Blogger Suw Charman-Anderson wrote previously about PayPal’s demands that ebook distributors Smashwords should prevent their customers from publishing certain types of erotic fiction. There has been a lot of criticism of PayPal across the web, in the erotica and general fiction communities in the last few days. PayPal responded on their blog, saying:
Unlike many other online payment providers, PayPal does allow its service to be used for the sale of erotic books. PayPal is a strong and consistent supporter of openness on the Internet, freedom of expression, independent publishing and eBook marketplaces. We believe that the Internet empowers authors in a way that is positive and points to an even brighter future for writers, artists and creators the world over, but we draw the line at certain adult content that is extreme or potentially illegal.
The problem here is in the weasel words “extreme” and “potentially”. How is PayPal to say what is extreme? Or potentially illegal? If they are concerned about facilitating the sale of illegal content they should work with the community to figure out what to do about it, not impose ill-defined and vague strictures on the publishing and distribution companies that use their services.