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US Censorship News

2010: July-Sept

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26th September   

Updated: Operation Dark Heart...

Military operation to prevent the sales of a book
Link Here
Full story: Book Censorship by US Security...Book censorship over military operations

Operation Dark Heart is the new book by former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and retired army reservist Anthony Shaffer

It sounds like an interesting read with the tagline: spycraft and special ops on the frontlines of Afghanistan and the path to victory but now the Pentagon does want to let people get a look at what's inside.

The book was originally cleared by army reviewers, who vetted the manuscript to ensure it didn't reveal national security secrets. It went to press, was sent to reviewers, and was even available for a short time online.

But now the Pentagon is now negotiating with Shaffer's publisher to purchase all 10,000 copies of the first print run with the intention of destroying them. It turns out the book may indeed contain a significant amount of senstive material. Once the DIA looked over the book, and shared it with other intelligence agencies, 200 passages suspected of containing classified information were discovered setting off a scramble by Pentagon officials to stop the book's distribution, according to the Times.

The classified portions of Shaffer's book, according to the Times, include the names of American intelligence officers who served with Colonel Shaffer and his accounts of clandestine operations, including N.S.A. eavesdropping operations.

Fox is reporting that intelligence officials are also trying to deep-six portions of the book concerning a classified data mining program known as Able Danger.

Update: Nameless Censorship

18th September 2010.

A publisher has agreed to remove US intelligence details from a memoir by a former army officer in Afghanistan after the Pentagon raised last-minute objections, officials said.

The book, Operation Dark Heart , had been printed and prepared for release in August but St. Martin's Press will now issue a revised version of the spy memoir after negotiations with the Pentagon, US and company officials said.

In an unusual step, the Defense Department has agreed to reimburse the company for the cost of the first printing, spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told AFP. The original manuscript contained classified information which had not been properly reviewed by the military and US spy agencies, he said.

St. Martin's press will destroy copies from the first printing with Pentagon representatives observing to ensure it's done in accordance with our standards, Lapan said.

The second, revised edition would be ready by the end of next week, said the author's lawyer, Mark Zaid.

Update: Books Burnt

26th September 2010. Based on article from

In a statement to CNN, Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham said defense officials observed the September 20 destruction of about 9,500 copies of Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's new memoir Operation Dark Heart.

Shaffer says he was notified Friday about the Pentagon's purchase: The whole premise smacks of retaliation, Shaffer told CNN on Saturday. Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous.

Shaffer's publisher, St. Martin's Press, released a second printing of the book that it said had incorporated some changes the government had sought while redacting other text he (Shaffer) was told was classified.

From single words and names to entire paragraphs, blacked out lines appear throughout the book's 299 pages.


26th September   

Cover Up!...

US Nintendo censors cover art cleavage
Link Here

  German edition

The Nintendo Wii game Samurai Warriors 3 is being released in the USA very soon, but not in its original form. It has been noticed that Nintendo of America edited out a little bit of cleavage on the game's box art!

 US edition

This is perhaps the most pointless and ludicrous edit I've ever seen. The European box art shows some significant cleavage on one of the characters, while the North American version features ... a little bit less cleavage. You still see cleavage, but just a bit less.

And this achieves ... what, exactly?


23rd September   

Update: Shear Revenge...

Remake of I Spit on Your Grave gets an unrated cinema release in the US
Link Here
Full story: I Spit on Your Grave...Remake enjoys some good publicity

Is unrated cinema becoming the new 3D? A gimmick to get horror fans' asses into theater seats? Anchor Bay is following in Hatchet II 's footsteps by releasing I Spit on Your Grave unrated in select theaters on October 7, 2010.

We are thrilled to be releasing the unrated, uncensored version of the new I Spit On Your Grave , says Bill Clark, President of Anchor Bay Entertainment: Steven R Monroe has brought his own remarkable vision to this cult classic and we are certain that the unrated cut will, like the original, evoke a visceral reaction from audiences worldwide.


22nd September   

Transparency Report...

Google shows counts of government requests to block or takedown data
Link Here

Google has lately found itself on the receiving end of criticism from privacy and transparency advocates. But with two new tools, Google is trying to convince them that the company is on their side.

Google has introduced a new tool called the Transparency Report. It publishes where and when Internet traffic to Google sites is blocked, and the blockages are annotated with details when possible. For instance, the tool shows that YouTube has been blocked in Iran since the disputed presidential election in June 2009.

The Transparency Report will also be the home for Google's government requests tool, a map that shows every time a government has asked Google to take down or hand over information, and what percentage of the time Google has complied. Google introduced it in April and updates it every six months. Government requests could be court orders to remove hateful content or a subpoena to pass along information about a Google user.

The transparency project was the brainchild of engineers during their 20 percent time, the time that Google allots for people to work on their own projects.

Google Explains

See Transparency Report from

Transparency is a core value at Google. As a company we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we maximize transparency around the flow of information related to our tools and services. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual.

We've created an interactive map of Government Requests that shows the number of government inquiries for information about users and requests for Google to take down or censor content. We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.

Our interactive Traffic graphs provide information about traffic to Google services around the world. Each graph shows historic traffic patterns for a given country/region and service. By illustrating outages, this tool visualizes disruptions in the free flow of information, whether it's a government blocking information or a cable being cut. We hope this raw data will help facilitate studies about service outages and disruptions.

UK censorship requests

Interesting to see that the UK is predictably high up the list of state censors. Second to none in terns of data requests and only behind Brazil and Libya in terms of blocking requests

1343 data requests.
48 removal requests, for a total of 232 items 62.5% of removal requests fully or partially complied with.

  • Blogger
    • 1 court orders to remove content
    • 1 items requested to be removed
  • Video
    • 3 court orders to remove content
    • 32 items requested to be removed
  • Groups
    • 1 court orders to remove content
    • 1 items requested to be removed
  • Web Search
    • 8 court orders to remove content
    • 144 items requested to be removed
  • YouTube
    • 6 court orders to remove content
    • 29 non-court order requests to remove content
    • 54 items requested to be removed


21st September   

A Mature Decision...

Oregon law prohibiting sexuality in young people's fiction overturned
Link Here

Booksellers and sex educators have won an appeal against Oregon laws supposedly intended to keep adults from using pornography to groom young people for sex, but in fact cast so widely as to effectively prohibit references to sexuality in young people's fiction.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned major portions of the 2007 laws, saying they could apply to standard sex education literature, books such as The Joy of Sex or books for children or young people by author Judy Blume.

State legislators supposedly tried to craft laws against adults using hardcore pornography to lower the inhibitions of young people, the court said. But, it said, the laws they wrote were too broad, and good intentions cannot trump the language of the statute.

Booksellers and groups such as Planned Parenthood, the Association of American Publishers and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the laws, which a federal judge had upheld.

This is an important victory permitting readers — both younger and older — to obtain what they are constitutionally entitled to read, Michael Powell of Powell's Books said in a statement: It is also a victory for booksellers who do not want to ask 13-year-olds for identification or risk going to jail for selling a Judy Blume book.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit applied to two Oregon laws:

  • It struck down a law against furnishing sexually explicit material to children — those under 13.
  • It struck down part of a law against furnishing images or descriptions of sexual conduct to minors, ie those under 18.

The judgement left intact a part that forbids using such material when the purpose is inducing the minor to engage in sexual conduct.

Spokesman Tony Green of the state attorney general's office said no decision had been made on an appeal.


21st September   

Dangerously Extendable Powers...

US law allows authorities wide powers to close down websites in the name of file sharing
Link Here

A group of senators want to hand the U.S. Department of Justice the power to shut down Web sites dedicated to the illegal sharing online of film, music, software, and other intellectual property.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will give the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on these rogue Web sites regardless of whether the Web site's owner is located inside or outside of the United States, according to a statement from Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and committee member Senator Orin Hatch.

Under the proposed legislation, the Justice Department would file a civil action against accused pirate domain names. If the domain name resides in the U.S., the attorney general could then request that the court issue an order finding that the domain name in question is dedicated to infringing activities. The Justice Department would have the authority to serve the accused site's U.S.-based registrar with an order to shut down the site.

According to a staffer from Leahy's office, if the site resides outside the United States, the bill would authorize the attorney general to serve the court order on other specified third parties, such as Internet service providers, payment processors, and online ad network providers.

The way it sounds, the Justice Department would try to block these sites from being accessed by people in the United States or cut them off from credit card transactions or receiving ad revenue from U.S. companies.


20th September   

Land of the Not So Free...

Journalists heavily restricted in reporting military trials at Guantánamo Bay
Link Here

The Obama administration has made many pledges of transparency and openness, but neither of those fundamental principles were anywhere to be seen when the Pentagon opened its first military trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, under President Obama. What we did see were intolerable limitations on journalists covering the trial — or at least trying to cover it.

Journalists were required always to be in the company of a soldier — even when they went to the bathroom. Military censors routinely deleted photographs from cameras.

Responding to an outcry by news organizations, including The New York Times, the Pentagon has announced a revised set of rules.

Most important, the Pentagon's public affairs division has agreed not to ask reporters to withhold information deemed privileged by the military if the information is already in the public domain. Under the revised policy, reporters will not be deemed in violation of the rules if what they report was legitimately obtained in the course of newsgathering outside Guantánamo.

The Pentagon has eased somewhat the rules for photographers and videographers. There will now be a more formal chain of appeal to challenge decisions by military censors. They will also be allowed to have up to two images a day cropped rather than blocked entirely.


17th September   

Update: Taking an Axe to Tradition...

Hatchet II is the widest release for an unrated film in 25 years
Link Here

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the NC-17 rating, invented by the MPAA to separate certain graphic yet non-pornographic films from the porn connotations of the X rating. But the new classification immediately had its own stigma and many theater chains and video stores wouldn't carry films with the NC-17 mark.

Now AMC Theatres, which has long been one of those against booking films lacking classification, is opening its screens (around 60 locations) to the horror sequel Hatchet II , which makes this the widest opening for an unrated film in 25 years. (probably referring to The Evil Dead which opened unrated in 128 theaters and took home more than $2 million)

It's assumed that following the October 1 release of Hatchet II, the also-unrated horror release I Spit on Your Grave will be booked in similar fashion. Then what? If the first title is successful -- and I think it has a good shot at being the highest-grossing unrated film of all time -- can we expect filmmakers to actually start trying to garner an NC-17 just to then go out unrated? Will films that wouldn't even receive an NC-17 exploit the sudden approval by going unrated anyway?


17th September   


Comic book writer Stan Lee likens video games bans to old comic book bans
Link Here

Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee knows a thing or two about censorship. Back in the 1950s when he first unleashed the likes of Spiderman on the world his work, and that of other comic book writers and artists was considered dangerous .

Comics were burned and a Senate committee decided that afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence.

That is why the now eighty seven year old Lee wrote a letter the Video Game Voters Network encouraging gamers not to give up the fight against the current calls for video game censorship.

In his missive Lee wrote If you restrict sales of video games, you're chipping away at our First Amendment rights to free speech. He went on to urge all gamers to take a stand and defend both the First Amendment and the rights of computer and video game artists.

Lee wrote that he recalls the time when the government was trying to do to comic books what some politicians now want to do with video games: censor them and prohibit their sales. It was a bad idea half a century ago and it's just as bad an idea now. And you can do something about it.


15th September   

Barack Obama Easily Offended...

British teenager banned from the US over angry email to Obama
Link Here

A British teenager has been banned from America for life for sending Barack Obama an abusive email, in which he calls the President a 'prick'.

Luke Angel, 17, insulted Obama while drunk after watching a programme about the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.

Angel was reprimanded by police on both sides of the Atlantic after firing off the message to the White House.

The FBI intercepted the message and contacted police in the UK who went to see Angel at his home. The college student is now on a list of people who are banned from visiting the States.

When asked about the ban, Luke said: I don't really care. My parents aren't very happy about it. The police who came round took my picture and told me I was banned from America forever.

A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: The individual sent an email to the White House full of abusive and threatening language. We were informed by the Metropolitan Police and went to see him. He said, "Oh dear, it was me".

Police will take no criminal action.


15th September   

Updated: Burning Bridges...

Dove World Outreach Center planned to burn copies of the Koran
Link Here
Full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

A small US church says it will defy international condemnation and go ahead with plans to burn copies of the Koran on the 9/11 anniversary.

The top US commander in Afghanistan warned troops' lives would be in danger if the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida went ahead.

Gen David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said on Monday that the action could cause problems not just in Kabul, but everywhere in the world . It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the church's plan was disrespectful and disgraceful .

Muslim countries and Nato have also hit out at the move.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday that any type of activity like that that puts our troops in harm's way would be a concern .

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen blasted the plans, telling reporters that burning Korans violated the Nato alliance's values .

And the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, called the idea idiotic and dangerous .

But organiser, Pastor Terry Jones said: We must send a clear message to the radical element of Islam.

Dr Jones - author of a book entitled Islam is of the Devil - has said he understands the general's concerns but that it was time for America to quit apologizing for our actions and bowing to kings .

News of the bonfire has also sparked protests in Afghanistan and Indonesia. In Kabul on Monday, about 500 protesters chanted long live Islam and death to America as they set fire to an effigy of Jones. Thousands of mostly Muslim demonstrators rallied around Indonesia at the weekend.

The role of Islam in America has become a hot button issue with social and political implications. While most Americans would probably take issue with exhortations to burn the Koran, there is clearly widespread concern about the influence of Islam.

Update: Website Censored

10th September 2010. Based on article from

The website of the church that was planning to burn a Koran on Saturday to commemorate 9/11 was removed from the internet after its hosting service claimed the site violated its terms of service agreement.

The removal of the site comes as President Barack Obama urged the Florida pastor not to burn the Koran on the 9-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities, Obama said.

Rackspace, of San Antonio Texas and the web hosting service in question, pulled the plug on the Dove World Outreach Center's site at midnight over what it said was a terms of service breach. Its terms of service agreement prohibits using Rackpace servers if such usage incites violence, threatens violence, or contains harassing content or hate speech.

Dan Goodgame, a Rackspace spokesman, said that the company reserved the right to stop hosting Jones' hate speech as of Thursday morning. He said Rackspace was protecting its right not to associate and do business with Jones under the company's terms of service contract.

Jones said Rackspace's decision was an indirect attack on our freedom of speech.

Update: Dove of Peace Restored

10th September 2010. Based on article from

The fundamentalist pastor who promised to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks by burning hundreds of copies of the Koran has pulled the plug on his stunt, in the face of blanket condemnation from world leaders and a warning from Interpol that Christians around the world were at risk of violent revenge attacks.

As anger mounted against the obscure Florida church, called the Dove World Outreach Centre, Pastor Terry Jones said he was changing his plan, following a meeting with local Muslim leaders.

Earlier, Barack Obama and the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, had led a chorus of condemnation at the proposed book-burning which only intensified through the day, amid claims that it had already prompted killings in Iraq.

In the news conference announcing his decision, the pastor claimed that he decided to cancel his protest in exchange for a deal to move a planned Islamic centre and mosque away from New York's Ground Zero. The imam planning the centre, however, quickly denied any such deal.

The cancellation came as reports emerged from Baghdad of an apparent revenge attack on Iraq's only operating Anglican church, St George's. According to two eyewitnesses, up to four people were killed after gunmen opened fire on guards outside the church, which lies in a compound just outside the comparative safety of the Green Zone.

Update: Bored of the Westboro Baptists even when they burn a Koran

12th September 2010. Based on article from

The burning of a Quran and an American flag Saturday by members of Westboro Baptist Church drew little visible interest. Instead of the hoards of media representatives that descended on Florida, only a handful of area reporters turned out at noon for Westboro's burning.

I'm glad it didn't get a lot of publicity and it didn't draw a lot of people to the church, said Imam Omar Hazim, of the Islamic Center of Topeka: It seemed people in Topeka ignored what they were doing. Members of Topeka's Islamic community were absent from the event. Hazim said that was by design.

Mayor Bill Bunten, who was at home watching The University of Kansas football game during the burning, said national attention on Westboro Baptist is waning.

The fool in Florida one-upped them, Bunten said, referring to the Rev. Terry Jones, of the Dove Outreach Center church in Gainesville, Florida: They were apparently tagging along on his idea, so the fellow in Florida had stolen the stage, so to speak.

Update: A few pages ripped assunder

12th September 2010. Based on article from

A small Christian group tore a few pages from a Koran in a protest outside the White House on Saturday to denounce what they called the charade of Islam as they marked the anniversary of 9/11.

Part of why we're doing that, please hear me: the charade that Islam is a peaceful religion must end, said Randall Terry, one of the six members in the group.

Another activist, Andrew Beacham, read out a few Koran passages calling for hatred towards Christians and Jews, and then ripped those pages from an English paperback edition of the Islamic holy book.

He carefully put the torn pieces into a plastic bag, in order not to litter, and said: The only reason I will not burn it at the White House is because to burn anything on the Capitol grounds is a felony.

Update: A couple of burned Korans

13th September 2010.  From

A national Islamic group has called for an FBI investigation after a burned Quran, pages allegedly covered in feces, was found Saturday at an East Lansing mosque frequented by the Michigan State University community.

To have the Quran burned at a mosque is equivalent to having a cross burned at a black church, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, referring to an intimidation tactic frequently used during the civil rights movement by those opposed. He has asked the FBI to consider the burning a hate crime.

Meanwhile in Tennessee, the Rev. Bob Old vowed to stick with his plan to burn the Quran. On Saturday, despite the national tempest and opposition from conservative Christian leaders including Middle Tennessee pastors, Old carried out his plan. But for all the controversy and hype, his Quran burning took place in front of just a handful of people, most of them from the media.

Old and the Rev. Danny Allen stood together in Old's backyard, answering what they say was a message from God. The pair soaked two copies of the Quran and one other Islamic text with lighter fluid, ignited them and watched the books disintegrate into ashes. This is a book of hate, not a book of love, Old said, holding the Quran, before setting it afire. It's a false book, it's a false prophet (Muhammad) and it's false Scripture.

Three protesters stood across the street from Old's home, holding signs that read My husband fights terrorism and your actions perpetuate it and Proud of my country but ashamed of my neighbors.

Update: Violence in Afghanistan

13th September 2010.  Based on article from

Two protesters were killed and several more injured as for a third straight day violent demonstrations swept Afghanistan in response to the threats made by a US church to burn copies of the Koran.

Chanting Death to America and Death to Christians , about 500 demonstrators clashed with Afghan security forces in Logar province, south of Kabul, pelting them with stones until the soldiers opened fire, killing two and wounding five others. Few protesters were aware that the Koran burning by the pastor of a small church in Florida had been called off, and some warned of more violence to come.

The [district] governor must give us an assurance that the church is not going to burn the Koran, otherwise we will attack foreign troop bases in our thousands, Mohammad Yahya, one of the protesters, said. For his part, the governor, Mohammad Amin Rahim, said he had tried to convince demonstrators that the burning would not go ahead but the demonstrators were not convinced and attacked us .

Update: Roll Up, Roll Up, for Easy Offence

15th September 2010.  Based on article from

An Australian lawyer has contributed to the US pastor's plan to burn the Koran by allegedly smoking holy books and posting the videos on YouTube.

Brisbane-based lawyer Alex Stewart is seen smoking what appear to be joints made up of pages from the Koran and the Bible filled with (lawn) grass.

He was shown lighting up his religious joints under the YouTube title: Bible or Koran - Which Burns Best?

He gave the Bible a seven out of 10 for its burning qualities, and said it was better than the Koran which left him feeling sick. Stewart says burning religious books is no big deal and that people need to get over it .

But since his video attracted approbation from around the world, Stewart - who appeared in the video wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words I'm an atheist, Thank God - has gone into hiding.

The president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Ikebal Patel, said: I think it's highly offensive that he has done this to two of the holiest books in the world. It does not in any way add value to trying to promote world peace and the consideration of different views, especially when there are heightened tensions around the anniversary of September 11 and the Eid el Fitr (end of Ramadan) celebrations.

Sheik Muhammad Wahid, president of the Islamic Association of Australia, said: We condemn the video and our feelings have been hurt by this man's actions.

Stewart told Queensland's Courier Mail newspaper before he fled from his Brisbane home that the video was a joke and he does not do drugs. He insisted that the green substance he showed in a plastic bag before rolling it up in the torn-out pages was actually grass clippings.

The video has been censored and removed from YouTube.

Update: Another burnt Koran

15th September 2010.  Based on article from

Chicago police are investigating the discovery of a burnt copy of the Quran found outside the Muslim Community Center on the Northwest Side to determine if the book was damaged in a hate crime.

Update: 18 Protestors shot by police

16th September 2010.  Based on article from

The long-troubled state of Kashmir suffered one of its bloodiest days when at least 18 people were killed and more than a hundred injured as security forces opened fire on protesters in confrontations across the valley.

As politicians in Delhi debated whether to ease a bitterly controversial law that provides effective immunity to troops, Indian forces again responded to widespread demonstrations with deadly force. Related articles

The protests, which saw tens of thousands of people ignore a curfew and take to the streets, were at least partly in anger over reports that copies of the Koran had been burnt in the US. A police officer also lost his life.

Update: The Bill

22nd September 2010. Based on article from

The maverick preacher who sparked an international crisis over plans to burn the Koran has been hit with a £100,000 bill to cover the cost of police security for the stunt.

More than 200 police, including members of a SWAT team, were on duty outside the church in Florida where Jones planned his mass burning of the Holy Book.

The huge security operation was put into place even though Jones called off the burning protest that had been condemned by President Obama and the Vatican.

City officials in Gainesville said they planned to send Jones the security bill.

But Jones has said he will not pay the police bill.

Update: Vengeful Pakistan

24th September 2010. Based on article from

A Pentecostal church in Karachi has been attacked and vandalized by militants still angry over a threat to burn Qur'ans in the United States earlier this month.

Nine copies of the Bible, three hymn books and three wooden crosses were found burnt on Sept. 18 at the Nasri Pentecostal Church in Shah Latif Town, Karachi.


11th September   

Age of Censorship...

US release of Destricted has taken 4 years to collect the 2257 age record keeping requirements for explicit films
Link Here

A film by Matthew Barney, Marina Abramovic, Richard Prince and other artists that's playing at the Los Angeles Downtown Film Festival is so graphic that it took four years to get U.S. distribution.

This week's Los Angeles Downtown Film Festival, which will bring together sex and art by some of the world's most innovative and provocative artists and directors, is shadowed by controversy with the screening of the much-talked-about art/sex film, Destricted .

Destricted , an art-based film in which multiple directors—among them Larry Clark (Kids), artists Matthew Barney and Marina Abramovic, and photographer Sam Taylor-Woods—explore modernistic views of sex, sexuality, and pornography in modern film.

Formed in 2004 as a brand (instead of strictly as a film) and originally released in September 2006 in the U.K., Destricted won awards at a range of international film festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Locarno. Despite Destricted's successful debuts, the film would have to wait four years for its U.S. release.

All this time, Destricted has been tied up in American laws governing pornography, which dictate that anyone who appears in a sexually explicit film must be legally documented as over 18. Because some shorts were filmed overseas, under disparate conditions, and perhaps without the artists' foreseeing the necessity of such documentation, some didn't have proper papers, thus they could not be released for profit (which is why admission to the festival screening is free). Just this year, Destricted amassed the necessary documents to clear eight shorts for commercial distribution in the U.S., which will happen in November, via DVD and a small theatrical release.

Destricted 's roster of shorts varies from the international release, to the U.S. release, to what is screened at the festival: the U.S. version features eight short reels, all of which are explicit in nature; six short films, including some not on the U.S. release, will be screened at the Downtown Film Fest; and seven shorts, a mix-up of the previous lists, appear on the U.K. version.

While porn is now a mainstream commodity, its shock value challenged by saturation and corporate marketing, and, some might say, the loosening of American mores, the films comprising Destricted aim to explore and underscore a still-vibrant polemic: to highlight controversial issues about the representation of sexuality in art, opening up for debate the question of whether art can be disguised as pornography or whether pornography can be disguised as art, according to the film's creators.


11th September   

Update: Room Cleaners...

Minnesota county bans employees from staying in hotels with in-room porn
Link Here

A county in Minnesota is taking a stance about pornography. In most situations, Winona County will no longer reimburse workers for staying at hotels that offer pay-per view pornography.

Winona County is now the first in the USA to pass a clean hotel policy. The decision makes employees stay in porn-free hotels if they want reimbursement.

Chuck Derry with the Gender Violence Institute claims: Contemporary pornography 90% of it is degrading and violent towards women and girls. For the board members, it was an ethical decision. Derry says, The public is not going to pay for employees that stay in establishments that support this kind of material.

Policy initiators hope this action will cause a ripple effect throughout the US.


9th September   

Update: Trade War in Internet Filters...

Google boss likens internet filtering to a trade barrier
Link Here
Full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Google's legal chief has called for pressure on governments that censor the Internet, such as China and Turkey, arguing that their blocking access to websites unfairly restrains U.S. businesses and would be unacceptable in physical trade.

David Drummond said: If this (Internet censorship) were happening with physical trade and manufacturing goods, we'd all be saying this violates trade agreements pretty fundamentally.

In our view at Google it's high time for us to start really sinking our teeth into this one, said Drummond. We have great opportunities now with pending trade agreements to start putting some pressure on countries to recognize that Internet freedom not only is a core value -- that we should be holding them to account from a human rights standpoint -- but also that if you want to be part of the community of free trade, you are going to have to find a way to allow the Internet to be open.


4th September   

Fair's Fair...

Ohio law proposes criminalising webmasters so that ex-criminals can have their convictions hidden
Link Here

Six Ohio state senators have introduced a bill that would compel individuals media organizations to erase stories from the Internet about former convicts whose case records are sealed by the courts.

The bill in question, Senate Bill 291, would also penalize organizations to the tune of $250,000 - with a maximum fine of up to $1 million - for failing to delete the information and then knowingly publishing it on their websites.

Under current Ohio law, first-time non-violent offenders are able to get the courts to expunge their records. The bill being pushed by the senators would also extend that privilege to people convicted of multiple offenses. In order to be eligible to seek court approval, a convict would need to maintain a clean record and the crime in question would need to be more than five years old.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the bill would require individuals and private businesses to erase the historical record by destroying records they hold about the convictions of those whose cases are sealed. The relevant provision in the proposal reads: Whoever violates division (C)(2) of this section by knowingly releasing or otherwise disseminating or making available information over the internet is guilty of releasing sealed records and shall be fined one million dollars.

But critics have attacked the bill as posing a threat to freedom of speech. The Wheeling News-Register, wrote in an editorial that the bill simply was unworkable. Here at the newspaper, for example, we have computerized records of criminal reports dating back more than five years. It would be very difficult to find and erase them all. Smith's bill clearly is unconstitutional. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, even when those guilty of old crimes would prefer their offenses be forgotten.


3rd September   

F**K You, Forget You...

Creating a buzz in the music world
Link Here

Cee Lo's profanity-laced single, with a catchy Motown backing track and the blunt title F**k You , has become a phenomenon since its online release, driven in large part by YouTube views of the song's inventive video.

Zano Ludgood, a record shop manager at Criminal Records in Atlanta, Cee Lo's hometown, says viral videos act as advertisements for when the actual product goes on sale.

People are excited now about Cee Lo, and if they like a song, even if they download it, they'll still come out and buy the complete album, Ludgood says. People talk about record stores dying, but social media works with us, it's a great way to build buzz.

The buzz on Cee Lo has been deafening, even if his new song has a title unfit for a family newspaper. Soon after a celebrity release on MySpace, it had become a smash in the clubs.

When the DJ dropped it, I was like, 'Cee Lo's got another one!' says Mizz Shyneka, an on-air personality at Atlanta's HOT 107.9FM. Everybody was dancing, and the people that hadn't heard the record were all trying to listen. I wish they could hear it on the radio, but given the title, I don't think there's any way around that.

MTV has reported the track will be re-released as Forget You , The idea of leaking an explicit track and then re-releasing it for the radio isn't new. In 2006 Snoop Dogg made a song called I Wanna Love You that originally had a different chorus, with the word love dropped in favour of a more explicit verb. The song went No. 1 on Billboard's singles chart.


2nd September   

Update: Harmful to Alaskans...

Lawsuit challenges Alaskan law that will ban adult material from the internet
Link Here
Full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

An Alaskan law that goes into effect on July 1, and deals with the electronic distribution of indecent material to minors, has come under fire by free speech advocates.

Section 11.61.128 of the Alaska Statutes, signed into law by Governor Sean Parnell in May, calls for parties to be criminally liable for media transmissions (or hosting) of material that is considered harmful to minors. Additionally, violators can face up to two years in prison, could be forced to forfeit their business and would have to register as sex offenders.

Those in opposition label the law as broad censorship, and claim that it bans from the Internet anything that may be 'harmful to minors,' including material adults have a First Amendment right to view.

Hostility to the law has resulted in a lawsuit attempting to block it, brought forth by groups like the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, the Freedom To Read Foundation and the Association of American Publishers.

Citing the First and Fourteenth Amendments, in addition to the Constitution's Commerce Clause, the lawsuit seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional.


1st September

 Offsite: Dirt Doesn't Stick...

Link Here
Full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad
US based TechDirt feel protected from British libel claim by newly enacted SPEECH act

See article from


31st August   

America Gets Sexualised...

American Academy of Pediatrics have a whinge at TV
Link Here

An American Academy of Pediatrics' policy statement has claimed that kids are 'bombarded' with 'inappropriate' sexual messages and images. The AAP committee said: everything from graphic sexual lyrics in songs to ubiquitous erectile dysfunction drug advertisements air all hours of the day and night.

Television, film, music, and the Internet are all becoming increasingly sexually explicit, yet information on abstinence, sexual responsibility, and birth control remains rare, they write.

Among the points the panel makes:

  • Only three reality dating shows were on the air in 1997 compared with more than 30 today, including Temptation Island, which bring participants together for the sole purpose of seeing who 'hooks up,' the authors said.
  • In a national survey of 1,500 10- to 17-year-olds, nearly half of the Internet users had been exposed to online pornography in the previous year.
  • A national survey of 1,300 teenagers and young adults found nearly 20% had sent or posted nude pictures of videos of themselves.
  • Advertisements featuring women are as likely to show them in suggestive or revealing clothing or nude as fully clothed.

Kids get a lot of their knowledge about sex through the media, the authors write. Perhaps we should take a good look at what we're telling them.


27th August   

Update: God Damn Censors...

FCC appeals court decision to prevent them censoring fleeting expletives
Link Here

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is appealing a federal court ruling that its indecency policy is unconstitutional, arguing the decision makes it all but impossible for the agency to enforce restrictions on broadcasting nudity or profanity.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York struck down the FCC's indecency policy last month, calling it a violation of the First Amendment. The court said the rule forces broadcasters to self-censor in order to avoid fines for accidentally broadcasting nudity or profanity.

The FCC filed a petition asking the court to reconsider the decision. The three-judge panel's decision in July raised serious concerns about the Commission's ability to protect children and families from indecent broadcast programming, FCC general counsel Austin Schlick said. The Commission remains committed to empowering parents and protecting children, and looks forward to the court of appeals' further consideration of our arguments.

The matter is expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court, which upheld the FCC's policy last year on procedural grounds but did not address the constitutional arguments.

The case stems from live broadcasts of the Billboard Music Awards in 2002 and 2003, during which musician Cher and reality television performer Nicole Ritchie used unscripted expletives.

The FCC changed its indecency policy in 2004 following a similar incident at the Golden Globes involving U2 lead singer Bono. The agency began to levy record fines against broadcasters for fleeting expletives uttered on live television.

The Commission ruled in 2006 that, under its new policy, both Billboard broadcasts were indecent. Fox, which broadcast the awards shows, responded by appealing that decision. In its appeal Fox was joined by other broadcasters who opposed the FCC's stricter enforcement policies.

The court of appeals initially ruled in favor of the broadcasters, claiming the FCC had failed to properly articulate a reason for the rule changes, but their decision was reversed by the Supreme Court. The court of appeals then ruled in favor of Fox on constitutional grounds, setting the stage for the FCC's latest appeal.


27th August   

Update: Constitutional Challenge...

Wikileaks may cause US to reassess balance between free speech and security
Link Here
Full story: Wikileaks...Wikileaks whistle blowing and state secrets

US supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor has said the court is likely to have to rule on the issue of balancing national security and freedom of speech due to WikiLeaks posting a cache of US military records about the Afghan war.

Sotomayor said the incident, which has been condemned by the Pentagon, was likely to provoke legislation in Congress that would require judicial scrutiny.

Her comments came in response to a question about security and free speech by a student at Denver university. The judge said she could not answer because that question is very likely to come before me . She said the incident, and others, are going to provoke legislation that's already being discussed in Congress, and so some of it is going to come up before [the supreme court] .

Sotomayor said the balance between national security and free speech is a constant struggle in this society, between our security needs and our first amendment rights, and one that has existed throughout our history.


27th August   

Just Say Now...

Face book bans marijuana leaf from political campaign advert
Link Here

An ad, which depicted a marijuana leaf, began running on Aug. 7. Just over a week later, Facebook pulled it, saying the image violated its policy against promoting smoking.

Organizers at Just Say Now, a bipartisan coalition fighting to legalize and regulate marijuana just like alcohol, said they spent roughly $5,000 on the ads, which received about 38 million views in the week they ran.

Michael Whitney, the group's online campaign director, said Facebook's move is akin to striking a candidate's face from his posters while he's running for office. Marijuana legalization is on the ballot this November in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and South Dakota.

We are talking about free political speech, Whitney said. We aren't encouraging people to do anything illegal.

Facebook said they have no problem with Just Say Now advertising on its pages as long as it uses a different image, Andrew Noyes, the manager of Facebook's public policy communications, said in an e-mail to The New York Times.

The image of a marijuana leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies, he said, adding that Facebook does not permit images of drugs, drug paraphernalia or tobacco in any advertisements.

Just Say Now began its campaign earlier this month, arguing that legalizing marijuana would reduce crime at the border and could yield an additional $40 billion in revenue annually.

Update: Leaf claim just a fig leaf

26th September 2010. See  article from

After the social network banned our ads last month for showing a marijuana leaf, we decided to play by their rules and not show leafs in our ads. So we submitted ads to Facebook for our Just Say now store, but blurred out the pot leafs so you couldn't see the obviously offensive plant leaf.

Not good enough, said Facebook. Even though we complied with Facebook's censorship of pot leafs, all of our ads were rejected. And the rejection came with some blatantly false statements, and a harsh warning.

The content advertised by this ad is restricted per section 5 of Facebook's Advertising Guidelines. We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads of this type. Ads for this product, service or site should not be resubmitted.

Facebook is making yet another political decision to ban Just Say Now from advertising our campaign for marijuana legalization on the social networking site.


24th August   

Update: R Words...

Jennifer Anniston movie bombs over R word gaff or was it the Rubbish Reviews?
Link Here
Full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

Earlier this week Jennifer Aniston came under fire for comments during an appearance on Regis and Kelly. While a guest on the morning show, Aniston made the comment comparing herself to a retard, saying, Yeah, I got to play dress up . I do it for a living, like a retard.

The fallout from the incident was immediate with disability groups calling her choice of words inappropriate and offensive.

In a statement released to TV Guide, a representative for the Special Olympics commented, The Special Olympics is always disappointed when the R-word is used, especially by someone who is influential to society. The pervasive use of the R-word, even in an off the cuff self-deprecating manner, dehumanizes people with intellectual disabilities and perpetuates painful stereotypes that are a great source of suffering and negative stigma.

The bad press did nothing to help Aniston's new film, The Switch which she was on the show to promote in the first place.

The Switch a romantic comedy starting Aniston and Jason Bateman bombed at the box office this weekend, grossing just $8.1 million. So did Aniston's talk show gaffe tank the film? The low box office is definitely due in part to some tepid reviews and stiff weekend competition. However, one can't help but question whether her comment had an effect as well.


13th August   

The Conspiracy Continues...

Acclaimed documentary given restrictive MPAA rating for strong language
Link Here

After the MPAA handed an R rating for language to an acclaimed documentary about NFL-player-turned-Army-Ranger Pat Tillman, the makers of the movie have lost an appeal to have the rating changed to PG-13.

The filmmakers tried to argue that The Tillman Story – which delves into the official military cover-up of Tillman's death in Afghanistan by friendly fire and the way in which he was exploited as a potent patriotic symbol — is exactly the kind of historically significant film that should be exposed to as many young people as possible, not hidden from them due to squeamishness over some bad words.

Offsite: I'm Pat Fucking Tillman

5th September 2010. See  article from

According to the MPPA's ratings and classification board. Habitually easy on violence but far more nervous regarding language and skin, the MPAA ratings board issued director Amir Bar-Lev's film an R rating for its 16 instances of the f-word.

Bar-Lev said in a separate conversation Wednesday: If we had sat down and written the film, which of course we didn't since it's a documentary, and used that language to titillate or amuse people — that'd be one context. But we're talking about real-life situations when people are being shot at, or consumed with grief, or a couple of key moments where we show you how Pat Tillman's family sometimes talks.

The veracity of the language is pertinent, Bar-Lev said, given Tillman's likely last words, as he was being fired on, mistakenly, by three of his fellow American soldiers: I'm Pat f---ing Tillman!

...Read the full article


12th August   

Update: Special Relationship...

Barack Obama signs law snubbing UK libel judgments
Link Here
Full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

President Barack Obama has signed the SPEECH Act into US law, a move designed to protect US writers and reporters from England's controversial defamation laws.

The Act, tabled by Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, makes libel judgments against American writers in foreign territories unenforceable if they are perceived to counter the First Amendment right to free speech.

The Libel Reform Campaign has expressed concern that our reputation is being damaged internationally due to our restrictive, archaic and costly libel laws which cost 140 times the European equivalent.

The coalition government has said it will table a draft Bill to reform our libel laws in January 2011 after the campaign led by English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science. The campaign has 52,000 signatories to its petition and all three main political parties committed in their general election manifestos to libel reform.

Jo Glanville, Editor of Index on Censorship said:

The US's response to our libel laws has already played a key role in advancing the campaign for reform in the UK. I'm hopeful that the government's draft bill will address the issue of libel tourism, which has a clear chilling effect on freedom of speech, and make it harder for claimants from outside the EU to bully publishers, NGOs, bloggers and investigative journalists into silence.

Síle Lane, Public Liaison of Sense About Science said:

As other countries move to protect their citizens from the chilling effect of our libel laws we urge bloggers, science writers, NGOs and small publications facing threats and bankruptcy to keep up the pressure on the Government to ensure that the proposed draft libel bill brings the meaningful change that is so urgently needed.


8th August   

Update: Plugging Leaks...

US press secretary asks Wikileaks to return the disclosed Afghanistan war reports
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

The website WikiLeaks recently publicly disclosed more than 70,000 classified US field reports from the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon says it wants them back.

Press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters the Pentagon was formally demanding – through the news media – that WikiLeaks return the reports, as well as 15,000 additional records the website says it might release soon: We are asking them to do the right thing and not further exacerbate the damage done to date . If doing the right thing is not good enough for them, we'll figure out what other alternatives we have.

He declined to elaborate on whether the defence department was contemplating legal action but said the FBI and the justice department were investigating how the documents were leaked.

Morrell acknowledged that the genie is out of the bottle in regard to the more than 70,000 reports that are not only posted on the WikiLeaks site, but have since been copied and downloaded by people all over the world. He said the Pentagon was primarily interested in blocking the release of the 15,000 other documents.


7th August   

Fairly Free...

California considers political censorship of the internet at election times
Link Here

Political tweets and Facebook status updates should be held to the same standards as paid advertising that voters see on television, radio or in Californian's mailboxes, says California's campaign watchdog agency, The Fair Political Practices Commission, in a report. The Fair Political Practices Commission is considering how to regulate new forms of political activity on Facebook or in a text message.

It's become necessary as politicians in California and elsewhere announce their candidacies and major campaign policies through Twitter, YouTube and a host of social networking sites, said FPPC Chairman Dan Schnur. He also added that California's 36-year-old Political Reform Act needs a modern-day re-write to keep up with the times.

The report reportedly outlines possible hurdles to regulating such online content, like how one would include full disclosure of what group or individual is behind a political message. The changes the commission makes to state law would have to give regulators the flexibility to respond to swiftly evolving technologies, the report says.

The report does draw the line when it comes to the right of regular citizens to tweet or use Facebook to talk about politics or politicians:

People tweeting about someone is typically not something you would regulate, said Barbara O'Connor, professor emeritus of communications and the former director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento. When it becomes an ad, it's a different story. When it becomes an ad it really is a replacement for a 30-second spot for a new generation.


6th August   

Updated: A Debate Unfinished...

MPAA impose restrictive R rating on holocaust documentary
Link Here

A new documentary from Yael Hersonski called A Film Unfinished takes propaganda footage from the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII and reveals the cinematic deception of the frames.

Hersonski outlines how many of the scenes of real life were crafted by the filmmakers to try and show a hideous disconnect between the Ghetto's rich Jews and poor Jews -- scenes of passerby walking over corpses are juxtaposed with lavish dinners (entirely crafted by the Nazis) and entertainment (where people were beaten if they didn't look like they were having enough fun).

It is a harrowing account, for sure, but also a worthy one. However, the documentary has now hit a snag, getting an R rating from the MPAA, which has inspired the Beastie Boys' (and Oscilloscope founder) Adam Yauch to speak out.

In a press release, Oscilloscope Laboratories has announced that they will appeal the R rating, given to the film for disturbing images of holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity. By banning people under the age of 17 from viewing the film without their parent/guardian, the rating will keep the documentary out of classrooms and educational venues.

Adam Yauch says: This is too important of a historical document to ban from classrooms. While there's no doubt that Holocaust atrocities are displayed, if teachers feel their students are ready to understand what happened, it's essential that young people are given the opportunity to see this film. Why deny them the chance to learn about this critical part of our human history? I understand that the MPAA wants to protect children's eyes from things that are too overwhelming, but they've really gone too far this time. It's bullshit.

The graphic nudity consists of shots of the piles of dead, naked Jewish residents waiting for mass burial. There is another scene where Jewish men and women were forced (at gun point) to strip and bathe together.

It's incredibly hard to watch. But it's also incredibly important to watch. Though, as A Film Unfinished points out, it can dangerous, film and photographs are essential to understanding and comprehending the atrocities and impact of tragedies like the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, and every other bit of violence that has, does, and will happen in the world. Words, in this case, simply aren't enough.

Update: R rating stands after appeal

6th August 2010. Based on article from

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's appeal of the MPAA's decision to give an R rating to the Holocaust documentary A Film Unfinished has failed. The rating was upheld by the ratings board by a 12-3 vote.

Yauch expressed his frustration with the decision earlier in the week, arguing the nudity in the film - which compiles footage of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 shot for a German propaganda movie - should have been viewed through a historical and educational lens.: In a world where young people are bombarded with meaningless entertainment, it's unfortunate that a film with real educational and historic value would be denied to them by an organization that is supposed to be working to help them. I still have hope that the MPAA will reconsider at some point in the future, so young people will be able to learn from this film.


6th August   

Police Bullies...

FBI demands that Wikipedia takes down an image of the FBI seal
Link Here

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has threatened Wikipedia with legal action if the online encyclopedia doesn't remove the FBI's seal from its site. The seal is featured in an encyclopedia entry about the FBI.

Wikipedia isn't backing down, however. The online encyclopedia sent a chiding letter to the FBI, explaining why, in its view, the FBI is off its legal rocker.

In short, then, we are compelled as a matter of law and principle to deny your demand for removal of the FBI Seal from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, the Wikimedia Foundation's general counsel, Mike Godwin, wrote in a letter to the FBI, which was posted online by the New York Times: We are in contact with outside counsel in this matter, and we are prepared to argue our view in court.

In a letter dated July 22, and also posted online by the Times, the FBI told Wikipedia it must remove the bureau's seal because the FBI had not approved use of the image: The FBI has not authorized use of the FBI seal on Wikipedia . The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting copying and reprinting of the seal's image.

The FBI's deputy general counsel, David Larson, cities a particular law that says duplicating an official insignia is illegal without permission.

But Wikipedia strikes back on that point, saying the FBI redacted the most important part of that U.S. code, which defines an insignia as any badge, identification card, or other insignia. Badges and identification cards are physical manifestations that may be used by a possessor to invoke the authority of the federal government. An encyclopedia article is not . The use of the image on Wikipedia is not for the purpose of deception or falsely to represent anyone as an agent of the federal government.

The magazine Vanity Fair posted the FBI's seal on its website in a symbol of jest. And, as the blog Geekosystem says, an editor on the site aggregator Reddit jokes that maybe the FBI got Wikipedia confused with WikiLeaks — the site that's been causing a stir lately over leaked war documents.


5th August   

Update: Prude Attack...

Gaea the beaver daubed in black paint
Link Here

Gaea, the controversial beaver sculpture, has been vandalized, but quickly cleaned up and returned to normal.

The Bemidji Police Department received an anonymous phone call saying that the sculpture had been defaced with black spray paint.

The spray paint covered what artist Deborah A. Davis has said are the hands of a praying woman.

While Davis has said the front of the sculpture shows Mother Earth praying and the circles are roses coming forth from her hands, others have viewed the sculpture differently, seeing, instead, a portion of the female anatomy.

Police arrived on the site after 11 p.m. Tuesday and found the paint to be tacky the touch, according to a police report.

Davis, in an e-mail sent at 12:35 a.m., said she and Jeremy Anway, a Bemidji artist, repaired the sculpture.


3rd August

 Offsite: Prurient Interest...

Link Here
Full story: Buttman John Stagliano...John Stagliano prosecuted for obscenity
America Wins As Government Loses Obscenity Trial

See article from


29th July   

Updated: Special Relationship...

US legislation to snub UK libel judgments passed by Senate
Link Here
Full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

The US senate has passed legislation to protect US journalists, writers and publishers from libel tourists — litigants who sue Americans in foreign jurisdictions which place a lower emphasis on free speech

The legislation was specifically designed to negate the threat of English laws, amid claims that the UK has became an international libel tribunal. One case in particular incensed US politicians, that of New York based academic Rachel Ehrenfeld who was sued in London despite only 23 copies of her book, on the financing of terrorism, being sold in the UK.

The bill, co-sponsored by Democrat Patrick Leahy and Republican Jeff Sessions has broad cross-party support. If passed, the proposal will prevent US courts from recognising foreign libel rulings that are inconsistent with the First Amendment.

The Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Bill will now go before the House of Representatives.

Update: Passed by the House of Representatives

29th July 2010. From

The United States House of Representatives passed a Bill aimed at shielding US journalists, authors and publishers from libel tourists who file suit in countries where they expect to get the most favourable ruling.

Lawmakers approved the measure, which now goes to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The bill had such widespread support from Democrats and Republicans that it was passed on a voice vote in Congress.

Based on article from

The legislation will prevent US federal courts from recognising or enforcing a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the first amendment and will bar foreign parties from targeting the American assets of an American author, journalist, or publisher as part of any damages.

Campaigners for more liberal libel law in Britain said they hoped the new law would influence the Government as it prepares a draft reform bill for publication in January.

Padraig Reidy, a spokesman for the Index on Censorship, said: It's a vindication of our argument that English libel laws in their current state do not encourage or protect free expression. The fact that Britain's best ally feels the need to protect itself from the English libel courts demonstrates the need for reform.

Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Congressman who drafted the bill, said it was vital that Americans' rights are never undermined by foreign judgments.


25th July   

Hatchet Job...

Supporting the hype for an uncut unrated cinema release for Hatchet II
Link Here sources attending the San Diego Comic-Con have a report about the upcoming Adam Green release of Hatchet II .

Dark Sky Films are stating that they plan to have the film released in theaters entirely in its UNRATED format. Green told the audience at the convention that the MPAA has (yet again) asked that entire scenes be removed from the movie because they are too violent!

It seems however that won't be a factor anymore since an unnamed theater chain has been confirmed to allow the entire version to run in theaters this coming October.

Update: AMC

27th August 2010. From

AMC Theaters will be showing the unrated cut of the film as part of its AMC Independent program. This means the uncut version of Hatchet II will be shown theatrically in the top 20 markets in the United States.


25th July   

Empire of the Censors...

Adult DVD Empire on obscenity charges
Link Here
Full story: Obscenity Trials in USA...Porn on trial

Adult DVD Empire will plead guilty to an obscenity charge filed against the company by federal prosecutors.

Attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ that this appears to be a pre-arranged, pre-packaged deal where all the parties involved came to an agreement in advance.

Walters says the deal was structured in a way where the corporation was charged, not an individual, so no one will be doing time in jail.

As part of the deal, Adult DVD Empire will be on a three-year probation and pay a $75,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors filed the charges July 22 charging that the company, which operates, mailed four DVDs containing obscene material to an Erie post office box in May 2007.

Walters says the charges seems to have been initiated by Mary Beth Buchanan, the former U.S. District Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, who was active in obscenity prosecutions

The four DVDs are identified as A Bounty of Pain, Shattering Krystal both from Dan Hawke Productions, Extreme Tit Torture 18 from Galaxy Productions and Pussy Torture 8 also from Galaxy and directed by Rick Savage.


24th July   

Publicity Trap...

Starting the hype for Saw 3D
Link Here

Saw 3D , the upcoming 7th movie in the Saw franchise, will be the last one according to producers who say, It's time to stop. We have told the story we wanted to tell, and this is going to be a great farewell.

The 3D movie will have 11 booby traps, almost double compared to the previous films, and it was submitted 6 times to the MPAA before bringing it down from an NC-17 to an R rating!

Producer Mark Burg reveals: I'm surprised we got it. It's more violent than any of them. But it's in 3-D, it answers all the questions, it comes full circle. We have the good on this one.

As for critics of the franchise, star Tobin Bell says: It's a free country. If people don't want to look at certain things, they shouldn't go. The people who don't go to films were more upset than the horror fans. You can say what you want about it, but Saw fans have loved and supported it every year. We must have been doing something right.


24th July   

Animal Cruelty Law Slimmed Down...

Crushing victory in House of Representatives vote
Link Here

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that, if enacted, will prohibit the sale of crush videos and other filmed acts of animal cruelty including burning, suffocating, drowning and impaling live animals. The bill, sponsored by Representative Elton Gallegly, passed by a margin of 416 to 3. It now goes to the Senate, which is expected to pass it.

In April, the Supreme Court overturned a Virginia man's conviction for selling videos that depicted dogfighting on free-speech grounds. Chief Justice John Roberts said the existing law that criminalized the sale of such videos was too broad and could be used to prosecute sellers of hunting videos.

Gallegly responded by crafting a narrowly written law designed specifically to prohibit the sale or distribution of obscene visual depictions of animal cruelty. He became involved in the issue in 1999, when a local district attorney had difficulty prosecuting a Thousand Oaks man for selling a video depicting animal cruelty over the Internet.


20th July   

Updated: Obligatory Blogetery Block...

73,000 blogs taken down by US authorities
Link Here, a little-known WordPress platform used by more than 70,000 blogs, was shut down by its Web hosting company more than a week ago and nobody seems willing to say why or who is responsible.

BurstNet, the Web-hosting company, informed Blogetery's operator that service was terminated at the request of some law enforcement agency but wouldn't say which one. As for the reason, BurstNet hasn't made that clear either. In an e-mail to Blogetery's operator, BurstNet managers did say that they had little choice but to terminate service.

Please note that this was not a typical case in which suspension and notification would be the norm, BurstNet wrote to Blogetery's operator. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.

Initially commentators suspected that perhaps file sharing issues were behind the take down but this was denied.  In an interview, a BurstNet spokesman declined to identify the law enforcement agency that ordered Blogetery shut down or provide the reason but did say that it had nothing to do with copyright violations.

BurstNet hinted at something more serious in a forum article from .

In repose to a refund request and a dump of Blogetery data, BurstNet wrote: [This] should be the least of his concerns. Simply put: We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot.

Update: Inspire

20th July 2010. Based on article from

More details are surfacing about why, a blogging platform that claimed to service more than 70,000 blogs, was mysteriously booted from the Internet by its Web-hosting company.

The site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of, Blogetery's Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery's servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said that the material allegedly found on Blogetery's server is connected to an online magazine called Inspire , which debuted recently. Numerous news outlets reported over the past weekend that Inspire is designed to help recruit new members to al-Qaeda. According to Fox News, the title of one article was Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.

Citing intelligence sources, Fox reported that Khan is Web savvy and his magazine represents al-Qaeda's most ambitious terrorist recruitment tool to date.


18th July   

Updated: Dangerous Communication...

All Massachusetts electronic communication must be suitable for young children
Link Here
Full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

A seemingly small but very significant adjustment to Massachusetts' longstanding law against providing matter harmful to minors to anyone under the age of 18 has been challenged in federal court by a group of plaintiffs that includes the state chapter of the ACLU, the Association of American Booksellers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, sex therapist Marty Klein and others.

The law, which went into effect Monday, changes the definition of matter, which used to include only handwritten or printed material, visual representation, live performance or sound recording including but not limited to, books, magazines, motion picture films, pamphlets, phonographic records, pictures, photographs, figures, statues, plays, dances.

The definition now includes any electronic communication including, but not limited to, electronic mail, instant messages, text messages, and any other communication created by means of use of the Internet or wireless network, whether by computer, telephone, or any other device or by any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system.

In other words, a law that once targeted the physical dissemination of harmful matter to minors has been extended to include virtually all of cyberspace, including communication done using email or instant messaging programs. According to the complaint, its breadth is nothing less than staggering.

Because Internet speakers have no means to restrict minors in Massachusetts from accessing their communications, says the complaint, the Act effectively requires almost all discourse on the Internet—whether among citizens of Massachusetts or among users anywhere in the world—to be at a level suitable for young children. The Act therefore bans an entire category of constitutionally protected speech between and among adults on the Internet.

Update: Challenged

18th July 2010. Based on article from

A coalition of booksellers and Internet content providers on July 13 filed a federal lawsuit challenging an expansion of Massachusetts' obscenity law to include electronic communications that may be harmful to minors.

The Supreme Judicial Court, ruling in a case in February, found that the state's obscenity law didn't apply to instant messages. The new law, passed quickly by the state Legislature after the ruling, added instant messages, text messages, e-mail and other electronic communications to the old law.

The changes amount to a broad censorship law that imposes severe content-based restrictions on the dissemination of constitutionally protected speech, the lawsuit argues. The plaintiffs include the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and other groups. They argue that the expanded law effectively bans from the Internet anything that may be considered harmful to minors, including material adults have a First Amendment right to view, including information about contraception, pregnancy, sexual health, literature and art.

For most communications over the Internet, it is not possible for a person sending or posting the communication to ensure that the communication will not be read or seen by a minor, the lawsuit states.


17th July   

Update: Prosecution Get their Butt Kicked...

John Stagliano cleared at obscenity trial
Link Here
Full story: Buttman John Stagliano...John Stagliano prosecuted for obscenity

The judge has ruled the John Stagliano case is over.

US District Judge Richard Leon, ruling that the government didn't meet the burden of evidence on any of the eight charges, admonished prosecutors over their efforts.

I trust that the government will learn a lesson when going forward, Leon said in his ruling. The myriad of novel legal issues that have bubbled up in this case will continue to pop up around the country.

Leon found that the government had not shown any evidence that either of the two corporate entities effectively had any direct ties to the charges, or that the defendant himself had any direct links to the videos he was charged with.

While there was circumstantial evidence, Leon ruled that it was insufficient for a jury to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The courtroom erupted into applause after the judge read his ruling and dismissed the jury.

Outside the courtroom Stagliano, perhaps joking, said he was disappointed. [The government] didn't put up much of a fight. They were sloppy and not passionate and doing the prosecution for the wrong reasons, Stagliano told XBIZ.

A Stagliano attorney, Louis Sirkin, told XBIZ that it proves if you've got the guts to fight, wonderful things can happen. He compared Stagliano to Lenny Bruce and others who protect the 1st Amendment.


14th July   

Update: TV Censors Damned...

Court finds TV rules banning fleeting expletives to have a chilling effect
Link Here

A New York court has struck down the TV censor's  rules banning fleeting expletives on TV.

According to the Associated Press, the court has overturned a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy, saying that the agency's guidelines for fleeting expletives and other indecencies in broadcast violate the First Amendment.

The policy went into effect in 2004, at a time when indecency in broadcast was a hot issue, right after Janet Jackson's notorious wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.

Now, the three-judge panel in New York has decided to overturn the policy because they believe the FCC's policy is unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.

The appeals court added that the chilling effect would lead to mass censorship of potentially valuable material, because broadcasters have no way of knowing what the FCC will find offensive.


10th July   

Charity with Morality Strings Attached...

US government restrict worthy funds to only those recipients with porn filtering in place
Link Here

The US House of Representative passed a supplemental appropriations bill (HR 4899). It contains an easy-to-miss provision that some legislators have been trying to get passed into law for several months that would prohibit funds to any recipient that doesn't block porn on its computer network.

According to an OpenCongress summary of the legislation, which passed by a vote of 239-182, This bill would provide billions to support US troops in Iraq, help teachers and police get through the recession, help Vietnam war veterans etc.

But tucked into the second-to-last page of the bill is the short provision—Sec. 4601(a)—that outlines the pornography restriction, which reads, None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to maintain or establish a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and exchanging of pornography.

Seemingly straightforward, the wording of the anti-porn provision has some people concerned that its reach may extend far beyond actual government-owned computer networks to include those belonging to any contractor or subcontractor who receives even a dollar from the government for any work required under this bill.

Pat Trueman, a former Justice Department saying he had yet to examine the exact language, but that if it could be legally problematic if it says that in order to get a government contract, a business must filter out all porn for all employees—even those not on a government contract.


8th July   

Update: Legal Games...

Game producers worry about Supreme Court review of age restrictions for video games
Link Here
Full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

A law that threatens to classify adult video games as X-rated entertainment in the US has been slammed by bosses of major games publishers.

The US Supreme Court agreed in April to review a motion prohibiting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

The law would allow individual states to impose sales restrictions on violent games - effectively putting them into the same category as pornography, and restricting their sale to adult citizens.

The Supreme Court is reviewing a federal court's decision to throw out California's ban - which was originally signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It's very, very surprising that the Supreme Court is hearing the case, Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Rockstar parent Take Two told CNBC: I'm worried about it, and I think everybody in our business should be really worried about it.

Graham Hopper, EVP and general manager of Disney Interactive added: It's not about having a dramatic impact on our bottom line. It's going to make our retailing abilities a nightmare.

Other games industry figures spoke of their fear that other states would push through their own version of the bill - meaning developers would have to create multiple version of games to suit each territory's individual criteria: One of America's great exports is entertainment, commented John Riccitiello, CEO of EA. The implication of Schwarzenegger v. ESA (the case before the Court) is we could end up with state level bureaucracies that define what's marketable in 50 different jurisdictions across the U.S.

Sony's Jack Tretton was more positive about the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case. We believe as an industry that the primary reason the Supreme Court is hearing it is despite the fact that this law has been struck down, [the issue] has come up 12 times [previously] . I think the Supreme Court is looking at it to potentially see if there's something to it or to put an end to it once and for all.

The court will hear arguments in this case in the autumn.


7th July   

Updated: Dam Funny...

Beaver art whisked off from public display
Link Here

Art or porn?

That question came up last week for strollers along downtown Bemidji's Sculpture Walk, which this year features nine painted fiberglass beavers, including one with -- to some eyes -- a suggestive painting on its belly.

After about 20 callers complained to City Hall that artist Deborah Davis' painting appeared to be of female genitalia, City Manager John Chattin ordered Davis' sculpture removed from the Sculpture Walk, officials in the northern Minnesota city said.

Al Belleveau, president of the Bemidji Sculpture Walk, said that at Chattin's request, he moved the sculpture to his yard until the City Council decides what to do with it.

That prompted a protest during Sunday's July 4th parade. A crowd of people gathered near where Davis' beaver sculpture had stood, some carrying signs that read Censored, Davis said. In addition, some of the other beaver artists veiled their own works in solidarity with Davis.

Davis, of Blackduck, Minn., called her work Gaea, which she said can mean Mother Earth or God is gracious. The beaver has female figures painted on its sides and a tree on its back. Its belly features a painting in which some see praying hands and some see woman's genitalia.

My intent was to paint Mother Nature, Mother Earth, Davis said. I didn't understand that some people saw genitalia. ... I understand people see different things in art, and they need to be free to do that. ... My intent was to paint a praying woman.

Update: The Beaver's Back

7th July 2010. Based on article from

Bemidji City Council just voted unanimously to return a controversial beaver to its rightful place on the Bemidji Sculpture Walk.

Painted by artist Deborah Davis, Gaea is a celebration of womanhood and one of nine four-foot-tall ceramic beaver sculptures painted by local artists.

But when 20 people called to complain about what they viewed as a vagina on the beaver's belly, City Manager John Chattin took action and censored her beaver from public view.

Davis wasn't going to take that lying down. She organized a Facebook campaign that attracted local and national press attention.

As the beaver went viral, City Council was forced to call a special session to address the controversy.

Gaea supporters came out in droves, speaking eloquently about the artistic merits of the beaver. And as of tonight, the beaver is heading back to the streets.


7th July   

Update: Kicking Butt...

John Stagliano obscenity trial begins
Link Here
Full story: Buttman John Stagliano...John Stagliano prosecuted for obscenity

The jury selection process has begun in the highly-anticipated John Stagliano obscenity trial.

Opening statements will more than likely begin at the end of the week.

Stagliano and his companies, Evil Angel Productions Inc. and John Stagliano Inc, are charged with seven counts for illegal possession, distribution and sale of two videos sent through the mail, Milk Nymphos and Storm Squirters 2 'Target Practice' .

Stagliano faces a maximum of 32 years in jail and $7 million in fines if convicted on all counts. The trial is expected to last two weeks.


5th July   

Free to Choose Hell...

Pennsylvania law censoring religious words in business names struck down
Link Here

A US federal court has struck down a Pennsylvania statute that forbids business names containing:

  • Words that constitute blasphemy
  • profane cursing or swearing
  • words that profane the Lord's name.

The case arose after George Kalman was refused permission by state regulators to register his film company under the name I Choose Hell Productions LLC.

Kalman says he chose the name because he believes it expresses his personal philosophy that it is better to struggle through difficult times in life than to commit suicide, even if life is hell.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that the statute violated the First Amendment prohibition on establishment of religion, and promoted only Christian religious views. Words used by the Pennsylvania Corporations Bureau to flag proposed names for closer scrutiny included terms such as Christ and Jesus but not those related to other religions, such as Allah or Mohammed.

Additionally the court held that the statute violated Kalman's right to free speech by treating speech differently on the basis on the viewpoint expressed, as business names perceived as pro-religion were permitted.

The court also ruled that the statute used to turn down his company's name violated Kalman's free speech rights by allowing anonymous government officials to refuse business names that offend them.

The court struck down the statute as unconstitutional.


2nd July   

Trailer Trash...

Supporting the hype for Paranormal Activity 2
Link Here

This is either a big surprise or a brilliant marketing tactic. Variety says that movie theater chain Cinemark has pulled the Paranormal Activity 2 trailer from several theaters in Texas after receiving numerous complaints from moviegoers that the trailer was too frightening.

Paranormal Activity is obviously marketed entirely on scares and hearing that a trailer was so frightening that it had to be pulled is a great accidental way of building some extra word-of-mouth buzz for this sequel to Oren Peli's low budget horror flick.

Cinemark is already prepared to pull the trailer from more theaters if they keep receiving more complaints!


2nd July   

Mind Minds in Massachusetts...

Nutter councilor wants to shame people just for viewing porn
Link Here

A Massachusetts city councilor's request to publicize the names of people caught looking at pornography on library computers has been nixxed by the city's lawyer.

James Timmins, the lawyer in charge of reviewing the request for the Quincy City Council, intends to advise Ann McLaughlin, Qunicy's librarian director, not to release the information. He believes that it would break privacy laws.

There is not a written advisory on it yet, but I will advise her not to release the list, he told The Washington Times.

The request was made by Councilor Daniel Raymondi, who wants to get ahead of the growing problem of people who do not adhere to the appropriate-use policy established by the city library. The city council sent a resolution last week to Mayor Thomas Koch, which calls for the mayor to send the council a list of people who viewed pornography on library computers in the last year. The resolution was approved by the council June 21.on.

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