In a blow to the future of the first sale doctrine—the law that protects your ability to lend, sell, or give away your copy of books, music and other copyrighted works—a federal court held today that the Redigi music service, which allows music fans to store and resell music they buy from iTunes, violates copyright law. According to the court, when it comes to music, you may have bought it, but you don't own it, at least if the "it" is an mp3 file rather than a CD.
"Is a cell phone really a pair of trousers?"
That's the question posed in a Texas case dealing with whether the police need a warrant to search the contents of a cell phone sitting in a jail's property room. In a new amicus brief we filed in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, we explain police need a warrant before searching an arrested person's cell phone.
Teenager Anthony Granville was arrested at his high school for a misdemeanor and booked into the county jail. All of his belongings, including his cell phone, were taken from him and placed in the jail's property room while he was locked up. Three hours after his arrest, a different officer than the one who arrested Granville at the high school went into the property room and, without a search warrant, looked through Granville's phone in search of evidence connected to another, unrelated
In Bangladesh, where just last month well-known blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was murdered in the street, and where have been on the rise, the latest news is that three bloggers have been detained for allegedly demeaning Islam and the Prophet Mohammed on their blogs. The three bloggers—Rasel Parvez, Mushiur Rahman Biplob, and Subrata Adhikhari Shuvo—were, according to Global Voices Advocacy, summoned yesterday to the police station, their laptops, mobile phones and other devices confiscated.
A federal judge in Los Angeles today showed little restraint in expressing his frustration with the "attorney misconduct" he's identified by the prominent copyright trolls behind Prenda Law. All of the named representatives of the firm appeared at today's session, after Judge Otis D. Wright II complained about their failure to do so at a similarly dramatic March 11 hearing.
It's past time for Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the law used in the aggressive prosecution of the late activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. While Aaron's case made national headlines, it was only of one of many instances where the CFAA has been used to threaten draconian penalties against defendants in situations where little or no economic harm had occurred.
Today a wide range of organizations and legal experts from across the political spectrum—including EFF—sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee protesting their proposed draft of draconian changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Alaa Abd El Fattah is under threat again. The Egyptian blogger, who spent more than a month in prison in 2011, missing the birth of his first child, has found himself the target of a new case. Last week, Abd El Fattah went voluntarily to the office of the prosecutor after hearing from the media that there was a warrant for his arrest for inciting “aggression” against members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The federal appeals court in New York affirmed yesterday that Internet streaming service Aereo is not infringing copyright when it enables users to stream broadcast TV to Internet devices. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the trial court's decision not to shut down Aereo while the case is pending. This decision is a win for Aereo, its customers, and for future innovators with the audacity to improve the TV-watching experience without permission from copyright owners.
During his first term, President Barack Obama declared October 2009 to be “National Information Literacy Awareness Month,” emphasizing that, for students, learning to navigate the online world is as important a skill as reading, writing and arithmetic. It was a move that echoed his predecessor's strong support of global literacy—such as reading newspapers—most notably through First Lady Laura Bush's advocacy.
It's been nearly two years since we first reported about Lodsys, the patent troll who targeted app developers. You might remember that Lodsys had actually filed lawsuits against some app developers in Texas; that case was (and is) slowly moving forward. We hadn't heard anything else from Lodsys in the meantime and assumed (foolishly, perhaps) that it was waiting to see what the judge said. This week, that all changed. It appears that Lodsys sued at least ten more app developers—many smaller players along with larger ones such as Walt Disney.
If you are 17 or under, a federal prosecutor could have charged you with computer hacking just for reading Seventeen magazine online—until today.
It’s not because the law got any better. Earlier today, we wrote about news sites that alarmingly prohibit their youth audiences from accessing the news and the potential criminal consequences under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In response, the Hearst Corporation modified the terms of service across its family of publications, including the Hearst Teen Network, which notably includes titles like Seventeen, CosmoGirl, Teen and MisQuince.
Copyright laws that represent the one-sided concerns of Hollywood at the expense of the broader public interest do not belong in trade agreements. Period.
Yet just days after dozens of public interest groups around the world issued called on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to keep copyright and patent regulations out of a new international trade agreement, a Senator with longstanding ties to the entertainment industry introduced a misguided bill that would create a new position for a "Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator" — in other words, an Ambassador from Hollywood, paid for by the general public.
EFF filed comments today urging the Federal Trade Commission to take action against patent trolls. We have written often about the rise of the patent troll—entities that don't create products themselves, but instead buy patents and make money from lawsuits—and the serious harm they are causing true innovators.
Today, EFF and a host of organizations across the political spectrum are launching a week-of-action imploring Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the expansive law used to prosecute the late activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz.
This week, EFF and a bipartisan coalition of organizations are calling for a Week of Action to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act—the law used in the aggressive prosecution of Aaron Swartz and that could potentially be used to turn every Internet user into a criminal.
Since Aaron's death, EFF has proposed changes that would reform the CFAA and bring it into the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the House Justiciary committee has proposed radical changes to the CFAA that would seek to increase penalties, expand the law, and criminalize new actions.
Ever since reintroducing CISPA, the so-called "cybersecurity bill," its supporters promote the bill with craftily worded or just plain misleading claims. Such claims have been lobbed over and over again in op-eds, at hearings, and in press materials. One "fact sheet" by Rep. Rogers and Ruppersberger titled "Myth v. Fact" is so dubious that we felt we had to comment.
In the wake of social justice activist Aaron Swartz's tragic death, EFF and Internet users around the country are in the middle of a week-of-action, asking Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the federal anti-hacking law. The CFAA has many problems and users can contact their representative to demand reform. In this two-part series, we'll explore the specific problems with federal sentencing under the CFAA. Part 1 explains why maximums matter.
To date, thousands of people have sent messages to Congress demanding reform of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act through EFF alone, not counting the ones sent through our friends at Demand Progress and elsewhere. But the citizens of the Internet will need to shout even louder if we’re going to drown out the corporate interests that have already dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence lawmakers to change the CFAA for the worst.
UPDATE 2013-04-12: Apparently as a result of this blog post, social media attention, and questions from the Australian Greens to the Australian Federal Attorney General's Department, the block has been lifted. But there has not yet been any explanation of why these 1,200 sites were blocked in the first place.
EFF has long opposed Australia's Internet censorship schemes, warning that even the voluntary filtering that has been implemented by Australia's largest ISPs, Telstra and Optus, lacks transparency and accountability, and could lead to collateral damage—accidental censorship of websites that are not violating the law in any way. A dramatic example of such collateral damage appears to be occuring at the moment.
Who would have thought a major oil corporation would have such thin skin?
In the last three months alone, the House has released three different cybersecurity bills and has held over seven hearings on the issue. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee floated changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the draconian anti-hacking statute that came to public prominence after the death of activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz.
If there's something that drives us crazy, it's when patents get in the way of innovation. Unfortunately, we often don't find out about the most dangerous patents until it's too late—once they've been used to assert infringement. That's why we were encouraged by the new provision of the patent law that allows third parties to easily challenge patent applications while those applications are still pending.
We have great news on the last day of our week-of-action aimed at Congress over the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the draconian computer hacking law. Huffington Post is reporting that House Republicans “put the brakes" on an awful expansion to the CFAA that threatened Internet rights. Even better, Huffington Post is crediting pressure from “Internet activists” for this “major victory.”
A House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the law, chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), had planned to vote on a reform of the bill next week as part of a House Republican legislative flurry they dubbed "Cyber Week," according to both Republican and Democratic aides on the panel. However, the bill was pulled back because of pressure from the Internet community.
Wednesday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence marked up the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the misguided “cybersecurity” bill that would create a gaping exception to existing privacy law while doing little to address palpable and pressing online security issues. The markup was held entirely behind closed doors—even though the issues being considered will have serious effects on the liberty of Internet users—and was passed out of the committee.
This means the bill can go to the floor and be voted on at anytime. Please tell your Representative now to vote no on CISPA. We probably have only a few days left before the floor vote.
Since January 2001, EFF has defended digital rights from a Spartan converted warehouse in the Mission District of San Francisco. It was a red-brick bunker, brimming with memories and cardboard boxes of legal briefs, where a former AT&T technician once walked in off the street with documents revealing secret government eavesdropping operations. With ratty couches and walls covered in press clippings and tongue-in-cheek hacker propaganda, it's where we've made our stand, working sometimes from dawn until long after closing time at our favorite neighborhood bars.
Today, we start a new chapter in a new building in a new neighborhood. You might be wondering, why would EFF leave what Forbes described as America's second greatest hipster 'hood, with all its cultural charm and incredible take-out? To explain, let us invite you back in time to our last weekly staff meeting.
Be prepared to scroll.
Today, thirty-four civil liberties organizations sent a joint letter to Congressional Representatives urging them to continue to oppose the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA is a misguided "cybersecurity" bill that would provide a gaping new exception to privacy law. The House of Representatives is likely to vote on it on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. This means that there's little time remaining to speak out against this bill.
Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued countless bad software patents. These patents tend to be hopelessly vague and overbroad. Indeed, they are often so packed with indecipherable patent jargon that software engineers have trouble understanding them. As one programmer told This American Life, even his own patents look like pure “mumbo jumbo.” When they fall into the hands of patent trolls, these vague software patents become a tax on innovation.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is supposed to promote cybersecurity—a goal EFF wholeheartedly supports—but it doesn't address common-sense network security issues. Instead, it creates a new, dangerous exception to existing privacy laws. That’s why hundreds of thousands of concerned Internet users have joined EFF and other civil liberties groups in opposing the bill. This is our last chance to stop it in the House.
In a hearing earlier today on the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), Representative Mike Rogers dismissed the opposition to the bill. He compared opponents of the bill to a "14 year old" tweeting in a basement (watch the video).
The Internet responded - tweeting directly to Mike Rogers. Look below to see some of the many tweets. Want to see even more? Search @RepMikeRogers on Twitter.
Yesterday, the US House prepared for the debate on the privacy-invading "cybersecurity" bill called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The rules committee hearing was the last stop before the bill is voted on by the full House.
In the hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) was questioned about the core problems in the bill, like the broad immunity and new corporate spying powers. In response, he characterized users who oppose CISPA as "14 year olds” tweeting in a basement.
The bill may be voted on as early as Wednesday. This means there’s little time left to speak out. Please tell your Representative to vote no on the bill:
Update: Note that the Hill article referenced below was working with an earlier draft of the amendment. The version introduced today was different from the version made available to the Hill.
UPDATE APRIL 22:
1-800-CONTACTS contacted us, through their lawyer, to complain about this post. The company complains that we incorrectly stated that it does not provide a virtual try-on system. Well, it turns out that the company (which owns Glasses.com) intends to launch a virtual try-on iPad app. We weren't aware of this app. And this is not surprising, since it is not yet available and was publicized on April 17, 2013, the same day as our post. In contrast, Ditto's competing product was launched back in April last year.
For those of us following the continuing saga of the unnecessary and harmful WIPO Broadcasting Treaty, its latest manifestation is starting to have the feel of a tired movie franchise. Every few years, as soon as Hollywood thinks it can squeeze a few more dollars out of a new installment, the same bad idea gets rehashed with the same cast of characters, and still no substance.
But unlike a bad sequel, we can't just ignore each new round of negotiations: the interests pushing for the treaty are counting on a lapse of vigilance from the public in order to push the bad policy through.
Internet freedom advocates everywhere turned their eyes to the US House of Representatives as that legislative body today considered the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
For the second year in a row, the House voted to approve CISPA, a bill that would allow companies to bypass all existing privacy law to spy on communications and pass sensitive user data to the government. EFF condemns the vote in the House and vows to continue the fight in the Senate.
"CISPA is a poorly drafted bill that would provide a gaping exception to bedrock privacy law,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said. “While we all agree that our nation needs to address pressing Internet security issues, this bill sacrifices online privacy while failing to take common-sense steps to improve security."
For years, Die Troll Die has been covering news about Prenda Law and its predecessor Steele Hansmeier PLLC, amoung many others. Prenda Law is a porn troll. This means that it looks for IP addresses that allegedly downloaded adult films via BitTorrent, seeks to subpoena the ISP for the contact information of the account holder associated with that IP address, and then threatens to name the alleged infringer in a copyright lawsuit, right next to the embarrassing title of a pornographic film. Or just settle, for thousands of dollars.
A federal judge handed Google/YouTube another victory yesterday in the long-running Viacom v. YouTube lawsuit. The same judge had ruled decisively against Viacom back in 2010, finding that YouTube was protected from copyright infringement liability for the activities of its users by the safe harbors of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Recently, we published a blog post that described how to opt out of seeing ads on Facebook targeted to you based on your offline activities. This post explained where these companies get their data, what information they share with Facebook, or what this means for your privacy.
So get ready for the nitty-gritty details: who has your information, how they get it, and what they do with it. It’s a lot of information, so we’ve organized it into an FAQ for convenience.
Yesterday, in a disturbing report published on CNET, new documents obtained by EPIC reveal that Obama administration officials have authorized a new government program involving the interception of communications on Internet service providers, including AT&T—one of the key players in the NSA warrantless wiretapping program.
Good news: we are finally seeing real progress toward improving the public's ability to access to the research we pay for. In February, we saw both a White House memorandum and the introduction of bipartisan legislation designed to promote open access to taxpayer-funded research on the federal level. Now California has stepped up to try and secure the same public access rights to state-funded research.
Another innocent customer unfortunately has been sued for defamation, simply for leaving a negative review of a company on eBay. The Ohio-based company, Med Express, had sent a customer in South Carolina a package that required additional postage to be paid. She chose to express her dissatisfaction with the service on eBay's seller feedback. Med Express apologized, offered reimbursement, and asked her to revise her review; when she wouldn't, they decided to sue.
When college professors want students to read a small part of a book, they put that book on reserve at the library, so everyone can get access to the bit of information they need without having to buy the entire expensive work. Advances in technology have made this even easier for students: librarians have created electronic reserves, allowing online access to a digital version of the excerpt. But the publishing world has come down hard on these electronic reserves in a lawsuit aimed at Georgia State University (GSU), insisting that libraries must pay fees for excerpts they make available digitally to students.
Update: The bill, S. 607, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a voice vote. It will now go to the Senate floor for a final vote on the bill.
Oh, how the times are changing. The last few weeks have brought significant encouraging news about the prospects for patent reform. Leaders in D.C., including the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, along with the President, have all acknowledged the essential need for immediate reform.
This is especially good news because just two years ago it seemed we could be waiting another generation for the next round of patent reform. In 2011, when Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA), it was heralded as "the first meaningful, comprehensive reforms to the nation’s patent system in nearly 60 years."
At the time, we said this:
Just a little more than two years ago, the world witnessed the overthrow of three North African dictators and ensuing protests across much of the Arab world on television and social media, the latter of which was much lauded as a catalyzing tool. But while 2011 was a time of hopefulness and increased openness throughout much of the region, 2012 brought about increased repression, both online and off. From Bahrain, named an “enemy of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders, to Egypt, the trend is toward censorship, surveillance, and increased regulation.
The United States and ten governments from around the Pacific are meeting yet again to hash out the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) on May 15-24 in Lima, Peru. The TPP is one of the worst global threats to the Internet since ACTA. Since the negotiations have been secretive from the beginning, we mainly know what's in the current version of this trade agreement because of a leaked draft [PDF] from February 2011.
Last week, a federal judge in Texas refused to authorize the government to hack a computer suspected of criminal use, including controlling the computer's camera. The government had sought a warrant to "surreptitiously install software designed not only to extract certain stored electronic records but also to generate user photographs and location information over a 30 day period." Noting the high standards for a warrant for wiretaps and video surveillance under the federal rules and the Fourth Amendment, Judge Smith determined that the government had not met its burden.
¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de internet?
- ...Eso mismo podría cambiar y para mal. ¡Con el TPP Todos Podemos Perder! De tí depende. Ven y participa en el primer campamento por la libertad en Internet y ayúdanos a salvar Internet antes de que sea demasiado tarde! Veintiocho horas consecutivas de charlas, talleres, música, arte, pasión e innovación en una campaña colaborativa de comunicación radical en defensa de nuestras libertades en Internet.
Did you post an ad on craigslist between July 26, 2012 and August 8, 2012? If so, bad news for you. Turns out that craigslist, and not you, owns that ad. In other words, if you try to repost it to another site, you could actually be infringing craigslist's copyright. Sound ridiculous? We think so, too.
Unfortunately, a federal court today upheld this oppressive term that craigslist included in its terms of service for that three-week period last summer. You might remember that we were encouraged when craigslist agreed to eliminate the provision, so we were left perplexed and disappointed that craigslist didn't drop its ownership claim over user posts made during that time when the issue came before the court.