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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 11 - Win for Makers of Morpheus Peer-to-Peer Software!

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 11       April 29, 2003     ren@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 250th Issue of EFFector:

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Win for Makers of Morpheus Peer-to-Peer Software!

Court Rejects Entertainment Industry Copyright Claims

Los Angeles, CA - A federal judge ruled last week that companies providing peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software cannot be held liable for copyright infringement by users of the software.

The ruling is a striking victory for the makers of the Morpheus and Grokster software products. In the court's words:

"Grokster and Streamcast [the company that provides Morpheus software] are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights."

"We believe the Morpheus case is about technology, not piracy, and the court agreed, making it clear that technology companies are not responsible for every misuse of the tools they make," noted Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "This ruling reaffirms the Supreme Court's landmark decision in the Sony Betamax case."

EFF represents Streamcast in the case.

"Hollywood sought to control what innovators can make available to consumers," added EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "This ruling makes clear that technology companies can provide general purpose tools without fear of copyright liability."

"Over 61 million Americans use peer-to-peer systems -- more than voted for our President," added EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "It's time we found a way to ensure that artists get paid without killing off this tremendous new technology."

Links

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Court Gives Hollywood Broad Powers to Violate Your Privacy

The D.C. District Court recently ruled that alleged copyright infringers are to be deemed guilty until proven innocent.

Judge Bates agreed with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that copyright holders can issue subpoenas to ISPs to demand identifying information about any Internet users based upon a mere allegation of infringement, with no notice to the user or judicial review of the claim required. In his second decision in support of the RIAA, Judge Bates rejected the arguments of Verizon, supported by 28 consumer and privacy groups and 18 ISPs and ISP organizations, that this sweeping new power violated the First Amendment right to anonymity and privacy rights of Internet users. He also rejected the argument that the law violated the constitutional requirement that private parties can only use subpoenas to get private information about ordinary citizens in the context of a current or imminent lawsuit.

"This ruling means that the RIAA, or anyone else claiming to represent a copyright owner, can demand that your ISP turn over your identity to them without any notice to you or the opportunity to prove that you didn't do anything wrong," noted Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "This is a big blow to the privacy of Internet users."

"It seems clear that the RIAA alone intends to use this power to demand the identities of thousands of Internet users, likely using the same 'bots that recently claimed that a public film hosted at the Internet Archive was infringing because it had the same name as a Hollywood film (U-571) and that a Harry Potter book report was an illegal copy of the movie," noted Cindy Cohn. "Once again the claim of potential copyright infringement is an excuse to degrade the privacy and constitutional privacy rights of ordinary Internet users."

The EFF is leading a bipartisan group of 28 consumer and privacy groups, including the Consumers Union, ACLU and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with over 18 ISPs and ISP organizations in support of Verizon. The argument on the Appeal before the D.C. Circuit Court is currently set for September 16, 2003.

Links

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Deep Links

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

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Staff Calendar

For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with locations and times), please visit our online calendar.

  • Thursday, May 1 - Cindy Cohn on a panel discussing blacklisting at the FTC Spam Forum (Washington, D.C.)
    PDF of the agenda.
  • Saturday, May 3 - Ren Bucholz discussing EFF's activism work at the UCSF Digital Democracy Conference (San Francisco, CA)
  • Sunday, May 4 - Lawrence Lessig at Medical Library Association Annual Meeting (San Diego, CA)
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Editor:
Ren Bucholz, Activist
  ren@eff.org

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