I recently had the pleasure of getting invited to make an account on AO3, An Archive of Our Own from the estimable Organization for Transformative Works. Ok, I begged for an invite from an In Real Life friend who I met because I liked reading her fanfiction, followed her on Twitter, then had coffee with when we realized we were in the same department at Carnegie Mellon.
I’ve been slowly falling in love with AO3. I’ve been reading fanfiction.net since I was a preteen, though I boycotted it for most of junior high and high school for deleting accurately rated works in a general purge which harmed some of my favorite authors. There are many fandom-specific sites but I’ve been keeping my eye out for a host with chutzpah, a willingness to stand behind their content creators, which AO3 seems to have.
Then there was their design: clean, easy to navigate, the search semantics takes a bit of work to learn but so far I haven’t had any of the usability issues which have plagued ff.net for a decade and more.
But their Terms of Service hooked me for good:
The OTW does not claim any ownership or copyright in your Content. Repeat: we do not own your content. Nothing in this agreement changes that in any way. Running the Archive, however, requires us to make copies, and backup copies, on servers that may be located anywhere around the world.
They believe most fanfiction is fair use, which is what I wrote my thesis on.
In other lovely news, Neil Gaiman posted on his tumblr about how he understands slash (here is his own sum-up of all of his find-able quotes on his opinion of fanfiction):
That [quote about Good Omens slash fiction being “mindboggling”] was written on my journal in 2002, when the idea that people on the web had taken a book Terry and I had written and together created several hundred times as many words as we had written, mostly detailing the erotic adventures of two characters who are described in the text as sexless, seemed very peculiar indeed.
These days, ten years later, I do not think of it as mindboggling. Compared to many things on the web it seems relatively normal. I don’t have any interest in reading it, though, and learned my lesson about bumping into it accidentally the time I searched Tumblr with a Crowley or Aziraphale tag to find a picture to illustrate a post here, and found myself looking at things I hadn’t expected to be looking at.
This quote successfully places Gaiman, a favorite author, to the Dragon camp of authors who are supportive of fanfiction.
“Many people, other than the authors, contribute to the making of a book, from the first person who had the bright idea of alphabetic writing through the inventor of movable type to the lumberjacks who felled the trees that were pulped for its printing. It is not customary to acknowledge the trees themselves, though their commitment is total.” —Forsyth and Rada, Machine Learning