(Any Internet argument about censorship will inevitably have people show up and claim that only governments are capable of censorship. That's dumb. Of COURSE private entities can censor things.
That said, there IS an important distinction between censorship by a government and censorship by a private actor, so it might be a good idea to have two threads anyway.)
Anyway! There's an app now called Clean Reader. Basically, it slaps a swear filter on ebooks.
Now, there's an argument here -- Cory Doctorow says that if you buy a book, you should be able to do whatever the fuck you want with it, including run a program that replaces words in it.
Charlie Stross does not agree, and neither do a lot of other authors.
I'm inclined to think that the problem is that Clean Reader isn't a standalone app, it's also a bookstore. If it was just an app that took an ebook and did a find/replace on certain words in it, I'd be inclined to agree with Doctorow -- yes, that's stupid, but yes, people should be allowed to do it.
But I think actually SELLING the books and then running them through a word filter creates a problem. While I understand that technically nothing is being altered in the ebook file itself, I also see an issue of misrepresentation in selling an author's book and then presenting it as still being that author's book while altering the text in it.
Stross also brings up moral rights, which are pretty weak in US copyright law but very strong in most European countries. It's why, say, Alan Moore can have his name taken off reprints or adapatations of his work, or Don Rosa can demand that European reprints of his comics either compensate him or remove his name.
So it's questionable whether or not this is legal, and the answer is probably going to vary depending on the country. Whether it's ethical is another question, and I foresee a lot of authors and publishers boycotting the service and refusing to allow Clean Reader to sell their books.
As for whether it's effective? Of course it's not effective. Swear filters are stupid.
So. While it might be possible to get my books pulled from that particular distributor, I am more inclined to deal with this idiocy by getting creative with my scatalogical vocabulary.
No more "fucks" freely interjected; instead I shall steal "unclefucker" from South Park.
No more "cunt!" as a free-standing gender-neutral insult[*]; instead it'll have to be "cuntfart!" or "pissflaps!" or "clunge!" (go look it up) ...
... But that's not going far enough.
I am pretty sure there's plenty of context in which the censorbot can be induced to fuck-up a perfectly clean paragraph beyond all recognition, simply by removing words delimited by whitespace. "Chimney-breast" for example, becomes "Chimney-chest". "The cunt line of the mainbrace" becomes "the bottom line of the mainbrace".
How far do you think I can take this?