For further information, contact:
Chris Finan, American
Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, (917) 509-0340
Joan Bertin, National
Coalition Against Censorship, (212) 807-6222, ext. 101
For Immediate Release
Lifts Ban on Erotic Books
YORK, NY, March 13, 2012 – PayPal, the dominant processor of Internet payments,
today retracted its threat to close the accounts of online booksellers who sell
works that include descriptions of rape, incest and bestiality. "This decision recognizes the important
principle that neither PayPal nor any other company involved in payment
processing has any business telling people what they should read,” said Joan
Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). NCAC joined the American Booksellers
Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) in writing a protest letter to eBay, the
owner of PayPal. "It is an important
victory for free speech on the Internet,” ABFFE President Chris Finan said.
mid-February, PayPal delivered an ultimatum to online booksellers and
distributors, including Smashwords, BookStrand.com and eXcessica, giving them
just days to remove all erotic books describing rape, incest and
bestiality. More than 1,000 e-books were
removed from the Smashwords website before PayPal agreed to postpone a final
decision on cutting off payments.
and ABFFE also joined with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to post an
online joint statement that attracted co-signers from over 30 organizations
representing authors, publishers, booksellers and free speech defenders. A
grassroots Care2.org petition calling on PayPal to reverse the policy nearly
doubled its goal of 1000 signatures, and at least as many emails were sent to
PayPal’s general counsel in support of the statement by ABFFE, EFF and NCAC.
a statement posted on its website today, PayPal
announced that in the future it will not reject e-books that consist only of
text unless they "contain child pornography, or….text and obscene images of
rape, bestiality or incest (as defined by the U.S. legal standard for
obscenity…)…” It promised to limit its
objections to particular books rather than rejecting "entire ‘classes.’” It
also said that it is developing a process that will allow an author to
challenge a PayPal notice that a book violates its policy.
The PayPal statement does not fully resolve all issues, however. It is not clear whether legal material would
be affected by PayPal’s policy regarding "e-books that contain child
pornography,” some of which may be legal.
Nor is it clear how PayPal proposes to focus "on individual books,”
rather than classes of books, since it would be impossible to individually
screen all e-books bought and sold online.
is too early to conclude that PayPal has completely abandoned the idea of
policing the content of books purchased online,” Bertin said. "We hope so but won’t know until the company
releases a formal policy. We have to see how it is enforced.”