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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 16 - Public Has the Right to Skip or Mute Movie Scenes

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 16       June 19, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 255st Issue of EFFector:

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Public Has the Right to Skip or Mute Movie Scenes

Electronic Frontier Foundation Defends Consumer Rights

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on June 18 asked a federal court to rule that people have the right to use technology to skip scenes or mute language they find disturbing while viewing movies they have obtained lawfully.

The case, entitled Huntsman v. Soderbergh, involves consumer use of software and hardware to skip scenes of sex and violence and to mute profanity on DVDs of films they have purchased.

"If I buy a DVD and want to use some software to skip or mute parts of a movie I'm watching at home with my family, I should be able to do so," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz.

EFF filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case to counter the claim of the eight major Hollywood studios that technology vendors are creating a "derivative work" of movies by allowing consumers to use software and hardware to skip and mute movie scenes. Specifically, the brief points out that copyright owners should have no control over how people choose to watch movies in the privacy of their own homes.

"The Huntsman case doesn't affect the free speech or artistic license of movie directors and studios, since they already control public showings of their films under copyright law," said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "The EFF brief urges the court to reject the Hollywood studios' lawsuit and preserve the public's right to control the viewing experience of films purchased for home use."

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Activism Update: Super-DMCA Victories

In March of this year, EFF became aware that many states were being pressured by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to adopt legislation that would have serious consequences for freedom of speech, encryption, and the public's rights. Described by the MPAA as an uncontroversial update to existing laws, this "Super-DMCA" legislation was adopted in six states before advocacy groups or citizens were alerted. Over the last few months, however, coalitions of individuals and organizations have made astounding progress in defeating the legislation in the ten remaining states where it was introduced.

Activists were successful in convincing legislators in Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas to table the legislation until after the summer. In Oregon, the bill's sponsor publicly retracted his support. None of these states will vote on the bills in the current session despite 11th-hour amendment attempts by the MPAA.

While three state legislatures did pass S-DMCA legislation this year, no governor has yet signed one into law. In fact, Colorado Governor Bill Owens vetoed the Colorado S-DMCA, citing concern that it would "stifle legal activity by entities all along the high tech spectrum." Repeal efforts are also underway in several states.

These victories could not have been realized without the tireless efforts of activists in each of the affected states. EFF would particularly like to thank Adina Levin from ACLU-Texas and Jon Lebkowsky from EFF-Austin for their outstanding contributions over the last few months. We'd also like to recognize Public Knowledge, the Free Software Foundation, the Consumer Electronics Association, EF-Georgia, Tennessee Digital Freedom, Peoples' Rights, various Linux Users' Groups, Harvard's Berkman Center, Nashville Linux Users Group, bloggers and concerned community members who continue to contribute to the success of this campaign.

If you live in an affected state and you're interested in getting involved with activists in your area, please email ren@eff.org with the word "S-DMCA" in the subject.

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Warner Music Memo to Employees re: P2P

[Special Notice to EFFector readers who are also employees of Warner Music--In case you missed this memo, we thought we'd do you the service of reprinting it here.]

Warner Music Group
TO: All WMG Personnel
FROM: Dave Johnson
SUBJECT: Policy on copyright infringement and the use of "peer-to-peer" systems
DATE: June 3, 2003
COPIES TO: Roger Ames

As each of you is undoubtedly aware, the illegal copying of CDs is a serious matter that is adversely affecting the entire music community. Lost revenue as a result of piracy undermines the passion and hard work we bring to our jobs, threatening our livelihood and the livelihood of our artists. Copyright infringement is also illegal, no less so than shoplifting a CD. Downloading copyrighted music and burning CDs from peer-to-peer networks such as KaZaA, Morpheus, Gnutella or any other similar service is a violation of the law, and will not be tolerated among WMG employees.

If you have peer-to-peer software on your company computer, you must remove it immediately. Failure to do so, and the failure to respect music copyrights may lead to disciplinary action, including termination.

Beginning shortly, we will scan our computer network to detect the presence of file sharing software on company computers, so again, it is important that you remove the software immediately. If you need assistance in removing file sharing software, please contact your IT department. Your cooperation on this matter is essential.

The good news is that we have been working hard in recent years to stimulate a legitimate online market for music, and we encourage you to try out the music services in which we're involved. You can access some of them at the following link.

We understand that a few employees need to access peer-to-peer services in connection with legitimate company business activities. Those employees should contact Jim Watson (James.Watson@wmg.com) so that proper authorization and access can be arranged.

If you are not sure whether an activity is covered by this policy, you should consult your supervisor or Mark Ansorge (212-275-1348) [mark.ansorge@wmg.com] of the WMG Legal Department.

You also may want to take this opportunity to consider whether any peer-to-peer services are being used on computers in your home. Please keep in mind that use of peer-to-peer services to download copyrighted material without the consent of the copyright owner, whether in your office or your home, is illegal. It is also unfair to all of the talented individuals (including yourself) who contribute to the creation and marketing of creative works.

Thank you for your attention.

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EFF Submits Letter Opposing Biometric IDs

On Tuesday, June 17, EFF sent a letter to the California State Assembly opposing legislation that endorses the use of biometrics for identification purposes. AB 25 would require state agencies to accept only foreign-government-issued identification cards that use biometrics (in this case, digitized thumb prints that meet National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards). EFF is concerned that reliance on biometric identifiers will dramatically raise the stakes for identity theft and raise serious privacy concerns while failing to provide substantive security benefits.

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Supreme Court to Rule in Library Internet Blocking Case

Library Patrons' First Amendment Rights Hang in the Balance

San Francisco, CA - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) expects the Supreme Court to release its decision on the ALA v. USA case involving Internet blocking in libraries in the remaining two weeks of its term.

The court is considering an appeal of a legal challenge to the portions of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requiring installation of technology protection measures, such as Internet blocking or filtering software, in libraries that wish to receive certain federal funding or discounts.

The court usually reports decisions on Mondays, thus EFF anticipates the ruling on one of the following dates: June 23 or 30.

EFF is a co-counsel in the case following the lead of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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Visit the new EFF Store!

In an effort to make available all EFF-related schwag for true EFFanatics, we've recently opened up a small online store. EFF t-shirts from years past (sizes and selection limited!), the latest version of the LNX-BBC Bootable Business Card, and recent EFF stickers are among the goodies for sale. More items will be added in the near future, so stop by often!

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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.

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EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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Editor:
Ren Bucholz, Activist
  ren@eff.org

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