My book, The Olive Grove, which features a sexual encounter with a classical mythological being (a satyr) is now being classified under bestiality by Smashwords and may likely be removed from the marketplace. Like thousands of other writers, Marzio and I use Smashwords to distribute our self-published work to sites like Kobo, Sony and iBooks. Normally it would be as simple as moving our work to another distribution chain but it’s become readily apparent that Paypal holds a near monopoly in financial services across the internet.

bookburn

When you are dealing with a company this large with so much influence that they can dictate what appears on shelves, some questions need to be asked: Who regulates this entity? Is this legal? Who can we go to?

Why does a financial transaction corporation like Paypal dictate what we can and cannot read? I think people can make these choices for themselves.

Currently in the United States, there are no laws governing fictional crimes. To the best of my knowledge this new policy would not only ban the Bible but also works by Anaïs Nin, Vladimir Nabokov, Henry Miller, Marquis de Sade and books like Caligula, The Sookie Stackhouse Novels (True Blood), The Story of O, Venus in Furs, Lolita, The Color Purple, classical myths…and more.

It is easy to ignore the plight of what many deem “those dirty writers and pornographers” but where does the buck stop? What is next? Is it gay erotica? BDSM? Zombie books that feature undead rising from the grave? Murder novels? They have already shut down sites that sell products well outside these push button topics.

To better illustrate what is happening let me call your attention to CD’s with “Explicit” stickers on them. As a consumer I can make a choice whether or not to consume this content. The explicit CD’s are on the shelf along with other mainstream music. Now imagine for one second if your credit card company has prevented the explicit music to even APPEAR on the shelf! Think about that for a moment.

Smashwords has a very strict safe search in place that by default doesn’t even SHOW erotic titles. To deactivate it, you have to go three clicks deep into the site and turn it off. Why was this not enough for PayPal?

There is a reason why large corporations nearing monopoly status require Federal regulation. What if say Monsanto (who controls 70-80%) of the seed market suddenly decided only Christian farmers should have access to seeds? People would be outraged would they not? Can we really say it’s within their right to do this just because it is a private company? I say no.

Due to their critical status within financial systems, banks are highly regulated in most countries. PayPal has avoided Federal scrutiny and regulation by insisting that it is not a bank (Read here: http://news.cnet.com/2100-1017…. It has conducted all of their unsavory practices using loopholes that would otherwise disappear were they to be regulated. PayPal has been known to illegally hold people’s money for upwards of 180 days. (If you are not a bank you cannot hold onto funds or collect interest on those funds).

Before you go rattling on about a private company’s 1st Amendment rights, you need to educate yourself on the rotten, illegal practices conducted by Ebay and PayPal. One of the largest issues concerning PayPal is that it acts like a bank but offers none of the protections of a Federally regulated bank. (More here:http://money.howstuffworks.com… It isn’t required to maintain security measures, competent customer service or dispute resolution departments. PayPal holds large amounts of their customers’ money, makes millions of transactions, and offers credit and debit cards. It is an illegal bank that is able to use their near-monopoly status to bully retailers.

Why does a financial transaction corporation like Paypal dictate what we can and cannot read? I think people can make these choices for themselves.

To read Marzio’s Censorship blogpost click here. He’s just as pissed off as I am.

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