OTW Signal, February 2024

Every month in OTW Signal we’ll take a look at stories that connect to the OTW’s mission and projects, including legal, technology, academic, fannish history, and preservation issues that are important for fandom, fan culture or transformative works.

In the News

In January, OTW Legal handled some mistaken copyright takedown notices sent to search engines targeting AO3. Our Legal team investigates takedown notices sent to or targeting AO3 and will issue counternotifications if those notices are in error. In this case, Legal particularly appreciated the prompt responses and support for the existence of fanworks from authors Harley Laroux (link is NSFW) , Hailey Turner, and Lisa Henry.

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for mistaken takedown notices to get sent, because some automated systems for detecting full copies of a work make mistakes. These errors are why the counternotification process of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act can be so important. To find out more about that process, our Legal team recommends reading a guide on DMCA takedowns provided by the Digital Media Law Project.

A recent article published by Atlas Obscura shines a spotlight on the Yuletide Fanfiction Exchange:

During Yuletide, fans nominate a huge host of fanfiction subjects: an obscure fantasy book series, or an indie movie they’ve been thinking about all year, or a one-season television sequel to an early-90s Tom Cruise movie. From that massive list of nominations, participants write letters detailing what fandoms from the list they’d like to receive stories about—and what they’d be willing to write for others. And in the matching process—aided by code built into the site—they might find the one person in the world who also loves an extremely niche thing as much as they do.

Yuletide was initially hosted on its own site, and has been hosted on Archive of Our Own since 2009. The AO3 was very new in 2009; a decade and a half later, it just celebrated 12 million fanworks posted.

This year marked Yuletide’s 20th anniversary, and thanks to the Open Doors project, all Yuletide works previously hosted elsewhere have been imported to AO3, ensuring continued access. Open Doors is an OTW project dedicated to preserving fanworks and offering shelter to at-risk fannish content in order to ensure its continued accessibility.

Keep in mind that Yuletide is just one of many fanfiction exchanges that thrive on AO3, offering a multitude of opportunities for fans to explore and engage.

OTW Tips

Are you organising an exchange on AO3 and some participants don’t have an AO3 account yet? Fret not! Write to AO3 Support with details of the exchange and we’ll load invitations directly to your account. For more guides and tips about how to run a gift exchange on AO3, check out our FAQ

We want your suggestions for the next OTW Signal post! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or news story you think we should know about, send us a link. We are looking for content in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in an OTW post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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