EFFector Vol. 18, No. 06 February 25, 2005
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 322nd Issue of EFFector:
- Action Alert: Help Save Orphan Works!
- Online Journalists Get Their Day in Court
- Fight the Broadcast Flag From Your Armchair
- Patent Threats Hurt Scientific Research
- Texas E-voting Forum Open to the Public
- EFF, Public Knowledge to Hold Press Conference on Grokster Case, March 1
- CFP 2005: Panopticon - April 12-15
- MiniLinks (18): European Parliament Rejects Software Patents
Action Alert: Help Save Orphan Works!
When you can't find copyright holders, copyright becomes a quagmire. Let's fix it.
For designers, academics, artists, musicians, and filmmakers, using copyrighted works can be a huge headache. It can be impossible to find out if a particular work is still under copyright or not. And even when people would happily pay to use a copyrighted photo, passage, or video clip, it's often impossible (or extremely costly) to find the copyright holder. When this happens, everybody loses. Artists can't realize their creative vision, academics can't clearly communicate their ideas, and copyright holders don't get paid. Even worse, important pieces of our culture get needlessly locked away.
Right now, the US Copyright Office is asking for public comment on the "orphan works" problem, so now's our chance to make the system work better. The Copyright Office has specifically asked for comments from people who have run up against the problem of trying to clear a potentially copyrighted work - either for use in a new creative effort or simply to make the work available to the public once again. If you have a story like this, it's essential you make your voice heard before the *March 25th* deadline. Click on the link below to submit comments directly to the Copyright Office - you type, and we'll take care of the formatting and submission.
Write to the Copyright Office today - and don't forget to spread the word. If your friends or colleagues are academics, designers, filmmakers, writers, or artists, it's likely that this problem affects them!
Online Journalists Get Their Day in Court
Apple Agrees to Delay Subpoenas Until March 4 Hearing
San Jose - After negotiations with EFF, Apple agreed on February 18 to extend the deadline on a subpoena it issued to an online journalist's Internet service provider (ISP) until after a hearing that will determine whether the subpoena is legal under the First Amendment and California's reporter's shield law. The subpoena seeks information about the journalist's confidential sources and unpublished notes for an article about a future Apple product code-named "Asteroid."
On March 4, EFF will meet Apple's attorneys in Santa Clara County Superior Court to argue that the subpoena and others like it are unlawful. Apple is currently suing several "John Does" for allegedly leaking trade secrets to online journalists. After initially threatening to subpoena reporters directly, Apple sent subpoenas to Nfox.com, the email provider for PowerPage publisher Jason O'Grady. At the hearing, EFF will urge the court to reject Apple's attempt do an "end run" around reporter's privilege by subpoenaing the ISP rather than the journalist himself.
"The reporter's privilege against disclosing confidential sources protects web publishers like AppleInsider and PowerPage just as it protects newspapers and TV networks," said Kevin Bankston, EFF Attorney and Equal Justice Works/Bruce J. Ennis Fellow. "If the reporter's privilege is to continue to protect the free flow of information in the digital age, it must apply to reporters' confidential communications even when they are held by third-party Internet service providers."
For the full press release:
Fight the Broadcast Flag From Your Armchair
EFF Releases HD PVR Cookbook and Build-In Kit
San Francisco - EFF this week announced the next stage in its challenge to the Federal Communications Commission's "Broadcast Flag" technology mandate. The organization released a step-by-step guide, the "HD PVR Cookbook," that teaches people how to build a high-definition digital television (HDTV) recorder unaffected by the technological constraints of the Broadcast Flag. In addition, EFF is encouraging people to protest the FCC rule by holding Build-Ins - gatherings around the country to build unfettered HDTV recorders in order to experience first-hand the kind of innovation stifled by the government mandate.
The Broadcast Flag, which places copy controls on DTV signals, is aimed at stopping people from making digitally perfect copies of television shows and redistributing them. Yet it can also be used to stop people from making perfectly legitimate personal copies of broadcasts. More disturbing, the Broadcast Flag rule will outlaw the manufacture and import of a whole host of TiVo-like devices that send DTV signals into a computer for backup, editing, and playback. After the Broadcast Flag regulations go into effect, all personal video recorder (PVR) technologies must be Broadcast Flag-compliant and "robust" against user modification - meaning that, once again, the entertainment industry is trying to tell you what you can do with your own machines.
EFF released its technological challenge to the Broadcast Flag on the same day that the organization and other public interest groups challenged the FCC in the courtroom. In ALA v. FCC, the groups - including the American Library Association and Public Knowledge - argue that the FCC has overstepped its authority in mandating the Broadcast Flag and that the rule should be struck down.
Groups who want to host their own Build-Ins can contact EFF for a "Throw Your Own Build-In" kit, which includes a hard copy of the HD PVR Cookbook, a KnoppMyth CD-ROM, and (of course!) free EFF t-shirts and stickers.
"Even as we're suing the FCC to stop this interference with technological innovation, we're also helping television watchers to get off the couch and build their own fully capable PVRs," said EFF Special Projects Coordinator Wendy Seltzer, who organized the Build-In. "Every MythTV built helps demonstrate the creative development that may be cut off by bad regulation."
For the full press release:
HD PVR Cookbook:
More about the Broadcast Flag:
MacNewsWorld article: "'Broadcast Flag' Prompts Digital
Patent Threats Hurt Scientific Research
EFF Asks Court to Protect Academic and Competitive Studies
Washington, DC - EFF this week joined Public Knowledge and the Consumer Project on Technology in a friend-of-the-court brief asking the US Supreme Court to protect scientific researchers from patent-based legal threats. The case, Merck v. Integra, deals specifically with information researchers submitted to the Food and Drug Administration regarding a potential cure for cancer. But it raises broader questions about whether patent owners can stop academic researchers and inventors from studying patented inventions in order to research or improve upon them.
"Patent law was created to help spread knowledge and spur innovation," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Allowing patent owners to shut down important scientific research flies in the face of that purpose."
"The Court has the opportunity here to do tremendous good for society, by making clear that scientists have always been and remain free to perform research - and competitors to innovate - without being subject to the threat of patent infringement litigation or the tax of patent licenses," noted Joshua Sarnoff of American University's Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, counsel of record on the brief.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case this spring, likely in April, and issue a decision by mid-summer.
For the full press release:
For the joint amicus brief:
Texas E-voting Forum Open to the Public
Public Comment Welcome at February 28 Meeting About E-voting Machines
Texas - The ACLU and EFF recently won a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit against the state of Texas concerning whether its voting technology certification meetings should be open to the public in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act. As part of this victory, Texas will hold its first-ever open public meeting discussing proposed voting systems.
The meeting will take place on Monday, February 28, from 8:30 a.m. until noon, in the 2nd floor conference room of the Rusk Building (208 East 10th St., Austin).
"We're hoping that this meeting will open the door to more public access to the voting systems selection process in Texas, and will support reform efforts being made in the Texas legislature," said Dan Wallach, a professor of computer science at Rice University and an expert in voting system security issues.
"Elections need to become more transparent across the board," added Matt Zimmerman, staff attorney for EFF. "Not only does election technology need to permit voters to verify their votes, the process for selecting that technology needs to be open to public scrutiny. While this is a small step forward, and much work remains to be done, it is nevertheless an important step for the voters of Texas."
For the full press release:
EFF, Public Knowledge to Hold Press Conference on Grokster Case, March 1
Washington, DC - EFF and the Washington, DC-based Public Knowledge will host a press conference on March 1 to discuss briefs filed by defendants and friends-of-the-court that day in MGM v. Grokster. The case, which will be heard before the US Supreme Court on March 29, concerns whether manufacturers of peer-to-peer file-sharing software Grokster and StreamCast (makers of Morpheus) should be held liable for the copyright infringements of their users.
The press conference will take place at 2 p.m. EST. Media professionals are invited to attend the live event at the offices of Public Knowledge (1875 Conn. Ave, NW #650, Washington, DC), or phone in via teleconference. Journalists who wish to call in should email EFF Media Coordinator Annalee Newitz at email@example.com
More about MGM v. Grokster:
CFP 2005: Panopticon - April 12-15
Registration is now open for this year's Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP) conference, "Panopticon."
CFP2005 will explore the most important issues relating to the Internet and freedom today, focusing on the impact that emerging surveillance societies have on the Net and individuals, particularly in light of the data mining and data sharing of personal information. Other important topics include the role of nascent communications technology in promoting free speech, expansive intellectual property legislation and the role it plays in the way that individuals are able to use the Internet, and much, much more.
CFP2005 will be held at the Westin Hotel in Seattle, Washington:
Register before March 21, 2005 for early registration rates!
miniLinksminiLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
Rallying for Jailed Iranian Bloggers
Iran is cracking down on free speech, but bloggers are getting louder:
AllofMP3 Belongs to Us
The Russian music site AllofMP3.com has claimed for months that it's following the law, but local police aren't so sure:
FCC "Can't Regulate Washing Machines"
Two of the three judges who'll decide the fate of the Broadcast Flag appear heavily skeptical that the FCC should have regulatory control over every device its mission touches - whether that be digital television recorders or, well, washing machines:
Endangered Gizmos in the Beeb
Nice BBC article on the Broadcast Flag and our Endangered Gizmos project:
Stay Free! Launches a Blog
We love this smart culture-jamming journal of the copyright /trademark wars, and now it has a blog too!
Interoperability Wins Another Round Against DMCA
Lexmark lost its appellate bid to stop a competitor from making cartridges that work with its printers:
HP Sued Over Expiring Printer Cartridges
Consumers don't like it when their devices are programmed against their interests? Fancy that!
France Conquered by...Google?
France's national library is raising concerns about Anglo-Saxon domination in Google Print, the project that aims to digitize the holdings of some of the world's greatest libraries:
Your Computer on Remote Control
AOL plans to remotely downgrade the popular music software Winamp after bloggers used it to record digital music from Napster's digital streaming service:
ChoicePoint Scandal Exposes Flaws in Privacy Law
A recent security breach at data-collection firm ChoicePoint is highlighting the rat's nest of state and federal privacy laws that covers - or fails to cover - consumer privacy meltdowns:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/24/business/24datas.html (Registration unfortunately required.)
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