AO3 News

Post Header

2015-12-06 12:20:42 -0500

Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages.


The 2015 election is over! After a slight technical hiccup with the voting software, the election went off without a hitch, and voters chose two new Board Members from a choice of an unprecedented six candidates on the ballot! Congratulations to our new Directors, Atiya Hakeem and Matty Bowers, who began their terms on December 1st! Their victory was originally announced in a public post, 2015 Election Results. We wish them the best in their upcoming terms.

Our Elections Committee received much interest in the data resulting from this election. In response to that, we produced the Elections Statistics for 2015 post. This post briefly elaborates some numbers involved, as well as our process for electing an equal cohort of Board members and our policy regarding the privacy of voters.

With a historic election season behind us, the committee would like to thank everyone who made the 2015 election possible. Candidates and committees, volunteers and voters, this Organization would not be possible without your participation and support. The future of the OTW belongs to you.


Our Accessibility, Design & Technology Committee is pleased to announce that the Archive of Our Own now has comment moderation. You can read more about this new feature in this post, which includes instructions for how to us it.

Some big milestones are also approaching. AO3 will soon reach 2 million fanworks! We're excited to celebrate this milestone with our users. When the Archive reached 1 million fanworks on February 15th, 2013, we decided to celebrate by declaring that day International Fanworks Day, an annual tradition we'll be celebrating again in 2016. Be sure to plan your own celebrations early so that we can spread the word about them in the new year.


Our Legal Committee was busy with international copyright issues this month. We produced an educational post discussing What the Trans Pacific Partnership Means for Fans, covering a recent international trade treaty’s intellectual property provisions and what impact they could have on fanworks in the countries that sign on to it. Special thanks to our Translation Committee for translating the post into many languages! We also promoted the Save the Link Coalition’s Internet Voice Tool, which is collecting feedback for the European Commission regarding proposed European legislation that could restrict the ability of online platforms to contain links to copyrighted material, or could even make those platforms legally liable for content posted by their users.

Legal also filed two amicus briefs in cases that we’ve been following for years. Following up on September's fair use win in the case of Lenz v. Universal, we asked the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to strengthen its holding in that case that copyright holders must consider fair use before issuing a DMCA takedown notice. And in the case of Davis v. EA Games, we joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to settle a disagreement among U.S. courts about when the First Amendment protects people’s free speech rights to use someone’s name, likeness, or identity without violating their rights of publicity.


On November 22nd, the six sitting members of 2015 the Board of Directors announced their resignation effective December 15th. The newly elected Board members are currently working on making the transition as seamless as possible. There's no need to worry--the OTW and all of our projects (including AO3) aren't going anywhere. We'd like to thank everybody for your patience and understanding as things get sorted out.


Our Volunteers & Recruiting Committee has now finished recruitment for 2015. Recruitment will resume again in 2016.

New Committee Staff: RoseJackson (Abuse), SoyAlex (Volunteers & Recruiting), 1 other Volunteers & Recruiting, Solovei (AO3 Docs), ncastro (I&O), 1 other I&O, Matthew Vernon (Systems), 1 other Systems, ashleyhasahat (Communications), Cameron Salisbury (Journal) & 1 other Journal
New Journal Volunteers: Carmen Montopoli, Christine Mains, and 4 others
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Amy Hoffman, Andrandiriel, Anna S., Aro, BiancaMay, Cecil, Charlene Te, Cortney, ebjameston, Elijah, Fallowsthorn, Firen, hammysammy, Jesse, kadnarim, Kits, L1n, Laura Groeneveld, Lillian S, Luin, lydiacatfish, Noémie Barbet, Paige Hanson, Panda, phantomdoodler, Rania, Suzan Miller, SwaggyOrc, Tori Flot, track_04, Trasyn Lennon, Wes, Weston Richey, 1 other Tag Wrangling volunteer.
New Translator Volunteers: 1

Departing Committee Chairs: Priscilla Del Cima (AO3 Documentation)
Departing Committee Staff: Lommy (Abuse), & 1 other Abuse, Priscilla Del Cima (AO3 Documentation), Claire W (AO3 Documentation) & 1 other AO3 Documentation
Departing AO3 Documentation Volunteers: 1
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Sammie Jarrett, Merchant, 11 others.
Departing AD&T Coder Volunteers: openendings, 16 others
Departing Translator Volunteers: Dutchie848, HannahB, 4 Translator volunteers

For more information about the purview of our committees, please see the committee listing on our website.


Post Header

banner with 'Wolf and Hound' written, from that website

The Wolf and Hound, a Sirius Black/Remus Lupin pairing-centric archive, is being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3).

In this post:

Background explanation

The archive was originally created in 2003 to make works posted to the Sirius_Black_and_Remus_Lupin Yahoo! mailing list easier to find, and the mods have been proud to host the many amazing stories that the list has woven over the years: around 800 works by over 200 creators.

Although the current mod, Lassenia, still loves the fandom, they are no longer active in it and unfortunately do not have time to maintain the archive. To ensure The Wolf and Hound Archive's works are not lost, Lassenia will be working with Open Doors to import the archive into a separate, searchable collection with its own identity. Eventually the links going to the old site will re-direct to the collection on AO3 so that the works can continued to be found with their old URLs. We will begin importing works from The Wolf and Hound Archive to the AO3 collection in December.

What does this mean for creators who have work on The Wolf and Hound Archive?

This is the part where we ask for your help!

1. If you already have an AO3 account and have posted your The Wolf and Hound Archive works there, please contact Open Doors with your The Wolf and Hound Archive pseud(s) and e-mail address(es), so that we won’t import your works. (Please include "Wolf and Hound" in the subject heading.) For instructions on mass-adding works to the new collection on the AO3, The Wolf and Hound Archive, please see the Open Doors website.

2. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one to import your works yourself, please contact Open Doors with your The Wolf and Hound Archive pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "Wolf and Hound" in the subject heading.) For instructions on importing works and adding them to the The Wolf and Hound Archive collection, please see the Open Doors website.

3. If you don’t already have an AO3 account but would like one or assistance in importing your works, please contact Open Doors with your The Wolf and Hound Archive pseud(s), and the preferred e-mail address to send the AO3 invite to. (Please include "Wolf and Hound" in the subject heading.) Once your account is set up, let us know your AO3 name, and we can transfer your works to you once imported.

4. If you would NOT like your works moved, please contact Open Doors with your The Wolf and Hound Archive pseud(s) and e-mail address(es) so that we will not add them. (Please include "Wolf and Hound" in the subject heading.) If you would not mind your works being preserved but do not want your name attached to them any longer, please let us know that too--we can orphan your works instead of leaving them behind to be deleted.

All works archived on a creator’s behalf will be attributed with the creator’s name in the byline of the work. As we import works, we will e-mail notifications to the address associated with the work. When all works have been accounted for, the Open Doors committee will set up the URL redirects, and we will permanently close down the site.

All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors.

If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your The Wolf and Hound Archive account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's fantastic; if not, we will work with the The Wolf and Hound Archive mod to confirm your claims.)

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ page, contact the Open Doors committee, or leave a comment on this post and we'll respond as soon as we can.

We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of The Wolf and Hound Archive on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips.

We're excited to be able to help preserve The Wolf and Hound Archive!

- The Open Doors team


Post Header

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

There have been a lot of changes in the OTW in the past few days. The current Board of Directors has resigned, effective December 15. We know there has been some confusion, and we wanted to share with you the situation as it currently stands:

  • The OTW and its projects, including the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, and Transformative Works and Cultures, are operating normally. Our volunteers are still carrying out their work and will continue to do so throughout this process. Rest assured that everyone's first priority is to keep the projects and the organization running smoothly.
  • We, Matty Bowers and Atiya Hakeem, new Board members elected earlier this month, will take office on December 1st. We should have access to all the tools and information available well before the 15th.
  • We have a long list of things we know need to be worked on, compiled from internal and external feedback, and our own plans for the Org. We will rely on this to prioritize and start taking action.
  • We are committed to publishing a budget for 2016 as soon as possible. An essential part of this process will be to make a draft and then seek OTW teams' feedback on the chosen items. This may not end up happening until early 2016, depending on the status of the current draft. We'll know more come December 1st, when we receive access to the draft.
  • We hear everyone's questions about the next election cycle and what happens to the vacant seats on the Board. We will do our best to have information about that out as soon as we can; we can't officially make decisions or announcements until December.

Please remember that this is a work in progress! There is a lot of information to be gathered, and a lot of work ahead. There has been a great deal of internal and external support for this fresh start and we are grateful to everyone who has reached out and offered to help. We’re currently working to organize our information and resources so we can move ahead as soon as possible.

Thanks for your support, and for the vote of confidence.

—Matty and Atiya (Lady Oscar)
Board members-elect


Post Header

Banner by Diane of a 3 line checkbox with the choices 'OTW', 'Elections News' and a checkmark next to 'Make your voice heard'

On 14 August 2015, the Board voted to change the size of the Board from 9 Directors to 7. Before this vote, the Board informed Elections that only 2 seats would be available to be filled this year. This is complicit with Article V, #3 of the by-laws, which states that at least 2 Directors must be elected yearly, and if the Board has 7 or more Directors, at least one-third of the Directors must be elected yearly.

On 16 September, the Elections Chair pointed out that, since it is possible to elect more than the minimum requirement in a given year, we had an opportunity to revitalize a shrinking Board due to the unexpected candidate turnout this year. (There was initially a total of 8 candidates.) The Board overruled this, with Andrea Horbinski replying as follows: "The Board has voted to set the size of the board at seven directors. Since we elected three people last year, we can elect two people each this year and next year and easily be on a regular schedule--the same one we were on before the size of the Board was increased to nine."

Later, the Board removed Nikisha Sanders from the ballot. Again, the Elections Chair protested and was overruled by the Board. Subsequently, Dan Lamson withdrew his candidacy.

6 candidates ran in the final election. They were voted on and ranked by members in this order:

  1. Matty Bowers
  2. Atiya Hakeem
  3. Alex Tischer
  4. Katarina Harju
  5. Aline Carrão
  6. Andrea Horbinski

The 5th place candidate, Aline, received 2.89 times more votes than the 6th place candidate, Andrea.

Today, the Board held an Open Board meeting in the publicly accessible Public Discussion channel. Despite not warning the volunteers, members, or Elections Committee that this vote was expected to take place, the Board voted in favor of Andrea Horbinski returning to the Board to finish out the term ending 31 December 2016, which was vacated at the end of 2014 by Anna Genoese. Andrea Horbinski, Margaret J. MacRae, Cat Meier, and Jessica Steiner voted in favor, Eylul Dogruel abstained, and Soledad Griffin was absent. You can read a transcript of this vote and the resulting reaction at this link.

In 2010, a similar situation occurred when a Board member retired immediately after that year's election. At that time, the next-place candidate, Hele Braunstein, was brought in to fill the seat. Precedent, common sense, and ethics dictate that the membership's choices in an election be considered and respected. The Elections Committee supports the appointment of Alex Tischer to the Board to fill Anna's seat. If Alex does not wish to take on the position, we support the appointment of Katarina Harju or Aline Carrão, in that order.

ETA November 23, 2015: The 2015 Board has resigned, effective December 15. They will be replaced by Atiya Hakeem and Matty Bowers, who will join the Board no later than December 1.

ETA2 November 23, 2015: Due to these unusual events, Elections Staff released the ranking information about this year's candidates with permission from 5 of the 6 candidates. However, as our goal is to promote an equal and harmonious Board of Directors, we do not intend to reveal this information in future elections unless a situation like the one we witnessed last weekend happens again.


Post Header

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

The OTW Board of Directors voted at its regularly scheduled meeting on 22 November to appoint Andrea Horbinski to serve the remainder of the term vacated in 2014 by Anna Genoese, ending 31 December 2016. Filling board vacancies by appointment is a normal part of board work provided for in Article V §4 of the OTW Bylaws, and the Board has done so at multiple points in the past.

After discussion with the rest of the Board, Andrea Horbinski has decided to decline the appointment to the OTW Board for 2016. She has tendered her resignation from the Board effective 15 December 2015. Soledad Griffin, Jessica Steiner, Eylul Dogruel, Cat Meier, and M.J. MacRae are also resigning from the Board effective on that date. Those who currently serve as members of OTW committees will remain with the organization in their staff roles but not their Board roles.

The 2015 Board wishes the 2016 Board and the volunteers, staff, and membership of the OTW all the best for the organization’s continued success.


Post Header

2015-11-19 17:45:32 -0500

The big news this time around is comment moderation. Many thanks to the users who helped us trial this feature, and to the Abuse team for their input! In addition, we have done some work on our automated testing infrastructure and made some corrections and improvements to our documentation.

A big round of applause and thanks to the Systems team for their hard work debugging and resolving the hardware-related downtime earlier this month!


  • Coders: Ariana, Elz, Naomi (shalott), Nerine, Sarken
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Elz, Enigel, james, Naomi, Scott, Sarken
  • Testers: Lady Oscar, mumble, Sarken, madelyn, torigates, truffulafruits


  • [AO3-3543] - Comment moderation is here! Please read the details below for updates to our previous post, Comment moderation is coming, including some additions we made after testing and user input.
  • [AO3-4364] - A handful of the tests in our automated test suite fail intermittently due to timing issues. We have disabled caching on these tests to reduce the frequency of failures.
  • [AO3-4320] - Added a link to the more detailed Tags FAQ to the tags help files.
  • [AO3-4141] - Updated the Edit Pseud form to link to the help file with the correct set of available HTML tags.
  • [AO3-4034] - In the Diversity Statement, we were "the archive" instead of "the Archive" when referring specifically to the AO3. Now we have a capital A! \o/
  • [AO3-4373] - A new database column (to track if a work has comment moderation enabled or not) temporarily broke search indexing, whoops! Fixed.

More Detail on Comment Moderation

Turning Comment Moderation On or Off

Comment moderation can be turned on and off at the per-work level. You can set it for a new work or edit an existing work to turn it on or off in the privacy settings.

Privacy options when posting or editing a work: only show to registered users, disable anonymous commenting, enable comment moderation

You can also turn it on or off for multiple works at once using the "Edit Works" tool from your dashboard or works page.

Privacy options when editing multiple works at once: anonymous commenting, comment moderation

Approving Comments

When you have comment moderation turned on, you will have to approve all the comments before they are posted publicly. You can review comments on a work by checking its "Unreviewed Comments" page:

Row of buttons at the top of a work, including the link to access all unreviewed comments on the work

Page showing all unreviewed comments on a work, to be approved, deleted, or marked as commercial spam

You will also be able to approve comments from all your works from your inbox (assuming that you have JavaScript enabled and have not turned off your inbox.)

Unreviewed comment on the user's inbox page

You will not be able to reply to a comment until it is approved.

You cannot "un-approve" a comment, but as before, you can still delete it.

Posting Comments

When you leave a comment on a work with moderated comments, there will be a note about the moderation before and after you post.

If you are a logged-in user, you will be able to edit or delete your comment after you post it, but your comment will not be linked from the work. If you want to be able to find it again, you can either bookmark your comment or turn on the preference to receive email copies of your own comments.

If you edit your comment after it is approved, it will go back into moderation (unless the edit is very small, like fixing a typo).

If you reply to someone else's comment, they will be notified of your reply when your reply is approved.

If You Need To Report a Comment

If you receive a comment that you want to report to the Abuse team, you can use the abuse report form and include a link to your list of unreviewed comments (which can be accessed by Abuse personnel), or to the work or comment in question. Since comments can be edited if they were left by a logged-in user, we recommend taking a screenshot (which you can send as an email attachment once the Abuse team responds to your report) or holding on to the comment notification you received.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.


Post Header

Banner by Erin of a spotlight on an OTW logo with the words 'Spotlight on Legal Issues'

The Trans Pacific Partnership is a treaty among 12 nations: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Many have criticized the secretive process by which it was negotiated over the last 5 and a half years, but on October 4, 2015, negotiations ended and all of the member states agreed in principle to a treaty whose text was disclosed on November 5, 2015 by the U.S. Trade Representative.

This treaty hasn’t been signed into law yet by anyone, and it may never be. But its language and concepts may become the law in at least some of the 12 member countries - as well as other nations that sign onto it in the future - so it’s good for fans to understand the impact its intellectual property provisions would — and wouldn’t — have on fan activities. We wanted to provide this information now, as countries are considering adopting the TPP, to give fans an opportunity to review and comment on their governments’ adoption of it, if they want to.

In nearly every situation, the treaty requires member nations to strengthen protections for rights holders as a minimum floor for intellectual property rights; countries are allowed to adopt stronger protections than the treaty includes. Member nations are often allowed, or even encouraged, to make exceptions that would protect fans (and other users or follow-on creators), but they’re never required to. As a result, the treaty’s protections for rights holders are much stronger than its protections for fans. The treaty has some significant problems, discussed below, and doesn’t provide the safeguards for fans that we had hoped for. Overall, the treaty exports U.S. intellectual property laws to the other 11 countries, bringing the other countries’ intellectual property laws closer to their American counterparts.

Here are a few areas where legal changes might have an impact on fan activities in nations that sign on to the treaty. In addition to general provisions, we have noted a few particular areas of interest for fans in the US, Canada, Chile, and Japan. We will continue to watch for issues specific to other member nations.

1. Fair Use and Fair Dealing

The treaty encourages member nations to have “balance” in copyright law, which would include fair use and fair dealing exceptions to copyright infringement, but it doesn’t require them to do anything in particular to protect users or follow-on creators. For countries that already have fair use or fair dealing laws, it doesn't change anything, so it won't diminish fair use in the United States or fair dealing and the "YouTube Exception" in Canada. In general, it contains a lot of language that gestures toward a need for balance, but while pro-protection provisions are requirements, most of the provisions that support rights for users are merely suggestions. For example, the treaty provides only that parties will “endeavor to achieve appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system,” but it gives little guidance about what balance countries might deem “appropriate.”

The treaty does allow member nations to place limitations or exceptions on copyright that give “due consideration to legitimate purposes such as, but not limited to: criticism; comment; news reporting; teaching, scholarship, research, and other similar purposes; and facilitating access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.” These are all interests that align with existing fair use and fair dealing laws, and with many fan activities. But the treaty doesn’t require member nations to have fair use or fair dealing laws, and doesn’t even say anything about how hard members have to try to move toward copyright balance. So this isn’t necessarily bad for fans, but it isn’t necessarily an improvement or expansion of fan rights either.

2. Vidding and Technological Protection Measures

The treaty requires member nations to provide “anti-circumvention” laws that punish people for breaking “technological protection measures” (that is, encryption or DRM) on copyrighted works or making tools for doing so. It requires that the punishment for violating these laws include both civil and criminal penalties for willful violation. It also forces member countries to make circumvention illegal even if the circumvention doesn't lead to infringement. This is very similar to the anti-circumvention provisions that exist in the U.S. under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—and it’s bad for fans, for exactly the same reasons the US provisions are bad. For example, vidders need to rely on breaking the DRM encryption on DVDs and online video sources in order to make high-quality vids.

In the U.S., the OTW has fought hard and won an exemption allowing vidders to break DVD, Blu-Ray, and online video encryption. That exemption is not at risk from this treaty, which says that member nations "may" create exceptions where there is an "actual or likely adverse impact of those measures on those non-infringing uses"—like the vidding exemption. But the treaty doesn’t require countries to pass those exceptions or create a framework creating and continuing those exceptions. Thus, member nations must import encryption rules into their copyright codes, but also can choose not to make exceptions at all, or can choose the inefficient and burdensome system we have in the U.S. The treaty also requires that when nations consider making exceptions, they also consider whether rights holders have already taken measures to allow non-infringing uses to be made. This means that rights holders might try to rely on “screen capture” and other similar technologies that they claim—falsely—allow vidders to make vids without decrypting originals.

3. The Public Domain

The public domain is the universe of works that aren’t protected by intellectual property law, either because protection has expired or because the law never protected them in the first place. The public domain is important for fans because it represents works for which fans don’t need to rely on exceptions like fair use or fair dealing to make follow-on works. The treaty states that the parties “recognize the importance of a rich and accessible public domain,” and “acknowledge the importance of informational materials…that assist in the identification of subject matter that has fallen into the public domain,” but it contains no affirmative duty on members to identify, preserve, or promote a robust public domain. This is disappointing—but although it does not require any nation to make things better for the public domain, it also doesn’t require any nation to make things worse, with the exception of copyright duration, which we describe next.

4. Copyright Duration

The treaty would require members to lengthen copyright protection so that works are protected for 70 years after the death of the author or, for works created by anonymous, pseudonymous, or corporate entities, 70 years after publication. This represents a 20-year extension from previous treaties, but it’s still shorter than U.S. copyright, which lasts for 70 years after the death of the author but lasts 95 or 120 years in the case of works created by anonymous, pseudonymous, or corporate entities. Ultimately, this 20-year extension may not make a practical difference for that many works—it’s an awfully long time either way—but it does mean that it will take longer for works to enter the public domain, which is bad for fans. The good news is that the treaty won't require member nations to yank material back into copyright protection if copyright protection has already expired.

5. Notice-and-Takedown and Fan Privacy

The treaty requires member nations to have a “safe harbor” for Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) that implement a notice-and-takedown regime that looks a lot like the one created by the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). It also requires member nations to provide legal procedures, like those in the DMCA, that allow rights holders to get information about the identities of alleged infringers so they can enforce copyright directly. There are some carve-outs for countries like Canada, which has a “notice-and-notice” system, and Chile, where ISPs are not required to take down content without a judicial order. These carve-outs are limited to those countries, though; everyone else is bound to a U.S.-style system.

Although the treaty contains some safeguards for fans, like penalties for rights holders who issue wrongful takedown notices, it remains unbalanced. It permits, but does not require, member nations to implement a “counter-notice” procedure like the one in the DMCA that allows users to have their material restored in the case of an improper takedown. Likewise, it permits, but does not require, a Japanese-style system of verification of takedown notices by an independent body.

Privacy issues also intersect with the treaty's provision on internet domain names, which requires countries to provide "online public access to a reliable and accurate database of contact information" of domain name registrants. While this provision would undermine privacy for domain name registrants, there would likely be ways to work around it. First, it would only apply to registrants in countries that sign on to the TPP, and the European Union, which has strict privacy laws, could try to block access to or distribution of this information for EU domain name registrants who are EU residents. Also, this provision might not prevent registrants from relying solutions that use "middlemen" (like GoDaddy and Register-dot-com), who could store registrants' information in their own databases, identify themselves as Domain Name Contacts, and forward communications to the actual registrants without making the registrants' identities or contact information publicly accessible to the whole internet.

6. Criminal Penalties

Finally, the treaty provides for criminal penalties for copyright infringers. This isn’t entirely new: many countries, including the U.S., provide criminal penalties for certain kinds of copyright infringement, some quite harsh. In the U.S., such penalties have mostly been reserved for large-scale piracy operations. But the treaty requires much more sweeping criminal penalties, requiring member nations to provide for criminal penalties for any act of willful copyright infringement “on a commercial scale,” even if not done for financial gain, if the infringement has a “substantial prejudicial impact on the interests of the copyright” owner in the marketplace. In fact, it goes even farther: member nations must allow “competent authorities” to initiate legal action for criminal penalties even without the need for a formal complaint by a private party or right holder. The treaty seems, however, to allow member nations to limit “competent authorities’” power to enforce copyright to situations where there is an “impact on the right holder’s ability to exploit the work in the market.”

Because copyright owners don’t object to most fan activities, the idea that authorities other than the copyright owner could enforce copyright has been a major concern for many fans during the treaty negotiation process. It was the subject of very vocal opposition by Japanese fans in particular, who were concerned that cosplay, doujinshi, and other fan activities would be subject to the nation’s already-harsh criminal copyright penalties, even though Japanese copyright owners have long allowed large-scale sales of fanworks, and even stores that primarily sell fanworks. The treaty provision isn’t as bad as some had feared, because it only applies to infringements that harm the copyright holder’s ability to exploit its work in the market. On October 5, the Japanese government released a summary of the TPP that confirmed exceptions for copyright infringement on an (unspecified) non-commercial scale. In Japan, this is being interpreted by some as a sign that lobbying by fannish organizations and legal scholars was successful and that the Japanese government wants to protect fanworks, presumably because it recognizes their social and (especially) economic value as a bedrock of Japanese manga culture. However, it's still unknown how exactly these provisions will be reflected in Japanese, and other, laws. Fears also remain that certain aspects of Japanese fan culture that are more easily interpreted as “commercial”, like fanworks shops or individual fans who sell a lot of copies of their works, will still get in trouble. So there are still a lot of interesting developments to come for Japan. And for all the member nations--not just Japan--it’s still not clear why the treaty should ever allow for enforcement of copyright by non-copyright-holders, much less require it in any circumstance.

In the end, the treaty’s criminal penalties should not be able to impact fanworks in a gift economy, or even commissioned work, because they only apply to willful infringement, and they only apply to infringement “on a commercial scale” that has a “substantial prejudicial impact” on the interests of the rights holder. For most fanworks, especially the noncommercial transformative fanworks that the OTW is focused on, none of these three things is true, much less all three. And in countries with fair use and fair dealing laws, most noncommercial fanworks works are not infringing in the first place, so criminal penalties don’t make a difference. But the criminal penalty provisions are particularly harsh for fans in countries where there aren’t fair use or fair dealing to rely on.

If you have other questions, OTW Legal is always happy to answer questions about the TPP or other issues of fandom law! Feel free to e-mail them at


Post Header

2015-11-08 12:14:49 -0500

Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the names and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages.


On October 27, 2015, the U.S. Copyright Office released its Rulemaking regarding exemptions to section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Last year, OTW's Legal Committee asked the Copyright Office to renew the exemption permitting fan video makers to circumvent the copy protection on DVDs and digital transmissions, and to expand it to include Blu-Ray discs. And on October 27, we won! The new version of the exemption, which goes into effect immediately, permits people to circumvent copy protection to obtain short portions of films, television shows, and other videos for the purpose of making noncommercial videos that criticize or comment on the original work. The exemption explicitly permits the use of "screen capture" technology and also permits circumvention of copy protection on DVDs, digital transmissions, and Blu-Ray discs if necessary to produce sufficiently high-quality content.

We’ve been working on this particular renewal and expansion effort since September 2014, and because the process requires renewals every three years, we expect we will be back fighting the same fight in another two years. In the meantime, we send out our particular thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who joined us in this effort, and to the many vidders who responded to our calls for stories and explanations of how this exemption matters to what they do.

The Legal Committee also joined allies Public Knowledge in filing a comment with the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in response to that agency’s request for comments on its plan for intellectual property enforcement. The comments made specific recommendations and emphasized the importance of considering the interests of the public at large, including users who can be harmed by overly aggressive enforcement of intellectual property laws.


Our Development & Membership Committee wrapped up a successful donation drive earlier this month, raising US$171,363! We are continuing to send out donation premiums. We encourage anyone who is missing their premium to get in touch with us using the Development & Membership contact form, and we'll figure out a solution to get your premium to you. Many things were learned from this drive, and we look forward to putting them to us during the next one. The Translation Committee also successfully collaborated with Development & Membership for the drive, producing over 150 documents in 17 languages!


This month, the Accessibility, Design & Technology Committee deployed several small releases addressing miscellaneous issues, including some adjustments to our infrastructure. We were also excited to offer a preview of comment moderation, but have yet to be able to push the button due to investigating and trying to fix recent site slowness and downtimes.

The Abuse Committee received about 450 tickets in October. Most were addressed within a few days, though we did have some complicated ones come in. Please be patient if you don't receive a reply immediately — the more complex the report, the more time we'll need to spend investigating!

The Tag Wrangling Committee revised the guidelines for canonical character tags that represent groups of people (to clarify that they should not be either metatagged or subtagged to individual characters), which should help both to reduce the load on servers by getting rid of unhelpful tag trees and to help users more easily find exactly the works they're looking for.


The OTW's Board of Directors met for their Annual Meeting from October 2–4. During this meeting, the 3-year OTW Roadmap produced by the Strategic Planning Committee was approved. The meeting minutes for all three days can be found on the Board Meeting Minutes page of our website.

The Elections Committee is in the final weeks of this year's OTW Board Elections. We'd like to thank the candidates for running this year. They worked hard to answer member questions in their Q&A Responses and participate in five Candidate Chats. Chat transcripts are available on our website. Voter instructions were also sent to current members. For more 2015 Board Election updates, you can visit the Elections Committee at our Twitter, @otwelections.

The annual election is a team effort — and not just the Elections team! Many thanks go out to Development & Membership, Translation, Communications, and more. Without these and other committees helping behind the scenes, this election would not be possible. Thank you all!


The Volunteers & Recruiting Committee helped Tag Wrangling, Communications, and Internationalization & Outreach recruit for new volunteers and staffers this month. Thank you to everyone who applied, and everyone who helped spread the word! We also sent a Still Willing to Serve survey out to all current volunteers, and we greatly appreciate the responses of our continuing volunteers, as well as the service of our departing volunteers. Last but not least, we have also started inducting volunteers from our September recruitment round: a warm welcome to all new volunteers, and three cheers for current volunteers taking on new roles!

New Committee Staff: Sofia (Translation), Oriontsuki (Translation), SunnyB (Translation), Cat Goodfellow (Communications), James Baxter (Web Strategy, Design, & Development), Janet Vandenabeele (Communications), qwu (Abuse), Oniondip (Abuse), Nerine Luna Cyran (Abuse), Sammie Jarrett (Abuse), Ilona van der Vegt (Abuse), shiloh (Abuse), Miranda (Abuse), fredoxley (Abuse), 6 other Abuse, 2 Communications, 1 AO3 Documentation, and 1 Systems
New AO3 Documentation Volunteers: 1
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1
New Translator Volunteers: J4Y and 3 others

Departing Committee Staff: squidgie (Wiki), Janna N. (Support), Noah Feeman (Open Doors), Jintian (Communications), Julia Allis (Communications), Ellorgast (Communications), Marta-Bee (Communications), 2 other Communications, 1 other Support, 1 Legal, 2 Elections, 1 Quality Assurance & Testing, and 1 Tag Wrangling
Departing AO3 Documentation Volunteers: briar_pipe
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Hana Lee, Asha, Swimmies, kiii17, Rana Jones, Elizabeth Moonstone, ryasdfghjkl, and 36 others
Departing Translator Volunteers: Erilia Wu and 8 others

For more information about the purview of our committees, please see the committee listing on our website.


Pages Navigation