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  • OTW Board Reports on 2014 Retreat

    By Claudia Rebaza on samedi, 18 October 2014 - 11:11pm
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    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Board'

    Along with the Strategic Planning committee and delegates from the Legal and Volunteers & Recruiting committees, the OTW Board of Directors had a productive and encouraging retreat in Silver Spring, Maryland this past weekend. We packed a lot of intense discussions into three days of meetings, and it was also a welcome opportunity to meet some of our colleagues in person. The Strategic Planning committee in particular put in a lot of work before and during the retreat, and we are very grateful for their efforts and for everyone’s participation.

    The Board of Directors is disappointed to announce that Anna Genoese resigned her position with the OTW after the conclusion of the retreat. We would like to thank Anna for her service on the Board and to the OTW. Director Andrea Horbinski will be taking over Anna’s role as Secretary of the Board for the remainder of the 2014 term.

    Minutes for the retreat are available on the OTW website. As is apparent from the minutes, the Board is developing some ambitious goals to improve the OTW’s policies and procedures over the next one to three years, and we look forward to implementing them with the assistance and input of our staff, volunteers, and members. We know that there have often been questions about the OTW’s long-term viability, but each and every one of the retreat participants left Maryland genuinely convinced that none of our goals exceed our grasp as an organization. We’re very excited for the future of the Organization for Transformative Works, and to build that future in cooperation with you.

    In the short term, Strategic Planning and the Board are scheduling wrap-up meetings to take place in the next couple of weeks, after which preparation of the draft Strategic Plan will begin in earnest. Once that draft has been completed, it will be circulated to OTW personnel for comment and feedback before being finalized.

  • Strategic Planning Update #11

    By Janita Burgess on vendredi, 19 September 2014 - 4:49pm
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    Spotlight on Strategic Planning

    Greetings from the Strategic Planning committee!

    The Strategic Planning committee is beginning to move into a new and exciting phase of our process. As we gear up to attend the Board retreat in early October, we are concentrating on finishing off our information-gathering process so that we can bring as much data to the Board as possible. To that end, we have been busily finishing up our interviews and surveys of the remaining OTW committees and workgroups. We’re also taking the month of September to touch base with committees we surveyed more than six months ago. Being prepared for the Board retreat is our main priority at the moment, but we are also continuing to work on reports and hope to have fresh reports for OTW supporters to read soon after the retreat!

    During the retreat, we will be working with the Board, as well as representatives from the Legal and Volunteers & Recruiting Committees, to develop an organization-wide strategic plan. We've noticed some questions from staff and volunteers about how this strategic plan will incorporate input from all corners of the organization, especially those not present at the retreat. A major part of our role as the Strategic Planning Committee is to consolidate the ideas, opinions, and suggestions we've gathered from all OTW staff and volunteers during our surveying and interviewing process into what will make up the key objectives of the final strategic plan. We also plan to incorporate the results of the OTW Community Survey, as a reflection of the larger OTW membership and userbase. To that end, in the upcoming weeks before the retreat, we especially welcome any additional thoughts.

    Our role does not include coming up with recommendations that are not rooted in the responses that we have received. Our information-gathering process was specifically designed so that the questions would engage each committee or workgroup in thinking strategically about the future and what goals and priorities they would like to set for the next 3-5 years. Our purpose at the Board retreat is to communicate those goals and priorities to the Board and to fit them together into a larger organizational view. We also intend to present a concrete proposal to the Board to bring the strategic plan to the OTW for a period of internal comment and review and to incorporate feedback before final approval.

    After the retreat, we plan to focus on completing all individual committee and workgroup reports, then move to writing up the details of the OTW strategic plan, based on the decisions made by Board at the retreat. The difference between the committee/workgroup reports and the OTW strategic plan is the former presented the background history, current challenges, and future goals of specific teams within the OTW, while the latter will present the collective goals -- and suggestions for how to implement those goals -- from an organization-wide perspective.

    In August, we also launched our Non-Profit 101 series, holding chat sessions open to all OTW staff and volunteers intended to discuss and educate one another about non-profit organizations and best practices. We’ve had two sessions so far, “What is a Non-Profit” and “Boards and Bylaws”, and both were met with a gratifying amount of interest. We’re looking forward to holding more sessions in the coming months.

  • The OTW Board, Past and Future Pt. 2

    By Janita Burgess on jeudi, 4 September 2014 - 5:03pm
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    OTW Spotlight on Board

    Yesterday we posted about the OTW's governing structure and how it developed. Today, we continue with the OTW's plans going into the future, and why it all matters to you.


    The Board recognized our organizational structure as a problem many years ago. It’s one of the reasons the Strategic Planning Committee was set up. It’s one of the things the Board discussed at the Berkeley Retreat in 2013.

    Long term plans for the OTW—working with other like-minded organizations, bringing in more revenue through grants, donor cultivation, full-time employees... none of it can come to fruition with the organization in this state.

    When the Strategic Planning Committee talks about “short term,” they are talking about a three to five year plan to break down silos, build infrastructure, and give the OTW the support it needs from the inside in the short term. Once the OTW has short-term support, we can make long-term changes to reach long-term goals.

    The Goal

    The ultimate goal is to change over from what we are now—unsustainable, unhealthy, and out of step with nonprofit best practices—into a healthy organization that conforms to industry best practices, and that supports our fannish mission in a professional way so that people who volunteer for the OTW know they’re coming into an organization that is capable of taking the gifts of their time and energy and making the most of them.

    Whether at the end of this process, the OTW ends up with a Board and an Executive Director and an executive leadership team, or something completely different (but still in line with general best practices of nonprofit organizations), our deepest hope is that between Board, Strategic Planning, Legal, and all of the staffers and volunteers who are giving their time and energy to helping us work this through, we are going to be able to give the OTW the infrastructure it needs to keep moving forward to become an even bigger and better place for fans and fandoms.

    Why you should stick around

    This post has focused only on organizational structure, but the OTW’s accomplishments have been remarkable for such a young organization!

    Some of the other things we've done:

    • more than a million fanworks on the Archive of Our Own.
    • more than half a million edits on Fanlore.
    • fanworks and fan sites have been saved and preserved by Open Doors.
    • vids and other fanworks are protected by our legal team's fair use and DMCA arguments.
    • Transformative Works and Cultures is a peer-reviewed journal for fandom, about fandom, that is listed in the Modern Language Association (MLA)'s bibliography of journals.
    • we are translating the OTW website into 18 different languages.
    • there are almost a million tags on the Archive of Our Own!

    Fandom can be an incredible place, full of amazing, wonderful people and boundless, positive energy. With a new organizational structure and a well-laid strategic plan, it will be even easier for us to expand and add on to what we already have.

    The Organization for Transformative Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We exist entirely on the generosity of our donors. If you would like to help our work to continue, please consider donating today.

  • The OTW Board, Past and Future Pt. 1

    By Kiri Van Santen on mercredi, 3 September 2014 - 5:05pm
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    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Board'

    As the OTW is about to celebrate its 7th anniversary, our Board of Directors would like to inform our members and supporters about plans for the coming years. Today, we'll be discussing why the OTW's governing structure looks the way it does, and tomorrow we'll be posting about proposed changes to better accommodate the OTW's needs as it grows.

    In the beginning, there was radical growth

    In the beginning, the OTW was one of the first ever nonprofits to be entirely online. The all-volunteer nonprofit model had been seen before -- but entirely online? That was very new. Even now, most online-only volunteer opportunities do not look like the OTW.

    Many of the challenges originally posed by the OTW's unique model remain with us today. These aren't just challenges faced by the OTW alone, but challenges faced by all organizations that want to take advantage of the masses of people online who'd love to volunteer but can't figure how to make it work from a world away.

    We have been -- and are still -- making it work. We just need to make it work better.

    Additionally, we need to keep in mind that OTW was not created to be what it is today. It was not set up to support this many personnel. It was not set up to support this many projects.

    No organization, whether it is online or offline, is created to scale up the way the OTW has had to scale up in the last seven years. We haven't just doubled or tripled in size. In 2007, when we ended our first year, we had $6,636 in cash assets. We estimate that at the end of 2014, we'll have $250,000 in cash assets. That's nearly fifty times the money in seven years.

    By the end of 2007, the OTW had about sixty volunteers (including the Board). Right now, in the middle of 2014, our personnel count is 482 -- a 703% growth from 2007.

    This kind of growth is unusual and unexpected for any organization, online or not.

    Yet we still don't have enough people to support the level of growth we see in our projects, the demand we have for the Archive of Our Own, Transformative Works and Cultures, Open Doors, Fanlore... to name a few! Due to our infrastructure, we can barely support enough growth to allow the OTW to function day to day, much less handle special projects and emergencies -- much less grow more.

    From the perspective of the Board, this means we do not just act as Board of Directors. In fact, we do not act as Board of Directors at all most of the time. We act as Executive Board, executive staff, senior staff, and we plug every hole. We mediate, we mentor, we facilitate inter-committee projects; we’re trying to document processes and positions that should have been documented five years ago; we liaise with every committee.

    What should a Board of Directors do?

    A Board of Directors at a nonprofit, in general, will do the following:

    Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

    • Determine mission and purpose.
    • Select the chief executive.
    • Support and evaluate the chief executive.
    • Ensure effective planning.
    • Monitor and strengthen programs and services. The board's responsibility is to determine which programs are consistent with the organization's mission and monitor their effectiveness.
    • Ensure adequate financial resources.
    • Protect assets and provide proper financial oversight.
    • Build a competent board.
    • Ensure legal and ethical integrity.
    • Enhance the organization's public standing.

    In short, a Board of Directors is responsible for the overall governance of an organization.

    Hey, what’s a chief executive?

    You’ll notice the OTW is missing a Chief Executive Officer, or an Executive Director. The Executive Director of an organization runs an executive team, and they do things like liaise with committees/teams, act as the leadership and management for the whole organization, and train and mentor the senior staff.

    A good Executive Director also does things like guide communication and expansion, work with fundraising to build opportunities into new markets, sit on the Board and help guide the organization’s strategic plan, then put it into practice with each team working within the organization...

    Right now, the Board is doing a lot of Executive Director work—and scrambling to do it, because the OTW isn’t set up to allow the Executive Director work to be done quickly, easily, or, in some cases, at all.

    More tomorrow on the OTW's plans for the future.

  • The censorship problems faced by anime and manga fans

    By Claudia Rebaza on vendredi, 11 July 2014 - 4:09pm
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    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

    The following post was written by Fanhackers chair Nele Noppe.

    For fans of manga, anime, and other Japanese media, pointing and laughing at inaccurate mass media portrayals of Japanese pop culture has been something of a sport for decades. A few weeks ago, however, things took a slightly more serious turn.

    The ball got rolling when early in June, the Japanese House of Representatives approved a long-overdue law banning the possession of child pornography. Up to now, creating and distributing child pornography was as forbidden in Japan as anywhere else, but “simple possession” had not yet been criminalized. The new law applies only to “real” child pornography and leaves alone completely fictional depictions of underage characters in sexual situations in manga, anime and other media. This exception came about after vocal protests from manga publishers, creators, fans and free speech rights activists. The story was widely reported in non-Japanese media. However, most of these reports focused on handwringing about Japan's “failure” to clamp down on sexually explicit manga. Most shared was a CNN article filled with outrage about how the new law supposedly permits Japanese bookstores to fill their shelves with shocking cartoon porn about children.

    As the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) pointed out in a scathing reaction post, CNN’s report was highly misleading and uninformed, misrepresenting manga in general as pornographic and painting the “freedom of speech" arguments against the new law as no more than the lobbying of a large industry bent on making profit from icky virtual child pornography. The comments section of the CNN article quickly filled with anime and manga fans fact-checking the text and refuting its arguments.

    Their support, and that of the CBLDF, was of some small comfort to Japanese creators and activists who were aghast at their portrayal in Western media. Simple complaining about "Japanese cartoon porn" is, by now, no more than sadly familiar. Sensation-hungry Western news outlets have been creating miniature moral panics out of that ever since they realized that in Japan, comics and animation are media that are used to express not just "kiddy stuff" but every kind of content, including pornography.

    This uproar went further in the sense that it represented manga creators and free speech activists as money-grubbing child pornographers. CNN and other news sources seemed unaware that in Japan, unlike in the United States, laws that restrict depictions of sexuality in media actually are a very serious freedom of speech issue, and have been so since immediately after WWII. Japanese creators and publishers of sexually explicit material who yell about free speech rights are not just demanding the right to do whatever they like; they are continuing half a century of protests against arbitrary and outdated censorship laws.

    A look at Japanese legal history

    Japanese authorities have used and continue to use laws against “obscenity” to attempt to control what gets published in the country. Before and during WWII, such laws were among several used to suppress any speech that did not support Japanese militarism. After the war, freedom of speech was guaranteed in Japan’s new constitution, but still restricted by only one remaining bit of pre-war legislation: Article 175 of the Criminal Code of Japan, which prohibits the sale or distribution of materials that contain “obscenity” (waisetsu).

    Other countries at the time also attempted to legally curtail “obscene” media, of course, but Japan’s anti-obscenity law turned out to have bigger teeth than many others. For instance, in the 1950s and 1960s, the US, Britain, and Japan all held separate trials about obscenity contained in the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In the US and Britain, the trials ended in acquittals, greatly reducing the subsequent relevancy of obscenity laws for media in those countries. In Japan, however, Lady Chatterly was judged obscene. The victory of the prosecution in this first postwar Japanese “obscenity” trial was an important precedent, because it confirmed that obscenity laws were a stick that authorities could beat publishers and authors with whenever they were displeased with the direction Japan’s creative sector was going in. Lady Chatterley was the first in a series of protracted and much-publicized “obscenity” trials that covered many different media, from books to film to photographs to manga. (See Cather for in-depth analysis of censorship in Japan.)

    Far from being discouraged, the Japanese media industry made dodging of the censors into an art form. Manga creators, for instance, got very creative in figuring out ways to depict naked bodies and sex without showing pubic hair (long a no-no) or genitalia. Article 175 and related laws and local ordinances were applied so rarely and so inconsistently that the creators and publishers who did end up getting charged were usually very surprised to be singled out. Still, many of the obscenity trials turned into platforms for broad swathes of Japan’s literary world and media industry to try and wrestle back their right to publish freely from the state. Many feel that bureaucrats and police have no business deciding what people are allowed to read in order to protect a vague and constantly-shifting idea of "public morality".

    No matter how rarely used, laws against obscenity, and (especially since the 1990s) a mushrooming multitude of local ordinances against “harmful” media, do influence what can get published, what can be on library shelves, and what people can write and draw. The chilling effect of even potential legal troubles was - and still is - considerable for authors and publishers. Only weeks ago, a new manga by an assistant mangaka working on the popular series Attack on Titan was cancelled because its publisher feared that it might run afoul of a local ordinance in Tokyo aimed at curtailing the spread of “unhealthy publications”.

    The fandom effect

    Censors’ attention turned to manga and fan culture after 1989, when a serial killer turned out to possess large amounts of sexually explicit anime and be a participant in Comiket, Japan’s largest convention for fan manga (doujinshi). This led Japanese media to engage in what fans called "otaku bashing".

    Although stigmatization of fans as socially maladjusted and possibly dangerous loners has lessened much since then, its effects are still felt. The most recent high-profile “obscenity” trial, a five-year legal battle that ended in 2007 with a guilty verdict from the Supreme Court of Japan, was about a manga (more on that trial). Commentators and scholars argue that manga has become a target for censorship, at least in part, because anime, manga, and Japanese fan culture in general have been gaining much attention and acclaim overseas. The Japanese government has been trying to turn that attention into money with various “Cool Japan” campaigns aimed at promoting Japanese media products and tourism to Japan.

    Polemics in foreign media about the less photogenic parts of Japanese pop culture, like adult manga, are then unwelcome indeed. Some warn that with the Tokyo Olympics coming up in 2020, local and national authorities in Japan may get even more sensitive to foreign handwringing about “Japanese cartoon porn”. However valid that fear may or may not be, last month’s new flap about manga and anime highlights how uninformed many media outlets still are about Japan, and how little any articles about non-English fandoms in the mass media can be trusted. Shallow and alarmist reporting by major and (somewhat) respected news sources like the BBC and CNN reinforces orientalist stereotypes about Japan and its people being somehow lacking in sexual morals. Clearly, it also does great harm to the cause of activists who are fighting to keep bureaucrats and police from gaining tools to control what can be published by the Japanese media, professional and amateur.

    Last month’s incident also highlights the growing importance of free speech rights to fan communities. Laws against “obscenity” or so-called “virtual child pornography” are still low on the radar of many English-speaking fans, especially compared to copyright woes. However, the example of Japan shows that these laws can and do have a very direct impact on what fans can make and distribute.

    Past and recent cases

    In Japan, the extremely popular fan-made manga called doujinshi have to follow the law just as much as commercially published manga. Fans are free to draw what they like in private, but if they want to distribute their fanworks in any way, they have to apply censor bars or mosaics to anything that might possibly catch the attention of censors. Just like with professional manga, the law is applied only rarely and inconsistently, but anti-obscenity laws have still led to legal troubles for individual fans and disruptions of fan activities and fannish infrastructure.

    For instance, in the midst of a “harmful books” polemic that followed the arrest of the “otaku” serial killer in 1989, “police confiscated thousands of doujinshi from merchants in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward and arrested several shop owners” (Japan Times). In 1991, doujinshi convention Comiket was forced to move out of its convention site Makuhari Messe because police had received complaints about the fanworks being distributed there (Comiket welcomed over two hundred thousand visitors around that time and hosted 11,000 fanwork creators). Doujinshi conventions began to enforce anti-obscenity measures and check every fanwork on sale to make sure it followed guidelines about obscuring genitals and warning buyers of sexual content on the covers. Still, in 1994 and on several other occasions, further conventions had to be cancelled or moved because of complaints about possible "harmful material" being distributed.

    “Obscenity” issues were shown to be connected with copyright problems in 1999 when a a female creator of sexually explicit doujinshi for the popular children's game and anime series Pokemon was arrested for copyright infringement, apparently after someone complained about the explicit material to copyright holder Nintendo. In 2007, a doujinshi creator was arrested and eventually fined because his self-censorship of his works was not sufficient. This lead doujinshi conventions (and online doujinshi shop DLsite) to tighten enforcement of censorship regulations, and the Japan Doujinshi Printing Group to issue self-censorship guidelines for all fans who wanted to have their doujinshi printed by its member printing companies. Later in 2007, a building which had been used by several doujinshi conventions was closed to conventions that feature sexually explicit doujinshi. In 2009, the manager of a doujinshi shop shop was arrested on suspicion of distributing obscene material (NSFW link). Today, various links in the creation and distribution chain of doujinshi - doujinshi printers, conventions, and doujin shops - continue to impress upon fans the importance of “self-regulation" (jishu kisei, in practice “self-censorship") when distributing fanworks.

    Unsurprisingly, censorship issues are at least as important as copyright issues for Japanese fans. Around 2010, for instance, Japanese fan communities were actively involved in a battle to defeat a local ordinance in Tokyo that attempted to forbid the distribution of material containing sexual depictions of ill-defined “nonexistent youths” (more in this TWC article).

    Worldwide effects

    Japanese laws are not the only ones causing problems for fans. Outside Japan, several fans have gotten in serious trouble because the manga they love were considered “child pornography” by authorities. The CBLDF has been particularly active in chronicling these cases and sometimes providing legal support to fans. In 2010, for instance, a U.S. manga fan was sentenced to jail because manga in his collection contained “drawings of children being sexually abused". Also in 2010, another U.S. manga fan was arrested at the Canadian border for similar reasons, at least the second time this sort of arrest happened in Canada. Several more fans have reported online that they were questioned at the Canadian border because they were carrying manga. In 2012, there was a small victory as Swedish manga translator Simon Lundström was cleared of child pornography charges brought on by several manga on his computer.

    This string of worldwide incidents surrounding manga, and the uproar in Western media about Japan’s “refusal” to criminalize “virtual child pornography”, shines a light on how little attention most countries outside Japan have paid to the question of whether it makes sense to extend anti-child pornography laws to depictions of entirely fictional children. Some countries, like Australia and Canada, do extend their definitions of “child pornography” to media that contain absolutely no real children, only fictional characters. In the US, this cannot be prosecuted as child pornography, but it can be prosecuted under general obscenity laws if it meets the standard for obscenity (as judged by community standards, patently offensive sexually explicit depictions that lack literary, artistic, political, or scientific value).

    However, these laws mostly passed with very little public consultation or debate (see McLelland). There was often no serious inquiry into the question of whether “virtual child pornography” is actually harmful to anyone, and why it should be banned while fictional depictions of other crimes are fine and dandy. Objections about a lack of scientific evidence to link “virtual child pornography” to real harm, and objections about potential censorship, are easily brushed aside in the midst of moral panics about “protecting children”. According to Kotaro Ogino of the Japanese free speech organization Uguisu Ribbon Campaign, this problem is occurring in Japan as well, leading to the constant battles about potential criminalization of “virtual child pornography” that are taking place there today (personal communication).

    Also problematic is that, unlike in Japan, many citizens of these countries are not aware it may be illegal for them to make fictional depictions of sexual situations involving minors. Many fandoms such as Harry Potter or Attack on Titan have thriving shipping communities around underage characters. In theory, that puts some fan creators in the crosshairs of anti-child pornography laws. The fact that laws against “virtual child pornography” are rarely or inconsistently enforced does not mean they are harmless. The outcome of the constant fight that Japanese fans, mangaka, and publishers are waging against censorship laws may turn out to be very relevant for non-Japanese fans as well.

    For more information

    More news and information about censorship problems that impact Japanese and non-Japanese fans of anime and manga can be found on the CBLDF website, the blog of translator Dan Kanemitsu, Anime News Network, and in the articles tagged with “censorship” in the OTW’s fan studies bibliography.

  • Better Understanding Fair Use

    By Claudia Rebaza on vendredi, 20 June 2014 - 3:59pm
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    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

    Recently, PlagiarismToday attempted to explain “5 Copyright Terms” that are, they felt, being used incorrectly. One of those terms was “Fair Use” - but unfortunately, their attempted explanation fell far short of correct.

    They claim that Fair Use is “infringement of a work where the court has determined that the infringer is not liable”.

    That’s not true. Fair Use is a lawful use of copyright. (See Lenz v. Universal Music Corp, 572 F. Supp. 2d 1150 (N.D. Ca. 2008)). As the US Copyright Office says, Fair Use is a “limitation” on the rights of the owner of copyright, and thus others who have not been authorized by the owner can reproduce the work; courts have held that this reproduction right includes the right to create transformative works.

    While, as the Copyright Office says, the “distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined...” US courts have ruled in numerous cases on what those parameters are. The entire concept of precedent in US law means that “principles established in earlier cases” can be used to decide new cases with similar facts and issues. You don’t have to be the Supreme Court to see that Fair Use can apply in numerous situations.

    PlagiarismToday misleadingly suggests that instead of saying something is Fair Use, creators should avoid saying anything, or use the terms “attributed” or “noncommercial” - even though those don’t determine whether something is Fair Use. A work that’s attributed or noncommercial can still infringe on another’s copyright, and an unattributed and commercial use can be fair. The question isn't attribution - it's whether permission is required and if so, obtained. Fair Use exists where permission isn't necessary, so whether you ask for it or not is irrelevant. This isn't to say that creators shouldn't identify their works as attributed or noncommercial--only that those notes won't make a use fair, and skipping them won't make a use infringing.

    Noting that a work is, or even might be, Fair Use also doesn’t really have an impact on a court’s determining whether it is or isn’t. But that isn't the point, because a court isn't the only audience for a work. The internet isn’t a court of law; it is a court of public opinion. Including an author’s note or artist’s comment that a fic or painting or vid or film is Fair Use lets other people know what Fair Use is. As the US Copyright Office says, it can happen where “the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”

    Sounds like fannish creativity, doesn’t it?

    As we say in the OTW FAQ: 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 available through the AO3 easily qualify as fair uses based on all these factors.

  • USPTO/NTIA multi-stakeholder forum on the DMCA

    By Claudia Rebaza on vendredi, 23 May 2014 - 3:34pm
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    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

    OTW's Legal Committee made another appearance at a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office event, this one at a multistakeholder forum in Berkeley, California on May 8. Legal Chair Betsy Rosenblatt spoke about protecting transformative creators, whose voices might easily be lost or ignored in a discussion focusing on anti-piracy. Stating that small entities have unique concerns regarding standard processes, especially when they are volunteer-run such as the OTW, Betsy also mentioned the importance of pseudonymity. Her segment begins at 5:12 in the Part 2 video. (No transcript available). Other participants included copyright stalwarts like the RIAA, MPAA, and Copyright Alliance; internet freedom and free expression advocates like the EFF and New Media Rights; and content hosts ranging in size from Google on the large side to DeviantART on the small side.

    The meeting was designed to get participants’ views about benefits, drawbacks, and strategies for standardizing the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure. The USPTO/NTIA representatives emphasized that this is not a lawmaking endeavor (nor could it be, since those bodies have no influence on copyright legislation), but rather an attempt to make current laws operate better than they currently do.

    The meeting resulted in the formation of a working group. The OTW has a seat on that working group, and will continue to voice the interests of transformative creators and small service providers throughout the process. It's not yet clear what the result of the process will be. Possibilities may include a set of “best practices”; a set of plug & play tools for rights-claimants and ISPs to use and adopt as they wish; or educational tools.

    Because the OTW will be an official part of the working group process, this is an opportunity for OTW members' voices to be heard. What would you like to see become a more standard part of the notice-and-takedown procedure? What would you want the procedure avoid? Let us know!

  • TWC's Top 10

    By Claudia Rebaza on jeudi, 8 May 2014 - 5:00pm
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    Partial view of the TWC word cloud

    One of the OTW's projects is Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), an open-access academic journal dedicated to fandom and fandom studies.

    But don't think that just because it's a peer-reviewed, scholarly quarterly with a bibliographic listing in the MLA bibliography of journals that the contents of TWC aren't for fans like you to enjoy!  Check out this sampling, ranked by number of DOI resolutions:

    1) "Why we should talk about commodifying fan work", by Nele Noppe. How would legalizing fanwork influence the question: should fan work be free?

    2) "Book Review: Boys' love manga: Essays on the sexual ambiguity and cross-cultural fandom of the genre"by Nele Noppe. "The focus of the book remains squarely on the fans of boys' love manga, which makes it relevant to anyone interested in fan studies."

    3) "Women, "Star Trek," and the early development of fannish vidding", by Francesca Coppa. This paper discusses how early female Star Trek fans structured the practices and aesthetics of vidding, in order to heal the wounds created by the displacement and fragmentation of women on television.

    4) "'The epic love story of Sam and Dean': 'Supernatural,' queer readings, and the romance of incestuous fan fiction," by Catherine Tosenberger. Tosenberger examines the literary, cultural, and folkloric discourses of incest and queerness as invoked by the show in order to argue that "Wincest" fan fiction is best understood not as a perverse, oppositional reading of a manly dudebro show, but as an expression of readings that are suggested and supported by the text itself.

    5) "Endless loop: A brief history of chiptunes", by Kevin Driscoll and Joshua Diaz. Driscoll and Diaz explore the confusion surrounding what chiptunes is, and how the production and performance of music connected to 80's electronic video game soundtracks "tells an alternate narrative about the hardware, software, and social practices of personal computing in the 1980s and 1990s."

    6) "Stranger than fiction: Fan identity in cosplay", by Nicolle Lamerichs. Lamerichs argues that "costuming is a form of fan appropriation that transforms, performs, and actualizes an existing story in close connection to the fan's own identity," and that "cosplay motivates fans to closely interpret existing texts, perform them, and extend them with their own narratives and ideas."

    7) "Repackaging fan culture", by Suzanne Scott. Scott argues that "the strategic definition of fandom as a gift economy serves as a defensive front to impede encroaching industrial factions" like FanLib and Kindle Worlds, and examines "the Seinfeldian roots" of the social taboo of "regifting," relative to fan culture.

    8) "Thirty political video mashups made between World War II and 2005", by Jonathan McIntosh. The creator of the famed Buffy vs. Edward remix vid explores subversive pre-YouTube remixes.

    9) "Book review: Spreadable media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture, by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green", by Melissa A. Click. "Readers with stakes in the tug-of-war between fans and industry will likely enjoy, and be invigorated by, the authors' arguments about spreadability."

    10) "The Web planet: How the changing Internet divided "Doctor Who" fan fiction writers", by Leora Hadas. Hadas explores how evolving participatory culture clashed with traditional fandom modes and came to a head over one Whovian fanfic archive, using the conflict there to argue that "the cultural logics of fandom and of participatory culture might be more separate than they initially appear."

    And if you want to move beyond the Top 10 articles on TWC, here's a word cloud of the most frequently used words taken from the titles of every article that TWC has published in its 6-year history.

    Would you like to help us generate even more words? Head over to Fanhackers to see how you can celebrate acafandom, meta, and more with us—or check out the TWC Submissions Guidelines for submitting your research or essay to the journal!

  • Spotlight on Open Doors: Scales of Justice

    By Claudia Rebaza on samedi, 3 May 2014 - 4:40pm
    Message type:

    Image of Scales of Jutice's cover

    First, a reminder that Open Doors will be holding the second of two public chats on Campfire (the online chat platform the OTW uses) for Yuletide participants on May 4, 1am UTC (what time is that in my timezone?).

    Open Doors would like to thank everyone for coming to the last chat, hanging out, and asking questions! We have a few updates we would like to share:

    • Comment notifications will be turned OFF for all works affected by the Yuletide import. That means if we are importing comments for your works, you will NOT receive an e-mail notification for them. (There will still be e-mail notifications for newly-imported works themselves.)
    • Comments will be imported as backdated comments on the imported work, and will be signed but not linked to an AO3 account.
    • If you have already imported your works to the AO3 and we match its original Yuletide URLs to its AO3 URLs before the import takes places, those works will automatically be added to the appropriate Yuletide subcollection, so you will not need to do this. This will also prevent duplicates of the works from being imported, import comments from the original Yuletide archive onto the work you uploaded yourself, and ensure that the redirect leads to the correct story once the import takes place.

    As a note, if you would like us to match your Yuletide URLs, please contact us before May 11, with the following information:

    Work Title:

    YuletideTreasure.org URL:

    AO3 URL:

    With that settled, today we're focusing on Scales of Justice, a famous Starsky & Hutch zine dating from 1985. It featured original ink drawings, silk screen prints, and intricate calligraphy, and is considered, according to Fanlore, "one of the most beautiful fanzines ever created."

    Silkscreen image from Scales of Jutice of Starsky's head in a puzzle piece and Hutch falling back into a wind tunnel

    As part of Open Doors' Fan Culture Preservation Project, a copy of Scales of Justice will be permanently preserved as part of the University of Iowa's Special Collections.

    Open Doors chair Michelle Dong notes: "I got to hold a copy in my hands, once. The art was lovely, and the colors still bright."

    Inkwork image from Scales of Jutice of Hutch in a feathered cape and Starsky with his hand covering his face. Both of them are inside a giant eye whose iris edge has a row of runes ending in a dragon's head.

    If you swoon the way we do over the possibility of being able to preserve and protect parts of our historical fan heritage and culture like Scales of Justice, please consider becoming a member of the OTW. Your support directly contributes to the continued existence of fanworks like Scales of Justice.

  • OTW ile İrtibatta Kalmak

    By Priscilla Del Cima on dimanche, 27 April 2014 - 3:25pm
    Message type:


    Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

    Nisan kampanyamızda bağışlardaki artışla birlikte OTW üyesi olarak aramıza yeni katılanlar da oldu! Bu yüzden biz de OTW ile nasıl irtibatta kalacağınız konusunda - hem bizimle direkt iletişime geçmek hem de OTW ve projeleri hakkında haber almak için - sizlere güncel bilgi vermek istedik.

    Resmi ve Resmi Olmayan Hesaplar

    Çoğu kişi OTW haberlerini sosyal medya hesapları veya RSS okuyucular aracılığıyla takip etmeyi seçiyor. Bu iki seçenek arasında bazı önemli farklar var. Bu farklar hangi haberleri alacağınızı ve bize ne şekilde ulaşacağınızı etkileyebilir.

    Biz tüm aktif hesaplarımızı transformativeworks.org adresindeki OTW ana sayfasında listeliyoruz. Ancak bazen hayranlar bizim kullandığımız platformlarda kendi RSS beslemelerini, hatta resmi olmayan hesaplarını oluşturmuş olabiliyor. Bu hesapların bazıları resmi olmadığını açıkça belirtiyor, bazısı belirtmeyebiliyor, ama genelde onları yöneten birileri oluyor. Diğer taraftan, RSS beslemeler televizyon yayınına benziyor -- otomatik yayın oldukları için onlara sadece geçici olarak erişebiliyorsunuz ve bize bu hesaplar üzerinden ulaşmanız mümkün olmuyor.

    Resmi hesaplardaki yayınlar ise İletişim Komitesi tarafından tek tek gönderiliyor. Bu hesaplar üzerinden OTW'ye yöneltilen yorum ve sorular bize ulaşıyor. Şüphe halinde takip ettiğiniz hesapla yukarıdaki linkte listelenen hesapları karşılaştırın. O hesaplardan birini takip etmiyorsanız, resmi bir hesabı takip etmiyorsunuz demektir.

    Bizimle İrtibata Geçmek

    Bizimle irtibata geçmek istiyorsanız Bize Ulaşın sayfamızı da kullanabilirsiniz. Sorunuzu kime yöneltmeniz gerektiğine emin değilseniz İletişim Komitesi'ni deneyin. Sorunuzu cevaplayamazsak mesajınızı size yardımcı olabilecek ilgili OTW bölümüne aktarabiliriz.

    OTW'ye belirtilen dillerin hepsini kullanarak ulaşabilirsiniz: Arapça, Katalanca, Çince, Flemenkçe, İngilizce, Fince, Fransızca, Almanca, Macarca, Endonezce, İtalyanca, Korece, Lehçe, Portekizce, İspanyolca, Svahili, İsveççe, Türkçe.

    Bilgiye Ulaşmak

    RSS besleme hesaplarının bir diğer kötü yönü de gönderilerin kısa süreli olması nedeniyle arama yapılamaması. OTW'nin eski haber gönderilerine ulaşmak isterseniz ana sayfamızı ziyaret ederek sağ üst köşedeki arama kutusunu kullanabilirsiniz.

    Ayrıca, OTW Pinboard hesabımızda OTW Haber'de yayınlanan tüm gönderilerimiz ile Fanhackers ve AO3 haberlerinin etiketlenmiş ve aramaya uygun yer imlerini bulabilirsiniz. Sitenin yalın formatı sayesinde bir proje hakkındaki tüm haberler veya bir komite tarafından yayınlanmış tüm gönderiler gibi, belli bir etiketin altındaki herşeyi kolayca gözden geçirebiliyorsunuz.

    Hesaplarımıza Erişim

    Gerek sosyal medya hesaplarımıza gerekse de OTW sitesinin kendisine zaman zaman erişimin engellendiğinin farkındayız. Birden fazla alanda resmi hesabımız bulunmasının sebeplerinden biri de bu.

    Çoğu kişi için bu yasaklar okul veya işyerinden kaynaklı lokal engeller olmakla birlikte, Çin'in güvenlik duvarları Facebook, Twitter ve Google alanlarını tamamen engelleyip, bunların yerine yerel sosyal ağları olan Renren, Weibo ve arama motoru Baidu'ya yönlendiriyor. 2012 yılında Rusya yanlışlıkla LiveJournal'ın IP adresini engelleyerek sitenin tamamını sansürlemişti. Türkiye ve Vietnam gibi birçok diğer ülke çeşitli sosyal medya ve siteleri engelliyor. Bazen güvenlik duvarları sitelerin tamamına erişimi kapatmaktansa belli konu ve kelimelerin filtrelenmesine izin verebiliyor.

    Bir platformda bizi takip edemiyorsanız, diğer sitelerimizden birine ulaşabilmenizi ümit ediyoruz. Hayranlara daha kolay ulaşabilmek için resmi hesap açabileceğimiz ek lokasyon arayışımız her zaman devam ediyor. Bu konuda sizin önerilerinize de açığız. Şu anki görevli sayımız ve iş yükümüz yakın gelecekte büyümemize izin vermese de, uzun vadeli planlarımızda sizin önerilerinizi değerlendirebiliriz.

    Bizi tanıtın!

    Geçtiğimiz günlerde tanıtım görsellerimiz ve OTW'yi tanıtmak için kullanılabilecek farklı yöntemlerle ilgili bazı sorular aldık. Bu bilgilere sitemizin "Nasıl yardım edebilirsiniz" bölümünden ulaşabilirsiniz. Mevcut materyalleri gözden geçirip eklemeler yapmak istiyoruz, o yüzden içerikle ilgili öneriniz veya belli ölçüler vb. talepleriniz varsa lütfen bizi bilgilendirin!

    Ve unutmayın! OTW videosunu da paylaşabilirsiniz!



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