Tag Archives: legal

CBLDF Issues Advisory On Border Searches & Comics

Official Press Release

CBLDF Issues Advisory On Border Searches & Comics

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today published the advisory document “Legal Hazards of Crossing International Borders with Comic Book Art.” The advisory was created in response to an increasing number of reports from travelers who have been stopped, searched, and/or detained by customs agents because of comic book art they carried in print and electronic forms. CBLDF legal counsel Robert Corn-Revere prepared the advisory for the Fund’s constituents and members.

“Most people do not know that their constitutional rights are not guaranteed, even from U.S. Customs agents, when they cross international borders,” Corn-Revere said. “Their books, papers, laptop computers, and even cell phones are subject to routine search and possible seizure by the government, even without any suspicion of criminal activity. This is important to know in an age when many people carry with them a great deal of highly personal information in electronic form.”

The CBLDF’s advisory shines light on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement policies pertaining to the search of information, and also explains how border searches lack traditional legal protections otherwise afforded to speech. Finally, the document offers suggestions for avoiding intrusive border searches and protecting the safety of your information.

The CBLDF Advisory is available here as a Word document, and here as a PDF file.

About the CBLDF

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit 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 www.cbldf.org.

Massachusetts Censorship Law Gets Preliminary Injunction

Quarter of Massachusetts

Image via Wikipedia

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U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel has issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of Massachusetts Chapter 74 of the Acts of 2010, which went into effect earlier this year.  The law, signed by Governor Deval Patrick in in April (and went into affect in June), targets anyone who runs a website or listserv that contains nudity or sexually explicit material that could be construed as “harmful to minors” and subjects them to possible fines of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both.

The Massachusetts booksellers, trade associations including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed suit in July to block the law.  They cited that his law would “imposes severe restrictions on constitutionally protected speech on the Internet.”

The judge issued the injunction because the law does not require that the “indecent material” was purposefully sent to a person the sender knew to be a minor.

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, had this to say:

This case is a reminder that we need to remain ever-vigilant in the defense of basic civil liberties against lawmakers who try to capitalize on cases involving children to expand government power in ways that could be used to silence booksellers, artists, healthcare providers, and the rest of us.

Plaintiffs in the case include the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ACLU, Harvard Book Store, the Photographic Resource Center, Porter Square Books, and marriage and family therapist Martry Klein.

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

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Marvel vs. Comics Invasion Round 2… Fight!

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Well that was quick.  A few days ago we brought you news that Marvel had shut down the link sharing site Comics Invasion that was on the Blogspot blogging platform.  The comic book company served Google (which owns Blogspot) with a cease and desist to take the website down.

Comics Invasion then moved to WordPress, and now that’s gone due to violation of the platform’s “terms of service.”

Where will it wind up next?

comics invasion wordpress

Marvel Shuts Down a Pirate Site. Why is Anyone Surprised?

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Bleeding Cool was all over the news that Marvel has asked Google to shut down the blog Comics Invasion that was run on their Blogspot platform.  The blog which was up around two years provided links for illegal downloads of Marvel comics.  After the take down, the blog was quickly up on WordPress with their entire archive.

But why is this shocking?  Marvel and numerous other comic book companies have been cracking down on piracy over this past year.  Working with the FBI, a coalition of comic book companies shut down HTMLcomics.com along with six other websites and another coalition took down manga.com.

In an industry increasingly moving towards digital distribution, they’re covering all their bases including shutting down illegal distribution networks that directly undermine their ability to sell comics online.  Why pay, when you can get them for free?

The bigger news out of Marvel’s visit to Google would be if we see a future venture in a positive direction of distribution or archiving of historically significant comics, but then again, why give something away for free when you can charge.

Below is a copy of the DMCA notice.

Read more

DC versus the Lawyer

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Even lawsuits get spin-off miniseries.  In Los Angeles on Friday Marc Toberoff asked a judge to dismiss the complaint filed against him personally last May in connection with the long-running legal battle between DC and the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over reclaiming copyrights.

DC claimed Toberoff was manipulating Siegel and Schuster’s heirs “in an effort to capture a huge share of the copyrights for himself.”

In asking the United States District Court for the Central District of California to dismiss the complaint, Richard B. Kendall, a lawyer for Mr. Toberoff, called it “an absolutely meritless attack” that was meant to undermine Mr. Toberoff’s relationship with the Siegel and Shuster heirs in the wake of a previous victory in court over DC Comics.

Kendell wants the suit dismissed under California’s anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) laws which are meant to prevent intimidating counter-suits.

Toberoff claims he wasn’t involved until negotiations had already ended between the heirs and DC in 2002.  From DC’s filings:

Perhaps most intriguing about DC Comics’ suit against Toberoff was the inclusion of an unsigned document, called the “Superman-Marc Toberoff Timeline,” that spelled out a series of tactics on the part of Toberoff through which he purportedly claimed as “much ownership of the Superman copyright personally as he can.”

The DC suit says that the document was written by an attorney previously employed at Toberoff’s firm. It was delivered to Warner Bros. in 2006 along with a pile of other files that Toberoff says were privileged attorney client documents stolen from his firm.

Toberoff is also assisting the estate of Jack Kirby in their lawsuit against Marvel.  A hearing in the case is set for October 18.

Slave Labor Legal Defense Fund

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Over at the Slave Labor website, the company publisher Dan Vado writes that the company is “embroiled in a trademark issue revolving around our comic book about a certain gun heiress.”  They’ve decided to fight the issue and are asking for donations through Paypal for their legal fund.

From their website:

So far just responding to the letters we have gotten has cost us well into five figures, more than we could possibly ever hope to recover publishing comics for the next two years. We have tried raising money by having sales, doing clearances and the like but given the times we live in and perhaps the lack of urgency about them,  those things have not really done much to help us out.
So, as much as it kills me to resort to this, I am asking all of our loyal fans to help us out by donating whatever they feel comfortable sending. Just so we are being clear, SLG is not raising money to fight some long, drawn-out court case, there isn’t enough money in all of comics for that kind of fight, we are asking for money to pay for the costs of responding to the letters and harassment from the baseless claims thrown at us. This is money we have already spent, a lot of it borrowed, for which there will be no return and is now affecting our ability to operate.
We have exhausted every avenue searching for free legal help but as our situation is not a clear First Amendment one and because we somehow manage to stay in business year after year, we are being told we do not qualify for free legal help by everyone we have asked.
The plea admits the begging isn’t the most desired solution to raise the money, but it’s an avenue and means to an end.  So, if you’re inclined, head to Paypal and help a brother out.

Fox Files More Wolverine Suits

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We previously reported that an individual was charged with illegally sharing X-Men Origins: Wolverine online which had been viewed by 4.1 million people before the movie’s release.  According to an article in the New York Times, Fox has decided to file more suits against DVD pirates who subsequently leaked the film online via Craigslist.org, iOffer.com and Sell.com.

Fox employees, working under cover, gathered the evidence over the last year.

Although the complaints do not reveal the identity of most of the defendants — these people did not reveal their names in the transactions so Fox will now use subpoenas to obtain the information — it lists the sellers as living in many states. Five people were named: Kenneth Slater of Paxton, Ill.; Valerie Rosales of Stockton, Calif.; Ozy Smith of Oakland, Calif.; John Hegedus of Garfield, N.J.; and David Chung of Chicago.

“This kind of conduct not only violates the law, it’s just plain wrong,” Fox said in a statement on Thursday. “We filed these lawsuits today to protect our creative professionals and the intellectual property they spend years developing.”

The movie opened at number one even with the leak and the film managed to nearly triple in total gross revenue that it cost to make.  Really, in the end we should be suing Fox over releasing such a crappy movie.

Choice Quotes

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Captain America: Reborn #6

Red Skull/Captain America – — A new morning in America.

Unknown Soldier #16

Moses – There are expressions that every human face in the world does the same… It doesn’t matter the language, the belief, the culture or the color of the skin.  In these expressions the whole breadth of the human race is unified.  In these we are all one.

X-Men: Forever #16

Kramer – I want my lawyer.

Dugan – What makes you think you get a lawyer?

Kramer – I know my rights.

Dugan – You’re an operative of S.H.I.E.L.D.  This is a matter of potentially global security.  You have no rights.

Marvel Sues Kirby Heirs

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It was just a little over a week ago that Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment for a little over $4 billion to acquire it’s over 5000 characters.  Today, the ownership of some of those characters are in legal limbo as wrangling has thrown up who owns the copyrights to characters such as Spider-man, the Avengers, the Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men and many more.  Marvel filed legal action in New York, and sought to invalidate 45 notices to terminate copyright sent by his heirs in September.

Marvel’s actions followed a series of letters from Kirby estate attorney Marc Toberoff notifying copyright holders and licensors of his client’s intent to terminate copyright of around 45 properties at various points in the coming decade.  This legal action was an attempt by Marvel to avoid a potential costly behind the scenes battle with the family.

The characters are set to revert back to the estate of Jack Kirby (whose real name was Jacob Kurtzberg died in 1994) starting in 2014 and Kirby’s family has declared it will “vigorously defend” their case.  Marvel alleges that Kirby’s illustrations, published between 1958-1963, were drawn “for hire.”  The Kirby family is claiming Marvel is attempting to rewrite history and it’s relationship with the famous artist.

“Everything about Kirby’s relationship with Marvel shows that his contributions were works made for hire and that all the copyright interests in them belong to Marvel,” said company lawyer John Turitzin.

The Kirby family is claiming this is the usual m.o. to deprive creators of just compensation and ownership of their famous creations.

“It is a standard claim predictably made by comic book companies to deprive artists, writers, and other talent of all rights in their work,” Kirby’s lawyer, Marc Toberoff, said in a statement.

“Sadly, Jack died without proper compensation, credit or recognition for his lasting creative contributions.”

This legal battle and a reverting of properties back to the Kirby estate throws numerous projects into limbo as many have been licensed to movies, television shows and numerous products that bear the character’s likenesses.  There’s movies based on Thor, the Avengers and another Spider-man film all in the works.

This type of battle is becoming more common in the comic book industry.  We reported last year the Siegel estate is in a battle with DC comics over the rights to Superman.  Copyright law dictates that full ownership of Superman reverts back to the Siegels in 2013 which has forced DC to produce a new Superman film before that date.

The lawsuit possible had an affect on Disney stock as it fell 11 cents to $31.72 at 3:25 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

The case is Marvel Worldwide Inc. v. Lisa R. Kirby, 2010- cv-141, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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