Today, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is celebrating it’s 5th birthday; that’s five years of protecting, supporting, and hosting works from and for fans, including fic, vids, podfics, remixes and multimedia projects.
Back in the dark days, before OTW/AO3, the home for fanfiction online was fanfiction.net, which quickly gained a reputation for hosting terrible crap, the kind of fic your nine year old sister would write. What’s more, participatory fans who wanted to interact with, and manipulate, TV and other texts, always ran the risk of being prosecuted and TOS-ed for copyright violations.
In this age of person-powered media, the guidelines for what counts as transformative works have expanded and deepened as more and more fans are starting to vid, write, remix and interact with published texts. So five years ago the non-profit Organization for Transformative Works started up, headed by lawyers and social media mavens, to protect fanworks and help define the laws that will allow fans to manipulate and do work based on produced and published media.
One of the OTW’s major projects has been the Archive of our Own (AO3), fanfiction and fanworks’ new home in cyberspace. Taking advantage of the large and participatory fan culture on Livejournal and elsewhere, AO3 fast became the nexus for quality fanworks across the internet. Now, there are literally hundreds of thousands of works archived on AO3, where they will never be TOS-ed, never be prosecuted, always be protected, and always be available for any and all to enjoy, anonymously and for free.
So happy birthday, OTW! Thank you for all you’ve given fandom, for your tireless crusade in favor of the fan, the writer, the remixer and vidder and podficcer. In a litigious and hostile arena, you are a bastion of hope, and a treasure.