Sunday, February 26, 2012

Paypal's Rules on Obscenity

The eBook sales platforms Bookstrand and Smashwords have recently changed their publication policies in order to comply with PayPal obscenity rules, according to a series of posts by ERECsite. These new policies are hitting self-pubbed erotic fiction authors hard--and not just the people who write the taboo stuff. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater comes to mind.

However, Bookstrand and Smashwords weren't blind-sided. The PayPal obscenity rules have been around for a long time. Most folks who sell using PayPal are perfectly aware of these rules. The payment service evidently just decided to enforce the obscenity prohibition.

Here are the relevant portions of PayPal's rules:
You may not use PayPal for transactions involving... (f) items that are considered obscene ... (h) certain sexually oriented materials or services.
So what does obscene mean? For more detail, you'll have to look to eBay, the company that owns PayPal. Here are eBay's rules:
Obscene materials, while not easy to define, aren't allowed on eBay. For some guidance, we prohibit items depicting or describing bestiality, necrophilia, rape, scat, and incest (real or fictionalized).
Further, eBay explains:
Child pornography is illegal and not allowed on eBay. We generally don't allow the listing of any item that depicts people under 18 years of age naked, including child erotica. We may also remove listings that involve the exploitation of minors, regardless of whether the items are sexual in nature.
So there you go. You can't pay for incest and pedophilia fiction with PayPal. The rules were always there. The ebook sales platforms should have expected the crackdown.

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