Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with Stacey Lantagne, who volunteers as member of OTW’s Legal Advocacy project. It’s posted today to highlight the celebration of Copyright Week.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
As a volunteer for the Legal Committee, I work on behalf of OTW’s mission to protect and nurture fanworks as a legitimate creative activity. The Legal Committee monitors legislation in the United States as well as internationally, and provides comments on behalf of the interests of fan creators. For instance, recently the Legal Committee provided comments in response to New Zealand’s request for input on its review of its Copyright Act (with help from New Zealand AO3 users!). We also join briefs in legal court cases that have fanwork implications, as well as review internal procedures and policies to ensure compliance.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
It depends on what’s going on! Sometimes I’m working on a specific project, like the New Zealand comments, or checking the nonprofit regulations of all fifty states as they apply to the OTW. Sometimes I’m getting ready to be a guest at a con or speak on a panel at a conference about fannish legal issues. Sometimes I’m assisting in efforts to communicate about major legal changes, like the EU’s recent new regulations. Sometimes I’m just helping to respond to the many emails that come in weekly, whether asking questions about works on AO3 or asking questions about personal fan projects people are working on. The Legal Committee can’t give legal advice, but we strive to provide relevant legal information.
What did AO3’s Hugo win in 2019 mean for OTW’s Legal Team?
For the Legal Team, as I think for everyone involved with the OTW, the Hugo win felt like a huge recognition of the validity and importance of fanworks in creativity. At the same time, we recognize that it’s not the end of our work. But it was incredibly inspiring to watch all those people at the Hugos speak up for how much fanworks have played a part in their lives. We at the Legal Committee were waving along at home!
Why do you think Copyright Week is an important event?
Copyright isn’t just a law for Disney; it’s a law for all people who create, and that’s most people! Copyright Week is important because it raises awareness of how much copyright is there for all of us. A lot of the narrative we hear about copyright is in terms of piracy and media conglomerates but copyright is out there protecting all of those stories you scribble or doodles you draw, just to make yourself happy! It also has protection built in to make sure the rest of us have some freedom to engage with the behemoth copyright properties, and Copyright Week reminds us of that.
What fannish things do you like to do?
I am a voracious consumer of all things fannish. I wish I could draw, because I’m in awe of fan artists, but I’m a writer myself. Catch me on a perfect weekend curling up with a 150K coffee shop AU.
Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you’d like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.