Booksellers in Germany could be spanked with legal action by the government’s Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien aka the BPjM) if they sell adult ebooks before 10pm.
The legislation – known as the Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag – was passed in 2002, but the regulators have only recently turned to applying the rules to ebooks.
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The cause of the sudden crackdown is a transgender memoir called Schlauchgelüste (Pantyhose Cravings), which has sparked a legal case over its easy availability in a bookseller’s database.
Making the impractical, practical
Christian Sprang, the General Counsel at the German booksellers association, Börsenverein, said it is working with the federal agencies to find a practical way for online stores and wholesalers to comply with the law.
Erotic, violent or extreme texts are already ‘kept under the counter’ in physical bookstores in Germany – the term for the practice is “Bückware” – but ebooks are considered ‘telemedia’ and covered by the same law applied to movies.
The 10pm to 6am window for sales was originally designed to cover adult cinemas, but the internet’s doors are always open. It’s unlikely that anyone will actually face the $56,000 (€50,000) fine mandated by the law for making adult ebooks available, but further legislation seems likely.
Until then, if you’re in Germany and purchasing naughty ebooks in the day time, you can experience an extra frisson from realizing you’re also a lawbreaker.
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