Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

03/03/2012

Publishing Intrigue: PayPal Practicing Censorship


PayPal CENSORS

Can you believe it’s the twenty-first damn century and Neanderthals living today are still trying to censor the written word in the United States of America! A country that has ALWAYS believed in free speech and what it truly means.

Sad that some people never grow up, reach maturity and truly understand that America represents advanced citizenship — That essentially means you have to work at it.  

It seems PayPal, a fucking online financial transaction entity, is refusing to process payments for e-books that contain material their powers-to-be deem, in their infinite wisdom, to be objectionable in some way.

Why this is causing even more furor than usual is that for some goddamn reason PayPal has come to ‘dominate’ online self-publishing. Why the hell do we let ANY firm, much less digital online firms, come to dominate (monopolize) any industry and hence become too big to fail ? Or get so big and powerful that they can dictate anything to the supposedly free (to choose) consumers ?

It’s against the law dammit! — And, if they have changed the law while my back was turned, it is still against the American spirit!

This point is exactly why I have been blogging about why we need to rein in Amazon (see my last post on this blog) and not let it get too big to dictate. Right now Amazon is a good company, but, believe me, absolute power corrupts absolutely and those good author percentages, etc., etc., will disappear without competition. And Amazon, being a public company, the leadership and good intentions can change at the drop of a hat 🙂

More on this censorship intrigue from The Independent  by Guy Adams, their Los Angeles correspondence: 

Self-publishers accuse PayPal of censorship

Online firm refuses to process payments for ebook sites that sell titles with ‘erotic or potentially illegal’ content

 

The opening bedroom scene of Andrea Juillerat-Olvera’s new, erotic science-fiction novel Demon’s Grace is a classic of its kind. “He is on his knees,” it begins, “worshiping the cavernous female torso.”

Sadly, for admirers of Juillerat-Olvera, it’s about to get harder to enjoy her fruity pose. In what victims are calling the most far-reaching act of censorship of the internet era, Demon’s Grace and thousands of books like it have just been effectively banned. To blame is the online payment company PayPal, which has a virtual monopoly over the business of allowing cash transfers to be made via the internet.

The US firm has come to dominate online self-publishing, a rapidly expanding industry which allows authors sell ebooks directly to readers. Last week, without warning, PayPal wrote to every major self-publishing website, announcing that henceforth it will refuse to process payments for clients that sell books which contain certain types of what it regards as “obscene” content.

From now on, the firm said, it will begin aggressively prohibiting erotic literature which contains scenes of bestiality, rape, incest and under-age sex. Ebook websites that sell such works will have their PayPal accounts deactivated. “It’s underhanded, unfair and ludicrous, and it bodes badly for the future of free speech and expression,” said Juillerat-Olvera, adding that Demon’s Grace is now banned by self-publishing sites.

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01/17/2012

Is SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Good or Bad ?


Stop Online Piracy Or Not ? At What Cost ?

Truthfully … I’m confused and conflicted on this issue.

For a little background, this pro and con scenario is provided from Wikipedia:

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith (RTX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.[2] Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.[3]

The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.[4]

Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites.[5] They cite examples such as Google’s $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in a scheme to target U.S. consumers with ads to illegally import prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.[6]

Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment,[7] is Internet censorship,[8] will cripple the Internet,[9] and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions.[7][10] Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and planned service blackouts by English Wikipedia and major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee was scheduled to continue debate in January 2012,[11] but on January 17 Chairman Smith said that “[d]ue to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.”[12]

What do you think? Is striving for a more truthful Net going to result in censorship and restrictive business practices? Is censoring known untruths censorship at all?

Why can’t we provide an internet that respects copyrighted work and at the same time clears the way for easier and more fair business partnerships, etc.? 

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10/28/2010

CIA Tries to Screw Ex-Agent Publisher


More intrigue in the publishing realm!

Seems the CIA is upset with an ex-agent who published a critical book after they dragged their feet on it’s approval.

So what’s new here? I would guess that most ex-agents, who chose to write a book about their field experiences, would be critical of the agency. In fact they all would probably be critical.

Loy Johnson writes this for Melville House Publishing’s weekly syndicated newspaper in his MobyLives column:

Ex-CIA agent gets his say

In a follow up to an earlier MobyLives post regarding the CIA lawsuit against former CIA agent Ishmael Jones for his book, The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture, the New Yorker magazine has posted an interview by Gregory Levey with Jones on their blog.

The CIA’s statement claims, “Although Jones submitted his manuscript to the Agency’s Publications Review Board (PRB) as his secrecy agreement requires, he did not let that review process run its course and instead published in defiance of the Board’s initial disapproval.” Jones tells Levey:

“I sent the book to C.I.A. censors and repeatedly asked them, over the course of a year, to tell me what they wanted taken out or rewritten, but they just sat on it. They finally sent it back to me as a stack of blank pages. There is no classified information in this book, but it is highly critical. I had approached my entire chain of command beforehand. In addition, I had also confronted the Agency’s Inspector General. Writing the book was a last resort.”

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07/13/2010

Censorship – Is America a Free Country or Not?



A bad Massachusetts law (Massachusetts? I don’t believe it!) may spur self-censorship by bookstores. The law, that went into effect yesterday, would severly restrict constitutionally protected speech RE anything that “could” be harmful to minors.

Isn’t everything about real life harmful to minors without adult-instilled values, teachings and guidance! Parants don’t seem to want to take time with their kids today and teach them about the realities of life, they’d rather just keep them in the dark and censor everything from their fragile view and learning…They can’t handle the truth!…Pure BS. Children are much smarter than you think.

Anyway, this report is from the American Booksellers Association (ABA), who together with others, filed suit against the state of Massachusetts to block the censorship law:

On Tuesday, July 13, a coalition including the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), Harvard Book Store, and Porter Square Books filed suit to block a broad Massachusetts censorship law that bans constitutionally protected speech on the Internet on topics such as contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature, and art.

The law, Chapter 74 of the Acts of 2010, signed in April by Gov. Deval Patrick, went into effect on Monday. It imposes severe restrictions on the distribution of constitutionally protected speech on the Internet and would make anyone who operates a website or communicates through a listserv criminally liable for nudity or sexually related material, if the material can be considered “harmful to minors” under the law’s definition, said Media Coalition. In effect, it bans from the Internet anything that may be “harmful to minors,” including material adults have a First Amendment right to view.

Violators can be fined $10,000 or sentenced to up to five years in prison, or both.

“The risk of five years in prison or a $10,000 fine will certainly have a chilling effect on booksellers with websites that describe their books available online or in a store,” said Chris Finan, president of ABFFE, a member of Media Coalition. “Most bookstores are small businesses, and it is very likely that booksellers will try to avoid problems by engaging in self-censorship.”

Other plaintiffs in the suit against state attorney general Martha Coakley and Massachusetts district attorneys are the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Photographic Resource Center, and licensed marriage and family therapist Marty Klein.

Since there is no way for websites to determine the age of an Internet browser and no way to block Internet users from Massachusetts regardless of the location of the originating website, Media Coalition said, “The law threatens Internet users nationwide and even worldwide. The suit seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional and void on its face, and to enjoin the state from enforcing it, on the basis of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.”

“While this Act may have been motivated by the desire to protect children from sexual predators on the Internet, its effect is much broader,” said John Reinstein, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Its inevitable effect, if permitted to stand, is that Internet content providers will limit the range of their speech. There are no reasonable technological means that allow Internet users to ascertain the age of anyone who might access their online communications and then restrict access for minors.”

“Courts have repeatedly rejected laws that lead to this sort of self-censorship,” said Michael Bamberger of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, general counsel of Media Coalition and counsel in the case. “We should have adequate safeguards to protect children, but those safeguards cannot unreasonably interfere with the rights of adults to access materials protected by the First Amendment.”

If the law is struck down, the groups said, it would not limit the state’s ability to prosecute obscenity, child pornography, speech intended to entice minors into inappropriate activity, or harassing speech.

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