CBLDF legal victories, Jim Lee Dinner Auction

Official Press Release

June has brought two important First Amendment victories for the creators of expressive speech. But first, we'd like to call your attention to a tremendous opportunity to spend time with two of the Fund's staunchest supporters.

ITEM! Jim Lee Dinner Auction

On June 28th Jim Lee will be signing in Denver, Colorado at the Mile High Comics megastore. You'll remember that in November 2002 Jim auctioned himself off to benefit the Fund ­ a fundraiser thatraised over $8,000 for the CBLDF's legal work. On June 28th Jimwill make good on that auction by signing at Mile High from 1-4 PM.

Following the June 28th signing Jim will go to dinner with Chuck Rozanski and 5 lucky fans. In keeping with his generous nature, Mile High founder Chuck Rozanski chose to give the seats at the dinner to his loyal customers and to give the last seat over to a supporter of the CBLDF. Well, the time has come to auction off that fifth seat, and Chuck has raised the ante one more time. Visit eBay between now and Sunday for a chance to bid on that fifth seat at the dinner AND $500 in comics from Mile High! All proceeds from this auction will benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the winner will have the opportunity to spend an evening with two industry giants who are also some of the nicest and most generous human beings you'llever meet.

To bid visit: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=3986&item=2177993293

ITEM! Even More Cool CBLDF Auctions

Also be sure to visit the CBLDF on eBay this week to bid on great stuff including Super Friends action figures; signed prints by Will Eisner and Terry Moore; a signed Frank Miller tip-in plate; even a rare Alan Moore newspaper interview outlining his career as a magician. Bid now by visiting http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=cbldf&include=0&since=-1&sort=3&rows=25

ITEM! Free Speech Victories in California and Missouri

Last week the California State Supreme Court unanimously decided in favor of DC Comics and the creators of Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm & Such in the long-running dispute with Johnny and Edgar Winter. The California Supremes agreed with arguments set forth in DC'sbriefs and in an amicus brief filed by the MPAA, CBLDF, and others, that the characters Johnny & Edgar Autumn used in the series were legitimate expressions in the context of a larger, First Amendment protected, expressive work.

The Court found, "Although the fictional characters Johnny andEdgar Autumn are less-than-subtle evocations of Johnny and Edgar Winter, the books do not depict plaintiffs literally. Instead, plaintiffs are merely part of the raw materials from which the comic books were synthesized. To the extent the drawings of the Autumn brothers resemble plaintiffs at all, they are distorted for purposes of lampoon, parody, or caricature. And the Autumn brothers are but cartoon characters ­ half-human and half-worm ­ in a largerstory, which itself is quite expressive." The court continued,"the comic books are transformative and entitled to FirstAmendment protection."

The CBLDF salutes the DC Comics legal team for their victory in the most recent round of this important case. For more information about this case, visit http://www.cbldf.org.

The other very important victory was the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of the video game industry in their battle against St. Louis County. Last year a St. Louis district court upheld a law that "makes it unlawful for any person knowingly to sell, rent, or make available graphically violent video games to minors, or to `permit the free play of' graphically violentvideo games by minor, without a parent or guardian'sconsent." The Appeals court reversed that decision and remandedthe case to the district court with instructions to enter an injunction consistent with this new decision.

An important aspect of the Eighth Circuit decision is that it affirmed video games as protected speech. The court wrote, "Ifthe first amendment is versatile enough to `shield [the] paintingof Jackson Pollock, music of Arnold Schoenberg, or Jabberwocky verse of Lewis Carroll,'…we see no reason why the pictures, graphicdesign, concept art, sounds, music, stories, and narrative present in video games are not entitled to a similar protection." The court added, "We note, moreover, that there is no justification for disqualifying video games as speech simply because they are constructed to be interactive; indeed, literature is most successful when it `draws the reader into the story, makes him identify withthe characters, invites him to judge them and quarrel with them, to experience their joys and sufferings as the reader's own.'"

The Court also quashed the argument that video game violence is obscene for minors. "We reject the County's suggestion thatwe should find that the `graphically violent' video games inthis case are obscene as to minors and therefore entitled to less protection. It is true that obscenity is one of the few categories of speech historically unprotected by the first amendment. … Butwe have previously observed that '[m]aterial that contains violencebut not depictions or descriptions of sexual conduct cannot beobscene.' … Simply put, depictions of violence cannot fall withinthe legal definition of obscenity for either minors or adults."

In the decision's concluding paragraphs, the Court addressed the County's language that the goal of the ordinance was to assist parents in policing the content their children encounter. The Court wrote, "We do not mean to denigrate the government's role in supporting parents or the right of parents to control their children's exposure to graphically violent materials. We merelyhold that the government cannot silence protected speech by wrapping itself in the cloak of parental authority. … To accept theCounty's broadly-drawn interest as a compelling one would be to invite legislatures to undermine the first amendment rights of minors willy-nilly under the guise of promoting parental authority."

For more on these cases visit http://www.cbldf.org

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