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EFFector - Volume 14, Issue 9 - 2600 Court Asks for Further Briefing on 1st Amendment

    EFFector       Vol. 14, No. 9       May 10, 2001     editor@eff.org
                                      
   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424
                                      
  IN THE 169th ISSUE OF EFFECTOR (now with over 27,400 subscribers!):
  
     * 2600 Court Asks for Further Briefing on 1st Amendment
     * EFF Moves to Protect Anonymity of Online Speech
     * Administrivia
       
   For more information on EFF activities & alerts: http://www.eff.org
     _________________________________________________________________
   
    Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Advisory
    
    2600 Court Asks For Further Briefing on First Amendment
                                       
    For Immediate Release -- May 10, 2001
    
    Contact:
    
     Cindy Cohn, EFF Legal Director
     cindy@eff.org
     +1 415 436 9333 x108
     
     Kathleen Sullivan, Stanford Law School Professor
     sullivan@law.stanford.edu
     
   New York - The Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals today asked the
   parties in the 2600 Case to file supplemental briefs on May 30, 2001,
   focusing on the First Amendment issues raised in the case.
   
   "This is good news," noted Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan
   who argued the case for 2600 Magazine. "It means that the Court took
   our First Amendment arguments seriously. They are asking for very
   specific answers about how the First Amendment should be applied here
   and we welcome the chance to tell them."
   
   The text of the order is available at:
    http://eff.org/Legal/Cases/MPAA_DVD_cases/20010508_ny_augment_order.h
   tml
   
   "Dean Sullivan did a wonderful job did in the argument," added Cindy
   Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "We credit her for focusing the Court on
   these issues. We are especially pleased that the Court asked
   specifically about the section of the injunction that prevents linking
   to DeCSS." During the argument the court asked questions about whether
   this kind of injunction could chill expression by the New York Times
   and other mainstream media publications.
   
   The case arises from 2600 Magazine's publication of and linking to a
   computer program called DeCSS in November, 1999 as part of its news
   coverage about DVD decryption software. DeCSS decrypts movies on DVDs
   that have been encrypted by a computer program called CSS. Decryption
   of DVD movies is necessary in order to make fair use of the movies as
   well as to play DVD movies on computers running the GNU/Linux
   operating system.
   
   The Movie Studios have sued 2600 Magazine under a 1998 law that
   prevents even the publication of programs that can decrypt DVDs or
   other digital media. Most recently the law was used to frighten a
   Princeton Computer Science Professor, Edward Felton, from presenting a
   paper describing how to break proposed watermarks on CDs at a
   scientific conference. For more information see:
   http://www.acm.org/usacm/IP/DMCA-release.html
   
   An informal transcript of the oral argument and more information about
   this case are all available on the EFF website at:
   http://www.eff.org/pub/Intellectual_property/Video/MPAADVD_cases/
   
    About EFF:
    
   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:
     http://www.eff.org
   
                                  - end -
     _________________________________________________________________

   
    Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Advisory
    
    EFF Moves to Protect Anonymity of Online Speech
                                       
    Defends Critics of Failing dot Com Company

    For Immediate Release
    
     Contact:
     Lauren Gelman, EFF Public Policy Director, gelman@eff.org,
     202-487-0420
     
     Robert C. Holtzapple, Farella, Braun & Martel,
     bholtzapple@fbm.com, 415-954-4400
     
   May 7, 2001 -- The Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with San
   Francisco law firm Farella, Braun & Martel, today filed a motion in
   the Federal District Court in the Northern District of California to
   defend the right of anonymous critics to express their views online
   without fear of arbitrary disclosure of their identity. The motion
   seeks to prevent an Idaho company called Medinex Systems, Inc. from
   learning the identities of 14 John Does who participated on a Yahoo!
   message board devoted to discussions about the company.
   
   Medinex sued the John Does, identified by their screen names such as
   "zippershut", "awe2bad4mdnx", and "dotcommie2000", after they made
   remarks critical of the company on Yahoo! message boards. Medinex
   stock has dropped precipitously in the past few months and is
   allegedly on the verge of being dropped from the NASDAQ exchange for
   non-compliance with NASDAQ's $1 minimum bid price requirement.
   
   The critics, some self-identified as shareholders and employees of the
   company, stated their opinions about the mismanagement of the company
   and other factors leading to its financial difficulties. Medinex
   alleged defamation, tortious interference with business relationship
   and wrongful interference with a prospective economic advantage. The
   company then issued a subpoena to Yahoo! in California seeking the
   identities of their critics without first proving any illegal actions.
   
   "This case is another in a disturbing trend where failing dot com
   companies seek to silence their critics using the civil discovery
   process," said Lauren Gelman, Public Policy Director for EFF. "We are
   hopeful that this court will agree with a recent Seattle District
   Court decision stating unequivocally that the First Amendment protects
   anonymous online speech." Gelman referred to a case entitled In re
   2theMart.com, in which the court quashed a subpoena seeking the
   identity of Internet posters on an Infospace message board after a
   motion brought by the EFF and the ACLU of Washington.
   
   "These people were simply expressing their opinions. Unfounded
   subpoenas such as these chill everyone's speech on the Internet. Since
   some of the Does claim to be employees, we are also worried that
   Medinex has brought this suit in order to identify and retaliate
   against them, rather than because of any real defamation," added
   Robert Holtzapple of Farella, Braun and Martel, which is handling the
   matter pro bono.
   
   Background materials about this case are available on the EFF website
   at: http://eff.org/Cases/Medinex_v._Awe2bad4mdnx/
   
   Materials concerning the 2TheMart case are available at:
   http://www.eff.org/Cases/2TheMart_case/
   
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation ( http://www.eff.org ) 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 websites in the
   world.
   
                                  - end -
     _________________________________________________________________
   

Administrivia

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