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EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 16 - Action Alert: Don't Let Congress Shackle Digital Music!


EFFector - Volume 19, Issue 16 - Action Alert: Don't Let Congress Shackle Digital Music!

EFFector Vol. 19, No. 16 April 28, 2006

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424

In the 377th Issue of EFFector:

effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired change.

Action Alert: Don't Let Congress Shackle Digital Music!

Dianne Feinstein's "Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM) Act" would permanently hobble your ability to record off the radio and force webcasters to use DRM formats.

If passed, future satellite and digital radio receivers would be limited by law to what the bill calls "reasonable recording." To the RIAA, this means that all consumers will be banned from choosing and playing back selections based on song title, artist, or genre. According to the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition, even the transmission of a recording from room to room inside a house would be restricted by mandatory blocks and controls.

PERFORM would also mess with streaming Internet radio stations. Right now, MP3 or open format Internet radio can take advantage of statutory copyright licensing to remunerate rights holders and artists. After PERFORM, all streaming music that uses statutory licensing will be required to be in a DRM-encumbered format that forbids interoperability or user-editing. Wave goodbye to MP3 streaming and to moving recorded webcasts to the portable player of your choice.

PERFORM is yet another petulant scrawl by the RIAA on the statute books, placing their short term interests over the freedom to innovate and the future freedoms of America's musicians and customers. Tell your representative not to co-sponsor or vote for PERFORM in the Senate or its companion bill in the House.

Take action now:

Details and full text of the bill:

EFF's summary of the bill's implications:

Petition Congress to Oppose RIAA Lawsuits, Forge Better Way Forward

In response to the RIAA's irrational lawsuit campaign against the tens of millions of American P2P users, EFF set up a petition asking Congress to stop the madness and support ways for artists to get paid without fans getting sued. We're now close to our goal of 100,000 signatures, and, with your help, we hope to surpass it by a longshot and deliver the petition to Congress.

After over 18,000 lawsuits and counting, file sharing has continued to increase rapidly. Meanwhile, music fans, like 12 year-old Brittany LaHara, college student Cassi Hunt, and parent of five Cecilia Gonzalez, are being forced to pay thousands of dollars they do not have to settle RIAA-member lawsuits, and many other innocent individuals are being caught in the crossfire.

But resistance to this shameful crusade is growing. Just this week, many top Canadian musical artists, including Barenaked Ladies and Avril Lavigne, called the lawsuits "destructive and hypocritical," and a court threw out a lawsuit against 14 year-old Brittany Chan.

It's time for Congress to join the chorus of opposition and stop kowtowing to the content cartel. Sign the petition, and donate to EFF to support a better way forward.

For the petition:

To donate to EFF:

To learn more about EFF's Share campaign:

To read EFF's paper "RIAA v. People: Two Years Later":

EFF Honors Craigslist, Gigi Sohn, and Jimmy Wales with Pioneer Awards

15th Annual Ceremony Highlights Innovations in Information Technology

Washington, DC - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will honor craigslist and its leaders, Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster; Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge; and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia at its 15th annual Pioneer Awards ceremony. The presentation is at 7pm on Wednesday, May 3, at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference (CFP).

This year's award winners all represent vital, community- building organizations dedicated to spreading knowledge in or about our digital world. They were nominated by the public and then chosen by a panel of independent judges for their innovations in the realm of information technology.

Craigslist is the world's most-used classified forum in any medium, serving as a non-commercial community service. Craigslist focuses on helping people with their basic needs -- starting with housing and jobs -- with a pervasive culture of trust. Craigslist's Craig Newmark founded the online community in 1995, and he still acts as a customer service representative. Jim Buckmaster has been craigslist's CEO since November of 2000, helping to transform it into one of the most popular websites in the world while maintaining its renowned public service mission.

Gigi B. Sohn is president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, a nonprofit organization that addresses the public's stake in the convergence of communications policy and intellectual property law, and serves as PK's chief strategist, fundraiser and public face. Sohn often testifies before Congress on intellectual property and technology policy, and she takes an active part in debates about proposed legislation.

Jimmy Wales is the founder and president of the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit corporation that operates Wikipedia -- a free, online, collaborative encyclopedia. Wikipedia started in January of 2001, and now it's one of the most- used reference sites on the Internet, with editions in over 200 languages.

"I'm thrilled to honor this year's Pioneer Award recipients," said EFF's Executive Director, Shari Steele. "The Internet is a web of communities, among other things, and Craig, Jim, Gigi and Jimmy have all been instrumental in helping to give people the tools they need for sharing information online."

The judges for this year's awards were Kim Alexander (President and Founder, California Voter Foundation), Esther Dyson (editor, Release 1.0, CNET Networks), Edward W. Felten (Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton University), Mitch Kapor (Chair, Open Source Applications Foundation), Drazen Pantic (Co-Director, Location One, New York), Barbara Simons (IBM Research [Retired] and former President ACM), and James Tyre (Founder, The Censorware Project).

Since 1991, the EFF Pioneer Awards have recognized individuals and organizations that have made significant and influential contributions to the development of computer- mediated communications or to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet. Past winners include Tim Berners-Lee, Linus Torvalds, and Ed Felten, among many others.

This year, the Pioneer Awards are sponsored by Sling Media, a consumer electronics company working to demystify convergence technologies and to create empowering experiences for the digital media consumer. Sling Media's Slingbox transforms Windows-based laptops, desktops, PDAs, and smartphones into personal on-the-go digital TVs. Learn more about Sling Media at .

More on the EFF Pioneer Awards:

For this release:

The Season of Bad Laws, Part 1: TM Dilution Revision Act

Congress appears to be awash in dangerous trademark and copyright bills. One is H.R. 683, "The Trademark Dilution Revision Act," a revision to the trademark laws that includes a little-noticed change that will put those who want to poke fun at big brands in jeopardy. EFF, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, and others have been pushing lawmakers to restore protections for fair use, news reporting, and noncommercial uses.

Editor & Publisher magazine has published an excellent overview of the issue. The article reports that the bill would narrow three key exceptions to trademark law: fair use, news reporting and commentary, and non-commercial use. While still available in trademark dilution cases -- where a mark's distinctiveness is tarnished, though not actually used -- these defenses would no longer apply in all other trademark contexts. In turn, the bill would "would overnight put newspapers at much greater risk of trademark infringement actions being brought against them, for everything from a columnist's or editorial writer's ill- received reference to a company's trademark, to, say, a news photograph of a homeless person's shopping cart parked in front of a row of gleaming, readily identifiable new-model cars at the dealership of a well-known automaker."

Read the Editor & Publisher article:

For this post:

The Season of Bad Laws, Part 2: Criminal Copyright Infringement, Drug War Style

The Department of Justice (DoJ) is pushing for legislation that would expand the scope of, and stiffen the penalties for, criminal copyright infringement. The legislation has not yet been introduced, but the relevant subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee has quietly circulated a draft bill based on the DoJ wish list.

The DoJ proposal is an outrage.

Keep in mind that criminal copyright infringement is no longer limited to situations involving commercial piracy. Thanks to laws like the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act and the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (FECA), the feds can now bring criminal charges against people for simply uploading a single "pre-release" song (as two Ryan Adams fans discovered last month when they were brought up on federal charges for uploading tracks from pre-release promotional CDs).

Most of the changes sought by DoJ fall into two broad categories: (1) making it easier to convict people of criminal copyright infringement by eliminating the inconvenient necessity of proving that actual infringement took place; and (2) increasing the financial and criminal penalties when someone is convicted.

This guarantees one result: more innocent people will be punished. After all, if you're wrongly accused, but you know the feds don't have to prove their case and you're facing serious jail time, you're more likely to accept a plea bargain.

In fact, DoJ will have an easier time convicting you of criminal charges than civil litigants will have suing you for money. This is exactly backwards. Before they throw people in jail for copyright infringement (especially where the infringement does not involve a commercial motive), the feds should have to prove their case, just like copyright owners in civil cases. Is it too much to ask that DoJ actually do its homework and prove its case before it imprisons people and seizes their assets for uploading a Ryan Adams song?

For a detailed look at the bill's provisions:

Top Canadian Artists Oppose DRM, Suing Fans

Several Canadian record labels recently walked out on CRIA, the Canadian equivalent of the RIAA. Now a bunch of them just launched a new coalition for Canadian musicians called the "Canadian Music Creators Coalition," and their founding principles are pretty rad:

  1. Suing Our Fans Is Destructive and Hypocritical
  2. Digital Locks Are Risky and Counterproductive
  3. Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists

This remarkably reasonable and consumer-friendly stance is backed by some big artists, too. For example: Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Stars, Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace), Dave Bidini (Rheostatics), Billy Talent, John K. Samson (Weakerthans), Broken Social Scene, Sloan, Andrew Cash and Bob Wiseman (Co- founder Blue Rodeo).

For the Coalition:


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

GETV at EFF Email Debate
Geek Entertainment TV interviews moderator Mitch Kapor and debaters Danny O'Brien and Esther Dyson about the future of email.

New Hampshire Stands Against Federal ID Cards
Will other states refuse to comply with the Real ID guidelines?

Is US Proposing a Global ID System?
We imagine this will go down well among UN admirers.

Can Foreign Governments Be Trusted With Your Travel Records?
Privacy International blows the whistle to the EU about US plans to re-use foreign citizens' airline passenger records.[347]=x-347-536344

And They Worry About CD *Burners*?
Great photograph of 80,000 pirated CDs destroyed in Lima, Peru. Isn't this who the record labels should be targeting?

Amateur-to-Amateur: The Rise of a New Creative Culture
"Let a thousand technologies bloom" -- Cato Institute continues its analysis of copyright and unleashing truly free markets.

William Patry: Protecting the Idle Rich
William Patry's landmark legal paper on the futility of copyright extension.

German Moderators Liable for Forum Commenters
Judge suggests you pre-mod comments or shut down site.

Cato's Copyright Cage Fight
Intellectuals on both sides of the IP debate spar at the Cato Institute. (RealPlayer archives available soon).

IP Senators: No, No, Wrong Kind of Kickback
Senator Conrad Burns returns his iPod, despite taking $59K from the entertainment industry.

Creative Commons SF Salon in May
Creative Commons is holding a salon on May 10th in San Francisco. Share the date!

Watching the Watchers: Video of Congress With Metadata
Metavid is a UCSC project to provide a public, searchable archive of CPAN. Would the Broadcast Treaty kill this innovation?

Gonzales Calls for Mandatory Web Labeling Law
Among the requirements, draft law requires a warning on "initially viewable" portions of the website. Mandatory interstitials?

Free Software Author Told to Pay $203,000 for Railroad Patent
Turned out the software he was being sued for was, in itself, prior art.

Email: Who (if Anyone) Should Pay?
Dan Farber's summary of the EFF fundraising debate between Esther Dyson and Danny O'Brien

Public Knowledge: Net Neutrality Video
Public Knowledge spells out net neutrality in 30 seconds.


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Derek Slater, Activist

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