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Not Really A (Pay) Pal Anymore

Not Really A (Pay) Pal Anymore

March 14, 2003
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" Can material containing nudity ever be sold using PayPal? Yes. As long as the material containing nudity is not considered "adult"… "

The e-mailed letters went out even before the official announcement hit their Website: like AMEX before them, PayPal has decided that they no longer wish to be a part of the online adult entertainment market – a move which will negatively impact a large number of sites who rely upon the company for subscription payment processing and tangible goods sales.

While PayPal will still allow payment processing for certain "adult" products, those products are extremely limited in their scope – as well as where they may be offered – since "Unless you are completing a transaction on the eBay Mature Audiences site, you may not use PayPal to sell or purchase "adult" or "sexually oriented" material." And while this might seem like a good way to garner traffic, eBay (which now owns PayPal) has it’s own slew of similar restrictions, as well as a navigation system that has all but eliminated every link into its "Mature Audiences" section.

Webmasters who paid the VISA fees to PayPal will be receiving a full refund, and will have a two-month grace period to find an alternate processor, but for many (even with these concessions), it will be a bitter pill to swallow, and this may cause the demise of a few more Web sites.

For now, Webmasters who are using (or were contemplating using) PayPal are scrambling to see how (or if) they may be affected. To help them along, here’s a summary of the new "adult" regulations covered under PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy, current as of March 13, 2003:

Mature Audiences Policy
Unless you are completing a transaction on the eBay Mature Audiences site, you may not use PayPal to sell or purchase "adult" or "sexually oriented" material. How does PayPal define "adult" or "sexually oriented" material? "Adult" or "sexually-oriented" material includes, but is not limited to:

• Any visual representation of human genitals presented in such a manner as to suggest sexual activity.

• Any visual representation of any form of sexual intercourse involving humans

• Any materials which require that individuals be eighteen (18) or older (depending on the jurisdiction) to view or purchase those materials

• Any non-textual materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader

• Any items which, because of their nature or because of the item description, appear to be designed for use in sexual/adult activity

• Any items which depict human sexual characteristics in a degrading fashion

• Any item that portrays frontal nudity will normally be treated as "adult" material

What is not considered "adult" or "sexually oriented" material? Material that is not considered "adult" or "sexually oriented" includes but is not limited to:

• That which is a small and insignificant part of a catalog, book, periodical, or other work which is not, as a whole, primarily devoted to sexual matters

• Books or other text without pictures, as long as the material is not obscene, even if designed to sexually arouse the reader

• Pieces of artwork that may be considered fine art-such as certain paintings, carvings, figurines and other similar materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, Michelangelo's David, certain (but not all) vintage pinup art, a renaissance-style painting of a nude female, or nude cherubs in the form of human infants (in the style of Raphael).

Can material containing nudity ever be sold using PayPal? Yes. As long as the material containing nudity is not considered "adult" (as defined above) and fits into one of the categories below, you may use PayPal to sell the material, and you may sell or advertise such material on your website listed in PayPal Shops:

Movies & Videos PayPal permits the sale of movies that may be viewed by individuals age 17 and under to be listed in this category. This includes movies rated PG, PG-13, and R, which often contain some nudity or sexual situations.

Collectible Risqué Postcards PayPal permits the sale of postcards that contain some nudity but are not "adult" or "sexually oriented" (as defined above). While persons portrayed in postcards may be topless, scantily clothed, or in mildly suggestive poses, any postcards sold using PayPal should not depict male or female genitalia (frontal nudity below the waist) or strong sexual content. Because this category is for collectibles, these postcards should be at least 10 years old, and the description of the item should include the approximate year of publication You may only use PayPal to buy or sell materials that portray genitalia, pornographic postcards, and postcards that are less than 10 years old if you list these items in the eBay Mature Audiences section, subject to eBay's Mature Audiences policy.

Collectible Pin Up Art PayPal permits the sale of pinups that contain some nudity but are not "adult" or "sexually oriented" (as defined above). While persons portrayed in pinups may be topless, scantily clothed or in mildly suggestive poses, the pin ups in this category should not depict male or female genitalia (frontal nudity below the waist) or strong sexual content. Because this category is for collectibles, these items should be at least 10 years old, and the description of the item should include the approximate year of publication. You may only use PayPal to buy or sell materials that portray genitalia, pornographic pin-ups, and pin-ups that are less than 10 years old if you list these items in the eBay Mature Audiences section, subject to eBay's Mature Audiences policy.

Pre-1980 Adult Magazines PayPal permits the sale of old adult-oriented magazines that have become collectible for their mixture of nudity, journalism, and art. The only magazines included in this category are Playboy, Playgirl and Penthouse magazines which were printed before 1980. You may only use PayPal to buy or sell newer (post-1980) adult-oriented magazines if you list these items in the eBay Mature Audiences section, subject to eBay's Mature Audiences policy.

Pre-1940 Risqué Photographs PayPal permits the sale of photographic images that contain some nudity but are not "adult" or "sexually oriented" as defined above. While persons portrayed in these photographs may be topless, scantily clothed or in mildly suggestive poses, the pin ups in this category should not depict male or female genitalia (frontal nudity below the waist) or strong sexual content. In addition, these items should be published prior to 1940, and the description of the item should include the approximate year of publication. You may only use PayPal to buy or sell risqué photographs that portray genitalia, pornographic photographs, and post-1940 photographs if you list these items in the eBay Mature Audiences section, subject to eBay's Mature Audiences policy.

Risqué Gag Gifts & Novelties PayPal permits the sale of certain types of adult novelty items. Such items may include various types of toys, collectibles, or food items in the shape of genitalia primarily intended for adult buyers (unless the item requires the buyer to be 18 in order to purchase.) Examples of items that are permitted include soaps, certain food items (such as pasta or candy) and key chains. You may only use PayPal to buy or sell gag gifts and novelties which do not meet the above requirements, if you list these items in the eBay Mature Audiences section, subject to eBay's Mature Audiences policy. These items may include, but are not limited to: items which are intended for use in a sexual setting (such as "bondage" and "fetish" items), items which display sexual activity or portray human genitalia in a "life-like" or realistic fashion, and vibrators intended for use in sexual activity (as opposed to ordinary massagers).

As you can see from the above list of rules, regulations, and policy changes, it is no longer "business as usual" for adult sites wishing to use PayPal as their processor of choice. While this is a disturbing development, it is not totally unexpected, and with the promise of VISA surcharge refunds and a two-month grace period, an obstacle which can be overcome. "Better luck next time" ~ Stephen


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