Organization for Transformative Works

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Organization for Transformative Works
Abbreviation OTW
Motto "run by and for fans to provide access to and preserve the history of fanworks and fan cultures"[1]
Formation 17 May 2007; 7 years ago (2007-05-17)[2]
Type non-profit
Main organ
board of directors, elected annually

The Organization For Transformative Works (OTW) is a non-profit organization that advocates for the transformative and legitimate nature of fan labor activities, including fan fiction, fan vids, anime music videos, and real person fiction.[3][4][5] It is an organization advocating for the legality of fan works, and its primary focus is protecting fan fiction, fan art, fan videos, and other transformative works from legal snafus and commercial exploitation.[6]

The Organization for Transformative Works offers the following services to fans in fandoms:

Legal Activism[edit]

The OTW provides Legal assistance to the fandom community, addressing the legal issues with fan fiction and other fan works. Rebecca Tushnet, a noted legal scholar on fanfiction and fair use in copyright and trademark law, works with the OTW's legal project. In 2008, the OTW (in coordination with the Electronic Frontier Foundation) successfully submitted requests to the Library of Congress for further exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow the fair use of video clips for certain noncommercial uses such as video remixes, commentary, and education, as well as to protect technology used for such purposes. The exceptions were also successfully renewed in 2012.[9][10]

The OTW has also submitted several amicus briefs to the courts in several cases involving intellectual property law:

  • In Fox vs. Dish, the OTW (in coalition with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge) submitted an amicus brief which argued in defense of digital recording methods used by Dish Network, claiming that "The popular fanwork genre of noncommercial videos (“vids”) uses clips from television shows or film, reworking them in a way that comments on or critiques the original. The Copyright Office has held that substantial numbers of vids constitute fair uses. But the creation of fan vids requires intermediate digital copying and processing in order to produce the transformative final product. OTW thus believes that intermediate copying performed to facilitate fair use constitutes fair use." [11]
  • In the case of Ryan Hart vs. Electronic Arts, the OTW (in combination with the Digital Media Law Project and the International Documentary Association) submitted a brief arguing that Electronic Arts's use of factual information (such as the height, weight, and jersey number of football players) in creative works (in this case, video games) is protected by the First Amendment.[12]

Fandom Archival Projects[edit]

The OTW has also instituted several projects for preserving fan history and culture. One such project was the creation of Fanlore, a wiki for preserving fandom history. The Fanlore wiki was first revealed in beta in 2008, with a full release in December 2010.[13]

The OTW also has several "Open Doors" projects dedicated to the preservation of fannish historical artifacts. These projects include The Fan Culture Preservation Project, a joint venture between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa to archive and preserve fanzines and other non-digital forms of fan culture, and The GeoCities Rescue Project, which attempted to preserve content originally hosted on Yahoo's GeoCities by transferring that content to new locations on the Archive of Our Own or within the Fanlore wiki.[14] Other miscellaneous artifacts and collections are stored on the OTW's main servers in the Special Collections gallery.

Archive of Our Own[edit]

Created by the OTW, the Archive of Our Own (AO3) is an open-source, non-commercial, non-profit archive for fan fiction and other transformative fanac. The Archive is built and run entirely by volunteers, many without previous coding experience.[7] The Archive was publicly launched into Open Beta on 14 November 2009,[15] and has been growing steadily since, passing one million fanworks in February 2014. [16][17] The archive was named one of Time magazine's 50 Best Websites of 2013.[18]


  1. ^ Organization for Transformative Works,, retrieved 28 November 2009  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Organization for Transformative Works (2007), Annual Report 2007 (PDF) 1, p. 4, retrieved 28 November 2009 
  3. ^ Cody, Steve; Ford, Sam (28 December 2007). "What businesses learned in 2007 about the digital race". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  4. ^ Ulaby, Neda (25 February 2009). "Vidders Talk Back To Their Pop-Culture Muses". NPR. Retrieved 28 November 2009. 
  5. ^ Hill, Logan (12 November 2007). "The Vidder". New York Magazine. Retrieved 28 November 2009. 
  6. ^ Lieb, Rebecca (28 March 2008). "Transformative Fans Transform Brands". ClickZ. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  7. ^ a b Torkington, Nat (19 May 2009). "Four short links: 19 May 2009 -- Recession Map, Gaming Psychology, Charging For Unwanted Content, and Two Great Projects". O'Reilly Radar. Retrieved 28 November 2009. 
  8. ^ Jenkins, Henry (5 December 2008). "Fan Vidding: A Labor Of Love (Part One)". Retrieved 28 November 2009. 
  9. ^ Estavillo, Maricel. "US Makes New Exemptions To Digital Millennium Copyright Act Provision". Intellectual Property Watch. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Staff. "EFF Wins Renewal of Smartphone Jailbreaking Rights". Kansas City InfoZine. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Ryan Hart vs. Electronic Arts Amici Brief" (PDF). Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Fox vs. Dish Amici Brief" (PDF). Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  13. ^ "Our Projects: Fanlore". Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Open Doors Projects". Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Announcing Open Beta". AO3 News. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  16. ^ "Update on the Milestone weekend". OTW News. 16 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-02. 
  17. ^ "2012 AO3 Milestones". AO3 News. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  18. ^ TIME: 50 Best Websites 2013: Archive of Our Own (accessed 27 July 2013)

External links[edit]