Friday, March 16, 2012

The battle with Paypal

I've neglected this blog.
There were a million things I wanted to write about (maybe 3 or 4) and a million things that I knew was irrelevant to this blog.
  • Job interviews or the lack of them
  • Holidays or the lack of them
  • Money or the lack of it
  • Writing or the lack of wanting to write.
  •  Socializing or the lack of it ( hard to socialize when your best friend is a toilet roll paper which you keep at all times next to you in case you're going to....sneeze! It is even harder to socialise when you constantly frown trying to concentrate on what the person is trying to say because your head is filled with a gigantic ball of cotton wool and you can't think straight. Or when people are talking to you as if they were in a different room when they are actually next to you but you can't hear a thing because your ears are stuffed.
 I could go on like this...
There are things I should have talked about...
  • Like Paypal gave an ultimatum to Smashwords two weeks ago: Remove all titles containing bestiality, rape or incest, otherwise they threatened to deactivate our PayPal account. I was so annoyed about that. I am not interested in reading or writing about these topics but I believe anyone should be writing about anything they want. And it surely felt like PayPal was asking writers to censor legal fiction.  And they were. Regardless of how one views these topics no financial institutions should tell us, authors what we can write and what we can not write.
Fiction is fantasy. This is why we can write. We write so we can express ourselves.  And if Paypal was starting to censure that then what next? Police on our thoughts too?
I was very angry that we keep on having to fight for our basic rights as institutions keep on invading in our private worlds.

Fortunately Smashwords authors, publishers and customers mobilized. They made telephone calls, wrote emails and letters, started and signed petitions, blogged, tweeted, Facebooked and drove the conversation. They made the difference. I didn't. I wanted to. I probably thought to write to Visa and Ebay about 5 or 6 times during those 2 weeks.  But thanks to them people paid attention. And thank God for them. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) were the first three advocacy groups to stand up for us, authors, publishers and customers.  Bloggers and journalists also helped carry the story forward by lending their platforms to get the story out.  

This is based from the email I got from CEO Mark Copper 3 days ago, who told us of Paypal's decision to modify their policies to allow legal fiction after all.
Mr Copper also wanted to give his Special thanks to TechCrunch, Slashdot, TechDirt, The Independent (UK), Reuters, Publishers Weekly, Dow Jones, The Digital Reader, CNET, Forbes, GalleyCat & EbookNewser and dozens of others too numerous to mention.

So this is a battle we won. Before we had bloodbath battles. Nowadays we have "inkbath" battles and digital conflicts. Battles of the minds. Battles of the words.
So we have pushed back. For how long? I am not sure. But I am relieved. I will go to sleep a little more peaceful and happy. I sure hope to hell that there will always be people to push back. I didn't fight this battle. But I am thankful for the people who did.

1 comment:

  1. Its so importsnt to preserve freedom of expression and allow adult readers at least to decide for themsleves what they want to read. The day we have a big corporation decide these things for us will be a sad one.