BiblioBytes: ACLU Supreme Court FAQ for ACLU v. Reno I

March 19, 1997

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What is BiblioBytes? 

BiblioBytes offers downloadable books via the Internet at http://www.bb.com. A customer selects a book- say, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer or Gadget Man by Ron Goulart- pays for it, and then downloads their own copy. 

    This service benefits our customers as it:
  • Saves them time and money by allowing customers to shop at home.  
  • Eliminates conventional distribution costs and inefficiencies.  
  • Offers more useful features than paper books, including ease of search.  
  • Guarantees that a book will never be out of stock.  
  • Helps the environment.

BiblioBytes, has been at the forefront of the exploding electronic publishing industry, leading the way in intellectual property rights negotiations, secured internet sales, and freedom of expression on the Internet. BiblioBytes was also the first company to conduct a secure electronic transaction over the Internet, back in July of 1994. 

BiblioBytes became a plaintiff in ACLU v. Reno in order to protect the constitutional right to publish literature freely. In becoming plaintiffs, we were placed at ground zero of the culture clash between some of the most virulent ideologies of the past millennium. 

Who is Glenn Hauman? 

Glenn Hauman is the publisher and primary stockholder of BiblioBytes. 

As author, designer, and editor of a book promoting AIDS prevention and safer sex practices through the widespread distribution of condoms, Mr. Hauman produced his first book while a senior in New York University's Communications Studies department. As such, he came into full contact with traditional book publishing. He was able to observe with a critical eye the faults and foibles of the publishing, production, and distribution areas of the industry. Fascinated by computers since elementary school, he began work on a practicable way to correct those problems using modern technology. The result is BiblioBytes. 

As president of BiblioBytes, he has been at the the cutting edge of the Internet, leading BiblioBytes to preeminence in commercial electronic publishing. He wrote many of the first "electronic rights" publishing clauses in the industry, which have become standard models for many publishers and agents. He has been a featured speaker on the future of publishing at numerous industry trade shows, conventions, organization meetings, and the World Science Fiction Convention in Winnipeg. 

He has had over ten years of experience in publishing. He has written for Baen Books, Boulevard Books, Byron Preiss Multimedia, and Marvel Comics, and done production work for Random House, Simon & Schuster, Times Mirror Magazines, Facts on File, Wiley-Liss, IEEE Publishing, DC Comics, and Digital Pre-Press Inc. 

He also has over seven years of experience with the computer industry, most notably hosting New York's first public demonstration of "virtual reality" technology to a sold-out lecture audience at New York University with Dr. Timothy Leary. He is also on the organizing commitee of the World Wide Web Artists Consortium and the chair of their NetLaw special interest group. 

He is perhaps best known as the coiner of Hauman's Law, which states, "The overall value of a content collection is equivalent to the amount of accessible content squared." Together with Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law, Hauman's Law helps describes the value and utility of the Internet. 

What is this trial really about? 

This trial is about the most important ideological battle taking place in the world today, the one that will be shaping the world our children grow up in. 

This is about a war- not the dangerous kind with bullets and bombs and babies being beaten and burned, but the truly dangerous kind- the war of ideas, the battle over people's minds and thoughts. It's an old war, one that's been going on ever since people started communicating amongst themselves and wishing that the guy saying the dumb stuff over there would just shut up. 

This is about what happened when the U.S. Marshal came to tame the Frontier- or it's about what happened when the White Man came to meet the Indians. 

And finally, this is about the digital revolution- not the one everybody "predicted" where everybody would have a computer on their desk linked to a pager on their hip or an implant in their cerebral cortex, but an old-style political revolution where old governments are being overthrown, subverted, or simply made irrelevant to the new age of empowering technology in the hands of the masses. 

This is the story of how the online community became the most powerful political force in America. The online community is the largest voluntary organization in the world. Bar none. Currently estimated at 40 million users worldwide, it crosses national, ethnic, gender, age, and ideological lines. And it is growing at an exponential rate- it is accepted as a general rule of thumb that the user population doubles every ten to twelve months. In the United States alone, current users outnumber the population of New England. And they vote- studies show that 25% of the voters in the 1996 election visited a web site to find out more about their candidates. 

But most importantly, this is about people- idealists and hackers, lawyers and philosophers, cops and peddlers, politicians and priests, zealots and fanatics, millionaires and madmen. It's about the people who meant good and did bad, and the ones who looked bad and did good. Because despite everything that's said about copper, fiber, and silicon, it's people that make up the real backbone of the Internet- and today, the Supreme Court saw what the backbone of the Internet is made of. 

What's at stake with the Supreme Court decision? 

Depending on who you listen to, at stake is nothing less than the complete fulfillment of the First Amendment, the toppling of the United States Government, the creation of a new society, the overthrow of the media monopoly, the innocence of our children, the freedom of our minds, the salvation of artists, the liberation of criminals, or the damnation of our souls. 

We at BiblioBytes believe that all of the above are at stake- the fulfillment of the First Amendment, creation of a new society, and the freedom of our minds if we prevail, for we will have upheld the basic rights of men and women to breathe free- and the toppling of the United States Government, the innocence of our children, and the damnation of our souls if we fail, for we will have squandered the most precious gift our ancestors fought for, the gift of liberty and justice for all. 

We can only hope that the Honorable Justices uphold the principles upon which we base all the laws in the United States- the principles of liberty and freedom for all men and women to think what they want, believe what they will, and dream all they can.

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