It’s not about copyright: A clarification on the PayPal matter

Yesterday, in an attempt to be jaunty, I made a big issue of the fact that one of the transactions targeted by my cover artist was of Loki. I did this because at the time, we weren’t sure specifically which other transactions were being targeted by PayPal because my cover artist was still going over her records comparing transaction IDs.

This gave some people who are discussing the matter elsewhere, the impression that the problem was actually copyright.

It’s not. That much is very clear by the email PayPal sent my cover artist, which reads as follows:

Dear KERRY CHIN,

We are hereby notifying you that, after a recent review of your account activity, it has been determined that you are in violation of PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy regarding your sales / offers of adult commisions of digital art on http://dragonreine.deviantart.com.

Transaction ID’s redacted.

Therefore, your account has been permanently limited.

Per the User Agreement, when PayPal permanently limits an account due to an Acceptable Use Policy violation, we may hold your funds up to 180 days. In addition, you will be liable to PayPal for the amount of PayPal’s damages for each violation of the Acceptable Use Policy.

To read more about your liability, the actions we may take and other
relevant information pertaining to the User Agreement, please refer to the
following URL: https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=ua/UserAgreement_full&locale.x=en_US

You will need to remove all references to PayPal from your website/s and/or auction/s. This includes not only removing PayPal as a payment option, but also the PayPal logo and/or shopping cart.

The PayPal User Agreement states that PayPal, at its sole discretion,
reserves the right to limit an account for any violation of the User
Agreement, including the Acceptable Use Policy.

Under the Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for certain sexually oriented materials or services or for items that could be considered obscene.

The complete Acceptable Use Policy can be found at the following URL:
https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=ua/AcceptableUse_full&locale.x=en_US

To learn more about the Acceptable Use Policy, please refer to our Help Center page here:
https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/helpweb?cmd=_help

We thank you in advance for your cooperation. If you have any questions, please contact the PayPal Brand Risk Management Department at
aup@paypal.com.cn.

Sincerely,
Jared
PayPal, Brand Risk Management

Now. I’d say there is very little ambiguity in that message regarding the fact that the issue here is “obscene” images. Upon further research, it turns out one of those redacted transactions was my second payment for the

We still don’t know what the third transaction was, because in the process of freezing her account, PayPal is also cutting off Kerry’s ability to view her own transaction history, and she cannot find the email receipt for the third transaction yet.

ETA: one of those three redacted transactions was the down payment for the cover of Acceleration, and the other one is the second and final payment for the cover of Acceleration.

How the Loki art got mixed up in there, I can’t guess. Probably they’re trying to legitimize their targeting of the suggestive/homoerotic art by tacking on a little copyright intimidation.

Now, here’s the kicker, and this is why we are in absolutely no doubt that PayPal is on an anti-obscenity kick, even if it’s small-scale. I have been vague about naming names and details because I didn’t know how private the person was about this matter, but she’s being very open about it, so I’m going to share it here.

This is an email received by Kerry’s sister, who is a fetish model, when HER account was frozen, within minutes of Kerry’s account being frozen:

This is kath’s email. Note the vagueness of their accusations, and if you check the listed sites, she never asks people to pay for shoots with PayPal. She read aloud all her received payments to me, and they are all for sales of secondhand clothing, or contributions from friends to help her buy her higher-priced corsets.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: <**********>
Date: Nov 8, 2012 11:12 PM
Subject: Your account has been limited

To: <***********>

Dear Kathy Chin Chew Lee,

We are hereby notifying you that, after a recent review of your account activity, it has been determined that you are in violation of PayPal’s

Acceptable Use Policy regarding your sales / offers of fetish and pin up
photo shoots on
http://kathteakatastrophy.blogspot.com/?zx=e666d08f00168f92,
http://www.modelmayhem.com/2337096, and
http://kathtea-katastrophy.deviantart.com/.

(transaction IDs redacted also)
Therefore, your account has been permanently limited.

Per the User Agreement, when PayPal permanently limits an account due to an Acceptable Use Policy violation, we may hold your funds up to 180 days. In addition, you will be liable to PayPal for the amount of PayPal’s damages for each violation of the Acceptable Use Policy.

To read more about your liability, the actions we may take and other
relevant information pertaining to the User Agreement, please refer to the
following URL: https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=ua/UserAgreement_full&locale.x=en_US

You will need to remove all references to PayPal from your website/s and/or auction/s. This includes not only removing PayPal as a payment option, but also the PayPal logo and/or shopping cart.

The PayPal User Agreement states that PayPal, at its sole discretion,
reserves the right to limit an account for any violation of the User
Agreement, including the Acceptable Use Policy.

Under the Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for certain sexually oriented materials or services or for items that could be considered obscene.

The complete Acceptable Use Policy can be found at the following URL:
https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=ua/AcceptableUse_full&locale.x=en_US

To learn more about the Acceptable Use Policy, please refer to our Help Center page here:
https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/helpweb?cmd=_help

We thank you in advance for your cooperation. If you have any questions, please contact the PayPal Brand Risk Management Department at
aup@paypal.com.cn.

Sincerely,
Jared
PayPal, Brand Risk Management

This is not about copyright. If it were, there would be Cease & Desist letters being issued, not account closures. That is traditionally how IP owners have handled the matter. Furthermore, if it were about copyright, my cover for Acceleration would not have been targeted, nor would Kerry’s sister’s account.
This is about PayPal being on an anti-obscenity crusade, even if it’s not a very large one. Are we clear on that? Good.
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6 Comments

Filed under Activism

6 responses to “It’s not about copyright: A clarification on the PayPal matter

  1. Pingback: PayPal and Censorship… AGAIN | Amelia C. Gormley

  2. Pingback: It’s not about copyright: A clarification on the PayPal matter « Leta Blake

  3. Bea

    That just pisses me off. A part of me goes ” they are a private company, so they have a right.” But it is more than that, it is obvious that there is an attempt at social policing. And your story is not the only one.

    But, this is an opportunity for a Kink/LGBT friendly company to come in and provide the same services. I am sure the communities would show support and switch.

    I found the artwork very beautiful, just as evocative as the books they cover.

    • Thank you. Kerry is an extraordinarily gifted artist, and her work passes DeviantArt’s very specific no-porn ToUs. There is no reason for this to be happening over a relatively tame book cover, or even over Kerry’s sister’s less tame but still acceptable fetish art photography modeling.

      We do need a kink/LGBT friendly PayPal alternative. I hope that comes together someday.

      *I should make a FetLife account and try to get the word out there.*

  4. That’s also a good idea. Bea. Thank you.

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