Is this child-safety law censorship?

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Is this child-safety law censorship?

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1PitcherBooks
Mar 15, 2009, 2:45pm

Is a child-safety law intended to protect children's health but which denies children under the age of 12 from buying pre-1985 books censorship? I think it is. What do you think?

A well-intentioned but poorly-written law, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's Website has made pre-1985 children's books an endangered item. The devil is in the details. For more info please read the discussions and check at the links at
www.flickr.com/groups/cpsiabooks/

Pre-1985 Endangered Book. Please take the time to read and sign this petition...
www.ipetitions.com/petition/RepealCPSIA/

2stephmo
Mar 15, 2009, 3:04pm

At the end of January, the new head of the CPSC recognized that the new law was rather hastily put together and delayed implementation of the law for a year:

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09115.html

But that only applies to new - the CPSC clarified that resellers didn't have to meet testing requirements in January:

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09086.html

Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

The one caveat is that a used seller can't sell previously recalled items. I don't know how many books have been recalled for safety issues, but that would be the one issue they'd have to meet.

3PitcherBooks
Mar 16, 2009, 12:10pm

Actually, the law isn't that clear. News of book-dumping by thrift stores, 2nd hand stores, small retailers and public libraries have already been reported. Even in reading the links you supply, I would not swear that these type of sellers would not also be considered resellers. No clear definition is given. Callers to CPSIA by concerned shops have simply been told in order to be absolutely sure, they need to test in 2009. Hence the petition by one of the shops I buy from.

The way it reads to me is that these types of shops are not required to test or certify items as lead-free but will remain liable if they do sell items containing lead. Say what? Books are not a lead-free item. This sounds like it stops sales of used books. How many small shops or libraries can afford or would be willing to take on that kind of liability?

"The stay of enforcement on testing and certification does not address thrift and second hand stores and small retailers because they are not required to test and certify products under the CPSIA. The products they sell, including those in inventory on February 10, 2009, must not contain more than 600 ppm lead in any accessible part. The Commission is aware that it is difficult to know whether a product meets the lead standard without testing and has issued guidance for these companies..."
(AS OF 2009, these types of shops nor pre-1985 books do not appear to be excluded.)
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09086.html

"Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards." (Not required to certify... okay)

"The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. (Not required to certify... still okay)

HOWEVER, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit
(So you can't sell these leaded children's products)
and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content,
(so you shouldn't keep leaded items such as books in stock ?)
unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit."
(unless you have test info on them!)

"Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties."
( Pre-1985 books aren't lead-free. It's a fact. Even if a kid wanted to buy an old book cheap at the Good Will, what small shop would stock them when faced with these kind of penalties? The makings of Fahrenheit 451!)
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09086.html

As far as recalled items, I checked from this year back to 1984 and the only books listed were novelty items with items such as following attached to the book... jewelry, plastic gemstones, baby rattles, snaps, bead, sponges, balloons, boxes, snaps, bolts... which could pose choking hazards.

4lilithcat
Mar 16, 2009, 12:49pm

No, it's not censorship. Censorship means restricting a book's circulation based on what it says, not on what it's physically made of.

There may be arguments against this law as written, but to call it "censorship" harms the opponents' case, because it makes them seem shrill and ignorant.

5stephmo
Mar 16, 2009, 12:50pm

Fine - be reactionary. They're sorting out the lead issue. Let's be logical, shall we?

1. This addresses selling to 12-year-old children. If said 12-year-old has an older person with them or an adult, said older person or adult is free to buy the item.

2. Most parents wanted this law originally due to the problems with lead toys that were causing real illness. This law is a matter of "be careful what you wish for." Now that it's been signed, the CPSC is doing what it can to navigate the new legislation.

3. It's NOT censorship. Period.

You have an issue with a consumer protection law that people were demanding without thinking through all of the issues. Well, they got the law and now everyone realizes that you can't protect the world from everything, but the gordion knot of legislation is in place.

By the way, the "news reports" of 2nd hand book stores, thrift stores, libraries dumping books? Those were early-on stories of stores removing entire children's sections the day the law was passed - they were over-reacting to the law as a whole, not just to the books.

If you want to draw attention to bad legislation, fine. Just don't try to dress it up as censorship.

None of this legislation prevents a book from getting to someone. Even the more histronic posts about beautiful editions that will be "no more" are incredibly misleading. There's no edition that cannot be reproduced with the original illustrations if there's a market for it. If an adult wants to buy these books from a collectable shop, they can choose to do so - a 12-year old cannot wander into a shop independently and plop down their cash alone to do it.

6PitcherBooks
Mar 16, 2009, 6:25pm

I asked an honest question. And appreciated lilithcat's clear definition.

I won't call the results of this questionable law censorhip in the future as I surely wouldn't wish to be considered shrill or ignorant. I do apologize for my ignorance and my error. But thankfully, that has been remedied here.

I believe that solid information is always helpful. I may have an opinion that you may not agree with... but to resort to name-calling? Reactionary? Histronic? I fail to see how that tactic is ever instructive or helpful.

Protecting small tots from gnawing lead-painted anything is a great idea. Preventing kids from independently buying books is overkill. I have not read anything that provides assurance that other undesireable and unintended consequences will not be resulting from the law as it is.

And if anyone knows for certain that CPSIA is doing it's darndest to "navigate the new legislation," can they also tell me exactly what that phrase means in concrete and specific terms regarding books and cite their source.

Feel free to leave helpful, instructive and non-insulting information regarding the law in the comments section of my librarything page. Just don't try to dress up rudeness as logic. I definitely got the message that is not the forum for my concerns as disallowing book circulation based on its construction is not censorship. Got the message.

I may have made an error but I can learn. And I did indeed learn something of value here. My thanks.

7stephmo
Mar 16, 2009, 8:55pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

8FicusFan
Mar 17, 2009, 4:17pm



Just saw this news article from AP about the law and the pre 1985 books, which the CPSC is urging be taken off the shelves.

Libraries are not complying, but whether its lead in the ink or the actual content of the book, the end result could be the same.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090317/ap_on_re_us/lead_in_books

9PitcherBooks
Mar 18, 2009, 11:21pm

Encouraging article, FicusFan. Thanks. And you make a good point.

Semantics aside, a rose by any other name, etc... A ban of books regardless of reason is a book ban. Whether a ban is based on content or construction, the book will be gone.

10stephmo
Editado: Mar 19, 2009, 8:27am

Whether a ban is based on content or construction, the book will be gone.

Not true.

Stop being an alarmist. Go back, read the article. The ALA points out that there aren't 24-year-old books in their collections. This is a matter of principle to them because they don't sell books. They also point out that books would never hit the highest lead level standards.

In your earlier posts - the ones where you weren't being a reactionary,you said this:

The products they sell, including those in inventory on February 10, 2009, must not contain more than 600 ppm lead in any accessible part. The Commission is aware that it is difficult to know whether a product meets the lead standard without testing

And yet the ALA has access to test results stating this:

The publishing and printing industries set up a Web site for book publishers last December to post the results of studies measuring the lead in books and their components, such as ink and paper. Those results show lead levels that were often undetectable and consistently below not only the new federal threshold, but the more stringent limit that goes into effect in August 2011.

So now you want us to take your new statement:


Semantics aside, a rose by any other name, etc... A ban of books regardless of reason is a book ban. Whether a ban is based on content or construction, the book will be gone.


At face value?

Fine - give me the title of a single book - still in print today - that will stop being printed as a result of this.

An out-of-print book is not banned. There is simply no longer demand for it. The Banned Book group does not fight to get OOP books back in print. I want to know if Where the Wild things Are is going out of print because of this pre-1985 ban. Give me a citation on The Outsiders no longer being printed today because it was written before 1985. Give me the articles showing that no child will find a new copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because of this law...

This is the information that cannot be tossed around lightly. A book BAN means no one can ever get a copy of the book ever.

Edit - to close tag.

11lilithcat
Mar 19, 2009, 8:41am

> 9

Whether a ban is based on content or construction, the book will be gone.

That is simply untrue.

The book as a physical object may be gone in both cases. But in the former, no copies will be permitted, and the content will not be available at all. In the latter case, the library can simply purchase different editions.

When people claim that this is "censorship", they lose credibility.

12stephmo
Mar 19, 2009, 10:16am

And before we queue the good/nice meanie/helpful response - I'll give you some advise. Let the censorship angle go.

You want some legs for your cause? Rework your post. Look up "etsy action pack" and look at the first 4 pages of their package - you'll see that they didn't bother with ipetition until the end. It was all about who to contact within the government to get attention.

Grab the publisher site on the lead level studies - grab any FAQ they have - e-mail and ask for one. Rework your original post so it doesn't mention "banning" but discusses the potential loss of collectable works to folks that will misunderstand the new legislation or thoughtlessly toss inventory because they don't understand that the books are safe. Put together a solid FAQ on the lead levels in Books that can be printed. Encourage people to print out the FAQ to take to their local used book stores, thrift stores and goodwills on their books.

And post it in Book Talk. Not in Banned Books.

13PitcherBooks
Editado: Mar 19, 2009, 2:08pm

"...the potential loss of collectable works to folks that will misunderstand the (the unclear and poorly written) new legislation (that threatens the livelihood of small shops with civil and criminal penalties) or thoughtlessly (?) toss inventory because they (?) don't understand that the books are safe."

As always your kind help is appreciated.

14PitcherBooks
Mar 19, 2009, 2:23pm

An excellent read... I don't believe it's banned. http://www.librarything.com/work/134588/book/26341684

15PitcherBooks
Editado: Mar 23, 2009, 3:10pm

You guys are right. The books technically are not legally banned.

Ban. The Merriam Webster Defintion: To prohibit especially by legal means. That's the term. Children under age 12 are BANNED from buying pre-1985 books. What the hey, they're just kids. And it's just old books.

A well-intentioned but poorly-written law, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's Website has made pre-1985 children's books an endangered item. The devil is in the details. For more info please read the discussions and check at the links at
http://www.flickr.com/groups/cpsiabooks/

Small shops that include used books in their stock are, in effect, financially rather than legally banned from carrying used books in 2010 until provisions regarding liability issues are made clear. Hence the petition.

Pre-1985 Endangered Book. Please take the time to read and sign this petition...
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/RepealCPSIA/

16DeputyHeadmistress
Editado: Mar 27, 2009, 4:43pm

It is not true that you can sell a book to a grown up, just not a child.. No pre-1985 books intended for the use of children are legal to sell without testing, no matter who is buying them.

It is false that there are no 24 year old books in libraries. I dn't know know why the ALA says that. It depends entirely on the library. I have access three library systems, two quite small. The smallest has more older books than new ones. The middle sized one is pulling all their pre-1985 books, and it's a few hundred.
the largest is taking a wait and see approach, and they have a couple thousand.

Nor is it true that this is merely a matter of principle with the ALA since they don't sell books. Libraries sell books all the time- it's one of their primary fund-raisers, selling books they have withdrawn. And my local library is afraid they cannot legally sell the pre-1985 books they have withdrawn, and they have already spoken to disposal companies about it.

The law says it is illegal to sell or distribute in commerce, untested products intended for the use of children 12 and under. Lawyers differ as to whether or not libraries distribute in commerce.

In August the testing required shifts to wet-testing, which destroys the book. So even if you can afford to get a pre-1985 book you wish to sell tested, the law requires the destruction of that book in order to find out if it is legal for you to sell it. And if five different used book-sellers own five different copies of The King With Six Friends, we each have to get our copy tested- the testing one business does cannot be used for another business- this means that obeying the law will result in the destruction of multiple copies of the same books, drastically reducing the numbers of those copies available to us all.

And CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore called for the sequestering of all pre-1985 children's books in libraries. The end result does not look much different from the end results of censorship or book-banning.

17PitcherBooks
Editado: Mar 28, 2009, 11:56am

Deputy Headmistress... Would you please post a copy of your response to the CPSIA endangered books group! You address concerns on so many levels! Thanks. Pat...

CAPITAL HILL RALLY TO AMEND CPSIA.

I just received this email (probably from signing the petition) and think it's worth sharing. If anyone is able to attend, I'd be happy to meet them there :-)

Amend The CPSIA
www.AmendTheCPSIA.com

Dear Supporter,

I am sure you are aware of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and the unintended and disastrous consequences this ill written law has on our National economy. Businesses large to small have been working to Amend this Law and so far, without success. However, I am very pleased to announce that Amend the CPSIA is organizing a Rally on Capital Hill, April 1st from 10am EST to 11:30am EST. For complete information regarding this historic event please visit our website at AmendtheCPSIA.com. We will have congressional representation, industry leaders and businesses owners, affected and outraged by this law, there to speak on behalf of all of our businesses that are currently in jeopardy. I urge you to participate and there are many ways to do so via the website. You can:
Join us at the Rally! Click here for more information.

Submit your personal story online about how this law has affected you and your business.
Get Involved with our organization and let your voice be heard! Click here for more information.

We have a large list of Sponsors including Goodwill Industries, Handmade Toy Alliance, Motorcycle Industry Council, and the Alliance for Children’s Product Safety, just to name a few. The list showcases the broad impact this law has on so many vital organizations in our communities.

We invite you to join us at the Rally. Please submit a Registration form* (*not required to attend) so that we can keep track of attendees at the event. We also ask that you subscribe to the site so that you can receive email updates as they are posted. At the Rally there will be a check in table with information about the impacts of the CPSIA, samples of products affected, and great souvenirs to buy to help defer the costs of the event.

We truly appreciate your ongoing support to Amend the CPSIA. Participate and be heard!

Let's keep children's products safe, and American businesses in business!

Sincerely

Dawn Michelle LaPolla
Amend the CPSIA

18hailelib
Abr 17, 2009, 12:19pm

Anyone have any updates?

19PitcherBooks
Abr 21, 2009, 11:32am

This is all the news I could find, hailelib. And it's really not much :-(

CPSIA: Things I learned at the rally
by Walter Olson on April 6, 2009
http://overlawyered.com/2009/04/cpsia-things-i-learned-at-the-rally/

cpsia book fact sheet.04-03-2009
A two page summary of how CPSIA harms children, businesses, libraries and schools by banning children's books printed 1984 and earlier.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/13922774/cpsia-book-fact-sheet

20drbubbles
Abr 21, 2009, 11:48am

"The end result does not look much different from the end results of censorship or book-banning."

Yes, it does, because there is nothing to prevent the republication of those books. Censorship and book-banning is not about physical objects, it's about information.

21PitcherBooks
Editado: Abr 21, 2009, 6:24pm

Rather than re-hashing old news and old views...
Does anyone have any cpsia amendment news since the rally?

22PitcherBooks
Abr 21, 2009, 6:29pm

This is from the Amend the CPSIA Site and there is space to leave comments there too.

Barton & Others Propose H.R. 1815 - Possible Relief
April 8, 2009 by Dana

The submission of the bill HR 1815 by Rep Barton and a handful of other Representatives is meant to clarify the applicability of certain provisions of the CPSIA (and for other purposes).

We recommend that you read this bill and then contact your your representatives to ask that they co-sponsor or vote in favor of this bill.
http://amendthecpsia.com/2009/04/barton-others-propose-hr-1815-possible-relief/

23Tid
Abr 21, 2009, 6:46pm

Humour this poor ignorant Brit please? Can someone tell me, what on earth is the connection between books and lead? (We never heard of this in the UK, and we banned lead in petrol and childrens toys decades ago).

24FicusFan
Abr 21, 2009, 6:52pm

There is apparently a small amount of lead in the ink in old children's books. A new law has provisions to remove old children's books from shops and libraries, unless they can prove through testing that the book is safe (no lead).

Not everything has been implemented, and there are disagreements about interpretation.

25Tid
Abr 21, 2009, 6:55pm

Oh! I wouldn't have guessed that. (Children over the age of two licking the pages of their books didn't even cross my mind!!)

26AngelaB86
Abr 21, 2009, 7:11pm

Tid: that's because you're not a politician, and therefore haven't had the prerequisite lobotomy that comes with the job.

27Tid
Abr 22, 2009, 7:55am

LOL

28DeputyHeadmistress
Abr 24, 2009, 1:13pm

To be a bit ore accurate, there are small amounts of lead in the substrate of SOME old children's books, by no means all. The new law has provisions to remove ALL products, not just books, but any product at all, coats, socks, beds, pillows, pillowcases, balls, shoes, hats, blocks, bikes, dolls, toothbrushes, and on on, intended for the use of children 12 and under unless they can first prove through expensive, destructive, third party wet testing that the item has no lead.

This is not the same as proving the item is 'safe,' as lead must be ingested in certain amounts to be dangerous and enter the child's blood stream.

There is no evidence that lead in a book has ever entered a child's blood stream. There is no evidence that it can.

The law is being applies retroactively to all products, regardless of when they were created, and libraries, thrift shops, schools, and Amazon are just a few of the 'distributors' affected.

The new lead limits are so small that a child would have to eat his weight in stickers that have lead in the inks before it resulted in a measurable increase in the blood stream, but it doesn't matter.
The new lead limits are so miniscule and so draconian that the tiny amount of lead in the tire valve stem on bicycles and motorbikes means these products are now illegal- even though the amount of lead a child might absorb in the worst case scenario is less than that he would get from a glass of water. Or breathing.

29DeputyHeadmistress
Abr 24, 2009, 1:31pm

There is plenty to prevent their republication. For many of the older books, the plates were destroyed when the book run was finished. Furthermore, since the new law also calls for highly expensive and destructive third party testing of all the components in the book- every different color of ink, the page materials and the pages, the material used for binding, staples, the stickers used to price the books, and then the finished book itself again it will be impossible to reprint many of them. We're looking thousands of dollars to test a single book

AND a new book with new words in it is considered a new product, the process has to be gone through all over again for every new book.

Then there are the labeling requirements and batch number issues- change the source of one color of your ink, and the testing begins again. It's a new 'batch.'

Since the plates were destroyed, and businesses can be fined thousands of dollars (per violation, and keep in mind that mere paperwork foul ups are 'violations'), since many works are 'orphan works' and the copyright holders cannot be located, since the price of printing a book just went up exponentially, since the law empowered fifty states' attorneys general to go after any violation, even those of mere paperwork technicalities, and litigation groups can shop verdicts around, targeting businesses they do not like to win hefty lawsuits (it will be cheaper to settle out of court), so many thrift shops and some libraries are throwing away these books right now, given these and a multitude of other factors (it would help if those who think it's no big deal would read the law and the statements Commisioner Moore has made about 'sequestering' books), in fact, there are plenty of factors in place to prevent the republication of those books, and hence to cause a reduction of information available, whether intended or not.

It is now illegal for anybody in America to sell a book to anybody, anywhere, if that book was published before 1985 if that book is intended for the use of a child 12 and under.

It is now illegal for anybody in the world to sell a book to any American location of that is a book published before 1985 and intended for the use of children 12 and under.

Here's more from Publisher'sWeekly:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6648646.html?industryid=47152

30Tid
Abr 24, 2009, 1:37pm

"so many thrift shops and some libraries are throwing away these books right now"

Since Google are well into their major project to copy and digitally store every book ever published, then those shops and libraries should be sending just one copy to Google to allow it to be digitised and thus preserved for posterity.

Google can then dispose of the "toxic" material.

31drbubbles
Abr 24, 2009, 2:02pm

In banning, intent is everything. It is the volumes that are being "banned" in this instance, not their contents. That is the difference, and perhaps it is too subtle for you, but it is there nonetheless. The end does not name the means.

32PitcherBooks
Abr 24, 2009, 2:10pm

Deputy Headmistress... Thank you for such a thorough and comprehensive evaluation of this distressing situation. Hopefully, anyone who cares in the least about books will contact their Reps in Congress!

33Tid
Abr 24, 2009, 2:14pm

> 31

Your point has been covered already, much higher up this thread, and at great length. It apparently didn't seem too subtle for those making it there.

Perhaps reading those earlier posts involves much effort, but they are there nonetheless.

34FicusFan
Abr 24, 2009, 2:24pm


No it really isn't. The consequences are everything.

If old books are removed from the library and from shops there will be the same impact as banning. Just because they can be reprinted, doesn't mean they will be. If there is no profit in it, the publishers won't do it. The libraries have limited budgets, and are unlikely to be able to replace all their old books anyway. Finally, if the publishers still hold the rights, the books can't be put up on-line for free browsing.

This is a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees.