Transformative Works and Cultures copyright clarification

What copyright is Transformative Works and Cultures using?

TWC is copyrighting under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

In brief, everyone is free to reprint or remix, with attribution, without obtaining specific permission, as long as the original publication info is attributed and/or hotlinked back. We chose a noncommercial license because we think that enough people are making money off fan labor. If people are going to do so, we figure at least they ought to tell us, so we can tell the author.

Practically speaking, what does that copyright mean for the authors who publish in TWC?

It means that anybody can post full text of the articles, with attribution, as long as they don’t make money. Authors may therefore repost the entire content to their blog or Web site after TWC has been published. Likewise, random people can repost full text without restriction. As long as they attribute it properly, it’s all good.

If people want to make money off the text, perhaps by anthologizing the essay in an edited volume, then they must ask. This includes the author, because once an article appears in TWC, TWC owns the copyright.

We plan to grant permission to anyone who requests reprint, regardless of who they are (the author or not), without asking for money. We basically just want to know, so we can inform the author. If the author does not want the article reprinted, we are obliged to disregard the author’s wishes and permit the publication to go forward, as per our stated reprint policy (“Such permission is routinely granted for free”). We do this in the spirit of open access.

Why is TWC retaining copyright, not the author?

The journal retaining copyright is standard in academic journal publishing. Everyone in the industry understands it. We’re thus in line with general practice. Production editors at presses seeking reprint permission will automatically come to TWC, not the author. Requesting payment for reprints is one way that academic journals make money. However, TWC, because it is associated with the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit organization, and because we want to retain the spirit of open access, will never ask for money to reprint articles.

Our main reason is a purely practical one: TWC retains copyright to protect its ability to grant reprint permission in case the author disappears.

Further, we are committed to open access. If we released copyright to the author, the author could choose to abrogate that by refusing to grant reprint permission. This is not in line with TWC’s mission and goals, which are focused on the free dissemination of ideas.

What about reproduction of copyrighted or trademarked material in TWC?

As part of the essays we will print, TWC will publish screencaps, manips, original art based on copyrighted or trademarked characters, short vids, and other artworks based on copyrighted material.

As TWC’s Web site notes in the section on Online Submissions,

We believe images, including images altered by an artist to create a derivative artwork, and song lyrics may appear in TWC under fair use under U.S. copyright law. Such images and lyrics are fair use because:
1. They are lower in resolution and quality than the original.
2. They do not limit the copyright owners’ distribution rights.
3. They are being used in the context of academic analysis in a manner that contributes meaningfully to our culture.
4. They represent only a tiny fraction of the whole artwork.
5. They are hosted by the OTW’s servers, and the OTW is a nonprofit organization.

This reading of fair use means that we will permit reproduction of images that most other scholarly journals would never consider. We hope that this will inspire authors who have resisted writing such works because they knew they would basically be unpublishable.

If authors wish to reprint untransformed copyrighted texts that are not artworks, such as bar graphs or charts that were originally published in another academic journal, the author is responsible, as is standard in the industry, for contacting the journal to obtain permission, paying any fees, and providing the TWC editors with copies of the relevant paperwork.


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