OTW Sightings

  • OTW Fannews: Profiles in Marketing

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 14 December 2014 - 6:32pm
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    Banner by Erin of Barbie working at a computer with the OTW logo on it, with two adults looking on in the background. The banner reads 'OTW Fannews: Profiles in Marketing'.

    • An increasing number of companies are marketing toward girls and women in tech, but not every attempt to capitalise on the trend is well-executed. NPR covered widespread criticism of Mattel's Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer. “‘It starts so promising; Barbie is designing a game to show kids how computers work,’ said Ribon. […] Brian and Steven take over — and, at the end of the day, Barbie takes credit for the boys' work.” OTW Legal staffer Casey Fiesler, whose feminist remix went viral and was featured in the NPR story, took to her own blog to explain why non-commercial remix is allowed under US copyright law. "It is so amazing how many people care about representation of women in computing, and I’m thrilled and humbled that something I created helped to expand this conversation. I wrote a piece for Slate about the process and the ideas behind Barbie, Remixed, but something I wanted to discuss in more detail was the act of remix itself rather than the critique behind it."
    • TribLIVE reported on a new TV network focused on fandom. "When Pop, a cable network most people probably refer to as TVGN, launches Jan. 14, it will do so with programs that celebrate the continuing ability of such, well, institutions, as New Kids On the Block and 'Everybody Loves Raymond' to cut a swath through popular culture."
    • UK site YouGov researches audiences to determine the characteristics of people with particular interests or fandoms. By using their profiler you could discover that Good Omens fans are more likely to be 40-59 year old males who work in IT, are left leading when it comes to politics, and also are fans of John Barrowman, Stephen Fry, James May, Nathan Fillion and Patrick Moore.
    • The publishing industry is among those wanting to target fans, and a recent conference on the children's book trade included a panel on fanfiction. Meanwhile Wikia is declaring itself "the ultimate source for powerful and relevant pop culture, entertainment and game expertise" and is producing a video series on fandom in 2014 along with Disney's Maker Studios. The idea is to create amateur/professional partnerships. "The partnership has already resulted in some quirky combinations, including one pairing of a devotee of the AMC period drama Mad Men with the creator of the Drinks Made Easy YouTube channel. 'We hope to continue to define projects that allow for creators and super fans to come together and be in the spotlight.'"

    What marketing efforts utilizing fans have you spotted? 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: Fandom and Publishing

    By Janita Burgess on Wednesday, 3 December 2014 - 5:45pm
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    OTW Fannews Fandom and Publishing

    • Transformative Works and Cultures editors Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson were interviewed by fan studies scholar Henry Jenkins about the book they published earlier this year, The Fan Fiction Studies Reader (the book's royalties go to the OTW). Said Jenkins, "And that brings us to the second thing that the focus on 1991-92 as the birth of fan studies may get wrong. The Fan Fiction Studies Reader is focused in expanding this time line in important ways, calling attention to the kinds of writing on fan fiction that existed prior to Enterprising Women or Textual Poachers, work that often came out of the second wave of feminism and was also embedded in the fan community itself. Many of these essays have been out of print or scattered across obscure journals so there is an enormous contribution in bringing them together again, reframing them for contemporary readers, and reappraising their contributions to the early development of this field."
    • School Library Journal discussed the manga landscape and reasons for its resurgence in the U.S. They include "a selection of titles that includes some long-lived classics, a few series that started during the manga bust and have endured, and a handful of new series that launched in the past few months. After each title is the number of volumes published in Japan (to give a sense of the length of the total series) and a note as to whether it is complete or still ongoing."
    • The Kernel featured a long look at fangirl influence on book publishing. "These fans, most of them women, began by claiming ownership of their fanworks to an unprecedented degree. Then they spent the waning years of Twilight fandom forming small publishing presses and setting up shop as editors, designers, marketers, and writers to publish and sell the works of fanfiction they loved...And they did it all amid a tremendous amount of negative pushback from all sides—most of all from members of their own community."
    • At Reading Today Online, assistant professor Jayne C. Lammers wrote about studying a fanworks community. "In particular, I studied adolescent literacy in an online forum called The Sims Writers’ Hangout...[which] was an online space for fans of the videogame The Sims to gather and support each other’s writing of Sims fanfiction—multimodal, digital texts that pair images taken in the video game with narratives authors write...Over its five-year existence, The Hangout had more than 12,000 members, mostly adolescent females, from all over the world who posted over 660,000 messages on a variety of Sims-related and community-building topics to establish an online network of readers and writers."

    What are your favorite works about fandom and 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.

  • OTW Fannews: Finding the Spark

    By Jennifer Rose Hale on Monday, 22 September 2014 - 5:12pm
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    Silhouette of person with arms raised looking into sunset. Text reads Finding the Spark
    • The Sydney Morning-Herald, in Oz Comic-Con puts the power of the geeks on show, reports on "the obsessive, every-so-slightly bonkers and very influential world of 21st-century pop-culture geekery," including one fan who identifies as a Disney geek and has been to Disneyland 27 times. "You just revel in what you love," says Carissa Avenhouse. "You shop, you meet the fans, you hang out, you watch things, you enjoy the panels, you dress up in your favourite costume or you just wear the T-shirt from your favourite TV show or movie or comic. You're just at one with your people."
    • A podcast on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Discussing Fandom from Down Under, features a conversation between the host and an Australian fan over the fun of fandom (including being bitten on the neck by James Marsters!). Guest Nikki says, "I've never met a fandom I haven't liked. I love that whole concept of … that you can find your tribe of something so obscure, and just be you, and love what you love, and be okay." About people who don't understand her fandom, she adds, "They don't get it, and it's really sad not to be passionate about something for you, like, you can be passionate about your kids, but you still need something for you." They also cover the lure of fanfiction and book recommendations for young readers. (No transcript available.)
    • City A.M. reports on Amazon's purchase of Twitch, a platform that allows users to create their own content, as part the new age of "creative consumption," noting that "the plummeting cost of making and distributing your own work means amateur has started to regain its original meaning: not a second-rate imitation of professional work, but the mark of passionate involvement." The article goes on to cover fanfiction, including Archive of Our Own's inclusion of a million works, a recent achievement. While this shift "challenges traditional business models," the article continues, "[p]latforms win out when they build and nurture communities that blend writing and reading."

    What parts of fandom have sparked your imagination? 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: Founded on Fanworks

    By Kiri Van Santen on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 - 4:46pm
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    image by Robyn of James Madison, fourth president of the US

    • Jennifer Parsons wrote at Tech Dirt about fanfic written by one of the U.S. founding fathers. "Why fanfic? What made Madison decide to use existing characters to make his point rather than inventing his own characters like John Arbuthnot did for his own political allegory?...The easiest way to tackle these questions is to tell you an allegorical story. There once was a comic artist, 'Jim M.,' who wanted to comment upon the important issue of CIA torture. To make his point, he drew a three panel comic strip. In the first panel, Captain America is taking down a fanatical Nazi commander who tortured prisoners of war for the good of the Fatherland...In the second panel, Jim M. draws Captain America standing next to President Obama, who is casually observing that although the CIA did 'torture some folks,' the lapse can be excused because the torturers were patriots who loved their country. In the third panel we see Captain America's shadowed face as he walks away from a burning American flag."
    • Although some are very pleased with the offerings on Kindle Worlds, various sites posted a story by Jeff John Robertson at GigaOm about Kindle Worlds' success in light of a presentation by OTW legal staffer, Rebecca Tushnet. "For Amazon and its partners, it will be difficult to overcome such perceptions since the underlying problem is not just about licensing terms, but something more fundamental: the impossibility of having it both ways, of fostering maximum creativity while wielding maximum legal control. As Tushnet notes, Kindle Worlds is hardly the first time that a licensed model of creativity has come up short: the music industry’s imposition of sampling licenses smothered hip-hop in the 1990’s, while commercial controls eroded the popularity of the early fan fiction universe, Darkover."
    • The Fandom Post reported on Dynamite Entertainment being one of the latest companies to go DRM-free. "There will be a slow, focused roll-out over time that will grow the available titles to reflect the vast majority of Dynamite’s library. Throughout its first month of operation, Dynamite will donate ten percent of all sales to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers."

    How far back have you seen fanworks go? 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: Reconsidering Fans & Fanworks

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 30 August 2014 - 4:09pm
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    Robot fans at a Korean baseball game

    • It's not unusual to find media articles or online posts with dubious declarations about fanworks' legal status, but it's less common to find posts that reconsider the topic. One writer for Business2Community took advice from OTW Legal staffer Heidi Tandy to better explore relevant legal cases and events. "One of the hallmarks of fan fiction is that it must be non-commercial. Yet many of the sites have ads on them – so aren’t they commercial? Not necessarily, says Tandy. 'Since 2002, there’s been a pretty clear distinction about what constitutes commercial vs. non-commercial publishing. I did a panel with Warner Brothers, and posed the question, ‘What if we put Google Ads or become an Amazon affiliate on our fan fiction site as a way to pay our server and hosting bills?’ And they said, ‘We have no problem with self-funding. What we have is a problem is with people selling things as if they are authorized or created by us or the original author.’'”
    • The Los Angeles Times posted about another recent legal case on Sherlock Holmes' public domain status which made clear the judge's views. "'The Doyle estate's business strategy is plain: charge a modest license fee for which there is no legal basis, in the hope that the 'rational' writer or publisher asked for the fee will pay it rather than incur a greater cost, in legal expenses, in challenging the legality of the demand. The strategy had worked ... only Klinger (so far as we know) resisted,' Posner wrote in his opinion. 'In effect he was a private attorney general, combating a disreputable business practice — a form of extortion — and he is seeking by the present motion not to obtain a reward but merely to avoid a loss.'"
    • TIME posted about robots replacing fans at Korean baseball games. "Hanwha’s robot fans will work as stand-ins for human fans who can’t attend a game. Remote fans will be able to control some of the robots’ movements — presumably certain hand gestures in the direction of umpires — and can even upload an image of their face to be shown on the machine’s screen. The robots will also let fans watch the game from afar, giving more fans the opportunity to join in the action and cheer on their team." Whether the robot fans will have the same legal rights as human fans remains to be seen but legal developments are sure to keep evolving!

    What tech and legal developments about fandom have caught your attention? 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: The Fannish Perspective

    By Janita Burgess on Thursday, 7 August 2014 - 4:50pm
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    OTW Fannews The Fannish Perspective

    • Many theater productions revolve around fannish topics or themes. As a review of Miss Emma’s Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters dubbed it, the play "is staged fan fiction, imagining how the likes of Dorian Gray (Nick Martin), Jane Eyre (Sage Tanguay) and Philip Marlowe (Caleb Erikson) might interact if they jumped off the page."
    • The Escapist featured Pokemon crossover fanart. "Emery posts her art on a Tumblr account called Attack on Pokemon, and she posts sketches on a separate blog. Her art can be purchased as prints through DeviantArt. The opening line of the first opening theme song for Attack on Titan says, 'They're the prey, and we are the hunters.' In a way, Pokemon are the prey for trainers hoping to capture at least one of every species or attack them for experience. Now imagine them all as titans; no more 10-year-olds on innocent adventures."
    • At Jezebel, Mark Shrayber cited Fanlore and AO3 in explaining 'knotting' to readers. "Of course knotting isn't as visceral in the same way something like extreme pornography may be due to the fact that it's not only fictional but also (technically) impossible. But fiction of this nature is also becoming a mainstream staple of internet culture, which always bears discussion. Today it's a panel at a failed convention; tomorrow it might be the subject of a semester-long university course."
    • The Roanoke Times profiled a small hometown fan-con. "Just about a dozen people paid the $35 entrance fee this year, causing Hubert to question the future of the event. If she does it next year, she said it will probably just be a party in her house...'I’m trying to help other people get over their fear like I used to be afraid to tell people what I do,' Hubert said. 'So it’s kind of like trying to get people to come out from behind their computer and come out of their shell a little bit so they don’t feel like they’re alone. We’re all just as geeky and introverted as the other person and it’s OK for us come together every once in a while. Especially if it’s just once a year, we can handle that.'”

    Where have you come across a fannish perspective? Write about it 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

    By Claudia Rebaza on Wednesday, 2 July 2014 - 4:03pm
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    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: Tech and legal developments

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 22 May 2014 - 4:52pm
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    Banner by Bremo of webpages that are mentioned in this article

    • The New York Times Bits blog was one of several places highlighting the work of OTW legal staffer Casey Fiesler, who examined Terms of Service at popular websites. Among them was DeviantArt, Fanfiction.net and "Asianfanfics, a small fan fiction site, whose terms of service provisions, the researchers wrote, allowed 'for the site to essentially do whatever they like with whatever is posted there without any notice or attribution to the creator.'" The report included a handy infographic. A future part of Casey's study will involve the AO3.
    • The Mary Sue posted about using Storium. "As I quickly figured out, Storium is essentially an elegant framework for simming, with the added kick of card game-ish mechanics. For the uninitiated, a play-by-post game (also called a sim) traditionally takes place on a message board or through an email list. There’s a basic premise, and a host who wrangles the players. Depending on the game, players either create whatever characters they fancy, or are given clearly defined roles...The players then take turns writing chapters or scenes, typically tagging other characters to pick up where they left off."
    • Perhaps relatedly, Brie Hiramine asked at Flavorwire if the fansite is dead? "I can’t remember the last time I visited a fan site to read news or discuss anything. And that’s simply because our ever-flowing stream of content means that fan culture is more integrated into our everyday lives (and therefore, our Internet lives) than ever before. People consume fan-specific news on more mainstream platforms, without needing to go to a dedicated site to do so. Thank you, Facebook feed! Thank you, Twitter debates! Thank you, Reddit! And inevitably, the distance between consumer and producer grows ever-smaller."

    What legal and tech developments have you seen that are fandom-related? 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.

  • OTW Fannews: Fan activism

    By Claudia Rebaza on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 - 4:57pm
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    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.

  • OTW Fannews: Discussing fandom

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 21 March 2014 - 1:29am
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    Banner by Erin of a message form with the OTW logo on a megaphone and a form saying 'You:Discussing Fan: Fandom' with a send button next to 'OTWFannews'

    • Not Another Teen Wolf podcast posted about their interview with OTW legal staffer Heidi Tandy. Among other things "We learn about the Organisation for Transformative Works and the basic legality behind being a fan creator. We also reminisce about the early days of the internet, when there was a lot of scaremongering surrounding fanfiction in terms of copyright. Why was AO3 started – what was the initial gameplan? Why did a resource like AO3 become necessary?”
    • Although the NATW podcast chat spent only a bit of time on copyright, Copyrightuser.org posted the video ‘Copyright & Creativity’ to make "copyright compelling to creators and average Internet users, trying to demonstrate that it is not just a set of rules but an interesting world worth exploring. To this end, we approached leading copyright experts and sent them a short questionnaire about the relationship between copyright, creativity and technology, with the idea of writing an accessible script based on their answers." The site is "an independent online resource aimed at making UK Copyright Law accessible to creators and members of the public. The goal is to provide answers to the most pressing concerns creators have about copyright, helping them understand their rights."
    • Heidi Tandy and recent OTW academic chat panelist, Anne Jamison, were at South by Southwest discussing fanworks. The importance of internet platforms in allowing non-celebrities to develop their own fandom took a different tack on creativity. When asked, "What is the secret sauce to creating good content?" BuzzFeed’s EVP of Video, Ze Frank replied that content "must represent a part of your individual identity better than you can talk about it. Second, your content needs to be an emotional gift, and should make your audience feel a certain way. And third, your content should provide a social role of information. Frank continued by explaining that your content should prove an argument that people have been having all along or play a part in real world conversation."
    • Joystick ran an article exploring the fandom of Twitch Plays Pokemon. "Taylor started doing Internet research in the 1990s, and turned to video games in 1999. Her studies resulted in books such as Play Between Worlds and Raising the Stakes, which explore virtual worlds, MMOs and e-sports. Those examinations bear relevance to Twitch Plays Pokemon, as the same elements of extended narratives and player curation could be found in the earlier days of EverQuest."

    What stories have you come across about storytelling platforms? 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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