Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We Need Your Help! Join Our Fight to Keep 3D Printing Open

Friday, December 14th, 2012

A few weeks ago, we asked for your help to identify patent applications that threaten to stifle innovation in the 3D printing community. Now more than ever, it's critical to make sure the open source community and others who work in the space have freedom to operate and to continue to innovate.

With your help, we have identified a lineup of top-priority patent applications that seem both overly-broad and dangerous to the open source community. Now it's time to find proof that these patent applicants do not deserve the monopolies they are asking for: that what they are trying to patent was known or was obvious before the patent was filed.

Specifically, we need documents published before the filing date of each application. Web pages, emails, journal articles, or patents are all appropriate documents, as long as they were reasonably public. An email to a friend is not public, but an email to a large mailing list likely is, particularly if the mailing list was open for anyone to join. If the date of publication is not clear from the face of the document,  we'll need to submit evidence of the date for the reference to count.

For each of ...

Federal Judge Blocks “Choose Life” License Plates in North Carolina

Friday, December 14th, 2012

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has ruled that the state cannot offer speciality license plates reading “Choose Life” without also offering drivers a corresponding “Pro-Choice” plate. Judge James Fox determined that the specialty plates were expressions of private–not government–speech. As such, “the State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”

Read the full opinion here.

More information regarding vanity/speciality plates can be found here.

Via Jurist.

On the Tenth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…Egyptian Breasts Milking

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Nude Ladies Dancing
Lords Banned for Witchcraft
Bush Monkeys Swimming
Nude Adults laying
A golden chastity key
Aristophanes‘ The Birds
Catholic French outrage,
a Clear Channel Dove
and no art in Newark library

Five nude paintings were pulled from a show in Nevada County, California after Nevada County’s general services analyst called for their removal. One called, Hathor, featured an Egyptian goddess pouring milk from her breasts into the Nile River. None of the paintings contain full nudity: two show the nude form from behind and three others are of the waist up.

Artists covered up a few of the pieces and rehung them, with labels that read “CENSORED.” Subsequently the County Board of Supervisors decided to cancel the whole show but it was later moved to The Center for the Arts, another local venue, to be put on display in full.


Stop Congress from Reauthorizing the FISA Amendments Act, a Warrantless Spying Bill

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

We could be celebrating the New Year by ripping out the fiber optic cables that are sending copies of all our emails to the National Security Agency. But instead, Congress is planning on ringing in 2013 by re-authorizing parts of the FISA Amendments Act, the controversial 2008 bill that allows Americans speaking to people overseas to be surveilled without warrants.

The House of Representatives has already passed a five-year extension on the Act with no reforms. Now the Senate has only a few days left to consider the matter, and our contacts in DC say the Senate is planning on reauthorizing the bill for 5 years without any meaningful amendments to protect privacy or increase transparency, much less allow Senators to debate its merits.

The FISA Amendments Act allows the NSA warrantless access to Americans communicating with a “target” overseas as long as the conversation deals with “foreign intelligence information”—a broad term that can mean virtually anything.  And unlike regular warrants, FISA Amendments Act orders can target whole groups of people—so one order could potentially affect thousands of Americans—and don't require probable cause that a crime has been committed.

Many believe that the government uses this law to justify ...

Know Your Rights: Kentucky Student Videotapes Search of Dormitory

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

On Monday, a University of Kentucky student posted a video on YouTube that showed him berating some police officers who entered his dormitory, according to Photography is Not a Crime. Warning: the video includes profanity.

According to Tyler Kingkade of The Huffington Post, the University of Kentucky has now fired the police officer in question, which makes it look like the student was pretty clearly in the right to object to the search. But why? To answer that, we need to address a few questions. First, what Fourth Amendment rights do students have in their public university dormitories? Kentucky courts haven't reached the issue yet, but in some jurisdictions, such as Michigan (Smyth v. Lubbers, 398 F. Supp. 777 (W.D. Mich. 1975)) and Ohio (State v. Ellis, 2006 Ohio 1588 (Ohio 2006)), courts have explicitly declared that a student has the same "reasonable expectation of privacy" in a dormitory as in any other private dwelling. Hence, these courts have concluded that students' Fourth Amendment rights attach to searches and seizures in dormitories. (And the recent case of United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. ___  (2012), could imply additional grounds for student Fourth Amendment ...

On the Ninth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…Nude Ladies Dancing

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

…Lords Banned for Witchcraft
Bush Monkey Swimming
Nude Adults laying
A golden chastity key
Aristophanes‘ The Birds
Catholic French outrage,
a Clear Channel Dove
and no art in Newark library

12days of censorship

Karen Finley was set to perform A Certain Level of Denial at Chicago’s Metro Club in 1994, but the city attorney’s office had else to say about it. In the social commentary piece, Finley enters the stage wearing only a hat and shoes and, as the show progresses, eventually becomes fully dressed. Concerned about an ordinance prohibiting nude dancing in locales that serve liquor, the club owner, acting on the advice of the attorney’s office, asked Finley to cover up in the performance. When she refused, the club owner cancelled the show.

A day before the show had originally been set to debut, the city reversed its position on nude dancing in the case, too late of course for the show to resume as planned.

See this entry and thousands more at NCAC’s Censorpedia! 


Doomsday Sect Clashes With Police

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

As China gears up for tighter curbs on religious activity, particularly among college students, followers of a doomsday sect clashed this week with police in the central city of Zhengzhou after being designated an "evil cult" by the authorities.

The U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid has said the ruling Chinese Communist Party looks set to ban any form of missionary work on school and college campuses.

Quoting a recently leaked document from the Party's central committee dated May 15, ChinaAid said the new rule had been sent out to the education ministry, foreign ministry, and police and domestic security departments, among other bodies.

The news came as several hundred members of the Quanneng Shen sect clashed with police after taking to the streets of Zhengzhou's Zaocheng township on Wednesday with banners proclaiming the existence of an all-powerful deity who is coming to save mankind.

Around 40 people were detained during the protests, which saw a number of police cars smashed, according to photographs posted on the Jasmine Revolution website.

"The deputy municipal police chief led a task force to disperse the sect members," said a Zaocheng resident surnamed Zhang. "There was a lot of pushing and shoving in the process."

...

Enfrentando La Vigilancia y Protegiendo los Derechos Humanos

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

"El derecho internacional es claro: No importa quién eres o dónde vives, tu voz cuenta. Unámonos en este día para defender tu derecho a ser escuchado" Ban Ki-moon, secretario general de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas.

El 10 de diciembre se conmemora el Día de los derechos humanos, fecha que marca el 64 aniversario de la adopción de las Naciones Unidas de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos (DUDH). A medida que nos acercamos a 2013, las amenazas digitales están erosionando esos derechos humanos bien establecidos y que van más allá de lo que los autores de esta Declaración podrían siquiera haber imaginado en 1948.

La intromisión del gobierno en la vida de las personas es algo distante y oculto, que sólo entienden los pocos que poseen los conocimientos técnicos específicos, y que se justifica por medio de una deliberada (y por lo general convincente) narrativa que coloca los objetivos de seguridad nacional por encima de todo lo demás. Debido a la revolución de nuestros medios de comunicación en la era digital y el avance de las actividades online, a nuestro paso dejamos frecuentemente volúmenes considerables de información personal. Tampoco tenemos garantías de control sobre quién ...

Educating and Empowering Students: Support FIRE’s Efforts on Campus

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

While defense work is critical to our mission, FIRE also provides students and professors with the resources to act independently to protect their rights and advocate for freedom on their campuses. Educational resources such as FIRE webinars, our Spotlight database, and our annual Campus Freedom Network conference are vital tools for students on campus who want to learn more-and do more. 

For example, last week you heard from FIRE staffer and former Indiana University–Bloomington student Nico Perrino about his experiences fighting for the First Amendment. Through projects like our Guides series and our summer internship, FIRE provides the educational resources that educate and engage thousands of students just like Nico. None of this would be possible without support from our donors. 

The first-hand testimony of students speaks volumes about the impact your support can have on campus. Every donation to FIRE provides real resources for students and creates real incentives for reform. 

Publications such as our indispensable Guides to Student Rights on Campus offer students a roadmap to the principles and promises of the First Amendment. Rather than being uninformed and ill-advised about their rights, students turn to resources such as our newly revised Guide to Free ...

Man Held After Daughter’s Tweet

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Authorities in Shanghai have detained the father of a 15-year-old girl on public order charges after she took to China's popular microblogs to complain about discrimination against out-of-town families in the city's highly competitive education system.

Zhan Haite, who was born in the southern city of Zhuhai but was raised in Shanghai, complained on her Sina microblog account that she had been refused a place at a senior high school in the city because her "hukou," or household registration document, wasn't issued in the city.

Zhan's father, Zhan Quanxi, is being held under criminal detention, while the family's landlord has asked them to leave after coming under strong pressure from police.

"The hukou system is China's Berlin Wall that draws a sweeping line between "locals" and "outsiders," she wrote on her Sina Weibo account.

"This is a high wall which is very hard to get over," she wrote.

Zhan graduated from middle school in June, but was the only student in her cohort to be refused a place in exams to get into senior high school.

She has now been banned from posting on the microblog services of Sina and Tencent.

Questionable charges

Rights lawyer Li Benjin said the charges ...

Santa’s Pipe Missing from New Edition of Classic Poem

Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Santa Claus with pipe and toys

“Merry Old Santa Claus” by Thomas Nast, 1881

Many of the traits now attributed to Santa Claus in English-speaking countries — jolliness, rotundity, eight tiny reindeer, a penchant for sleigh travel and chimney diving — have their origin in the classic poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” written in 1823 by Clement Clarke Moore. In a new picture book version “edited…for the benefit of children of the 21st century,” however, the illustrations and text bear no trace of another accessory: Santa’s pipe and the smoke that “encircled his head like a wreath.”

Canadian anti-smoking advocate Pamela McColl self-published her version of the poem with digital illustrations by Elena Almazova and Vitaly Shvarov. McColl says she excised the single couplet that mentioned the old elf’s pipe habit because in the eyes of children, “[h]e’s a real character. He’s a real person coming down the chimney, and he’s smoking.” She also says she has encountered children who know the dangers of smoking and are concerned for Santa’s health.

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom disagrees with the bowdlerization of Moore’s work, however. In a press release, OIF Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone said:

This wasn’t a retelling. This wasn’t a ...

Open Source Developer Bassel Khartabil Moved to Syrian Military Prison

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

EFF has been calling since July for the immediate release of open source software engineer and Creative Commons volunteer Bassel Khartabil, detained in Syria since March of this year. Many other groups and thousands of individuals have professed support for Bassel, expressing deep concerns to the Syrian authorities and signing onto a letter of support.

Unfortunately, his situation may have taken a turn for the worse recently. FreeBassel.org, a news source run by a coalition of his friends and supporters, is reporting he has been transferred to a military prison where he will be denied a lawyer. Needless to say, this development is both dangerous and worthy of urgent attention.

As we said in an October letter to Syrian officials:

EFF urges the people detaining Kartabil to grant him immediate access to his family, a lawyer of his choice, and all necessary medical treatment. We urge you to protect him from torture and other ill-treatment. Additionally, we call on you to release Khartabil, unless he is promptly charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and tried in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards.

EFF renews that commitment, alongside Amnesty International, Creative Commons, and Mozilla, to urging those ...

Calling on Congress: Time to Fix Copyright

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

It shouldn't be controversial to demand evidence-based policies in the copyright space. But over and over, Congress has failed to engage in an informed discussion over which copyright policies advance the public interest, and which ones cause harm. That's why we're supporting our friends at Fight for the Future in their launch of a campaign to urge Congress to engage in a reality-based debate about our copyright policy.

Last month, when Derek Khanna—a staffer for an influential policy group called the Republican Study Committee (RSC)—put forward a report busting some persistent myths about copyright, he wasn't met with a real debate or with fact-checking. Within a day his employer, reportedly under pressure from legislators supported by major copyright industries, retracted the report. Within two weeks, Khanna was told he would no longer have a job with the RSC.

That's right: instead of engaging in a fact-based discussion over how copyright policy should be decided, representatives of the content lobby (or the legislators they support) thought it would be a better idea just to silence the debate.

Perhaps that's because the facts aren't in their favor: Khanna's document called attention to some of the principal problems ...

After Sixth Circuit Loss, Eastern Michigan U Settles with Expelled Counseling Student

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The Detroit Free Press reported on Monday that Eastern Michigan University (EMU) will pay former graduate student Julea Ward $75,000 to settle Ward's lawsuit against the university. Ward filed suit in 2009 after being dismissed from EMU's graduate counseling program for inquiring about the possibility of referring a gay client who sought counseling regarding a same-sex relationship, citing her religious beliefs. In January, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit allowed Ward's suit against EMU to continue after she appealed a federal district court's dismissal. This week's settlement ends Ward's suit. In a statement, a university spokesman said that "EMU has made the decision that is in the best interest of its students and the taxpayers of the state of Michigan to resolve the litigation rather than continue to spend money on a costly trial."

Both sides are claiming victory. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Christian legal organization representing Ward, had sought a court order against the graduate program's policies, which track the American Counseling Association's ethical codes, but no such changes are included in the settlement's terms. EMU's statement notes that the settlement "leaves the university's policies, programs, and curricular requirements intact." For its part, ...

Power Up Your Donation

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Big news: if you donate to EFF in the next 2π (~6.28318530718) days, you can triple the value of your donation! Challenge grants, provided by generous donors committed to our mission of digital freedom, will match up to $70,000 in gifts. But this opportunity will only last a few days.

Every dollar donated during Power Up provides three dollars to EFF, even if you've already given this year. Now's a great time to power up your support for free speech online, freedom-enhancing technologies, digital innovation, and the fight against illegal surveillance.

Letting others know about keeping the Internet free and open is a crucial part of this growing movement. Feel free to use this for various status posts:

Join me in fighting for the users! Become an EFF member today and your donation will get a 3x Power Up. https://supporters.eff.org/donate/power-up

Or, use these links to share on Twitter, Facebook, and Identi.ca.

Thanks for your support. 2012 has been an amazing year for digital civil liberties - from stopping SOPA to fighting warrantless wiretapping to defending your right to jailbreak a phone. We have huge plans for 2013. Please help us take our fight for civil liberties in ...

Strangling Satire at Harvard

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Although he has not earned a spot on Forbes' "Richest People In America" list (yet), FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley nevertheless appears on Forbes' website today with a column titled "Harvard, Legendary Home Of Harvard Lampoon, Strangles Campus Satire." 

The column calls attention to Harvard University's latest conniption over free speech. Here's the basic story: An anonymous satirical flyer was slid under Harvard students' doors, inviting them to show up at a local frozen yogurt shop in "semi-bro attire" to apply to join a fictitious "final club," the exclusive Harvard equivalent of a fraternity. What really drew the ire of many of Harvard's students and at least one Harvard administrator was a series of seemingly sarcastic footnotes on the flyer reading: "Jews need not apply"; "Seriously no fucking Jews; Coloreds OK"; and "Rophynol" (incorrectly spelling the name of the "date rape" drug Rohypnol).

Robert's article points out the irony of an institution with such a rich history of satire (does the Harvard Lampoon ring a bell to anyone?) struggling so mightily to recognize its value. Here's a short snippet from the article:

Without question, this flyer touched upon issues that many find upsetting, but ...

On the Eighth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me… Lords Banned for Witchcraft

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

…Bush Monkey Swimming
Nude Adults laying
A golden chastity key
Aristophanes‘ The Birds
Catholic French outrage,
a Clear Channel Dove
and no art in Newark library (until now! Censorship abated)

 

At least eight “Lords” have been banned or challenged at one time or another. Between J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, we have two of the most famous and classic titles to be censored. 

Tolkein’s works, like the Harry Potter series, have come under fire by those who claim they are satanic and promote witchcraft and wizardry. Forget that both series present exemplary battles and ultimate triumph of good over evil.

The violence in Lord of the Flies has caused it to disappear off shelves and reading lists, strange considering how often it is taught in high school English classes. These days, it’s often mentioned in the same breadth as Hunger Games, another of the most frequently challenged titles.


Brandeis Students Band Together to Build ‘Free Speech Wall’

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

While Tufts University is in full-scale crisis over its mishandling of the right of religious association, as Robert so excellently chronicled yesterday, mere miles away in Waltham, Massachusetts, several Brandeis University student groups from across the political spectrum have united for the cause of free speech. The Brandeis chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), the Brandeis Democrats, and the Brandeis Libertarian Conservative Union all teamed up to erect a "free speech wall" on campus to call attention to deficiencies in Brandeis' speech codes.

As Brandeis student newspaper The Justice reports

The motivation for the wall stems from the release of the Rights and Responsibilities handbook in August, said Nahum Gilliat '14, YAL vice president, in an interview with the Justice. After attending the Oct. 18 Town Hall meeting on the newly established Special Examiner's process, Gilliat has advocated for a change to what he believes are vague sexual harassment codes.

The Justice also reports that YAL has circulated a petition stating that "Our school's policies should prevent people from persistent, unwelcome advances of a sexual or bullying nature, but should not protect people from ideas and expressions that they don't like." 

How refreshingespecially given the still-unfolding ...

30+ Examples of Prior Art to Help Combat ArrivalStar’s Patent

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Luxembourg-based patent troll ArrivalStar has sued a number of U.S. transit agencies and other defendants for infringing on patents that probably shouldn't ever have been issued. For instance, patent 7,030,781 generally refers to a technology that notifies you if your bus or package is arriving early, late, or on time. Despite the fact that automatic vehicle location and package tracking technologies had already been proposed, prototyped, and patented, ArrivalStar still managed to secure a patent over the technology.

That bears repeating: ArrivalStar's patented technology is really nothing new [PDF] and surely doesn't meet the standard necessary to get a 20-year monopoly. So we're trying to invalidate one of their patents, and we want to make sure you, too, have the necessary ammunition if you are a victim of ArrivalStar's onslaught against innovation.

In order to qualify for registration, patents must be novel and non-obvious. Novelty means the invention being patented must not have been publicly written about, patented, or invented before the patent was filed. Those types of publications are known as prior art.

We put out a call for prior art for one of the ArrivalStar patents in March. And in September, EFF and the Samuelson Law, Technology, and ...

DEFEND COMICS with CBLDF’s Free Minicomic!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

As the year wraps up, CBLDF’s annual minicomic, Defend Comics, is making its way to mailboxes and digital devices everywhere! An amazing crew of artists illustrated this all-new — and FREE — minicomic! Check out what the CBLDF’s been up to courtesy of Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse), Bob Fingerman (From the Ashes, Pariah), Sina Grace (Not My Bag, Li’l Depressed Boy), Rebekah Issaacs (Angel & Faith, Hack/Slash), and more.

Download now at comiXology, or view the minicomic below. When you’re done, please do your part and make a contribution to our important work by becoming a member or by checking out some of the great stuff in our Rewards Zone!

This holiday season, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation is encouraging everyone who believes in the CBLDF’s important work protecting the freedom to read comics to become a member or give a gift membership in the organization. When you do, they will contribute $10 for each new membership and $5 for every renewing membership made from now until December 31, so join today!

Rotten! NYU Dental Drills Student: Chiseled, Kicked Out (Part I)

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Let anyone who claims that student due process rights in higher education don't matter stand witness to Katie Kickertz, who came within 15 minutes of graduating from dental school before being effectively extorted and expelled, and who earned a second dental degree while her lawsuit was pending.

We see many awful cases here at FIRE—cases where students or professors are treated so badly that it's hard not to get angry. Today, however, we have a case so awful that it gives the infamous Hayden Barnes case a run for its money. It involves the expulsion of a dental student at my alma mater, New York University (NYU). The story is lengthy and will be broken up into two blogs. Today, the facts of the underlying conduct will be explored. Later this week, we will take a look at the due process violations relating to Kickertz's expulsion "hearing."

In October, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, issued a decision in In re Katie Kickertz v. New York University, 952 N.Y.S.2d 147 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012). The facts of the case are shocking, so let me preface with good news: The appellate court took the rather unusual step of ...

Last Day For Holiday Delivery! Don’t Miss Out On Signed Gifts from Alan Moore & Other Greats!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

You can still get signed books from creators including Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Art Spiegelman, Robert Kirkman, Brian K. Vaughan, Chip Kidd, Jeffrey Brown, Scott McCloud and more for the fan in your life, but don’t delay – today is the last day we can ship with the certainty of getting your gift to you by Christmas!

The CBLDF’s work is as vital as ever.  Threats to the freedom to read comics occur with alarming regularity, and CBLDF is on the front line addressing them. This week we published our Annual Report showcasing all of the important work that’s made possible with your support. Order your holiday gifts from us today, and you’ll be helping us perform that work while also getting the greatest holiday gift for the fan in your life.

When you support the CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving drive, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation will make a contribution of $2 for every donation and gift order placed on the CBLDF’s website. In addition, they will contribute $10 for each new membership and $5 for every renewing membership made from now until December 31! With every gift you order from CBLDF, you’ll get an ...

Tackling State Surveillance And Protecting Human Rights

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

"International law is clear: No matter who you are, or where you live, your voice counts. On this Day, let us unite to defend your right to make it heard," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

December 10 marked Human Rights Day, the 64th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). As we approach 2013, digital threats are eroding these well-established human rights far beyond what the authors of this Declaration could have possibly imagined in 1948.

Government intrusion into the lives of individuals is remote and hidden from view, understood only by the few who possess specialized technical expertise, and justified by a calculated and often persuasive narrative that holds the goals of national security above all else. Because our modes of communication have been revolutionized in the digital era, we often cannot help but leave hefty volumes of personal information in our wake as a result of day-to-day online activities. Nor are we guaranteed control over who can access that information once a digital record has been created.

In the face of these challenges, EFF has partnered with Privacy International and other human rights advocates and activists around the world to ...

IF Action Round Up, December 3-10, 2012

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this listFor an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from December 3-10, 2012.

Censorship

Assigned reading draws complaint: Couple wants book banned for all but high school seniors (The Glass Castle, MI)

Related: Michigan school board to take up book ban request

Opinions split on freshman reading assignment in Grandview (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, OH)

Tweets of rage: does free speech on the internet actually exist?

Alan Moore graphic novel banned from South Carolina library (update)

School board punts on first book ban decision  (MN, textbook)

 

Privacy

California Eyeing Drone Surveillance

Border Agents’ Power to Search Devices Is Facing Increasing Challenges in Court

Cops to Congress: We need logs of Americans’ text messages

No Warrant, No Problem: How The Government Can Still Get Your Digital Data

Senate Judiciary to consider location privacy bill

Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations

Apps ...

As Digital Rights Advocates Mobilize Around the TPP Negotiations, Process Becomes Even Less Transparent

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations in New Zealand concluded this week, locking out civil society participation in an unprecedented way. The TPP is a trade agreement between eleven Pacific nations and it covers a wide range of regulatory issues including transnational investment, services, tobacco, and textiles. The chapter that EFF and other digital rights groups around the world find alarming covers intellectual property. EFF is also looking into issues of free flow of information and cross-over issues that may appear in the ecommerce and service chapters. Based upon what we have seen from leaked version of the agreement, the TPP contains language that could effectively pressure ISPs to become Internet cops and criminalize the distribution of DRM-circumvention tools even for fair uses, impede parallel importation of copyrighted goods, among others.

After participating in previous rounds, we could not have imagined that the process could become any less transparent. Amazingly, it did. Previously we had only been allowed to interact with trade negotiators in the halls of the venue during the 10-day-long meetings, or during a stakeholder tabling event. In the Auckland round, we found that the tabling event was cancelled and that we would not ...

Can Tufts Handle Religious Pluralism?

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Tufts University community is facing a growing struggle over the existence of the Tufts Christian Fellowship as a recognized student group on campus. At stake is the ability of Tufts students to organize around shared religious beliefs—and, more broadly, whether the Tufts campus still accepts the American conception of religious pluralism. 

There are three sides in this fight. First is the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF), a chapter of the national student organization InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. TCF wishes to be able to select its leaders based on their beliefs and exclude from leadership those who do not share the group's doctrinal understanding. Second is a faculty/student committee called the Committee on Student Life, which recently decided that groups like TCF should be able to make such belief-based decisions on leadership as long as they convince the head chaplain of Tufts that their need to make such choices is based on legitimate religious needs. And third is a group of students, many of whom recently organized under the banner of the Coalition Against Religious Exclusion (CARE) at Tufts, that believes that TCF should not be able to "discriminate" in its choice of leaders based on beliefs. 

TCF's continued existence on campus ...

A Professor’s Perspective: Free Speech on Campus

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

FIRE Board Member and University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Daphne Patai sent this message to FIRE supporters on our email list today. We wanted to share it with Torch readers as well.

-- 

Daphne PataiThere are very few organizations I can support without reservations, and fewer still in which I have participated since their foundation. In fact, there's just one, and that one is FIRE.

The problem for people who get involved in supporting a nonprofit, I think, is to sustain that involvement without the almost inevitable disillusionment that sets in as one gets to know how the organization functions in practice.

The reason I still support FIRE—as I have since it was a twinkle in founders’ Harvey Silverglate’s and Alan Kors’ eyes—is because it has never let me down. 

Its staff and officers are truly committed to preserving and restoring First Amendment rights in higher education—and those rights take more and more work to defend in contemporary America and for that very reason need dedicated, energetic, and principled individuals on its side. This is precisely the type of person FIRE has attracted to join its staff, and it is one of the many reasons that I am proud to be ...

TJ Center Challenges Confidentiality of Corporate Monitor Reports in D.C. Circuit

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Two federal appellate judges in Washington today expressed hesitation about forcing American International Group (AIG) to disclose an independent consultant’s reports that addressed compliance with a settlement in 2004 with U.S. securities regulators.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is weighing whether to uphold a trial judge’s ruling that requires AIG to reveal the reports, which the company contends are confidential. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in April ordered the publication of redacted reports, saying the public’s interest “far outweighs” the interests of AIG and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Public disclosure, Kessler said in her opinion, is important “given the financial meltdown of 2008, the recession it spawned and the suffering the country has endured because of it.” Lawyers for AIG, represented by Baker Botts, asked the appeals court to overturn Kessler’s decision. Sue Reisinger, a senior reporter with Corporate Counsel and American Lawyer, ALM publications affiliated with The Blog of Legal Times, is the plaintiff in the case.

The central issue in the case is whether the corporate monitor reports are “judicial records” that come with a presumption of public access. A lawyer for AIG, Baker partner Alexandra Walsh, argued ...

On the 7th Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…Bush Monkeys Swimming

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Nude Adults laying
A golden chastity key
Aristophanes‘ The Birds
Catholic French outrage,
a Clear Channel Dove
and no art in Newark library

The manager of an art show being held at Chelsea Market didn’t much appreciate Chris Savido’s portrait of George W. Bush. From afar, the image is a simple painting of the former President’s face. Close up, however, it is clear that the image is made from the negative of images of monkeys swimming in a swamp.

The painting was part of a show of artists whose work was to appear in the upcoming Animal Magazine. After the censorship, the entire show was relocated and demonstrations were held.

This jolly story of censorship is brought to you by Censorpedia. Enroll in Censorpedia today and help us build our Encyclopedia.


CBLDF Establishes Advisory Board: Denis Kitchen and Neil Gaiman Named Co-Chairs

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is pleased to announce the establishment of a formal advisory board to assist the organization in advancing its mission to protect the First Amendment rights of the comics art form. The advisory board will be co-chaired by CBLDF founder Denis Kitchen, who retired from the Board of Directors in 2004, and Neil Gaiman, who, after more than a decade of service, retired from the Board earlier this year. Advisory board members will be elected for an annual term by the Fund’s Board of Directors. The inaugural advisory board will be elected and announced in January.

Denis Kitchen founded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in 1986 to help pay for the defense of a comic book store clerk who was wrongly prosecuted and convicted on obscenity charges for selling comics to an undercover police officer. Kitchen organized an industry fundraising effort to retain and pay for First Amendment expert Burton Joseph to wage the appeal against the conviction, which was victorious. Following this important win, Kitchen established CBLDF as an ongoing concern to protect against future prosecutions. For the organization’s first 18 years, he served as the its President, and nurtured it from a ...

Informe de Transparencia De Google Muestra Que La Vigilancia del Gobierno Es Una Tendencia En Aumento

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Cada año, Google recibe miles de solicitudes de distintos gobiernos de todo el mundo que buscan información sobre sus usuarios. Cada persona que utiliza alguno de los servicios online gratuitos de este gigante buscador - como por ejemplo Gmail, YouTube, Google+ o Blogger- deja a cada paso una huella digital. Y los pedidos de las autoridades para acceder a esa información van en aumento. Para concientizar sobre esta situación, Google publica cada seis meses su Informe de Transparencia, documentando cuántas solicitudes de datos de usuarios recibió, y de qué países. Twitter comenzó a hacer algo similar hace poco tiempo.

Los Estados Unidos solicitan información de forma mucho más frecuente que cualquier otro país

El informe más reciente, que abarca los pedidos de información enviados en el semestre que finalizó en junio de 2012, va en línea con una preocupante tendencia. En conjunto, las solicitudes de información de los usuarios continúa en aumento. En la primera parte de 2012, distintas entidades gubernamentales alrededor del mundo enviaron a Google un total de 20.938 solicitudes. Los pedidos corresponden a unas 34.614 cuentas (Este mapa interactivo es una herramienta útil para tener una idea del panorama general, y ver los pedidos de información ...

On the 6th Day of Censorship the Censors Gave to Me… Nude Adults Laying

Monday, December 10th, 2012

…A golden chastity key
Aristophanes‘ The Birds
Catholic French outrage,
a Clear Channel Dove
and no art in Newark library

 

A school administration in South Dakota pulled an entire set of encyclopedias off library shelves after discovering some steamy and offensive content that would certainly do damage to minors. The picture of two adults lying next to each other embracing, naked, was part of a page on sexuality featured in The Encyclopedia of Family Health. The fact that they were visibly wearing  wedding bands helped nothing (after all, what was there to say they were married to each other?!? Imagine, married people doing such dirty things as cuddling…). 12days of censorship

When the librarian objected, she was asked if she wanted to lose her job. Ultimately, the editions remained in the library, but the offending pages were covered with paper, ensuring that every student within a hundred-mile radius was intrigued by what “filth” those pages contained.

This jolly story of censorship is brought to you by Censorpedia. Enroll in Censorpedia today and help us build our Encyclopedia.


CBLDF Annual Report

Monday, December 10th, 2012

It’s been a spectacular year for CBLDF, with victory in the Ryan Matheson case, clearing the name of an American citizen who was arrested for the comics on his laptop; a $60,000 donation from the Gaiman Foundation to pay for an expanded education program; Banned Books Week and sponsorship of the Kids Right to Read Project; and much, much more. But with recent book challenges and the removal of books such as Alan Moore’s Neonomicon from libraries, it’s obvious CBLDF still has a lot of work to do.

Let’s take a look at our year in review and our plans for the future:

This holiday season, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation is encouraging everyone who believes in the CBLDF’s important work protecting the freedom to read comics to become a member or give a gift membership in the organization. When you do, they will contribute $10 for each new membership and $5 for every renewing membership made from now until December 31, so join today!

EFF Urges Appeals Court to Bring Sanity to Patent Debate

Friday, December 7th, 2012
Federal Circuit Revisiting Troubling Ruling That Helps Foster Increased Patent Litigation

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the full Federal Circuit today to throw out the dangerous patents it previously held valid in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp, arguing that the court's earlier decision goes against the law and helps foster the recent dramatic increase in patent litigation. In the amicus brief filed today, EFF proposes that the court require patent owners to claim what they actually invent and nothing more.

"The Patent Act doesn't protect abstract ideas because it would lead to harmful monopolies on simple ideas, like ways of running a business or cooking a meal," said Staff Attorney Julie Samuels. "Yet we're still routinely seeing patents issued based on abstract ideas, and having those patents upheld in some courts. In an environment like this, it should be no surprise that company after company decides to buy a lottery ticket in the guise of a dubious software patent and see if it can hit the jackpot. The Federal Circuit has a chance to help curb this new rash of patent lawsuits."

The patents in CLS Bank cover a computer system that helps with closing financial ...

Data Request from Lebanese Security Agency Sparks Controversy

Friday, December 7th, 2012

A controversy arose in Lebanon this past week over revelations that the country's Internal Security Forces (ISF) demanded the content of all SMS text messages sent between September 13 and November 10 of this year, as well as usernames and passwords for services like Blackberry Messenger and Facebook. The requests were submitted to the Ministry of Telecommunciations.

Lebanon’s Telecommunications Minister, Nicola Sehnaoui, took to Twitter December 3 to rally his followers against the privacy-invasive data request. “RT, SHARE, EMAIL, BLOG,” Sehnaoui urged. “Use ANY means you find fit to say ‘As a Lebanese Citizen I refuse to give up on my Internet Privacy’ #ProtectPrivacy.” Retweeted more than 300 times, his post seemed to capture the attention of those not yet aware that the ISF’s Information Branch had issued this outrageous blanket demand for digital communications data.

The debate is politically charged, and there are many factors at play. But at the end of the day, this ISF request is represents an egregious privacy violation of millions of Lebanese citizens.

"To catch a killer, you don't put everybody under accusation until you find the killer,” says Mohamad Najem, cofounder of an organization that provides social media consulting to ...

The Government’s Increasing Interest in Your Electronic Devices

Friday, December 7th, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is currently challenging the United States government in two separate cases that seek to limit the powers of border patrol agents in regards to the search of electronic devices without any suspicion of illegal activity. Border agents have traditionally had greater leeway in regards to Fourth Amendment issues due to national security issues, but there is growing concern that travelers are being targeted for political reasons and that agents are stretching their traditional leeway to unreasonable lengths.

On behalf of its clients, the ACLU has taken the government to court over border incidents in both New York and Illinois. Abidor v. Napolitano concerns Pascal Abidor, a Ph.D. student in Islamic studies, who sued the government “after he was handcuffed and detained at the border during an Amtrak trip from Montreal to New York. He was questioned and placed in a cell for several hours. His laptop was searched and kept for 11 days. [...] Mr. Pascal’s lawsuit and similar cases question whether confiscating a laptop for days or weeks and analyzing its data at another site goes beyond the typical border searches.” (CBLDF.org previously discussed the Abidor case here.)

In House v. Napolitano...

Support a Better Internet for Everyone

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Join our call for liberty onlineDangerous digital rights policies have a habit of crossing borders, but you can help to defend Internet freedom for all users. Donate to EFF today to support a better digital future worldwide.

When Syria disappeared from the Internet last week, we responded swiftly to promote protective technology and safe access for journalists and citizens throughout the beleaguered country. And now that Syria is back online, we're collaborating with leading technologists to warn users about dangerous surveillance malware.

We relish opportunities to pool our expertise with fellow travelers worldwide in the quest for a better, freer Internet. In December, EFF staffers will be joining forces with local activists in New Zealand and Brazil, hotspots for dangerous policies related to online privacy and copyright. We advocate for technologically sound solutions and we fight for the user.

One in 10 EFF donors lives outside of the U.S., and member dues support a global approach to Internet freedom. If you haven't donated recently, please join us today, and support a better Internet for everyone online.

Donate Today

For users everywhere,

Eva Galperin
International Freedom of Expression Coordinator
EFF International Team

P.S. For information on wire transfers, contact membership@eff.org.

CBLDF Executive Director Talks to FANBOY RADIO

Friday, December 7th, 2012

CBLDF Executive Director recently talked to Fanboy Radio about CBLDF’s mission, our most recent case, and our plans for 2013. Host Scott Hinze and the Fanboy Radio team also spoke with Brownstein about CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving campaign and CBLDF’s recent appearance at Wizard World New Orleans.

During the conversation, Brownstein took a moment to praise the enthusiasm of a new generation of fans and compared CBLDF’s plans for our new education program to Steve Rogers’s transition from a frail young man into Captain America. You can listen to the entertaining interview on Fanboy Radio here.

This holiday season, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation is encouraging everyone who believes in the CBLDF’s important work protecting the freedom to read comics to become a member or give a gift membership in the organization. When you do, they will contribute $10 for each new membership and $5 for every renewing membership made from now until December 31, so join today!

 

 

On the Fifth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…A Golden Chastity Key

Friday, December 7th, 2012

…A Golden Chastity Key

Aristophanes’ “The Birds”
Catholic French Outrage
A Clear Channel Dove
and no art in Newark Library

 

Joy Crane’s chastity belt sculpture was too risque for the “family-friendly” Brookings Art Council Annual Juried Art Exhibit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

The sculpture depicted a chastity belt hanging from old, rusty iron hooks on a dungeon or torture chamber wall, inferring that people are still in the “Dark Ages” when it comes to women’s rights in USA and all over the world. The belt had a number of phrases on it such as “abuse,” “unequal pay” and “rape.” A golden key hung above the belt with the word “justice” next to it.

Anyone who believes that art is no longer powerful needs only take a look through the many instances — past and current — of censorship of art shows and libraries to see that is clearly not that case.

 


Carved in stone: the foundation of freedom

Friday, December 7th, 2012

KEN PAULSON
PRESIDENT, FIRST AMENDMENT CENTER
Thursday, December 6, 2012
It’s easy to take freedom for granted. If we’re complacent about our core liberties, we’re less likely to notice when there’s a gradual erosion. Of course, the best way to build awareness of our core freedoms is through education. That’s why the announcement of the nation’s first monument to the Bill of Rights comes as particularly good news.

Chris Bliss, a writer and comedian who oversees MyBillofRights.org, a nonpartisan foundation supporting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, has raised the money and paved the way for the new monument at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix, across from the state capitol.
The dedication is set for Dec. 15, the too-often-overlooked Bill of Rights Day.
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced this new national holiday, but the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II took all of the momentum out of the commemoration.

MyBillofRights.org, along with the 1 for All campaign supported by the First Amendment Center, Newseum, Knight Foundation, McCormick Foundation and the American Society of News Editors, are among the voices calling for greater visibility and respect for this historic day, the Bill of Rights’ birthday.

Bliss’ ...

Washington State Drops Defense of Unconstitutional Sex Trafficking Law

Friday, December 7th, 2012
Statute Threatened Operation of Online Libraries and Other Services

San Francisco - Today, Washington state officials announced that they have dropped their defense of a law aimed at combatting online sex trafficking ads by targeting Internet service providers, conceding that the statute was unconstitutional and violated federal law. After a challenge by the Internet Archive and Backpage.com, a permanent injunction barring enforcement of the law will officially go into effect when the federal district court approves the stipulations and proposed orders filed today.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and co-counsel Venkat Balasubramani represented the Internet Archive in the federal lawsuit that struck down SB 6251, a law passed by the Washington legislature in 2012 despite its obvious potential to curtail legitimate speech. For example, the vague and overbroad statute threatened to impose felony liability not only on those directly engaged in illegal acts but also on those who "indirectly" caused to be "disseminated" any "implicit" offers for commercial sex acts. That could potentially affect services that merely provide access to information, like web hosts, ISPs, or online libraries, impeding their ability to operate. Moreover, the statute directly conflicted with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), a federal ...

EFF’s Guide to CDA 230: The Most Important Law Protecting Online Speech

Friday, December 7th, 2012

In 1996, while debating the intricacies of a bill that would massively overhaul the telecommunications laws of the United States, two astute Congressmen introduced an amendment that would allow the Internet to flourish.

The amendment—which would become Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230)—stated that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech—blogs, review sites, social networks, and more—are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do.

CDA 230 is crucial to the free flow of expression online. While the rest of the Communications Decency Act, an attempt by the government to regulate indecent content online, was found unconstitutional by the courts, Section 230 survived. As Judge Wilkinson put it in the seminal CDA 230 case, Zeran v. America Online, "Section 230 was enacted, in part, to maintain the robust nature of Internet communication, and accordingly, to keep government interference in the medium to a minimum." Websites could edit, filter, and screen content if they ...

Deep Dive: Updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Friday, December 7th, 2012

EFF works to inform the world about breaking issues in the world of technology policy and civil liberties. And one of our best ways of communicating with our friends and members is through our nearly-weekly newsletter, EFFector. Last week, we sent out a very special EFFector - a deep dive, single-issue edition that got into the nitty-gritty of electronic privacy law. We liked it so much, we decided to publish it here on the blog as well.

Did you miss it? Don't worry, you can sign up for EFFector here so you're never out of the loop again.

Want to know what's cooking at EFF even sooner? You can find us on Twitter, identi.ca, Facebook, and Google+.

Deep Dive: ECPA and the Future of Electronic Privacy

In most issues of EFFector, we give an overview of all the work we're doing at EFF right now. Today, we're trying something new: doing a deep dive into a single issue. If our readers find this valuable, we'll try to give you an EFFector Deep Dive every few months.

Yesterday was a watershed moment in the fight for electronic privacy: the Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly passed an amendment that ...

CBLDF’s Holiday Gift Guide

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Finish your holiday shopping by ordering signed graphic novels for the fan in your life and support free speech at the same time!  CBLDF has a tremendous range of signed books by creators including Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Art Spiegelman, Robert Kirkman, Brian K. Vaughan, Chip Kidd, and many more available right now for your holiday giving needs!

This week proves that the CBLDF’s work is as vital as ever.  On Monday, Alan Moore’s award winning graphic novel Neonomicon was banned by a library director in South Carolina against the advice of the library’s review board, and despite CBLDF’s efforts in support of the book.  Threats to the freedom to read comics occur with alarming regularity, and CBLDF is on the front line addressing them.  We can only do this work with your support. That’s why these creators are taking time out of their busy holiday season, to thank you for supporting our critically important work.

When you support the CBLDF’s Spirit of Giving drive, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation will make a contribution of $2 for every donation and gift order placed on the CBLDF’s website. In addition, they will contribute $10 for each new membership ...

Warrantless Surveillance 101: Introducing EFF’s New NSA Domestic Spying Guide

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

On December 14th, EFF is back in federal court challenging the NSA’s domestic spying program in our long-running case Jewel v. NSA. In anticipation of our court appearance, we’ve launched a new section of our website to give everyone a clear understanding how the NSA warrantless wiretapping program works and why we’re challenging it as unconstitutional.

While the government claims the NSA’s infamous program is too secret to be litigated, it isn't a secret—and we’ve catalogued the trove of information that has become public since it was first revealed by the New York Times in 2005. This including declarations under oath by an AT&T whistleblower and three NSA whistleblowers, sworn testimony before Congress, investigations by government Inspectors General and stories by major media organizations based on highly placed sources, along with public admissions by government officials.

You can now view our NSA domestic spying timeline, an explanation of how the NSA conducts the spying, a history of the controversial ‘state secrets’ privilege (which the government is invoking in an attempt to have our lawsuit dismissed), and a breakdown of how the government uses word games when talking about the program to hide what they’re doing.

Here’s a ...

IF Action Round Up, November 19-December 2, 2012

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this listFor an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from November 19-December 2, 2012.

 

Privacy

Parents, Teens, and Online Privacy

Building an Iconography for Digital Privacy 

Leahy denies supporting bill to allow warrantless email searches

Judge orders sex harassment plaintiffs to produce Facebook passwords

Student Suspended for Refusing to Wear a School-Issued RFID Tracker

Facebook wants to end user voting on policy changes

Related: Two consumer groups urge Facebook to back off privacy changes

Legality of Warrantless Cellphone Searches Goes to Courts and Legislatures

Senate committee passes email privacy legislation

 … more articles after the break!

Legality of Warrantless Cellphone Searches Goes to Courts and Legislatures

City Is Amassing Trove of Cellphone Logs (New York, NY)

Some Sites Reserve Right To Share Personal Data

Related: New data on privacy policies shows 20 percent of sites may sell data

Ex-NASA Scientist’s Effort to Protect Privacy Is Frustrated by Courts and Thieves

Who’s ...

Teaching Controversial Comics: A First-Hand Account

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

As we were traversing the interwebs, we came across an amazing article courtesy of The Comics Observer and educator Anastasia Betts about the use of controversial graphic novels in classrooms. What follows is the entirety of the article, reprinted here with the permission of Ms. Betts and Corey Blake of The Comics Observer.

Columnist Anastasia Betts of Graphic Novels 101 looks at the use of comics in the classroom, and shares her experience as an educator helping teachers embrace sequential art as a teaching tool.

Anastasia Betts by Anastasia Betts

Appropriateness is a topic that we all struggle with at one point or another, and is not just limited to the world of comics. As teachers we have to make determinations every day on whether this image, this book, this movie, or this discussion is appropriate for our classroom. For some reason though, comics seem to get a bad rap in terms of classroom “appropriateness”.

It is true that a lot of comics published for entertainment purposes contain content that is inappropriate for classroom use. I can’t count the number of times that I have read a comic and thought, “This is PERFECT for what I want to teach,” ...

CBLDF Signs On Against Massachusetts Challenge

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The season of book challenges and bans continues for CBLDF, the Kids’ Right to Read Project, and allied groups, which yesterday issued a letter in defense of two books targeted for removal from 9th and 10th grade classrooms in Springfield, Massachusetts. The books, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore and frequently-challenged The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, are due to be reviewed by the Student and Parent Concerns Subcommittee of the Springfield Public School District. Two subcommittee meetings have been scheduled in October and November of this year but were subsequently cancelled–one due to Superstorm Sandy, and the other for reasons not stated on the city’s website.

Details on this particular challenge are scarce, but it’s certainly nothing new for Absolutely True Diary author Alexie, whose Guernica Magazine interview about the frequent censorship of his books was covered here a few months back. Moore, on the other hand, is a new initiate to the challenged-books club and has sent his own letter to the Springfield school committee in defense of his memoir.

The entirety of the letter from CBLDF and friends follows:

Springfield Letter KRRP

This holiday season, The Will & Ann ...

On the Fourth Day of Censorship, the Censors Gave to Me…

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

…Aristophanes’ The Birds
Catholic French outrage,

a Clear Channel Dove 
and no art in Newark library

Aristophanes? You mean the Greek playwright? If he was censored, it was, like, forever ago. Right?

The Censorship Archives (thank you, Censorpedia) are pleased to remind us that, yes, the surviving works of Aristophanes (427-387 BC) did face criticism and censorship back in the day: Plutarch declared his comedies, including The Birds, obscene in 66 AD.

You may not realize, however, that Aristophanes’ plays, in particular Lysistrata, were the target of censorship throughout the 20th Century. The works were barred from performance and dissemination by the Greek Military, the Nazi occupation authorities in Greece and our very own Postmaster General. Why? Lysistrata tells the story of a woman who, tired of The Peloponnesian war, leads an uprising of women who won’t put out until the men negotiate peace. Hijinks and exposure of patriarchy ensue.

Learn more about Aristophanes, sex, dear ole Anthony Comstock and much more at Censorpedia!

 


Egyptian Media Stages Blackout to Protest Troubling Language in New Draft Constitution

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

A number of independent Egyptian news outlets shut down this week in protest of language in President Mohamed Morsi's draft constitution that poses a potential danger to free expression. About a dozen of Egypt's most prominent papers, including Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Tahrir, Al-Wafd, Al-Watan, Al-Youm Al-Sabae, Al-Fagr and Al-Ahrars took part in the strike on Tuesday. Several TV channels, including ONTV, Dream TV and CBC, ceased broadcasting on Wednesday.

The Egypt Independent showed the following message on their website as part of the strike: "You are reading this message because Egypt Independent objects to continued restrictions on media liberties, especially after hundreds of Egyptians gave their lives for freedom and dignity."

Protests kicked off after Morsi issued a decree on November 22 allowing him to legislate without oversight by the Egyptian judiciary. The opposition has described Morsi's proposed changes as a "power grab." They, including members of the media, are worried about these extended powers being used to stifle criticism of the government, religious, and political figures.

The draft constitution itself is similarly controversial, with articles that limit freedom of expression by championing religious conservatism. In spite of concerns about content, the draft was hurriedly passed ...