Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Free webinar on hosting Banned Books Week events

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Are you interested in helping your library celebrate Banned Books Week this year? If so, we invite you to participate in the FREE webinar, “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read @ Your School, Public, and Academic Library,” which will be held on Tuesday, September 13, at 1:00 PM Central.  BONUS: All participants will receive a special discount code to purchase Banned Books Week materials through the ALA Store.

To register, please email your name, institution, and contact information to Angela Maycock at For more information, please visit OIF’s Online Learning page.

Listen to Charles Brownstein Talk About CBLDF

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

According to their website, the folks at Galactic Watercooler are “a community of friendly people who enjoy and participate in geekdom as a whole.” They love all things geeky, and in this week’s Galactic Watercooler podcast, you can listen to an interview with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein.

Galactic Watercooler podcaster Audra discovered CBLDF during Comic-Con, so she spoke with Brownstein about CBLDF’s origin and mission. Brownstein discussed the Comics Code, CBLDF’s Canada Customs Case, and CBLDF’s work in libraries. You can listen to Brownstein’s interview and a discussion about free speech here. The interview starts around the 72:10 mark, and the discussion about free speech closes out the podcast.

Support CBLDF’s defense of free speech by making a donation or becoming a member today!

Public Interest Groups to FCC: BART Cell Phone Shutdown Broke Telecom Laws

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

EFF has joined Public Knowledge and other public interest groups in asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify that the cell phone shutdown by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) earlier this month was a violation of American telecom laws. In an emergency petition filed Monday, the coalition urged the FCC to act quickly, as other governmental agencies may follow BART's illegal actions.

This all started back on August 11, when BART officials heard rumors of a protest planned in response to fatal shootings by the agency's police. In a controversial move that made news around the world, BART decided to shut down cell service in four underground stations in downtown San Francisco, claming it was necessary for public safety.

We've already discussed how blocking wireless access actually hurts public safety — particularly as the service was implemented in response to users' worries about communication in a crisis — not to mention the First Amendment concerns with a government agency restraining the free speech rights of its customers. This petition highlights yet another problematic aspect of BART's shutdown: the violation of federal laws meant to protect all Americans' communications. The FCC ...

Craig Thompson’s HABIBI Debuts at SPX 2011 to Benefit CBLDF!

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is proud to host Craig Thompson at this year’s Small Press Expo, and to premiere his eagerly awaited graphic novel HABIBI! Through a special arrangement with Random House, a benefit preview edition of 100 signed & numbered copies of the graphic novel will be available to donors who contribute $100 or more to the CBLDF at SPX. These copies will be available on a first-come, first served basis when the show opens on Saturday, September 10. HABIBI hits stores on September 20.

In addition to this rare preview, the CBLDF is also auctioning off lunch at SPX with Craig and #1/100 from this preview edition on eBay starting on Tuesday, August 30th, and ending on Thursday, September 8th. Bid on this exciting auction now!

Craig Thompson says, “It’s very exciting to be able to launch HABIBI at SPX in a way that gives back to the CBLDF. I got my start in small press comics, and have always been supportive of the CBLDF. Being able to help out in this way, and to appear at the show with HABIBI feels like a homecoming.”

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern ...

Join the “Demon Circle” for CBLDF

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

The main character of “Demon Circle,” Athis, is an apprentice wizard in the Crimson Keep, and he isn’t the brightest flame in the candelabra. So, when he and another apprentice named Belid summon a demon and then panic, trouble ensues—trouble that threatens to snowball wildly out of control. Will they and their fellow student Klaria be able to deal with the consequences before their master finds out? Will the Crimson Keep still be standing when it’s all over?

“Demon Circle” is an original novella from Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Bob Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, and Howard Weinstein, the writers behind the new author-driven publishing venture Crazy 8 Press. Written live at ShoreLeave33, proceeds from the sale of “Demon Circle” benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which protects the First Amendment rights of comic book writers, artists, retailers, and fans.

The novella is available for download from, which is giving a greater portion of the proceeds to CBLDF. You also can choose to make a larger donation to CBLDF when you purchase your copy.

Enjoy the comedic fantasy of “Demon Circle” and support the CBLDF by downloading your copy today!

In Banning Books School DIstricts Betray Students

Monday, August 29th, 2011
As Banned Book week approaches it appears that the book censors are in competition to suppress some the most interesting and recognized authors and books! Buckling under pressure from vocal individuals with narrow ideological agendas, school districts are betraying their primary responsibility: to provide young people with a quality, wide-ranging education and help them develop [...]

Judge blocks law against private messages between teachers and kids

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Teachers can still engage in private conversations with their students on Facebook and other social networking services, thanks to a MIssouri judge. The judge issued a ruling today that noted that a law prohibiting such practices could have drastic implications for free speech, so he has put it on hold until February.

The law states that teachers would not be allowed to use non-work-related sites to contact current or former students under the age of 18 via private means, such as messages on Facebook or direct messages on Twitter. Under the legislation, public discussion, like wall posts, would be acceptable.

Teachers’ groups initially supported the provision, but the Missouri State Teachers Association has since challenged it, noting it would violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The organization said that social networks have become a popular medium for student-teacher interaction.

The law was strictly worded enough that it would technically be illegal for a mother or father who was a teacher to direct-message their own child. However, if the law were to go into effect, the “non-work-related” provision means that teachers could still carry out private conversations, so long as it was through a channel approved by the school.


Op-Ed in ‘Boston Herald’ Echoes FIRE’s Back-to-School Warnings About Student Rights

Monday, August 29th, 2011

As the new school year gets underway at university campuses across the nation, FIRE has been issuing many a warning to incoming college students and their parents—in a variety of places, including the New York Post and The Daily Caller—about the threats to student rights that await them at too many campuses.

Today's Boston Herald echoes these thoughts with an op-ed from Jennifer C. Braceras, an attorney and political commentator. Braceras opens her piece with this bit of advice to students around the country:

This week, college students are moving into dorms, purchasing textbooks and signing up for classes.

While they're at it, they also should consider lawyering up.

Why? Because, unbeknownst to many students and their parents, college campuses today are increasingly run by petty bureaucrats who police all matters of student behavior—from alcohol infractions and relations between the sexes to controversial political speech and even personal conversations.

Braceras goes on to cite the unconstitutional speech codes present at a number of local colleges and universities, noting that FIRE "has identified at least two dozen Massachusetts colleges and universities with policies that muzzle free expression." Read on in the Herald to learn more about the speech restrictions at ...

China May Legalize Secret Detentions

Monday, August 29th, 2011
Activists fear the revisions could effectively legitimize forced disappearances.

Last chance! Register today for Tuesday’s final “Summer School” webinar

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Join Freedom to Read Foundation president Kent Oliver and OIF Assistant Director Angela Maycock for the last webinar in the Intellectual Freedom Summer School series: “Hot Topics for Public Libraries,” which will focus on meeting room policies and self-service holds. Registration closes at 4:30 p.m. Central today for this event, which will take place Tuesday, August 30 from 2-3 p.m. Central.

To register online, click here. To register by fax, download and print the PDF form available here.

For more information, visit OIF’s Online Learning page. Contact Angela Maycock at amaycock at with any questions about Intellectual Freedom Summer School offerings.

First Circuit Court of Appeals finds that a state law banning recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim “qualified immunity” because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the wiretapping statute under which Glik was arrested and the seizure of his phone violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights:

The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme ...

Join Us for "Patent Trolls and You: EFF Virtual Boot Camp for App Developers"

Friday, August 26th, 2011

As you probably know, we’ve been closely following the Lodsys mess and watching as the patent troll asserts its patents against companies large and small, and — famously and most egregiously — against small app developers. Large companies such as Best Buy, CVS, and the New York Times Company are fighting Lodsys in court (and challenging the validity of its patents). But those lawsuits could take years. In the meantime, app developers all over the world, many of who cannot afford legal counsel, face the uncertainty long-felt by the victims of patent trolls and are left wondering what they can and should do to protect themselves.

Are you an app developer? Have you been targeted by Lodsys? Do you wonder what Apple’s Motion to Intervene means? How about Google’s Notice of Reexamination? Will the situation change because Lodsys sued large app developers like EA and Rovio, too? What are the elements of a patent license?

Unfortunately, EFF cannot represent all of the app developers affected by Lodsys. But we can help answer some of your questions! So please join on us September 9 at 12:00 pm PST to talk with a distinguished panel of law professors and patent ...

This Week in FIRE News: Back to School Warnings

Friday, August 26th, 2011

It's an interesting start to the school year, especially for students and faculty members on the East Coast. After an unprecedented earthquake on Tuesday and with Hurricane Irene making a swift and ominous ascent up the coast, many college and university administrators are sending out severe weather warnings and even changing move-in policies. But while students and faculty are preparing for extreme weather amid settling into a new year, FIRE is sending out its own warning across the newswires to all college students and their parents to prepare them to defend their free speech and due process rights.

Yesterday, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley wrote a column in the New York Post warning parents getting ready to send their kids to college about the intrusion into students' freedom of conscience by many student orientation programs. Robert warns parents that orientation programs can often resemble brainwashing, telling students what they must think about sensitive social, political, and religious issues. These programs violate the students' freedom of thought and conscience, both of which are protected by the First Amendment.

In the article, Robert highlights a particularly creepy freshman orientation program at Hamilton College last year. As part of the program, ...

China Pulls Cyberwar Video

Friday, August 26th, 2011
Footage appears to contradict official denials of involvement in hacker attacks.

‘Philadelphia’ magazine Exposes Major Government Threat to Rights on Campus–And the Lawyers Who Profit

Friday, August 26th, 2011
A must-read article in Philadelphia magazine's latest issue exposes the new federal threat to due process rights on campus regarding sexual misconduct and harassment—and the lawyers and organizations that profit from the mandate. One group even grossed $425,000 from a single seminar about complying with the new regulations. The article also features FIRE's work to protect the rights of all students and the integrity of campus judiciaries by ensuring fair standards of justice. It reveals the flippant attitude towards fair procedures displayed by the lawyers who profit most from the government mandate. The article is essential reading for parents, college students, and administrators nationwide.

Dale Cendali Appointed Secretary of CBLDF Board of Directors

Friday, August 26th, 2011

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors has unanimously elected noted litigator Dale Cendali to the office of Secretary. Cendali, who joined the board in 2010, replaces retiring Board Member Louise Nemschoff in the role.

Dale Cendali is a nationally recognized leader in the field of intellectual property. She is a partner in the prestigious law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, where she heads the firm’s Copyright, Trademark and Internet Practice Group. She has successfully litigated and tried numerous high profile cases and has argued before the United States Supreme Court. Her clients include myriad prominent individuals and companies who rely on her for her expertise in copyright, trademark, patent, Internet, trade secrets, defamation, false advertising, privacy and contractual matters. She has extensive experience representing clients in the entertainment, consumer products and technology sectors. Managing Intellectual Property Magazine named her trial victory for J.K. Rowling in the well-known “lexicon” fair use case the “Copyright Trial of the Year.”

Cendali says, “As an intellectual property lawyer and long time comic book fan, I am delighted to combine my passions on the CBLDF Board to help support its heroic efforts to protect and inform comic book creators, companies and fans.”


Artist Sam Welty uses the First Amendment monument to showcase outspoken comedian Daniel Tosh

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Click here to view the embedded video.

Submission Deadline Extended for InvestComics’ ONE AND DONE Anthology to Benefit CBLDF

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Invest Comics and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are proud to announce that the chance to submit your 1-page story for ONE AND DONE has been just been extended to September 16th!

“We’ve received some really amazing submissions for the collection. But, a large call for an extension on the submission deadline has also come our way.” says Invest Comics President Jay Katz. “Ultimately, this is about creation to benefit a worthy cause and so, if we need to extend to get even more people involved, then that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

For those who want to get involved in the project, the premise is simple enough. Create a 1-page story that ends in a death. There are no theme restrictions, so, if you want to make it funny, make it funny. Want to make it dark? Make it dark. Just please…no pornography, racism or profanity. All submissions should be sent to

Winning entries will be chosen by a committee of writers and editors. Now, remember, there is no compensation for this work, and all profits will be going to support CBLDF.

But, as an added incentive, Tate’s Comics (Lauderhill, Florida) will be ...

An update on Paxfire and search redirection

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

By ICSI researchers Christian Kreibich, Nicholas Weaver and Vern Paxson, with Peter Eckersley and Cindy Cohn.

Two weeks ago, EFF published an analysis with researchers at Berkeley ICSI about the redirection of search traffic at a number of US ISPs. The company involved, Paxfire, contacted us to discuss its practices, and based upon those discussions and some further analysis we have a number of clarifications and updates to report. These clarifications are of course our own, and not Paxfire's.

Overall, Paxfire admits that it sends users' searches through its proxy servers (we call this redirection; Paxfire disagrees), and that while the proxies look at the searches for specific things, Paxfire maintains that it does not retain logs of these queries unless the user is searching for specific trademark terms using the search box in the browser. In those cases, the search and IP address are logged and the user is sent to the brand’s website directly, rather than to the search engine, and Paxfire and the ISP collect a fee for the referral. Thus, while the Paxfire technology examines and processes users’ queries and sometimes sends users a response different than the search engine results page they ...

Banned Books Week 2011 materials available now!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Banned Books Week (September 24 through October 1, 2011) is only a month away. Get your library set to celebrate the freedom to read! The ALA Store has the materials you need to declare your library’s commitment to intellectual freedom.

Fight censorship with the Banned Books Week unplugged robot who is featured on the Banned Books T-shirt, poster, bookmark, and more. Save up to 30% by purchasing from a variety of BBW product sets! Please order by September 7 for timely ground delivery.

To find out more about Banned Books Week events and news, please stay tuned on the OIF blog, twitter, facebook, ALA’s Banned Books Week pages, and the new Banned Books Week website.

Echoing FIRE’s Warnings to Students and Parents, ‘Augusta Chronicle’ Decries Censorship on Campus

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

FIRE has had a couple of opportunities recently to warn incoming college students and their parents of the threats to students' rights on campus and the need to be vigilant to protect them. In addition to Robert's column today in the New York Post, we're glad to see that The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) has caught wind of our warnings, publishing its own column echoing them.

The Chronicle points to the local example of Valdosta State University's punishment of former student Hayden Barnes (among other examples of rights violations on campus):

One of the universities that received FIRE's attention is Georgia's own Valdosta State University. A student was expelled in 2007 after making a satirical collage concerning the school's president and posting it on his own Facebook page. This case is among many others, such as the University of Miami's refusal to officially acknowledge a right-wing student group on campus; the University of Chicago censoring speech on students' online profiles; and a student who was accused of racial harassment for reading a book with a racy title at an Indiana college. [Links added.]

As you pack your kids off for college, just keep in mind their right ...

Listen to CBLDF: Censorship Then & Now

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

CBLDF recently attended Baltimore Comic-Con. During the convention, Executive Director Charles Brownstein presented a riveting history of comics censorship. Internet radio website blogtalkradio was onsite to record the talk, which you can listen to here.

Support CBLDF’s defense of free speech by making a donation or becoming a member today!

Syrian Cartoonist Beaten, Hands Broken

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Early today, Syria’s best-known political cartoonist, Ali Ferzat, was abducted and beaten. His abductors broke both his hands as a warning to stop drawing the satirical political cartoons for which he is best known.

Ferzat recently drew a cartoon comparing Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, to Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, and relatives believe the cartoon led to the attack. MSNBC ran the Associated Press article with the following quote:

“This is just a warning,” the gunmen told Ferzat, according to a relative who asked that her name not be used for fear of reprisals. “We will break your hands so that you’ll stop drawing.”

The identity of the attackers hasn’t been ascertained, but some sources blamed Syrian security forces for the attack.

Ferzat, so far the most visible victim of the Syrian uprising, was a vocal critic of Assad’s policies, but he also briefly benefited from some of them. From MSNBC:

Ferzat benefited from Assad’s moves to open up society in Syria during a period that came to be known as the Damascus Spring. Shortly after Assad inherited power from his father, he allowed Ferzat to publish the country’s first private newspaper in decades.

The satirical weekly Al-Domari — or The Lamplighter ...

In ‘New York Post,’ FIRE’s Robert Shibley Warns of the Perils of Freshman Orientation

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

In an op-ed for the New York Post, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley issues a warning to parents getting ready to send their children off to college: Beware the intrusion into students' freedom of conscience by the student orientation programs at many colleges and universities. As Robert discusses, such programs too often tell students what they must think about sensitive social, political, and religious issues, and do so in manipulative and invasive ways. These programs are not only creepy and morally repugnant, they violate the sanctity of students' innermost beliefs and personal consciences.

In his op-ed, Robert first details an ideological thought reform program at DePauw University in Indiana:

Consider the shocking account from a student trained to be a dorm supervisor -- a resident adviser, or RA -- at DePauw University in Indiana. One of her first duties last fall was to lead her new students through a house decorated as a "Tunnel of Oppression," where supposedly "realistic" demonstrations in each room taught lessons such as how religious parents hate their gay children, Muslims would find no friends on a predominantly non-Muslim campus and overweight women suffer from eating disorders.

Indeed, in her training to become an ...

Dangerous Cybercrime Treaty Pushes Surveillance and Secrecy Worldwide

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

As part of an emerging international trend to try to ‘civilize the Internet’, one of the world’s worst Internet law treaties--the highly controversial Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on Cybercrime--is back on the agenda. Canada and Australia are using the Treaty to introduce new invasive, online surveillance laws, many of which go far beyond the Convention’s intended levels of intrusiveness. Negotiated over a decade ago, only 31 of its 47 signatories have ratified it. Many considered the Treaty to be dormant but in recent years a number of countries have been modeling national laws based on the flawed Treaty. Moreover, Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom are amongst those who have ratified within the last year. However, among non-European countries, only the U.S. has ratified the Treaty to date, making Canada and Australia’s efforts unique. The Treaty has not been harmless, and both Australia and Canada are fast-tracking legislation (Australia's lower house approved a cybercrime bill last night) that will enable them to ratify the Treaty, at great cost to the civil liberties of their citizens.

Leaving out constitutional safeguards

Australia’s invasive bill highlights one of the fundamental flaws of the Convention on Cybercrime: the Treaty’s ...

Military Spending Spree Fuels Tensions

Thursday, August 25th, 2011
An annual U.S. Defense Department report warns that China's increasing military spending risks destabilizing Asia.

EFF’s Warrantless Wiretapping Cases Back in Court on August 31

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

More than five years ago, EFF filed the first lawsuit aimed at stopping the government's illegal mass surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans' private communications. Whistleblower evidence combined with news reports and Congressional admissions revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was tapped into AT&T’s domestic network and databases, sweeping up Americans’ emails, phone calls and communications records in bulk and without court approval.

Hepting v. AT&T, our case challenging the telecom giant’s illegal collaboration with the NSA, faced a barrage of attacks from the government -- including outrageous claims that national security prevented the courts from considering whether AT&T and the government were breaking the law and violating the Constitution. When that gambit seemed to be failing, the White House and the telecoms led a lobbying campaign to convince Congress to pass a law threatening to terminate our suit. When that law passed we filed a follow-up suit directly against the government, Jewel v. NSA, to open a second front in our fight to stop the spying.

On August 31, 2011, at 2 pm in Seattle, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a warrantless wiretapping double-feature, to decide whether the Hepting and Jewel cases can proceed. At stake will be whether the courts can consider the legality and constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s mass interception of Americans’ Internet traffic, phone calls, and communications records.

Jewel v. NSA, EFF’s case directly against the government and government officials, will be argued by EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. The District Court dismissed Jewel on the grounds that, because millions of Americans had been illegally spied upon, no single American had standing to sue. The alarming upshot of the court's decision is that as long as the government spies on all Americans, the courts have no power to review or halt such mass surveillance even when it is flatly illegal and unconstitutional. EFF will argue that the number of people harmed should have no bearing on whether each individual -- whose own communications and communications records are being intercepted and diverted to the government -- should be able to sue.

On appeal, the government does not seriously defend the District Court’s reasoning but instead renews its old argument that the case should be dismissed based on the state secrets privilege, an argument that the District Court rejected back in 2007 in the Hepting case. That decision held, and EFF argues on appeal, that Congress has overridden the state secrets privilege when it comes to government wiretapping by providing specific security procedures in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that govern how courts are supposed to handle secret evidence relating to electronic surveillance. The Jewel case will be heard in conjunction with Shubert v. Bush, another case against the government over the NSA’s mass surveillance that was dismissed by the District Court at the same time as the Jewel suit. Shubert counsel Ilann M. Maazel will argue that case.

EFF’s case against AT&T, along with approximately 34 other cases against various telecommunications carriers, will be argued by EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. The argument arises from the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the law passed by Congress after a fierce battle in 2008 (and a last-minute flip-flop from then-Senator Obama). With the FAA, lawmakers gave the Executive Branch the unbounded authority to decide to selectively repeal the thirty-year old laws that prohibit companies from violating their customers’ privacy, effectively allowing the Executive to grant favored companies a “get out of lawsuit free” card.

EFF will argue that the law violates the Constitutional separation of powers and due process by, first, giving the President the right to effectively grant civil pardons to carriers and, second, stacking the deck in the courts to prevent meaningful review. EFF’s co-counsel, Harvey Grossman of the Illinois ACLU, will argue that the dismissal of the constitutional claims in the case is separately not allowed under the Constitution.

The outcome of both Jewel v. NSA and Hepting v. AT&T will be crucial not only to those who wish to stop the spying and regain the privacy of our communications, but to upholding the Constitutional limitations on the Executive Branch’s power. Under the Constitution, important decisions about surveillance of Americans are not the Executive’s alone, nor are decisions about whether the Constitution and Congress’ laws must be followed. We need to be vigilant about protecting ourselves, and ultimately the Constitution, against actions that ignore or overstep limits on Executive power, and that's why we're looking forward to these critical arguments in Seattle on August 31.

Why IP Addresses Alone Don’t Identify Criminals

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

This spring, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a search warrant at the home of Nolan King and seized six computer hard drives in connection with a criminal investigation. The warrant was issued on the basis of an Internet Protocol (IP) address that traced back to an account connected to Mr. King's home, where he was operating a Tor exit relay.

An exit relay is the last computer that Tor traffic goes through before it reaches its destination. Because Tor traffic exits through these computers, their IP addresses may be misinterpreted as the source of the traffic, even though the exit node operator is neither the true origin of that traffic nor able to identify the user who is. While law enforcement officers have seized exit relays in other countries, we weren't aware of any seizures in the United States until ICE showed up at Mr. King's home.

After the computers were seized, EFF spoke with ICE and explained that Mr. King was running a Tor exit relay in his home. We pointed out that ICE could confirm on the Tor Project's web site that a computer associated with the IP address listed in the warrant was ...

Road Report: Baltimore Comic-Con

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

This past weekend, CBLDF staffers Charles Brownstein, Alex Cox, and Dave Grilli attended Baltimore Comic-Con at the Baltimore Convention Center. CBLDF had an array of exclusive items making their East Coast debut, including our new John Cassaday and Matt Wagner T-shirts and our two new Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents, La Mano del Destino and El Nuevo Puritano.

Baltimore Comic-Con is always a great show, and the CBLDF booth was surrounded by great creators, including Stan Sakai, Charles Vess, Terry Moore, and Jeff Smith. Hundreds of attendees dropped by our booth to learn about our current case work and check out our new donation premiums.

Every dollar donated at Baltimore Comic-Con goes directly to fund our current case, in which an American faces jail time for crossing the Canadian border with comics on his electronic devices. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth — we look forward to seeing you again next year! Next stop: SPX in Bethesda, MD!

‘SUCOLitis’ Case at Syracuse Named One of 2010′s Most Notable Events in ‘Daily Orange’

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

As colleges and universities across the nation are welcoming back returning students and greeting the new ones, Syracuse University's (SU's) student newspaper The Daily Orange rounds up 10 notable events that happened during SU's 2010-11 academic year.

Interestingly, the investigation of Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL) student Len Audaer is on the list. Audaer was told on October 18, 2010, that he was being investigated for harassment for his alleged involvement with a blog called SUCOLitis, which was meant to emulate The Onion. The blog included a disclaimer stating, "No actual news stories appear on the site." Yet "independent prosecutor" and SUCOL professor Gregory Germain threatened Audaer with expulsion, without ever revealing what expression in particular justified the charges or even who was charging him.

The Daily Orange notes that FIRE not only ranks Syracuse as a red-light school in our Spotlight database, but that we also listed Syracuse at the top of our Huffington Post list of the 12 worst colleges for free speech in the nation. Just days after the Huffington Post article was published, Syracuse dropped the entire prosecution.

Thanks to The Daily Orange for reminding readers that free speech on campus cannot ...

Are Chinese Students Going Home?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Some enjoy new freedoms and opportunities, others want to return.

Are Major Supporters Leaving Widener over Dean’s Treatment of Law Professor?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Over at Legal Insurrection, Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson has been providing updates on the outcry against Widener University School of Law (Delaware) and its dean, Linda Ammons. The latest news from Jacobson is that a member of the law school's Board of Overseers has resigned, as has Capt. (Ret.) Robert P. Taishoff, who had been a leading member of the school's Campaign Subcommittee and the school's National Advisory Council.

Here's a quick review of the case: The school began actions to fire Widener professor Lawrence Connell back in December 2010, but failed after two faculty panels cleared him of extremely dubious violations of the school's harassment code, such as using the term "black folks" in class and using the names of Ammons and other law school colleagues as characters in class hypotheticals. Widener did, however, find Connell guilty of "retaliation" for "emailing his students to explain why Ammons had banned him from the campus," as well as the decision of his attorney, Thomas S. Neuberger, to issue a press release "explaining his efforts to identify Connell's accusers and to protect his client's reputation."

As a result, Ammons amazingly (and successfully) recommended that Professor Connell be suspended ...

FCC Officially Removes the “Fairness Doctrine” From its Regulatory Rules

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The Federal Communications Commission announced this week it is purging its books of all outdated and unused rules. Among them is the Fairness Doctrine, which ceased being a doctrine some 20 years ago.

In days of yore, the Fairness Doctrine was something that required a television or radio station to present matters of “public interest” and to present opposing views on those matters.

Strong supporters or opponents of a controversial topic often invoked it when they believed the other side had been given unfair advantage in some type of coverage.

What killed the Fairness Doctrine wasn’t a proliferation of whacky activists lined up to spout nonsense or a pile of obtuse ballot measures that needed 20 minutes to explain and 40 minutes to rebut.

Nope, what did it in was cable.


Read more from the Spokesman-Review

New Chancellor of Georgia System Must Prioritize Free Speech

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Throughout much of the year, FIRE has been fighting for the free speech rights of art instructor Stanley Bermudez at Gainesville State College (GSC) in Georgia. Bermudez, in case Torch readers have forgotten, painted a provocative painting titled "Heritage?" for display at a GSC faculty art exhibition. The painting criticized the heritage of the Confederate flag by superimposing images of lynchings and Ku Klux Klan members on its background. However, when critics of the painting complained to GSC President Martha Nesbitt about the painting's content, she unilaterally removed it from the exhibition, leaving only Bermudez's personal statement about his relationship with the flag available for viewing. You can learn all about this case on our case page, and check out this video interview with Bermudez below:

Nesbitt has only made two brief public comments (that I know of) about this incident, justifying the censorship in part by arguing that the painting "focused solely on the image that has been perceived as aggressively hostile in other areas of the country." She also stated that she "personally welcome[s] constructive ideas about how we might move forward and use this experience to foster civil discourse on the issues raised."

This latter ...

MP3tunes: A Victory for Music Lockers Is Good News for Music Fans

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

We've watched this year as Amazon, Google, and Apple have raced to roll out cloud-based music locker services. Each of these company's services signals something in common: an apparent fear of liability for de-duplicating files uploaded by their customers. (De-duplicating means that the service does not store multiple identical files on its servers, even if more than one customer individually uploads the same file.) This can be a huge waste of storage, to little purpose other than pacifying copyright owners more concerned over form than substance. Because of this, Amazon and Google store a distinct and separate file for every single file that is uploaded to their services, and Apple reportedly paid $150 million in licensing fees for, among other things, the ability to avoid this practice.

But it appears that all of this worry and extra work may have been in vain. Just yesterday, a court found that an early music locker service, MP3tunes, which uses a de-duplicating process, “is precisely the type of system routinely protected by the DMCA safe harbor(s).” This outcome represents an understanding of copyright law more in line with how technology actually works, and avoids an absurd result where a music locker ...

SPLC Asks Seventh Circuit to Uphold FERPA Decision

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Last Friday, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief (.PDF) with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, asking it to uphold a federal district court's decision in a FERPA ruling against the University of Illinois.

That ruling, part of an ongoing legal battle between the Chicago Tribune and the University of Illinois over a recent college admissions scandal, held that because colleges can choose to reject federal aid, they are not "prohibited" from releasing records under an Illinois FOIA exemption.

In its brief, the SPLC urges the Seventh Circuit to strike down the common practice of colleges deeming anything mentioning a student an "educational record" and thus exempt from disclosure. Rather, the SPLC argues, FERPA should be more narrowly interpreted to cover only materials that are both confidential and directly related to a student's academic and educational life.

We'll have updates on further developments in this case here on The Torch.

Cigarette Companies Claim Graphic Labels Violate First Amendment

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Five of the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturers filed suit (PDF) Tuesday against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration challenging new regulations that require them to print graphic images depicting the health risks of smoking on cigarette packaging and advertisements.

First Amendment veteran Floyd Abrams of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel is representing the tobacco companies, which include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Inc., Commonwealth Brands, Inc., Liggett Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc.

“It violates the First Amendment to require the manufacturer of a lawful product to be required to use half of its package essentially to urge people not to buy the product,” Abrams said in a phone interview this morning. “The issue is whether the government can do that and we think that the First Amendment bars anything like that sort of compelled speech.”

Read the full LegalTimes article and the complaint.

Cisco and Abuses of Human Rights in China: Part 1

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

This is the first in a two-part series explaining the background around the EFF call to action over Cisco assisting the Chinese government in abusing human rights. This article outlines the background of the issue and the first of our two demands to Cisco: intervening on behalf of dissident writer Du Daobin. Our next post will outline specifically how Cisco and other similar networking companies can pledge to uphold human rights.

If you have not done so, we urge you to sign our petition to Cisco. And if you’ve already signed, please continue to spread the word.

Understanding Du v. Cisco

What responsibility do corporations have to consider human rights when making business deals? Are companies that build and market equipment for the purpose of surveilling and censoring pro-democracy activists in authoritarian regimes culpable when those activists are imprisoned or tortured? Do companies bear a special responsibility if they customize products to improve the efficacy of tracking dissidents and choking free speech? What if the companies train government agents in using the technology to ferret out activists?

Two cases — one in the United States District Court of Maryland and another in the Northern District of California — are ...

Wednesday webinar on self-censorship

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

The fourth webinar in OIF’s “Intellectual Freedom Summer School” series will focus on issues of collection diversity and self-censorship. This online learning event will take place Wednesday, August 24 from 10-11 a.m. Central. Angela Maycock, Assistant Director of OIF, will be the speaker for this program. Registration will close at 4:30 p.m. Central on Tuesday, August 23.

Registration is also open for the final webinar in the series, “Hot Topics in Public Libraries,” which will take place Tuesday, August 30 from 2-3 p.m. Central.

“Intellectual Freedom Summer School” sessions cost $39 for ALA members; $49 for nonmembers; and $95 for groups of two or more attendees at the same location.

To register online, click here.

To register by fax, please print and submit the PDF registration form here.

NOTE: Discount pricing is available for those participating in multiple webinars; please email or call 1.800.545.2433 and press 5 to be connected with ALA Member and Customer Service for details.

For more information, visit Contact Angela Maycock at with any questions about Intellectual Freedom Summer School offerings.

SXSW 2012 Panels to Pick

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Every year, the South by Southwest (SXSW) media festival invites the Internet at large to contribute to the SXSW schedule by voting on thousands of submitted panels. Community votes—combined with editorial input from the SXSW staff and advisory board—ultimately decide the final panel schedule.

What follows are some choice panel proposals that address timely, interesting technology and freedom issues, and that usually feature EFF panelists and friends of EFF. If these catch your eye, grant them a thumbs-up vote!

  • Now that social media sites are being tied to political uprisings worldwide, companies need to be asking an important question: How can we better protect users in situations where using our platform puts them at risk of real, personal harm? "How to Run a Social Site and Not Get Users Killed," organized by EFF Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York, aims to address what social media companies can do to keep users safe. The panel of activists and free expression advocates plans to address critical issues of sites' terms of service, anonymity/pseudonymity, and more.
  • "Fighting For Your Users Without Becoming A Target" is another panel directed towards Internet companies and covering free expression issues. Organized by EFF Intellectual Property ...

Variety wins “Iron Cross” appeal

Friday, August 19th, 2011

On Wednesday, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in a unanimous decision affirmed the dismissal of Calibra Pictures’ lawsuit against Variety arising from the review of Calibra’s film “Iron Cross.”

In addition to the $57,474 in attorneys’ fees and costs awarded to Variety by the trial court for its successful Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) motion, the Court of Appeal ruled that Variety is entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees and costs from Calibra for the appeal.

Read more.

Fight Censorship with Conan!

Friday, August 19th, 2011

The new Conan movie hits theaters today, and you can show your support for both your favorite barbarian and CBLDF!

CBLDF is delighted to offer an array of Conan items to coincide with the release of the new movie. Up for grabs in the CBLDF online donation center are two gorgeous prints: one by Transmetropolitan and The Boys artist Darick Robertson and the other by legendary illustrator and Marvel Zombies artist Arthur Suydam!

CBLDF also has two exclusive Conan items up for bid on eBay. You could win a copy of Conan: Mask of Acheron, the comic book based on the film that was written by Stuart Moore and illustrated by Gabriel Guzman. Donated by Dark Horse Comics, the book is signed by film and television star Rose McGowan!

Also up for bid: A copy of the complete script for Conan #28, signed by writer Kurt Busiek, artist Eric Powell, letterer Richard Starkings, and editor Scott Allie!

Support CBLDF and celebrate Conan the Barbarian by donating or bidding on exclusive Conan items today!

Join Frank Miller in Supporting CBLDF

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Legendary Cartoonist Frank Miller has been a staunch supporter of the CBLDF since the organization’s very beginning in 1986. As outspoken in his defense of free speech as he is talented at the drawing board, Miller has earned the Defender of Liberty Award in recognition of all his work on the CBLDF’s behalf, and he continues to support the Fund by providing exclusive signatures on his classic works, as well as donating books from his private collection.

Over the past two decades, few of Miller’s works have spoken to a global audience quite like the crime drama anthology series Sin City. The stark, noir storytelling appeals to all cultures, and has been translated into an incredible variety of languages.

Currently, in our online donation center, we are spotlighting some very unique collections, such as the Sin City: Around the World set. Collecting all seven Sin City volumes, this set showcases the many ways this series has been translated and produced on a worldwide scale. Each set contains a random assortment of hardcovers and softcovers, produced for a variety of international audiences, and in languages as varied as German, Korean, Polish, French, Catalan, Japanese, Hungarian, Polish, Spanish, and Italian.


It’s About Time We Have “The Video Game Talk”

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Last Monday the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to strike down a California law that banned the selling of violent video games to minors. The Supreme Court ruled that video games are allowed the same protection under the first amendment as books, plays, and movies. The ruling also distinguished the California statute from the Ginsburg vs. [...]

Reassessing “Decency”

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
On Monday, June 27th, the Supreme Court announced that upon returning from its summer recess in October, it would revisit the Federal Communication Commission’s rule that allows it to fine broadcasters for “indecency.” Last year, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC was violating broadcasters’ free-speech rights. The Court [...]

Victory in Richland, WA! “…Part-Time Indian” Restored To Curriculum

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
The Richland, WA school board has overturned a previous vote that removed Sherman Alexie’s award-winning Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from the district’s high school curriculum. The book will now be available to all high school classes! NCAC congratulates the board members who reversed their previous votes, after reading the book for themselves. [...]

Truely Free Speech Protects Kids From Bullying

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
This week, Stephanie Mencimer at reported on horrifying cases of harassment and suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin schools  of Minnesota, in Rep. Michelle Bachman’s district. The article, published within days of a suit filed against the district by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has further mobilized advocates calling for expanded anti-bullying policies and legislation. The [...]

Hazelwood: A Student’s Perspective

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Two years ago I sat upon the graduation stage to receive a diploma that would end my 13-year relationship with the public school I attended since kindergarten.  As a member of a class of 125 students, this day symbolized endless shared memories and a common identity between us.  Out of the five speeches given, the [...]

The Privacy Network

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
As Facebook continues to dominate the social media sphere, new competitors emerge to challenge the weaknesses apparent in its design.  One of the most recent of this breed is the social networking site Pidder. Drawing on fears of data-mining and even “social media background checks”, Pidder focuses on privacy protection to a user-unfriendly extreme. After [...]

“And Tango Makes Three”

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Some believe it is legitimate to shield children and teenagers from information that is perceived to negatively affect that critical time of development. Time and time again, the efforts of artists and authors to incorporate controversial themes in works for children are challenged by parents, schools and libraries. While the right of parents to decide [...]