Free Expression

14 May

* * * Countdown to BookExpo * * * ABFFE Programming at BEA to Feature Something for Everyone

At this year's BookExpo America (BEA), the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) plans to have something for everyone, ranging from serious discussions on free expression issues to award-winning comedy to a silent auction, offering great bargains. On Saturday, May 31, Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders (I), sponsor of the Freedom to Read Protection Act, will participate in a panel on the First Amendment.

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08 May

PNBA Petitions Congress to Repeal Section 215 of Patriot Act

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) recently sent a petition on behalf of its members to all U.S. congressional representatives from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington urging support of H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Information Act, which would repeal Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

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01 May

POS Vendors Help Booksellers Protect Customer Privacy

The FBI's expanded authority under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act allowing it to secretly request and serve a subpoena for bookstore and library records has spurred a small number of booksellers to ask their point-of-sale (POS) systems vendors to purge their databases of customers' title-specific purchase records, according to vendors who spoke to BTW.

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01 May

Congressional Support for Freedom to Read Protection Act Continues to Grow

Support for H.R. 1157, the Freedom to Read Protection Act, continues to build. Ten additional members of Congress have recently become co-sponsors of the bill, which would remove a threat created by the USA Patriot Act to the privacy of bookstore and library records. The members join Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 65 other members of Congress.

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29 Apr

ABFFE Board Member Theresa Chmara Recipient of Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor Award

Attorney Theresa Chmara, a partner with the law firm of Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C., has been named the recipient of the 2003 Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor Award. Chmara is general counsel of the Freedom to Read Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Chmara was also part of the legal team representing ABA in its lawsuit against Barnes & Noble and Borders.

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28 Apr

Cedarville School Board Won't Appeal Court Order

On Thursday, April 25, two days after a federal judge in Arkansas ordered the Cedarville School District to put the Harry Potter series back on school library shelves, the Cedarville School Board voted not to appeal the federal court order, as reported by the Associated Press. Last July, two Cedarville parents filed a federal lawsuit challenging the school board's decision to restrict access to the Potter series.

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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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About ABA

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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