Censoring Santa Barbara politician thwarted, painting restored

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Peter from the National Coalition Against Censorship writes, "A California official removed an artwork by skateboarding icon Scott Olson from a public building because he said it was 'obscene.' Sorry, the First Amendment exists to prevent this kind of thing. Read the rest

For the first time ever, a judge has invalidated a secret Patriot Act warrant

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Calyx is a privacy-oriented ISP. In 2004, the FBI brought its owner, Nicholas Merrill, a National Security Letter -- one of the USA Patriot Act's secret search warrants, which comes with a gag order prohibiting the recipient from ever disclosing its existence.

Merrill has fought the gag order for 11 years, refusing to give up despite government attempts to get the case booted and to run up the court costs beyond Merrill's ability to pay.

He had a partial victory in 2010, when he and the ACLU won a court victory that allowed him to disclose some elements of the NSL, but left important details -- including the categories of information the FBI believes it can request under an NSL -- still secret. This latest victory overturns that restriction.

The judge in this case, Judge Victor Marrero, also presided over a 2007 case that overturned part of the Patriot Act, requiring investigators to go through the courts in order to get NSLs. In his Calyx decision, he condemned the government's secrecy as "extreme and overly broad."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s decision invalidated the gag order in full, finding no “good reason” to prevent Merrill from speaking about any aspect of the NSL, particularly an attachment to the NSL that lists the specific types of “electronic communication transactional records” (“ECTR”) that the FBI believed it was authorized to demand. The FBI has long refused to clarify what kinds of information it sweeps up under the rubric of ECTR, a phrase that appears in the NSL statute but is not publicly defined anywhere.

Read the rest

For the first time in 22 years, New Zealand has banned a book

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Into the River by New Zealand author Ted Dawe is an award-winning young adult novel about a teenage boy who moves from the sticks in New Zealand to a posh boarding school in Aukland. A kooky right-wing group called Family First freaked out about the sex, drugs, and language in the book and convinced New Zealand’s Film and Literature Board to ban the sale and distribution of the novel. It's the first book they've banned in 22 years. The previous banned book was How to Build a Bazooka.

Taryn Hillin of Fusion posted parts from the novel that caused it to become forbidden to New Zealanders:

Back at boarding school Devon’s friend Steph, another roommate, sneaks in some pot:

At last, Steph revealed the reason he had brought them there. He had a joint. “Where’d you get it?” Wingnut asked in a hushed whisper.

Devon and Tania embark on a sexual relationship — Devon’s first:

Tania had Devon’s jeans off much faster than he managed to clear the hooks on her bra. The urgency now bordered on panic. Then she had his cock in her wet hand. He gasped. The next thing was he felt a fluttering convulsion and came immediately, draping the wall of the bathroom with a ribbon of sperm.

Fairly normal stuff for a young adult novel, if you ask me. And nothing outside a typical teenager's life (at least in the US, and I presume NZ, though I've only spent a couple of months there). I didn't know that New Zealand had a department that decides what its citizens were allowed to read. Read the rest

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Liberty Annual, 2015 edition

The indispensable Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced the 2015 edition of its always-brilliant Liberty Annual ("ridiculous adult humor for adults"), featuring an all-star comix cast from Art Spiegelman to Vanesa Del Rey. Read the rest

Marcel Duchamp's heirs nuke hobbyists' hand-modelled 3D chess-set files

Duchamp -- who gleefully modified others' work and called it his own -- carved a gorgeous art deco chess set (this one) in 1917, which exists now only in grainy archival photos. Read the rest

Inept copyright bot sends 2600 a legal threat over ink blotches

Emmanuel Goldstein writes, "2600 Magazine is being threatened with legal action for using bits of ink splatter on the Spring 2012 cover that Trunk Archive Images claims it has the rights to. That's right, ink splatter. The sophistication of the tracking software in actually being able to detect specific splotches of ink throughout the entire Internet is as astounding as it is scary. But it also happens to be dead wrong as the ink splatter in question actually belongs to an artist in Finland." Read the rest

NZ bans award-winning YA novel after complaints from conservative Christian group

Ted Dawe's Into the River won the 2013 New Zealand Post Children's Book prize; businesses that sell, lend or gift it face fines of up to NZD10,000. Read the rest

Who, exactly, is asking Facebook to censor things for us?

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Today in Betteridge headlines: "Should Facebook Block Offensive Videos Before They Post?" Read the rest

Illinois mayor appoints failed censor to town library board

Peter writes, "Is a public library's board of trustees any place for a would-be book censor? The town of Downers Grove, Illinois is about to find out." Read the rest

Boston's WGBH initiates careless, groundless legal action against Fedflix project

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "I got mugged by a bunch of Boston hooligans. Readers of Boing Boing may be familiar with my FedFlix project which has resulted in 6,000 government videos getting posted to YouTube and the Internet Archive." Read the rest

Judge: City of Inglewood can't use copyright to censor videos of council meetings

Joseph Teixeira doesn't like Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, so he makes Youtube videos featuring City Council meeting footage. Read the rest

Ashley Madison commits copyfraud in desperate bid to suppress news of its titanic leak

The company is shotgunning DMCA notices against journalists and others who reproduce even the tiniest fraction of the dump of users who signed up to find partners with whom to cheat on their spouses -- included in the dump are thousands of people who paid $15 to have their data permanently deleted from the service. Read the rest

Interview with imprisoned "vagina selfie" artist

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Japan is famous for its penis parades, where people carry around giant wooden dicks and buy penis candy and souvenirs. So why is manga artist Rokudenashiko likely to be imprisoned for making whimsical sculptures based on plaster castings of her vulva? (See Japanese artist goes on trial over "vagina selfies and Manga cartoonist arrested for her whimsical vagina sculptures.) Vice's Broadly has a video interview with this brave artist who is getting a raw deal from the Japanese government. Read the rest

Internet filters considered harmful

Alan sez, "In its latest report, the American Library Association reviews the state of Internet content filters and finds the state dismal." Read the rest

Twitter snoop-requests from UK cops/gov't more than double in 2015

In the first six months of 2015, UK government agencies and police departments made 299 "requests for information" of Twitter, compared to 116 in the 6 months previous. Read the rest

The hilarious banality of today's college comedy circuit

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Caitlin Flanagan has written the funniest and most incisive glimpse into what it's like for today's road hacks whose livelihoods depend on navigating the treacherous waters of the college comedy circuit. Read the rest

India's porn ban collapses in less than 48 hours

Politicians learn the hard way that you can't get between the voters and their preferred recreational activity. Read the rest

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