Jon Johansen -- yes, that Jon Johansen -- points to an interesting post over in the Hymn forums by a user calling himself "laudmusic." Writes the user, "I work for major music publisher. We buy and convert files from ITMS as it's cheaper than buying a whole CD from a one-stop when we need a master of a song we control. Would love to have it AppleScriptable so I can incorporate Hymn into our creative system."
Is swearing in a foreign language okay? How about using slang "code words" for certain body parts or sex acts? Will the FCC give you a break for the inadvertant slip of the tongue -- you know, those tricky words and phrases with a double entendre/meaning, one of which is "clean"?
The New York Times has an nice editorial on the decision (PDF) in U.S. v. Councilman, arguing that "Congress ought to update the law to make it clear that email is entitled to the same protection as a phone call."
When you click on "send" to deliver that email note to your lover, mother or boss, you realize that you are not communicating directly with that person. As you well know, you have stored the email on the computer of your Internet service provider, which, as you also know, may read, copy and use the note for its own purposes before sending it on.
The Houston Chronicle has a disturbing-yet-amusing tale of airline security gone awry with a disturbing and not-so-amusing ending: security officials adding an innocent man to the Homeland Security watch list.
When we envision a worst-case scenario for hacking electronic voting machines, many of us imagine a group of political zealots with a cracker-for-hire, or a lonely teenager looking for his 15 minutes of fame. But what about the people who have relatively easy access to the machines?
Avi Rubin proposes that the question (PDF) security experts should be asking about e-voting machines is whether a machine rigged to favor a particular candidate could actually make it into an election:
This is not a hacking challenge where a team of computer security experts tries to break into or tamper with voting machines. That is not my primary concern with voting equipment. My challenge is aimed directly at the certification and deployment of [paperless voting machines].
Four quick pointers on the Inducing Infringements of Copyright Act (a.k.a. Induce Act), which by extending copyright liability to those who "induce" infringement would give copyright holders an incredibly powerful tool to hamper the development of technologies like the iPod:
USA Today: "Internet search giants Google and Yahoo, chipmaker Intel, Internet service provider Verizon, auctioneer eBay, website operator Cnet Networks, and phone company MCI are among 42 companies and groups who signed a letter that will be delivered Tuesday to bill author Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, requesting hearings on the issue.
The news spin seems to be that the court found it completely legal for an ISP owner to read his customers' emails because they were on his system. But that's not what the court decided. The court simply held that the defendant was not criminally liable of a very specific federal criminal charge -- wiretapping -- because he didn't "intercept" anything as that term is properly construed in the wiretap statute. [...]
EFF Board Member Larry Lessig calls the IICA a "lawyer employment act," arguing that it will "force technologists into court before they get to enter the marketplace" and "shift responsibility for striking the balance in copyright law from Congress to unelected federal judges."
Ford has a new product that would give Induce Act-wielding lawyers plenty to do: the 2004 Lincoln Aviator SUV -- a car with built-in WiFi technology. This article from the Detroit Free Press reads as pure inducement:
The protagonist is Liane Curtis, who compiled an anthology that included excerpts of unpublished work by Anglo-American composer Rebecca Clarke for publication by Indiana University Press. The copyright to this work is held by Christopher Johnson of Oxford University Press, and he accuses Curtis of violating it by using unauthorized excerpts. Ms. Curtis disagrees, arguing that the use is fair -- but her publisher simply doesn't have the resources to back her up in court.
The RIAA has been touting technologies offered by Audible Magic as the cure for peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on university campuses. The company has also been making the rounds of congressional offices in Washington, DC, talking up its technologies as a silver bullet for P2P infringement.
We're all for universities taking steps to educate staff and students about copyright law, as well as to control excessive bandwidth usage. At the same time, it's important that universities are not sold expensive, ineffective solutions simply to appease the public relations needs of the RIAA. EFF Staff Technologist Chris Palmer took a close look at how Audible Magic's "filtering" technology works and argues that it's no silver bullet.
...or so the latest LawMeme poll suggests -- although common sense itself appears to be the first victim.
StarTribune.com: "Until Congress updates the laws it wrote when email was still in infancy, users ought to pause before clicking the send button and consider how their words might read in the context of an investigative file."
Spurred by the aforementioned scholarly book-recall, the Chronicle of Higher Education is holding an online colloquy on fair use and academic publishing tomorrow, July 14 at 1:00 p.m. EST. The colloquy features EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer, and you can post any comments or questions you may have right now.
Mattel isn't a big fan of free speech -- at least not when it applies to their products. So when Utah artist Tom Forsythe took [a] photograph of Barbie in a blender as part of a series of critical fine-art Barbie photos, Mattel got pissed. So what did they do to try stop Tom's message? They decided to sue his ass. Usually, a guy like this would have no chance going up against a fleet of corporate lawyers; and from the corporation's perspective, that's the whole point...
As other commentators have already pointed out, the DoJ report, entitled "Report from the Field: The USA PATRIOT Act at Work," contains precious little new or meaningful information. Instead, it functions primarily as a public relations vehicle, parroting the DoJ's well-worn party line about the benefits of the Act while failing to address specific and legitimate concerns about how PATRIOT is being used or whether the new investigative powers it grants are actually necessary for fighting terrorism.
His coverage matters to lawyers, techies, copyfighters, and consumers. That is, everyone. Ignore it at your peril. The IICA is one of the most dangerously misguided and malicious pieces of technology legislation to rear its ugly head in the last decade. Ernie's obsessively detailed articles are a powerful indictment of a bad idea. I have only one thing to add to what Ernie is saying: an index.
The controversial passenger-profiling system has officially been cancelled, but critics remain appropriately skeptical about what its "death" means. Below, a brief sampling of perspectives:
By Cindy Cohn
Over the past week we've seen several media stories suggesting that the electronic voting machine issue is partisan.
While there are certainly folks who would like to portray it that way, including Jeb Bush and unfortunately last week, the Washington Post, it's not true. Far more importantly, it's not true in terms of who should care.
Siva Vaidhyanthan in today's Salon, on the IICA/Induce Act: "While industry lobbyists swear they would go only after the proprietors of peer-to-peer services, they don't have much credibility. After all, they have already taken the makers of videorecorders and MP3 players to court. Why wouldn't they do all they could to fix other technologies to behave as they wish?"
For a while there, it looked like TiVo could avoid (some of) the copyright battles that felled the competition by playing nice with the content industry. But as this MSNBC Washington Post article shows, sometimes even asking for permission to innovate isn't enough:
Hollywood studios and the National Football League are seeking to block the maker of the popular TiVo television recorder from expanding its service so that users could watch copies of shows and movies on devices outside their homes.
TiVo has an interest in keeping everything secure," said its Washington attorney, James M. Burger. "We are trying to bring innovation to consumers."
The flag was supposed to be about indiscriminate online distribution. TiVo is trying to provide a device that allows 10 people within a personal network to copy TiVo-ed shows onto their PCs. It's perfectly secure. It's just not quite constrained enough for the studios.
And Hollywood is asking [pdf] the FCC to make sure that this TiVo functionality never reaches consumers.
During yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on S. 2560, the Inducing Infringements of Copyright Act, Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) made a few comments about the concerns EFF raised about the Act in our mock complaint against Apple, Toshiba, and C-NET over the iPod. Sadly, Orrin seems to have missed a few key points.
Said Senator Hatch:
The two brothers who created the fantastic "This Land" parody -- sending up President Bush, Senator Kerry, and the current state of American democracy to the tune of "This Land is Your Land" -- have been threatened with a copyright lawsuit.
You see, the classic American song, penned by renowned leftist folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940, is apparently still under copyright. And the copyright is now in the hands of Ludlow Music, Inc., a unit of The Richmond Organization.
If this isn't fair use, it's hard to imagine what is. One can only imagine what Woody himself would have said, who once used this as his standard copyright notice:
Sorry Barbie, it's a free country and everything on this site is protected by the First Amendment right to speak, comment, and parody. So maybe you should give your lawyers a break from suing people for a while. Who knows? Maybe it'll give them some free time to ask you out on a date. Just think off all the shopping you could do on a corporate lawyer's salary! Seriously, does Ken even have a job?
A court decision today in a case against people accused of sharing copyrighted files on peer-to-peer networks brought some good news for those concerned about the way the recording industry is pursuing its litigation campaign.
In Sony v. Does 1-40, Judge Denny Chin denied (PDF) a motion to stop the RIAA from obtaining the identities of 40 people who were using the networks anonymously. But at the same time, he affirmed that their First Amendment rights should be factored into the equation.
As mentioned earlier this week, Ludlow Music Inc., owner of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," is invoking copyright in an effort to silence JibJab's very funny "This Land" animated short (here is Ludlow's latest threat letter).
EFF has taken JibJab on as a client. We've posted our reply letter (PDF):
...In your July 23 letter, you contend that "This Land" offers no "satirical comment" on the Guthrie original. You are mistaken.
Turns out Woody Guthrie lifted the melody of "This Land Is Your Land" essentially note-for-note from "When the World's on Fire," a song recorded by country/bluegrass legends, The Carter Family, ten years before Guthrie wrote his classic song. Here's a short snippet (380k mp3) of the song (the song can be found on the box set, The Carter Family: 1927-34). You don't need to be a musicologist to hear what we're talking about.
Now we've got nothing against Woody's borrowing. In fact, it's a part of the "folk process" that Woody himself championed. I can't imagine that The Carter Family minded.
Last week, "Internet marketer" Scott Richter got off with a slap on the wrist in one of the most high-profile spam cases in recent months. New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer sued Richter, president of OptInRealBig.com, back in December for sending deceptive junk email, and promised to seek millions in damages. But in a somewhat mysterious move, Spitzer wound up offering a settlement in which Richter paid only a $40,000 fine plus $10,000 for legal fees. Richter will also have to provide Spitzer's office with copies of all emails that he sends out in the future.