In its ongoing battle against music piracy, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is backing a bill in the California legislature, SB 550, which permits the police to disregard the Fourth Amendment. SB 550 would allow law enforcement to search without a warrant any CD, DVD, Blu-Ray or other “optical disc” manufacturer to ensure the discs they are producing carry legally required identification marks. SB 550 easily passed in the Senate yesterday and is now headed to the State Assembly.
The success of Wikileaks in obtaining and releasing information has inspired mainstream media outlets to develop proprietary copycat sites. Al-Jazeera got into the act first, launching the Al-Jazeera Transparency Unit (AJTU), an initiative meant to "allow Al-Jazeera's supporters to shine light on notable and noteworthy government and corporate activities which might otherwise go unreported." AJTU assures users that "files will be uploaded and stored on our secure servers" and that materials "are encrypted while they are transmitted to us, and they remain encrypted on our servers."
A week ago today, EFF launched the Tor Challenge – calling on people and organizations to help Internet activists across the globe by operating Tor relays. Today, we’re adding a new incentive to encourage additional Tor relays.
Tor is a service that masks your IP address. Activists, bloggers, and humanitarian aid workers around the world depend on Tor to maintain their anonymity online and access websites that have been blocked by their governments. The Tor Project has an acute need for volunteers to run relays, which individuals can set up on their computers or on virtual machines.
Every relay makes a difference to Tor in terms of speed and security. As the arms race between circumvention tools and censors speeds up, we need hundreds more to make sure that every blocked relay is quickly replaced.
– Karen Reilly, the Tor Project
We can’t help but have a mixed reaction to Apple’s announcement of its new cloud services. On the one hand, some of the services offer real (long overdue) benefits for consumers and copyright owners. One the other hand, as with all things Apple, the price is high, and we’re not talking about the $24.99 iMatch fee.
Let’s start with some of the good. For years the music industry has complained that it could not adjust its business models to "compete with free." Apple's new iCloud service – and iTunes Match – shows, once again, that it's completely possible to "compete with free" when you provide added value.
EFF recently joined several legal defense organizations, law professors and others to urge the Ohio Supreme Court to rule that warrantless surveillance of a car with a GPS tracking device violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In State v. Johnson, the police planted a GPS tracking device on a van without a search warrant. They proceeded to monitor the van for days, ultimately tracking its movement from Cincinnati to Chicago. The Court of Appeals found that the police didn't violate the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure because the tracking didn't constitute a "search."
Today the Supreme Court upheld the Federal Circuit's rule that, in litigation, a patent may only be proved invalid by clear and convincing evidence. EFF filed an amicus brief in the case – Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Limited Partnership – supporting Microsoft's request that the standard for proving invalidity merely be by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) rather than clear and convincing evidence (a high probability).
Back in December of 2010, Facebook debuted its tag suggestion feature, which works by using facial recognition technology to examine photos in which you’ve already been tagged, and then creating what Facebook calls your “photo summary” or “photo comparison information,” or what we’ll call your “facial fingerprint.” Using this information, FB suggests your name to your friends when they upload a photo of you, and invites them to tag you in that photo.
We're pleased to report a great response to our second annual DEF CON Getaway Contest! Now at the halfway point, thirty-one participants have raised over $2,500 so far!
Who will win the mind-numbingly good Grand Prize Package including a standard suite at the Rio Hotel and Casino, two DEF CON 19 Human badges, two tickets to Vegas 2.0's (in)famous kickoff party theSummit, two badges for the ultra-exclusive Ninja Networks Party, AND an EFF Swag Super Pack? With just weeks left, it's all up to you!
As the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression noted recently “[Internet] Intermediaries play a fundamental role in enabling Internet users to enjoy their right to freedom of expression and access to information. Given their unprecedented influence over how and what is circulated on the Internet, States have increasingly sought to exert control over them and to hold them legally liable for failing to prevent access to content deemed to be illegal.”
When we learned that Apple had stepped forward to support iPhone app developers who had found themselves threatened with patent litigation (and, in some instances, actually sued) based on their use of Apple-provided technology, we hoped that could be the end of the matter – or at least that Lodsys would pick its fight with Apple, who has the resources to fight back.
New member shirts! For a limited time, pick up the new swag featuring EFF blasting through injustice in the digital universe. The front showcases our 8-bit style robot mecha girl throwing EFF pixel fire across the chest. The back proclaims "I FIGHT FOR THE USERS" for all of you pro-user zealots out there. It's available in two styles: Women's Gildan SoftStyle (S-2XL) and Men's Fruit of the Loom Lofteez (S-3XL).
Join or renew your membership at the Copper Level or higher and choose this free gift today! It's a small token of our appreciation for supporting EFF's activism, legal battles, and long-term sustainability as a defender of the people. Thanks for taking a stand with us!
Canadian Filtering Tool Used in Middle East
Canadian company Netsweeper produces filtering software that is utilized by several countries to block web sites across various categories. In Yemen, popular blogging site Tumblr is blocked, due to Netsweeper’s categorization of the site as “pornographic.”
Similarly, a number of U.S. companies, including McAfee SmartFilter, Websense, and Cisco, produce software used by foreign governments to block and censor websites. So far, no policy exists to prevent the export of such products.
In a recent article in the Toronto Star, Netsweeper spokesperson Scott O’Neill stated that the company has a “no comment policy” regarding its use by foreign governments.
14 Rue Chapon, 75003 Paris
Friday, June 24, 2011 at 6PM
La Quadrature du Net and the Electronic Frontier Foundation invite you to join us for a drink in Paris to discuss ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), Net Neutrality, and fundamental freedoms on the Internet. EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez and spokesperson of La Quadrature du Net Jérémie Zimmermann will be there to talk about the latest critical battles affecting digital rights in Europe and around the world.
Notorious copyright litigation company Righthaven got another smack down from the Federal bench today, in Righthaven v. Hoehn. In line with Judge Roger Hunt’s decision last week, Judge Phillip Pro held that Righthaven did not own the copyright at issue, and – even if it did – the use in question was protected by the fair use doctrine. Importantly, Judge Pro rejected Righthaven's last minute attempt to save its business model by revising its contract with Stephens Media (the publisher of the Las Vegas Review Journal).
For several months, EFF has been following the movement around Bitcoin, an electronic payment system that touts itself as "the first decentralized digital currency." We helped inform our members about this unique project through our blog and we experimented with accepting Bitcoin donations for several months in an account that was started by others.
However, we’ve recently removed the Bitcoin donation option from the Other Ways to Help page on the EFF website, and we have decided to not accept Bitcoins. We decided on this course of action for a few reasons:
Under the first sale doctrine, once a copyright owner sells or gives you a copy of her work, she gives up control of that particular copy. You buy it, you own it. This principle is extraordinarily important for consumers, as it makes it legal for you to resell, lend, or give away the books, CDs, DVDs, and software that you purchase.
Many copyright owners don’t like these limits; they’d rather be able to completely control the market for their products, including any secondary markets. Thus, in an effort to duck the first sale doctrine, companies increasingly claim that they are "licensing" products to consumers, instead of selling them.
In the wake of "Amina" hoax, in which the popular blog of a Syrian woman turned out to be a fictional work by an American man named Tom MacMaster, it has been all too easy to gloss over the real tragedies on the ground in Syria.
For years, the Syrian regime has censored the Internet pervasively, with heavy focus on political content, as well as social media. In 2010, the relatively unfettered mobile networks became subject to filtering as well, what had been an alternative means of access to an uncensored Internet. Circumvention tools have long been used within the country, and are often made accessible by cybercafe owners. But most tools lack protection against technological surveillance, and Tor--which provides anonymity as well as circumvention--has been blocked on some Syrian ISPs in recent months.
Summer is the season to crack down on the Internet — or so Tennessee seems to think.
First, the state made it a crime for people to share credentials for entertainment subscription services like Netflix and Rhapsody.
Now the governor has signed a law that says a person faces up to a year in jail (pdf) if he publishes an image that he reasonably should know will "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to a victim or "a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities" and doesn't have a "legitimate" reason for doing so. While the crime requires a reasonable likelihood that the image will be viewed by the victim, criminal penalties can kick in if the "victim" doesn't ever actually see it, but someone else finds it distressing.
Apple has been much maligned in the press recently for filing a patent application covering a camera system with infrared technology that could, among other things, allow the recording functionality to be shut off by a third party. For example, in its application, Apple shows how the technology could be used to "prevent illegal image capturing" at a rock concert.
This month, the New York Times reported that the FBI has updated its internal domestic investigations guidelines to provide its agents with “significant new powers.” According to the Times, this update will provide agents with “more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.” These changes are especially troubling as they come on the heels of the Obama Administration’s efforts to extend FBI Director Robert Mueller’s term and on recent reports that the Bureau has once again engaged in controversial surveillance activities directed at “prominent peace activists and politically-active labor organizers.”
Starting next month, the vast majority of Australia’s Internet users will find their access censored, following a decision by the country’s two largest providers--Telstra and Optus--as well as two smaller ISPs (itExtreme and Webshield), to voluntarily block more than 500 websites from view.
The decision from the two ISPs comes after numerous failed attempts by the Australian government to set up a centralized filtering plan.
Efforts to harness law enforcement resources in the service of copyright enforcement continue apace. Last Thursday, the so-called "illegal streaming” bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee (although that's still some way away from becoming law). The bill would increase criminal copyright penalties to allow jail time of up to five years for infringing a copyright by “publicly performing” the copyrighted work, such as playing a sporting event broadcast or motion picture. (Currently, the maximum criminal penalty for unlawful public performance is a fine and/or prison sentence of up to one year.) Fortunately, there are limitations on when the new criminal penalties would apply.
A federal appellate court this week issued a fascinating decision on whether the much-maligned “hot news doctrine” – which confers a quasi-property right in facts -- will survive in the digital age. The answer? Yes, but barely, and not as an easy way to defend an outdated business model.
The defendant in the case, TheFlyOnTheWall.com, runs a financial news service that gathered and reported on stock recommendations from investment banking firms like Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Lehman Brothers (the"Firms") and reported them on its website. The Firms claimed that the information was "hot news" and that Fly was free-riding on the firms' work in creating the recommendations. A federal court agreed, and ordered Fly to delay reporting of the information for two hours after the reports are released.
In a move that could have a profound impact on Fourth Amendment law, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider a question that has split the nation's appeals courts: can the police install and use a GPS tracking device to follow a person's movements around the clock every day for a month—without a search warrant?
The Supreme Court granted certiorari (pdf) today in United States v. Jones (once known as United States v. Maynard). In this case, FBI agents planted a GPS device on Antoine Jones' car while it was on private property and tracked the location of the vehicle for a full month without a warrant. Jones challenged the surveillance tactic, arguing that it violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
At the beginning of June, EFF issued its Tor Challenge, calling on individuals and organizations to set up Tor relays to strengthen the Tor network and help Internet activists all over the world. Then we added the Poster Challenge, offering a Molly Crabapple poster to anyone who set up five or more relays. Today we’re unveiling the final achievement in our Tor Challenge: the Tor Video Challenge.
UPDATE: These comments relate to the DRAFT Communique distributed to all the participants at the High Level Meeting. The final Communique is scheduled to be released on 29 June at 13:00 pm
EFF has joined with a coalition of more than 80 global civil society groups which have declined to endorse a set of Internet Policy Principles presented today in Paris by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). EFF and the other members of the OECD’s Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) were unwilling to accept the high profile OECD Communiqué on Internet Policy-making because it could encourage states to use Internet intermediaries to police online content, undermining freedom of expression, privacy and innovation across the world.
Over the past two weeks, EFF has won the dismissal of two bogus infringement lawsuits filed by notorious "copyright troll" Righthaven LLC. In the first case, a federal judge ruled that Righthaven had no standing to sue an online political forum for a five-sentence excerpt of a news story posted by a user, because EFF sleuthing revealed that Righthaven did not own the copyright. Last week, the court relied on the evidence presented in the first case and dismissed Righthaven's lawsuit against a non-commercial blog that provides prosecutor resources for difficult to prosecute "no body" homicide cases.
Sherman Frederick is the former CEO of Stephens Media, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review Journal, and one of Righthaven’s biggest cheerleaders. When the litigation campaign of Stephens Media's copyright enforcer Righthaven first got underway, Frederick famously wrote “So, I'm asking you nicely once againdon't steal our content. Or, I promise you, you will meet my little friend called Righthaven.”
The copyright trolling world has been hopping in the past several weeks, and some developments seem to bode well for the protection of due process. All in all, we’ve seen the number of total Does sued rise to over 190,000, and we estimate that the number of Does remaining after the various dismissals is over 140,000. The following are the cases in which Does have been dismissed since we last reported.
Along with Professor Mark Webbink, Executive Director of the Center for Patent Innovations at New York Law School, today EFF filed comments in response to the Patent Office's Proposals on Streamlined Patent Reexamination Proceedings.
Yesterday we reported that EFF and the other civil society members of the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (CSISAC) had declined to endorse a draft Communique on Internet policy-making principles produced by the OECD. Since then, the OECD and key government representatives reopened negotiations with civil society, business and the technical industry stakeholders, in an effort to find mutually acceptable text to accommodate our concerns. Unfortunately that was not successful, and EFF and other members of the OECD's Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council have declined to endorse the full and final version of the Communiqué released on 29 June.
With only a few days and a 4th of July weekend left, our second annual DEF CON Getaway Contest is getting down to the wire! Thirty-seven participants have raised nearly $4,500 — but it's not over!
You have until 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 to win the Grand Prize Package including a standard suite at the Rio Hotel and Casino, two DEF CON 19 Human badges, two tickets to Vegas 2.0's (in)famous kickoff party theSummit, two badges for the ultra-exclusive Ninja Networks Party, AND an EFF Swag Super Pack. The Second Place Winner will receive two DEF CON 19 Human badges and two tickets to the Vegas 2.0 Party. The Third Place Winner will receive one DEF CON 19 Human badge and one ticket to the Vegas 2.0 Party.