In October, the online news site The Kernel published an incendiary story called An Epidemic of Filth, claiming that online bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith and others were selling self-published ebooks that featured rape fantasies, incest porn and graphic descriptions of bestiality and child abuse.
The story ignited a media firestorm in the U.K, with major news outlets like the Daily Mail, The Guardian, and the BBC reporting on the sales of sick ebooks.
Some U.K.-based ebook retailers responded with public apologies, and WHSmith went so far as to shut down its website altogether, releasing a statement saying that it would reopen once all self-published eBooks have been removed and we are
totally sure that there are no offending titles available.
The response in the U.S. was somewhat more muted, but most of the retailers mentioned in the piece, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, began quietly pulling hundreds of titles from their online shelves --- an event Kobo coo Michael Tamblyn
referred to last month as erotica-gate .
An Istanbul court has suspended the trial of a Turkish publisher and a translator accused of supposedly corrupting public morals over a French book written over a century ago.
The prosecution of the novel, The Exploits of a Young Don Juan, by French surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire is the latest in a series of trials restricting freedom of expression in Turkey.
The court suspended the case against publisher Irfan Sanci and translator Ismail Yerguz for three years, citing a technicality in the Turkish penal code.
But the ruling disappointed the defendants and their lawyers, who said they were expecting a full acquittal. Sanci's lawyer Adem Sakal told AFP that the defendants are considering taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights. Sanci
vowed that he would continue publishing the book, but said:
This decision is like the Sword of Damocles over my head.
In 2009, a local court in Istanbul filed a complaint over the obscene content in the book, which chronicles the sexual awakening of a 15-year-old boy. The complaint was dismissed when a committee of academics concluded that the book should
be considered a genuine work of literature, but in August, an appeals court overturned the decision, ruling that it lacked any artistic or literary value .
Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa has won an injunction in Switzerland, his native country, in order to ban the publication
of a book of amusing satirical cartoons. The book, by Danish cartoonist (and former footballer) Ole' Andersen, features a Blatter lookalike.
Blatter's lawyers claim that Blatter has a good reputation and if the cartoons were published he would never be able to repair the damage.
But Blatter's attempt to ban the book, The Platter Cartoons, has only served to draw attention to it. The story of his legal action is being mocked in Switzerland and across Europe.
Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf is unpublished in Germany as its copyright is owned by the state of Bavaria which has decided not to allow its publication. However 70 years after Hitler's death, in late 2015, the copyright lapses and the book
goes public domain.
Bavaria has now announced that it has scrapped its own plans to publish the book. The state had been planning to then publish a new edition with critical commentary from the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ). Bavarian science
minister Ludwig Spaenle announced:
Many conversations with Holocaust victims and their families have shown us that any sort of reprint of the disgraceful writings would cause enormous pain.
Spaenle said in a statement on the state government website that Bavaria would continue to take legal action against anyone who tries to publish even excerpts of Mein Kampf . He said Bavaria would ask the new German government to help it
find a solution to the looming expiration of the copyright.
The state had invested some 500,000 euros in preparing the academic reprint, officials from the IfZ were quoted as saying in German media reports. The institute would nevertheless continue working on the edition with critical commentary.
A top selling Saudi Arabian science fiction novel has been removed from book shops across the country.
The religious police have raided several bookshops selling the novel H W J N by Ibraheem Abbas and Yasser Bahjatt, demanding it'd be taken off the shelves. The book is a fantasy, sci-fi romance about a genie who falls in love with a human,
and is a best-seller in Saudi Arabia.
It seems that authorities have accused the book of blasphemy, devil-worshiping, referencing jinn [genies] and leading teenage girls to experiment with Ouija boards .
Yahya Hassan is an 18-year-old Dane who is the son of Palestinian muslim immigrants. He is creating a little controversy in Islamic circles and elsewhere with a new book of poetry that was published in Denmark last month. The book contains around
150 poems, many of which are severely critical of the religious environment he grew up in.
His book has been a surprise strong seller with 32,000 copies being sold in about two weeks. The publisher, Gyldendal, says books of poetry in Denmark are lucky to hit 500 copies.
In televised interviews, Hassan has been anything but tempered in his comments about what he views as a culture of hypocrisy underpinning Denmark's Muslim population. His words have prompted arguably the largest debate on religion in Denmark since
the Mohammed cartoons.
After reciting one of his poems, titled LANGDIGT, or LONG POEM, (he writes in capital letters only) on a Danish television station a few weeks ago, he received 27 death threats and police are investigating what they perceive as the
most serious ones.
His poems carry titles like CHILDHOOD and DISGUSTED, dealing with issues like the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, child abuse, and the interplay between violence and religion. Profanity and vivid analogies help carry his work.
A young Danish poet of Palestinian descent has been assaulted and his suspected attacker has been arrested, Danish police have said.
A spokesman said Yahya Hassan suffered a head injury when he was attacked from behind at Copenhagen's central train station Monday evening. Hassan received five to eight punches in the face and body. The suspected attacker, aged 24, was known by
police and now faces minor assault charges.
His book of poetry, Yahya Hassan , has sold more than 17,000 copies since its publication on Oct. 17. The publication has triggered numerous death threats against Hassan, who has police protection during public readings.
Against the backdrop of nationwide debate and with tight security, Danish poet Yahya Hassan yesterday took to the stage at H.C. Andersen School in the Vollsmose area of the city of Odense, for a much anticipated reading of his controversial work.
While the reading took place without serious disruption, a 19 year-old man was arrested to keep the peace . A group of protesters had also gathered outside, telling newspaper Extra Bladet Hassan was trampling on our culture , and a
car from the broadcaster TV2 also had its tyres slashed. The police said they had turned several people away from the premises in the days leading up to the event, and a group of about 10-15 young men were also stopped from attending . Hassan
himself was smuggled out of premises by the police after the event.
Apple is censoring digital comics by banning them from apps on the iPad and iPhone.
According to a report from Publisher's Weekly , in 2013 alone Apple has banned a total of 59 digital comics from apps such as Comixology due to the company's censorship guidelines for apps. Most of the comics are banned due to what Apple
views as graphic sexual content.
One of the most notable comics banned by Apple is the new series Sex Criminals by writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky. The comic is published by Image Comics, and is a comedic comic about a couple who discover they can stop time
whenever they have sex, and use their power to rob a bank.
Apple originally approved Sex Criminals #1 for the Comixology app, but then rejected the second issue. The third issue was similarly rejected along with a retroactive rejection of issue #1.
Strangely, while Apple banned almost five dozen comics from Comixology and other apps this year so far, it lets those comics into the iBookstore. Apple's content guidelines, it seems, don't actually apply to Apple's own apps.
Science campaigners are demanding a ban of alternative-health magazine What Doctors Don't Tell You because of misleading articles. But any attempt to censor this fundamentally silly magazine is misguided and unjustified
Irish opposition party, Fianna Fail is seeking to disband the country's book censors.
The party's justice spokesperson, Niall Collins, has laid a bill before the Dail calling for the abolition of the Censorship of Publications Board.
The board has been more or less dormant of late but returned to public attention earlier this year when Justice Minister Alan Shatter's novel Laura was referred to it after a ludicrous complaint by a member of the public that the novel's
contents were somehow "obscene and contravened laws on procurement of an abortion or miscarriage".
However, no decision on the salaciousness or otherwise of Shatter's novel has been made, because the board currently does not have any members.
Collins said he had tabled the motion in order to put the board out of its misery. He said such a level of inactivity indicates the board is essentially defunct; it is as dead as the parrot in Monty Python .
A renown graphic novel that depicts the sexual encounters of fairytale heroines has made history as the first book pulled from the New Zealand National Library catalogue for being too explicit.
The book has never been classified by the official book censor and the decision of the library to self-censor has angered those who say libraries should be champions of literary freedom.
Lost Girls, by English graphic novel writer Alan Moore and his wife, artist Melinda Gebbie, was originally purchased in 2008 for the library's collection at the request of a member. The three-volume book has Wendy, from Peter Pan, Dorothy from The
Wizard of Oz and Alice from Alice in Wonderland meeting by chance as adults on the eve of World War I. They talk through their sexual experiences, and also violence and drug use.
Louise LaHatte, regional collections manager for Auckland City Libraries, claims that the library was worried if the book was referred to the censor it would be found objectionable - meaning the library had broken the law. Unlike films, books get
classified only if someone thinks they are offensive and demands they be checked.
Frustrated local comic fans say the library has missed the artistic and literary significance of Lost Girls. Auckland cartoonist Dylan Horrocks said:
I don't know if they were aware of its significance in the graphic novel world. They [author and artist] are two very significant creators doing a very personal work that they took very seriously as a personal and creative and political
The library should be a champion of freedom of information
The library is now discussing whether to put the book back into the collection. It is seeking advice from the Department of Internal Affairs
Kobo is the company behind the self-publishing service used by WHSmith that led to a few complaints about pornography, fictional rape,
incest and bestiality. The company was quick to push the censorship panic button and promise to strip its shelves of adult content.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph , Kobo's chief executive Mike Serbinis said that the company has a responsibility, as one of the stewards of the publishing industry's transformation to digital, to censor its catalogue.
It has had staff working around the clock since Saturday to remove supposedly offensive material that violates the usual vague terms and conditions of Kobo's content policy. It is also conducting a thorough review of Kobo's self-publishing
catalogue, which includes several hundred thousand titles, to ensure that all authors and publishers are complying with its censorship policies.
Meanwhile, thousands of adult-book lovers have signed a petition on Change.org calling on e-book retailers to stop removing erotica from their online stores.
However, Serbinis claims that Kobo somehow 'supports' freedom of expression.
Kobo is the only company to have taken such drastic action, even though similar titles have been found in the e-book stores of other online retailers. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have removed several abuse-themed e-books from their stores, but
neither have taken their sites offline or are conducting proactive reviews of their catalogues.
Perhaps on the positive side, banning erotica may enable some smaller publishers a chance to get in on a sizeable chunk of the eBook market and provide a little more competition.
Offsite Comment: How Amazon, Nook And Kobo Should Deal With Their Porn Problems
Forbes speculates how the companies who decide to ban porn and erotica (and chance missing out on a 50 Shades of Grey portion of the
market), could implement book censorship. The suggestion seems to be that automatic scanning could identify books with sexy stuff and then use human book censors to ban the works they don't like.
There is a LARGE amount of people who read this genre as a way to escape their reality. We are all consenting adults, you need to own a credit card to be able to purchase said books, so why all of a sudden start cracking down on contolling
such. Why is okay to sell adult products on said websites but not FICTIONAL reads. What happened to freedom of speech?! LEAVE OUR EROTICA ALONE!!
**This petition is NOT condoning non-fictional bestiality, incest, pediphilia or other things of such extreme nature**
To: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon; Michael Serbinis, CEO of KOBO; Leonard Riggio, Founder and executive chairman of Barnes and Noble,
Leave our erotica and self-published Indie authors alone.
Retailer Amazon has banned several e-books from its Kindle Store after a report highlighted titles
depicting rape, incest and bestiality.
Amazon took down the books with titles such as Taking My Drunk Daughter. The titles were highlighted by technology news site The Kernel.
The titles were 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.
Mark Stephens, former chairman of the Internet Watch Foundation ludicrously claimed that, under Britain's Obscene Publications Act (OPA), publishers have a duty to protect the public from accidentally encountering material that could outrage
In fact the OPA says that material is prosecutable if it 'depraves and corrupts' likely viewers. Something that clearly rarely, if ever, actually happens and is difficult to prosecute in front of a jury as jurors are quick to notice that no one in
the court case, including themselves, seem very depraved or corrupted by what they have seen.
Many of the authors have taken measures to minimise 'offence' by adding disclaimers to their descriptions, such as saying characters were over 18 or step-daughters .
Pro censorship campaigner John Carr, said parents would be shocked at what content was discoverable. He told the BBC:
At the very least there should be a certain class of material that is adult, which ought not to be universally accessible.
WH Smith shut down its website on Sunday after it was revealed that a search for the term daddy brought up hardcore
pornographic ebooks featuring bondage and humiliation alongside stories for children. [Does the hardcore tag mean anything for books?]. At least 60 pornographic ebooks, some featuring rapes and bestiality, were available on the company's online
Alerted to the availability of the ebooks, the majority of which are self-published, WH Smith took the extreme measuire of shutting down its website until the ebooks could be censored.
In a statement WH Smith said:
This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that sell self-published ebooks due to the explosion of self-publishing.
However, we are disgusted by these particular titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone them. It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we have processes in place to screen them out. [er like
The shop also announced that in future it would not display any self-published books until it was confident that inappropriate books would not be shown.
Rentaquote politician, John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said:
It is disgusting that WH Smith, one of the country's most respected retailers, is selling hardcore pornography alongside children's books. Retailers have a responsibility to families and it is unacceptable that anyone could access this material
within a click of a mouse.
The New Zealand children's book of the year, Into The River by Ted Dawe, will carry a warning that it is only suitable for readers aged 16 years and older.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification said in its findings on the novel, saying people might be offended but the book would remain unrestricted. It recommends, however, that the book be read by a mature audience.
Information and policy manager Kate Ward said there were already young-adult books with similar sexual descriptions, and to place a restriction on Dawe's novel would be unfair.
Dawe welcomed the decision, saying it was based on a thorough and expansive analysi
Into The River includes detailed descriptions of sex acts, strong language and scenes of drug-taking. It claimed top prize at this year's New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards. The award organisers had sent explicit content stickers to
all booksellers after the book won the supreme award.
However some morality campaigners are not happy with the over 16 warning. and have been lobbying the government for the book to be age restricted. Now New Zealand's Secretary for Internal Affairs has approved Family First NZ's application for
leave to apply to the Film and Literature Board of Review to review the classification of the book.
Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, whinged:
The Office of Film and Literature Classification originally reviewed the book, which contains explicit sexual content, highly offensive language and other adult themes, after Family First NZ laid an official complaint. The OFLC acknowledged that
it's suitable for mature audiences 16 years of age and over, but they have made no requirement to warn parents about the content. They say it is up to marketers and booksellers to take the responsibility of warning parents and caregivers --
something the OFLC won't do.
The OFLC bases their judgment extensively on those with a vested interest in the book or its award -- for example, the author, the chief judge of the Awards, and a blogger who just happened to have 'worked on in its initial assessment and editing
They also argue that a low number of calls to the Classification Office suggests there's little objection. They fail to mention the widespread condemnation by many in the media including the NZ Herald editorial, and they also fail to acknowledge
the massive protest to NZ Post calling on them to withdraw the Award given to the book, and that some bookstores refused to sell the book.
Family First have kindly counted occurrences of strong language in the book and took exception to OFLC report:
The word 'fuck' and its derivatives are used occasionally and the word 'cunt' is seen once. The language is not likely to cause harm. These are words and terms that have relatively common usage amongst teenage boys.
However Family First contend that 'cunt' is used nine times and 'fuck' is used 17 times, 'shit' 16 times, and 'cock' 10 times.
Family First is seeking clear warning labels for parents to be displayed on the cover of the book and for the book to be banned from school and public libraries. They have also asked NZ Post to withdraw the Award given to the book.