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  • American Comics Reader Facing Criminal Charges In Canada

    CONTACT: Charles Brownstein

    CBLDF Forms Coalition to Defend
    American Comics Reader Facing Criminal Charges In Canada

    The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it is forming a coalition to support the legal defense of an American citizen who is facing criminal charges in Canada that could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop.  This incident is the most serious in a trend the CBLDF has been tracking involving the search and seizure of the print and electronic comic books carried by travelers crossing borders.

    CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, "Although the CBLDF can’t protect comic fans everywhere in every situation, we want to join this effort to protect an American comic fan being prosecuted literally as he stood on the border of our country for behavior the First Amendment protects here, and its analogues in Canadian law should protect there."

    The CBLDF has agreed to assist in the case by contributing funds towards the defense, which has been estimated to cost $150,000 CDN.  The CBLDF will also provide access to experts and assistance on legal strategy.  The CBLDF’s efforts are joined by the recently re-formed Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization that will contribute to the fundraising effort.  Please contribute to this endeavor by making a tax deductible contribution here.

    The facts of the case involve an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend.  Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography.  The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.

    The images at issue are all comics in the manga style.  No photographic evidence of criminal behavior is at issue.  Nevertheless, a warrant was issued and the laptop was turned over to police.  Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison. This case could have far reaching implications for comic books and manga in North America.

    The CBLDF’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to aid the case by raising funds to contribute to the defense and to help the defense with strategy and expert resources.

    Brownstein says, “This is an important case that impacts the rights of everyone who reads, publishes, and makes comics and manga in North America. It underscores the dangers facing everyone traveling with comics, and it can establish important precedents regarding travelers rights.  It also relates to the increasingly urgent issue of authorities prosecuting art as child pornography.  While this case won’t set a US precedent, it can inform whatever precedent is eventually set.  This case is also important with respect to artistic merit in the Canadian courts, and a good decision could bring Canadian law closer to US law in that respect.  With the help of our supporters, we hope to raise the funds to wage a fight that yields good decisions and to create tools to help prevent these sorts of cases from continuing to spread."

    Find out more on the case here. To help support the case, you can make a monetary contribution here.

    About 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

    About CLLDF
    The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1987 to raise money for the defense of a Calgary, Alberta comic shop whose owners were charged with selling obscene materials. The CLLDF has since been maintained on an ad hoc basis to provide financial relief for Canadian comics retailers, publishers, professionals, or readers whose right to free speech has been infringed by civil authorities.  Largely dormant since the early 1990s, the CLLDF is reforming to provide support for this case, and reorganizing to ensure that help will be readily available for future cases involving Canadian citizens or authorities.  To help the CLLDF in this mission, please go to

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  • Richard Dreyfuss reads the iTunes EULA
    Academy-award winner Richard Dreyfuss is here to help you understand your rights and obligations as an iTunes customer; at CNet's behest, he's read 2,000 or so words that comprise the iTunes EULA.

    c. Termination. The license is effective until terminated by You or Application Provider. Your rights under this license will terminate automatically without notice from the Application Provider if You fail to comply with any term(s) of this license. Upon termination of the license, You shall cease all use of the Licensed Application, and destroy all copies, full or partial, of the Licensed Application.

    Richard Dreyfuss reads the iTunes EULA

    (Thanks, Alice!)

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  • Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Unexpected Rapper Edition

    This week, we asked YouTube NextUp participant Josh Sundquist to curate our YouTube Roundup, the theme of which is: Unexpected Rappers.

    Sundquist is a 26-year-old motivational speaker. At age 9, he was diagnosed with cancer, and doctors told him that he had a 50% chance to live. He lost his leg, but beat the cancer and started ski racing. In March 2006, he joined the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team. In addition to being a YouTube celeb, he’s also the author of national bestseller Just Don’t Fall: How I Grew Up, Conquered Illness, and Made It Down the Mountain.

    Check out our Q&A with Sundquist below, and then scroll on down to our rap-filled roundup.

    How and why did you get started on YouTube?
    About three years ago I started posting video samples of my motivational speeches on YouTube. Then last year I made a video called “The Amputee Rap” [see above] that went viral, and ever since then I’ve been pretty much addicted to creating video blogs and music videos.

    What effect has YouTube had on your life?
    I’ve always enjoyed being on camera and connecting with people through videos, and for a long time I had this dream of someday hosting a television show. But thanks to YouTube, I’ve realized that I don’t need television to live my dream of being a broadcaster. YouTube gives me total creative control and an instantly available worldwide audience to watch my videos. That’s pretty cool.

    What does this theme mean, personally, to you?
    I love YouTube videos that take the attitude and swagger of mainstream hip-hop videos and combine it with a topic that’s totally unexpected, like a disability or an illness. I think that juxtaposition is not only a comic gold mine, it’s also a way to make a fresh statement about your topic.

    "Life in Quarantine," The Fully Sick Rapper

    This is Josh's pick.

    Rapping Flight Attendant

    Amy-Mae Elliott: This video went viral -- what great PR for the airline.

    "Arlington: The Rap"

    Brian Dresher: Mashable DC Bureau representing! This local musician created "Arlington - The Rap" in the style of "Lazy Sunday" poking fun at the suburban lifestyle (yes, where I live!). If nothing else, I believe you'll greatly enjoy his Starbucks montage beginning at the 3:35 mark.

    Jeff Goldblum, Jimmy Fallon, Biz Markie

    Todd Wasserman: Jeff Goldlum & Biz Markie: Together again for the first time!

    7 Year Old Raps Ke$ha

    Brian Hernandez: It's 8-year-old Matty B, yo! The boy rapper, who has nearly 65,000 Twitter followers, was 7 when he remixed Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" (above). He has also covered or parodied songs from rap heavyweights Diddy and Eminem as well as pop divas Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

    Vanilla Ice Ninja Rap

    Radhika Marya: One word: Why?

    "I Don't Wanna be a Crappy Housewife," Tonje Langeteig

    Brenna Ehrlich: It's insane how much I relate to this song.

    More About: favorite-youtube-videos, Josh Sundquist, video, viral video, youtube, YouTube NextUp

    For more Video coverage:

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