universe, similarity of ideas (say, how wand magic works in Harry Potter) isn't sufficient for a copyright claim.
However, not being able to win doesn't erase the possibility that someone could threaten to sue. The real issue is that it doesn't take a fanwork to generate a threat! If an author reads fan mail or online reviews, they might encounter a fan's ideas about what should happen with the characters; if they read other books, they might encounter a storyline or character similar to a storyline or character they might later use. In fact, the typical author-versus-author infringement case involves claims that one work copied another, apparently unrelated work.
The OTW's mission includes explaining the difference between ideas and expression. A lot of people may have the same idea about what should happen on the next season of House; but if they each write different stories expressing the idea differently, then those stories don't infringe each other.
Absolutely! We welcome anyone who wants to support the organization. To become a member, fill out the membership form and make a donation. The minimum annual donation for membership is US$10. A membership entitles you to one vote in organization elections.
Individuals can become members in the OTW; corporations and other organizations cannot, though they can donate. Memberships cannot be shared; if you’re a member, that membership is yours alone.
A membership lasts for one year from your most recent donation of US$10 or more. If you’re already a member, and you donate $10 or more again, the expiration date of your membership moves forward; it is always one year from your most recent $10-or-more donation.
No - it's free to use the Archive of Our Own and you can request an invitation by adding your email address to the invitations queue. Donating to the OTW will help us continue to pay the running costs for the Archive (as well as funding other OTW projects), but OTW membership is not linked to having an AO3 account.
No. We will never charge a fee to use any of our services, nor will we place paid advertising on fanworks.
The OTW is a member-supported nonprofit organization, like the US organizations National Public Radio or Public Broadcasting Service. Your donation helps us provide services not just to you personally but to all who might want to use them. Becoming a member also gives you a stake in the organization, and as mentioned above, confers the right to vote in OTW elections. For more information about our elections process, please visit the OTW Elections website.
The requirement that most nonprofits use for membership is a minimum donation. This is a straightforward and easy-to-check requirement, and ensures that each member is a single individual (as opposed to one person creating multiple membership accounts in order to have multiple votes).
These fees also go to help support the OTW—to pay for our operating costs for both the organization and for all of our projects, so that we do not need to use advertising or charge fees to users. We intend to keep our minimum donation low in order to ensure that it is not a barrier to entry for anyone who cares about the organization, but we hope that most members will give more if they can!
Yes, in the United States. The IRS has approved OTW's tax-exempt, nonprofit status. One of the benefits of our nonprofit status is that any donation that you make to the organization, including your US$10 OTW membership fee, is now tax-deductible in the United States! Even better, your past donations are also tax-deductible, back to our date of incorporation: September 5, 2007.
Please note that if you are located outside the US, your contribution may or may not be tax-deductible. You should consult with a tax adviser and see whether a gift to a US 501(c)(3) qualifies for a tax deduction under your local laws.
In order to ensure that all voting members of the OTW are in fact real people, and to hold fair elections, we cannot allow gift memberships. Supporters are welcome to make donations in honor of others through our form, but the donations will not confer voting rights or membership status.
We thank you for it, and we sing your praises! Additionally, if you donated US$10 or more, then the date of your membership’s expiration moves forward.
Your membership lasts for one year after your most recent donation of US$10 or more. Therefore, if you donate today, your membership will last until one year from today. If you donate as much again tomorrow, your membership will last until one year from tomorrow. And so on.
No matter how much you donate, your membership still only lasts for one year from the most recent US$10-or-more donation, and only confers one vote.
The OTW firmly supports the right of users to separate fannish and nonfannish identities. Donating to the OTW and using the OTW's services are entirely separate—if you choose to donate or become a member (and we hope you do!), you do not need to tell us your fan identity, and we will not have any connection between your fan identity and your financial information or real-life identity.
Only non-membership donations can be made with cash or a money order. For membership purposes, we need to be able to connect your payment with a bank account or credit card so that we can verify that you’re a real person and an individual when we hold elections.
OTW memberships can be purchased with a family member’s/business credit card or bank account if the address associated with the card/account is the same as the address given by the new OTW member (and, of course, if the new OTW member is authorized to use that card/account!).
Open Doors (1)
The Open Doors project of the Organization for Transformative Works is dedicated to preserving fanworks for the future. Our goal in particular is to preserve those fannish projects that might otherwise be lost due to lack of time, interest, or resources on the part of the current maintainer.
Please see the Open Doors website for more information, including the complete Open Doors FAQ.
The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.
OTW was created to work toward a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative, and accepted as legitimate creative activity.
Our mission is to be proactive and innovative in protecting and defending our work from commercial exploitation and legal challenge, and to preserve our fannish economy, values, and way of life by protecting and nurturing our fellow fans, our work, our commentary, our history, and our identity, while providing the broadest possible access to fannish activity for all fans.
A transformative work takes something extant and turns it into something with a new purpose, sensibility, or mode of expression.
Transformative works include but are not limited to fanfiction, real person fiction, fan vids, and fan art. The OTW is interested in all kinds of transformative works, but our priority will be to support and defend the types of works hosted in our archive, and the fans who create them.
The term transformative was specifically chosen to highlight in the nonprofit organization's name one of the key legal defenses for fanworks of all kinds (including real person fiction): that they are transformative of original source materials.
A transformative use is one that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, "adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the [source] with new expression, meaning, or message." A story from Voldemort's perspective is transformative, so is a story about a pop star that illustrates something about current attitudes toward celebrity or sexuality.
The courts have also analyzed "right of publicity" claims against creative works by using the transformative use test from copyright law, so this also applies to one of the main legal issues real person fiction faces. Because one of our primary goals is to defend the right of fanworks to exist, having a key defense for them in our name is important to the organization.
The OTW neither wants to nor can speak for all of fandom: fandom is huge, no matter how you define it. Right now, the OTW wants to provide a useful, searchable, reliable and stable home for all fanfiction regardless of rating or fandom, and in the longer term expand to other fanworks. In order to do that, we're trying to set up a stable, defensible infrastructure—that's the OTW.
We welcome all fandoms in the OTW's projects, including the Archive of Our Own, the Transformative Works and Cultures journal, and the Fanlore wiki. All of us engaged in making transformative fannish works face a common set of legal issues; we'd like to help fellow fans fight off pointless cease & desist letters, or find legal help if they've got a good case and want to pursue it.
We are trying to find allies and make connections before there's any trouble, while also explaining to the world why there shouldn't be trouble, because fans are loyal customers.
The OTW has its roots in a fan community with a decades-long history as a community made up mostly of women. Today, due to the internet and new technology, that community and its interests are rapidly growing in various ways and intersecting with other fan communities with different histories. We are excited and hopeful about the way our community is expanding and meeting with other varieties of remix culture, and we welcome anyone who wants to do what we're doing. At the same time, it is still important to us to acknowledge that this particular creative community is a place created and shaped so strongly by the tastes of women, because that is historically a pretty rare and amazing thing.
OTW values all fans, and the contributions made by fans of all genders. As the Organization grew out of a practice of transformative fanwork historically rooted in a primarily female culture, we also specifically value that history of women's involvement, and the practices of fandom shaped by women's work.
Many organizations, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, focus on issues and interests related to fandom; the OTW is specifically focusing on issues relating to transformative works of fanfiction, fanvids, and fanart.
The 2007-2008 Board was appointed to get the OTW up and running. All subsequent boards are elected by OTW members. It is the Board's responsibility to organize committees, make final decisions, keep financial records, handle compliance, and so on.
Board members are asked to serve three-year terms. One-third of the Board is elected every year. The Board is elected from among members in good standing who have served at least one term on a committee. Every member of the OTW gets one vote in the election, regardless of how much they contribute. If you are interested in running for the Board, please contact Elections staff. For more information about our elections process, please visit the OTW Elections website.
The Board determines which committees should be organized, then appoints chairs to those committees and approves committee members chosen by the chairs. The initial committee members were chosen from people who responded to the first public "Willing to Serve" call for volunteers.
We welcome anyone who would like to help! There are hundreds of volunteers participating in the OTW's projects—the large majority have volunteered in response to our public recruiting posts. OTW's volunteers include people of many races, genders, cultures, sexual identities, and abilities. The OTW does not discriminate on the basis of any of the above, and we value diversity among our staff. Please contact our Volunteers committee if you would like to volunteer.
We are always on the lookout for great committee members! Committees are appointed annually, with occasional midseason replacements as needed. Chairs generally have a free hand in appointing their committees, and they will naturally be drawing most from those who have volunteered with their committee or have other (fannish or real-world) relevant experience. If you are interested in serving on a particular committee, please let the Volunteers committee know.
Naomi Novik put out a call for those willing to serve in the organization in June of 2007, and chose the first board from among those who responded, on the basis of putting together a team with the particular set of skills and experience needed to set up the infrastructure of a nonprofit organization, including its bylaws. These bylaws include the rules and terms under which a membership could be gathered and a future board legally elected.
A third of the board seats were up for election in 2008; two founding members gave up their seats, and two new Board members were affirmed by the membership. Within three years, the entire board will have been elected by the membership. For more information about our elections process, please visit the OTW Elections website.
We welcome everyone who wishes to discuss sources (shows, bands, sports players, anime, etc.) and fandom; we welcome everyone who creates or enjoys fanfiction, vids, fanart, and other kinds of transformative works.
We are all fans first, and that is why we are giving our time to the organization.
The OTW is run by the same people who have helped make, collectively: The Automatic Archive software, Yuletide, Buffistas.org, Polyamorous Recs, Pornish Pixies, the Exwood Archive, Vividcon, con.txt, DSX, DSA, The Snarry Reader, the "Snape After Deathly Hallows" fest, the SGA Big Bang, the Sugar Quill, the DS Seekrit Santa, the Supernatural Wiki, the Foresmutters Project, Sweet Charity, pirate_hunters, the Wolverine & Rogue Fanfiction Archive, the X-Men Movieverse Fan Fiction archive, the Audiofic Archive—among many other major fannish projects—and more stories, vids, and fannish art than you could shake the proverbial stick at.
You can find the biographies of the current Board of Directors, including their fannish affiliations, here on the website.
OTW Website (3)
The OTW translators work in two tiers: the Translation Committee and the language teams. The Committee coordinates the translations and liaises with the other committees; the Committee members usually head their respective language team. The language teams vary in size (with at least one translator and one beta reader) and consist of volunteers who are either native speakers, or fluent in a language other than English.
Apart from this website, the translators also help to make other OTW projects like the Archive of Our Own accessible to an international audience.
This site is being translated by volunteers in their free time. We decided to release core information in your respective language as soon as it was ready, even though the full site translation has not been completed yet. We are working on eventually making all content available to you, but please understand that this takes time.
The journal is meant to provide a space for academic analysis of individual transformative works and the larger culture of fandom from which they come, helping to demonstrate the social, educational, and aesthetic value of fandom and fannish works.
A successful journal will also help fans who happen to be interested in engaging in fandom in a more theoretical and academic way to share their scholarship more widely, improving communication between fans and academia, as well as provide a theoretical background for OTW's mission of explaining and preserving fandom and transformative fanworks. The journal will also explain the context of particular works to help establish fanworks as creative art in their own right.
Transformative Works and Cultures prints peer-reviewed academic articles about transformation, broadly conceived, about fan engagement with various sorts of texts, and about fan communities; editorially reviewed meta articles and personal essays; book reviews; and interviews.
Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) copyrights under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Anyone is free to reprint or remix, with attribution, anything in TWC without obtaining specific permission, as long as the original publication information is attributed and/or hyperlinked back. This means that anybody can post full text of the articles, with attribution, as long as no money is made. Authors may therefore repost full content to their blog or Web site after TWC has been published. Likewise, random people can repost full text without restriction. As long as they attribute it properly, such duplication is fine.
If people want to make money off the text, perhaps by anthologizing the essay in an edited volume, then they must ask. This includes the author, because once an article appears in TWC, TWC owns the copyright.
TWC grants permission to anyone who requests reprint, regardless of who they are (the author or not), without asking for money. We do this in the spirit of open access. We require that the editors be asked for for-profit reprinting because we will take the responsibility of tracking down and informing the author.
The journal retaining copyright is standard in academic journal publishing. Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is thus in line with general practice.
Production editors at presses seeking reprint permission will automatically come to TWC, not the author. Requesting payment for reprints is one way that academic journals make money. However, TWC, because it is associated with the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit organization, and because we want to retain the spirit of open access, will never ask for money to reprint articles.
Our main reason is a purely practical one: TWC retains copyright to protect its ability to grant reprint permission in case the author disappears.
Further, we are committed to open access. If we released copyright to the author, the author could choose to abrogate that by refusing to grant reprint permission. This is not in line with TWC’s mission and goals, which are focused on the free dissemination of ideas.
Because Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is a multimedia journal that publishes screen shots, embeds videos, and uses hyperlinks, the journal must appear online. PDFs are unable to adequately duplicate the interactive experience of the journal.
Further, because TWC copyrights under under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, fans may wish to transform the journal by creating PDFs of content and making it generally available. As long as the document provides the URLs of the original source, and as long as the poster does not charge money, this activity is perfectly acceptable under the terms of the CC license. In fact, TWC encourages such transformative fan activity.
Finally, TWC is bucking the importance the academy places on print media. If we created official PDFs, these documents, not the online versions, would be treated as authoritative merely because of the privilege print is provided in the academic publishing industry—and yet the PDF will always be a second-rate static snapshot of an interactive document.