EFFector Vol. 17, No. 31 August 26, 2004
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 303rd Issue of EFFector:
- Action Alert: Induce Act Update - Turning Up the Heat
- This Song Belongs to You and Me
- E-voting on Trial in Maryland - Stand Up for Voting Integrity!
- EFF Court Docket: What's Next?
- MiniLinks (11): Grokking Grokster
Induce Act Update - Turning Up the Heat
On August 19th, a federal court agreed with EFF and unanimously ruled that creating file-sharing software doesn't violate copyright law. This is a huge setback for the entertainment industry's misguided fight against innovation, but it will also become its rallying cry. Since the courts won't freeze new technology, copyright holders will focus their energy on convincing Congress to pass the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (S. 2560), which would create an unprecedented chilling effect for technology innovators. Tell your senators to oppose the Induce Act today!
Make your voice heard with the EFF Action Center:
Join EFF today:
This Song Belongs to You and Me
By Fred von Lohmann
EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
On Tuesday, EFF announced that music publisher Ludlow Music, Inc., has officially backed down from its threats against web animation studio JibJab Media Inc. over the widely circulated "This Land" animated parody lampooning President Bush and Senator Kerry. The resolution is a complete victory for JibJab, which will be entitled to continue distributing the "This Land" animation without further interference from Ludlow.
Two things made this outcome possible. First, JibJab's fantastic animation is a clear fair use of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," for the reasons described in detail in EFF's initial letter to Ludlow's attorney.
But also important was our other discovery: the Guthrie classic has been in the public domain since 1973.
Fact #1: Guthrie wrote the song in 1940. At that time, the term of copyright was 28 years, renewable once for an additional 28 years. Under the relevant law, the copyright term for a song begins when the song is published as sheet music. (Just performing it is not enough to trigger the clock.)
Fact #2: A search of Copyright Office records shows that the copyright wasn't registered until 1956, and Ludlow filed for a renewal in 1984.
Fact #3: Thanks to tips provided by musicologists who heard about this story, we discovered that Guthrie published and sold the sheet music for "This Land Is Your Land" in a pamphlet in 1945. An original copy of this mimeograph was located for us by generous volunteers who visited the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
This means that the copyright in the song expired in 1973, 28 years after Guthrie published the sheet music. Ludlow's attempted renewal in 1984 was 11 years tardy, which means the classic Guthrie song is in the public domain. (I'll note that Ludlow disputes this, although I've not heard any credible explanation from them.)
So Guthrie's original joins the Star-Spangled Banner, Amazing Grace, and Beethoven's Symphonies in the public domain. Come to think of it, now that "This Land Is Your Land" is in the public domain, can we make it our national anthem? That would be the most fitting ending of all.
For the original version of this piece online, including
links to relevant websites and documents:
Official press release on the JibJab victory:
"Ten Songs of Woody Guthrie," published in 1945:
E-voting on Trial in Maryland - Stand Up for Voting Integrity!
This week marks an important stepping-stone for ensuring election integrity in Maryland. Voters are taking the stand in Schade vs. Maryland State Board of Elections, et al., a court case that calls into question the legality of paperless voting machines under Maryland law, which requires paper ballots.
The hearing, which began yesterday morning and will continue through Friday, is taking place at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court at 7 Church Circle in Annapolis, Maryland. Among the witnesses are the computer security experts who authored state-commissioned reports concluding that the electronic voting machines in question contain "significant" security vulnerabilities and are at a "high risk of compromise."
"Once the facts are known, the court will understand why the public does not want to use these machines in November," said Linda Schade, plaintiff and co-founder of TrueVoteMD.org. "A democracy cannot function without the confidence of its citizens. I hope the court understands this and acts accordingly."
EFF encourages advocates for secure, auditable voting to show their support by attending the hearings. Please note that it is important to dress appropriately and observe strict decorum to demonstrate respect for the court.
More about electronic voting: http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/
"Md. Machines Seek Vote of Confidence":
(Registration unfortunately required.)
"Trial Begins In Challenge to Electronic Voting Machines":
EFF Court Docket: What's Next?
EFF is directly involved in several cases that are likely to be decided within the next several months. Read on to learn about two cases in which we're fighting the misuse of copyright law as a tool to crush competition and standing up for the right to "reverse engineer" for interoperability - a cornerstone of innovation.
Lexmark v. Static Control Components
This case demonstrates one of the absurdities of the anti-circumvention clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which Congress intended to thwart mass copyright infringement on the Internet. Lexmark is a printer manufacturer that wants to force customers to buy only (expensive) Lexmark toner to refill their Lexmark printers. To accomplish this, the company programmed the printers to require a digital "handshake" with cartridges, so that only authorized (read Lexmark) cartridges could be used. When Static Control Components started selling chips that allowed other companies to refill used cartridges and make them interoperable with Lexmark printers, Lexmark sued under the DMCA. EFF argues that 1.) Static Control did not circumvent access controls, and 2.) manufacturers should not be able to use the law to thwart interoperability with their products because reverse engineering is protected fair use of copyrighted programs. We won the lower court decision, and Static has appealed its case to the Sixth Circuit.
Chamberlain Group v. Skylink Technologies
This is another mind-bogglingly absurd case involving circumvention, in which Chamberlain Group - which holds a rather broad patent for "A Coding System for Multiple Transmitters and a Single Receiver for a Garage Door Opener" - contends that the small Canadian company Skylink is violating the DMCA by selling remote control devices that work with Chamberlain garage door openers. Chamberlain argues that Skylink's remote control device circumvents access controls to a computer program in its garage door opener. Skylink argues that garage owners have a right to open their own garages even if they've lost the remote control and choose to buy one from another company. EFF supports Skylink, which is defending its lower court victory on appeal.
For more about EFF's pending cases and the other work we are doing, see our website at www.eff.org
miniLinksminiLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
Next on Fox - "CSI: Cyberspace"
Ever wonder what that would look like? Then check out "Forensic Examination of Digital Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement":
And the Gold Medal for Stupid Web Policies Goes to...
...the 2004 Olympic Games. Organizers issued a ridiculous "hyperlink policy" that requires other sites to ask permission before creating a link to their site. You know, like the one below. And no, we did not ask for permission first:
And the Silver Medal for Stupid Web Policies Goes to...
...the 2004 Olympic Games. Organizers issued a ridiculous no-blogging policy barring athletes from writing first-hand experiences in weblogs:
Checking Out Wireless at the Public Library
A strange and disturbing story about a library, an open wifi network, and a very confused police officer:
Groklaw transcribes the oral argument in MGM v. Grokster:
MPAA Sues Makers of DVD Chips
Hollywood has DVDs locked down so tight that you have to agree to strict licensing terms to make pieces for a player. Two chip companies reportedly ran afoul of these agreements by selling their wares to companies outside of the cabal:
Italian Protest Site Censored
Time to say "ciao" to free speech on our favorite Mediterranean peninsula?
44% of Voters Want a Paper Trail
A poll commissioned by a voting machine vendor indicates a significant jump in the number of people concerned about being able to verify the votes they cast on electronic voting machines:
New Mexico's Missing Votes
In the 2000 presidential election, New Mexico's electronic voting machines failed to record 678 votes - in a state where the election was decided by 366 votes:
(Registration unfortunately required.)
James Boyle Gives Apple the Eye
Essays about law and technology don't get much smarter or more accessible than this:
Voting Labs Fail Transparency Test
Three private labs are responsible for testing all of America's electronic voting machines - but the results are kept secret:
DoJ Official Pans PIRATE Act
The act, which aims to enlist federal prosecutors in the fight against file sharing, already passed in the Senate - but the assistant attorney general for antitrust says the idea is "something people should take with a grain of salt":
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