• Lior Leser, an attorney and host of the YouTube channel YouTuber Law, has announced plans to file an FTC complaint against PayPal and Patreon for colluding against the fan-funding site SubscribeStar
• This is in response to PayPal banning SubscribeStar earlier this month – a decision which Leser sees as anti-competitive
• Leser plans to draft an initial complaint and then shop that complaint to non-profit organizations that fight for Internet freedom and have experience filing complaints with the FTC
Lior Leser, a legal expert with over 20 years experience, has laid out his plans to file an FTC (federal trade commission) complaint against the payment processor PayPal and the fan funding website Patreon.
The complaint relates to PayPal banning the alternative fan funding platform SubscribeStar – a move that Lesor suggests could be anti-competitive and an example of collusion with Patreon.
SubscribeStar was a relative unknown in the fan funding space until Patreon banned the content creator Sargon of Akkad from its site earlier this month. This decision led to a brief surge in popularity for SubscribeStar, with lots of users moving from Patreon to SubscribeStar to protest the Sargon ban. However, this newfound popularity was short-lived and SubscribeStar had their PayPal account blacklisted within days of the Sargon ban.
Leser said in a video posted to his YouTube channel, YouTuber law, that he hadn’t previously viewed PayPal’s decisions to pull support for businesses as anti-competitive.
He cited the example of Gab, a free speech focused social network that was also blacklisted by PayPal, and suggested that since Gab isn’t a competitor to PayPal, PayPal has the right to express its ideals through its actions and choose who it provides services to.
However, Leser views the decision to ban SubscribeStar differently. He claims that PayPal’s action against SubscribeStar wasn’t necessitated by SubscribeStar violating any credit card processing rules and that there’s ample evidence this is an example of group boycotting – a term that describes a group of companies with market power acting to exclude other market players in an anti-competitive way.
Specifically, he believes that the decision to ban Sargon could have been a coordinated effort between PayPal and Patreon and that PayPal’s decision to ban SubscribeStar is an example of PayPal supporting Patreon in the marketplace.
Initially, Lesor suggested that the best way to encourage the FTC to investigate PayPal and Patreon for this anti-competitive behavior was to draw attention to the issue by reaching out to local representatives, talking to senators, and creating content online.
However, since giving that initial advice, Lesor has decided that he wants to do more and has chosen to file a formal FTC complaint himself. It will be a two-stage process which involves:
• Drafting an initial complaint which will be circulated among attorneys, anti-trust specialists, and other experts
• Shopping that complaint to non-profit organizations that fight for Internet freedom and have experience filing complaints with the FTC
His goal is for the complaint to trigger an informal FTC investigation into the activities of PayPal and Patreon in regards to SubscribeStar which could then lead to a formal investigation.
Lesor is confident the complaint will be successful but believes support from the community is key. He is requesting support from anti-trust attorneys who can help with the complaint and also people in the community who can lobby non-profit organizations to consider his complaint.
Going forward, Lesor plans to work out the finite details and the steps that are necessary to accomplish what needs to happen. He will be providing regular updates on the process through his YouTube channel.