EFFector Vol. 19, No. 13 April 7, 2006
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
In the 374th Issue of EFFector:
- EFF Files Evidence to Stop AT&T's Dragnet Surveillance
- Bogus Clear Channel Patent May Be Revoked
- EFF Challenges Dangerous Patent on Internet Test-Taking
- Citizens Lobby Congress for Reliable Electronic Voting
- Smithsonian-Showtime: Why the Broadcasting Treaty Matters
- Copyright v. Indexing, Part 1: TorrentSpy
- You're Invited! "Email -- Should the Sender Pay?": EFF Fundraiser, Debate Between Esther Dyson and Danny O'Brien
- EFF PSAs for Your Podcast or Online Radio Show
- miniLinks (12): MAFIAA
EFF Files Evidence to Stop AT&T's Dragnet Surveillance
Internal AT&T Documents Had Been Temporarily Held Back Due To Government's Concerns
San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) this week filed the legal briefs and evidence supporting its motion for a preliminary injunction in its class-action lawsuit against AT&T. After asking EFF to hold back the documents so that it could review them, the Department of Justice consented to EFF's filing them under seal -- a well- established procedure that prohibits public access and permits only the judge and the litigants to see the evidence. While not a party to the case, the government was concerned that even this procedure would not provide sufficient security and has represented to the Court that it is "presently considering whether and, if so, how it will participate in this case."
"The evidence that we are filing supports our claim that AT&T is diverting Internet traffic into the hands of the NSA wholesale, in violation of federal wiretapping laws and the Fourth Amendment," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "More than just threatening individuals' privacy, AT&T's apparent choice to give the government secret, direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' Internet communications is a threat to the Constitution itself. We are asking the Court to put a stop to it now."
EFF's evidence regarding AT&T's dragnet surveillance of its networks includes a declaration by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T telecommunications technician, and several internal AT&T documents. This evidence was bolstered and explained by the expert opinion of J. Scott Marcus, who served as Senior Technical Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission from July 2001 until July 2005.
The internal AT&T documents and portions of the supporting declarations have been submitted to the Court under a tentative seal, a procedure that allows AT&T five court days to explain to the Court why the information should be kept from the public.
"The public deserves to know about AT&T's illegal program," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "In an abundance of caution, we are providing AT&T with an opportunity to explain itself before this material goes on the public docket, but we believe that justice will ultimately require full disclosure."
The NSA program came to light in December, when the New York Times reported that the President had authorized the agency to intercept telephone and Internet communications inside the United States without the authorization of any court. Over the ensuing weeks, it became clear that the NSA program has been intercepting and analyzing millions of Americans' communications, with the help of the country's largest phone and Internet companies, including AT&T.
"Mark Klein is a true American hero," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "He has bravely come forward with information critical for proving AT&T's involvement with the government's invasive surveillance program."
In the lawsuit, EFF is representing the class of all AT&T residential customers nationwide. Working with EFF in the lawsuit are the law firms Traber & Voorhees, Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP and the Law Office of Richard R. Wiebe.
For the notice of motion for preliminary injunction:
For the motion to lodge under temporary seal:
For more on EFF's suit:
For this release:
Bogus Clear Channel Patent May Be Revoked
Patent Office Orders Reexamination at EFF's Request
San Francisco - At the request of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) on Monday agreed to reexamine an illegitimate patent held by Clear Channel Communications. The patent -- for a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances -- locks musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocks innovations by others.
"The Patent Office agrees that there are serious questions about the patent's validity," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "This is a significant victory for artists and innovators harmed by Clear Channel's patent and for anyone concerned about overreaching, illegitimate patents."
Clear Channel now has two months to file comments defending its patent, to which EFF will get to respond. The PTO will then determine whether to invalidate the patent. In roughly 70% of instances like this one in which a request for reexamination is granted, the patent is narrowed or completely revoked.
"Patents serve an important role in our economy," said Schultz. "Keeping illegitimate patents out of that system benefits all of us, helping up-and-coming artists and entrepreneurs."
EFF filed the request for reexamination in conjunction with Theodore C. McCullough of the Lemaire Patent Law Firm and with the help of students at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University's Washington College of Law. The Clear Channel patent challenge is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, aimed at combating the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. The Patent Busting Project seeks to document the threats and fight back by filing requests for reexamination against the worst offenders.
For more information about EFF's request and Clear Channel's
For EFF's Patent Busting Project:
For this release:
EFF Challenges Dangerous Patent on Internet Test-Taking
Illegitimate Patent Chills Distance Learning and University Education
San Francisco - An extremely broad patent claiming to cover almost all methods of online testing is coming under fire this week.
Test.com has used this illegitimate patent to demand payments from universities with distance education programs that give tests online. However, a patent reexamination application filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Wednesday shows that Test.com wasn't the first to come up with this testing method.
"Bogus patents like this one highlight the problems with the current patent system. This is a good example of exactly what needs to be fixed to make patents useful to innovators and educators alike," Schultz said.
In conjunction with Theodore C. McCullough of the Lemaire Patent Law Firm, EFF filed a request for reexamination with the United States Patent and Trademark Office showing that IntraLearn Software Corporation had been marketing an online test-taking system long before Test.com filed its patent request. But Test.com claims that its patent allows it to collect license fees for virtually all online testing methods, preventing educators from developing online coursework and communicating with students over the Internet. As online testing is critical to Internet education, the enforcement of this patent threats academic speech and academic freedom.
"Our nation's education system already faces severe budget constraints and a shortage of resources," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We shouldn't be diverting resources away from teaching to pay off bogus patent threats."
The challenge to the Test.com patent is the second filing from EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. The first reexamination request was granted on Monday and involves a Clear Channel patent for a system and method of creating recordings of live performances, locking musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocking innovations by others.
Just last week, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the eBay v. MercExchange patent case, signaling how important patent issues are in today's economy. EFF filed an amicus brief in that case, asking justices to consider the critical free speech implications in its ruling.
For the full Test.com patent reexamination request:
For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:
For more on IntraLearn Software:
For more on eBay v. MercExchange:
For this release:
Smithsonian-Showtime: Why the Broadcasting Treaty Matters
EFF has long been a critic of the proposed WIPO Broadcasting Treaty, and now we have a particularly vivid example of how the treaty imperils the public domain.
The Smithsonian Institution recently announced a joint venture with Showtime Networks, Inc., that gives the cable TV network exclusive commercial access to the Smithsonian's archival materials (much of which consists of public domain materials). According to a report from the Washington Post, filmmakers wishing to use Smithsonian archives will "first have to offer the idea to Smithsonian/Showtime. Otherwise, the archives could not be used outside the realm of news programs (such as '60 Minutes' and 'Dateline') in most cases."
This arrangement is troubling for many reasons. In the words of Ken Burns, one of America's most accomplished documentarians, "It feels like the Smithsonian has essentially optioned America's attic to one company." (For a stark contrast to the Smithsonian approach, take a look at the BBC's Creative Archive.)
Now consider just how much worse this arrangement might become if the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty comes into force. Under current copyright law, Showtime has no exclusive rights over any public domain materials that it broadcasts on its "Smithsonian on Demand" channel. Subsequent creators remain free to record the programs, extract the public domain elements, and re-use them.
But by creating new exclusive rights for broadcasters, the proposed Broadcasting Treaty could block subsequent creators from using that public domain material. They would have to independently obtain access to the original materials instead. However, Showtime has already locked up a deal that gives its people exclusive access to the originals. Catch-22!
We don't know whether the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty would necessarily lead to exactly this result, as those who are supporting it (including the US Patent and Trademark Office) have refused to "speculate" on what US implementing legislation might look likeor whether they would support parallel exceptions to copyright law. However, unless and until the treaty specifically precludes a public domain land grab like this one, it's hard to see how any friend of the public domain can support it.
To learn more about the Broadcasting Treaty:
For the Washington Post story on the Smithsonian-Showtime
For the original version of this post:
Copyright v. Indexing, Part 1: TorrentSpy
A prediction: the world of copyright law is about to collide with the world of digital indexing and search, and the collision will be among the most important digital copyright issues of the next several years.
A few weeks ago, the major movie studios filed a lawsuit against the operators of TorrentSpy. Although the TorrentSpy suit has been characterized as just the latest chapter in the MPAA's attack on the Bit Torrent file sharing software, on closer examination it looks more like a wholesale attack against Internet indexing generally.
In the complaint, the studios level claims of contributory infringement, inducement, and vicarious liability against TorrentSpy for maintaining an index of "dot torrents." These files are functionally similar to links, pointing to files hosted by others. Unlike some other sites, TorrentSpy neither maintains a "tracker" nor hosts any infringing files. (Wikipedia has a good entry, linked at the bottom of this post, about the bit torrent protocol, explaining the relationship between dot torrents, trackers, and files being shared.)
In its motion to dismiss the suit, TorrentSpy puts the question crisply: how is TorrentSpy different from Google? After all, Google indexes dot torrent files, too (just include "filetype:torrent" in your search string). For that matter, how is TorrentSpy different from the search index maintained by Bit Torrent's creator? A search for "battlestar" there turns up Battlestar Galactica results that look a lot like those at TorrentSpy. Google, TorrentSpy, and Bit Torrent all have DMCA "notice-and- takedown" procedures that allow copyright owners to demand the removal of links from the index, if those links lead to infringing content.
The complaint gives little guidance about what the studios think separates TorrentSpy from any other index. It alleges that "the predominant use" of the index is for infringement (shades of MGM v. Grokster!). It claims that "indexing files according to specific titles of copyrighted television programs" is evidence of inducement. It argues that TorrentSpy "favorably compare[s] its website to other peer- to-peer services widely used for infringing activities." The plaintiffs will surely further develop their "TorrentSpy is different" themes as the case goes forward.
But that's the important question raised by the TorrentSpy lawsuit: what's the difference between a "good" index and a "bad" index, and is that a distinction that copyright law can effectively make? In 1998, when Congress passed the DMCA's "safe harbor" provisions, it seemed to be saying that indexes should be shielded from copyright claims, so long as they implemented a "notice-and-takedown" procedure. The TorrentSpy suit (as well as the lawsuit against search tool MP3Board.com) suggests that the entertainment industry wants to renegotiate that bargain in court. The result could have important implications not just for torrent indexes, but also for all online index and search services.
To learn about how Bit Torrent works:
For TorrentSpy's motion to dismiss:
For the movie studios' complaint:
For the original version of this post:
You're Invited! "Email -- Should the Sender Pay?": EFF Fundraiser, Debate Between Esther Dyson and Danny O'Brien
In light of AOL's adopting a "certified" email system, EFF is hosting a debate on the future of email. With distinguished entrepreneur Mitch Kapor moderating, EFF Activist Coordinator Danny O'Brien and renowned tech expert Esther Dyson will discuss the potential consequences if people have to pay to send email. Would the Internet deteriorate as a platform for free speech? Would spam or phishing decline?
Thursday, April 20th, 2006
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
"Email - Should the Sender Pay?"
Danny O'Brien is the Activist Coordinator for the EFF. His job is to help our membership in making their voice heard: in government and regulatory circles, in the marketplace, and with the wider public. Danny has documented and fought for digital rights in the UK for over a decade, where he also assisted in building tools of open democracy like Fax Your MP. He co-edits the award-winning NTK newsletter, has written and presented science and travel shows for the BBC, and has performed a solo show about the Net in the London's West End.
Esther Dyson is editor of Release 1.0, CNET's quarterly technology-industry newsletter, and host of its PC Forum, the high-tech market's leading annual executive conference. She sold her business, EDventure Holdings, to CNET Networks in early 2004. Previously, she had co-owned EDventure and written/edited Release 1.0 since 1983. She was also an early board member of EFF and was our chairman from July 1995 to January 1998, and was founding chairman of ICANN (1998-2000). The author of the book "Release 2.0: A design for living in the digital age," which suggested a sender- pays model for e-mail in 1997, Dyson also recently wrote a New York Times op-ed called "You've Got Goodmail," supporting a voluntary recipient-charges/sender-pays model for email.
Mitchell Kapor is the President and Chair of the Open Source Applications Foundation, a non-profit organization he founded in 2001 to promote the development and acceptance of high-quality application software developed and distributed using open source methods and licenses. He is widely known as the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, the "killer application" that made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980's. In 1990, Kapor co-founded EFF. Mitch will moderate the debate.
Roxie Film Center
3117 16th Street, San Francisco
(between Valencia and Guerrero)
Tel: (415) 863-1087
See the link below for a map:
Local Muni are the 22 and 53 (both at 16th & Valencia), 33 (18th & Valencia), 14 (16th & Mission), 49 (16th & Mission). BART stops one block east at 16th & Mission.
Public Parking is available on Hoff Street, off of 16th between Valencia and Mission at very reasonable rates.
This fundraiser is open to the general public. The suggested donation is $20. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Adaptive Path is the generous sponsor of this fundraising event. Founded in 2001, Adaptive Path is a leading user experience consulting, research, and training firm that has provided services to a range of clients, including Fortune 100 corporations, pure-Web startups, and established nonprofit organizations. The company is headquartered in San Francisco. To learn more about Adaptive Path, visit the company website at: http://www.adaptivepath.com
To learn more about the DearAOL campaign against AOL's
planned sender-pay system:
For Esther Dyson's editorial, "You've Got Goodmail":
EFF PSAs for Your Podcast or Online Radio Show
If you podcast or produce online radio shows, you can help support EFF by featuring our PSAs in your programs. EFF Fellow Cory Doctorow along with EFF Boardmembers Larry Lessig, John Gilmore, Brad Templeton, Joe Kraus, and Sarah Deutsch have all recorded clips for your listening pleasure.
Download EFF PSAs here:
miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.
At last, the RIAA and MPA combine forces!
Mitch Kapor's New Blog
Founder of EFF posts commentary and news about his Open Source Applications Foundation.
Mono's Ring of Patent Fire
Greg from Redhat's Fedora project explains how Mono is protected by Novell's armory of ex-Commerce One patents.
Historical Precedent for EFF vs AT&T
Shayana Kadidal points to two landmark 18th century cases that mirror our wiretapping case.
MythTV Invades Realm of Cable and TiVo
A nice, if cursory, look at the freeing power of MythTV from the Washington Post.
Who's in Control?
Mark Fleischmann, author of Practical Home Theater, gives a stirring call to arms over control of your media.
Pay-per-email and the "Market Myth"
Peacefire's Bennett Hasselton writes on the problems of Goodmail.
Beware Zombies Bearing EULAs
Video store customer inadvertently hands over soul, becomes undead.
How AACS Works
An overview from one of the creators.
Michigan Video Game Law Declared Unconstitutional
Video games are protected free speech.
Sour Peas Taste Sweet Victory
The sweet pea serial trademark litigant drops its cases against 52 online defendants.
Music Industry: Is Digital Making Up the Difference?
Wired's Chris Anderson takes a hard look at latest "OMG! Sky is falling!" music industry stats.
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)
Derek Slater, Activist
General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:
Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent theviews of EFF. To reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors for their express permission. Press releases and EFF announcements & articles may be reproduced individually at will.
Current and back issues of EFFector are available via the Web at:
Click here to unsubscribe or change your subscription preferences:
Click here to change your email address:
This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.