Tell Paypal To Stop Playing Morality Cop With Booksellers

from the let-payments-go-free dept

We recently wrote about how Paypal was pressuring Smashwords to drop any books that included sexual content that Paypal didn't like. This seemed ridiculously over-aggressive. You can be completely against rape without that meaning that no books shall exist that include a rape scene. But according to Paypal's rules, books that include themes around rape, incest and bestiality -- even if such books were there to raise awareness around those things, not to encourage them -- simply were not allowed. Smashwords claims that Paypal is passing the blame on to the credit card companies, but others have questioned how accurate that really is. And, even then, it seems that Paypal should stand up to the credit card companies if that is, indeed, the case.

In the meantime, the EFF has put together a letter writing campaign to tell Paypal to stop censoring books:
Recently, PayPal gave online publishers and booksellers, including, Smashwords, and eXcessica, an ultimatum: it would close their accounts and refuse to process all payments unless they removed erotic books containing descriptions of rape, incest, and bestiality. The result would severely restrict the public's access to a wide range of legal material, could drive some companies out of business, and deprive some authors of their livelihood.

Financial services providers should be neutral when it comes to lawful online speech. PayPal’s policy underscores how vulnerable such speech can be and how important it is to stand up and protect it.

The topics PayPal would ban have been depicted in world literature since Sophocles’ Oedipus and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. And while the books currently affected may not appear to be in the same league, many works ultimately recognized for their literary, historical, and artistic worth were reviled when first published. Books like Ulysses and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were banned as “obscene” in the United States because of their sexual content. The works of Marquis de Sade, which include descriptions of incest, torture, and rape, were considered scandalous when written, although his importance in the history of literature and political and social philosophy is now widely acknowledged.
You can go to the link above and add your name to the campaign and let Paypal know that this is not the role of a payment processor.

Of course, what this story is really highlighting is just how ridiculous it is that there are choke points like Paypal who can solely dictate morality based on their own views of what is and what is not art. What we need are a lot of alternatives, so that if Paypal makes decisions like this, people can simply route around them.

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  1. icon
    RemittanceGirl (profile), 10 Mar 2012 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Credit Card Companies

    Well, actually, it's certainly not Visa. The 75 member coalition of writers, readers and publishers at wrote Visa a letter asking for confirmation on their policy and their actions with regards to paypal.

    They categorically denied having anything to do with it. The letter is reproduced here: erotica/

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