burdened with glorious purpose (femmequixotic) wrote in otw_news,
burdened with glorious purpose
femmequixotic
otw_news

Clarifications and answers

We've gone through the discussions in the earlier post and gotten some clarifications for you all in regards to some specific concerns, as well as tried to explain a few items that we felt were not as clear as they could be. We appreciate the discourse that went on in the comments; a great deal of it fueled our own conversations recently.

Also, please remember to fill out our off-LJ fannish communities survey, if you can! We've gotten some great pointers so far in it, and we're very grateful for your help.

Regarding organization and archive names

There seems to be some confusion about this. The Organization for Transformative Works is the name of the non-profit that has been created to advocate for fandom and to house other projects such as the archive (which will be known as the Archive Of Our Own) and the legal defense fund. The name OTW was chosen after an earlier discussion on this comm about possible non-profit names and after looking at what organizational and URL names were available.

The OTW serves as an umbrella non-profit, under which various projects are sheltered. To put it visually...



We want to make clear that there is a difference between the OTW, which is an advocacy organization, and the Archive of Our Own, which is the first project of several that the OTW hopes to see to fruition. The Archive of Our Own will be the part of OTW that fandom will use the most, while the OTW will advocate for fannish rights to non-fandom organizations, both by assisting fans who find themselves in legal and/or publicity trouble due to their fannish involvement and by offering resources to non-fannish people. In order for us to effectively do so, the organization has to dress up in a power suit and carry a shiny briefcase, so to speak.

The term transformative was specifically chosen to highlight in the organization's name one of the key legal defenses for fanworks of all kinds, including RPF: that they are transformative of original source materials. The courts have analyzed "right of publicity" claims against creative works by using the transformative use test from copyright law, so this does also apply to one of the main legal issues RPF faces also. As one of our primary goals is to defend the right of fanworks to exist, having a key defense for them in our name is important to the organization.

We've talked with high-level people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Stanford Fair Use Project, and the Washington College of Law Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, all of whom are deeply excited about the project of defending fanworks and eager to consult as we go forward.

Regarding RPF

We'd like to make it very clear up front that RPF is welcomed by both the archive and the organization and that there is no intention of exclusion. In fact, the organization counts several RPF writers among its board and committee members. We plan to defend and support the rights of RPF fans, and have intended to do so from the earliest discussions of the archive project.

We have been listening to the on-going discussions regarding concerns about some of the mission statement language feeling exclusionary to many RPF fans, and the board is at the moment considering revisions to fix that.

Regarding terminology

More generally, people have asked, why not just say "fandom" instead of "media fandom" in our values/mission statement. The reason is we are more specific than just fandom -- fandom includes people who go to football games with their faces painted, who attend literary science fiction conventions, who make Star Wars fan films using their own footage, who follow Phish around the country, and so on.

We absolutely have things in common with all these groups, and many of us are actually in those groups as well as our own corner of fandom, but the community that is creating this organization, and whom this organization is meant to represent, historically descends from the new "scribbling women" who first split off from literary science fiction fandom and started writing fanfic about Star Trek: TOS and MUNCLE back in the 60s, and who invented fan vidding in the 70s, and built conventions and communities around these activities. "Media fandom" is useful as a term for the outside world because it has most consistently been used by academics and the media to describe this community.

People have also asked why our language is not gender-neutral. The fact of the matter is that this community is overwhelmingly female. That's not at all to discount in any way the contributions from fans of any gender(1) who have participated in this community, but it is an accurate and an important part of our history. It is part of what we cherish about this community and what we want to protect. However, we welcome anyone who wants to participate.(2)

Regarding financials

The question has been asked as to who has covered the startup costs. The board has shared the costs among themselves, and they have been minimal thus far. We have a low-level organization account at 37signals.com, a few domain names (transformativeworks.org/.com/.net, and archiveofourown.org/.com/.net), and the rename token for LJ. We were given a paid account for the LiveJournal otw_news account as a gift to the organization early on, but none of the other journals are paid accounts, and we do not currently intend to renew the paid account here. At the moment, our server space is being provided free by one of the systems team, our legal team has handled the non-profit incorporation, and our code will be hosted on the free Google Code service.

Future expenses we anticipate include the server/bandwidth costs for the the Archive Of Our Own once it opens, insurance, and the legal defense fund. These will be much more significant than the organization overhead. We are currently in the process of researching those numbers, and will rely on real-world testing (in the case of the archive) to determine these costs. We will make public our estimates and our plan as soon as they are ready.

As part of our non-profit status, we will be required to make publicly available our financial statements each fiscal year. The organization will be producing annual reports which will be available to all members of fandom upon release.

Regarding timelines

First off, the archive project is going to take a while to complete. To give you an idea, our first public check-in of the code is slated for mid-November, with initial user testing starting shortly thereafter. Beta testing will almost certainly not start until spring at the earliest.

In addition, regarding the setup time it's taken to get this project started, please be aware that more than 40 fans fill the various OTW committees at the moment. It's taken time to set up the organizational structure and incorporation details, as well as find fans who had the skills and time to commit to each committee. Now that the infrastructure is in place, we can focus on the archive project.

Regarding archive features/software

The archive software will be open-source. The OTW will use this software to support the Archive of Our Own, but because it is open-source, anyone who wants to will be able to take the code and use it to build another archive, too (like efiction or the Automated Archive), so we hope it will be generally useful to fandom and not just the organization.

If there are archive features or policy issues that are important to you to know about before you support the organization or the archive, hang on for a bit. As was mentioned above, we’re working on those and we’ll be sharing that information as we get them settled. Your support will be welcome whenever you feel we have earned it.

Regarding ToS/ToU

Here’s what’s happening with the ToS: The 501(c)3 (U.S. tax exemption) papers will be filed first, then legal will turn its attention to working on a ToS that works within legal confines and expresses the principles of the organization as best it can—primarily that fanfic is fair use and that we intend to be as inclusive as possible. In order to assist them in producing that, an archive content committee is currently being organized, comprised of nonlawyer fans who volunteered in the Willing To Serve call. Together, the content committee and the legal team will draft a ToS which will then be opened to the fannish community for their input in a Request for Comments period. Additional comment rounds may be opened up depending upon the amount of revision(s) the draft needs.

Please note that there are legal complications with some genres. This is one of the reason we have a legal committee in place; they will be working on those issues.

Regarding fannish identities, board members, legal committee members and self-identification as fans

In regard to the legal committee using their real names, the consulting work that the committee is doing at the moment primarily involves looking at any documents wherein a legal perspective would be helpful. Some legal documents do require at least one lawyer’s name on them; those that do so will have such, whether it is someone from our committee or outside counsel.

The question’s been asked why board members' fannish names aren’t directly stated. This is to give them some semblance of privacy outside of fandom and to cut down on the ease of doing a Google search on their real names and hitting a list that links their Livejournals directly with their real names. In all publicly released materials and in any interviews, board members do and will self-identify as active fans who produce fanworks. There is no guarantee that such self-identification will appear in any press on the organization, but it is being clearly stated from the get-go.

Board members may connect their real and fannish names should they wish, but it is not a requirement, whereas working under one’s legal name is. This is not meant to keep fandom from knowing who the board members are; in fact, the following board bios will be posted publicly on the OTW website:

Naomi Novik (Chair)
Naomi Novik is the author of the Temeraire historical fantasy series, which has been translated into 22 languages. She also worked on the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide and helped start up Juno Online Services. Novik has been active in online fandom since 1994, publishing stories and vids in more than 42 fandoms and founding several fan-run institutions: a text-based multi-user online roleplaying game now in its twelfth year, a vidding convention now in its sixth (3), and an annual cross-fandom story exchange now in its fifth(3). She created the open-source Automated Archive software used by many fanfic archives.

Francesca Coppa, PhD (Secretary)
Francesca Coppa is Director of Film Studies and Associate Professor of English at Muhlenberg College, where she teaches courses in dramatic literature, popular literature, and literature and mass media. Her writings on media fandom have been included in Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet and presented at MIT’s Media in Transition conference. As a fan, Coppa has been attending conventions and buying zines since the early 1980s. She and her friends wrote fanfiction by hand and circulated it by snail mail with stamps. She has been involved in online fandom since the mid-1990s as a writer, listadmin, vidder, archivist, and community moderator.

Cathy Cupitt, DCA
Cathy Cupitt teaches writing and Shakespeare at the University of Western Australia and has a Doctorate in Creative Arts from Curtin University of Technology. Her fiction has appeared in Australian magazines such as Westerly and Borderlands, and in 1997 she won the first prize in Hyundai’s 20th Anniversary World-wide Essay Contest. Since discovering fandom in 1988, Cupitt has written in nine fandoms, and runs an active recommendations site. She has served on numerous fannish committees, including as co-convenor of Australia’s 2001 national SF convention.

Susan Gibel, JD (Treasurer)
Susan Gibel is a Senior Manager with the Center for Effective Public Policy, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded to assist other agencies in developing and implementing sound public policy. Her work there is focused on national training and technical assistance initiatives related to domestic violence and offender reentry. She has worked with anti-violence organizations on issues of domestic violence and queer rights and holds a law degree from the University of Minnesota. Gibel has been involved in fandom since the mid-1970s, beginning with Star Trek. She writes in a handful of fandoms, primarily due South, and until recently facilitated the annual due South Seekrit Santa story exchange.

Michele Tepper, PhD
Michele Tepper is an interaction designer and usability expert who helps companies create memorable and successful software, websites, and devices. She has published influential essays about online community and social software, and is the former web producer for Lingua Franca magazine. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Michigan. Tepper was one of the creators and designers of buffistas.org, a fan-built, fan-maintained site centered on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The site has more than a thousand members and has been active for five years.

Rebecca Tushnet, JD
Rebecca Tushnet is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. A graduate of Yale Law School, she clerked for Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and Associate Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court. She practiced intellectual property law at Debevoise & Plimpton before joining the NYU faculty, then moving to Georgetown. Her work on copyright, trademark, and free speech has been published in the Yale Law Journal, the UCLA Law Review, and the Texas Law Review, and she maintains a blog on advertising and intellectual property law at tushnet.blogspot.com. She has advised and represented several fanfiction websites in disputes with copyright and trademark owners. Tushnet has been active in online fandom since 1996, and has written stories in the X-Files, Buffy, and Smallville fandoms, among others.

(1) Changed wording per this suggestion.
(2) Deleted phrase for clarity per this suggestion.
(3) Changed years for accuracy per this thread.
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