Annual Report 2007




  • 2007 in review
    • A radical idea
    • Getting started
    • Building the OTW
  • 2008: Opening the door
    • Voices of OTW
  • Finances
    • Statement of Financial Information
    • Statement of Activities
    • Statement of Functional Expenses
    • Notes to Financial Statements
  • About the OTW
    • Mission
    • Who we are
    • Get involved


“We need a central archive of our own … Something that would not hide from Google or any public mention, and would clearly state our case for the legality of our hobby up front, while not trying to make a profit off other people’s IP and instead only making it easier for us to celebrate it, together, and create a welcoming space for new fans that has a sense of our history and our community behind it.” -from “An Archive of One’s Own”, posted to Livejournal by Astolat on May 17, 2007

In the spring of 2007, a group of fans had a radical notion:

  • What if the hundreds of thousands of fan-created stories, videos and images were celebrated, instead of half-hidden?
  • What if fans had access to an online archive that wouldn’t back down at the merest hint of a lawsuit or change policies at the whim of an advertiser?
  • What if there were no advertisers?
  • What if, instead of letting false assumptions about copyright go unchallenged, there was a group that spoke up for the legality of transformative works?
  • And what if, instead of letting four decades of cultural history be rewritten, fannish creators and consumers celebrated their past and shared it with the wider community?

In the spring of 2007, the Organization for Transformative Works was born.


“I know we have project managers in our community — and coders and designers — can’t we do this? Seriously — we can come up with a site that would be miles better and more attractive to fanfic writers/readers than anything else out there, guys, because we actually USE the stuff.”-from Astolat’s “An Archive of One’s Own” post

Hundreds of people responded to that first post, offering to help. By July, a board of directors had been assembled and committees started to take shape. As people stepped forward to help, they brought with them more ideas: What about an academic journal? Or a way to rescue dying archives?

By the end of 2007, what began as an idea to create a nonprofit archive had developed into the full-fledged Organization for Transformative Works. Below are some highlights:


  • May 17: Astolat proposes “An Archive of One’s Own”
  • May 20: The Livejournal community “FanArchive” (later changed to “OTW_news”) is created.
  • June 4: Organizers issue a “Willing to Serve” call for volunteers. Hundreds respond.
  • June 22: Board of Directors holds its first meeting. The name “Organization for Transformative Works” is proposed.
  • Aug. 17: Committee chairs meet for the first time. The main OTW projects are identified as the archive, legal assistance to fans and a fandom wiki.
  • Sept. 5: OTW is incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the U.S. state of Delaware.
  • Sept. 15 The board approves the first version of the mission statement.
  • Sept. 28 goes live.
  • Oct. 5 The archive-related effort to teach more fans how to write their own code kicks off with a Python vs. Ruby deathmatch. (Ruby wins.)
  • Nov. 12 OTW is mentioned for the first time in the mainstream press, when noted vidder and OTW supporter Luminosity is profiled by New York magazine.
  • Nov. 28 OTW announces it will publish a new journal for fannish-related academic research, to be called Transformative Works and Cultures.
  • Dec. 11 Following community feedback, the mission statement is revised.
  • Dec. 27 First OTW online community chat is held.



AN ARCHIVE OF OUR OWN will provide a noncommercial and nonprofit central hosting place for fanfiction and other transformative fanworks, based on a new open-source software package. This software will also be made available to other fans to host their own robust, full-featured archives. The archive is aiming for a public launch by August 2008.

TRANSFORMATIVE WORKS AND CULTURES is a peer-reviewed academic journal that seeks to promote scholarship on fanworks and practices. The first issue will be published in late 2008.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE: The OTW believes that fanworks are creative and transformative, core fair uses, and will therefore be proactive in protecting and defending fanworks from commercial exploitation and legal challenge. This help will not be limited to those fans or projects directly connected with OTW.

OPEN DOORS is dedicated to offering shelter to at-risk fannish projects. Some of these may be integrated into the archive or wiki once those services are up and running, while others which have a particular historical significance or are structurally difficult to integrate may be preserved as “special collections”.

WIKI: To preserve the history of transformative fanworks and the fandoms from which they have arisen, OTW will be developing its own fandom wiki, with soft launch to occur in the first half of 2008.




In 2007, the Organization for Transformative Works was born. In 2008, the OTW will launch its first major projects, offering up a new “front door” for creators and consumers of fan works.


  • February: Transformative Works and Cultures launches, issuing a call for papers.
  • March: OTW begins offering annual memberships for $10. Members vote for the board and have a voice in overall organizational matters. OTW projects, including the archive, will be open to all, regardless of membership status.
  • April: Wiki launches.
  • May: Preliminary testing of the archive software begins.
  • June: Work begins on an oral history of fan videos.
  • August: An Archive of Our Own launches to the public.
  • September: OTW holds first election. One-third of the currently appointed board will be replaced by elected members. (The other two-thirds will be replaced by elected members in following years.)


“I myself have been and am a fan long before I am a pro. … I believe deeply that transformative work enriches both those who do it and those who inspire it.”—Naomi Novik

“We have created these things, these fics and vids and archives and cons, for ourselves, because this is what we do when they’re not looking at us, and we are not sorry.”—Watersword

“We’re not anonymous, we’re no longer underground. … We haven’t been truly underground since we ended up in search engines, if we truly were before that.”—Elynross

“I’m in it for the fans of today, to offer them services they may not want and are under no obligation to use. I’m in it for the fans of tomorrow, so they have access to the fannish gift economy I value.”—Ainsley

“People outside fandom don’t understand fandom. It’s up to us to defend ourselves; it’s up to us to explain what our community is to them; it’s up to us to provide a safe place for our fanworks.”—Femmequixotic

“We have to do something before some commercial entity comes in and homesteads our territory, relegating us a tiny piece of our land as long as we pony up content and eyeballs that can be sold to some advertiser.” —Wickedwords

“Because I want us to own the goddamned servers, ok? Because I want a place where we can’t be TOSed and where no one can turn the lights off or try to dictate to us what kind of stories we can tell each other.”—Cesperanza

Organization for Transformative Works
Assets 2007
Cash and cash equivalents 6,636
Total current assets 6,636
Total Assets 6,636
Liabilities and Net Assets
Accounts payable and accrued expenses
Total current liabilities
Unrestricted net assets 6,637
Total unrestricted net assets 6,637
Temporarily restricted net assets
Total net assets 6,637
Total Liabilities and Net Assets $ 6,637


Organization for Transformative Works
For the Year Ended December 31, 2007
Unrestricted Temporarily Restricted Total
Support and Revenue
Contributions 6,030 6,030
Foundation grants
Membership dues
Special events 1,335 1,335
In-kind donations 893 893
Total Support and Revenue 8,258 8,258
Program services 448 448
Administrative and general 904 904
Fundraising 269 269
Total Expenses 1,622 1,622
Change in Net Assets 6,636 6,636
Net Assets, beginning of year
Net Assets, end of year $ 6,636 $ 6,636


Organization for Transformative Works
For the Year Ended December 31, 2007
Program Administrative and General Fundraising Total
Paypal fees 35 35
Project management 326 326
Accounting 30 30
Incorporation fee 179 179
Archive design 211 211
Domain purchase 237 237 474
Fundraising expenses 269 269
Miscellaneous 98 98
Total expenses $ 448 $ 904 $ 269 $ 1,622


Organization for Transformative Works
December 31, 2007

1. Organization and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Organization: The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization incorporated in Delaware and seeking Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit status under the Internal Revenue Code. The OTW was established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms. The OTW is a collaborative effort initiated and driven by fans for fans. There are at the moment over sixty fans working on a volunteer basis on four major projects: creating a network for legal assistance for fans challenged on the legitimacy of their fanworks, the creation of a Fan Wiki intended to provide information about fandom to the general public, the online publication of an academic journal (Transformative Works and Cultures), and the creation of an online archive for fanworks, An Archive of Our Own.

Basis of Presentation: The accompanying financial statements are presented using the cash method of accounting.

Financial Statement Presentation: Information regarding the financial position and activities are classified into the applicable classes of net assets: unrestricted net assets, temporarily restricted net assets, and permanently restricted net assets. Currently, all assets are categorized as unrestricted. Furthermore, expenses are classified into program service expenses (currently, the creation of the fanworks archive) and support expenses. Support expenses are administrative and general, and fundraising expenses.

Cash and cash equivalents: The OTW maintains cash balances within federally insured limits. No cash equivalents are held by the organization.

Use of Estimates: The preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.

Contributions: The OTW recognizes all unconditional contributions received as income in the period received. Contributions received are recorded as unrestricted, temporarily restricted, or permanently restricted support depending on the existence and/or nature of any donor restrictions. All contributions are considered to be available for unrestricted use unless specifically restricted by the donor.

Donated Services: The OTW does not assign a value to volunteer activities in the statement of activities. The in-kind donations included here included the payment of start-up costs such as incorporation fees and post office box rental.

Membership Dues — Membership dues are recognized as revenue based on the membership period covered by the member dues. The OTW’s membership is on a revolving year basis; however, the OTW did not hold its first membership drive prior to the close of the fiscal year and no membership dues are reflected in these financial statements.

Functional Allocation of Expenses — The costs of providing the various programs and other activities have been summarized on a functional basis in the statement of activities. Accordingly, certain costs have been allocated among the programs and supporting services benefited.

Income Taxes — The OTW has applied for exemption from Federal income and State franchise taxes under provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and Section 1902(b)(6), Title 30 of the Delaware State Taxation Code respectively. As such, no provision for income taxes has been provided in these financial statements.

Concentration of Credit Risk — The OTW maintains its cash balances at one bank. Accounts at the bank are insured by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for up to $100,000.



The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms. We believe that fanworks are transformative and that transformative works are legitimate.

The OTW represents a practice of transformative fanwork historically rooted in a primarily female culture. The OTW will preserve the record of that history as we pursue our mission while encouraging new and non-mainstream expressions of cultural identity within fandom.

During the next two years, the OTW will lay the groundwork for a vibrant and creative organization by:

  • Establishing the OTW as an IRS-recognized nonprofit organization.
  • Creating infrastructure for OTW by establishing a board and creating committees, soliciting membership and donations, forming alliances, and holding elections.
  • Encouraging community interaction and input via the OTW’s Web site and across the online and offline spaces where fans congregate.
  • Designing, programming, and launching an Archive of Our Own, a Web archive to host transformative fanworks.
  • Exploring ways to make fanworks as accessible as possible.
  • Establishing a legal defense project and forming alliances to defend fanworks from legal challenge.
  • Creating a fan wiki to preserve the history of transformative fanworks and the fandoms from which they have arisen.
  • Establishing a refereed academic journal to promote scholarship on fanworks and fan practices.
  • Developing a long-term plan for the organization.
  • Undertaking additional projects relevant to transformative fandom, such as the preservation of fan history and fanworks, building and maintaining infrastructure for use by fans, and sponsoring academic scholarship on fandom.


The Organization for Transformative Works is run for fans by fans. The directors of OTW’s board are all active in fandom, as are the more than sixty other people serving on 13 committees.


NAOMI NOVIK, Board chair, is the New York Times-bestselling author of the award-winning Temeraire historical fantasy series, which has been translated into twenty-three languages and optioned as a film by director Peter Jackson. She has been active in online fandom since 1994, publishing stories and vids in more than forty-two fandoms and founding several fan-run institutions including a vidding convention and a cross-fandom story exchange. She created the open-source Automated Archive software.

KELLYANN BESSA has a BS in Management from Cardinal Stritch University, and currently works as a human resources consultant for an investment firm. She has been in fandom for nearly ten years as a writer, mailing list owner, community moderator, and webmaster. In addition to running several archives, she hosts and maintains websites for a number of fanfiction writers. She also works several hours a week at her local comic book store, and participates in the online feminist comic fan community.

FRANCESCA COPPA, PHD, is director of film studies and associate professor of English at Muhlenberg College, where she teaches courses in dramatic literature, popular fiction, and mass media storytelling. Her writings on media fandom have been included in Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet and presented at MIT’s Media in Transition conference. Coppa has involved in online fandom since the mid-1990s as a writer, list administrator, vidder, archivist, and community moderator.

CATHY CUPITT, DCA, teaches writing and Shakespeare at the University of Western Australia and has a doctorate in creative arts from Curtin University of Technology. Her fiction has appeared in Australian magazines such as Westerly and Borderlands, and in 1997 she won the first prize in Hyundai’s 20th Anniversary World-wide Essay Contest. She has written in nine fandoms since 1988, runs an active recommendations site, and was a co-convenor of Australia’s 2001 national SF convention.

SUSAN GIBEL, JD, is a senior manager with the nonprofit Center for Effective Public Policy, Inc., where she focuses on national training and technical assistance initiatives related to domestic violence and offender reentry. She has worked with antiviolence organizations on issues of domestic violence and queer rights and holds a law degree from the University of Minnesota. Gibel has been involved in fandom since the mid-1970s, and currently writes in a handful of fandoms, primarily Due South.

MICHELE TEPPER, PHD, is an interaction designer and usability expert who helps companies create memorable and successful software, Web sites, and digital devices. She has published influential essays about online community and social software, and she is the former Web producer for Lingua Franca magazine. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Michigan. Tepper was one of the creators and designers of, a fan-built, fan-maintained site centered on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

REBECCA TUSHNET, JD, is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. A graduate of Yale Law School, she clerked for Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and Associate Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court. She practiced intellectual property law at Debevoise & Plimpton before joining the NYU faculty, then moving to Georgetown. She has advised and represented several fanfiction sites in disputes with copyright and trademark owners and maintains a blog on intellectual property law at Tushnet has been active in online fandom since 1996.

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