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EFFector - Volume 15, Issue 31 - Hollywood Slams Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFFector       Vol. 15, No. 31       October 3, 2002     ren@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 230th Issue of EFFector:

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Tries to Limit Legal Representation in ReplayTV Case

Los Angeles - Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) attorneys yesterday rejected an attempt by Hollywood entertainment companies to prevent access to critical court documents in a case involving the rights of five ReplayTV owners.

Craig Newmark of craigslist.org, and four other ReplayTV customers, are suing the companies to clarify their rights to record television programs and to skip commercials using digital video recorders (DVRs). Hollywood representatives have publicly stated that skipping commercials is "stealing."

The current dispute arises from the entertainment companies' attempt to deny the ReplayTV owners effective representation from EFF, their chosen counsel.

The entertainment companies are seeking a broad court order prohibiting EFF attorneys from reviewing -- or using in any way during the case -- the vast majority of the documents the court has ordered the companies to provide as part of the usual legal discovery process. The companies claim that EFF is a "competitor" with Hollywood because of public statements about copyright law policy and advocacy to Congress on pending and current technology legislation, including the proposed Consumer Broadband Digital Television Promotion Act.

"If EFF's advocacy on behalf of consumers hurts Hollywood, it's only because it convinces Congress and the public not to pass laws that Hollywood favors," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "This is about the marketplace of ideas, not commercial competition."

"Apart from the obvious harm this ruling would have on the five ReplayTV owners in this case, a rash decision here could have much broader consequences," noted EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze. "If the court restricts EFF's representation in this case on the basis of its other speech activities, the court will set a disturbing precedent that could apply to other public interest law organizations and even to commercial attorneys who speak to the press and Congress about the issues involved in their cases."

The court hearing on the request is scheduled for 9:00am PDT on October 15, 2002, before Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick in the Central District of California, Court Room 20, 3rd Floor, 312 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles.

Links:

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/Cases/Newmark_v_Turner/20021003_eff_pr.html

Most recent court filing in Newmark v. Turner case:
http://www.eff.org/Cases/Newmark_v_Turner/20021002_joint_stipulation_documents.html

Other documents related to Newmark v. Turner case:
http://www.eff.org/Cases/Newmark_v_Turner/

Location of Newmark v. Turner court hearing:
http://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/cacd/CourtInfo.nsf/c755da45cb6a17bc882567d10055026e/fb17db7d346de192882567d100550d07?OpenDocument

For more information on the entertainment industry's suit:
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/Paramount_v_ReplayTV/

EFF Fair Use FAQ:
http://www.eff.org/IP/eff_fair_use_faq.html

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Legislation Balances Copyright Owner and Consumer Rights

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) supports new legislation from Rep. Rick Boucher and Rep. Zoe Lofgren regarding copyright issues in the digital realm.

Here are specific statements from EFF related to the newly proposed legislation:

On Boucher's bill:
EFF strongly supports Rep. Boucher's Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act of 2002.

The bill's CD labeling provisions will make certain that consumers know what they are getting when they buy music CDs. If record labels choose to sell "copy protected" CDs that offer consumers less for their money than the CDs they are accustomed to, these dysfunctional CDs should, at a minimum, be prominently labeled.

The bill also amends the DMCA to make it clear that technological protections should not trump the public's traditional fair use rights under copyright law. Since the DMCA's passage in 1998, it has been used not against copyright pirates, but instead to chill the legitimate activities of scientists, journalists, and computer programmers. Rep. Boucher's bill will go a long way toward restoring in the digital world the traditional balance between the rights of the public and those of copyright owners.

EFF strongly supports the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act of 2002 and will encourage its 7,000+ members, as well as the 27,000 supporters who receive its weekly newsletter, to support it as well.

On Lofgren's bill:
"EFF welcomes Rep. Lofgren's bill as an important step toward creating a fair and balanced copyright law for the digital age."

Links:

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/20021003_eff_pr.html

For more information on the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act:
http://www.house.gov/boucher/internet.htm

Press release from Rep. Lofgren on "Digital Choice and Freedom Act of 2002" (H.R. 5522):
http://www.house.gov/lofgren/press/107press/021002_release.htm

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Recording Industry Tries to Subvert Online User Rights

Washington, D.C. - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently tried to subvert the legal process and trounce on the privacy rights of Internet users by invoking an invalid subpoena on an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The subpoena sought to turn over user information of an individual allegedly engaged in peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. The ISP - Verizon Online - refused to comply with the subpoena and the RIAA recently sued to enforce the subpoena.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed the first amicus brief in the matter in defense of the privacy of Internet users. Other industry and consumer groups followed suit.

On Friday, Oct. 4, oral arguments will be heard at 9:30 AM at Courtroom 21 (4th Floor) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Members of the Internet user community and providers of Internet service, including parties who filed briefs in the case, will present their views on what will be the first case of its kind in this exclusive briefing. This case is about personal privacy, but it also raises important First Amendment and due process issues affecting all Internet users.

Links:

For this advisory:
http://www.eff.org/Cases/RIAA_v_Verizon/20021001_eff_pr.html

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Washington, D.C. - The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review recently accepted a brief of amicus curae submitted by a coalition of civil liberties organizations, including EFF. This is the first time that a case has been appealed from the lower Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in the quarter-century since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act established both courts. Until the brief was accepted, it was unclear who would be arguing against the Department of Justice in favor of citizens' rights.

The case began in May after the mysterious Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which hears all FISA wiretap requests in secret, rejected a DOJ proposal to allow FISA to be used for criminal investigations and to allow prosecutors to direct and control FISA surveillance. Instead, the FISC modified the DOJ proposal, reciting a history of government abuse that included serious errors in at least 75 cases.

The ACLU-led coalition includes EFF, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Center for National Security Studies, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Open Society Institute.

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EFF joined Public Citizen and the Electronic Privacy Information Center in an amicus brief supporting the ACLU's appeal in a libel case brought by Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin. The target of the claim is an unnamed AOL user who criticized Melvin about three years ago for allegedly lobbying the governor over a judicial appointment. The first "Doe" case to reach a state's highest court, Melvin v. Doe is of special interest because it involves public criticism of a public official, a core concern of the First Amendment. The ACLU is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to require people who bring defamation lawsuits to prove they have suffered actual economic harm before they can learn their critics' identities. The trial court ordered AOL to reveal Doe's identity, but no disclosure will occur before the appeal is reviewed.

Online anonymity has come under much pressure from "Doe" lawsuits recently. AOL, which also submitted an amicus brief, said that it had handled about 432 "Doe" subpoenas in 2001. Paul Levy of Public Citizen wrote the brief on behalf of Public Citizen, EFF, and EPIC.

Links:

The ACLU's legal brief is online at:
http://www.aclu.org/court/melvin_brief.pdf

The AOL legal brief is available on the ACLU website at:
http://www.aclu.org/court/melvin_aolamicus2.pdf

The Public Citizen legal brief is available online at:
http://www.citizen.org/documents/Melvin%202.pdf

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Deep Links
Deep Links features noteworthy news items, victories, and threats from around the Internet.

So Scary It's Funny: Ed Felten's Fritz Hit-List
Professor Ed Felten on the unintended consequences of Sen. Hollings' CBDTPA.
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/archives/cat_fritzs_hit_list.html

Record Companies Pay States Millions to Settle Antitrust Case
A battle over cd price-fixing ends with record companies paying over $67 million in refunds to consumers.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24910-2002Sep30.html
(free registration required)

Liquid Audio Sells Patents, Including DRM for Music, to Microsoft
Software company Liquid Audio sells Microsoft its patent porfolio, complete with DRM schemes for digital music.
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,575773,00.asp

Profits from Piracy
Interesting piece on Microsoft's decision to reduce pressure on Chinese piracy as a business tactic.
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/09/26/piracy_unlimited/

RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music
The Onion makes us cry from laughing so hard.
http://www.theonion.com/onion3836/riaa_sues_radio_stations.html

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