Introduction

I don't read much original fiction on FictionPress unless it involves satire and parody simply because I believe in paying a writer their fair share for the original fiction they've written, even if it is the library that is paying for the copy of the book. The exception has been works written for contests. I also tend to stay away from fanfiction that is written for works in the Public Domain because they could possibly be published for profit as well, the exception being when the work is crossed over with a work not in the Public Domain.

So I honestly don't know how bad the situation is over here for rule breaking works, but I do know how it is over on FanFiction. Many of the writers over there who don't break the site rules are getting tired of rule breaking works being posted to the site because it eats up space on the servers that a non-rule breaking fanfic could partake in. They also steal possible hits away from non-rule breaking fanfics. That in itself is an important reason why a person should not post stories that break the rules. While one is not physically hurting anyone, they are hurting the other people's ability to use the site.

Now, some of the rules are rather obvious as to why the site admins don't allow them on the site. Other rules are less obvious as to why they site admins have put them into place. Some people argue that the rules infringe on their creative freedom and their ability to release their imagination, so they go ahead and break the site rules because they honestly feel they are only voicing their freedom of speech. Which to me makes it very clear they don't understand what freedom of speech is and what it covers and what it doesn't cover.

First, the Bill of Rights for the United States does in fact protect a persons freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The amendment reads thus. "Congress shall make no law respecting an established of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to the petition the Government for a redress of grievances." I am going to be the last person to deny the fact there is such a thing as freedom of speech. However, there is more to this then people realize.

The first issue comes from the fact one persons rights ends where another persons begins. One of the rights under the first amendment is to practice ones religion how one sees fit. However, committing human sacrifice is not protected under the first amendment, as is stealing another persons animals for animal sacrifice. As for freedom of speech, using profanity in a public place is not protected, nor is liable and slander, as well as shouting fire in a crowed movie theater when there is no fire. You also can't force other people to listen or read what you've written despite the fact you have the right to say and publish it.

The second problem comes from the fact the first amendment only restricts government prevention of a persons rights and not the rights of a private organization except in the case of whistle blowers. If a news reporter writes a story that the editors and owners of a newspaper doesn't like, they can prevent it from getting published and the news reporter will be forced to take it else where. Same with publishing companies, they can tell any writer to take their stuff to another company. FanFiction and FictionPress have the rights to tell the writers and users who use their site for free that they have to take their work elsewhere.

Some people argue that this is a matter of censorship without actually understanding what censorship means. The act of censorship means a person has said that a person can't write something at all. However, selection states that a person can write something, but that people are allowed to practice the write of saying they do not want to read or write such stories. Some people also have to practice selection based on the people that they happen to serve and act in those people's best interests.

For example, a school library can refuse to shelve a book if they do not feel the content is appropriate for its age group. A public library can refuse to shelve a book if they feel that the content is something the majority of the patrons would object to accidentally picking up not realizing the actual content in the book. Said books for both the school and public library can be kept in the back and only be checked out if parental permission is given and/or an age requirement is actually met. Libraries have to practice quality control because they are limited by budget and shelf space.

That also said, while a school library can practice selection based on content and content alone and not even shelve a book in the back room, a public library is not allowed to keep the book off the sensitive shelf in the back room simply because of the content within the book. Budget and shelf space plays a factor in this and many libraries would rather shelve as few books of the erotic material as possible because the majority of their readership aren't likely to read the books and they would rather save the space for books that do. Other factors are the fact many erotica novels are of a low quality level and they would rather pick the erotica novels that are well written out so they can give the limited space that is allotted to the erotica novel in their library to the better works.

Outside of libraries, we have publishing companies and newspapers. If the company says no to publishing the work, then the answer is no. There is nothing wrong with taking the work elsewhere, but you can't force the publishing company to publish what it does not want to publish. They have to worry about sales and reputation issues when it comes to what they publish. A young adult company will not publish an adult novel, but it may give the novel to a publishing company that falls under the same imprint. They also don't have to publish low quality work if they don't want to either.

FanFiction and FictionPress share similarities to libraries and publishing companies. First, they do in fact have limited server space and one of the reasons for creating rules for what is or is not allowed on the site prevents people from chewing up server space that could be used for other stories that are of better quality and would cause less legal problems for the site. FanFiction itself is in a legal gray area and there is a rather large debate about whether it falls under fair use or not.

Sometimes the legal matter isn't a case of the site and the members being in the wrong, but simply avoiding having a legal battle because legal battles can drag out for years and cost a lot of money. Thus the site admins are going to side with caution as the site happens to be the most used FanFiction site and thus the one most likely to actually face a legal battle if push comes to shove. So bringing up the fact that a legal issue hasn't happen to a lesser known site doesn't help, nor does bringing up the fact it hasn't happened to the site. We don't know what e-mails the site has gotten from lawyers in the past except via second hand accounts.

The last thing I wish to discuss is the fact some people feel that the rules infringe upon their imagination and their ability to create the stories they want to create, thus infringing upon their creative freedom. These same people are typically the same people who feel that what amounts to good or bad writing is subjective and based on ones opinion of what they like or dislike. However, what amounts to good writing is objective when one is not talking about writing simply in terms of like and dislike.

Pointing out that the work could be better written is not an infringement of someones creative freedom because writing poorly can not be argued to be creative in the first place. One can also not argue creative freedom when they are in fact infringing upon another persons creative freedom in any manner because they then become a hypocrite. Many times it is more of a case of the writer themselves placing restrictions on their creative freedoms and imagination as they are unable to think out side of the box of their work having to be a certain way. Other times they argue creative freedom when it could be argued that the writer is not being creative in the first place and is just making excuses for bad writing habits.

My collection of essays will cover whether the rules are in place for legality reasons or quality reasons, hoping that the readers of the essays keep in mind that the site admins are going to side with caution when it comes to any chance of legal issue. I am also going to cover where need be issues of freedom of speech and creative freedom and how and when they apply to the rules, keeping in mind that the site only restricts posting certain things to site and does not restrict the writer from actually writing and posting there stories on other sites that do allow said stories.