EFFector Vol. 18, No. 15 May 13, 2005
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 331st Issue of EFFector:
- CA Alert - Last Chance to Kill RFIDs in State ID!
- Federal Appeals Court Scraps FCC's Broadcast Flag Mandate
- Celebrate Victory Over the Broadcast Flag - Liberate Your TV on May 21!
- EFF Gets Top Marks from Charity Navigator
- MiniLinks (12): Hilary Rosen Laments Apple's DRM Strategy
CA Alert - Last Chance to Kill RFIDs in State ID!
Last week we urged you to voice your support for the Identity Information Protection Act (SB 682), a California bill that would prohibit the use of RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, in state-issued IDs. Now it's even more critical for you to speak up. On Tuesday, May 17th, lobbyists from the RFID industry are meeting with California legislators to persuade them to drop the bill. If the lobbyists succeed, you could be forced to carry an ID that broadcasts your identity without your knowledge or consent, exposing you to the risk of tracking, stalking, identity theft, and worse.
RFID offers no additional technological benefit to justify these risks, and it's not appropriate for any form of ID. SB 682 is the first bill in the country to say so. If you live in California and you haven't told your representative to vote for SB 682, now is the time!
Make your voice heard with the EFF Action Center:
Federal Appeals Court Scraps FCC's Broadcast Flag Mandate
Ruling Is a Victory for Innovation, Fair Use
Washington, DC - In a landmark case, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit last week struck down the "Broadcast Flag," an FCC rule that would have crippled digital television receivers beginning on July 1st.
The Broadcast Flag rule would have required all digital TV receivers, including televisions, VCRs, and personal video recorders like TiVo, to be built to read signals embedded in over-the-air broadcast television shows that would place certain limitations on how those shows could be played, recorded, and saved. The sale of any hardware that was not able to "recognize and give effect to" the Broadcast Flag, including currently existing digital and high-definition television (HDTV) equipment and open source/free software tools, would have become illegal.
EFF joined Washington DC-based advocacy group Public Knowledge and a coalition of library and consumer groups in fighting the rule in the courts. The coalition argued that the rule would interfere with the legitimate activities of technology innovators, librarians, archivists, and academics, and that the FCC exceeded its regulatory authority by imposing technological restrictions on what consumers can do with television shows after they receive them.
The court agreed, ruling unanimously that the FCC overstepped its authority when it asserted control over the design of any device capable of receiving digital TV signals.
"This case is a great win for consumers and for technology innovation. It's about more than simply broadcasting. It is about how far the FCC can go in its regulations without permission from Congress," said Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn. "Had the flag been implemented, Hollywood, acting through the FCC, would have been able to dictate the pace of technology in consumer electronics. Now, thankfully, that won't happen. While we recognize that the content industries may ask Congress to overturn this ruling, we also recognize that Congress will have to think very hard before it puts restrictions on how constituents use their televisions."
Since the FCC announced the July 1st deadline, EFF had been encouraging consumers to beat the Broadcast Flag by purchasing HDTV receivers manufactured before the restriction, as well as teaching them how to use the hardware with free, open-source digital video recorder applications such as MythTV. Part of the education campaign was a daily countdown to the date when the Broadcast Flag was to take effect.
"The clock will now stop," said EFF Special Projects Coordinator Wendy Seltzer, who led the campaign and organized nationwide HDTV "build-ins." "Now we can use the build-ins to celebrate the freedom to use innovative technology, rather than racing to beat a deadline for shutting it down."
For this release:
EFF campaign: "Join the Digital Television Liberation
Celebrate Victory Over the Broadcast Flag - Liberate Your TV on May 21!
Want to make your television work for you? Build your own high-definition television personal video recorder (PVR)! We've beaten the Broadcast Flag - for now. Help us keep it from rising again by showing the potential of open hardware and software.
Join EFF and friends for an HD-PVR build-in and victory celebration on Saturday, May 21, at the EFF offices in San Francisco. You bring a computer and HDTV tuner card, and we'll help you get it up and running as a PVR. We'll be installing MythTV, an open-source software package that lets your computer function like a TiVo in high-def, pause live TV, schedule recordings over the Web, and manage your media the way *you* want it.
You're invited even if you're not building a PVR - come share some pizza, celebrate the victory, and learn more about the project!
The Broadcast Flag has been lowered, but that makes the build-ins even more important. The motion picture industry and friends are rushing to Congress for similar "protection" (read, control). The more we can demonstrate the value of open hardware and software, the better we can help Congress to resist those demands and save our DTV!
WHAT: EFF HD-PVR Build-in and Victory Celebration WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. Pizza around noon (NY-style!) WHERE: EFF offices, 454 Shotwell Street, San Francisco (16th and Mission BART)
RSVP to BuildYourTV@eff.org to give us a head count!
Full invitation and details:
San Francisco Bay Guardian: "Build Your TV":
EFF Gets Top Marks from Charity Navigator
EFF is pleased to announce that we have received four stars - the highest rating, based on overall efficiency and organizational capacity - from Charity Navigator, the pre-eminent charity watchdog. We are proud to be recognized for serving our donors well.
And there's also good news for our supporters in the UK: we are now registered via the Charities Aid Foundation.
Support EFF today - you can be sure that your donation will make a difference in the fight for digital freedom! http://secure.eff.org/support
EFF's profile @ Charity Navigator:
Charities Aid Foundation:
miniLinksminiLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
Frank Zappa's "proposal" for a music download service - from 1983:
Hilary Rosen Laments Apple's DRM Strategy
The former president of the RIAA is mad that she can't play non-iTunes music on her iPod and can't convert other online music stores' files to work correctly on it. As Ernest Miller explains, that's the world Rosen helped create when she lobbied for the DMCA - an environment of restricted markets and outlawed interoperability tools:
Tell It, Brother
USA Today's Andrew Kantor explains why striking down the Broadcast Flag was important: "[The] entertainment industry is trying to swing the notion of copyright entirely in their favor: to eliminate the idea of fair use entirely and substitute 'whatever we say you can do with it.' And that's why problems arise.":
Big Brands Fund Spyware
Not deliberately, perhaps - but the LA Times says ads for Mercedes and Travelocity are being spat out by some of the most pernicious adware:
Baby Steps for Fighting Trolls
Brenda Sandburg analyzes the latest modest legislative proposals to defend patent law against patent "trolls." She also reveals that Peter Detkin, who coined the term, now works for Nathan Myrhvold's Intellectual Ventures - a company that has itself been accused of trollishness:
Good Patriot, Bad Patriot
The American Bar Association is hosting a blog containing arguments for and against allowing the PATRIOT Act "sunset" provisions to expire. It's under a Creative Commons license, so you can re-use pieces for discussion and debate:
REAL ID Passes
Proponents tacked the REAL ID Act onto an Iraq military spending bill, guaranteeing passage. Now the US has a federal standard for identity cards - the de facto national ID system Americans have always rejected, for good reason. Noah Leavitt breaks it down at FindLaw:
Observe WIPO Close-Up
The deadline for public interest organizations to apply for "permanent observer" status with WIPO is this Sunday, May 15th. Earlier this year, WIPO tried to bar groups that hadn't obtained permanent observer status from discussions about the organization's future. Don't let administrative shenanigans tip the scales toward the intellectual property maximalists - make sure your group has the paperwork in on time:
Thoughts on Fair Use for Australia
Kim Weatherall with a great summary of the issues to consider if you're submitting comments to the Australian government on whether and how Australia should codify fair use:
http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=472 (Weatherall's Law)
Meanwhile, Back at the Jihad
The MPAA is filing lawsuits against people who provide BitTorrrent trackers that include metadata files on TV shows:
Licensing Complexities Kill Podcast
According to this article, under ASCAP rules podcasting can't be classified as time-shifted streaming. That means that radio stations can't just switch to podcasting their broadcast shows, as podcast pioneer Infinity Radio belatedly discovered:
What's Good for the Goose...
Roger Dannenberg responds to RIAA President Cary Sherman's op-ed tarring universities for "irresponsible" use of Internet2 with a rebuttal calling the recording industry's own history of "monopolistic suppression of innovation" an irresponsible use of networks:
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