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OTW Fannews: Becoming the Norm

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Variety gave the entertainment industry a heads up on a critical fair use ruling in a case involving viral videos. Fair use is the key copyright provision protecting fanworks in the U.S. “‘Equals Three’s use of Jukin’s videos is admittedly commercial. Nevertheless, the commercial nature of the use is outweighed by the episode’s transformativeness,’ Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California wrote in the Oct. 13 decision. What makes the use ‘transformative’ is not clear-cut, the judge noted: ‘Determining whether Equals Three’s episodes parody Jukin’s videos is a difficult and nuanced task.’ But Judge Wilson ruled that even if Equals Three’s episodes are not parodies, the episodes comment on or criticize Jukin’s videos and are therefore allowable under fair use.”

OTW Legal Contributes to Victory in Lenz v. Universal

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Way back in 2007, Stephanie Lenz posted a 29-second video on YouTube of her 18-month-old son dancing in her kitchen. Playing in the background was Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy.” Little did Lenz know that eight years later, she’d be responsible for an important development in copyright fair use law.

Universal, which owns the copyright to the Prince song, demanded that the video be removed from YouTube by issuing a “takedown notice” under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But the law is clear: in order to issue a takedown notice for an allegedly infringing use, the copyright holder must swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the use is not “authorized by law,” and Lenz’s transformative, non-commercial video appeared to be a clear-cut example of fair use–in other words, it was authorized by the law. With help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Lenz fought back against Universal’s overreaching demand.

OTW Fannews: Fandom Bedfellows

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The University of Leicester announced a conference on Fandom and Religion. “‘Fandom is a major activity today: people’s passions become major commitments, and fans start seeming like religious devotees,’ says Dr Clive Marsh, Director of Lifelong Learning at the University of Leicester, who is one of the organisers. ‘I am particularly interested in researching the intensity with which people exercise their fandom, and how this signals the meaning and purpose that people find in, and through, their fan activity. Functionally at least, this can prove to be very similar indeed to religious practice.’”

OTW Fannews: The Mirror Writers

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  • A number of media articles have recently mentioned fanfiction in relation with the pro side of writing. One was in TIME where Rhys Griffiths discusses the continuation novel. Describing various works not written by the original authors, Rhys calls them an attempt “to obscure the act of literary ventriloquism that is occurring. The continuation novel differs from fan fiction (also enjoying a purple patch, which is unlikely to be a coincidence) chiefly in its ‘official’ nature. The books are commissioned by the deceased author’s estate, written with its approval, and marketed using both author’s brand associations.”

OTW Fannews: This Is Your Life

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At xojane, Emily Ansara Baines claimed I Learned Everything I Know About Sex From Reading X-Files Fan Fiction in High School. “Thanks to fan fiction, I didn’t mind some dirty talk. I also finally started to understand how oral sex was supposed to work and maybe even be enjoyable. While anal didn’t intrigue me, thanks to X-Files fan fiction I saw how it could be romantic and not, as my girlfriends told me, demeaning. So, when it came to me actually having sex, I felt prepared. At 16, I was the youngest of my friends to embark on that experience.”