Posted at 22:09 on 28 May 2013 by Pandora / Blake
Well, the censorship saga with payment processor CCBill and my female-gaze porn site Dreams of Spanking got much, much worse. I wrote last week about the ridiculous wording changes they required, including censoring discussions of consensual and ethical production on the blog. I did as I was told. Unfortunately, that was far from the end of it.
To explain why I CCBill sent me another email last Friday detailing an entirely new set of changes and deletions I needed to make, I have to explain a tedious technical thing. I have a client account with CCBill, of which the website www.dreamsofspanking.com is a subaccount. I can run as many websites as I want, each with its own subaccount. Every time you create a new subaccount, that site has to go through the approval process with the CCBill policy review team.
When I launched Dreams, www.dreamsofspanking.com was up and running as a pre-launch site containing a blog and other previews. Alongside that, prior to launch the main paysite existed at dev.dreamsofspanking.com while D and I were building it. We put all the content on the dev site, submitted that and got it approved; only then were we able to set up and test the credit card billing, which we needed to do before we could launch. So we launched, and went to change the subaccount URL to www.dreamsofspanking.com ... and found out we couldn't. If you want a new URL, you need to setup a new subaccount. I put it on my to do list to do at some point when I had time, and meanwhile just carried on accepting payments to dev.dreamsofspanking.com.
Anyway, when they did their review last week, they pointed this out as something that needed changing - which of course it did, I just had never got round to it. So I spent half a day setting up a new subaccount for www.dreamsofspanking.com (as if I wasn't already busy enough, dear lord), and submitted it for approval.
Which is when it all kicked off.
The whole story has been pretty well chronicled on Twitter, so I'm just going to link to this storify - read it if you want all the details. Short version: they said I needed to remove all the age play scenes, all the sword-fighting scenes, all scenes showing red/purple marks, and any use of the word "force". This amounted to a lot of content. Never mind that none of this was picked up on in their review last week, and their requirements are repeatedly arbitrary and inconsistent. Never mind that it means taking content offline that members have already paid for. It all needed to go.
After sitting on this over the weekend, thinking and constructing contingency plans, I took the advice of industry friends and called CCBill this evening to speak to a human. One of their policy advisors went through the listed offences one by one and she helped me work out how I could meet their requirements in the least destructive way. She was pleasant and helpful, and we worked out some places where I could limit the damage, but it became clear that I was still going to have to make a fuckton of changes, and delete at least three scenes in their entirety.
I am furious that after all my efforts to create a site that shows the enthusiastic consent and ethical production behind the porn I make as clearly, accessibly and transparently as possible, I am still being fucked over. This has nothing to do with the UK extreme porn legislation, and little to do with Visa's requirements - far more severe sites accept credit cards perfectly happily. This is about CCBill covering their asses, and fuck all my efforts to do things right; every blogpost, every comment from happy performers, every behind the scenes video, all for nothing. They have zero legal standing for refusing to process payments for content that is legal, but they have me and every other producer by the short hairs, and so they get away with it. If you're rich enough to work for free you can do what you want, but if you're a self-funded start-up relying on income from sales to keep producing, you are fucked, because you have to do what you're told or you can't get paid.
So that's how I've spent the last five hours. And I am exhausted. I have spent my evening changing wording, editing blog posts, deleting images, swapping out thumbnails, photoshopping blood drops out of photos and deleting scenes. Every deleted scene means a blog post (or two, or three) and a hosted affiliate gallery that needs taking down or editing as well; broken links and images that mean fixing. But as Ms Naughty said on my last post, when CCBill says jump, you ask how high.
I've backed up all the original content, much good though it will do me. And every change I've made has been a wrench. Dreams of Spanking is a heartfelt expression of my personal kink and sexuality and I am passionate about defending every word of it. These changes feel like compromising my values, selling out, giving up some part of myself. The whole process has left me feeling emotionally wrung out.
Anyway, I can't write all this on the Dreams of Spanking blog for obvious reasons, but so you know exactly what was so offensive, and as a panacea to my wounded self-expression, I'm going to record as much of the deleted content as I can. So here we go.
- Ludwig and Kaelah's severe caning scene "The Final Test". The majority of this caning was deemed too physically severe - despite the fact that the film was an exercise in representing positive, consensual severity, with a sensitive storyline focused on the empowerment of Kaelah's character, and two extended behind the scenes documentaries including interviews with Kaelah and showing the way the scene was filmed. I was given the option of hacking the film up to remove most of the cane strokes and deleting over half of the screengrabs, but I have no desire to mutilate a film into which Kaelah poured so much energy and creativity. It's been deleted from Dreams of Spanking in its entirety.
That's not the end of the story for this film, though. More details at the end of this post.
- The two scenes which included a sword fight or duel as part of the set-up for the spanking scene both needed similarly gutting. Any images or video sequences in which a sword was pointed directly at a model were forbidden. Even though in our comedic nautical romp 'The Pirates of the Jolly Kraken', the swords in question were rubber LARP swords.
I showed the policy advisor the full size photos and she said they were still realistic-looking enough to count. Really? Okay.
Likewise the wooden bokken in 'The Avenger's Return', and Amelia's fencing foil with its capped end. They both counted. It all had to go.
Both 'The Pirates of the Jolly Kraken' and 'The Avenger's Return' have been deleted.
- Little Ten. The original scene description was "Ten comes home from work cranky, but Pandora knows what she needs. She tells Ten to change into her little girl clothes, and gives her a long, firm bare bottom spanking until she's sore and sorry." This age play scene has been renamed, and all uses of the words "little girl" have been removed from the scene page and the corresponding blogpost.
- The Captain and the Tavern Wench. Four photos were picked out as showing excessively severe welts. Here they are:
They've been deleted from the scene page.
- The Undergardener's Birching. Birches have a tendency to break the skin, especially when applied from cold. A single drop of blood in an otherwise relatively moderate punishment was deemed too extreme. I offered to edit the droplet out of the offending images. In that case, they said, the photos would be acceptable - so that's what I did. Here are the unedited originals.
- All blogposts and affiliate FHGs related to the above scenes have been edited to match. Blogposts and FHGs connected to the deleted scenes have been removed entirely.
- All instances of the word "force" to describe someone being made to do something have been removed from the site. There were a LOT of these. I've mostly managed to change wording rather than deleting anything - for instance in this blogpost about The Tailor's Apprentice (part 2), "He forces Sebastian to bend over and endure an embarrassing bare bottom spanking" becomes "Sebastian is obliged to bend over".
That isn't an exhaustive list of everything on the site which might arguably meet their criteria for removal. But (with the exception of the word "force" which I could find with a site search) I've only addressed the instances which CCBill mentioned in their email. If they want to perform a more exhaustive search, they might well come up with other instances which they considered offensive. But I'm not going to pre-emptively self-censor myself; I'll just do what I'm told.
Anyway, about those deleted scenes. I've decided what I'm going to do. I'm going to create a new mini-site - I've already bought the domain - and publish them there. For free. So these requirements are handed down to CCBill from Visa; all other billing agents are the same? Fuck capitalism: I'll give it all away. Full length video downloads, image galleries, behind the scenes documentaries, associated writings, everything. Plus the comments, the blog posts, the performer bios, all the surrounding context that demonstrates the ethical production and enthusiastic content that went into the making of those scenes, because without that, it's not representative of what I'm doing.
Free range porn, released into the wild! It's an exhilarating, liberating prospect. Free economics: the last line of defence against the capitalist censors. If I'm not charging, there's not a damn thing they can do about it.
Edit 29/05/13: Since some people have asked how they can support me, here is a donate button. Putting together the free site is going to involve taking time away from paying work - any contributions will help a lot in getting these scenes back online as quickly as possible.
Edit 11/6/2013: Aaaaaaand Paypal froze my account for violation of their AUP. Fucksake. Thanks so much to people who donated, I managed to withdraw some in time but I can't access anything sent in the last week. I appreciate it though - so much. Edit 14/06/2013: The free site is now online, as promised, and includes a new donate button hosted by Clips4Sale. More details here.