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?'s for the Members of CR > Censorship By Financial Institutions?

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I think this concerns readers and writers. What do others think of the issue of Paypal and smashwords?

http://www.smashwords.com/about/beta

I'm divided, I don't agree with censorship by financial institutions, but I see Mark Coker's point of view too.

Thought I'd raise the issue.


message 3: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Herfst (stephen_herfst) | 54 comments I guess The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about to disappear, then? :)


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephen wrote: "I guess The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about to disappear, then? :)"

It's unbelievable, they've started targeting Romance too. What's next, Fantasy? Will I have to withdraw one of stories because it has incest between two flesh eating demigods? Sounds like it.

This is an attack on Indies, I think. As one of the blog posts states, Tradition Publishing doesn't seem to be affected by this, it's us.


message 5: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Herfst (stephen_herfst) | 54 comments Still, erotic tales about bestiality and incest aren't exactly page-turners in my book. It is insidious as to its ramifications, but not an unwelcome farewell.

Publishers have to do 'something' to maintain their relevance within a rapidly digital world, not that I agree with it.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephen wrote: "Still, erotic tales about bestiality and incest aren't exactly page-turners in my book. It is insidious as to its ramifications, but not an unwelcome farewell.

Publishers have to do 'something' to..."


Nor mine.

But it's a censorship line that once crossed becomes very tricky. If you read the links to the blogs about it you'll see what I mean.

Once it's set up that way, the net becomes tighter, or finer (mixing my metaphors). What's next?


message 7: by Experiment BL626 (last edited Feb 28, 2012 02:29PM) (new)

Experiment BL626 Stephen wrote: "Still, erotic tales about bestiality and incest aren't exactly page-turners in my book. It is insidious as to its ramifications, but not an unwelcome farewell.

Publishers have to do 'something' to..."


It's more than that. Authors who have never written such things are being affected too. There's an allegation that established publishers are covertly trying to "put down" indies and self-pub authors.

DearAuthor covers this subject in-depth. They have 3-4 blog-posts -- each with hundreds of comment and a few belonging to the people doing the "censorship." This blog-post roundup it all.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Experiment wrote: "Stephen wrote: "Still, erotic tales about bestiality and incest aren't exactly page-turners in my book. It is insidious as to its ramifications, but not an unwelcome farewell.

Publishers have to d..."


Yes! This is what I'm getting at too!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Mark Coker said: "The campaign at hand goes beyond erotica authors. It’s an indie issue. Indies are breaking the boundaries previously set by large traditional publishers. This boundary-breaking scares people. We should welcome the debate about what a “good book” should look like. I think a good book is anything legal that readers want to read, even if I don’t want to read it myself."


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

This is a comment by Remittance Girl on 'The Paypal Fiction Crackdown Roundup.


This is a great reply!!

"Legality has nothing to do with this at all. Fictional representations of crimes are not illegal. If they were, there’d be no Thriller section. No Murder Mystery genre. There’s absolutely nothing illegal about writing a book about an incestuous relationship. Robert Grave’s ‘I, Claudius’ contains a couple of them, erotically described, too, I might add.

You need to grasp this, all of you. Fictional representations of crimes are NOT illegal. The only possible exception to this are fictional representations of underage sex. And even THIS is not illegal in as much as there is no law on the books that includes textual depictions. Otherwise, there goes Lolita and The Tin Drum, and The Lover, by Marguerite Duras.

This is about a plutocracy who have decided that they have the power to impose their moral code onto the literature sold under their purview. If they could refuse to process sales of Lolita, or The Lover or Equus, they would. But those texts are sold under Classic or literary fiction. And that would make them look like philistines; the press would screech about it.

But they know that no one is going to stand up in defense of ‘Debbie Does Daddy’. This is not about the law. It is about a moral agenda and the people with the money and the power to push it through."


message 11: by Stephen (last edited Feb 28, 2012 02:36PM) (new)

Stephen Herfst (stephen_herfst) | 54 comments That clarifies things. I've lent my website to raise awareness of this issue.

It is harrowing and I think every indie should be aware of this.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephen wrote: "That clarifies things. I've lent my website to further raise this issue here.

It is harrowing and I think every indie should be aware of this."


Yes. I'll post these links on my FB page and maybe do a blog too (ah I'm supposed to be writing!) But this is important, they are pulling a swifty on us.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

O.K I've plastered my FB page with the links, your blog too Stephen.


message 14: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Herfst (stephen_herfst) | 54 comments Thanks Georgina for raising this. I think it would have fallen under my radar otherwise.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephen wrote: "Thanks Georgina for raising this. I think it would have fallen under my radar otherwise."

A friend/reader raised this to me. Then Barb mentioned it again in the other smashwords thread. It would have probably fallen under my radar too.

Like your blog!

:) Georgina.


message 16: by Experiment BL626 (new)

Experiment BL626 Georgina wrote: "Stephen wrote: "Thanks Georgina for raising this. I think it would have fallen under my radar otherwise."

A friend/reader raised this to me. Then Barb mentioned it again in the other smashwords th..."


If I was any paranoid, I would say it is a deliberate thing. =P


message 17: by Stephen (last edited Feb 28, 2012 03:12PM) (new)

Stephen Herfst (stephen_herfst) | 54 comments Thanks Georgina =3

RE: Experiment: It couldn't be anything else .. it's time to arm the aluminium hats!


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Experiment wrote: "Georgina wrote: "Stephen wrote: "Thanks Georgina for raising this. I think it would have fallen under my radar otherwise."

A friend/reader raised this to me. Then Barb mentioned it again in the ot..."


That's not paranoia, that's canny thinking. And I think you're right. It's as dodgy as it gets.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Dear Paypal. I recently purchased a book using your facility. I was horrified to find that 'I Claudius' had references to rape, incest, infanticide, matricide, patricide, regicide, bestiality, pride, gluttony and all manner of unmentionable sins. Obviously this author 'Robert Graves' is one of those horrible 'Indies' who are seeking to undo the moral fabric of the world.

(I'm lying, I've had the book for years, a very racy read, Graves is great)


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Colleagues, Paypal is in the business of processing transactions, by eliminating certain types of transactions they limit their market. Companies do not willingly cut off revenue streams unless those revenue streams are unprofitable or if they are in some way deleterious to the company. Someone is applying pressure on Paypal to do this. The real question is who is grinding their heel on Paypal? We can argue with Smashwords and Paypal as long as we like, but until we learn where the pressure is coming from, we will accomplish nothing.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Robert wrote: "Colleagues, Paypal is in the business of processing transactions, by eliminating certain types of transactions they limit their market. Companies do not willingly cut off revenue streams unless tho..."

O.K I'll put forth an idea: The Big Six.


message 22: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (samanthaofalaska) | 3 comments Robert wrote: "Colleagues, Paypal is in the business of processing transactions, by eliminating certain types of transactions they limit their market. Companies do not willingly cut off revenue streams unless tho..."

While I do not condone censorship AT ALL as it violates out constitutional right to freedom of speech, I can't really knock PayPal for doing this. They are a private company that doesn't want to sell what they deem violent or obscene. I agree it's stupid, but I agree with Robert, too. Obviously something else is going on that's causing them to do this - and probably lose not only customers but writers, too.

I am a huge supporter of BBW and will always fight the government's banning of books in schools and public libraries, and bookstores - but if a single entity chooses to snuff certain genres, that's really their choice.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Who benefits if Indies are driven off the sites? Who gets to monopolise the ebook industry then?


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 28, 2012 04:19PM) (new)

And it isn't just that genre.

If you read the links above you'll see there after Erotic Romance too, next I think comes Paranormal Romance and what about Steampunk? It's just an excuse to get rid of indies.

Big institutions often play dirty. I'm fighting back the only way a writer can, with their keyboard!


message 25: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (samanthaofalaska) | 3 comments Georgina wrote: "Who benefits if Indies are driven off the sites? Who gets to monopolise the ebook industry then?"

I'm guessing no one on here knows who is pushing paypal or why they're doing this, but this is just one site. Amazon doesn't have these kinds of restrictions (not to my knowledge, anyway - I've gotten plenty of violent books and published my own which are littered with blood and profanities, despite being YA). There are too many authors irritated by this for it to just happen. One of us will start our own site with no restrictions if it gets bad enough. And if it bothers some writers and those writers don't do anything, just sit around and complain, then they should be ashamed to call themselves writers.

If Barnes and Noble decided to quit selling Romance novels, no one has the right to throw a huge fit. It's their choice as a private company. Someone else will sell Romance novels and that business will see a huge increase in sales. Companies that do stupid stuff like this are shooting themselves in the foot. It'll all come back to bite them eventually. People don't like to be told what they can and can't read.

Even if it does happen, another guy will say, hey, I can make money off this! Problem solved.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Samantha wrote: "Georgina wrote: "Who benefits if Indies are driven off the sites? Who gets to monopolise the ebook industry then?"

I'm guessing no one on here knows who is pushing paypal or why they're doing this..."


I like that thought. But I think someone is definitely trying to throw a spanner into the works for indies. This will stuff us up and slow us down. Unless we fight it.

I've also realised that going by the ever-restricting terms of agreement that these sites are putting into place, I may have troubles self-publishing book three and four (and possibly five) of my fantasy series. My ex-agent and publishing houses didn't seem to have an issue with this content before.

And watch out Paranormal Romance writers! Werewolves are beasts and Zombies are dead, any possible romance, especially with erotic elements may be scrutinised next. I'm not kidding, I don't think people have realised the full ramifications yet.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

O.K I've now blogged my heated concerns: 'Is That a Dagger That I See Before You, Mr Paypal Man? " :

http://www.georginaannetaylor.com/1/p...

Hoping it's cohesive, it's certainly melodramatic, but I figure that's my way. I'm rather upset by all of this.


message 28: by Doc (new)

Doc (doc_coleman) | 46 comments Samantha wrote: "Robert wrote: "Colleagues, Paypal is in the business of processing transactions, by eliminating certain types of transactions they limit their market. Companies do not willingly cut off revenue str..."

PayPal isn't selling anything. They are an intermediary who processes the payments on the transaction, but they aren't selling anything.

PayPal claims that they are taking this action due to pressure from the banks and credit card companies that they have to deal with. However, if you take the most objectionable books that PayPal wants to pull off of Smashwords and the other online booksellers, print them out an sell them out of a brick and mortar book store, no one cares. Or sell the same thing on eBay, PayPal's parent company, and no one cares. PayPal claims that this isn't them, but the reality is that this is yet another attempt by PayPal to exert power over their customers for some internal agenda.

Doc


message 29: by Doc (new)

Doc (doc_coleman) | 46 comments Oh, and note that if you apply PayPal's new content rules to ALL books then you can no longer sell books of Greek and Roman mythology, The Bible, or books about overcoming sexual abuse.

Doc


message 30: by Darryl (new)

Darryl Branning (darrylbranning) | 4 comments I didn't get one of those letters from Smashwords, but censorship concerns me. Are there any lawyers here? Would some kind of class action against PayPal be a way to push back?


message 31: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) http://www.thepassivevoice.com/02/201...
Passive Guy is a lawyer, if you get him to comment on his own post/link...
http://selfpubauthors.wordpress.com/2...
see the comments also...
I didn't get a Smashwords email either because I don't have erotica stories out there (the only one I had, I have "censored" and re-labelled adult fantasy), but yeah, it's messy out there...


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Doc wrote: "Oh, and note that if you apply PayPal's new content rules to ALL books then you can no longer sell books of Greek and Roman mythology, The Bible, or books about overcoming sexual abuse.

Doc"


The Greeks certainly knew how to tell a racy story. I love Greek mythology but you are so right, Doc, it's chock-a-block full of the restricted topics!


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I've had 575 visits to my website/blog since posting my blog on paypal late yesterday afternoon. (I don't have google analytics, it just feels a little creepy to be knowing all the details).

So people are looking and reading and obviously from that link, Barb, Paypal are noticing.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

I have tried to alter my payment details with smashwords, so I get paid by cheque (Ha! When I reach a far distant figure of $75), but as a non- U.S writer, apparently I can't! I have to go by Paypal! Salt in the wound!

"Payment options - We have two payment options. For residents of the US, payment is made either via paper check or Paypal. For residents outside the US, payment is made via PayPal only." Smashwords.

I don't want to buy books with paypal or receive my payments through them.


message 36: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) I'm stuck with check on Amazon.com... I need at least 100$ and then it will travel by snail mail... I'd rather have Paypal, so I don't have to wait for Poste Italiane! :-( They're so busy playing the bank, they forgot they're supposed to deliver letters and parcels...
And I do use Paypal to pay my American editors as well... *waves at Trish&Cassie* so I do need them... sigh!


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

I just realised that too.

But paypal have a monopoly really don't they? What other similar companies are there? How did it happen that they are the only option for payment with smashwords and many, many other sites? It gives them the power to throw their righteous weight around, as they have been doing of late.


message 38: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) words of wisdom as usual...
http://kriswrites.com/2012/02/29/the-...
Now back to writing! ;-)


message 39: by Darryl (new)

Darryl Branning (darrylbranning) | 4 comments Barbara wrote: "words of wisdom as usual...
http://kriswrites.com/2012/02/29/the-...
Now back to writing! ;-)"


Thanks Barbara. Kris is awesome.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Barbara wrote: "words of wisdom as usual...
http://kriswrites.com/2012/02/29/the-...
Now back to writing! ;-)"


The problem is it is not that simple. Paypal has a monopoly. And a business first attitude does not help change things. If people speak up change comes.

Personally I printed out and read many articles and links before writing my blog. I understood about the credit cards and paypal but I think the word censorship still fits the bill.

"Why are you spending so much time promoting an agenda that you don’t even understand? Shouldn’t you be working on your own business? Shouldn’t you be writing a novel or a nonfiction book or a short story? Shouldn’t you be promoting yourself and your work instead of screaming about how someone else manages their work?

Is any of this really your business? Will your little blog post or comment on some big corporate website make a difference? Will your Tweet save the world?"

Well, yes, I think every voice raised makes a difference. Look at the Kyoto Protocol. How few countries signed that? Shame on Australia and the U.S, who basically refused to because they put business first. Now we're locked into a 3 degree rise because we were all too selfish about our own 'needs'.

Now I'm not comparing the paypal stuff with climate change. One's a teeny issue to mankind, the other is enormous.

But this quote from that blog:

"Because if the answer is no, then why are you doing it? And if you’re not willing to take action—pull your work off Amazon if you don’t like their business practices, stop using PayPal or your credit cards because you don’t like their policies—then not only are you wasting your time, you’re wasting all of ours too."

This is missing the point again. It's about speaking up so change is possible, both to paypal's guidelines, the credit card companies and also opening up opportunities for alternative methods of payment through sites such as smashwords and amazon.

I've found wisdom in that blog before, but not today. It smacks of capitalism, it's repetitive and replete with put downs of other writers.

Sorry, nothing against you Barb. You, I like very much. But not that blog. But yes, it's back to writing with me too :)


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

I included this quote in my blog, which explains things well:

"Over the weekend, many Smashwords authors and publishers demanded we abandon PayPal and find a new payment processor. It's not so simple, and it doesn't solve the greater problem hanging over everyone's head. PayPal is trying to implement the requirements of credit card companies, banks and credit unions.

This is where it's all originating. These same requirements will eventually rain down upon every other payment processor. PayPal is trying to maintain their relationships with the credit card companies and banks, just as we want to maintain our relationship with PayPal. People who argue PayPal is the evil villain and we should drop them are missing the bigger picture. Should we give up on accepting
credit cards forever? The answer is no. This goes beyond PayPal. Imagine the implications if credit card companies start going after the major ebook retailers who sell erotica?

My objective is for PayPal and Smashwords to pull the credit card companies into a more open discussion about these issues. I want all financial institutions to reevaluate their policies. I want the banks to change or clarify their policies toward something more enlightened. I want PayPal to loosen their policies. We need financial institutions to get out of the business of telling writers what
they can write and what readers can read. Without this much-needed debate, the slippery slope gets more slippery for all indies.

Indie authors are the biggest publishers of erotica. Already, one retailer/distributor, Bookstrand, decided to drop all indies from their store. I can only assume they decided the angry authors were more trouble than they were worth.

Our business is all about serving indie authors, so even if some segments of our author community are shooting arrows at us, we still want to help them work through this. The campaign at hand goes beyond erotica authors. It's an indie issue. Indies are breaking the boundaries previously set by large traditional publishers. This boundary-breaking scares people. We should welcome the debate about what a "good book" should look like. I think a good book is anything legal that readers want to read, even if I don't want to read it myself.

This campaign represents an incredible long shot. To move this forward, I need your help. Even if you don't publish in the categories directly impacted by this crackdown, this campaign matters to you.

What can you do to move things forward? First, direct your attention where it matters most. Contact your credit card company or congressperson and tell them you want financial services companies out of the business of censoring what writers and readers are free to imagine with fiction. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Contact your favorite blogger and encourage them to raise awareness. Start petitions and tell financial institutions you want their censors out of your head. Contact the media. The media, with your urging, has the power to shine a bright light on the dangerous slippery slope of censorship by financial institutions.

If the media (both traditional and social) calls on credit card companies and banks to honestly answer these simple questions, then they'll either be compelled to acknowledge the absurdity of their policies or they'll be compelled to rewrite their policies. This troublesome tide can shift if financial institutions are forced to answer why they're prohibiting legal fiction." Mark Coker--Smashwords.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Quote:

"This isn’t the first time PayPal has tried its hand at censorship. In 2010, they cut off services to the whistleblower WikiLeaks, helping to create the financial blockade that has hamstrung the whistleblower organization."

Link:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/02...

I'm not naive. I know censorship when I see it. this company has grown powerful through it's monopoly. I'm going to keep speaking out.


message 44: by Darryl (new)

Darryl Branning (darrylbranning) | 4 comments The EFF is awesome too, Georgina, but I notice they don't actually offer a solution in this article. That's because PayPay is doing nothing wrong, legally speaking. I will even agree that for certain values of censorship, that is what PayPal is doing, and I don't like it.

The problem, as you've stated, is that PayPal is currently the only game in town. But maybe if they refuse to do business with enough people, that will change. I want to sell books, so I'm going to keep doing business with them, and that's where I agree with Kris.

Raising awareness is important, and I appreciate your efforts, but I'm not convinced that complaining to credit card companies and government officials will have much impact. Those are political solutions, and this seems to be a market problem.

One of the amazing things about the internet, and one that will hopefully remain true until the people who grew up with it are old enough to take charge of the world, is that the internet sees censorship as damage, and routes around it. (John Gilmore) If the market for erotica is big enough, the internet will route around PayPal, and a more open minded company will get that business. Maybe that's the silver lining.


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Darryl wrote: "The EFF is awesome too, Georgina, but I notice they don't actually offer a solution in this article. That's because PayPay is doing nothing wrong, legally speaking. I will even agree that for certa..."

Spot on Darryl. It's because they monoplosise the market. we need alternatives. And we can't get paid by smashwords (amazon too?) if we close our Paypal accounts.

But as one of the articles I was reading today stated this is not the first time paypal has threatened (and in that case carried out) to withdraw it's services, they did it with Wikileaks two years ago.

I'm not asking that we cut with paypal, but they listen to us when we speak and voice our concerns, because we are their customers.

The thing is it's the combined voices on the internet that make the internet so wonderfully adaptable. It's the hundredth monkey effect in the virtual world.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredt...

People make change. We don't all have to blog or speak out either, just a bit of supportiveness behind the scenes goes a long way. i think Kris's blog was anything but. I won't be subscribing to it anymore.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

For interest sake, because we humans tend to forget things all too quickly:

2010 Paypal and WikiLeaks . Let's have at look at their past record, heh?

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010...
http://gawker.com/5709579/
http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/08/payp...

This is how it looks when they turn their sights on political and world events. Doesn't anyone understand the underlying and very scary message here? This a corporation that thinks by providing a money lending/transfer business, it has a right to say or dictate what goes with us! It's the World Bank all over again. This has slipped past us. They have gained this position in the last few years.

Oh, a final link, a little icing on the cake. This link clearly shows what regard they have for the arts (a petty link drop but I'm pissed off). : http://www.smh.com.au/technology/tech...


Ahh! I'm going away to sit with my chooks. :/


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

And since when did selling books matter more than world events? Huh. If that's the attitude I'm supposed to take, then thank you I'm content just to write, I'll leave it at that...I'm disappointed in the whole big non-stop pitching our books, self-promotional, business- only approach.

I'm chucking a wobbly. I'm switching off.


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

O.K it's not that bad, I'm a tad melodramatic, but hey I'm a Fantasy writer, where would I be without melodrama? I'm posting a finally blog on it, then I'm back, deep in my edits and my book. I just felt I should raise my head because this issue is important.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Now I promise I'll act like a rational person and not throw anymore tantrums. I've been thinking on this and reading more links and references. I put forth a silly idea earlier that the Big Six might have something to do with this. I think that is naive.

It strikes me that this is all to do with who establishes the biggest stakes in the rapidly growing ebook market. Self-publishing ebooks may have started off with freedom for writers, with each of us acting as separate merchants in the industry, but I don't think that will continue. The industry is just too lucrative.

I'm feeling fairly positive about the fact that paypal will not retain it's monopoly as a financial transaction service. Their track record of using their position to control others is well known. They have grown too powerful and maybe this latest fiasco will help tip them from their throne.

Let's hope Mark Coker's talks with the EFF prove positive for all of us.

Georgina.


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

I take back my comment as to my naivety in thinking that the Big Six might have something to do with this. I've been reading up on the publishers and their affiliations and the EU Antitrust Probe.

Interesting to see who owns them. Anyone else here have difficulties trusting Rupert Murdoch? People from the U.K, doesn't his name strike a bell?

But strangely enough Paypal is owned by Ebay, who in turn is majority owned by Pierre Morad Omidyar, who is a philanthropist and seems quite nice. Go figure.

Going back to my research, maybe I shouldn't opted for journalism rather than fantasy writing.


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