April 2023 Newsletter, Volume 177

I. FANLORE NEWS

Fanlore has been working on making page outlines more accessible and making guidelines and practices more visible to new editors. Accordingly, there is a new Help page, Help:Non-English Language Content, now available on Fanlore. Fans are also welcome to get assistance via the Fanlore Discord server. Fanlore held an editing chat there focused on link archiving on April 29.

II. AT THE AO3

In April, the OTW celebrated the 11 millionth fanwork being posted to AO3! Communications’ social media-only announcement of this milestone spread speedily after it dropped. Thank you to everyone who’s shown AO3 and the OTW your support this month!

Open Doors announced the import of The ARC, an archive of Primeval fanfiction, while Policy & Abuse received a little less than 2,000 tickets and Support received about 1,600 tickets in April. Meanwhile, in March, Tag Wrangling wrangled more than 440,000 tags across more than 57,000 fandoms, more than a thousand tags per active wrangler!

III. ELSEWHERE AT THE OTW

Finance posted the 2023 budget ahead of the April Drive. The Drive was coordinated by Development & Membership with support from Communications and Translation, who translated all Drive posts, including the budget, and related graphics into 32 languages. Thanks to the generosity of 7852 people from 71 countries, 6450 of whom chose to begin or renew an OTW membership, the OTW raised a total of US$252,343.98!

Elections was busy in April preparing for the 2023 Board of Directors election. The Election Timelineis now available on Elections’ website. Stay posted for more information in the coming months!

In April, Legal Chair Betsy Rosenblatt participated in the first of the U.S. Copyright Office listening sessions on artificial intelligence and copyright law. This listening session was a great opportunity to provide information, help frame U.S. lawmakers’ questions about future policy decisions, and learn about technology and practice so that the OTW can make its own policy decisions about how to approach questions about AI. Legal will be doing more in this area in the coming months.

The Board of Directors published the minutes for its latest meeting on March 27. They can be accessed on the Minutes page on the OTW website.

IV. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEEPS

From 25 March to 24 April, Volunteers & Recruiting received 109 new requests, and completed 103, leaving us with 57 open requests (including induction and removal tasks listed below).

As of 24 April 2023, the OTW has 882 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New AO3 Documentation Volunteers: Kate G, Miki Mizuami, Mo & 2 other Editors
New Communications Volunteers: Szabo Dorottya (Fanhackers Lead) & 3 Fanhackers Volunteers
New Open Doors Volunteers: Charlie167, Phia, Teo and 6 other Import Assistants
New Translation Volunteers: Irina Gostraya (News Translator)
New Volunteers & Recruiting Volunteers: Amy2 (Projects Volunteer)

Departing Communications Volunteers: Szabo Dorottya (Fanhackers Volunteer role only)
Departing Fanlore Volunteers: 1 Social Media & Outreach Volunteer
Departing Open Doors Volunteers: 1 Administrative Volunteer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Rosa V, Sarah Fox, Satie, Sunshijne, Fynn, EJ Bell, nolightss, and 23 other Tag Wrangling Volunteers
Departing Translation Volunteers: Ana Gomes, Cinna_moon, Demeter, Harold Liu & 6 other Translators
Departing TWC Volunteers: 1 Copyeditor, 1 Symposium Editor
Departing Volunteers & Recruiting Volunteers: Amy2 (Volunteer role only), Georgia (Volunteer)

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


The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

Newsletter
  1. boomer commented:

    At risk of coming out as ignorant, how are Amy2 and Szabo Dorottya simultaneously leaving and staying in their volunteer roles/committees?

  2. ArouraLeona commented:

    On the recent AI note from Betsy:

    Listen. Anyone who deals with fanart KNOWs that AI has done a number in art spaces, not in a good way. For the love of god, don’t let that rot spread here. Those of us that write here work HARD to put our work here, which is how we’ve built it into what it is. If you let nonsense generated nonsense take over, then what we end up with is a flood of nonsense that Deviant Art and Pixiv are having to deal with in the AI art realm that have already limited the value of those sites and that they are having to find ways to filter around.

    Before going all little-girl gleeful over AI, remember not all of us stand with you on that. And remember that this is a creator-owned and shared site – which is why it is donation based and not a corporate-owned. Until then, there needs to be a MUCH more broad discussion about AI before someone just goes bananas mode acting like this is the next stage of the site without further discussion.

  3. Kaoriselle commented:

    Please get rid of this ai feature ffs

  4. Daeg commented:

    The use of AI will create a MASSIVE exodus from Ao3. People are discussing removing their work from the site and I will be removing it as well if it is used in any way or capacity train AI. “Train”… As if that’s what fanfic was created for. People do this for free and with love, and they will not want to see their hard work turned into “training” for a machine that can then be used to replace writers. AO3 is supposed to be a safe haven for transformative works. Works made by fans for fans. People. If Ai becomes a thing we will have to go back to the times of mailing our friends our work, of being afraid of someone taking advantage of our time. We do not get paid for this and we do not consent to this. As an archive for artists, who have been massively opposing AI for the past months, it is shocking that this sort of behaviour was even considered by you guys. Get rid of this idea. I’ve already deleted my art from spaces I know it will be crawled over and assimilated into AI, I will do the same with my writing. And so will many, many people. AO3 is an archive. Not a training center for machines fed by the free work of millions.

    • l commented:

      THIS, none of our work on the archive is for profit or should be for profit. if there’s any training done it would be for profit and that would go against the entire point of the archive. we are here for free sharing our favorite things. we are not here to have someone else profit off of our work.

  5. quilll commented:

    Betsy talks about fanfiction in the interview as if it were some kind of addiction that we fanfiction writers *have* to follow. In truth, despite all the passion, fanfiction is creative work that involves a lot of hard work and effort. Finding readers who like our stories and appreciate that effort is the only reward we fanfiction writers can get for it. And we’re already doing that in times when we’re under attack, when a certain clientele of readers already treats us as a story machine and we’re in danger of being doxed and harassed of the worst kind for being in the wrong ship. And then along come machines that generate with two clicks what we spend many effortful hours on and for which we already don’t get the due appreciation of our creations. To believe that AI will never come close to the quality of “handmade” stories is naive at best. AI is learning. That’s its purpose. No, writing fanfiction is not an addiction. Frustrated authors who feel that fandom is trampling on them and AI is making them obsolete will stop writing! Is that the way OTW wants to go?

  6. Lycoris commented:

    AO3 has always been an archive so why the sudden AI love ??? Please read the room a little. You do understand that many will delete their writings right?? And there is an original works tag on AO3 !! NOT EVERYONE AGREES WITH YOUR STANCE ON AI. It was disappointing to see it. “Training” will just blatantly enable plagiarism and what not. This is a serious issue that needs further debate, hopefully against the use of ai. Please rethink your opinions, until then like many others I too would delete my works off the site.

  7. apprepuff commented:

    Allowing artificial intelligence to ““learn”” from fanfic posted to AO3 would be one of the worst decisions the OTW could ever make. No fan in their right mind wants to let a machine steal their work and use it to make some tech corporation rich.

    The Archive is a place for fans to share their creations with other fans. Not a place for AI to be set loose and allowed to mutilate our hard work.

    We like the Archive. We don’t want to have to find a new place to host our creations, but if artificial intelligence is allowed to scrape the site, we will abandon it in order to protect our work from being plagiarized.

    Please, don’t do this to us.

  8. Fuck You commented:

    I’m taking my shit off of AO3 unless you plan to pay royalties to every single author and artist on this site everything someone runs AI or until you figure shit out. Ffs I’ll even go back to school just to relearn how to code a website. Fuck this shit.

    • Nicole commented:

      I’m confused, pay royalties how and why?? fanfic is publicly posted and can’t be copyrighted. are you arguing that we should extend ip law to fanfiction?

      • dead commented:

        Fanfic falls under Fair Use and NOT public domain. Fanfiction is definitely still copyrighted. Please educate yourself on copyright law.

  9. Lusi commented:

    If AI goes through on this site I’m pulling all my work. I’d rather nobody reads it than AI scraping it for someone else. Unless I’m getting royalties that’s MINE. Think long and hard about how many users you want to alienate.

    • Nicole commented:

      why are people talking about wanting royalties? fanfic can’t be copyrighted???

      • l commented:

        copyright of the fan work itself, not of the characters. the issue at hand isn’t that the characters or settings are being infringed, it’s the fan works themselves. please look into it a bit more and think about why other writers are saying royalties off of their own fan works before immediately jumping to say “ummm no?”

  10. Disrespectfully, You Suck commented:

    Allowing AI on this site is horrible, and also makes a mockery of everything this archive is supposed to be. I’m absolutely disgusted it would even be considered. The works published here are intended to be enjoyed by real people, not used to feed some bot so it can write the next hit coffee shop AU that would, without a doubt, be worse than anything human hands could craft. Don’t ruin one of the only spaces fandom writers actually have. This website was never intended to bring in money or stroke the dicks of big companies, it’s meant to be a safe space to post fan fiction. Or have you forgotten the days when fan fiction was largely frowned upon by big corporations and some fan fiction authors even faced legal consequences? Aren’t you supposed to be a website dedicated to archiving fics, not destroying them?

  11. unsettled commented:

    that AI scandal needs to be addressed immediately!
    readers, stand by your authors (the human ones)!

  12. Rudje commented:

    So hey have you paid any attention at all to what AI has done elsewhere or are you too busy being caught in the latest tech bro get rich quick scheme to realize that actual creatives fucking hate that shit and people will justifiably pull their work and go elsewhere if you decide to act on that pit trap you fell in because you didn’t look at the ground? Especially since AI has provably enabled plagiarism in every single instance it’s been used in.

  13. concerned commented:

    Extremely concerning that the OTW would entertain AI-scraping on the website, and even encourage it. Like others said, this will cause fans to pull their work from the site—it is against the spirit of AO3. It does not celebrate fanwork, but bastardizes the whole point/process of creating.

    Anyone can write, and anyone can participate in the archive—there is no argument for AI, and for why it should be acceptable to have our work stolen by AI. This is a shame, and the Board must make a statement clarifying their stance. AI scraping is inevitable on a public-access website, but for the OTW to encourage it, or otherwise endorse it is shameful.

  14. a human being commented:

    I relax and unwind after a busy day by writing. I have nothing to gain but my own enjoyment and the hope that someone else will stumble upon my work and enjoy it too.
    I am not a tool. A world where robots replace even our hobbies sounds like hell. Do you aim to make the human experience as miserable as possible?
    I was considering starting to post again this summer after a year of being too busy to do so. I was excited about it. Now I’m hesitant because I don’t want my passion projects to become corporate fuel.
    Using AI on ao3 goes against everything users love this site for and you will live to regret it if you go through with it. Any self respecting fan artist will run for the hills. Maybe go back to Wattpad. Do you really want to lose users to Wattpad? Pathetic.

  15. FUCKAI commented:

    FUCK YOU

  16. Laika commented:

    Do not allow AI fic/AI scraping to the site. There’s no ETHICAL WAY TO CREATE “ART” USING AI because it STEALS FROM CREATORS TO REPLICATE SOULLESS FICTION. There are countless people putting their passion for writing and fandom into the site as is, there’s no need for AI at all. All this achieves is alienating your user base, which is a frankly stupid move considering how much the archive relies on it. Do not allow plagiarism on this site. I will pull my work from it and encourage others to do the same if this blatant endorsement of theft is allowed to continue. AI IS NOT MEANT FOR ART.

  17. V commented:

    Why would you allow AI fic? What’s the deal with that? I don’t want AI fic to become a prominent thing and you’re all so lost in the teehee sauce you apparently can’t see how scared people are that AI is frankensteining their hard work. Like for fuck’s sake read the room. I don’t want my hobbies to become an AI breeding ground. Should you embrace AI I WILL delete my fics and I don’t think I’m the only one who has these sentiments. You’re going to fuck yourselves over if you continue this way. Shame on you.

  18. ofloveanddeath commented:

    Please do not allow AI to scrape and use Ao3 without permission from authors! Please make sure it doesn’t take over Ao3! Isn’t the reason for this archive to fight for artists and writers rights? HOW is allowing AI to steal and learn from others and then allow OTHER PEOPLE to upload stolen content? Not all works on Ao3 are ‘fanfiction’ either, how are you going to stop AI from stealing original works from your archive? It just seems completely against what the archive stands for to allow AI access to it. Honestly the conversation should be ‘how are we making sure that AI works are tagged appropriately? Should we allow these works in the archive at all?’ NOT whatever this is.

  19. Liveslex commented:

    I simply disagree with the concept of using ai on ao3 all together not only are you stealing and merging people’s stories and claim it as your own in the most plagiarizing possible. But are also taking away the creativity and humanity only an actual living writer could do that puts more hard work into it than a machine could do. So no I won’t ever accept ai into ao3

  20. Insanity commented:

    No one hates ai more than artists than writers, this proposal screens upper management idiocy and likely would break the no profit doctrine that lets ao3 exist as people are using bots to seek profits already

  21. marge commented:

    Words cannot explain how disappointing it is to see the legal chair of the OTW to say that it’s fine to endorse AI scraping of fic for corporate gain. We all know that AI is here to stay, but to allow for bots to use what *is* essentially work based on media that is under copyright (Disney, certain authors etc.) is horrific and sets a completely dangerous precedent for fandom at large.Also it’s kind of ironic, since the bots aren’t making *money* off of it, it’s a-ok to use, even though its essentially plagiarism, and one of the things that the archive is against.It just makes the OTW a bunch of hypocrites, since yes, stealing is okay when it is done by a robot and not by a human, and for profit, which is one of the things that the archive prohibits. It’s fine for a robot to do, but not a human, and the archive and OTW at large really should think long and hard if that is the hill that they are willing to die on, and if they care about their mission stance to fandom overall.

  22. Jade Bacalso commented:

    I have donated to and supported AO3 for many years, but the implementation of AI is enough to make me never touch this website again.

  23. smilejollyroger commented:

    Hello! Please reconsider this decision. Allowing AI algorithms to access works posted on AO3 goes against the spirit of what AO3 is supposed to be: an archive protecting creators. AI algorithms like ChatGPT are plagiarism machines that steal from others; they are not creators.

    In fact, I think more people will be willing to share their works on AO3 and donate to OTW if it banned all AI-generated content (eg ChatGPT-generated “fics”) instead.

  24. WhispersofDragons commented:

    I cannot overstate how disappointed I am with this decision. I and countless other authors have spent years practicing writing, and now you want to steal our work and shove it into the AI blenders to be ground up and spat out without our consent. For an organization that prides itself on supporting and protecting fans and our works, you certainly have a strange way of showing it. I would seriously suggest you reconsider. I don’t want to leave ao3 but I will delete my account and remove my works if I have to. I would much rather protect my work and the hours I spent making it than stay on a platform that will shove my works into an AI to be profited on against my will

  25. Glad I didn't donate to you. commented:

    Someone let me know when someone has made the writers’ equivalent of Glaze. I will be pulling all of my works off Ao3 if otw thinks my creativity and hard work is something for an AI to “train” on, if they haven’t been doing it already. I’m not writing for a fucking robot. I write for the humanity and uniqueness of it and if that is ever in jeopardy I see no point in putting my works on a public platform like Ao3. Good job using 21st century technology to jump back in time. If judging by how many other plan to remove their works from your site, you’ve miserably failed in your organization’s fundamental mission.

  26. bgtea commented:

    If I had the option to vote out Legal Chair Betsy Rosenblatt from AO3, I would for her ridiculous support of AI. It spits into the face of all creatives who create out of love, not for their work to be used to train AI that can then replace them. Like many of the other commenters here, I would rather nuke my own work than feed it to an AI.

  27. use your head commented:

    allowing AI to use and copy works on your archive will kill the site. i can’t imagine many people that would donate funds again- or even continue to hose their work- if there isn’t even an opt out option. the idea of allowing AI is fundamentally against transformative art, and creates a new legal nightmare for you since companies will absolutely profit off the archive and by extension copyrighted works from this.

  28. Can’t even bear to log in right now commented:

    Honestly, this sucks. People flock to ao3 because of the fanworks made with the labor of love and dedication. There’s something human and emotional in these works and to allow AI in the archive is to basically disregard the aforementioned humanity and emotion of the pre-existing works. Especially since none of us consent to have our works trained and kitbashed by the AI generator. Not only this is bad copyright-wise, it would be a dangerous territory to walk onto as many countries have already started regulating after the rampant infringement and theft.
    So, for the love of all things good and holy, please reconsider. Oh, and too Ms. Betty, I hope you realize what you have dragged yourself into. There is still time so please, kindly reconsider.

  29. Read the fucking room commented:

    Seriously? Are you serious right now? You want to allow ai onto AO3 and throw all of us into the soulless machine plagiarism so some greedy company can train their stupid robots? I can’t believe how tone deaf and heartless this is in the midst of the writer’s strike. Is there no joy in this damn world anymore, nothing that can’t be profited off and exploited?

    I am miserable at the mere prospect but I would cease donating, delete all of my writing, delete my account, and find somewhere else to go. I will literally MAIL people fic sooner than I will let some robot to invade one of the last free hobbies I have to suck the soul out of that too. So few things in this damn world can avoid being wrung out and used by some asshole looking to spin a profit. Fanfic and creative expression is one of them. I can’t stand the thought of even my hobbies being exploited too.

    Fuck you guys very much. Reconsider, or your userbase will leave. This time, instead of being chased off the platform by censorship it will be disgust.

    Honestly, how dare you. Change direction right now or you will end up killing the soul that started AO3 in the first place. Shame on you. Ai isn’t cute or fun.

  30. fuck you commented:

    no ai absolutely no fucking ai
    you are NOTHING without fans, donators, writers the people who make up all of the communities of ao3. these board members are so fucking out of touch its pathetic

  31. Utterly Betrayed commented:

    You yell at people who use the site and post links to ko-fi, Patreon, etc. YOu ban and remove fics if there are mentions of them being commissioned. You have removed pieces of work that were made for charity fundraisers.

    But now you want to invite AI to the website. AI which will take all the works already on here, scrape them, remove the heart and soul of the creators, and in turn allow the AI creators to profit? You’re going to allow others to profit off our works, without our fucking consent.

    This is despicable. You should be ashamed. If this happens, I will pull all my works.

    Fix this. Protect us like you’re supposed to do.

  32. You are on thin fucking ice commented:

    You, out of all other websites, were the LEAST I expected to support this AI shit. If you fuckers proceed with this, I am deleting all my works and leaving the site. Good fucking luck in finding passionate writers who pour their blood, sweat and tears into writing the most wonderful works. You were supposed to protect us and yet here you are, becoming the very same thing that AO3 does not stand for. Betsy should step the fuck down or reconsider this fucking mess. I and many of my fellow peers do not agree with this AI bullshit.

  33. Patch is Feelin' Bad commented:

    I’ve been a user of the Archive for 11 years. I make sure to donate regularly to help ensure, even in some small way, that the Archive remains a space for creatives.

    However this recent interview with the Archives legal chair has deeply concerned me, as has the Archives seeming endorsement of her takes on AI by quoting/publishing them in the article.

    I cannot stress enough how much this has distressed myself and near everyone else in the community. AI is a controversial topic at best and the apparent support for it that Betsy has expressed is disgusting when taking into account the current climate, such as the Writers Guild Strike and the general outcry against it from creators.

    So many artists and writers and other creatives have become disheartened and beaten down with the way so many platforms (such as Deviantart) have begun integrating AI without listening to their users opinions about it. The idea that fanworks (fanfiction, fanart, and others) are mere content to be consumed and used to train/feed various AI engines, and that we should just accept it, is deeply depressing.

    For years myself and others have spent our hard earned money and time ensuring that donation drives go well and correcting malicious rumours about the archive, that to see this feels like a spit in the face. To have a member publicly say that they’re okay with having our works used like this without our consent is a betrayal not only of us but also of what the archive does, and should, stand for.

    I don’t want to lose one of the last remaining platforms I have to share something I love but I know myself and many others are more than willing to take down our writing before letting it be used in such a way, as well as taking away our support. I don’t want hundreds of hours of hard work being stolen because thats all that AI is. It is theft of an artist work.

    I can understand some points that Betsy has brought up from an academic point of view but she misses some truly fundamental things in this particular area. While training AI with more modern data sets would expose it to more inclusive ideas, the trouble lies in the intended use.

    People are using these data sets to generate “content” thus changing the intentions.

    This technology does not exist in a vacuum and Betsy is either naive or being wilfully ignorant. At its base, AI, with its current regulations and within this current society is a threat to creators who just cannot compete and who are being pushed out of our spaces with content made off of our own work.

    There is also the ethical issue apparent here with the current assumption that the Archive could be freely accessed and scalped by a revenue-generating AI company when we, the creators, have willingly accepted that we cannot make money on our own work whether that be in commissions or tips.

    In the end this is about more than just ensuring the prime tenants of the Archive stay alive-that it is a safe space for creatives to store and share their works with others-but also about ensuring that creatives of all types don’t lose out in the face of sterile technological advancements.

    I strong question Betsy’s position when her views are so out of step with the community she is meant to represent. Her comments are ghoulish at best. Betsy saying that what makes our works irreplaceable is that they come from us sounds entirely disingenuous when, if things go badly, those AI generated works will also come from us.

    Just not willingly.

    The Archive needs protections against AI now. Not in two years. Not in a year.

    Now.

    I cannot stress enough how fanworks are a labor of love and not just content to be consumed.

  34. I'm disgusted and betrayed. stop being cowards and address this fucking mess commented:

    You have banned and removed fics if there are mentions of them being commissioned, from accounts that have ko Fi and Patreon links; from works that were made for charity fundraisers! All because you said it was to protect the site and it’s users! But now! Now y’all have the AUDACITY to invite AI to the website to PROFIT off of us. AI which will take all the works already on here, scrape them, remove the heart and soul of the creators, and in turn allow the AI creators to make money off others words? You’re going to allow others to profit off our works, without our fucking consent?? This is despicable. You should be ashamed. If this happens, I will pull all my works. Fix this. Protect us like you’re supposed to do.

  35. No AI commented:

    If AI projects or endeavors are invited to the AO3 platform, the results will be catastrophic to the dynamic, diverse, and totally unique communities of writers and creators who have helped create and uplift the platform itself.

    I hope that there will be a public statement confirming that our creations and myriad expressions of passion and love will not be harvested for AI models in any way, especially given that these models will, ultimately, come to profit from them. This is a very disturbing prospect.

  36. Member commented:

    No AI in AO3. What Betsy Rosenblatt said is abhorrent and disrespectful.

  37. 1 Million Words Will Leave The Archive If AI Is Permitted To Stay commented:

    Let it be known that the entire Ao3 community stands in opposition to AI accessing the Archive at all – whether by scraping OUR work or by being posted to the site.

    Permitting AI to use Ao3 is, as others have stated, a blatant reversal of existing OTW policy on users profiting off of the service, and is in direct violation of the established terms of service against plagiarized work being posted on Ao3.

    I may “only” have a million words posted on this website, but they, and my membership dues, will be removed if the OTW permits AI to access Ao3. This is a sentiment echoed by many, many users – as anyone curious will see in both this comment section and that of the most recent Signal post.

    We demand accountability. AI profiteering has no place on Ao3 or the OTW as a whole.

  38. A Pissed Off Puppet commented:

    I understand and respect that banning AI-generated fic from Ao3 is a near-impossible feat to ask, but there is abso-fucking-lutely no reason to justify letting, or heaven fucking forbid, ENCOURAGING the scraping of works on Ao3 to train AI. I write to entertain my friends, other fans, and myself, to show my love for somebody else’s creation, all on my own time. I do not write my stories so some Silicon Valley jackoff can profit off of my hard work and free labor! I hate to say it, but if something isn’t done to allow authors to prevent AI from training off their fics in the future, I will be pulling my works from Ao3 and hosting them somewhere fucking else.

  39. Elena commented:

    Hi guys! Seems like it might be a good time to work on communicating why you’ve decided the OTW’s position on LLMs should be “uncritical booster”, and why your chosen representative for that position has been so loud and wrong about the basics of how LLMs function.

  40. xenoglossy commented:

    Betsy Rosenblatt seems to be under the impression that the only thing fans are worried about is that an LLM might spit out something very similar to our own writing, but that’s a shallow understanding of the objections. There may or may not be anything ethically wrong with the technology in theory, but when it comes to policy, you can’t divorce the technology-in-theory can’t be divorced from the reality of the technology as it actually exists. And what actually exists is a bunch of commercial products from which big tech companies (already ethically questionable and making the world worse in a lot of ways) are hoping to make a lot of money, while relying heavily on the invisible labor of underpaid and unsupported workers in the Global South. (And those workers, were AO3 to be scraped, would have to comb through all the underage, noncon, and graphic violence on the archive without the benefit of warnings or even the option to back out, which seems to go against the principle of having mandatory archive warnings in the first place.) And, of course, many others have mentioned the prospect of LLMs being used to put human writers out of work in Hollywood as a significant factor in the current strike.

    In the end, not allowing LLMs to scrape our fic probably won’t have an impact on the tech companies’ ability to make money hand over fist while making the world a worse place in numerous ways. But as a matter of principle, many of us don’t want our work to be part of that, and it’s deeply disappointing that AO3 seems to be taking none of this into consideration.

    (In addition, Rosenblatt’s contention in the previously posted interview that including fanfic is making LLM-generated text more inclusive and less bigoted seems naive. Sure, there are a lot of marginalized people writing fanfic – although I’m not sure letting tech companies dominated by wealthy white men profit off our free labor is much of a diversity win – but fic writers are as prone to bigotry as any other group of people, and there are plenty of infamously offensive fics that would be included in that training data. But then, I guess that’s what those $2/hour content moderators in Nairobi are for, huh?)

  41. Sophie commented:

    I can’t believe you would WELCOME AI into our spaces. I’m legit APPALLED. I worked so hard on my works to have you open the door for me to be robbed? To have my work be used by companies for PROFIT? To take jobs away from professional creatives and hurt the efforts and hearts of the passion writers on this site is horrible. Betsy Rosenblatt should be replaced. How someone on the team can be so out of step with our community is alarming.

  42. Dee Z. Nuts commented:

    I don’t anything to add that hasn’t already been said on AI, but I will remind Betsy Rosenblatt to read up on the history of Fanlib and how well trying to hawk fanworks for money worked out for them (spoilers: AO3 exists as a direct result of their policy) and update policy accordingly. We have rebuilt before and we will do it again.

  43. Kaycee commented:

    Fanfiction writers put a lot of time, effort, and love into the stories they create. We do this for free because we love the fandom and want to be a bigger part of it, and share that with likeminded fans. AI is already impacting fan artists in very negative ways; works are being stolen without the permission of the creators who have dedicated countless hours of their own time to make. This goes against the principles AO3 has always stood for and puts our safe space at risk. We just very generously funded your most recent donation drive, all the while and as always defending against those who continually disparage the site for holding these fundraisers. This is not how you reward this loyalty and generosity. This whole “tee-hee who wants to write DALL-E and ChatGPT falling in love” is blasé and incredibly tone deaf. This says that OTW either doesn’t understand their base or doesn’t care. I would say this needs to go up for member vote at the very least, or if it is for some unfathomable reason put in place, then members should be able to opt out. I believe I speak for most when I say I’ll be damned before I let AI steal from the stories I worked hard to create. I do not consent to this, and the very idea that this is even being considered as a possibility is both disappointing and disheartening. Your members deserve better than this.

  44. Phire commented:

    Absolutely no AI on AO3. I will pull my works from the Archive if you allow AI scraping. The Archive is supposed to be a place to collect real people’s contributions to transformative fandom. If you allow AI stealing—excuse me, “training”—on the writing hosted in the archive, it will undermine that entire principle. It’s heartbreaking to see that the OTW is even considering engaging with AI. Running a site and organization like AO3/OTW is so difficult, and those of us who will undoubtedly leave if you implement AI scraping will have to start from scratch to build a safe space for our works. We might lose a lot of works in the process. That would be a huge blow to the OTW’s mission. Please, do not, DO NOT allow AI to scrape and steal our hard work and passion and dedication.

  45. Aevas/Tavas commented:

    I am baffled that Rosenblatt seems unaware that the training of AI via Ao3 opens up OTW and fanfic at large to immediate legal difficulties, if not lawsuits, from corporations whose works dominate Ao3. There is no reason to think Disney would be excited that an AI is vomiting out work about their characters and concepts for other corporations, particularly when this work has been documented to sometimes contain underage sexual themes. The fact that OTW has happily posted and boosted her utterly thoughtless and naive takes on LLMs tells me that either OTW leadership is equally ill-informed on LLMs or lacks integrity. Rosenblatt’s description of LLMs screams of corporate white-washing, to the point where it feels like a soft-launch of OTW embracing commercialization.

    Further–and particularly concerning to me–is that OTW has also shown zero solidarity with the WGA strike and non-fannish creatives at large. Our works on OTW’s sites are part of the backbone for LLM creative writing programs. Corporations make the decision to pay workers less, to hire fewer people yet demand more work from them, to intensify economic exploitation and abuse, but it is OTW and fanwriters who helped facilitate this. Instead of any interest in supporting workers, OTW has promoted twee uwu squee for fic about LLM models. It is at best crass; it worst, it shows a complete disconnect with the economic realities facing creatives to the point of cruelty.

    When OTW was being developed, I specifically remember people worrying about the concentration of power in fandom to a single organization. At the time, I agreed with those concerns, as well as the potential for legal problems. OTW’s subsequent success ameliorated those concerns to the point where I felt foolish. Evidently my teenager self was more clear-minded than I thought.

  46. Ynnealay commented:

    Adding my voice here to say that I agree the OTW needs to take a firm stance against AI scraping now, even if there is little they can do against it. Current AI writing programs are being used for profit, and if that comes off the free labour of AO3 writers, it’s unfair and feels a gross betrayal of AO3 to just offer up our words with no protection and say they can be used to develop commercial software.

  47. Ynnealay commented:

    Legal Chair Betsy Rosenblatt’s comments are incredibly tone deaf and naïve. She talks about machine learning as if it’s a miracle technology being developed in a vacuum. But the context here is that machine learning algorithms are currently callously unregulated; the current trajectory puts ChatGPT and other such “AI” writing tools on the path to be sold and leveraged for commercial profit to the devaluation/unemployment/exploitation of human writers/workers. Until regulation and protection for writers is written into industry standards, we cannot celebrate the development of machine learning, nor can we afford to talk about AO3 and its vast collection of intentionally non-profit works as if it’s a dataset.

  48. Emery commented:

    This decision about allowing AI onto AO3 is terrible. Artists and writers don’t want to use AI, and we definitely don’t want to train AI off of our scraped works. AI is just the latest in a train of tech bro scamming and thieving, are you really going to expose your user base to that without their consent?
    I can see that there is nothing but corporate greed at play here, the decisions of executives who are too high up to see the effects of their blithe, frankly disconnected decisions have for us on the ground.

    OTE absolutely cannot allow this unregulated technology to burn its way through and harm this community. If this reckless behavior continues, OTW is going to uproot it’s own community all for some naïve trust in a technology that the business world is going to move on from just like they moved on from NFTs.

    No one is fooled by this blithe naïveté, you will harm is. Please stop this.