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November 1, 2013 - 8:19am 76849

The bipartisan Innovation Act is the best bill yet when it comes to fighting patent trolls. This post is the second of a series explaining the bill's various provisions. While the Innovation Act won't fix every problem with the patent system, it includes a powerful set of proposed reforms that—taken together—will significantly reduce the threat of abusive patent trolls.

Join us in supporting the Innovation Act. Take action and contact your member of Congress now.

Fee Shifting

Imagine you're a startup facing a patent troll lawsuit. The odds are in your favor: the patent it is asserting is of poor quality, and its claims of infringement are spurious at best. Yet the projected legal fees of the lawsuit run into the millions of dollars. Resigned, you decide to settle.

November 1, 2013 - 1:40pm 76859

After years of litigation, and a complete defeat in a New York district court, Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube is back before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. You’d think by now that Viacom, having lost battle after battle in this war against a version of YouTube that even Viacom admits hasn’t existed since 2008 (when YouTube launched its Content I.D. filtering program), would wise up and walk away. You’d be wrong.

Admittedly, there’s a fair amount of money at stake. Thanks to copyright’s irrational statutory damages provisions, even a partial win can mean a windfall for Viacom. But that’s not what this case is about. Instead, it's an effort by Viacom and its friends at the MPAA and the RIAA to get the courts to undermine the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

November 4, 2013 - 10:01am 76894

The bipartisan Innovation Act is the best bill yet when it comes to fighting patent trolls. This post is the third of a series explaining the bill's various provisions. While the Innovation Act won't fix every problem with the patent system, it includes a powerful set of proposed reforms that—taken together—will significantly reduce the threat of abusive patent trolls.

Join us in supporting the Innovation Act. Take action and contact your member of Congress now.

Ending Discovery Abuse

November 5, 2013 - 8:37am 76846

The bipartisan Innovation Act is the best bill yet when it comes to fighting patent trolls. This post is the fourth of a series explaining the bill’s various provisions. While the Innovation Act won't fix every problem with the patent system, it includes a powerful set of proposed reforms that—taken together—will significantly reduce the threat of abusive patent trolls.

Join us in supporting the Innovation Act. Take action and contact your member of Congress now.


November 5, 2013 - 10:21am 76862

We've been talking a good deal lately about the promising Innovation Act. And with good reason—it looks like the best chance we've had for real patent reform that would actually help those getting crushed by the patent system. The bill is not perfect, though, and has at least one glaring error: it does not address the serious harm that comes from patent troll demand letters.

Patent litigation is notoriously complicated and expensive, making it the perfect tool for patent trolls. Trolls use the costs of litigation as a threat to demand quick settlements. Even worse, they know how to ask for the right amount of money at the right time. Is your startup about to release a new product? Secure a round of funding? The perfect (and most dangerous) time for a troll to strike.

November 5, 2013 - 5:30pm 76922

Another day, another silly trademark claim – but even silly claims can have real consequences for folks who don’t have the resources to fend them off. That’s why EFF today filed an amicus brief in the case of Fortres Grand v. Warner Brothers. This case involves a dispute over a fictional product – a software program called ‘Clean Slate’ – that appeared in a Batman movie. Turns out there’s a real program with the same name. There’s also a real company called Acme – but that doesn’t mean Wile E. Coyote can’t order from the fictional one.

November 5, 2013 - 10:31pm 76833

A Washington Post article reveals that the National Security Agency has been siphoning off data from the links between Yahoo! and Google data centers, which include the fiber optic connections between company servers at various points around the world. While the user may have an encrypted connection to the website, the internal data flows were not encrypted and allowed the NSA to obtain millions of records each month, including both metadata and content like audio, video and text.

November 6, 2013 - 11:12am 76847

The bipartisan Innovation Act is the best bill yet when it comes to fighting patent trolls. This post is the fifth of a series explaining the bill’s various provisions. While the Innovation Act won't fix every problem with the patent system, it includes a powerful set of proposed reforms that—taken together—will significantly reduce the threat of abusive patent trolls.

Join us in supporting the Innovation Act. Take action and contact your member of Congress now.

Customer Suit Exception

November 6, 2013 - 12:31pm 76915

On October 26th, thousands of people from all walks of life converged on Washington, DC in a demonstration against the NSA's mass surveillance.

Photo by Charlie Furman of Demand Progress

 Among the crowd were dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of proud EFF members, including many showing off their EFF membership cards and t-shirts.

Daniel Bond, proud EFF member, shows off his membership card at the rally with EFF activism director Rainey Reitman.

November 6, 2013 - 1:47pm 76932

This weekend, people in at least 16 cities around the world will take part in hackathons in memory of Aaron Swartz, the free software developer, writer, and activist. Aaron took his own life earlier this year after nearly two years of unjust prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

November 7, 2013 - 9:10am 76980

On Tuesday, yet another one of the nine companies originally implicated in the PRISM program released its first transparency report. Apple joins the ranks of Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, among others that have issued reports that detail the number of requests the companies receive from governments for user data.

November 7, 2013 - 12:45pm 77005

The New York Times' editorial board has made a disappointing endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even as the actual text of the agreement remains secret. That raises two distressing possibilities: either in an act of extraordinary subservience, the Times has endorsed an agreement that neither the public nor its editors have the ability to read. Or, in an act of extraordinary cowardice, it has obtained a copy of the secret text and hasn't yet fulfilled its duty to the public interest to publish it.

November 7, 2013 - 2:16pm 76930

In our ongoing efforts to rein in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), we submitted a support letter on behalf of Jeremy Hammond on Wednesday, asking for leniency from the New York federal judge who is about to sentence him for hacking into private intelligence contractor Stratfor.

Hammond pleaded guilty to CFAA charges, admitting that he obtained credit card numbers and internal emails that documented Stratfor's surveillance on political protesters at the behest of both private companies and the government. He leaked the emails to the media and major news outlets like Rolling Stone, Wikileaks and McClatchy published material from the leaks. It was clear that Hammond's motivation was the public interest rather than personal financial gain.

November 7, 2013 - 3:03pm 76848

The bipartisan Innovation Act is the best bill yet when it comes to fighting patent trolls. This post is the sixth of a series explaining the bill’s various provisions. While the Innovation Act won't fix every problem with the patent system, it includes a powerful set of proposed reforms that—taken together—will significantly reduce the threat of abusive patent trolls.

Join us in supporting the Innovation Act. Take action and contact your member of Congress now.

November 7, 2013 - 4:01pm 76999

The San Diego regional planning agency, SANDAG, has been quietly rolling out a new mobile face recognition system that will sharply change how police conduct simple stops on Americans. The system, which allows officers to use mobile devices to collect face images out in the field, already has a database of 1.4 million images and serves nearly 25 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the region.

November 11, 2013 - 10:51am 77036

Time and again we’ve seen the National Security Agency (NSA) defend its vast surveillance apparatus by invoking the spectre of terrorism, discussing its spying powers as a method to keep America safe.  Yet, the truth is that counterterrorism is only a fraction of their far broader authority to seek “foreign intelligence information,” a menacing sounding term that actually encapsulates all sorts of innocuous, everyday conversation.

The New York Times demonstrated this disconnect last week, reporting, “the [leaked NSA] documents make clear, the focus on counterterrorism is a misleadingly narrow sales pitch for an agency with an almost unlimited agenda. Its scale and aggressiveness are breathtaking.”

November 11, 2013 - 11:35am 77041

Over the weekend, the New York Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, published a piece investigating the Times' thirteen month delay in the publication of a bombshell report on the Bush Administration's domestic mass surveillance program back in 2004 and 2005. Sullivan's revisitation of the issue in light of what we've learned since this summer about the NSA was a great public service.

November 12, 2013 - 10:02am 77073

EFF has filed a motion on behalf of the news organization ProPublica seeking the release of secret opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The text of ProPublica's press release is below:

ProPublica Motion Seeks Release of Court Rulings on NSA Spying

ProPublica is filing a motion today in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking the release of various court opinions that provide the judicial rationale for the federal government's secret collection of telephone metadata. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is acting as ProPublica's pro bono counsel in this matter.

November 12, 2013 - 11:43am 77067

Rep. Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), is a busy man. Since June, he (and HPSCI) have been all over the media with press statements, TV appearances, and tweets, relentlessly trying to persuade the public that the National Security Agency (NSA) is merely doing its job when it collects innocent users' calling records, phone calls, and emails.

November 12, 2013 - 12:44pm 77079

On November 7th, Brazil and Germany jointly proposed a preliminary version of a resolution on online privacy at the UN General Assembly. At a time when public outrage over the reach and scope of U.K. and U.S. mass surveillance is at an all time high, the draft resolution is the first official recognition by the UN of the threat that mass surveillance poses to human rights. The draft resolution is significant in many respects but particularly because it condemns “human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications... in particular massive surveillance.”

The draft resolution calls upon all states:

November 13, 2013 - 10:44am 77090

We've long advocated for public support of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, or FASTR, an important bill that will go far to promote open access to federally funded research. Unfortunately, it looks like FASTR has traditional publishers scared enough to try a blatantly deceptive tactic: a push for "alternative legislation" that pretends to encourage open access but actually undermines it. Enter the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2013, or FIRST Act (PDF), recently discussed in the House Science Committee.

November 13, 2013 - 12:25pm 77116

Over the past few days, EFF and one of our staff technologists, the talented Micah Lee, have had an illuminating back and forth with Canonical Ltd over the use of the Ubuntu mark. While we don’t believe that Canonical has acted with malice or intent to censor, its silly invocation of trademark law is disturbing. After all, not everyone has easy recourse to lawyers and the ability to push back.

That matters because Canonical’s actions reflect a much bigger problem: a pervasive and unfounded belief that if you don’t police every unauthorized use of a trademark you are in danger of losing it. We hope that some clarity on this point might help companies step back from wasteful and censorious trademark enforcement.

November 13, 2013 - 3:18pm 77120

After years of secret trade negotiations over the future of intellectual property rights (and limits on those rights), the public gets a chance to looks at the results. For those of us who care about free speech and a balanced intellectual property system that encourages innovation, creativity, and access to knowledge, it’s not a pretty picture.

November 13, 2013 - 4:13pm 77119

Forget extra cupholders or power windows: the new Renault Zoe comes with a "feature" that absolutely nobody wants. Instead of selling consumers a complete car that they can use, repair, and upgrade as they see fit, Renault has opted to lock purchasers into a rental contract with a battery manufacturer and enforce that contract with digital rights management (DRM) restrictions that can remotely prevent the battery from charging at all.

November 14, 2013 - 11:06am 77118

EFF has joined over three dozen civil society groups in seeking assurances that our collective work on trade negotiations is not being surveilled by the National Security Agency (NSA) or other United States security agencies. In a letter sent this week to NSA Director Keith Alexander and U.S. Trade Rep Michael Froman, we asked whether the NSA is spying on organizations and individuals advocating for the public interest in U.S. trade policy. We also demanded answers on whether the US Trade Representative has requested this data, if they have included communications with foreign nationals, and if that surveillance has occurred within U.S. borders.

November 14, 2013 - 11:13am 77141

It’s a good day for fair use and sane copyright law.  After years of litigation, Judge Denny Chin has ruled that the Google Books project does not infringe copyright.  Readers, authors, librarians and future fair users can rejoice.

November 14, 2013 - 1:33pm 77125

Protect Rights Online!Armed with a passion for justice, EFF members stand for privacy and free speech on our thriving Internet, even when it means speaking out against powerful governments and corporations. We’re reclaiming digital freedom, and we want you to join us.

In the past year, hundreds of thousands of concerned supporters made the case for a better digital future by educating others and using EFF's member-funded outreach tools. Together, we took the message to the streets with activist workshops, lobby days, and even an historic rally to end mass surveillance in Washington, DC. Substantive change demands vision, expertise, and tenacity—values brought to life by the support of EFF's dedicated members worldwide. Be a part of that effort.

November 14, 2013 - 2:54pm 77149

Censorship affects writers, journalists, and bloggers around the world, in various ways.  In some cases, censorship is state-sanctioned: on books, websites, and other forms of media.  Elsewhere (including in the United States), it’s self-imposed.  And in many countries, writers face threats more severe than censorship of their written word, including imprisonment.

Today, PEN—an international writer’s organization that strives to protect the rights of writers around the world—is marking the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, a tradition started in 1981 and observed annually by PEN member organizations all over the world.

November 14, 2013 - 4:14pm 77151

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been analyzing the USA FREEDOM Act1, a bipartisan bill authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

November 14, 2013 - 4:50pm 77152

Copyright law is at a crossroads, with Congress holding hearings to talk about changes and other parts of government offering their input on what those changes should be. Yesterday, EFF and the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School sent comments to the Department of Commerce giving our views on some key fixes to copyright.  EFF and CIS wrote about (1) the legal framework for "remix" in the new digital economy; (2) the notice-and-takedown procedures for Internet sites in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; (3) the "first sale" doctrine for digital goods; and (4) copyright's out-of-control statutory penalties.

Hopefully, the Commerce Department's task force will join the call for Congress to make copyright better for Internet users, entrepreneurs, artists, and creators of all sorts.

November 14, 2013 - 5:12pm 77093

The government has invented a bold set of universal talking points, which can be used to justify any invasive surveillance program. The NSA review group has provided a secret interim report to the White House with recommendations for dealing with NSA surveillance excesses; the public release is expected in about a month. What can we expect from the report? Rumor has it that it will conclude there is no "workable" way to scale back invasive surveillance programs.

November 15, 2013 - 9:03am 77264

On Monday, the US Department of Justice will release to the public hundreds of additional pages of government documents concerning its use of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the provision of law the NSA relies on to collect the call records of millions of Americans.

November 18, 2013 - 10:44am 77273

After months of negotiations, Tom Wheeler—the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—thinks it’s about time for consumers to be able to unlock their phones without fear of breaking the law. He made that much clear in a letter sent Thursday [pdf] to the president and CEO of CTIA, the industry group that maintains a Consumer Code that most carriers follow. In that letter, Wheeler proposes a December deadline for CTIA to update that code to include  meaningful unlocking provisions—or face FCC regulations.

November 18, 2013 - 3:17pm 77282

The copyright reform train is gathering steam, but whose hand is at the controls? Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on "The Rise of Innovative Business Models: Content Delivery Methods In The Digital Age." We expect witnesses from the major movie and TV studios to expand on their recent theme: that major studios are doing plenty of innovation already, so Congress doesn't need to make copyright law more innovation-friendly. They will say studios' limited forays into digital distribution, like Hulu, HBO GO, Crackle, and the UltraViolet digital rights management (DRM) system are innovation aplenty. But that’s disingenuous, as they've continued to litigate with scorched-earth tactics against others

November 19, 2013 - 7:47am 77158

EFF’s case challenging the government’s mass telephone records collection program, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, has received some new firepower in the form of five amicus briefs, including one from U.S. senators charged with overseeing the NSA’s activities. The briefs are all in support of our claim that the NSA’s mass surveillance of ordinary Americans’ telephone records is illegal and unconstitutional.

November 19, 2013 - 12:13pm 77479

We owe you an update on patent reform. Things are moving quickly!

Here are the basics:

First, the Innovation Act continues to move forward. The most recent version, however, lacks an important provision that would expand an effective avenue to challenge a patent's validity at the Patent Office. While we still support the remaining package, we are disppointed about the loss of the bill's only piece dealing with patent quality. The Innovation Act heads to markup tomorrow (you can watch here and we'll be live tweeting at @EFFLive).

November 19, 2013 - 4:27pm 77545

The newest round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations begin today in Salt Lake City, Utah, where trade representatives will work towards finalizing the text of this sprawling secret agreement. Last week's publication of the controversial "Intellectual Property" chapter by Wikileaks confirmed our worst fears: the TPP carries draconian copyright enforcement provisions that threaten users' rights and could stifle innovation well into the 21st Century. Public opposition to the TPP continues to grow as a result of the leaked document; an opaque policymaking process that seems geared towards appeasing Big Content does not provide much in the way of legitimacy.

November 20, 2013 - 12:06pm 77290

The documents released Monday by the Director of National Intelligence tell a story we've heard before: the government, through one-sided argument in a secret court, obtained unconstitutional orders to collect vast amounts of information about millions of innocent Americans.

Before, it was Americans' call records; the opinions released today describe the NSA's program collecting Americans' internet communications. And, just as we saw with the government's bulk collection of calling records, what the FISA court envisioned to be a closely controlled internet metadata program quickly resulted in violations of its orders and restrictions, the search and collection of more information than the government was authorized to acquire, and repeated violations of the privacy of millions of Americans.

November 20, 2013 - 2:11pm 77623

Since it was first reported by Utah CBS affiliate KUTV, the story of Jen Palmer’s travails with KlearGear, an online merchant of geeky “desk toys,” has been splashed across some of the most popular technology and Internet law blogs. It’s a terrifying story: Palmer’s husband placed an order for her with KlearGear that never arrived. She got a refund, and after being unable to contact the site’s customer service representative, left a negative review of her experience on

November 20, 2013 - 4:39pm 77061

The ongoing NSA leaks, Freedom of Information Act lawsuits and government declassification continue to bring vital information to the public about the the ongoing efforts of the NSA and its allies to spy on millions of innocent people. What started out as news detailing the agency's collections of users' calling records, phone calls, and emails now includes NSA's attack on international encryption standards and breaking into the data center links of companies like Yahoo! and Google. The news reports will continue to come and are often grounded in documents like PowerPoint slides, pictures, and internal government reports.

November 21, 2013 - 9:28am 77637

The abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's notice-and-takedown process to silence lawful speech is well-documented and all too common. Far less common, though, is a service provider that is willing to team up with its users to challenge that abuse in court.

That’s what's parent company, Automattic, Inc, did today and we couldn’t be more pleased.  Represented by Durie Tangri, LLP, Automattic has joined two lawsuits in federal court under Section 512(f) of the DMCA. Section 512(f) is the provision that allows users to hold people accountable when they make false infringement accusations. 

November 21, 2013 - 10:42am 77636

As another of round of secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meetings began in Salt Lake City this week, EFF joined Knowledge Ecology International, Public Citizen, Techdirt, and Open Media, in a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) to answer users' questions about the leaked TPP “Intellectual Property” chapter.

November 21, 2013 - 12:15pm 77677

After heated negotiations, the draft resolution on digital privacy initiated by Brazil and Germany emerged on November 20 relatively undamaged, despite efforts by the United States and other members of the “Five Eyes” group to weaken its language. Although a compromise avoided naming mass extraterritorial surveillance explicitly as a “human rights violation,” the resolution directs the UN high commissioner for human rights to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the protection and promotion of privacy “in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance... including on a mass scale.” The resolution will ensure that this issue stays on the front burner at the UN.

November 21, 2013 - 12:38pm 77595

The United National General Assembly should make clear that indiscriminate surveillance is never consistent with the right to privacy, five human rights groups wrote in an open letter to UN ambassadors on November 20th. The letter, signed by Access, Amnesty International, EFF, Human Rights Watch, and Privacy International, urges the General Assembly to approve a resolution on "The right to privacy in the digital age," that take a stand against the vast collection, interception and monitoring of personal data of innocent individuals both at home and abroad.

The text of the letter:

To All Member States of the United Nations General Assembly

Dear Ambassador,

November 21, 2013 - 3:05pm 77680

Big news in patent reform: the Innovation Act, our favorite troll-killing bill, has cleared its first major political hurdle. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee resoundingly voted 33-5 to send the bill to the floor. Better yet, the amendment process added back in two pieces we worried were missing—demand letter reform and covered businessed method patent (CBM) review.

November 22, 2013 - 4:39pm 77696

Civil society groups are coming out in force against the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, following Wikileaks' publication of the “Intellectual Property” chapter. The leaked chapter confirmed our worst fears that TPP carries Hollywood's wishlist of policies, including provisions to encourage ISPs to police user activities and liability for users for simply bypassing digital locks on content and devices for legal purposes.

November 23, 2013 - 3:26pm 77694

Journalists, bloggers and others who speak out against the powerful risk terrible repercussions for their work. Around the world, they face physical intimidation, violent attacks, and even murder for speaking out.

When such crimes are committed against those who exercise their right to free speech, the perpetrators all too often go unpunished. Those who are meant to enforce the law turn a blind eye. The oppressors can act with absolute impunity.

November 24, 2013 - 1:22pm 77701

“Oh no!” said the email that went round the EFF office on Friday. Could it be true that the Beastie Boys had unleashed the legal hounds to shut down a parody ad that uses the group's classic misogynistic ditty, “Girls”? Surely not. As remix pioneers, the Beastie Boys are the veterans of many legal battles against copyright maximalists. The Beastie Boys aren’t copyright bullies, they fight those bullies. Right?

November 25, 2013 - 11:05am 77711

Privacy may not be the only casualty of the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program. Major sectors of the US economy are reporting financial damage as the recent revelations shake consumer confidence and US trade partners distance themselves from companies that may have been compromised by the NSA or, worse, are secretly collaborating with the spy agency. Member of Congress, especially those who champion America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, should take note and rein in the NSA now if they want to stem the damage.

November 25, 2013 - 11:15am 77699

The latest supporters of robust patent reform—the kind that we're optimistic will come out of the Innovation Act—are more than 60 law professors. These professors, led by by Prof. Brian J. Love, sent a letter to Congress today joining the chorus of many disparate groups, such as venture capitalists and inventors, who have called on Congress to pass reform that would stem the harm patent trolls are wreaking on the innovation economy.

As the professors write:


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