Posts Tagged ‘Paypal’

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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It is with great concern that I, too, feel compelled to post about the shocking recent bullying/censorship by Paypal – a company that is nothing more but a finanial middleman – on erotic fiction.

I have collected a short list of excellent articles on this matter, and urge everyone to read up on what is happening here, and how a company that has a monopoly is enforcing arbitrary rules that affect legal products/fiction. It is important to spread the word, because where else will they go? What else will be forbidden even though it is legal? Where will private monopoly companies be made to stop wielding censorship?

This is not ‘just’ about erotica readers and authors and the associated publishes and distributors. This is potentially also about classic literature, such as The Story of O, Venus in Furs and Lolita. And not just literature: where will this slippery slope end up? If consumers and world citizens are not vigilant, we will be censored not by the church or the state of history, but by corporations.

Please consider signing the petition Stop Internet Censorship! 

After all, anyone who enjoys reading my books and those of my fellow M/M authors, you are in real danger that rather sooner than later you are not allowed/able to do so anymore. If I cannot use PayPal for transactions anymore (and PayPal did freeze accounts and all money in it) I can neither publish through international publishers any longer, nor publish through Camouflage Press. BDSM = between consenting adults! today; gay sex tomorrow?

TechCrunch posted on Sunday 26th February:

 PayPal As Moral Police? Forces E-Book Sellers To Remove Certain Erotica Content. The letter – written by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords – has been posted on Smashwords’ own site, and gives a fuller explanation of what is going on: it all stems from an “ultimatum” that PayPal issued to Smashwords on Feb. 18: “PayPal gave us only a few days to achieve compliance otherwise they threatened to deactivate our PayPal services.”

Coker says that other e-book retailers have also been served with the same orders, but he does not name them. He also says that PayPal has been helpful with working out exactly what kind of content falls foul of the new rules, but that “gray areas remain.” (For example incest also includes “pseudo-incest.”) One other area that PayPal named, related to underage children, is already prohibited on Smashwords, Coker notes.

He also points out that this latest order is part of a bigger push by PayPal to start “aggressively enforcing a prohibition against online retailers selling certain types of ‘obscene’ content.”

Anonymiss posted on 21st February:

 The #PayPal Fiasco Continues … #epicfail. Yesterday saw what seemed like the second wave of PayPal’s censorship and attempt at policing what they find “morally objectionable”. All Romance eBooks has sent out an official notice for the take-down of all books containing pseudo-incest themes, non-con, etc. It’s not hard to connect the dots and see that they’re doing this as per PayPal’s “orders”. They do, after all, pay author royalties via PayPal and take PayPal as a form of payment.

This is a truly slippery slope. What will the PayPal Morality Police want to ban next? This form of “corporate censorship” by financial means has to be stopped, especially when said company has practically a monopoly in the business as middleman. A friend of mine put it this way: it’s coercion, plain and simple.

PulpTech posted on 27th February:

 PayPal Strong-Arms Indie Ebook Publishers Over Erotic Content. PayPal’s new aggressive campaign wants to stop independent e-book publishers that use its service from including certain kinds of erotic content in their catalogs.

On Saturday February 18, PayPal began threatening indie book publishers and distributors with immediate deactivation of the businesses’ accounts if they did not remove books containing certain sexual themes – namely, specific sexual fantasies that PayPal does not approve of.

PayPal told indie e-book publishers and retailers – such as AllRomance, Smashwords, Excessica and Bookstrand – that if they didn’t remove the offending literature from their catalogs within a few days of notification, PayPal would close their accounts.

Of course, the immediate termination of payment processing would devastate these businesses and all of their authors (not just the erotic writers) overnight.

In case you haven’t noticed, PayPal has a monopoly on the market of online payment processing. There are few alternatives, though none that are widely used by online shoppers.

The Self Publishing Revolution posted on 19th February:

Slippery Slope: Erotica Censorship. (…)Note that they list not only “incest” but “pseudo-incest” as well. Now, while “incest” is illegal in most states, “pseudo-incest” is not. (Woody Allen, anyone?) Having sex with a step-relation or an adopted relative is just… sex. It might seem creepy or weird, but it isn’t illegal.

Now they’re not just targeting illegal acts (this is in fiction mind you) now they’re targeting acts that may simply just be “morally objectionable.” Where else do they do this? Are they targeting authors who write about serial killers?

I don’t know what this means for the future of erotic self-publishing, but like the banning of certain titles begun by Amazon, it is a very slippery slope indeed. Today it’s “pseudo-incest” and “rape” (including BDSM titles) which is nothing more than legal sex between consenting adults.

What will it be tomorrow?

 Don’t leave it up to PayPal to choose how you spend your money or where!