Announcement

  • Come to the Fanlore Editing Chat!

    By Kiri Van Santen on Wednesday, 8 October 2014 - 4:57pm
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    Banner by caitie with 'otw chat' at its center and emoticons and other symbols in word bubbles surrounding it.

    Are you new to creating entries on Fanlore? Have you been editing for a while but would like to talk to other people working on Fanlore?

    Whatever your connection to Fanlore, you are cordially invited to an editing chat for questions, discussions, or just to talk about Fanlore editing. The chat will be held on Saturday, October 11, 2014 from 6:30 to 8:30pm UTC (what time is that in my timezone?), in the Fanlore chat room on Campfire.

    Come join Wiki staffers, gardeners and fellow editors and find out more about how you can help develop the entries on Fanlore!

  • Calling all fan video makers! Tell us about your work!

    By Janita Burgess on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 - 5:17pm
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    OTW Announcement Banner by Diane

    The OTW's Fan Video & Multimedia Committee and Legal Committee are once again working to petition for a DMCA exemption granting vidders, AMV makers, and other creators of noncommercial remix video the right to break copy protection on media files. In 2010, we won the right to rip DVDs; in 2012, we got that exemption renewed and expanded to include digital downloads (iTunes, Amazon Unbox, etc.).

    This year, we'll not only be pushing to renew the exemptions we've already won in the last two rounds of DMCA rulemaking, but also pushing to add Blu-Ray and streaming services.

    And we need your help to do it! If you make or watch vids, AMVs, or other forms of fan video, we need you to tell us:

    1. Why making fan videos is a transformative and creative act;
    2. Why video makers need high-quality source;
    3. Why video makers need to be able to manipulate source (change speed and color, add effects, etc.);
    4. Why video makers need fast access to source (such as using iTunes downloads rather than waiting for DVDs);
    5. Why video makers need to be able to use Blu-Ray;
    6. Why video makers need to be able to use streaming sources; and
    7. Anything else you think we should keep in mind as we work on the exemption proposal.

    We're also looking for vids that we should add to the Fair Use Test Suite, and we'd love to have your suggestions.

    If you have thoughts about any or all of these topics, please send them by e-mail to the Legal Committee at legal at transformativeworks dot org or the Fan Video & Multimedia Committee at fanvideo-chair at transformativeworks dot org. You don't have to use your real name; we can use your name or pseudonym or describe you anonymously as "a vidder" or "a fan video artist."

    The DMCA is U.S. copyright law and only directly affects U.S. vidders, but it does potentially have ripple effects outside the U.S.: Strong DMCA exemptions help send the message that fan creativity should be protected everywhere. With that in mind, please feel free to send your thoughts even if you don't live in the U.S.

    Also, please help us signal-boost! This info is being posted to all the OTW and AO3 News sites; if you can think of other places the OTW should post, please let us know—and if you can spread the word in your own networks, on streaming sites, etc., please do.

  • Candidacy Deadline Extended

    By Kiri Van Santen on Monday, 29 September 2014 - 5:01pm
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    Banner by Diane of a 3 line checkbox with the choices 'OTW', 'Elections News' and a checkmark next to 'Make your voice heard'

    Elections Committee is happy to report that 3 candidates have so far come forward to declare candidacy for the Board of Directors.

    However, since that means we have the same number of candidates as open seats on the Board, we have extended the deadline by one week. The new deadline for declaring candidacy is October 3, 2014.

    We will be announcing the names of all candidates once this extended deadline is past. If, by the end of October 3, no new candidates have come forward, the election will not be contested.

  • Transformative Works and Cultures releases No. 17

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 - 4:57pm
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    Banner by Alice of a book/eReader with an OTW bookmark and a USB plug going into the spine.

    TWC has released No. 17, a general (unthemed) issue comprising seven full-length critical essays, six Symposium essays, two interviews, and three book reviews. The works loosely gather into themes of form and content—the title of Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson's editorial. The issue showcases a variety of investigations into a myriad of platforms. The issue features several essays that switch the focus from content to form and illustrate the importance of a range of different fan engagements. Fan fiction, fan films, fannish infrastructure, fan subs, and fan archives are all addressed in this issue.

    Several peer-reviewed essays look at the way fan fiction engages with its source texts as well as its surrounding fannish cultures.

    * Ann McClellan's "Redefining Genderswap Fan Fiction: A Sherlock Case Study" uses a transgender theory framework to look at genderswap fiction and the way it addresses issues of gender and identity.

    * Vera Cuntz-Leng's "Twinship, Incest, and Twincest in the Harry Potter Universe" looks at an individual fandom and its fan creations to investigate how the doubling motif gets repeated.

    * John Wei looks at Chinese Iron Man fan fiction in "Iron Man in Chinese Boys' Love Fandom: A Story Untold."

    * Douglas Schules's "How to Do Things with Fan Subs: Media Engagement as Subcultural Capital in Anime Fan Subbing" reads the practice of fan subbing as part of a complex system of subcultural capital.

    * Shannon Fay Johnson looks at fannish infrastructures in "Fan Fiction Metadata Creation and Utilization within Fan Fiction Archives: Three Primary Models."

    * Joshua Wille's "Fan Edits and the Legacy of The Phantom Edit" looks at fan remixes of one particular film—and one influential fan edit—to illustrate the artistic and creative importance of digital remixing.

    * Burcu S. Bakioglu's "Bull in a China Shop: Alternate Reality Games and Transgressive Fan Play in Social Media" analyzes how the video blogs of Lonelygirl15 constructed a narrative to invite maximum fan engagement.

    Two interviews appear in this issue. In their conversation with Sleepy Hollow's actor Orlando Jones, Lucy Bennett and Bertha Chin discuss his past year of "Exploring Fandom, Social Media, and Producer/Fan Interactions." TWC's book review editor, Louisa Stein, hosts a roundtable of various media scholars (including TWC coeditor Kristina Busse) reviewing Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green (NYU Press, 2013). Parts of this roundtable were originally published in Cinema Journal; TWC prints the extended, unabridged version.

    The three book reviews demonstrate the increased importance of fan studies. Anne Gilbert reviews Fanged Fan Fiction: Variations on Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries, by Maria Lindgren Leavenworth and Malin Isaksson (McFarland, 2013); Nicolle Lamerichs discusses Manga's Cultural Crossroads, edited by Jaqueline Berndt and Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (Routledge, 2013); and Lucy Bennett assesses Popular Music Fandom: Identities, Roles, and Practices, edited by Mark Duffett (Routledge, 2014).

    The next two issues of TWC, Nos. 18 and 19, will appear in the first half of 2015 as guest-edited special issues: Paul Booth and Lucy Bennett coedit a special issue on performance and performativity, and Anne Kustritz's special issue focuses on European fandom. Both these issues are closed to submissions.

    A future issue, guest edited by Ika Wills, on the Classical Canon and/as Transformational Work remains open for submissions. TWC No. 20 will be an open, unthemed issue, and we welcome general submissions. (Close date for the CFP is March 1, 2015).We particularly encourage fans to submit Symposium essays. We encourage all potential authors to read the submission guidelines. The close date for receipt of copy for No. 20 is March 15, 2015.


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

  • Welcome to OTW Elections Season!

    By Kiri Van Santen on Saturday, 13 September 2014 - 4:16pm
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    Banner by Diane of a 3 line checkbox with the choices 'OTW', 'Elections News' and a checkmark next to 'Make your voice heard'

    We’re very excited to announce the beginning of elections season and would like to issue you a warm welcome! The members of the OTW are entrusted with electing 3 new Board members yearly. In order to become a member, you can simply donate $10 or more to the OTW. This post will provide you with a basic overview of what the elections process will look like this year.

    What Potential Candidates Need to Know

    The Board handles strategic planning and decision making for OTW’s mission, budget, projects, and priorities. They monitor progress toward strategic goals and maintain OTW’s long-term focus. The Board also takes responsibility for organizational actions and ensures the organization’s legal compliance.

    Board terms are three years long. There are nine Board seats, three of which are up for election every year. If there are three candidates or less, all candidates will be elected automatically. If four or more candidates step forward, the election will be contested, and members will be able to vote on who will take the open positions. In case of a contested election this year, voting will be held November 14-16, 2014.

    Eligibility and Candidacy

    In order to be eligible to run for Board, a candidate must:

    • be a paid member of the OTW by 8 weeks prior to the election,
    • be at least 18 years old by the time of the election,
    • run under their legal name,
    • be a current staffer on a standing committee in the OTW,
    • not be a member of the Elections Committee during the year of candidacy (for 2014 elections, Jan 1, 2014 onward),
    • have served as a staffer for a total of 9 months (excluding hiatus) as of November 1 of that election year.

    The Elections Committee is now accepting candidacy declarations for 2014. Candidates must be a paid member by September 19, 2014, and they must declare their candidacy by September 26, 2014.

    Getting to Know the Candidates

    Candidates will provide a short biography summarizing their background in both their fandom and professional lives, aiming to show voters why they are suitable candidates for the Board. Candidates will also present a manifesto in the form of answers to a standard set of questions provided with the intent of expanding on what their relevant skills and experience are, as well as their vision for the OTW.

    We will also be hosting a number of open chats, of which every candidate is required to attend at least one. These will be a chance for everyone to ask questions that may not have been answered in the bios or manifestos, as well as follow-up questions. The chats also allow voters to see how the candidates interact, both with each other and with the public. Transcripts of the chats will be posted for the benefit of those who could not make it.

    Additionally, there will be a Q&A period. This will provide an opportunity for voters to follow up on questions from the manifestos or ask new questions that were not previously discussed, as well as allow the candidates to express their opinions in a situation that is not as immediate and high pressure as chats. Questions will be sent in over a set period of time and reviewed by the Elections Committee for repeats and similarities. The questions will be split into small batches of 3-5 questions, and each candidate can request a batch when they are sure they have the time to return the batch within 24 hours. The candidates will be given a certain amount of time to complete all the batches of questions, the length of which depends on the total number of questions.

    We will be posting more information regarding eligibility to vote and the deadlines for the election period in a few weeks. In the meantime, you can direct any questions you might have to the Elections Committee. We are looking forward to a great elections season, and we hope that you are, too!

  • OTW Legal Opposes Australian Copyright Proposal

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 7 September 2014 - 5:36pm
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    Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

    OTW Legal, jointly with Creative Commons Australia, contributed a Submission to the Australian Government’s Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper (available as a PDF) recommending against a proposal by the Australian government expanding the definition of "authorisation" liability for internet service providers. This would mean that, even if they couldn't stop individual infringements by individual users, they could have to change how their services operated, such as by shutting off internet access for accused infringers or by filtering users' activity.

    As our submission states, "The Australian Government’s proposal poses significant risks to creativity, free expression, and the flow of information, knowledge, and culture. In practical terms, ISPs and other online intermediaries are not in a good position to monitor and enforce copyright infringement. Copyright law is complex, and many of the decisions intermediaries are being asked to make require difficult evaluations of fact and law. In particular, private intermediaries should not be tasked with identifying whether a given use is validly licensed or legitimately used under one of the limitations to copyright, including fair dealing."

    Our submission emphasised the complexities in takedown requests, citing multiple examples of improper takedowns under US DMCA regulation, including an instance in which "a frequent submitter of DMCA notices submitted a DMCA notice seeking removal of a screenshot of an online discussion criticizing him for submitting overreaching DMCA notices."

    The Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance, although at first supporting the government's proposal, later withdrew their support. "The MEAA represents a broad range of the creative industry including journalists, actors, dancers, photographers, and people in film and TV," but "the union said in a statement that it did not intend to have its support for the government's proposal to be intepreted as support for an internet filter."

    Dangers to innovation

    The OTW's position is that the Australian government's proposal creates a chilling effect. "Notices that incorrectly allege infringement for legitimate expression" are likely to frighten "ordinary creators and users of copyright expression" into self-censorship. "Educational institutions in particular are likely to be extremely risk-averse, despite the importance of critical commentary and engagement with existing knowledge and cultural works to education."

    By putting an undue burden on individual users, "ordinary speakers who lack access to traditional publishing venues" are unlikely to have "legal training or resources to defend themselves. Thus they are likely to go unchallenged, and the relevant speech permanently suppressed. The problem is especially acute for marginalized speakers, such as women and people of colour, who already face cultural pressures against speaking out and are less likely to contest takedown notices."


    OTW's Legal Advocacy project is part of the Organization for Transformative Works, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We exist entirely on the generosity of our donors. If you would like our work to continue, please consider donating today.

  • OTW Celebrates its 7th Anniversary

    By Kiri Van Santen on Friday, 5 September 2014 - 4:48pm
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    graphic by Rachel G announcing our 7th anniversary

    From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

    Today's post is by Flourish Klink, who has a broad perspective on fandom. Among her accomplishments she is Chief Participation Officer for The Alchemists, a franchise content company; was a co-founder of FictionAlley; and has lectured at MIT, teaching classes in transmedia storytelling, fan culture, and media studies.

    Why does the OTW matter?

    Not so many years ago, cease and desist letters sent to fans were a regular cost of doing business. Today, they're a scandal. Not so many years ago, fanfic was a closely guarded secret. One didn't simply let one's professional identity become tainted by one's fanworks. Now, a growing number of fans don't see it as problematic to use their professional names and identities at all. (I'm one of them.) Not so many years ago, it was “common knowledge” that fanfic was illegal. Now, few people would try to make that (unsubstantiated) argument.

    Mashups are an expected part of your workout mix. Jezebel writes about knotting. The Big Bang Theory brings nerd culture to prime time TV. Diane Von Furstenberg designs Google Glass frames, and all our favorite celebrities read fanfiction about them aloud and joke about it in interview upon interview. Your cousin sends you “Closer,” which he found on Reddit, and even seems to get what it's about. This is the future; geek is chic; remixes are expected; who needs the OTW?

    I do. And you do. And, although they might hate to admit it, the entertainment industry does.

    The OTW's work in creating and maintaining a vidding exemption from the DMCA is a perfect example. Though the entertainment industry long ago left behind personalized, combative cease and desist letters, YouTube takedowns produce the same chilling effect–and we no longer have the ability to speak to real humans about those takedowns, at least not easily. We are stuck in computer hell. Without the OTW's work and the work of other similar organizations, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we as fans would be at the mercy of corporations, whose only goal is profit.

    I'm not trying to say that there's something inherently wrong with profit. I'm a partner in my company, myself, and I like profit as well as the next capitalist. But when you build a conglomerate with thousands of employees in every division, it doesn't matter that the folks who run social media are saying “let the fans do their thing; fans are our bread and butter!” The lawyers don't know the people who run social media, and the lawyers' job is to be as conservative as possible, to assert the company's intellectual property rights as strongly as possible. And fandom, for all that we are vocal, is still a small percentage of the total viewership of movies like Guardians of the Galaxy or shows like Teen Wolf. We need to organize. We need to legitimize ourselves in their eyes. We need to speak their language. The OTW does that wonderfully well.

    Of course, the OTW's work goes far beyond just fighting for fans' rights. We could talk about Transformative Works and Cultures, which as an open-access journal can be read by anybody–including the fans that the articles in it are about. We could talk about Fanlore and the Archive of Our Own, sites which are transparently run and which guarantee that the fanworks stored in them won't be repurposed for someone else's profit. We could talk about the incredible task of preserving and cataloging zines.

    These are crucial projects, any one of which would be a tremendous contribution to fandom. But the fact that a single organization is behind them means that they're worth more than the sum of their parts. And the fact that many different fandoms are represented in the OTW's projects and the OTW's concerns is even more powerful. Fandoms that are newer, smaller, or less organized can, through the OTW, benefit from the power of large and well-established fandoms. It's a similar concept to the one that inspired labor unions. And if there's one thing Hollywood understands, it's unions.

    What's funny is that as the entertainment industry is changing, Hollywood needs to understand its fandoms–in all their various complexities–more than ever. The traditional methods of financing television, especially, are beginning to collapse, and the industry is searching for new metrics that almost always privilege active audiences–that privilege fandom. For instance, Variety is beginning to publish audience engagement ratings, and I can't count the number of times someone has told me “we're seeking to build a fandom for our show...” But unless fan voices are not just heard but listened to, it's not likely that these efforts will be effective. They might even spell a worse environment for fans and fandom, as the rush to monetize fan culture begins.

    So let's celebrate the OTW on its anniversary! Here's to another seven years of free thinking, of using transformative works for critique and celebration! And here's to fan culture, built by fans and for fans!

  • OTW Joins Project Secret Identity

    By Kiri Van Santen on Thursday, 28 August 2014 - 4:30pm
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    image of three super hero-style eye masks

    The OTW is partnering with the EFF, io9, Wattpad, The Baker Street Babes, The Harry Potter Alliance, and Southeastern Browncoats to sponsor Project Secret Identity, a cosplay photo campaign to raise awareness of how anonymity and privacy are key to free expression.

    Fans have long embraced pseudonyms. They allow us to participate in fandom without fear of harassment or discrimination in our offline lives. Project Secret Identity is an opportunity for us to advocate for ourselves and protect our right to anonymity.

    During Dragon Con in Atlanta, Aug. 29 – Sept. 1, you can either submit your cosplay photo with an Internet freedom slogan, or take a photo at one of the Secret Identity photo stations at the convention: EFF (Table 7 at the Hilton) or Southeastern Browncoats (Table #1000 at AmericasMart).

    You can also join the campaign from anywhere in the world by uploading your photo at the Project's website. We hope you'll take part!

  • OTW 2014 Board Retreat

    By Kiri Van Santen on Saturday, 2 August 2014 - 4:31pm
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    The 2014 OTW Board Retreat will be held in October 3 - 5, 2014, in Silver Spring, MD. It will be a meeting of the Board of Directors and the Strategic Planning Committee, with members from the Legal Committee and the Volunteers & Recruiting Committee in attendance as well. Board has also asked a communications facilitator to attend.

    The goals of the retreat are for us to come up with a basic strategic plan for the organization, as well as work with the communications facilitator so everyone in attendance will come away with improved communication and mediation skills. We also plan to produce a high level overview document with recommendations regarding the OTW's structure, including multiple options for personnel to consider and on which input will be invited and incorporated.

    From the inception of the strategic planning process, this has been the advertised outcome, with a final goal of developing a three to five year plan for the future of OTW. This is standard practice within nonprofits across the world, and it is the mission and purpose of the Board of Directors to develop and direct the long-term progress of the organization.

    The OTW Board of Directors often finds ourselves saying, "We're not a regular nonprofit Board" and "We don't do what nonprofit Boards do." We hope that with the help of the other attendees of the retreat, we will be able to set the OTW on a direction toward meeting the best practices of nonprofits.

    We have many reasons for wanting to do this; primarily, though, our reason is the health of the organization -- specifically the people who make up the organization. Without volunteers, the OTW is nothing at all, and if we can't take care of our volunteers and address the problems that have been brought to our attention, why should volunteers stay with the OTW? We want to make strides in volunteer happiness, safety, and retention; that is the ultimate goal of 2014's Board of Directors.

    Along with the Board retreat, we will be holding another “A Meet-Up Of Our Own” party so that any interested people -- fans, OTW members, fellow OTW volunteers -- can join us in Silver Spring. We’ll be providing more details on that as soon as we have a firm schedule for the event.

  • OTW files amicus brief in Capitol Records vs Vimeo

    By Janita Burgess on Thursday, 31 July 2014 - 5:11pm
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    OTW Spotlight on Legal

    Together with a number of allies, OTW's Legal Committee filed an amicus brief Wednesday in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Capitol Records v. Vimeo. The case began when the record labels sued Vimeo, alleging that a number of fanworks hosted on Vimeo's site infringed the record companies' copyrights.

    At this stage of the case, the question before the court has to do with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)'s "safe harbor" provision, which protects content hosts like Vimeo (and the AO3) from copyright liability for material posted by their users. Specifically, the court is addressing what constitutes "red flag" knowledge of infringing material that would require the hosting service to remove the material even without receiving a takedown notice. In the brief, the OTW and its allies argue, among other things, that the standard set by the trial court would place unreasonably high demands on sites that host user generated content and would chill valuable speech protected by the fair use doctrine.

    One of our partners, the EFF, has posted about the filing, stating "The safe harbors are critical to the Internet's success as a forum for innovative art, discussion, and expression of all kinds, forestalling crippling litigation that would force most websites to close their doors. Yet the district court created new liability, contrary to the law and the intent of Congress."

    Our joint brief highlights the value of fanworks and remix creativity, and explains how increasing liability for content hosts would chill creativity and undermine the objectives of the DMCA's safe harbor provisions, saying:

    "The burden would be especially significant for the many small and nonprofit platforms that host remix videos. Such videos often include music from a variety of sources, but the staff that run these sites won’t necessarily be music specialists able to determine when a given track was recorded. Indeed, many remix videos include multiple tracks, making the task still more challenging. The effect of this significantly increased cost and burden, combined with the accompanying uncertainty about potential liability for pre-1972 audio, would almost inevitably be to chill investment in or development of innovative services that might include such content. That chill, in turn, will inevitably stifle the creative works that depend on those services to reach an audience."

    We will keep fans informed on future developments in this case.

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