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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 17 - EFF Launches "Let the Music Play" Campaign


EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 17 - EFF Launches "Let the Music Play" Campaign

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 17       July 1, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 256th Issue of EFFector:

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EFF Launches "Let the Music Play" Campaign

Urges 60 Million Music Lovers in U.S. to Demand Legal Rights

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Monday, June 30, launched a "Let the Music Play" campaign urging the more than 60 million U.S. citizens who use file-sharing software to demand changes in copyright law to get artists paid and make file-sharing legal.

The EFF Let the Music Play campaign counters the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) announcement that it will file thousands of lawsuits against individuals who use file- sharing software like Kazaa, Grokster, and Morpheus.

"Copyright law is out of step with the views of the American public and the reality of music distribution online," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "Rather than trying to sue people into submission, we need to find a better alternative that gets artists paid while making file sharing legal."

EFF's Let the Music Play campaign provides alternatives to the RIAA's litigation barrage, details EFF's efforts to defend peer- to-peer file sharing, and makes it easy for individuals to write members of Congress. EFF will also place advertisements about the Right to Share campaign in magazines such as Spin, Blender, Computer Gaming World, and PC Gamer.

"Today, more U.S. citizens use file-sharing software than voted for President Bush," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Congress needs to spend less time listening to record industry lobbyists and more time listening to the more than 60 million Americans who use file-sharing software today."

According to online media analyst Big Champagne, more than 60 million Americans are using file-sharing software.


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California Action Alert: Support Auditable E-Voting!

Touchscreen voting machines can increase accessibility for people with disabilities, reduce the cost of printing multilingual paper ballots, and make the experience of voting less confusing. However, these machines could also dramatically raise the stakes for election fraud. If integrity in the voting process is important to you, tell Secretary of State Kevin Shelley that you want a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and open source, publicly reviewed software in all of California's new touchscreen voting machines!

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EFF Defends Prisoner Rights

Opposes Prison Ban on Materials Printed From the Internet

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on June 30 asked a federal appeals court to rule that state prison inmates should not be denied access to valuable information simply because it originated online.

The case, entitled Clement v. California Department of Corrections, involves an unreasonable and arbitrary rule that bans prisoners from receiving letters that contain any material downloaded and printed from the Internet, including hard copies of email messages. Prisoners may not access the Internet directly, so they rely on friends and family to send them material printed from the Internet and enclosed in letters.

"In the name of mailroom efficiency, California prisons are violating the free speech rights of prisoners and those who correspond with them, based on an unreasonable and unwarranted distinction between words published on paper and those published on the 'Net," said EFF Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Kevin Bankston.

EFF filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case on behalf of Prison Legal News, a non-profit legal newspaper. The majority of Prison Legal News subscribers, as well as most of its writers, are currently incarcerated. The brief argues that the ban on mail printed from the Internet prevents inmates from receiving, and their loved ones from sending, vital information that is available only online, violating First Amendment rights without any corresponding benefit to the safety or efficiency of the prison.

"Organizations with important information for prisoners, such as the advocacy group Stop Prisoner Rape, can only afford to publish online," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "Even the California Department of Corrections refers people to their website, although it is apparently off limits to California prisoners."

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Study Released on Internet Blocking in Schools

Filtering Software Overblocks and Miscategorizes Websites

San Francisco, CA - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Online Policy Group (OPG) on June 23 released a study documenting the effects of Internet blocking, also known as filtering, in U.S. schools. The study found that blocking software overblocked state-mandated curriculum topics extensively -- for every web page correctly blocked as advertised, one or more was blocked incorrectly.

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires all schools and libraries receiving certain federal funds or discounts to install and use a technology for blocking visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or in the case of minors, "harmful to minors."

"Restrictions on viewing constitutionally protected speech contradicts the primary educational mission of schools," said EFF Media Relations Director Will Doherty. "CIPA holds students and teachers hostage to Internet blocking software that does not and cannot fulfill legal requirements and likely prevents students from obtaining a well-balanced, globally competitive education."

Researchers analyzed the extent to which blocking software blocks information related to state-mandated curriculum topics.

The report drew the following conclusions:

  • The use of Internet blocking software in schools cannot help schools comply with the law because schools do not and cannot set the software to block only the categories required by the law, and because the software is incapable of blocking only the visual depictions required by CIPA.

  • Blocking software does not protect children from exposure to a large volume of material that is harmful to minors within the legal definitions. Blocking software cannot adapt adequately to local community standards. Most schools already have in place alternatives to Internet blocking software, such as adoption and enforcement of Internet use policies, media literacy education, directed use, and supervised use.

  • Blocking software in schools damages educational opportunities for students, both by blocking access to web pages that are directly related to the state-mandated curriculums and by restricting broader inquiries of both students and teachers. Teachers and students 17 years or older (most high school juniors and seniors) should be exempt, yet suffer the consequences of CIPA implementation.

After testing nearly a million web pages related to state- mandated curriculums, the researchers found that of the web pages blocked, 97 - 99% of a statistically significant sample were blocked using non-standard, discretionary, and potentially illegal criteria beyond what CIPA requires.


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Supreme Court Supports Library Internet Blocking Law

Damages Free Speech of Library Patrons and Web Publishers

San Francisco - The Supreme Court ruled Monday, June 23, that a federal statute requiring Internet blocking, also known as filtering, in libraries receiving certain federal funds or discounts is constitutional. Reversing a lower court decision by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the court noted that the use of Internet blocking to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in libraries is constitutional because the need for libraries to prevent minors from accessing obscene materials outweighs the free speech rights of library patrons and website publishers.

The CIPA law requires all schools and libraries that receive federal funds or discounts to install and use a technology for blocking Internet speech that is obscene, child pornography, or in the case of minors, "harmful to minors." However, based on extensive evidence, the lower court in this case found that many studies report that Internet blocking software is incapable of blocking only the materials required by CIPA, a conclusion supported by many independent studies. The CIPA law is also problematic because speech that is harmful to minors is still legal for adults, and not all library patrons are minors.

"The Supreme Court today dealt a tremendous blow to the free speech rights of child and adult library patrons and Internet publishers by supporting Congress' mandate that libraries must install faulty Internet blocking software to obtain federal funding or discounts," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Attorney Kevin Bankston, an Equal Justice Works / Bruce J. Ennis Fellow.

"The tragedy is that millions of library patrons now join the millions of students, many of them no longer minors, who face the Internet blocking barrier to obtaining a proper education at schools nationwide," said EFF Media Relations Director Will Doherty. "The Children's Internet Protection Act holds library patrons and students hostage to faulty blocking software created with arbitrary standards foreign to their own communities."

EFF participated as co-counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union in the case.


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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.

  • Wednesday, July 2: Fred von Lohmann and Wendy Seltzer will be speaking at the Berkman Center's iLaw program at Stanford - (All day event).
  • Thursday, July 3: Panel discussion on Illegal Art with moderator Marcia Tanner, Lawrence Lessig (Stanford Law Professor and EFF Boardmember), Carrie McLaren, (Stay Free! magazine), Kembrew McLeod (artist and University of Iowa professor), and Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives).
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EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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Ren Bucholz, Activist

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