Most Recent Updates:
Visa has issued a formal statement saying they were not behind Paypal's decision to censor erotica. Note that this is contrary to media reports and Paypal's own statements to both retailers and consumers.
"Although our company rules were not the impetus for PayPal’s decision, these issues are important to us, and we’d like to share our point of view with you.
In general, Visa takes no position with respect to lawful goods and services bought and sold by the people and the companies who use our payment service. As the largest payment network in the world, with billions of cardholders and tens of millions of retailers and individuals selling goods in nearly every country of the world, our goal is to offer the best way to pay everywhere and for everyone. In fulfilling this mission, we strive to respect the many different perspectives that citizens of the world hold, and we avoid taking sides when those opinions differ." Full post here.Paypal finally issued a statement on their blog, however, they are not posting all comments and readers report seeing different comments, both in content and quantity, at different times. Further, Paypal's statement provides yet another different data point on their position that has not previously been made public. Paypal just can't get their policy together or provide cohesive, consistent action.
My comment on Paypal's blog post is below, which they have yet to publish according to what I can see and what others have verified for me:
"Can you clarify what is meant by images associated with erotica? That's not a statement I've heard before from Paypal on the issue. As far as I've read, erotica books don't contain pictures beyond a cover.The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a letter you can sign that will be sent to Paypal's CEO. Please sign it as it's from an official advocacy group, coordinating with other advocacy groups--this is the petition to sign in my opinion. To be on the safe side, don't use the same email your Paypal account is under .
How exactly does this policy protect your interests? Also, how does this policy protect your interests when traditionally published books containing content that violates your policy are still sold on sites using Paypal? And how does this policy protect your interests when content in violation of your terms is still for sale on Ebay, your parent company?
Further, when your policy effectively dictates the confines of a genre, you are limiting speech."
There's been media covers, of variable quality on the issue of Paypal censorship:
Forbes ( excellent dissection of Paypal's faulty logic)
Wall St. Journal
Publisher's Weekly ( one of better articles)
New York Post
The other big news story that broke this week was the Department of Justice's announcement that they would be filing a lawsuit against publishers for price fixing. The upshot is NY Publishers colluded to jack up ebook prices. Since the effect of Paypal's policy has been to remove independent authors from small bookseller sites, which effectively reduces ebook price competition, inquiring minds wonder if this was the larger strategy at play.
I continue to believe this entire situation has nothing to do with sex, but is more about market share and pricing. Indies are vulnerable, without a large corporate conglomerate protecting our interests, and erotica is even more vulnerable yet, especially as it very successfully encroached on prime real estate publishers were used to owning.
Lastly, please welcome a new sub genre called Paypal Satire. Yes, now people are writing books where Paypal gets screwed without a safe word. They are quire funny and I encourage you to check them out. Buy them before Paypal bans them!
Make Love the Right Way or You're Going to Hell
Two People Having Sex
Depression Era Sex
Mark Coker, head of Smashwords, is in the process of issuing a rallying cry to the 'troops' in an effort to fight the moral censorship of Paypal and credit card companies. Please set up an account so you can receive his emails on the subject, and, while you're there, show your support by buying a book.
The National Coalition Against Censorship has weighed in with a letter to the CEO of Ebay.
"If PayPal’s concerns were limited to restricting the sale of illegal content, the policy would beunnecessary, since it already holds users “independently responsible for complying with allapplicable laws in all of your actions related to your use of PayPal's services, regardless of the purpose of the use.” However, the apparent purpose and clear effect of the policy is to prevent booksellers from distributing content that adults have a legal right to receive.Given PayPal’sdominant role in processing online transactions, the policy will have a dramatic effect on online sales of materials that do not even arguably qualify as obscene."There's also a statement from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which highlights the insidious nature of corporate censorship. The US constitution protects Americans from government censorship, but there's no such recourse when companies act as censors. When it comes to corporations, people will only have as much freedom as they are willing to fight for.
Note, the links to the two petitions are at the end of this post. Please sign them. Corporations respond to numbers and, if we can amass a show of force, they will reconsider their position--they've been very responsive to petitions in the past.
Well known and respected erotica writer, Remittance Girl has "formally sent a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, alleging the targeted commercial suppression of women’s literature by PayPal on the grounds that it specifically stifles the free speech of a ‘persecuted gender grouping’." This is not something that the US court system would support, but the European legal system may take action as their laws on discrimination are quite different.
New York Times Bestselling author, Michael A. Stackpole has spoken out against Paypal.This is something that affects the entire industry and I'm grateful any time an author with a strong audience is willing to wade past the buzzwords Paypal has used to make their actions more palatable.
There have been too many traditionally published authors (as well as some indies) poo-pooing the independent casualties. Well, as you'll see if you keep reading, Paypal is also targeting publishers with their morality sweep. Solidarity is the way to move forward. If you want to publish your story, you're going to have to accept some of the raunchier indie stuff too.
Confused on all the details? Not sure why anyone would support incest? Stephanie Draven has some great clarifications on the terms involved in this debate. She clears up confusion about whether this is censorship. A pet peeve of mine has been, whenever I say it's censorship, someone comes back with 'it's not the government doing this so it's not censorship.'
The First Amendment of the US Constitution does not own the word censorship nor provide its sole definition. There are academic sources covering different types of censorship, look them up. When a near corporate monopoly starts banning an entire genre and attempting to police fiction, that's censorship.
By the way, Paypal continues to sell all sorts of hard core porn across the internet. Apparently it's just erotica they have a problem with--Unless, of course, they decide to police sexual content in other genres, which is the slope we're sliding down at the moment.
And if you're looking for a humorous take on the issue, check out this link. Don't drink or eat while reading and, if you do, don't say I didn't warn you.
Lastly, I have reports from good sources that traditionally published books are being banned as well. This has spread beyond independent authors. There hasn't been any official word from affected parties and I don't know if there will be--my sense is publishers want to keep their heads down and off the chopping block. However, I hope they come forward and serve the greater good. Paypal cannot be allowed to dictate the content of fiction.
There are two petitions you can sign and don't think they don't help, they do. Paypal has been responsive to petitions in the past on GLBT rights issues. If we can make a show of force, we may turn the tide. Hopefully before your book is banned.
One is on Change. org.
Another one is on Care 2 Petition.