Free Expression

24 Apr

Federal Judge Orders: Put Harry Back on Library Shelves

On Tuesday, April 22, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas ruled in favor of two Cedarville, Arkansas, parents, Billy Ray and Mary Nell Counts, who challenged the Cedarville School District's attempt to restrict students' access to the Harry Potter series in school libraries. In March 2003, more than a dozen national groups, including the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), and author Judy Blume, filed an amicus brief in support of the parents.

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23 Apr

Denver Post Again Lauds Tattered Cover's Fight for Customer Privacy

After the title of the book at the center of a landmark First Amendment case came to light last week, a Denver Post editorial once again praised the Tattered Cover Book Store for its decision to fight what could have been "a nasty precedent of allowing the government to stick its nose where it doesn't belong."

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22 Apr

Amazon Goes to Court to Protect Customer's Privacy

On April 10, in U.S. District Court of South Carolina's Charleston Division, Amazon argued to block a government's subpoena to turn over the purchase records of a Charleston real estate broker who the U.S. government alleged received child pornography. Ultimately, the government's effort to access the customer's book purchase records from Amazon officially ended after a plea arrangement was worked out between the defendant and authorities.

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17 Apr

Book at Center of Tattered Cover Fight Irrelevant to Police Case

On behalf of his client, the lawyer representing the customer at the center of a landmark case involving Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store and its fight to protect the privacy of customer records recently authorized Tattered Cover's legal counsel to reveal the name of the book that had been sought by law enforcement officials for more than two years. The title, Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters by Kenneth G. Henshall, had nothing to do with the case involving a methamphetamine lab.

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04 Apr

Advocacy Groups' Patriot Act FOIA Fight Continues in Federal Court

Four advocacy groups' Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the government over how it is using the widespread surveillance powers it has been granted under the USA Patriot Act continues.

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04 Apr

Sanders' Bill to Amend Patriot Act Attracts Seven More Co-sponsors

Support for H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Protection Act, continues to grow. In the last week, seven more members of Congress became co-sponsors of the bill, which would remove a threat created by the USA Patriot Act to the privacy of bookstore and library records. They join Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 58 other members of Congress.

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03 Apr

To Delete or Not to Delete -- Part II

By Michael Katzenberg

The topic of customer privacy in the age of the USA Patriot Act -- a law that gives the FBI expanded powers to search bookstore and library records -- is a serious issue that concerns all independent booksellers, who fear the day when the FBI comes to demand information about customers' book purchases.

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27 Mar

To Delete or Not to Delete, That Is the Question

Keeping Customer Records in the Age of the USA Patriot Act

By Chuck Robinson

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27 Mar

Congressman Ron Paul Urges Booksellers to Rally in Support of H.R. 1157

In early March, Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157), federal legislation that would remove a threat to the privacy of bookstore and library records posed by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. Though the bill has 58 co-sponsors thus far, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), one of the sponsors of the bill, urged booksellers to rally behind H.R. 1157 so that more members of the House would support the bill.

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27 Mar

Freedom to Read Protection Act Now Has 58 Co-Sponsors

At present, 58 fellow members of Congress have joined Rep. Bernie Sanders in introducing federal legislation that would remove a threat created by the USA Patriot Act to the privacy of bookstore and library records. The bill, H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Protection Act, would prevent the FBI from seeking "personally identifiable information concerning a patron of a bookseller or library." However, the government could still attempt to subpoena this information if it can make sufficient legal showing.

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19 Mar

Support the Freedom to Read Protection Act!


Chris Finan

By Chris Finan, ABFFE President

Political courage is usually in short supply, but there was a lot of it on display at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 6.

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13 Mar

Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Declares COPA Unconstitutional … Again

On March 6, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled for the second time that the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is unconstitutional. The court found that COPA violates adults' right to free speech, is overly broad, and fails "the strict scrutiny test." It is expected that the Justice Department will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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12 Mar

26 in Congress Join Sanders in Co-sponsoring the Freedom to Read Protection Act

Twenty-six fellow members of Congress have joined Rep. Bernie Sanders in introducing federal legislation that would remove a threat to the privacy of bookstore and library records, created by the USA Patriot Act. Under the provisions of H.R. 1157, The Freedom to Read Protection Act, the FBI would be barred from seeking "personally identifiable information concerning a patron of a bookseller or library." The government may still attempt to subpoena this information if it can make sufficient legal showing.

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12 Mar

Rep. Sanders Comments on the Freedom to Read Protection Act of 2003

On March 6, 2003, Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act of 2003, federal legislation that would remove a threat to the privacy of bookstore and library records that was created by the USA Patriot Act. At present, the proposed amendment has 26 co-sponsors, including Ron Paul (R-TX) and John Conyers (D-MI), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

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06 Mar

Congressman Sanders Introduces Patriot Act Amendment

At a press conference held today in Washington, D.C., Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced federal legislation that would remove a threat to the privacy of bookstore and library records, created by the USA Patriot Act. At present, the proposed amendment, called the Freedom to Read Protection Act of 2003, has 24 co-sponsors, including Ron Paul (R-TX).

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The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.

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