This is a post from Mark Coker of Smashwords:
March 8, 2012 – PayPal today made what I believe is their first public written statement regarding the censorship saga, here: https://www.thepaypalblog.com/2012/03/paypals-acceptable-use-policy-on-sale-of-certain-erotica/ I read it four or five times. My overall sense is that PayPal is doing their best to responsibly and carefully re-evaluate PayPal content policies that have been in place for many years – content policies that probably could not have anticipated the rise of self-publishing, the rise of indie ebooks (the rise of Smashwords and its authors and publishers!), or the incredible explosion of content availability, diversity and choice enabled by the indie ebook revolution. Prior to this indie ebook revolution, books not selected for publication and distribution by publishers had limited commercial outlet. Long story made short, I’m cautiously encouraged by PayPal’s statements. We’re not yet where we want to be (we want no censorship of legal fiction), but I sense we’re a lot closer now than if we had simply packed up our marbles, flipped ‘em the bird and quit PayPal for an alternative as many encouraged us to do. I think their statements today give them the flexibility to do the right thing. They say they understand many people believe PayPal is moralizing and restricting free speech (this is a reasonable conclusion for reasonable people to reach based on PayPal’s actions up until two weeks ago), and they seek to assure everyone that is not the case (now the onus is on PayPal to show you, rather than tell you). Possibly, I’m reading too much between the lines of their carefully worded post. Time will tell. In the meantime, please continue doing your part to move this campaign forward. Tweet, Facebook, blog. Call your credit card company, or the bank issuing your credit card, and tell them you want them out of the business of censoring legal fiction. If you haven’t done so already, also be sure to add your name to the EFF petition. The blog post by PayPal today has a comments section, but it doesn’t appear to accept comments.
The above post is in response to the below article from PayPal:
PayPal’s acceptable use policy on sale of certain “erotica”
March 8, 2012
There’s been some chatter about PayPal’s decision to not allow the sale of certain “erotica” content using our service. Specifically, PayPal doesn’t allow our service to be used to sell content relating to rape, incest and bestiality. We’d like to set the record straight.
Here are the facts. Unlike many other online payment providers, PayPal does allow its service to be used for the sale of erotic books. PayPal is a strong and consistent supporter of openness on the Internet, freedom of expression, independent publishing and eBook marketplaces. We believe that the Internet empowers authors in a way that is positive and points to an even brighter future for writers, artists and creators the world over, but we draw the line at certain adult content that is extreme or potentially illegal.
An important factor in our decision not to allow our payments service to be used to purchase material focused on rape, incest or bestiality is that this category of eBooks often includes images.
This type of content also sometimes intentionally blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction. Both these factors are problematic from a legal and risk perspective.
So the business risk associated with this content forms the basis for our policy, which has been in place for many years. Some feedback we’re getting is a belief that PayPal is forcing its moral beliefs on others and restricting people’s right to free speech. We can tell you with 100 percent conviction that this is not our intention. While we understand that people don’t always agree with our policies, this decision has nothing to do with our personal views on the content or any desire to limit free-speech rights. It has everything to do with running a sound business and complying with our legal responsibilities.
PayPal is a payments company. The right to use PayPal’s service is not the same as the right to speak.
We have not shut down the e-book publishers and are working with the small number of affected merchants to come to a mutually agreeable solution that allows maximum freedom of expression, while protecting PayPal from the brand, regulatory and compliance risk associated with this type of content.
We hope that our customers enjoy the services and features that we work so hard to get right and understand that our policies are simply a way to conduct business in a fast-paced world.
We always welcome your feedback – but please know that we’ll continue to keep this policy in place as long as it protects our interests as a business.
–Anuj Nayar, Director of Communications, PayPal
I have left a comment and it is awaiting approval, below is the comment that I left:
I do not like/read/write that type of media. But I am concerned when there is any type of censorship in as far as how far will it eventually go.
You are making a stance on that those subject matters are illegal. My question to PayPal is what about murder, bribery, burglary, and so on? All those are also illegal activities. But tons of mystery/detective/fiction books have been written and published centering around those activities.
If your current stance remains unchanged, how long will it be before you also condemn purchasing books/ebooks with the subject matter mentioned? It is a slippery slope that you are on PayPal. If this is a trend starting up then will nothing but boring vanilla and childrens books/ebooks be left standing after the dust settles?
I implore you to reverse your decision. The answer is very simple. If a person does not like the subject matter, then do not purchase it to read. See? Very simple.
But I do believe that authors do need to put warnings about the subject matter in the books/ebooks description.
Thank You for you time and consideration in this matter.
Robert M. Yelverton