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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Monday, July 01, 2019


Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland


As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

1.) First Amendment Case Against Restrictive Copyright Law Can Proceed, Says Judge

A federal judge has ruled that litigation can go forward to determine whether Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act violates the First Amendment as applied.

EFF brought this litigation on behalf of security researcher Matt Green, technologist bunnie Huang, and bunnie's company Alphamax, in order to vindicate the right to speak, learn, and innovate despite this overly-broad and harmful law.

Originally passed to combat infringement, the sweeping language of Section 1201 allowed courts to interpret its provisions to leave out critical speech protections such as the fair use doctrine. This has interfered with educational uses of copyrighted works, accessibility, security research and art.

2.) 3CDC accused of violating CityBeat's Free Speech rights by seizing newspaper distribution boxes

CityBeat, a weekly alternative newspaper in Cincinnati, is accusing the nonprofit responsible for much of the development in Cincinnati's urban core of violating its First Amendment rights.

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp., otherwise known as 3CDC, recently began seizing distribution boxes belonging to CityBeat and other publications from sidewalks Downtown and in Over-the-Rhine.

3CDC said it began removing what it described as abandoned and unsightly boxes as part of its directive to help beautify the city through its recent merger with Downtown Cincinnati Inc. However, Cincinnati officials did not sanction the move, the development group acknowledged.

3.) Pipeline Protest Laws Spark Free Speech Concerns

Lawmakers in Texas passed a bill last month that they say will speed the construction of some 11,000 miles of pipeline by 2050 that is needed to keep the state's oil boom going: Any protester who blocks or otherwise "interferes" with the construction of an oil and gas pipeline, transmission line or other "critical infrastructure" project will face up to 10 years in prison – the same sentence given to some sex offenders, triggermen in driveby shootings and other felonies.

Opponents warn that the laws – by singling out a particular type of protest – mark a dangerous infringement on First Amendment protections of free speech and assembly.

The bill is expected to be signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. If he does, Texas will become the latest state to institute tough penalties aimed squarely at pipeline protesters. Such laws have been adopted in six states – Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee – and are pending in another seven, including Texas.

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