Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

IF Action Round Up – February 17-23, 2012

Friday, February 24th, 2012

OIF sponsors 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 http://lists.ala.org/wws/subscribe/ifaction. For an archive of all postings to the list since 1996, visit http://lists.ala.org/wws/arc/ifaction. Below is a sample of articles from February 17-23, 2012.

Censorship

‘Waterland’ to Stay in Plymouth-Canton’s AP English Curriculum

Journal’s concern over bird flu research

Internet again disrupted in Iran ahead of election

Troy School Board tables approval of ‘The Kite Runner’ (Pennsylvania)

ACTA: EU court to rule on anti-piracy agreement

Book ban ‘to guard moral values’ (Malaysia)

Region: Slovak book ban spurs controversy (Czech Republic)

Shakespeare book under review after parent raises concern at Liberty Middle (South Carolina)

Privacy

Disruptions: And the Privacy Gaps Just Keep On Coming

The Right to Be Forgotten

Apple, Google, Amazon agree to post mobile app privacy policies

Web Firms to Adopt ‘No Track’ Button

‘Privacy bill of rights’: Advocacy groups, industry weigh in

“Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World” (PDF)

Feds urge court to reject laptop encryption appeal

Drones Set Sights on U.S. Skies

How Companies Learn Your Secrets 

Microsoft leaves privacy hole in browser, Google ...

Villanova Cancels Workshop by Controversial Gay Performance Artist

Friday, February 24th, 2012
In a letter sent today, FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) have asked Villanova University to explain how academic freedom and free speech are safe on campus in the wake of Villanova's decision to cancel a workshop sponsored by faculty in the university's Department of Communication. The workshop by gay-rights activist and artist Tim Miller, scheduled for April 16-20, was canceled after criticism of the content of Miller's past work came to the attention of Villanova's senior leadership. The workshop is not necessarily related to any of Miller's past performances, and Villanova has strongly stated that although it is a private, Catholic institution, it honors freedom of speech and academic freedom.

If Villanova actually places its Catholic identity and values ahead of academic freedom and free speech, it ought to at least notify students and faculty members so that they can make informed choices about the kind of academic environment they want. Here is what FIRE regularly states regarding a private university's duty to be honest about its true values, and here is a law journal article on the topic from Kelly Sarabyn, one of FIRE's former Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellows.

Here in its entirety ...

Robert in ‘Daily Caller’: U of Cincinnati Has It Coming with Student Lawsuit Challenging Restrictive Policy

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Today in The Daily Caller, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley examines the student lawsuit that FIRE has helped to coordinate at the University of Cincinnati, challenging the university's extremely restrictive "free speech zone" policy. While FIRE has over the years encountered its share of unconstitutional free speech zones on college campuses, the University of Cincinnati's policy, as Robert writes, is uniquely burdensome of protected student speech.

Robert's piece examines the impact of such a restriction on basic expressive activity:

A quick look at the history of demonstrations and protests in the United States reveals why restrictive policies like the one at UC are unconstitutional. Imagine telling mourners in the days following 9/11 that they had to submit administrative notice and wait 10 working days before they could hold a candlelight vigil to grieve for the dead. Further imagine that they could only hold that vigil in a tiny, abandoned parking lot several miles away from the site of the tragedy. I would wager that not a single police officer would agree to enforce that restriction.

You can read Robert's entire article as well as our press release from this week to get the full picture on why the ...

February Student Spotlight: Austin Ford (University of California, Los Angeles ’12)

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Each month, the CFN Student Spotlight features a student member who is working to promote individual rights on his or her campus. For February, I am pleased to announce that our featured student is Austin Ford of the University of California, Los Angeles ’12. In his time at UCLA, Austin has done significant work to inform his fellow students about individual rights on campus and has pointed out flaws in campus policy. With his group, the Bruin Democrats, Austin is tabling during UCLA's "Know Your Rights" week, handing out information from FIRE and the ACLU. He has also taken notice of recent changes to UCLA's student conduct code which, he believes, have taken away significant due process rights. In the future, he hopes to work with his group to reform these policies.

Read Austin's story at our Student Spotlight page, and keep checking The Torch to hear more about CFN student accomplishments!

What Does It Mean to be "Pro-Technology and Pro-Internet?"

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Ahead of the Academy Awards this weekend, Chris Dodd, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, would like to assure you that "Hollywood is pro-technology and pro-Internet." But what does that mean? The comments filed at the Copyright Office this month by MPAA and RIAA, together with the Business Software Alliance, the Entertainment Software Association, and other copyright owners' groups, paint a clear picture of these groups' vision for the future of the Internet and digital technologies.

EFF is asking the Copyright Office for legal exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow jailbreaking (or "rooting") of smartphones, tablets, and game consoles, so that people can run their software of choice on the devices they own. EFF is also asking for exemptions that will allow noncommercial video remixers to use video clips from DVDs and online video services. Other organizations are asking for exemptions for various forms of digital video, accessibility for the disabled, and other important projects. Under the DMCA, exemptions expire every three years, and have to be justified all over again. Many of you sent comments and signed petitions in support of EFF's exemption requests, and the Copyright Office received almost 700 comments.

MPAA ...

UNC SLIS Data Privacy Day webinar audio recording available

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Earlier this month, as part of Data Privacy Day 2012, OIF Director Barbara Jones participated in a webinar sponsored by the University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science (SILS).  The webinar, “Should Librarians Care about Privacy Anymore?,” was recorded and the audio is now available.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties made posting the video of the program impossible.   However, you can view Anne Klinefelter’s PowerPoint presentation as well as two videos presented by Jones from 2011: one about one about Choose Privacy Week and a recording of the high school panel from last year’s Youth and Privacy Conference.

Thanks to UNC SLIS for sponsoring the event, which was part of its 80th anniversary celebration.

Appeals Court Upholds Constitutional Right Against Forced Decryption

Friday, February 24th, 2012
Privilege Against Self-Incrimination Applies to Act of Decrypting Data

San Francisco - A federal appeals court has found a Florida man's constitutional rights were violated when he was imprisoned for refusing to decrypt data on several devices. This is the first time an appellate court has ruled the 5th Amendment protects against forced decryption – a major victory for constitutional rights in the digital age.

In this case, titled United States v. Doe, FBI agents seized two laptops and five external hard drives from a man they were investigating but were unable to access encrypted data they believed was stored on the devices via an encryption program called TrueCrypt. When a grand jury ordered the man to produce the unencrypted contents of the drives, he invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to do so. The court held him in contempt and sent him to jail.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief under seal, arguing that the man had a valid Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and that the government's attempt to force him to decrypt the data was unconstitutional. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that the act of decrypting data ...

Latest Round of Ultimate Comics’ Muppet Auctions Include Sketches from Christian Slade, Roger Langridge, and More!

Friday, February 24th, 2012

We announced Ultimate Comics’ The Muppet Show #1 sketch variant cover auctions just last week, and an all-new new round of nine covers just went up, featuring covers by the following amazing comic artists:

Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show)
Christian Slade (Korgi)
Andy Kuhn (Firebreather)
Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules)
George Broderick (Christmas Eve)
Chris Moreno (World War Hulk: Front Line)
Teresa Davidson (Archie)
Scott Wegener (Atomic Robo)
Robert Atkins (G.I. Joe)

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the covers, but head over to Ultimate Comics’ eBay page to view the rest and bid on your favorite sketch! Proceeds from the auction benefit CBLDF’s important work in defense of the First Amendment!

Animal by Andy Kuhn Animal by Roger Langridge Beeker and Bunsen by Christian Slade Beeker by Teresa Davidson Dr. Teeth by Scott Wegener Kermit by Jimmy Gownley

EFF Files Suit to Block Threats Aimed at Lawyer Ratings Site

Friday, February 24th, 2012
Federal Law and First Amendment Protect Criticism of Attorneys and Law Firms

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed suit in federal court to block threats aimed at LawyerRatingz.com, a website that allows Internet users to write comments and rate attorneys.

A Florida law firm – the Law Offices of Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. – claims to have lost business based upon negative ratings and reviews posted on LawyerRatingz.com, which included complaints about Mr. Thomas, his billing rates, and his proposed contingency fees. The firm repeatedly threatened legal action against LawyerRatingz.com unless all comments – positive or negative – were removed from the site. LawyerRatingz.com, represented by EFF, filed suit Wednesday against Thomas and his firm, asking for a judicial ruling that LawyerRatingz.com is not legally responsible for material posted by third parties as well as an end to the baseless legal threats.

"Mr. Thomas's claims are meritless and run afoul of bedrock legal principles protecting website operators," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act categorically protects providers of 'interactive computer services' from suits such as this one seeking to make them responsible for the speech of their users. Without ...

How to Remove Your YouTube Viewing and Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

Friday, February 24th, 2012

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Earlier this week, we showed you how to delete your Google Web History in order to prevent Google from combining your Web History data with the data it has about you on its other products to provide you with personalized ads or suggestions across all of its products. You may also wish to delete your YouTube Viewing and Search History, which can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, and health concerns.

Note that disabling Viewing and Search History in your YouTube account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement.

With Viewing and Search History enabled, Google will keep these records indefinitely; with it disabled, they will be partially anonymized after 18 months, and certain kinds of uses, including sending you customized search results, will be prevented. ...

California AG Agreement Calls on Mobile Apps to Be Transparent About All the Ways They Invade User Privacy

Friday, February 24th, 2012

California State Attorney General Kamala Harris announced an agreement yesterday with six mobile app platform providers aimed at encouraging app developers to provide more accessible privacy policies. The announcement comes at an auspicious moment -- consumer outrage at the recently-discovered address book practices that Path and other app developers claim are "industry standard" shows that there's a serious disconnect when it comes to industry practices and user privacy expectations. But we should be wary about solutions that depend on walled gardens. App developers need to start baking privacy protection into their designs, and though this agreement may help encourage that, it's not clear that it's the best tool to give consumers meaningful choices when it comes to controlling what data mobile apps access and share.

Under the agreement, Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion will create fields for app developers to provide information about their privacy policies when submitting apps to the app store. These fields are optional, but developers who fill them out make it easy for consumers to find the app's privacy policy.1

Of course, providing a privacy policy is not enough to actually safeguard user data. Companies have a lot of leeway about ...

How Internet Companies Would Be Forced to Spy on You Under H.R. 1981

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Online commentators are pointing to the Internet backlash against H.R. 1981 as the new anti-SOPA movement. While this bill is strikingly different from the Stop Online Piracy Act, it does have one thing in common: it’s a poorly-considered legislative attempt to regulate the Internet in a way experts in the field know will have serious civil liberties consequences. This bill specifically targets companies that provide commercial Internet access – like your ISP – and would force them to collect and maintain data on all of their customers, even if those customers have never been suspected of committing a crime.

Under H.R. 1981, which has the misleading title of Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, Congress would force commercial Internet access providers to keep for one year a “log of the temporarily assigned network addresses the provider assigns to a subscriber to or customer of such service that enables the identification of the corresponding customer or subscriber information under subsection (c)(2) of this section.”  Let’s break that down into simple terms.

Temporarily Assigned Network Addresses: More than IP Addresses

Under this proposal, ISPs would have to maintain “temporarily assigned network addresses” to enable the identification of a ...

White House, Google, and Other Advertising Companies Commit to Supporting Do Not Track

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

When Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer uncovered a Google workaround to circumvent the default privacy settings on Safari, EFF called on Google to change their tune on privacy by respecting the Do Not Track flag and building it into the Chrome browser. We specifically praised the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) multi-stakeholder process, which for a year has been convening consumer advocates, Internet companies, and technologists to craft how companies that receive the Do Not Track signal should respond. Today, in conjunction with the White House’s new publication Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World (PDF), the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) announced (PDF) that it will embrace Do Not Track. (The DAA is the latest self-regulatory organization for online advertising companies.) This is a big step in the right direction for securing user privacy rights in the digital environment, but we’ve still got a long way to go. And, unfortunately, it looks like online advertisers are already working to water down the Do Not Track protections.

There are two parts to Do Not Track: technology and policy. The technology, a simple HTTP header (“DNT: 1”), allows a consumer to signal her privacy preference. The policy specifies what companies can and can’t ...

All-Comers Supporters: Don’t Worry, Bad Things will ‘Never Happen’!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

If tomorrow the laws against insider trading were revoked in their entirety, would you expect more insider trading to take place, or about the same amount?

If you think more would result, congratulations; you apply logic the way most people do. But if you think there would be no effect, I think I might have found someone who agrees with you.

In a recent Associated Press article about the trend of universities considering the adoption of "all-comers" policies banning belief-based student groups from making belief-based choices about their membership or leadership, I was quoted warning of some of the potential downsides of these policies:

True all comers policies are rare because they're often impractical and can lead to absurd results, said Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which monitors free speech issues on campuses and has criticized Vanderbilt.

For instance, such policies stop a campus Christian group from ousting its president if he converts to Islam, Shibley said.

They also raise the prospect of mischief: in theory, the College Republicans could join the College Democrats en masse, take over the leadership and disband the group, he said.

Oh, that Shibley, always with the doom and gloom. ...

EFF Calls for Full Investigation on Blogger Stabbed in Jordan

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

EFF is deeply disturbed to hear of the stabbing of Jordanian blogger Enass Musallam on Monday in a suburb of the capital, Amman. Musallam is currently recovering in hospital and is in stable condition.

The 19-year-old university student and blogger's attack may have been in response to a blog post (in Arabic) she wrote on February 19 addressed to Jordan's Prince Hassan. In the post, Musallam criticized the Prince for comments he made about protesters in Amman's Palm Tree Square (rough translation: "If I came down to Palm Tree Square, I would sift the lot of you"). Musallam retorted:

My dear, Highness, do you really view us with such absurdity, that you think you can come down to our square any time you want and sift us! We are a people, not the children of palaces and our relatives are not royal highnesses and our names are not preceded by royal titles. But we have imbibed dignity from the soil of the nation. And we learned how to think and how to distinguish our minds from others, and how to become the elite without you doing us any favors. So by what right do you want to sift us, Your ...

Help FIRE Defend Liberty on Campus

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

This year is shaping up to be an important one for campus liberty. In the past two months alone, we celebrated the inclusion of the University of Mississippi on our exclusive list of "green light" schools, won an important legal victory in Barnes v. Zaccari, and secured a quick resolution to an outrageous case at Syracuse University. Each of these victories provides testament to our continued commitment to defending the expressive rights of students and faculty on campus. And, of course, today we announced a lawsuit aimed at removing an unconstitutional speech code at the University of Cincinnati.

But a new threat to liberty on campus is on the rise. With administrators less able to regulate their students' speech, they are increasingly telling them what they must and must not believe—even regulating religious faith itself—if they wish to be treated equally with other students. FIRE is rushing to meet these attacks on religious liberty, but in order to win this fight, we need your help.

One need look no further than Vanderbilt University to see how real these threats are. Vanderbilt recently announced that political and religious student groups at the university must open their membership ...

Obama Administration Unveils Promising Consumer Privacy Plan, but the Devil Will Be in the Details

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Today the White House proposed a framework for protecting privacy in the digital age. The plan, laid out in detail in a white paper (pdf), includes a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights based on well-established fair information practice principles. EFF, which has previously proposed a Bill of Privacy Rights for Social Network Users, believes this user-centered approach to privacy protection is a solid one.

The Administration's bill of rights guarantees:

  • Individual Control. Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect and how they use it.
  • Transparency. Consumers have a right to easily understandable and accessible information about privacy and security practices.
  • Respect for Context. Consumers have a right to expect that companies will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
  • Security. Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
  • Access and Accuracy. Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data is inaccurate.
  • Focused Collection. Consumers ...

Satphones, Syria, and Surveillance

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Yesterday morning, journalist Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times of London was killed, along with French photographer Rémi Ochlik, in the beseiged city of Homs, Syria, where more than 400 people have been reported dead in recent weeks.

Disturbingly, the Telegraph, the Toronto Globe and Mail, and the Associated Press all reported that Colvin and Ochlik were likely deliberately killed by the Syrian army and their location may have been tracked down through their satellite phones.

On Monday night, Colvin appeared on CNN, telling Anderson Cooper that “the Syrian army is shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.” Responding to Syrian president Bashar Al Assad’s statement that he was not targeting civilians in the barrage of rocketfire raining on Homs, Colvin accused the regime of “murder” and said: “There are no military targets here…It's a complete and utter lie that they are only going after terrorists.”  A few hours later, she was dead.

The Telegraph quoted Jean-Pierre Perrin, a journalist for the Paris-based Liberation newspaper who was with Colvin in Homs last week, as saying: “The Syrian army issued orders to 'kill any journalist that set foot on Syrian soil'” and that the Syrian authorities were likely ...

University of Cincinnati Sued Over Free Speech Zone

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Here is today's press release:

CINCINNATI, February 23, 2012—A student group filed suit yesterday against the University of Cincinnati in federal district court, alleging that the university's tiny "free speech zone" violates the First Amendment. The University of Cincinnati chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and its president, student Christopher Morbitzer, sought permission to gather signatures and talk to students across campus in support of a statewide "right to work" ballot initiative, but the request was denied. Morbitzer was told that if any YAL members were seen "walk[ing] around campus" gathering signatures, campus security would be alerted. 

Morbitzer and YAL seek a temporary restraining order to prevent the University of Cincinnati (UC) from quarantining the group's advocacy to the university's free speech zone. The suit was filed by Ohio's 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in cooperation with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Ohio attorney Curt C. Hartman joins the 1851 Center's Ryan Walters as co-counsel. 

"The University of Cincinnati is a public, taxpayer-supported institution that brazenly refuses to respect the First Amendment rights of its students," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "Herding students who wish to engage in core expressive activity into a tiny ‘free speech ...

Remembering Barney Rosset

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

From John Gall, art director for Vintage and Anchor Books, comes word that legendary publisher and film distributor Barney Rosset has passed away at the age of 89. Gall points us to a lively profile by Louisa Thomas that ran in Newsweek in late 2008: “Rosset’s publishing house, Grove Press, was a tiny company operating out of the ground floor of Rosset’s brownstone when it published an obscure play called Waiting for Godot in 1954. By the time Beckett had won the Nobel Prize in 1969, Grove had become a force that challenged and changed literature and American culture in deep and lasting ways. Its impact is still evident — from the Che Guevara posters adorning college dorms to the canonical status of the house’s once controversial authors. Rosset is less well known — but late in his life he is achieving some wider recognition. Last month, a black-tie crowd gave Rosset a standing ovation when the National Book Foundation awarded him the Literarian Award for ‘outstanding service’ to American letters. This fall, Rosset was also the subject of a documentary, Obscene, directed by Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O’Connor, which featured a host of literary luminaries, former colleagues and ...

‘Quinnipiac Chronicle’ Just As Free As ‘The Quad News’

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

On Tuesday, I wrote that The Quad News at Quinnipiac University (QU) has started printing physical copies of its once-online-only publication. The Quad News was born out of problems with the administration trying to stifle the speech of the student newspaper The Quinnipiac Chronicle.

In an editorial yesterday, the Quinnipiac Chronicle recognized the new publication's presence on campus and pointed out that it has not had any issues with the QU administration since the incident in 2008:

Like The Quad News, the Chronicle has the right to free speech in its content and there is no censorship from any level on the work produced by students. The university's policy that caused the Chronicle to split in 2008 is no longer enforced, and has not been imposed in our editorial board's tenure.

While we are officially recognized by the university, this only means we receive funding from Quinnipiac in addition to the advertising revenue we raise.

We will continue to publish our content in a weekly print edition and also update our website 24/7.

I also received a phone call yesterday from Lenny Neslin, editor of the Quinnipiac Chronicle, clarifying that the newspaper can post its content ...

Image Expo Bound!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

by Charles Brownstein

This weekend, the CBLDF will be exhibiting at Image Expo — a celebration of creator-owned comics honoring the 20th Anniversary of Image Comics — at the Oakland Convention Center in downtown Oakland, California, February 24 – 26.

I’ll be there representing the organization at booth 75 all weekend and giving a presentation about the history of comics censorship on Sunday. Betsy Gomez is joining me there — she does all the hard work of editing this website and is looking for new writers to help us make it even better, so writers, please take notice! We’ll have special giveaways for our members, a party on Friday night that’s also free to members, and lots of great incentives to thank you for supporting the Fund’s important work. Please come out and say hi — we love to meet our members!

We’ve got some tremendous offerings for you at the show. I hand picked 50 great signed graphic novel titles to thank you for your donations at Image Expo. We’re bringing signed books from creator supporters, including: Jason Aaron, Kate Beaton, Ed Brubaker, J. Scott Campbell, Frank Cho, Daniel Clowes, Camilla D’Errico, Geof Darrow, Evan Dorkin, Garth Ennis, Phil ...

EFF Wins Protection for Time Zone Database

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Copyright Lawsuit Threatened Essential Tool for Engineers Around the World

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce that a copyright lawsuit threatening an important database of time zone information has been dismissed. The astrology software company that filed the lawsuit, Astrolabe, has also apologized and agreed to a 'covenant not to sue' going forward, which will help protect the database from future baseless legal actions and disruptions.

Software engineers around the world depend on the time zone database to make sure that time-stamps for email and other files work correctly no matter where you are. However, last September, Astrolabe filed a lawsuit against Arthur David Olson and Paul Eggert – the researchers who coordinated the database's development for decades – because the database includes information from an atlas in which Astrolabe claimed to own copyright. But facts – like what time the sun rises – are not copyrightable. EFF, along with co-counsel Adam Kessel and Olivia Nguyen at the Boston office of Fish & Richardson P.C, promptly signed on to defend Olson and Eggert and protect this essential tool. In January, EFF advised Astrolabe that Olson and Eggert would move for sanctions if Astrolabe did ...

The New EFF Issues T-shirt!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The new EFF Issues T-Shirt!We're happy to announce the arrival of the new EFF Issues T-shirt! The back displays the full constellation of EFF's work areas: Privacy, Free Speech, Transparency, Fair Use, International, and Innovation. 

In our ongoing search for a women's T-shirt with the perfect fit, we printed the women's style on Hanes ComfortSoft. These tees feature flattering sleeves and a more comfortable fit for greater ease whether you're navigating a server room, a court room, or the local coffee shop. See our T-shirt size chart for more information.

If you donated to EFF recently, be on the lookout for your long-awaited member swag with our gargantuan current shipment. In fact, for a limited time we are offering free expedited shipping so that new members can participate in Wear Your Swag to Work Day on March 8th!

Tweet * Facebook * Identi.ca * Digg

If you haven't joined or renewed your EFF membership yet, what are you waiting for? Show your solidarity and celebrate 22 years of defending civil liberties online. Thank you for allowing us to keep fighting.

Newspaper Thefts at Florida Atlantic Turn Out to Be Honest Mistake

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reports that an episode of missing newspapers at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has a somewhat benign ending. 

As it turns out, no one was stealing or destroying copies of the University Press student newspaper because of their disagreement with the paper's content. Rather, the papers were nabbed by students in an engineering class:

Mariam Aldhahi, editor in chief of the University Press student newspaper, said they discovered Jan. 30 that students took the 2,600 papers for a class project.

The class was required to build bridges out of newspaper to withstand certain amounts of weight. The professor, Aldhahi said, did not know he was encouraging illegal activity by telling students to use the UP.

Once informed, the professor apologized and told his students to stop taking so many papers. Aldhahi said students even came to the newsroom to apologize personally.

While this reflects the too-frequent misunderstanding that taking gobs of "free" newspapers is harmless, we're thankful that this case had a different ending than what we're used to seeing when it comes to newspaper theft on campus. From UMass Amherst to American University to Towson University, we are sadly too accustomed to ...

Western Kentucky U. Student Senator Seeks to Reform ‘Red Light’ Policy

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The College Heights Herald, the main student newspaper at Western Kentucky University (WKU), reports a promising development coming from WKU's Student Government Association. Student senator Christopher Costa, the Herald reports, is preparing a resolution for consideration by the SGA that would call for the removal of WKU's External Computer Use and Ethics policy from WKU's student handbook. The section on external computer use (part of WKU's Information Technology policy), states:

Communications on sites such as Facebook, etc. will not be actively policed; however, students should be aware that the information posted on the internet can be viewed by university officials at any time. Accessible communications deemed inappropriate may lead to disciplinary action.

This language contributes, in fact, to the one "red light" policy WKU currently has in FIRE's Spotlight database, so reforming or eliminating it could have a significant impact on WKU's speech code rating. As the Herald reports:

If the resolution passes, Costa said he wants to go to the administrators to discuss the issue.

"If it's not breaking the law, the university shouldn't be stepping in and tramping on the free speech of students," Costa said.

[...]

Costa said as a senator, he wants to be ...

Free Speech Hero Barney Rosset Passes Away

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

Barney Rosset’s Grove Press published some of the best known names in modern literature: Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, William Burroughs, and more. Throughout his tenure as a publisher and filmmaker, Rosset was a crusader against obscenity laws. Rosset recently passed away at the age of 90.

In 1951, Grove Press was a tiny company. Under Rosset’s guidance, Grove became one of the foremost publishers of American literature. Many of Grove’s authors were turned down by other houses for being too experimental and controversial. When Rosset published Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, obscenity laws in the United States actually made it illegal to do so. In publishing Miller’s book and DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Rosset worked to overturn these laws. Rosset took on hundreds of lawsuits in defense of the books he published, eventually overthrowing many of the laws that violated the creators’ right to free expression.

Find out more about Rosset and his battles in defense of free Speech here and here.

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

Betsy Gomez is the ...

Applications now open for FTRF 2012 Conable Conference Scholarship

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The Freedom to Read Foundation has opened applications for the 2012 Gordon M. Conable Conference Scholarship, which will enable a library school student or new professional to attend ALA’s 2012 Annual Conference, held June 21-26 in Anaheim, Calif.

The goal of the Gordon M. Conable Conference Scholarship is to advance two principles that Conable held dear: intellectual freedom and mentorship.

The scholarship provides for conference registration, transportation, housing for six nights and six days per diem. In return, the recipient will be expected to attend various FTRF and other intellectual freedom meetings and events at the conference, consult with a mentor/board member and present a report about their experiences.  The recipient also will be invited, although not required, to provide daily updates about his or her experience on the Freedom to Read Foundation blog.

The deadline for submitting an application for the 2012 Conable Scholarship is Friday, April 6; the award will be announced in May.

Who is eligible: Students currently enrolled in an ALA-accredited library and information studies degree programor an AASL-recognized master’s programs in school librarianship and new professionals (those who are three or fewer years removed from receiving a library school degree) are eligible to ...

A Thoughtful Critique of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Law

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being a panelist in a symposium on New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights organized by the Seton Hall Legislative Journal at Seton Hall School of Law. I was joined by Professors Jane Yakowitz and Derek Bambauer of Brooklyn Law School, and our panel focused on the intersection of New Jersey's anti-bullying initiative and the First Amendment. 

If you've talked to me recently, you already know that I had a blast. It's a lot of fun to discuss student speech law with smart, witty folks, and that's definitely an apt description of Jane and Derek. Best of all, both professors left me with a lot to think about on the train ride home. As such, I'm really pleased to see that Professor Bambauer has posted a blog entry based on the notes from his panel presentation over at Concurring Opinions (crossposted at Info/Law). I'm tempted to excerpt close to all of it here—but I'd like you to read the whole thing, so I'll exercise some restraint and limit myself to just one of the several excellent points made therein. 

Professor Bambauer begins by noting that the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, ...

The Good Fighters: Eric Stephenson

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

In many ways, Eric Stephenson has changed the face of comics publishing. Under his guidance as Publisher, Image Comics has become a juggernaut of innovative and creative comics projects, many of them critically acclaimed and instant sell-outs. Under Stephenson’s guidance, Image has become the go-to place for new ideas and new creators.

In addition to being an advocate for new creative work, Stephenson is also an advocate for free speech. His support for CBLDF is as fierce as his support of creators. Under Stephenson’s watch, Image Comics has become a corporate member, sponsored numerous parties, and published the CBLDF Liberty Annual, raising nearly $100,000 for CBLDF’s important First Amendment work.

For this edition of The Good Fighters, we took a moment to talk to Stephenson the eve of the first ever Image Expo, which takes place this weekend in Oakland, California.

CBLDF: As the current Publisher of Image Comics, you’ve done more to support CBLDF than many of your predecessors. Why is CBLDF so important to you?

Eric Stephenson: Well, I think what the Fund does is more important than many people realize. People take freedom of speech for granted, I think, and even though ...

Government Pressures Twitter to Hand Over Keys to Occupy Wall Street Protester’s Location Data Without a Warrant

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

On October 1, 2011, over 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. Most of the protesters, including Malcolm Harris, were charged with the mundane crime of disorderly conduct, a "violation" under New York law that has a maximum punishment of 15 days in jail or a $250 fine

And yet on the basis of a charge no more consequential than speeding ticket, the New York City District Attorney's office sent a poorly worded subpoena to Twitter requesting "any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011-12/31/2011" regarding Mr. Harris' Twitter account, @destructuremal. Unsurprisingly, the government wanted to keep it quiet, but thankfully Twitter didn't listen. Instead, as it has consistently warned law enforcement, Twitter notified Mr. Harris, who through his lawyer, Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild, has moved to challenge the subpoena in court.

The subpoena is astonishing not only for its poor grammar, but also for the breadth of information the government wants for a trivial crime that hardly requires it. The government's request that Twitter hand over Tweets is unlikely to succeed because consistent with the ...

This Week in Censorship: Syrian and Iranian Bloggers Under Threat, CPJ Calls for an Anti-Censorship Coalition

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Iranian netizen under immedate threat of execution

According to a report from Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Saeed Malekpour, the 36-year-old web and circumvention tool developer who in January was sentenced to death, is now under threat of immedate execution. In the report, RSF writes: "The family of Saeed Malekpour [has reported] that his sentence order has been sent to the office responsible for carrying out sentences, which means that he could [be] executed at any time during the coming hours or days." Malekpour is currently in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison.

EFF is extremely concerned for Malekpour. We stand with the scores of human rights and freedom of expression advocates in condemning his sentence issued by the Iranian state and urge Iran to reconsider Malekpour's sentence.

Syrian blogger released, others remain imprisoned

As we reported last week, more than a dozen Syrian human rights activists were arrested on January 16 during a raid on the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. Among them were bloggers Razan Ghazzawi (who was conditionally released on February 18) and Hussein Ghrer, both of whom were imprisoned in 2011 without trial. Ghrer remains in prison.

EFF condemns the Syrian ...

A Free Press at Quinnipiac: ‘The Quad News’ to Begin Printing

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

An online-only newspaper for nearly four years, Quinnipiac University (QU)'s The Quad News has begun printing physical copies as of today

The Quad News was created in 2008 in response to the QU administration cracking down on press freedom within the established student newspaper, The Quinnipiac Chronicle. At the time, the QU administration prohibited The Quinnipiac Chronicle from posting its articles online before they had been printed, citing concerns about wanting to review the content "before the external world hears about it."

The dispute escalated, resulting in the QU administration hand-picking Chronicle staffers. In response, the then-editorial staff abandoned the Chronicle to found an online-only paper, The Quad News. QU was, perhaps unsurprisingly, not receptive to the new news outlet, threatening to expel from campus any organizations who chose to associate with The Quad News—specifically the QU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. (See our 2008 letter to QU President John Lahey here, and our longer chronicling of the dispute here for more information.)

Based on the QU administration's attitude toward The Quad News in 2008, today's print launch may incite some type of response. We at FIRE hope that response is positive, and we ...

How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google's other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.

Here's how you can do that:

1. Sign into your Google account.

2. Go to https://google.com/history

3. Click "remove all Web History."

4. Click "ok."

Note that removing your Web History also pauses it. Web History will remain off until you enable it again.

If you have several Google accounts, you will need to do this for each of them.

FIRE VP to Speak at Red Alert School Tomorrow

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This Wednesday, February 22, FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel will address two student audiences at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing. MSU earned its place on FIRE's Red Alert list in 2008, when a student was found guilty of "spamming" for emailing a select group of professors about proposed changes to the school calendar. Moreover, MSU broadened its definition of "spamming" to include sending the same unsolicited email to more than 10 friends, classmates, or faculty within 48 hours. Due to this egregious case and the overbroad spamming policy, MSU was named one of FIRE's "12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech" in The Huffington Post in 2011. 

FIRE supporters in the East Lansing area will have two opportunities tomorrow to hear Adam speak:

GUILTY: University Evidentiary Standards, Kangaroo Courts, and the Denial of Due Process
12 pm
Law College Building, Room 474
Sponsored by the MSU Federalist Society 

Red Alert: How MSU and Colleges Nationwide Violate Free Speech
8 pm
Wonders Hall, C-103
Sponsored by the MSU Campus Conservatives and the MSU College Republicans


To request a FIRE speaker for your school, visit our Speakers Bureau page or email me at jaclyn@thefire.org.

Image Comics, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and iFanboy present the Image Expo Welcome Party

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Experience Creativity with comics’ greatest creators at the Image Expo Welcome Party sponsored by Image Comics and iFanboy to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! The party is free for CBLDF members and kicks off at 8 PM on February 24, 2012 at The Uptown in Oakland, California. This party jump starts a weekend of celebrating independent comics and free speech at the Image Expo, taking place at the Oakland Convention Center. Proceeds from the Image Expo Welcome Party will benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who will have a gift bag for members and donors!

“The way Downtown Oakland has transformed itself over the last couple years is really inspiring, and I have a lot of admiration for all the people who made that happen,” said Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson. “Being able to involve Image in an event that takes place within such a vibrant community feels really good.”

Many of the superstar creators appearing at the Image Expo will be in attendance for the Image Expo Party, including: Robert Kirkman, Brian K. Vaughan, Joe Casey, Jonathan Hickman, Erik Larsen, Jim McCann, Blair Butler, Rob Guillory, Fiona Staples, Tim Seeley, Sina Grace and Joe Keatinge.

CBLDF ...

SCOTUS to Hear Oral Arguments on the “Stolen Valor Act” Tomorrow: A Checklist of Things to Watch

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Unlike some other recent First Amendment cases the Supreme Court has handled, United States v. Alvarez is a tough one to call.

Set for argument on Feb. 22, the case asks whether the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime falsely to claim having won a military honor, violates freedom of speech.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law unconstitutional in the case of Xavier Alvarez, a local politician in Pomona, Calif., who was convicted for claiming in a public speech that he had won the Medal of Honor, when in fact he had never even served in the military.

On one hand, the Court has often said, at least in passing, that false speech deserves little or no First Amendment protection. And lying about a military honor could pull at the justices’ patriotic heart strings. On the other hand, do justices really want the government criminalizing seemingly inconsequential lies, when politicians, spouses, teenagers and dentists (“It won’t hurt a bit”) lie more or less daily? As 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski wrote at an earlier stage of the case, “living means lying.”

The hourlong argument will pit Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. against California federal ...

Spy Tech Companies & Their Authoritarian Customers, Part II: Trovicor and Area SpA

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This is the second part in an EFF series. Part I, on UK-based FinFisher and France-based Amesys, can be read here.

On Sunday, CNN reported that dozens of activists in Syria have had their computers infected with malware that allows supporters of dictator Bashar al-Assad to spy on their every move. The virus, according to CNN, “passes information it robs from computers to a server at a government-owned telecommunications company.” Meanwhile in Iran, the government has cut off most encrypted web traffic flowing through the country, meaning ordinary Iranians have lost the ability to safely use many popular communications tools like Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook.

Unfortunately, these stories are just the latest examples of authoritarian governments stifling Internet freedom, as many governments in the Middle East have a long history of using technology to censor, track, and arrest dissidents. Critically, though, these governments would not have these capabilities without the help of American and E.U. companies that sell this state-of-the-art spying equipment. Two of the worst purveyors of this technology, Trovicor and Area SpA, are profiled here:

Area SpA—based outside Milan, Italy

In 2011, at the same time that news of Syria’s violent crackdown on democratic protests graced ...

Greg Talks College Censorship on Web Series ‘The B.S. of A.’

Monday, February 20th, 2012

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff appeared recently on the web series "The B.S. of A." to discuss censorship on college campuses. Greg argues that silencing campus speech teaches today's students that their highest priority should be to avoid hurting others' feelings rather than intellectual achievement or engaging with the marketplace of ideas. Greg reminds viewers that if they went to four years of college and never had their ideas challenged, they probably didn't learn very much. 

Purdue-Calumet Investigates Professor’s Speech for Months, Chilling Expression

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Purdue University Calumet (PUC) has been investigating a professor for months due to what looks like an organized onslaught of complaints about his expression on Facebook and in class about Muslims, even though some of the complainants never took his class and many have left unspecified what speech, exactly, they were complaining about. Professor Maurice Eisenstein has been under investigation since the complaints were filed in mid-November 2011, more than three months ago.

FIRE wrote PUC Chancellor Thomas L. Keon on January 24, 2012, about the investigation:

The principle of freedom of speech does not exist to protect only non-controversial speech; indeed, it exists precisely to protect speech that some members of a community may find controversial or offensive. The right to free speech includes the right to say things that are deeply offensive to many people, and the United States Supreme Court has explicitly held, in rulings spanning decades, that speech cannot be restricted simply because it offends people. In Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, 410 U.S. 667, 670 (1973), the Court held that "the mere dissemination of ideas—no matter how offensive to good taste—on a state university campus may not be shut ...

First Circuit Dismisses Political Candidate’s Defamation Suit

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Recognizing that “[c]ampaigning for public office sometimes has the feel of a contact sport,” the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 10 in Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Committee affirmed the dismissal of a defamation action brought by an unsuccessful political candidate against a group advertising against him.

In 2010, James Schatz, a Democrat, was running for a seat in the Maine Senate. In the days leading up to the election, the Republican State Leadership Committee of Alexandria, Va., hit Schatz with an advertising blitz that included fliers, brochures and radio and television spots. In the ads, the RSLC attacked Schatz for votes he allegedly made as a selectman for the town of Blue Hill.

According to the ads, Schatz and the Blue Hill selectmen gave $10,000 of taxpayer money to a political organization and then, citing a lack of funds, voted to cancel the town’s $10,000 Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

“It’s wrong for Schatz to give your money to a political organization, and it was wrong for Schatz to cancel your 4th of July celebration,” the fliers read. “On November 2, Vote against Jim Schatz, because he’s wrong for Maine.”
Read more on the ruling at ...

Activist Warned Over Website

Monday, February 20th, 2012
The Chinese dissident is besieged by police as he leaves a computer store.

Florida Judge Halts 27 Copyright Troll Cases—Attorney Caught Practicing Law Without A License?

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Yesterday, the Northern District Court of Florida halted 27 copyright troll lawsuits targeting more than 3,500 Doe defendants while it examines whether the copyright trolls' lawyer, Tarik Hashmi of the Transnational Law Group, is properly allowed to practice law in Florida. The cases include copyright troll lawsuits Hashmi filed on behalf of, among others, Third Degree Films, Inc.; Patrick Collins, Inc.; and SBO Pictures, Inc.; (a full list can be found in the attached order). The cases were moving along rapidly until three Doe defendants called the court's attention to a Cease and Desist Affidavit that Hashmi submitted to the Florida State Bar in 2010. The affidavit stated Hashmi was not licensed to practice law in Florida and would not conduct legal actions until he was licensed by the state.

Mr. Hashmi has until March 9 to respond to the allegations. Any person who has been contacted about these suits should know that they have been stopped.

In his February 16th order, District Judge Hinkle consolidated the 27 cases; stayed all proceedings; and forbade further contact with Doe defendants while the investigation into Hashmi's conduct is pending. Until the court rules on Hashmi's qualifications, or lack thereof, all proceedings with ...

EU Court of Justice: Social Networks Can’t Be Forced to Monitor and Filter to Prevent Copyright Infringement

Friday, February 17th, 2012

In another important victory for Internet users’ fundamental rights and the open Internet, the highest court in Europe ruled yesterday that social networks cannot be required to monitor and filter their users’ communications to prevent copyright infringement of music and movies.  The European Court of Justice (ECJ) found that imposing a broad filtering obligation on social networks would require active monitoring of users’ files in violation of EU law and could undermine citizens’ freedom of expression.

The SABAM v. Netlog decision follows a landmark ruling by the ECJ in the SABAM v. Scarlet Extended case in November 2011, where the Court held that a Belgian ISP (Scarlet) could not be required to adopt a system to filter and block the transfer of potentially copyright infringing music files on its network. In that case, the Belgian copyright collective management organization SABAM had obtained an injunction (a court order) against the ISP, requiring it to install a system that would filter all of its users’ communications for potential copyright-infringing material.

Yesterday’s ruling also involved SABAM. It had sought a similarly broad injunction against Belgian social media platform Netlog.  The 2001 EU copyright directive mandates that copyright holders be able to obtain injunctions ...

IFAction News Round Up, February 10-16, 2012

Friday, February 17th, 2012

OIF sponsors 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 http://lists.ala.org/wws/subscribe/ifaction. For an archive of all postings to the list since 1996, visit http://lists.ala.org/wws/arc/ifaction. Below is a sample of articles from February 10-16, 2012.

Access

Pro-open access legislation introduced in House and Senate

Thousands Protest Against ACTA

‘Cool Mommies’ Miffed at Not Being Allowed to Use Kirkland Library Room

 

Censorship

Belgian court refuses to ban ‘Tintin in the Congo’

Iran increasingly controls its Internet

Meeting debates class use of ‘vulgar’ book (Waterland Plymoth, MI)

Court Orders Missouri School District to Stop Censoring LGBT Websites

New Addition to Curriculum Sparks Controversy (Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Westfield, NJ)

Classroom Speech Restrictions Proposed (Arizona)

 

Privacy

U.S. suit raises questions about email privacy at work

The Heartbreaking Truth About Online Dating Privacy

Trying to balance privacy, free speech on Internet

Netflix reveals $9m payout in privacy legal action

Congress Left in Dark on DOJ Wiretaps

Start-Ups Seek to Help Users Put a Price on Their Personal Data 

GPS court ruling leaves US phone tracking ...

UK Police Agency Takes Over Popular Music Website

Friday, February 17th, 2012

News broke Tuesday that a British police agency called the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), had taken control of the popular music blog RnBXclusive and arrested one of the site’s creators for fraud. The normal content from the site was completely unavailable, replaced with a new splash page: a notice from SOCA stating that it had taken control of the domain. Initial reports claimed that that the RnBXclusive.com domain had been seized by the UK government agency -- bringing to mind images of a post-SOPA fractured Internet -- but it turned out that the website takeover was done with the cooperation of the UK-based hosting company, Rackspace’s UK arm. For its part, Rackspace claimed that the music site was taken down for breaching its Terms and Conditions.

The initial splash page that the site displayed after the takedown was replete with exaggerations and misstatements of law. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick ripped the notice apart, explaining the problems with the way that SOCA handled the situation. The original SOCA notice has since been taken down and replaced with a more accurately worded statement, but an image of the original is viewable here.

The baseless claims in the original ...

UM Student Newspaper Weighs in on ‘Tatro’ and Defends Students’ Free Speech

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Tatro v. University of Minnesota, a controversial case involving the punishment of a mortuary sciences student for comments posted on Facebook. FIRE and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) submitted an amici curiae brief on behalf of student Amanda Tatro, arguing that her punishment violated the First Amendment and would establish a dangerous precedent if allowed to stand. Now, as we settle in and wait for the court's opinion, University of Minnesota student newspaper the Minnesota Daily is weighing in with opinions and more information about the case. 

On Monday, Daily reporters Katherine Lymn and Kaitlin Walker provided a richly reported look at the case, giving useful context for Tatro's speech. On Tatro's comments, Walker and Lymn write:

She said the posts were just venting or joking, according to a police report. Her mother was ill and her fiancé had just broken up with her without reason. Any perceived threat was an overreaction.

She said "Bernie" was from the 1980's comedy "Weekend at Bernie's," "Death List #5" was from "Kill Bill" and the lock of hair comment was a lyric from a Black Crowes song - she didn't ...

Court Finds Social Network Add-On Violated Spam, Hacking Laws

Friday, February 17th, 2012

In a potentially troublesome decision, a federal district court has found that a start-up violated anti-spam and computer crime laws by creating and marketing a browser to let users view their social networking accounts in one place. The case demonstrates the difficulties facing those who seek to empower users to interact with closed services like Facebook in new and innovative ways.

In Facebook v. Power Ventures, Facebook sued a small company that created a tool for users to access and aggregate their personal information across social networking sites. In 2010, the court ruled that Power didn't access Facebook "without permission" under California computer crime law when it violated Facebook's terms of use, agreeing with arguments we raised in an amicus brief (pdf).

Unfortunately, the latest round of the case has taken a downward turn in ways that could have serious implications for other innovators and users.

First, the court gave a tremendous cudgel to Facebook against commercial users who displease it when it decided that Power violated the federal CAN-SPAM Act by sending "misleading" messages. These messages encouraged users to send Facebook "Event" invitations to their friends to promote Power's service. As EFF pointed out in an amicus ...

ComicsPRO Goes Big For CBLDF!

Friday, February 17th, 2012

by Alex Cox

I was extremely excited to represent the CBLDF at the ComicsPRO Annual Meeting in Dallas last weekend. This event is filled with meetings between publishers, distributors, and some of the best comic stores on the planet. The brainstorming, planning, and discussion that takes place over a short 48 hours makes it easily one of the best weekends of the year. Thanks to the generosity of the business community at the show, we were able to raise $8,000 for our important work, making ComicPRO one of the of our most productive and appreciated events, as well.

The main event of the meeting were the roundtable sessions, where we got to hear feedback from our retail members and chat with them face-to-face. We did a lot to collaborate on and discuss what the CBLDF is up to in 2012. A big topic in those conversations was the launch of our “Member Appreciation Party” program for stores (as discussed here).

The huge highlight of the weekend was the first-ever ComicsPRO Live CBLDF Benefit Auction. That was a huge success, and an enormous amount of fun. Almost every attending store came out in support, and while I went to Texas ...

The Good Fighters: Cliff Chiang

Friday, February 17th, 2012

by Betsy Gomez

Cliff Chiang does more than draw the best Wonder Woman around. In addition to his prodigious talent as an artist, he’s a witty and generous fellow, always ready to donate his dwindling spare time to a worthy cause. When CBLDF asked Chiang to create a new vision of Lady Liberty for our 2012 member cards, he fashioned an image as iconic as the Statue of Liberty herself.

In this installment of The Good Fighters, we sat down with Chiang for a quick chat about the impetus behind his Lady Liberty design and why he supports CBLDF.

CBLDF: How did you get involved with CBLDF?

Cliff Chiang: As a comics reader and professional, I feel like I’ve always known about the CBLDF and their mission. In the past I’ve been able to donate some pieces towards fund-raising, but I’m thrilled to work with Charles and Alex on the membership cards.

CBLDF: What was your inspiration for the new membership card artwork? Any chance your version of Lady Liberty was inspired by your work on Wonder Woman?

CC: I think maybe [CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein] and [Deputy Director Alex Cox] were inspired by my Wonder Woman art enough ...