First, read this post by Smashwords founder Mark Coker.

Then tell me how you feel about PayPal dictating what Smashwords can sell. Sure, the site's turned into Smutwords lately. But offensive material is the price you pay for a 100% free market of written material.

My view is that PayPal needs to think hard about taking the moral high ground. Because if it wants to "go there," it needs to look at every transaction it processes.

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I can't get too tweaked about Smashwords pulling bestiality, incest, pedophilia and rape porn.

I would think writers would get tweaked about anybody pulling any book because a financier says to.

I assume this would include offending books like The Bible?

This is kind of scarier than Southland pulling magazines. This is one company forcing another to comply with their wishes or lose a vital service.

What if they decide next week that they don't like books favoring Democratic candidates?  Or negative comments on Islam?  Or crime stories involving electronic fund thefts?

I don't like it.  And that doesn't mean I'm in favor of bestiality and rape and such.  Under 18 sex doesn't freak me much.  Been there, done that, it's nobody else's business.  But don't they always start with the evil demons?  First they came for the Jews, and all that?

A REALLY interesting question to me, maybe somebody has an answer...did they do this to amazon, also?

The time is weird for me, personally, since I just had my first book put on SmashWords today.

I guess this means I have to cancel my next book, "Doing Daddy's Puppies".  Ah well.  

I gather necro porn is still okay?

This is worse than I thought, and has scarier ramifications.  I just read this on a post in another forum where I brought this  up in a discussion by "Crude" on whether he could publish a title about an affair between man and child.  I mentioned this PayPal thing, and got this repsonse

Actually Cammy, Paypal has decided to enforce it's terms of content on any site that they transact with.  They don't actually read, nor expect it's resellers to read, the content of the books.  As I've stated, Crude probably is out of luck for publishing his novel, but so are a lot of erotica writers who don't fall into this situation.  Your new book is subject to being banned, because Paypal might see the violence of blowing a guy's nuts off as offensive, demeaning, or otherwise objectionable.  You will have no recourse.  They won't read your book to see the 'how to; why to' manual... they will simply go by the title and decide not to publish it.  You will be banned from Amazon, Smashwords and a host of others... have your account with Paypal (where we receive our funds) frozen for a minimum of 6 months with no recourse, you will not be able to open a new Paypal account (which is an affiliate of Ebay, so you lose your ability to open an account with them.)  Paypal is not solely targeting material such as Crude as written, but ALL Erotica.  I have over 30 published titles and belong to groups with erotica writers, and several have had books pulled simply because of their titles.  They have been informed that if they resubmit the same book with a different title, Amazon and such will refuse to sell any of their works.

PayPal needs some competition, that's for sure. But I believe Smashwords should pull whatever they want, and for whatever reason. It's their company, not a public utility. If you like to read about humping animals, or forcing children to have sex, there are other places you can go. Freedom is supposed to work for everybody.

Well said, Jack. As my old journalism professor would say, "Freedom of speech includes the right to not say something."

My concern with this decision is that it will affect socially redeeming titles, too. Take Plastic Soldiers from the Speedloader anthology from Spinetingler (which I wrote about here). It's about child rape. It's also one of the best short stories I've ever read (for reasons other than the rape, of course). Had that story been published on its own at Smashwords, it would be on the list of items up for removal.

Child porn enthusiasts would not like Plastic Soldiers, but I see what you mean.

Thank goodness for that, Jack!

The division of public and private is likely going to be a big issue going forward - especially as more and more of the "private" world shows how dependent it is on the public. Smashwords is a private company but it exists in the public realm and must abide by the rules. And so is PayPal.

It's funny because years ago when porn started to really push online transaction (the same way it pushed VCRs and even cable TV) companies like PayPal came into existence almost exclusively to handle porn sales. The shareholder of some credit card companies complained about being in the porn business so the companies started up subsidies to pacify people.

But even porn has its limits ;).

 

But it's not a question of SmashWords pulling what it wants, is it?  It's a question of them being forced to pull what another company wants.

I don't think this is too far away from the concerns about amazon that some have pooh-poohed here. 

Once somebody dominates the whole field, they can do whatever they want, right or wrong, don't even have to do it for bottom line.  This isn't a profit thing, it's enforcing ethics on others.   

What if PayPal were acquired by the Emirates?  Or the Vatican?  

Accepting bookburning of just "bad" books is a slippery slope.  Kind of like thinking it's okay to buy and sell people or pop people in ovens if they are the wrong kind of people.

Bookburning is famous for destroying books that later, or elsewhere, are thought valuable.

Nobody's defending rape books.  But I think it's a worry for writers.

This is hard, and falls into the category of "just because you can do something doesn't mean you should."

PayPal is certainly free to run its business however it chooses. The real issue here is one of near monopoly. I have no interest in protecting those who write--or read for enjoyment--the kinds of stories they are requiring Smashwords to remove. Frankly, I think a rousing and graphically violent story about what should happen to those folks would be highly entertaining in its own way. It's the slippery slope we start down that worries me.

The perfect solution would be increased competition for PayPal.Then they could do what they want, and the things they didn't want to touch could be found elsewhere. In this case, probably under a rock, but that's a different argument.

Ditto on what Jon said.  There are people with aberrant violent tendencies (frequently directed at women and children as victims of their violence) who feed on these books in the same way pedophiles exchange pictures of naked children in sexual situations.  We send them to jail, but we publish any sort of book regardless of whom it victimizes.  And let's keep in mind that porn sells.  Those aren't artistic efforts.  They are people being greedy.

I don't have a problem with porn--people have to make a living, and most of it's pretty harmless.  And in fact fictional bestiality seems sort of goofy and harmless, too--no animals were injured in the writing of this crappy piece of prose, etc., and hey--if that's a turn-on for ya...  Ditto adult step-siblings having sex--who cares?  Still, the rape stuff and the pedophilia stuff is obviously problematic.

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