In a world…
In a world without the members and donors whose support makes its work possible, the OTW could not exist. And if the OTW could not exist, the projects it’s been carrying out for the past eight years would not be supporting fans, fanworks, and fandom right now and into the future.
Without the OTW, first and foremost, there would be no Archive of Our Own. The AO3 is one of the two largest fanwork archives on the web, and it’s the only one whose only constraint on fanworks is that they not violate U.S. law. The AO3 is the only fanwork archive with a dedicated legal team backing it up to protect its fanworks against takedown requests, because the OTW has made it clear that it believes fanworks are transformative works, and transformative works are entirely legal.
Without the OTW, that legal team that responds to takedown requests on the Archive would never have been assembled, and all the other legal advocacy work it’s done would never have happened. The OTW’s Legal team has applied for DMCA exemptions for vidding practices from the U.S. Copyright Office. They’ve spearheaded working with organizations whose interests overlap with OTW’s to defend user rights and advocate for copyright reform around the world. They’ve helped people testify about fandom and fanworks to the U.S. Congress–and that was all just this year!
Without the OTW, dozens of at-risk fandom archives would have faded into the oblivion of link rot, accessible only to people who know about the Wayback Machine, if those sites were ever included in it. Thanks to the OTW’s Open Doors committee, at-risk fan archives from the earliest days of the internet and forward have been able to move to the AO3, where the works they hosted will be preserved for future fans. Open Doors has also assisted many fans with donating decades of print archives to the University of Iowa’s special collections.
Without the OTW, the leading journal of fan studies would not be an editorially independent, peer-reviewed, online open access journal. Transformative Works and Cultures is an innovative space in which peer-reviewed academic articles stand alongside essays by fans, and in which fandom, fans, and fanworks are treated as worthy of discussion. Equally importantly, TWC has provided a place where fan scholars have been able to tell the stories of transformative works fandoms, pushing back against their erasure from mainstream narratives about “remix culture.”
Without the OTW, in short, fandom and fans would have no dedicated platform in online, legal, academic, and offline spaces. The OTW was founded in the belief that fandom and fanworks are legitimate, and that the best way to ensure they would be protected and supported was to do that work ourselves. Eight years later, that’s truer than ever.
What keeps our current universe from turning into this darkest timeline in which the OTW doesn’t exist? The support of our donors and members. Support the OTW’s work, and donate today!
– Andrea Horbinski, OTW Board of Directors