EFFector Vol. 15, No. 37 November 27, 2002 firstname.lastname@example.org
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 236th Issue of EFFector:
- ALERT: Keep Public Documents Available to the Public: Save the GPO!
- California Court Cannot Lasso Texas Resident into DVD Case
- DMCA Exemptions Rule-Making Guide: "How to Win (DMCA) Exemptions and Influence Policy"
- Control Freaks Unite: the Skinny on Gator
- EFF Urges Citizens to Ask CSSPAB to Fight "Total Information Awareness"
- EFF Hosts House-Warming Holiday Party!
For more information on EFF activities & alerts: http://www.eff.org/
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* ALERT: Keep Public Documents Available to the Public: Save the GPO!
This is a prime example of arcane gorvernment rule-making, but it's important. Here's the elevator pitch:
- The vast majority of government documents are handled by the Government Printing Office (GPO), which then deposits copies in over 1,300 Federal depository libraries across the nation. The GPO also puts much of the content online in a searchable fashion.
- The Office of Management and Budget (OMB, Executive Branch) has ordered government printing to be opened to competition and thus decentralized.
- This is not the first time that the OMB has tried to harm the GPO; similar measures were proposed in 1987 and 1994. Congress issued strong warnings in both instances, saying that it was both not the OMB's place to make such a decision and that it would be bad policy.
The OMB doesn't seem to be backing down this time, despite the passage of a harshly worded resolution (HJ Res 124) warning against the move. If the OMB proposal takes effect, there will be less government material on the Internet and in our libraries. Don't let them get away with it!
*You* can make a difference by submitting comments to the (suitably arcane) Federal Acquisition Rulemaking body, which is responsible for implementing the proposal. Our Action Center has a sample letter here:
Information Today article: "Is the GPO Endangered?"
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* California Court Cannot Lasso Texas Resident into DVD Case
Electronic Frontier Foundation Wins Jurisdiction Argument
San Francisco - The California Supreme Court today ruled that a Texas resident who published a software program on the Internet cannot be forced to stand trial in California.
The court found that Matthew Pavlovich, who republished an open source DVD-descrambling software program called DeCSS, will not have to defend a trade secret lawsuit simply because he knew that his publication could cause "general effects" on the motion picture and technology industries in California. The court laid out clear jurisdiction rules for claims arising from publishing information on the Internet.
The Pavlovich decision is one piece of a larger legal struggle over Internet publication of DeCSS by thousands of individuals in fall 1999. European open source developers created DeCSS so they could play their DVDs on Linux computers among other uses. DVD CCA, the sole licensing entity for a DVD-scrambling technology called CSS, sued hundreds of named and unnamed individuals and entities in the case on December 27, 1999.
Allon Levy, an attorney with San Jose's Hopkins and Carley, represented of Pavlovich pro bono with help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"Mr. Pavlovich had no connections with California whatsoever," noted EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "This decision clearly puts to rest the notion that you can drag someone into California court simply because he should have known that a web publication could harm Hollywood."
The court noted that without reasonable rules for court jurisdiction in Internet cases, "plaintiffs connected to the auto industry could sue any defendant in Michigan, plaintiffs connected to the financial industry could sue any defendant in New York and plaintiffs connected to the potato industry could sue any defendant in Idaho."
The decision also impacts the numerous other defendants named or served in the legal struggle, all but one of whom are located outside California. The appeal of the preliminary injunction entered against the sole California resident named in the case, Andrew Bunner, is awaiting an argument date before the California Supreme Court.
DeCSS is free software that allows people to play DVDs without technological restrictions, such as region codes and forced watching of commercials imposed by movie studios.
Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen originally published DeCSS on the Internet in October 1999. Under pressure from Hollywood, he is still facing criminal prosecution in Norway.
For this release:
California Supreme court opinion on the Pavlovich case:
More information on DVD CCA (Bunner and Pavlovich) cases:
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* DMCA Exemptions Rule-Making Guide: "How to Win (DMCA) Exemptions and Influence Policy"
Write to the Library of Congress Now!
EFF is pleased to announce the release of "How to Win (DMCA) Exemptions and Influence Policy," a great legalese-free guide to the comment-making process written by Seth Finkelstein, who proposed one of the only two exemptions granted in the last Library of Congress Rule-making.
Seth's guide explains the process in clear and simple English. The guide tells you how you can submit effective comments and participate in shaping copyright law policy. This is your opportunity to let the Librarian of Congress know how the DMCA is impacting you. If you are having difficulties making lawful use of particular digital media because of a technological protection access control, we encourage you to submit comments to the Librarian of Congress.
Seth's guide is located at:
Original EFFector announcement:
For more information about the DMCA rule-making process:
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* Control Freaks Unite: the Skinny on Gator
Relax, we're still on your side. Yes, EFF is taking Gator's side against certain websites. Why? "The issue is about who controls a computer when you're online. Is it you, or the company whose site you're using?"
'The Register' Article
EFF's senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann is on your side. Really.
Gator has been sued by a number of website operators, including the WashingtonPost.com and United Parcel Service. According to them, when you open a new window that overlaps their website, you're violating copyright and trademark law. 'If Gator loses, website owners would have far more control over your computer than is appropriate.'
Fred's stance on Gator is consistent with EFF's aggressive digital rights policy: 'Just because you may be browsing their web page in your web browser, doesn't mean that a website owner gets to control the rest of your PC. What windows are open on your computer, and what software you install, is your business, not theirs.'
What is Gator?
Gator distributes software that causes "popup" ads to be displayed on your computer screen when you visit certain websites. The Gator software does not alter the website or change anything about the browser window in which it appears. It just opens a new window that overlaps the web page.
We, like most of you, find popup ads to be annoying. We are not endorsing Gator's software, or its business practices. If you'd like to remove Gator from your computer, click on theis link below for instructions. Be aware that in order to completely if you remove the Gator software, you may have to uninstall the 'free' software that it pays for. lose various freeware associated with it.
But we do respect your right to choose what you install and view on your computer, and that may mean that you choose to receive Gator's ads in order to use the popular software programs that often come bundled with it.
The companies that are suing Gator, howeverin contrast, do not have your interests at heart. Instead, they are trying to create legal precedents that will be used to give them unprecedented control over your PC. It's bad enough that Hollywood executives think they can force you to watch commercials when you're watching TV. Now website owners think they, too, own your eyeballs just because you may have one of their web pages open in your web browser.
Why Gator? An Interview with Fred Von Lohmann (Q & A with excerpts from the video interview we'll be doing soon)
Q: Isn't Gator spyware and shouldn't EFF be against Gator?
A: The legal attacks being brought against Gator by website owners have nothing to do with the spyware aspect ofhow Gator's software got onto your PC. The website owners are not bringing these lawsuits on behalf of end-users. Instead, they are trying to create a legal precedent that will give them control over your PC.
Q: What's at stake in these cases, then?
A: To understand what is at stake, iImagine that tomorrow a company develops a perfect price comparator. For example, when you're surfing on the Extended Stay America web site (a hotel chain that has threatened Gator), this price comparator automatically opens a new window that displays prices for all competing hotels. Would you want the freedom to install that tool? Should Extended Stay America be able to prevent you from seeing what their competitors have to offer?
To take another example, you may have instant messenger software installed on your computer that automatically opens a new window every time you get a new message from a buddy. If that window opens on top of a web browser window that contains the UPS website, are you guilty of violating the copyrights and trademarks of UPS? We don't think so, but those who are threatening Gator appear to feel differently.
A loss for Gator wcould establish a legal precedent that would threaten thiese and other useful services.
Q: How do I remove the Gator software and stop the pop-up ads from appearing?
A: Doesn't a web site owner have the right to stop people from changing his or her web pages? Yes. But Gator's software does not alter any web pages. Instead, the Gator software simply opens a new window that overlaps your web browser. Known colloquially as a 'pop up', these new windows to not change any of the HTML code that makes up the web pages displayed in your other browser windows, any more than a new email or chat window does.
Q: Where can I get more information about the Gator lawsuits?
A: Links to court documents, press coverage and more:
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* EFF Urges Citizens to Ask CSSPAB to Fight "Total Information Awareness"
Much of your life is recorded in far-flung databases. You leave records every time you buy groceries with a discount card, shop online, or go to the doctor. Total Information Awareness (TIA) proposes that the government aggregate all of this data, creating a body of information that refers to virtually every single person in the United States. At that point, it's up to some an unspecified government apparatus to determine whether an agency can peruse the data to see who you associate with, what you buy, or if you're sick and what you've got. The potential for abuse is enormous.
Undersecretary Pete Aldridge told a press conference that one of TIA's main goals was to create technology for "discovery of connections between transactions -- such as passports, visas, work permits, driver's license, credit card, airline tickets, rental cars, gun purchases, chemical purchases -- and events -- such as arrest or suspicious activities and so forth."
In talking about TIA's Genisys project (databases), one DARPA staffer said, "Examples include records of purchases and other transactions, messages and communiques, facilities and ownership, travel itineraries, and relationships that can be inferred. These events often are reconstructed after the fact to support criminal prosecution, but we'd really like to be able to compile the information before an attack, rather than afterward." Genisys seems to go together with TIA's Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery (EELD) program and TIA's Wargaming the Asymmetric Environment (WAE) program, which has developed indication and warning models for select terrorist individuals and organizations
Also of great concern is the Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) program, which is working to fuse human ID technologies like facial recognition, iris recognition, and gait recognition.
DARPA has said that it plans to "create privacy filters, 'aliasing' methods, and automated data expunging agents to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens, and those not involved with foreign terrorists."
However, it is not certain that there can be any meaningful privacy protection if a system like this were deployed.
What You Can Do:
The Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Board (CSSPAB), a government entity that works on privacy and security issues, is meeting openly on December 3-5. This is an excellent chance for you to make sure the government knows how concerned you are about this program. Let's ask hard questions and demand real answers. Write to the CSSPAB or attend the meeting!
December 3, 2002, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
December 4, 2002, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
December 5, 2002, from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
Washington D.C./North Gaithersburg Hilton Hotel
620 Perry Parkway
Comments may be sent to:
Dr. Fran Nielson
Announcement from the Federal Register:
TIA project page:
Genisys project page:
EELD project page:
WAE project page:
HumanID project page:
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* EFF Hosts Housewarming Holiday Party!
WHEN: Tuesday, December 10th, 2002, at 7:00 PM Pacific Time
WHERE: Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
No, we're not moving! But we are expanding to include the space next door. It is now the newest addition to EFF Headquarters. Come celebrate our new digs and the spirit of the holiday season with us. We'll have great food, beer, musical madness from the Funkmonsters, and the latest news on EFF from the ever-compelling John Perry Barlow and Shari Steele.
This event is free and open to the general public. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.eff.org) is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. For more information, please see EFF's website.
An RSVP is appreciated. Please contact:
Let us know you're coming so we don't run out of food and holiday libations.
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