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Deeplinks Archives

Deeplinks Archives


June 1, 2009 - 1:13pm 60706

Last month, EFF got an email from software developer Duane Fields of Exact Magic, asking if he could use our logo on an iPhone application that exclusively displays content from EFF's RSS feed. Sounded like a great idea to us, as long as it was clear that the app wasn't an EFF-sponsored product.

June 1, 2009 - 2:39pm 60704

Last week, after months of work, EFF launched Teaching Copyright, a balanced, fact-based curriculum for high school educators looking to discuss copyright issues in the classroom. We decided the time was right to unveil the project after the debut of the Copyright Alliance Education Foundation (CAEF), which is offering a variety of educational materials assembled by the film, music and software industries. After reviewing those materials, we thought it was crucial that educators have a real alternative.

June 1, 2009 - 10:26pm 60707

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here's one that vividly illustrates why putting DRM on e-books is short-sighted, futile, and doomed. If you must have words, here are a few explaining this photo. And here are a few more wherein Microsoft security engineers explain in their 2002 "Darknet" paper why all DRM like this is doomed to fail. (Photo reproduced under CC license courtesy of bkrpr, original here.)

June 8, 2009 - 3:34pm 60711
June 8, 2009 - 3:35pm 60710

Recently, EFF filed comments with the FCC in connection with the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007, which requires the FCC to conduct a study of V-chip-like blocking technologies that might apply to media other than television – such as Internet access, perhaps. The law requires the FCC to study these "advanced blocking technologies" and report back to Congress, which might then take some further legislative action based on the report's contents. Our comments emphasized First Amendment issues, but there turns out to be a copyright angle lurking here too (which we'll discuss in a separate blog post).

June 8, 2009 - 4:00pm 60709

In an earlier post, we mentioned that EFF filed comments with the FCC in connection with the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2007. This process unexpectedly drew our attention to a copyright issue, which we discuss below.

June 9, 2009 - 1:00pm 60713

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and IT's announcement that all PCs sold in China must include government-approved filtering software is a profoundly worrying development for online privacy and free speech in that country. While the application, "Green Dam Youth Escort", claims to only block pornographic sites, the access to a home computer such filtering software requires means that it could also have the power to conduct all sorts of other surveillance and control — far more than China's current monitoring and blocking systems at the ISP level permits.

June 10, 2009 - 12:04pm 60714

As reports, the AACS licensing authority has released the "Final Adopter Agreement" it plans to enforce against consumer electronics companies that make BluRay players (and any other AACS devices that come along). Buried inside that 188 page document is a plan to eliminate analog video... forever. BluRay device makers will have to restrict analog outputs to low resolution first: Analog Sunset – 2010. With the exception of Existing Models,
any Licensed Player manufactured after December 31, 2010 shall
limit analog video outputs for Decrypted AACS Content to SD
Interlace Modes [composite video, s-video, 480i component video and 576i video] only.

On the last day of 2013, analog outputs will be banned on BluRay players:

June 10, 2009 - 4:48pm 60716

Before legislation becomes law in France, it must pass the muster of the Conseil Constitutionnel: a group of jurists who determine whether each new law is consistent with the principles and rules of France's constitution.

For the passage of Sarkozy's unpopular "three strikes" HADOPI legislation, the approval of the Conseil was the final hurdle to cross. If the council had approved the law, rightsholders in France would have been able to cast French citizens off the Internet with no judicial oversight, simply by alleging to the new HADOPI administrative body that they were repeat copyright infringers. These citizens would then have their names added to a national Internet blacklist for up to a year, and ISPs would be subject to financial penalties if they gave these exiles access to the Internet.

June 11, 2009 - 12:51pm 60708

There is mounting concern in some quarters that the Google Book Search settlement (see previous posts here, here, and here) could have anticompetitive effects. Everyone (including Google) seems to agree that, all else being equal, we shouldn't want a world where Google is the only entity that is scanning and providing online access to books, particularly the majority of out-of-print books whose owners can't be found (i.e., "orphan works").

June 11, 2009 - 2:55pm 60717

After discussions with EFF, YouTube has implemented additional privacy protections for visitors to viewing embedded videos hosted by YouTube.

When the website launched in January, including embedded videos from YouTube, privacy advocates raised concerns that without extra privacy measures, YouTube would be improperly tracking visitors to the government website, including recording which videos were watched and combining that information with the ever-growing amount of information that Google and YouTube have about internet users, through YouTube’s use of cookies.

In response, The White House first made sure that YouTube's cookies were not served merely upon visiting the website, much like EFF does with MyTube. That was a good step.

June 12, 2009 - 6:26pm 60718

Today (June 12, 2009) marks the completion of the U.S. transition to digital television, as TV stations switch off their analog transmitters.

Just a few years ago, some broadcasters and movie studios argued that this transition couldn't happen without a DRM mandate -- a legal requirement for devices to obey the broadcast flag and apply DRM restrictions to free, over-the-air broadcasts. And they said they would hold up and obstruct this transition unless they got their way.

June 15, 2009 - 10:34am 60719

In September of last year, Congress amended the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) as part of a larger bill dealing with identity theft.

Unfortunately, the amendments broaden the already extensive reach of the law, and fail to clarify the most vexing question about the statute, the definition of “unauthorized access”. However, they do shed some light on the issue of what constitutes the necessary element of “damage”, showing that several cases holding that mere unauthorized viewing of data is sufficient for a CFAA claim were wrongly decided. As a result, the new amendments may give internet innovators, researchers and speakers some arguments that could keep search engines, vulnerability reporting and other legitimate uses of computer systems legal.


June 15, 2009 - 10:38pm 60720

For the past few days, Iranians have been taking advantage of US-hosted communication services like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with each other about their contested election, uncover and compare facts, and convey their experiences to the rest of the world. They've done that despite apparent attempts to block these sites by the Iranian authorities.

For those watching and listening, it's been a bracing demonstration of the power of the Internet — and the latest Web 2.0 services — to enhance free speech, wherever you live.

June 17, 2009 - 12:47pm 60721

Following up on their report in April detailing the National Security Agency's systemic and significant "overcollection" — that is, illegal interception — of Americans' domestic communications, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times have just published a new story with even more detail about the NSA's ongoing warrantless wiretapping and the concerns it is raising in Congress.

Thankfully, it appears that the NYT's confirmation in April that the NSA has been exceeding its legal authority and "overcollecting" masses of Americans' communications has spurred some closed-door investigations on Capitol Hill. Today's story focuses on this renewed concern from Congress over the wiretapping program, and what Congress' latest closed-door inquiries have revealed about the ongoing spying:

June 18, 2009 - 11:26am 60722

Earlier this week, privacy and security researchers urged Google to improve the security of Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar by enabling the more secure HTTPS encryption by default. As it stands, all users currently log in to Google services over HTTPS. However, most conduct the remaining bulk of their online business with Google -- reading and sending email, editing spreadsheets, and recording appointments -- over HTTP, an unsecure method that gives unfettered access to attackers interested looking at your communications.

June 18, 2009 - 11:56am 60723

Responding to repeated reports that the National Security Agency's surveillance dragnet is continuing to intercept Americans' purely domestic communications in the millions, the New York Times editorial board is calling on Congress to repeal the deeply-flawed FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which broadly expanded the government's spying powers while immunizing the phone companies that illegally cooperated with the NSA program. Here's an excerpt of the editorial, entitled "The Eavesdropping Continues", but we encourage you to visit the Times' site to read the whole thing:

June 18, 2009 - 5:31pm 60724

The jury in the retrial of Ms. Jammie Thomas-Rasset deliberated only a few hours today before concluding that she had willfully infringed the copyrights of 24 songs and awarding $1.92 million in statutory damages ($80,000 per recording) to the record label plaintiffs. The verdict represents a huge increase over the $220,000 award in the original trial, which was overturned by the judge based on a faulty jury instruction pushed by the record labels. Ms.

June 19, 2009 - 2:43pm 60725
June 19, 2009 - 4:06pm 60726

ASCAP (the same folks who went after Girl Scouts for singing around a campfire) appears to believe that every time your musical ringtone rings in public, you're violating copyright law by "publicly performing" it without a license. At least that's the import of a brief [2.5mb PDF] it filed in ASCAP's court battle with mobile phone giant AT&T.

This will doubtless come as a shock to the millions of Americans who have legitimately purchased musical ringtones, contributing millions to the music industry's bottom line. Are we each liable for statutory damages (say, $80,000) if we forget to silence our phones in a restaurant?

June 23, 2009 - 8:43am 60727

Just a few days ago, we pointed out that ASCAP is arguing in federal court that every time your musical ringtone rings in public, you're violating copyright law by "publicly performing" it without a license. Now ASCAP has fired up its spin control machinery and issued a statement to Billboard, including this talking point, doubtless meant to be reassuring:

To be completely clear, ASCAP’s approach has always been to license these businesses – not to charge listeners/end-users.

June 25, 2009 - 4:55pm 60728

Three simple facts about Google and HTTPS:

One: as we posted last week, we're very pleased to hear that Google is trialling full HTTPS encryption of all Gmail pages.

June 26, 2009 - 12:57pm 60730
June 29, 2009 - 1:44pm 60729

As turmoil over the disputed election in Iran continues, many techs are trying to find ways to help Iranian citizens safely communicate and receive information despite the barriers being established by Iranian authorities. One tactic that even moderately tech-savvy Internet users can employ is to set up a Tor relay or a Tor bridge.

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