Organization for Transformative Works
Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) graphic banner, umbrella of OTW's projects
|Formation||17 May 2007|
|board of directors, elected annually|
|Mission||"A nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms. We believe that fanworks are transformative and that transformative works are legitimate."|
The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a non-profit, fan activist organization. Its mission is to serve fans by preserving and encouraging transformative fan activity, known as "fanwork", and by making fanwork widely accessible.
OTW advocates for the transformative, legal, and legitimate nature of fan labor activities, including fan fiction, fan vids, fan art, anime music videos, podfic (audio recordings of fan fiction), and real person fiction. Its vision is to nurture fans and fan culture, and to protect fans' transformative work from legal snafus and commercial exploitation.
- Archive of Our Own (AO3): An open-source, non-commercial, non-profit, multi-fandom web archive built by fans for hosting fan fiction and for embedding other fanwork, including fan art, fan videos, and podfic.
- Fanlore: A wiki for fans from a wide range of communities whose published mission is to provide a platform "to record and share their histories, experiences and traditions" in fandom and fanwork history.
- Open Doors: Preservation of fannish historical artifacts, such as zines and Geocities websites
- Transformative Works and Cultures: A peer-reviewed academic journal for scholarship on fanworks and practices
- Legal advocacy to the fandom community, addressing the legal issues with fan fiction and other fan works, including defending fans' fair use of copyrighted material.
- Vidding (2008): a series of six short documentaries on vidding, in combination with participatory-culture academic Henry Jenkins and the New Media Literacies project at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Fanhackers: A directory of information and resources to help fans, academics, and activists, including good meta (metadata, or information, analysis, and discussion about data).
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.
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."
- 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.
Fandom archival projects
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.
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. Other miscellaneous artifacts and collections are stored on the OTW's main servers in the Special Collections gallery.
Archive of Our Own
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 fanwork. The Archive is built and run entirely by volunteers, many without previous coding experience. The Archive was publicly launched into open beta on 14 November 2009, and has been growing steadily since.
Time magazine included Archive of Our Own on its list of "50 Best Websites 2013". Time said that AO3 "serves all fandoms equally, from The A-Team to Zachary Quinto and beyond," and also called it "the most carefully curated, sanely organized, easily browsable and searchable nonprofit collection of fan fiction on the Web...".
Fans post, tag and categorize their own works on AO3. Volunteer "tag wranglers" link similar tags so readers can search for works in the categories and types they want. The tagging system allows easy compilation of statistics (stats).
Fan fiction ranges in length, from fewer than one thousand words (flash fiction, or one-hundred-word drabbles) to novel-length works of hundreds of thousands of words. According to an article on fandom statistics published on the Daily Dot newspaper in 2013, AO3 hosts more very short works than long ones, but readers prefer the longer works. The average very short story received fewer than 150 hits, while novel-length works are more likely to receive around 1,500 hits.
A writer who posts a story on AO3 can record its word count on the story’s header, along with other information such as the story’s fandom, romantic pairings, and other tropes. Some fan works are 'crossovers' that draw on two or more universes or characters. Writers can also note if their story is finished or a work in progress (WIP).
As of 2016, the archive hosts more than 2 million works in more than 20,000 fandoms. Destination Toast, fan and statistician, compiles and analyzes fandom statistics, especially stats from Archive of Our Own, which she says is "the most easily searchable archive I know of." In January 2016, she posted "2015: A (Statistical) Year in Fandom." It includes statistics from two other large fan fiction archives, FanFiction.Net (FFN) and Wattpad as well as the popular microblog platform Tumblr. The post shows that the most active fandoms on AO3 in 2015 were (largest first) Supernatural, Dragon Age, Harry Potter, The Avengers, Teen Wolf, and Sherlock. Other media sources include movies, television shows, and books including Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, and The Hunger Games.
- Organization for Transformative Works (2007), Annual Report 2007 (PDF), 1, p. 4, retrieved 28 November 2009
- Organization for Transformative Works, Official website for the Organization for Transformative Works, retrieved 8 February 2016
- "What We Believe | Organization for Transformative Works". transformativeworks.org. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- "Wiki editors debate audio fiction's place in fandom". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- Ulaby, Neda (25 February 2009). "Vidders Talk Back To Their Pop-Culture Muses". NPR. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Hill, Logan (12 November 2007). "The Vidder". New York Magazine. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Lieb, Rebecca (28 March 2008). "Transformative Fans Transform Brands". ClickZ. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
- "Fanlore:About - Fanlore". fanlore.org. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- "Legal Advocacy | Organization for Transformative Works". transformativeworks.org. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Jenkins, Henry (5 December 2008). "Fan Vidding: A Labor Of Love (Part One)". Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- "About". Fanhackers. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- Estavillo, Maricel. "US Makes New Exemptions To Digital Millennium Copyright Act Provision". Intellectual Property Watch. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Staff. "EFF Wins Renewal of Smartphone Jailbreaking Rights". Kansas City InfoZine. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
- "Fox vs. Dish Amici Brief" (PDF). Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Ryan Hart vs. Electronic Arts Amici Brief" (PDF). Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Our Projects: Fanlore". Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "ArchivesSpace at the University of Iowa, Public Interface | University of Iowa Special Collections | Organization for Transformative Works Fanzine and Fan Fiction Collection". aspace.lib.uiowa.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- "Open Doors Projects". Organization for Transformative Works. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- 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.
- "Announcing Open Beta". AO3 News. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
- Organization for Transformative Works. "Site Stats: A Look at 2013 and Beyond, Part 1, Archive of Our Own". archiveofourown.org. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
- Grossman, Lev. "50 Best Websites 2013". Time. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia (Jul 15, 2013). "Unpacking the unofficial fanfiction census". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Works, Organization for Transformative. "Show Wrangling Guideline | Archive of Our Own". archiveofourown.org. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- "Unpacking the unofficial fanfiction census". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- Riley, Olivia (2015). "Archive of Our Own and the Gift Culture of Fanfiction: Analysis of an AO3 Fic Header" (PDF). University of Minnesota Libraries: Digital Conservancy (Author's Thesis). pp. 44–58. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
- Works, Organization for Transformative. "Home | Archive of Our Own". archiveofourown.org. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- Romano, Aja (Jan 30, 2016). "Is it possible to quantify fandom? Here's one statistician who's crunching the numbers". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
- "Fandom stats". destinationtoast.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
- "2015: A (Statistical) Year in Fandom". ToastyStats. destinationtoast.tumblr.com. January 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
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