May 9th, 2013
Not so very long ago, comic books in libraries were exceedingly rare. Even those libraries that did carry comics often relegated them to the children’s department, with little attention given to building a diverse, quality collection. But over the past 20 years or so, patron demand for manga and the critical success of graphic novels such as Maus and Persepolis have brought about a dramatic transformation in the way the entire medium — including more traditional comics — are treated in libraries. In a recent article for Publishers Weekly, Heidi MacDonald examines how this change happened, as well as future opportunities and challenges for library comic collections.
MacDonald interviewed public, school, and academic librarians, finding that comics have made the most inroads in public libraries. Much of the institutional attitude shift can be attributed to a younger generation of librarians like Robin Brenner of Brookline (Massachusetts) Public Library, who founded the review blog noflyingnotights.com, and Christian Zabriskie of Queens (New York) Library. In 2011, Zabriskie compared statistics for popular books like the Harry Potter series and GED guides (a notoriously high-circulation library item) to a random sample of comics from his library’s collection, and found that the comics ...
May 9th, 2013
A new bill introduced in Congress today aims to resolve the restrictions that complicate phone unlocking, and it's doing it the right way. While other proposals would apply temporary "bandaid" fixes that fail to address the underlying problems behind the restrictions, this bi-partisan proposal from Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Thomas Massie, Anna Eshoo, and Jared Polis, gets to the root of the issue.
Contact your representative today to ask them to join in supporting this bill.
That makes this new bill, H.R. 1892, a rare exception to the sorts of bad copyright policy usually promoted in Washington, and the first one to meet the conditions we set forth in a group letter to Congress earlier this year. There we explained why the public needs a complete and permanent fix on phone unlocking, and why that has to start with re-examining the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) so-called "anti-circumvention" rules laid out in section 1201.
As it's currently written, section 1201 creates a blanket ban on breaking digital rights management (DRM) software—even if there's no resulting copyright infringement. Its rulemaking procedure puts the burden on the public to explain every three years why circumvention is necessary for specific lawful purposes. ...
May 9th, 2013
A few weeks ago, we blogged about a student's challenge to a restrictive free speech zone policy at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Iowa. This week, the welcome news comes that the college has decided to settle the case rather than allow the lawsuit to continue. As a result, student Jacob Dagel has vindicated not only his own First Amendment rights, but those of his classmates and peers as well.
Dagel challenged the public institution's strict limitations on where students were allowed to distribute flyers and other literature—a peaceful and time-honored form of expressive activity protected by the First Amendment. Under DMACC policy, students were allowed to leaflet only in a single hallway with tables inside of the campus student center. Additionally, the college required students to obtain a permit to utilize its free speech zone a full 10 business days in advance. Finally, according to Dagel's complaint (PDF), "the College retain[ed] unfettered discretion to determine whether student speech may occur at all." This policy obviously provided DMACC with a tremendous amount of discretion over students' free speech activities, in addition to the clear restrictions it placed on students' ability to engage in protected expression on campus.
May 9th, 2013
Andy Diggle will immortalize you in the next issue of Dynamite Entertainment’s Uncanny in a special auction benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! Starting now, until May 15, CBLDF is running a special eBay auction where the winning bidder will be named as a character in Diggle’s Uncanny #2, coming out this July. In addition to being immortalized in the comic, the winner will also receive a set of all covers from the issue and a thank you note from Diggle himself! All proceeds from this auction benefit CBLDF’s work to protect the Freedom to Read.
Diggle says, “The CBLDF carries out vital work defending the First Amendment rights of comic book readers, retailers and publishers. I’m proud to be able to play some small part in this special benefit auction which will help raise awareness of freedom of speech issues in the comics medium and defend our Freedom to Read.”
Uncanny kicks off Dynamite’s new crime line with gritty action as only Andy Diggle delivers. The series follows Weaver, who was born with an uncanny ability, he can steal other people’s skills — their memories, abilities, and expertise — for a limited time. A man with a power ...
May 8th, 2013
One of our most recent additions to the Takedown Hall of Shame is Kern's Kitchen, the company behind the "most litigious dessert in America." It owns a trademark on the term Derby Pie, which is the name of a popular Southern confection made with chocolate, pecans, and lots of sugar. Anybody's allowed to make it—and there are plenty of variations online and in cookbooks—but if you call it Derby Pie, you might find yourself on the receiving end of a legal threat from Kern's Kitchen.
Earlier this year, the company threatened Wordpress.com for hosting individual websites that distributed recipes under the forbidden name. In order to avoid a trademark lawsuit, Wordpress advised those bloggers change the name of the recipe to something more descriptive.
On a special episode of our cooking program "EFF's Kitchen," we bake our own for a special trademark taste test.
Delicious. You can make your own Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie by using the recipe from this threatened blogger.
May 8th, 2013
The case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is special for several reasons. First, Tinker is a landmark case that defines the constitutional rights of students in public schools. But more importantly, Tinker shows that people can make a difference in the world by standing up for what they believe. These people don’t need to be old, strong, or powerful — they just need to be committed. In fact, sometimes the world can be changed by the actions of two boys and a girl in their early teens. This is the story of three such people: John Tinker, 15 years old, his sister Mary Beth Tinker, 13 years old, and Christopher Echardt, 16 years old, all of whom decided to wear black armbands to protest a war they didn’t believe in. This action led to a landmark decision that created a rule to protect the free speech rights of students.
I should probably stop here and explain how wearing an armband can be considered “speech” at all, let alone “free speech.” Everyone knows that, with limited exceptions, the Constitution protects the communication of ideas through spoken or written words. That’s called “pure speech.” However, there is another type ...
May 7th, 2013
This month, CBLDF has added some amazing new premiums to our Rewards Zone! Each time you pick up one of our premiums, your donation not only puts a great new item on your book shelf — it also helps protect the free speech rights of the comics community!
What’s new and back in stock this month:
Revival #9 Liberty Variant: Brand new and extremely rare, these are the last few copies available!
The first novel in the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind, donated and signed by the author! Mr. Rothfuss also sent some signed copies of his not-for-children storybook The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed. There are limited copies of both of these books, so act fast!
Indoor Voice, by Jillian Tamaki: New to the store and signed at MoCCA
The Monstermen and Other Scary Stories, signed by artist Gary Gianni, back in stock
Vader’s Little Princess, by Geoffrey Brown: New to the store and signed by Brown
AEIOU, personalized by artist Geoffrey Brown, back in ...
May 7th, 2013
Gaming news site Kotaku has posted yet another incident to be filed under “S,” for “Scapegoating.” On Friday, Fox News host and contributor Jeanine Pirro delivered a furious diatribe against gun control to the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, once again blaming video games for violence:
Pirro said… “How dare you compare me to a nutjob on the lunatic fringe in desperate need of medication doing nothing but watching Hollywood’s blood-soaked movies and playing the liberal Hollywood’s violent video games for days at a time…”
As Kotaku writer, Evan Narcisse, points out, the attack on video games feels less like an informed argument than it does a play straight from a book of standard political talking points:
Pirro misses the mark by assuming that video games are made by the Hollywood studio system and assuming a political bent on behalf of the companies that make them. It seems like her call-out is just another bullet point to be ticked off a list without ever really understanding the thing she attacks.
Pirro’s anger at the notion of a law-abiding gun owner such as herself drawing comparisons to mass murderers, terrorists, and child-killers is understandable. One would imagine ...
May 3rd, 2013
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund joins nine other free speech organizations who signed a letter to Northville School District in Michigan urging them to keep the definitive edition of Anne Frank’s A Diary of a Young Girl in middle school classrooms. The book is currently under challenge after a parent complained about anatomical descriptions in the book.
The letter, which was sent to the Superintendent and Board of Education Members in Northville, emphasizes the power and relatability of Frank’s diary for middle school students. Frank’s honest writings about her body and the changes she was undergoing during her two-year period of hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam can serve as an excellent resource for students themselves undergoing these changes.
Anne Frank’s diary has been made available in its unexpurgated totality in the years since the death of her father, Otto Frank, who censored the diary during his lifetime. Her cousin, Buddy Elias, president of the Anne Frank Foundation, said of the full translated work: “It’s really her. It shows her in a truer light, not as a saint, but as a girl like every other girl. She was nothing, actually; people try to make a saint out of her and ...
April 24th, 2013
James Augusta Aloysius Joyce is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the early 20th century. His book Ulysses has been called one of the most challenging and rewarding novels ever written and is considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature. However, what many may not realize is that the book was also the subject of litigation that led to a major change in the way the courts analyzed obscenity cases and expanded the First Amendment rights of authors. This is the story of United States v. One Book Called “Ulysses.”
Ulysses tells the story of a Leopold Bloom and a tortured artist named Stephen. Each of the 18 chapters (or episodes) describe and relate a series of encounters and incidents that occur as Bloom travels through Dublin on June 16, 1904. (It should be noted the dates is significant because it marks Joyce’s first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle). Joyce intentionally paralleled the characters and events in the Odyssey, the epic poem written by Homer. In fact, the name Ulysses is the Latin form of the name of Odysseus, the star of the Odyssey.
Ulysses was released in ...