PayPal Threatens To Abandon eBook Retailer Over Objectionable Content
As LitReactor Editor Joshua Chaplinsky pointed out back in December, the rise of eBooks has led to the rise of eSmut; electronic tales of erotica that often push the bounds of good taste, and sometimes surpass them.
Now, PayPal is fighting back, which is raising some uncomfortable questions about censorship.
The online payment aggregator recently told several eBook retailers that they had to dispense with content that included rape, bestiality, incest or pedophilia. Any sites that didn't comply could no longer use PayPal as a middleman for payment.
Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, posted a letter on the eBook retailer's website, explaining the new Terms of Service. The letter reads, in part:
On Saturday, February 18, PayPal’s enforcement division contacted Smashwords with an ultimatum. As with the other eBook retailers affected by this enforcement, PayPal gave us only a few days to achieve compliance otherwise they threatened to deactivate our PayPal services. I've had multiple conversations with PayPal over the last several days to better understand their requirements. Their team has been helpful, forthcoming and supportive of the Smashwords mission. I appreciate their willingness to engage in dialogue. Although they have tried their best to delineate their policies, gray areas remain.
Coker indicates that other eBook retailers were given the same ultimatum, though he doesn't name them. And the letter goes on to describe the gray areas (for example, the prohibition against bestiality "does not apply to shape-shifters common in paranormal romance provided the were-creature characters are getting it on in their human form").
But, Coker goes on to make a salient point: "Regardless of your opinion on incest, it’s a slippery slope when we allow others to control what we think and write."
So, LitReactors, tell us what you think.
Does PayPal have the right to disassociate themselves with sites selling content that is morally objectionable?
Or is this First Amendment issue--as Coker points out, the top of a slippery slope?
Fight it out in the comments.
To leave a comment