OTW Legal at SXSWi 2016

This March, the music, film, and technology industries gathered in Austin, Texas for the annual South by Southwest Conference and Festivals. Naturally, the OTW was there too! OTW Legal chair Betsy Rosenblatt and staffer Heidi Tandy held panels and meetups at the event. Betsy was on a panel called “Copyright and Creators: 2026,” a discussion about the future of copyright law, while Heidi hosted a Fair Use and Transformative Works Meetup, a mentor session, and a signing session for FIC: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World.

At the “Copyright and Creators: 2026” panel, Betsy joined fellow copyright scholar Lateef Mtima of Howard Law School; futurist Alexandra Mogyoros, a graduate student at Oxford University; and Jon Healy of the Los Angeles Times to discuss the future of copyright law. The panelists discussed how technology has made it easier for creators–including fans–to make and distribute work, and discussed how the decisions we make about law and policy now will influence who creates things in the future. Betsy talked, among other things, about the many ways in which fan creation is valuable: “Asking how future copyright can protect the market value of copyrighted works is asking the wrong question,” she said. “The better question is how future copyright can promote progress, which may depend not only on market value, but also on other things like building creators’ skills, encouraging diverse creators, and facilitating availability of works.”

The Fair Use and Transformative Works Meetup was a social affair, featuring chips, churros, and lots of chatting, as fans and others interested in transformative creation got together to hang out. After the official meetup, the group gathered at a local pub to continue the fun in a space that could include people without official Festival badges. (And a space where the participants could, if they wish, enjoy some delicious fandom-themed beverages!) SXSW’s Mentor Sessions give people interested in a field or subject a chance to meet with someone experienced in a field, and Heidi was able to chat with aspiring lawyers and inventive content creators.

The OTW fit right in to the SXSW Festival–and vice versa. Many of OTW’s partners in the Re:Create coalition participated as well. The festival has become a celebration of how interactive culture–culture that allows people to gather around what they love, and “talk back” to the world around them–has taken over the world. The Festival was full of people who value the ideals of participatory culture and the technologies that make it possible. The OTW was pleased to be a part of it!

Legal Advocacy

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