Intellectual Property

  • Contribute to Fanworks Taught Me

    Di Sarah Remy il mercoledì, 2 settembre 2015 - 4:08pm
    Tipo di post:

    red and white banner, two people speaking, OTW in both word bubbles

    In July, the OTW joined with The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and fans from around the world to promote their Fan Works Are Fair Use (FWAFU) campaign. Part of the OTW's mission since its founding has been to support transformative works that manifest as fanfiction, fanart, fan films, discussion communities, cosplay and other forms of fannish creativity. With the HPA, we are working to build a community of 5,000 fans and fan creators interested in protecting all types of fan-made works.

    The campaign has launched with a celebration of fanworks on social media. Using #FanWorksTaughtMe, fans are discussing the different skills, perspectives, and communities they have gained from fanworks that they love. Contributions span from tweets to videos and are shedding light on how fans use fanworks to build their confidence, refine their skills, explore issues like race and gender, understand the perspectives of others, and more.

    Several artists and fan creators are already celebrating fanworks through the campaign. Sleepy Hollow’s Orlando Jones has signed on as a spokesperson for the campaign, along with FictionAlley co-founder/original OTW Legal Committee member Heidi Tandy, wizard rockers Harry and the Potters, YouTubers Kristina Horner and Lauren Fairweather, and novelist Naomi Novik, one of the OTW's founders.

    Fandom is not a passive experience. Today, fan creators actively help to bring in new fans and add to new energy that benefits the source material and its creators. The FWAFU coalition believes that this culture is worth celebrating and protecting. If you’ve ever enjoyed a piece of fan work, you probably do, too. Visit to join the community and add your voice to the celebration using the hashtag #FanWorksTaughtMe.

    Fan Works Are Fair Use grew from the fact that, under US copyright law, it is fair to use copyrighted material for certain uses, including commenting on the original, which is usually the purpose or inspiration behind fanworks. Fan Works Are Fair Use and the #FanworksTaughtMe hashtag inform fans of their right to be creative, and support changes to US copyright law that protect original content creators as well as fan creators who produce beloved parodies, homages, and works of art honoring the source material.

  • OTW Fannews: Staying Vigilant

    Di Elise Thrasher il domenica, 30 agosto 2015 - 7:04pm
    Tipo di post:

    Text backgound overlayed with a Batman Mask alongside the article title OTW Fannews: Staying Vigilant

    • The Japan News posted a story about how a Trans-Pacific Partnership crackdown could affect fanfiction publishing. "[T]he 12 nations engaged in the TPP negotiations are building a consensus that would allow for prosecution of copyright infringement without the need for a formal complaint, but instead based on reports from third parties or an independent judgement by an investigative authority." This contrasts with Japan's current system, "copyright infringement can only be investigated after a formal complaint from the creator of the original work or its rights holder."
    • Changes to their system would also allow for many false claims to result in takedowns. Kotaku reported on the widespread action against videos that had no connection to copyrighted content. "Last week, the anti-piracy firm Entura International, which frequently works with Pixels distributor Columbia Pictures, filed a big old DMCA complaint—as first reported by TorrentFreak—that goes after a bunch of videos not for pirating or violating copyright in any way, but for using the word “Pixels,” which it turns out was invented in 2015 by Adam Sandler."
    • The Daily Dot reported on an alarming development connected to Windows 10's End User License Agreement. "Microsoft won't hesitate to make sure the programs and games you have installed on your computer are legitimate, and if not, it has the right to disable them." The agreement includes preventing "unauthorized hardware peripheral devices" but who determines legitimate use could be a problem.

    What areas do you think fans should remain vigilant about? Write about them 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 Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • Help Bring Fair Use to South Africa

    Di Janita Burgess il venerdì, 28 agosto 2015 - 4:27pm
    Tipo di post:

    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

    South Africa is considering adopting a fair use provision in its copyright law, and supporters want to ensure that the law actually protects fair use.

    The South African government is accepting comments regarding the proposed provision until Sept. 16 (the deadline has been extended). OTW Legal will file a supporting comment, and stories from South African fans about how making and/or consuming fanworks have benefited them would be particularly useful.

    Legal has asked fans to share their positive experiences with fanworks, and your stories were amazing. Now, we want to hear from South African fans. How have fanworks enriched your life? Send your response to our Legal Committee or rlt26 [at]

  • OTW Fannews: Asking and Getting

    Di Claudia Rebaza il giovedì, 30 luglio 2015 - 4:06pm
    Tipo di post:

    Banner by Ania of tiny stormtroopers putting out candles on a cake

    • The Daily Dot discussed Funimation's fanart stance with OTW Legal staffer Rebecca Tushnet. "'[I]t’s notable that there’s no mention of fair use...Fan art can be non-infringing fair use; elements of whether it is fair use include how transformative it is (how much new meaning and message it adds); whether it’s commercial or not; and whether it displaces a market for 'official' goods.' So it doesn't matter that they've declared they won't be going after commercially sold fanart? Not necessarily, according to Tushnet: 'It somewhat depends on what they actually do, but they are clearly claiming that fan art is in fact infringing copyright, even if they indicate they usually tolerate it. So I wouldn’t feel very reassured by this statement.'"
    • Perhaps JK Rowling's embrace of her fandom was key in a Fox Sports story about a fan whose fannishness influenced the University of Kentucky 2015 yearbook. "Towles has said that he's read each book in the series at least seven times and can 'quote the whole thing,' referring to the movies. And to take his fandom a step further, he annually celebrates Harry Potter's mythical birthday on July 31." The article concluded, "Harry Potter fan or not, you've got to appreciate the passion that led to...a yearbook titled 'Patrick Towles and the Order of Kentucky Football.'"
    • The Debrief reported on One Direction's new charity initiative, Action 1D. "Action1D is part of a brilliant wider campaign called Action/2015 which is all about the fact 2015 is the year loads of global issues begin to get resolved...What do Directioners need to do to save the world? Create pictures, videos, whatever, telling the boys what they want the future of the world to look like. Harry, Niall, Liam and Louis will then help put pressure on our leaders."
    • NPR featured a story on filmmaker Jennifer Nelson who is suing Warner/Chappell Music to make the song 'Happy Birthday' available for everyone. "If Nelson and her lawyers win, the song will be in the public domain. 'I think it's going to set a precedent for this song and other songs that may be claimed to be under copyright, which aren't," says [Nelson's lawyer]. As for Nelson, she jokes that if her lawsuit succeeds, 'People will be so sick of the 'Happy Birthday to You' song, because everybody will get to use it, finally.'"

    What fan charity efforts do you know about? Write about them 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 Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Joins Save The Link

    Di Kiri Van Santen il mercoledì, 29 luglio 2015 - 3:56pm
    Tipo di post:

    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'

    The OTW is proud to join the Save The Link campaign. The campaign, led by Open Media International, stands for the proposition that linking is the foundation of the Web and is essential to freedom of expression online. The OTW, together with the other Save the Link members, believe it is wrong to censor links to content or otherwise penalize services for utilizing hyperlinks.

    The Save the Link campaign is a global response to attempts in various places around the world to block sites, block links, and limit the way people can link to news sites. Of particular relevance to to fans and fan culture are recent attempts in the European Union and Australia to make websites liable for the content on the other end of every single link posted using their platform, and to legally block websites that even do as little as linking to infringing content. We are glad to be part of a group of vigilant watchers who will help us inform the public about such reactionary policies.

    To find out more, visit the Save the Link Campaign at and watch its video on YouTube.

  • OTW Legal Staffers Participate in SDCC "Fandom is My Fandom" Panel

    Di Janita Burgess il venerdì, 24 luglio 2015 - 5:18pm
    Tipo di post:

    SDCC Fandom is My Fandom panelists.

    At this year's San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), OTW Legal Chair Betsy Rosenblatt participated in the Fandom is My Fandom panel, moderated by Legal's Heidi Tandy.

    Betsy and Heidi were joined by Amanda Brennan (Community and Content Tumblarian), Flourish Klink (Chaotic Good, Inc., Transmedia Producer for East Los High), Meredith Levine (Fanthropologist, ZEFR), Aron Levitz (Head of Business Development, WattPad), Elizabeth Minkel (Writer, New Statesman/The Millions), and Missyjack (aka Jules) (Founder, Supernatural Wiki).

    A video of the panel is now available for public viewing.

    The panel discussed how fandom has changed now that fanworks are in the spotlight on social media and mainstream news and are being acknowledged by the companies that create and distribute source material. The panelists reflected on how advances in technology and improved understanding in copyright law, particularly in the area of fair use, have increased fandom's public reach and placed fanworks into the public consciousness.

    Panelists noted that fandom is even inspiring developments in law: in 2013, Holmesian scholar Leslie Klinger and author Laurie R. King received a "cease and desist" letter from the Conan Doyle Estate, ahead of the publication of their second anthology of stories inspired by the Holmes canon. Klinger successfully sued the Estate, claiming the copyright had expired on all of the story elements included in the anthology. Because of Klinger, all but the last ten Holmes stories are now officially part of the public domain, allowing fanfiction authors to publish and even sell works based on the majority of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and novels.

    Many fanwork creators prefer to stay non-commercial, though, whether to be better able connect directly with their audience; to use fanworks as a "training ground" for skills that can be used professionally; to avoid legal risks; or simply because they prefer to participate in a gift and generosity based economy and community.

    The panel pointed out that the companies behind commercial works are increasingly interested in fandom and fanworks, sometimes even offering fanwork contests. Because of this, many fanwork creators no longer feel the need to hide their work from "the powers that be" and can enjoy participating in these contests, provided that they are able choose what and when to share. Companies may use these contests both as a way to reward fans for their enthusiasm and as an additional source of metrics to gauge consumer engagement. The panel suggested that, while fans often appreciate nods to fanwork in their favourite source material (e.g. Supernatural meta episodes, characters referring to tumblr, etc.), they also want space to engage in fandoms without needing acknowledgement or approval from creators of source material.

    The increased visibility of fanwork has allowed mainstream creators to acknowledge their fannish pasts. As fanwork becomes better understood by people outside of the fandom community, we hope that stigma will decrease, and that the myriad forms of fannish engagement and creation will be met with the appreciation and respect they have always deserved.

  • OTW Joins Re:Create Coalition

    Di Kiri Van Santen il mercoledì, 8 luglio 2015 - 4:23pm
    Tipo di post:

    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'

    For years, we at the OTW have been fighting for copyright laws that make room for fans to express themselves through fanworks. We haven't been alone in this fight: over the years, we've partnered with groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Library Association, and others to argue that the law should encourage a wide range of creation and expression, including the fair use of material created by others.

    Now, we're officially coming together with a network of organizations that believe, like we do, that U.S. copyright law should reflect the diversity of the creators, innovators, and consumers who make, use, remake, and reuse creative expression; that U.S. copyright law should not stand in the way of free expression worldwide; and that fair use is a vital component of a balanced copyright law. In March, we joined members of this group in sending a letter to the U.S. Congress encouraging balanced copyright policies -- and we're very happy to continue that work with a great group of partners.

    “Fanworks serve a unique and important role in our society and must be protected. Fair use is a critical right that permits the public to use portions of copyrighted material without permission, under certain circumstances, from the copyright owner. Whether it be an adapted story with our favorite characters or an app for our phones, fair use makes creativity and innovation possible. Re:Create is excited to welcome OTW to the coalition and we look forward to all that we will accomplish together,” said Tina Pelkey, a spokesperson for Re:Create.

    Find out more about the Re:Create coalition and its work at its site, and watch this space for news of coalition activities and opportunities.

  • OTW Joins Fanworks Are Fair Use

    Di Claudia Rebaza il giovedì, 2 luglio 2015 - 4:11pm
    Tipo di post:

    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

    Our friends at the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) have launched a new project, one that goes to the core of our mission here at the OTW and the Archive of Our Own. Fanworks Are Fair Use is a community of fan creators, readers, artists, and enthusiasts who are committed to the protection and preservation of fair use law. The HPA's goal is in line with ours here at the OTW; since 2007 we have worked to eliminate negative stigmas about fanfiction, fan art, and other fan creations and support those works and their creators in the eyes of mainstream media.

    We are pleased to come onboard and work with the HPA on this important issue.

    One of the principles of the OTW is that fanworks are legal under U.S. copyright law; earlier this year, we focused on fair use as part of Fair Use Week- the OTW FAQ explains how fair use is a lawful use of a third party's copyright, and how it protects free expression by giving people the legal right to use copyrighted material in certain ways without getting permission or paying.

    As the HPA writes, "fan works add value to the source materials on which they’re based" and "help shape and energize the culture that surrounds popular narratives."

    Join us in supporting the HPA's Fan Works Are Fair Use community - they'll be sharing information and resources throughout the year on how all of us can make sure that fair use continues to be a lawful use of copyrights. On Twitter, tumblr, Facebook and other social media sites, you can share your own #FanworksTaughtMe story with that hashtag for the project to reblog, retweet or showcase. And if you're attending San Diego Comic Con, join the Legal Committee's Betsy and Heidi on Thursday at Fandom Is Our Fandom, and Heidi and the HPA's Jack Bird on Sunday at the Potterverse Fandom Panel to learn more about #FanworksAreFairUse.

  • OTW Fannews: Fitting Tributes

    Di Claudia Rebaza il martedì, 30 giugno 2015 - 4:08pm
    Tipo di post:

    Banner by Soy Alex of three trophy cups with the title 'OTW Fannews: Fitting Tributes'

    • The OTW is thrilled to announce that past Legal Committee chair and current Legal staffer, Rebecca Tushnet, is being honored by Public Knowledge. She will be one of the recipients of their 12th Annual IP3 Award. The ceremony will be held in Washington D.C. on September 24. "The IP3 Awards are a special occasion to honor those who have made significant contributions in the 3 areas of IP: Intellectual Property, Information Policy and Internet Protocol."
    • A nominee for the Creative Blogger Award recently posted to share some thoughts about writing. "I find inspiration from things I love. Like many people of my generation, my first taste in writing for a public forum came from fanfiction. I still write fanfiction now. The things I love such as Jane Austen, music, travelling, and Buffy inspire me to write poetry, fanfiction, or even my blog entries. If you want to find inspiration, start with what you love. And yes, I consider fanfiction to be creative."
    • The Reda Report summed up recent developments in the European Parliament regarding copyright. "For the first time, the Parliament asks for minimum standards for the rights of the public, which are enshrined in a list of exceptions to copyright that up to now have been completely optional for the Member States to implement. The report stresses that the use of these exceptions may not be hindered by restrictive contracts and that DRM may not restrict your right to make a private copy of legally acquired content." Of particular interest to OTW News readers who answered our call for comments, mention of the response total was cut from the copyright evaluation report. The Commission received 9,500 replies, 58.7% of which were from end users.
    • The Arizona Republic featured discussion of a play focusing on fandom. "The show opens Saturday, June 13, at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, and admission is free for anyone who comes dressed as a favorite character from movies, comics and books." Some of the performers discussed the importance of fandom. "All have their own connections to fan culture, including Sullivan, who grew up watching 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and wrote her first fan fiction as a crossover between the 'Sweet Valley High' and 'The Baby-Sitters Club' youth-novel franchises. Now, she says, 'I think I am starting to become a fangirl for fan culture, because talking with anyone about what they are passionate about is one of the greatest conversations you can have. It really gives you an insight into who they are.'"

    What recognitions have you seen fans and fanworks receive? Write about them 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!

  • OTW Fannews: Fandom Pushback

    Di Kelly Ribeiro il venerdì, 12 giugno 2015 - 5:04pm
    Tipo di post:

    Star Trek

    • Some months ago, OTW Legal submitted an amicus brief in the case of Garcia v Google. Now the Ninth Circuit has reversed a panel opinion granting an injunction against Google, on the ground that an actor’s performance was not separately protected by copyright and that the First Amendment should have precluded an injunction. This is a great result for free speech on the internet!
    • In other legal news impacting fans and fandom The Telegraph revealed a proposal for police monitoring of fandom during the late 1990s. "It has emerged that Scotland Yard kept a secret dossier on Star Trek, The X-Files, and other US sci fi shows amid fears that British fans would go mad and kill themselves, turn against society or start a weird cult. The American TV shows Roswell and Dark Skies and the film The Lawnmower Man were also monitored to protect the country from rioting and cyber attacks."
    • The police have hardly been the only ones to mischaracterize fannish practices, as a Gizmodo article assigned credit/blame to X-Files fans for changing fandom. The entertainment industry was slower to change. "Even though the show’s crew was largely interested in the online fandoms, 20th Century Fox took a far harder stance, especially towards fan sites sharing unauthorized images of Mulder and Scully. Fans organized, fighting for their right to post artwork and stories about their favorite characters. Without pushback, the studio could’ve stymied the fan fiction community— as well as remix culture, which is also sometimes attacked as derivative— before it had a chance to take off."
    • On the other hand, Quartz singled out women's continuing contributions to fandom. "Women make up half the human race—including their perspectives makes for richer, better stories. But more than that, the presence of women in fandoms serves as a constant counterpoint to the dreary stereotype of sexless, gross guys huddling in their mothers’ basements. Geeks were never really like that to begin with: all sorts of people have always loved Dr. Who and Mr. Spock and Wonder Woman. The greater visibility of fangirls helps geekdom in general, by showing that there’s no one way to be a fan."

    When have you seen fans push back? Write about those events 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 Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.


Subscribe to Intellectual Property