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July 2016 Newsletter, Volume 104

I. OTW LEGAL DEFENDING FANDOM

In July, Legal worked with several allies to file an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands. In the brief, we argued that copyright law should not be expanded to include garment designs. The case is about cheerleading uniforms, but some have argued that it could have an impact on cosplay. Regardless of the outcome of the case, the OTW strongly believes that cosplay and other fan costuming and building pursuits will still be allowed under the law, but this brief sends an important message about the value of fan creativity surrounding apparel and industrial design.

Early in the month, Legal wrote about CBS/Paramount’s new “Fan Film Guidelines”. As usual, in July Legal also responded to several queries from fans, many of which concerned those guidelines. The guidelines were also a big topic of discussion at San Diego Comic Con, where Legal Chair Betsy presented on a panel entitled “Comic Book Law School 303: New Revelations.” The panel discussed fair use, fan films, fanart, and other “hot” topics. Also at San Diego Comic Con, OTW allies the Re:Create Coalition unveiled “A Day in the Life of Fair Use: A Different Kind of Superhero at Comic-Con,” showing a few ways that copyright fair use makes events like Comic Con possible.

July also saw the culmination of some work that Legal has been doing for the past few months, with help from students at American University Washington College of Law’s Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic. We successfully petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel trademark registration of the word “fandom” for entertainment services. Just one more success in our effort to combat commercial appropriation of fandom and fan culture!

II. IMPROVING ACCESS TO OTW CONTENT

Journal has gone into production for the Transformative Works and Cultures September 15 issue, which is going to be a big one, with lots of great essays. TWC was also accepted into the Directory of Open Access Journals, which is great news, because the DOAJ shares their journals’ metadata with a number of aggregators. That means that students or faculty who search for fan studies articles in libraries will be more likely to find content published in Transformative Works and Cultures!

Translation gained a new co-chair this month, SunnyB, who’s spent the last couple of months in chair track training. They’ve also been collaborating with Elections and have started translating content for the upcoming Board elections in September. Translation also helped AO3 Support answer a total of 37 tickets last month, which is an all-time high!

Webs has been busy welcoming new members, and is hard at work setting up training materials, guiding new staff, and working on documentation. The influx of new staff has enabled them to begin setting up an on-call rotation to give everyone a chance to participate as well as have some days off.

III. AT THE AO3

Accessibility, Design & Technology deployed 4 releases in July, addressing a wide range of issues. While a number of these fixes were invisible and behind the scenes (rearranging servers, fixing database and test issues, updates to committee tools, keeping the Archive running smoothly), they also made some fixes to challenges and tackled a caching bug. The committee also started working with Development & Membership on changes for drives, and with Abuse on changes to the Abuse form. Abuse received around 400 tickets in July. They are hard at work moving to a new ticketing software which should help us deal with tickets much more efficiently.

AO3 Documentation uploaded two documents—a revised Your Account FAQ and the Unofficial Browser Tools which replaces the old Cool Stuff FAQ. They also added a new question to the Pseuds FAQ.

Open Doors announced the import of two archives (Dave & Ken’s Diner, a Starsky & Hutch archive, and Warp 5 Complex, a Star Trek: Enterprise archive), and have been managing tickets related to these imports in addition to preparing for other upcoming archives.

Tag Wrangling compiled and posted the First Principles of Wrangling, with the goal of having these principles easily accessible so as to both help wranglers understand how to implement edge cases in the guidelines, and also let AO3 users see what the general ideas underpinning the Wrangling Guidelines are. The committee also put together a glossary of common terms used in wrangling for our volunteers, and made a small update to the guidelines for how tags related to kinks are handled.

In addition, Tag Wrangling worked with Open Doors to handle tag mapping requests for six incoming archives, and requested two minor changes to the wrangling interface from Accessibility, Design & Technology, which have been implemented.

IV. GOVERNANCE

After a long period of inactivity the Finance Committee has been rebooted. They have a huge to-do list ahead and are only just getting started but are hoping to recruit for new members in early August. So if you know anyone who might have the skills to help out, please send them our way!

Board kept busy with the normal flow of approvals for staff, proposals and legal filings. They also amended the bylaws to make Elections’ job for the forthcoming elections easier and the election process harder to be abused. They also set up a schedule for upcoming voice chat meetings, and approved new server purchases.

Board assisted the team reviving the Finance Committee in getting their work started. The team’s dedication and effort in tackling this complicated job has already started showing positive results. Strategic Planning also had a productive July fine tuning implementation for the next plan and completing edits on the plan itself.

Development & Membership has been happy to welcome on eight new staffers as they try out a new ticketing tool and a more organized task tracking system. The team is in the early stages of preparation for the October drive.

Elections‘s new timeline is in place, and they announced the candidates on July 31! Here are some more important dates:

  • The membership deadline is August 23. Any member who donated between October 7, 2015 and August 23, 2016, including both those days, is eligible to vote in this year’s election
  • The election will be held from September 23–26.

The committee also has opened an Elections Committee Tumblr account which will have announcements and explanations for how the election works, and they’re encouraging interested Tumblr users to follow the account. They also have a new communication platform, which they’ll be using for the upcoming candidate chats, hoping to allow for more participation by attending members.

The OTW’s bylaws have been updated with two requests from Elections: sitting Board members will need to wait until the year after their term expires before standing for election again, and new changes to the bylaws will only impact elections that are at least 90 days away.

V. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

From 28 June to 28 July, Volunteers & Recruiting received 87 new requests, and completed 81. Some highlights of this month’s tasks included opening recruitment for Tag Wrangling volunteers and receiving 65 applicants, and renaming two committees: Web Strategy, Design, and Development to “Webs,” and Financial to “Finance.” As of the 28th of July, the OTW has 582 volunteers. Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Chairs: SunnyB (Translation)
New Committee Staff: Richard Haupt (Development & Membership), Kat Heiden (Development & Membership), Mandee Wilcox (Development & Membership), Kris Weldon (Development & Membership), TCD (Development & Membership), and 3 other Development & Membership staffers, Jeniouis (Webs), brioche (Webs), Joseph Marques (Webs), kellyprogramsthings (Webs), Lexis_Blake (Webs), dolleye (Webs), zephyruszzz (Webs), and 1 other Webs staffer, alamerysl (Finance), Priscilla Del Cima (Finance), and 1 other Finance staffer, Ona Lu (Legal), Stacey Lantagne (Legal), and 1 other Legal staffer
New Translator Volunteers: Kalliopi Siaka, zephyruszzz, Lana Garcia, SarkaS, Amsjur, Timi, georgiaodd, Chintan and 1 other volunteer

Departing Committee Staff: Sarah Remy (Communications), 1 Abuse staffer
Departing AO3 Documentation Volunteers: 1 volunteer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: RepressedLurker, Aesyr, and 4 other volunteers
Departing Translator Volunteers: Ezra Gecko, Sayali Marathe, Nele Noppe, and 3 other volunteers

For more information about the purview of our committees, please see the committee listing on our website.