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Monday, October 14, 2013

Amazon, Censorship, and the Right to Sell Whatever they want...oh! and Theft.

This is the hot topic on Goodreads at the moment and something I think every book reader/purchaser should be aware of:

On Gotta Have Romance with a Kick Group this Blog's good friend Bookie asked this question:

"Question: Good business decision or could this be the beginning to the start of romantic fiction censorship?" 

Retailer Amazon has removed several abuse-themed e-books from its Kindle Store after a report highlighted titles depicting rape, incest and bestiality.

Titles such as Taking My Drunk Daughter had been on sale.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both say they are removing books found by technology news site The Kernel, but many others still remain, the BBC has found.

WHSmith and Kobo, which feature titles with similar themes, are yet to respond to requests for comment.

The BBC found that on Amazon's store, the search function automatically suggested explicit topics to users typing seemingly innocuous keywords - without age verification taking place.

Amazon has not responded to the BBC's request for comment on the issue, except to confirm that the specific books listed by The Kernel had been removed.

Barnes & Noble said in a statement the titles were "in violation" of its policy on content offered in the NOOK Bookstore and were in the process of being removed.

"When there are violations to the content policy that are brought to our attention, either through our internal process or from a customer or external source, we have a rapid response team in place to appropriately categorize or remove the content in accordance with our policy," it said.

Justice Minister Damian Green told the BBC "the government shares the public's concerns about the availability of harmful material."

The titles can be found in the self-published section of the retailers' sites - an area where authors can offer their own work. The companies take a percentage of the sales made through their stores.

One lawyer told the BBC that the retailers could find themselves guilty of a criminal offence for allowing such content to be found without protection mechanisms.

"The directors of Amazon have a very difficult question to answer: why are they making profits from pornography which, on the face of it, seems to be criminal?" said Mark Stephens, former chairman of the Internet Watch Foundation, a body responsible for monitoring criminal content online.

However, many of the authors have taken measures to stay within the law, adding disclaimers to their descriptions, such as saying characters were "over 18" or "step-daughters".

On Amazon, guidelines for self-publishing state: "We don't accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts."

It adds: "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect."

The other retailers give similar guidance.

In July, Prime Minister David Cameron said the government intended to make it illegal in England and Wales to possess online pornography depicting rape.

But it is unclear whether the written word - currently governed by the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) - will come under the proposed legislation.

Under the OPA, publishers have a duty to protect the public from accidentally encountering material that could outrage public decency, said Mr Stephens.

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers told the BBC: "Rape is a serious criminal offence which has a physical, emotional and psychological impact on victims. It's very unpleasant and distasteful to use such a harrowing experience as the basis for entertainment and enjoyment.

"Investigating offences of rape is a particularly complex process because it often rests on the issue of consent."

John Carr, secretary to the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, said parents would be "shocked" at what content was discoverable.

"At the very least there should be a certain class of material that is adult, which ought not to be universally accessible," he told the BBC.

However, others felt that Amazon's removal of some titles amounted to censorship.

"We outlaw snuff films, child porn and, increasingly, revenge porn, because actual people are harmed during their production," wrote PJ Vogt on OnTheMedia.org.

"Erotic fiction concerns fake characters who don't exist in real life."

Mr Carr stressed that he did not condone censorship, but that the content needed to be walled off.

"If this was a Soho sex shop, I wouldn't take the same view. I am concerned that this is next to things kids could search for."

By Matthew Wall and Dave Lee
BBC Technology News

I have borrowed this from C.J. Robert's Blog and she sums it up nicely.

From CJ Roberts blog:


Monday, October 14, 2013
The Censorship Police Are At It Again!

I have not yet been notified that CAPTIVE IN THE DARK or SEDUCED IN THE DARK will be removed from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but it's possible.

For the record, I do not believe in censorship. Though I realize Amazon and B&N are publicly traded companies and have the right to form their own policies, I also believe the relationship between large corporations and our government cannot be ignored. Censorship is a slippery slope.

PayPal tried to do something similar over a year ago by pressuring Smashwords to remove erotic titles from its catalog and the collective outcry from readers put a stop to it. I hope the same happens here.

I wrote a blog post about what happened with Smashwords if anyone is interested.

For the time being, I recommend backing up your books on your computer if you want to keep them. Additionally, since Smashwords has already been through this debacle and defeated it. I reccomend NEW readers to purchase from them. Use the link above to find the series page.

Best of luck to all my fellow indie erotica authors as we go through this shit again!
SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-...

UPDATE 1: B&N will refund removed books, but are removing titles. Not mine, but I know of at least one author who has had her books taken down (Bianca Sommerland). No word yet on Amazon refunds or if this affects US readers or just UK. The link was BBC.

From Bianca Sommerland (affected by censorship on Amazon): Hey, CJ! Thanks for the information, reading everything I can find. So far, my book is still on Amazon, but blocked on my dashboard and I was told they wouldn't sell it anymore. Starting when, I have no idea. Waiting for a reply about what's going on.

From Tymbar Dalton's Blog:

I got this from Tymber Dalton blog on 10/2/13

Tales from the Snark Side

Heads-up, self-pubbed smut writers: Amazon's deleting content again.
Posted: 02 Oct 2013 02:13 PM PDT

Yes, Amazon is a business, and as such is perfectly within their rights to delete content.

Again, it goes to HOW they're deciding to delete such content, without giving prior notice or without clarifying their "acceptable content" rules, that really sucks. (Again, please don't scream censorship. They're a company and can do what they want. Does it suck? Yes. Is it censorship? No, because only governments can enact "censorship" by legal definition.)

Link to the deets at kboards.com

Feel free to spread this story. I suspect if Amazon's going on a tear, it'll be a HUGE boon for Smashwords, who I hear is trying to perfect their sending files to Kindle feature. If so, it'll be Amazon's loss (in income) and Smashwords' gain.

My question is Where does it stop?  It seems the system Amazon is using is not only taking books that are deemed "Porn" off their site but books such as some of Laura Kaye's that in no uncertain terms can be described as "Porn". So again, Where does it end?  Speak up and let yourself be heard let the book sellers who are doing this know that you can make your own reading decisions and that you are capable of monitoring your own and ensuring that what they are reading is appropriate. 

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