The debate over PayPal pressuring smaller retailers to stop carrying certain kinds of erotica continues.
Here is a good post on the issue from erotica writer Jolene Kendry at Indie Book Writing that I missed in my last link round-up of the topic.
Meanwhile, PayPal has finally responded publicly to complaints about the company forcing e-book vendors to remove certain types of erotica. Unsurprisingly, they claim that they believe in free speech (well, they should, considering their founders are ultra-libertarians) and that what they are doing is not censorship. Instead they’re trying to protect their company from the risks associated with allowing the sale of potentially illegal material.
Now I could almost understand their stance if the kind of erotica inacceptable under PayPal’s regulations were illegal. But pseudo-incest among adults not related by blood and sexual acts involving 18 or 19-year-olds are not illegal in practice, let alone in writing. And while actual incest, bestiality, necrophilia, etc… are illegal in most countries, writing about these things is generally not illegal except for certain depictions of pedophilia. And even if certain types of erotic content are illegal in certain countries, it’s always possible to block the offending work from sale in that country alone, just like e-books with swastikas on the cover are routinely blocked on Amazon Germany.
The statement about certain kinds of problematic erotica including images or blurring the lines between fiction and non-fiction makes no real sense either, because the only image included in most erotic e-books is the cover and guidelines for covers already are pretty strict. There apparently are erotic indie comics, but that’s a wholly different category. As for blurring the lines between fiction and non-fiction, if it’s in the fiction category it’s generally fiction. Or does anybody honestly think that My Stepdaddy and Me refers to the author’s actual stepfather? And anyway, if the blurring of fiction and non-fiction is a problem, then the authors could just add “This is a work of fiction” to cover themselves.
Meanwhile, the issue has also hit the mainstream media, as this article from the Toronto Globe and Mail shows.