EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred Von Lohmann just won a much-prized acknowledgment from Public Knowledge, a public interest group based in Washington, DC whose mission to promote innovation and protect consumer rights often complements our mission at EFF.
Public Knowledge each year hands out the IP3 Awards to highlight the work of individuals whose work contributes to the public interest in one of the three IP areas — Internet Protocol, Intellectual Property and Information Policy.
Surprise! Fred's IP3 Award is for his contribution to the world of Intellectual Property:
- AT&T Throws Blue Dog Party
At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, AT&T threw a big party for Blue Dog Democrats who backed telecom immunity.
- Joe Biden's Pro-RIAA, Pro-FBI Record
The Democratic nominee for Vice President has a history of uncompromising support for Hollywood, the recording industry and the intelligence community.
- Comcast Introduces Bandwidth Caps
Customers that make heavy use of their Internet connections will be capped at 250gb per month.
Europe's Privacy Czar Attacks Telecom Amendments in EU
Says that they could allow over-reaching controls over Internet technology.
Kremlin Web Critic Shot by Police in Ingushetia
Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the ingushetiya.ru site, and vocal critic of Ingushetia regional administration, was shot by a police officer, and died from his injuries, after being detained.
NZ Judge bans Net Naming of Defendants Online
Worries about "viral nature" of reporting, censors website.
- Wiretapping Comes to Uganda
Over a period of twelve hours, between this Thursday night and Friday morning, American Rights Counsel LLC sent out over 4000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube, all making copyright infringement claims against videos with content critical of the Church of Scientology. Clips included footage of Australian and German news reports about Scientology, A Message to Anonymous/Scientology , and footage from a Clearwater City Commission meeting. Many accounts were suspended by YouTube in response to multiple allegations of copyright infringement.
Last week, we sent out a call to action over the “white spaces” issue soon to be addressed by the FCC. Let’s take a closer look at why this issue matters.
It ought to be a no-brainer to say that the airwaves belong to everyone. We use the airwaves to carry TV and radio signals, for our cellphones and cordless phones, even for garage door openers and baby monitors. And while corporations are given license to use limited slices of the spectrum for radio and TV, the airwaves remain public property, a treasure we hold in common.
Yesterday, Google announced a revised log retention policy, saying "we'll anonymize IP addresses on our server logs after 9 months," instead of the previous 18-24 months. Other information, like cookies, will stay on the longer retention plan. The announcement was in conjunction with Google's response to the European Union's Article 29 Working Party.
- Comcast Appeals FCC Web Traffic-Blocking Decision
As expected, Comcast is challenging the FCC's authority to regulate the ISP's web traffic blocking behavior.
- Judge: Harry Potter Lexicon is Not Fair Use
A fan's reference text to the Harry Potter series has been found to be infringing.
- Judge: Law Protects Anonymous Comments on News Sites
A District Court judge found that commenters on the Billings Gazette website are protected by state law that shields anonymous news sources.
- "Kicking Stupendous Quantities of Ass" at WIPO
Real Networks has received quite a bit of attention thanks to the launch of its Real DVD software, designed to allow people to copy their DVDs to their hard drives for later playback. (Why is that a big deal? Because Hollywood DVDs are encrypted with CSS, and if you decrypt them without permission, the motion picture industry's lawyers may come a-callin'.)
- Bloggers Less Well-Defended than Press in Morocco
The arrest and two-year sentence of Mohammed Raji marks the first time anyone has been punished for a blog post in Morocco.
- EDVIGE and the Angry French
Opposition to a massive new "Big Sister" database has been boosted by a member of President Sarkozy's own cabinet.
- Brussels Says Blogs Scuppered Lisbon Treaty
Based on leaked documents and industry comments about ACTA, we believe the treaty could require Internet service providers to monitor all consumers' Internet communications, interfere with fair use of copyrighted materials, and criminalize peer-to-peer electronic file sharing. However, the full text of the treaty and other relevant documents remain secret. That's why the coalition today is demanding the immediate release of the ACTA draft.
A new book containing explosive details about the NSA's illegal spying program hits stores today. Barton Gellman's "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency," excerpted in the Washington Post in two parts (1 & 2), brings to light new information about the warrantless wiretapping scandal and the role played by the most powerful vice president in history.
Our friends at Public Knowledge have been getting the word out about S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Act of 2008. The bill was amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, but it still aims to give the government the power to bring civil suits against infringers (where they would normally file a criminal lawsuit), allowing the Department of Justice to act as an enforcement tool for the entertainment industry, paid by your tax dollars.
The latest word is that the bill's backers are aiming to get the bill passed quickly, without the full Senate voting on the measure -- without your voice, the bill may very well wind up on the fast track. If you oppose this unprecedented addition to Big Content's copyright enforcement machine, head to the Public Knowledge site and take action now!
Last night, someone apparently obtained access to the Yahoo! email account of Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for Vice President. Screenshots of Gov. Palin's email account are now widely available on the sites such as Wikileaks and Gawker.
It is unclear how the account was compromised. Possibilities include guessing the Governor's password, getting a new password by using "basic verification information, such as your birthday and the ZIP or postal code you provided when you registered," or even using a previously unknown flaw in Yahoo! Mail's security.
- New Bill Would Tighten Rules for Laptop Searches
The Border Search Accountability Act would place limits on the governments ability to seize and search computers at the border.
- RIAA, MPAA Resume Lobbying on Copyright Law
The recording industry and the motion picture industry are pushing the latest version of the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act.
- Obama v. McCain on Tech Policy
Tim Wu compares the positions of the main candidates for president on
technology and the Internet.
On Wednesday, some hackers apparently obtained unauthorized access to Gov. Sarah Palin's Yahoo! email account by posing as Gov. Palin and getting a new password (Michelle Malkin and Wired News have details). Yesterday we noted that, based on the facts in newspaper reporting, a court would likely consider this a violation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA).
Late Friday night, the Government started the formal process for retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies sued by EFF and others for their involvement in the warrantless surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. The immunity is a key part of the unconstitutional FISA Amendments Act passed by Congress in July. EFF will be challenging the new law as unconstitutional and that challenge is set for a hearing before federal judge Vaughn Walker, along with the government's dismissal motion [PDF], on December 2, 2008. To support its attempt to shut the courthouse doors on plaintiffs, the Government filed a "certification" from Attorney General Mukasey. The key substance of the Government's submission was filed in secret with the court, but the Attorney General also filed a public certification [PDF].
Late on Friday night, Comcast filed an overview of its new traffic management arrangements with the FCC. This is the long term replacement for its controversial practice of using forged TCP Reset packets to limit the use of peer to peer protocols.
The new system appears to be a reasonable attempt at sharing limited bandwidth amongst groups of users. Unlike TCP RST spoofing, it doesn't explicitly discriminate against some applications, and it doesn't threaten protocol developers with interoperability problems and uncertainty about network behavior.
- South Korean Government Seeks to End Anonymity, Allow Arbitrary Content Takedown
All forum and chat room users will be required to make verifiable registrations using their real names; Web sites can be taken down for 30 days if they receive complaints of fraud or slander.
- Confidential Data on Millions of Norwegians Sent to Media
CD containing all Norway's tax records (which are public) also included ID numbers (which are not).
- France Scales Back Big Brother Database, But Protests Continue
The "Evige File" will not contain every French citizen active in politics, just those who "pose a security risk."
Yesterday, the Department of Justice delivered a letter to Senators Specter and Leahy, blasting S.3325, the "Enforcement of Intellectual Property Right Act of 2008." In the letter, the DoJ echoes, almost exactly, the concerns that EFF and other public interest groups have had for months:
We strongly oppose Title I of the bill, which not only authorizes the Attorney General to pursue civil remedies for copyright infringement, but to secure "restitution" damages and remit them to the private owners of infringed copyrights. First, civil copyright enforcement has always been the responsibility and prerogative of private copyright holders, and U.S. law already provides them with effective legal tools to protect their rights....
Joining the ranks of federal district judges in Arizona and Massachusetts, District of Minnesota Chief Judge Michael Davis today concluded [44-page PDF] that simply making a music file available in a shared file does not violate copyright law, and ordered a new trial in Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas.
Now that the dust has settled on the anti-Scientology video takedown controversy, it's time to take stock. For those of you who missed this one: on September 4th and 5th, hundreds and possibly thousands of videos critical of the Church of Scientology were taken down as a result of DMCA notices reportedly sent by by American Rights Counsel, Dr. Oliver Schaper, the Schaper Company, Media House Enterprises, and ContentFactory America. It rapidly became clear that these entities did not hold the copyrights to the materials they claimed to be infringed, including footage from a Clearwater City Commission meeting and a man-on-the-street interview. In addition, many of these videos were obvious fair uses, such as independent news reports.
- Spore Makers Sued for Duplicitous DRM
Game maker Electronic Arts is facing a lawsuit for the use of copy protection that secretly installs a restrictive program on a user's computer.
- ISP: It's Impossible For Us to Stop Illegal P2P
A Belgian ISP, ordered by a court to stop illegal file-sharing, now says that effective filtering is impossible.
- Analysis on EFF's Case Against the NSA
ArsTechnica's Julian Sanchez has some thoughts on the implication of EFF's new case against the government.
- MySpace Music Debut
Following in the footsteps of MSN Music and Yahoo! Music, Walmart has notified customers that it will be shutting off its DRM servers in less than two weeks. Walmart's been selling DRM-free music since February, but anyone who bought music before that date will not be able to transfer those songs to “unauthorized computers,” or access the songs after changing operating systems. Walmart, like MSN and Yahoo!, advises customers to back up their music to a CD if they want to be able to access it in the future. So, Walmart customers get to invest more time, labor and money in order to continue to enjoy the music for which they have already paid.
Last month, EFF filed an amicus brief in Echostar v. Freetech, where Echostar sought the identities of every consumer who purchased a Freetech "CoolSat" free-to-air (FTA) satellite receiver during the past five years. EFF argued that this demand, issued in discovery in a lawsuit between Echostar and Freetech, represented an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy of individual consumers. Today, the court agreed, issuing an order blocking Echostar's subpoenas.
The ruling potentially sets an important precedent, as it represents the first time a federal court has explicitly rejected a third-party subpoena on the basis of the privacy interests of nonparty consumers.