Terms of Censorship
It’s not news by now to many erotica readers that PayPal is now enforcing rules on vendors who use its payment services that limit the type of merchandise that can be sold. In particular, the more transgressive forms of erotica – incest, bestiality, non-consent – are now verboten, and both individual authors and distributors like Smashwords, Bookstrand, All Romance eBooks, and others have been ordered to remove books containing those themes off their sites, or face confiscation of earnings. Needless to say, my books are among those being removed. My main publisher, Republica Press, which also uses PayPal as its payment service, has taken enough of a hit – financially and spiritually – from these actions that it may not survive the quarter.
I don’t have sufficient words to talk about this, but I’m lucky. Others have addressed these events far more eloquently and incisively than I could. I’m going to link here to some subset of the reaction across the erotic writing and reading sphere. You should read them.
- Adelaide Cooper: the paypal fiasco continues
- Alessia Brio: S-E-X
- CJ Roberts: I Like My Erotica Uncensored!
- Eden Connor: Do You Want Me Barefoot and Pregnant, Too?
- Miss T Garden: Soon you’ll need to visit a back alley…
- Remittance Girl: Two Legs Bad: An Open Letter to Mark Coker
- Remittance Girl: Pragmatic Compromises & The Moral Hazard of Expediency
- Selena Kitt at Self-publishing Revolution: Why Frogs Boil
- Petition to stop paypal/corporate censorship of the internet.
Moving into the mainstream:
- TechCrunch: PayPal as Moral Police?
- Huffington Post: Paypal Takes Controversial Stance against Sex
- ZDNET: Paypal Strong-Arms Indie E-Book Publishers over Erotic Content
Of course, there’s more I haven’t found or linked to.
In the end, it doesn’t matter much to me, personally, if I can’t sell my books. I’m not making a living off my smut hobby. It does matter materially to others, however, who do make or supplement their living with their writing. And, frankly, it matters for all of us in terms of freedom of expression, and freedom of access. Certainly PayPal, being a private company, can play by whatever rules it makes for itself, and require those who wish to use its service to toe its line. PayPal is practicing a perfectly legal form of corporate censorship. But if there is nobody else out there who plays by different rules, then where does that leave us? The word Monopoly is not inappropriate here. For all the eloquent and outraged words we writers can post or print, for all the petitions we might sign, the handful of people who dictate the Terms of Service for the financial engines are going to be the ones in charge. Until.
I have high hopes and expectations that this corporate censorship, this business-dictated morality policing, will be challenged and beaten by new players in the game. New payment/finance services that are not hypocritically guided by a morality that allows graphic descriptions of serial murders, torture, and and horror stories, but calls incestuous sex and other erotic taboos too prurient to publish. Until then it’s going to be a hard time for this corner of the writing world.
In the meantime, once I have something clarified, I’ll have another post up about yelling into this wind at least on a small scale.