Tag Archives: court

Judge Talks Justice League in Her Opinion

The New 52 Justice League Action Figure 7-Pack Boxed SetIt looks like discussing superheroes is the new hotness when it comes to opinions issued by judges. Following the Supreme Court’s lead, D.C. Circuit Judge Patricia Millett decided to discuss Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League in her opinion in PETA v. Dep’t of Agriculture.

The case concerned the USDA extending the Animal Welfare Act to birds. They’ve taken ten years to figure out how to do so, so PETA sued them.

Here’s what the judge said in the opinion.

The same principles that prevent any individual caped crusader from using the courts to vindicate his or her views as to the proper enforcement of the laws should preclude the same gambit by a group of likeminded individuals. As for Batman or Wonder Woman, so too for the Justice League.

There’s a law that says as an individual you can’t sue an agency to enact your opinion. Since individuals can’t do it, then a group can’t. That’s the above in a nutshell.

This is the second high-profile time a justice has cited comics. Justice Kagan talked Spider-Man in her opinion Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises. Maybe Judge Millett with the Justice League consider the Circuit Court she’s in?

(via Above the Law)

Marvel Awaits to Hear Their Fate Before the Supreme Court

Supreme CourtWhile many were focused on the Kirby case before the Supreme Court involving Marvel, there’s still a second case that could be heard before the highest court in the land.

Stephen Kimble, et al., Petitioners v. Marvel Enterprises, Inc. involves toys and whether the petitioner is getting the correct royalties for the design concerning a Spider-Man webshooter toy. Law360 has an excellent break down of the case so far.

The last update for this case was on June 2, when the “Solicitor General is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States.”

The court has been deciding some of the cases they will, and won’t, hear this session. We’ll wait and see what their decision is concerning this one.

Supreme Court Saves Used Comics Business

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling, held that the doctrine of first sale, which allows for legally acquired copyrighted works to be resold by their owners, does apply to works made overseas. This is a huge deal. In Kirtsaeng vs. Wiley a Thai national (Kirtsaeng) came to the U.S. to study at Cornell and U.S.C. To help pay for his expenses, he resold textbooks his family purchased at bookstores in Thailand. We’re talking several hundred thousand dollars worth of textbooks. The profit was in the range of $100,000. This caught the attention of Wiley (a textbook publisher) who sued for copyright infringement. The district court found for Wiley and imposed statutory damages of $600,000.   The Second Circuit affirmed.

This decision reverses the Second Circuit court decision which ruled that “lawfully made” limited the first sale doctrine to those items made in the areas that the U.S. Copyright Act is law. So that means you couldn’t resell items made in China for instance.

This had a potentially huge impact on the geek community as video games, comics, movies, etc. are rarely made here in the United States. If the Supreme Court upheld the original decision, it would have decimated the second-hand market.

The Supreme Court decided though there is no “geographical limitation” on the copyright law.

The fact that the Act does not instantly pro­tect an American copyright holder from unauthorized piracy taking place abroad does not mean the Act is inapplicable to copies made abroad.

Numerous organizations, associations and more were also acknowledged for their comments on the case in that this would have curtailed the “progress of science and useful arts.”

Help The CBLDF With Be Counted Member Drive & Artists to the Rescue Auctions!

Official Press Release

Be Counted — Join The CBLDF Today!

The comics industry’s greatest creators are standing behind the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in Be Counted, a new membership drive that seeks to raise $100,000 for the organization’s legal and education work by October 31.  In addition to the CBLDF’s current rewards for membership, the organization is offering a variety of access opportunities, including lunch with legends, such as Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Mike Mignola and Gail Simone, and professional development reviews from top editorial experts, including Scott Allie, Dan DiDio, and Bob Schreck.  The Be Counted membership drive starts today and will continue through October 31, with new incentives added frequently.

Contributions to CBLDF made during this campaign will help the CBLDF in the following ways:

Legal Action

This September, the CBLDF must contribute the first installment of the $150,000 in legal fees needed to defend Brandon X, an American citizen facing a minimum sentence of one year in Canadian prison and registration as a sex offender because Canada Customs alleges that Japanese horror and fantasy comics on Brandon’s laptop are child pornography. His case is important because it raises important precedent questions about the artistic merit of comics and the rights of readers and artists traveling with comics on their electronic devices. The CBLDF needs your help to pay the lawyers defending this case because we seek to establish a precedent that protects comics in Canada and influences courts in the United States.

Beyond Brandon’s case, the CBLDF needs your help to ensure we are able to continue our other important program services. Your membership dollars will pay for our membership in Media Coalition, which helps us track and fight unconstitutional legislation. You will also ensure we have the resources we need to pay our monthly retainer for routine First Amendment legal work.

Education

The CBLDF continues to assist librarians and retailers when comics and graphic novels are challenged. Often this happens on a case-by-case basis, during which CBLDF staff gather defense materials for each individual incident. We currently seek funds to develop more substantial preventive tools, including joining an important anti-censorship coalition that protects the right to read.

Please visit www.cbldf.org to learn about all of the rewards offered in this important campaign, and to Be Counted by joining the Fund!

ARTISTS TO THE RESCUE, WAVE II — ORIGINAL ART AUCTIONS BENEFIT CBLDF!

With the Canada Customs Case drawing closer, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund continues its vital fundraising auctions with help from artists across the wide spectrum of the comic book industry. In an effort to raise over $100,000 by the end of October, artist supporters and Fund members have truly stepped up and provided benefit material ranging from pin-ups to original pages to covers, all in support of defending a comic fan from the threat of prison and hopefully setting a precedent that allows creators, retailers, publishers, fans alike to travel freely across the border without fear of persecution or harassment.

Artists such as Tony Harris, Camilla d’Errico, Cully Hamner, and Bernie Wrightson have all donated art, generating over $2,000 in one week. With many more cartoonists generously donating original works, the Artists to the Rescue benefit campaign continues into Fall with an exciting new round of gorgeous pieces of comic book art.

The current round of auctions includes a wide variety of amazing works, most notably several incredible pieces from the private collection of Stuart and Kathryn Immonen. This set includes a page from the classic Epic Comics adaptation of FAFHRD AND THE GREY MOUSER by modern master Mike Mignola, as inked by the late Al Williamson. Also included is a Mignola character study of Dr. Strange’s companion Wong, from the Marvel Graphic Novel classic DOCTOR STRANGE & DOCTOR DOOM: TRIUMPH AND TORMENT. These pieces represent a portion of the extremely generous donation from the Immonen’s collection, with more to be auctioned in the coming weeks!

Hobby Star Fan Expo vs. UFC Fan Expo – Fight!


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Pop culture conventions are in a resurgence across North America with what seems to be dozens of added shows in the last year.  Well, it looks like some of those cons will not be fighting it out in who has the best guests, coolest exclusives and biggest attendance.  Hobby Star Marketing, who handle the Toronto Fan Expo Convention, have filed an injunction against Zuffa LLC, which operates the Ultimate Fighting Championship league (UFC), and Reed Exhibitions over the name of Zuffa’s upcoming event, UFC Fan Expo.  That show is taking place in Toronto this weekend which also hosts the latest UFC pay-per-view event, UFC 128 which features some high profile fights including legend Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida and a title belt fight featuring headliners Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields.

Hobby Star has filed a trade-mark infringement over the use of the term “fan expo” as well as the slogan “the ultimate fan experience.”  They’ve also taken issue with the website http://www.ufcexpon.com.  The lawsuit was filed in a  federal court in Toronto.  The UFC has held other events with the words “fan expo” throughout the world.  There’s no mention of those in this suit.

Zuffa is the primary defendant while Reed Exhibitions as the organizer is also mentioned.  What makes this more interesting is Reed Exhibitions puts together the New York Comic Con and New York Anime Festival.  Both of which could be seen as a competitor to Hobby Star’s Fan Expo.  Could this really just be bad blood between two comic book conventions?

Who knows how serious this is and how far in the courts it’ll go.  My gut tells me there’s more to this than a complaint over two words.  In the end, maybe one will give up in the fight and tap out?

Choice Quotes


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Osborn #1

Senator Muffloetto – Young man, even Norman Osborn has rights under the law.  He’s biding his time at the moment, but if he is not charged soon, he will petition for a writ of Habeas Corpus and —

Malaysian Censorship Fight


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In June and July we told you about a fight brewing in Malaysia over the censorship of two cartoons.  From our original article:

Malaysia has banned a book and two comics by political cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque.  The government felt the material was “undesirable” and could “incite people to revolt.”

Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque who has focused on issues such as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial and police shootings, dismissed the allegations and vowed to continue drawing.

In July a challenge to the banning was thrown down:

Malaysiakini and political cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque have decided to challenge Malaysia’s Home Ministry’s decision to ban two Zulkifli’s comics.  The two books, 1 Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun were published in November 2009 and banned in June under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Malaysiakini and Ulhaque were granted leave to challenge the ruling.  High court judge Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh has picked November 8 to next hear about the case after meeting with the two.

The applicants are seeking a lift to the ban as well as compensation for damages such as unsold books.

CBLDF Legal News!

Official Press Release

Legal News

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Urges Supreme Court to Reject New Restrictions on Speech in Video Game Censorship Case

Last Friday, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA, urging the Supreme Court to affirm the Ninth Circuit’s decision that a California law banning the sale or rental of any video game containing violent content to minors, and requiring manufacturers to label such games, is unconstitutional.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund submits that, if allowed to stand, California’s law would reverse fundamental First Amendment principles by creating a new category of unprotected speech, diminishing the First Amendment rights of minors, and reducing First Amendment protection for new media. The CBLDF argues that the law under review is the most recent example of government improperly attempting to regulate content by using junk science, and calls upon a history of moral panics against media that includes the 1950s crusades against comics that crippled the industry and harmed the art form. The CBLDF asks the Supreme Court to deny California this attempt to roll back protections guaranteed by the First Amendment, as it and other courts have correctly done in the past.

The full text of the brief is available at http://www.cbldf.org

CBLDF & Dark Horse Cheer Free Speech Victory in Ninth Circuit!

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Dark Horse Comics applaud a decision issued by United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holding that two Oregon statutes that criminalize distributing sex education and other non-obscene materials to minors are unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment. The State of Oregon argued that the statutes applied only to “hardcore pornography,” but the Ninth Circuit found that they applied to much more, including Kentaro Miura’s manga “Berserk,” Judy Blume’s “Forever,” and Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale.” The plaintiffs did not challenge Oregon’s existing law making it a crime to contact a minor with the intent of having sexual contact. CBLDF and Dark Horse were among the plaintiff group challenging the statutes.

Mike Richardson, publisher of plaintiff Dark Horse comics says, “We were extremely happy to see these statutes overturned. Our Constitution’s First Amendment was intended to keep the hands of the government off the printing presses of America. Creators everywhere can breath a sigh of relief that these laws, open to interpretation and likely to be abused, have been put down.”

The full text of the decision is available at http://www.cbldf.org

Visit The CBLDF At the WeHo Book Fair

This Sunday, September 26, the CBLDF and our friends at the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab will be set up at the West Hollywood Book Fair! at West Hollywood Park!  Come Meet Betsy Rosenblatt, CBLDF’s Advisory Chair for Education & Outreach at our stall, booth  D35, where we’ll also have a full array of premiums to support the cause!

Recent News From The CBLDF

Job Opportunities At CBLDF

ComicsAlliance & CBLDF Launch THE MONSTERS PROJECT!

THE CBLDF PRESENTS LIBERTY ANNUAL 2010

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Urges Supreme Court to Reject New Restrictions on Speech in Video Game Censorship Case

Official Press Release

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA, urging the Supreme Court to affirm the Ninth Circuit’s decision that a California law banning the sale or rental of any video game containing violent content to minors, and requiring manufacturers to label such games, is unconstitutional.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund submits that, if allowed to stand, California’s law would reverse fundamental First Amendment principles by creating a new category of unprotected speech, diminishing the First Amendment rights of minors, and reducing First Amendment protection for new media. The CBLDF argues that the law under review is the most recent example of government improperly attempting to regulate content by using junk science, and calls upon a history of moral panics against media that includes the 1950s crusades against comics that crippled the industry and harmed the art form. The CBLDF asks the Supreme Court to deny California this attempt to roll back protections guaranteed by the First Amendment, as it and other courts have correctly done in the past.

Charles Brownstein, Executive Director of CBLDF, says “The case California makes against video games is one familiar to the comic book industry, which was nearly destroyed by government attempts at regulation in the 1950s. Then, as now, moral crusaders claimed that popular new media containing depictions of violence were detrimental to our youth. Then, as now, pseudo-science was used to back such claims. Those claims weren’t true in the 1950s, and they aren’t true now.”

Brownstein adds, “We hope that the Supreme Court denies California’s attempt to diminish the First Amendment, and spares the video game industry the fate that was suffered by the comic book industry in the past. We also encourage them to deny California’s claims so that comic books and other media don’t suffer under a new constitutional standard that creates new categories of unprotected speech and diminishes the First Amendment rights of minors.”

At issue in Schwarzenegger v. EMA is a challenge to a California video game law, enacted in 2005, that prohibited the sale or rental to minors of any video game containing certain violent content. The law — blocked by a federal judge in 2006 before it took effect — also required such manufacturers to include an “18 and older” warning label on the front of the package and provides civil penalties of up to $1,000 for violations. In 2008, CBLDF, as part of Media Coalition, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the respondent in today’s case, arguing that speech with violent content could not be regulated by the government and that the labeling requirement was unconstitutional as compelled speech. Last year, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously that the law violates the First Amendment.

The CBLDF brief was written by the organization’s General Counsel, Bob Corn-Revere of Davis Wright Tremaine. The brief is available online here. A wiki about the case, including links to all legal papers and briefs, is online at http://scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Schwarzenegger_v._Entertainment_Merchants_Association

Please support the CBLDF’s work by making a monetary contribution and by following us and spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for members of the comics community. They have defended dozens of Free Expression cases in courts across the United States, and led important education initiatives promoting comics literacy and free expression. For additional information, donations, and other inquiries call 800-99-CBLDF or visit them online at http://www.cbldf.org.

Stan Lee Supports Free Speech, So Should You


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The Video Game Voters Network sent out an email to it’s video game playing list “from” Stan Lee.  The issue is the upcoming Supreme Court case, Schwarzenegger v. EMA.  The court case would restrict sales of video games to minors.  In a letter penned to the audience the comics legend runs parallels between the pogroms run against comics and today’s attacks on video games.

From his letter:

Comic books, it was said, contributed to “juvenile delinquency.” A Senate subcommittee investigated and decided the U.S. could not “afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence.” Comic books were burned. The State of Washington made it a crime to sell comic books without a license. And Los Stan LeeAngeles passed a law that said it was a crime to sell “crime comic books.” Looking back, the outcry was — forgive the expression — comical.

The more things change, as they say, the more they stay the same. Substitute video games for comic books and you’ve got a 21st century replay of the craziness of the 1950s. States have passed laws restricting the sale of video games and later this year, the Supreme Court will hear a case about one of those laws, this one passed in California. Why does this matter? Because if you restrict sales of video games, you’re chipping away at our First Amendment rights to free speech and opening the door to restrictions on books and movies.

First they came for comic books, then they came for video games…..

But Stan Lee is right.  Video games deserve similar free speech protections that comic books, movies, music, television, radio, books and so many other forms of entertainment enjoy.

So, what can you do to help in this fight?

Yesterday we ran an article about the Entertainment Consumers Association‘s Gamer Petition.  The ECA represents video game consumers, and is submitting an amicus brief in the court case.  Along side this amicus brief is the petition which shows California doesn’t speak for the people and there are folks who don’t agree with their law.  Even though lower courts across the country have agreed such laws are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will hopefully be settling this issue once and for all.

Sign the Gamer Petition, tell your friends, family, coworkers, yell out the window.  We need to speak out more than ever.

Full disclosure, we consult for the Entertainment Consumers Association
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