Paypal Clarifies Position On ebooks

Paypal has clarified its position over the sale of certain ebooks that has drawn criticism from authors and publishers alike.

The online payment provider made waves last month when it contacted several publishers demanding that they remove ebooks containing "obscene" content from their web stores or face not being able to use Paypal as a payment option. Backing away from this now, the eBay owned company has said it will only make such demands in regards to illegal images, not digital books with just text in them.

Paypal's aim it seems was to avoid issues of its own with banks and credit companies that have strict rules on what can be bought using their funds. The counter argument of course was that in doing what it did, Paypal was essentially limiting free speech of readers and authors by deciding based on wording - which is all you can base an ebook on - whether something could be sold or bought through the payment provider. Considering Paypal's popularity, this would have had a massive impact if enforced across the board.

TechRadar reports that the Electronic Frontier Foundation agreed, stating that Paypal was "now holding free speech hostage by clamping down on sales of certain types of erotica. As organisations and individuals concerned with intellectual and artistic freedom and a free internet, we strongly object to PayPal functioning as an enforcer of public morality and inhibiting the right to buy and sell constitutionally protected material."

Making things very clear on its blog, Paypal said it had not shut down any publisher's usage of the service as a result of its earlier aims. That also now seems unlikely to occur in the future.