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EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 44 - Supreme Court to Hear MGM v. Grokster


EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 44 - Supreme Court to Hear MGM v. Grokster

EFFector       Vol. 17, No. 44       December 10, 2004

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 315th Issue of EFFector:

Supreme Court to Hear MGM v. Grokster

The US Supreme Court today granted certiorari in MGM v. Grokster. The Court will hear oral arguments in the case in March 2005. EFF represents one of the defendants in the case, StreamCast Networks, makers of the Morpheus peer-to-peer (P2P) software application.

"The copyright law principles set out in the Sony Betamax case have served innovators, copyright industries, and the public well for 20 years," said Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney at EFF. "We at EFF look forward to the Supreme Court reaffirming the applicability of Betamax in the 21st century."

For this breaking news item:

Background in MGM v. Grokster:

AP: "Filesharing Goes to High Court":,1412,65995,00.html

Libel Case Could Chill Online Speech

EFF, ACLU Ask California Supreme Court to Restore Free Speech Protections for Internet Users and Service Providers

California - EFF and the ACLU of Northern California have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case that could undermine a federal statute protecting the free speech of bloggers, Internet Service Providers, and others who use the Internet to post content written by others. The case in question is a libel suit filed against Ilena Rosenthal, a women's health advocate, after she posted a controversial opinion piece on a Usenet news group. The piece was written not by Rosenthal, but by Tim Bolen, a critic of plaintiff Terry Polevoy.

In the brief, EFF and the ACLU argue that Section 230 of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 protects Internet publishers from being held liable for allegedly harmful comments written by others. Similar attempts to eliminate the protections created by Section 230 have almost universally been rejected, until a California Court of Appeals radically reinterpreted the statute to allow lawsuits against non-authors. The case is now being reviewed by the California Supreme Court.

"Section 230 protects the ordinary people who use the Internet and email to pass on items of interest written by others, free from the fear of potentially ruinous lawsuits filed by those who don't like what was said about them," said ACLU of Northern California Staff Counsel Ann Brick. "The vitality of the Internet would quickly dissipate if the posting of content written by others created liability. The impulse to self-censor would be unavoidable."

"Every other jurisdiction addressing Section 230 has given effect to Congress' broad protections and Internet speech has flourished as a result," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "The Court of Appeals upset this settled law, and we are simply asking the California Supreme Court to set things right."

For the full release:

EFF, ACLU brief in Barrett v. Clark: (EFF; PDF)

Background on Barrett v. Clark: (EFF)

Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2005 Pioneer Awards

EFF established the Pioneer Awards to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. This is your opportunity to nominate a deserving individual or group to receive a Pioneer Award for 2005.

The Pioneer Awards nominations are open to individuals and organizations from any country.

All nominations are reviewed by a panel of judges chosen for their knowledge of the technical, legal, and social issues associated with information technology.

This year's award ceremony will be held in Seattle in conjunction with the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference (CFP), which takes place in mid-April.

How to Nominate Someone for a 2005 Pioneer Award:

You may send as many nominations as you wish, but please use one email per nomination. Please submit your entries via email to

We will accept nominations until February 1, 2005.

Simply tell us:

  • the name of the nominee,
  • the phone number or email address at which the nominee can be reached, and, most importantly,
  • why you feel the nominee deserves the award.

For more details on previous award winners and critera, see our Pioneer Awards website:

EFF Seeks Systems Administrator

EFF is seeking a full-time Systems Administrator to work in our busy office in San Francisco's Mission District.

The sysadmin at EFF is a support position, keeping EFF's web server, email server, LAN, and other systems running while also providing desktop support to EFF's staff of 25. The ideal candidate must work well with a very busy staff with varying levels of technical expertise. EFF's sysadmin is on call 24x7 for response to systems emergencies.

The ideal candidate must have three to five years of systems administration experience. In addition, the candidate must meet or exceed Sage level "Intermediate/Advanced." (See:

A successful candidate will be able to administer a wide variety of different operating systems, including Windows (2K, XP, etc.), MacOS X, and Unix/Linux. Since this position requires desktop support, knowledge of applications, including MS Office and various email clients, is required. This position also requires knowledge of applications running on servers, including Apache, Mailman, qmail and/or Postfix, and anti-spam and virus products. This person should be able to write administrative utilities in at least one language, such as Perl, Python, Unix shell, or C/C++. We're looking for a person who will make sure software updates and backups are done religiously.

To apply, send a cover letter and your resume by December 20 to Please send these materials in a non-proprietary format, such as an ASCII text file. No phone calls please! Principals only.


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Starbucks CD Sales Gives Record Industry the Shakes
In the latest fit of music distribution ingenuity, the coffee chain sold 350,000 copies of "Genius," the Ray Charles duet album that it helped to market and produce: (Yahoo)

Artists: "We're Not Threatened by Filesharing"
Mary Madden of the Pew Internet and American Life Project says, "What we hear from a wide spectrum of artists is that, despite the real challenges of protecting work online, the Internet has opened new ways for them to exercise their imaginations and sell their creations":

EFF Meme Gets Northern Exposure
The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's biggest papers, recently ran an article about the Induce Act that focused on how the bill threatens devices like the iPod:

FL E-vote Study May Be Flawed
The Berkeley report on statistical anomalies in Florida's e-voting results is being criticized by other scientists:,2645,65896,00.html

DVD Jukebox Maker in Hollywood Crosshairs
Kaleidescape, a company that makes super-expensive DVD jukeboxes for the home, is being sued by the DVD Copy Control Association for violating the terms of its CSS license:

Big Content Snubbed by Congress this Year
The public can sleep easier now that Congress has officially adjourned without passing any of the copyright lobby's biggest requests. Props to groups like Public Knowledge, the librarians, the consumer electronics industry, Downhill Battle, the EFF supporters who used our Action Center, and many others who helped hold the line:
(LA Times)

George Tenet Calls for Restricted Net Access
"Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he [Tenet] said." Wow:
(Washington Times)

Australia Rejects Mandatory Net Filtering
The plan to combat child pornography was going to be expensive, but Communications Minister Helen Coonan clarified, "The biggest issue is not so much the money but such an expensive scheme would not necessarily solve the problem and small to medium ISPs would be driven out of business for little or no benefit":
(Australian IT)

When EULAs Bite
Ben Edelman bites back: LawMeme coverage:

Former Bush Campaign Official Indicted for Dirty Tricks
He apparently conducted a "low tech" denial of service attack against Democratic offices during the 2002 election. Just how "low tech" was it? He repeatedly called the offices and then hung up the phone:

Public Domain Case Appealed to 9th Circuit
The Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle and the Prelinger Archive's Rick Prelinger will appeal their public domain-protection case up to the 9th Circuit in the wake of the court dismissal last month:,1284,65898,00.html

Australian ISPs Rock "Free" Trade Agreement Boat
They succeeded in making an impact on what was supposed to be a done deal - new amendments to bulk up already-overfed copyright legislation:
(Australian IT)

ACLU Files FOIAs on Anti-Terror Surveillance
The group is using Freedom of Information Act requests to back up its contention that the FBI has engaged in widespread, unwarranted surveillance of activist organizations:,1283,65909,00.html

Lycos Stops Hilarious Anti-Spam Program
The company distributed a SETI@Home-style screen saver that enlisted its host in denial-of-service attacks against sites that Lycos designated as spam-sources:


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