Archive of Our Own, Tag Wrangling Committee, Announcement
Good news for users browsing fandoms on the AO3 -- alphabetizing titles by articles such as "the" or "das" or "los" is now a thing of the past!
With this latest AO3 release, the Fandom names on the media pages now will sort alphabetically regardless of articles. Previously, the code that generated pages like the Theater Fandoms page sorted by the first letter of the canonical fandom tag name. Because we wanted the tags to be sorted alphabetically, we had to remove articles from the names of the fandom, unless the fandom name was only two words or otherwise was confusing without the article. Needless to say, we've been seeking a solution to this for some time, but required something internationally compatible that wouldn't strain our servers.
Intellectual Property, News Media, Roleplaying, Television, News of Note
- Bob Tarantino at JD Supra Law updated a 2010 discussion about fanfic in light of recent developments in Canada. "A discussion of the legal implications of fan fiction would not be complete without mentioning two relevant matters which are not affected by the UGC exception introduced by the CMA: moral rights and trade-mark (or passing off) claims." Although the UGC exception pertains to copyright infringement, it "has no effect on an author's potential moral rights claims. And because fan fiction may make use of elements of an author's creation such as titles, character and location names to which some form of trade-mark protection applies (e.g., Star Wars fan fiction that makes use of character names like Luke Skywaylker (a registered mark in Canada), ...there remains the possibility that some form of trade-mark based action could be commenced by the relevant rights-owner."
Abuse Committee, Spotlight
Today, we're doing a Spotlight on the Abuse Committee! Abuse is the committee that is responsible for responding to complaints about content uploaded to Archive of Our Own. We interviewed staffers Sherry and Joanne to spotlight their experiences working in Abuse. Sherry, who is the current Chair, has been on the Abuse committee for three years while Joanne volunteered during the last term. Some of their answers have been combined and edited for readability while others have been left in their original format to reflect Sherry and Joanne's unique experiences in the committee.
Commercialization of Fans, Entertainment Industries, Public and Private Identities, Technology, Twitter, News of Note
- News about a Google TV that interprets its viewers' behavior to recommend shows to them raises questions about how useful such a technology would be, and to whom, not to mention the privacy matters involved. "James McQuivey at Forrester Research said consumers will accept these privacy tradeoffs if they see an advantage to the new style of television. 'If you ask people, of course they will say no,' McQuivey told AFP, while noting that millions have accepted this type of tracing by connecting their TVs to Xbox consoles with Kinect motion detection where 'the camera is tracking you all the time'...But he said companies should be prepared to develop privacy policies to avoid government intervention."
Intellectual Property, Transformative Works and Cultures, Spotlight
Many readers of this blog will have heard of Aaron Swartz, a hacker and free culture activist whose suicide on January 13 sent shockwaves around the Internet. One of the many things Swartz campaigned for - in fact, the cause that got him in the most trouble in the end - was open access to academic research, a cause near and dear to the OTW in general and its Gold Open Access academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) in particular.
I want to take this sad opportunity to say a few words on what open access is and why it's so important for research on fans. Academics who research fans must do their utmost to make sure their work is available for everyone, particularly fans, the very group they're studying; and all fans should have the right to access to research on topics that are relevant to fandom.aron Swartz and open access
- Fanfiction, Fannish Communities, Fannish Practices, News of Note
- While there have been a number of comedy troupes around the world doing shows based on fanfic readings, they have largely used fanfic written specifically for the shows by the performers themselves. A recent review of Black Swan Comedy in Toronto, a monthly comedy series focusing on fan fiction, made clear that the performers were reading material pulled from online sources instead. "'We find the best/worst fan fiction. We'll read it once to know that it's perfectly bad at the start, and then find out how horrible it is on stage together with the audience,' says Jeremy Woodcock of Rulers of the Universe." There was an aftershow by the Weaker Vessels which was labeled "a Harry Potter fan fic" making it unclear if it was simply a show based on Harry Potter or one which specialized in reading only from that fandom. Apparently the shortcut is doing well for Black Swan Comedy as the readings are a "sold-out event every month."
Communications Committee, Announcement
The OTW maintains a variety of social media outlets. Some of these are for the organization as a whole, such as our Facebook page, and the blog on the transformativeworks.org website. Others are for specific projects, such as the fanlore_news Twitter, or the Twitter account for our tag wrangling committee. You can find a listing of the various accounts on our website.
We receive comments from the majority of our sites and maintain them so that people can reach us at the fannish locations that they are already using. On occasion we have received questions about what our commenting policy is, or where we prefer to receive comments, given the variety of places where our news appears.
Our policy for commenting at OTW outlets is as follows:
The Archive of Our Own will have some scheduled downtime on Thursday January 17 at 18.30 UTC (see what time this in in your timezone). We expect the downtime to last about 15 minutes.
This downtime is to allow us to make some changes to our firewall which will make it better able to cope under heavy loads. This will help with the kinds of connection issues we experienced last week: our colocation host has generously offered to help us out with this (thanks, Randy!).
As usual, we'll tweet from AO3_Status before we start and when we go back up, and we'll update there if anything unexpected happens.
- Fandoms, Fannish Practices, News of Note
- The end of the year always brings about many lists recognizing accomplishments, and quite a few sites make note of fans. VH-1 cited the Best Shipped Relationships of 2012 including both het and slash couples. "Maybe we just spent too much time on Tumblr over the last twelve months (we really, really did!), but 2012 seemed like a year where shipping was front and center. From New Girl to Sherlock, everywhere we looked shippers were building onto the fictional universes they loved, mostly with smooching. So we decided to pay homage to the most passionately shipped relationships of this year as part of our Best of 2012."
DMCA, Fan Videos, Intellectual Property, Legal Advocacy, Takedowns, Technology, YouTube, News of Note
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.