Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dixie State University Bans an Alphabet, Tells Women They Can’t Use Greek Letters in Club Name

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Here’s today’s press release:

ST. GEORGE, Utah, October 30, 2013—Nineteen female Dixie State University students are being forced to fight their own school for the right to use Greek letters in the name of their organization. Indigo Klabanoff and the members of Phi Beta Pi have repeatedly been denied official recognition because administrators feel that the use of Greek letters in an organization name will give Dixie State a “party school” image. 

“I’ve seen a lot of campus censorship in my time, but telling students their club can’t be recognized solely because they wish to use letters from a particular alphabet is a new one to me,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “I can’t believe I actually have to say this, but as a state university, Dixie State simply does not have the power to ban or regulate the use of the Greek alphabet, the Latin alphabet, or any other system of writing.”

In a video released today by FIRE, Phi Beta Pi President Indigo Klabanoff and other members explain their dispute with the university and make the case for equal treatment.

Dixie State has gone to absurd lengths to deny recognition to Phi Beta Pi as a ...

At Brown, Free Speech Loses as Hecklers Silence NYPD Commissioner

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Freedom of expression at Brown University received a black eye last night, as protesters chose to answer speech they dislike with volume rather than reason—a tragic outcome for a university expressly committed to the peaceful exchange of ideas. 

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was scheduled to deliver remarks yesterday evening to Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions. As The Brown Daily Herald reports, campus protests preceded the event, as students voiced objection to Kelly’s presence and New York Police Department policies: 

Student protest actions leading up to the event included creating a petition and holding a vigil in honor of victims of racial profiling, The Herald previously reported. After administrators rejected demands laid out in the petition, protest efforts expanded, according to a press release distributed by the event’s protesters.

Around 100 students and community members gathered outside List Art Center about an hour before the lecture was scheduled to start, chanting phrases such as, “Ray Kelly, you can’t hide, we charge you with homicide” and holding signs reading “Stop police brutality,” “Systemic Racism,” “Brown is complicit” and “Ray(cist) Kelly,” among others.

The event took place in a packed List [Arts Center] 120, ...

Second Issue of Sex Criminals Under Review at Apple

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

tumblr_mv3rsyvgc71rk5n91o1_500The second issue of Matt Fraction’s acclaimed Image Comics title Sex Criminals is being held for questioning by Apple. Although the book is available elsewhere digitally and has been performing admirably in sales, it isn’t available through the iOS version of ComiXology. The ComiXology Android app and the ComiXology site store both have the issue available, which creates the impression that Apple still continues to struggle with potential censorship issues.

Sex Criminals isn’t quite what it sounds like. Although it is about sex and crime, it’s really a story about two people falling in love. Suzie and Jon both share a unique gift: the ability to stop time post-orgasm. With Suzie in dire need of money to save her local library, the pair decides to put their powers to good use. They have sex in semi-public places and rob banks. The first two issues explore the back story of the charming protagonists, with hilarious coming of age scenarios like discovering porn magazines in the woods, learning about sexual positions via the junior high bully and sneaking around an adult book store. Some of the jokes are raunchy, and the content is labeled for mature readers, but the story is ultimately ...

As Halloween Approaches, University Administrations Once Again Set Their Sights on ‘Offensive’ Costumes

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

It’s Halloween time again, and just as predictably as costume stores have expanded their line of “sexy” costumes (sexy judge, anyone? Or perhaps a sexy gnome?), college administrators have begun wringing their hands over the possibility that someone on campus will wear a costume that offends someone else. In recent days, news outlets have reported that both the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities and the University of Colorado have sent campuswide emails cautioning their student bodies against wearing insensitive costumes.

One could argue that these emails reflect the kind of paternalism that underlies a lot of the censorship on college campuses nowadays, but the emails do not—in and of themselves—violate students’ expressive rights. Universities are free to encourage students to adopt certain values or to conform their expression to certain norms, so long as they do not cross the line into requiring students to do so. But because so many universities do cross that line, it is worth preemptively reminding these and other institutions that they cannot take disciplinary action against a student or group of students simply for wearing an offensive costume or hosting an insensitively themed party.

In 2010, Syracuse University administrators sent out ...

Continuing Progress for Western Kentucky University Reform Efforts

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

As FIRE’s Sarah McLaughlin reported earlier this month, students at Western Kentucky University (WKU) are working to move their university one step closer to a better Spotlight rating. Last week, WKU’s College Heights Herald reported on the continuing success of their efforts.

Torch readers may remember that Student Government Association (SGA) Director of Public Relations Laura Harper has spearheaded the reform movement at WKU. After learning that FIRE had rated the university’s Computing Ethics Policy as a “red light,” Laura drafted a resolution urging WKU to revise the policy. The resolution not only points to the inherent problems with the policy’s overly broad and vague speech restrictions but also highlights the need for greater respect for “open and honest communication” and individual rights at WKU. Despite administrative claims that the policy has not been enforced, Harper rightly points out that the very existence of the policy “damages WKU’s reputation and harms students’ willingness to express themselves.”

Seeking to overturn that chilling effect on campus discourse, Harper introduced her resolution to the SGA in early October. Last Thursday, the Herald reported that the resolution has passed by a nearly unanimous vote. Students will now begin negotiating with school officials over ...

Legendary Cartoonists Join Jeff Smith at CBLDF’s Nov. 10 Benefit Brunch – Get Your Tickets Now!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

TUKI CBLDF Poster mediumOn November 10, legendary cartoonists Patrick McDonnell, Paul Pope, Liza Donnelly, Michael Maslin, and Larry Marder will attend a brunch hosted by Jeff Smith at the Society of Illustrators in New York City to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Kids’ Right to Read program! This benefit brunch will boast a live performance by Smith, who will unveil his new series Tuki Save The Humans, as well as a silent auction and a private viewing of the Society’s current exhibits.  Tickets to this event are partially tax-deductible, and available at

CBLDF is a non-profit organization that protects the freedom to read, create, and distribute comics by performing legal aid, education, and advocacy activities. Smith recently joined the Fund’s Board of Directors and will host this lively afternoon event, where attendees will also enjoy brunch with the most outstanding authors in contemporary graphic fiction and an auction of original art by today’s finest cartoonists.

Doors will open at 11:00 a.m., followed by viewing of the exhibits and silent auction. Smith’s performance will begin at 12:00 p.m., to be followed by brunch and viewing time in the Society’s galleries.

There are two levels of admission to this special event:


FIRE Board Member Writes Review of ‘Kindly Inquisitors’ for ‘Forbes’

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Earlier this month, FIRE told you about the 20th anniversary edition of Jonathan Rauch’s book Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. The new edition includes a foreword by syndicated columnist George Will and is now available electronically. 

Celebrating the anniversary, FIRE Board of Directors member Daniel Shuchman writes about Kindly Inquisitors for Forbes:

Mr. Rauch proceeds methodically and devastatingly, but always seriously and respectfully, to explain why such “humanitarian” inclinations are, ironically, antithetical to a society that values freedom and scientific and social progress.  Indeed, he writes early on that such principles are “inherently deadly, not incidentally so – to intellectual freedom and to the productive and peaceful pursuit of knowledge.”  Those whose humanitarian instincts lead them to promote kindness over blunt truth are dangerously misguided.  Instead, according to Mr. Rauch, a social system that commits “to allow and even sometimes encourage offense, is the only genuinely humane system.”

Check out the rest of Shuchman’s op-ed in Forbes today.

Retailer Membership Drive Ends TODAY!

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Diamond has graciously solicited our Retailer Membership program, and today is FOC to join through the drive! We have some great items this year for stores that join (or re-join) the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, including this variant of MIGHTY AVENGERS #1 by Jason Latour:

And this extremely limited variant of THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE #1 by Jim Lee!

These are in addition to a bevvy of other incentive items, but as always, the best reward is being a part of an organization that has looked after your rights as independent business-people for 25 years, and continues to work non-stop to protect your freedom to sell and read what you decide is appropriate.

CBLDF Memberships are on the FOC list this week, and orders are due today!

If you haven’t joined yet — or if you have joined but want to up your support — there is still time! You can either use the FOC, or contact your Diamond CSR.

The Membership Levels are listed below, with item codes. Stores joining at the $100 Advocate Level (SEP130010) will receive a one-year membership in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Sandman: Overture and Mighty Avengers variants, window cling, donation ...

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013 Now Available Direct from CBLDF!

Monday, October 28th, 2013

CBLDF is proud to present the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013, edited by Dark Horse Comics Editor-in Chief Scott Allie and featuring original work from Richard Corben, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko, Art Baltazar, Franco, Paul Tobin, Emi Lenox, and many, many more…

Visit the CBLDF Rewards Zone to pick among four amazing covers, including the rare, short-run, exclusive HACK/SLASH cover by Jenny Frison!



Check out some of the rave reviews:

Bloody Disgusting gives the Annual 4.5 out of 5 skulls and urges readers to “rush to your nearest comic shop and buy it,” saying:

Five bucks is a small price to pay for all this talent. There is no easy way to tackle a book as robust as this, so I’ll be breaking each story down individually. As a whole the book is impressive, varied, and entirely worth supporting.

Adventures in Poor Taste asked “Is It Good?” to resounding approval:

Hell yes. There is so much to love in this series, and on top of all that the proceeds go towards a good cause. Anyone worried about nudity or vulgarity shouldn’t be too worried either. There’s a bit of swearing, but generally the messages are more about why censorship is ...

The Secret History of Comics Censorship

Friday, October 25th, 2013
l to r: Charles Kochman, Carol Tilley, Charles Brownstein

l to r: Charles Kochman, Carol Tilley, Charles Brownstein

Researcher Carol Tilley revealed to the world that much of Frederic Wertham’s data supporting the “dangers” of comics were largely fabricated. Her evidence? Wertham’s own notes and papers. Recently, Tilley joined CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein and Abrams Comicarts editorial director Charles Kochman for “The Secret History of Comics Censorship,” a panel presented at NYCC 2013.

Brigid Alverson covered the panel for Comic Book Resources. The panel offered a revelatory perspective on Wertham’s anti-comics crusade, often calling to mind political conspiracies, paranoia, and dirty dealings that might be better suited to the crime comics that Wertham attacked.

Alverson writes about Wertham’s research into comics,

…Wertham began collecting inside information on the comic industry, aided by folklorist and publisher Gerson Legman. “Legman fed Wertham’s appetite for inside information,” Tilley said, “sending him lists of crime comics, explaining how comics changed titles but retained issue numbering, and outlining suspicious business connections, such as companies that also owned paper mills. He also shared reports on New York University professor Harvey Zorbaugh’s workshops on comics.” Zorbaugh hosted workshops on using comics in education, and Legman wrote to Wertham that “of the first 17 speakers, ...

Stop Watching Us: Join the Rally Against Mass Surveillance

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

This Saturday, October 26th, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act,, a coalition of over 100 advocacy organizations and individuals across the political spectrum (including the American Library Association) will host the largest rally against against NSA surveillance in Washington, DC. Beginning at 12PM, in front of Union Station, marchers will deliver more than a half-million petitions to Congress during the rally to remind Congressional representatives that mass surveillance is unacceptable and should be stopped. For more information on joining the rally, check out Stop Watching Us coalition website at

Libraries and individuals unable to join the rally can continue to work on behalf of privacy rights by participating in Choose Privacy Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association, the fifth annual Choose Privacy Week will take place May 1–7, 2014, and provide an opportunity for libraries to educate and engage users about privacy and surveillance issues. For more information go to

Removal of Self-Published Content by Online Retailers Results in Petition

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

In response to an alarming number of retail giants removing self-published material deemed “inappropriate” from their websites, a group of authors have come together to form a petition in support of the creators. While each privately owned company is entitled to determine and exercise their own policies, there are concerns over the vagueness of content guidelines as well as the potential impact content policies might have on free expression.

Publisher’s Weekly reported on the petition, providing more information on the stances of the major digital platform retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. The petition, addressed to Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon), Michael Serbins (CEO, Kobo) and Leonard Riggio (Founder/executive chairman, Barnes & Noble) requests that the companies “leave our self-published and/or Indie authors alone,” and specifically addresses self-published materials in the erotic genre that had been removed. From PW:

The issue over the removal of material has been simmering. While all three retailers had been removing self-published erotica titles deemed inappropriate, things came to something of a head — and began getting picked up by the consumer press — after Kobo removed all self-published titles from one its sites.

Kobo posted a statement on October 15th, stating ...

Tucson School District Lifts Ban on Mexican American Studies Books

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
500 Years of Chicano History in pictures, one of the books removed from Tucson classrooms

500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures

Nearly two years ago, the Tucson school district dissolved the acclaimed Mexican American Studies program. In doing so, they removed seven books by Latino and Native writers from the curriculum. Last night, the TUSD school board voted 3-2 to allow the books as supplementary classroom materials.

In response to the dissolution of the MAS program, the following books had been (by some accounts forcibly) removed from classrooms but can now be used to supplement instruction:

Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado

500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez

Message to Aztlan by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales

Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosal

Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow

School board approval is required in order to use a supplemental book in classrooms. The ban on these seven books had been particularly contentious because it appeared to target Latinos in particular. Before last night’s meeting, very few titles on the approved list touched on the Mexican American experience, ...

Print Shops Refuse to Print Anti-War Comic Book in the UK

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
(c)Darren Cullen

(c)Darren Cullen

Across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom, Darren Cullen is currently fighting for his freedom of speech while he struggles to get his new comic book, (Don’t) Join the Army to the printers. The comic is a satirical depiction of the British Military in the form of an “anti-recruitment leaflet.” Multiple printers have refused to print the comic due to the fact that they find it offensive. Despite the fact that this suppression of speech is not by a governmental agency, and therefore not under the protection of the First Amendment or Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, it still has chilling repercussions.

(Don’t) Join the Army is a comic that was fully funded on Kickstarter as of August 11, 2013. The comic is a satirical critique of the British Armed Forces and its part in the war in the Middle East. In addition to visual depictions of the war itself, the comic contains mock ads for an army toy called “Action Man”. The ad depicts Action Man in a wheelchair, missing limbs, and even dead. Cullen wanted to shift the focus of from the “cool” technology and uniforms of military action figures to ...

EFF Asks Supreme Court To Strike Down Vague and Ambiguous Patents

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Today EFF, together with Public Knowledge, filed an amicus brief in Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments. This case deals with a key problem with the patent system: the flood of vague and ambiguous patents. The petitioner is asking the Court to take the case and restore the Patent Act’s requirement that patent claims be definite. In other words, that patents actually put people on notice, in advance, of what they cover and what they do not.

The Federal Circuit (the intermediate appellate court that hears patent cases) expressly tolerates ambiguous patents. It allows ambigious patent claims to stand so long as a meaning can be ascribed—“however difficult that task may be” and even if this meaning is “one over which reasonable persons will disagree.” This loose standard encourages patent applicants to craft vague claims that they can stretch to cover later technology. These vague patents—which are especially prevalent in software—are the favorite tool of patent trolls. By striking down vague and ambiguous patents, the Supreme Court can improve patent quality and reduce opportunistic patent litigation.

For more about what's at stake in this case, here’s is the introduction from our brief:

A developer wishes to build a hotel ...

EFF Brief Argues Police Need Search Warrant to Read Text Messages

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

As text messages become a universal method for personal communication across the country, courts are struggling with applying quill-era Fourth Amendment principles to the modern form of communication. A new amicus brief we filed in a case before the Rhode Island Supreme Court explains that no matter the medium, conversations should be protected by the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against warrantless searches. That includes text messages stored on someone else's phone.

The brief was filed in State v. Patino. Police responded to a 911 call that a child in an apartment had stopped breathing. Once the child was en route to the hospital, police began looking through a cell phone left on the kitchen counter that belonged to the boy's mother. They found text messages between the mother and her boyfriend, defendant Michael Patino, that led the police to suspect Patino caused the child's injuries. The boy eventually died and after Patino was charged with murder, he moved to suppress the warrantless search of the text messages as a violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Rhode Island state constitution. In a 190-page opinion, the trial court found Patino had standing to challenge the warrantless search of the texts, determined ...

New PSA Featuring Rep. John Conyers and Actor Maggie Gyllenhaal Warns Against NSA Surveillance

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 Coalition Releases Video to Support Oct. 26 Rally Against NSA Mass Surveillance

US Rep. John Conyers Jr., “Pentagon Papers” whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and actor Maggie Gyllenhaal join a chorus of prominent voices calling for an end to mass suspicionless surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) in a new short video released by the coalition. Directed by Brian Knappenberger (We Are Legion: The Story of the Hackivists) and produced by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the PSA-style video draws parallels between the privacy invasions perpetrated by the Nixon administration and the dragnet telecommunications data collection confirmed this summer by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


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The video, “Stop Watching Us: The Video,” is a call to action released in support of the Stop Watching Us: Rally Against Mass Surveillance being held in Washington, DC, on Saturday, Oct. 26, the 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act. Formed in June 2013, the coalition is comprised of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum demanding that Congress investigate the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

“I’m very honored to help ...

EFF Thanks Patent Trolls for Best Troll-Killing Bill Yet

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Thank you, patent trolls.

Today, we are one giant step closer to real patent reform in the United States. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), along with a broad bipartisan coalition, has introduced the Innovation Act of 2013, comprehensive legislation that, if passed, would severely limit trolls' ability to continue their trolly behavior. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Howard Coble (R-NC), Peter Defazio (D-OR), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Tom Marino (R-PA), and George Holding (R-GA).

(For more on what's great about this bill and what we think is missing, see here.)

Join us in supporting the Innovation Act. Take action and contact your member of Congress now.

Some will be surprised to see patent reform in the political spotlight again. Not even two years ago, when the America Invents Act became law, members of Congress heralded it as "the most comprehensive change to our Nation’s patent laws in 60 years."

But at the time, we were still quite concerned. First and foremost, we worried that the law didn't address the growing patent troll issue:

What is much worse, the legislation wholly ...

Guangzhou Paper Prints Front-Page Appeal for Journalist’s Release

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

A cutting-edge newspaper based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has called in an unprecedented front-page appeal for the release of one of its journalists.

In a front-page splash headline in its Wednesday edition, the New Express newspaper called on police in the southern city of Changsha to "Please Let Him Go."

"Dear readers, our reporter Chen Yongzhou has been taken away by Changsha police operating across provincial borders after he reported problems with the accounts of Zoomlion Heavy Industries," the paper said.

While all Chinese newspapers are tightly controlled by the propaganda department of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, some continue to push the limits set down for them, in particular through investigative reporting of alleged corruption.

"We had always believed that it was enough to carry out responsible reporting and that then no problems would arise, or that if they did we could apologize or correct them or compensate [the relevant parties] through the courts, and that even if we were shut down, that we would have deserved it," the article said.

"Now, events have clearly shown us that we were too naive."

Held for 'damaging business reputation'

It said Chen was detained on Friday on "suspicion ...

NSA Spying in Congress: Stop the Intelligence Committee and What to Watch For in Upcoming Bills

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

The Senate is moving quickly on bills to reform many aspects of the NSA spying. Currently, the Judiciary Committee, which has favored privacy in the past, and the chairs of the Intelligence Committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Mike Rogers, will be introducing bills tackling the NSA spying.

The Intelligence Committee Bills Must be Stopped

Many of NSA reform bills going through Congress are encouraging, but the most important priority for those who want to stop the spying is to stop the bill by the Intelligence Committees of the House and Senate. The Chairs of each have confirmed that the (still secret) bill is aimed at continuing collection of everyone American's phone records unabated. The bill will likely provide some window dressing of limited transparency, while shoring up the legal basis for the spying.

Since the leaks in June, the committees' Chairs have defended the program with justifications the press has thoroughly debunked. While we have opinions about what the best way forward is, the only sure way to not go backwards, or seal the status quo into stone, is to stop the bill currently in the works by the Intelligence Committee chairs.

What “Stop the Spying” Looks ...

Mockingbird Restored in Plaquemines Parish Schools

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

To Kill a MockingbirdVictory in Louisiana! Just over a week after the Plaquemines Parish School District reinstated a previously imposed ban on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the book was restored to classrooms after a special school board meeting last night.

According to local TV station WDSU, Superintendent Denis Rousselle recommended that the board “remove any limitations on instructional materials” and “review policies and procedures regarding texts and literature.” The board voted in favor of a resolution to do so. The lifting of the ban is certainly wonderful, but the news that the district will revisit its materials challenge policy is equally welcome.

We hope that the current policy — which gives principals unilateral authority to remove challenged items from classrooms and libraries if they so choose — will be scrapped in favor of one that allows input from all constituencies, including teachers, librarians, students, and parents. The American Library Association’s Workbook for Selection Policy Writing might be a good place to start!

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

Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.

Be Counted! Help CBLDF Stand Up To Book Censorship!

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

becounted logoIn 2013, book censorship is on the rise. CBLDF is fighting back, but we can’t do it without you!

From the attempted ban on Persepolis in the Chicago Public Schools last spring, to the current controversy over the removal of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere in New Mexico, CBLDF is at the frontlines of protecting the freedom to read. In the past year, we sent dozens of letters of support in defense of comics and books of all kinds. We also participated in behind-the-scenes actions to protect the freedom to read, make, and sell comics.

This work is expensive and can only be done with the support of people like you. That’s why today we’re asking you to Be Counted and join the CBLDF today. If we can sign up 500 new or renewing members by October 31, we’ll have the money we need to continue our library aid projects in 2014. Please help us by becoming a member today.

When you join the CBLDF during our 2013 Be Counted member drive, we’ll be able to stand up to censorship and also help schools and libraries in your community by sending them copies of our education resources Raising A Reader or ...

Alamogordo Teachers, Librarian Speak Out On Neverwhere

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

NeverwhereWith Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere currently suspended from classroom use at Alamogordo (New Mexico) High School, English teachers and the school’s librarian are speaking out to make it clear that the book has not been removed from the library and that they do not agree with the district’s handling of the challenge.

In its original shamefully biased report, Albuquerque news station KRQE said that the book had been “taken off the shelves” over footage of the parent who complained about it in what appears to be a library. Understandably, many viewers around the world took this to mean that the book was removed from the school’s library as well as classrooms; even reputable news sources like The Guardian initially repeated what KRQE implied. But in an interview with School Library Journal late last week, AHS librarian Vicki Bertolino clarified that the book is still in the library collection — and she’s doing her best to make sure it remains there:

I, personally, don’t believe in banning anything… Every great work of art has been banned at one time or another, and all you can do is feel sorry for these people that are so ignorant and so fearful, that they ...

When Will the Government Officially Correct the False Claims It Made to the Supreme Court About NSA Surveillance?

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

We’ve documented again and again how the government has refused to tell the truth about NSA surveillance to news organizations, Congress, and the American public. Now it seems clear we can add the Supreme Court to that list.

First, it’s important to remember that just months before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU was before the Supreme Court challenging the FISA Amendments Act—a key pillar designed to justify much of the NSA’s surveillance. The ACLU argued that since their clients—journalists, advocates, and lawyers—were the prime candidates to be subject to this surveillance, the clients should be able to challenge the law as unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the government successfully convinced the Court that the case should be thrown out on procedural grounds. The Court ruled the ACLU’s clients didn’t have “standing.” Essentially, because they had no definitive proof they were being spied on, so couldn’t challenge the law.

At the time, many thought this reasoning was absurd, including four dissenting Supreme Court Justices. Given the law’s incredibly broad reach, of course surveillance was occurring. “Perhaps, despite pouring rain, the streets will remain dry,” quipped Justice Breyer.

So in order to convince the Supreme Court to throw out the ...

Open Access Week 2013: The Time for Reform Is Now

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Today kicks off the sixth annual global Open Access Week. Open Access Week is at once a celebration and a call to action. Universities, libraries, organizations, and companies are hosting events all around the world to promote the ideals of open access: free, online availability of and unfettered access to scholarly works.

This year's Open Access Week is a special one. After many years of collective effort, we are very close to real reform on the federal and state level, and more and more researchers are taking steps, as individuals, to improve public access to their work.

Standing in the way of progress, however, is the publishing industry—the only industry that stands to gain from the status quo—which from the beginning has tried to subvert the push toward open access through deceptive campaigns and faulty self-regulation.  As momentum for reform builds, the industries that have propped up our broken model of scholarly publishing for centuries are fighting back harder than ever.

Let's not let the publishers put private gain above an obvious public good. This Open Access Week, we need you to join us in our efforts to improve access to knowledge and to break down the backward ...

It&rsquo;s Free Speech Week, and Students Are Speaking Out

Monday, October 21st, 2013

October 21­–27 is Free Speech Week, a celebration of Americans’ First Amendment right to free expression. You can celebrate by sharing information about constitutional rights with your friends, planning a free speech event, or even speaking your mind about the news of the day. Students especially should take this week to find out just how free speech is respected on their campuses and urge their classmates and administrators to make sure this fundamental right is fully protected.

In the spirit of Free Speech Week, American University (AU) student Sarah Harvard took to student newspaper The Eagle last Friday to do just that. Harvard conducted a survey of AU students that addressed their attitudes about free expression and the climate for free speech on AU’s campus. Unfortunately, she relayed some troubling results:

For those who identified as a political minority in the survey, 50 percent said they either rarely or never participate in class discussions because of the fear of being shut down or mocked for their opposing viewpoints. Along with this, 66 percent believed that restrictions of free speech in the classroom hinders the academic integrity of their curriculum. In the situations of free speech repression, 10 percent ...

‘San Francisco Chronicle’ on Modesto’s Speech Policies

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Earlier this month, Modesto Junior College (MJC) student Robert Van Tuinen filed suit against the school after several administrators ordered him to stop handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on September 17—Constitution Day. Columnist Debra J. Saunders took to the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday to explain why readers shouldn’t be reassured by MJC President Jill Stearns’ claims that the school’s policies allow for free expression:

In a statement, college President Jill Stearns asserted, “There is absolutely no requirement that a student register weeks in advance and hand out his literature only in a small marked area.” But a security guard and staff binder suggest otherwise. The very fact that a campus has a two-person free-speech zone troubles Robert Shibley, vice president for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has aided Van Tuinen in the free-speech lawsuit he filed against the college.

“We’re seeing a lack of a sense of proportion,” quoth Shibley, “and frankly a fundamental fear of free speech that is very disturbing to see in higher education.”

MJC administrators’ lack of appreciation for students’ First Amendment rights is troubling, and Saunders finds the result a bit ironic:

It’s 2013 - college staff ...

Juan Williams Blasts Censorship, Argues Students and Citizens Need Open Avenues to Exchange Ideas (VIDEO)

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Three years ago this week, journalist and author Juan Williams was fired from his job at National Public Radio (NPR) for remarks he made on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. The controversy led to a national debate about the role free and open expression plays within journalism and broader American society. 

In an interview with FIRE, Williams expands on the themes explored in his 2011 book, Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, which discusses his firing from NPR and how those events represent a larger trend within our national discourse.

Williams argues that debate and discussion are in dire need of protection here in America.

“I am shocked sometimes at how much it is the case that people basically want their pre-existing opinions and attitudes confirmed,” says Williams, “and how elites will tell people, ‘You cannot say that,’ that ‘you are a bad person for even thinking that.’”

Particularly worrisome for Williams is the state of free speech on college campuses.

“You have the educated class—especially at our colleges and universities—who for some reason take it to themselves that they are going to be protective of these young people, to the point of shielding them from ideas and ...

Raising a Reader: Creators and Librarian Inspire During APE Panel

Monday, October 21st, 2013

RasingaReaderCoverCBLDF kicked off the 2013 Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco on Saturday, October 12, welcoming a diverse audience of parents and children to discuss the importance of raising a reader. CBLDF’s Betsy Gomez moderated a panel of experts including Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Alexis Fajardo (Kid Beowulf), and Jack Baur (Teen Services Librarian at the Berkeley Public Library).

The goal of the panel was to discuss ways that comics can be used to inspire children and young adults to cultivate a passion for reading. The panel was well-attended for first thing Saturday morning, and many adults had young persons in tow. Gomez opened the panel by asking each guest to talk about their origin story in the comic book world.

Baur shared that his first exposure to comic books was a Christmas present from his mother: a pre-selected long box of Marvel Comics, popular in the late 80s. “I think they sold it at Toys R’ Us, it was an orange long box with the X-Men printed on the side. It came with a set of twenty random comics. My mom had no idea what she was getting herself into ...

Cambodian Authorities Violently Disperse Protests Over Shooting Death

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Authorities in Cambodia's capital on Friday violently cracked down on a group of protesters demanding justice for a man shot dead after police opened fire at the sidelines of an opposition rally last month, witnesses said.

Security forces forcefully dispersed dozens of villagers and monks who had gathered at the landmark Wat Phnom Buddhist temple to perform a traditional ceremony and prayers for Mao Sok Chan, a 29-year-old father of four killed on Sept. 15 during clashes at a key intersection near the Kbal Thnal Bridge in Phnom Penh after a mass demonstration held by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

“Security forces used violence against us," complained Tep Vanny, a community leader in the Boeung Kak area in Phnom Penh where villagers have been evicted to make way for luxury development projects. "One of them hit me until I was almost unconscious,” she told RFA's Khmer Service.

Protest organizer Phea Sothea expressed regret that security forces "abused" the people's right to freedom of assembly.

The gathering started off peacefully but "transformed into a violent confrontation with security forces, resulting in at least five people, including one foreign freelance journalist, receiving minor injuries," the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) ...

‘Protecting One’s Rights Isn’t a Simple Matter’

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Wheelchair-bound eviction activist Ni Yulan, 52, was sentenced in April 2012 to a two-year prison term following her conviction on charges of “fraud” and “causing a disturbance” by the Xicheng District People’s Court in Beijing. The sentence was later reduced by two months.

Her husband, former schoolteacher Dong Jiqin, was also convicted of creating a disturbance and was handed a two-year term.

Ni was released on Oct. 7 after serving her full jail term in spite of repeated requests from her family for medical parole, citing a lack of adequate treatment for a growth in her thyroid gland.

She told RFA on her release that she was met at the jail by her husband and daughter, and is now living in rented accommodation in Beijing.

"Now that I have been released, I will be seeking out the relevant departments to lodge an appeal, and to call for a renewed investigation and for the truth to be restored," she said.

"It has been 12 years since I was beaten up and crippled. I need to continue to seek medical attention for a host of medical issues, including my injuries [from that beating], after I lost access to adequate medical treatment when ...

Join Us For the Rally Against Mass Surveillance Saturday!

Friday, October 18th, 2013

stopwatchingus-socialmedia2Right now the NSA is spying on everyone’s personal communications, and it’s operating without any meaningful oversight. Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 569,000 people from all walks of life have signed the petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want it to the NSA accountable and to reform the laws that got us here.

THIS SATURDAY, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Patriot Act, thousands of Americans will gather in Washington, DC for The Rally Against Mass Surveillance, the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. People just like you will join members of the coalition, a group of more than 100 public advocacy organizations including NCAC,  to remind them that they work for us — and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.

Join us on October 26 at 12 p.m. EST and bring your friends. 

Learn more about what is doing to stop government snooping and about why we’re rallying here.

Jeff Smith Hosts World Premiere of TUKI at CBLDF Benefit Brunch on November 10 At Society of Illustrators in NYC

Friday, October 18th, 2013

tuki-aboutPlease join Jeff Smith, the acclaimed author of Bone and RASL, on Sunday, November 10, for a live performance unveiling his new series Tuki Save the Humans! The performance will take place during the benefit brunch for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Kids’ Right to Read program at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Tickets are now available at

CBLDF is a non-profit organization that protects the freedom to read, create, and distribute comics by performing legal aid, education, and advocacy activities. Smith recently joined the Fund’s Board of Directors and will host this lively afternoon event, where attendees will also enjoy brunch with the most outstanding authors in contemporary graphic fiction and an auction of original art by today’s finest cartoonists. Doors will open at 11:00 a.m., Brunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the performance will begin at 12:30 p.m., to be followed by Q&A, auction, and viewing time in the Society’s galleries.

Donors who join us for this event will enjoy three of the Society’s exhibits, including The Original Art, a juried exhibit showcasing the original art from the year’s best children’s books; Battling Boy, a selection of ...

Sign This Petition: Don’t Censor Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’ in Alamogordo

Friday, October 18th, 2013

If you’re like us, the recent removal of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere from Alamogordo Public School classrooms has caused you to feel anything from confusion to just-plain-no-way-you-can’t-be-serious anger. Now you can take action:

A parent in Alamogordo has started a petition on and you can add your signature. State and local supporters’ voices will be the most powerful, but a nationwide showing of enthusiasm for the book will be impressive too.

Tell the school board that censorship is a slippery slope.

District residents can also voice their opinions on this subject (in 300 words or fewer) directly to the board on the district’s website.

As Alamogordo High School English teacher Pam Thorpe said, “We cannot allow one person to tell other people what they are allowed to read.”

Stand with us, other community members and teachers like Ms. Thorpe against the threat of censorship.

How You Can Make A Difference in the Neverwhere Challenge

Friday, October 18th, 2013

NeverwhereIf you’re like us, the recent removal of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere from Alamogordo Public School classrooms has caused you to feel anything from confusion to just-plain-no-way-you-can’t-be-serious anger. Here’s how you can take action:

Be Heard

A parent in Alamogordo has started a petition on and you can add your signature. State and local supporters’ voices will be the most powerful, but having a nationwide outpouring of enthusiasm for the book is important too. Tell the school board that censorship is a slippery slope.

District residents can also voice their opinions on this subject (in 300 words or fewer) directly to the board on the district’s website.

Earlier this week, CBLDF sent a letter to the Superintendent of Alamogordo Public Schools to defend the novel, which has been removed from shelves for review after a parent protested a passage in the book.  We also reached out to Mr. Gaiman to get his thoughts on the removal, which you can read here.

Be Counted

The CBLDF works all year round fighting bans and challenges like this one thanks to the support of our members.  To help us continue doing this important work, please become a member as part of ...

Cannes Winner Based on Graphic Novel Won’t Play in Idaho

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Blue is the Warmest ColorIdaho residents anxious to see the film Blue is the Warmest Color, the 2013 winner of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or that is based on a French graphic novel, will likely have to travel out of state or wait for it to become available for home viewing. Because Boise’s sole arthouse theater has a license to serve beer and wine, and because the state’s alcoholic beverages code contains an absurdly broad list of “prohibited acts” which may not be shown in such establishments, foreign NC-17 rated films like Blue currently have almost no hope of playing on the big screen in Idaho.

Blue is the Warmest Color focuses on 15-year-old Adèle and her art student girlfriend Emma. It contains what Variety calls “the most explosively graphic lesbian sex scenes in recent memory,” but is also an unquestionably heartfelt love story. (Note that the actress who portrays Adèle is not a minor; she’s 19.) Although the Motion Picture Association of America has been accused of giving more restrictive ratings for LGBT content than for comparable heterosexual content, critics mostly agree that Blue would have received the NC-17 either way. For once the film’s rating in the U.S. also ...

Hollywood, Take Note: New Website Shows Movie Watchers Can’t Get What They Want

Friday, October 18th, 2013

The content lobby's narrative about the Internet's impact on the creative industry has grown all too familiar. According to this tiresome story, Hollywood is doing everything it can to prevent unauthorized downloading, but people—enabled by peer-to-peer technologies, “rogue” websites, search engines, or whatever the bogeyman of the moment is—keep doing it anyway. As a result, say groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), creators are deprived of their hard-earned and well-deserved profits and have little incentive to keep creating.

There's a lot that's wrong with this story (like the assumption that most copyright royalties actual end up in the pockets of the artists). But one of the most pernicious aspects is the idea that Hollywood is actually making a sincere effort to meet user demand.  

Screengrab of

That's why we're happy to see a new website called, is helping to tell another crucial part of the story. As the site shows, the studios aren't keeping up with the markets that new technologies enable—which is why, in many cases, the most popular films are not even available through preferred legal channels.

The site lists the top 10 most pirated films on BitTorrent and checks whether ...

MIT Magazine’s Funding Restored Following Title IX Concerns

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student newspaper The Tech reported last Friday that funding to another MIT student publication, Voo Doo Magazine, has been restored after a Title IX complaint against the magazine resulted in MIT’s Undergraduate Association (UA) cutting its funding. But even with Voo Doo back on its feet, UA’s response to the magazine’s content suggests MIT students might be developing worrisome attitudes about speech and censorship.

The Tech relays the circumstances surrounding the funding decisions:

In December 2012, Student Activities Office (SAO) director Leah Flynn received an unofficial complaint from the original author of a comic that was recaptioned in Voodoo. Flynn forwarded it to the MIT Association of Student Activities (ASA), who brought the complaint to [UA’s Financial Board] for consideration in the next allocation cycle.

The Board denied Voo Doo funding on September 25, but the magazine appealed that decision and ultimately regained funding last week.

Still, it is worth noting that the Board effectively attempted to shut Voo Doo down simply because of an unofficial complaint about the text of one comic strip. While The Tech doesn’t specify which comic strip inspired the complaint, it would be nearly impossible to argue that ...

DC Entertainment Co-Publisher JIM LEE Illustrates THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE #1 Cover Available Exclusively to CBLDF Retailer Members!

Friday, October 18th, 2013

SNDM_Cv1_CBLDF_BW_var_fpo3Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is proud to release the Jim Lee variant cover to THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE #1, drawn by DC Entertainment Co-Publisher and CBLDF Advisory Board member Jim Lee!  This cover is available exclusively to retailers who join the organization during CBLDF’s Retailer Membership drive running this month in Diamond Previews.

On October 30, 2013, The New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman returns to the world of The Endless with an all-new bimonthly comic book mini-series—THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE—published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Entertainment. This is the story Gaiman has been wanting to tell since the very beginning. Joining Gaiman is artistic luminary J.H. Williams III, whose lush, widescreen images provide an epic scope for Morpheus’ origin story.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been almost ten years since Neil Gaiman first wrote to me about supporting the CBLDF,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “Since answering that call it’s been an honor to work with him and our fellow creators to support their important work.  I’m thrilled to be able to collaborate with Neil on this SANDMAN cover as a way to say thank you to all the retailers who are joining the Fund this month.  ...

FIRE Reminds U. of Alabama Again About Opening Up Campus to Free Speech

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Today, FIRE sent a second letter to the University of Alabama (UA) reminding UA of its obligation as a public university to allow for open discourse and unfettered expressive activity on its campus.

Our letter concerns UA’s grounds use policy, which Torch readers will remember UA used to censor the protected speech of the student group Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) this past spring. FIRE wrote to the university in May about that case, in which members of AASRJ, peacefully distributing literature on campus in response to a pro-life student group’s event on the university quad, were told that they needed to have a grounds use permit to continue and that without one they would be subject to arrest for their protected activity. When AASRJ attempted to procure this permit, the group was informed that the permit would not be approved in time because UA’s grounds use policy recommends requests be submitted "10 working days prior to the event."

Having received FIRE’s letter as well as public scrutiny following our press release about the case, UA commendably revised its policy (PDF) over the summer in an effort to better accommodate students’ spontaneous expressive activity and counter-protests. Specifically, ...

Sometimes a Link Is Just a Link: Free Ali Anouzla!

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

A link is just a link...except when it isn’t.  In one ongoing case in Morocco, the act of linking to a news article that linked to a YouTube video that was posted by a terrorist group has landed a prominent editor in jail, charged with “material assistance” to a terrorist group, “defending terrorism,” and “inciting the execution of terrorist acts.”

If it sounds Kafkaesque, that’s because it is.  Arrested on September 17, Ali Anouzla, the Moroccan editor of the online-only publication Lakome, is currently being held in pre-trial detention.  

“Rarely has a jailed Arab journalist prompted so many calls for his release,” wrote a columnist for Lebanon’s Daily Star.  Indeed, Anouzla’s case has prompted widespread consternation even from publications like the Washington Post, where praise for the Moroccan king is common.  A group of Egyptian journalists have demanded Anouzla’s freedom, while free speech and human rights organizations all over the world have also spoken up in solidarity with the journalist; a letter signed by 60 such groups (including EFF), states:

...We fear that the Moroccan authorities have not only flouted international standards regarding freedom of expression and press freedom, but have ...

Police Charge Outspoken China Tweeter With ‘Picking Quarrels’

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Authorities in China's southwestern Yunnan province have charged detained businessman and well-known microblogger Dong Rubin with flouting pubic order and committing business-related offenses amid an ongoing campaign against online "rumors," his lawyer said on Thursday.

Dong, a vocal opponent of plans to build a petrochemical plant near the provincial capital Kunming, which sparked mass protests on the city's streets earlier this year, has been formally arrested and charged with "picking quarrels" and "running an illegal business," his lawyer Xiao Dongzhi said.

The arrest formalizes the charges against Dong, a businessman from Kunming, and paves the way for a trial.

But Xiao said the authorities had refused to let him meet with Dong for more than a month, he added.

"I have met with him twice," Xiao said. "The second time was on Sept. 13, but every time I have been to see him since then, the police have told me in advance that there is no time available for a meeting."

"So I haven't been able to visit him, and I don't know how he is doing."

Dong, who has some 45,000 followers on the popular Sina Weibo platform, where he is known by his nickname "bianmin," appears to have ...

Happy Fall From FIRE!

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The fall is off to a blistering pace. FIRE staffers are already meeting with supporters in over 25 cities and more than 15 states across the country this semester with more to come. We’re also well on the way to having the highest number of case submissions in our 14-year history!

Perhaps the biggest case we are currently fighting is in California at Modesto Junior College, where a student was banned from passing out Constitutions—on Constitution Day! FIRE is coordinating the student’s lawsuit against the school and its administrators. This case is just another disturbing example of why our mission is so important. 

We are very proud of the work we do here at FIRE, but we always remember the tremendous support, both financial and otherwise, that donors, students, faculty, and lawyers lend to our organization. Indeed, their support is what makes our work defending liberty on campus possible. We truly cannot thank them enough. 

If you would like to make a donation and join our network of supporters, online giving is the easiest way, or a development associate can assist you over the phone (215-717-3473) during regular business hours. Students and faculty may join our Campus Freedom ...

Set ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Free in Plaquemines PSD English Classrooms

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

In the middle of a unit on Harper Lee’s classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, students at Belle Chasse High School in Lousiana were informed they wouldn’t be finishing the book. Apparently, their teachers told them, the book is banned.

Newer teachers in the district were teaching the book,  unaware that it was banned from use in 2001. The ban came back into force, however, following new parental complaints.


Today, we sent a letter to the district lending support to the ACLU of Louisiana’s statement alleging the ban violates students’ First Amendment rights. The letter urges them to rescind it as soon as possible. According to school officials, the board will likely be reconsidering the policy in the near future. 

“I wasn’t really offended,” freshman Dugan Epperson told news reporters. “It’s not that bad, we’re in high school, we’re getting mature, you know?” 

When a ban like this comes up, we often hear a disbelieving chorus:  ”Really?? That book??” Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird is a practically unimpeachable classic — a Pulitzer prize winning novel, taught to millions of students. A 1990 study found it was the 5th most taught book in high schools.

But the question should ...

To Kill a Mockingbird Re-banned in Louisiana School District

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

To Kill a MockingbirdAfter a convoluted series of events spanning at least a decade, the school board in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana last week removed Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird from classrooms throughout the district. After some parents of high school students recently complained that the book contained “offensive language” and “themes…[that] may not be suitable for children,” district officials conveniently remembered that it had already been banned there in 2000. Only newer teachers, who were unaware of the ban, had been using it in class, but their students didn’t get a chance to finish reading the book before it was pulled.

The question of how and why the book was banned in the first place is not easily answered. One thing, however, is certain: The ban was unilaterally imposed by a single employee, former Superintendent Jim Hoyle, who left the district in 2006. According to an August 2002 article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (not freely available online; see below for full citation), Hoyle said that two years earlier he’d removed the book — and the 1962 movie based on it — from district libraries “because some parents thought it contained ‘some objectionable words.’” By October 2002 Hoyle changed his ...

How To Opt Out of Google’s Shared Endorsements

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Google recently announced an update to its Terms of Service, focused on displaying your profile name and photo next to advertisements and reviews. The new feature, which goes into effect on November 11, is called Shared Endorsements and will allow you to share your recommendations (whether a +1 on Google Play or a restaurant rating on Google Maps) with your connections.

For example, if your friend searches "Indian food" and an advertisement shows up for a local restaurant you've rated, your profile picture, name, and review might show up alongside it. Many users will take issue with their likeness used to promote sponsored links without their explicit consent—as Facebook knows all too well. Even more users rightfully have concerns with the fact that old comments posted with one online landscape in mind are now being reused in a completely different manner and placed before a completely different audience.

A crucial component of privacy is control, and being able to control how your information is used is an important user right. Thankfully, Google has made it very simple to opt out of Shared Endorsements. Here's how:

Step 1: Go To Your Settings

Go to the Shared Endorsements ...

9th Circuit Hears Appeal of California High Schoolers Who Wore American Flag Shirts on Cinco de Mayo

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circ […]

The post 9th Circuit Hears Appeal of California High Schoolers Who Wore American Flag Shirts on Cinco de Mayo appeared first on Thomas Jefferson Center.

EXCLUSIVE: Neil Gaiman Talks to CBLDF About Neverwhere Ban

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Neil Gaiman
(c) Kimberly Butler

Yesterday, CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project sent a letter to the Superintendent of Alamogordo Public Schools to defend Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which has been removed from shelves for review after a parent protested a passage in the book.

CBLDF reached out to Mr. Gaiman to get his thoughts on the ban:

I’m obviously disappointed that the parent in question didn’t talk to the teacher or accept the teacher’s offer of an alternative book for her daughter, and has instead worked to stop anyone else’s children reading a book that’s been in the school system successfully for almost a decade. On the other hand I’m impressed that this parent has managed to find sex and violence in Neverwhere that everyone else had somehow missed — including the entire city of Chicago, when they made Neverwhere the book that was read by adults and children alike all through the city in Spring 2011′s ONE BOOK ONE CHICAGO program.

But mostly I feel sorry for anyone excited enough by the banning to go to Neverwhere in search of “R-Rated” action. It’s a fine adventure, I think, with some sensible social points, and perhaps some good ...

What Do Iran and Facebook Agree On?

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Back in 2008, a young Moroccan engineer named Fouad Mourtada became the first person in his country to be arrested for a social networking-related offense. His crime? Something that happens all over the world every day...Mourtada created a Facebook profile representing one of the Moroccan princes. While Mourtada claimed he was merely a fan, he was prosecuted for identity theft and reportedly beaten in custody. After 43 days in jail and a global campaign for his release, he was finally granted a royal pardon.

In a case oddly reminiscent of that one, an Iranian man has been arrested for creating Facebook profiles of several cabinet ministers.  In recent weeks, reports had emerged that certain Iranian ministers had profiles on the social networking site, but those ministers have denied the reports.  Facebook and Twitter have been blocked in Iran for several years, and only high-level government officials—including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif—have official profiles on either site.

Iran has been toying with restricting its citizens to a countrywide intranet—often referred to in the Western media as the 'halal Internet'—for some time, and continues to add sites to its blacklist.  Circumventing blocked websites is a crime in the country, but that ...

Creative Commons Policy Statement Supports Real Copyright Reform

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Creative Commons, the non-profit best known for its copyright licenses that allow creators to voluntarily waive certain automatically-granted exclusive rights, has released a powerful new policy statement supporting fundamental copyright reform around the globe. This statement works to counter any argument that simply having a set of voluntary permissive copyright licenses available to rightsholders reduces the need for actual policy reform.

Without a doubt, Creative Commons, also frequently known as CC, has long been an ally in restoring sanity to copyright systems. Today's statement makes that role more explicit. At EFF, we've long admired the organization's work; as one token of that, we invited co-founder Lawrence Lessig to give a keynote at this year's Pioneer Awards, and have given the award to founding board member James Boyle, and to Aaron Swartz who helped design the code layer of the licenses.

It's a good thing too, that Creative Commons is dedicated to its role as steward of the free licenses and tools it produces— the authors of hundreds of millions of works around the Web, including EFF's Deeplinks blog posts, use those licenses. They're often the most effective way to give the public permission to share and build on ...