Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

CBLDF Climbs the Mountain to Denver Comic Con This Weekend!

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Comic-Con-630x423This weekend, CBLDF heads to the Mile High City for Denver Comic Con! You’ll find us at booth # 323, sharing rarefied air with comics superstars like Matt Wagner, Jeffrey Brown, Fiona Staples, and many, many more! (For the full guest list visit the Denver Comic Con website here).

The show takes place May 31 – June 2 at the Colorado Convention Center (701 14th Street) in downtown Denver. CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox will be on hand with exclusive signed premiums, Liberty Variants, and more! All proceeds benefit our important work in defense of the freedom to read.

Come support CBLDF at the Denver Comic Con! You’ll find us at booth con booth #323!

Come Bid at the Children’s Art Auction TOMORROW to Benefit Kids’ Right to Read

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

snowNCAC partner organization and Kids’ Right to Read Project co-founder the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is hosting their annual auction of children’s book artwork. The auction will be held in the River Pavilion at the Jacob Javits Center at BEA tomorrow (Wednesday) from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This year’s auction is in part an homage to beloved author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who passed away a year ago at the age of 83. Many of the works for auction were inspired by Sendak’s legacy. Authors Jack Gantos and Lauren Myracle will be co-hosting the live auction segment of the evening.

Proceeds from the auction will in part support the Kids’ Right to Read Project.

Judy Blume Fix? Watch Rachel Dratch, Martha Plimpton Read “Deenie”

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

We know you’re gearing up for the June 7 release of Tiger Eyes, the first-ever Judy Blume film adaptation.

In the meantime, we’d like to share this charming reading of Deenie featuring Rachel Dratch, Martha Plimpton, Junot Diaz, Amy Sohn, and Elna Baker. The video was taken at NCAC’s 35th Anniversary Benefit in 2009.

Judy Blume’s Film Debut: “Tiger Eyes” Hits the Big Screen June 7

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Maybe it was Forever. Perhaps it was Are you there God, it’s Me, Margaret? It could have been Deenie or even Tiger Eyes. Chances are that if you went through puberty since the 1970s, you learned something from one of Judy Blume’s real, relatable and enduring books.

And now, for the first time ever, one of those works is being made into a feature film…and it wasn’t easy. Tiger Eyes will simultaneously hit big screens, iTunes and on-demand on June 7.

The film’s director, Judy’s son Lawrence Blume, described the difficulties of finding a distributor to back the film:

“What shocked me was that a big -segment of the business knew who Judy Blume was but they didn’t understand who she was…

While Hollywood was deep in the throes of its love affair with YA—thanks to Harry Potter and TwilightTiger Eyes didn’t fit its template. It was a movie about real teenagers dealing with real problems: no magic, no thrilling danger, no fangs. It didn’t have a big producer backing it, nor was there an A-list star attached.”

The Guardian UK published a great article about the impact of Judy Blume on generations of young people and the ...

Anne Frank (and all her parts) Will Stay in Northville Schools

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Anne-FrankA reconsideration committee in Northville, Michigan, voted to retain Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl after it was challenged by a mother of a middle schooler who called the book “pornographic.”

In a letter to the community, Assistant Superintendent Bob Behnke wrote that “the committee felt strongly that a decision to remove the use of ‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – The Definitive Edition’ as a choice within this larger unit of study would effectively impose situational censorship by eliminating the opportunity for the deeper study afforded by this edition.”

Right on!

Over at The Huffington Post, Dr. Logan Levkoff rails against the lack of information about sex, masturbation and the body that could lead a student to be “uncomfortable” with Anne’s descriptions of her own anatomy.

Fake Bureaucrat Gives Real Answers About Mandate from Departments of Justice and Education

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

In The Daily Caller yesterday, Robert Shibley, FIRE's senior vice president, answered some of your most frequently asked questions about the shocking new mandate from the Departments of Justice and Education, writing as A. Fake Bureaucrat, a strong supporter of the federal mandate. 

Mr. Bureaucrat is psyched about finally cracking down on sexual harassers like the Duke Women's Center, professors who assign Anne Frank's diary, and nerds who want to go out on a date with you. If you're dubious, Mr. Bureaucrat wants you to know:

You're missing the best part! The new rules say your feelings about the date request don't have to be reasonable! Or, as my buddies in the government put it, "Whether conduct is objectively offensive is a factor used to determine if a hostile environment has been created, but it is not the standard to determine whether conduct was ‘unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature' and therefore constitutes ‘sexual harassment.'" 

Whew, that's a relief. Check out the rest of the FAQ in The Daily Caller, and don't forget to thank Mr. Bureaucrat's friends for their help!

Justice Department Subpoena of AP Journalists Shows Need to Protect Calling Records

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Today the Associated Press reported that the Department of Justice has collected the telephone calling records of many of its reporters and editors. By obtaining these records, the DOJ has struck a terrible blow against the freedom of the press and the ability of reporters to investigate and report the news. As James Madison understood, "a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy, or perhaps both." AP had it right when it told Attorney General Holder that it was "a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news."

The DOJ's decision to dive deep into these call records also shows the growing need to update our privacy laws to eliminate the outmoded Third Party Doctrine and to recognize that datamining has now reached the point where it no longer makes sense to treat calling records and other metadata related to our communications as if they aren't fully protected by the Constitution.  

According to the AP, "the records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington ...

Disinvitation Season: Protected Counter-Speech or Heckler’s Veto?

Monday, May 13th, 2013

People Protesting - Shutterstock 

It's graduation season again, and as expected, not all of the commencement speakers invited to speak at universities' ceremonies manage to make it to the stage. Earlier this month, FIRE reported on Morehouse College squeezing Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson out of the commencement speaker lineup following critical comments he had made about President Obama, and several other speakers have withdrawn from graduation events after student objections over their views. 

As FIRE President Greg Lukianoff told The New York Times for an article published yesterday, "It does appear that 'disinvitation season' incidents have accelerated in recent years, with this year inspiring an uptick of these episodes."

"These episodes" can include everything from protesters on campus, to online petitions asking schools to disinvite speakers, to students physically blocking speakers from the event's venue. So when are university community members engaging in counter-speech—protected by the First Amendment—and when are they censoring viewpoints with which they disagree?

That depends on whether protesters actively prevent the speaker's voice from being heard. For example, this past Saturday, students at the University of California, Berkeley protested Attorney General Eric Holder's speech at the law school, holding signs and even commissioning an ...

Stanford Shows that Going Above and Beyond Isn’t Always a Good Thing

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Stanford University Main Quad - Wikimedia Commons

Generally speaking, doing more than you're required to do is great. Everyone appreciates an over-achiever. Unfortunately, when your assignment is to take away student due process rights, going above and beyond is actually the opposite of what you should do.  

Stanford University doesn't seem to understand this. In response to the mandates passed down by the Office for Civil Rights' 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter (DCL), Stanford has decided that it would be a good idea to restrict due process even further than the federal government now requires.  

As Torch readers likely already know, the 2011 DCL requires that students accused of sexual misconduct be found guilty if the "preponderance of the evidence" indicates that they committed the offense. Unfortunately, at Stanford, that standard appears poised to sink even lower. 

Over at Minding the Campus, FIRE friend and Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson notes that Stanford's Faculty Senate has now approved a new "Alternate Review Process" (PDF) that will govern student allegations of sexual misconduct once signed by university president John Hennessy. As KC writes, the ARP exacerbates problematic aspects of the DCL: 

[T]hrough the ARP, students are ...

Another Bill to Fix the Patent Troll Problem… Well, Part of It

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Though it was paraded around as the biggest change to patent law in half a century, the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 failed to address many of the patent system's largest problems. In particular, patent trolls continue their deplorable business model of buying up patents and using the threat of litigation to force companies—frequently startups—to pay up or face ruinous legal fees. These trolls have a weapon of choice: overly broad software patents—many of which shouldn't have been granted in the first place.

Joining the ever-increasing crowd of lawmakers who are angry over the patent troll problem, Senator Chuck Schumer has introduced new legislation targeting the issue: the Patent Quality Improvement Act.

Previously, Senators Schumer and Jon Kyl introduced a temporary provision in the AIA to address the issue of challenging particular patents. Known as the transitional program for covered business method patents, or Section 18, this provision allows anyone threatened with infringement suits over certain types of patents to petition the PTO to review the patent's grant and scope. Importantly, the Schumer-Kyl provision lets courts stay ongoing litigation when a party institutes a challenge at the PTO. This procedure allows for more challenges to patents ...

Victory in Defense of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl

Monday, May 13th, 2013

519HKX9M69LTwo weeks ago, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund joined the Kids Right to Read Project and several other free speech organizations in signing a letter in defense of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. In a victory for free speech, the Michigan school district to which the letter was addressed has elected to keep the book in middle school classrooms!

After her 7th grade daughter decided to do a project on the book, parent Gail Horalek requested a review of the book in the Northville Public School District. Horalek claimed that the book was inappropriate for students, taking exception in particular to a passage in the book in which Frank describes the discovery of her own body.

The review committee sided with the letter CBLDF signed, citing specifically that removing the book would amount to censorship. Lonnie Huhman with Detroit-based newspaper Observer & Eccentric writes:

In a letter to the community, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Robert Behnke indicated removing the book would amount to censorship. “The committee felt strongly that a decision to remove the use of ‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – The Definitive Edition’ as a choice within this larger ...

FIRE President on ‘HuffPost LIVE’ to Discuss New Harassment Definition

Monday, May 13th, 2013

This evening at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT, Alyona Minkovski of "HuffPost Live" will interview FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. They will discuss the recent joint effort by the Department of Justice and Department of Education to undo decades of precedent in defining sexual harassment. The new, overly broad definition defines "any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature," including speech, as sexual harassment. This move by DOJ and DOE will put nearly unlimited power in the hands of administrators to label speech that they dislike harassment. Tune into at 7 p.m. ET to see this important interview. 

Who: Greg Lukianoff, interviewed by Alyona Minkovski 

When: 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT, Monday, May 13





Ta-Ta to Texas Ethnic Studies Bills, May We Never Meet Again

Monday, May 13th, 2013

protest txLibrotraficantes and their allies are dancing over the legislative grave of Texas HB1938, which sought to limit which courses university students could take to fulfill state history requirements. After impressive advocacy efforts on the part of Tony Diaz and Los Librotraficantes, the bill is indefinitely stalled in the Calendars committee.

HB1938 and its Senate counterpart, SB1128, were the more subtle cousins to the Arizona law banning ethnic studies in that state. If passed, the Texas bills would have made it impossible for college students to take women’s or ethnic history courses to fulfill graduation requirements, ensuring that fewer students would be able to take those courses  and they would eventually be boxed our of the curriculum.


Peruvians To President: Our Digital Rights Are Non-Negotiable

Monday, May 13th, 2013

For years the content copyright industries have been lobbying, in national law or within trade agreements, for overreaching rules that would break the Internet in the name of copyright enforcement. Lately, such proposals ranges from the termination of user access account on the mere allegation of copyright infringement, to enacting censorship powers that would make parts of the global Internet disappear from view, as well as imposing digital locks laws that stifle online innovation and restrict the ability to use lawfully-acquired digital content.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is the latest forum where those overreaching standards is being laundered. The TPP is a secretive treaty that includes a set of intellectual property rules that targets the Internet. The 17th round of negotiations over TPP starts next week in Lima, Peru. Up for debate are the provisions dealing with copyright – including online copyright enforcement, DMCA-style digital locks, and Internet intermediary liability. The current text is secret so the specific condidions under which those issues are being defined are unknown.

One of the major concerns of TPP is its capacity to rewrite gobal rules on copyright enforcement. All signatory countries will be required to match their domestic laws and policies to the provisions ...

Dear US Trade Rep: Don’t Shut the Public Out From US-EU Trade Negotiations

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

We submitted the following comment to the US Trade Rep today regarding the proposed United States-European Union trade agreement.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a digital civil liberties organization that has defended technology users’ rights for over 23 years. We primarily take the fight to court, but also engage in global advocacy campaigns and direct public action towards lawmakers to ensure digital policies uphold the public interest. We have over 18,000 active paying members worldwide.

The EFF submits this document in response to the United States Trade Representative’s solicitation for comment listed in the Federal Registry on April 1, 2013, regarding the coming negotiations over the US-EU trade agreement, now called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

We have been following international trade negotiations for over a decade since they began to carry provisions that extended copyright and patent enforcement to the digital environment. Time and again, we have seen how the standards for intellectual property enforcement that are enshrined within these trade agreements do not reflect the diverse needs and interests of technology users, students, researchers, people with reading and learning disabilities, creators, and others. Instead, the provisions impose harsh burdens on the public, the consequences ...

Hey, Supreme Court? It’s Time to Take Up Software Patents (Again)

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Today, the Federal Circuit handed down a 135-page decision in an effort to set the record straight on what can and cannot be patented under § 101 of the Patent Act. Unfortunately, the ten judges could only agree on 55 words:

Upon consideration en banc, a majority of the court affirms the district court’s holding that the asserted method and computer-readable media claims are not directed to eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. An equally divided court affirms the district court’s holding that the asserted system claims are not directed to eligible subject matter under that statute.

Excuse us, what?

First, the good news: the Court agreed to strike down the dangerous patents at issue in the case, CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. These particular patents claimed to cover a computer system used for conducting closing financial transactions by avoiding settlement risk (this is simply the risk that one party cannot uphold its end of the bargain). The lower court found this invention—which "simply provides the formula, or manner, in which to use an electronic intermediary to exchange obligations as a way to hedge against the risk of loss"—abstract and therefore unpatenable. In July 2012, a three-judge ...

Former OCR Attorney Details Federal Government’s Shocking Break with Legal Precedent, Common Sense

Friday, May 10th, 2013

If you haven't read today's FIRE press release about the Departments of Justice and Education's shocking new speech code mandate, be sure to read it now. It's an important one. And when you're up to speed, check out former Office for Civil Rights (OCR) attorney Hans Bader's thorough analysis of the myriad ways yesterday's joint letter and agreement constitutes a sharp break with both well-established legal precedent and even OCR's prior guidance. 

With regard to the federal government's declaration that colleges and universities must define sexual harassment as "any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature," Hans surveys the legal landscape:   

By contrast, the Supreme Court has ruled that to constitute illegal sexual harassment, sexual advances or other verbal or physical conduct must be severe and pervasive, create a hostile environment, and be "objectively offensive" to a "reasonable person." See, e.g., Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education (1999). According to the Supreme Court, isolated instances of trivially offensive sexual speech are not illegal, and are not considered "sexual harassment" in even the broadest possible sense: the conception of harassment that applies under federal law's anti-retaliation provisions, which allow employees to sue when ...


Friday, May 10th, 2013

Here's today's press release:

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013—In a shocking affront to the United States Constitution, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have joined together to mandate that virtually every college and university in the United States establish unconstitutional speech codes that violate the First Amendment and decades of legal precedent. 

"I am appalled by this attack on free speech on campus from our own government," said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has been leading the fight against unconstitutional speech codes on America's college campuses since its founding in 1999. "In 2011, the Department of Education took a hatchet to due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct. Now the Department of Education has enlisted the help of the Department of Justice to mandate campus speech codes so broad that virtually every student will regularly violate them. The DOE and DOJ are ignoring decades of legal decisions, the Constitution, and common sense, and it is time for colleges and the public to push back." 

In a letter sent yesterday to the University of Montana that explicitly states that it is intended as "a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout ...

Departments of Justice, Education Misquote the Supreme Court

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Footnote 8 on page 5 of the May 9, 2013, letter from the Departments of Justice and Education to the University of Montana states:

While the Supreme Court in Davis v. Monroe Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 526 U.S. 629 (1999), requires deliberate indifference by the recipient to "severe and pervasive" harassment of which a recipient had actual knowledge to establish liability for damages under Title IX, shortly after those decisions were issued, OCR clarified in its 2001 Guidance that a recipient's failure to respond promptly and effectively to severe, persistent, or pervasive harassment of which it knew or should have known could violate Title IX for purposes of administrative enforcement. See Davis, 526 U.S. at, 633, 650; Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance i-vi (2001); see also U.S. Compl.-in- Intervention in Doe v. Anoka-Hennepin Sch. Dist. No. 11, No. 11-cv-01999, at 2, 5, 18, 21, 22 (Mar. 5, 2012) (alleging severe, pervasive, or persistent harassment in complaint asserting Title IX and Title IV claims). 

The first sentence of this paragraph contains a misleading quote. The phrase "severe and pervasive" never appears in the Supreme Court's decision in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education.  

Why is this ...

Hackers, Makers, and Tinkerers: Here’s How TPP Would Hurt You

Friday, May 10th, 2013

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a sprawling international agreement currently being negotiated in secret meetings between government and industry representatives around the world — claims to be focused on the kind of trade regulations that affect countries and huge corporations. But in fact, many of its provisions would have profound chilling effects on hackers, makers, and tinkerers.

The problems for hackers and makers stem from the so-called "anti-circumvention" rules that have appeared in leaked drafts of the agreement. That language reflects a controversial clause of U.S. copyright law that makes it illegal to bypass technical measures that are put in place to restrict copyrighted content — such as measures that limit the number of devices on which you can play a video you legally purchased.

Even if you are bypassing those restrictions for reasons that don't violate copyright law — say you're remixing a segment of a video under fair use rules, or trying to read an ebook on a different platform — you could still get caught in the anti-circumvention net.

You can express your concern about these problems — and others — that arise from a secret copyright agenda driving international agreements by signing our petition to stop ...

Greenwald to Central Washington Students: No Idea Beyond Challenge

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Attorney and columnist Glenn Greenwald spoke earlier this week to students at Central Washington University (CWU), delivering a vital message about the importance of freedom of expression. The Daily Record reports that in a talk presented as part of CWU's weeklong First Amendment Festival, Greenwald discussed messages and symbols students had added to a "free speech wall" throughout the day:  

George Carlin's seven dirty words. Multiple references to metal band Slayer. A swastika.

Passers-by put all of those things and more up on large paper sheets hung at the two entrances to the Student Union and Recreation Center at Central Washington University on Monday.  


Find all those nasty words on the free speech wall offensive? Don't like Slayer? Tough luck, Greenwald said. 

"Constitutional rights by their design are anti-democratic," he said. "These rights are anti-democratic because what they're designed to do is to tell not just the government, but the majority of citizens, that no matter how many of you favor a certain act, the Constitution says that you cannot do it."

Noting that much of the speech centered on "how much effort and complexity goes into maintaining a free society," the Daily Record quotes Greenwald as ...

Cartoonists Resist Censorship Abroad

Friday, May 10th, 2013
Ali Ferzat and Aseem Trivedi (Source: CRNI)

Ali Ferzat and Aseem Trivedi (Source: CRNI)

This week, David Reed with the Missouri NPR affiliate KBIA 91.3 examined editorial cartoons and freedom of expression abroad during his Global Journalist radio show. Among the topics of discussion were Ali Ferzat and Aseem Trivedi, two editorial cartoonists who have been persecuted in their home countries.

Ferzat, from Syria, was beaten and his hands broken over his satirical political cartoons. Trivedi, an Indian cartoonist, was arrested and eventually cleared of sedition charges for cartoons that were critical of India’s government. Both cartoonists were given the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award by the Cartoonists Rights Network International.

Reed was joined by Mark Fiore, the president-elect of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and Dr. Robert “Bro” Russell, executive director of Cartoonists Rights Network International. During the discussion, Reed, Fiore, and Russell discussed why cartoons draw the ire of political figures and how censorship abroad differs from censorship in the United States. Around the 9:00 mark, Russell begins describing the dire situations that some cartoonists in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are currently facing, including physical and legal harassment and situations in which the cartoonists’ very lives are at risk. ...

9th Circuit: No Relief for Copyright Troll Righthaven

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The Ninth Circuit appeals court today turned down copyright troll Righthaven’s last ditch effort to salvage its failed business model, upholding the federal district court’s decision to dismiss its bogus copyright case on the grounds that it never actually held the copyrights it was suing under.

In one of the two cases decided together, EFF represents Tad DiBiase, a criminal justice blogger who provides resources for difficult-to-prosecute "no body" murder cases. Righthaven sued DiBiase in 2010 based on a news article that DiBiase posted to his blog. Instead of paying them off, DiBiase fought back with the help of EFF and its co-counsel at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati, and helped drive Righthaven out of business.

The leading issue on appeal was whether a newspaper could transfer the right to sue for copyright infringement to a copyright troll, while retaining all other rights in the newspaper articles. (audio of argument) Under the Copyright Act, only the "owner of an exclusive right under a copyright is entitled ... to institute an action for any infringement of that particular right committed while he or she is the owner of it." 

Righthaven attempted to get around this rule by drafting a document that pretended to transfer copyrights even as a secret agreement between Righthaven and Stephens Media, ...

CBLDF Executive Director Speaking at This Weekend’s TCAF Librarian & Educator Day

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

600px-tcaf_2013_prelim_poster_maurice_vellekoop_crop_fullsizeCBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein will be participating in the second annual Librarian & Educator Day at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this weekend! On Friday, May 10, you can join Brownstein and a panel of library all stars for Comics Defense 101, a discussion of the library concerns particular to comics. From the TCAF website:

9:45 a.m.: Session C: COMICS DEFENSE 101
This panel will look not only at content concerns and challenges, but also at how to advocate for the inclusion of comics in collections and curricula. Brookline Public Library librarian Robin Brenner will moderate the discussion, which will include librarian and author Gene Ambaum, children’s librarian and former chair of the ALA/YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee Eva Volin, teacher-librarian Diana Maliszewski, manga editor and former Beguiling Library Services Coordinator Rebecca Scoble and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Charles Brownstein.

For more on TCAF’s Librarian & Educator Day, visit the TCAF website.

Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work and reporting on issues such as this by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!

FIRE President to Appear on ‘Stossel’ Tonight to Discuss Free Speech, ‘Grit’

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be featured on Fox Business Network's Stossel tonight at 9 p.m. Greg will address why colleges and universities need to honor free speech and how "being offended is a normal part of life ... and people need to get used to it." 

Tonight's show is about "grit," which host John Stossel describes as "the stuff of life" and a requirement for "overcoming obstacles." For more details about the show, including a list of tonight's other guests, visit

For those who cannot catch tonight's show, it will re-air several times this weekend.

Update to Email Privacy Law Must Go Further

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Proposals to update the email privacy law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), are moving quickly in Congress. ECPA is in dire need of an update as it was written in the mid-1980s long before the advent of ubiquitous webmail and cloud storage. In the past, ECPA was used by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain emails and other private online messages older than 180 days without a probable cause warrant. If law enforcement sought those same messages in the physical world, a warrant would be required. This difference is not only wrong, but also inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment. Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee plan to fix this.

Last month, S. 607, a bill sponsored by Senators Leahy and Lee, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill requires that law enforcement obtain a warrant if it wants any private online messages, like private Facebook messages or Twitter direct messages. The Digital Due Process coalition, a diverse coalition of privacy advocates (including EFF) and major companies, has worked hard to advance ECPA reform and should be commended for its work. But because many agencies and companies already require a warrant for all private online messages, more ...

How Comics Conquered Libraries

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

BatgirlNot 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, 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 ...

New Bipartisan Bill Proposes Real Fixes to Bad Copyright Law

Thursday, 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. ...

Victory for Free Speech: Iowa College Folds, Settling Student’s Challenge to Free Speech Zone

Thursday, 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. 

Indeed, ...

Andy Diggle Immortalizes You In Dynamite’s Uncanny Resemblance CBLDF Fundraiser!

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Uncanny01-Cov-JockAndy 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.”

Uncannyissue01pg01Uncanny 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 ...

Baking With EFF: (Not) Derby Pie, the Trademarked Treat

Wednesday, 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 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.

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Delicious. You can make your own Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie by using the recipe from this threatened blogger.

Obscenity Case Files: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

mary and johnThe 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 ...

CBLDF Celebrates May with Awesome New Premiums!

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

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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!

Name of the WindThe 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

vaderslilprincess_grandeVader’s Little Princess, by Geoffrey Brown: New to the store and signed by Brown

Matt Wagner’s Grendel Omnibus Vol. 1 and Omnibus Vol. 2, signed by Matt Wagner

AEIOU, personalized by artist Geoffrey Brown, back in ...

Fox News Host Blames Video Games During NRA Speech

Tuesday, 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 ...

CBLDF Signs On To Protect Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl

Friday, 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 ...

Obscenity Case Files: United States v. One Book Called “Ulysses”

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

cover_ulyssesJames 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 ...

Texas Day of Action 4/26: Fight for Ethnic Studies!

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

librotraficantesRight now the Texas state legislature is considering a bill that would require college students to take the equivalent of two semesters of “courses providing a comprehensive survey in American History” in order to graduate. One of the two semesters could be Texan History. The new bill is evidently a “reinforcement” of a 1971 law mandating students take six hours of American history.

While the legislation makes no mention of ethnic studies, Mexican-American studies, Women’s Studies, African-American Studies or the like, its not hard to see that it follows on the heels of Arizona’s law banning ethnic studies in that state.

It also follows on the heels of a January 2013 report on U.S History courses at Texas A&M and UT by the National Association of Scholars, “Recasting History: Are Race, Class and Gender Dominating American History?” Spoiler: their answer is yes.

Sen. Dan Patrick has defended his bill, saying that “the simple purpose of SB 1128 is to be sure that our core curriculum in history represents a comprehensive understanding of our history in areas of the economy, politics, war and other significant events that have helped shape our past and who we are today.”

While not an outright ...

8th Grade Student Suspended and Arrested for Apparel at School (And no, this is not 1965)

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

tinkerLogan Middle School student Jared Marcum took a trip to the courthouse after a confrontation over his t-shirt last week. The t-shirt boasted the National Rifle Association’s logo and the words “Know Your Rights” over an image of a hunting rifle.

The student was approached by a teacher in the middle of the school day who apparently asked him to turn the shirt inside out or take it off. The t-shirt does not appear to violate the Logan County School’s dress code.  When Marcum didn’t comply, he was arrested for “disrupting an educational process and obstructing an officer.”

“What they’re doing is trying to take away my rights, to freedom of speech and the second amendment,” Marcum told news reporters.

Coincidentally, today, free speech legend Mary Beth Tinker — of Tinker v. Des Moines fame — launched a crowd-sourcing campaign for her Tinker Tour.

In 1965, at age 13, Mary Beth  was suspended for wearing a black armband in protest of the Vietnam war. She and other students were told they couldn’t return to school until they took off their armbands. They filed a lawsuit and removed their bands, but continued to protest by wearing black clothing for the ...

New Zealand Man Jailed for Watching Anime

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Ronald Clark, a man from Auckland, New Zealand, has been sentenced to three months jail and may be further sentenced to 10 years of supervision and penalties. His crime: watching Japanese anime featuring pixies, elves, trolls, and other fantasy characters engaged in sexual acts.

In New Zealand, drawn depictions of underage characters engaged in sexual acts is considered possession of objectionable material, and therefore prosecutable under the law. A court deemed that the Japanese anime Clark was viewing depicted underage characters. As such, it is objectionable material and its possession led to his conviction.

Twenty-four years ago, Clark was convicted of indecently assaulting a teenage years ago, but he had undergone extensive rehabilitation and had not reoffended. Reports indicate that the objectionable pornography found in Clark’s possession was drawn or animated. Journalist Ian Steward shares the response from Clark’s lawyer, Roger Bowden:

They weren’t even depictions of people — Clark’s lawyer Roger Bowden described them as “pixies and trolls” that “you knew at a glance weren’t human.”

Bowden said [Clark's] conviction for possessing objectionable material was “the law gone mad.”

New Zealand-based anti-child pornography groups have applauded the decision, claiming that the viewing of animated pornography could lead crimes against ...

Michigan Court Reverses Denial of Protective Order for Anonymous Critic of Cooley Law School

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Earlier this month, a Michigan state appeals court ruled (PDF) that a former student who had strongly criticized Thomas M. Cooley Law School on his blog might be entitled to remain anonymous after the school sued him for defamation. The blog, titled "Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam," lists disheartening statistics relating to the Michigan-based school and its graduates and aims "to bring truth and awareness to the students getting suckered in by this unethical, hypocritical, corporatized, and despicable excuse for a law school." FIRE is glad to see the court acknowledge the role that anonymity plays in citizens enjoying their right to free speech.

After initiating the suit against John Doe in a Michigan court, Cooley asked a California court to issue a subpoena to Weebly Inc., the blog's California-based host company, so that Cooley would receive Doe's personal information. Since Cooley announced the lawsuit on its website, Doe was able to file a motion to quash the subpoena or issue a protective order—in other words, to keep his identity private—revealed Doe's identity to Cooley. Doe refused to withdraw his motion for a protective order, since a court could still prevent Cooley from sharing Doe's information with others.

The ...

Susan Alston Recalls Early Days of CBLDF

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
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Susan Allston (Source: The Republican; (c) John Suchocki)

Susan Alston has a long history with CBLDF. The Fund’s first Executive Director, a former Board of Directors member, and now a member of the CBLDF Advisory Board, Alston has watched the Fund grow from a tiny operation that ran out of her Northampton garage into a New York City-based organization that has become a touchstone for free speech advocacy.

Fred Contrada with The Republican profiled Alston in a recent article, bringing to light how much the Fund has grown and Alston’s ongoing role with the organization. In the article, Contrada describes Alston’s route to the Fund through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle publisher Tundra, which eventually merged with Kitchen Sink Press. There, Alston met CBLDF founder Denis Kitchen, who asked her to oversee the Fund.

Contrada describes Alston’s early days with CBLDF:

For a couple of years, Alston ran the fund out of a detached garage at her Northampton home on Prospect Street.

“I had a 50-foot phone cord I used to plug everything in,” she said. “In the winter, I’d haul it over snow banks.”

As a member of the Advisory Board, Alston remains as adamantly committed to CBLDF as ...

Bell Tolls for Appalachian State Chancellor, Not the Liberty Bell!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

There's an old saying FIRE recycles on occasion to mark the end of a university president's tenure when that tenure has been marred by a disregard for campus free speech: The bell tolls for [insert name of president here]—not the Liberty Bell!

It's been a long time since we dusted off that FIRE favorite, but the time is ripe to break it out again to commemorate the resignation of Appalachian State University Chancellor Kenneth Peacock (who will stay on until a successor is named). The academic freedom case of sociology professor Jammie Price explains why. As we've chronicled, Price was removed from teaching her introductory sociology course in March 2012 based on a series of remarks in which she allegedly criticized App State student athletes and the handling of sexual assault cases involving them, as well as for her in-class screening of a documentary that critically examined the adult film industry.

Price was suspended without a formal hearing. A highly flawed App State investigation found that Price had created a "hostile learning environment" with her classroom conduct and imposed an onerous "professional development plan" on Price that intruded on her academic freedom. App State's handling of Price's case has ...

The Disconcerting Details: How Facebook Teams Up With Data Brokers to Show You Targeted Ads

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Recently, we published a blog post that described how to opt out of seeing ads on Facebook targeted to you based on your offline activities. This post explained where these companies get their data, what information they share with Facebook, or what this means for your privacy.

So get ready for the nitty-gritty details: who has your information, how they get it, and what they do with it.  It’s a lot of information, so we’ve organized it into an FAQ for convenience.

What are data brokers and how did they get my information?

Is there a government surveillance aspect to this?

What information is flowing between data brokers and Facebook?

What does opting out mean?

Does Facebook have standards for companies that want to work with them?

Will Facebook show me targeted ads off of Facebook?

What should Facebook be doing differently?

What are data brokers and how did they get my information?

Data brokers are companies that trade in information on people – names, addresses, phone numbers, details of shopping habits, and personal data such as whether someone owns cats or is divorced.  This information comes from easily accessible public data (such as data from the phone book) as ...

Revival Raises Money for CBLDF With New Liberty Variant at C2E2!

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

revival 9The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Image Comics are thrilled to announce that Revival #9 will be the next issue joining the prestigious CBLDF Liberty Variant program! Premiering this week at C2E2, this CBLDF Liberty Variant edition of the latest installment of the rural noir hit boasts a gorgeous cover by Tim Seeley and is strictly limited to 500 copies. Copies of the Revival #9 Liberty Variant will be available for donations of $10 each for CBLDF members and $20 each for non-members. Seeley will be signing copies of the book to benefit CBLDF this Saturday, April 27, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. at CBLDF booth 837.

“Without the CBLDF’s work, I wouldn’t be making comics today,” said series writer and co-creator Tim Seeley. “Their efforts to speak out for creators and to push back when groups look to censor our stories make it possible for guys like me to create the stories that matter to us. With the my home city of Chicago currently involved in banning the acclaimed graphic novel Persepolis, I’m glad to give back to help the CBLDF in their efforts to protect the freedom to read comics.”

Revival follows the events ...

Three Vanderbilt Students Teach a Freshman about Free Speech

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Last week, in an article for the Vanderbilt Hustler titled "Chalk Gods," Vanderbilt University freshman Rani Banjarian wrote about feeling marginalized by religious messages written in chalk on the campus pavement: 

Trudging resolutely forward in my 7:55 a.m. stupor, functioning on fewer than five hours of sleep, I found myself particularly put-off by the statements of God's greatness and His love that screamed out at me incessantly. I almost wanted to pull my backpack up around my head, duck and make a run for it, and while my questioning the intentions of those chalk markings is not as extreme, I admit that in the moment, the whole thing was quite overwhelming.


I felt incredibly marginalized knowing that I would not "let HIM lead," as the chalk markings suggested. Such statements do not belong in the public sphere, and I cannot see how anyone could possibly condone such blatant evangelism.

Former FIRE intern and Vanderbilt junior Kenny Tan alerted us to three letters to the editor in response to the "Chalk Gods" piece that make important points about free speech and controversial issues. 

First, freshman Perry Belcher points out the double standard Banjarian seems to apply to religious ...


Monday, April 22nd, 2013

make-good-art-poster-zen-pencilsIn a recent post on his personal blog, CBLDF Advisory Board member Chip Kidd related a pretty cool story about an Australian cartoonist, Neil Gaiman, and a poster of Gaiman’s famous speech about making good art. Kidd writes:

Back in May of 2012 [cartoonist Gavin Aung Than] had seen the (now famous) speech of the bestselling author, Neil Gaiman, who delivered a special commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he urged them to “Make Good Art”. Now, after seeing this speech, Gavin was inspired to create a special comic strip quoting a small portion of Gaiman’s address. I mean, the speech was about, “Hey! Go Make some ART”, so he did! You can read that COMIC STRIP by clicking right HERE.

When Aung Than approached Gaiman about selling poster versions of his strip, Gaiman had one caveat: A portion of the proceeds must benefit CBLDF’s important First Amendment work!

The poster is available in five sizes, set to fit in any space you have to decorate. You can ...

Party ‘Self-Confidence’ Breeds Corruption, Pollution

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

The 18th Party Congress has nearly been forgotten, but I would like to remind people in a serious tone of its essence. The way in which the communique ... brought up the idea of building a learning-focused, creative, and service-oriented Party was second to none and without precedent. It was more succinct than Stalin's "Concluding Remarks on the History of the Soviet Communist Party," more so than Mao Zedong's "Report on the Amendments to the Party Constitution," and pithier than the speeches on amendments to the Party constitution delivered separately to the 7th and 8th Party Congresses by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. As for Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents" theory, it is a flaw in the annals of Party construction.

Jiang Zemin's Three Represents theory (which supposedly represents "the broadest and the most advanced") is really three jokes about three self-serving ideas and three monopolies, turned by the three prides into the fulfillment of Mao's prediction about the people falling behind. In doing away with the old figures of speech (the proletariat, the revolution, and Marxism-Leninism), it probably had three effects, but it also lifted the veil on its own inner workings.

So, the 18th Party Congress said it would ...

Lukianoff and Shibley: ’6 Ways to Defeat Campus Censors’

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Today over at Manhattan Institute's Minding the Campus, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff and Senior Vice President Robert Shibley discuss "6 Ways to Defeat Campus Censors." They suggest that possible solutions may include forcing all colleges accepting federal funding to enact policies promising free speech, targeting prime constituencies like alumni and high school students, or even launching an aggressive litigation campaign against those schools maintaining unconstitutional speech policies. 

Head on over to Minding the Campus to read Lukianoff and Shibley's thought-provoking piece and join the conversation!

Activists, Monks Blocked From Sichuan Quake-Hit Area

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Chinese authorities have blocked rights groups and Tibetan monks from participating in rescue efforts in an earthquake-struck zone in southwestern Sichuan province, activists said Sunday as the toll of the dead and missing from the tremblor climbed past 200.

The quake—measured by China's earthquake administration at magnitude 7.0 and by the U.S. Geological Survey at 6.6—struck early Saturday in Lushan county, near the city of Ya'an, close to where a devastating 7.9 quake hit in May 2008, leaving 90,000 dead or missing.

Veteran Sichuan activist Huang Qi told RFA's Mandarin Service on Sunday that he and several other activists were intercepted by police while they were hurrying to Ya'an, a city of 1.5 million people and home to one of China's main centers for protecting the giant panda.

“The authorities kept us for several hours, warning us not to ‘add more trouble’ to the disaster," Huang said.

A policeman indirectly reminded Huang about his imprisonment for his involvement in relief efforts during the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, in which 5,335 schoolchildren were among the dead.

“I explained to them that we would not and cannot create any trouble in the quake zone … But they blocked us from going there,” ...

Six Charged Over China-Burma Pipeline Protests

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Burmese authorities charged six villagers with illegal assembly on Friday for protesting a controversial China-backed pipeline project in western Rakhine state which they say is destroying their community’s livelihood.

The six were believed to be among organizers of mass protests on Thursday against the Shwe Gas Project, a joint venture largely between the official petroleum groups of China and Burma in Maday Island off the coast of Kyaukpyu town in the Bay of Bengal.

They were charged with holding the demonstrations without official permits.

According to reports, a number of Maday residents who work as laborers for Beijing’s state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) were fired Friday for protesting the project.

About 400 people had participated in the protests, complaining they were inadequately compensated after giving up their land for the project and demanding that the project developers provide better transportation infrastructure and higher salaries for local workers.

The group had applied for permits to protest in December at both the Kyaukpyu township and Rakhine state level, but were rejected both times.

Maung Maung Myint, Sai Aye, Myo Naing, Yein Hla, Maung Maung Soe and Thein Kyaw, who had led the protests in front of the developer’s office in Kyaukpyu, ...