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EFFector - Volume 15, Issue 35 - Urge Your Representative to Co-Sponsor the DMCRA!

EFFector       Vol. 15, No. 35       November 8, 2002     ren@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 234th Issue of EFFector:

    * ALERT UPDATE: Urge Your Representative to Co-Sponsor the DMCRA!
    * ALERT: Bait and Switch: Anticounterfeiting Bill Hurts Your 
      Rights!
    * Canadian Trademark Law Overreaching
    * Give Twice as Many Gifts this Holiday Season!
    * Deep Links (4): Security Technologies Could Backfire Against 
      Consumers
    * Administrivia

For more information on EFF activities & alerts: http://www.eff.org/

To join EFF or make an additional donation:
  http://www.eff.org/support/
EFF is a member-supported nonprofit. Please sign up as a member today!

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* ALERT UPDATE: Urge Your Representative to Co-Sponsor the DMCRA!

As the legislative season ends, it is vitally important to gather
support for legislation that will be center-stage in the next session.
This is an opportunity to ask your representative to take a stand for
your rights. Ask her/him to co-sponsor the DMCRA today!

Representatives Rick Boucher and John Doolittle recently introduced
the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA, H.R. 5544), which
would require labelling on usage-impaired "copy-protected" compact
discs and would make several several amendments to 1998's infamous
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Take action here:
http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2224

Join EFF! For membership information see:
http://www.eff.org/support/

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* ALERT: Bait and Switch; Anticounterfeiting Bill Hurts Your Rights!

Don't be fooled by Senator Biden's "Anticounterfeiting Amendments of
2002" (S. 2395, also known as "the Biden Bill"). It started as an
attempt to stop organized crime from forging holograms and
counterfeiting money, but its scope has been greatly expanded to
include digital watermarks on copyrighted material. This is a sneaky
power-grab that would greatly diminish the rights of the public in
copyrighted works while expanding the power of copyright owners. It
goes well beyond the scope of current copyright law and could:

~ Prevent universities, libraries, and consumers from enjoying the
exceptions to the Copyright Act adopted by Congress. S. 2935 could
prohibit the use of interface information essential for software
interoperability and competition

~ Impose new responsibilities on Internet service providers and could
also require consumer electronics and computer manufacturers to
reconfigure their products.

~ Impose more severe criminal and civil penalties than permitted by
the Copyright Act for identical behavior

This "anticounterfeiting" bill is a decoy; stand up for your rights
today! Subscribe to the EFF Action Center and send your member of
Congress an email, letter or fax. You can take action by going to:

http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2274

Join EFF! For membership information see:
http://www.eff.org/support/

-=end=-----------------------------------------------------------

* Canadian Trademark Law Overreaching

EFF has been involved in several cases involving overreaching
trademark claims on the Internet. Recently we have learned about a
Canadian lawsuit over the website www.lawsnet.com, a nonprofit legal
information website focusing on the laws of Canada and China that seem
especially egregious.

Lawsnet.com is a free legal information website that has been
published since 1998. Last year, Lawsnet.com's owner Ling Xia was sued
by Quicklaw, a subsidiary of global publishing giant LexisNexus Group.
Quicklaw claims that Lawsnet.com violates its rights in the name
LAW/NET. However, LAW/NET does not have a public Internet website
under that domain name. The name appears on a subsidiary webpage of
the Quicklaw.com website that offers public "teasers" in the form of
summaries of recent Canadian cases, with the full text only available
through the private, proprietary paid Quicklaw service for Canadian
lawyers. It seems clear that the two names are substantially
different, are used in different places (one as a teaser for a closed
computer service and the other for information freely available on the
public internet) and are not causing any consumer confusion. Even more
problematic, Quicklaw does not even have a Canadian trademark in the
term LAW/NET -- it applied for one in 1997 but has repeatedly filed
requests for extensions of time with the Canadian trademark
authorities. In contrast, Ms. Xia is in the final stages of having a
Canadian trademark issued for "lawsnet."

Regardless of its weak case, Quicklaw has managed to drag Ms. Xia
through over a year of litigation and recently succeeded in securing a
court order requiring her to undergo an extensive "discovery" process
that threatens to drive her under. Although she has had some free
legal assistance in the past, this next phase will require
significantly more legal resources than her volunteer attorneys can
muster. Quicklaw is represented by a large Toronto firm, Borden Ladner
and Gervais, LLP.

Abuse of trademark law (even here, when no official trademark has even
been granted) is a growing problem on the Internet, and it is
unfortunately becoming an international problem. EFF urges Quicklaw,
and its US-based parent company, to stop beating up on this free and
useful website. While trademark law is important when misuse of a mark
is causing consumer confusion, it does not -- and should not -- grant
ownership in words, especially descriptive words like "laws" and "net"
when describing an online legal information service. Trademark law
should also not be a license for large corporations who sell legal
information (or any other nonproprietary information) to stop
individuals who want to use the power of the Internet to provide free
legal information to the public.

For those who wish to help Ms. Xia directly, local Toronto lawyer and
part-time law professor Gil Lan has agreed to act as trustee for a
legal defence fund to be established for Ms. Xia. If you wish to help,
please contact:

Mr. Gil Lan
Barrister & Solicitor
393 University Avenue
Suite 2000
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1E6

or by email at:
glan@globalbusinesslaw.com

or Ling Xia at:
editor@lawsnet.com

-=end=-----------------------------------------------------------

* Give Twice as Many Gifts this Holiday Season!

EFF has signed up with ShopsThatGive.com, a portal site for dozens of
online shops that donates a portion of their referral fees to a
charity of your choice. If you shop online at any of the websites
available through ShopsThatGive, including Alibris, buy.com, Disney
Store, eBay, eToys, Half.com, Lens Express, McAfee, Office Depot,
Palm, Petsmart, REI, Rail Europe, and Verizon Wireless, part of your
purchase can be donated back to EFF. From the main ShopsThatGive page,
simply select EFF as your designated cause, select a merchant or
category, and you're all set. It won't cost you anything extra and it
would help us out a lot. Please keep this giving opportunity in mind,
especially throughout the upcoming holiday season.

Links:
ShopsThatGive:
http://www.shopsthatgive.com/

Complete List of Participating Merchants:
http://www.shopsthatgive.com/category.aspx

Buy EFF-related books through Amazon or Barnes&Noble:
http://www.eff.org/promo/books.html

-=end=-----------------------------------------------------------

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

~ Security Technologies Could Backfire Against Consumers
Robert Lemos at news.com with a balanced piece on trusted computing.
http://news.com.com/2009-1001-964628.html?tag=fd_lede1_hed

~ Barbie's Kinky Rival Wins First Court Battle
Mattel loses first round in intellectual property battle over S&M doll
with Barbie head.
http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/international.cfm?id=1242812002

~ Unspooled
In the digital age, the quaint cassette is sent reeling into history's
dustbin.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32476-2002Oct28.html

~ The Meaning and Importance of the TEACH Act
The American Library Association on the latest amendment to US
copyright law.
http://www.ala.org/washoff/teach.html

-=end=-----------------------------------------------------------

* Administrivia

EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)
  http://www.eff.org/

Editor:
Ren Bucholz, Activist
  ren@eff.org

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