Deeplinks

November 2, 2006 - 7:04am 59675

Come support EFF and hear DRM-free tunes from Calabash Music this Sunday at Little Baobab in San Francisco.

Calabash Music is a leading online distributor of music from around the world, providing its entire catalog in MP3 format and splitting sales revenue 50-50 with artists. Local DJ (SpinCycle) and Calabash Music General Counsel Jim Sowers will be spinning African, Caribbean, and Latin music all night long. Part of the proceeds from the cover charge ($5) will go to EFF, and EFF staff members will be there to chat (and dance, if you're lucky).

We hope to see you there, and spread the word!

November 2, 2006 - 10:30am 59676

As early voting has started in states across the country, electronic voting machine problems are already being widely reported. For instance, machines in apparently Arkansas, Florida, and Texas have flipped votes; voters attempted to select a particular candidate, but the machine incorrectly indicated a vote for the opponent. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that this problem and a host of others occurring in Illinois.

November 2, 2006 - 3:19pm 59677

The Department of Homeland Security today published a notice in the Federal Register disclosing the existence of a "new system of records" -- the Automated Targeting System (ATS) -- that assigns "risk assessments" to millions of U.S. citizens who seek "to enter or exit the United States" or whose work involves international trade. The system appears to involve the data-mining of massive amounts of information derived from a wide variety of sources, including Passenger Name Record (PNR) data obtained from commercial air carriers.

November 2, 2006 - 6:30pm 59678

Since our recent post about the fast-tracking of the new Copyright Amendment Bill through Australian Parliament, we've had requests from Australian EFF members for an example letter upon which they can base their own message to MPs and Senators. We've now posted a sample on our Copyright Amendment Bill action page, together with fax and phone numbers for key Senators.

Time is short, so please call or fax your message this weekend, and let your fellow Australians know what's at stake.

November 5, 2006 - 9:26pm 59679

As America goes to the polls, EFF's own podcast, Line Noise, returns with an interview with Representative Rush Holt, the politician behind the "gold standard" of e-voting reforms - a plan to introduce voter-verified paper records, public source releases, and random audits to all US electronic voting machines.

You can listen in glorious MP3, vibrant Ogg, or subscribe to our ongoing podcast feeds. We're also available via iTunes.

November 6, 2006 - 4:28pm 59680

In collaboration with the Center for Citizen Media, the Stanford Center for Internet Society has published an excellent election day law FAQ, including information on taking photos or videos at polling places. Check it out here and here, and stay tuned to that blog for more answers to your questions.

November 7, 2006 - 5:10am 59681

Polls are opening around this country, but early voters are already facing significant delays due to voting machine problems. Machines have reportedly failed to turn on or have abruptly stopped working.

November 7, 2006 - 5:35am 59682

AP has a round-up of some early election activity:

"About a third of voters were using new equipment, and problems in several states were reported right out of the gate. The government deployed a record number of poll watchers to the many competitive races across the country.

"Glitches delayed balloting in dozens of Indiana and Ohio precincts, and Illinois officials were swamped with calls from voters complaining that poll workers did not know how to operate new electronic equipment.

"In Delaware County, Indiana, officials planned to seek a court order to extend voting after an apparent computer error prevented voters from casting ballots in 75 precincts.

November 7, 2006 - 8:08am 59683

E-voting machines in Broward County, Florida failed to start on time this morning, significantly delaying voting. The Election Protection Coalition (which includes EFF) is talking to the governor about keeping the polling places open longer. The Coalition is also considering legal action to that end. We will update this post with further information later.

Six years after the 2000 election debacle in Florida, election day horror stories like this persist. But the problems aren't limited to that state; as we noted earlier, many other cities are also experiencing machine malfunctions.

November 7, 2006 - 10:30am 59684

"On a day already rife with computer glitches, long lines, and legal appeals to extend voting in Denver, provisional ballots are now running out at some Denver voting centers."

The Denver Post has more details here. In particular, it notes that "Widespread computer problems were reported, some shutting down entire voting centers...."

November 7, 2006 - 11:40am 59685

As expected, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the petition to appeal Judge Walker's Order Denying the Government and AT&T's Motions to Dismiss in our case against AT&T for its illegal cooperation and collaboration with the government's spying program. Granting the petition allows the parties to brief the legal issues, but does not reach the merits.

We are looking forward to defending Walker's decision to deny the motions to dismiss before the appeals court, while pushing forward with our claims in the District Court at the November 17 Case Management Conference.

November 7, 2006 - 12:46pm 59686

Reports from New Jersey suggest that voters have had trouble casting votes for Republican candidate for Senate Tom Kean Jr. "The state's Republican Committee says some of the machines were either preset for Democratic candidate Bob Menendez or were inoperable when people tried to cast votes for the challenger Tom Kean Jr."

Of course, similar malfunctions around the country have been reported by voters selecting Democratic candidates, too. We've said it many times before, but it's worth repeating: e-voting is a nonpartisan issue. Machine malfunctions harm all voters.

November 8, 2006 - 4:55am 59687

Many Virginians were among the millions of voters nationwide that cast their votes on electronic voting machines which lack paper trails. Voters thus could not verify that their votes were accurately recorded, and election officials will not be able to conduct a full and thorough recount.

That's bad enough, and with the close margin in Virginia's Senate race and the U.S. Senate at stake, it is especially tragic for the entire country, regardless of who is ultimately declared the winner. Simple precautions could have been taken to prevent this and myriad other e-voting problems. Indeed, Montana fortunately requires a paper trail, which could aid a recount in its tight Senate race.

November 8, 2006 - 1:11pm 59688

A detailed report in Wednesday's Sarasota Herald-Tribune raises some important questions about touchscreen voting and a congressional race there that could be missing votes.

The paper reports that as of Wednesday morning, Republican Vern Buchanan had a lead of a few hundred votes over Democrat Christine Jennings in the battle for Florida's 13th Congressional District. But in about 13% of the ballots cast, there was no vote in the congressional race at all. So while 87,797 in Sarasota County voted in the Florida senate race, only 76,549 made a choice in the congressional race. That's also about 3,000 fewer people than voted in the local hospital board election, according to the report.

November 9, 2006 - 7:57am 59689

The U.S. government has asked for a stay in our case against AT&T for collaborating with the NSA in illegal spying on its customers. The government also wants to halt proceedings in the other class action cases against other telecommunication companies until the U.S. 9th Circuit hears an appeal of Judge Vaughn Walkers order denying the motions to dismiss.

November 9, 2006 - 8:45am 59690

Last week, EFF announced that it was fighting against Landmark Education's campaign to identify individuals who posted a French documentary, entitled Voyage Au Pays Des Nouveaux Gourous (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus), that was critical of the Landmark program, and included hidden camera footage from inside a Landmark Forum event in France.

EFF is currently talking with Landmark in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution about Landmark's DMCA subpoena to Google. In the hope that we can resolve this without need of litigation, EFF has held off on filing its motion to quash that subpoena.

November 9, 2006 - 9:07am 59691

Down over 7,000 votes to Democratic challenger Jim Webb, Virginia Senator George Allen today conceded. "It is with deep respect for the people of Virginia," Allen said, "that I do not wish to cause more rancor by protracted litigation which would in my judgment not alter the results."

With all due respect to Sen. Allen, how could he know for sure?

November 13, 2006 - 9:11am 59692
DRM

Variety's Multichannel News reports that the telecommunications reform bill hangs in limbo after last week's election and is unlikely to be at the forefront in the next Congress. The Senate's version had been home to the broadcast and audio flag DRM mandates, so Hollywood and the recording industry may have to seek new ways to sneak through restrictions on your digital television and radio devices next year.

But this year's fight isn't over yet -- there might be one last push for these proposals in the lame duck session, as Public Knowledge's Gigi Sohn points out. If the entertainment industry tries attaching the proposals to appropriations bills, it won't be the first time.

November 14, 2006 - 6:59am 59693

Yesterday, Sun Microsystems announced that it is releasing the Java source code under the GPL free software license, meaning anyone is free to copy, redistribute, modify, and make many other uses of the code. Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman hailed the release as one of the most significant software contributions by any company to the free software community. ZDNet and Sun's site have more details.

November 14, 2006 - 8:04am 59694

On Election Day, Americans fired many members of Congress who wanted to rubberstamp the NSA's illegal surveillance program. But before newly-elected representatives can take office and defend your rights, the president wants to sneak through spying legislation -- including a proposal that could threaten cases like EFF's lawsuit against AT&T. Your help is urgently needed to stop these dangerous proposals.

Lawsuits against the telephone providers may provide the best chance to stop the spying program, and no one should be let off the hook for such blatant violation of the law. Yet members of Congress are now pushing legislation that purports to immunize telephone companies and other corporations that illegally collaborated with the government's spying program.

November 14, 2006 - 1:54pm 59695

The Patent Busting Project fights back against bogus patents by filing requests for reexamination against the worst offenders. We've successfully pushed the Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine patents held by Clear Channel and Test.com, and now we need your help to bust a few more.

November 14, 2006 - 3:10pm 59696

Tuesday, a district court judge ruled that craigslist cannot be held liable for the content of housing ads users post on the site. The result is an important win for online forums like craigslist, who would be unable to provide online housing ads without this protection. The reasoning, however, is troubling, and might be used to undercut the strong legal protections upon which our vibrant online communities rely.

November 15, 2006 - 8:42am 59697

For the last several months, Senator Arlen Specter has pushed for legislation that could threaten vigorous judicial oversight of the NSA spying program by sweeping cases into the shadowy FISA court system. We have urged Specter to let cases proceed through the traditional court system, and, after several judicial decisions including Judge Walker's in our case against AT&T, it seems Specter might be changing his tune:

November 15, 2006 - 11:15am 59698
DRM

The RIAA's Cary Sherman recently published a bogus editorial criticizing the Digital Freedom campaign, an effort launched by a broad coalition of groups including the Consumer Electronics Association, EFF, and Public Knowledge. Public Knowledge's Gigi Sohn has written an excellent response and highlights a key point in a related blog post:

November 15, 2006 - 12:49pm 59699

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips are being used in new US passports and may be part of new standards for state-issued drivers licenses', among other government issued IDs. But a report from none other than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) might prevent inappropriate implementations of this privacy-leaking technology -- and you can help make sure that DHS' criticisms are made loud and clear.

Recently, the chorus of RFID critics was joined by DHS in this draft report:

November 15, 2006 - 1:59pm 59700
November 16, 2006 - 1:09pm 59701

Despite complaints from privacy advocates and parents, schools in states across the country are considering using fingerprint scans to track students. Kids at Sandlapper Elementary in Columbia, South Carolina have their fingerprints scanned to pay for their breakfast and check out library books, while officials at the Hope Elementary School District in Santa Barbara, CA have just announced similar plans to use finger scans to charge students for their lunches. You can read more about these programs here and here.

November 16, 2006 - 2:52pm 59702

The MPAA studios are at it again, snatching away our fair use rights, so they can sell them back to us for an "additional fee."

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York, Paramount Pictures v. Load 'N Go Video, the MPAA member companies have sued a small business for loading DVDs onto personal media players (e.g., iPod Video) on behalf of customers.

According to the suit, Load 'N Go sells both DVDs and iPods and loads the former onto the latter for customers who purchase both. The company then sends the iPod and the original DVDs to the customer. So the customer has purchased every DVD, and Load 'N Go just saves them the trouble of ripping the DVD. The movie studios' suit claims that this is illegal, because ripping a DVD (i.e., decrypting it and making a copy) is illegal under the DMCA. The suit also claims that this constitutes copyright infringement.

November 17, 2006 - 10:23am 59703

According to a recent release from the Australian Digital Alliance (a coalition of Australian universities, software companies, libraries, schools, museums, galleries and individuals), the Copyright Amendment Bill being rushed through the Australian legislature will be bad news not just for consumers, but also for innovators Down Under:

November 17, 2006 - 10:46am 59704

Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu identifies an emerging threat to sample-based creativity in hip hop, the "sample troll":

The rise of rap presented a golden opportunity for Bridgeport. After years of demanding fees, in 2001, Bridgeport launched nearly 500 counts of copyright infringement against more than 800 artists and labels. The company, suing in Nashville, Tenn., located every sample of [George] Clinton or other owned copyrights it could find. It took the legal position that any sampling of a sound recording, no matter how minimal or unnoticeable, is still a violation of federal law. Imagine that the copyright owner of The Lord of the Rings had sued every fantasy book or magazine that dared used the words elf, orc, or troll. That gives you an idea of the magnitude of Bridgeport's campaign.

November 17, 2006 - 1:14pm 59705

There is a video that international self-help group the Landmark Forum really does not want anyone anywhere in the world to see, and it's misusing copyright law to make sure that happens. The latest target is Australia's Cult Awareness & Information Centre.

It all started in France, where French public television broadcast a documentary film entitled Voyage Au Pays Des Nouveaux Gourous (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus), about the activities of Landmark Education, also known as the Landmark Forum or The Forum, in France.

November 20, 2006 - 8:53am 59706

Today the California Supreme Court reversed the dangerous Court of Appeals ruling in the Barrett v. Rosenthal case, upholding the strong protections of Section 230 of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 230 protects Internet publishers from being held liable for allegedly harmful comments written by others. Prior attempts to eliminate the protections created by Section 230 had almost universally been rejected, until a California Court of Appeals radically reinterpreted the statute to allow lawsuits against non-authors. The Supreme Court reversed:

November 20, 2006 - 9:57am 59707

Back in April 2006, it came to light that the Smithsonian Institution had signed an exclusive 30-year deal with Showtime to create a new cable channel. The catch? It effectively would give Showtime exclusive access to the Smithsonian collections for certain uses. Read our previous posts (1, 2, 3) for more about why this represents a serious threat to the public domain materials contained in the priceless Smithsonian collections.

November 21, 2006 - 8:43am 59708

New passports issued in the UK contain Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips, supposedly for purposes of increased security. But a report in the British newspaper The Guardian found the passports surprisingly easy to read and copy. Using a device purchased for £250, a Guardian reporter was able to view and copy information from several of the new passports.

Although the new passports use a strong crypto algorithm to protect their biometric data, the encryption key is easy to steal. As the ICAO's website reveals, the key consists of the passport number, the holder's date of birth, and the expiration date.

November 22, 2006 - 9:00am 59709

The Copyright Office/Library of Congress today issued its determination in the latest triennial DMCA exemption rule-making. Six exemptions were granted, the largest number so far.

Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) during the next three years.

1. Audiovisual works included in the educational library of a college or university's film or media studies department, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by media studies or film professors.

November 27, 2006 - 10:44am 59710

Make magazine's href="http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2006/11/the_open_source_1.html">Open
Source Gift Guide is an eye-opening collection of the products and services
that aid your freedom to tinker, share, improve and learn seriously. Some of
the goods offered are more aspirational than practical holiday gifts: you'll be hard
put to track down the OpenMako unrestricted
GSM phone
, or Chumby, Bunnie
Huang and co's prototype hackable alarm clock, in time for Christmas. But popular open
products from href="http://wiki.neurostechnology.com/index.php/Neuros_OSD">Neuros, href= "http://magnatune.com/">Magnatune's DRM-free FLAC audio, the open
source MediaPortal Windows media
center
, and Rockbox, the free

November 29, 2006 - 9:48am 59711
November 29, 2006 - 11:10am 59712

San Francisco's public video surveillance program has expanded from two cameras to over 100 in just over a year. This program may spy on even more places that ordinary people live, work, and walk every day -- unless city residents make their voices heard now and oppose this ineffective, expensive, and privacy-invasive program.

Next week, the city will hold two public meetings regarding new cameras at 16th and Mission Sts:

November 29, 2006 - 9:23pm 59714

"Apparently, Hollywood believes that you should have to re-purchase all your DVD movies a second time if you want to watch them on your iPod." That's what I said last week, commenting on the Paramount v. Load-N-Go lawsuit, in which Hollywood studios claimed that it is illegal to rip a DVD to put on a personal video player (PVP), even if you own the DVD.

Well, this week the other shoe dropped. According to an article in the New York Times:

Customers who buy the physical DVD of Warner Brothers' "Superman Returns" in a Wal-Mart store will have the option of downloading a digital copy of the film to their portable devices for $1.97, personal computer for $2.97, or both for $3.97.

November 30, 2006 - 12:09pm 59715

Last week, digital freedom fighter Peter Junger passed away. Peter was a truly pioneering legal thinker on digital issues, and his impact was felt far outside the walls of academia. In particular, we all owe him a debt of gratitude for challenging the government's draconian restrictions on encryption and helping to establish that code is speech protected by the First Amendment.

November 30, 2006 - 2:02pm 59716

After another election with flawed touch-screen electronic voting machines, Cuyahoga County, Ohio may say enough is enough. The AP reports:

"The commissioners of the state's most populous county are considering getting rid of touch-screen voting machines and putting in a new system for the presidential election in 2008.

"Cuyahoga County spent $14 million on the Nov. 7 election and cannot afford to spend that much every time voters go to the polls, especially the high volume that a presidential race generates, commissioners Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora said."

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BREAKING: @SenateMajLdr says the next vote in the Senate will be on NSA bills at 1 am EDT. Follow @efflive for updates on the debate then.

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