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Authors' agreement updated

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

We made some changes to the authors agreement on the site and the posting rules. Please read the new version here:

http://storiesonline.net/author/posting_guidelines.php

(added #16)

Replies:   REP  Switch Blayde
REP

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Question about 16.

The site has an option to remain logged-in. Does 16 apply if I remain logged-in for more than 5 years?

Switch Blayde

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

(added #16)


So 5 yrs after rache's death all her stories get removed from the general reading population? Would she have wanted that?

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

So 5 yrs after rache's death all her stories get removed from the general reading population? Would she have wanted that?

More than that, some of the highest-rated stories (before they were all 'adjusted') belong in that time frame. Is it really rise to remove popular '100 best stories' on the site to make room for questionable stories from newbies?

I'm not knocking the new kids on the block, after all, without new authors we'd never get experienced authors, but it's best to have a healthy mix so readers can return to the classics after wading through so many authors struggling to put one sentence after another (says one who belongs in the second category).

I can see trying to make room for new authors, but how many SOL readers read the archived stories? Maybe it would be better to 'retain' the older stories with a higher score?

As for Rache, last I heard, her brother was still posting her unposted stories, so he could easily continue using her account, keeping her active indefinitely. This frankly, in discrimination against the 'no-longer living' author community. 'D

felsonz

I'm a premier member. Where is the archive so I can read stories that have been put there

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Before you get too anxious you need to look closely at what it says:

edit to add:

Arrgh I had a long reply typed out but it didn't post. In short I said:

This only applies to people who have died or who have left the site for good, so they won't have an active interest in what happens to their stories.

Lazeez,

May I suggest you only move half of an author's stories, either the best scores or best downloads, so you can leave some of the stories in the free area to give the free readers a taste of the author's style and encourage them to want to read the others.

May I also suggest you start a new page for Premier Members to list what stories have been put in the Premier Only zone in the past 30 days, similar to what you do with the removed stories list.

Ernest Bywater

@felsonz

I'm a premier member. Where is the archive so I can read stories that have been put there


They're the stories with the different background and marked as Premier Only. If you go to the Home page then go to the My Library page the bottom link in the left hand list is Exclusive Stories which takes you directly to the Premier Only stories list.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@REP

The site has an option to remain logged-in. Does 16 apply if I remain logged-in for more than 5 years?


The remain logged in is an option for the browser, to tell it how long to keep the cookie. That doesn't affect the record on the site.

When you visit the site, your account as timestamped. #16 is if you really don't visit the site for 5 years and the last visit time isn't updated.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@felsonz

I'm a premier member. Where is the archive so I can read stories that have been put there


There is no specific 'archive'. The stories will be just like now, in the general listings, but will require a premier membership to access the complete stories.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Switch Blayde

So 5 yrs after rache's death all her stories get removed from the general reading population? Would she have wanted that?


Well, her account is still fairly active...

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Ernest Bywater

May I suggest you only move half of an author's stories, either the best scores or best downloads, so you can leave some of the stories in the free area to give the free readers a taste of the author's style and encourage them to want to read the others.


The stories will remain visible and free members can read part of the story.

May I also suggest you start a new page for Premier Members to list what stories have been put in the Premier Only zone in the past 30 days, similar to what you do with the removed stories list.


Actually I was thinking about putting up a list of the stories that are about to go into the archive, this way it gives people a chance to read them first.

Switch Blayde

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Well, her account is still fairly active...


Need to remember that for the next Halloween contest.

Switch Blayde

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

The stories will remain visible and free members can read part of the story.


Doesn't that violate rule #6?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Actually I was thinking about putting up a list of the stories that are about to go into the archive, this way it gives people a chance to read them first.


that's even better than what I thought of.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

Doesn't that violate rule #6?


No, because the whole story is on the site and available, the reader just has to pay to see the rest of it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

No, because the whole story is on the site and available, the reader just has to pay to see the rest of it.


"6. Teasers are any story parts that require or entice readers to read preceding or following parts ... or purchase those parts"

But I was being facetious at an attempt to be humorous.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

But I was being facetious at an attempt to be humorous.


Facetious humor and sarcasm on the internet will fall flat 9 times out of 10.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde


But I was being facetious at an attempt to be humorous.


sorry, my 'take it at face value' nature took over.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

They're the stories with the different background and marked as Premier Only. If you go to the Home page then go to the My Library page the bottom link in the left hand list is Exclusive Stories which takes you directly to the Premier Only stories list.

That seems a little convoluted. Wouldn't it benefit Lazeez (and the site) if he publicly listed the Premiere stories on the main home page (say as a separate list) so that readers can base their decision on becoming members by seeing what they'd gain access to? Free members could then see the list, though they couldn't read them until they became Premium members.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

That seems a little convoluted.


It's only convoluted if you want to look at the list of the Premier Member Only Stories as a single list. Every other story list and search function will show the story where it's applicable, and show it with the notation in the column with the name that says 'Premier Members Only.'

If you look at the list for 'Top 50 Classic Long Stories' you'll see several by Lubrican, and all of them have the 'Premier Members Only' note on them. The same for the other lists etc. Thus the free members can see the stories and what they're about. I didn't know, until I read an earlier reply by Lazeez, that they could even read part of the stories to see if they like them.

richardshagrin

I would prefer another term used for "free members". I paid for premier membership but I am still a free person. Since a premier is a member of the ruling party, perhaps non-premiers should be the loyal opposition. We could call them paid and unpaid members. I looked up the definition of member:
mem·ber.
[ˈmembər]
NOUN
1.a person, animal, or plant belonging to a particular group:
"interest from members of the public" ·
synonyms: subscriber · associate · affiliate · life member ·
•a person, country, or organization that has joined a group, society, or team:
"a member of the drama club" ·
synonyms: subscriber · associate · affiliate · life member
· a person formally elected to take part in the proceedings of certain organizations:
"members of Congress" ·
2.a constituent piece of a complex structure:
"the main member that joins the front and rear axles"
synonyms: constituent · element · component · part · portion · piece ·
3. archaic
a part or organ of the body, especially a limb.
synonyms: limb · organ · arm · leg · appendage

Or we could compare with kinds of stock, preferred stock and common stock. Maybe Class A and Class B?

What do you think, are paid members not free?

Replies:   REP  madnige
REP

@richardshagrin

Personally, I am okay with the current terms.

I think most of us understand Free Member to be a person who has a Free Membership, and that level of membership places limitations on the use of the website's capabilities.

A Premier Member is also understood to be a person with a membership that qualifies them to utilize the additional capabilities associated with their Premier Membership.

madnige

@richardshagrin

I would prefer another term used for "free members" ... We could call them paid and unpaid members


- or skinflints, misers, freeloaders, scrooges, pinchpennies... actually, I'm in that set of members as I'm subsisting on a fixed income of about half welfare level, so I prefer the term basic members.

I'd like to diffidently suggest to Lazeez that he allow basic (non-premium) members access to the whole of one premium story per month (or per week or two if the proportion of premium stories grows), however, the mental model I have of how the site is coded would make this a very non-trivial thing to implement

Replies:   sejintenej  Not_a_ID
richardshagrin

Once a year there could be a free day where everybody gets the premier privileges, with the idea of people either contributing to the site or joining up for a full year. Sometimes it just takes advertising and demonstrating the benefits to get people to actually mail in their orders. Is there a Canada day holiday that could be celebrated? Of course the Fine Stories site and the Science Fiction site have enough of the benefits to get a general idea. Or at least they used to.

Using Si-Fi for science fiction still grates on my eye. Semper Fi is ok, Si Fi is not NOT science fiction.

sejintenej

@madnige

I'd like to diffidently suggest to Lazeez that he allow basic (non-premium) members access to the whole of one premium story per month (or per week or two if

richardsagrin wrote;

Once a year there could be a free day where everybody gets the premier privileges, with the idea of people either contributing to the site or joining up for a full year

.

Unfortunately Lazeez has to make the site pay so these ideas may not be financially possible let alone easy to code.

In my case I tend to read stories which may come into the over 5 years category such as those by black coffee. We will also have a further problem; if someone wants to get a name for a story then how would we check if that person would be allowed to read the story based on their membership and based on the membership of the answerer trying to check the answer.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Using Si-Fi for science fiction still grates on my eye. Semper Fi is ok, Si Fi is not NOT science fiction.

It is if it's "Sick science-Fiction"!

Tentacle sex with a family appeal, anyone?

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Unfortunately Lazeez has to make the site pay so these ideas may not be financially possible let alone easy to code.

In my case I tend to read stories which may come into the over 5 years category such as those by black coffee. We will also have a further problem; if someone wants to get a name for a story then how would we check if that person would be allowed to read the story based on their membership and based on the membership of the answerer trying to check the answer.

Another option, since it seems we have many loyal readers on a fixed-income with a lot of time on their hands, is allow "one time Premier" memberships, where someone can pay $0.99 (or less) to get access to a particular story they're eager to read.

That way, those who want to support the site but can't afford much can, while also gaining access to the better (and longer) classic stories.

Just an idea, trying to bounce ideas off the crowd here. If nothing else, maybe we could use this idea for the new 'book sales' site.

Replies:   sunkuwan
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@richardshagrin

Si Fi is not NOT science fiction


good thing it's scifi then.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

good thing it's scifi then.

I think he was referring to the new call sign of the ex-Sci-Fi channel (already several years old), now called "SiFi", whatever the hell that's supposed to spell.

Replies:   Dominions Son
sunkuwan

@Crumbly Writer

Another option, since it seems we have many loyal readers on a fixed-income with a lot of time on their hands, is allow "one time Premier" memberships, where someone can pay $0.99 (or less) to get access to a particular story they're eager to read.

That way, those who want to support the site but can't afford much can, while also gaining access to the better (and longer) classic stories.


There are some, like me, who dont have any CC's and only use PayPal. I would like to subscribe but Paypal is blocked. How are the other adult sites get around the issue? I subscribed to another adult site over paypal without an issue. And the site uses paypal for years.

Maybe SOL can use patreon to circumvent the issue?

Replies:   REP
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

new call sign of the ex-Sci-Fi channel (already several years old), now called "SiFi", whatever the hell that's supposed to spell.


Actually, The former SciFi channel is now SyFy, not SiFi.

And the reason for the change is simple, SciFi is too general for them to trade mark.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Si Fi is not NOT science fiction.


it's a corporate idiot's idea of a trademark name.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

it's a corporate idiot's idea of a trademark name.


No, it's not. The trademark name is SyFy not SiFi

docholladay

@sejintenej

if someone wants to get a name for a story then how would we check if that person would be allowed to read the story


One possible solution is for the searcher would check if the story would be to check if it has special requirements to read. Then make a note of those requirements in the response to the request. Then the requester could possibly ask for access to that story if need be, of course the access might not be granted if its a premium requirement of the writer. The Archived stories would be a toss up since those writers for whatever reason are no longer active (some dead and others due to other reasons).

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Actually, The former SciFi channel is now SyFy, not SiFi.

And the reason for the change is simple, SciFi is too general for them to trade mark.


IIRC, the "Press Release reason" was to indicate it broadening into more than just "Science Fiction" while simultaneously it some kind of recognition of the growing number of women(or is it "womyn"?) who were tuning in to watch Science Fiction programming being offered at the time.

More Specifically: Women were tuning in to watch Battle Star Galactica, and to a lesser extent the Stargate shows.

Which then culminated in SG: Universe shortly thereafter where they tried to merge BSG with Stargate, and thought making it "more appealing to women" by creating a soap opera(because they've historically done well among women) in space was the route to go...) That's also why their branding from then on has trended towards pastels and more "feminine coloring" as they try to make female viewers "more comfortable."

The rebranding also was a lazy way into being able to bin complaints about non-Science-Fiction programming turning up on the channel in increasing numbers. You know, things like WCW Wrestling, 15 thousand variants of "Ghost Hunter" "reality" programs, and so forth that could be churned out by the dozens for comparable cost to a single episode of BSG or StarGate. The complaint about it "not being Science Fiction" no longer applied because they weren't the "Sci(ence)-Fi(ction)" Channel anymore, so the channels "charter" didn't matter.

The ironic factors on this in my view had to be:
1) It was a female Executive they had who championed the change in the press release. (IIRC the "President" in charge of the SciFi Channel at the time was Female and she was the one who did the pitch.. Although they'd already been part of NBC-Universal for some time by then)
2) Most of the high-level decision making made in regards to how to "rebrand the channel" in order to "appeal to women" had to result in some of the most sexist decisions imaginable being made in regards to rationalizing programming lineups. Which is rather spectacular, given that SciFi as a genre tended to be rather sexist in the first place as a "predominately male playground" in terms of content.

Not_a_ID

@madnige

I'd like to diffidently suggest to Lazeez that he allow basic (non-premium) members access to the whole of one premium story per month (or per week or two if the proportion of premium stories grows), however, the mental model I have of how the site is coded would make this a very non-trivial thing to implement


The immediate problem I come up with is with the present ability to generate dozens of e-mail addresses without much trouble.

Allowing such a thing would simply mean that many people would never bother to register for Premier in order to access a "premier story" because they'll just log into/create however many accounts as they need to be able to access whatever they need.

One of the later suggestions of allowing for a lower cost tier of Paid Access may have merits, and that one could be gated with more restricted(volume of content) access. As "the paywall" would tend to strongly discourage such things. It then becomes a question of what the Gateways for processing the payments charge vs what Laz would be able to keep from the charge.

$2/month may be all well and good for some, but if the banks are keeping $1.50 of that in fees before Laz sees any of it, then that isn't a very good option for him to consider as a revenue option.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


Actually, The former SciFi channel is now SyFy, not SiFi.

And the reason for the change is simple, SciFi is too general for them to trade mark.


I don't get sat or cable TV and never watched either variant, but had heard reports about them dropping the 'c' from SciFi because they couldn't trademark 'SciFi' so they abused the name further than I realised - just shows what idiots they are.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


I don't get sat or cable TV and never watched either variant, but had heard reports about them dropping the 'c' from SciFi because they couldn't trademark 'SciFi' so they abused the name further than I realised - just shows what idiots they are.


Nothing like alienating your current audience in an attempt to court an audience that is likely to give you a lukewarm reception no matter what you do. But hey, the marketing people thought it was a brilliant decision.

REP

@sunkuwan

Maybe SOL can use patreon to circumvent the issue?


Or if Lazeez finds it viable, he could accept Bitcoins for payment.

Oyster

Wow, got blindsided by this, just wanted to reread a story and it is now behind a pay wall.
Ah well, guess I'll have to go through my bookmarks and download all the old stories before they get archived and locked.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Oyster

Since Lazeez only posted the new rule less than a week ago, I doubt he has implemented it yet. It is more likely that the story was one that was free for a short time and then moved to premier, which some authors do to help the site get members.
I could be wrong on this one, but Lazeez appears to consider responses on major changes before he enacts them.

Oyster
Updated:

Could be that the author changed it, I don't know.

I clearly remember reading Moghal's "Judgements" ( http://storiesonline.net/a/Moghal ) before and could only think of this change as the reason that it is no longer free as there has not been any visible activity for years.

Edit:
Just checked Volentrin's page (as he's one author I knew died years ago) and all his stories are pay to read as well, so I believe this major change went into effect immediately with no warning or grace period.

Crumbly Writer

@Oyster

Just checked Volentrin's page (as he's one author I knew died years ago) and all his stories are pay to read as well, so I believe this major change went into effect immediately with no warning or grace period.

You should ask Lazeez (via the "Webmaster button on the main page"), although he's notified anytime his name is 'taken in vain' in the forum, so he'll likely answer soon enough anyway. Still, it's nice to become familiar with the process since a variety of questions keep coming up. It never hurts to notify him when something goes wrong with the site, rather than bitching about it on the forum and waiting for something to happen.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

although he's notified anytime his name is 'taken in vain' in the forum


I would think he would be monitoring replies to site announcements and posts on the bug reports/feature requests forums a bit more actively than that.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Oyster

so I believe this major change went into effect immediately with no warning or grace period.


It's not in full effect yet. I'm refining the algorithm and those authors were test subjects. So far about 200 stories have been moved. When the algorithm is properly deployed in automated fashion, more than 15,000 stories will be moved gradually.

richardshagrin

It seems reasonable that management here wants more premier readers, running this site isn't free and paying customers keep the lights on. After I sold my house and had more than just social security to live on I paid up, making up in part for years of being a "free" member. The decision to fire-wall older stories, even 15,000 of them, needs to be compared to an alternative so far not suggested anywhere, thank God. That alternative is to firewall all the new stories and only make available the old ones. If anyone has suggestions how to get more paying members it might be a good idea to recommend them, not necessarily by posting here but the main page has a button to send an email directly to management. Another really unpleasant option is for the site to close down because it doesn't have enough money to continue. Lets try to figure out a way that it does stay open, not only for past stories but ones we are looking forward to read.

Ernest Bywater

@Oyster


I clearly remember reading Moghal's "Judgements" ( http://storiesonline.net/a/Moghal ) before and could only think of this change as the reason that it is no longer free as there has not been any visible activity for years.


Back in 2007 Moghal's Profile says he's in his mid-thirties then, so mid-forties now. Back in 2008 his last blog entry says he' expects to be busy with moving house in May and wanted to work on finishing certain projects. No activity visible since then. So either he's been way too busy to do anything or something happened back then.

Dindu Nuffin

Keep it the same and charge 10$ for membership.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)
Updated:

@Dindu Nuffin

Keep it the same and charge 10$ for membership.


That would give a bigger reason not to contribute without giving a more compelling reason to still do. We would lose many of the already too few supporting members.

A lot of people already consider the price way too high. At $10 per month our membership would drop by two thirds...

In the past I did a poll on how much people would be willing to pay for premier services. At the time (16 years ago), $6.99 was optimal. (96% said they would never, ever pay anything).

I haven't taken a new poll since, but I doubt things changed, even though 16 years have passed. It seems people are getting even more used to getting things for free and less willing to pay for a service like SOL.

Dindu Nuffin

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

May I suggest another poll? 16 Years is a long time, inflation has to count for something. If for nothing else, do it for science.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)


96% said they would never, ever pay anything


That sounds similar to the site's feedback ratio. Only about 4% of readers (possibly the same 4%) support the rest of the site's readers by providing author encouragement via semi-regular feedback. Still, that 'low' ration is much higher than I've found anywhere else.

Wattpad has more actual feedback, but it's a huge 'exchanging likes' process, where each reader supports the other writers to help boost their own numbers (if you 'like' someone else's story, they're more likely to 'like' yours in return). It's more of an artificial 'friends' site.

In my own case, I occasionally pay for Premiere services, despite having free access to it because of my story postings, but I'll pay for 3 or 6 months and then forget it. I wish SOL could accept PayPal, because then I could set up automatic payments to take out a little each and every month like I do with my church (which keeps half from going to our regularly sponsored 'cat' charity organizations).

Lazeez, if you've got a private PayPal account—unaffiliated with SOL— then drop me a note so it doesn't have to go through the site. I promise I won't tell anyone about it. 'D

docholladay

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

A lot of people already consider the price way too high. At $10 per month our membership would drop by two thirds...


I wonder how many members are in the same or similar position as I am. I am on a very limited income of around 700 a month. Out of that I pay rent, groceries, insurance, utilities, automobile expenses plus like now I have been trying for months to save enough to get an eye exam and new glasses(something keeps happening to take that savings). Sure I have the premium membership and will keep it as long as I possibly can. But like everything else its a balancing act on my budget something might happen when the next payment is due which will require that money instead.

You at least give me a chance now to try and support the site, but anything higher and I would probably not be able to do so.

Oyster

Let me play asshole and advocatus diaboli here for a while longer:

The author agreement states it is a "binding contract".
Can one side make a unilateral change without voiding the contract?
Can silence (especially in the case of dead authors) be viewed as tacit agreement?
If the answers are negative what does it mean for stories/authors who fall under #16 ?
Will they have to be removed, grandfathered like the stories under #7 or can they be moved to the premier section?

Ernest Bywater

@Oyster

Q1. Can one side make a unilateral change without voiding the contract?
Q2. Can silence (especially in the case of dead authors) be viewed as tacit agreement?


First, the key aspects of all this are in the agreement, and have always been in the agreement: -

By submitting your work for posting on Storiesonline you certify that the following conditions are true and you agree to all the terms outlined here:

2. You grant Storiesonline, its parent company 'World Literature Company (WLPC)' and its affiliated sites unlimited rights to publish the work in any format that it supports, on any of its sites for as long as WLPC exists or until you withdraw the work with a written request for removal. You retain all copyrights that you may have for the work.

Second, this next part is based on basic contract and tort law, but may vary due to the relevant local laws of Canada where the contract was enacted.

Q1- Answer
In many cases it is legal for one side to make unilateral changes without voiding the contract. Whether it is legal or not will be determined by the terms of the initial contract, and partially by the amount of compensation provided by each party to the other party. With the maximum available to the aggrieved party being the amount of value they listed as providing in the initial contract.

Q2 - Answer
Yes, silence is usually seen as an agreement, unless otherwise specified in the contract as not being seen as an agreement.

..................

As to the 3rd question, I don't see any changes to them unless they come under the conditions of the new rule 16, and then they'd be treated under it in the same way.

docholladay

@Oyster

Will they have to be removed, grandfathered like the stories under #7 or can they be moved to the premier section?


I have seen writers change a story from free to premium in the past so it has to be a flag of some sort. Just resetting the file flags should change the file status. Then archiving the stories based on the flags should be a fairly simple procedure.

Oyster

@docholladay , @Ernest Bywater

You both missed the point of my statement/question.
We all know that it is possible to set single stories to premium and with an algorithm in place (see the webmaster's statement) it will be fully automated.
What I was trying to say is that when the laws changed and the writer's agreement or contract had to be amended in that situation the stories were not removed from the site. This archiving could be seen as a similar situation and the old stories could be left alone with only stories posted after 05/16/2017 affected (or authors who were active after the change, regardless of post date).

Now @Ernest Bywater:

I am neither a writer, a lawyer nor a Canadian, so what I say may be wrong, but it is built on personal experience:
A unilateral change has to be made known to all parties in a way that it can be generally accepted that all parties are aware of the changes and it has to be made well ahead of the change in question. Then and only then can silence be viewed as tacit agreement (or the parties have time to cancel/renegotiate the contract). I do not know how one would deal with authors like Volentrin, Vlfouquet, Invid Fan, etc. That is a different can of worms.
IE: In this case I do not believe that posting it here would be enough. A direct e-mail to all authors or a notice upon logging in would probably be needed BEFORE #16 was implemented in any way,shape or form. Since I am not an author I cannot say if this happened or not.

Furthermore as Crumbly Writer stated in regards to Rache: "Would she [or author X] have wanted that?"

The answer is: We do not know and we cannot ask them anymore.
I'll go out on a limb here and state the following:
They posted their stories for free and for all to read without charge, so judging by their actions I say they would be opposed to #16.

Now, asshole-mode off for a moment:
In the end it is Lazeez's site and he makes the rules and we all have to abide by them.
Thanks for providing this service for all those years and for the countless hours of entertainment it provided.
The same applies to all the authors on this site.

REP

My personal point of view is that if you can afford to pay for something like the privilege of reading stories, then you should pay to exercise that privilege.

As a contributing Author, I am granted a Premier Membership at no charge. As an SOL supporter who can afford to pay for a Premier Membership, I send in my membership fee every year and plan to continue to do so for as long as my financial situation permits. There is nothing wrong with having a free membership if your finances don't permit you to pay for what you get.

Cutting back on the number of FREE stories is a good business move to encourage members to pay for what they want to read. Unfortunately, many of us can't afford to pay, but there are still a lot of FREE stories to be read with more being added all the time.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP
Updated:

@Oyster


A direct e-mail to all authors or a notice upon logging in would probably be needed BEFORE #16 was implemented in any way,shape or form.


If you read #2 you will note that the Posting rules and Author agreement give Lazeez the right to post stories to any of WLPC's websites. While #2 doesn't specifically state it, this could be interpreted to mean Lazeez has the right to post (or move a posted story) to the Premier Member story section. Although his general practice is to post stories to the Free Member section.

I see nothing in the agreement that requires Lazeez to provide advance notice of a change to the agreement. Authors have the right to remove their stories if they do not agree with a change to the agreement.

You may want to consider #15. If an Author fails to update their contact information, then Lazeez can rightfully consider the story abandoned and do what he desires with the story: leave it as it is, delete it, or move it.

@ Lazeez

In #15, I suggest you add member in front of account so it reads: "... from the member account that posted the story."

#15 is predominately addressing the Author's contact information, and as written, one might think you are referring to the email account from which the Author posted the story.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Cutting back on the number of FREE stories is a good business move to encourage members to pay for what they want to read. Unfortunately, many of us can't afford to pay, but there are still a lot of FREE stories to be read with more being added all the time.

The incentives to shift to Premium services go beyond just gaining access to a few more stories. The advanced search feature, downloading stories in a variety of book formats and others are well worth the cost. Frankly, I doubt that moving stories to Premium Only will encourage many more to fork over the extra dollars if they aren't already.

I'm guessing is that (based largely on personal experience conversing with readers) that SOL caters to an older, limited-income audience, so it may behoove Lazeez to consider advertising to a different type of client, perhaps younger and with more disposable income.

For my own POV, if I make my stories free to everyone, I'd prefer they remain that way after I die, with the stories being archived mainly based on demand (i.e. if people stop reading my stories, then move them off-line or to a less-obvious location) to make room for the stories that are a bigger draw to the site. But those are my personal preferences, and I'm NOT running the site.

Ernest Bywater

@Oyster

What I was trying to say is that when the laws changed and the writer's agreement or contract had to be amended in that situation the stories were not removed from the site. This archiving could be seen as a similar situation and the old stories could be left alone with only stories posted after 05/16/2017 affected (or authors who were active after the change, regardless of post date).


I realised that, but ignored it to deal with the contract law aspect of the questions you asked.

Sure Lazeez could have left things as they are, however he has ever rising costs to deal with and is trying to find ways to encourage people to pay for premier membership without seriously affecting the enjoyment of the free membership readers. The larger the pool of stories behind the pay wall, the more likely he is to have people who can afford it pay for the higher level membership.

There are 40,107 stories on SoL with only 1,037 behind the pay wall. That's not much incentive for people to pay for the service. So moving a few thousand more to the pay list is likely to help. I don't know what the percentage is, but since the majority of authors are still active authors or readers it's not going to affect a huge percentage of the stories.

The stories he's moving under this rule change have all been up for over 5 years, some of them a decade or more. Thus the free readers have had an ample opportunity to read them. Any story you have access to read you can also save to you local system just by saving each web page when you view it.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Oyster


Now @Ernest Bywater:

I am neither a writer, a lawyer nor a Canadian, so what I say may be wrong, but it is built on personal experience:

A unilateral change has to be made known to all parties in a way that it can be generally accepted that all parties are aware of the changes and it has to be made well ahead of the change in question. Then and only then can silence be viewed as tacit agreement (or the parties have time to cancel/renegotiate the contract). I do not know how one would deal with authors like Volentrin, Vlfouquet, Invid Fan, etc. That is a different can of worms.

IE: In this case I do not believe that posting it here would be enough. A direct e-mail to all authors or a notice upon logging in would probably be needed BEFORE #16 was implemented in any way,shape or form. Since I am not an author I cannot say if this happened or not.


Due to past work requirements I've studied contract law and kept up to date with it until I retired from any active work involvement in 2005. The sort of contracts for services from on-line operations are very different from normal contracts and have many differences to normal contracts. It's because of these differences changes like rule 16 are legal.

In a normal contract of the type most people are familiar with certain things have to be in existence before the contract is legal and valid. The most common ones across all legal jurisdictions are:

1. There must be an offer, a counter offer, and an acceptance for the contract to be valid.

2. The parties entering into the contract must be existing legal entities in the state where the contract is being enacted, and provide evidence of that legal status.

3. There must be a provision of equal value of goods, or services from each party to the other party. (i.e. both parties must offer something of the same value.)

4. The contract must be physically signed by both parties in front of witnesses, or, in some cases, electronically signed in an approved secure authorization system.

When all of the above are present it is a fully binding legal contract and any amendment requires approval from both sides in the same manner as the original contract.

............

On-line contracts like the SoL Author Agreement (please note an agreement and not a contract, which is a less restrictive legal form) do not meet all of the conditions above in that there is no counter offer present, there is no provision of legal status in Canada, there is no provision of services or goods of equal value, and the contract isn't signed.

The end result is what SoL, and most on-line services, offers is a free services under terms they can change at any time. Where people are paying for that service things are very different again with requirements more like that of a contract.

Most country's laws concerning on-line service agreements allow for a change to be legal just by the site management posting the change on the site.

These agreements are more like you telling a mate you'll pick him up after work to take him to the pub for a beer, and then forget about it. It's not a formal contract, so he has no legal claim on you for not getting a beer with you.

Replies:   Oyster
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

Sure Lazeez could have left things as they are, however he has ever rising costs to deal with and is trying to find ways to encourage people to pay for premier membership without seriously affecting the enjoyment of the free membership readers. The larger the pool of stories behind the pay wall, the more likely he is to have people who can afford it pay for the higher level membership.


There is another quasi-option on the table as well. I mentioned archive of our own elsewhere. That site is crowdfunded much like Wikipedia is. Every so many months a banner will appear on the index pages with what their fundraising goal is and how much has been raised.

In that respect, alternate options are buying a subscription, and being able to "donate" beyond the obligatory amounts required to subscribe.

If Laz wanted to, I guess it could potentially be tracked and credited against future subscription fees as well at which ever monthly rate.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

is crowdfunded


That still requires people to fork over money. Lazeez already has a number of good options that start at several dollars and go up to nearly seventy dollars. If someone can't afford to pay for a full annual membership, they could pay for a month when they can afford it, as each little bit helps.

Also, those who can afford a bit extra can pay for an annual membership and then ask to have it used as a gift subscription for a free reader they know - that helps both Lazeez and someone who can't afford to buy a membership.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

Also, those who can afford a bit extra can pay for an annual membership and then ask to have it used as a gift subscription for a free reader they know - that helps both Lazeez and someone who can't afford to buy a membership.


I'm not sure what the transaction fees balance out to, which could make or break that. But it is possible that Laz actually makes slightly more per month off of the monthly subscribers. ALthough the difference is likely to be in the range of a fraction of a dollar each month.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Not_a_ID

There is no right or wrong way to be honest. At least the method Laz has picked gives those of us on fixed incomes that are at or below the so-called survival levels can sometimes afford to give a little. More than that and we would not be able to support the site at all. Of course if we all had the income you probably take for granted, it would be easier but we don't.

Life has only a few rules:
1: Its never fair.
2: Rule number 1 hits everyone sooner or later.
3: Everyone with an ounce of since does whatever they have to survive.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@docholladay

here is no right or wrong way to be honest. At least the method Laz has picked gives those of us on fixed incomes that are at or below the so-called survival levels can sometimes afford to give a little. More than that and we would not be able to support the site at all. Of course if we all had the income you probably take for granted, it would be easier but we don't.


I'm on the lower end of the middle class spectrum, of course I'm also single with no kids so I have options. ;)

That said, I was more alluding to the people who have already prepaid as far out as they can, and wouldn't mind "throwing some more in the jar" if they were aware of a legitimate need or use case for that additional money beyond what they'd otherwise pay.

They cannot provide assistance that they're unaware of being needed, or even desired. It also is difficult to do so when there is no means provided for them to communicate such willingness.

As it stands, I bounce back and forth between premier and free, from the impression of the current state of things. I'll probably be renewing the subscription sooner rather than later. But that only really moved up the time frame by a few weeks as it was.

That said, if the recent change hadn't happened, I'd probably have chosen "later" on when to renew. Of course, that is part of the challenge for Laz. AO3 can do a donation begging spree as they're ostensibly a non-profit, while SOL probably isn't structured that way. Which is fine by me, I hope the operation is profitable for Laz all things considered.

But I also don't have access to the financials so I don't know if he's going on regular swims through piles of currency like Scrooge McDuck, or if it's struggling to break even. From the recent change, it looks like "struggling" may be more correct, so that changes my own calculus on things in regards to maintaining the paid membership.

Oyster
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I'll bow to your greater knowledge of Canadian law in this case, I was applying my knowledge of the German AGB (Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen, standard business conditions, terms of use or terms and conditions) which seem to be more stringent.

Those include:

- changes have to be transparent

- made public ahead of implementation

- made public in a way that one can reasonably expect a user had to have seen them

That's what prompted my comments about informing authors ahead of time with an e-mail or a log-in message. A simple posting somewhere on a site would not be enough under those rules. Maybe if it is on the front page, but I am not sure of that.

Only if those rules are followed can continued use be seen as tacit agreement to the changes.

Yes, those rules apply to "free" service providers, for example a free site-hoster informed me about any changes to their AGB for years after I had them host a website for a non-profit group using their free (ad-supported) services.

EDIT: https://termsfeed.com/blog/amendments-terms-conditions/#Making_amendments

Seems to at least partially agree with my comments (this is for the USA, not Canada).

Still wondering how dead authors can agree to the change.

To counter your argument that the author agreement is not a contract I'll simply quote the agreement itself:

" This is a binding contract between you (the author) and World Literature Publishing Co. (WLPC) "

Since you have to agree to it before being able to open an author account I'd say it is as binding as EULAs or for example Facebook's/Twitter's/etc. terms and conditions.

(A throwaway fun fact: Facebook was sued a few times by the VZBV and lost when their proposed changes went too far.)

So, yeah I'd rate it a bit higher than your example of the pick-up.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  REP
Ernest Bywater

@Oyster

I'll bow to your greater knowledge of Canadian law in this case, I was applying my knowledge of the German AGB (Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen, standard business conditions, terms of use or terms and conditions) which seem to be more stringent.


Calling ti a contract doesn't make it contract under the law. The Microsoft EULA says it's a binding contract, when the laws in most countries state it isn't. There's often a difference between the general meaning and usage of words and the legal usage applied.

The WLPC Author Agreement obviously complies with Canadian law or Lazeez would have had to pull it by now. What I've been describing is the general tort and contract law conditions recognised by most countries. I also doubt either party would be able to win a case in court, and suspect a lot of the wording is to avoid someone being able to take WLPC to court about anything to do with the agreement.

When you break it down it simply says:

a. You declare the story belongs to you or is public domain, and stays the property of the author. Rules 1 and 10.

b. There's a list of restrictions. Rules 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15.

c. You give WLPC limited permissions regarding the story. Rules 2, 3, 14, and now 16.

d. WLPC has the right to restrict your access. Rules 4 and 5.

At no point do they offer you money or ask you for money. Story contests are another matter and have other rules applicable to them as well.

.........................

You should compare this with the terms of use by Amazon where they have in 5.5 Grant of Right:

You grant to each Amazon party, throughout the term of this Agreement, a nonexclusive, irrevocable, right and license to distribute Digital Books, directly and through third-party distributors, in all digital formats by all digital distribution means available. ...

Which means you give them a permanent right to sell your books to anyone around the world. And the other terms on changes simply require them to post them on the site somewhere, anywhere.

.......................

It would seem the German legislation has on-line agreements of almost the same standard as a normal tort contract, which is odd, since there is no offer / counter offer. However, under the AGB is it possible to enter into the agreement without providing proof of your real identity? I can't see how it can allow for anonymous parties and still be so binding.

Replies:   Oyster
REP
Updated:

@Oyster


Still wondering how dead authors can agree to the change.


Obviously, they can't. However, the beneficiaries of the estate can if they own the dead Author's copy writes. Per the SOL agreement, they have the same rights as the Author did while they were still alive.

Oyster

@Ernest Bywater

Yes, it is possible to enter into the agreement without providing proof of identity and according to the link I posted nearly the same rules to contract/agreement amendments apply in the USA:
https://termsfeed.com/blog/amendments-terms-conditions/#Making_amendments

In the following paragraphs I will be applying the rules (? guidelines?) in the above link, Canadian rules/regulations may be different, I do not know.

So, moving away from the legal term "contract" I'll have to replace it with "click-wrap agreement" in the case of the author's agreement.
The fun part is that there does not seem to be an amendment clause in the agreement, not sure what that means for any possible amendments (maybe there is something in the normal user/reader agreement when one signs up for this site).
Hint,hint: Maybe another amendment is needed to keep everything on the up and up.

Applying the rules to this case the posting here may or may not be visible enough to count (a notification like the one for the Clitorides would probably be better).
It was not done in advance. As stated by the web master about 200 stories have already been moved.

The next question is if #16 can even be applied to old stories as those have been posted before it was thought up and posted.
CF: "However, the clause will not be enforceable where the amendment tries to apply to events arising prior to the date of the amendment."

----

Yes, I know that I am being a dick, an asshole and (to use the beautiful German word) a Korinthenkacker (nitpicker) and for that I apologize, but I believe that this major change was handled very poorly.
It may be needed to get more people to sign up for the premier membership to stave off problems or a complete shutdown (nobody wants another Ruthie's Club situation), but the powers that be could have handled it better.
In the end we are just guests here and I am very grateful that the site exists.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son

@Oyster

I'll have to replace it with "click-wrap agreement" in the case of the author's agreement.


You need to learn a new term. "Unilateral Contract." http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Unilateral+Contract

Click-wrap agreements and EULAs in general under US law are generally treated as unilateral contracts, as are manufacturer's warranties (beyond the minimum implied warranty specified by the relevant state laws).

Note: I am not familiar with all the requirements under US law for establishing valid unilateral contracts or for amending them.

REP

@Oyster

There are a couple of things that I fail to understand:

First, why do you seem to believe Lazeez is obligated to comply with a set of Rules?

He isn't! Yes Lazeez does have rules, but these rules apply to how we Readers and Authors must behave. Any rule that he imposes on himself is subject to change at any time and for any reason; so are the rules he imposes on Readers and Authors.

Second, were you harmed in some way by how Lazeez implemented #16. If not, why do you seem so irate about this change?

Switch Blayde

@Oyster

Read the online contract that you accept without reading. Often (if not always) they say they can change it anytime they want. You don't have to agree to the change. You can cancel the service, but that's your only option.

Replies:   Oyster
Oyster
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

@Switch Blayde

Yes, most (if not all) click-wrap agreements have such an amendment clause spelled out in them. The author's agreement however does not have such a clause (and neither does the regular agreement when you sign up for a free account).

Yes, as I stated continued use after the change/amendment was posted is tacit agreement. Canceling the account/service shows that you do not agree.

@REP

First of all: I am not irate. If I came off as irate or pissed off, sorry. This misconception is helped by English not being my first language, English itself being a pretty "harsh" language and you not seeing my face or hearing my voice and I wanted to avoid smileys or things like *smiles*.

What happened is simple: I wanted to reread a story, found out it was now premier only, found this thread and commented on the situation. Was sad, but not emotional enough to be irate.

Then again I was invested enough to get on a soap box and state that the way this change is being implemented lacked tact and transparency, so take away from that what you want.

That it may not conform to the laws/regulations to be legally binding is a different, but even more important, matter.

Now as to the rest of your questions:

Why do I think Lazeez is bound by rules/regulations/laws?

Simple, really. He provides a service, part of it for free and part of it on a subscription basis. Which basically means he is running a business and is thus obligated to follow the laws.

That applies to criminal laws and business laws/regulations. In our heavily regulated world that often means that nearly everything needs to spelled out explicitly or one can easily get into hot water.

The next thing is a complete hypothetical and it would require a major asshole to happen, but it could (!) happen and be a major headache:

-An inactive writer comes back

-Finds that his stories had been moved

-Does not agree with it as it cut his potential readership by up to 96% (using Lazeez's poll numbers here)

-Finds a shyster to sue Lazeez

-Lazeez has to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to fight the law suit

-He might win, he might not, but he'll have to front the money for the lawyer

A free user getting a shyster to represent him to go after Lazeez for deprivation of fun or whatever the legal term may be is another (even less likely) option.

Likely? No, not likely, but it is possible and people have been suing each other for much less important stuff. It's sad, but following those rules or laws is a way to protect himself from financial ruin. The only other way I can think of is not running a business.

Then again even private website owners have gotten cease and desist letters when others broke the law on their sites...

So if anything good comes from this I hope it is that Lazeez has someone go over the agreement, disclaimers, etc. on this site to make them bulletproof so that he is in the clear.
Hey, maybe there are some Canadian lawyers who are versed in business/contract law lurking here.
One can always hope, eh?

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Oyster


The next thing is a complete hypothetical and it would require a major asshole to happen, but it could (!) happen and be a major headache:


Lazeez will almost certainly win any such suit.

Go back and re-read item #2 from the author agreement.

You grant Storiesonline, its parent company 'World Literature Company (WLPC)' and its affiliated sites unlimited rights to publish the work in any format that it supports, on any of its sites for as long as WLPC exists or until you withdraw the work with a written request for removal. You retain all copyrights that you may have for the work.


The only legal recourse your hypothetical returning author would have would be to submit a written request for removal.

ETA: I believe that Canada is a loser pays jurisdiction, so if Lazeez does win, the PO'd author would end up paying Lazeez's legal fees.

Replies:   Oyster
Oyster
Updated:

@Dominions Son

As I stated he might win and even get the courts to dismiss the lawsuit right at the start. He'd still have to front the money for a lawyer, take time off to talk to the lawyer, etc. and in the end he might be stuck with the bills.

Making sure that all his actions are in accordance with the laws and that his agreements are solid is a way to fend off any shyster before further expenses.

ETA due to your edit:

Winning is one thing, collecting damages/lawyer fees is a different thing and may not be possible.

Ernest Bywater

@Oyster


Winning is one thing, collecting damages/lawyer fees is a different thing and may not be possible.


I'm not sure how the Ontario laws are on this, but in some legal jurisdictions you can't take a civil case of this type to court unless you provide some surety to pay the court costs and other party's costs if you lose.

Dominions Son

@Oyster

Making sure that all his actions are in accordance with the laws and that his agreements are solid is a way to fend off any shyster before further expenses.


You are around 8 billion miles away from demonstrating that Lazeez has done anything not in accordance with the laws and/or his agreements.

Replies:   Oyster  Not_a_ID
Oyster
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Just 8 billion miles? Hah, I can walk that far in just a few million years, would probably be beneficial for my health to exercise a bit more.

Once again this applies to what I could find out about American law on-line. Is Canadian law so much different that the basic principles cannot be applied? I do not know, but I do not think so.

A fun partial reading list:

https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2016/05/07_moringiello.html

https://termsfeed.com/blog/amendments-terms-conditions/#Making_amendments
https://www.binadox.com/blog/are-clickwrap-agreements-held-enforceable-by-american-courts/

https://ilt.eff.org/index.php/Contracts:_Click_Wrap_Licenses

So let me sum up my views and how I view the facts and my problems with how it was handled, feel free to poke holes in them. I am ready to learn more as it has become quite entertaining:

-WLPC is a for-profit company that hosts/curates a site that allows its users to post stories

-The author's agreement is a click wrap agreement (it is necessary to accept it via a click before being allowed to post stories here, ie: necessary and binding to gain access to the full features of this site)

-It does not contain any clause that allows changes/amendments

-An amendment was posted

-The change/amendment is already being tested and in (partial) effect about one week after posting

Now to my problems with it:

-The amendment was, AFAIK, only posted in the forums > Quote: "Like the court in Douglas, the court in Rodman stressed that it is unreasonable to expect a customer to check a website regularly for changes to online terms." (see:Link 1)

-Authors did not have enough (if any) time to (tacitly) agree or disagree with the amendment before it went into partial effect, since it solely targets "inactive" or dead authors some effort should be made to contact the authors or heirs. Since the agreement clearly specifies that an author has to keep his e-mail up to date at all times it would be the way logical way to do this.

-To reiterate:Unilateral changes (even of unilateral contracts/agreements, which I do not think this is) need a certain procedure to become effective

-I found the next quote quite fitting: "Moreover, the court, applying traditional contract doctrine, noted that a customer could not assent to future changes of which there was no reason to know would come." (see:Link 1)

-It may not even be enforceable for old stories, ie: the one it specifically targets.

Quote: "However, the clause will not be enforceable where the amendment tries to apply to events arising prior to the date of the amendment." (Link 2)

-I do not believe #2 covers a story being made premier member only if it was posted for all before < That one is definitely up for debate as the phrasing "You grant [...] unlimited rights to publish the work in any format that it supports" is ambiguous and probably only meant file formats not free/premier.

As stated before in another (too) long posting:

I am not irate and I do not want to bash the web-master and I am sorry if it sounded like I did.

As I said this has become an entertaining discussion and I am looking forward to civil disputes and to arguments being shredded or validated.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Oyster


-I do not believe #2 covers a story being made premier member only if it was posted for all before < That one is definitely up for debate as the phrasing "You grant [...] unlimited rights to publish the work in any format that it supports" is ambiguous and probably only meant file formats not free/premier.


It explicitly covers all web sites operated by WLPC. Which means that Lazeez could start a new separate pay only site and put all the stories on SOL up at that site.

#5 of the agreement would allow him to take the stories put on the pay only site down from SOL.

Replies:   Oyster
Ernest Bywater

@Oyster

I do not know, but I do not think so.


Canadian law is closer to UK and Australian law than US law, due to the history behind them. However, two things you can be sure of:

1. Lazeez has checked this with his local legal people before doing it, so it's within the laws of where he is.

2. Regardless of what we have to say on the issue it isn't going to change what Lazeez decides to do about it.

So what say we agree to disagree, and drop it before the flames start!

Dindu Nuffin

Wouldn't it be more beneficial to get together and come up with solutions rather than arguments over legalities?

Not being a dick here everyone has valid points, but the underlying problem that has provoked the action is basically Laz needs more profit.

You guys are a very intelligent and creative bunch I'm sure if you stick those bight minds together there's something you can come up with that pleases everyone.

Oyster

@Dominions Son

Correct, #2 and #5 combined allow for that and, if my understanding is not completely wrong, he'd have to inform the author of his actions by e-mail, but that is not what is happening here.
Same site, no mail notification, amendment to the agreement.

@Ernest Bywater
Just wondering how you know your "1." for a fact.

Yes, it is his site (trying not to use his name too much if he has set up some kind of notification system and it's going crazy right now) and his decision.

Maybe we should stop, but it's become interesting and maybe we've all learned a bit about the perils of hosting a site, agreements and (international) contract laws. As long as it stays flame-free I'd like to continue this discussion unless the powers-that-be think it is not appropriate.

It's actually quite fun to see how much we've moved away from a society where a man's word (probably romanticized that a bit) was his bond to one where nearly everything has to be in writing and in legalese to be binding and how the different countries deal or dealt with the issues. Especially once we've started to include things like the Internet in typical business transactions.
So if anyone can edumucate us all on Canadian laws please do so! You'll find an audience of at least one reading with rapt attention.

Now to bring some levity (and stereotypes) into this thread: The Canadian laws are probably written in a much more friendly manner than all the other ones and less harsh. Correct, eh? (Sorry to all Canadians)

Dominions Son

@Oyster

he'd have to inform the author of his actions by e-mail, but that is not what is happening here.


He would have to try, but if the author's profile is out of date, that'a not on him. See #15.

If he can't notify you because you haven't kept your profile up to date, that's your problem not his.

Same site, no mail notification, amendment to the agreement.


Please quote the clause in the author agreement that you imagine would prohibit Lazeez from eliminating free access to SOL completely.

Replies:   Oyster
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Oyster


Just wondering how you know your "1." for a fact.


Some years ago when I used to deal with overseas companies for purchases and sales I had to check into the contract law for the USA and Canada because we dealt with companies in both. The Canadian laws matched ours a lot closer than the USA ones did then. I looked into why, and a lot of it relates to the inherited tort and common law we both got and kept from the UK, and a lot of it was from after the US split off. Also, the US dumped a lot, but not all, of the British law when they split off - most of the old British laws kept in the USA were kept by the state governments and the feds had to create everything. I'm sure things have changed since then, but I doubt they would have had radical changes.

typo edit

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I'm sure things have changed since then, but I doubt they would have had radical changes.


And any radical changes that have happened are more likely than not to have moved us even further away from UK law.

PS.

Louisiana state law is based on Napoleonic law, not British common law.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


Louisiana state law is based on Napoleonic law, not British common law.


ayep, the historic hang over from the French days.

REP

@Oyster

That it may not conform to the laws/regulations to be legally binding is a different, but even more important, matter.

There is a big difference between a Law and the Rules listed in the Posting Agreement.

There are many Laws made by the Canadian Government, Province, and City that govern Lazeez's business, and yes he has to comply with those laws. The only laws applicable to the stories on the website that I am aware of address copyright issues and the age of characters involved in sexual activities. There is no Law governing how Lazeez manages the website. Therefore, no one could sue Lazeez for any site management act that he may choose to take, such as: deleting a story from the website or moving it to the Premium Member Only area.

As you pointed out, this Author Agreement identifies itself as a Contract between WLPC and the Authors who post stories to the website. Go back and read those 16 items. Nowhere in those 16 items is there a statement defining something that Lazeez must do. Most of the statements define what the Author must do in order to have Lazeez agree to post the Author's story on the website. A few of those items describe Lazeez's current process/procedure for doing specific things (i.e. placing copyright notices on stories and moving stories into the Premier Member portion of the site). These 2 items are there so the Author is aware of what Lazeez will do in regard to their story if they want him to post the story on the website. I think the only legal limitation placed on Lazeez in regard to the stories on the website is compliance with the Author's Copyright.

The website does have Rules. The Rules are made by Lazeez and enforced by Lazeez. The Canadian legal system has no power over these Rules and how they control the aspects of how Lazeez manages the site. Readers and Authors must comply with Lazeez's Rules or suffer the consequences. Lazeez can violate his Rules without consequences for he is the one that defines the consequences for anyone who violates his rules.

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son


You are around 8 billion miles away from demonstrating that Lazeez has done anything not in accordance with the laws and/or his agreements.


And the clincher is the agreement itself having an exit clause. Don't like how SOL is doing business? Request they take down your content. Until you can demonstrate non-compliance with the takedown request(as per prior and current agreement alike), you're going to have a hard time finding a judge in NA that would consider you as having standing for a contract breach.

Oyster
Updated:

@Dominions Son

He would have to try, but if the author's profile is out of date, that'a not on him. See #15.

If he can't notify you because you haven't kept your profile up to date, that's your problem not his.


Yes, I am working with the premise that the e-mail is up to date and that the fictional author in my arguments adhered to the contract 100% . To repeat myself: AFAIK no e-mails have been sent to authors to inform them of the change/amendment in question. Just posting it here on the forums may not be enough of a notice.


Please quote the clause in the author agreement that you imagine would prohibit Lazeez from eliminating free access to SOL completely.


There is no clause in the author's agreement about that, but there does not have to be since to even get to the author's agreement one has to have signed up for a free membership which is another click-wrap agreement.

Should free service be removed that agreement would have to be amended and all users notified ahead of time.

At least that is my reading and understanding of the procedures to amend terms of use.

@REP

There is no Law governing how Lazeez manages the website.


Yes, there are laws regarding how he manages the site, the content on it, links in the forums, etc. These same laws apply to everyone, even private, non-commercial sites.

Nearly everything in our everyday life is quite regulated.

(I'll make some examples at the end of the post, mostly taken from Germany, where the laws may be more strict than in Canada.)

And as I have stated more than once there are procedures, customer protections, regulations and law on what is enforceable in click-wrap agreements, terms of use, etc.

Therefore, no one could sue Lazeez for any site management act that he may choose to take, such as: deleting a story from the website


According to the author's agreement there is a procedure in place to delete stories (#5). Should he, or someone he gave the authority to do it, not follow his own procedures redress could be sought.

Lazeez can violate his Rules without consequences for he is the one that defines the consequences for anyone who violates his rules.


No he cannot. He provides a service and as the representative or head honcho of WLPC he is bound by contract rules, customer protection regulations, etc. In this regard WLPC is like Facebook or Twitter. In one of the worst case scenarios cease and desist letters could be sent to the web-site owner/WLPC if his amendments are in violation of Canadian law or regulations.

Please take the following examples as hypothetical musings, that I do not believe the web-master would ever do it and that the last thing I want to do is paint him in a bad light.

Example 1: Should a web-site owner want to sell the e-mail addresses that were used to register on his site he would have to amend his privacy rules beforehand and allow users to delete their account (or remove the e-mail addresses).

Example 2:

Owner X posts the following amendment:

"After X months the hosting of a story starts to cost X cents per download, the author is responsible for those costs. Should the amount exceed X dollars the hoster may start selling the story on Amazon to recoup costs."

Probably not enforceable in any way shape or form and it is a very extreme example to prove a point.

Examples of how a website owner got into legal trouble (especially in Germany) due to the actions of his website's guests or members:

-Member A (for asshole) posts hatespeech and personal insults. Owner is made aware of it and does not delete the comments. Courts have held owners liable when the insulted party brought a suit or sent cease and desist letters.

-Member B (for bumbling idiot) posts links to illegal material. Owner is made aware of it and does not immediately take action.

-Member C (for cantankerous lawyer) or Owner X starts giving out direct legal advice on specific cases involving the members on a site. Both the owner and the lawyer may be in trouble.

So yeah, stating that there are basically no rules (or only those made by the web-master) regarding this site or the interaction between users or authors and the owner is plainly wrong.

Ernest Bywater

@Oyster

Should free service be removed that agreement would have to be amended and all users notified ahead of time.


Actually, the free service to the authors is not affected by the change to the agreement. Nor is there anywhere in the agreement where it says the stories will be provided to readers for free.

Replies:   Oyster
Oyster
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I think you missed my point again. I am not talking about the free premier membership that authors can/may get once they have crossed a certain threshold in posted story volume/votes/reads/worshippers/groupies. I am talking about the basic click-wrap agreement that takes effect when one signs up for this site.

I'll try to make myself a bit more clear and please correct me if I am wrong:

The process to get an author account on SOL is done in two steps:

-Register for a free membership, accept the privacy policy, etc.

-Accept the author's agreement

The second one does not supersede the first as there is no comment about privacy, membership, etc. in the second one. So, to my thinking, authors are bound (and protected) by both. Especially as not all authors have the free premier membership perk.

If there is a completely different agreement for the premier membership that point becomes moot.

Nor is there anywhere in the agreement where it says the stories will be provided to readers for free.


Correct and the opposite of that is true as well. The questions is: Is what is not specified allowed or forbidden? What about ambiguity?

That's where lawyers and shysters make their fortune.

I'll go out on a limb here and since you have more knowledge about contract laws, publishing, etc. I'd like to read your view on this:

Here I believe intent (or spirit of the contract/law) would come into play or established procedures/practices. The authors posted their stories for free and did not set them to premier members only. So the intent was to keep the stories free for everyone and get as much exposure/readers as possible.

Or maybe as Heinlein had one of his characters say (paraphrased): I am a writer. I do not want to be, but I have the urge to write and it makes me feral at times. (I believe something along these lines was said in "The Cat that walked through Walls")

Would they be fine with cutting their potential reader base by as much as 96% ? Especially as their only "payment" is comments, e-mails, scores and download numbers.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Oyster


I think you missed my point again. I am not talking about the free premier membership that authors can/may get once they have crossed a certain threshold in posted story volume/votes/reads/worshippers/groupies. I am talking about the basic click-wrap agreement that takes effect when one signs up for this site.


I don't think I'm confusing things here. There are two agreements for two very different services and each operates separately to the other.

1. Agreement is between the site and the readers.

This covers the aspects that enables you to log on to the site and read stories, and only that.

2. The other agreement is between the site and the authors.

This covers the aspects of lodging a story and how the site will manage it, and only that.

Yes, some people will use both services, but not everyone.

I have been totally ignoring the agreement between the site and the readers because it has absolutely nothing to do with what this thread is about. There is no cross-over between the services, except the ability to visit the site is via the single log-on process and ID., which is also used to access other WLPC sites if you activate them for there.

What Lazeez is doing is legal, and doesn't violate any of the prior rules or agreements between him and the authors. In fact, WLPC is a lot more author friendly than some other sites like Amazon.

............................

Now, toward the end of the post you start talking about author intent, which is unknowable. Many authors don't know you can stick a story in the Premier membership only area, or how to do it. I was here for several years before I investigated the site enough to realize there was a premier membership story area - and I already had enough stories here to have a free premier membership at that time.

However, you say the author wants it to always free, well there's two ways he can do that on the site:

1. Keep his contact details current and his log on active.

2. Send an email to Lazeez saying he doesn't want the stories to ever be behind the pay wall. I'm sure Lazeez would honor such a request if made to him.

Rule 16 only applies if the person hasn't been active on the site in any way for 5 years or more. That would show they're either dead and no longer care, or no longer have an interest in the site and no longer care. If they haven't had any activity in 5 years it's highly unlikely they'll be getting any feedback emails as that's also a type of activity. I'm also willing to bet before he moves stories Lazeez will try to contact the authors, unless he already knows they're dead.

It's dead easy to keep your log on active, just log in every now and then and it registers as active.

Replies:   Oyster
Oyster

@Ernest Bywater

Once again: To use this site as an author you need to have at least a free membership.
To confirm this just log out and go to http://storiesonline.net/author/posting_guidelines.php and scroll down to the end.
So as I stated as an author you are bound/protected by both agreements on this site.

This long explanation over several posts was just to discuss the following point made by Dominion's Son:

Please quote the clause in the author agreement that you imagine would prohibit Lazeez from eliminating free access to SOL completely.


To sum it up again: It is not covered in the author's agreement as it is already covered in the basic membership agreement that EVERYONE, author and reader, agrees to when signing up for this site for free for the first time.

------
Again about intent, amendments and inactive/dead authors:
American case law states that amendments cannot be enforced retroactively and "Moreover, the court, applying traditional contract doctrine, noted that a customer could not assent to future changes of which there was no reason to know would come." ( https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2016/05/07_moringiello.html )
Which would mean that all stories before this amendment was posted, even those of dead or inactive authors, would/should be exempt from the move to the archives. < This statement is of course only correct if the Canadian laws are similar to the USA ones. And the precedent set by this site with #7 (stories were grandfathered in) could be seen as the standard for further/future amendments that restrict stories.

1. Keep his contact details current and his log on active.

The agreement that inactive authors agreed to only asked them to keep the contact details current.

I'm also willing to bet before he moves stories Lazeez will try to contact the authors, unless he already knows they're dead.

He may or may not contact the author. The amendment only states that the stories will be moved. No notification necessary (compare #5).
Maybe an oversight on his part, but only what is written down or specified is enforceable. So an amended amendment may be in order.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Oyster

Once again: To use this site as an author you need to have at least a free membership.
To confirm this just log out and go to http://storiesonline.net/author/posting_guidelines.php and scroll down to the end.
So as I stated as an author you are bound/protected by both agreements on this site.


The aspects of the membership to access the site are totally different agreements to that for the authors. They do not build one on the other. The basics of contract law is that one agreement does not have any application or involvement with another contract unless it specifically mentions it as doing so. Thus whatever is in the basic account agreement doesn't have any binding effect on the author contract and is irrelevant to it.

Now as to the US case law (mind you SoL is in Canada) the sort of changes made by Lazeez are less than some of those made by Amazon or PayPal in the past, and they've been found to be legal in the US courts.

Now the the cases where Moringiello stated the courts upheld some sort of notice was required it referred to changes where fees were being levied, that is charges were being made. Yes, if you raise the fees you have to tell people and they have to agree, but the authors aren't being charged anything, so it's a different case. - - The principle at work here is I have to know before you can make me pay. If there is no payment involved, then it doesn't apply.

If every single variation required a lot of paperwork and advance approval companies could never give special discounts for anything or offer extra free services because they'd never go through the costs involved for doing the extra work involved.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)
Updated:

@Oyster


Let me play asshole and advocatus diaboli here for a while longer:


I think two days is long enough.

1 - The change is legal. I checked with my lawyer. 👨🏻‍⚖️

2 - The site needs it to ensure its future.

3 - Free Readers will have over 25,000 existing stories and anything new to read and yes that includes grumpy old men. When I checked, most stories affected had one or two reads per week, so no big deal.

4 - If an absent author (or their heir) logs back into the site using the pen name's owning account, their stories get switched back automatically. All an author has to do to prevent their stories from being switched is just drop by once every 1,825 days.

4 - Active authors who don't like the policy can easily opt out, and ask any author how responsive I am usually to removal requests.

5 - I volunteered to create a listing for stories that will be switched to give readers like you the heads up. I'm not obligated to create it, but I will. According to my lawyer, I don't need to give readers, especially free readers any advance notice as there are no service guarantees. If I were to close the site (if I can't afford to keep it running), do I owe readers advance notice and keep it running longer so that they can download their favourite stories? Not really. Same thing applies to this change.

6 - I could have made the absence period under one year and it would still be legal. But, I'm not an asshole (yes, you can disagree with that).

7 - The only people to whom WLPC is legally obligated any advance notices are those who pay actual money for the service, and only if the service will be affected negatively. It's easy for you to join this category 😉, and yet I've given advance notice here.

Edited to Add:

It's easy to fall into the "I don't like the change, and I don't like you to take anything away" and "you have no right to do this".

I've build SOL as a good community where we cooperate on things. I'm not some opaque corporate entity that runs things strictly for profits and take whatever I can. I don't block people who disagree with me, and I give a lot of leeway for anybody to express their concern and I address them whenever possible.

Recently the site's income has fluctuated widely and unpredictably. So I need to ensure some stability for the long haul. I came up with a lot of ideas of what to restrict and how to go about it, including having a site under a different domain where it's all pay. But all were harmful in one way or another. This is the least annoying idea. Authors usually stop contributing long before they stop logging in. So their stories are away from the active areas anyway (new stories and serial updates). And the 5 years absence period makes the stories away from the spot light for even longer. Most stories that are away from the activity don't see much demand, even the most linked to stories. Example, the most linked-to story on SOL is 'Doing it all over' by Al Steiner and even that story, with all the incoming links has only seen 115 accesses this week.

The archive will be just another weak incentive for people to support the site. It won't have a big effect on almost anybody. So it's not like I'm taking something that so many people are following and blackmailing them for money, it's stories that most people don't even stumble upon.

Hopefully, this small change helps stabilize things in the long run.

I will be locking this thread this evening.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Oyster

Thank you for the information and clarification of your procedures.
The only thing I will respectfully disagree with you is the two day period being enough, but if the lawyer says it is enough (and you think it is) I will bow to his knowledge of Canadian law and your thinking.

Yes, I'd like to subscribe from time to time when my financial situation allows it, but since the easiest method for me to pay (Paypal) is being a prudish dick it is not that easy.

Thank you for your efforts to keep this change transparent and for keeping this site alive at all. And I hope that should the time come that the site would need donations to stay alive you'd post it here so the community could help.

And I'll now move my entitled and bitching ass away from this discussion.

Crumbly Writer

@Oyster

I think you missed my point again. I am not talking about the free premier membership that authors can/may get once they have crossed a certain threshold in posted story volume/votes/reads/worshippers/groupies. I am talking about the basic click-wrap agreement that takes effect when one signs up for this site.

If you want iron-clad guarantees about how your stories are handled, the only answer is: do it yourself. If you don't like restrictions then create your own website and try to attract a couple dozen people to read your stories. However, most authors need support services to help distribute their stories to willing readers. It's the same thing with book publishers. As much as we all criticize them for limiting what authors can say, if you want a big contract, they're essentially the only game in town. You either get in line, or you shut up and do something about it.

Arguing repetitively that Lazeez is being unfair doesn't help anything except alienate everyone who enjoys the services that he provides, is doesn't convince anyone to 'rise up in revolt and overthrow the people in charge'.

I understand that you're pissed to lose a couple stories, but considering all the stories you continue to get absolutely free, if feels like you're in the fire calling the kettle black. We've got a decent site here, which works for the vast majority of us. If you'd rather go it alone (as a reader) then knock your socks off. Gutenberg has a ton a free books you can read.

Dominions Son

@Oyster

Yes, I am working with the premise that the e-mail is up to date and that the fictional author in my arguments adhered to the contract 100% .


That is an absurd premise in the case of an author who hasn't logged at all for over five years.

Just posting it here on the forums may not be enough of a notice.


Since this is where all announcements about site changes are officially made, it's more than adequate, with the possible exception of authors whose stories are immediately affected. However, it it is not reasonable to presume that any notice is possible in such cases.

Should free service be removed that agreement would have to be amended and all users notified ahead of time.

At least that is my reading and understanding of the procedures to amend terms of use.


Since there is nothing in either the general TOS or the author agreement about the service being free or remaining free, you are badly mistaken.

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

I will be locking this thread this evening.

I must say, I can relate. This seems to be one person railing against the site which has provided free services for years, simply because he couldn't download a single story he's already read several times. As such, it's hard to feel sympathetic towards him.

Rather than threatening potential lawsuits (by some unknown third party), he needs to move on to other stories, as there are plenty available worth reading.

Replies:   Oyster
Ernest Bywater

I know it's too small a sample, but I did check a couple of pages of stories in the Premier member only area, and found 50% of the stories listed the author didn't have a contact email address, and some were recent stories, and the rest of those I checked were all currently active authors with new stories going in there too. Thus I don't think it's going to be a big issue, anyway.

Oyster

@Crumbly Writer

I'd ask you to reread my postings and reconsider your statement that I was railing against this site, but since you already called my first post discussing this in the official announcement thread "bitching" it would probably be futile.
I've stated more than once that I am grateful for the existence of this site, that I understand that the site has to pay its bills and that we are just guests here.
In the end it's Lazeez's baby and he can do anything he wants (as long as it is accordance with the law).
I prefaced my first discussion post with "let me play asshole and advocatus diaboli" and I'll just leave you with the definition of advocatus diaboli (or devil's advocate in english): "a person who advocates an opposing or unpopular cause for the sake of argument or to expose it to a thorough examination."

Seems I was more successful than I thought.

*takes a bow and exits stage left*

REP
Updated:

@Oyster

Let's set your hypothetical situations and examples aside for the moment, and address the reality of the legalities relating to your original problem with the way Lazeez manages the SOL website. Forget about German Laws and how those laws were enforced and stick with the Canadian Laws that govern Lazeez's actions.

You voiced 2 issues:

1. A story you wanted to read was moved into the Premier Member Only area of the website.

The Posting Agreement is a contract freely entered into by the Author of the story you wanted to read.

You grant Storiesonline, its parent company 'World Literature Company (WLPC)' and its affiliated sites unlimited rights to publish the work in any format that it supports, on any of its sites for as long as WLPC exists or until you withdraw the work with a written request for removal.


That item (#2) gave Lazeez permission to post the story wherever he wished on the SOL website or one of WLPC's other websites. It also defined the Author's recourse if the Author does not agree with where Lazeez posts the story.

Item #16 addresses stories that Authors have abandoned by not maintaining contact with the SOL website. If such an Author returns to the SOL website and disagrees with Lazeez's actions, the Author can address the matter with Lazeez and if not satisfied, remove the story from the website.

Please cite the Canadian Law that makes Lazeez's actions inappropriate or drop the issue.

2. You disagreed with Lazeez implementing #16 of the Posting Agreement immediately.

Lazeez has the right to change this agreement at any time he may wish to do so, and he has the option of making the changes effective immediately or after a defined period of time. (NOTE: You need to remember in regard to #16 that there is no need to delay implementation, since Lazeez no longer has current contact information.) The changes to the agreement govern his future actions in regard to posting stories submitted to his website by Authors who voluntarily elect to submit their stories.

Please cite the Canadian Law that makes Lazeez's act of making a change to his Posting Agreement effective immediately inappropriate or drop the issue. Remember I am not addressing the content of the change; just his decision to implement it immediately.

Now let's address your examples and determine if they are realistic in terms of how Lazeez manages this website:

Member A (for asshole) posts hatespeech and personal insults.


"Hate speech laws in Canada include provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada, provisions in the Human Rights Act and in other federal legislation, and statutory provisions in each of Canada's ten provinces and three territories. The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on various grounds." Extracted from Wikipedia.

Apparently, you are not aware of the policies Lazeez has regarding these laws and how he enforces them. Lazeez doesn't wait for someone to complain about name-calling and hate speech. He takes immediate action when he becomes aware of these types of actions regardless of whether someone complained or him learning of the situation by his monitoring of the comments made in this Forum. If you doubt this fact, the other posters in this thread will be happy to back me up.

Member B (for bumbling idiot) posts links to illegal material.


You will have to identify an instance on this website that Lazeez failed to address, before we could even begin to address your fantasy of Lazeez not acting.

Member C (for cantankerous lawyer) or Owner X starts giving out direct legal advice on specific cases involving the members on a site


Basically the same response as given for Member B.

*****

Now as to your last remark, which is obviously incorrect:

So yeah, stating that there are basically no rules (or only those made by the web-master) regarding this site or the interaction between users or authors and the owner is plainly wrong.


I was talking about the Rules that Lazeez has created for this website. As I said earlier, there are Laws governing how Lazeez runs his business, which includes his management actions in regard to this website.

In your comments, you continue to label Laws as Rules; they are very different things. As you know, Laws are legally enforceable by a judicial system. The only time a Rule could be legally challenged is if it violated a Law. So far, no one has identified a single instance in which one of Lazeez's Rules have been in violation of a specific Canadian Law. I am quite certain that Lazeez's Legal Staff have reviewed his Rules to ensure they do not violate Canadian Law.

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