Organization for Transformative Works

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= a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.



"We envision a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative and are accepted as a legitimate creative activity. We are proactive and innovative in protecting and defending our work from commercial exploitation and legal challenge. We preserve our fannish economy, values, and creative expression by protecting and nurturing our fellow fans, our work, our commentary, our history, and our identity while providing the broadest possible access to fannish activity for all fans."


From the FAQ:

"What does transformative mean?

Transformative works are creative works about characters or settings created by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creators. Transformative works include but are not limited to fanfiction, real person fiction, fan vids, and graphics.

A transformative use is one that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, "adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the [source] with new expression, meaning, or message." A story from Voldemort's perspective is transformative, so is a story about a pop star that illustrates something about current attitudes toward celebrity or sexuality.

Why was this terminology chosen?

The term transformative was specifically chosen to highlight in the nonprofit organization's name one of the key legal defenses for fanworks of all kinds (including real person fiction): that they are transformative of original source materials. The courts have analyzed "right of publicity" claims against creative works by using the transformative use test from copyright law, so this also applies to one of the main legal issues real person fiction faces. Because one of our primary goals is to defend the right of fanworks to exist, having a key defense for them in our name is important to the organization.

Why does the OTW believe that transformative works are legal?

Copyright is intended to protect the creator's right to profit from her work for a period of time to encourage creative endeavor and the widespread sharing of knowledge. But this does not preclude the right of others to respond to the original work, either with critical commentary, parody, or, we believe, transformative derivative works." (

More Information

  1. Campbell v. Acuff-Rose: US legal case that held that transformative uses receive special consideration in the fair use analysis.
  2. Fandom Lawyers bibliography

Contact email for community relations at [email protected]