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September 2019



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An Archive Of One's Own

**NEW ETA**: we're going to take a stab at putting this together. For more information and discussion, please join and/or watch otw_news.

ETA: If you are coming to the conversation late, xenacryst has helpfully collected up a bunch of links to a subset of noteworthy discussion threads, over here!

First, why fanfic is not illegal and why YOU should stop saying that it is even if you don't agree, by cesperanza. Please read it.

That said, the people behind fanlib (talked about many places, see astridv here) don't actually care about fanfic, the fanfic community, or anything except making money off content created entirely by other people and getting media attention. They don't have a single fanfic reader or writer on their board; they don't even have a single woman on their board. They're creating a lawsuit-bait site while being bad potential defendants, and they deserve to be chased out being pelted with rocks.

But even if they were, which I doubt is going to happen, because hey, they have people and money, we're still left with this problem: we are sitting quietly by the fireside, creating piles and piles of content around us, and other people are going to look at that and see an opportunity. And they are going to end up creating the front doors that new fanfic writers walk through, unless we stand up and build our OWN front door.

We need a central archive of our own, something like animemusicvideos.org. Something that would NOT hide from google or any public mention, and would clearly state our case for the legality of our hobby up front, while not trying to make a profit off other people's IP and instead only making it easier for us to celebrate it, together, and create a welcoming space for new fans that has a sense of our history and our community behind it.

cutting for details and brainstormingCollapse )

If I had thirty seconds more time I would just try to do it, but I don't right now, and so I am throwing out this plea into the ether. And I'm putting myself out here right now to say that I would help as any/all of an advisor, a fundraiser, a promoter, and I would archive my own stuff there. I would even take on coding parts; I just can't take on project management.

But I know we have project managers in our community -- and coders and designers -- can't we do this? Seriously -- we can come up with a site that would be miles better and more attractive to fanfic writers/readers than anything else out there, guys, because we actually USE the stuff.

I have to go offline to write now, but clearly the conversation is happening right now, thanks to the fanlib guys, and I really wanted to get this out there.

A couple of quick ETAs:
I don't allow anonymous commenting, but if you don't have an lj or OpenID account and would like to comment, you can get one really quick right here. ETA: sorry, OpenID doesn't work with anon commenting disallowed, oops.

Also, please have no hesitation to have conversations among yourselves in the comments; I never mind that anyway, but in this case would like to totally encourage it. You can use the lj thumbtacks to track everything being posted in a single thread even if you don't want to get inundated with everything posted to the entry.
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You've put a lot of great ideas together here. anatsuno linked me to this post since we were just discussing what our dream fandom site would be like. Here's what I was telling her:

My vision for a fandom website is a fic-art-vid archive, where you could lock down posts to "only site members can see this" - "only people I put in my contacts group can see this" - "anyone can see this it's totally public". (I think making a level of locking that lets only site members see the post would help encourage people to write and share work that they might otherwise lock down to friends only or leave in the drawer. A lot of people would like to share their work with fellow fans but not with the whole wide world.)

The navigation would sort fic-art-vids into categories. All posts allow comments from a form at the bottom, comments can be either visible, or privately emailed to the author. Each post could also have a "Thanks!" button at the end, so that people shy about giving specific feedback could still say thank you very simply by hitting the button. Authors could choose whether to allow comments or the thanks button or both (some people might not want the thanks button, preferring to solicit feedback comments rather than the button's thank you).

The archive would have a recs bookmarking system built congruently to it, and the archive would track how many recs each story got, so when drilling down through categories to find things, you could filter results in each category by "most recs", by "most thanks", by "most hits", etc. Also "random" and "by author" as well as tags.

I think about this all the time-- I find your "piles of content" comment very apropos, I'm concerned that we're ripe for exploitation. When I posted about FanLib I brought up the fear that if someone manages to pull off commercializing fan fiction, the copyright holders may follow suit and try to bring us in to their own for-profit boards and websites-- and send C&Ds to all the non-sanctioned, non-profit sites. Maybe that's pessimistic, but I can't help worrying.


Yes, I think locking is a very good option to allow (and also google-blocking) on an individual user basis, so the archive lets different people manage their own comfort level.

The problem with adding vids (other than vids as links -- which I think would be brilliant) -- is the massive bandwidth cost, and the bigger questions of legality.
Any time a movie, television show, or book has filed copyright and says "All Rights Reserved" that means that ANY portion of the material duplicated, reproduced, or transmitted without written permission from the copyright holders is illegal. Just because there's no legal ruling in a case against a fanwork yet doesn't mean that that clause doesn't have weight--there's a reason they put it in EVERY book and at the end of every credits roll.

John and Rodney are copyrighted characters, and when you make icons or write fiction about them, you ARE technically violating the original creators' copyright. Luckily, Sci Fi's not stupid enough to alienate fans by going after people like us, and as long as profit isn't being made, most movie, TV shows, and publishing houses are happy to not ask and not tell. However, just b/c fanficcers and fanvidders aren't making a dime doesn't mean that what they are doing doesn't violate the rights of the copyright holders--it does.

I myself, as an Editor, have had to put our Legal team after several fansites that scan/ retype/ reproduce our novels and manga in some part, or use images without permission, or translate and put up works that we hold the copyright to but haven't released on the market yet. Whether they make a profit or not, that can damage OUR sales. I assure you, there's a whole bunch of legal jargon that gets emailed or snail mailed to the person violating copyright. If they don't comply, legal action will be taken. Actually, I know for a fact my company has gone down that road in the past. Just b/c it doesn't make the papers, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Again, I really don't think what we fans do is wrong, so long as we aren't damaging sales for the original creators or trying to turn a profit off of someone else's work. I've written over 50 fanfics and host them on my own website, and if anything, I've had readers tell me they'll BUY products based on how interesting canon sounded. So the argument that it can be transformative is a good one. But the notion that there's no real legal weight to copyright is... kinda crizazy. ^_^
.... having just come off my own fanfic related kerfuffle, may I request that this archive, should it come about, is able to post epic-length fic? Because I am so TIRED, y'all.

Length limits and WIPs

I think without question, no length limits! Adding more brainstorming things:

- checkbox to be notified automatically when a WIP is finished;

- checkbox to be notified automatically when a new chapter in a WIP is finished.

- option to read a long story in a single HTML page or split up across pages (regardless of whether it was posted in chapters or as a single file originally)

- option to read "everything posted so far" in a single HTML page

I would (and will) donate money, but you know I have the computer skills of an illiterate starfish! I can now after four years update livejournal without penknife helping me! *is proud*

I think one of the big issues unfortunately concerns authors like Anne Rice who view fanfic as copyright infringement, and who say so in very public forums. To my mind, this is like Springsteen threatening to sue people who grab a guitar and play Born in the USA at the bar on Friday night, but there it is. I fear that test cases are likely to involve one of these pros, and that concerns me. Fortunately, JKR, who would have the biggest leg to stand on involving HP yaoi, seems incredibly reluctant to put any kind of limits on fanfic at all.
She said it must not be pornographic, heh.
My personal version started as a fantasy for a good, central rec site - because of my frustration with the lack of commenting/reviewing space on delicious, which is a great but insuficcient reccing tool. I was influenced by what epinions had done back in the day, the possibility to click a "I trust this person" little thumb-up button, which would build, in time, trust-networks, and allow newcomers to find popular reccers as well as popular fics (two different things, right?).

Plus, at the time - and still somewhat now - I was thinking that though fics are something we're not allowed to "make a profit from" perhaps, recs and reviews definitely are not something it's illegal to profit from. (though FFN and others do put ads on fic after all, so why not).

So anyway, yes, Trust networks for recs I think are good. The 'remixable' button is a definite plus.
Oh, man, a digg.com approach to reccing could definitely work. del.icio.us comes close, but I bet it could be done better.
I think this is needed and long past needed.

There are of course huge fanfic archives out there like ff.net, but the bigger and more public the site, the more restrictive it is, the more stuff around the edges gets cut off. I don't WANT the public face of fanfic to be only the most easily palatable stuff, with the smut and the kink and the controversial subjects marginalized and hidden under the table.

And I particularly don't want to see us all sitting around feeling frustrated while this fabulous community is commodified out from underneath us.

I'm not fit to be a project manager, but I'm great with details and general organizational work. If someone takes this and runs with it, I'd love to help.
I'm in.

Not that I can code or anythiing, but I'll still help however I can.

I have no coding skillz (hello, have you seen my website? I'm partying like it's 1999!) but I will gladly, um, offer ficlets and backrubs and support to people who can actually build things. :-)
It sounds like a cool idea...but I'm thinking you'd need a dedicated server and a lot of donations to offset the cost of that to pull this idea off.

If you think about it, you're proposing something that would be akin to the size of 'The Pit' (fanfiction.net), if not larger. And even they can't survive without advertising revenue...

But damn, it's a great idea. I want that site like...NOW!
I did mean to add, I could probably spare some time for coding or maintenance should you go for this.
I think that's a wonderful idea. I tended to avoid fic archives because for the most part the way the work is more frustrating than helpful. They seem to be either easy for writers to post but extremely difficult for readers to search (i.e., ff.net, which is a complete nightmare for readers), or easy for readers to peruse but difficult and restrictive for writers to deal with (i.e., most small, specific archives).

This is especially true when searching for specific types of stories -- I know I don't really think that searching by pairing/genre/character is quite enough to find what I want, but there are rarely other options (such as, to borrow a bit from scientific journals, a list of keywords and topics that the author specifies to describe her story more completely).

Some happy medium would be a very welcome thing indeed.
I've found some of my favorite fanfics by searching on google for cliched phrases that indicate amusing plot elements. (First and foremost among these being "But I thought you were dead!")
I'd love to offer whatever support I can for this. This is exactly what I was thinking we needed as an alternative to FanLib - a 'fan co-op', as it were :D

My brain is a bit out-of-action at the moment, but I can offer some coding and design stuff, brainstorming, development of ideas, etc.

My main concern is getting fans on board - as in, getting people to actually post their fic! Fanfiction.net used to fill this bill more before they banned NC-17 fic (and started banning people willy-nilly and putting up popups, etc). Then people started using LJ more, and now we have a billion microcosms of fic people and communities unwilling to share space in wider forums. I think getting people out of their comfort zones will be the biggest challenge.
Yeah, that would be my main concern as well--just getting fans to actually USE it.

I can't offer much help as far as coding and such, but um, I can cheerlead?
I'm intensely frustrated by my brief contact with fanlib. I had one good conversation with the guy who contacted me, and then when I basically responded with "you can't have it both ways--either you're dealing strictly with licensed properties you've paid a license feee to archive content for, or you're archiving fanfic without paying a license. Choose." and the guy went *poof* gone.
Don't even bother, seriously. C. knows the guy running this thing, he's a typical dot-com media operator. They're in it to make a buck.
I'd love to see an archive structured like 852 Prospect----it's the most user-friendly archive I've used, and the search function is a huge time saver. Is there any reason why that structure couldn't be expanded to encompass multiple fandoms?

automated archive software

*grins* 852 prospect uses the automated archive software I wrote (which is used at a bunch of different fandom sites, including Yuletide etc).

Unfortunately, the autoarchive software is not scalable to the size of something like ff.net. It is also missing many of the key features described above, most importantly user accounts that give the author control over posting. It's possible it could be modified, but I would actually suggest starting from the ground up with a good software architecture properly banged out in advance. I wrote the first version before I'd had any formal software design training, and it shows in a big way if you look at the code.

While I will never be volunteering for project management (possibly ever) again, I think this is a seriously cool idea. Fundraising, promoting, providing my $0.02 from smaller projects, and archiving my own stuff there? That, I can do.
This is a brilliant idea. I don't know what I can do to help, but I can sure as hell pimp this post.
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