Is YouTube Blocking Your Vids? Exercise Your Right To Fair Use!

We’ve heard from a number of people that YouTube has recently blocked a number of fanvids due to alleged music rights violations. But YouTube also provides a mechanism for vidders to assert their right to fair use: a quick and easy dispute process.

YouTube recognizes that there are legitimate artistic and critical reasons to use copyrighted material, and the online form gives, as a potential reason for dispute: “This video uses copyrighted material in a manner that does not require approval of the copyright holder. It is a fair use under copyright law.” The form also asks you to explain further.

Fair use is a muscle: it gets stronger when you exercise it, so if you believe that your vid is fair use, that it transforms copyrighted material for a new critical or creative purpose, you should dispute the claim.

Here are some resources you might consult to explain why your vid is fair use:

1) The Best Practices in User-Generated Content released by the American University Center for Social Media. (Their main site on fair use is here.)

2) The EFF’s Test Suite of Fair Use Examples for Service Providers and Content Owners; the test suite features a vid.

3) The Q&A with Fan Vidder Luminosity in New York Magazine.

4) Michael Wesch’s Anthropological Introduction to YouTube presented to the Library of Congress on June 23, 2008 (features Lim’s vid “Us” among other videos).

5) Other academic and legal articles about vidding include:

Remixing Television: Francesca Coppa on the vidding underground. Reason Magazine, August/September 2008

Francesca Coppa, Women, Star Trek, and the Development of Fannish Vidding in Transformative Works and Cultures (2008)

Henry Jenkins, How to Watch a Fan Vid (2006)

Sarah Trombley, Visions and Revisions: Fanvids and Fair Use (.pdf), 25 Cardozo Arts & Ent. J. 647 (2008)

Rebecca Tushnet, User-Generated Discontent: Transformation in Practice (.pdf), 31 COLUM. J.L. & ARTS 110 (2008)

And don’t forget Fanlore: one stop shopping for trying to explain to people what fannish things mean!

December 2008 Newsletter, vol. 24

Welcome to the last issue of the OTW Newsletter for this year! As of December 19, the OTW committees will be taking a brief break over the holidays, then reconvening after the New Year to start back to work, so we thought we’d take a chance to do an end-of-term roundup for the various committees, focusing on what we’ve done over the past year and a half.

Committee Updates!

Academic Journal Update from Karen Hellekson

The academic journal had a great year! We put out our first issue of Transformative Works and Cultures, a peer-reviewed online-only academic journal about fan and media studies, and we released it on time to good buzz.

But we did far more than put out an issue: we had to build it up from scratch. We recruited editorial and production staff, put together our stellar advisory board, found peer reviewers, and worked closely with many authors and their drafts all the way through copyediting and proofreading. On top of that, we had to build the journal’s infrastructure: we chose open source software to house the journal and traffic manuscripts through production (OJS), obtained an ISSN number, deposited a printout of the first issue with the Library of Congress, signed up for the DOI program so we could make the URLs persist, and figured out how to get the journal into indexes so people can become aware of it.

We’re currently at the tail end of obtaining content for No. 2, a special Games issue guest edited by Rebecca Carlson, which will go into production in January for release on March 15, 2009. It looks to be pretty fabulous and we are very excited about it. We recruited some new proofreaders for the production team and some new editorial staff for the Review and Symposium sections. We want to create an Interview team, so if anyone is interested, please contact us! Journalists are especially encouraged to apply.

Putting all these together with all-volunteer labor that requires some pretty serious specialties in arcane areas. We have academics, students, teachers, librarians, copyeditors, production editors, HTML wizards, and proofreaders on the team, and we’re delighted to be able to provide useful on-the-job training about putting a journal out to so many people. It’s amazing how many steps there are to putting out a peer- and editorially reviewed journal. We remain excited about the mission of bridging fans and academics, and providing a rigorous yet accessible forum for thought-provoking scholarship about fans and fandom.

Accessibility, Design, and Technology Update from black_samvra

This year AD&T launched the Beta version of the Archive of Our Own. The Archive currently has 179 users who are busy uploading stories and providing valuable feedback on what works well and what doesn’t.

This is an incredible coordination effort between volunteers designing the Archive, writing the code, testing the new code and associated fixes, deploying the code to our servers (our servers!), Beta testing the Archive, coordinating the feedback and all of the tasks that make the project possible.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have given their time, knowledge and enthusiasm! We look forward to achieving more in the New Year.

Board Update from naominovik

It’s hard to even know where to begin. The summaries from the individual committees describe better than anything I can say about how much we accomplished, and how hard everyone has worked.

We on the Board have learned a whole lot, mostly about how the fannish community is even more awesome than we had realized. In the space of a year (and a piece, but who’s counting!), we’ve seen the volunteers in this organization build an archive and a wiki and a website, put out the first issue of a spectacular new academic journal, begin the work of preserving fannish projects and history, and create relationships with other organizations and work with them towards protecting the rights of fan creators.

And together we’ve built this organization itself: an official nonprofit corporation, run by volunteers, accountable to its members, funded by their donations and not by advertising. An organization that will keep chugging away long after all of our founding Board members have stepped down, and that provides an infrastructure we ourselves own and control for the projects we have already begun and may add on in the future.

It’s been a long hard road and an amazing one. I especially want to add our thanks to our two retiring Board members, Cathy Cupitt and Misha Tepper, and to the two new Board members stepping up in their place, Rachel Barenblat and Sheila Lane, and to all the volunteers who have seen this long first term of the organization to its end, and to all those who are signing on for another or coming on board now.

We have a lot of plans and ideas for making our next term even better, for strengthening the organization, improving our communication both within the org and with our members and the wider world, and advancing all our projects, and we can’t wait to start in on our new term. After we have all slept for a week. *g*

Community Relations Update from femmequixotic

Over the past seventeen months Community Relations has been busy working with the Board and the other OTW committees to make sure you know what’s been going on behind the scenes here! Through our twice-monthly newsletter and posts on the various journaling services, the OTW blog, Twitter, and emails, our goal has been to keep fandom up-to-date with the progress of our projects and to provide answers to your questions to the best of our ability. We’ve designed flyers and bookmarks that we’ve handed out at various cons attended by OTW members, run a few panels at those events to give con-goers a chance to discuss the organization in person, and even thrown an online con to celebrate the OTW and its goals. We’ve appreciated all the comments and debate and suggestions we’ve received from fandom over the course of this first year, and we hope you continue to throw ideas our way in the coming year!

Content Policy Update from Rebecca Tushnet

The Content Policy committee worked all year, with the help of volunteer focus groups and commenters, to develop human-readable and fair terms of service for the Archive of Our Own, along with a useful FAQ. We received fabulous, thoughtful suggestions, and had a lot of debates that clarified what we want the Archive to do. Now that the Archive is in beta, we are working on some of the more exotic policies, (fannish next of kin, for example). We continue to welcome feedback on the terms of service, and in the new year we anticipate developing more detailed internal policies for enforcing the terms of service.

Development and Membership Update from ignazwisdom

We’re very happy with all the work we did in the last year: building the OTW’s donation protocols from scratch, defining and distinguishing between members and donors, creating policies for corporate gifts and third-party fundraisers, establishing a monthly giving program and an Amazon widget, and running two major fundraising drives, which brought in over $13,000 and 500 OTW members in more than 15 different countries. It’s been a great first year, and we’re looking forward to Year 2!

Elections Update from cordelia_v

Elections worked hard this year to create a clear set of policies and guidelines that will result in a fair, transparent, and democratic process for choosing new Board members. We wrote an FAQ (which you can find on the organization’s website) that described how the elections process would work, and identified an outside polling vendor who could ensure a technically smooth, reliable, and secret online voting process for our voters, which would allow them to cast votes while preserving their anonymity. We made sure that our proposed policies were seen and commented on by other committees who were involved in elections, as well as the staff as a whole, before revising them for Board approval. We recruited candidates for the Board elections, although in the end only two did declare a candidacy, so no contested election was necessary. We hosted two public chats for members and staff to get to know the new Board members: we’re confident that they’re going to provide new ideas and energy for the Board in the term to come.

Financial Update from sanders

In the past year, the sharks of FinCom have faired better than Wall Street. We know where every single penny of the generous donations from OTW members have been spent because we’ve paid the bills, balanced against the budget, filed tax form after tax form (and shook our fins at the IRS website in much frustration), ensured compliance with our state of incorporation and federal 501(c)3 regulations. We’ve also recruited a volunteer accountant to oversee the tax filing for 2008 and had one of our, Ms. Sheila Lane, elected to the OTW board. At the moment, we’re working hard to survive the holiday crunch, finish those last minute gift purchases and fic exchange projects, and looking forward to 2009.

Legal Update from Rebecca Tushnet

The legal committee is generally responsible for any legal issues that come up. As we have hoped, it’s been a quiet year. The most prominent issue coming up is likely the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s request to the Copyright Office for an exemption from the DMCA for noncommercial clips from DVDs. For an explanation of the request, and why it’s important, see the EFF’s announcement. You can also read the request itself here. We plan to file reply comments in support of the request early next year. We would love to talk to any vidders who have questions or are interested in the process.

Open Doors

No update at this time.

Public Relations Update from jacquez

The Public Relations committee had a year of ups and downs! We worked hard on developing structure and content for multiple versions of the website, and then transitioned responsibility over to the Web committee. We developed and finalized the organization’s key messages, trained board members in dealing with the media, fielded lots of interview requests, and created promotional materials for the OTW. On a sadder note, we had some PR volunteers who had to leave us for personal reasons, and we have missed their input. As the new year arrives, we are looking forward to closing out the PR committee and seeing what the new Communications committee will bring to the table.


No update at this time.

Translations Update from logovo

Wow, what a great first year at Translation! Our awesome volunteers translated several documents, such as the membership drive, elections FAQs, and tested out and worked with the translating interfaces of the OTW site and the Archive. In 2009 we look forward to even more languages joining those currently represented!

Volunteers and Recruiting from kellyannbessa

It’s been a very long and busy term for Volunteers & Recruiting, and we are looking forward to the break! Over the last 18 months, we’ve put over 600 people in our volunteers database, moved nearly 200 staffers and volunteers through the Org, and searched for people to fill dozens of different positions on various committees and projects. We’ve also set up induction documents, created reference materials, and drafted guidelines and procedures for everything from adding a single volunteer to creating an entire committee.

We thank you all for the fabulous response to our calls for help, and your patience when serving as guinea pigs as we created and tested new procedures. See you in 2009!

Webmasters Update from juniperphoenix

The Webmasters committee formed in April and had a busy summer learning the ins and outs of Drupal (an open-source content management system) and building the new OTW website. We launched the site on October 1 complete with a shiny new blog, multilingual content (nine languages and counting), and improved back-end processes to help committees add and update content. Since the launch, we’ve been maintaining the site, writing documentation, and researching ways to offer new features as requests arise from our fellow committees.

Wiki Update from angstslashhope

Mid-December marks the 1 year anniversary of the Wiki Committee’s formation! In a year we have achieved a lot. Much of the year was spent developing a robust set of policies to support and guide the wiki, though of course our most exciting moment was Fanlore going live in September.

Since then Fanlore has come forward in leaps and bounds – we have around 500 registered users who have created almost 2000 articles and carried out over 23,000 edits! In the past few months since we soft launched, while all this has been occuring, we’ve had the opportunity to test the policies in action, recruit a team of dedicated Gardeners and make more developments according to user needs.

We’re very much looking forward to the steady growth of Fanlore in years to come, and would like to thank all the enthusiastic (and often quite usefully challenging!) fans for making our soft launch such a success.

Thanks for all your support this year! We hope 2009 is just as productive as the last!

–femmequixotic, bethbethbeth, ciderpress, mirabile_dictu, shrift, svmadelyn
Community Relations Committee

OTW co-sponsors IP/Gender Conference on Female Fan Cultures and Intellectual Property at American University Washington College of Law

The OTW is proud to be co-sponsoring the 6th annual IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections Symposium at American University Washington College of Law on April 24, 2009. The theme of this year’s symposium is Female Fan Cultures and Intellectual Property. Below please find the call for papers; abstracts are due December 19th. If you’re interested in attending, the conference is free and open to the public, though registration is required.

American University Washington College of Law

IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections
6th Annual Symposium
April 24, 2009

Special Theme: Female Fan Cultures and Intellectual Property

Sponsored by:
American University Washington College of Law’s
Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
Women and the Law Program
Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

In collaboration with:
American University’s Center for Social Media
The Organization for Transformative Works
Rebecca Tushnet, Georgetown University
Francesca Coppa, Muhlenberg College

Deadline for submission of abstracts: December 19, 2008

The 6th Annual Symposium on “IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections” seeks papers on female subcultures and their relationship to intellectual property and copyright regimes, with a particular emphasis on fan works and culture. Appropriate topics include: fan arts, including fan fiction, arts, music, filk, crafts, and vids; and fan communities: including clubs, forums, lists, websites, wikis, discussion groups, rec sites, and other creative, celebratory, or analytical communities.

Introduction & Context

Historically, the study of subcultures has been biased toward male groups and activities: first, because male activities (e.g. punk rock, motorcycling, football hooliganism) tend to be public, and therefore visible; second, because many male groups have been seen as overtly resistant to mainstream norms. In contrast, many female subcultural activities took place in private, in the domestic realm or in other less visible spaces, and those that were visible tended, in the words of Sarah Thornton, to be “relegated to the realm of a passive and feminized ‘mainstream’ (a colloquial term against which scholars have all too often defined their subcultures)”; in other words, the things women did and do have often been framed as mainstream, passive, commodified, and derivative; consuming (in the negative sense of passive product consumption), rather than consuming in the sense of a passionate obsession or devotion to art or criticism.

This has changed significantly in the last twenty years, not only due to a rising feminist interest in subculture studies but also with the rise of fan and audience studies. In their pioneering “Girls and Subcultures” (1975), Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber presciently suggested that scholars turn their attention “toward more immediately recognizable teenage and pre-teenage female spheres like those forming around teenybop stars and the pop-music industry.” Even they had trouble seeing what girls do as interesting and importing, noting that “[b]oys tended to have a more participative and a more technically-informed relationship with pop, where girls in contrast became fans and readers of pop-influenced love comics.” McRobbie and Garber don’t associate being “fans” with participation, and they see girls as “readers” only. In fact, as we know from fifteen years of fan and audience studies, fandom is a highly participatory culture, and female fans also write, edit, draw, paint, “manip,” design, code, and otherwise make things.

However, even within this brave new world of mashup, remix, and fan cultures, what boys do (fan films, machinima, music mash-ups, DJing) is often seen by outsiders and critics as better–more interesting, more original, more clearly transformative– than what girls do (fan fiction, fan art, vidding, coding fan sites, social networking). This normative judgment risks legal consequences.

We are seeking projects that investigate the ways in which issues of originality and ownership as related to copyright and other issues of intellectual property intersect with this gendered understanding of cultural productions and engagement, especially since these historically female subcultural activities and practices have increasingly become culture.

IP/Gender Mapping the Connections Organizational Details

• DEADLINE for submission of abstracts is DECEMBER 19 at 5:00pm.

• To submit an abstract for consideration, fill in the web-based form at . Participants will be notified if their paper has been accepted for presentation by January 15.

• The symposium will begin at 6:00 Thursday, April 23, 2009 at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. The symposium will convene from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm on Friday, April 24, 2009.

• To view papers and programs from prior IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections symposia, please visit

• Papers may be published in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law.

• If you are interested in attending the event, but not presenting work, please contact Angie McCarthy, Women and the Law Program Coordinator at for details.