In response to the RIAA's irrational lawsuit campaign against the tens of millions of American P2P users, EFF set up a petition asking Congress to stop the madness and support ways for artists to get paid without fans getting sued. If you live in the UK, you should also check out this petition to the British Parliament and the local record industry trade group (BPI) to stop lawsuits against music fans and develop constructive alternatives that get artists paid. The petition was launched last month by record industry vet Chris Thomas, and the site's press release notes that the managers of The Streets and Avril Lavigne has signed it.
Want to hear the latest news on Congress' bad copyright bills? If you live in San Francisco, check out the monthly Creative Commons Salon this Wednesday, July 12, from 6-9pm at Shine, (1337 Mission Street between 9th and 10th Streets). Jason Schultz and I will be among the presenters, showing off the new EFF animation, The Corruptibles.
Today EFF turns 16, and though much has changed over the years, we remain on the frontlines fighting for your rights. Like our current suit against AT&T, our very first case sought to protect your privacy from unwarranted invasion. On July 10, 1990, EFF was founded and our suit in Steve Jackson Games v. US Secret Service set one of the first precedents establishing that it is illegal for law enforcement to access and read private electronic mail without a warrant.
From day one, we've achieved landmark victories -- please consider giving us a birthday present and donating to EFF today so that we can keep up the fight for many years to come. We're proud to be in this role, and we'd like to thank all of you for your support through the years.
A week after criticizing the entertainment industry for not "giv[ing] users the control and freedom to consume that make file-sharing networks so attractive," the LA Times hits a home run with today's editorial, "We aren't all pirates." Taking on the broadcast flag, audio flag, and analog hole bills, the editorial argues:
"[W]hat the entertainment industry is seeking in this year's proposals isn't merely protection from piracy; it's after increased leverage to protect its business models....
The RIAA and MPAA trot out their spokespeople at conferences and public events all over the country, repeating their misleading talking points. Innovators are pirates, fair use is theft, the sky is falling, up is down, and so on. Their rhetoric shouldn't be given a free pass.
To that end, EFF has prepared a sample list of tough questions for times when you hear entertainment industry representatives speaking and want to challenge their positions. Asking hard questions is a way of "keeping honest people honest" and revealing when they're actually being deceptive. Feel free to republish these and add your own questions, or send additions to us at email@example.com.
The Hollywood Reporter Esq. (a new publication aimed at entertainment industry lawyers, but interesting to cyberlaw types, as well) asked me to write a short piece describing YouTube's relationship to copyright law. Many people have wondered whether YouTube may be on the same rocky copyright path that Napster faced. Not so, once you understand the important differences between them:
Fortunately, YouTube has an important legal shield that was not available to the old Napster: the so-called "online service provider safe harbors" created by Congress as part of the DMCA. One provision, Section 512(c), was designed to protect commercial Web-hosting services, which feared they might be held responsible for the posting habits of their customers.
EFF confirmed today through court filings that Apple Computer will not appeal a May ruling that secured the reporter's privilege for online journalists in California. The lack of an appeal from Apple cements the decision as settled law and provides Internet news-gatherers in the state with the same right to protect the confidentiality of their sources as offline reporters have.
Reuters is reporting that, "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he has negotiated a proposed bill with the White House" regarding the NSA's illegal spying program. This bill has not been made public yet. The draft bill seen by EFF (which is likely similar if not identical to the proposal reported by the press) would sweep the spying program and any further government surveillance under the rug, shuffling legal challenges out of the traditional court system and into the shadowy FISA courts. This is a bill gone bad -- while Specter has consistently urged oversight of the spying program, this proposal would do nothing of the sort.
Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said that he had negotiated a proposed bill with the White House regarding the NSA's illegal spying program. Having now seen the draft legislation, the Washington Post, LA Times, and NY Times published editorials criticizing this sham "compromise."
YouTube has been sued in federal court for copyright infringement.
A Los Angeles video news service sued YouTube Inc. on Friday in federal court for allowing its users to upload copyrighted video footage onto the popular Web site, including the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots.
Los Angeles News Service and its owner and operator, Robert Tur, assert in the lawsuit that in one week's time, one version of the Denny beating uploaded by a YouTube user was viewed and downloaded 1,000 times via the site.
On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee will likely vote on the Specter/White House surveillance bill and possibly an even worse bill authored by Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH). Please visit our Action Center immediately and tell your Senator to reject these dangerous proposals.
To learn more about these bills, check out the joint statement submitted today by a coalition of civil liberties groups including EFF to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. We have also posted a new version of the Specter/White House bill here.
I predicted back in December that DRM was beginning to lose its charm for the major record labels. Well, here's the latest evidence -- Sony-BMG is offering a new "customizable" Jessica Simpson track for download through Yahoo Music. And it's an MP3. That's right, no DRM restrictions. Plays on your iPod.
And look what Yahoo has to say about it:
Our position is simple: DRM doesn't add any value for the artist, label (who are selling DRM-free music every day — the Compact Disc), or consumer, the only people it adds value to are the technology companies who are interested in locking consumers to a particular technology platform.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
p.36, "To defer to a blanket assertion of [state] secrecy here would be to abdicate that duty, particularly because the very subject matter of this litigation has been so publicly aired. The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."
Lawyer Ray Beckerman has admirably represented many individuals accused of infringing file sharing. In an interview with the Defective by Design campaign, he discusses the state of these cases, the overreaching legal claims the RIAA has made, and the ordinary individuals harmed by these misguided lawsuits.
If adult entertainment publisher Perfect 10 gets its way in its lawsuit against Google, millions of web publishers, bloggers, and web users will suddenly be on the wrong side of copyright law.
As we've previously discussed, Perfect 10 claims that Google violates its copyrights by indexing Perfect 10 photos posted on unauthorized websites as well as making and delivering thumbnail images of those photos. Despite the fact that Google promptly removes these links when notified, Perfect 10 sued. This digital copyright showdown may reach far beyond Google and has drawn the attention of Hollywood, tech companies, and public interest groups.
As we pointed out, yesterday's victory allowing our case against AT&T to go forward demonstrates that the conventional court system is perfectly capable of handling cases related to the illegal spying program and can do so by balancing the public's need for transparency with proper protections for security. Any bill, including Specter's, that would attempt to sweep these cases into the secret FISA courts should be rejected.
After a petition from the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, the FCC ruled last year that companies like Vonage and private institutions that provide Net access must redesign their networks to facilitate wiretaps. By forcing broadband Internet and interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to abide by the controversial Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), the FCC ignored the statute's plain language and threatened privacy, security, and innovation.
We need your help to stop the Cheney-Specter surveillance bill and other proposals like it. This sham "compromise" bill will help the government continue to break the law, vastly expanding the president's power to spy on you without any meaningful oversight from Congress or the courts.
While Sen. Arlen Specter continued to defend his dangerous surveillance bill, he also declared his willingness to consider alternatives in a hearing yesterday as well as in recent press reports. That's welcome news. From the moment the NSA's massive and illegal spying program was first disclosed, Specter has tirelessly called for meaningful limits and judicial review. To fulfill those laudable intentions, we hope Specter will consider amending the bill so that it reaffirms statutory limitations on surveillance and allows legal challenges like ours to proceed in the traditional court system.
Earlier this month, we published "Frequently Awkward Questions for the Entertainment Industry" -- a sample list of tough questions you can ask RIAA or MPAA representatives at conferences or public speeches. Songwriters Guild President Rick Carnes sent us an email in response entitled "Aways [sic] Awkward Questions for EFF." Beneath the fold, we have posted an open letter to Carnes as well as the text of his original email.
"In an op-ed in these pages Monday, Mr. Specter described his proposal as a compromise with President Bush to ensure judicial review of the NSA program, which he called 'a festering sore on our body politic.' Yet his legislation would essentially respond to this festering sore by shooting the patient."
Recently passed by the House, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) requires public schools and libraries to block access to social networking sites and other communication tools as a condition for receiving certain government funding. Protecting children online is important, but letting federal bureaucrats arbitrarily censor legitimate speech is the wrong way to go.
Cutting off social networking's legitimate uses is bad enough, but DOPA also gives the FCC wide latitude to define the block-list. It potentially covers IM, blogs, wikis, discussion forums, and other sites far beyond MySpace. Despite its limited exceptions, DOPA will restrict children's and adults' online research, distance learning, and use of community forums, among other activities.