Wednesday News: Facebook loses standing case, EL Doctorow dies, more on The Hustle, and book vending machine
Facebook Loses Appeal on New York Search Warrants – A very significant ruling around the issue of legal standing in regard to whether social media sites like Facebook have the right to challenge search warrants served on their customers. The court held that only the defendant can challenge the warrants, and one of the things that made this case provocative was the breadth of the warrants, which were served on 381 Facebook users, only 62 of whom were ever criminally charged (the case involved a federal investigation into alleged social security disability scammers). The court was not particularly happy with the warrants, but they still found that Facebook was incorrect in its belief that it could legally challenge them.
Judge Renwick rejected Facebook’s argument that it should be able to challenge what it sees as illegal searches of its customers’ files. The company argued that such warrants differ from physical searches of an office or a home, since Facebook must perform the task for the police. As a result, the company contended, search warrants served on social media sites are akin to civil subpoenas for records, which may be challenged in court. . . .
The panel — the Appellate Division, First Department — also disagreed with Facebook’s claim that the federal Stored Communications Act gave it the standing to contest the warrants, saying the company had misinterpreted the law.
The judges said that in their reading, the communications act allows Internet service providers to object to subpoenas and court orders, but not to search warrants. –New York Times
Author E.L. Doctorow dead at 84 -E.L. Doctorow, author of award-winning books like The March, Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, and The Book of Daniel, died Tuesday from cancer-related complications. Doctorow’s novels were gritty and political, and his perspective on historical fiction is reflected in his insight that “History is the present . . . that’s why every generation writes it anew.” Although a number of Doctorow’s novels were adapted into film, he was apparently not thrilled with their translations, which is not surprising, given how he got his own start:
In the 1950s Doctorow worked as a script reader for Columbia Pictures, reading novels and summarizing them for possible film treatment. That job led him to his first novel, “Welcome to Hard Times,” a Western published in 1960.
He spent a decade as a book editor at New American Library and then as editor in chief at Dial Press, working with such authors as Norman Mailer and James Baldwin, until 1969. –Chicago Tribune
Reactions to John Havel’s article in The Hustle – Kat of Book Thingo has a great round-up post on that awful piece from The Hustle, and she managed to get responses from Anna Cleary, Harlequin, and the piece’s author, John Havel, who managed a solid apology, but not the most thoughtful explanation of why he wrote his piece (and went about his “experiment”) the way he did. I still haven’t seen him address the obtuse racism of his “jungle fever” comment, and I’m not sure he really gets the extent to which his tactics eclipsed the chicanery of those he set out to expose. It’s unfortunate, too, because he ended up creating a huge distraction from the issue he claimed he wanted to highlight, namely the extent to which some people are basically pretending to be authors/writers and using Amazon as a personal ATM.
1. What has the reaction been at The Hustle to readers’ and authors’ responses to John Havel’s article, Part 2: Confessions from the Scammy, Underground World of Kindle eBooks?
The reaction you’re most likely looking for is that people were pissed. In reality, it was a mixed bag. Most of our audience understood the spirit of the post and looked past the copyright infringement to the larger issue — exploring the mysterious world of Kindle authorship. The vocal backlash, sparked primarily by the plagiarism, has largely been back and forth between those disgusted by the misconduct in this specific case and others who feel like we were disparaging towards legitimate authors. Neither of those points were our intention and I can’t apologize enough to anyone who was offended by our actions or writing. Most of the people who contacted us have been authors themselves so it seems like that’s where we hit the biggest nerve. In no way were we trying to talk badly about the romance novel industry or authors. The purpose was to illuminate the largely unknown practice of self-publishing and bring it to the forefront of discussion. If you think about it that way, I guess it was a success. Just threw in a little bit too much bro-speak…–Book Thingo
A Novel Idea: Fostering Literacy by Eliminating Book Deserts – This is just so cool. A pilot program in Washington, D.C. is installing book vending machines in neighborhoods that have poor saturation of books (often low-income areas that lack sufficient libraries, for example) as a way of encouraging kids to read, and also of encouraging parents to engage more with their kids and reading. The books are free, and hopefully the program will soon be expanding (check out the video to see the machines in action).
In Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood, Soar With Reading is installing book vending machines through a pilot program funded by JetBlue Airways Corp. It aims to make a dent in the book desert problem by dispensing free books.
The machines will offer 100,000 books at no cost for children and will be placed at a Safeway grocery store, a Salvation Army and a church in the neighborhood, according to JetBlue. . . .
The vending machines could be coming to other major U.S. cities soon. Residents in Detroit, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, New York City and Los Angeles can vote to join the book disbursement program. –U.S. News & World Report