Raina Telgemeier is the creator behind Smile, an award-winning autobiographical graphic novel that Publishers Weekly calls, “A charming addition to the body of young adult literature that focuses on the trials and tribulations of the slightly nerdy girl…” Telgemeier also adapted and drew several The Baby-sitters Club graphic novels and co-wrote the bestselling X-Men: Misfits graphic novel.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is launching an all new Summer Reading Challenge to encourage a diverse and continuous reading habit through graphic novels and comic books! Are you up for the challenge? Join the CBLDF Summer Reading Challenge and read a new graphic novel each week this summer!
Love teaching? Join us! Love graphic novels? You are not alone. New to graphic novels but curious? We want you! Wanting to use a specific novel with students? We can help!
The Coronavirus crisis impacts all of us. At CBLDF, we’re here to serve the community, so this week we’re sharing resources that can help you cope with the challenges we’re all facing. We have created new tools, including a comprehensive state-by-state clearinghouse resource for f ...
Celebrate Women’s History Month with She Changed Comics, the untold story of the women who changed free expression in comics. To help provide for our community, CBLDF is making the digital edition of She Changed Comics pay what you want ...
CBLDF is committed to helping parents, educators, and students turn challenges into triumphs in remote learning situations. Check out all the free resources we have for you to help keep your kids interested and learning, including lesson plans and discussion guides for more than 50 graphic novels! ...
Comic book retailers are the foundation of the comic book industry as we know it. They serve as beacons of light in increasingly troubled times, hubs in their communities where people can find the stories that they need. CBLDF is working to do whatever we...
There’s an easy way to fight for free expression with everything you buy online: designate CBLDF for your Amazon Smile donations! When you shop at smile.amazon.com, a nonprofit of your choosing will get a portion of the proceeds,...
Remote Retailing: Connecting with Your Customer Online The COVID-19 Crisis is causing massive disruptions to the way retail stores conduct business. With the need for social distancing and an influx of mandatory business shut-downs, retailers are now required to find innovative ways to...
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics medium. Our work takes us into courtrooms, classrooms, conventions and libraries all over the United States where we provide legal aid, education, and advocacy to protect th ...
In the past three years, nearly 12,000 people have had their electronic devices searched when crossing international borders into the United States. These searches are being challenged in Abidor v. Napolitano, a case that could have repercussions for anyone carrying electronic devices when crossing international borders into the United States.
The case sheds light on the border search issues that CBLDF has been tracking and about which we issued an advisory last spring. Abidor v. Napolitano pertains specifically to the search and seizure of Pascal Abidor’s laptop when he traveled by train from Canada to New York. Upon learning that Abidor, an American and French citizen and Islamic Studies graduate student, had traveled in the Middle East, US Customs and Border patrol agents pulled Abidor aside and ordered him to log into his laptop. They proceeded to examine the contents of his laptop, which included images of Islamic militants that Abidor was using for research purposes. Abidor was then handcuffed, placed in a jail cell, and interrogated for several hours by Department of Homeland Security agents. Abidor was released that night, but the DHS held onto his laptop for a further 11 days, returning it only after the ACLU inquired after it on Abidor’s behalf.
On September 10, 2010, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Abidor, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), arguing that DHS’s practice of searching personal electronic devices is unconstitutional, violating both the First and Fourth Amendments. more
Fans of the extremely popular Babymouse series were treated to something special at this year’s ALA annual conference: the premiere of a CBLDF-exclusive Babymouse print, illustrated by series artist Matthew Holm!
As an extra bonus, on Saturday afternoon during the conference — shortly before being awarded another Newbery Honor — Babymouse author Jennifer L. Holm was on hand at the CBLDF booth to sign the prints and express her support for the Fund in person! Fans of every age stopped by to join the Fund and get a signed print, and the excitement was infectious as Jenni interacted with Babymouse readers.
The Holms created the print to generate interest in Free Speech and the First Amendment among younger readers. The Holms have enjoyed huge success with the award-winning Babymouse graphic novel series, and this signed print is an exciting addition to the many donation premiums available from the CBLDF!
The Babymouse print is now available in our online donation center, and it will be in stock in our booth during Comic-Con International in San Diego. CBLDF will also have copies of Babymouse and Squish, signed by both Matthew and Jenni Holm, at Comic-Con.
CBLDF thanks the Holms for creating this wonderful print and their continued support of Free Expression!
CBLDF and TFAW are gearing up for our Third Annual Autograph Card / CBLDF Auction Event at Comic-Con International, and we’re already saving our pennies to bid on some exceptional pieces!
We’ve added more folks to the lineup and the art has started rolling in. Here’s the latest lineup, and don’t miss the gallery that follows!
Artists, we are still looking for donations! Please support Free Speech by donating an original piece of art! If you can help, please contact CBLDF at email@example.com!
This weekend, the founders of Crazy 8 Press — Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, and Howard Weinstein — take their superhero act on the road to attend Shore Leave 33 and support the CBLDF in the process!
Shore Leave 33, a fan-run science fiction convention, takes place July 8-10, 2011, at the Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore, Maryland. David, Friedman, Greenberger, Hauman, Rosenberg, and Weinstein are all on hand to celebrate the launch of Crazy 8 Press throughout the weekend. Their celebration includes the writing of an original story on the convention floor, the sale of which will benefit CBLDF’s First Amendment work! more
With the recent spate of legal victories that CBLDF has celebrated, Brigid Alverson with CBR’s Robot 6 blog took a moment to touch base with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein about the Canada Customs Case:
It’s been a momentous week for the CBLDF. Last Friday we announced our decision to build a coalition to aid an American traveler facing prison time in Canada and registering as a sex offender for traveling with comics on his laptop. On Monday we received news that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down a California law that would have made violence a new category of unprotected speech by banning the sale and display of violent video games, and that Justice Scalia cited our amicus brief as part of his majority decision. And just today news arrived that we successfully helped knock out an Alaska law that would have placed severe restrictions on internet speech. more
Sometimes, even the best intentions produce overly-broad laws that cannot be enforced or that violate the First Amendment rights of innocent parties. Last year, Alaska passed Senate Bill 222 with the intent to protect minors, but the language of the law put an unreasonable burden on internet users, including comic book creators and retailers selling at both brick and mortar stores and online.
CBLDF joined the Media Coalition and a variety of plaintiffs from Alaska in challenging the law. Alaska’s KTUU highlighted the Media Coalition’s efforts to refine the language of the law and bring the law into alignment with the First Amendment before its passage. You can read a summary of these efforts here.
Despite the Media Coalition’s efforts, the Alaska Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 222. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline struck down multiple provisions of the law, citing violation of the First Amendment.
Happy Fourth of July! As we spend the day celebrating the United States, watching fireworks, and enjoying barbeques, let’s also remember the fight for our freedoms, a fight that required the founding of a brand new nation. Not least of those freedoms: The freedom to say what’s on our minds!
Let’s also remember the people around the world who don’t have the same right the Free Speech, including some of our own citizens when they travel abroad.
Please celebrate the holiday by supporting CBLDF’s defense of Free Speech with a donation today!
To help fund its fight for Free Speech, CBLDF relies on many people, including the retailers who keep us in comic books and graphic novels. Retailers support us by becoming members, leaving a collection can on the counter, and putting on events in their stores to benefit CBLDF.
In the case of Things From Another World’s Senior Director of Retail Operations Andrew McIntire and Marketing Manager Elisabeth Forsythe, helping CBLDF has become a bit of an obsession. Three years ago, they launched an annual campaign to collect original art donations for CBLDF’s auction at Comic-Con International, helping the Fund raise thousands of dollars in the process. Each summer, they dedicate themselves to soliciting and gathering donations from comics creators around the world, making sure CBLDF has an amazing array of original art up for bid. From this art, they make a series of autograph cards that both promote the auction and CBLDF.
McIntire and Forsythe are both diehard comics fans, with a knowledge and love for the medium that few can stand up to. They’re off to a good start with this year’s auction, as you can see here, and we took a moment to talk to them about CBLDF and their perspective on Free Speech as retailers in this edition of The Good Fighters.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund welcomes today’s decision to bar enforcement of an Alaska criminal statute that the Federal District Court held threatened to reduce all speech on the Internet “to only what is fit for children.” The court permanently barred enforcement of that statute because it violates First Amendment rights of free speech.
The CBLDF participated as a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by Alaska booksellers, librarians, a photographer, and other First Amendment and media organizations through the Media Coalition. Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline held that Senate Bill 222, which could have made anyone who operates a website criminally liable for posting material deemed “harmful to minors,” would have chilled free expression. “There are no reasonable technological means that enable a speaker on the Internet to ascertain the actual age of persons who access their communications,” the Court held. “Individuals who fear the possibility of a minor receiving speech intended for an adult may refrain from exercising their right to free speech at all – an unacceptable result.” [more…]
Please support the CBLDF’s defense of free speech issues like this by making a donation today!
Last week, CBLDF announced that we are forming a coalition to defend a new case involving an American citizen facing charges in Canada that could result in a minimum sentence of one year in prison and registering as a sex offender.
In 2010, an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-20s was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend. Upon arrival at Canadian Customs, a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and deemed it child pornography. Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison.
Since the announcement, more information about the case emerged in the ensuing media coverage. more
CBLDF needs your help! Please make a monetary contribution here. Find out more on the case here. If you or someone you know is traveling internationally, please read our Advisory on traveling with comics before getting on the plane.
“California’s effort to regulate violent video games is the latest episode in a long series of failed attempts to censor violent entertainment for minors.”
—Justice Antonin Scalia in the majority opinion on Brown v. EMA
CBLDF is delighted to be celebrating the resounding victory in Brown v. EMA that came with yesterday’s 7-2 Supreme Court decision, a victory that dismantles the same pseudoscience that fueled the attacks on comic books in the 1950s.
Brown v. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger v. EMA) pertains to a California law that restricted the sale of violent video games to anyone under age 18, citing that violence is harmful to minors. Previous decisions in the case ruled the law unconstitutional under the First Amendment. California appealed these decisions to the Supreme Court.
CBLDF filed an amicus brief on the case, arguing that the law was unconstitutional and a response akin to the moral panic that fomented around comic books during the 1950s. Justice Scalia’s majority opinion both referenced the CBLDF amicus brief and called to mind past concerns over comic books:
Many in the late 1940s and early 1950s blamed comic books for fostering a “preoccupation with violence and horror” among the young, leading to a rising juvenile crime rate….But efforts to convince Congress to restrict comic books failed.
Please support the CBLDF’s defense of free speech issues like this by making a donation today!
Supreme Court Invalidates California Law Restricting Violent Video Games
By a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court held that a California law restricting the sale or rental of “violent” video games violates the First Amendment. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion for the Court, reasoning that the state legislature could not create new categories of speech that are unprotected by the Constitution, and that the California law failed to survive strict First Amendment scrutiny. The Supreme Court decision applies broadly to all media and not just to video games.
The Court drew upon the history of comic book censorship in reaching its conclusion. Citing the amicus brief filed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, it noted the crusade against comics led by Dr. Frederic Wertham and observed that it was inconsistent with our constitutional traditions. The Court traced the history of censorship that targeted various media directed toward the young and held that restricting depictions of violence could not be justified under established principles of First Amendment law.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund applauds today’s Supreme Court decision to affirm the First Amendment rights of creators, readers and retailers by denying states the ability to create new restrictions on violent content in Brown v. EMA. In a 7-2 decision, the high court struck down a California law that would have banned the sale and rental of violent video games to minors and would have made violence a new category of unprotected speech.
The CBLDF was active in opposing the law and filed its own amicus brief, arguing that the California law was unconstitutional by citing a history of moral panics, most notably the anti-comics fervor that nearly dismantled the comics industry in the 1950s. The arguments presented in CBLDF’s brief were part of the discussion in oral arguments and cited in the Court’s majority decision.
Please support the CBLDF’s defense of free speech issues like this by making a donation today!
UPDATED — The U.S. Supreme Court has just issued its decision in Brown v. EMA, striking down the California law that attempted to ban the sale and display of violent video games to minors in a 7-2 decision.
The majority decision, written by Justice Scalia, affirms that video games are protected by the First Amendment, and that the statute is invalid.
The Court writes:
The most basic principle—that government lacks the power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas,subject matter, or content, Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U. S. 564, 573—is subject to a few limited exceptions for historically unprotected speech, such as obscenity, incitement, and fighting words. But a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test.
The court goes on to call the law’s aims “unprecedented and mistaken.”
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was active in opposing the law, filing its own Amicus Brief arguing that the California law was unconstitutional by citing a history of moral panics, most notably the anti-comics fervor that nearly dismantled the comics industry in the 1950s. The arguments presented in CBLDF’s brief were a significant portion of the discussion in oral arguments, and public discussion of this case.
UPDATE 1: The CBLDF’s arguments were also cited in the majority decision:
Many in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s blamed comic books for fostering a “preoccupation with violence and horror” among the young, leading to a rising juvenile crime rate. See Note, Regulation of Comic Books, 68 Harv. L. Rev. 489, 490 (1955). But efforts to convince Congress to restrict comic books failed. Brief for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund as Amicus Curiae 11–15.5 And, of course, after comic books came television and music lyrics.
The court more explicitly cites the comics industry’s history put forward in the brief with the footnote:
The crusade against comic books was led by a psychiatrist, Frederic Wertham, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that “as long asthe crime comic books industry exists in its present forms there are nosecure homes.” Juvenile Delinquency (Comic Books): Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, 83d Cong., 2dSess., 84 (1954). Wertham’s objections extended even to Supermancomics, which he described as “particularly injurious to the ethical development of children.” Id., at 86. Wertham’s crusade did convince the New York Legislature to pass a ban on the sale of certain comic books to minors, but it was vetoed by Governor Thomas Dewey on the ground that it was unconstitutional given our opinion in Winters, supra. See People v. Bookcase, Inc., 14 N. Y. 2d 409, 412–413, 201 N. E. 2d 14, 15–16 (1964).
CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “We’re extremely pleased that the Court’s decision preserves the First Amendment rights of the users and creators of video games, and that they resisted California’s desire to establish new categories of unprotected speech. We’re also gratified that our discussion of the comics industry’s painful experience with moral panic and legislative meddling helped inform the positive outcome we see this morning.”
More news and analysis on this case will be presented throughout the day.
Please support the CBLDF’s coverage and defense of free speech issues like this by making a donation today!