From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.
- Fan creators continue being confused about the legality of their work and clearly many don’t know where to turn for answers. Luckily OTW’s legal team keeps trying to get the word out. Two of our staffers appeared on the Fansplaining podcast and talked about “listener responses to the Wattpad episode, the purpose and projects of the Organization for Transformative Works, plagiarism vs. copyright infringement, and #FanworksAreFairUse.” Legal Committee Chair Betsy Rosenblatt said, “[T]here’s a sort of personal autonomy element to fandom that I think is a really important thing to preserve. Maybe not the only important thing to preserve, but a thing that matters, and I think that’s part of what mattered to the [Organization for Transformative Works].” (No transcript available).
- While copyright claims scale new heights of absurdity, TechDirt pointed out that other companies are reaching out to fandom. “When Rockstar released its own video editor for Grand Theft Auto 5, the move in and of itself received only mild applause. People have been using video games to make entirely transformative works for some time now. More important was the signal that Rockstar was sending: use our game to make fan films. This is smart for any number of reasons, but allowing fans to use games as they see fit makes those games more valuable to the market, and those transformative works ultimately only serve to advertise the original game in the first place.”
- Less often discussed in relation to fans’ activities are how beneficial they can be. EdSurge hosted a post on the difficulty of getting kids engaged with schoolwork compared to how they excelled in their own hobbies and interests. “Finally, Annika is a video editor. She uploads twice a week to her Vocaloid Chorus channel. She started by wasting time watching anime. She began drawing manga, then started creating Vocaloid ‘choruses’ mashing up others’ work, and now creates her own Vocaloid ‘covers’ and participates in fan fiction. The adults in her life barely know what any of this is. Her learning environment is made up of online interest groups with individuals that challenge each other and share knowledge and skills. Too hard? Nope.”
- The Daily Dot took a look at the business end of things from a fan’s point of view, detailing the expenses that go into being an anime fan. “Previously we’ve looked at the cost of YouTube fandom and what it would take financially to attend all the marquee events in the space for one year. With anime having a wider berth of events and a longer history, there’s a lot of ways to slice your fiscal fandom, but we decided to grab the biggest names in the community for our imaginary fan, to see how they stack up against the YouTubers.”
Do you have your own stories about what fanworks have done for you? Start a page 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 Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.
In July, the OTW joined with The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and fans from around the world to promote their Fan Works Are Fair Use (FWAFU) campaign. Part of the OTW’s mission since its founding has been to support transformative works that manifest as fanfiction, fanart, fan films, discussion communities, cosplay and other forms of fannish creativity. With the HPA, we are working to build a community of 5,000 fans and fan creators interested in protecting all types of fan-made works.
The campaign has launched with a celebration of fanworks on social media. Using #FanWorksTaughtMe, fans are discussing the different skills, perspectives, and communities they have gained from fanworks that they love. Contributions span from tweets to videos and are shedding light on how fans use fanworks to build their confidence, refine their skills, explore issues like race and gender, understand the perspectives of others, and more.
Several artists and fan creators are already celebrating fanworks through the campaign. Sleepy Hollow’s Orlando Jones has signed on as a spokesperson for the campaign, along with FictionAlley co-founder/original OTW Legal Committee member Heidi Tandy, wizard rockers Harry and the Potters, YouTubers Kristina Horner and Lauren Fairweather, and novelist Naomi Novik, one of the OTW’s founders.
Fandom is not a passive experience. Today, fan creators actively help to bring in new fans and add to new energy that benefits the source material and its creators. The FWAFU coalition believes that this culture is worth celebrating and protecting. If you’ve ever enjoyed a piece of fan work, you probably do, too. Visit fanworksarefairuse.org to join the community and add your voice to the celebration using the hashtag #FanWorksTaughtMe.
Fan Works Are Fair Use grew from the fact that, under US copyright law, it is fair to use copyrighted material for certain uses, including commenting on the original, which is usually the purpose or inspiration behind fanworks. Fan Works Are Fair Use and the #FanworksTaughtMe hashtag inform fans of their right to be creative, and support changes to US copyright law that protect original content creators as well as fan creators who produce beloved parodies, homages, and works of art honoring the source material.