PayPal’s Newest Policy on Erotica

From Techcrunch: PayPal has decided to update its policy regarding erotica. Here’s the link. And here’s another link to PayPal’s statement.

This part of PayPal’s statement interests me:

“Instead of demanding that e-book publishers remove all books in a category, we will provide notice to the seller of the specific e-books, if any, that we believe violate our policy,” he notes. “We are working with e-book publishers on a process that will provide any affected site operator or author the opportunity to respond to and challenge a notice that an e-book violates the policy.” It says it has not shut down any accounts of e-book publishers as a result of this situation.

A few weeks ago one of my books was removed/banned because of harmless words in tag line, not actual “banned” content. I wrote several posts about it here. I wonder how many others had to deal with this. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one.

Mark Coker from smashwords said this:

“This is a big, bold move by PayPal. It represents a watershed decision that protects the rights of writers to write, publish and distribute legal fiction. It also protects the rights of readers to purchase and enjoy all fiction in the privacy of their own imagination. It clarifies and rationalizes the role of financial services providers and pulls them out of the business of censoring legal fiction.”

I agree with Mr. Coker. This is a huge move by PayPal. And it not only protects the rights of both writers and readers, it protects the rights of innocent people who get caught in the middle for no justifiable reason.

Please take the time to read the article I linked to in full. It’s short and it’s worth knowing all the facts. It’s also interesting to see how PayPal updated their policy after Visa and MasterCard made public statments saying they had nothing to do with PayPal’s original decision to censor.

Visa (And MasterCard Now) Responds to Letter About PayPal Regarding Book Banning

(Update: Here’s something from this comment thread, left by Banned Writers, I wanted to add to this post: “We have now received a letter from MasterCard saying pretty much the same thing: they aren’t behind PayPal’s policy.” You can get there from here to read the entire post and the letter from MC. For those who don’t know, this was PayPal’s comment.)

Banned Writers sent a letter to Visa and they received a response. The book banning issue gets better each time I read something new. For a while there I almost believed it was the credit card companies pressuring PayPal.

Thank you for your email regarding PayPal’s recent decision to limit the sale of certain erotica content. First and foremost, we want to clarify that Visa had no involvement with PayPal’s conclusion on this issue. Nor have we seen the material in question. This fact is made clear by PayPal’s recent blog post where it states that its own policies drove the decision.

To read more, click here.

Talk about passing the buck. Now I’m not sure whom to believe.

All I can say is authors and publishers make sure your tags, titles, and blurbs don’t contain anything that would cause a search engine to put you on the banned list. I’d hate to think that a children’s book titled “Dad’s Favorite Little Girl,” that was written for children was banned because a book retailer trusted a search engine to decide which books are banned and which aren’t.

PayPal’s Side of the Censorship Issue

I just read a blog post written by PayPal’s, Anuj Nayar, Director of Communications, which explains PayPal’s side of the recent censorship issue that seems to have everyone up in arms…an understatement.

I’ve posted about how I’ve been affected and I don’t even write, as Mr. Nayar states, “rape, incest or bestiality”…and never will either. In my case, I was caught in the crossfire of censorship because of certain harmless tags that are part of the banned list.

For me the issue is more about how things tend to mushroom whenever books are banned and censored…to the point where people who aren’t even part of the issue are targeted. I personally don’t care about PayPal’s moral stand on any issue. Morally, I’m not fond of rape, incest, or bestiality either. But I’m less fond of censorship of any kind. And while I respect the right for every business owner to do as he or she pleases, I don’t have to like it or patronize it.

Check out the blog post here.

How Censorship Might Hurt PayPal

I’ve read a great deal about censorship and the PayPal ordeal that’s been transpiring. I’ve heard it’s not PayPal’s fault because banks are putting pressure on them.

But one of my own books was targeted last week, Skater Boy, and I didn’t even fall into any of the banned/taboo subjects. My book was censored, at random, because of tag words that had very little to do with the storyline. A search engine caught it and the book was taken down automatically on a retail web site. It’s one thing to be censored for something you’ve done that falls within the guidelines of the taboo topics. But it’s outrageous to have a book banned and censored that doesn’t even fall into any of the taboo categories. I agree that all businesses have the right to pick and choose what they want to sell, however, get the facts straight, act like responsible business people, and take this a little more seriously so innocent people aren’t targeted. Don’t depend on search engines to do your work. This is serious. Do the work yourself and vet the books that are being banned to make sure you aren’t targeting innocent people. All someone had to do was read the first line of my book and they would have seen both characters were over twenty-one years old. If we leaned anything from the McCarthy era, the least we should have learned is to get the facts right!!

For those who don’t know anything about McCarthyism, here’s a link and basic description. Interesting how it relates so closely to the recent censorship situation with regard to innocent authors being targeted:

During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned,[1] laws that would be declared unconstitutional,[2] dismissals for reasons later declared illegal[3] or actionable,[4] or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.

Interestingly enough, I wanted to buy a gift for someone online earlier this evening. I’m not mentioning the name of the company because they have nothing to do with this. But it’s a small company, and they evidently only use PayPal for online purchases. At least that’s what I saw. Though I’ve never seen anything like this before, I was automatically directed to PayPal at a certain point during the transaction.

I tried and tried, six times, to go back and see where I could enter a credit card number in order to avoid PayPal. But they continued to redirect me to PayPal.

This annoyed me so much, I finally contacted the owners of the company with this e-mail.

I would like to order a basic starter kit, but I’m being directed to PayPal in order to make the purchase. Though I have a PayPal account, I don’t use PayPal any longer due to their recent censorship rules, and I don’t see anywhere I can use a credit card.

I live locally, in Buckingham, with a New Hope postal address. I’d like to give the basic starter kit to someone as a birthday gift on March 17th. If there is a way I can avoid PayPal completely and get the product, please let me know. Below is my contact info.

I know this is small, and it’s only one purchase. But after what I’ve been through personally with my own book, and what I’ve seen others go through with their books, there’s no way I’m using PayPal any time soon. Even if it’s not PayPal’s fault and it is the fault of the banks, I can live without PayPay’s decision and censorship of any kind. As an adult, though I have never written any of the taboo topics that are causing books to be banned, I don’t need anyone telling me what I can or cannot read or write, thank you.