Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

SAGA #7 Paul Pope “Ghost Variant”, now available!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The CBLDF has a new and mysterious supporter in the Ghost, who yesterday, dropped off a stack of this amazing SAGA variant cover by the great Paul Pope (with colors by series artist Fiona Staples).
SAGA is a terrific title, created by Friends of the Fund Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and this cover is only available through limited outlets, including our donation zone!

This rare variant is available for a donation of $25, all of which goes directly to our ongoing fight for Free Speech! We want to thank Brian, Fiona, Paul, the folks at Image, and the Ghost, for an opportunity to raise funds with such a cool item!

NC Parents Fight for Children’s Right to Read

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Books and graphic novels are persistently banned in schools and libraries across the country due to complaints from fundamentalist groups and overbearing parents who feel it their responsibility to suppress access to legal speech they find objectionable. A group of parents in Guilford County, North Carolina, are fighting that vocal minority.

Guilford County parent Caroline McAlister showed up at a school board meeting last week to show her disdain for the school system’s banning of books in college-level English courses. Josey Glover of Greensboro, North Carolina’s News & Record writes about McAlister’s motivations:

“I want my daughters to be taught to read critically and to think critically,” Caroline McAlister, a Grimsley High parent, told the Guilford County Board of Education on Thursday. “I want my daughters to have the opportunity to engage with the ugliness of the world in literature before they experience it head-on.”

More than 20 parents, students and community members of the county’s school district, some holding placards with phrases such as “Celebrate the freedom to read” attended the meeting.

Glover describes why the books were challenged and removed from classrooms:

Other people say that some books on the list are too mature or religiously offensive.

One ...

Catch Greg on HuffPost Live Tonight at 5 p.m. Eastern!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be on HuffPost Live tonight at 5 p.m. Eastern time discussing freedom of speech—or the lack thereof—on college campuses and FIRE's recent list of the "Top 10 Pics Too Hot for Campus." (Spoiler alert: the images are actually extremely tame. The shocking thing is that they were censored at all!) Can't make it to your computer at 5? Then make sure to check out this newly released whiteboard animation video about Unlearning Liberty from Encounter Books, the book's publisher, today!

FIRE in ‘Huffington Post’: Top 10 Pics Too Hot for Campus

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

In "Censored: Top 10 Pics Too Hot for Campus," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff shares his top-ten list of "censored, banned, or otherwise kerfuffle-causing images on campus" on The Huffington Post. Sadly, the most shocking thing about these images is the fact that they were censored in the first place. Take, for example, the T-shirt that prompted the athletic department at Tufts University to suspend the men's crew team for an upcoming race, relieve two senior captains of their positions, and force team members to write individual letters of apology: 

And who could forget the infamous Firefly poster removed from Professor Jim Miller's office door at the University of Wisconsin - Stout because the school claimed "it is unacceptable to have postings such as this that refer to killing"? 

Check out the full slideshow for all ten (safe for work) images and the stories behind how they were censored.

Ole Miss Students Respond to Racially Charged Speech with More Speech

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

In the wake of a racially charged protest last week, students at the University of Mississippi have responded by demonstrating exactly why the best way to counter speech one finds offensive is with more speech.

On election night, some students at Ole Miss gathered to protest the re-election of President Obama. What originally began as "30 or 40 students" protesting grew into a crowd of over 400 people, and news outlets reported that, in addition to campaign slogans and school chants, some protesters shouted racial slurs. Obviously, this news has disturbed a number of people, particularly given the university's history of segregation. James Meredith, the first African-American student to attend Ole Miss 50 years ago, has called the protests "nonsense and foolishness."

Happily, cooler heads are prevailing in the wake of the protests, and more speech, not censorship, is winning the day. 

The university has condemned the protesters' "uncivil language and shouted racial epithets" in a statement, and the Ole Miss student body itself has responded with speech of their own. The day after the controversial protest, students organized a candlelight walk to protest the events of election night. The group designated the walk "We Are One Mississippi," ...

EFF Wins Battle for Erotic Fiction Against Internet “Gatekeeper”

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Securing a victory for constitutionally protected free speech, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has convinced online payment provider Stripe to overturn their earlier decision to suspend the account of the Nifty Archive Alliance, a “nonprofit entity that supports the Nifty Erotic Stories Archive, a free, volunteer-supported website hosting a wide range of erotic fiction for the GLBTO (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Others) community.”

Erotic fiction is not intended for all ages, but it is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment. While convincing Stripe to reinstate the Nifty Archive Alliance account is an important victory, the larger issue at hand is the importance of third-party intermediaries — including Stripe, PayPal, and other online payment processors — in keeping protected speech free from censorship. The EFF sees these third-party intermediaries as “gatekeepers of online speech,” arguing that “overly restrictive policies can result in removal of speech that the government is prohibited from censoring.” Key to Stripe’s initial actions was that the company “believed that some of the content on might violate Stripe’s agreements with Visa and MasterCard.”

According to the EFF:

Stripe suspended Nifty’s account because it feared that the bestiality fiction would run afoul of the Visa ...

More Sunlight Needed to Disinfect Speech Codes in Florida

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

FIRE's own Greg Lukianoff and Azhar Majeed highlight speech code problems at colleges and universities in the state of Florida in an interview with Eric Giunta in today's Sunshine State News. As Azhar notes in the article:

"The vast majority of Florida schools have at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts free speech ... That's certainly a poor record, and it's somewhere around average in terms of university performance in other states."

The article is wide-ranging, covering recent developments at speech-restrictive Florida State University as well as Greg's new book, Unlearning Liberty. Check it out!

List of Pics Too Hot for Campus Includes Cartoons and FIREFLY Poster

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Greg Lukianoff is the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization that fights for the individual rights of college students, including their right to free expression. Today on the Huffington Post, he released an amusing list of his ten favorite censored images on college campuses. On that list: two cartoons and a picture of Nathan Fillion as Serenity captain Malcolm Reynolds.

Each image is accompanied by a short description of the censorship caused by the images. Frequently, the reasons used by authorities to censor the images are weak and several individuals were threatened with criminal prosecution. In looking at the images, you’ll likely find that many aren’t particularly offensive. You can check out the list here.

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

Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act: A Law With Global Impacts

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Canada is home to many adult website operators, and a large consumer market. While developments in U.S. copyright law have been at the forefront of late, recent dramatic changes in Canadian copyright law are also of significant importance and may provide a blueprint for future modifications in U.S. law.

This past summer, in the country’s fourth attempt to amend its copyright laws since 2005, lawmakers finalized the new Canadian legislation, which substantially alters global copyright enforcement procedures – particularly in the online realm. In a blatant effort to rid the country of the reputation that garnered its placement on piracy watch lists across the globe, Canada has now done a complete one-eighty with its cutting-edge Copyright Modernization Act. Specifically drafted to parallel WIPO protocol, the Act pledges to assist Canada in becoming a major player in the global marketplace’s digital economy by striking the perfect balance between the rights of copyright holders and the public. Or so they say…


Admirably, the Act broadly expands the Canadian legal concept of “Fair Dealing.” Fair Dealing – comparable to America’s “fair use” – allows certain non-rights holders to use copyrighted material under specific circumstances, as long as the use doesn’t threaten the ...

The New York Times Highlights CBLDF as a Hero of Comics

Friday, November 9th, 2012

George Gustines with The New York Times recently took a moment to explore the charitable organizations that help support the comics industry. In his article, “In Comics World, Needy Have Heroes of Their Own,” Gustines describes three major charitable efforts on behalf of comics, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

After describing the work of the Hero Initiative on behalf of comics creators, Gustines succinctly describes the heroic work of CBLDF:

While creators in need are at the core mission of the Hero Initiative, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a broader mandate: the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form, encompassing not just writers and artists but also retailers, publishers and readers.

Gustines goes on to describe the founding of the Fund in 1986 and its first case: Illinois v. Correa, in which comics shop manager Michael Correa was prosecuted for the sale of obscene materials:

The organization was founded in 1986 by Dennis Kitchen, an underground comic book artist and publisher of Kitchen Sink Press. At that time, Michael Correa, a manager at a comic bookstore in Lansing, Mich., was charged with possession and sale of obscene material, including copies of ...

DOH! Channel 4 Censors “Gay” From The Simpsons

Friday, November 9th, 2012

(c) Fox

British broadcaster Channel 4 recently censored the word “gay” during a recent airing of The Simpsons, according to an article from The Independent. The censored episode, which originally aired in 1994, was run during the midday Sunday programming on the channel and featured a burgeoning friendship between Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders.

In the episode, the term was used in reference to homosexuality and played into a running gag regarding the sexuality of secondary characters Lenny and Carl. It was not used as a negative slur. Since its airing, Channel 4 has expressed regret over the overly cautious actions of its compliance department and the censorship of the episode.

The censorship brings to light the fraught relationship that many in the UK have with the use of the word “gay” and other types of controversial expression. The Independent writes:

Rowan Atkinson is lobbying for the repeal of section 5 of the Public Order Act, which makes it an offence to use insulting words or behaviour and once resulted in the arrest of a student who called a police horse “gay”.

For more on the story, visit The Independent here.

It’s hard to imagine the censorship ...

First Amendment Writes Online Entry Form Now Available!

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Click here to enter online!

Online Entry Form for First Amendment Writes 2012


South African President Drops Defamation Suit Against Cartoonist

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

South African President Jacob Zuma announced last week that he was dropping his lawsuit against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, known by the pen-name Zapiro. Zuma brought the suit for defamation against Zapiro, along with Sunday Times publisher Avusa Media and editor Mondli Makhanya, for Zapiro’s cartoon “Lady Justice,” which depicts Zuma set to rape Lady Justice. The president’s office released a statement saying that they dropped the charges in order to avoid setting a legal precedent that would have a chilling effect on free speech in South Africa.

Zuma filed the lawsuit in December 2008, after the Sunday Times published the cartoon. In the cartoon, Zuma stands with his pants undone while his political allies hold Lady Justice down and encourage him to “Go for it, Boss.” The cartoon was intended to represent Zuma’s abuse of the justice system. It also recalled the numerous sex scandals Zuma was involved in, including a 2006 trial for rape in which he was acquitted. Zuma felt that the image damaged his reputation and dignity.

The news that Zuma was dropping the lawsuit came days before the trial was scheduled to start. In addition to claiming that the act was intended to protect free speech, ...

Ben Katchor to Sign for CBLDF At Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival!

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

This Saturday, CBLDF will be exhibiting at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival, where celebrated graphic novelist Ben Katchor will be signing books at 4:00 p.m. in support of our work. In addition to hosting Mr. Katchor, the Fund will have a terrific assortment of signed graphic novels, including books by Lynda Barry, Jeffrey Brown, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Jim Woodring, and many more. We’ll also have t-shirts, including R. Sikoryak’s “It Could Happen to Anyone” design and our popular “I Read Banned Comics” design. Come visit us at booth D13.

The Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival is the nation’s most prestigious art comics showcase of the season, and it boasts a guest list that includes Chris Ware, Roz Chast, Charles Burns, Adrian Tomine, and many other art comics luminaries. Outside of the main exhibition on Saturday, there is a wide range of satellite events including panels, screenings, performances and gallery exhibits occurring throughout the weekend.

The Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival happens on November 10, 2012, 12:00 – 7:00 p.m., at
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 275 North 8th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Join CBLDF at booth D13!

Woman Wearing MIT Shirt Banned From Voting In Boca Raton

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

A woman attempting to vote in West Boca Raton this morning was initially prohibited from entering the polling place because she was wearing a t-shirt with the letters MIT. has heard from multiple sources that an election supervisor at the polling place ultimately realized that MIT stands for “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” — a school where students tend to know how to spell — and was not a campaign shirt for the Republican candidate, who spells his name MITT.

Read more.

VA Film Festival

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Tomorrow, November 3, the Thomas Jefferson Center is proud to sponsor a screening of “A Journey to Darfur,” as part of the 25th Annual Virginia Film Festival.  A discussion with Nick Clooney will follow.

Click here to view the embedded video.






IF Action Round-Up, October 15-28, 2012

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

OIF sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. To subscribe to this list, visit an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit Below is a sample of articles from October 15–28, 2012.


Open Access Week 2012

Porn concern prompts new library web filters

Cybersecurity bill likely dead



Amazon Wipes Customer’s Account, Locks All Ebooks, Says ‘Find A New Retailer’ When She Asks Why

Related: UPDATE: Amazon customer’s account mysteriously restored

How Companies Have Assembled Political Profiles for Millions of Internet Users

Related: Tracking Voters’ Clicks Online to Try to Sway Them

Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board Invites Public Input

… much more after the break

Supervisor John Avalos hopes to increase privacy controls on Clipper Cards

McDonald’s removes networking features in some online games

FTC Recommends Best Practices for Companies That Use Facial Recognition Technologies

How Will Elections Impact Privacy?

Warrantless Eavesdropping Before Supreme Court

Does Verizon’s Monitoring Of Customer Behavior Violate Wiretap Laws?

Related: Verizon draws fire for monitoring app usage, browsing habits

A Penny for Your Privacy?

Europe Presses ...

Meet Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Meet Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, November 3, 6:00-7:00 PM

The First Amendment Monument on the downtown mall

On Saturday, November 3, Charlottesville’s most famous resident, Thomas Jefferson, will speak as part of Charlottesville’s 250 Anniversary Celebration.  The presentation will take place 6:00 – 6:30 PM, at the First Amendment Monument on the downtown mall. Rob Coles, the fifth great-grandson of the late president, will play Mr. Jefferson.  Over the years, Mr. Coles has portrayed his relative hundreds of times at speaking engagements across the country.

Following Mr. Jefferson’s talk will be a screening of the video short Monticello Road: Portraits of the People.  The video is a product of The Storyline Project, a summer program for middle school students who, through unique walking expeditions, learn about different aspects of the Charlottesville community. For the 2012 Storyline Project, the students learned about the present and past residents of Monticello Road, including Mr. Jefferson.

Sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, the event is free and open to the public, and part of the Family Day program of the Virginia Film Festival.  For more information, check the Virginia Film Festival guide, or call the Thomas Jefferson Center ...

Glass to Make The Case for Controversial Literature at Chicago Humanities Fest

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Loren Glass, University of Iowa associate professor of 19th- and 20th-century American literature and cultural studies, will make The Case for Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Sunday, November 8, at 2:00 p.m.  Glass will recount how Chicagoan Barney Rosset and his fledgling Grove Press led the charge in the 1960s against government censorship of  the works of William S. Burroughs, D.H. Lawrence, and Henry Miller by helping to redefine the parameters of obscenity.  His talk will describe how Rosset’s efforts helped the literary avant-garde join the mainstream and  insured that these essential and provocative works of  literature were fully available to college classrooms and the greater American reading public.

The Office for Intellectual Freedom is a co-sponsor of the program, which will be held at Barney Rosset’s alma mater, The Francis W. Parker School, 2233 N. Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois.  Tickets are $5.00 for general admission, and free for students and teachers.

Peggy Sullivan, former dean of Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Rosary College (now Dominican University), will introduce Glass.

Click here to purchase tickets.

For more information on Barney Rosset, who passed away earlier this year. check ...

“Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” Will Stay in Missouri Library

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Today the Brentwood Public Library board handed down its unanimous decision to keep Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, a picture book by Sarah S. Brannen that had recently drawn objections from a patron.

Library Director Vicky Wood initially offered a written response to the complaint, affirming the library’s duty to provide access to a variety of materials:

“Today, even in Brentwood, there are tax-paying, same-sex couples who are looking for books and materials that support their lifestyle and they, too, may have children, as well as friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances that wish to learn more. There are also many straight individuals and families that are not only tolerant of alternative lifestyles, but actively desire to expose their children to literature that endorses homosexuality as an acceptable family structure.

“…A well-rounded public library collection is to provide a little something for everyone. Therefore, I believe this book is appropriate for our collection.”

She invited the complainant to take his grievance to the board if he was unsatisfied with her response, which he did, writing a formal complaint that:

“This book seeks to influence young children to accept an activity that is illegal (homosexual marriage), and a lifestyle that is well-documented to be harmful to ...

Banned Books WILL Be Taught in Fremont CA

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Great news! Bastard out of Carolina and Angels in America will be taught in Fremont to all those who wish to learn, notwithstanding the Fremont Unified School District’s decision to ban the books from its English curriculum.

Thanks to the efforts of Rev. Jeremy Nickel of the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, the class will begin tonight and continue throughout the school year. It will be taught by Teri Hu, the teacher who had proposed teaching the books in the first place. NCAC is thrilled to promote this great grassroots effort against censorship.


For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Educating to End Censorship in the Fremont Schools

Congregation Will Teach Censored Books to Community

Fremont CA., October 24, 2012 -– Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation and the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) are thrilled to announce that, starting tonight, Mission Peak UU will begin hosting a common read for the city of Fremont of two books banned by the Fremont School Board. The eight part series will be led by Teri Hu, the Washington High School English teacher whose attempts to include the widely praised modern literary classics in the Senior A.P. curriculum have been censored for the fourth year. ...

Censorship is More Terrifying than Stephen King Books

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The American Library Association teamed up with us this week on a letter to the Rocklin Unified School District, where they are currently considering pulling Different Seasons by Stephen King out of school libraries. After her ninth grade son brought the book home from the library, a parent complained about sexual content in the book, specifically in the story “Apt Pupil.”

While certain works might not be suitable for everyone — adults and teens alike, libraries exist so that individuals can make personal choices about what materials they wish to read. “Apt Pupil” might disturb one reader, but it is also a fascinating discussion of the influence of power and the Nazi crimes of World War II.

(“Apt Pupil” has also been made into a film starring Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro. More offensive than its content is David Schwimmer’s mustache, but we digress.)

The letter defends the book, the genre and the story as well as students’ right to read it:

The parental complaint centers on the novella “Apt Pupil,” which portrays a friendship between a young boy and a former Nazi commander and deals with the corruptive influence of power and evil. Had the objector ...

King County Library System FTW: Defending Manga

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

In King County, WA, the public library system responded to a complaint over a manga novel, Hero Heel 2, in the best possible way: by reaffirming the freedom of access of its patrons and responsibility of parents. Yay, librarians!

Like graphic novels and comics, manga is sometimes misunderstood by readers and parents who (wrongly) presume that because the books contain a large percentage of pictures, they are therefore intended for children. Just like text or film, however, manga and graphic novels are written for diverse audiences and demographics and cover innumerable themes.

Our letter applauded the library for its response and tried to discuss a few of the issues that will invariably continue to come up with graphic books containing mature content.

For more information on this, check out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s resource on manga and the first amendment.

Free Speech Week is Here!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Free Speech Week

Free Speech Week

Free Speech Week (FSW) is the country’s premier event celebrating free speech and a free press.

The goal of FSW (formerly National Freedom of Speech Week) is to raise public awareness of the importance of free speech in our democracy – and to celebrate that freedom.  FSW is observed during the third full week of October annually.  The next Free Speech Week will take place Oct. 22-28, 2012.

Free Speech Week is not a political event or ideological platform.  In fact, FSW is designed as a unifying celebration, elevating the vision of the Founding Fathers above the political fray and recognizing free speech as something we can all believe in and cherish.

(drawing on First Amendment Monument in Charlottesville, VA)

Free Speech Week depends on the participation of many “Partnering Organizations,” which share this belief in freedom of speech and spread that message to their members and audiences.  They do this in a wide variety of ways that include articles, seminars, contests, and public service announcements.

Partnering Organizations include media companies, media trade associations, journalism societies, and non-media organizations.  A special category of Educational Partners includes university law schools, departments of communication, and student groups – some of ...

Be Counted: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Creates Exclusive CBLDF Member Fragrance! Becomes Corporate Member!

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, purveyors of unique, literary minded olfactory experiences have answered CBLDF’s call to Be Counted!  The long-time CBLDF supporters are joining the organization as our newest Corporate Member and encouraging individuals to become members of the CBLDF to receive the exclusive, Members Only fragrance TWO-PLY BRISTOL for members who join at the Advocate ($100) level or higher as part of our Fall Be Counted membership drive


Smells like acid-free, 100% cotton 2-ply bristol paper with a touch of F lead.

Public service announcement: (There is no lead in this perfume. The ‘F Lead’ is color copy, and indicates that we’ve created an accord that gently mimics the scent of pencil lead.)

This Fall, CBLDF is asking people invested in protecting the freedom to read comics to Be Counted by becoming members of the organization.  These membership contributions will help the Fund continue its important work protecting readers, librarians, retailers and artists of comics when they come under attack.   Apart from this recent case, in the past month alone, CBLDF has spoken out against the ban of the graphic novel SideScrollers in Connecticut, sponsored Banned Books Week, and just yesterday, spoke out in support ...

Missouri Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Obscene Comics

Friday, October 19th, 2012

In a press release issued this week, the Department of Justice announced that Christjan Bee, 36, of Monett, Missouri, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to possessing obscenity for a collection of comics on his computer. Government prosecutors are recommending a prison sentence of three years without parole.  Bee did not contact the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for assistance.

The DOJ’s statement said that a forensic examination of Bee’s computer produced “a collection of electronic comics, entitled ‘incest comics.’” The comics are described to contain “multiple images of minors engaging in graphic sexual intercourse with adults and other minors.”  The DOJ asserts that the comics lacked serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value — areas that would have been tried if Bee’s case went to trial.

Bee’s case came to the attention of the government when his wife contacted authorities. The DOJ states, “On Aug. 8, 2011, Bee’s wife contacted the Monett Police Department and reported that she had found files she believed to be child pornography on a computer used by her husband. Police officers executed a search warrant at Bee’s residence and seized his computer.”

The CBLDF is gathering copies of the plea agreement ...

So meta: Stephen King Book Challenge Irony

Friday, October 19th, 2012

In evaluating and reviewing a recent challenge to Stephen King’s Different Seasons (Signet, 1982) in a high school library in Rocklin, California, we were amused to read the following passage in King’s the story “Apt Pupil”. In the passage, the main character, 13-year-old Todd, is discussing his interest in and research into the Nazi death camps during World War II:

“At first the crummy librarian didn’t want me to look at any of it because it was in the adult section of the library, but I told her it was for school. If its for school they have to let you have it. She called my dad though.” Todd’s eyes turned up scornfully. “Like she thought Dad didn’t know what I was doing, if you can dig that.”
“He did know?”
“Sure. My dad thinks kids should find out about life as soon as they can– the bad as well as the good. Then they’ll be ready for it. He says life is a tiger you have to grab by the tail, and if you don’t know the nature of the beast it will eat you up.”
“Mmmm,” Dussander said.
“My mom thinks the same way.”

A little bit later in ...

Be Counted: Help CBLDF Stand Up For The Freedom to Read!

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Earlier today, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund sent a letter of support to Bill Ptacek, a library director in Seattle, commending the library for standing up for the intellectual freedom of its patrons in the face of an attack in the media for offering manga in the library’s adult collection.

This is the most recent assault on comics in libraries, an area that CBLDF is defending with greater frequency.  Today we’re asking you to please Be Counted as a CBLDF member to help us continue to do this important work.

This October, CBLDF is asking people invested in protecting the freedom to read comics to Be Counted by becoming members of the organization.  These membership contributions will help the Fund continue our important work protecting readers, librarians, retailers and artists of comics when they come under attack.  Apart from this recent case, in the past month alone, CBLDF has spoken out against the ban of the graphic novel SideScrollers in Connecticut, and published dozens of resources as part of our sponsorship of Banned Books Week.  The CBLDF’s work is vital, and the call for it is increasing.  Your support is needed to help ensure we can perform our ...

CBLDF Expresses Support for Seattle Area Library’s Response to Manga Challenge

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Kids’ Right to Read Project partners National Coalition Against Censorship and American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression today wrote a letter commending King County Library System’s response to recent objections to the manga title Hero Heel 2 by Makoto Tateno.

The CBLDF’s letter addresses common misconceptions about manga, and gives broader context for the field.  The letter also commends the Library Director for resisting the call for the library to act in loco parentis, which we maintain is neither fair to library professionals, nor to parents, nor to children who deserve to have engagement and dialogue from their parents on a wide range of subjects.

Here is a PDF of the Hero Heel Letter, and the full contents are below.


October 18, 2012

Bill Ptacek
Library Director
King County Library System
960 Newport Way NW
Issaquah, WA 98027

Dear Mr. Ptacek,

We are writing to express our appreciation and support for the King County Library System’s response to recent objections to Hero Heel 2 by Makoto Tateno. We understand that a patron raised concerns after his 10-year-old niece checked out the book, despite the fact that the book was shelved ...

Library Director Responds to Seattle Manga Challenge

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Hero-Heel 2 cover

Yesterday we told you about Seattle area resident Travis de Nevers, who asked the King County Library System to change its circulation policies for minors after his unsupervised 10-year-old niece checked out the yaoi manga Hero-Heel 2. In response to de Nevers’ complaint, KCLS Director Bill Ptacek has issued a letter strongly defending the presence of such manga in the library’s collection and making clear that parents and guardians bear responsibility for setting limits on what materials their children may access.

First, Ptacek explains how KCLS strives to build a diverse collection:

In keeping with the mission to provide free, open and equal access to ideas and information, KCLS develops its collection to reflect the diversity of the patrons we serve. Materials are selected based on a variety of criteria including, but not limited to, current and anticipated needs and interests of the public and contribution to the breadth of collections. We also expand the collection by responding to requests from patrons, and graphic novels are one of the most requested areas of the collection.

Then he provides some background on manga and dispels the myth that all graphic novels are geared towards children:

Although many people associate graphic ...

Google Under Pressure from EU Regulators on Privacy Policy

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

On Oct. 16, European Union data protection authorities issued a letter to Google CEO Larry Page calling upon the search engine giant to revisit its privacy policy. Earlier this year, the policy was unified into one policy covering a wide range of different Google services and integrating data from Google search history and YouTube accounts. When Google first unveiled its new privacy policy, European regulators greeted it with skepticism and requested Google to delay instituting the revised policy. Google refused. The letter followed a months-long exchange between Google and EU privacy regulators, stemming from a formal investigation as to whether Google’s new privacy policy adheres to EU privacy regulations.

The French Data Protection Authority (CNIL), known to be one of the most assiduous data protection authorities in Europe, was designated by an EU committee to lead the investigation. The timing of the letter is significant: Next week, data protection commissioners from across the globe will congregate in Punta del Este, Uruguay for an annual convention on international privacy standards and emerging issues in the field of data protection. 

The group of 27 data protection authorities, who submitted the letter under the banner of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, ...

Lomography Auctions Custom Cameras by Cartoonists To Benefit CBLDF!

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Lomography, the driving force in the analogue photography renaissance is raising money for CBLDF by auctioning off custom cameras by visionary cartoonists!

The Fund & Lomography has teamed up with select artists to design Lomography’s new La Sardina DIY camera.  Jen Vaughn, Furry Feline Graphics, Joseph Remnant, and Marc Palm all created custom art to make the La Sardina a crown jewel in any photo fan’s collection. Now these cameras are up for auction on Ebay!




Jen Vaughn:















Marc Palm:

Furry Feline Creations:









Myriad’s Dangerous Patents and their Negative Impact on Women’s Health

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, when EFF and technology users around the Internet celebrate women in science, technology, engineering, and math. What better excuse to revisit how some issues core to EFF's mission particularly impact women?

We often talk about just how dangerous the flawed U.S. patent system is for innovation. Our primary gripes surround software patents, but many misguided patent laws in other subject matter areas negatively affect our society, too. Case in point: ongoing litigation surrounding patents covering naturally occurring human genes that, when present, signal an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer.

The case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad, has been bouncing through the courts for some time now. The ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed the lawsuit in May 2009, representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists, laboratory professionals, and individual breast cancer patients. The plaintiffs argued that the patents covered nothing more than laws of nature and asked that they be invalidated. The district court agreed, but the Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the isolated genes contained molecules that were "markedly different" than those that occur in nature. The parties challenging the patents asked the Supreme Court to review the case. While their ...

Huzzah! “Robopocalypse” to Remain in Knox County Schools

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Score one for the robots freedom to read supporters!

A seven-person committee in the Hardin Valley Academy, in Knox County, TN has decided that Daniel H. Wilson’s “Robopocalypse” should stay in the school’s curriculum. The best-selling science fiction book about a hostile robot takeover was selected as the STEM Academy’s summer read to keep students engaged in a light but STEM-related topic during vacation. The book will be discussed by classes this fall.

The Kids’ Right to Read project has been tracking the objection and review process, which has unfolded over the last couple months.

A parent objected to “inappropriate language” in the book. Said parent is evidently planning to appeal the committee’s ruling, despite the fact the school has already provided him and other parents with the opportunity to opt-out on their child’s behalf.

NSA Spying Hoodies

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

NSA Spying HoodieEFF's NSA Spying design is back by popular demand. This spot-on graphic depicts the National Security Agency's glowering red-eyed eagle using his talons to illegally plug into Americans' telecommunications system with the help of telecom giant AT&T.  Show your support for EFF's fight against warrantless surveillance with the new NSA Spying zip-up hooded sweatshirt! Get your hoodie as a free gift when you become a Titanium level member or for a limited time at EFF's online shop.

Your continuing support allows EFF to seek justice and accountability. Just last week, EFF filed its next brief in its persistent battle to stop the U.S. government's mass warrantless collection of emails, phone calls, and customer records of ordinary Americans and the next hearing is December 14 in San Francisco. Join us and help spread the word — and look slick while doing it. Stop the secrecy. Stop the spying.

Related Issues: 

Celebrating Women in Technology for Ada Lovelace Day 2012

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Defending rights online means more than just standing up for abstract principles. It means supporting the users and developers who want to make technology better. And needless to say, women are an essential part of that project.

That's why we're excited to participate in Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the accomplishments of women in technology and technology policy. Who is Ada and why should you care? Ada Lovelace is believed to have written the first algorithm read by a machine, making her one of the first computer programmers.

Originally organized by Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009, Ada Lovelace Day inspires thousands of peple to write blogs in support of women in science, technology, engineering and math fields. We're proud to have had our fearless leaders Shari Steele and Cindy Cohn featured by Ada Lovelace Day participants Adafruit and BoingBoing in the past.

Here's a round-up of some of our favorite posts in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day 2012 (and we'll keep updating this list throughout the day):

  • Women, Tech and OER by Cathy Casserly of Creative Commons: [We've] formed a task force to determine how open educational resources (OER) can support the success of girls and women in STEM ...

Seattle Area Resident Shocked at Yaoi Manga, Asks Library to Revise Circulation Policy

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Simpsons library: Yes, we have pornography

Here’s a PSA on behalf of public librarians everywhere: If you would not drop your children off at a full-service bookstore with a credit card and tell them to go wild, then you should not send them into the library on their own to check out whatever they like. In both cases, children could easily wind up in possession of material you don’t think they’re ready for. In the latest illustration of this lesson, a Seattle area resident is upset that his unsupervised 10-year-old niece was able to check out a sexually explicit yaoi manga from the King County Library System and is asking the library to institute more restrictive circulation policies for all minors as a result.

According to B-Town Blog, Travis de Nevers’ niece, an avid reader of manga, recently went into the White Center library branch while her grandmother waited outside and checked out several books, including the boys love title Hero-Heel 2 by Makoto Tateno. A few days later, de Nevers looked through the book after noticing the publisher’s parental advisory label on the cover. Unfamiliar with yaoi manga, he reported being shocked to find images of two men having sex.

In a letter to ...

12 Pioneering Women in Tech: EFF Celebrates Ada Lovelace Day

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Today marks Ada Lovelace Day, when members of the tech community celebrate the role that women have played in technology. But of course, it’s not enough to do that just once a year. For the past 20 years, as we've honored leaders in our community with our annual EFF Pioneer Awards—prominent technologists, advocates for freedom of expression, and innovators of all stripes—we’ve also had the privilege of recognizing the talented and dedicated women who have pushed our community forward. So on Ada Lovelace Day, we’re taking a special moment to look back and acknowledge the important contributions from the following women, who have won Pioneer Awards.

1994 Starr Roxanne Hiltz and her husband Murrary Turoff are key innovators and the premier theorists of computer-mediated communications. Hiltz and Turoff wrote the seminal book that helped define the electronic frontier: The Network Nation. Hiltz's notion that computer conferencing could form the basis of communities is a concept that increasingly dominates popular discussion of online conferencing systems. Hiltz and Turoff forecast most of the common uses and conventions of online conferencing systems that we see today.

1995 Anita Borg (1949-2003) was the founder and keeper of Systers, an electronic mailing list for ...

YFEP Film Contest, “You’re Reading WHAT?!?!” Deadline Extended!

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Teen Free Speech Fighters! There’s still time to enter the Youth Free Expression Project’s annual film contest and potentially win $1,000 cash prize and a $5,000 scholarship to the New York Film Academy. We’ve extended the deadline to November 25, so get out your cameras and tell us a creative story about a time where an adult or other individual was concerned about something you or your peers were reading. For more info and contest guidelines, click here.  

The Federal Circuit to Take on Software Patents … Again

Monday, October 15th, 2012

In a welcome move, the full Federal Circuit has agreed to revisit a troubling ruling in a case called CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. This case, along with the Ultramercial case, presents an important opportunity for the courts to insert some long-overdue sanity into the debate over what can and cannot be patented. In light of the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year in Mayo, we think the Federal Circuit has little choice but to throw out the dangerous patents in both CLS Bank and Ultramercial and make clear once and for all that ideas that are otherwise abstract cannot be patented simply because they are executed on the Internet or in a computer system.

So what's going on here? First, you have to understand a little bit about § 101 of the Patent Act. Some background: that section precludes patent protection for laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas. This is fundamental to the patent bargain. Without this limitation, parties could obtain harmful monopolies on simple ideas, e.g., ways of running a business or cooking a meal, and be able to (in theory at least) prohibit people from implementing those same ideas. 

Now ...

Sherman Alexie: Censorship of Any Form Punishes Curiosity

Monday, October 15th, 2012

According to critically-acclaimed author Sherman Alexie, “Book banners want to control what every child reads,” and that “censorship of any form punishes curiosity.” In an interview with Ed Winstead of Guernica Magazine, Alexie discusses being the author of banned books (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) and the overall effect of censorship on a society.

Alexie notes that the various attempts to ban The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian are “always the work of conservative Christians who often demonstrate they haven’t actually read the book by citing imaginary sex scenes.” Religion plays a large role in the attacks on Alexie’s works, and the author pulls no punches in not only defending his work but attacking those who seek to have that work banned. It is clear that Alexie pays attention to challenges to his work, noting “a woman in Georgia insisted that my YA novel contained blowjob lessons and a woman in Missouri claimed that my book’s two lead male characters sexually assaulted women by grabbing their breasts. Those scenes were not in my book.”

The author expresses both confusion and sadness over the motivations ...

Canada-EU Trade Agreement Replicates ACTA’s Notorious Copyright Provisions

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

The shadow of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is back in Europe. It is disguised as CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. As reported by EDRI, a rather strange and surprising e-mail was sent this summer from the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union to the Member States and the European Commission. The e-mail explained that the criminal sanctions provisions of the draft CETA are modeled on those in ACTA.

 La Quadrature du Net
  Source: La Quadrature du Net


A comparison of the leaked draft Canada-EU agreement shows the treaty includes a number of the same controversial provisions, specifically concerning criminal enforcement, private enforcement by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and harsh damages. These provisions are particularly problematic, and were the key reasons why the European Parliament rejected ACTA. However, given the lack of transparency associated with the CETA discussions (both Canada and EU insist that the draft text remain secret), the concerns that CETA may replicate ACTA appear to be very real despite denials from some members of the European Commission.

CETA is a trade agreement designed to strengthen economic ties between Canada and the EU through “free” trade and ...

Ad Industry’s Assault on "Do Not Track" Continues at the W3C Amsterdam Meeting

Friday, October 12th, 2012

For more than a year, the W3C Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG) has been hard at work developing a standard called Do Not Track (DNT) to provide users with a simple way to opt out of increasingly pervasive and invisible tracking on the web.

The group's face-to-face meeting last week in Amsterdam was unproductive, however, due in large part to an increasingly vocal contingent within the advertising industry. Coming on the heels of a recent media campaign to discredit the Do Not Track standard, some industry members seem to be signaling that they’re not serious about brokering a standard to honor users who prefer not being tracked, and will not accept anything short of an extremely watered down version Do Not Track (“DNT”) standard out of the W3C Working Group. This sudden onslaught and refusal to compromise is baffling given the pledge that the industry made earlier this year to honor DNT.

Inappropriate Tactics

As part of the working draft of the Do Not Track specification, advertisers and other third parties are generally NOT supposed to collect data about users who have DNT turned on. However, certain exceptions are granted where small amounts of data ...

Sherman Alexie: “I love to scare the already terrified assholes”

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Guernica magazine featured a great interview with frequently challenged and banned author, Sherman Alexie. Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has appeared on the ALA’s most challenged list in both 2010 and 2011; the Kids’ Right to Read Project has defended the book in Missouri, Oregon and Washington state, to name just a few.

In the interview, Alexie answers questions about the censoring impulse, what it feels like to be a banned author and the drawbacks to keeping books out of the hands of kids.

I believe in any kid’s ability to read any book and form their own judgements.  It’s the job of a parent to guide his/her child through the reading of every book imaginable. Censorship of any form punishes curiosity.


Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund needs your support!  Our program activity is increasing, and we need your membership contributions this October to help pay for this important work.

Comics are threatened more frequently than you may think, and the consequences for readers, artists, retailers and librarians can be severe.   Just imagine…

You are unjustly placed under investigation.  Your house is searched and your computer and books are seized because a vindictive ex maliciously told police that comics you own are child pornography.  The mere allegation will ruin your life if charges are brought.  You need expert help.

You are an artist making parody drawings when you receive a threatening letter from a large company alleging that you are stealing their property.  They’re demanding that you forfeit your original art and pay them damages.  You know your rights, but you can’t afford a lawyer.  You need someone to stand up for you.

You are a librarian, and the local news media are running stories that you’re peddling pornography to kids because a parent reviewed and approved a horror comic book her teenager checked out from the adult section of your library, and is now blaming you for her error.  You ...

NYCC: CBLDF’s Massive Hometown Showing!

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Signings!  Free gifts for members! Charlie Adlard original art raffle! Programming! Friday night rock concert! Discounts at NYC Comic Stores! Grab bags! The best selection of signed comics in the nation!  It’s NYCC weekend, and the CBLDF is bringing out our best to celebrate our hometown show!  Here’s what’s in store at Booth 906 and beyond!

Booth Premiums & Signings!

Visit the CBLDF at booth 906, where we’ll be thanking you for your support with our best selection of premiums this year.  Here’s just a small sampling:

We’ve also got killer signings happening!

Friday: 12:30 – 2:00 PM – Pere Perez & Andres Guinaldo

Sunday: 1:00 – 2:00 Andres Guinaldo & Manuel Garcia

Member Appreciation Rewards!

CBLDF loves our members!  We’re showing our thanks with rewards at the con, and around NYC!

Free Ben Templesmith Print & Convention ...

Li’l Depressed Boy Collaborates with CBLDF For Exclusive Print at New York Comic-Con

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Image Comics creators S. Steven Struble and Sina Grace are teaming up with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to produce a limited edition Li’l Depressed Boy print, exclusively available at New York Comic-Con.

Depicting the titular character unable to exercise his right to free speech, the print will be limited to one hundred pieces, and is signed by both Struble and Grace. Printed in Los Angeles by local illustrator and screen printer Dave Kloc (, the haunting prints measure 11″ x 14″ inches, perfect for any frame. “I have been a huge advocate and fan of The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and this opportunity felt like a great way to tackle an on-going issue in media with our readers,” says Grace.

All proceeds of the print will go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Li’l Depressed Boy creator and writer S. Steven Struble states: “The Li’l Depressed Boy is trying to find out who he is and without the ability to express himself, this would not be possible. We support the CBLDF fight to champion free self-expression within our medium.”

New York Comic-Con takes place on October 11-14 in the Jacob K Javits Center. The ...

YA Author Keith Gray’s Wise Words on Book Censorship

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

During Banned Books Week last week, the PEN American Center featured an essay on the topic of book censorship and young adult readers by author Keith Gray. In his article, Gray talks about how he is frequently worrying about, not his teen readers, but the gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are basically any adult who might be on the road between the teen and a book, since by and large teens are assigned or gifted books, or take them out from the library.

If any one of these people takes the slightest offense, if the book cannot successfully navigate these gatekeepers, then somewhere along the way a gate closes shut. That book shall not pass! And my ideal reader may never discover that book I wrote with them in mind even exists.

It’s also possible I may never discover a gate has been closed either. So often these gates ease shut with a whisper, rarely ever with a clang.

How true — the only times a gate shut with a clang are when a dissenting parent, sharp librarian or student herself decides to speak up about the barriers between young people and a particular book, subject matter or genre. Or if a journalist ...

Digitizing Books Is Fair Use: Author’s Guild v. HathiTrust

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Good news! In a decision that is likely to help shape the future of online fair use, a federal court in New York has concluded that digitizing books in order to enhance research and to provide access to print-disabled individuals is lawful.

The case is The Authors Guild, Inc. v. Hathitrust, the lesser-known but faster-moving stepsister to the Authors Guild’s long-running lawsuit against Google for its Google Book Search service. For the past seven years, major university libraries have been collaborating with Google to digitize their collections, with one result being the creation of the HathiTrust Digital Library (HDL).  Via the HDL, more than 60 university and research libraries can store, secure, and search their digital collections.  Most library patrons aren’t allowed to access the digitized books in their entirety – HDL merely does a keyword search and delivers titles and page numbers as results.  This enables users either to find the book at a library or to purchase a copy, but HDL itself doesn’t take the place of book sales for the general public.  HDL does allow access of the entire books to blind or other print-disabled individuals.

So, is that process a fair use?  HathiTrust, with support ...

50 State Salute to Banned Books Week: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, and Montana

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Although Banned Books Week 2012 has ended, we are pleased to continue featuring videos from states across the country in hopes that viewing them will inspire you to continue to celebrate the freedom to read any day of the year. Today’s featured states are Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, and Montana.

Members of the Alaska Quidditch team, based in Anchorage (AK), read passages from none other than Harry Potter:

Martin Garnar, member of the Colorado Association of Libraries’ Intellectual Freedom Committee talks about the celebration of challenged books at Regis University in Denver, CO:

Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library, read passages from banned book:

Greenwood-Leflore Public Library in Greenwood (MS), produced this video in honor of Mississippi’s 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week:

Bozeman (MT) Reads Banned Books! Jan Zauha of the Montana State University Library reads a selection from D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover:

To view videos created by other states, check out the 50 State Salute map.