AO3 News

Post Header

Published:
2018-05-09 16:40:08 -0400
Tags:

Outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement

The Legal committee of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW, the AO3's parent organization) worked with the Archive of Our Own team to update AO3's Terms of Service (ToS). This update is focused on data privacy, and on explaining in more detail how we process the data you give us while you use AO3. Below, you can read a summary of the changes. There's also a full version of the updated ToS available for your review (HTML, PDF, Word).

Data collection

We only collect the information we need to offer certain features (such as kudos, which require us to log IP addresses for guests), and to share the content you provide in your works, comments, and profile pages.

We will never sell your personal information to third parties. The OTW does not run ads on AO3, and will never use your information to market third-party content to you. To learn more about what we can and cannot do with the data you provide, please read the Privacy Policy section in the proposed ToS text. Although we've added quite a bit to clarify the policy, the ToS represent current and longstanding OTW and AO3 practice.

Age policy

We've also made some changes to the minimum age at which you can create an AO3 account, in accordance with the European Union's new data privacy regulations (GDPR). While the general minimum age remains at 13 years old, there are specific requirements for those who reside in the EU. We’re very sorry to inconvenience current users who may be in this age range; you are very welcome to rejoin AO3 once you're old enough to do so!

If you are under 16 years old and live in the European Union, please check your country's current age of consent for data processing. You must be of age in your country of residence to give us consent to use your data in order to use the Archive, or else we can't legally, for example, store your kudos or comments (even as a guest!). This is very, very important: If you live in the European Union, please check whether you are of age to use the Archive without us having to ask your legal guardian and/or parent(s) for their written consent.

Once these ToS changes have gone into effect, everyone who visits the Archive will be asked to confirm that they agree with the new ToS, which includes stating that they are of age to use AO3.

We are legally required to remove accounts belonging to age-barred users. Now is a good time to review your profile and works for any outdated information about your age!

Summary of changes

The proposed Terms of Service contain some minor language changes (such as capitalization and punctuation) for clarification, and the following significant additions and changes:

  • We added an item to the 'What We Believe' section stating that we do not sell data, and clarifying that different OTW websites have their own ToSs, adding links to them.
  • We clarified that future changes to the AO3 Terms of Service should be published on AO3. (They always were anyway, but we figured we should make it explicit.)
  • We added the new AO3 age policy (as described above) in compliance with the GDPR for EU users between the ages of 13 and 16, and added references to hiding/deleting accounts and content submitted by age-barred users.
  • We defined data processing in the context of AO3 and explained that by using the Archive, you are giving us your consent to process the data you submit in order to maintain the site. This includes things like displaying your works and comments to others. Please remember that any information you choose to share publicly (for example, in your open works, profile or comments) will be available to everyone.
  • We explained in which contexts we collect your IP address, e-mail address and other user-specific information such as Favorite Tags and any errors you may encounter while browsing, and what we use this information for.

This ToS update essentially underscores a commitment we have always made: the Archive is not here to profit from fans, or to collect data about your fanwork browsing habits and sell them. We have never done that; we will never do that.

It is part of our mission and values to respect your privacy, and to collect and store as little data as we can. That being said, we know that our community routinely shares information about personal relationships, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and sexual orientation in profiles, work notes, bookmarks, tags, comments and works. Since these are "special categories of personal data" under the GDPR, we needed to add that information explicitly to the ToS.

If you've ever made a donation to the OTW, our parent organization, rest assured that we don't match up any data about the Archive's users and the OTW's donors. We take our commitment to preserving your fannish identities very seriously.

Please read the proposed changes to our ToS (HTML, PDF, Word) and leave your comments on this post with any questions, suggestions or feedback you might have about the proposed text. All comments must be received by May 23, 2018. After that, the OTW Board will vote on the final text of the Terms of Service.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2015-03-30 13:14:43 -0400
Tags:

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

The OTW's Content Policy workgroup is responsible for drafting and updating language for our Terms of Service and other policies involving our projects.

Recently Content Policy has been working with the policy for our Open Doors project. The proposed changes reflect several years of experience with the Open Doors process, and are intended to make our policies simpler and easier for collection owners and Archive administrators to apply. They do not affect individual users.

Per OTW policy, today begins a 2 week comment period from users. The proposed changes are available for viewing in HTML, PDF and Word document formats.

Please leave comments or questions about the changes here. Once feedback has been gathered, Content Policy will use it to make further changes. They'll then seek Board approval for the new policy and make it public as part of the AO3 Terms of Service.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2014-04-21 12:59:23 -0400
Tags:

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

Our Content Policy workgroup has been at work on some FAQ updates and Terms of Service (ToS) changes for the Archive of Our Own which have now been approved by the OTW Board. This post begins a two-week open comment period so that AO3 users can leave feedback on these changes before they are added to the current ToS and FAQ pages.

The ToS changes are mainly small wording changes that reflect the way AO3 features have evolved from the time in which the document was originally drafted. There is one policy change that will not make a significant difference in our practices but may be of particular interest to users, which is our adoption of a DMCA policy similar to that of Wikipedia's. It takes fair use into account, but also provides us with more protection in case we are threatened by copyright trolls.

We will take feedback into account until April 28, 2014. If there are no further changes approved by the Board as a result of the feedback, the updates shown below will be added to our Terms of Service. We will also update our FAQ pages.

1) New DMCA Policy

In PDF format
In Rich text format

2) New Terms of Service Changes

In PDF format
In Rich text format

3) New ToS FAQ changes

In PDF format
In Rich text format

Q&A on the DMCA

What is the DMCA?

The DMCA is part of US copyright law, 17 U.S.C. §512. Compliance with the DMCA protects us from money damages in any case where someone posted infringing content on the Archive or Fanlore, as long as we took down that content when properly notified about it.

Our current rules will largely be unchanged, though our procedures will change somewhat. We will still decline to remove noninfrining, transformative works. We already ban copyright infringement, such as posting large, nontransformative chunks of a book, and for the Archive, Abuse already tells users to remove infringements. If they don’t comply, Abuse will disable access to the infringing work. A user who repeatedly posts infringing materials may have their account permanently suspended (terminated).

Why would the Archive want do this, if it is going to continue looking at fair use?

To put it briefly, having a DMCA policy makes it easier to shake off trolls. For copyright owners/businesses just interested in demanding thousands of dollars, it’s not worth sending us threatening letters if we have a DMCA policy, since we are protected against money damages.

Doesn’t the DMCA require websites to take down content regardless of fair use?

That’s how most providers, most of the time, implement it, because that’s the cheapest way to do it, and most providers don’t have ideological commitments to fair use that outweigh their desires to save money. Wikipedia, however, has a DMCA policy and a commitment to fair use, and follows the policy we propose. We believe that we can remain committed to fair use while providing a streamlined way to address true infringements.

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2013-06-28 14:07:52 -0400
Tags:

In mid-March our Content Policy workgroup asked for user feedback about the following ways in which we would have to address the addition of fannish non-fiction content to the AO3. Because work type is not yet in place as part of the basic upload form, we have been working on a general policy focused on tagging. Based on internal and external feedback, we have made some changes to the initial proposal, though the basic structure remains the same.

The Terms of Service document has proposed minor language changes in the following sections and one major addition:

  • Section II - minor
  • Section IV B and F - minor
  • Section IV K new sections 5 and 6
  • Section V D - minor

You can access this in either Word format or PDF format.

The new FAQ proposal includes some minor word changes in various sections, primarily in how users are referenced ("they"). The major new additions are labeled as follows:

  • Can I archive nonfiction?
  • How will “ephemeral” be defined?
  • What falls within the definition of fandom nonfiction?
  • What isn't fandom nonfiction?
  • How does tagging apply to podfics, vids, and other nontextual content? Do I need to use particular tags?
  • Do I need to tag for “fan fiction”?"
  • What kinds of mis-tagging does Abuse handle?
  • What do you mean by recategorizing a fanwork type?
  • What do you mean by a manual recategorization?
  • When will you change a language tag?
  • When will you remove a fandom tag?
  • Will you recategorize or remove other tags, such as relationship tags?
  • What should I do about recs/commentary on fanworks?
  • I would like to create a list of recommendations or a list of works that use certain tropes.
  • What counts as a recommendation that should be in a bookmark versus a more general discussion or analysis of multiple fanworks?
  • How does the harassment policy apply to reviews?
  • I am looking for a particular story. Can I create a work explaining what I’m looking for?
  • What about a fanwork prompt?
  • What about a letter to someone I've been anonymously matched with for a challenge?
  • How do these rules apply to bookmarks?
  • Addition to "What is tag wrangling?" section.

You can access this in either Word format or PDF format.

As stated in our Terms of Service this post constitutes the beginning of a two week comment period regarding these changes: "At the end of the comment period, proposed changes will be voted on by the Board. If the Board votes in favor, the changes will become effective at that time."

Comment

Post Header

Published:
2013-03-13 15:28:47 -0400
Tags:

The Board’s decision on meta has sparked a great deal of conversation, externally and internally, and we appreciate the detailed comments many people have left. Over the course of internal discussions among the affected committees, we've determined that "fandom nonfiction" is a more useful term than “meta” to explain the kinds of works covered by the Board vote. We invite your feedback on these proposals. We will be collecting feedback for two weeks, and then will incorporate that feedback into a policy for Board approval.

Ultimately, we will handle many different kinds of fannish creativity through a work type system. However, while we hope to make progress on this later in the year, we do not have a definite timeframe for work types. In the interim, creators may choose to wait until work types are implemented or to use the additional tags to categorize their works in order to facilitate the transition to work types.

Important note: there are many key issues relating to the implementation of work type categories. We are only beginning to brainstorm on the technical aspects. If you give us feedback about what you want from the specifics of work type now, before we have a proposal on the table, we may miss it when we get into the technical aspects. So while we welcome your feedback, we ask that you focus it in this post on the general issues of policy: what we will host and what abilities administrators ought to have with respect to mislabeled works. Just by way of example: "Abuse should be able to recategorize a textual work from fiction to nonfiction" is feedback within the scope of the current proposal. "Visual art should be divided into digital, hand-drawn, and other" is not within the scope of the current proposal, though we will seek more input on these types of issues as we continue to develop the work type plan.

That said, here is a very general outline of what we are thinking:

(1) When creators post a work, some type of general "work type" selection will ultimately be mandatory, as choosing a rating and a warning or warnings are now mandatory. This will probably refer to functional file characteristics like text, video, and audio, but may also incorporate a fiction/nonfiction divide. Once the work types are available, as with ratings and warnings, our basic policy will be to defer to the creator's categorizations.

(2) Other aspects of work type will likely be optional/user-defined, possibly with autofill/some predetermined options that will not be exclusive. Again, our basic policy will be to defer to the creator’s categorizations.

(3) We may auto-detect some work features such as the presence of an image or image tag, the way we currently auto-detect word count.

(4) Where the AO3 already provides specific features for a particular kind of content—specifically, fanwork searches, bookmarks, and challenges—we will ask people to use those features for that content.

Your feedback on these general principles, as well as the more specific issues addressed below, is welcome.

How will existing works fit into this scheme or be moved into this scheme?: This is a technical issue that is not yet resolved. On the policy side, no one will be penalized for having posted a work that, because of the implementation of work type, is technically "mislabeled" as a result of the transition. However, we may try some automated solutions for detecting work type and/or ask creators to change a work type when they posted before work type was introduced. Part of the transition may thus be to automatically set work type based on the presence or absence of certain tags or other work features, then notify the creators and allow them to change the work type if the automated process made a mistake. Once work type is implemented, the current proposal is that administrators will have the ability to correct an obvious miscategorization of work type (that is, a case that is not borderline even after deference to the creator) if the creator fails to respond to an inquiry after a reasonable time.

We want to have definitions that can be reasonably explained and enforced by our dedicated volunteers. Our policy is to default to respect creators’ own characterizations of their works, and that will remain the case. Abuse will, however, be able to request the removal of or remove particular works when they are clearly beyond the scope of fandom nonfiction, just as Abuse can currently make other Terms of Service-related determinations in appropriate circumstances.

Draft FAQ additions:

Q: Is nonfiction allowed on the Archive?

A: Fandom nonfiction is allowed. Where we provide a specific function (search, bookmarking, challenges) we will ask you to use the specific methods we provide for those activities. In addition, as an archive whose goal is preservation, we want permanent, nonephemeral content. To the extent that your content is designed to be ephemeral, such as liveblogging episode reactions, it should go on a journaling service and not the Archive.

Q: What falls within the definition of fandom nonfiction?

A: Fandom nonfiction can be discussions of fannish tropes, commentary on fandoms, documentaries, podcasts about fandom, explanations of the creative process behind a fanwork or works, guides for fan-created gaming campaigns, or many other things.

However, the nature of the Archive and the limitations of our resources mean that, while we will endeavor to host as much fannish content as possible, we need to put some limits on allowable works. In particular, the Archive is not a journaling service and it is not designed to host ephemeral content.

We will, in general, defer to the creator’s characterization of a work as fandom nonfiction as long as it has a reasonably perceptible fannish connection, either to a specific source or to fandom in general, and takes the form of an independent, nonephemeral commentary. For example, an analysis of or commentary on multiple fanworks is nonfiction meta (and must comply with our other policies, including our harassment policy). An essay on a particular character's narrative arc in canon or of the interaction between film and comics versions of a source is also meta.

We understand that, as with many things, there are hard cases at the edges of categories, but we nonetheless need some limits in order to keep the Archive manageable for our hard-working volunteers as well as for other users.

Q: What about a fanwork search?

A: Please use our search functions for this rather than creating a separate work.

Q: What about a recommendation for a single fanwork?

A: Please use our bookmark/recommendation function for this; many creators also welcome discussion in the comments to the work, which is another appropriate place for such commentary. As always, while criticism of a fanwork is not itself harassment, content must comply with our other policies, including our harassment policy.

Q: What counts as a recommendation versus a more general discussion or analysis?

A: Please use your judgment on the best way to categorize a commentary. Our general policy is to defer to creators.

Q: How does the harassment policy apply to reviews?

A: The Terms of Service state “When judging whether a specific incident constitutes harassment, the abuse team will consider factors such as whether the behavior was repeated, whether it was repeated after the offender was asked to stop, whether the behavior was targeted at a specific person, whether that target could have easily avoided encountering the behavior, whether the behavior would be considered unacceptable according to normal community standards, etc.” This policy applies to reviews. Again, criticism of a fanwork, even harsh criticism, is not itself harassment. Calling a creator evil or wishing harm to them are potential examples of harassment.

Q: What about a fanwork prompt?

A: Please use our challenge function for this.

Q: What about a letter to someone I've been anonymously matched with for a challenge?

A: Since this content is designed to be ephemeral/nonpermanent, please put it on your profile, which can be edited to include your preferences.

Q: What isn't fandom nonfiction?

A: The examples are potentially limitless, but here are some examples that we believe, based on our experience so far, do not qualify as fandom nonfiction and should not be posted as a work:

  • episode transcripts and other non-transformative fandom material;
  • primarily autobiographical or non-fandom-related essays (e.g., essays on bike lanes, even if they contain a single reference to a fannish source);
  • general complaints about behavior towards a particular creator (e.g., a post stating that a work was deleted due to lack of feedback);
  • suggestions that other fans contact the creator through email or other social networks;
  • a single word or pairing name repeated hundreds of times;
  • offers and giveaways.

As with all works, we presume good faith on the part of our users, and ask that you do the same for the fans who make up our Support and Abuse teams.

Q: How will “ephemeral” be defined?

A: Please use your best judgment; our general policy is to defer to creators in cases of doubt. However, episode reactions of the type ‘OMG SAM’S HAIR OMG OMG. DEEEEEEEEEEEAN’ are likely to be appropriate for journaling services and not for the Archive. Ephemeral content is generally meant to be read at a particular time: for example, a message about a particular challenge or a reaction meant to be read while or just after a particular episode airs.

Proposed Terms of Service changes

The current ToS says: "Repeated identical posts in multiple places, e.g., a large number of identical comments promoting a website, will also be considered spam regardless of commercial content."

Proposed: "Repeated identical or nearly identical posts in multiple places, e.g., a large number of identical comments promoting a website, will also be considered spam regardless of commercial content."

Rationale: clarifying that small differences between posts will not be enough to take a series of posts out of the "spam" category. A creator who posts 25 different fanworks in quick succession as part of moving their output onto the Archive is not spamming, nor is a creator who posts 10 different drabbles (100-word stories), but 10 rapid-fire works with minimal content of any kind might be spam.

Current ToS:
K. Ratings and Warnings

Proposed:
K. Ratings, Warnings, and Fanwork Types

...
[new 5.] Fanwork types

It is our policy to defer to creators' categorizations, but we reserve the right to recategorize a fanwork type.

A manual recategorization decision made by the abuse team is appealable through the ordinary abuse appeals process.

A manual recategorization of a fanwork will not result in suspension of a user's account, unless it is a repeated pattern for a single user, in which case it may be treated as grounds for a suspension. Moreover, if a creator unilaterally reverses a manual recategorization, without agreement from the abuse team, that will be treated as grounds for a suspension.

Related FAQ additions:

Q: What do you mean by recategorizing a fanwork type?

A: For technical reasons relating to how our database is planned to evolve, we need for archive administrators to have the ability to change a work type where it is clearly appropriate (e.g., a review essay or fanvid mistakenly or inadvertently categorized as textual fiction). Because work type will be a new addition (and we may create new categories over time), we understand that users won't necessarily go back and change the work type on previously uploaded works. Inaction on already-existing works will not be grounds for any penalty for users, even if we do later ask that the work type be changed to reflect what it is. People will also make mistakes when work type is in place. Once work type is in place, our general policy when a recategorization is clearly appropriate will be to ask the user to recategorize the work, and change the work type if we receive no response. In addition, our general policy is to defer to the creator's choices in borderline cases.

Q: What do you mean by a manual recategorization?

A manual recategorization is an individualized determination that a specific work has been miscategorized, made as the result of a specific complaint. In terms of the transition to work types, we may automate work type detection for existing works, notify users, and ask them to change the work type if the automated process made a mistake. This automatic process would operate outside the abuse process, not as a manual recategorization.

Q: Will you recategorize or remove other tags, such as relationship tags?

A: Because our Abuse and Support resources are limited, and because different people interpret tags in many different ways, we don’t think that we can fairly enforce rules about relationship or other tags. We encourage users to engage with each other on these issues.

Comment