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EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 9 - Alert: Stop the Trademark Act from Diluting Free Speech!


EFFector - Volume 18, Issue 9 - Alert: Stop the Trademark Act from Diluting Free Speech!

EFFector       Vol. 18, No. 09       March 17, 2005

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 325th Issue of EFFector:

Alert: Stop the Trademark Act from Diluting Free Speech!

The Trademark Dilution Revision Act (TDRA, HR 683) is a big company's dream. If it passes, the lawyers policing a trademark could sue businesses and individuals for using words, images, or even colors that look vaguely like a famous brand - without even having to prove that the company is being harmed. In other words, TDRA would make it possible for UPS to sue Brown's Record Store, even though nobody in their right mind would get the two confused. This bill would chill speech and hand ownership of common words to big companies. Fight the TDRA today!

Make your voice heard with EFF's action center:

Text of TDRA:

Join EFF as a member today:

Counting Down to Grokster with EFF

San Francisco, CA - EFF this week kicked off a new campaign to celebrate the technological diversity protected by the Supreme Court's 1984 "Betamax ruling," which found that vendors cannot be held liable for contributory copyright infringement if their products are capable of significant noninfringing (legal) uses. EFF will post information about a copying technology with substantial legal uses every weekday leading up to the March 29th Supreme Court hearing in MGM v. Grokster. Noninfringing products include everything from the VCR and email to blogs and silly putty.

If the Supreme Court overturns the Ninth Circuit ruling in the Grokster case, the Betamax shield could be destroyed or modified in ways that threaten innovation. Vendors could be held liable for the infringing activities of their customers, and many companies could be sued out of existence. EFF is co-counsel for StreamCast Networks, one of the defendants in the Grokster case.

With its celebration of the technologies protected under the Betamax shield, EFF hopes to call the public's attention to the strong link between innovation and legal protections for inventors and entrepreneurs.

Countdown to Grokster with EFF:

More about the Grokster case:

More about the Betamax ruling:

Grokster Send-off Party - You're Invited!

The argument for MGM v. Grokster is almost upon us, and we would like to send our team off to the Supreme Court in style. We'd also like to take the chance to thank all the colleagues, friends, and supporters who have helped us immeasurably in preparing for this moment. So we're having a party!

Please join us on Thursday, March 24, at the 1751 Social Club for the celebration. Doors open to the public at 8 p.m. We hope to see you there!

Please respond to: or 415-436-9333 x129

1751 Social Club
1751 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

For directions, please see: Meet-up for Copyfighters - March 29

Cocktails and copyright? Mashups and martinis? is organizing parties across the country on the evening of the Supreme Court arguments in MGM v. Grokster. Check out the site for details on events in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC:

EFF Advises US Army on Soldiers' Email Legacy

Provides Tips for Safeguarding Privacy in Case of Death

The media recently drew widespread attention to a Wisconsin case involving the parents of a marine killed in Iraq seeking access to their son's Yahoo! email account. Yahoo! denied access in order to protect the soldier's privacy, but the parents fought back, engaging an attorney to press the argument that the email messages should be considered part of their son's estate - an expensive and potentially painful undertaking.

It doesn't have to be like that. Shortly after the story broke, US Army Captain Matthew A. Kopetski, United States Army Judge Advocate, contacted EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn and other privacy specialists to ask how soldiers and their families should handle the issue of email access in case of death. The result is a memo from Captain Kopetski to the US Army JAG Corp's Legal Assistance Preventive Law Division, advising soldiers to make explicit plans ahead of time to grant or deny access to their private email accounts - whether that involves handing passwords to a trusted friend or loved one, leaving word with their families that they would like the privacy of their email respected even after death, or any number of other options.

"This is good advice for soldiers and their families, but it applies to everyone with an email account," said Cohn. "No one likes to think about dying, much less what might happen to your personal email after your death. But making arrangements now prevents putting your loved ones through unnecessary stress or forcing your Internet service provider into the unwelcome position of deciding who gets access to your digital estate."

Kopetski memo:

CNET article: "Yahoo Denies Family Access to Dead Marine's Email":

CFP 2005: Panopticon - April 12-15

Registration is open for this year's Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP) conference, "Panopticon."

CFP 2005 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.

CFP 2005 will be held at the Westin Hotel in Seattle, Washington:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

Save Fiona!
Fascinating SF Chronicle article about how tracks from Fiona Apple's never-released third album have been gaining popularity online via P2P networks - prompting fans to beg Apple's label to put out the album so they can buy it:

Celebrate Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week is an initiative spearheaded by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) to raise awareness about the critical importance of public access to government records. Check out the website to learn about the laws that guarantee the public's right to know:

Microsoft Making Privacy Obvious
The company is standardizing privacy notifications across its sites to encourage user comprehension. We approve.

French Court Rules in Favor of Downloader
The decision seems to say that downloading movies, copying them to discs, and sharing them with your friends is legally defensible: (

Swedish Warez Bust Reviewed for Privacy Gaffs
A recent server seizure at the Swedish ISP Banhof may have run afoul of the country's strict privacy laws, as the computers also contained personal data on more than 20,000 customers:

AOL Revises Privacy Policy for AIM
The new document will drop the "You waive any right to privacy" section:

Spam-To-Go Nets 2 Million Kroner Fine
That's $456k for sending spam to mobile phones:
(Australian IT)

Apple Tightens DRM Noose
The Register reports on how Apple is digitally managing your rights away:

UK Man Sued for BitTorrent Site
The kicker is that he's being sued by the Motion Picture Association of *America* for owning the domain of a site he never administered - and shut down of his own volition several months ago:

Code v.2 Needs You
Larry Lessig is updating "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" by putting it on a wiki and opening it to the public:

Signal or Noise v.2 Needs You, Too
The conference that got everyone talking about the future of music on the Net is back for another go: The 2000 conference:

CC: A Nation of Millions Has Our Back
This great WashPo story looks at the astounding success of Creative Commons, whose licenses have been used for more than 10 million works, including the latest release from Chuck D:
(Registration unfortunately required.)

Aussies to Bar Anonymous Political Blogs
Political commentary at sites like has apparently drawn the fire of Australian regulators:
(Sydney Morning Herald; reg. unfortunately req.)


EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)

Donna Wentworth, Web Writer/Activist

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