Banner: 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

What’s Going on with Disney and Fanworks?

Recently, you may have received an email informing you that Disney has updated its terms of use. Or you may have seen discussion about Disney’s terms of use and statements on Twitter around the #maythe4th hashtag. So what’s going on? Our Legal team can’t give you advice, but here’s what they have to say about what Disney’s terms mean for fans and fanworks.

Disney’s terms of use can be found here. (The direct English-language link is here). They govern the use of various (unidentified) Disney “products” such as websites, software, applications, contests, and services. What does that mean? Well, although this scope is broad, Disney can’t use terms of service to govern what people do out in the world — they can only govern what people do in Disney’s own platforms, (such as Disney’s websites, apps, software, and contests). Even if Disney would like to control what people do outside of those spaces, they just don’t have that power: out in the world, the usual rules of copyright, trademark, and fair use law apply. Read More

OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Margarita Coale

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.

Margarita Coale is a commercial and intellectual property attorney in Dallas, who focuses exclusively on the representation of authors, and romance writers in particular. A love of romance novels is one of the few constants in her well-traveled, adventurous life which began in Monterrey, Mexico and included time at a New York law firm. Today, as part of Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week Margarita talks about a legal case and its fannish connections.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

When we first got a Kindle many years ago, and it got web capability, I started looking for things to read (I had a small child and was trying to find a work/home balance). I came across Archive of Our Own in late 2013, and started to read quite a bit of Sherlock Holmes fandom work. Towards the end of 2015 I started to look into other sites, including fictionpress and literotica, and became quite familiar with Omegaverse and some of the other fandoms. I have many friends who are Supernatural fans and have often discussed those works with them.

These days, I spend a lot of time monitoring our children’s use of AO3 (its tagging system can be challenging), Wattpad, and Reddit, while also dealing with some legal issues for my clients (I have some who publish fanfiction au and also use Radish).

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This Week in Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 132

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening. It’s Copyright Week and appropriately enough, we have several stories for you that all operate at the intersection between fanfiction and traditional publishing. Buckle up!


First off, an article by Sian Cain for the Guardian on how Fifty Shades of Grey “changed our sex lives”. Focusing on EL James’s native country, the UK, Cain explores the ongoing legacy of James’s trilogy, ‘the runaway bestselling books’ of the 2010s. Cain’s account traces ripple effects across the publishing industry, the BDSM scene, and even the law. She gives space to the criticisms leveled at James’s work by ‘BDSM practitioners and domestic abuse campaigners’ and acknowledges its problematic effects, but she also finds some positive consequences from the international obsession with Grey’s story and sexual behaviors. In any case, it’s a thoroughly-researched insight into what is still online fanfiction’s most famous mainstream success. Read More