Hillary Clinton

Authoritarian Library Demands Censorship After Publication of Anti-Clinton Files

U of A proves once again that libraries are vestiges of Soviet thinking.


Jeshua Nace / Flickr

Proving once again that libraries are vestiges of Soviet thinking, an administrator at the University of Arkansas is insisting that a news outlet stop publishing files from university archives that paint Hillary Clinton in a bad light.

Earlier this week, the Washington Free Beacon published some Clinton audio files that it obtained from a University of Arkansas library collection. The files were located in a public library and freely handed over to the Free BeaconThey include a recording of Clinton joking about an accused rapist she once represented as a public defender and would seem to reflect poorly on the likely Democratic presidential candidate.

Many people are wondering if that's why the dean of of the university's libraries decided to retroactively ban Free Beacon staff members from using the facilities, charge them with "intellectual property rights" violations and "unauthorized publication" of library materials, and demand that they remove the recordings from their website.

The Free Beacon notes that the dean, Carolyn Henderson Allen, is a Clinton supporter who donated $500 to her 2007 presidential campaign. That makes Allen's cease and desist letter to the Free Beacon a hilarious blend of pure political retaliation and fealty to bureaucratic protocol:

I am writing to you to direct the Washington Free Beacon to cease and desist your ongoing violation of the intellectual property rights of the University of Arkansas with regard to your unauthorized publication of audio recordings obtained fro the Roy Red Collection in Special Collections at Mullins Library at the University of Arkansas, Fayettville.

Allen claimed she previously informed the Free Beacon's Alana Goodman that she would have to fill out a "permission to publish form" before publishing any of the material from the library. Since Goodman failed to do so, the Free Beacon is now banned:

I cautioned her that the failure to comply with this specific policy in the future would lead to the suspension of any research privileges with special collections. Accordingly this letter will now serve as formal notice that the research privileges for your organization and anyone acting on behalf of your organization are now officially suspended… based upon your willful failure to comply with the institution's policies and protocols.

But that's not all. Allen is also insisting that the Free Beacon take the audio recordings off its website, track down any copies that were made, and return them to the library:

To the extent you have copied and/or shared or distributed additional copies, you are hereby directed to take all necessary steps to retrieve such copies and provide them to Special Collections along with a certification of your efforts.

Allen is "very disappointed," she said:

The University, however, does not tolerate that blatant and willful disregard of its intellectual rights and properties.

Allen's properly-follow-proper-protocols approach to library policy is hilariously authoritarian. It's also quite clearly wrong. Free Beacon attorney Kurt Wimmer noted that the library handed over the files without any qualifications regarding their further dissemination. Additionally, the library has made no copyright claims on the files, so the accusation of intellectual property violation is dubious. Wimmer wrote in a letter to Allen:

At the outset, I find it stunning that you would seek to censor the dissemination of lawfully acquired information that is clearly in the public interest, given the historic role that libraries long have played in fostering free expression and the broad dissemination of information," Free Beacon attorney Kurt Wimmer wrote. "In addition to being entirely inaccurate as a matter of both law and fact, your letter is a clear assault on the First Amendment principles that are fundamental to libraries and to journalism."

For additional perspective, The Arkansas Project asked Robert Steinbuch, a professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a freedom of information expert, whether Allen has a right to restrict access to the files. She does not, he said:

Documents donated to a public library for public review are public documents. Once those documents are public documents, the library cannot restrict access to them because they don't like what the user has done with them.

It's really remarkable that this person has public access before they made critical comments, but then didn't have public access to these documents after he made critical comments…The archetype of government censorship is restricting access to public information to only those outlets that will write friendly stories.

Yeah, but… rules are rules! The Free Beacon probably didn't even have a library card, or anything.

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  1. Ummm, fuck you lady? Make me.

    1. Seriously. By all means Frau Doktor Professor, take a newspaper to court for publishing factually accurate and sourced content and see what a judge tells you.

    2. ENSIGN! Engage the Streisand Effect generator and fire at will!

  2. I’m guessing this fuckwit didn’t really think this through before expressing her deeply-felt outrage that anyone would criticize HillDog.

  3. Is there a “progressive” anywhere in America who isn’t a thoroughly vile cretin?

    1. There’s Hilldog, who’s more of a loathsome fuckwit.

  4. To be fair, the librarian probably didn’t want to write this incredibly stupid letter, but Hillary’s team probably sent her a photo of Vince Foster and another of Christopher Stephens and said “do the right thing”.

    1. Let’s be honest. Who wouldn’t be at least a little scared to receive a letter with pictures of these two and instructions?

  5. Bah, this is nothing compared to BINDERZ FULLA WIMMENZ!!!

  6. I hate the “rules are rules” defense(which clearly doesn’t even apply in this case). It was used when that 7 year old had her lemonade stand shut down. It’s the go-to defense for statists. Even if the rule is absolutely nonsensical, it MUST be followed because there’s no actual defense for the idiotic things those in power do.

    1. You know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to the rules. Even if the rules are horrifying.

      If tomorrow I tell the press that, like, a business will be sued because the toilet is 1/4in too close to the wall, or a guitar maker will be arrested, nobody panics, because it’s all. according. to. the. rules.

      But when I say that one little girl will open an unlicensed lemonade stand, well then everyone LOSES THEIR MINDS!

      1. +1 vanishing pencil.

      2. It tends to be: if the rules interfere with what My Side wants, they’re unreasonable restrictions on what is Good and True. But if the rules interfere with what the Other Side wants, tough shit, they’re the rules.

  7. Items in public libraries are available to the public but that doesn’t mean they have lost their copyright.

    1. Tony|6.20.14 @ 7:47PM|#
      “Items in public libraries are available to the public but that doesn’t mean they have lost their copyright.”

      It’s a real shame you can’t read; it would save you from making a bigger ass of yourself than you manage now:
      “Documents donated to a public library for public review are public documents. Once those documents are public documents, the library cannot restrict access to them because they don’t like what the user has done with them.”
      From the article.

      1. That is true but isn’t the issue the re-publication of copyrighted material?

        1. No, the issue is “embarrassing Hillary Clinton.”

        2. Even if that were the case (and I’m not sure it actually is), the library is not the copyright holder and has no cause for action.

    2. Items donated to a public library do not transfer their copyrights to that library, nor do they transfer the right to defend those rights to that library.


      Copyright law has long allowed excerpts for review, satire, and critiquing purposes.

      1. Those are both true, though there may be a wrinkle with respect to “special collections.” I don’t know. I’m too busy starting to drink to research this.

        1. While its not impossible that Clinton transferred the copyright over as part of the donation (which would give the library the option to defend that CP), the work is not going to get any special protection from the law just because its a ‘special collection’.

          Short of a contractual limit (which the newspaper says they did not have – that the material was turned over without such) then it gets the same protections as any other CP material.

          1. Which means you can’t republish in whole form.

            1. Fair use may be applied where finding of infringement would either be unfair or undermine “the progress of science and the useful arts.” The preamble of the copyright act lists some examples of uses typically considered as fair.

              “[C]opies for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

              1. I fail to see what science or useful art is being progressed by rightwing assholes digging up meaningless dirt for partisan reasons, but you guys are probably in the right on this one.

                1. You also failed to see the bolded ‘news reporting’ in the post above.

                  Personally – I consider the opinions and statements of a politician/potential office-seeker to be news, no matter how old they are.

                  If she’s changed stance since then, let her repudiate it.

                  Dirt, on politicians, is *always* news.

                  1. I said you’re probably right. You have your pound of flesh. I suggest you take your victory and move on.

                    1. Tony says we’ve won. So, we should drop this now. Move along people, nothing to see here.

                2. You mean like meaningless dirt Team Clinton has dug up in the past…oh, wait. SFB

                3. rightwing assholes digging up meaningless dirt for partisan reasons

                  Not to be confused with lefting crusaders for transparency in the public interest.

                  Never change, Tony.

                4. Tony|6.20.14 @ 8:40PM|#
                  “I fail to see what science or useful art is being progressed by rightwing assholes digging up meaningless dirt for partisan reasons”…

                  You’ve certainly never failed to see what a brain-dead lefty asshole would claim about any subject ever posted here.
                  You have made those claims, brain-dead lefty asshole.

                  1. Renounce Clinton for the proven scum she is. Surely you have a better left wing candidate to put up on the block? 300 million Americans to choose from.

                    1. I’d possibly vote for Warren over Clinton in a primary.

                5. She was laughing how she got a rapist off on a technicality. You call this ‘meaningless dirt’. Sounds meaningful to me.

                  I mean, not as meaningful as Mitt putting a dog on a roof of a car for a trip. Now, that is worth talking about for a year or more by virtually every news outlet. But, laughing about getting a rapist set free, and you knew he was a rapist? Nah…that is obviously completely meaningless.

  8. Wow, knowing the tendencies of some librarians (who shall remain name free), I bet she writes some really wild slash fanfic of her favorite politicians.

  9. Also, the Skwerlularity seems to have been reversed, but at what cost? AT WHAT COST!?!?

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