Our Content Policy workgroup has been at work on some FAQ updates and Terms of Service (ToS) changes for the Archive of Our Own which have now been approved by the OTW Board. This post begins a two-week open comment period so that AO3 users can leave feedback on these changes before they are added to the current ToS and FAQ pages.
The ToS changes are mainly small wording changes that reflect the way AO3 features have evolved from the time in which the document was originally drafted. There is one policy change that will not make a significant difference in our practices but may be of particular interest to users, which is our adoption of a DMCA policy similar to that of Wikipedia's. It takes fair use into account, but also provides us with more protection in case we are threatened by copyright trolls.
We will take feedback into account until April 28, 2014. If there are no further changes approved by the Board as a result of the feedback, the updates shown below will be added to our Terms of Service. We will also update our FAQ pages.
1) New DMCA Policy
2) New Terms of Service Changes
3) New ToS FAQ changes
Q&A on the DMCA
What is the DMCA?
The DMCA is part of US copyright law, 17 U.S.C. §512. Compliance with the DMCA protects us from money damages in any case where someone posted infringing content on the Archive or Fanlore, as long as we took down that content when properly notified about it.
Our current rules will largely be unchanged, though our procedures will change somewhat. We will still decline to remove noninfrining, transformative works. We already ban copyright infringement, such as posting large, nontransformative chunks of a book, and for the Archive, Abuse already tells users to remove infringements. If they don’t comply, Abuse will disable access to the infringing work. A user who repeatedly posts infringing materials may have their account permanently suspended (terminated).
Why would the Archive want do this, if it is going to continue looking at fair use?
To put it briefly, having a DMCA policy makes it easier to shake off trolls. For copyright owners/businesses just interested in demanding thousands of dollars, it’s not worth sending us threatening letters if we have a DMCA policy, since we are protected against money damages.
Doesn’t the DMCA require websites to take down content regardless of fair use?
That’s how most providers, most of the time, implement it, because that’s the cheapest way to do it, and most providers don’t have ideological commitments to fair use that outweigh their desires to save money. Wikipedia, however, has a DMCA policy and a commitment to fair use, and follows the policy we propose. We believe that we can remain committed to fair use while providing a streamlined way to address true infringements.