As reported in the Chicago Tribune
PayPal, the online payment service owned by eBay Inc., is backtracking on its policy against processing sales of e-books containing themes of rape, bestiality or incest after protests from authors and anti-censorship activist groups.
PayPal’s new policy will focus only on e-books that contain potentially illegal images, not e-books that are limited to just text, spokesman Anuj Nayar said on Tuesday. The service will still refuse, however, to process payments for text-only e-books containing child pornography themes.
The revised policy will also focus on individual books, rather than entire classes of books, he added. E-book sellers will be notified if specific books violate PayPal’s policy, and the company is working on a process through which authors and distributors can challenge such notifications, the spokesman said.
“This is going to be a major victory for writers, readers and free speech,” said Mark Coker, founder of e-book distributor Smashwords. “They are going to build a protective moat around legal fiction.”
PayPal warned Smashwords and some other e-book publishers and distributors earlier this year that it would “limit” their PayPal accounts unless they removed e-books “containing themes of rape, incest, bestiality and underage subjects.”
PayPal’s original policy was criticized by groups, including the Authors Guild and the National Coalition Against Censorship, which voiced concern that banks and payment companies may be exerting too much control over what books can be written, published and read.
PayPal is relaxing the policy after the main credit card companies made a distinction between extreme pornographic images and e-books that explore such topics with only the written word.
PayPal told e-book distributors earlier this year that the original policy was in place partly because the banks and credit card companies it works with restrict such content. Read More