OTW Fannews: Working for a better playing field

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  • Michelle Dean wrote in Flavorwire about why Kurt Vonnegut should not be part of Kindle Worlds. “The fights about identity politics in the fan-fiction community make those in good, old real world politics child’s play — which mostly tells you how crucially important those debates are to a great many people. There is, I am saying, in the better bits of fan-fiction a desire for a truly ‘transformative’ use. And it’s one we might do well to respect — even if we are in charge of some of the most prestigious literary estates in the country.”
  • Fans are becoming more active in demanding their rights to fair use of their entertainment. But fans can also be confused about what steps they should take to protect themselves and which rights to assert. Business 2 Community published a set of legal myths about fanfiction, though the author noted she was not an attorney. The myths included believing that disclaimers protect you, and believing that fanfiction can’t be plagiarized.
  • HuffPost Live hosted a discussion about the legality of fanfiction with various authors including Naomi Novik. In response to a discussion about how permissiveness varies from author to author, she pointed out “I’m one of the founders of The Organization for Tranformative Works, which is a non-profit that works to protect the rights of fan creators. And the Archive of Our Own is based on the principle that people do have the right under fair use protection in the U.S. to write transformative, non-commercial works of fanfiction, whether or not the author consents.” Comparing fanfiction to the right of readers to review a work of fiction, she said “We generally recognize that people have the right to respond as they want.” (No transcript available)
  • While hosting content digitally has made sharing fanworks easier and broadened the possibilities of who can take part, when a site used by fans closes or is sold, very often content posted there gets lost as was the case for Bebo users. In the end, the right to create needs to go hand-in-hand with the ability to share and preserve.

What discussion have you seen about legal aspects of fanworks? 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 roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.