April Membership Drive: Defending the legality of fanworks

The OTW is committed to defending the right to create and distribute fanworks, and our Legal Advocacy project is at the forefront of these efforts.

We’re particularly proud of our work on Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemptions for makers of noncommercial remix videos such as fan vids, AMVs, and political remix videos. OTW staffers testified before the US Copyright Office in 2009 and 2012 to help win these exemptions, in partnership with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other like-minded organizations, and we were victorious both times. The noncommercial remix exemption takes away the threat that vidders’ works — though transformative, fair uses — would still be considered unlawful under US law because of the way in which they may have acquired their source footage.

We’re also gaining a valuable network of allies in the larger free-expression, pro-fair-use activist world. As well as working closely with EFF, we’ve had positive interactions with groups such as the Documentary Filmmakers’ Association and USC-Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center.

Volunteers from Legal have also worked on contributing to the Wikipedia page on legal issues in fanfiction to provide a more law-based discussion of fans’ rights; advising fans who have received DMCA takedown notifications; and filing amicus briefs in three cases with implications for fans and fanworks.

The Legal committee is also happy to assist fans who have questions regarding non-commercial fanworks. You can contact the Legal committee here.

The OTW is a dedicated champion of fans’ rights, with an established track record of success — but there are many battles, large and small, still to be fought. Help us fight those battles — please donate today.