Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Exciting Job Opportunity: FIRE Seeking Summer Research Assistant

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Philadelphia Skyline 

FIRE is pleased to announce a new Research Assistant position for which we will start taking applications immediately. The position, described in full at the link above, is an excellent opportunity for an undergraduate or graduate student with an interest in higher education seeking an internship-like experience this summer. Work location and specific work hours for this position are negotiable.

If you are interested, don't hesitate to submit your application! FIRE is looking to fill this position quickly, so apply now. If you know someone who may be interested, please pass this job opportunity on to them.

Philadelphia skyline photo by Rebecca Wilson. 

Petition Drive as Australian University Cancels Dalai Lama Talk

Friday, April 19th, 2013

The University of Sydney, one of Australia's top institutions of higher learning, has canceled a scheduled talk by Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, apparently due to pressure from China, triggering a global petition drive by a Tibetan students group to get the university to reverse the decision.

The university's Institute for Democracy and Human Rights had organized the on-campus talk by the Dalai Lama during his visit in June but decided recently to move the event off campus.

The move came after the university warned the organizer against using its logo or allowing media coverage or entry to the event by Free Tibet activists, according to reports.

"The university 'withdrew its support,' I think are the words that are used," Stuart Rees, emeritus professor at the University of Sydney, told Australia's national public broadcaster ABC News.

"Now whether they withdrew their support because they didn't think he was an appropriate person to have intellectually or politically or whether they withdrew their support because of outside pressures, I'm not sure," he said.

ABC said it had obtained emails from the head of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights to the university's vice chancellor, Michael Spence, confirming the decision "to ...

Syracuse University Students Risk Discipline to Cheer Each Other Up

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Post-It Notes

Students at Syracuse University have followed in the footsteps of their peers at Rutgers University with a project called SU Stickies. Syracuse student Allie Caren said that she started the project to "spread happiness and a smile" by leaving inspirational messages on Post-it notes around campus. Students have reacted positively, noting that the stickies seem to pop up just when they need to hear encouraging words. And project participants are motivated to use the stickies to create a greater sense of community on campus. 

But it turns out that this uplifting and inspiring expression actually violates Syracuse's campus posting policy. The policy limits posted items to general-purpose bulletin boards in campus buildings and requires that all items include the poster's name. Posting in some locations even requires approval from "the appropriate department." 

Syracuse has earned a "red light" rating from FIRE for enacting policies that restrict protected speech, despite its statement that "freedom of discussion is essential to the search for truth." In the past, Syracuse has responded negatively to anonymous speech in particular. 

So will Syracuse enforce its posting policy consistently and without considering the content and viewpoint of the speech? Syracuse has created a dilemma for itself—it ...

Uyghur Businessman Attacked After Demolition Complaint

Friday, April 19th, 2013

A Uyghur man who protested a Chinese company’s demolition of his grandmother’s house in the restive Xinjiang region has been seriously assaulted and threatened with being forced into a psychiatric facility, according to sources.

Eli Quddus, a businessman who runs an import-export company, suffered a head injury when he and his brother-in-law were attacked at the company’s office by a group of up to 20 Han Chinese men armed with sticks and knives in the regional capital Urumqi on Monday.

The two had discussed compensation with a manager at the Touxing Company and were waiting to speak with a director when the group stormed into the office, calling them “troublemakers,” and assaulted them.

Land disputes, a common occurrence in China, have aggravated ethnic tensions in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where Uyghurs complain of an incoming tide of Han Chinese taking over their homeland.

After Eli Quddus was treated for the head injury in the emergency room of Urumqi’s No. 2 Hospital, doctors warned him that he could be sent to the No. 4 Hospital, a facility for the mentally ill. They told him there was no space for him to have a regular bed at the No. 2 Hospital.

...

Student Challenges Des Moines Area Community College Speech Code

Friday, April 19th, 2013

On Monday, Des Moines Area Community College student Jacob Dagel filed a lawsuit challenging the school’s strict limitations on where students may distribute flyers. In addition to restricting leaflets to a “speech zone” consisting of a hallway with tables, the complaint alleges that the school requires students to “obtain a permit to use the speech zone 10 businessDMACCdays in advance of the expected activity, but the College retains unfettered discretion to determine whether student speech may occur at all.” The suit was filed with assistance from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Des Moines Register reports that on March 28, a campus security official prevented Dagel from 

handing out flyers protesting school subsidies to the Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth. Enforcement of the school’s policy is particularly deplorable in this case because political speech like Dagel’s is at the core of what the First Amendment is meant to protect.

ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot emphasizes what is at stake:

Free, spontaneous discourse on college campuses is supposed to be a hallmark of higher education rather than the exception to the rule. … A permission slip should not be needed every time students wish to express their views on ...

A Librarian Considers Persepolis

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Persepolis1CoverLast month a Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) directive seemed to require that copies of Marjane Satrapi’s memoir Persepolis be removed from classrooms and school libraries. A later memo clarified that the book was allowed to remain in libraries; the concerns about its content — specifically, visual depictions of acts of torture — were limited to its instructional use in seventh grade.

How CPS handled this particular situation is beyond the scope of my comments. Similarly I don’t intend to address whether seventh graders are equipped to handle a couple of pages of visually stylized barbarism. Instead, as a librarian, I want to touch on the issue of what belongs in a school library’s collection.

Twenty years ago, I was a school librarian in a central Indiana high school. Comics and graphic novels were not much on librarians’ radars at that time. In fact, the only comics that were in the library’s collection were ones I added: Maus, The Cartoon History of the Universe, and a handful of Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes collections. I wasn’t worried about anyone asking me to remove those books, but I was nervous about some of the other titles I purchased.

NancyGarden_AnnieOnMyMindMy first ...

Vader’s Lil Princess Signed by Jeffrey Brown — Now With Sketches!

Friday, April 19th, 2013

A few days ago, we launched a very cool fundraiser with creator supporter Jeffrey Brown. By donating here, you could request a personalized copy of his upcoming release Vader’s Little Princess, the follow-up to the smash hit Darth Vader and Son.

vaderslilprincess_grande

Since the offer went live, Jeffrey has graciously offered to also SKETCH in the book, as well as personalize it for anyone donating $75 (use the drop down menu here). This is a rare and awesome opportunity to get a great gift for a parent, a friend, or a friend that is a parent! Or just for yourself! All proceeds benefit the important First Amendment work of CBLDF.

Thanks to Jeffrey for his continued support!

Orders must be in by April 25, so visit the CBLDF Rewards Zone to get your personalized and sketched copy of Vader’s Little Princess today!

 

 

 

Illinois Library Board Votes to Keep M-Rated Games

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Here’s some good news on the video-games-and-violence front: Earlier this week, the board of the Elmhurst, Illinois, public library unanimously voted to keep M-rated games in the collection, despite a challenge from a small number of citizens who wanted them banned. In contrast to the library in Paterson, New Jersey, which last month blocked all online games on its computers for users under 12 years of age, the Elmhurst board members and library director Mary Beth Campe “made clear [that] they see the inclusion of the materials in the library’s collection as an issue of First Amendment freedom of expression.”

Campe pointed out that there is no evidence linking video games to violent crime, and that games should be treated just like books and other media in the library’s materials selection policy, which aims to build a collection containing “the widest possible diversity of views and expression.” Board member Jan Vanek concurred, pointing out that the library keeps the Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey series in its collection even though some people consider them objectionable, and video games should not be any different. Campe and the board’s level-headed consideration of video games as just another form of expression, ...

Another Legal Victory for YouTube: When Will Viacom Wise Up and Walk Away?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

A federal judge handed Google/YouTube another victory yesterday in the long-running Viacom v. YouTube lawsuit. The same judge had ruled decisively against Viacom back in 2010, finding that YouTube was protected from copyright infringement liability for the activities of its users by the safe harbors of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  

Just over a year ago, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals revived the entertainment giant’s lawsuit – but simultaneously eviscerated most of Viacom's legal theories. The appellate court found that YouTube was protected from liability except where the company actually knew of (or was willfully blind to) specific instances of infringement of material at issue in the case, or facts or circumstances indicating such specific infringement. In a bit of a technical point, the court also said it was unclear whether syndicating clips might be the kind of activity contemplated by the safe harbors. Finally, the court suggested that YouTube might be liable if it had exerted “substantial influence” on the infringing activities of users. The court then sent the case back to the district court for a determination on the unresolved issues. 

That determination has been made and it is a resounding win for ...

EFF Moves to Quash Subpoena in Copyright Troll’s Retaliatory Lawsuit

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Yesterday, we filed a motion to quash a subpoena seeking the identity of the blogger behind Die Troll Die, a website dedicated to “News and Views Involving Copyright Trolls & John/Jane Does.”

For years, Die Troll Die has been covering news about Prenda Law and its predecessor Steele Hansmeier PLLC, amoung many others. Prenda Law is a porn troll.  This means that it looks for IP addresses that allegedly downloaded adult films via BitTorrent, seeks to subpoena the ISP for the contact information of the account holder associated with that IP address, and then threatens to name the alleged infringer in a copyright lawsuit, right next to the embarrassing title of a pornographic film. Or just settle, for thousands of dollars.

The tactics of Prenda Law and its main attorneys, Paul Duffy, John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Brett Gibbs have faced well-deserved criticism, from the blogs and from the bench. EFF has been working on the issue for some time, filing amicus briefs and offering expert testimony. Nevertheless, Prenda Law and its affiliated attorneys have filed hundreds of cases, against tens of thousands of people, and, according to John Steele, made millions of dollars.

Over the last ...

Lewis and Shaw: Schools Must Preserve Rights in Sexual Assault Cases

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Balancing the rights of the accused and the alleged victim in sexual assault cases is a delicate matter. Harry Lewis, former dean of Harvard College, and Jane Shaw, president of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, wrote in Forbes.com yesterday on the ways in which college judiciaries exacerbate this problem.

The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights' April 4, 2011 directive that colleges use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard of proof for determining guilt in sexual misconduct cases has resulted in many of those cases boiling down to nearly arbitrary judgments in "he said, she said" cases. As FIRE has discussed at length, and as Lewis and Shaw write in their op-ed, this leads to a dangerous result:

The lower standard of proof will result in more convictions—of both guilty and innocent individuals. For some, perhaps, a few false positives are merely the collateral damage of outcomes that are more just in aggregate. But this is not a convincing argument in a society that values individual rights. The lower penalty for a conviction in a college court-a "rapist" label and career-shattering expulsion, rather than imprisonment—does not justify a lower standard of proof.

Lewis and Shaw also point ...

CBLDF Board Member Dale Cendali Named One of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

cendali_daleCongratulations to CBLDF Board of Directors Secretary Dale Cendali, who was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by The National Law Journal!

In their synopsis about Cendali, The National Law Journal describes just a few of her diverse accomplishments:

When it comes to pop culture, Dale Cendali is often fighting to protect creators’ rights. A leading light in copyright and trademark, Cendali, 54, went to battle for The Associated Press over unauthorized use of a photo of Barack Obama by artist Shepard Fairey and is perhaps J.K. Rowling’s favorite U.S. lawyer, having won infringement cases for the Harry Potter author. She’s served as counsel to the International Trademark Association and led IP groups within the American Bar Association. Besides working as head of Kirkland & Ellis’ copyright, trademark and Internet practice groups, she has served as an adjunct at Harvard Law School.

The National Law Journal looked at political clout, legal results, media presence, business leadership, and legal commentary as criteria for selecting lawyers for the list. A partner at Kirkland & Ellis, Cendali has long been recognized for her leadership and advocacy in the field of intellectual property, and she has successfully argued several ...

U.S. House of Representatives Shamefully Passes CISPA; Internet Freedom Advocates Prepare for a Battle in the Senate

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Today, Internet freedom advocates everywhere turned their eyes to the U.S. House of Representatives as that legislative body considered the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.  

For the second year in a row,  the House voted to approve CISPA, a bill that would allow companies to bypass all existing privacy law to spy on communications and pass sensitive user data to the government.  EFF condemns the vote in the House and vows to continue the fight in the Senate.

"CISPA is a poorly drafted bill that would provide a gaping exception to bedrock privacy law,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said. “While we all agree that our nation needs to address pressing Internet security issues, this bill sacrifices online privacy while failing to take common-sense steps to improve security."

The legislation passed 288-127, despite a veto threat from Pres. Barack Obama, who expressed serious concerns about the danger CISPA poses to civil liberties.

"This bill undermines the privacy of millions of Internet users,” said Rainey Reitman, EFF Activism Director.  “Hundreds of thousands of Internet users opposed this bill, joining the White House and Internet security experts in voicing concerns about the civil liberties ramifications of CISPA.  We’re committed to ...

No Charges Filed Against Indiana University Student Arrested for Sarcastic Tweet

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

At the behest of Indiana University-Bloomington (IUB) Provost Lauren Robel, the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office in Bloomington, Indiana, announced on Tuesday that it will not file felony intimidation charges against IUB student Alex Carlisle. 

Carlisle turned himself in to police last week after a tweet he posted was interpreted as a death threat against Robel. The tweet, which read "Kill Provost Robel," came alongside a retweet from the Twitter handle @IUonStrike.

At first glance I could see how Carlisle's tweet could raise some eyebrows. But for anyone who follows happenings at IUB closely, it should become quickly apparent that, in context, the tweet amounts to little more than a sarcastic comment on a hot-button campus issue.

As an IUB alumnus and former columnist for IUB's student paper, the Indiana Daily Student (IDS), I happen to be pretty tied into what's going on at my alma mater. For weeks, I've been reading stories about a strike planned at IUB for April 11 and 12 to coincide with the annual Indiana University Board of Trustees meeting. Organized by IU on Strike, a group of IUB community members, the strike's main goal was to pressure the university administration to meet ...

Free webinar on reporting and responding to challenges to library materials

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Register now for “Defend the Freedom to Read: Reporting Challenges”

Challenges to library materials take place in schools and libraries across this country every day. One of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s primary duties is to track challenges and to provide support to librarians, teachers, library workers, trustees, and others who are dealing with these challenges.

As part of this effort, OIF is pleased to offer a free, interactive webinar on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 from 1-2 p.m. Central time, focused on challenges: formal requests that materials in libraries and schools be removed due to their content or appropriateness. We’ll discuss the current state of challenges – what’s causing controversy right now – and talk about ALA’s efforts to document as many challenges as possible in order to raise awareness about this fundamental intellectual freedom issue. Attendees will learn about the resources and support ALA can offer when libraries are preparing for or responding to challenges. Whether you’re a veteran intellectual freedom fighter or a newbie, this webinar will provide you with information and ideas to help advocate for the freedom to read in your community.

To register, visit http://ala.adobeconnect.com/e34emkdvckk/event/event_info.html. This webinar will be recorded and available in ...

Christina Hoff Sommers on ‘The War Against Boys,’ ‘One Nation Under Therapy,’ and the ‘Tyranny of Niceness’ (VIDEO)

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

"The ideal of liberty and freely speaking your mind is so quintessentially American."

FIRE Board of Advisors member Christina Hoff Sommers is no stranger to speaking her mind. As the author of books such as The War Against Boys and One Nation Under Therapy, Sommers has taken firm stances on many hot button issues.

But in FIRE's latest video, Sommers argues that today's students are afraid to express their own potentially controversial viewpoints. She believes students are enveloped within a cultural phenomenon she calls "the tyranny of niceness." So concerned with not offending their peers' beliefs, students are hesitant to take a stand for what they believe in.

"What [students] are supposed to be doing is developing ideas and challenging them, learning how to debate," says Sommers. "We have a generation of kids who can't argue. They think that will create tension or there's something wrong with it. Well, if you can't argue, you can't think."

The Only Thing the Broadcasting Treaty Is Good For Is Crushing Innovation

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

For those of us following the continuing saga of the unnecessary and harmful WIPO Broadcasting Treaty, its latest manifestation is starting to have the feel of a tired movie franchise. Every few years, as soon as Hollywood thinks it can squeeze a few more dollars out of a new installment, the same bad idea gets rehashed with the same cast of characters, and still no substance.

But unlike a bad sequel, we can't just ignore each new round of negotiations: the interests pushing for the treaty are counting on a lapse of vigilance from the public in order to push the bad policy through.

So what is the Broadcasting Treaty, anyway? In short, the idea is to create a new bundle of copyright-like veto points for broadcasters. In official descriptions, those new broadcaster powers are referred to as "rights," but that language clouds the fact that the treaty is really about creating new restrictions.

Let's say a broadcaster shows a public domain movie on their network. Currently, nobody can restrict your rights to use that film however you like — whether that's recording it to watch later, making a remix with it, or even broadcasting it over your ...

Countdown to Choose Privacy Week, May 1-7

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

In this era of “Big Data,” we know that our location, our phone calls, our purchases, our Facebook posts and our web site visits are being monitored, recorded, collected, and stored.  But too often we can’t tell who’s collecting our data, or how they’re making use of our personal information.

During Choose Privacy Week, May 1-7, 2013,  we invite everyone to answer the critical question, “Who’s tracking you?”  We believe everyone should have the right to know who’s collecting their information and choose how their private data is used.

“People who understand how personal data is generated, collected, stored, and used are better equipped to take control of their personal data and demand accountability from the agencies and corporations that store and use their information,” says Barbara Jones, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

This year’s Choose Privacy Week observance will feature a week-long online forum that will include an introduction by Barbara Jones and guest commentaries by academics, librarians, and civil liberties experts that discuss current threats to personal privacy and how each threat impacts personal freedoms and civil liberties.  The commentaries will be presented on the newly redesigned website hosted at www.chooseprivacyweek.org, the online hub ...

Party with CBLDF and Threadless During C2E2!

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

image

C2E2 is just around the corner, so now’s the time to make your party plans! Your favorite t-shirt guru and ours, Threadless, is throwing CBLDF the biggest party of the weekend. If you aren’t at Threadless HQ (1260 W. Madison Street, Chicago) on Saturday night, April 27, 2013, then you will be missing free beer, special guests, live art and music, raffles, and more!

The invite from Threadless:

Fellow comic geeks and freaks,

Join us at Threadless HQ on April 27 for a night of live music, drawing and merriment.  ShowYouSuck and Auggie the 9th will perform live! We’ll dance to sweet jams, draw on a mural wall and raffle off tons of awesome prizes! Come for the free Finch’s beer, and stay for the special guest appearances from some of your favorite comic peeps!

Your $10 donation at the door will benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense fund.

You must be 21+ to join us at this event.

The Threadless + CBDLF party starts at 8:00 p.m., April 27, 2013. To RSVP and get directions to Threadless HQ, visit the event page.

threadless_logoWebBlack-300x97

 

UPDATED: Help Stop 1-800-CONTACTS from Abusing Patents to Squelch Competition

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

UPDATE APRIL 22:

1-800-CONTACTS contacted us, through their lawyer, to complain about this post. The company complains that we incorrectly stated that it does not provide a virtual try-on system. Well, it turns out that the company (which owns Glasses.com) intends to launch a virtual try-on iPad app. We weren't aware of this app. And this is not surprising, since it is not yet available and was publicized on April 17, 2013, the same day as our post. In contrast, Ditto's competing product was launched back in April last year.

1-800-CONTACTS also protests that there is nothing "scandalous" about its CEO visiting Ditto's site to check out its product. We agree. There is certainly nothing wrong with keeping tabs on the competition. What we do think is scandalous, however, is what the company did next. After checking out Ditto's product, 1-800-CONTACTS apparently went out and purchased a patent in order to sue its competitor. This is the key fact and one the company's response to us carefully avoids mentioning. Indeed, 1-800-CONTACTS claims that its CEO is the "inventor" of its own app. But the company's lawsuit is based on U.S. Patent 7,016,824, a patent that has nothing whatsoever to ...

Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants tops the frequently challenged books list of 2012

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom released the top ten most frequently challenged books list of 2012 as part of the State of America’s Library Report on Monday, April 15. Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series ranked #1, having been challenged for “offensive language” and “unsuited to age group.” Captain Underpants also appeared on the Top Ten lists in 2002, 2004, and 2005. New to the Top Ten list are Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher at #3, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James at #4, and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls at #9. Back on the list after one year off is Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three.

Out of 464 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell ...

Amendment Won’t Stop Data Going to National Security Agency

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Update: Note that the Hill article referenced below was working with an earlier draft of the amendment. The version introduced today was different from the version made available to the Hill.

An amendment to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was just adopted on the House Floor. See the text attached.

Recent reporting of this amendment characterized it as a major privacy improvement, stating that this amendment "would ensure that the Homeland Security Department (DHS), a civilian agency, would be the first recipient of cyber threat data from companies."

This is false.

The amendment in question does not strike or amend the part of CISPA that actually deals with data flowing from companies to other entities, including the federal government. The bill still says that: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes...share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government." The liability immunity provisions also remain.

While this amendment does change a few things about how that information is treated within the government, it does not amend the primary sharing section of the bill and thus would not prevent companies from sharing data directly with military intelligence ...

Protests After Alaska School Censors Student Art Show

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

“Art is a way to speak our minds!!!” one hand-drawn sign reads. “IB Art Matters!” reads another. These sigPalmerHighprotestns hang on the art display boards where art, done by Palmer High School’s IB Art students, once hung. In response to recent censorship by the High School, students have made their voice heard in defense of their work and in support of free speech.

Each year, the school displays the IB (International Baccalaureate) student works in a show in the school’s upper commons. At first, this year’s show was no different: the students hung their art and met with fellow students, artists, art professionals and gallery owners to discuss their work and research.

Then, last week, a parent passing through the school at an after-school event didn’t like what they saw and complained to the school, district and state legislators. Some of the works featured nudes, others referred to issues of violence, homosexuality and transgender identity.

The school principal ordered the art work be covered with red paper the very next day and gave students an ultimatum: move the art to the library, a far less public place space where viewers would “make a conscious choice” to view the art ...

CISPA Goes to The Floor for a Vote, Privacy Amendments Blocked

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Yesterday, the US House prepared for the debate on the privacy-invading "cybersecurity" bill called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The rules committee hearing was the last stop before the bill is voted on by the full House.

In the hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) was questioned about the core problems in the bill, like the broad immunity and new corporate spying powers. In response, he characterized users who oppose CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement. 

The bill may be voted on as early as Wednesday. This means there’s little time left to speak out. Please tell your Representative to vote no on the bill:

Call your Representative

Tweet at your Representative

Here are some of the takeaways from the hearing.

Rep. Rogers Dismisses CISPA Opponents as Teenage Basement Tweeters

After a heated exchange about the overly broad legal immunity, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) noted the widespread opposition to CISPA by Internet users. In response, Rep. Rogers characterized opponents to CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement. See the video here.

Of course, many people oppose CISPA -- several thousand of whom tweeted at Rogers after his remark.

Internet companies like Mozilla, ...

Who Really Opposes CISPA?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

In a hearing earlier today on the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), Representative Mike Rogers dismissed the opposition to the bill. He compared opponents of the bill to a "14 year old" tweeting in a basement (watch the video).

The Internet responded - tweeting directly to Mike Rogers. Look below to see some of the many tweets. Want to see even more? Search @RepMikeRogers on Twitter.

Despite recent amendments, CISPA still features vague language that could put your personal information in the hands of military organizations like the National Security Agency. Please help oppose CISPA by calling your representative and signing our petition.

Add your voice to the opposition.

48 Hours Left to Stop CISPA in the House

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on CISPA.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is supposed to promote cybersecurity—a goal EFF wholeheartedly supports—but it doesn't address common-sense network security issues. Instead, it creates a new, dangerous exception to existing privacy laws. That’s why hundreds of thousands of concerned Internet users have joined EFF and other civil liberties groups in opposing the bill. This is our last chance to stop it in the House.

Despite recent amendments, CISPA still features vague language that could put your personal information in the hands of military organizations like the National Security Agency.

Can you call your representative and tell him or her to oppose this bill?  We'll give you the phone number for your representative and a very brief suggested script. Click here to call Congress now.

Not in the United States? Click here to sign our petition.

We want to generate thousands of calls between now and the vote—likely on Thursday.  Please call now and then tell your friends to speak out on this important issue. It’s as easy as posting this on your social networking accounts:

Congress is about to vote on CISPA. If you care ...

Amnesty International USA receives the 2013 John Philip Immroth Memorial Award

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

amnesty-international-logo

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) announces that Amnesty International USA is the recipient of the 2013 John Philip Immroth Memorial Award.

Amnesty International USA has supported intellectual freedom for 52 years.

“Of special recognition is Amnesty International’s approach to Banned Books Week, said Immroth Award Chair Charles Kratz. Rather than focusing on book censorship, per se, Amnesty International’s approach focused on the logical consequences that would follow when governments are allowed to censor. Beyond the removal or burning of books comes the removal and physical harm to authors, journalists and others.

This year’s award will be presented at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. In celebrating the 40th anniversary, IFRT will also celebrate our first chair of the Round Table, John Phillip Immroth (1973–1974). Come join the IFRT from 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday, June 28, 2013 at the magnificent Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St. at Michigan Ave., Chicago) for the celebration. Refreshments, including signature cocktails, will be served.

The John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award honors intellectual freedom fighters in and outside the library profession who have demonstrated remarkable personal courage in resisting censorship. ...

Police Target Labor Camp Whistleblowers

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Women who blew the whistle on abuses and torture at a labor camp in northeastern China have been targeted by police as the authorities probe reports of abuses of women inmates, many of them pregnant.

Li Wenjuan, who has spent time inside the Masanjia Women's Re-eduction Through Labor facility in Liaoning province, said more than 10 police officers had bashed down her door and tried to take her away following a recent expose by the magazine Lens of alleged torture and abuse at the camp.

She said the police action came after they continued to bang on the door from Friday evening right until 3.00 a.m. on Saturday.

"At around 8.00 p.m. on Friday, they came banging on my door, and I asked them which department they were from, and what they were doing," Li said in an interview on Monday. "They said they were police officers, and they'd come to detain Li Wenjuan."

Then, around three hours after the knocking stopped, they made a concerted attempt to force their way into her apartment.

"This time, they weren't just knocking on the door, they were trying to break it down," Li said.

"They had hired a locksmith to pick the ...

Former College Newspaper Advisor on How Unlearning Liberty Stifled Journalism

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Sometimes an illustration of "unlearning liberty" comes in the form of an open-and-shut case, a clear violation of the First Amendment that is quickly followed by victory in the court of public opinion or justice in a court of law. Other times, students and professors simply bear witness to the slow death of what could have been a significant forum for information and opinions.

Jeff Pearlman, columnist for Sports Illustrated and author of two New York Times best-sellers writes in his blog about his all-too-brief experience as the faculty advisor to The Touchstone, Manhattanville College's student newspaper. Starting in the fall of 2011, Pearlman shared his passion for journalism with students at the Purchase, NY school. He turned an almost-dead publication into a biweekly labor of love that earned its editors internships with The Rachel Maddow Show and Sports Illustrated.

The next fall, Pearlman learned he had been replaced as the newspaper's advisor—a position for which he had been volunteering. The new advisor had experience with public relations, and the paper would from that point forward promote the "right" image of the school. Pearlman protested, but explains that his concerns fell upon deaf ears:

When I told ...

34 Civil Liberties Organizations Oppose CISPA After Amendments

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Today, thirty-four civil liberties organizations sent a joint letter to Congressional Representatives urging them to continue to oppose the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA is a misguided "cybersecurity" bill that would provide a gaping new exception to privacy law. The House of Representatives is likely to vote on it on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. This means that there's little time remaining to speak out against this bill.

You can read about the recent changes to CISPA—including why EFF continues to oppose the bill—in our recent analysis.  We urge individuals who are concerned to speak out by calling their Congressional Representatives and then following up with an email.

Not in the United States? Click here.

Dear Representative:

Earlier this year, many of our organizations wrote to state our opposition to H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA). We write today to express our continued opposition to this bill following its markup by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Although some amendments were adopted in markup to improve the bill’s privacy safeguards, these amendments were woefully inadequate to cure the civil liberties threats posed by this bill. In ...

FIRE’s Will Creeley to Speak at University of Maryland Tomorrow

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Tomorrow, FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley travels to the University of Maryland (UMD) at College Park to speak about student rights on campus.

The speech will begin at 3:30 p.m. in LeFrak Hall, room 2205. The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the UMD Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the UMD chapters of Students For Liberty, the College Democrats, the College Republicans, and Young Americans for Liberty.

Creeley will examine the state of the law on freedom of speech on today's college campuses, discussing the decades of legal precedent upholding First Amendment protections on college campuses, common restrictions on student and faculty speech, and shocking instances of censorship on campus. Creeley will also answer questions about how students can best protect their rights and the limited exceptions to freedom of expression.

UMD is currently a "yellow light" school, according to FIRE's Spotlight rating system. This means that UMD has some policies on its books that could restrict a significant amount of protected expression. Creeley will discuss the changes that are necessary to make UMD a "green light" school and how those changes would encourage an environment conducive ...

Latest FIRE Video Draws 27,000 Viewers, Coverage From ‘Boing Boing’

Monday, April 15th, 2013

In case you missed it, last week FIRE released a new video documenting the case of Isaac Rosenbloom, a student at Hinds Community College in Mississippi who was effectively expelled in 2010 for complaining to a fellow student after his Oral Communications class that a grade was "going to fuck up [his] entire GPA." In the five days since our video was released, it has drawn 27,000 viewers and coverage on the popular group blog Boing Boing. If you haven't watched the video yet, head over to Boing Boing, where you can watch the video and join in the active conversation about Rosenbloom's case, which now has nearly 200 comments.

The Eddy Street Era Begins

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Since January 2001, EFF has defended digital rights from a Spartan converted warehouse in the Mission District of San Francisco. It was a red-brick bunker, brimming with memories and cardboard boxes of legal briefs, where a former AT&T technician once walked in off the street with documents revealing secret government eavesdropping operations. With ratty couches and walls covered in press clippings and tongue-in-cheek hacker propaganda, it's where we've made our stand, working sometimes from dawn until long after closing time at our favorite neighborhood bars.

Today, we start a new chapter in a new building in a new neighborhood. You might be wondering, why would EFF leave what Forbes described as America's second greatest hipster 'hood, with all its cultural charm and incredible take-out? To explain, let us invite you back in time to our last weekly staff meeting.

Be prepared to scroll.

These are the lucky people, or at least the smart ones who staked out their seats early:

The space formerly known as the "Tech Grotto."

Global Policy Analyst Maira Sutton is smiling because at least she scored a chair.

There isn't a fish-eye lens in the world that can capture the entire scene.

The spillover seats in ...

Jefferson Center Issues 2013 Muzzle Awards

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Jefferson muzzledThe annual Muzzle Awards are out! The Muzzles, presented by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, recognize the very worst offenders against free expression in the past year. This year’s list, in no particular order, includes:

  • The Annville-Cleona, Pensylvania, school board, for removing the picture book The Dirty Cowboy from an elementary school library based on one parent’s contention that it was inappropriate for children.

  • Prague, Oklahoma, High School principal David Smith, who withheld valedictorian Kaitlin Nootbaar’s diploma until she wrote a formal apology for using the word “hell” in her graduation speech.

  • The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education, for a policy barring students from wearing clothing promoting any non-Oklahoma sports teams. The policy was supposedly designed to stymie gang activity, but instead snared 5-year-old kindergartner and avid University of Michigan fan Cooper Barton.

  • The North Carolina General Assembly, for an unclear amendment to an existing anti-bullying law which could make students who criticize teachers online subject to fines or imprisonment.

  • The Idaho State Liquor Division, for refusing to allow the sale of Five Wives Vodka in the state on the grounds that it might offend Mormons ...

Refugees Fear Fighting, Forced Labor in Burma’s Shan State

Friday, April 12th, 2013

More than 400 ethnic refugees in Burma’s northern Shan state are reluctant to leave the temporary camp where they have stayed for nearly two weeks for fear of clashes between rebels and government troops that broke out in late March, a relief worker said Friday.

The refugees also fear that they would be forced to work for government soldiers or the ethnic Shan militia.

Sai Kham Late, director of the refugee camp in Tangyan township’s Lwese village told RFA’s Burmese Service that 432 people from eight villages were staying at the camp to avoid what is believed to be the first major clashes since the government signed a ceasefire agreement in January 2012 with Shan State Army North (SSA-N).

The refugees had fled their homes after the Burmese military ordered the SSA-N out of the west bank of the Salween River near the construction of a Chinese-backed megadam project, leading to intensified fighting.

The SSA-N had been allowed to operate in the area under the ceasefire agreement.

“They want to go back, but they fear that there will be more fighting after they return home,” Sai Kham Late said.

“This season is farming season, so they want to raise crops. ...

Some U. of Rochester Students Just Don’t Get How Free Speech Works

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Last week, I told you about the kerfuffle happening at the University of Rochester, where a professor, Steven Landsburg, has come under fire for hypothetical situations involving rape that he presented in a personal blog post. I praised university administrators for resisting the all-too-common urge to censor or punish the professor's controversial expression, particularly since it has received such negative attention from the public. 

However, it seems the drama isn't over. According to The Huffington Post, more than 30 students protested outside Professor Landsburg's class on Monday. While FIRE certainly recognizes the students' right to protest ideas that they don't agree with and even to demand that Landsburg be sanctioned, we are concerned by the students' demands. From The Huffington Post

"All we're asking is the university take disciplinary action of some form," Daniel Nelson, a UR graduate student who launched the petition, told YNN. "We're even thinking a written warning, something official to send the message to the university community that the university won't tolerate justifications of rape of any kind."

Let's set aside for the moment that the university has already released a statement disassociating itself from the content of Landsburg's personal blog. (This ...

CISPA Amendments Passed Out of Committee—Here’s Why The New Version Still Threatens Online Privacy

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Wednesday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence marked up the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the misguided “cybersecurity” bill that would create a gaping exception to existing privacy law while doing little to address palpable and pressing online security issues. The markup was held entirely behind closed doors—even though the issues being considered will have serious effects on the liberty of Internet users—and was passed out of the committee.

This means the bill can go to the floor and be voted on at anytime. Please tell your Representative now to vote no on CISPA. We probably have only a few days left before the floor vote.

Here’s our analysis of the amendments and why they don’t go nearly far enough in fixing the serious problems with the bill.

Amendments That Helped—Barely.

The amendments that passed only chipped away at the edges of CISPA, without addressing the core civil liberties concerns. Here’s an overview of some of the most important changes in the bill:

Using Information for "National Security" Purposes

This amendment (PDF) would narrow how information can be used by the government after it is shared by companies. Before, the government could use information collected under CISPA ...

Huffington Post Credits Internet Activists With "Major Victory" In Stopping Bad CFAA Bill, But Good Reforms Still Needed

Friday, April 12th, 2013

We have great news on the last day of our week-of-action aimed at Congress over the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the draconian computer hacking law. Huffington Post is reporting that House Republicans “put the brakes" on an awful expansion to the CFAA that threatened Internet rights. Even better, Huffington Post is crediting pressure from “Internet activists” for this “major victory.”

A House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the law, chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), had planned to vote on a reform of the bill next week as part of a House Republican legislative flurry they dubbed "Cyber Week," according to both Republican and Democratic aides on the panel. However, the bill was pulled back because of pressure from the Internet community.

Take action to fix computer crime law.

All week, EFF and a host of other groups have been engaged in a week-of-action aimed at stopping this bill in its tracks. We started the week with a letter signed by EFF and organizations from across the political spectrum, but it’s you, the Internet users, who have emailed, tweeted, and called Congress to make sure your voices have been heard.

As Huffington Post reported:

The move to pull back plans to change ...

Utah Adopts New Internet Privacy Law; Similar Bill Awaits Signature of Arkansas Governor

Friday, April 12th, 2013


Close-up of typing male hands - Shutterstock 

On March 26, Utah became the fifth state—joining Delaware, California, Michigan, and New Jersey—to adopt an Internet privacy bill (sometimes referred to as a password protection act) prohibiting colleges and universities from demanding access to students' or prospective students' private email or social media accounts. 

The bill, H.B. 100, signed by Governor Gary Herbert, reads in relevant part:

A postsecondary institution may not do any of the following:

(1) request a student or prospective student to disclose a username and password, or a password that allows access to the student's or prospective student's personal Internet account; or

(2) expel, discipline, fail to admit, or otherwise penalize a student or prospective student for failure to disclose information specified in Subsection (1). 

[...] 

(1) A person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter may bring a civil cause of action against a postsecondary institution in a court of competent jurisdiction.

(2) In an action brought under Subsection (1), if the court finds a violation of this chapter, the court shall award the aggrieved person not more than $500.

The new Utah law also has sections protecting employees and prospective employees ...

Students Strive to Open Florida State’s Campus to More Free Speech

Friday, April 12th, 2013

If ever a major public university needed campus activism to prod along improvement of its policies regulating student speech, Florida State University does. Despite being legally bound by the First Amendment as a public institution of higher education, FSU has a whopping 11 speech codes, including two "red light" policies and nine "yellow light" policies. 

One of these yellow light speech codes is a free speech zone policy (PDF) limiting student speech and expressive activity to three areas on campus. On a large public campus with a sizeable student body, this is simply insufficient. These types of policies are particularly harmful because they restrict and discourage spontaneous expressive activity such as rallies, demonstrations, and even leafleting. 

Thankfully, some students at FSU have taken it upon themselves to advocate for greater free speech protections and to attempt to gain the ear of the university administration. Among these students are David Brunal, a member of the FSU College Libertarians, and Michael Sampson, a member of the civil rights student group Dream Defenders, who shared their thoughts with the campus newspaper FSView & Florida Flambeau:

"The number of open platform areas is shrinking and I think the University recognizes the need ...

Jeffrey Brown Personalizes Vader’s Little Princess For CBLDF Donors!

Friday, April 12th, 2013

vaderslilprincess_grandeThe best gift book in the galaxy is now personalized for you!  When you donate $25 to CBLDF by April 25, Jeffrey Brown will PERSONALIZE a copy of Vader’s Little Princess to you or the person of your choice!  Get yours!

In this irresistibly funny follow-up to the breakout bestseller Darth Vader and Son, Vader – Sith Lord and leader of the Galactic Empire – now faces the trials, joys, and mood swings of raising his rebellious teenage daughter, Princess Leia. Smart and sweetly funny illustrations by artist Jeffrey Brown give classic Star Wars moments a twist by bringing these two galactic adversaries together under one roof. From teaching Leia how to fly a TIE fighter, to regulating the time she spends talking with friends via R2-D2′s hologram, to making sure Leia doesn’t leave the house wearing only a metal bra and slinky skirt, Vader’s parenting skills are put hilariously to the test.

Now you, the CBLDF Donor, have a chance to get a copy of VADER’S LITTLE PRINCESS personalized by artist and author Jeffrey Brown himself!

Here’s How The Personalization Works:

When you place your order with the CBLDF for this premium, you can have the book personalized ...

EFF and Partners Challenge Six 3D Printing Patent Applications

Friday, April 12th, 2013

If there's something that drives us crazy, it's when patents get in the way of innovation. Unfortunately, we often don't find out about the most dangerous patents until it's too late—once they've been used to assert infringement. That's why we were encouraged by the new provision of the patent law that allows third parties to easily challenge patent applications while those applications are still pending.

But, here's the rub: it's hard to identify those dangerous applications. And, once you do, it's even harder to find the right information to challenge those applications during the window that the law allows. So we partnered with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and Ask Patents and—most importantly—you.

As of today, we've now challenged six pending patent applications that you helped us identify as applications that, if granted, would particularly threaten the growing field of 3D printing technology. Harvard's Cyberlaw Clinic hand delivered the first two submissions to the Patent Office earlier this year, and we've since sent in four more.

The prior art we’ve submitted so far thanks to your submissions ranges from patents and blog posts to research papers and symposium proceedings. Each prior ...

Salt Lake City Gets Nerdy for CBLDF During SLC Nerd!

Friday, April 12th, 2013

slcnerdOn Saturday, April 20, Salt Lake City will play host to a community festival for all things nerdy, from science to science fiction during SLC Nerd! Amidst music, gaming, cosplay, and more, SLC Nerd will hold the Comic Book Legal Defense  Fund Charity auction, featuring signed comics courtesy of Night Flight Comics!

The all-day event takes place at The Complex in downtown Salt Lake City (536 West 100 South). For only $10, attendees will enjoy live music, gaming, a costume contest, panels, and presentations on everything from comic books to raising geeky children. The CBLDF Charity Auction is a silent auction featuring signed books and other items gathered by the amazing folks at Night Flight Comics during store signings.

Here’s just a taste of some of the signed books up for auction:

hardboiledbprd

Many thanks to the kind folks at Night Flight Comics for their work on behalf of the Fund! You can view more auction items here. For more information on SLC Nerd, visit the website.

Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!

CBLDF Executive Director Helps Keep Toronto Reading

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Manga-is-not-a-crime-300x300Join CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at the North York Central Library in Toronto (5120 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M2N 5N9) for Keep Toronto Reading: Graphically Speaking — Dirty Comics, a spirited discussion and Q&A about comics censorship.

From the event page:

Once again, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is proud to partner with the Toronto Public Library on Keep Toronto Reading to present lively and informative graphic novel programming.

This year’s program will feature Charles Brownstein, head of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, to discusses censorship in comics. His presentation will be Followed by a Q&A moderated by Christopher Butcher; manager, The Beguiling, and festival director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

Charles Brownstein has served as the executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund since 2002. During his years at the helm of the organization, the CBLDF has successfully managed several First Amendment cases, including a notable win in Georgia v. Gordon Lee. Brownstein has also written extensively about comics for more than fifteen years for a variety of publications including “The Comics Journal”, “Publisher’s Weekly”, and “Wizard”. His books “Eisner/Miller” and “The Oddly Compelling Art ...

Increasing CFAA Penalties Won’t Deter Foreign "Cybersecurity" Threats

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

In the last three months alone, the House has released three different cybersecurity bills and has held over seven hearings on the issue. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee floated changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the draconian anti-hacking statute that came to public prominence after the death of activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. Politicians tout this legislation as necessary to protect against foreign threats every single time they introduce a bill with “cyber” somewhere in the text. And it comes as no surprise that every hearing has opened up with a recap of computer security attacks faced by the US from China, Iran, and other foreign countries.

Take action to fix computer crime law.

For many politicians "cybersecurity" is also synonymous with increasing penalties for computer crimes. The CFAA proposal floated last week expands the already broad scope of the CFAA, increases the prison time for violations, and criminalizes new actions. Politicians from both parties believe—despite research saying otherwise—that increasing penalties will serve as a deterrent to foreign crimes. Just last year, President Obama, Senator Leahy, and House Republicans all proposed expanding the reach of the CFAA by increasing its penalties. With your help these attempts were defeated when we killed the cybersecurity ...

Exxon Hates Your Free Speech, Tries to Censor Satirical Ad

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Who would have thought a major oil corporation would have such thin skin?  

In the wake of a major pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, Exxon has launched a dirty tricks campaign to prevent Little Rock television stations from running a political ad titled, “Exxon Hates Your Children.”  The ad, which can be viewed at exxonhatesyourchildren.com, makes an obviously over-the-top assertion about the company’s views about children, in order to call attention to the creators' serious concerns about the company’s policies. To try to keep it off the air, Exxon is circulating a memo to television stations claiming that the commercial is “defamatory toward each of ExxonMobil’s 80,000 employees and their families.” Exxon goes on to describe good things the company does for children and the environment.  

The ads, which were paid for through crowdfunding, were scheduled to run on local ABC, NBC, and Fox stations this week, but were taken off the schedule when the stations got the memo. In February, Exxon pulled the same stunt when Comcast was set to air the ad during the president's State of the Union address. 

With help from EFF, the activists behind the ad, Oil Change International, are fighting ...

CBLDF’s Spring Harvest — Signed Comics From Great Creators Just for You!

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

CBLDF is back from the first round of spring conventions, and we’re proud to bring our supporters some spectacular signed comics from the creators who appeared at our tables to aid our efforts protecting the freedom to read! Check out amazing offerings from Matt Wagner, Brian Wood, Bob Fingerman, Joe Keatinge, and Sam Humphries, kicking off the first round of our new spring donation rewards. These items are all signed, and all proceeds benefit CBLDF!

Star Wars #1, signed by writer Brian Wood, artist Carlos D’Anda, and colorist Gabe Eltaeb!

Grendel Omnibus vol. 1, signed by Matt Wagner

Grendel Omnibus vol. 2, signed by Matt Wagner

Grendel Archives HC, signed by Matt Wagner

Maximum Minimum Wage, signed & sketched by Bob Fingerman

Conan: Queen of the Black Coast, signed by Brian Wood

John Carter: Gods of Mars, signed by Sam Humphries

Glory #34 Liberty Variant, signed by Joe Keatinge

Higher Earth vol. 1, signed by Sam Humphries

Nowhere Men #1 ComicsPro variant, signed by Eric Stephenson

Sen. Feinstein the Latest Congressperson to Pin Blame on Video Games

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

feinsteinDemocratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has joined an ever-lengthening list of politicians seeking to pin blame for outbursts of youth violence on the media’s favorite scapegoat, video games. Though also author of the most recent legislation to tackle an assault weapons ban, Anime News Network reports that Feinstein recently addressed her beliefs about video games to a crowd of 500:

Feinstein said that video games play, “a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that”

According to ANN and the Associated Press, Feinstein implied that Congressional action would be likely if the industry did not take steps to self-regulate.

“If Sandy Hook doesn’t do it, if the knowledge of these video games this young man played doesn’t, then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future.”

In fact, some legislation is already being attempted, such as House Resolution 287, which would make age restrictions suggested by the ESRB ratings system legally binding for retailers.

Not all members of Congress are so intent on finding an obvious scapegoat. Feinstein’s fellow Californian, Nancy Pelosi, has spoken out against these assumptions, pointing to the numerous pre-existing studies that deny ...

Obscenity Case Files: “I know it when I see it”

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

429_box_348x490

In the last edition of the Obscenity Case Files series, we discussed the Pope v. Illinois decision and how it impacted the Miller Test for identifying obscene material, which is not protected by the First Amendment. In this edition, we’ll take a look at Jacobellis v. Ohio, a decision that pre-dates Miller v. California, to shed some light on the infamous “I know it when I see it” language.

 Knowing It When You See It

In his concurring opinion in the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio case, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart delivered what has become the most well-known line related to the detection of “hard-core” pornography: the infamous “I know it when I see it.” statement.
justice

“I have reached the conclusion . . . that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

As far as unintentionally comical lines ...

So You Heard About the SAGA/Apple/ComiXology Flap, and You Want to Know More About Digital Gatekeepers?

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

We can help with that! NCAC is concerned with censorship in all its forms, even those instances where private enterprises are within their legal rights to marginalize or ban content based on a point of view.

Users engage with the Internet as a democratizing public square but, in reality, most of the online channels we rely on are controlled by private enterprises who must reconcile their own usually benign intentions with user demands, fiduciary interests, governmental enforcement agencies and, on top of all of that, partner companies who are dealing with a similar tangle of responsibilities.

So in the case of Saga #12, it’s tough to know at this point whether the incident was purely a matter of miscommunication, but NCAC’s “iCensor” series (Part 1, Part 2) in Censorship News offers a background on how online payment processors, social networks and streaming media services have at times put a chill on free expression.

The most important thing about yesterday is that fans and creators made their support for diverse and mature themes in digitally distributed comics resoundingly clear on Twitter and elsewhere. No one knows how the private/public sphere of the Internet will shake out, but ...