We're reading all of these and already planning to mine them to expand our FAQ, but I thought I'd share this bit I posted in the discussion on the Whatever -- many of the concerns I'm seeing raised are about the commercialization of fanfic, and we really do want to clarify that this isn't what the OTW is about.
The mission of the OTW is first and foremost to protect the fan creators who work purely for love and share their works for free within the fannish gift economy, who are looking to be part of a community and connect to other fans and to celebrate and to respond to the media works that they enjoy. These fans create vibrant and active communities around the work they are celebrating, tend to spend heaps of money on the original work and associated merchandise, and encourage others to buy also. They are not competing with the original creator's work and if anything help to promote it.
If you want to sell your derivative Harry Potter novel, on the other hand, you are going to have to make a strong case for allowing you to do so without authorization from J.K. Rowling. The courts are going to be justly skeptical that you are borrowing her property for any reason other than to make yourself some cash off her characters.
It’s still not automatically infringing -- there are already plenty of cases where transformative works legitimately circulate in the for-profit marketplace as well: parodies such as The Wind Done Gone (the retelling of Gone With The Wind from the perspective of a slave), critical analyses that quote extensively from an original, "unauthorized guides," and other types of transformative works have long traditionally been sold.
But that really isn't what fanfic writers and fan creators in general are doing, or looking to do. We just want to enjoy our hobby and our communities, and to share our creative work, without the constant threat hanging overhead that an overzealous lawyer at some corporation will start sending out cease-and-desist notices, relying not on legal merit, but on the disproportionate weight of money on their side.
The OTW does not at all oppose the derivative works right that allows copyright owners to authorize a mass-market film adaptation, for instance, or allows Anne McCaffrey to authorize Todd and not somebody else to commercially publish Pern sequels. We do however support a broad understanding of fair use to protect fanworks; we're saying that this is legitimate creative work, and that fans have the right to respond to the works that capture their imagination.
And now, I must go watch Supernatural like a good fan, and then go write more of book 5, like a good pro. *g*