OTW Sightings

  • OTW Fannews: OTW Sightings

    By Janita Burgess on Tuesday, 8 September 2015 - 4:31pm
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    • Members of OTW's Legal Committee have proposed panels for next year's South By Southwest (SXSW) conference on fair use and fandom. They are asking for fans to support the inclusion of these panels by either logging in to the SXSW official website and upvoting a session on its info page, or by commenting via Disqus on that session’s info page. The panels are Copyright & Creators: 2026 and FYeahCopyright and Fanworks.
    • MediaPost discussed when and how creators should try to target fans in order to help promote a project. "The first thing entertainment marketers should do when looking to harness the power of fandoms is to understand what makes them tick...Go beyond the obvious appeal of a TV show – the characters, plot lines and themes – and dig into the details and nuances such as vernacular, recurring motifs and magical moments that empower fans and make them feel like part of something bigger."
    • Gizmodo provided a lengthy look at AO3 features as part of offering a guide to the "best fanfiction" available. One thing not mentioned were bookmark searches and the rec feature. However the post did mention how "[u]sers on Tumblr, Livejournal and other networks will often curate 'recs' pages of what they consider the best stories. So if the sorting options on AO3 aren’t enough, do a web search for a pairing or fandom and related recommendations, like 'harry potter fic recs.' Individual, dedicated archives in the older style still exist as well."

    What OTW sightings have you seen around the web? 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: Asking and Getting

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 30 July 2015 - 4:06pm
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    • The Daily Dot discussed Funimation's fanart stance with OTW Legal staffer Rebecca Tushnet. "'[I]t’s notable that there’s no mention of fair use...Fan art can be non-infringing fair use; elements of whether it is fair use include how transformative it is (how much new meaning and message it adds); whether it’s commercial or not; and whether it displaces a market for 'official' goods.' So it doesn't matter that they've declared they won't be going after commercially sold fanart? Not necessarily, according to Tushnet: 'It somewhat depends on what they actually do, but they are clearly claiming that fan art is in fact infringing copyright, even if they indicate they usually tolerate it. So I wouldn’t feel very reassured by this statement.'"
    • Perhaps JK Rowling's embrace of her fandom was key in a Fox Sports story about a fan whose fannishness influenced the University of Kentucky 2015 yearbook. "Towles has said that he's read each book in the series at least seven times and can 'quote the whole thing,' referring to the movies. And to take his fandom a step further, he annually celebrates Harry Potter's mythical birthday on July 31." The article concluded, "Harry Potter fan or not, you've got to appreciate the passion that led to...a yearbook titled 'Patrick Towles and the Order of Kentucky Football.'"
    • The Debrief reported on One Direction's new charity initiative, Action 1D. "Action1D is part of a brilliant wider campaign called Action/2015 which is all about the fact 2015 is the year loads of global issues begin to get resolved...What do Directioners need to do to save the world? Create pictures, videos, whatever, telling the boys what they want the future of the world to look like. Harry, Niall, Liam and Louis will then help put pressure on our leaders."
    • NPR featured a story on filmmaker Jennifer Nelson who is suing Warner/Chappell Music to make the song 'Happy Birthday' available for everyone. "If Nelson and her lawyers win, the song will be in the public domain. 'I think it's going to set a precedent for this song and other songs that may be claimed to be under copyright, which aren't," says [Nelson's lawyer]. As for Nelson, she jokes that if her lawsuit succeeds, 'People will be so sick of the 'Happy Birthday to You' song, because everybody will get to use it, finally.'"

    What fan charity efforts do you know about? 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 Guest Post: Donna Davies

    By Janita Burgess on Monday, 27 July 2015 - 4:27pm
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    From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

    Today's post is an interview with Donna Davies, the writer, director and producer behind the documentary Fanarchy. The documentary explores how new affordable technology is allowing fans to threaten the Hollywood system by producing the films they want to see in quantities Hollywood can't keep up with. It premiered July 9 on Epix Drive-in.

    What inspired you to make this documentary?

    I made a documentary about the Hollywood film industry that featured some pretty high profile directors and discovered that several had made their own homemade tributes to the stories and movies they loved when they were kids. I was intrigued by the fact that these individuals were all inspired by the TV shows, books and movies they loved as children and were really still fans at heart. I wanted to look deeper into the idea of fandom as artistic inspiration.

    What is your personal history with fandom?

    I'm a fan of the old Hammer horror films, like The Curse of the Werewolf, Horror of Dracula, etc. I'm also a huge fan of Dylan Thomas. Not really a fan of superhero movies, although I did love the Super Chicken and Underdog cartoon superheroes.

    What was the biggest revelation when you were making Fanarchy?

    I was amazed by how powerful fans have become. As a result on fans and their desire to be part of the world they love, the entertainment industry has completely changed. It's become less passive than in has been in the past. It's become more of a participatory sport.

    What has the reaction to Fanarchy been, and what surprised you about that?

    I had imagined the San Diego Comic-Con crowd would relate to the film, but I didn't expect to have so much interest from the those who aren't involved in the fan community. The idea of ownership of story and copyright is clearly more relevant now then ever before in history.

    How do the philosophies of the OTW (such as that fanworks are fair use, female spaces and representations should be encouraged) fit with what you found?

    Early on in the process of making the film, I interviewed [OTW Legal Staffer] Rebecca Tushnet. Rebecca provided insight into the legal implications from the fan's perspective. I also interviewed media expert Jeff Ulin, a lawyer who had worked for Disney and Lucasfilm, where he managed worldwide distribution including the franchise sales for Star Wars. These two experts gave me insight into of the vast divide that often exists between the fans and the copyright holders.

    I was worried at the start of making the film, because, although I had dealt with fair use in previous docs, I had never pushed things this far before. Although the fan films featured in the doc have been available on the Internet, until now they haven't been broadcast on traditional television. Here's hoping I don't end up in jail.

    In all seriousness, I think we're making huge progress in the area of fair use in documentary film. I can do things today that were not possible just 10 years ago.

    As for female spaces, while fan culture is absolutely rooted in female culture, I think that has primarily been the "story" side. The "film" production side has traditionally tended to bias towards males. However with accessible distribution methods and affordable technology that is changing.

    My film is really looking primarily at fan films and TV shows, not literature or vidding. I'm totally fascinated by that side though, so maybe that's my next film!

    The main character of Fanarchy is Maya Glick, a black woman from Texas who, through the making of my doc ends up achieving her goal of making her own fan-film tribute to [Marvel character] Storm. I also feature several other female characters, including Brea Grant who, after much success acting in Hollywood films and TV shows like Friday Night Lights, Heroes, and Dexter, went on to write her own comic book, then engaged with her fans to eventually make her own feature film.

    There's also Stephanie Thorpe, who, along with her producing partner Paula Rhodes, made a loving fan tribute to their favourite childhood comic book series, Elfquest, and then used that fan film to convince the copyright holders to give them the rights to make the Elfquest TV series.

    In addition to Rebecca Tushnet, the film features other female experts such as film critic Maitland McDonagh and journalist Heidi Honeycutt.

    What are your thoughts on the monetization of fanworks?

    This is a tricky area to navigate. Some fans just want to play with the stories and characters they love. I believe that these fans should be able to do so freely. And I think that this has become more and more acceptable.

    Copyright holders are beginning to understand that these fans are not harming their franchises. It's very difficult to prove that these homages take away money from the original works. However fans still have to be careful. They have to walk a very fine line between freedom to express their fandom and directly profiting monetarily from that fandom. The fans who want to use their fan works to build a fan base can easily do so. Doing a fan film about Batman enables the filmmaker of that fan film to reach out to other fans, and gain an audience for an original film that they can legally profit from.

    Things are evolving very quickly. Some fan films are becoming so professional it is impossible to tell them from the original. Fan filmmakers who are doing these super pro films are hoping that they can eventually make a deal with original copyright holders to share in any profits that could be made from the fan works.

    They are always going to be fans who just want to do this for themselves as a labour of love on the one hand and on the other hand those who want to use the fan work as a calling card to break into a career.

    Finally, how can fans who've missed the previous airings watch Fanarchy?

    The film will be broadcast on Epix Drive-in throughout the summer. It will be available on Netflix in October.

    We're also doing the film festival circuit now and broadcasting in Canada in the fall.

  • OTW Legal Staffers Participate in SDCC "Fandom is My Fandom" Panel

    By Janita Burgess on Friday, 24 July 2015 - 5:18pm
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    SDCC Fandom is My Fandom panelists.

    At this year's San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), OTW Legal Chair Betsy Rosenblatt participated in the Fandom is My Fandom panel, moderated by Legal's Heidi Tandy.

    Betsy and Heidi were joined by Amanda Brennan (Community and Content Tumblarian), Flourish Klink (Chaotic Good, Inc., Transmedia Producer for East Los High), Meredith Levine (Fanthropologist, ZEFR), Aron Levitz (Head of Business Development, WattPad), Elizabeth Minkel (Writer, New Statesman/The Millions), and Missyjack (aka Jules) (Founder, Supernatural Wiki).

    A video of the panel is now available for public viewing.

    The panel discussed how fandom has changed now that fanworks are in the spotlight on social media and mainstream news and are being acknowledged by the companies that create and distribute source material. The panelists reflected on how advances in technology and improved understanding in copyright law, particularly in the area of fair use, have increased fandom's public reach and placed fanworks into the public consciousness.

    Panelists noted that fandom is even inspiring developments in law: in 2013, Holmesian scholar Leslie Klinger and author Laurie R. King received a "cease and desist" letter from the Conan Doyle Estate, ahead of the publication of their second anthology of stories inspired by the Holmes canon. Klinger successfully sued the Estate, claiming the copyright had expired on all of the story elements included in the anthology. Because of Klinger, all but the last ten Holmes stories are now officially part of the public domain, allowing fanfiction authors to publish and even sell works based on the majority of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and novels.

    Many fanwork creators prefer to stay non-commercial, though, whether to be better able connect directly with their audience; to use fanworks as a "training ground" for skills that can be used professionally; to avoid legal risks; or simply because they prefer to participate in a gift and generosity based economy and community.

    The panel pointed out that the companies behind commercial works are increasingly interested in fandom and fanworks, sometimes even offering fanwork contests. Because of this, many fanwork creators no longer feel the need to hide their work from "the powers that be" and can enjoy participating in these contests, provided that they are able choose what and when to share. Companies may use these contests both as a way to reward fans for their enthusiasm and as an additional source of metrics to gauge consumer engagement. The panel suggested that, while fans often appreciate nods to fanwork in their favourite source material (e.g. Supernatural meta episodes, characters referring to tumblr, etc.), they also want space to engage in fandoms without needing acknowledgement or approval from creators of source material.

    The increased visibility of fanwork has allowed mainstream creators to acknowledge their fannish pasts. As fanwork becomes better understood by people outside of the fandom community, we hope that stigma will decrease, and that the myriad forms of fannish engagement and creation will be met with the appreciation and respect they have always deserved.

  • OTW Fannews: Paying Court

    By thatwasjustadream on Sunday, 12 July 2015 - 3:59pm
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    • OTW Legal Staffer Rebecca Tushnet was among those interviewed for the new fandom documentary, Fanarchy. Fan Film Follies reported that it will premiere on July 19th, 2015 on the network Epix. "Fanarchy explores the rise of fan culture and the ways in which modern fandom is challenging the Hollywood system by becoming a creative force in its own right. Questions are raised about copyright, intellectual property and the concept of originality in a re-mix culture."
    • Another fan documentary premiered recently on the BBC. In When Pop Ruled My Life: The Fans’ Story "[t]he presenter’s murky past helps this enjoyable documentary explore the question of what drives small fanatics, but the beauty of the programme lies in its affection for the fans. Take, for instance, the Iron Maiden devotees – now white-haired men – who named their children after band mascot Eddie and now chuckle about their wives leaving them. Or the Bay City Rollers extremists who still turn up to reunion shows in tartan Rollergear, with the word 'Les' embellished on their backs in diamante."
    • Movie Pilot released a post highlighting the many fanart responses to the character of Yarny in the new Electronic Arts game, Unravel. "[P]erhaps due to the cuteness of the character alone or the excitement and nervousness of its director Martin Sahlin, the internet and video game community immediately fell in love with the little guy."
    • Entertainment Weekly promoted the MTV fandom awards, noting the new categories this year. Eligibility for at least one of them, "Fandom Army of the Year" would seem to be dependent on having a recognizable fandom name. Perhaps this is why celebrities seem to be increasingly involved in these choices, either by weighing in on different options or outright soliciting official descriptions.

    What forms of fandom recognition have you seen? 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: Fitting Tributes

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 - 4:08pm
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    • The OTW is thrilled to announce that past Legal Committee chair and current Legal staffer, Rebecca Tushnet, is being honored by Public Knowledge. She will be one of the recipients of their 12th Annual IP3 Award. The ceremony will be held in Washington D.C. on September 24. "The IP3 Awards are a special occasion to honor those who have made significant contributions in the 3 areas of IP: Intellectual Property, Information Policy and Internet Protocol."
    • A nominee for the Creative Blogger Award recently posted to share some thoughts about writing. "I find inspiration from things I love. Like many people of my generation, my first taste in writing for a public forum came from fanfiction. I still write fanfiction now. The things I love such as Jane Austen, music, travelling, and Buffy inspire me to write poetry, fanfiction, or even my blog entries. If you want to find inspiration, start with what you love. And yes, I consider fanfiction to be creative."
    • The Reda Report summed up recent developments in the European Parliament regarding copyright. "For the first time, the Parliament asks for minimum standards for the rights of the public, which are enshrined in a list of exceptions to copyright that up to now have been completely optional for the Member States to implement. The report stresses that the use of these exceptions may not be hindered by restrictive contracts and that DRM may not restrict your right to make a private copy of legally acquired content." Of particular interest to OTW News readers who answered our call for comments, mention of the response total was cut from the copyright evaluation report. The Commission received 9,500 replies, 58.7% of which were from end users.
    • The Arizona Republic featured discussion of a play focusing on fandom. "The show opens Saturday, June 13, at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, and admission is free for anyone who comes dressed as a favorite character from movies, comics and books." Some of the performers discussed the importance of fandom. "All have their own connections to fan culture, including Sullivan, who grew up watching 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and wrote her first fan fiction as a crossover between the 'Sweet Valley High' and 'The Baby-Sitters Club' youth-novel franchises. Now, she says, 'I think I am starting to become a fangirl for fan culture, because talking with anyone about what they are passionate about is one of the greatest conversations you can have. It really gives you an insight into who they are.'"

    What recognitions have you seen fans and fanworks receive? 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!

  • SDCC 'Fandom Is My Fandom' Panel

    By Janita Burgess on Friday, 26 June 2015 - 4:58pm
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    Those of you lucky enough to be attending this year's San Diego Comic Con have the opportunity to see OTW Legal chair Betsy Rosenblatt and Legal staffer Heidi Tandy on the 'Fandom Is My Fandom' panel on Thursday, 9 July at 5:00-6:00 p.m. in Room 14A.

    Heidi will be moderating. Panelists include:

    What's the panel about?

    '“Fandom” isn’t just one thing these days, and it never was. But now that fans - and their creativity, content and consumption - are something for media companies to understand, PR people to focus on, social media to thrive on and news organizations to report about - what happens to the “traditional” fan community and the fanboys and fangirls that create the culture and content? Are follow-on works like fanart, vids and fanfic to be mocked, tracked, supported, enjoyed within an organic community, or considered a stepping-stone to a creative career? What if the answer is “sometimes one, sometimes all, and sometimes something else”? We’ll look for answers and information from deep inside popular fandoms, the media companies that work with them and the sites that host them.'

    For more information, visit the SDCC webpage!

  • OTW Fannews: Find Your Passion

    By Sarah Remy on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 - 6:11pm
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    • The new issue of Cinema Journal was guest edited by the OTW's Kristina Busse and she, along with co-editor of Transformative Works and Cultures Karen Hellekson, contributed articles. The entire issue is available for free online. Topics include articles on fan labor and feminism, fandom's gift culture, Fifty Shades and the "archive of women’s culture," and articles focusing on sampling, vidding, and cosplay.
    • Portland, Oregon's Go Local PDX hosted an article by a college admissions coach about getting writing experience. "Write fan fiction. If you care about an audience and feedback, writing fan fiction can be a great way to get both. Lots of people obsessively read (and comment on) fan fiction about their favorite characters, so a well-written spin-off from a popular novel or series can quickly develop a large readership. In addition, it’s easy to find writing prompts: people on fan fiction forums often run informal contests built around silly topics like 'a Les Miserables-inspired scene with a beach party.' Fanfiction.net is the main hub for this, but a quick search can help you find more specialized sites devoted to particular topics.
    • As a post at Candy Mag pointed out, prompts and fanworks are everywhere. Focusing on content at Pinterest, the post pointed out a variety of fandom crossover fan art exploring various fanwork genres.
    • Cult Noise interviewed Cassie Whitt about her defense of music fangirls. "You should never [be] afraid to be passionate about something. In fact, you should see your ability to do so as a strength most people don’t have. Love music in a way that makes sense to you, and as long as it’s not hurting anyone or yourself, what other people think about it doesn’t matter. And if you’re ever feeling misunderstood or without an outlet for that, find fan communities. All communities have different vibes: some of them will be good, others will suck, and others have the potential to become like a second family."

    Did you use fanfic to prep for college admissions? Are you taking courses about fanworks? Write about fandom and academia 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: Sharing Fandom

    By Janita Burgess on Thursday, 5 March 2015 - 6:35pm
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    • Writer Shawna Benson examined patterns of fandom growth and activity that she'd observed while moderating social media for The 100's Writers’ Room, as well as social media lessons learned. "Yes, we sell the US shows to other countries, but what do we do to accommodate those fanbases which spring up in other countries? Suddenly, the 'official' accounts feel less useful. They don’t get the CW in the UK, Australia, Brazil, France or Spain, or even Canada — the main countries which outside of the U.S. watch The 100. How do we accommodate those fans? The official accounts are restricted in this. Guess what? Writers’ rooms are not."
    • As part of International Fanworks Day, LiveJournal community Mari di Challenge interviewed OTW Translation Committee chairs Hele Braunstein and Priscilla del Cima about the committee's work (article in Italian). Both spoke about their fannish backgrounds, how AO3 fits together with the OTW and its other projects, how the organization sustains those projects financially and personnel-wise, what the OTW's vision of fandom is, and what changes might happen in the next five years.
    • Book review blogger Traci began a series of posts about the OTW. "I was recently reading an article and it was mentioned that media seems to 'see bronies as far more newsworthy that Organization for Transformative Works or the Vlogbrothers' Nerdfighter movement.' Now, I see a lot of things about Nerfighters, and the Green brothers in particular, but have not seen much on OTW outside of those in the know. So I decided to fangirl all over one of my favorite organizations for a post. Then I realized that I would need at least a couple posts to fully share my love and appreciation."
    • The Verge's Entertainment Editor Emily Yoshida discussed her discovery of fanfiction on the StarWarsChicks.com posting board. "One of the first things I was drawn to besides the message board was...The Library, it was a fanfic archive of the stories everyone in the community had written." She was asked to speculate about why fanfic writers seemed to be mostly by female writers. She suggested that the medium of writing was better suited to women. "It's non-visual, it takes a long time to read somebody's whole novel...and that's the payoff is this expectation and this waiting and this buildup...but it gets that same kind of following and addictive aspect to it." (No transcript available).

    Fanlore is a place for all fans to share their knowledge about fans and fandoms. Add details to an existing entry or start a new one!

    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: Being In the Know

    By Janita Burgess on Saturday, 28 February 2015 - 7:51pm
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    • A post at Movie Pilot pointed out how early fanwork passions can begin. "I was on Wattpad and came across a profile and her name was Alexandria1019. She has a couple of stories she wrote, which are amazing in my point of view...And the coolest thing, she's a 7th grader." Her dreams are short-term but her reasons are universal. "'When I get older, and go to high school, I want to join a writing club. I want to be a writer because whenever I write, it's like I'm in a totally different universe. Like I'm not in reality...I know they aren't my characters and my story that I wrote myself, but it gives me a chance too express what I think. Because, I can't really express what I think to people.'"
    • These early lessons can have a big impact though. An article at Neon Tommy discussed why people respond to fanfiction. "I found myself reading multiple stories like Red’s, about kids who used fanfiction as a means to improve their English, and with fantastic results. Users told me about how fanfiction helped expand their vocabulary, as well as experiences such as an anonymous user who 'learned about the culture…ideas and feelings of the writers. When reading I stopped more than once, to learn about a new tradition, a word, a poem, an author, a new kind of music…It’s a window to new knowledge…' So, with fanfiction, it wasn’t just me who was improving my writing skills."
    • The New York Post was one of many sites trying to find stories related to Fifty Shades of Grey to coincide with the movie's release. In their case they found a fanfic writer to discuss pulling to publish and the merits of the fic as originally written. "But many in the fanficton.net community are confused and concerned by James’ success. 'The prose style, the dialogue — it was very juvenile. It was very simplistic,' says Karen, a 50-year-old administrator from Phoenix who uses the name piewacket on the site and recalls reading James’ original posts."
    • A different look at fanfic was provided by the OTW's Kristina Busse in a post at How We Get to Next. There she argued against separating fanfiction from communities. "Star Trek also became 'trans-fannish' very quickly, Busse explained, intermingling with followers of other series. 'In the 1970s conventions started to include Doctor Who, and by the 1980s you have entire zines that are nothing but crossovers. It moved beyond the specific show; people would become fannish butterflies where they would go from one fandom to another.' In doing so, they brought with them characters, plots and settings — and also tropes."

    How do you define fanfiction and what has it brought to your life? 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.


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