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FEPP Archives - Commentaries


Book Banning in the 21st Century: What's at Stake in the CIPA Case
(March 20, 2002; updated May 31, 2002, June 23, 2003) - The "Children's Internet Protection Act" - or CIPA - mandates that all public schools and libraries using federal funds for Internet use or connections must install a filtering system. Given the well-documented fact that all Internet filters mistakenly block thousands of sites that don't even have sexual content, CIPA poses a major threat to intellectual freedom, and indeed, to the very function of libraries.

Our Children's Hearts, Minds, and Libidos: What's at Stake in the COPA Case
(April 18, 2002) - and the Kama Sutra screen saver were just a few of the sites threatened with censorship as the Supreme Court prepared to rule in Ashcroft vs. ACLU.

Youth Free Expression Network: The Making of a Movement
(May 22, 2002) - A Report on the May 3, 2002 Colloquium, "Strategies for Advancing the Free Expression Rights of Youth."

The Delicate Balance Between Copyright and Free Expression
(June 3, 2002) - How a battle over the public domain became a major Supreme Court free expression case.

The Next Frontier: "Intellectual Property" and Intellectual Freedom
(October 2002) - FEPP Director Marjorie Heins's Julie M. Boucher Memorial Lecture to the Colorado Association of Libraries, outlining threats to art and culture posed by current copyright law.

The Miracle: Film Censorship and the Entanglement of Church and State
(October 2002) - How the Catholic Church pressured New York State into banning a short Italian film in 1951, leading to a major Supreme Court case and reflecting church-state problems that plague American politics to this day.

Corporate Censorship and Media Democracy: A Report on the ACME Summit
(November 2002) - Stephanie Elizondo Griest describes this major meeting of media democracy and media literacy activists in October 2002, and on the ways that consolidation in the media industry threatens free expression.

Culture on Trial: The Story of 3 Landmark Censorship Cases
(Winter 2002) - The trial that freed James Joyce's Ulysses; the case that broke the Catholic Church stranglehold over American movies; and the McCarthy Era case that ended teachers' loyalty oaths.


The Frozen Public Domain
(January 17, 2003) - The Supreme Court's January 15, 2003 decision upholding the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act was a disappointment for those who believe in a vibrant public domain.

The Strange Case of Sarah Jones
(January 24, 2003; updated February 20, 2003) - Where does the federal government get the power to ban a feminist rap poem?

Words on Fire: Book Censorship in America Today
(March 13, 2003) - At the opening of Boston's Words on Fire festival commemorating the 70th anniversary of the first Nazi book burnings, a survey of book censorship in America today.

The Impact of the USA PATRIOT Act on Free Expression
(May 5, 2003) - FEPP Senior Research Fellow Nancy Kranich surveys the chilling effects of the government's broad, new, secret surveillance powers.

Ignoring the Irrationality of Internet Filters, the Supreme Court Upholds CIPA
(June 24, 2003) - The Supreme Court's decision allowing Congress to mandate Internet filters in public libraries as a condition of federal aid ignores or understates the massive censorious effects of filters. In many ways, they are more insidious than flat bans on "indecent" speech.

More Than Seven Dirty Words
(August 4, 2003) - The FCC's threat to revoke broadcast licenses because of vulgar radio content focuses on a truly gross call-in show describing such bizarre sexual practices as "the Rusty Trombone," but the broader issue is the unconstitutionality of the agency's vague "indecency" standard.

New Government Report is a Sales Pitch for Internet Filters
(August 20, 2003) - The National Telecommunications and Information Administration's flawed new report naively accepts the claims of filter manufacturers.

Update on the Perils of the "USA PATRIOT Act"
(August 27, 2003) - An update from Senior Research Fellow Nancy Kranich on the chilling effects of the government's new surveillance powers.

MATRIX and the New Surveillance States
(October 16, 2003) - Senior Research Fellow Nancy Kranich describes the perils of our newest data-mining technology.

The Crumbling Wall of Church-State Separation
(October 29, 2003) - Why the Pledge of Allegiance case is not the most important church-state issue before the Supreme Court in the 2003 term.

The Media Democracy Movement Goes to Madison
(November 14, 2003) - A report from the front lines on the movement for media reform, diversity, and an end to corporate domination of public discourse.

Media Researchers Cancel
(November 21, 2003) - Why did two media violence researchers back out of their scheduled appearance at the FTC?


What is the Fuss About Janet Jackson's Breast?
(February 3, 2004) - How do mini-culture wars get started, when there are so many more pressing issues on the public-policy agenda?

Disney and Corporate Censorship
(May 21, 2004) - What's the real problem with the Walt Disney Company's refusal to distribute Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11?

The Right Result; the Wrong Reason
(July 1, 2004) - In ruling that Internet filters are a "less restrictive alternative" to COPA, a criminal law restricting sexual material online, the Supreme Court endorsed a technology with the potential for far greater censorship.

Structural Free Expression Issues
(September 10, 2004) - How the copyright system, media regulation, and government funding affect free speech.

Trashing the Copyright Balance
(September 21, 2004) - A new court decision outlaws rap music's unauthorized sampling of even one chord from another sound recording.

The Attack on Science
(December 7, 2004) - From environmental hazards to sex education, the federal government in the past several years has been twisting science to political ends.

The Free Expression Policy Project began in 2000 as a project of the National Coalition Against Censorship, to provide empirical research and policy development on tough censorship issues and seek free speech-friendly solutions to the concerns that drive censorship campaigns. In 2004-2007, it was part of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Past funders have included the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Open Society Institute, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

All material on this site is covered by a Creative Commons "Attribution - No Derivs - NonCommercial" license. (See You may copy it in its entirely as long as you credit the Free Expression Policy Project and provide a link to the Project's Web site. You may not edit or revise it, or copy portions, without permission (except, of course, for fair use). Please let us know if you reprint!