Skip to main content
Podcast Episode - Right to Repair Catches the Car

EFFector - Volume 13, Issue 10 - EFF Urges Netizens to Support Digital Music Rights Bill, "MOLRA"


EFFector - Volume 13, Issue 10 - EFF Urges Netizens to Support Digital Music Rights Bill, "MOLRA"

             EFFector       Vol. 13, No. 10       Oct. 19, 2000
   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424
  IN THE 158th ISSUE OF EFFECTOR (now with over 25,600 subscribers!):
     * EFF Urges Netizens to Support Digital Music Rights Bill, "MOLRA"
     * EFF Challenges Effort to Silence Online Critic
     * Nov. 2 "BayFF" Meeting Examines Posting of Private/Proprietary
       Documents, & Free Speech
     * Administrivia
   For more information on EFF activities & alerts:
EFF Urges Netizens to Support Digital Music Rights Bill, "MOLRA"

  "Music Owners' Listening Rights Act of 2000" (H.R. 5275) 1st Step to
  Copyright Reform
   Electronic Frontier Foundation ALERT -- Oct. 19, 2000
   Please redistribute to relevant forums, no later than Feb. 1, 2001.
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) encourages all Netizens to
   contact their Congressional representatives and urge them to support
   the "Music Owners' Listening Rights Act of 2000" (MOLRA, bill number
   H.R. 5275). The Bill begins to reform unbalanced copyright law by
   firmly establishing users' rights to access the music they lawfully
   own via the Internet at any time from any place.
   Large record companies have used tortured interpretations of copyright
   law to stifle new Internet businesses that compete with these record
   companies. For example, they sued MP3.COM (Universal Music Group, et
   al., v. MP3.COM) to stop it from letting people play music over the
   Internet even though the users proved that they possessed the CD.
   Agreeing with the recording studios, the district court found MP3.COM
   guilty of an act of "intermediate copying," without ever deciding
   whether consumers are allowed to play audio of their own CDs. MP3.COM
   is appealing the case, but it has also encouraged Congress to make its
   intent clearer by passing this legislation.
   H.R. 5275 would declare unequivocally that consumers can transmit an
   audio recording over the Internet so it will play wherever they are,
   if they've shown that they possess the CD (or otherwise lawfully own
   the music). The bill legalizes copies made by a service company so
   consumers and artists can begin to experiment with new models of
   distribution better suited for a digital realm.
   Copyright law was designed to strike a balance between authors' and
   artists' rights to be compensated for their creations, and the
   public's right to access and use that creation. Restrictions written
   before the advent of digital technology should not be used to preclude
   new technologies from coming into existence, depriving society of the
   benefit of innovation. Updating the law to reflect the change in
   real-world circumstances begins to address the threat that the
   recording studios place on free expression in a digital world.
   The bi-partisan MOLRA bill was introduced into Congress last month by
   Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and co-sponsored by several Republican
   representatives. Contact your representative to stand up for free
   expression and your rights to use digital audio. Let your voice be
    For more information:
   How to contact your legislators:
   Music Owners' Licensing Right Act (H.R. 5275), full text:
   The "Million Email March" organized by MP3.COM:
   Floor statement of Rep. Boucher introducing MOLRA:
   EFF's Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression (CAFE):
EFF Challenges Effort to Silence Online Critic

  Civil Liberties Group Challenges Corporate Lawyer's Effort to Undermine
  Internet Writer's Right to Remain Anonymous
   Electronic Frontier Foundation ALERT -- Oct. 17, 2000
   October 13, 2000 - An Internet civil liberties group has teamed up
   with a consumer group to weigh in against the common practice of using
   unsubstatiated civil lawsuits to determine the identity of a
   controversial speaker. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along
   with the consumer group Public Citizen, filed a motion to quash a
   subpoena presented to America Online (AOL) seeking the identity of an
   anonymous poster absent proof from the plaintiff that statements made
   were actually defamatory.
   The brief was filed on behalf of an individual (Jane Doe) who had made
   several comments on a Yahoo! message board devoted to AK Steel
   (formerly Armco Steel), based in Middletown, Ohio. Among these
   messages were statements that John Hritz, executive vice president and
   general counsel of AK Steel, was too litigious. Hritz promptly filed a
   "petition for discovery," generally alleging that "John and/or Jane
   Doe" had made "disparaging, threatening and defamatory" comments on
   the Internet. Ohio law allows Hritz to file a "petition for discovery"
   even though he has not yet filed a lawsuit against Doe. Hritz then
   used that petition to issue subpoenas to Yahoo! and AOL to identify
   EFF and Public Citizen stepped in to combat the growing problem of
   powerful entities increasingly turning to their lawyers when they find
   something online they don't like. Lauren Gelman, EFF's Director of
   Public Policy, explained, "This is just one more example where the
   legal system is being misused to chill Internet conduct. Lawyers are
   churning out subpoenas with the sole purpose of intimidating
   individuals into self-censoring speech. That's especially clear here,
   where Hritz hasn't even filed a lawsuit."
   The only specific web posting about himself that Hritz cited in his
   request for discovery is "Hritz will litigate the time of day. OOPS I
   will be in court." As Doe explains in her brief, not only is this
   statement purely opinion, and hence not actionable as libel, but the
   filing of this case against Doe seems to substantiate Doe's criticism
   of Hritz.
   Doe argues in her brief that because the main purpose of such suits is
   often to unmask a company's critics, the identification of those
   critics should be treated as a major form of relief that cannot be
   awarded without proof of wrongdoing. "A company should not be able to
   deny members of the public the right to speak anonymously simply by
   making vague allegations of wrongdoing," clarified EFF's Legal
   Director, Cindy Cohn.
   EFF's Gelman explained further, "Given the complete lack of evidence
   that Hritz was libeled, his use of the court as his own private
   detective agency constitutes a blatant disregard for the Supreme
   Court's ruling that the First Amendment protects Jane Doe's right to
   speak anonymously. This is unacceptable behavior, especially from a
   lawyer for a major corporation."
   "This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to intimidate all of AK Steel's
   employees and other members of the public," said Paul Levy of Public
   Citizen Litigation Group, who plans to argue the case on behalf of
   Doe. "Hritz is in effect warning workers not to exercise their First
   Amendment right to speak freely about the company on the Internet."
   "It would be disturbing if courts were to permit the disclosure of the
   identities of people who post messages anonymously," Levy said. "The
   First Amendment guarantees people a right to speak out and participate
   in public debates. A message board is just that -- an ongoing public
   EFF decided to put together a legal team to defend Doe because of the
   free speech implications of the case. Robert Corn-Revere and Ronald
   Wiltsie of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Hogan and Hartson,
   and Timothy Connors and Mark Belleville of the Ohio-based law firm of
   Calfee, Halter & Griswold, also are representing Doe as local counsel
   in the Virginia and Ohio courts, respectively.
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation ( ) is the
   leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the
   digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges
   industry and government to support free expression, privacy, and
   openness in the information society. EFF is a member-supported
   organization and maintains one of the most-linked-to Web sites in the
   world. EFF sees its action in this case as part of its larger mission
   to protect speech online. EFF was a plaintiff in ACLU v. Reno, the
   landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Internet is a
   constitutionally protected medium. EFF is currently providing the
   legal defense for Eric Corley, publisher of 2600 Magazine, in a
   lawsuit before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals where the movie
   industry has sued to keep Corley from publishing or even linking to
   controversial software.
   Lauren Gelman, Electronic Frontier Foundation, +1 202 487 0420
   Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier Foundation, +1 415 436 9333
   Paul Levy, Public Citizen, +1 202 588 1000
   Full text of the EFF/Public Citizen brief is available at:
Nov. 2 "BayFF" Meeting Examines Posting of Private/Proprietary Documents, &
Free Speech

      Media Advisory
  BayFF Speaks Up
    Free Speech Advocate, Hastings Law Professor, and Bay Area Cyberjournalist
    Explore the Limits of Free Expression on the Net
   WHO: Electronic Frontier Foundation, Keith Henson, Joe Liu, Damien
   WHAT: "BayFF" Meeting exploring the posting of private documents, and
   free expression on the Web
   WHEN: Thursday, November 2nd, 2000, at 7:00PM PT
   WHERE: Moscone Center, Room 101
          747 Howard St.
          San Francsico, CA, USA
   In honor of its 10th Anniversary of defending civil liberties online,
   EFF presents a series of monthly meetings to address important issues
   where technology and policy collide. These meetings, entitled "BayFF"
   (Bay-area Friends of Freedom), kicked off on July 10, 2000, and will
   continue on a monthly basis. 

   The upcoming BayFF includes panelists Keith Henson, a free speech
   advocate who was sued by the Church of Scientology, Prof. Joe Liu, an
   expert on intellectual property law, and Damien Cave, a Bay Area
   reporter with who covers tech issues. They will focus on the
   publishing/posting of documents on the Web that are later claimed to be
   private, or to contain trade secrets. What are the repercussions of
   this type of publication? Can litigation to prevent or punish such
   publishing be seen as a violation of the publisher's First Amendment
   Keith Henson, an electrical engineer and programmer by trade, and long
   a free speech advocate, was troubled by the Church of Scientology's
   1995 attempt to destroy a Usenet news group (alt.religion.scientlogy).
   He was sued by them in early 1996 over an open letter to a federal
   judge which quoted from a Scientology instruction manual ("NOTs 34,"
   available on the Net). Most recently, he has been exercising his First
   Amendment rights by picketing Scientology's desert compound near
   Hemet, CA. He has been charged with making "terrorist threats" to the
   organization, which he denies. He is also well known for founding the
   L-5 Society in 1975, and was heavily involved in space politics for 6
   years. He is a major character in the multi-person biography, "Great
   Mambo Chicken and the Trans-Human Condition" by Ed Regis. In recent
   years he has been deeply involved with cryonics.
   Professor Liu was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He received
   his B.A. in Physics and Philosophy in 1989 from Yale University, and
   his J.D. in 1994 from Columbia Law School, where he was
   Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Law Review. After law school, he
   clerked for Judge Levin H. Campbell, U.S. Court of Appeals for the
   First Circuit. Following his clerkship, Professor Liu worked as a
   litigator at Foley, Hoag & Eliot in Boston, where his practice
   consisted of intellectual property litigation, securities litigation,
   and white collar criminal defense. Professor Liu then spent two years
   as a Climenko Teaching Fellow at Harvard Law School. He also serves as
   general counsel to an Internet startup company. Professor Liu's
   primary teaching and research interests are in the areas of
   intellectual property, property, and internet regulation.
   Damien Cave is a staff writer for the technology section of,
   where he focuses on policy, intellectual property and digital culture.
   He has written several stories on DeCSS, Napster, ICANN and other
   hot-button issues, while trying to keep his computer from crashing and
   his inbox from overflowing. Before coming to, he attended
   the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, wrote for
   several publications while backpacking through South America, and
   covered health care at a daily newspaper in New Hampshire. His stories
   have also won several awards, none of which were Pulitzers.
   For directions to the event, you can use free services like or to generate driving
   directions or maps. For BART, CalTrain and Muni directions, please
   call their information lines.
   This month's BayFF will be Webcast. BayFF is first and foremost a real
   space event, meant to serve as an educational forum for the local
   community, as well as a catalyst for like-minded activists. Locals,
   please show your support in person! BayFF fans and followers that are
   scattered across the country can check the EFF Website for a link to
   the Webcast.  See the BayFF homepage at:
   You can subscribe to receive future BayFF announcements. To subscribe,
   email and put this in the text (not the subject
   line): subscribe bayff.
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation ( is the leading
   civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital
   world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges
   industry and government to support free expression, privacy, and
   openness in the information society. EFF is a member-supported
   organization and maintains one of the most-linked-to Web sites in the
     Katina Bishop
     Education & Offline Activism Director
     Electronic Frontier Foundation
     +1 415 436 9333 x101
   EFFector is published by:
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation
   1550 Bryant St., Suite 725
   San Francisco CA 94103-4832 USA
   +1 415 436 9333 (voice)
   +1 415 436 9993 (fax)
   Editor: Stanton McCandlish, Online Communications Director/Webmaster
   Membership & donations:
   General EFF, legal, policy or online resources queries:
   Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged.
   Signed articles do not necessarily represent the views of EFF. To
   reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors for
   their express permission. Press releases and EFF announcements &
   articles may be reproduced individually at will.
   To subscribe to EFFector via e-mail, send message BODY (not subject)
     subscribe effector
   to, which will send you a confirmation code and then
   add you to a subscription list for EFFector (after you return the
   confirmation code; instructions will be in the e-mail).
   To unsubscribe, send a similar message body to the same address, like
     unsubscribe effector
   Please ask"> to manually add you
   to or remove you from the list if this does not work for you for some
   Back issues are available at:
   To get the latest issue, send any message to (or, and it will be mailed to
   you automagically. You can also get:
   via the Web.

Back to top

JavaScript license information