January 2014 Newsletter, Volume 76

Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages.

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


While some of our committees and staff were able to take a bit of a holiday break over the past month, others have been pretty busy with OTW work. This was particularly obvious with our Legal Committee.

In December, Legal filed an amicus brief in the U.S. case of Lenz v. Universal, a long-running case involving Digital Millennium Copyright Act take-down notices. Our brief, written by the Stanford Fair Use project and joined by Public Knowledge and the International Documentary Association, argued that the law should be read to punish rightsholders who issue takedown notices without first considering whether a particular use constitutes fair use. Legal also reported on the outcome of the “Free Sherlock” case

Speaking of DMCA take-down notices, Legal has dealt with an increasing number of requests that the Archive of Our Own take-down particular fanworks.

In addition, Legal staffer Rebecca Tushnet testified before two U.S. government agencies on behalf of the OTW. Those agencies are considering possible proposals for new U.S. copyright legislation. Rebecca’s testimony reflected the public comments the OTW made to those bodies in November. A video of her testimony is available (scroll down to “Legal Framework for Remixes”; Rebecca’s opening remarks start about 33 minutes into that video).

Legal has also had several public projects in January: (1) Working with Communications to create several posts for Copyright Week; (2) Naomi Novik’s testimony before the U.S. Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet; (3) Working with the EFF and Public Knowledge to craft and file an amicus brief (PDF) in the case of DISH Network v. ABC, currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The DISH case is the latest development in the battle over DISH’s “Hopper” DVR, and Legal argued (among other things) that any infringement analysis should be configured to take into account when a user is engaged in fair use.

Legal also has a lot of pending projects, including preparing a submission to the European Commission in response to its call for comments concerning possible EU copyright reform, which they expect to submit in early February.


Visitors to the AO3 have likely been aware of all the work being done by Accessibility, Design and Technology and Support. Support had the second busiest month on record in December 2013, with 556 unique tickets received! Kudos to our phenomenal staffers for blowing through these, and to all the staff they consulted with on other committees.

AD&T deployed Release 0.9.12 a few days before Christmas. Many, many thanks to senior coders Elz and Enigel who wrapped up a ton of server work aimed at site stability and performance improvements.

AD&T finished 2013 with 300 closed bug reports, over 600 new Tumblr followers and several thousand new Twitter followers, an established love/hate relationship with our test suite software, and one huge Rails upgrade.

AD&T is currently working on their first deploy of 2014, which will include a critical performance fix, a few importing and archiving fixes, and a long overdue upgrade of our Rich Text Editor. After that, they are planning to deploy a significant rewrite of our bookmarking backend, which should help alleviate some of AO3’s current problems. Many thanks to AD&T/Systems staffer james_ for his diligence in keeping the servers running. Those servers are at capacity right now, and we have to take the Archive offline almost daily to give them a few minutes of rest. We’re looking forward to new servers and shiny code improvements soon. Coding volunteer Stephanie has been hard at work reviewing our backlog and spreadsheeting all the things that have yet to be reviewed, tested, and deployed.

AD&T also posted Site Stats: A Look at 2013 and Beyond, Part 1 and an accompanying spreadsheet, for the data nerds among us.

Tag Wrangling is still limited in when and how much they can wrangle; they’re avoiding making changes to tags on lots of works as much as possible to avoid extra strain on the AO3 servers. Behind the scenes, the committee is currently inducting new staff members and improving documentation to smooth the welcoming process.

Abuse has also been busy! They’ve had roughly 120 tickets come in so far this month. Please keep in mind that Abuse thoroughly investigates each and every report that comes in, so it might take a while before they can respond. Also just a reminder, please don’t send in multiple tickets or ask everyone you know to report the same issue. Instead of speeding things up, this actually slows the process down! One ticket is all we need to start an investigation. Of course, if you have new information to share, please do send it in.


Strategic Planning released a report on the Survey Workgroup. The next scheduled Strategic Planning reports are on the Wiki Committee and Fanlore team, the Grants Committee, and the Systems Committee. They hope to release those in early 2014. They are also in the process of surveying Web, Internationalization and Outreach, Abuse, and Communications.

Development & Membership reported on our fundraising promotion with Smart Pop Books, which ended on December 31. This resulted in OTW supporters purchasing 157 printed books and 47 ebooks through the affiliate link, raising a total of US$322.30 for the OTW. Thank you all for your support! DevMem is currently reviewing applications and interviewing candidates for staff positions.


Systems has been working hard both on the upgraded Archive machines, and transitioning internal OTW systems off of our remaining Linode server onto our own virtual machines.

Open Doors has been humming along on current archive importing projects, and had two successful zine collection donations to the Fan Culture Preservation Project. This month they began working with a fan on another Fan Culture Preservation Project donation, and are very excited about a few importing fixes and features in the next deploy to AO3. You can read more about Open Doors in their spotlight post which went out in January.

Journal is preparing to go to copyedit in January for its two guest-edited issues to kick off 2014 (March and June).

Communications has begun posting news to the OTW’s LinkedIn account, so anyone who would like to keep up with us there, or who has listed OTW volunteer work in their profile, is encouraged to follow us. Communications is also busy planning celebration activities for AO3’s forthcoming 1 millionth fanwork milestone which will be announced in coming weeks as plans are finalized.

Translation started January in full swing, undertaking meetings, documentation work, and translation assignments. They’re interviewing several potential new staffers and have begun talks with Tag Wrangling staff about setting up official procedures for collaboration, as well as with Development & Membership on outreach ideas for the upcoming membership drive.


Volunteers & Recruiting welcomed new chairs into their roles, as well as inducting some additional staff for committees. Anna Genoese was inducted to the Board and Ira Gladkova and Kristen Murphy ended their three year terms.

In December, in addition to answering tickets from current personnel, Volunteers & Recruiting worked to retire departing staffers and volunteers. VolCom also began the retirement of the Survey Workgroup project and would like to say a final thank you to all the members of Survey Workgroup, past and present, for their work on the report released in 2013.

New Directors: Anna Genoese
New Committee Chairs: briar_pipe (Tag Wrangling), Qem (Tag Wrangling), Hana Lee (Strategic Planning), Priscilla Del Cima (Translation)
New Committee Staff: vtn (Tag Wrangling), JanOda (Tag Wrangling), Elanya (Tag Wrangling), very (Tag Wrangling), Sumeria (Tag Wrangling), Elizabeth Young (Tag Wrangling), Supergreak (Tag Wrangling) & 1 other Tag Wrangling staff, Curtis Jefferson (Volunteers & Recruiting)
New Volunteers & Recruiting Volunteers: 1

Departing Directors: Ira Gladkova, Kristen Murphy
Departing Committee Chairs: Matty Lynne (Support), Anna Genoese (Strategic Planning), Andrea Horbinski (Internationalization & Outreach)
Departing Committee Staff: Anna Genoese (Strategic Planning), Andrea Horbinski (Internationalization & Outreach), 3 (Communications), bookgazing (Volunteers & Recruiting), bethbethbeth (Abuse), Joanne (Abuse), Evelyn Browne (Grants), Alison Watson (Tag Wrangling), Adam Compton (Systems) and 1 Abuse, 1 AD&T QA, 3 Accessiblity, 3 Support, 1 Fan Video, 1 Finance, 1 I&O, 1 Open Doors, 2 Web.
Departing AD&T Coder Volunteers: Ronan Klyne, Mark Bowers, look_closer, dharma_slut, Becky Mezz, estirose & 42 others
Departing Open Doors Volunteers: 1
Departing Survey Workgroup Volunteers: 7 volunteers, Claudia Rebaza, Betsy Rosenblatt, Lady Oscar, Sole G., Tari
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Wendymarlowe, Adrienne Gorney, Alisha Miller, Alison Watson, antisock, cake, charliebravowhiskey, Elke Tanzer, Gills, gnine, Lee, wantstothrill, Snow, snowynight, Sydni, viennajones, Jet, Lee and 24 others
Departing Translation Volunteers: 3 Translation volunteers
Departing Workgroup Members: 2 Content Policy volunteers, 2 Elections volunteers, theorangenectarine (AO3 Docs), Wereleopard58 (AO3 Docs) and 8 other AO3 Documentation volunteers

  1. Pslasher commented:

    How does the OTW/AO3 handle take-down requests for fanworks?

    • Claudia Rebaza commented:

      The following comes from the chair of our Abuse Committee, Matty:

      “The Terms of Service note: Please be aware that the OTW believes that transformative fanworks are legal; therefore, complaints based merely on the existence of fanwork based on copyrighted content or mentioning trademarks will not be pursued.

      If you believe that your content has been reproduced in whole or in part, without transformative use (transformative use is defined by the OTW as adding something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the source with new expression, meaning, or message), please follow our procedures for reporting copyright infringement.

      The report must clearly and specifically indicate the exact location (URL), nature, and extent of each instance of allegedly infringing content, as well as the exact copyrighted material that is being infringed, as well as full and complete contact information for the copyright holder and/or an authorized agent.

      Epigraphs and short quotations, including quotations from song lyrics and poetry, are allowed. Content that is set within or draws on an existing work is allowed. Reproductions of entire copyrighted works—whether songs, poems, transcripts, or other material—are not allowed without the consent of the copyright owner.

      What this means in practice is that if Abuse is contacted about infringing content, the team will investigate. If the work is found to be infringing, we will ask the user to edit or delete the work, depending on the circumstances. If we decide the content is not infringing, we’ll contact the reporter and explain we believe that fanworks are transformative, fair use, and legal, and that this specific work is allowed to remain on our site.

      Should the reporter decide to contest our decision, we’d forward the matter to Legal. If they asked us to delete a work, we’d do so, but that’s pretty much the end of our involvement. “