OTW Signal, March 2023

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

Last month an article in Wired pointed out the importance of AO3’s Fannish Next-of-Kin process, and how much it differed from the policies (or lack thereof) of other major online sites.

As we build the next era of the web, proponents of decentralized, communally created and owned spaces would be well served to take a page out of the AO3’s book. The people pitching our digital future in the metaverse can feel like they’re broadcasting a cash grab—and the resolutely noncommercial AO3, where works are written, shared, and passed to Fannish-Next-of Kin wholly for free, might feel like an unlikely comparison.

The article also references how much has already been lost.

Many fanzines and other collections have been lost forever; as the Fannish Estate Planning article on the communal wiki Fanlore puts it, family members of deceased fans often “have no idea what they are looking at, and sadly, much fannish material ends up in the trash and other inglorious destinations.”

One of OTW’s founders, Francesca Coppa, was interviewed about fanfiction stigmas and how some of them are changing.

In addition to its suggestive reputation, at that time, fanfiction lacked credibility as a form of literature. Fanfiction writers could easily come under attack for stealing material, both in an artistic sense and in a legal framework. Yet, Coppa recognizes that fanfiction is original, transformative work: “The phrase ‘transformative works,’ it makes my heart happy every time I see it […] It’s like, of course you didn’t steal. You just wrote 100,000 words, right? You did all the work and you wrote a whole novel.”

The article also reminds readers of AO3’s non-commercial stance: “Unlike social media or online communities, there are no incessant email reminders to finish a story or recommendations for new posts. There’s no product marketing or advertisement.”

OTW Tips

In February, Open Doors celebrated a new record for the most archives Open Doors has ever imported in one calendar year! If you’re looking to discover newly preserved fics or fanart, check out the 2022 import roundup post for links to these archived collections. If you support our preservation work and would like to get more involved, keep an eye out for the OTW’s next recruitment round in a few weeks. Open Doors will be looking for volunteers to help import works like these and perform other related tasks.

We want your suggestions! 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.

OTW Signal

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