I include Niki and Amy’s anti-piracy video not because it’s entirely relevant, but because it’s my favorite YouTube video.
As many of you know, despite the blogging and online forums where I also play, I still read and post on usenet (yes, I’m that old) on soc.sexuality.spanking. A recent discussion there prompted these thoughts.
Question: Why anyone (like me) would object to any free site archiving stories we’ve given away anyway. There are authors like John Benson that give their work to be reproduced and archive freely. Why won’t I do that?
It’s not about money. I’ve only written a couple of stories for profit and even then I was paid peanuts and the copyright reverted to me after 24 months. Those stories are also, with only a few exceptions, archived on The Treehouse and have been for more than ten years now. So why *would* I care if someone else puts them up on another free site? Is it as simple as a selfish “they’re mine”?
Not exactly, but sort of. They are mine. Moreover, they’re me. I post them, but I can’t and don’t let go.
These stories aren’t just closely linked or even the product of my explorations of my spanking fantasies — the act of writing them and they themselves were explorations. Some early ones are accounts of child abuse, remember and relived in fear, anger and pain. Some are accounts of scenes with other people or were written as gifts to them — statements of love and hope. Others are fantasies that were so secret I’d never dared write them down before this moment when I did. They were all written in part as a gesture of thanks to my beloved alt.sex.spanking and soc.sexuality.spanking for freeing me to embrace this part of myself.
It’s been a long time, but when I re-read them, I remember writing each one, sometimes crying, sometimes shaking and sometimes incredibly turned on, almost burning with a desire to tell someone what I was seeing and feeling behind my eyes. I remember my heart thudding as I wrote and then again as I tried to decide whether or not to delete the story, whether or not I could bear to post it. This is all just a long way of saying that my stories may or may not be very good (and some are worse than others) but for me and to me they’re all very important.
When I first started posting to the group, someone put some of my stories on their website along with some pictures and a bunch of other work. They didn’t ask, but when I found the site (or rather someone else did) I was stunned and flattered. It was a simple little site on a free server (Free Yellow? — can’t remember). Within a month the owner got dropped from their free server because of content and bandwidth (remember when we used to have to worry about that? Yeah? Then you’re old too!). They moved the site to another free server, but this one was an adult server. The site had xxx banners with very explicit sexual imagines of, well, sex.
This wasn’t what the stories I wrote were about. This isn’t what I’m about or turned on by. I didn’t want them to be somewhere I felt I had to avert my eyes from every time I surfed over. I was horrified and asked that they be taken down. The owner was annoyed with me, feeling I didn’t understand the effort involved in formatting my stories and the difficulties of finding free hosting. I pointed out I hadn’t asked him to do this, that, in fact, I hadn’t even given permission.
At the same time, a number of authors on ASS were struggling to get their stories off any number of pay-sites that were sprouting like mushrooms and using the stories as both content and to drive traffic. Those stories, hundreds of them, had to a significant extent been ripped off a free archive, created with good intentions but without the permission of the authors involved. This struggle went on for years. In fact, for all I know, it’s still going on.
In response to this, and so we could say to people who wanted our work archived that it already was, Paul built The Treehouse, registered the domain and gave it to me as what is still the absolute bestest Christmas present ever. Although the site could do with a facelift (do you know how long 10 years is in internet terms?), it was and is the way I imagined those stories being presented. Every part of the site was talked about between us both at the time and after. The space was supposed to be an expression of innocence. Not innocence shattered or parodies, but reclaimed. Not dark or sexual, but light and fun. Nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
We pay for the domain and the hosting — no ads or sponsors. The control of the space is important enough that even when we were broke the hosting fees for The Treehouse were always a priority. The control is that important. It’s why since then I’ve given permission for archiving only to good friends and only for a few stories here and there. I’m not alone in this — a number of story sites, both current and past, were started for the same reason. Others stopped posting stories altogether or only post them to their own sites — it was just too much work to explain Usenet isn’t public domain. I know at least one person who only sends out stories via email as PDF documents.
And yes, I do complain when my stories are on sites without permission. I won’t stop doing that — whatever the site’s intentions might be. But I am going to try and speak a little more softly when I do so remembering that there can be good intentions all around.