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EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 4 - Action Alert: Help Fight the USA PATRIOT Act!


EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 4 - Action Alert: Help Fight the USA PATRIOT Act!

EFFector       Vol. 17, No. 4       February 10, 2004

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 279th Issue of EFFector:

Action Alert: Help Fight the USA PATRIOT Act!

The fight over the privacy-invading USA PATRIOT Act is heating up, and it looks like the White House and Justice Dept. are starting to get nervous. Attorney General Ashcroft recently sent a letter to Congress threatening a presidential veto of the "Security and Freedom Ensured" (SAFE) Act, a PATRIOT-reform bill that isn't even out of committee yet. The SAFE Act would repeal some of the provisions of PATRIOT that are most threatening to our civil liberties while still ensuring that law enforcement has the tools it needs. The PATRIOT reform movement is gaining steam - now is the time to let the administration know that your privacy matters. Ask your Members of Congress today to support the SAFE Act!


Let the Sun Set on PATRIOT

Ashcroft's threatening letter to Congress isn't the only sign that the fight over PATRIOT is heating up. President Bush made it clear last month in his State of the Union address that he wants Congress to renew the provisions of PATRIOT that are set to expire, or "sunset," at the end of 2005. This comes at a time when cities all across America are passing formal resolutions rejecting PATRIOT or urging reform - including New York City, the U.S. city most personally familiar with the threat of terrorism.

In response, EFF will be running a new series in EFFector over the next few months on the battle to let some of the most troubling provisions in PATRIOT sunset. Each week, we'll profile one of the 13 provisions set to expire and explain in plain language what's wrong with the provision and why Congress should allow it to sunset. We'll debut the series next week with the notorious section 215, which allows the FBI secretly to demand access to your private records.

We hope you tune in and pass the word along.


Judge to Rule on Consequences for Diebold's Misuse of Copyright Law

Tried to Stop Publication of Information on Electronic Voting Machine Flaws

San Jose, CA - A federal judge on Monday heard arguments from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and two Swarthmore College students who are seeking compensation from Diebold Election Systems, Inc., after the company threatened legal action against them for publishing or linking to an email archive indicating security flaws in Diebold's electronic voting machines. The Honorable Jeremy Fogel indicated that he intends to issue a ruling within the next two months on whether Diebold will face the consequences of abusing copyright law in order to silence its critics.

Represented by EFF and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, the nonprofit ISP Online Policy Group and Swarthmore students Nelson Pavlosky and Luke Smith are seeking both compensation from Diebold for its misuse of copyright law and a court order stating that those who publish or link to the Diebold email archive are not violating copyright law.

"Copyright law must not become a tool of censorship," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "In this case, Diebold used phony copyright claims to silence public debate about voting, the very foundation of our democratic process."

The Online Policy Group v. Diebold case has federal court case number CV-03-04913-JF.


The Betamax Decision and MGM v. Grokster: Back to the Future

In last week's Ninth Circuit oral argument in the MGM v. Grokster case, Judge John T. Noonan opened the proceedings by asking Russell Frackman, representative for the record companies: "Everything you said could have been applied to Sony, so what's the difference?" Good question. Thanks to the Oyez Project, we can go back and listen to the 1983 oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Sony Betamax case to answer it.

In the landmark Sony case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Sony, finding that the company was not liable for copyright infringement by users of the Betamax VCR because the VCR has significant non-infringing uses. In a federal court ruling this past spring, Judge Stephen Wilson likewise found Grokster and StreamCast (distributor of Morpheus) not liable for copyright infringement by users of their peer-to-peer filesharing software because the software has significant legal uses. The entertainment industry appealed and, in oral arguments last week, contended that the Ninth Circuit should overturn the ruling.

But is the entertainment industry making any new arguments in the Grokster appeal? Or is it following the same path that it did 20+ years ago in Sony, only to have its arguments rejected?

Follow the link below to read side-by-side comparisons of the oral arguments made in the Sony and Grokster cases and decide for yourself: LawMeme

Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Staff Calendar

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Donna Wentworth, Web Writer/Activist

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