EFFector Vol. 17, No. 4 February 10, 2004
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 279th Issue of EFFector:
- EFF Action Alert: Help Fight the USA PATRIOT Act!
- Let the Sun Set on PATRIOT
- Judge to Rule on Consequences for Diebold's Misuse of Copyright Law
- The Betamax Decision and MGM v. Grokster: Back to the Future
- Deep Links (12): Your Fair Use Rights - Ripped, Mixed and Burned
- Staff Calendar: 03.02.04 - Seth Schoen speaks at OpenBSD Users Group, San Francisco, CA
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.
- Washington Post article on the New York City Council resolution condemning PATRIOT (Registration unfortunately required.)
- EFF's analysis of USA PATRIOT Act provisions that relate to online activities (EFF)
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.
- For the full media release (EFF)
- Salon article on the hearing (Registration unfortunately required.)
- OPG v. Diebold case archive
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 features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
- The Pornography Industry vs. the Digital Pirates
(Registration unfortunately required.)
John Schwartz with an article on how online porn purveyers work with, rather than against, the digital environment.
- Lindows to Deliver Software Via P2P
The very latest in non-infringing uses.
- Yahoo! Lets the Web Bugs Bite
Yahoo's "web beacons" are really spyware that gather data on your web surfing habits; you can opt-out here.
- PATRIOT's Naughty Bits
The Onion with an infographic detailing PATRIOT's "problem parts".
- SCO CEO Gets Chilly Reception at Harvard
We don't have to tell you why:
- Let's Talk About Trust, Baby
EFF's Seth Schoen is quoted in this thoughtful piece on trusted systems.
- Pubs Take a Swipe at Your Privacy
The bar code on your driver's license is the key to much of your personal information, and some businesses are helping themselves to it. Find out what info is stored in your license with the Swipe project.
- Your Fair Use Rights - Ripped, Mixed and Burned
Annalee Newitz on iPods, DRM and the state of the digital music wars.
- FBI Heads to Hawaii for Some Fishing
The FBI is encouraging the proprietors of Hawaiian computer repair shops to drop the feds a line if something on the hard drive smells fishy.
- E-Voting Victory: Pentagon Scraps SERVE
(Registration unfortunately required.)
The much-criticized Internet voting program has at last been felled by its own security problems.
- German Band Gives Away Blank CDs with Album
The band Eisbrecher says that music fans have unfairly been blamed for the "wretched state in the music industry".
- Aussie RIAA Raids Makers of KaZaA, ISPs
Even the private homes of Sharman executives were searched in the music industry's quest for incriminating documents.
For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with locations and times), please visit the full calendar.
- February 25 - Fred von Lohmann speaks at Future of Music Coalition's Music Summit West at UC Hastings law School
- March 2 - Seth Schoen speaks at OpenBSD Users Group
San Francisco, CA
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
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