EFFector Vol. 18, No. 20 June 22, 2005
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 336th Issue of EFFector:
- Action Update: EFF Supporters Slam Congress to Stop the Broadcast Flag
- Internet Entrepreneur Joe Kraus Joins EFF Board
- Upholding the Legality of Reverse Engineering: Judges Weigh Issues in Eighth Circuit Videogame Case
- EFF Joins Battle to Protect the Right to Read Anonymously, Publishers' Rights
- EFF Seeks Experienced, Dynamic Membership Coordinator
- MiniLinks (15): Three Notes Bad
Action Update: EFF Supporters Slam Congress to Stop the Broadcast Flag
Earlier this week, EFF learned that a "Broadcast Flag" amendment might slip past legislative gates as part of an appropriations bill. We quickly sent out an action alert to EFF supporters in states with senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee, warning that within 48 hours, we could see a new law that would give Hollywood permanent veto power over how we use over-the-air digital television and force American innovators to beg the government for permission before adding new features to TV.
It's easy to see how this could happen. Despite the courts striking down the flag and powerful opposition in the Internet community, in many circles it's still considered "non-controversial."
But that was Monday evening.
Within the space of a few hours, the action alert hit the Internet. And you slammed Congress.
By 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the 27 members of the Senate Appropriations Committee received *more than 11,000 emails and faxes* from EFF supporters. That's nearly 500 faxes an hour. Dianne Feinstein alone received more than 2,600 messages in her inbox. Kay Hutchison, the senior senator for Texas, received 1,441 letters.
And these are just the numbers EFF has. We don't track telephone calls. But we do know that many of you listened when we joined Public Knowledge in urging you to call your senators directly. If you tried to call and the line was engaged, it was likely occupied by someone else griping about the same amendment. Staffers report that they are "swamped."
Today, the phone calls, email messages, and faxes continue to flood in. This is a mass protest even without voices from many of the more populous states, which don't have senators on the committee.
Suffice it to say that you don't get that kind of reaction except for *very* controversial bills. You did it. You got the attention of every senator on the Appropriations Committee.
And so far, it's working. No one proposed a Broadcast Flag amendment in the sub-committee on Tuesday. The next opportunity will be Thursday at 2 p.m. By then, everyone on the committee will have been briefed by their besieged staffers. And in the briefings will be words to the effect that this is an issue with "a great deal of voter concern."
For these senators, the Broadcast Flag now comes with its own red flag.
It's not over yet. The entertainment industry lobbyists won't give up easily, and there are plenty of sneaky tricks left to pull.
But by acting now, you've given your legislator a reason to decline Hollywood's advances. You may even have given a few the back-up necessary to *keep* declining.
We challenge you to keep the momentum going. Tell your friends and family about the Broadcast Flag, and forward the URL below. You know can make a difference - you already have.
Stop the Broadcast Flag! http://action.eff.org/site/Advocacy?id=145
Public Knowledge action alert:
Make a donation and join EFF today:
Internet Entrepreneur Joe Kraus Joins EFF Board
Founder of DigitalConsumer.org Is a Perfect Fit for Digital Liberties Organization
San Francisco, CA - This week, EFF welcomed the newest member of its executive board, Internet entrepreneur Joe Kraus. The founder of DigitalConsumer.org, a grassroots organization devoted to helping consumers get fair use access to digital media, Kraus has more than a decade of experience working on Internet-related ventures. He was a founder of Excite.com in the early 1990s, and he is currently the CEO of JotSpot, a maker of wiki-based applications. He is also an angel investor who works with early-stage technology companies.
"I think the work of EFF is critical to a thriving and innovative online world where people are free to create new technologies, content, and communities," said Kraus. "Without the EFF, the Internet would be a smaller, darker place."
EFF Executive Director Shari Steele said, "We're thrilled to have Joe on our board, and we look forward to getting his input into current and future EFF projects."
Other members of EFF's executive board include Brad Templeton, John Gilmore, Pam Samuelson, Lawrence Lessig, John Perry Barlow, Brewster Kahle, and Dave Farber.
For this release:
Upholding the Legality of Reverse Engineering
Judges Weigh Issues in Eighth Circuit Videogame Case
St. Louis, MO - Judges in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments this week in Blizzard v. BnetD, a case that pits a large videogame corporation against three game-loving software developers.
Blizzard sued the developers because they created an open-source program called BnetD, which lets people play popular Blizzard titles like "Warcraft" with other gamers online. Blizzard maintains its own game server, Battle.net, and claims that the developers violated its end user license agreements (EULAs) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when they reverse-engineered a protocol used in Battle.net to create their own program.
EFF is representing the BnetD programmers to fight for the right to reverse-engineer and build alternative platforms for legitimately purchased software. Arguing on the programmers' behalf was EFF co-counsel Paul Grewal of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder, assisted by EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz.
"The judges were struggling with the right questions," said Schultz. "They're trying to balance copyright interests with the right to reverse engineer. They clearly recognized the public interest in reverse engineering, but they admitted this would be a hard case to decide."
Congress expressly recognized the importance of reverse engineering when it created an exception to the DMCA for this activity. Whether it's allowing gamers to choose a better server for Internet play, or allowing a printer owner to purchase from a range of printer cartridge replacements, reverse engineering is a critical part of innovation in a world where more and more devices need to talk to each other in order to operate correctly.
For this release:
More about Blizzard v. BNetD:
EFF Joins Battle to Protect the Right to Read Anonymously, Publishers' Rights
EFF has joined eight other civil liberties and consumer rights organizations, including Public Citizen and the ACLU of Maryland, in a legal battle to protect the anonymity of subscribers to an online financial newsletter. In the case, Forensic Advisors v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., the pharmaceutical company Matrixx is attempting to force the publisher of the newsletter to divulge the subscriber list because, for reasons that it hasn't adequately explained, the company believes that it will help identify several "John Does" who allegedly defamed Matrixx and its products on Internet message boards. Matrixx sells a nasal decongestant that members of the news media and the general public have alleged causes permanent loss of the sense of smell.
In a joint friend-of-the-court brief, EFF argues that the Maryland news media privilege prevents disclosure of sources and information collected in the course of reporting, and that the First Amendment right to read anonymously bars disclosure of a list of readers and subscribers.
"Anonymity has a long and celebrated history in the United States, beginning with the pseudonymous advocates of the United States Constitution," the brief states. "People choose to maintain anonymity regarding what they read for many reasons, including forestalling assumptions about their beliefs and associations, maintaining privacy, and avoiding harassment, threats, frivolous litigation, or social stigma."
Amicus brief in the case:
Other EFF cases defending online anonymity:
EFF Seeks Experienced, Dynamic Membership Coordinator
EFF is searching for a dynamic Membership Coordinator (MC) with a successful track record. The Membership Coordinator reports to the Director of Development and is a key component of EFF's fundraising activities. The MC is responsible for managing contact with EFF's members, helping to develop strategies to grow the membership, donor and membership databases; processing donations, thank-you letters and renewal notices; managing the donation pages of the website; and responding to any issues members may have. The MC also manages EFF's online shop, including order fulfillment. The MC also attends a number of commercial conferences each year, managing the EFF booth presence and speaking informally with conference attendees.
The position requires enthusiasm and a flexible, can-do attitude with a strong affinity for quality customer service. Having the initiative to sniff out and solve problems independently is essential, as is the dedication to perform daily tasks with minimal oversight. The position offers the opportunity to learn about all aspects of nonprofit fundraising, as well as digital civil liberties issues, in a hard-working, fun office environment.
Follow the link below to learn more and apply:
miniLinksminiLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
Everyone Gets a New Right But You
Michael Geist picks through the new restrictions in Canada's proposed "DMCA":
Software Patents, J'Accuse!
Richard Stallman uses Victor Hugo to explain software patents to Guardian readers. Good call:
http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=501 (The Guardian, UK)
Please Do Not Describe the Exhibits
Ernest Miller boggles at proposals for DRM to "protect" 3D mesh descriptions of museum art:
http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=502 (Importance Of...)
Seven Nights 'til Copynight
Putting the "pub" into public domain, the monthly copyfighters' meet-up is next Tuesday, in Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, New York, Nashville, and elsewhere all across the nation:
Survey Says: If You Understood the Question, You Probably
Want Legal Music-Sharing
The more people use technology, the more they want filesharing protected, concludes a Digital Life America survey:
Feds Regularly Ping Librarians About Your Reading Habits
According to the NYT, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a request for information comes in on an average of once a week:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/20/politics/20patriot.html (Registration unfortunately required.)
NYT Surveys Blog Pundits' Opinions on Grokster
Including the very important perspective of the folks at rec.sports.pro-wrestling:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/20/business/20link.html (Registration unfortunately required.)
After Dealing with Cake Infringers, Disney Goes After
Evidently, film industry lawyers are running through checklist of "fun things our loyal customers do that we can spoil":
FTC Says Law Requiring "ADV:" in Spam Subject Lines
Maybe if they demanded the messages all say "Hey sex1y viagr1 d3alz:," they would get more take-up:
Gonna Get a Dell; Gotta Tell the Government Why
A Dell sales person asks what a customer is planning to do with a server, claims PATRIOT made him do it:
Hack Chinese MSN Spaces to Use Banned Words
Bennett Haselton hacks around Microsoft's Chinese blogging software that bans "freedom," "democracy," and other forbidden keywords:
Reporters Without Borders Freedom Blog Awards Announced
Congratulations to Jay Rosen of Pressthink, one of the amici in the Apple v. Does case, for winning the Americas section:
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