Pennsylvania passes a "Gag Mumia" law to silence prisoner's voices

The "Revictimization Relief Act" allows suits against offenders whose "conduct...perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim," but the fact that it was aimed at silencing jailed activist Mumia Abu-Jamal was never made a secret -- the governor signed it into law saying that it "was inspired by the excesses and pious hypocrisy of one particular killer."

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Popehat's #Gamergate rants

Former federal prosecutor, free speech advocate and generally smart dude Ken "Popehat" White has posted "ten short rants" about #Gamergate, which, surprisingly, contain nuance and gloss I haven't yet encountered in the verbiage devoted to the subject elsewhere.

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Australian bill will put journos in prison for 10 years for reporting leaks

The bill was introduced on Wednesday by Attorney General George Brandis, and it gives the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the power to imprison leakers (including reporters) for five years, with ten year sentences for anything regarding "special intelligence operations" (illegal spy operations conducted under promise of immunity).

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Indexing pages that Google must hide from Europeans


The controversial "right to be forgotten" European court ruling has Google removing embarrassing (and worse) search results from search-results served in the EU.

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Gilbert Hernandez's limited-edition Harbringer cover, to benefit CBLDF (#SDCC)


Going to San Diego Comic Con? Be sure and drop by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's booth (#1920) to pick up this special Harbringer issue with a Gilbert Hernandez cover (see the full art here, exclusive to Boing Boing!), with proceeds to support the CBLDF's excellent anti-censorship work.

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CBLDF presents: Liberty!


Every year, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund taps the greatest creators in the business for a highly collectible "annual" full of one-off art and stories celebrating freedom in all its guises. Now, a beautiful hardcover volume collects all these piece from 2008-2012, and it's a strong and bracing tonic.

The book runs 216 pages, and features a who's-who of the greatest names in modern and golden-age comics, from Sergio Argones to Kathryn Immonen, from Mike Mignola to Neil Gaiman.

The stories, most running 1-2 pages, are perfect little bombs of delightful, uncompromising, transgressive material, celebrating sex and sexuality, free thought and freedom of religion, free speech and free inquiry. Sales of the book support the CBLDF, whose work I'm proud to support with donations of both money and time.

LIBERTY is 216 pages total and includes several rare works, such as a The Walking Dead tale by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, 100 Words by Neil Gaiman and Jim Lee, Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, plus stories from Geoff Johns, Mark Millar, J.H. Williams III, Terry Moore, Howard Chaykin, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, Stuart Immonen, Kathryn Immonen, Mike Allred, Darwyn Cooke, Paul Pope, and dozens more! LIBERTY also includes incredible illustrations from Frank Miller, Jeff Smith, Tim Sale, John Romita Jr., Mike Mignola, and many more! All proceeds from this collection benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s work protecting the freedom to read!

“This book is bursting with incredible stories and art from some of the finest people working in the field. CBLDF’s Liberty collection is perfect for comics aficionados because it has so many of their favorite creators in there,” said Charles Brownstein, Executive Director at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. “It’s also a terrific book for fans and retailers to give to the new readers flocking to comics right now as a sampler of all the incredible talent the medium has to offer. Best of all, it helps CBLDF pay for our important work on behalf of readers, retailers and creators everywhere.”

CBLDF Presents: Liberty

Ikea bullies Ikeahackers with bogus trademark claim


Andy writes, "For eight years, Jules' IKEAHackers site has published ways people have hacked their IKEA products. Hundreds of people have combined IKEA products in creative ways to create everything from desks to cat trees. When the fan site turned to a huge part-time job, Jules ran a few small advertisements. Now IKEA's attorneys have sent the site a Cease and Desist."

Ikea's C&D is, as a matter of law, steaming bullshit. There's no trademark violation here -- the use of Ikea's name is purely factual. The fact that money changes hands on Ikeahackers (which Ikea's lawyers seem most upset about) has no bearing on the trademark analysis. There is no chance of confusion or dilution from Ikeahackers' use of the mark. This is pure bullying, an attempt at censorship. I'm shocked to see that Jules has a lawyer who advised her to take such a terrible deal.

We've linked to Ikeahackers many times in the past.

Trademark law is surrounded by urban legends. Trademark does not create the legal right to stop people from making factual uses of a mark ("Ikeahackers" is a site for people who hack Ikea furniture). And while there is a very slim chance of trademarks being "genericized" through a failure to police, this risk is grossly overstated by trademark lawyers (quick, name three modern, active trademarks that have been genericized through a lack of policing), and in any event, you can get the same benefit from offering a royalty-free license as you get from threatening a lawsuit. Finally, trademark is not copyright: there is no parody "defense" (nor is one needed), there is no fair use, there is no need for any of that stuff.

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Time-capsule crypto to help journalists protect their sources


Jonathan Zittrain writes, "I published an op-ed in the Boston Globe today musing on the prospects for 'time capsule encryption,' one of several ways of storing information that renders it inaccessible to anyone until certain conditions -- such as the passage of time -- are met. I could see libraries and archives offering such technology as part of accepting papers and manuscripts, especially in the wake of the "Belfast Project" situation, where a library promised confidentiality for accounts of the Troubles in North Ireland, and then found itself amidst subpoenas from law enforcement looking to solve long-cold cases. But the principle could apply to any person or company thinking that there's a choice between leaving information exposed to leakage, or destroying it entirely."

I'm less enthusiastic about this than Jonathan is. I think calibrating the strength of your time-capsule is very hard. If the NSA might be an order of magnitude faster than the rest of us at brute-force cryptanalysis, that means you need to make your 10-year capsule strong enough to last for 100 years just to be on the safe side. Same goes for proof-of-work.

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Science fiction and the law: free speech, censorship, privacy and surveillance


In Do Androids Dream of Electric Free Speech? Visions of the Future of Copyright, Privacy, and the First Amendment in Science Fiction , a paper from Communicaton Law and Policy by Texas Christian University's Daxton "Chip" Stewart, we're treated to a wide-ranging overview of the free speech, copyright, privacy and surveillance legal issues raised in science fiction from Frankenstein to my own books. Stewart's paper insightfully weaves together everyone from Ernest Cline to Isaac Asimov and closely analyzes the way that science fictional thought-experiments can inform legal discussions, in a fashion reminiscent of the excellent Law of Superheros.

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Smart high school student suspended for nerdy joke

Paris Gray, the 17-year-old class vice president of Mundy’s Mill High School in Georgia was suspended from school for a chemistry joke she ran in the yearbook: “When the going gets tough just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfur, Uranium, Phosphorus.” The message is decoded by consulting a periodic table:

back-that-ass-up

Steve Wozniak explains Net Neutrality to the FCC

Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, has published an open letter to the FCC in support of Net Neutrality; Woz explains his view of traditional American fairness and the role of good government, and decries regulatory capture, and warns the FCC that it will lose its "white hat" if it helps corporate America break the Internet.

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U of Saskatchewan fires tenured dean for speaking out against cuts

A reader writes, "Robert Buckingham, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan since 2009, was fired last Wednesday for critical comments about the university's restructuring plans. When he showed up for work Wednesday morning, two campus security guards escorted him off campus. The university not only fired him as dean, but also stripped Buckingham of his tenured faculty position. The termination letter signed by Provost and VP Academic Brett Fairbairn said that by speaking out against the school's restructuring plans, Buckingham had 'demonstrated egregious conduct and insubordination' and was in breach of contract."

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Molly Crabapple paintings in Pen charity action


Molly Crabapple and some of her associates have donated a wide selection of art to be auctioned off to benefit the Pen American Center, the US arm of a charitable organization that campaigns for free speech and advocates on behalf of writers whose persons and works are threatened by censorship. (Thanks, Lauren!)

Students raise money, give away 300 copies of book banned in their school

Jaimie sez, "My bookstore helped a high school student distribute almost 300 free copies of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, a book that has been challenged and removed from the Meridian (Idaho) School District curriculum." Funds were raised by two Washington students." They're going to give away another 350 copies that the publisher donated next week. Go kids! (Thanks, Jamie!) Cory 26

Crowdfunding £12,000 to fight mandatory UK Internet filters

Jim Killock from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "Recently the British Government, with the help of conservative religious lobby groups, has persuaded ISPs to introduce an internet filter across the UK. Open Rights Group needs your help to challenge this. We want to make people aware that filters don't work, are dangerous for internet freedom and could give parents a false sense of security when it comes to their children's use of the internet.

"To get this message across we want to produce a high-quality, funny film that will re-start the debate about why filters are a bad idea. It will cost us £12,000 to get this campaign off the ground. We need to show people that filters censor the internet. Most of all, we need to tell politicians like Claire Perry that they have to stop blaming the internet for society's problems.

"Filters don't work. Help us to fight them."

Internet filters are a weak spot in the UK government's expanding censorship programme, and ripe for disruption through pointed satire. I contributed.

Stop UK Internet Censorship

(Disclosure: I co-founded the Open Rights Group and volunteer on its advisory board)