EFFector Vol. 18, No. 01 January 06, 2005
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 317th Issue of EFFector:
- Music Industry Must Respect Privacy of Filesharers
- EFF's EyeTV Review: Free Your Digital TV Before It's Too Late!
- Cory Doctorow in Popular Science: "Go Ask Hollywood"
- Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2005 Pioneer Awards
- Come Visit EFF at Macworld '05, January 10-15!
- MiniLinks (7): EW Names "Grey Album" Best of 2004
Music Industry Must Respect Privacy of Filesharers
Ruling in Charter Case Smashes DMCA Subpoena Powers
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision this week that will stop entertainment corporations from gaining access to the names of people using peer-to-peer (P2P) networks unless the companies file lawsuits against them and furnish actual evidence of copyright infringement.
The case was sparked by a series of subpoenas sent by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to Missouri-based Internet service provider (ISP) Charter Communications, Inc. The record companies claimed that these subpoenas, which demanded that Charter identify customers accused of offering infringing music on P2P networks, were authorized by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
EFF, along with 21 other groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), filed a "friend of the court" brief in the Charter case, urging the Eighth Circuit to determine that the same strong protections applied to anonymous speech in other contexts also apply when copyright infringement is claimed but has not yet been proven. In a victory for privacy and anonymity, the Eighth Circuit determined that DMCA subpoenas could not be used to get this information.
EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer noted that the RIAA has already changed its tactics for the better in current suits against filesharers. In these new cases, record companies generally file suit against "John Does." Said Seltzer, "In the 'Doe' lawsuits RIAA members are currently filing, a judge oversees the discovery process and can help protect ISP customers before their names are revealed."
For the full press release:
Eighth Circuit decision:
EFF's EyeTV Review: Free Your Digital TV Before It's Too Late!
There's only half a year left before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) takes away your right to watch digital television on a device that isn't Hollywood-approved. Under the new "Broadcast Flag" regime, the FCC will mandate that every digital television device include the kind of technology that we see in cable personal video recorders (PVRs) and media center PCs - technology that allows entertainment companies to do things like arbitrarily erase your stored episodes of "Six Feet Under" after two weeks so that you'll be forced to pay-per-view your end-of-season marathon, or stop you from burning "The Sopranos" to DVD to force you to buy the DVD boxed sets.
The tiny silver lining here is that if you can get an open, freedom-loving digital television tuner between now and the summer, you'll be able to go on doing practically anything you like with the digital television you receive over the air and with your unencrypted cable signal. If you choose to do this by plugging a DTV tuner into your computer, you'll be able to archive your shows on your hard-drive, manipulate them with your favorite editing software, and email clips to your friends.
In fact, as a demonstration of the point, EFF has just posted five high-definition minutes of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" that we recorded off the air in November. You can download the clip to check whether your computer is up to the high-def DTV challenge. This is exactly the kind of fair use that will become impossible for those who buy digital television tuner cards after July 2005, when the Broadcast Flag regulations take effect.
So how'd we record it? With a Macintosh, as it happens.
Mac users have fewer options for DTV than their Linux- and Windows-using compatriots, but they aren't suffering: the best Mac operating system solution for watching and storing digital TV signals (including super-sharp high-def signals) is El Gato's EyeTV.
EFF's own Fred Von Lohmann is a Mac enthusiast of the first order, and he's been road-testing the EyeTV 500. He's written an exhaustive, detailed review with special emphasis on the endangered freedoms EyeTV embodies:
EFF is part of a lawsuit against the FCC challenging the Broadcast Flag. We're going to court soon to fight for your right to purchase devices like the EyeTV 500 after August - but if you want to safeguard your ability to make legal, fair uses of digital broadcasts, you may want to pick one up now.
For the original version of this piece online:
Five-minute clip from "The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring":
(500MB+ Bit Torrent download)
More about the Broadcast Flag:
ALA v. FCC archive:
Cory Doctorow in Popular Science: "Go Ask Hollywood"
EFF's Cory Doctorow has a great new piece on why you can't make backup copies of your DVDs and who is to blame. Below, an excerpt plus a link to the column online:
The holiday shopping guides were all atwitter over the new DVD formats, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD-competing systems for recording and playing back high-definition movies. Both feature hugely increased pixel counts, more bit-depth and a surfeit of storage. But here's an important question that goes unasked in all the hype: What features won't your next-generation DVD device have?
It won't have a button for making a backup copy of the DVD you just bought, or for sending the movie to any portable video player. And if you put one of these long-awaited new discs in your PC, you won't have the option to rip it to your hard drive the way you do when you insert a CD.
No matter how pretty its picture, what you're expected to do with a DVD today is the one thing you could do in 1994: watch it on your TV. Why? Because when tech companies created the DVD, they sold you out. They let Hollywood hold its content hostage so that they could control who gets to build players and what those players can do. Tech execs have not only rolled over, they've joined the other side, advocating laws and restrictions that serve the entertainment conglomerates first and us second.
For the complete column:
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.
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.
We will accept nominations until February 1, 2005.
For details on criteria and how to nominate a Pioneer,
check out the Pioneer Awards website:
Come Visit EFF at Macworld '05!
EFF will be at Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco on January 10-14. We'll have a booth with a wide range of EFF paraphernalia and other goodies, and we'll be spreading the message to all attendees. We hope to see you there!
Macworld Conference & Expo:
miniLinksminiLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
Counting Votes Like Money
In a CoinStar? No! But Jim Adler of VoteHere wants us to bring the same level of concern about security to our democracy that we do our debit machines:
Entertainment Weekly Names "Grey Album" Best of 2004
It's beautiful, irreverent, and there is no better example of creative culture-hacking. And yes, that is a dare:
Reason #5,294 to Not Use DRM
Some firms are hiding ads and adware in copy-protected Windows Media Player files:
Thank You Poland!
Poland recently took a courageous stand on intellectual property, and as a result the EU will *not* be saddled with innovation-crushing software patents. It's hard to overstate the importance of this action, and we'd like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Poland:
Critics Pan DVD Protection Sequel
Hollywood is eager to replace CSS - the broken system that's supposed to keep DVDs from copycats - with a new scheme called AACS. This IEEE Spectrum article explains why the sequel isn't even as good as the lackluster original:
Great Interview with Former Napster Chief
Hank Barry talks to Ernest Miller about the future of digital media - and how too much intellectual property protection can be as harmful to the economy as too little:
LAPD's New Digital Facebook
The Los Angeles Police Department is seeking to expand its biometric facial recognition system, but privacy advocates aren't likely to turn the other cheek:
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