Paypal reversed ban on ‘obscene’ books

Posted: March 18, 2012 in Publishing, Writing
Tags: , , ,

Wired freedom
A few days ago there was good news about Paypal’s backpedaling from being morality police and banning their services for legal fiction they deemed ‘obscene’.

CNet’s article gives a good run-down on what took place:

Back-and-forth talks between the online payment company and e-publishers leads PayPal to change its position on the sale of e-books containing bestiality, rape, incest, and underage erotica.

After vocal outrage from authors, e-publishers, and free speech activists, PayPal has shifted its “acceptable use” policy on e-books containing certain erotica content. The online payment company announced today that mostly books with images will be under scrutiny.

It’s important to note that the EFF weighed in as well. From CNet:

As the talks proceeded, the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation also launched its own campaign. In collaboration with other free speech groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Authors Guild, and the PEN American Center, the nonprofit sent a protest letter to PayPal. Since then, several more organizations signed onto the campaign.

The point here is, and I feel I cannot make it often enough, that legal creative outputs (fiction, in this case) was to be banned. Not illegal, but legal. Also, not individual works, but whole website. A broad brush that was completely unacceptable censorship-wise.

This whole debacle shows us again that we all must remain vigilant. This will happen again. Perhaps another company, perhaps something else, but it will happen again. Let’s make sure we continue to fight inappropriate censorhsip.

 “The Internet cannot be a true global forum for expression if private companies that provide communication and payment services operate as morality police,” EFF Staff Attorney Lee Tien said in a statement. “We’re especially pleased that PayPal will only target specific works and not entire Web sites.”

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