glare

We'd like to clarify the previous clarification...

Some LJ rep who is obviously neither a lawyer nor a professional spokesperson posted a clarification of LJ's policies on unacceptable material. A Six Apart legal rep then un-usefully commented. Read them, if you aren't already sick to death of the topic.

The gist of LJ's inexpertly-communicated policy appears to be:
- Our servers are in the US. Therefore US law is a forcing function.
- Therefore, you cannot use LJ resources to promote certain illegal activities, or assist in committing certain crimes.
- Therefore, you also cannot post "material which [sic] violates United States law".

Note the clarification: CLARIFICATION: Not all content describing underage sexuality is in violation of our policies (or of United States law). Rather, using LJ to distrubute [sic] "obscene" content (as defined by the Miller Test) is illegal. If it qualifies as obscene, and if it involves minors (people under the age of 18), then it's not allowed.

The Miller Test is the test that mentions community standards and the presence or absence of serious literary value. (Read the article if you're unfamiliar with it.)

I've read many times that it's just about impossible for text (that is, the fiction that is mostly what we're worried about) to be judged obscene by this standard. US law has consistently made distinctions between visual material and written material. So if LJ is in fact using the Miller test plus an additional requirement of underaged-ness, we have no worries. (Assuming, perhaps dangerously, that the community would be "California", where their servers are, or "LJ itself".)

But I think it's difficult to figure out what LJ's policy truly is. It's about as vague and unenforceable as US obscenity laws are, which is amusing in some ways but unsettling in most others. That unsettling feeling is not a happy one for you & me.

LJ/Six Apart could have chosen to simply ban a range of materials on the "we own it; we set the rules" principle. In that case, fandom would be exploding and then moving without bothering to argue. This is perhaps why LJ/Six Apart chose not to phrase the policy that way, but instead to shield behind a vague invocation of "US law". Phrased this way, it means that they can argue that fandom is fine, while preserving their ability to turn around and yank material if somebody complains. The policy is best viewed as mealy-mouthed evasion of the issues. They wish to have a policy that looks good on paper, doesn't offend their customers too much, and allows them freedom of action should an advertiser complain.

This policy is not fandom-friendly. Is it the best anybody can expect from a service provider? Does Six Apart in fact want fandom's business?

I'm not exactly a fountain of underaged smut, but this uneasiness includes me. One story, rated mature, not even in question if the Miller test is truly the test used. But can I have confidence that it is?

ETA: Ooh. Check this single case of a woman being prosecuted on obscenity charges for a text-only for-pay website.

They should have had a lawyer write & post the policy.

Because if it is just what the clarification says, fandom has nothing to worry about. burr86 should have kept his hands in his pockets; every time he answered a question he made the policy look worse.

Note, I am not a lawyer. I am a software engineer. That, strangely, means I have power. It means that if fandom wants to move elsewhere, I can help make it so. Hmm!

Tell me what you think, or if I've misunderstood anything here.
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That's the way I'm reading it, but after all this crap, I just don't trust LJ to know what they're doing. I don't want to move. I'm lazy, and, until all this began, content on LJ, but they are sorely trying my patience. Plus? These blow ups are doing nothing for my general stress level.

Plus? Today was my SoG day, damnit. ::pouts like a whiny two-year-old::
Yesterday was your SOG day, and you wrote G/Wes that pushed all my buttons. Guh. (You keep doing that, you know.) Must scurry over and leave comment saying so...
Oh, I'm glad you liked it, sweetie! Mostly I was just whining cause I was excited about my SOG day and then all that shit happened. ::laughs::
I'm with you on the underage smut thing, one story only, but it was (in my opinion) necessary for the storytelling. I usually get squicked trying to write underage stuff, it's just....wiggy.

But I agree that LJ is being deliberately vague and causing a lot of undue stress/wank throughout fandom.
LJ/SixApart is going through the same learning curve every big service provider before them has had to go through, about content and managing a huge unruly user base. Which unaccountably is human, and obsessed with sex in unseemly ways that shock these companies every darn time. Even though humans are actually kinda predictable about this. *headdesk*
Meh. Everybody move up here, we'll have tea & buttertarts.

I have nothing useful to say, I will lurk wherever there is good fic to be read. This may be the prob, maybe they(rule-writers) can't read :(
I think the sheer volume of stuff posted on LJ every day is way too much to read :) But tea sounds like a nice idea. Mine with milk and one lump, please.
I am not leaving LJ, particularly not after having just shelled out for a permanent account.

That said... I, too, have one story with underage sexual content in it. It was the first B/G story I ever wrote, before I realized that underage Buffy is generally frowned upon in the shipping community. I have since removed every iteration of this story that I can find from the Internet.

I don't think fandom really has a lot to worry about... I really think most people are making mountains of a molehill. But then, one never knows, does one?
I think you possibly overreacted in removing it; textual fiction is just not something you should worry about. People are overly freaked, I think.
Possibly, but I removed it years ago - in fact, about 3 years ago - for RL reasons. I have since made the decision to keep it down and only share it with truly interested parties. It's not very good anyway, so it's no great loss.
I have no adult stories posted anywhere general audiences can get to them, but I find capitulation to be annoying at very best. I'd say move if only because I'd say a vast majority of the paid accounts on LJ are fanfic writers.
Of course, I'm too cheap to lay out for one so maybe I'm wrong.
Their subsequent clarification seems to indicate they didn't intend to freak fandom out. This Burr86 dude is getting a hard lesson in customer communication. Which is why mostly companies hire professionals to do it. Why these guys haven't, I dunno.
Re: Drive By Hugging
That is unbelievably adorable. I <3 brown tabbies. The sainted Tab Hunter, who outlasted several boyfriends in my early adulthood, was a brown tabby. Ah, Tabbus! How I miss you still.
every time he answered a question he made the policy look worse.

Alas, yeah. I'd take back all my comments if I could, but now it's too late -- after I realized that my comments weren't helping (thankfully relatively early on) I switched into "just reading" mode until we could get that second post up. Sorry for rattling people unnecessarily -- that wasn't my goal or intention, but it seems I did a good job of that. :-/
You poor sap! I hope you enjoyed your day on the grill :) Communicating with customers is tough, and I'm glad I don't have to do it for my company's customers. In particular, you've got a nervy bunch of people reading everything you say.

My feedback to your bosses would be not to subject you to that again. They need a clear policy statement, vetted by the lawyers, that you just post. Boom, done.
Heh. I actually volunteered to do this -- and, well, everything BUT that one sentence in my one post went over well, huh? *grin*

(I still need a stiff drink though.)
Here from MF
I reported one of ari_o's PWP Snarry fics where Harry is 16, and LJ Abuse said it was fine. I think the vast, vast majority of smut on LJ is safe, therefore.

Still no idea what, if anything, will be bannable, though ...
Re: Here from MF
I read that-- that was a clever thing to do!

It just seems nuts to try to have an obscenity test. US law can't really manage it, and even then it only really tries for visual materials. LJ is reduced to saying "we know it when we see it", which is not the sort of policy that makes anybody feel relaxed.
The main problem for me with the issue is, that the Miller Test is nothing absloute. It requires a review by a group of peers that would rule something obscene or not by the standards of a certain community. It isn't something set in stone, and certainly nothing that you can apply to beforehand. So, who will do the review if content passes the Miller Test? Which community sets the standards? What about invite-only flocked comms?

Truly, this "clarification" raises more questions than it answered.

Also, why doesn't this important update on the TOS appear on the news blog instead of only the biz blog? Doesn't LJ want to reach every one of their users?

For other websites, i.e. Paypal, eBay etc. I get an official email whenever there is a change of TOS. LJ's PR departmept is acting so amateurish, it's no wonder people get fed up with the service. :(

Yay, here via metafandom. *g*
Re: Here via metafandom (catching up on LJ after Potterdämmerung)
Ooh, and I return to this comment weeks later to note: how right you were.