Monday, June 23, 2008

Meanwhile at Lulu--veinglory

In the lulu forums I cam across this promotional post:

“The Feelgood Porno Colouring Book is more than just a colouring book, and more than just pornography – carefully chosen, thought provoking and life affirming quotes interspersed throughout ensure it is at once something to inspire you, to relax you, to intrigue you and even make you question your own perceptions, purpose and prejudices.The Feelgood Porno Colouring Book means porn no longer needs to be a guilty pleasure; it shows that porn can be positive and creative, releasing energies that can only benefit yourself and ultimately mankind. So, grab your felt tips and tissues and enjoy, the Feelgood Porno Colouring Book has over thirty images printed on quality paper which cater for most tastes, persuasions and perversions making it an ideal gift for that awkward to buy for person we all know."

Color Me intrigued.

Unfortunately by the time I got there the listing had fallen afoul of Lulu’s listing requirements. I must admit that I am not sure why this item was removed when I have bought and reviewed plenty of adult written and photographic (e.g. fetish) work there. Perhaps simply because the promotional post in the forum drew attention? Lulu requires that material not be: “material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable;” etc.

But as with many user heavy organizations (Amazon review abuse, anyone) they seem to only act when some user objects. It is their call which genres they support, but in the absence of enforcement these rules will almost inevitably become arbitrary. And if adult (or in any way "objectionable") material are not allowed, why do they have a ‘direct access’ mature content category where, according to their own description, there are no limits on the ‘between the covers’ content?

Color me bemused.

I won't really know why this played out this way unless I can get a review copy, so I can see whether the cover and title was too extreme (“excessive or gratuitous profanity/suggestive or gratuitous nudity, additionally overly sexually explicit posing”) even if you ignore the inside content. Besides, I need an excuse to use my new set of crayons.


Dusk Peterson said...

There are two issues here. One is that Lulu (and U.S. federal law) makes a distinction between erotica and pornography. Therefore the title alone might have given the book trouble. Second of all, if the book had a preview of the images, that might have trigged Lulu's reaction, regardless of what the cover showed.

"And if adult (or in any way 'objectionable') material are not allowed, why do they have a 'direct access' mature content category where, according to their own description, there are no limits on the 'between the covers' content?"

Two comments. One is that Lulu does not reject adult material per se. What it rejects is material that it believes to fall under the federal guidelines for obscenity, which is illegal in the U.S. You'll find that sort of restriction in the fine print of every American bookseller, even if what the bookeller is selling is in fact what the average citizen would regard as pornographic.

Secondly, adult books don't need to be in the direct access category at Lulu. They can be placed in the general access category if the cover, blurb, and preview are all suitable for a general audience. This is a change from Lulu's earlier attempt to place adult books in a separate category that was only accessible by over-eighteen visitors. Now Lulu simply requires that any cover/blurb/preview be suitable for under-eighteen visitors.

Emily Veinglory said...

as unable to get a copy to see what the cover and preview looked like. I must say they have a very broad basis beyond obsenity. It's ToS allow rejection based on material that is in any way 'objectionable'. How often they use it in this way I don;t know. The material in question didn't sound that extreme but I didn't get to see it.

Dusk Peterson said...

"It's ToS allow rejection based on material that is in any way objectionable'."

You'll find that word in most terms of service. It's so they can cover their behind. :)

Terms of service are less important, I've found, than how they're exercised. InsaneJournal has similar terms of service to LiveJournal, but they're exercised in a very different way. I haven't seen any indication that Lulu is yanking adult books willy-nilly.

Emily Veinglory said...

I imagine with a site that big they only look at items when poked by the 'I object' button--or whatever they call it.

Dusk Peterson said...

Could be, but I doubt they've missed the number of tags with some variation on the word "erotic." :)