Tuesday News: Jewel v. NSA, publishing kid lit in Russia, serial killer’s book, and Hachette v. Mottola
Court Says EFF Can Move Forward With Discovery In Its Big Case Against NSA Surveillance – Despite a number of legal setbacks, the Electronic Frontier Foundation scored a huge victory last week when Judge Jeffrey White gave plaintiffs the right to proceed with discovery. Not only is this case notable because the lead plaintiff is Romance writer Carolyn Jewel, but also because it was filed back in 2008 and challenges to the massive domestic surveillance the NSA was carrying out via AT&T — in circumvention of FISA warrants — under the George W. Bush administration (more details here). EFF’s David Greene explains the significance of the ruling:
This marks the first time a party has been allowed to gather factual evidence from the NSA in a case involving the agency’s warrantless surveillance. The government had fought all our requests to proceed with this lawsuit, arguing that the state secrets privilege protects it against both discovery and liability. Judge White previously rejected that argument for our statutory claims under the Wiretap Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Stored Communications Act. This ruling affirms Judge White’s previous decision and opens the door for discovery. – Techdirt/EFF
ETA: Jen M’s comment below about the important work EFF is doing reminded me that EFF recently released a free short fiction anthology, Pwning Tomorrow, available here.
RUSSIAN PURGE: The Horror Story of Publishing Children’s Books in Russia – An interesting chronicle of publishing children’s books under Russia’s laws, such as 2010’s “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development.” Not only are there seemingly arbitrary rules for fonts, typeface, and, of course, subject matter, but international maps cannot be rendered faithfully if they contravene Russia’s “official” political and geographical perspective. The regulations are such that even Little Red Riding Hood would be deemed too violent for 12 to 16 year olds, and topics like suicide, gay marriage, the physical effects of puberty, and most other issues tackled by kid lit and YA as a whole would be disallowed. Consequently, publishers like Samokat’s Irina Balakhonova have become very creative:
Publishers choose different strategies, or mixtures of strategies. Some try to focus on popular science books for children in the hope of avoiding controversy (this strategy is hardly foolproof, with death and violence often making appearances in science). Some opt for feel-good books that are safe. Some test the limits of the regulations — and Balakhonova does this brilliantly. She has launched a series of books that are sold in adult book departments, shrink-wrapped, with plain black-and-white covers marked “Books not for children.” Once the plastic is removed, one can see that the cover is perforated. Peel off the cover at the perforations — and it will reveal another cover underneath, in full color, of a book clearly geared to teenagers, and it will leave in your hand a bookmark-shaped piece of cover stock that says, “Book for children.” The strategy works by drafting parents as co-conspirators in buying the camouflaged books for their children, although this also limits the audience for the series. – The Intercept
Robert Pickton: Canadian serial killer book pulled from Amazon – Canadian pig farmer (and multi-millionaire!) Robert Pickton apparently used another inmate to get around monitoring of his mail and managed to get a Colorado company, Outskirts Press, to help him self-publish and post his memoir at Amazon. In the book, Pickton, who may be responsible for more than 30 murders (all female victims), declares his innocence (of course, he does!), but within hours of the book’s sale, the publisher and the BC government had successfully requested its removal from Amazon. Canadian provinces apparently vary on the question of whether criminals can profit from material related to their crime, with Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Ontario maintaining such regulations.
Officials in British Columbia had earlier vowed to prevent Pickton, who says he is innocent, from profiting from sales of the memoir, entitled Pickton: In His Own Words.
“It is not right that a person who caused so much harm and hurt so many people could profit from his behaviour,” said the province’s Minister for Public Safety, Mike Morris, in a statement. – BBC News
Tommy Mottola took $150K advance without writing book: suit – Mottola is the former CEO of Sony, and allegedly failed to write the book for which he received a $150K advance from Hachette, which claims it tried to work with Mottola to extend the April 2012 contractual deadline for the manuscript. At least Hachette is going after a big fish, although it’s unclear why the publisher is pursuing Mottola now (and this can’t be the first instance of such a breach).
Mottola — who was briefly married to singer Mariah Carey in the ’90s — signed on with Hachette Book Group in 2011 to pen an inspirational book about his rise to success called “The Bronx School of Business,” the Manhattan federal court lawsuit says. – Page Six