Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Problems Brewing With New Paypal Policy

UPDATE: Paypal changed their policies.

Hmmm. Seeing as how a lot of OSR stuff is "adult" in nature, you all might be interested in all this:

"Under pressure from credit card providers, Paypal has put in place a policy that it would no longer process payments for ebooks that contained themes of rape, incest, beastiality and underage sexual content."

What does that mean for us? Think Carcosa. Think Vornheim. Think Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Think of any self-publisher writing a module or zine that features an adventure involving, say, an orc raping a captive. Or a witch and warlock who happen to be brother and sister and have to participate in a summoning ritual by getting it on. Okay, gross example, but . . . essentially any fictional (that's MADE UP) written account of such things is at risk of not being processed for payment. That, my friend, is censorship of the marketplace.

They specify "ebook" in the above quotation, but what makes anytone think Paypal will stop there? If Paypal can identify which ebooks contain such material, then surely the company can extend such a refusal to process to other material and products that some Paypal desk jockey deems unacceptable or immoral.

I don't know about you, but I don't want a payment processor dictating what I can and cannot pay for with my money. Paypal, unfortunately, has a near monopoly on online micro-payments, and so this truly affects all of us in the OSR. So unless we decide to switch back to the pre-21st century system of "send me a check and I'll send you the product" this is a bit of a problem (and honestly, who wants to go back to that method besides postal service employees?)

Of course, some folks are protesting this:

National Coalition Against Censorship, American Booksellers Federation for Free Expression, Protest Paypal Ban

Sign the protest petition!:

Stop Paypal Censorship!

And, just in case, does anyone know of another online micro-payment processor that competes with Paypal?


"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 . . .


. . . 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 slipperly 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."

So it's not just Paypal: it's Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex, banks, and credit unions.

Do you want your credit card company or financial institution to tell you how you can spend your money? Me neither. So I think a few phone calls are in my future this week.


Anonymous said...

"And, just in case, does anyone know of another online micro-payment processor that competes with Paypal?"

Dwolla (https://www.dwolla.com/home)

mwschmeer said...

Why, thank you!

Dak Ultimak said...

Google Checkout follows the same payment schedule, and free & easy account creation. It's what I'll be using instead of Paypal.

Dak Ultimak said...

hmm. going to check out dwolla...

mwschmeer said...

@Dak: While I appreciate Google, I'm not too comfortable with handing over my financial information to them in light of their new privacy policy.