Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) graphic banner, umbrella of OTW's projects
|Formation||17 May 2007|
|board of directors, elected annually|
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.
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 and expanded in 2015. The OTW, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and New Media Rights submitted a new petition for exemptions in 2018.
The OTW has also submitted several amicus briefs to the courts in several cases involving intellectual property law:
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. As of June 2018, there are approximately 45,000 articles and 800,000 edits to the wiki.
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.
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 2018, the archive hosts more than 3.9 million works in more than 28,900 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.
45,229 articles, 793,761 edits
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