Apparently the US Army is interested in a zealous interpretation of copyright protection, too.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a Chelsea Manning supporter recently attempted to mail Manning a series of printed EFF articles about prisoner rights.
Those materials were withheld and not delivered to her because, according to the EFF, the correspondence contained “printed Internet materials, including email, of a volume exceeding five pages per day or the distribution of which may violate U.S. copyright laws.”Other materials, including lengthy Bureau of Prisons documents, were allowed through, and so the EFF concludes that “it was potentially copyright concerns that resulted in Manning’s mail being censored.”
Manning, who is serving a 35-year military prison term for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, has previously had run-ins with military prison authorities over alleged “reading contraband.”
On February 11, EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn wrote to the commandant of the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Fort Leavenworth, explaining that not only did EFF grant permission for Manning to receive the materials, but that all EFF content is published under a Creative Commons license.
On Tuesday, EFF wrote:
As of Monday morning, EFF has received no response from the Army explaining the matter or clarifying why the material was withheld. Manning has also not received the documents. We have since put the documents in the mail ourselves.
It is tremendously important to EFF that people who are incarcerated have access to our materials.
For example, our Creative Commons license allows Prison Legal News to regularly republish our work in its periodical, which is widely circulated in corrections facilities nationwide.
We also believe that there are many pages on the Internet, freely available to anyone with a Web browser, which would prove edifying to prisoners. We would be deeply concerned by a prison policy that blocked any copyrighted works from the Web being printed and distributed to prisoners, as this would block the overwhelming majority of news articles and academic publications.
In the case of the materials denied to Manning, we hope that the Army made a mistake and does not have a policy of misusing copyright to deny prisoners access to important materials that the general public can freely access.
Fort Leavenworth did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.