KJ (owlmoose) wrote,
KJ
owlmoose

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Deep breaths

Okay fandom. You know I love you, and I understand why you're so upset. Being erased from the community is probably the biggest fear of anyone who lives any part of their life online, so this hits hard. I'm feeling it too, even though I don't think I've ever produced any fanwork that's at risk from this particular threat. (If Square Enix started to aggressively protect their copyrights, that would be another story. But earlier rumors about the WB aside, this doesn't seem to be about that. So let's leave that issue aside for now.)

But I'm seeing lots of blind panic and hyperbole, and I don't think that helps anyone. It doesn't help us feel better, or figure out what's really going on, or convince LJ to make any sort of changes. Angry mobs can get their way, but only up to a point. So I have two things to say, and then after that I'm done on this issue for now.

1. Fanfic and fanart are different. Text and images are held to completely different standards under the law. If you read the text of the law about depictions of underaged sex, you'll see that it's very specific about visual materials (i.e. images) that are sexually explicit. There is nothing in there about text. This is not to say that it's impossible for a text to be obscene under U.S. law. But there's no specific provision for stories about minors having sex. Different laws, different standards. Your fic is safe, I-- well, I can't promise, I'm not a lawyer and I haven't read them all. But I'm about as certain as it gets.

I also went back and read the post in lj_biz clarifying the new content guidelines, and none of the "it depends" caveats discussed the issue of artwork. It was all about fic. You can't take the guidelines about fic and generalize them to art, or vice versa. I'm not saying this is sensible, or right, or fair. But it's reality. And as long as we're posting our stories and artwork on servers hosted in the United States, we have to deal with the realities of U.S. law and the pressures put on companies by the U.S. government.

Which leads me to my next point.

2. Running away isn't going to solve anything. There is a lot to fault LJ for -- this has been a communications, customer service, and PR disaster on their part, and we should hold them accountable for that. But any organization, for-profit or not, fan-run or not, who hosts fandom content on a webserver will face this issue, one way or another. All a mass exodus will do is splinter fandom and make it far harder for us to put up a united front when it comes up again. How big do you think fandom_counts would be if we were split across half a dozen journalling/blogging services? My vote is that we make our stand right here, with this company that has indicated at least a tiny bit of willingness to work with fandom (rather than just ToSsing all our asses for IP violation, which they would be absolutely within their rights to do), and try to make things better, not just here but everywhere on the 'Net.

But that will never happen if we present as an angry mob, or if we go off in a huff. We have to be rational about this. That's hard to do when you're upset; no one knows that better than me. But if we want the world to take fandom seriously, then we need to try. Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Understand that free speech cuts both ways. And then maybe we can figure out a way to solve this mess for good, rather than just moving on to another place where it might just happen all over again.
Tags: fandom, meta, rant
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