Skip to main content
Podcast Episode: Chronicling Online Communities

EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 16 - Don't Fund the War on File Sharing - Ask Congress for a Real Solution!


EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 16 - Don't Fund the War on File Sharing - Ask Congress for a Real Solution!

EFFector       Vol. 17, No. 16       May 5, 2004

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 288th Issue of EFFector:

Action Alert - Don't Fund the War on File Sharing - Ask Congress for a Real Solution!

You may not agree with the recording industry's war on file sharing, but under the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act (PDEA, HR 4077), you'd still have to pay for it. The PDEA would create the first criminal copyright penalties for people who aren't engaged in willful criminal conduct. Under the law's murky "negligence" standard, a person with 1,000 legally obtained songs could be sent to jail for three years if she fails to lock them up tight enough - and that's only for the first offense. In addition, the PDEA would force the government to push a lopsided "education" campaign that demonizes P2P while failing to mention your rights to use copyrighted material. To top it off, all of this would be funded with your tax dollars. Tell Congress to reject the PDEA and explore solutions that pay artists rather than punish people.

Make your voice heard with EFF's Action Center:

Join EFF today:

EFF Files Comments in FCC's "Cognitive Radio" Proceeding

EFF this week filed comments in the FCC's "Cognitive Radio" proceeding (ET Docket No. 03108) asking the Commission to answer empirically the question of what spectrum is actually in use (as opposed to simply allocated to a licensee), and to uphold its duty under the First Amendment by creating opportunities for flexible, software-defined radios to thrive on open hardware and in open systems.

"Radios built on PCs present unique enforcement challenges for the Commission," said Cory Doctorow, EFF's European Affairs Coordinator. "But retarding innovation in the hope that its enforcement tools will remain effective is the wrong way to meet these challenges. Instead, the Commission should assume that our computers will be the basis of open, frequency-agile radios, then determine how best to address the problem of radios that harmfully interfere."

EFF's comments:

Annalee Newitz and Tim Pozar Join EFF Staff

San Francisco, CA - EFF is pleased to announce a number of new hires. Annalee Newitz comes on board as Media Coordinator/Policy Analyst, and Tim Pozar will be EFF's Technical Director.

Newitz was formerly Culture Editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian. She has discussed the social impact of technology in Wired and Salon magazines, on CNN and NPR, as well as in her syndicated weekly column, "Techsploitation." As EFF's Media Coordinator/Policy Analyst, she will be handling media relations as well as writing white papers, providing policy recommendations, and doing research. "I've always considered my writing to be a form of activism," she says, "so I'm pleased to join forces with an organization whose principles and dedication I've admired for many years."

Pozar is a longtime activist in the high tech community and has spent the past several years consulting as a network architect. One of the founders of Brightmail, an anti-spam company, he is also founder of Bay Area Research Wireless Network (BARWN) and co-founder of the Bay Area Wireless User Group (BAWUG). As Technical Director, he will manage new technical projects for EFF, as well as a team of analysts. "My goal in life is to foster the democratization of communication," he says, "and my work at EFF will help me continue the pursuit of that goal."

Terri Forman has also recently joined EFF's staff as Director of Development, where she has been working to revamp EFF's fundraising priorities. In the few months that Forman has been with EFF, she has overseen the creation of an endowment, initiated a grant-writing program, and headed up a successful end-of-the-year campaign. "I love the fact that we at EFF deal with cutting-edge issues that affect everyone, whether they're aware of it or not," she says.

"EFF has been attracting some incredibly talented people, and I'm really looking forward to working with Annalee, Tim and the rest of the EFF staff to protect civil liberties in the electronic world," says EFF Executive Director Shari Steele.

For this release:

Let the Sun Set on PATRIOT Section 505 - National Security Letters (NSLs)

So far in our EFFector series on the USA PATRIOT Act, we've focused on provisions scheduled to expire, or "sunset," in December of 2005. Section 505 doesn't sunset - but as of last week, faces a legal challenge by the ACLU on the grounds that NSLs violate the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution (see

What NSLs Do

Imagine if the FBI could, with only a piece of paper signed by the special agent in charge of your local FBI office, demand detailed information about your private Internet communications directly from your ISP, webmail service, or other communications provider. Imagine that it could do this:

  • without court review or approval;
  • without you being suspected of a crime; and
  • without ever having to tell you that it happened.

Further imagine that with this piece of paper, the FBI could see a wide range of private details, including:

  • your basic subscriber records, including your true identity
  • and payment information;
  • your Internet Protocol (IP) address and the IP address of every
  • web server with which you communicate;
  • the identity of anyone using a particular IP address, username,
  • or email address;
  • the email address or username of everyone you email or send an
  • instant message (IM), or who emails or IMs you;
  • the time, size in bytes, and duration of each of your
  • communications; and possibly even
  • the web address of every website you visit.

Finally, imagine that the FBI could use the same piece of paper to gain access your private credit and financial information - and that your ISP, bank, and any other business from which the FBI gathers your private records is barred by law from notifying you.

Now stop imagining. Meet the NSL authorized under Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Why Section 505 Should Be Repealed

Before PATRIOT, the FBI could use NSLs only for securing the records of suspected terrorists or spies. Now the FBI can use them to get private records about anybody it likes - as long as it believes the information could be relevant to a terrorism or espionage investigation. And the FBI can act independently; whereas before only the Attorney General or a Deputy AG could authorize an NSL, now any local FBI office can do it. Worse, lists of NSLs obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests indicate that the FBI has been using this new power aggressively, although the agency itself has been unwilling to disclose even the most basic statistical information.

The bottom line: PATRIOT NSLs represent a clear violation of your Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, as well as threatening online speech protected under the First Amendment.

What You Can Do About It

EFF strongly supports the repeal of Section 505, and we urge you to support it, too. We also support the Security and Freedom Ensured Act (SAFE Act, S 1709/HR 3352), which would, among other things, add section 505 to the list of provisions that will sunset at the end of 2005. Visit EFF's Action Center today to let your representatives know you support the bill:

Next Time

We'll look at USA PATRIOT Section 218, which allows the FBI to investigate garden-variety criminals with surveillance powers once reserved for international spies and terrorists.

For this analysis:

Compendium of previous analyses:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

The Public Domain Needs You
A new WIPO treaty will give broadcasters broad new rights - including the ability to restrict the broadcast of material in the public domain. Help protect the public domain by asking your country's WIPO representatives to take this survey and then report their answers to the Union for the Public Domain:

More Travel Data Fed to Feds
The Washington Post on yet another depressingly tardy disclosure that airlines have been handing over our private travel information:
(Registration unfortunately required.)

Japan Rethinks Webcams in Class
Officials are nervous because parents are using the images to back up complaints against schools:

Free Trade Agreement Divides Aussies
This "harmonization" measure is driving a wedge between IP users and IP holders:
(The Australian)

Tennessee Refuses to Pay RIAA Protection Money
A plan proposed by the new Napster would have charged the state's 180,000 students $9.99/month - a yearly bill of $21 million:

Ireland to Sink Net-Voting Program
A controversial Internet-voting initiative will likely be cancelled in the wake of an independent investigation revealing its flaws and security vulnerabilities:

More RIAA Lawsuits
The recording industry last week filed 477 more expensive lawsuits, thereby generating another $0.00 for artists:

European Commission Urges Competition Among Collecting Societies
The Commission "believes that there should be competition between collecting societies to the benefit of companies that offer music on the Internet and to consumers that listen to it." Music to our ears:

Congress Tends Bumper Crop of IP Laws
A bunch of truly awful IP bills have passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including one that lets the DoJ bring civil actions against copyright infringers:

Looking to Rent Some Music?
We didn't think so - and that's why Microsoft's "Janus" DRM initiative is yet another "solution" in search of a problem:
(Registration unfortunately required.)

Breaking the Band
Fascinating story about how new technology and alternative distribution channels are helping musicians get noticed:
(Registration unfortunately required.)

Dutch Authority Says Anti-Piracy Data Sharing Illegal
BREIN - the Dutch entertainment industry's anti-piracy association - has been reprimanded for sharing names, addresses, bank account numbers, and IP addresses with the RIAA:

Secret Warrants Topped Criminal Warrants in 2003
Warrants authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) exceeded conventional warrants for the first time last year. Nobody knows how they're being used or whether they're being abused:
(Registration unfortunately required.)

CA Senate Passes RFID Privacy Bill
This is the first law we know of that explicitly addresses the privacy implications of RFID technology:

NYT Profiles EFF Pioneer Avi Rubin
Sure, Avi's saving democracy and all, but we're also excited to see that the Pioneer Award is "one of the highest honors among the geekerati":
(Registration unfortunately required.)

B-Flag: Remixing 'The Apprentice'
In case you missed it, True Majority has remixed "The Apprentice" with news images of President Bush - a form of political speech that would likely be restricted under the broadcast flag:

Four Face Criminal Charges Under CAN-SPAM
The cases are the first to be filed under the new law's criminal provisions:
(Registration unfortunately required.)

Staff Calendar

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


EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)

Donna Wentworth, Web Writer/Activist

To Join EFF online, or make an additional donation, go to:

Membership and donation queries:
General EFF, legal, policy or online resources queries:

Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent the views of EFF. To reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors for their express permission. Press releases and EFF announcements and articles may be reproduced individually at will.

To change your address or other information, please visit:

If you have already subscribed to the EFF Action Center, please visit:

To unsubscribe from the EFFector mailing list, send an email to with the word "Remove" in the subject.

(Please ask to manually remove you from the list if this does not work for you for some reason.)

Back issues are available at:

You can also get the latest issue of EFFector via the Web at:

Back to table of contents

Return to EFFector Newsletters Index

Please send any questions or comments to

Back to top

JavaScript license information