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Fanworks, Fair Use, and Fair Dealing

It’s Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week!

We here at the OTW talk a lot about how most fanworks are legal under copyright law, but we know that most people find copyright law a little bit mysterious. One reason for that is that the answer to most legal questions is “maybe.” This is particularly true for questions about the copyright doctrines of fair use and fair dealing, which are the doctrines that make (most) fanworks legal as a matter of copyright law.

So to celebrate Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, we wanted to provide some answers to one of the questions we get most often: Why are Fanworks (Usually) Fair Use?

U.S. (and several other countries’) copyright law is limited by the doctrine of “fair use,” which protects free expression by giving people the right to use copyrighted material in certain ways without getting permission or paying. The doctrine of “fair dealing” does the same thing in Canada, the UK, and a number of other countries. Courts in the U.S. have held that fair use is “not merely excused by the law, it is wholly authorized by the law.”

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This Week in Fandom, Volume 35

Each week, the OTW’s ‘This Week in Fandom’ roundup presents some of week’s most interesting fannish occurrences. We link articles about fandom, embed examples of fannish social media trends, and we always ask you to contribute your experiences in the comments. This week is all about how you (yes, you!) can contribute to the growing and glorious field of fan studies.

Since 2008, the OTW has published a peer-reviewed academic journal called Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), which seeks to promote scholarship on fanworks and practices. The journal currently has three open calls for papers, which means that there’s never been a better time for you to submit your work!

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