Activism

  • OTW Joins Project Secret Identity

    Kiri Van Santen - Czwartek, 28 sierpnia 2014 - 4:30pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    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 Fannews: Fans Getting Informed

    Claudia Rebaza - Środa, 30 lipca 2014 - 5:11pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    Banner by Sidhrat of one woman whispering to another who is cupping her ear.

    • When Amazon launched Kindle Worlds, OTW Legal offered advice to fans about its terms. Now, the OTW's ally organization, New Media Rights, has also examined the pros and cons of its publishing agreement with the post "Fine print to plain english: things to look out for as a Kindle World author."
    • The Bookseller's feature on author Rainbow Rowell's fanfiction past had an interesting response from J.K. Rowling’s literary agency, which set out guidelines for writers. "Our view on Harry Potter fan fiction is broadly that it should be non-commercial and should also not be distributed through commercial websites. Writers should write under their own name and not as J K Rowling. Content should not be inappropriate – also any content not suitable for young readers should be marked as age restricted.”
    • Jennifer Kate Stuller made available her keynote presentation on lessons learned from Whedonverse activism. "[T]his was the most personal presentation I’ve ever given, and I shared both strengths and vulnerabilities that I haven’t shared in a public forum before – doing so with the hope that personal braveries would have a communal impact. I looked out and saw a sea of tissues (and kerchiefs!) being drawn from bags and pockets. Hands and sleeves wiping eyes and noses. I was overwhelmed by your response (and might have missed a couple of sentences). More than that, your collective willingness to share your braveries, your sadnesses, your joys, your yearnings for connections and manifestations of love with me in that space proved what Tanya emphasized in her opening remarks – 'We’re here because of each other.'"
    • OTW Fan Video & Multimedia Chair Tisha Turk will be helping fans and the general public become more informed thanks to new award funding. "Despite the fact that vidding has been around for decades, little academic scholarship exists on the subject. Turk’s work will explore the rhetorical effects of images and music in vids, expanding and contributing to an underrepresented area of fan studies. Her findings will lead to a greater understanding of how media fans critically interact with digital entertainment."

    What lessons do you think need to be shared with fandom? 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 Fannews: Shining a Light

    Claudia Rebaza - Środa, 2 lipca 2014 - 4:03pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    Banner by James of a foggy view of trees

    • OTW Fan Video & Multimedia Committee Chair Tisha Turk gave an interview on "the past, present and potential future of vidding and remix culture, and the murky status of fair use – at least when it comes to monetized remixes on YouTube" as well as her own start as a vidder. Discussing copyright claims on fanwork, she said "One possible analogy would be, if I were making a quilt out of various bolts of fabric I purchased, and I cut these pieces, and I piece them together, and add the backing, and I make this lovely quilt, and the people who made the fabrics show up and say: 'I want a cut.' Or: 'You can’t have the profit, I made the fabric, so hand it over.’"
    • The Fandom Post discussed activism around female characters in Star Wars fandom. "Were we wrong to point out our concerns about the first cast photos? Wrong to express dissatisfaction over the lack of Leia in the first wave from the Disney Store? Wrong to share our disappointment that the Star Wars Rebels announcements included the women last and their action figures won’t happen until the second wave? Perhaps if only one of those things had happened, downplaying the outbreak of concern would make sense. It’s never just one thing, though...Staying silent and hoping for the best isn’t the way to create or support change. We need to speak up each and every time."
    • A post at Teleread expressed concern at how site changes can affect writer and reader interaction. "Nobody should have to deal with that kind of abuse, thick skin or not. And it’s sad that it seems to be coming more and more common. It’s in the same vein as the writer who received rape threats for criticizing a comic book cover. How obnoxious our culture has become. We’ve seen time and again that some people use anonymity as a license to be as nasty as they possibly can. It would be great if Fanfiction.net could restore the ability for authors to block anonymous reviews altogether if they wanted. At the very least, the default for reviews after 36 hours should be rejection, not acceptance."
    • A New York Times interview with showrunner Damon Lindelof explored the long-term effects of fan reaction. "Initially, for Lindelof, this kind of fame was very attractive — he interacted eagerly with the fan base of 'Lost,' stoking their expectations and ruminations about the show’s labyrinthine plot...'The longer you tell a story, the larger the stakes have to be,' he says. 'It’s no longer satisfying to say: Are these people who crashed in this plane going to make it out O.K.? Are they going to fall in love? Are they going to live? Are they going to die? It’s like no, are they going to save the world?' In the end, they did save the world, but the way they did it left some faithful viewers unhappy. Cuse has made his peace with this; Lindelof still hasn’t."

    What aspects of fandom do you want to shine a light on? Write about them on 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 Fannews: Fan activism

    Claudia Rebaza - Środa, 14 maja 2014 - 4:57pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    Banner by dogtagsandsmut of a black and white photo of protesters holdings signs along with images of peace sign, a heart, and an open book.

    • Indiewire hosted a post about a petition to the MTV Awards. The "Heroes" category overlooked an obvious candidate. "[I]t's still noteworthy that among MTV's 16 categories, the only other group without any female nominees is Best Male Performance. Katniss' exclusion, then, doesn't make sense from either a commercial point of view -- The Hunger Games was the highest-grossing film of 2013 -- or from a J. Law one, since the Oscar winner is nominated in four other categories...The character of Katniss is enough of a cultural touchstone that she appeared in one of the 'Heroes' montages at this year's Oscars, so MTV definitely done goofed."
    • A planned webseries on artists' rights seeks to educate viewers about copyright, the internet and creativity. "CopyMe is "an infographic-style animated webseries that deals with our modern attitude to copying. It assembles the most relevant information and makes it accessible to everyone" so that it "will appeal both to copyright literates, as well as to those with no previous knowledge on these topics. Our biggest goal is to raise awareness and highlight our concerns regarding the copyright realities of today."
    • A Wall Street Journal article about L.J. Smith quoted current and former OTW staffers, Heidi Tandy and Francesca Coppa. "'It feels like a land grab,' said Francesca Coppa...'Big companies are trying to insert themselves explicitly to get people who don't know any better to sign away rights to things that might be profitable.'" Indeed, the article notes that "Ms. Smith says that when she began publishing her Vampire Diaries fan fiction on Amazon this past January, she wasn't aware that she was giving up the copyright to those stories, too. Nor did she realize she'd be giving Alloy a cut of earnings from the new stories."
    • One of our favorite pieces of activism this week is a little biased. White Collar Vids created a vidlet for the OTW's October membership drive in 2012 -- take a look!

    What examples of fan activism have you seen? Write about them on 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.

  • Naomi Novik at House Judiciary Hearing

    Claudia Rebaza - Poniedziałek, 27 stycznia 2014 - 5:46pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    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'

    At 2 PM EST on January 28, former OTW board member Naomi Novik will be one of the witnesses in a hearing on The Scope of Fair Use. This hearing is being convened by the U.S. Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet (a Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary).

    The purpose of her appearance is to inform members of Congress about what fan creators do, and the importance and significance of fandom -- including culturally, educationally, and creatively. As the comments compiled by our Legal Committee for the NTIA/PTO demonstrated, remixes and fanworks are made by everyday people with things they have to say. The OTW wants to ensure that legislators understand this and also have an idea of the size of the fannish community and the value of its activities.

    This appearance follows the OTW's participation earlier this month in raising awareness about copyright issues and is part of the OTW's Legal Advocacy project to represent fans' interests in legal and government discussions about copyright's effects.

    Edited 28 January to add: Prepared statement by Naomi Novik

  • Copyright Week: Getting Copyright Right

    Claudia Rebaza - Sobota, 18 stycznia 2014 - 5:07pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    Copyright logo set on a yellow pixelated background

    The week of January 13-18 is being used by a number of legal advocacy organizations in the United States as a week of action to speak out about potential changes to copyright law. The dates were chosen so that the conclusion today coincides with the anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA blackout in which many organizations and companies, large and small, worked together to protest this misguided legislative proposal.

    A free and open Internet is essential to infrastructure, fostering speech, activism, new creativity and new business models for artists, authors, musicians and other creators. It must never be collateral damage in the copyright wars. All ideas and creations build upon each other and allow for both new creations and new ways of thinking. An open internet which fosters such communication allows for the expansion of ideas and culture.

    Copyright has a valid purpose in that fostering of creativity. It encourages artists, writers, etc. to develop new and original ideas which can then be experienced by others. It serves as a way to recognize individuals for their creative achievements. However, copyright should never be so restrictive as to limit creativity and stifle growth. The free sharing of ideas and thoughts in many ways should be used to create new works from new creators who can then obtain copyrights for those works.

    This balance between the rights of the creator and user have become more complex in our modern times as a free and open internet allow users to become creators through the creation of transformative works which derive from an original creation. Copyright should always encourage more creativity, not limit it. An open internet should also encourage creativity. Creativity in many ways drives both individuals and societies towards a better future through new ideas and inventions. We build upon old creations to make new creations and an open and free internet culture is crucial for this to happen.

    The OTW has taken various steps to "get copyright right" on behalf of fans:

    1) Via the Copyright Office, we have secured DMCA exemptions for fan creators so that video makers can use parts of their source in their works without being liable for copyright infringement.

    2) We have joined legal arguments that address encroachment on fair uses of copyrighted works.

    3) We have represented fans on academic and government panels that address existing or proposed legislation.

    4) We have submitted comments to governmental bodies that oversee and propose copyright regulations.

    5) We alert fans to new developments in cases that pertain to fair use, even if we are not participants, and we remain available to individual fans who have questions about fair use of materials.

    This week is one of many opportunities to "get copyright right" through interactions between fans and lawmakers, as well as informing the larger public about concepts such as fair use and the public domain. The OTW and other organizations taking part in Copyright Week want to help facilitate those interactions and spread greater awareness of laws surrounding the use of creative works.

  • Copyright Week: Fair Use

    Claudia Rebaza - Piątek, 17 stycznia 2014 - 5:18pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    Copyright logo set on a yellow pixelated background

    The week of January 13-18 is being used by a number of legal advocacy organizations in the United States as a week of action to speak out about potential changes to copyright law. The dates were chosen so that the week's conclusion on Saturday the 18th coincides with the anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA blackout in which many organizations and companies, large and small, worked together to protest this misguided legislative proposal.

    On each day this week, organizations will focus on a different aspect of copyright. Today we are focusing on Fair Use. The OTW was founded on the idea that fanworks are creative and transformative, and therefore are protected by Fair Use under US law. For that reason our Legal Advocacy project has been proactive in protecting and defending fanworks from commercial exploitation and legal challenge.

    In the United States, Fair Use is a part of the Copyright Act, which lists four factors the courts can look to in determining whether a work is Fair Use; they include (1) the purpose and character of the use (commercial nature, educational purposes, etc.); (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work. Courts have addressed these issues many times over the years, and many recent cases involving Fair Use have expanded the types of works that can take advantage of Fair Use protections. Only last year, the Southern District of New York found that Google Books' database of complete scans of fiction and nonfiction books was a transformative work, and Fair Use, because it “advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders.”

    This holding is in line with the OTW's longstanding view of transformative works and Fair Use, as our reading of U.S. law is that fan fiction and often other types of fanworks advance the progress of the arts (and sometimes sciences too), while respecting the rightsholders' ownership and ability to make commercial use of their intellectual property. Fair Use principles permit fans to create a wide range of transformative works without first seeking permission from rightsholders--including fanfic, fanart, vids, games, cosplay, fan films, ballets and stage plays. Noncommercial transformative works are generally permitted by Fair Use, but a lot of works within the Fair Use sphere are not also defined as transformative works.

    The OTW's various projects all feature the amazing works that can be created and shared under the umbrella of Fair Use, whether remembered in Fanlore, preserved by Open Doors, archived on the AO3, explored in Transformative Works and Cultures, or featured in our Test Suite of Fair Use Vids.

    Copyright Week is an important event for discussing how these laws and regulations impact citizens, but it's also an important opportunity for you to make your voice heard. You can help by:

    1) Visiting the Copyright Week site and signing on to endorse the principles being expressed by the OTW and other organizations.

    2) On that page you will find links to posts made by other groups that support a larger public domain, broader fair use, and open access. You can support the OTW or other groups working on your behalf.

    3) Retweeting, reblogging, or linking to posts about the issues being discussed during Copyright Week.

  • Copyright Week: Building a Robust Public Domain

    Claudia Rebaza - Wtorek, 14 stycznia 2014 - 5:56pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    Copyright logo set on a yellow pixelated background

    The week of January 13-18 is being used by a number of legal advocacy organizations in the United States as a week of action to speak out about potential changes to copyright law. The dates were chosen so that the week’s conclusion on Saturday the 18th coincides with the anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA blackout in which many organizations and companies, large and small, worked together to protest this misguided legislative proposal.

    On each day this week, organizations will focus on a different aspect of copyright. Today we are focusing on the importance of building and maintaining a robust public domain. A robust public domain is important for allowing public access to information and material, and also for promoting creativity.

    The term public domain means different things to different people, but it generally refers to works that are free to use and copy because they aren't protected by copyright exclusivity. This includes works that don't fall within the scope of copyright protection--for example, copyright doesn't protect ideas, only expressions--and it it includes works that were once protected by copyright, but whose copyright protection has expired. There are many famous examples of works that are in the public domain. Shakespeare’s works, Beethoven’s symphonies, and many silent films are all in the public domain. The expansion of the public domain is important because it allows for free access to a greater amount of works and information which can then be used to create new works. The OTW is a strong supporter of people's right to create new works based on old ones--and the public domain is an important piece of that.

    The public domain is itself threatened as countries extend copyright duration and the scope of copyright protection. In the United States, copyright expiration is very complicated, and depends on considerations like when a work was created, where the work was first published, and when (and if) the creator died. U.S. Copyright on new works lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator. If the work was a work for hire (e.g., those created by a corporation) then copyright persists for 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is shorter. This long term is the result of decades of legislative lengthening of copyright: The very first U.S. copyrights lasted only 14 years with the ability to renew the copyright for another 14 years.

    According to Bernt Hugenholtz and Lucie Guibault*, the public domain is under pressure from the "commodification of information" as items of information that previously had little or no economic value have acquired independent economic value in the information age, such as factual data, personal data, genetic information, and pure ideas. The commodification of information is taking place through intellectual property law, contract law, as well as broadcasting and telecommunications law. While there has been good news in regards to public domain with the recent Sherlock Holmes decision, the public domain is still threatened and should be protected.

    There are numerous important works which are in the public domain and have current remakes or remixes. One example is the TV show Sleepy Hollow, which is based on Washington Irving’s 1820 short story, as was the 1999 Tim Burton film of the same name. Washington Irving's own story may have been based on or inspired by Germanic folktales like The Wild Huntsman. Many of Disney's famous works were also based on folktales, and these have not only been used by numerous creators, but Disney itself has remixed a number of them in their TV series Once Upon a Time. The works of Shakespeare have been utilized many times, in many ways, including the play by Tom Stoppard, which in turn has its own fanworks.

    Cultures across the globe have been enriched by the use of their heritage as displayed through the medium of stories, religion and lore. New versions of characters and tales appear regularly and are able to garner new readers, watchers and creators.

    The OTW also supports the creation of transformative derivative works as fair use--a topic we'll be discussing in a future Copyright Week post. But broad Fair Use privileges are not a substitute for a robust public domain. Over time, works and characters become part of the public consciousness and should be uinambiguously free, not only for noncommercial transformative use, but also for copying and commercial use. A robust public domain permits people to have access to consume and create based on works they might not otherwise be able to afford, and allows people to create without having to wonder whether their creations are fair use.

    *Guibault, Lucy; & Bernt Hugenholtz (2006). The future of the public domain: identifying the commons in information law. Kluwer Law International.


    For more about this week of action, visit the Copyright Week site where links are being collected to various posts, whitepapers etc., and users and organizations are encouraged to endorse the principles. Participating organizations include Public Knowledge, Creative Commons, library associations, Ownership Rights Initiative, iFixit, Wikimedia, Your Anon News, and SPARC among others.

  • Tell the EU that you want copyright reform!

    Claudia Rebaza - Wtorek, 7 stycznia 2014 - 7:40pm
    Typ wiadomości:

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

    As many fans know from personal experience, copyright laws and their enforcement can be problematic when it comes to either serving creators or the public well. Currently, some groups in the European Union are looking for public input when it comes to their own experiences with copyright.

    These organizations, such as The Open Knowledge Foundation, are encouraging members of the public to fill out a questionnaire. With these responses they are hoping to begin action on copyright reform.

    "If the Commission gets lots of replies from citizens and NGOs, it must acknowledge that there is high interest in this topic. Only the Commission can start legislative initiatives on the European level, so we need to convince them that copyright reform is necessary."

    A variety of public input is needed to make clear how many ways that copyright can affect individuals on a personal level:

    "Many of us are involved in creative projects that are restricted by the current copyright regime. By sharing your personal issues with copyright in the consultation, you are giving the Commission insight into the wide variety of creative and innovative projects that are affected by copyright, not just those of big business."

    The questionnaire has a total of 80 questions but there is a guide available that will allow people to focus on issues close to their own experiences. Additional organizations are also encouraged to submit replies, but since the organizers are looking for a wide variety of input, interested fans in the EU are encouraged to participate.

  • OTW Fannews: Fandoms being seen

    Claudia Rebaza - Wtorek, 5 listopada 2013 - 10:03pm
    Typ wiadomości:

    Banner by Erin of the post title with a gun, ax, wand and notebooks plus the OTW logo

    • In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producer Jeff Eastin discussed fanfiction ships and their influence on his work. "White Collar still wins in terms of fan fiction, but I've seen quite a bit of fan fiction directed at Graceland. The Mike-Charlie 'ship seems to be very popular and after that it shifted pretty quickly to Mike and Paige, which was nice to see...I had heard of fan fiction but I never saw the extent that people went to. (Laughs.) Somebody on Twitter sent me a link to some of the better White Collar fan fiction, and once in a while, I'll check it out and see what people are saying. It's really fascinating to me and it's an interesting subculture that arises on a lot of these shows. In my opinion, if you have people who are [taking part], you've made it."
    • Britt Julious of WBEZ wrote about engaging in Scandal fandom through Twitter. "According to a 2009 study from the Pew Research Center’s Pew Internet and American Life Project, Twitter users are more likely to be African-American women. As well, according to a report from the New York Times of Nielsen ratings, 'Scandal is the highest rated scripted drama among African-Americans, with 10.1 percent of black households, or an average of 1.8 million viewers, tuning in during the first half of the season.'" Thus while the fandom can be seen among different generations in a household "My timeline explodes with chatter about the show, its characters, the clothing, and the music as it airs."
    • Julious also mentions Sleepy Hollow, whose fandom is growing quickly. "For a show that has only been on the air for four weeks—the fifth episode airs tonight—Sleepy Hollow's fan base is loud. That's, at least, what you would assume from the decibel level during the show's New York Comic Con panel." Actor Orlando Jones has been particularly engaged with the fandom, saying during the panel "'Fan art rocks! Who ships Ichabbie?' to rich crowd approval...The importance of shipping to the fan base was confirmed further when the next question came from someone who began, 'So if you’ve been paying attention at all to the Tumblr phenomenon of Sleepy Hollow, Icabbie is a huge deal.'"
    • Meanwhile the Harry Potter fandom continues to make news with its lobbying of Warner Brothers. Bustle wrote about the chocolate campaign. "There's always been an oft-spoken of symbiotic relationship between fans and the studios responsible for creating the work those fans love. There's also been an underlying tension. They create the work (or at least bring it to us), yes; but they're also the ones responsible for messing them up. And there are many scenarios that can carry the weight of this tension: The blundering of a book's canon, the mistreatment of a character, the failure of a studio to fully grasp the thematic elements that first made the source material so special, the list goes on and on. Each error can isolate the fan communities huddled around these works, particularly when that bungling of philosophy extends past the films themselves and into the marketing products sold and used in the real world."

    What examples have you seen of fandoms making themselves heard? Write about it on 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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