Censorship Rears Its (Ugly) Head

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Smashwords Censored by Pay

Though Smashwords is not an Australian eBook publishing site, it gives indie authors worldwide great exposure; many Australian self published authors and publishers, myself included, use Smashwords.

Over the past week, this champion if the indie writer, has been targeted by Paypal to remove from sale or download, any books published under the erotica category that have the following themes in the storyline, to quote:

“Books for which rape, bestiality and incest are the major theme. If rape, bestiality and incest are incidental plot points, then that content might be allowable.”

Indie authors are the most prolific writers of erotica. Whilst Smashwords does have terms of service regarding these issues, Paypal has ordered that Smashwords remove offending material or risk having their financial services cut off.

This raises some potentially explosive and ugly propositions:

  • that a financial institution can in fact act as the gatekeeper, censor, judge and jury.
  • the broader and much more complex issue of censorship in general.
  • who will finally judge which subjects are taboo; where will the line be drawn; and by whom?

Paypal has stated it is merely implementing the requirements of the credit card companies, banks and credit unions! Possibly, in the near future, as a flow on effect, these same requirements will eventually be issued by every other payment processor.

This issue goes way beyond Paypal, will they also go after other major eBook retailers who also sell erotica? Amazon or iBooks for example?

You may not want to read this type of literature yourself, but think long and hard about the issues it is raising and bringing to the fore.

If you are at all concerned about this development, please spread the word.

by Aishah Macgill

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