Harry Potter Alliance Uniting 5,000 Fan Creators to Fight For Fair Use and Copyright
The Harry Potter Alliance is gathering a community of fans to protect the fan creations that we know and love. The Fan Works Are Fair Use campaign aims to build a community of 5,000 fans and fan creators interested in protecting fan fiction, visual art, videos, music, and other fan-made works. Fans can learn more and sign up to join the community by visiting fanworksarefairuse.org.
Fan Works Are Fair Use aims to support changes to US copyright law that protect original content creators as well as fan creators who produce beloved parodies, homages, and works of art honoring the source material. The HPA believes that fan works add value to the source materials on which they’re based. While fan works obviously do not alter the original works, they do help shape and energize the culture that surrounds popular narratives. That energy helps to perpetuate the presence of the original work in the cultural zeitgeist, ultimately leading to more enthusiasm, passion, and (of course) sales. After all, who wouldn’t agree that the world is a better place with a video like Dark Lord Funk in it?
The campaign has launched with a celebration of fan works on social media. Using #FanWorksTaughtMe, fans are discussing the different skills, perspectives, and communities they have gained from fan works that they love. Contributions span from tweets to videos and are shedding light on how fans use fan works to build their confidence, refine their skills, explore issues like race and gender, understand the perspectives of others, and much, much more.
Several artists and fan creators are already celebrating fan works through the campaign. Sleepy Hollow’s Orlando Jones has signed on as a spokesperson for the campaign, along with FictionAlley co-founder Heidi Tandy of Price Benowitz, LLP, wizard rockers Harry and the Potters, YouTubers Kristina Horner and Lauren Fairweather, and the Organization for Transformative Works.
Fan Works Are Fair Use builds on the success of Video Creators for Net Neutrality, a campaign which brought together a community of over 20,000 fans and video creators in 2014 to fight for a fair and open internet. This powerful community, responsible for over 200,000 YouTube videos with over 17 billion views, mobilized to successfully convince lawmakers and the FCC to protect net neutrality. In 2015, the HPA is excited to continue to help shape media reform by building a community that can mobilize thoughtfully and effective around copyright.
Copyright law in the United States is governed by the Copyright Act of 1976. In the nearly 40 years since the law was enacted, the basic idea behind copyright law has stayed the same: to help creators protect their work and receive compensation so that they may keep creating. But in the age of the internet, the way we create has changed.
In the 1970’s, fan works were a limited commodity shared among small communities of fans. In 2015, fan works are everywhere. Major networks and publishers are discovering their newest artists and animators by scrolling through Tumblr. Youtube is filled with parody videos with millions of views, while fan fiction is wildly popular on sites like Archive Of Our Own and WattPad.
Fan works have become an essential piece of the culture of fandom, with artists, writers, musicians, video creators, and even athletes creating works that reference and pay tribute to various pieces of pop culture. Others, like the Harry Potter Alliance use the source material to inspire positive change and community engagement.
However, these benefits to the community are not always protected. Fan works are frequently pulled offline due to copyright violations, and fan creators can be drawn into legal battles. In one recent example, Melissa Hunter of Adult Wednesday Adams was forced to remove her videos of the aforementioned series due to a copyright violation. Prior to their removal, Adult Wednesday Adams had gathered over 8.5 million views.
Fandom is not a passive experience. Today, fan creators actively help to bring in new fans and add to new energy that benefits the source material and its creators. The HPA believes that this culture is worth celebrating and protecting. If you’ve ever enjoyed a piece of fan work, you probably do, too. Visit fanworksarefairuse.org to join the community and add your voice to the celebration using the hashtag #FanWorksTaughtMe.
The Harry Potter Alliance (www.thehpalliance.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that takes an out-of-the-box approach to civic engagement. We’re changing the world by making activism accessible to young people through the power of story. Since 2005, we’ve engaged millions of young people to become like the heroes they read about through our work for equality, human rights, and literacy.