Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Please Participate in NCAC Banned Books Week Discussion!

Monday, July 25th, 2011

As Banned Books Week (September 24-October 1, 2011) approaches, the National Coalition Against Censorship will be discussing the controversy surrounding the children’s book, “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.

If you would like to participate in our upcoming discussion video please fill out the following quick survey. We appreciate any and all of your responses.  A short summary of the book is provided at the beginning of the survey. Thank you for your time!

O’Neil left mark on area through UVa, center work

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

He led a tradition-bound Southern university on the path to modernization and worked to save free speech from political and social expediency.

Robert Marchant O’Neil helped to create the current research-driven, student-centered environment at the University of Virginia in a short five-year tenure as its president before building the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression from a concept into an organization with national influence.

Read the July 23, 2011 Daily Progress article in full.

Learn about the October 29, 2011 Tribute planned for Robert O’Neil.

 

SDCC: Latest Donations for CBLDF’s Benefit Auction

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

The CBLDF Benefit Auction, sponsored by TFAW, gets started at 7:30 p.m. at the Hilton Bayfront in the Sapphire Ballroom. You can see a most of the artwork in the slideshow below, but we’ve also added some great pieces onsite!

The gallery that follows features the latest additions, and you can find the bidding rules and a list of items in the auction after the jump. Visit CBLDF booth 1920 throughout the day to get your bidder number!

Buzzard #1 page by Eric Powell Buzzard #1 page by Eric Powell Buzzard #1 page by Eric Powell Buzzard #1 page by Eric Powell David Peterson Master Session artwork David Peterson Master Session artwork David Peterson Master Session artwork David Peterson Master Session artwork (detail) Fables #94, p. 5, featuring Pinocchio, Boy Blue, and more (signed by Marc Buckingham and Steve Leialoha) Fables #94, p. 5, featuring Pinocchio, Boy Blue, and more (signed by Marc Buckingham and Steve Leialoha) Fables #94, p. 5, featuring Pinocchio, Boy Blue, and more (signed by Marc Buckingham and Steve Leialoha) Fables #96, p. 21, featuring Rose Red (signed by Marc Buckingham and Steve Leialoha) Fables #96, p. 21, featuring Rose Red (signed by Marc Buckingham and Steve Leialoha) Fables #96, p. 21, featuring Rose Red (signed by Marc Buckingham and Steve Leialoha) FablesP2b Too much Coffee Man finished piece by Shannon Wheeler

CBLDF Benefit Auction at Comic-Con 2011

Hilton Bayfront • Sapphire Ballroom IJ

Saturday, July 23, 2011

7:30 p.m.

Support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work at the CBLDF 25th Anniversary Benefit Auction! Now held at the Hilton Bayfront hotel, the auction is open to the general public and free! Sponsored by TFAW.Com and Comic-Con International, the CBLDF Benefit Auction is the Fund’s biggest auction of the year. Come support the Fund at this terrific event!

Auction Listings

Some items may be added to those listed below. For a full photo gallery, visit www.cbldf.org, or check out our Facebook and Twitter feeds!

1.         Snarked Pirate Ship pin-up by Roger Langridge

2.         Defenders #2 Cover by Kevin Maguire

3.         Submariner interior page dby Chris ...

The Politics of Surveillance: The Erosion of Privacy in Latin America

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

This article originally appeared in Index on Censorship.

While most Latin American countries have democratically-elected governments, many still fail to respect human rights, including the right to privacy. Across the region, there have been multiple scandals involving government officials and intelligence agencies engaged in illegal surveillance of communications. These include numerous chilling examples of how interception technologies are being misused to spy on politicians, dissidents, judges, human rights organizations and activists. Although privacy violations vary from country to country, and the full extent of government surveillance in the region remains largely unknown, newly disclosed data gathering programs hint at the architecture of surveillance lying beneath the surface of ostensibly democratic societies.

These surveillance systems demonstrate how communication interception is being used as a political tool to identify, control and stifle dissent. Their use also highlights the lack of transparency and accountability that surrounds pervasive government surveillance in many Latin American countries.

In 2009, Colombia’s "Las Chuzadas" scandal revealed that members of the country’s intelligence service allegedly carried out illegal, widespread surveillance and wiretapping of key politicians, judges, dissidents and human rights NGOs. Litigation about the surveillance is currently pending in the Colombian courts. In March 2011, the Inter-American Commission on ...

ALA 11 Conference Wrap-Up: The Merritt Fund

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

This week, the OIF Blog will be featuring wrap-ups of last month’s ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, each post featuring a different intellectual freedom group. Today’s featured group: the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund.

  • A Merritt Fund volunteer, Anjali Bhatin, ran a booth at the Diversity Fair to spread the word about the Fund. She reported a great deal of interest in the Fund by attendees, most of whom had never heard of the Merritt Fund and had no idea about its mission (to provide monetary support to librarians in need due to their defense of intellectual freedom or due to discrimination).
  • At its meeting, the Merritt Fund board discussed ways to increase visibility of the Fund, including the Merritt Fund Facebook page; articles in library-related magazines; and a presence at library conferences and ALA committee meetings. IFRT‘s Merritt Fund Promotion Committee will be helpful in many of those efforts.
  • On Sunday, June 26, the Merritt Fund’s annual Reception for a Cause was joined together with the New Members Round Table Awards Reception in a great affair at a local gallery.  Photos can be found below and at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ala_members/sets/72157627148254694/
IMG9780 IMG9827 IMG9716

Don’t Let Congress Order Internet Companies to Spy on You — Block the Data Retention Mandate

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Mandatory data retention would force your ISP--and your workplace, your school, your library, your corner coffee-shop with free WiFi, and anyone else that offers you internet access--to create vast and expensive new databases of sensitive information about you. That information would then be available to the government, in secret and without any court oversight, based on weak and outdated electronic privacy laws.

Tell your Representative to oppose this dangerous bill.

Judge Slashes P2P Award Again In Capitol v. Thomas

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

In the latest development in the first individual file-sharing case to go to trial (three times now!), Judge Michael Davis today reduced a $1.5 million damage award against the defendant Jammie Thomas-Rassett to just $54,000. Though he said he was reluctant to interfere with the jury's decision, the judge concluded that

[A]n award of $1.5 million for stealing and distributing 24 songs for personal use is appalling. Such an award is so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable. In this particular case, involving a first‑time willful, consumer infringer of limited means who committed illegal song file‑sharing for her own personal use, an award of $2,250 per song, for a total award of $54,000, is the maximum award consistent with due process.

The judge also declined to enjoin Ms. Thomas-Rassett from making the plaintiffs' works available, noting that while she was enjoined from committing copyright infringement, he had already ruled that "the Copyright Act does not provide a making-available right."

The ruling does not come as an enormous surprise. In his 2008 ruling ordering a new trial due to an erroneous jury instruction on the "making available" issue, Judge Hunt criticized the first ...

Reaction to ‘Wall Street Journal’ Op-Ed on Injustice at University of North Dakota

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal published three letters (since gone from the website) responding to FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate's op-ed in last Friday's issue about the profound injustice done to student Caleb Warner by the University of North Dakota (UND). 

The first letter, written by former Department of Education lawyer Hans Bader, made the important point that, contra the Department's April 4 letter to colleges, Title IX should not require the low "preponderance of the evidence" standard for proof that sexual assault occurred. We agree.

Bader notes that "Using a higher standard of proof, like 'clear and convincing evidence' of guilt, is not 'indifference' to harassment." This point is important because "deliberate indifference" is the standard for institutional liability for sexual harassment and sexual assault in the educational context, as laid out by the Supreme Court. 

The third letter points out the contrast between this op-ed and an earlier story in the Journal about the high educational qualities of North Dakota universities.
The second letter, by contrast, takes Harvey to task. Greg Horne of California writes:

The Yale fraternity pledges' chant, "No means yes, yes means anal," shows only too clearly what university officials are up ...

This Week in FIRE News: Campus Due Process Disasters Hit the Headlines

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
The decline of procedural fairness on campus is a growing concern for FIRE these days, made evident by the number of cases regarding sexual assault we've encountered since Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education, sent her April 4 letter to schools across our country. The letter requires all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to employ our judiciary's lowest evidentiary standard, the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, in hearings for students accused of sexual misconduct. FIRE has repeatedly warned that this low standard will drastically impact students' fundamental rights, and we were right.

In Wednesday's New York Post, FIRE Director of Speech Code Research Samantha Harris tells the story of a student (who wishes to remain anonymous) at Stanford University who was found guilty of sexual assault solely because Stanford determined that his partner was intoxicated (as was he). Stanford policy states that students cannot consent to sex-even with a spouse-if "intoxicated" to any degree. What's more, Stanford lowered its standard of proof from "beyond a reasonable doubt" to the "preponderance of the evidence" standard after receiving the April 4 OCR letter and in the middle of ...

2011 CFN Conference ‘Powerful’ and ‘Inspiring’

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Last weekend, more than 50 students from across the country who are passionate about individual rights and liberty on campus arrived at Bryn Mawr College to participate in FIRE's 2011 Campus Freedom Network Conference. The obvious highlights were the keynote speakers, but attending the various speaker panels and breakout sessions provided practical perspectives on the issues of free speech and due process on campus. In particular, the stories from the students sitting on the panels made me all the more passionate about fighting for students' rights, as their experiences made everything decidedly more relevant and personal.

I had the pleasure of meeting all of the students who sat on these panels, including Kelly Jemison, a program manager for Students For Liberty. She spoke on the second of two student panels about her experience working with administrators at her school, James Madison University, to revise its speech codes. Kelly subsequently wrote an entry for SFL's blog reflecting on her experience at the conference both as an attendee and a panelist. She writes:

[S]tudents got the chance to hear from their peers on the students panel about the FIRE cases those students had been involved in. These inspiring students had risked their ...

Tickets now on sale for Tribute to Robert M. O’Neil

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

EVENT WEBPAGE

‘Minding the Campus’ Applauds FIRE, Criticizes Stanford’s Due Process Failures

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

In response to our press release from yesterday as well as Samantha's op-ed in the New York Post, Professor KC Johnson has written an article on Minding the Campus praising FIRE for its work in exposing the blatantly biased materials Stanford University uses to train those in charge of adjudicating allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. As we reported, these materials (excerpted from Lundy Bancroft's book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men) teach student jurors that "act[ing] persuasive and logical" is a sign of guilt, that "[t]he great majority of allegations of abusethough not allare substantially accurate," and that they should be "very, very cautious in accepting a man's claim that he has been wrongly accused of abuse or violence." Like FIRE, Johnson recognizes that these training materials encourage student jurors to presume that accused students are guilty until they can prove their innocencea bias that has no place in an adjudicatory body at any level, and certainly not on a college campus. (Take a look for yourself!)

Johnson also points out the inaccuracy maintained by Stanford in claiming that accused students are ...

The Problem with Stanford’s Definition of ‘Intoxication’

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I want to take a few moments today to discuss a particular aspect of FIRE's recent work regarding due process protections for those accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, I want to focus on the issues of consent and intoxication. Because many cases of sexual misconduct involve intoxicated students and questions of consent, precisely how a school defines intoxication is of obvious importance when thinking about due process rights and ensuring fair procedures.

Let's take Stanford University as an example. As FIRE detailed in yesterday's press release, Stanford defines sexual assault as occurring "when a person is incapable of giving consent." This certainly makes sense. So when is a person unable to consent? According to Stanford, "A person is legally incapable of giving consent ... if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol." And here's the root of the problem: Stanford doesn't define "intoxicated."

Why is this omission an issue? Because, technically speaking, every alcoholic beverage consumed leaves one "intoxicated," insofar as one has just imbibed alcohol. Even the first drink results in some intoxicating effect: After all, there's now alcohol in your bloodstream, whereas there wasn't before you had that first drink. So to some degree, however mild, you're intoxicated.

Of ...

Former FIRE Intern Nico Perrino Warns of Due Process Decline on Campus

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
Nico Perrino, a 2010 FIRE summer intern and current undergraduate at Indiana University - Bloomington (IUB), has been working to reform IUB's speech codes since returning to campus from his internship. Today, Nico has a column in the Indiana Daily Student calling attention to the inroads against student due process rights on campus made by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights' (OCR's) recent "Dear Colleague" letter. Nico writes in his column: 
The letter, sent to all public institutions of higher education, mandates that universities, which receive federal funding, adopt the "preponderance of evidence" standard when investigating reports of rape or sexual misconduct. If a university does not adopt this standard, it risks losing all of its federal funding. 

While it might seem with these actions the Department of Education should be commended for tackling such an issue, it has, in fact, decided to use a regulatory wrecking ball when perhaps an exacting scalpel needed to be applied.

By forcing universities to use the preponderance of the evidence standard - the lowest standard of proof - the Department of Education has guaranteed more innocent students will be found guilty, something that would not occur if it had mandated ...

Is There a Light at the End of the ‘Tunnel of Oppression?’

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Whenever a student takes an internship, the questions he or she receives from other people are typically a strange combination of diverse questions and predictable ones. While the topic deviates from the standard inquiries of "Where are you from?" and "What are you studying at DePauw?", they almost certainly will gravitate toward "Who are you interning with?" and "Oh, and what do they do?" When I tell people that FIRE is an organization dedicated to defending and promoting civil liberties on college campuses, I'm met with an immediate positive response, and the third type of standard question: "So what do they do specifically with campuses?" I explain that I found out about FIRE and its work after going through a troubling experience in my time as a Resident Assistant during first-year orientation. The programming, particularly the interactive performance "Tunnel of Oppression," I felt, amounted to ideological thought-reform on some very serious issues like race-relations, gender and sexual identities, and religious affiliation. While I understand the motives of the well-intentioned individuals facilitating these exercises, I feel that the program itself and the potentially caustic assumptions involved (i.e., all "whites" are privileged and all "blacks" are underprivileged) create an atmosphere inimical ...

Accused Student Pays Heavy Price at Stanford, Where Intoxication Eliminates Consent and ‘Acting Persuasive and Logical’ is Sign Of Guilt

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Today, both FIRE's press release and Samantha's op-ed in the New York Post pry the lid off an ugly story at Stanford University, where due process rights and fair hearings have seemingly been abandoned for students accused of sexual misconduct.

It's hard to know quite where to begin, but let's start with the fact that Stanford University is training student jurors in sexual misconduct cases to believe that "act[ing] persuasive and logical" is a sign of guilt.

That's not all: Stanford also instructs campus tribunals that being impartial is the equivalent of siding with the accused. The training materials for Stanford's "Dean's Alternative Review Process," which handles sexual harassment and misconduct cases, inform student jurors that they must be "very, very cautious in accepting a man's claim that he has been wrongly accused of abuse or violence," claiming that "[t]he great majority of allegations of abuse-though not all-are substantially accurate," and that "an abuser almost never 'seems like the type.'" Much of these training materials are comprised of an extended excerpt from a book titled Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, and unfortunately seem to be less concerned with making sure the ...

Fragmenting the Internet Is Not a Security Solution

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
In light of the recent spate of high-profile hacking campaigns, and the overall poor state of security on the internet, NextGov.com reports that parts of the US government are advocating for a separate, “secure” internet. The idea calls for segmenting “critical” networks (not yet fully defined, but presumably including infrastructure and financial systems) and applying two security mechanisms to these networks: (1) increased deep packet inspection (DPI) to detect and prevent intrusions and malicious data; and (2) strong authentication, at least for clients. The trouble is that this “.secure” internet doesn’t make much technical or economic sense: the security mechanisms are simply not powerful or cost-effective enough to warrant re-engineering an internet. Whether the idea is to apply different security policies to sites using a special domain name like “.secure” (and possibly the existing .edu and .gov domains), or to create a parallel internet infrastructure, is not yet clear. (Although government representatives say the idea is not to create a parallel infrastructure, that is the most “secure” form of the idea, and I therefore expect the idea to begin to incorporate elements of new, separate infrastructure for the most important networks as the idea matures.)

Intrusion Detection and Prevention

...

Fragmenting the Internet Is Not a Security Solution

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
In light of the recent spate of high-profile hacking campaigns, and the overall poor state of security on the internet, NextGov.com reports that parts of the US government are advocating for a separate, “secure” internet. The idea calls for segmenting “critical” networks (not yet fully defined, but presumably including infrastructure and financial systems) and applying two security mechanisms to these networks: (1) increased deep packet inspection (DPI) to detect and prevent intrusions and malicious data; and (2) strong authentication, at least for clients. The trouble is that this “.secure” internet doesn’t make much technical or economic sense: the security mechanisms are simply not powerful or cost-effective enough to warrant re-engineering an internet. Whether the idea is to apply different security policies to sites using a special domain name like “.secure” (and possibly the existing .edu and .gov domains), or to create a parallel internet infrastructure, is not yet clear. (Although government representatives say the idea is not to create a parallel infrastructure, that is the most “secure” form of the idea, and I therefore expect the idea to begin to incorporate elements of new, separate infrastructure for the most important networks as the idea matures.)

Intrusion Detection and Prevention

...

EFF Campaign Increases the Number of Tor Relays by 13.4%

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Watching the revolutions unfolding in the Arab world this springtime – and learning details first-hand from our friends on the ground – we at EFF struggled to find meaningful ways to support democratic activists and promote online freedom of expression. But we didn’t just want to lend a helping hand –we wanted to create a pathway so that anyone, anywhere in the world, could contribute to making the Internet more private and more resistant to censorship. From these discussions came our idea of launching the Tor Challenge. We started the Tor Challenge with a simple goal: to launch 100 new Tor relays. Tor is software that individuals –including online activists in authoritarian regimes– can use to mask their IP addresses and proxy out to uncensored networks, helping them dodge network surveillance and elude online censorship. But Tor isn’t merely software – it’s also a network of volunteer computers, each donating bandwidth and acting as a router so that people can bounce their requests through the network, thereby obscuring their digital tracks. We launched our campaign on May 31, 2011 –and within days surpassed our goal of 100 new relays. Today, we are closing the challenge after adding 549 new ...

Adam Speaking at IHS ‘Liberty & Society’ Seminar

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Today, FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel is speaking at the Institute for Humane Studies' (IHS') Liberty & Society seminar, leading a session titled "The Marketplace of Ideas." The seminar hosts a mix of undergraduates, recent grads, and some graduate students who are interested in classical liberal or libertarian ideas. While Adam will be discussing the importance of free speech and colleges serving as open marketplaces of ideas, the other goals of the seminar are to explore what IHS identifies as "core concepts," including: The Role of Government, Understanding Rights, The Economic Way of Thinking, Public Choice, and History of Classical Liberalism. We're glad to have Adam representing FIRE at what is sure to be an interesting seminar.

ALA 11 Conference Wrap-Up: Intellectual Freedom Round Table

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

This week, the OIF Blog will be featuring wrap-ups of last month’s ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, each post featuring a different intellectual freedom group. Today’s featured group: the Intellectual Freedom Round Table.

  • IFRT endorsed in principle the “Resolution to Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self-Service Hold Practices” (drafted by the IFC Privacy Subcommittee) and unanimously endorsed the “Resolution to Continue Opposition to the Use of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and the Use of National Security Letters to Violate Reader Privacy” (IFC/COL joint resolution) for ALA Council to adopt. The full text of each Resolution can be found in the IFC Report to Council. Both Resolutions were adopted by ALA Council during its third session on Tuesday, June 28.
  • Incoming Chair, Carrie Gardner, put out a call for volunteers to fill out open IFRT committee positions.  To join IFRT and volunteer for a position, please visit the IFRT Membership Page.
  • On Saturday, June 25, IFRT recognized the work of Michael Blasenstein and Michael Dax Iacovone by presenting them with the John Philip Immroth Award.  Photos of the event can be found on the IFRT Facebook page.
  • Following the awards reception, ...

ASSESSING A NEW LANDSCAPE IN JOURNALISM

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

A new phenomenon has emerged in journalism in recent years-the era of non-profit news.

As traditional newsrooms have shrunk, a group of institutions and funders motivated by something other than profit are entering the journalism arena. This distinguishes them from the commercial news institutions that dominated the 20th century, whose primary sources of revenue-advertising and circulation-were self-evident.

Who are these new players in journalism? Are these sites delivering, as they generally purport to be, independent and disinterested news reporting? Or are some of them more political and ideological in their reporting? How can audiences assess this for themselves? In short, what role are these operations playing in the changing ecosystem of news?

A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism offers a detailed look at a portion of this new cohort of news providers-sites that cover state and national news. The study examines some four dozen sites across the country, all of them launched in 2005 or later, that offer coverage beyond the local level to state and national news. That group includes national news sites such as Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, which receives money from more than a dozen foundations and has a staff ...

ALA 11 Conference Wrap-Up: Intellectual Freedom Committee

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

This week, the OIF Blog will be featuring wrap-ups of last month’s ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, each post featuring a different intellectual freedom group. Today’s featured group: the Intellectual Freedom Committee.

  • IFC brought forth two Resolutions for ALA Council to adopt: “Resolution to Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self-Service Holds” (drafted by the IFC Privacy Subcommittee) and “Resolution to Continue Opposition to the Use of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and the Use of National Security Letters to Violate Reader Privacy” (IFC/COL joint resolution).  The full text of each Resolution can be found in the IFC Report to Council.  Both Resolutions were adopted by ALA Council during its third session on Tuesday, June 28.
  • IFC’s Privacy Subcommittee discussed the issue of reader privacy and the use of library records by third party vendors and set a final release schedule for the revised “Questions and Answers on Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” document.
  • Jonathan Kelley, program coordinator of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, moderated a great IF 101 program on Friday, June 24.  Slides of the presentation can be found on ALA Connect.
  • IFC sponsored a joint program with COL, “When it ...

Patent Trolls Drive App Developers from U.S. Market

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Unfortunately, patent trolls are not a new phenomenon. But, lately we’ve seen a disturbing new trend: patent trolls targeting app developers. Platforms such as iOS and Android allow small software developers the ability to widely distribute their work, which – for obvious reasons – is good for both developers and consumers. Just as these developers were finding new audiences, the patent trolls decided they wanted a piece of the action and started sending cease-and-desist letters demanding license fees, and in some instances even suing. Often, these developers cannot afford the time and money it takes to fight the trolls, leaving them with a stark choice: pay up or go out of business. It should come as no surprise then to hear reports that developers are pulling their apps from the U.S. app stores.

We’ve written before about Lodsys (here and here), a troll accusing app developers of patent infringement based on in-app purchasing functionality. Lodsys continues to send out cease-and-desist letters even as litigation surrounding its patents is pending all over the country. (The Court has not yet ruled on Apple’s motion to intervene in the case Lodsys brought against iOS app developers.)

Lodsys is not ...

Free WebJunction webinar on IF and Web 2.0 next week!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

OIF is pleased to be collaborating with WebJunction and ALA TechSource on the free webinar, “Finding a Legal Comfort Zone on the Web,” which will be offered on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 2 p.m. Eastern. The event will focus on best practices for libraries to engage with the public online, take advantage of user-generated content, and protect intellectual freedom principles.

Eli Neiburger and Barbara Jones, contributing writers to the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Library Technology Reports, “Privacy and Freedom of Information in 21st-Century Libraries,” will be the presenters. In anticipation of next week’s webinar, TechSource has also opened access to Jones’s and Neuberger’s chapters on the issue’s MetaPress page!

For more information on next week’s webinar, check out this excellent TechSource blog post, and visit WebJunction’s page, which includes a link to register.

What’s in a Name? At UC San Diego, Threats to Academic Freedom

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Heather Mac Donald's article in City Journal last week alerted us to the University of California at San Diego's (UCSD's) plan to reorganize its diversity-initiatives administrative structure by refashioning the office of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) as the office of Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. UCSD's May 4, 2011, announcement states:
Following campus and community consultation, we are pleased to announce plans to establish the position of Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and to conduct a national search for an experienced leader to guide our diversity initiatives.  The full-time vice chancellor position will have direct responsibility for a range of diversity offices and activities for faculty, staff and students.
This is not just a cosmetic makeover for the bureaucratic apparatus that last year brought us the ominous-sounding "Campus Climate" council, the dissolution of the student television station, and the unconstitutional freezing of funds to all 33 student media organizations following a variety of expression that roiled the campus including the "Compton Cookout." In continuing its efforts to place political reform at the top of its agenda, UCSD is converting a half-time position into a full-time position, even as the UC system is staring at ...

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

Tuesday, July 19th, 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. [...]

This Month in FIRE History: SUNY Fredonia Professor Targeted for Political Expression

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

In July 2006, Steven Kershnar, a professor at the State University of New York, Fredonia, came to FIRE for help after he was denied promotion for publicly disagreeing with university policies.

As a columnist for a local newspaper, Kershnar had written a number of pieces that questioned the school's student conduct policies, examined affirmative action practices at SUNY Fredonia, and highlighted what he perceived to be the unbalanced political makeup of the broader academic community. This earned the attention of SUNY Fredonia President Dennis L. Hefner, who called Kershnar's articles "misrepresentations."

Soon thereafter, Kershnar received a letter from Hefner explaining that although Kershnar's "teaching has been described as excellent," he would not be promoted because of his "deliberate and repeated misrepresentations of campus policies and procedures ... to the media," which Hefner claimed "impugned the reputation of SUNY Fredonia."

Hefner later agreed to approve the promotion, but only if Kershnar would submit all of his public writings to a "Prior-Consent Committee," consisting of two other professors who would decide if his statements deliberately misrepresented the university. Kershnar then contacted FIRE.

After three weeks of significant public attention and pressure from FIRE, the school approved Kershnar's promotion.

Kershnar's case is a ...

Harvey’s Op-Ed Draws Praise from Cato, Shines Spotlight on Troubling OCR Policy

Monday, July 18th, 2011
FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate's Friday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal continues to draw attention to the absurd rulings of some campus courts, and underscores the due process concerns raised by schools' harried attempts to comply with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights' (OCR's) mandate to use the "preponderance of the evidence" evidentiary standard. Last Friday, Trevor Burrus, a legal associate with the Cato Institute, wrote a piece for Cato's blog, Cato@Liberty, praising Harvey and FIRE for "highlighting the emerging problem of due process violations on college campuses." As Burrus aptly noted, the preponderance of the evidence mandate requires schools to find students guilty of crimes as serious as sexual assault on "little more than a hunch." This mandate harms due process rights because "[w]hile universities are not putting anyone in jail, merely being accused of a rape, much less being convicted by your university, has many of the same concerns as a criminal trial." The OCR's new mandate, combined with the tendency of some campus courts to defy common sense, foreshadows future miscarriages of justice in campus disciplinary proceedings. As FIRE works to defend the constitutional rights of students and faculty on our ...

Fox News and ‘Daily Mail’: Wrongly Dismissed Oregon Professor Now Planning to Sue

Monday, July 18th, 2011
Public scrutiny is mounting against the University of Oregon (UO), which suspended American Sign Language (ASL) instructor Peter Quint from teaching and then notified him he would not be reappointed, all because he sarcastically made a reference to shooting students who were breaking the rules during one of his classes. As Fox News and Britain's Daily Mail are reporting, Quint is preparing to sue the university for violating his rights. Among UO's many transgressions in prosecuting his case, as FIRE has explained, is failing to consider Quint's remark in its proper context. As we originally wrote:
On May 4, Quint opened his ASL 203 class with a personal story meant to emphasize the need to be able to communicate across barriers and show respect in a "foreign" environment such as an ASL classroom. Quint related his experience in Pakistan when his ability to communicate with others in a foreign environment had helped him escape threats against his life. In an email to College of Education Dean Michael Bullis the next day, Quint explained that the story involved
a situation in Pakistan where I had to deal with a threat involving a group of Pashtun tribesmen, one of whom had ...

The “Graduated Response” Deal: What if Users Had Been At the Table?

Monday, July 18th, 2011
Co-authored by Eric Goldman
As was widely reported last week, several major internet access providers (including, very likely, yours) struck a deal last week with big content providers to help them police online infringement, educate allegedly infringing subscribers and, if subscribers resist such education, take various steps including restricting their internet access. We’ve now had a chance to peruse the lengthy “Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) behind this deal. Turns out, as is often observed, the devil is in the details – and they are devilish indeed. Let’s start with the people taking credit: major content owners, service providers, and some government officials, principally New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. But guess who wasn’t invited to the party? The millions of subscribers who will be governed by the deal—the same subscribers who elect the politicians, buy the content owners’ goods and pay subscription fees to the internet access providers (which are likely to go up as administration costs are passed on – the UK’s graduated response system was estimated to cost about $40 per subscriber). Given that subscribers weren’t consulted, it’s probably not surprising that this deal is not in their interests. Here’s some of the biggest problems with what resulted--and ...

Porn ban coming to Connecticut prisons

Monday, July 18th, 2011
Connecticut inmates will soon be unable to possess sexually explicit material, Department of Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone announced Monday. Prisoners are being given one year to dispose of any such material in their possession and must allow subscriptions to explicit periodicals to expire, he said. “This material is detrimental to the safety and security of our institutions, to our efforts to rehabilitate the offender population, and it creates a hostile work environment for our staff,” Arnone said. “We have done a review of how other states around the country have handled this issue and believe an overall ban is the most appropriate approach.” Read more.

ALA11 Conference Wrap-up: Freedom to Read Foundation

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Over the coming week, the OIF Blog will be featuring wrap-ups of last month’s ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, each post featuring a different intellectual freedom group. Today’s featured group: the Freedom to Read Foundation.

  • On Thursday, the Freedom to Read Foundation 2010-2011 board of trustees held its second and final day-long meeting.  Among the topics discussed were the ongoing strategic planning process, the slate of litigation FTRF is participating in or monitoring, and strategies for increasing FTRF’s membership.   See the FTRF Report to ALA Council here.  (And become a member of FTRF here!)
  • Following the 2010-2011 board meeting, the 2011-2012 FTRF Board held its organizing meeting, welcoming the newly elected trustees and approving the FY2012 budget. The new board’s officers will be President Kent Oliver (continuing in this role), Vice President Judith Platt, and Treasurer Herbert Krug.  Candy Morgan and Jonathan Bloom will join those officers on the FTRF Executive Committee.
  • That evening, FTRF held its annual membership reception.  FTRF Executive Director introduced Audrey Barbakoff, winner of the 2011 Gordon Conable Conference Scholarship
  • At the following day’s Opening General Session, prior to a moving keynote by Dan Savage, FTRF trustee Chris Finan was ...

SDCC Premiere: All New John Cassaday & Matt Wagner T-Shirts from Graphitti Designs!

Monday, July 18th, 2011



Graphitti Designs, the master purveyors of pop-culture apparel are supporting the Fund with the launch of two brand-new CBLDF benefit tees!

First up is John Cassaday, whose Uncle Sam design makes a powerful statement about the fight to defend Free Speech!  Then Matt Wagner delivers an incredible new image of Grendel leaping into action!

Graphitti Designs is the standard bearer for high quality comics and pop culture t-shirts, and the CBLDF is thrilled to be join forces with them to deliver our supporters these amazing new shirts!

CBLDF Comic-Con Auction Preview!

Monday, July 18th, 2011

It’s Here! The CBLDF’s biggest auction of the year! Now held at the Hilton Bayfront hotel, the auction is open to the general public and free! Sponsored by TFAW.Com and Comic-Con International. Full item listing after the jump, with instructions for bidding at the show and from all over the world!

Support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work at the CBLDF 25th Anniversary Benefit Auction! Now held at the Hilton Bayfront hotel, the auction is open to the general public and free! Sponsored by TFAW.Com and Comic-Con International, the CBLDF Benefit Auction is the Fund’s biggest auction of the year. Come support the Fund at this terrific event!

This year’s auction highlights include original art by Frank Quitely, Dave Gibbons, Paul Pope, Tony Harris, Jaime Hernandez, Terry Moore, Camilla D’Errico, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stefano Gaudiano, Terry Dodson, Camilla D’Errico , Jonathan Luna and many, many more! A full preview of this year’s auction is available at CBLDF.org!

CBLDF will be accepting internet bids for items in this auction.

Bidding Rules

At The Show

All bidders will need to have a bidder number, which can be picked up at Booth 1920 at any time during the convention, or at the auction.

Off-Site ...

SDCC Premiere: BPAL & J. Gonzo K.O. Censorship With New Luchadore Inspired Print & Fragrance Set!

Monday, July 18th, 2011

It’s a tag team for free speech when Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and J. Gonzo team up to benefit the CBLDF with an incredible new Luchadore inspired print & fragrance set celebrating the launch of J. Gonzo’s amazing new series La Mano del Destino!

It’s a battle of titans with the First Amendment at stake! In this corner: La Mano del Destino, fighting for your freedom of speech! His opponent, El Nuevo Puritano, bringing the wicked wrath of moral panic and outrageous censorship into the ring!

BPAL has created a fragrance for each combatant, available for a donation of $25 each. J. Gonzo’s CBLDF-exclusive print is available for a $20 donation.

About the fragrances:

EL NUEVO PURITANO

The wicked wrath of moral panic: unmoving, rigid oak, dry leather, tonka, gunpowder tea, and pious olibanum with a core of perverse and furtive vanilla bean, bay leaf, clove bud, and lime.

LA MANO DEL DESTINO

Powerful Sumatran patchouli and enigmatic Brazilian copaiba with pao d’arco, cacao absolute, bourbon vanilla, Ceylon cinnamon, and tobacco

J. Gonzo will also be appearing throughout the show to make sketches to benefit the Fund, and to sign copies of La Mano del Destino, the tale of a ...

Righthaven Ordered to Pay $5,000 in Sanctions for Its Misrepresentations to Court

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Yesterday in Righthaven v. Democratic Underground a federal court in Las Vegas ordered the notorious copyright troll Righthaven to pay $5,000 in sanctions and to file the court transcript containing its admonishment in hundreds of other copyright cases. EFF represents Democratic Underground.

Righthaven tried to build a business out of suing hundreds of bloggers and websites for allegedly infringing the copyrights in Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper articles, but was stopped short by evidence EFF uncovered: the secret "Strategic Alliance Agreement" between Stephens Media (publisher of the Review-Jounal) and Righthaven, which showed that the assignment of the copyrights was a sham.

In the decision dismissing Righthaven's case, Judge Hunt also ordered Righthaven to explain why it should not be sanctioned for its failure to disclose media giant Stephens Media's financial interest in the lawsuits.

The Strategic Alliance Agreement required Righthaven to pay half of the lawsuit proceeds to Stephens Media (publisher of the Review-Journal). Nevertheless, Righthaven and Stephens Media asserted that the media company did not have an ongoing interest in the litigation. These misrepresentations not only concealed Stephens Media's role, but allowed Righthaven to continue to litigate hundreds of cases for months over a right that it did ...

Bonfire Agency Launches CBLDF’s First Consumer Advertising Campaign

Friday, July 15th, 2011

With the recent announcement of CBLDF’s Canada Customs Case, CBLDF gained a valuable new partner in the fight for Free Speech: Bonfire Agency. Bonfire, a firm specializing in pop culture marketing, took on the heady task of helping CBLDF reach out to supporters with the first consumer advertising campaign in CBLDF’s history.

To support CBLDF’s defense of free speech, you can make a donation or become a member. Thanks to Bonfire, you can also run print ads, post a banner on your website, or provide an informative pamphlet to your customers. Download the print ad here. You can also download several sizes of animated or flat banners: 160 x 600 banner (swf or gif), 300 x 250 banner (swf or gif), or 728 x 90 banner (swf or gif). Finally, the pamphlet is available for download here.

The official press release from Bonfire Agency:

New York, NY  (June 27, 2011)  Pop culture marketing firm, Bonfire Agency LLC, today debuted consumer advertising to aid the efforts of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the organization’s support of the legal defense of an American citizen facing criminal charges in Canada ...

Computer Search and Seizure: A Three-Panel Cartoon

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Think you know what to do when law enforcement seeks access to your digital device? Test your skills with our online quiz. Then brush up on your knowledge with our Know Your Rights whitepaper.

We also highly recommend you print our one-page guide explaining what to do when the police ask for access to your device. Leave it by your workstation, tape it up in your server room, and slip a copy into your laptop case—anywhere you have sensitive information on a digital device.

CFN Conference: Friday Wrap Up

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Photo by Tim Moyer Photography

It's been a jam-packed day of campus free speech sessions and discussions, and we're looking forward to hearing from keynote speaker Robert Corn-Revere tonight.

We pick up again tomorrow bright and early for breakfast, followed by our student panel, featuring four different former FIRE case subjects as our panelists:

Be sure to tune into the live steam starting again tomorrow morning at 8:45 and, as always, check our Twitter and Facebook channels for exciting tidbits.

In Today’s ‘Wall Street Journal’: University Finds Student Guilty of Sexual Assault While Police Charge Accuser for Lying About It

Friday, July 15th, 2011

In a stark demonstration of the failure of campus judicial procedures, the University of North Dakota (UND) has found a student guilty of sexual assault despite the fact that local police refused to charge him with a crime and instead charged his accuser for lying about the incident. Former student Caleb Warner has been banned by UND from stepping foot on any state public campus for three years. Meanwhile, his accuser has been wanted by the Grand Forks Sheriff's Department for more than a year on the charge of making a false report to law enforcement. Warner has turned to FIRE to help remedy this injustice.

Click here for FIRE's full press release on this subject, and here for a Wall Street Journal article regarding Caleb Warner's case, written by FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate.

Hazelwood: A Student’s Perspective

Friday, July 15th, 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 [...]

CFN Conference Update: No ‘holding or eating food provocatively’ at Drexel!

Friday, July 15th, 2011

The perfect CFN Conference post-lunch treat: Learning about the particularly egregious speech codes at schools across our country, such as Drexel University's prohibition of "holding or eating food provocatively," Or Indiana University Southeast's prohibition of "faxes sexual in nature." That's rightwe said faxes.


We're loving FIRE Director of Speech Code Research Samantha Harris' discussion of speech codesthe particularly absurd ones and how colleges and universities have used them to violate students' rights.

"You can't call the police when someone writes "boob" on something," Samantha says.

Still to come today: a choice of five breakout sessions hosted by FIRE staff members:

  • “How to Fight Your School’s Speech Codes” – Samantha Harris, Director of Speech Code Research
  • “The Philosophy of Liberty” – Adam Kissel, Vice President of Programs
  • “Campaigning Rights on Campus” – Azhar Majeed, FIRE Associate Director of Legal & Public
  • Advocacy
  • "Your FIRE Case: Knowing When You Have One, Documenting it, and Publicizing it" – Peter Bonilla, FIRE Assistant Director, Individual Rights Defense Program & Joanna Brenner, FIRE Public Awareness Associate
  • “Due Process Rights on Campus” – Robert Shibley, Senior Vice President
The breakout sessions will not be live streamed, but check in on Twitter (#CFN11) and Facebook for updates.

CFN Conference Update: Free Speech Zones Take a Beating

Friday, July 15th, 2011

"Administrators are quoting law that they don't even know the basis of!" said former FIRE case subject and CFN Conference participant Isaac Rosenbloom. In 2010, Rosenbloom was barred from one of his classes and denied financial aid after a professor initiated a verbal confrontation with him over his language.

In FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley's address to conference participants, he discussed case law regarding the First Amendment on campus, with help from FIRE Associate Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Azhar Majeed. The concept of free speech zones on campus took a heavy beating.

Following Robert and taking the stage presently is FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel, running through a brief history of FIRE's cases before we break for lunch.

"There's always some administrator somewhere who's going to have the other opinion on a subject and get you in trouble for it," Adam says.

Among the plethora of cases that FIRE has taken, Adam enlightens conference participants on the censorship of gun speech on college campuses, and our battle with Tarrant County College (which repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of student protesters who intended to participate in the national "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus" protest ...

Oppose Congress’ Criminal Streaming Bill

Friday, July 15th, 2011
Under certain conditions, an "unlawful public performance" of a copyrighted work is already a crime. But this bill targets online streaming in an effort to give the government more enforcement power to bear – particularly against websites that the entertainment industry believes to be threatening. There have been few court decisions regarding public performance online. That means that if this bill passes, it’s hard to predict whom the government will target. Government agents may choose to go after individual users, or entire websites and video platforms. Given the history of the government's approach to copyright enforcement, the government may well wind up taking cues from trigger-happy copyright holders. The attempt to expand criminal penalties for online streaming also reeks of a means to stock the arsenal of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in performing more wild seizures of domain names. Bills like S. 978 are the "inch" from which the government and rightsholder industry will take a "mile" out of freedom and innovation on the Internet. S. 978 was recently approved by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to be considered by the entire Senate, so your action is urgently needed. Contact your Senators now to let them know ...

In Patent Reform Legislation, Congress Starts to Slowly Chip Away at Business Method Patents

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
The patent reform legislation that continues to snake its way through Congress makes one thing clear: many in Washington don’t like business method patents anymore than we do. (Business method patents cover a merely a "method" or "process," as opposed to something tangible.) Now that the House and Senate have each passed their own version of the bill, the two will need to be reconciled. The big issue standing in the way is fee diversion: whether the Patent Office can keep the additional fees it brings in that exceed its budget (Senate bill), or whether Congress can use that money to fund other government programs (House bill). Issues like fee diversion and the shift from first-to-invent to first-to-file continue to get the lion’s share of the press, but there are some smaller provisions that caught our eyes. For example, both bills include a provision that would allow banks and other financial institutions to more easily challenge business method patents when those patents are asserted against them in litigation. And both the House and Senate bills would prohibit patents covering “any strategy for reducing, avoiding, or deferring tax liability,” which are currently considered patentable business methods. While many decry ...

Spotify’s U.S. Launch Highlights the Good, the Bad, and the Promise of Subscription-Based Music Services

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
In case you missed it, Spotify's long-awaited U.S. launch is here. Spotify now joins the ranks of services like Rhapsody, Rdio, and Mog that allow users (for a fee) to stream unlimited music from multiple devices, make and keep playlists, and store music on mobile devices. This is good news for music fans. Spotify has already proven successful in Europe, and, unlike its current U.S. competitors, provides a free, ad-based service where users can access a certain amount of music each month (after that, users can pay for unlimited songs and to have access on their mobile devices). This is just the type of product the record labels have failed time and again to offer their fans: convenient access to different amounts of music, to be consumed in different ways, at different and relevant price points. Instead of being forced to buy full-length CDs at $15.99, fans can now make their own decision about how much they value music and how much of it they want. Of course, the record labels could have launched a service like this years ago. Instead of innovating, they famously sued their fans (and reportedly fought Spotify's U.S. entry) and are ...

‘WorldNetDaily’ Highlights Punishment for Facebook Comments at Two Colleges

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily has written about two cases involving Facebook and free speech: the student at Saint Augustine's College who was barred from graduation ceremonies for a "negative" comment about his college's tornado recovery efforts, and the faculty member in Michigan who was dismissed for posting a comment about an anonymous student.
Facebook postings by a student and a professor have been used to justify punishment for the members of college communities, officials with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have confirmed. [...] In the professor's case, the organization said, Jason Liptow, an adjunct professor at Mid Michigan Community College, was told he broke confidentiality rules when he posted: "Student e-mailed me wanting to know how he could pass the class, he hadn't been there and failed three open-book tests." [...] In the student's case, Roman Caple has launched a legal action against Saint Augustine's College after he was forbidden from taking part in spring 2011 graduation ceremonies for a comment he posted on Facebook.
Thanks to Bob Unruh for highlighting these significant threats to free speech on college campuses in the Internet Age.

Faculty Member in Michigan Dismissed for Seemingly Innocuous Facebook Post

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
An adjunct professor at Mid Michigan Community College (MMCC) has been let go over a Facebook post he wrote regarding a student's concern about passing his course. Despite the generalized nature of the Facebook post and the lack of detail it contained, former adjunct professor Jason Liptow was told he had broken confidentiality rules and that his contract would not be renewed. Liptow's case began when one of his students, who had missed a good deal of class time, emailed him in the last week of classes to ask what he could do to pass the course. Liptow came to realize that the student had missed "at least 70 percent of classes," and that of the three open-book, take-home exams he had taken, the student had failed each one. Liptow therefore emailed the student to let him know that there was nothing he could do at that point. He also mentioned the situation in a Facebook status update (while refraining from using the student's name) and warned others not to let this happen to them. His post read: "Student emailed me wanting to know how he could pass the class, he hadn't been there and failed three open-book tests." That ...

Watch the CFN Conference Live!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
The CFN Conference is just one day away! Students are coming from across the country to learn about free speech on campus, and to hear from our distinguished speakers, including:
  • Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.
  • Robert Corn-Revere, a partner at the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine in Washington, D.C., and a First Amendment expert. Corn-Revere is the lead attorney for former Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes in Barnes v. Zaccari, a federal civil rights case currently before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
  • Professor Jan Blits, a professor in the University Honors Faculty at the University of Delaware. In 2009, he received FIRE's own Prometheus Award for his efforts in ending the University of Delaware's appalling student indoctrination program.
For those of you who are unable to join us this weekend, we will be live streaming some sessions starting Thursday evening at 8:15 p.m. ET, and resuming at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. You can watch it on the CFN's Ustream channel. FIRE's staff also will be blogging and tweeting from the conference. Check The Torch as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages (#CFN11) for updates.