Military Prison Blocks Won't Let Chelsea Manning Read EFF Blog… To Protect EFF's Copyright

from the yeah,-that's-like-totally-believable dept

Officials at Ft. Leavenworth prison, where Chelsea Manning is confined has apparently become super interested in protecting EFF’s copyright. Or so they claim. Manning has been blocked from reading printouts of EFF blog posts, and the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) insists it’s just about the copyright and not because they might disapprove of the EFF’s message.

Manning was only allowed to have the Bureau of Prisons documents?an agency handbook and slide show on Facebook takedowns?but everything else was withheld. Instead, Manning received a notification that said the mail was rejected because it contained ?printed Internet materials, including email, of a volume exceeding five pages per day or the distribution of which may violate U.S. copyright laws.?

It is possible that the Army withheld the documents because they were longer than fives pages. However, we believe this to be unlikely since the documents it did deliver were far longer than any of the other materials and exceeded five pages. That means that it was potentially copyright concerns that resulted in Manning?s mail being censored.

EFF quickly sent USDB a letter explaining that all EFF content is available for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution license that allows for the material to be freely shared and remixed. The Creative Commons license is indicated, and the full policy linked, at the bottom of every page of our website. As the copyright holder, we asked the prison to provide Manning with the documents immediately and not to block any further EFF material from the facility. We further pointed out that our comments to the FCC were also public records, not simply information printed out from the Internet. We asked for a response by Thursday, February 18, 2016.

Needless to say, the USDB did not respond. And it seems like a patently ridiculous argument to use copyright as an excuse to block prisoners from reading content sent to them, when it’s quite clear that the copyright claim is being used solely as an excuse not to give prisoners content that the prison likely disapproves of.

And, again, this is the EFF we’re talking about. Beyond the fact that the content is clearly licensed under Creative Commons to allow widespread sharing, perhaps no group has fought harder for things like fair use and the more widespread sharing of important information. To claim to be protecting EFF’s copyright is basically spitting in the face of the EFF. An organization that wants to spread its information widely, and wants to make sure copyright law is amenable to that is now finding that it cannot distribute its own information… because of the very copyright law it fights against. And yet we’re told again and again that copyright is for protecting the creators of content, yet here’s it’s being actively used against their wishes to block them from disseminating their own content. That’s crazy.

Yet again (and this is all too common) we see copyright claims being used as a form of censorship (even as copyright system supporters still insist that’s impossible). Yes, Manning is in prison and with that comes a loss of many freedoms. But using copyright as an excuse to deny EFF reading materials seems particularly ridiculous.

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Comments on “Military Prison Blocks Won't Let Chelsea Manning Read EFF Blog… To Protect EFF's Copyright”

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47 Comments
Matt Bennett says:

It actually wouldn’t surprise me if a military prison had just a generic rule against more than 5 pages of copyrighted content. Dumb rule, capriciously applied. The seargeant reading through the mail gives zero fucs about where that content is from or politics of it. Always suspect incompetence (or bureaucracy) before malice.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I also think the 5-page runs might be the problem here.
It could be one of those rules that they decide when to use.
You’re OK with getting 500 pages of totally meaningless content (a fiction book, the complete collection of a random tabloid…,) but 6 pages of polemic content and you’re out.. (EFF flyers, pirate party manifesto, the latest news about Snowden)

Personanongrata says:

Chelsea Manning for President

Manning has been blocked from reading printouts of EFF blog posts, and the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) insists it’s just about the copyright and not because they might disapprove of the EFF’s message.

Unfortunately Chelsea Manning is going to suffer under the sophomoric and petty tyranny of the USDB commander and his lackeys.

Regardless of what the US government says or does Chelsea Manning is a person who stood tall and liberated the truth by releasing the Iraq War Logs which clearly show criminal acts perpetrated by all levels of the US government in the lead-up and prosecution of the Iraq War in 2003. (Where are you J. Edgar Comey here are more leads for your worthless self to follow).

Whatever (profile) says:

Umm, all EFF needs to do is grant the bureau of prisons a license for redistribution, and the argument goes away, leaving them to twist in the wind and find another reason to block it.

I am not a big believer in prisoners rights, however. Bradley Manning is a criminal, convicted in due course, and who’s rights and freedoms are abridged under the law. This does appear to be excessive, but if the same rules are applied to all prisoners, then it us up to the inmate to challenge it in a court of law if they feel it’s not just.

EFF could very likely fix it, but I suspect they are too busy chasing wascally wabbits.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s still pretty telling that the first response for an excuse that comes to the prison’s mind is copyright. Even where it’s absolutely irrelevant, copyright is being bandied around like some unassailable, unquestionable shield.

And of course, classic Whatever can’t resist a jab at EFF. Still can’t get over Paul Duffy, can you?

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is no jab at the EFF (and who the heck is Paul Duffy, sorry, I don’t get the relationship). The prison’s rules I think exist because they may be required to reprint or redistribute the content, which could violate copyright. Possibly somewhere in the nasty past, they have been sued and lost. I don’t know, I don’t have good access to search for past cases.

The quick jump to “censorship” is easy – but just as likely full of shit.

TJGeezer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "Jump to censorship"

Actually, when content of any kind is suppressed for stated reasons that make no real sense at all, the jump to “censorship” is the natural conclusion. If it isn’t censorship of material that might be useful to a prisoner, at least give us a reason that makes sense. Even an admission that it was the reflexive move of a schoolyard bully given a badge would improve on the nonsense they handed out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The quick jump to “censorship” is easy”

It is censorship, even if a past copy protection lawsuit is the reason for the censorship. Perhaps not intentional censorship but still censorship nevertheless. This is an example of copy protection laws resulting in censorship which is the point of the article.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Umm, all EFF needs to do is grant the bureau of prisons a license for redistribution, and the argument goes away, leaving them to twist in the wind and find another reason to block it.”

Umm… you mean something like this? (Emphasis mine)

EFF quickly sent USDB a letter explaining that all EFF content is available for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution license that allows for the material to be freely shared and remixed. The Creative Commons license is indicated, and the full policy linked, at the bottom of every page of our website. As the copyright holder, we asked the prison to provide Manning with the documents immediately and not to block any further EFF material from the facility. We further pointed out that our comments to the FCC were also public records, not simply information printed out from the Internet. We asked for a response by Thursday, February 18, 2016.

“EFF could very likely fix it, but I suspect they are too busy chasing wascally wabbits.”

Or that may have already happened, as mentioned in the very article you are responding to?

“I am not a big believer in prisoners rights, however. Bradley Manning is a criminal, convicted in due course, and who’s rights and freedoms are abridged under the law. This does appear to be excessive, but if the same rules are applied to all prisoners, then it us up to the inmate to challenge it in a court of law if they feel it’s not just.”

Bradley Manning? That there tells us more about you than you perhaps like.

Also, as a military prisoner, I don’t believe Chelsea Manning has access to a court of law. Well, there are the military courts, but they hardly count as justice – more like revenge from those higher up that were thwarted. I thought concepts like human rights and the constitution should take precedence over lesser concepts like contract law or military law, but that’s certainly not the case.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Whatever is also not a big believer in democracy. He has also made it clear he doesn’t care for artists and only cares for distributors. When asked if he thinks artists should receive the same protections as distributors (ie: an artist that has their content falsely taken down vs a distributor that has their content infringed upon) Whatever refuses to respond.

It’s no mystery why no one takes him seriously.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Whatever is also not a big believer in democracy. He has also made it clear he doesn’t care for artists and only cares for distributors. When asked if he thinks artists should receive the same protections as distributors (ie: an artist that has their content falsely taken down vs a distributor that has their content infringed upon) Whatever refuses to respond.”

BULLSHIT. Stop lying. Showing up in a thread weeks after a discussion and adding a question doesn’t mean I don’t respond to you – just that you speak to an empty room.

Stop trolling, you are way to f-ing obvious!

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You forgot to mention that ALL EFF CONTENT is licensed in a manner that allows and encourages replication. The EFF didn’t have to lift a finger, the permission was already given. He’s on his bullshit again.

I am not a big believer in prisoners rights, however.

Indeed. It tells a lot about his rotten self. Nothing that we already don’t know for a while now. But then again he lives in his own protected bubble and it seems it was never disturbed by Government overreach so there is that.

Also, as a military prisoner, I don’t believe Chelsea Manning has access to a court of law.

This must be emphasized. He’s a political prisoner. Just look at other countries (like Venezuela and Chine) to see how much justice these prisoners have. “But we are talking about the US!”. Same thing, different place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It should be noted that the logical reason for having military courts should be to protect the accused from unreasonably harsh punishment from civilian peers that might not have the experience to judge an action within the context of war.

Here the use of military courts seems intent on undermining its logical use. Instead of providing protection from harsh punishment it seems intent on delivering harsh punishment compared to a civilian court.

The military exists to serve civilians. The accused should always have the option of being tried in civil court among a jury of civil peers so that they can decide which court they think will provide justice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Otherwise the mandatory use of military courts could result in a military that enforces laws in a self serving way that work against the interests of the civilians that the military is supposed to serve. Civilians enforce laws within the interests of civilians. That’s why civilians should always have the option of being tried by a jury of civilian peers.

Likewise the military should enforce laws within the interests of civilians, not the military. This is why military accused should also have the option of being tried in civilian court. To resist a separate military system of law that is intent on serving military interests over civilian interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

and on the flip side another use of military court could be to allow military personnel to get away with not being tried in civil court when it comes to committing crimes they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with which allows the military to allow for behavior against the interests of civil society.

Perhaps the use of military court should only be accessible when all the victims involved are military subjects. To resist a military that can get away with crimes against civilians.

So to summarize civilian courts should always be accessible to the accused. Military courts should sometimes be accessible to the accused but even when they are accessible civilian courts should also be accessible.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m not sure that I agree with your reasoning behind military courts. I think the reasoning is the same as the reasoning behind dedicated IP courts, that is to say specialisation in the branch of law governed by the court.

In that way a military court may be expected to be harsher than a civilian court – say a soldier abandoned his duty to help a local family in some way; a civilian court may be expected to be lenient because of the benevolent nature of the soldier’s actions, and because nothing bad came about from the dereliction. A military court would probably be expected to be very harsh in this instance, and to punish the dereliction as if the worst case happened as a result.

Back to my first point, I think that specialisation in military courts has the same problems as specialisation in IP courts – cronyism, and a tendency to self-reinforcement of incumbent position through an echo chamber effect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I think the use of separate IP courts is an admission by the legal system that IP laws are not in agreement with what society democratically thinks is acceptable. This is a subversion of democracy. The point of having the option of being tried by a jury of peers is so that peers have the option to nullify bad laws or potentially bad rulings based on laws or values that society disagrees with. If a law is generally socially/democratically unacceptable then said law will be repeatedly rejected by juries.

The argument that specialized courts are necessary in specialized situations as an excuse to deny a civilian trial is exactly the position intended to be rejected by the principles intent on providing access to civilian courts. This is exactly what many corrupt and tyrannical governments will argue / have argued in an attempt to evade the interests of civil society and this argument is the exact position intended to be rejected by providing for the right to a civilian trial.

That IP laws need a separate court to avoid this indicates an admission that they are not worthy of our democracy because they will be democratically rejected if they were ruled upon by civilians.

Further evidence of their social rejection is the fact that I don’t ever remember seeing large numbers of people protesting in their favor before they got extended and expanded. It’s mostly industry interests pushing for these laws with backdoor dealings. I do, however, remember seeing large groups of people protesting against bills like SOPA.

Further evidence of their social rejection is the fact that they often get negotiated in secret with industry interests invited. If they were so socially acceptable the government should be glad to invite the public. Politicians know these laws do not represent the public that the politicians are supposed to represent.

Further evidence of their rejection is the fact that I don’t remember seeing many successful politicians running for office with the claim that they are going to extend and expand IP laws. In fact I remember Obama claiming he was considering reducing pharmaceutical patent extensions early in his presidency until it was the pharmaceutical industry that protested. I do remember Hillary Clinton supporting the TPP before running for president and now that she is running for president she opposes it. I do see other politicians running for office/president opposing it while those in office in a position to do anything supporting it. Politicians know these laws are publicly unfavorable yet they continue with them anyways.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Bradley Manning? That there tells us more about you than you perhaps like.”

Bradley Manning is the soldier that was convicted. If he like others which to play dress up games and try the other gender, I have nothing against it. However, just like Bruce Jenner, no matter what he does, he’s still just a “boy with boobs”. The reality is still there genetically that cannot be altered. You can change the wrapper but the content remains the same.

So he may want us to call him Chelsea, but the soldier in question was named Bradley Manning.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“I am not a big believer in prisoners rights”

I think the main point of prison should be rehabilitation and to contain potentially dangerous prisoners that might be a future threat to society. Punishment should only be secondary. Denying prisoners access to certain types of content does not serve to rehabilitate them. If anything it prevents them from being informed which can harm the extent that they are educated in something which can harm their prospects of catching up and blending into society when they get out (ie: getting a job and participating in the political and democratic process). and denying people access to this type of information is not an acceptable form of punishment and it does nothing to prevent the criminal from harming anyone. If the criminal is dangerous they should remain in jail until they are no longer dangerous. If they are free to be let out then it is because they are no longer considered a danger to society even with access to said information.

Having said that much of what gets discussed around here is what makes a criminal a criminal. What constitutes a good law that, if violated, is deserving of punishment, retribution, containment, or rehabilitation. An important aspect of answering that question is democracy. We should, democratically, decide on these things. Being informed is an important aspect of democracy and denying a criminal the same rights as anyone else when it comes to being informed and voting denies them a democratic voice in what constitutes a good law worthy of our democracy. This could result in a nation of criminals who have broken bad laws that shouldn’t exist but because they have no say in the law having their rights violated by it they have no power to vote the law changed. Politicians, consequently, ignore the rights of criminals in their vote which creates more criminals and perpetuates the problem.

If the law makes everyone a criminal (or if it is designed to indirectly discriminate against a certain class or race of people) the problem is likely not with everyone but with the law. To help guard against this everyone should have open access to information and they should have a vote.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The very point of democracy is to ensure fair and equitable laws that represent the values of society and to prevent the creation and maintenance of bad laws that result in turning people into criminals that shouldn’t be considered criminals because they didn’t do anything that should be illegal. Denying criminals a vote or access to valuable information is antithetical to the principles of democracy.

exomike (profile) says:

Not Just Another Form of Psychological Torture

It used to be made very clear that people were sent to prison _as_ punishment. Prison staffs were trained that way.

No more, these people revel in psychological torture for no purpose other than torture. I do hope however they track down the military industrial complex contractor that supplied Manning with expired tooth paste for which Manning was punished.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

EFF, terrorist

I don’t think it’s about copyright or page count. EFF opposes government policy (especially that of the NSA, which is military). I think the publications were blocked because the military considers EFF an extremist (terrorist) organization.

The First Amendment doesn’t permit the publications to be banned from the public, but the military can sure ban it inside a military prison.

Erbo says:

It’s apparent that the only reason they’re doing this to Manning is because she embarrassed the government, and so they are bound and determined to see that she “does the hardest time at Shawshank.”

This is why Assange is smart to stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

This is why Snowden is smart to stay hidden in Russia.

Our government has become vindictive and petty towards those that expose its misdeeds.

“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light” (John 3:20)

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