PayPal reverses position on erotica censorship

Great news in the literary world today: PayPal has reversed its position on refusing access to its payment system for authors of legal erotica featuring particular subjects.

Smashwords founder Mark Coker today sent an email to independent authors and publishers using their system to announce the policy change, which primarily affected Smashwords.

Here are some highlights from Coker’s email:

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.

Following implementation of their new policies, PayPal will have the most liberal, pro-First-Amendment policies of the major payment processors.

You can see my earlier response to PayPal’s proposed censorship of erotica here, including my response to a statement by PayPal communications director Anuj Nayar.

You can also read more about the overall story here, on Techcrunch.

May I congratulate PayPal, today on taking a position that favors free speech and avoids extra-legal censorship of independent fiction. Yet it is a shame that it took an outcry from authors, the press, and pro-free-speech organizations including the EFF, ABFFE and NCAC to get them to this point. Without protest, their default approach was to censor.

This incident highlights the importance of agitating for free speech and shows that the battle to protect it is certainly not over. It is, perhaps, never-ending. Organizations with coercive power at their disposal, and interests to protect, such as governments and big corporations, frequently fear speech and their impulse is to curtail it.

Authors, readers, publishers, and indeed all free-thinking people, must ensure that such organizations are never permitted to control what we say and by extension what we think.

Author: Ben Hourigan

Ben Hourigan is a novelist from Melbourne, Australia. His books Kiss Me, Genius Boy and My Generation’s Lament are Amazon category bestsellers, and are available wherever good books are sold online. Ben also works as an editor, copywriter, and self-publishing consultant at his own firm, Hourigan & Co. For news and book release updates, sign up to his email newsletter.