Spotlight on Legal Issues

U.S. Copyright News, OTW Legal, and You

Since we began in 2007, the Organization for Transformative Works’ core mission has included working to promote fan-friendly copyright law. For years, we’ve submitted testimony and comments to governments, filed briefs in court, and helped mobilize fans to have their voices heard by lawmakers around the world. Recently, one of our big legal advocacy projects has been testifying and submitting comments to the U.S. Senate about the way U.S. Copyright works online under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis has released proposed legislation that would be bad for the AO3 and bad for fans. OTW Legal will fight for fans against this proposal, and you can help.

Sen. Tillis’s proposal is awful. Among other things, it would dismantle safe harbors in the DMCA that protect the AO3 and other fan sites. It would put fanworks at greater risk of being taken down, and make it harder for new fan sites to get started. But here’s the good news: it’s just one Senator’s wish list. Although Sen. Tillis’s office has released a proposal, it’s not even a bill yet–and if we remember our Schoolhouse Rock, becoming a bill is only the first step on a long, winding road that can involve lots of changes and may go nowhere. And before it starts on any road, the OTW (and you!) will have opportunities to have our voices heard and make a difference in what (if anything) might go in a bill.

OTW’s legal advocacy team is on the case. We’ve been submitting responses and objections to Congress and the Senate, meeting with Sen. Tillis and other lawmakers, and doing everything else we can to continue to support free expression and fair use, promote copyright safe harbors that make it possible for the AO3 to exist, and protect fans from having their works unfairly taken down or commercially exploited by others.

We’re optimistic that this wish list will not become law! But we have a lot of work ahead of us, and if you live in the United States, you can help. As things go forward, we’ll know more about what specific actions will make a difference, but for now the biggest thing you can do is stand up and be counted. If you are interested in staying informed or getting involved, let us and our allies at the Re:Create Coalition know!.

OTW Legal is here to help! To find out more about the OTW’s Legal Advocacy work or how to contact us, visit our Legal Advocacy page.

10 thoughts to “U.S. Copyright News, OTW Legal, and You”

  1. Thank you for all the things you do! Like keeping track of these things and fighting for us!

  2. I hope that there will be more we are able to do to help you, but for now, we’re with you! Good luck out there, and thank you for fighting for us!

  3. Is there a summary of the proposition? I will gladly send in my comment but I want to know what to comment on and i don’t really get the whole thing. And I want my comment to be effective. Thank you for all that you do OTW! Maybe you can include a banner on AO3 as well so that people will know more?

    1. Thanks. This same post is on AO3.

      Sen. Tillis’s announcement, including links to a summary and the text of the discussion draft itself, are here: https://www.tillis.senate.gov/2020/12/tillis-releases-landmark-discussion-draft-to-reform-the-digital-millennium-copyright-act

      The EFF’s analysis is here: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/12/disastrous-copyright-proposal-goes-straight-our-naughty-list

      One of the most effective things you can do right now is to sign up to get involved using the link above via our friends at he ReCreate coalition: https://www.recreatecoalition.org/getinvolved/.

      Thanks – OTW Legal

  4. I’m hearing the same things from EFF. Unfortunately I don’t live in US – well, unfortunately in this instance. But remember there are those of us world wide who are cheering you on – and in your submissions you could perhaps include the fact that this is something that could impact people in a lot of countries, not just US.

  5. Is there a template or even a talking points bullet list of what, specially, we should say in our emails? There’s a Tumblr post going around gathering traction, but a large number of commenters, myself included, are wondering what exactly we should say in the emails to Tillis.

    Something simple like
    – what specific piece of legislation we’re opposing
    – why it’s bad
    – why specifically we oppose it with regards to fanfic and AO3

    That would help a lot and generate a lot more emails, I think. I know when I get an action alert from the ACLU, for instance, that gives me a pre written email to send with space to add my own comments, it makes it a lot easier to click send. Thanks.

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