official logo of fair use and fair dealing week

OTW Legal Answers Your Fair Use Week Questions!

It’s Fair Use Week! On Monday, we invited you to ask us anything about fair use and fair dealing law as it applies to fandom, and said we’d answer your questions at the end of the week. True to our promise, here are the answers to your (paraphrased) questions!

With the caveat that this post should not be taken as legal advice–anyone seeking legal advice about specific situations is welcome to contact us, and we can help you find representation–let’s dive into the questions and answers!

Read More

OTW Needs Your Stories About Fanwork Takedowns

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

OTW Legal wants your stories!

Over the years, OTW Legal has spoken for fans and fanwork creators in comments to governments around the world including the U.S., the E.U., Australia, and South Africa. And we want your help to keep doing that! One topic that many governments around the world want to know about is the impact of copyright “notice and takedown” regimes. Notice and takedown regimes are part of the TPP and the laws of many countries, including the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Most recently, the European Commission has asked for comments on how intellectual property (IP) enforcement is working worldwide, with a particular interest in notice and takedown systems and “graduated response” (also sometimes known as “three-strikes”) systems that restrict people’s ability to post content after they receive multiple takedown notices.

So we want to collect stories from fans worldwide on how notice and takedown is impacting fandom. Have you, or anyone you know, been the subject of a takedown notice? What did you do about it? How did it feel? Have you had a fanwork of your own removed, or has a work you loved been removed? Tell us about it! Have you ever been concerned about notice and takedown, “graduated response,” or other potential consequences of posting fanworks? Let us know!

Please submit your stories about fanwork takedowns by February 28. We’ll use your stories to support our legal advocacy work.

Next month’s International Fanworks Day event will include a call for fan activism. Let us know that you took part in letting world governments know that fanworks are important to you.

OTW Fannews: Becoming the Norm

OTW Fannews banner blue background with cork board and the words Becoming the Norm in the foreground

  • Variety gave the entertainment industry a heads up on a critical fair use ruling in a case involving viral videos. Fair use is the key copyright provision protecting fanworks in the U.S. “‘Equals Three’s use of Jukin’s videos is admittedly commercial. Nevertheless, the commercial nature of the use is outweighed by the episode’s transformativeness,’ Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California wrote in the Oct. 13 decision. What makes the use ‘transformative’ is not clear-cut, the judge noted: ‘Determining whether Equals Three’s episodes parody Jukin’s videos is a difficult and nuanced task.’ But Judge Wilson ruled that even if Equals Three’s episodes are not parodies, the episodes comment on or criticize Jukin’s videos and are therefore allowable under fair use.”
  • An article in The Atlantic discussed the importance of the Google Books decision for fair use. “This isn’t only good news for fans of Google Books. It helps makes the legal boundaries of fair use clear to other organizations who may try to take advantage of it, including libraries and non-profits. ‘It gives us a better senses of where fair use lies,’ says Dan Cohen, the executive director of the Digital Public Library of America.” What’s more “Experts say that the Supreme Court is unlikely to hear an appeal, because so many district court judges, and two different federal circuits, have found themselves so broadly in agreement about the nature of transformative use online.”
  • Another writer in The Atlantic noted that transformative use is everywhere in both authorized and non-authorized forms today. “The question for authors to consider in this brave new world of mimicry, both professional and otherwise, is to what extent they consider their characters to be theirs and theirs alone. For most, it isn’t something that will become an issue during their lifetime: Copyright law stipulates that books only enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the author, even if most fanfic writers aren’t limited in terms of what they can post online.”
  • Digital Book World proposed that publishing focus on the content not the wrapper when producing work. “[F]an fiction has quite possibly become the biggest sleeper hit of the digital age. According to some estimates, around a third of all the content posted on Wattpad and Tumblr is created by fans. As a commercial proposition, fan fiction is embryonic, but I think publishers have a lot to learn from its speed and agility. Fan fiction stays close to its audience (indeed, creator and consumer are often indistinguishable), it centers on recognizable brands and it iterates quickly. And most importantly, it’s platform-neutral. The wrapper—whether this is a Tumblr post, Wattpad story or ebook—isn’t the end product; it’s a means of transmission.”

What do you think have been the key moments in the spread of fanworks? 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.