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EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 11 - EFFector 20.11


EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 11 - EFFector 20.11

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 11  March 13, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 417th Issue of EFFector:
  • Action Alert - Reform the PATRIOT Act and Stop the Abuse of Surveillance Powers!
  • EFF Kills Bogus Clear Channel Patent
  • American Studios' Secret Plan to Lock Down European TV Devices
  • Yochai Benkler, Cory Doctorow, and Bruce Schneier Win EFF Pioneer Awards
  • Senate Committee: Broadcasting Treaty Must Be Limited
  • Microsoft Attacks Innovators, Not Just Google
  • News Round-Up: Sunshine Week Celebrates Public's Right to Know
  • Turkey Takes Away, Then Restores Access to YouTube
  • miniLinks (9): Free Speech Ain't Free
  • Administrivia
For more information on EFF activities & alerts: Make a donation and become an EFF member today! Tell a friend about EFF: effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired change. : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Action Alert - Reform the PATRIOT Act and Stop the Abuse of Surveillance Powers! The FBI has blatantly abused a key PATRIOT Act provision and knowingly violated the law to spy on Americans' telephone, Internet, and other personal records, as documented in a report released by the Justice Department last week. Congress must rein in this egregious behavior, but it can't stop there -- the Bush Administration's unprecedented pattern of disregarding the law stretches far beyond the examples in this report. Tell Congress to defend your privacy now: Before PATRIOT, the FBI could use so-called National Security Letters only for securing the records of suspected terrorists or spies. But under PATRIOT, the FBI can use them to get private records about anybody without any court approval as long as it believes the information could be relevant to an authorized terrorism or espionage investigation. According to the Justice Department's Inspector General, the FBI's misuse of its authority included issuing NSLs to spy on people who weren't the subject of any existing investigation whatsoever. The FBI also lied to Congress and underreported its use of NSLs by many thousands. Worse still, the FBI has ignored its own lawyers' advice and intentionally evaded PATRIOT's thin bounds, improperly requesting and obtaining personal records through so-called "exigent letters" that Congress never authorized. That's only a sampling of the horror story painted by the report, and, had Congress not ordered the Inspector General to review the FBI's activities last year, these abuses might have never been revealed. From the moment PATRIOT was passed, we said the NSL power was ripe for abuse and unconstitutional, and it's clearer than ever that Congress should repeal PATRIOT's expansion of NSL powers and reform the PATRIOT Act as a whole. Moreover, Congress must broadly investigate the Administration's use of surveillance powers, including the NSA's massive and illegal domestic spying program. Congress and the American public have been kept in the dark about such clear violations of the law and Americans' privacy for far too long. Immediate and thorough oversight hearings are necessary to uncover the truth and hold the Administration accountable. Take action now: EFF press release about the report: For a brief summary of PATRIOT's expansion of the NSL power: For the Inspector General's report: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * EFF Kills Bogus Clear Channel Patent Patent Busting Project Wins Victory for Artists and Innovators San Francisco - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has announced it will revoke an illegitimate patent held by Clear Channel Communications after a campaign by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The patent -- owned by Instant Live, a company formerly owned by Clear Channel and now owned by Live Nation -- covered a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances. Clear Channel claimed the bogus patent created a monopoly on all-in-one technologies that produce post-concert digital recordings and threatened to sue those who made such recordings. This locked musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocked innovations by others. However, EFF's investigation found that a company named Telex had in fact developed similar technology more than a year before Clear Channel filed its patent request. EFF -- in conjunction with patent attorney Theodore C. McCullough and with the help of Lori President and Ashley Bollinger, students at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University's Washington College of Law - - asked the PTO to revoke the patent based on this and other extensive evidence. "Bogus patents like this one are good examples of what's wrong with the current patent system," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We're glad that the Patent Office was willing to help artists and innovators out from under its shadow." The Clear Channel patent challenge was 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. "The patent system plays a critical role in business and the economy," said McCullough. "Everyone loses if we allow overreaching patent claims to restrict the tremendous benefits of new software and technology development." For the notice from the Patent Office: For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project: For this press release: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * American Studios' Secret Plan to Lock Down European TV Devices EFF Exposes Standards Jeopardizing Innovation and Consumer Rights San Francisco - An international consortium of television and technology companies is devising draconian anti- consumer restrictions for the next generation of TVs in Europe and beyond, at the behest of American entertainment giants. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the only public interest group to have gained entrance into the secretive meetings of the Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB), a group that creates the television and video specifications used in Europe, Australia, and much of Asia and Africa. In a report released today, EFF shows how U.S. movie and television companies have convinced DVB to create new technical specifications that would build digital rights management technologies into televisions. These specifications are likely to take away consumers' rights, which will subsequently be sold back to them piecemeal -- so entertainment fans will have to pay again and again for legitimate uses of lawfully acquired digital television content. "DVB is abetting a massive power grab by the content industry, and many of the world's largest technology companies are simply watching," said Ren Bucholz, EFF Policy Coordinator, Americas. "This regime was concocted without input from consumer rights organizations or public interest groups, and it shows." Despite recent record profits, American movie and television studios insist that new technologies could ruin their industry. In past battles against innovation, these same studios sued to block the sale of the VCR and the first mass-marketed digital video recorder in the U.S. Having failed in those efforts, they have now turned to creating technical standards that, when backed by law, are likely to restrict consumers' existing rights and threaten the future of technological innovation. With DVB, the plan begun by entertainment companies in the U.S. has now gone global. EFF's report is aimed at alerting European consumer groups and consumers about the dangers posed by the proposed standards and providing informational resources for European regulators. "DVB members' active indifference, even hostility, to user rights is shameful," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. "When American studios ask for regulatory support for restrictions pushed through the DVB Project, public officials must stand up for consumer rights, sustain competition and innovation, and tell Hollywood to back off." For the full report: EFF's 2005 Submission to the U.K. Department of Media, Sports and Culture: For this press release: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Yochai Benkler, Cory Doctorow, and Bruce Schneier Win EFF Pioneer Awards Mark Cuban, Fred von Lohmann Square Off at Ceremony in San Diego San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2007 Pioneer Awards: Professor Yochai Benkler of Yale Law School, writer and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow, and security technologist Bruce Schneier. The award ceremony will feature a debate between Mark Cuban -- HDNet Chairman and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner -- and EFF's Fred von Lohmann on copyright, YouTube and the future of Web 2.0. The 16th annual Pioneer Awards will be held at 7:30 p.m., March 27, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego in conjunction with the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Professor Yochai Benkler of Yale Law School researches the effects of laws on information, knowledge, and culture in the digital world. Benkler's important contributions include a theoretical explanation of how the Internet has allowed decentralized groups to produce things like technologies and bodies of knowledge more efficiently than any centrally organized corporation or trade-based marketplace could. After the publication of Benkler's most recent book, "The Wealth of Networks," Lawrence Lessig called him "the leading intellectual of the information age." Cory Doctorow is an activist, writer, blogger, and public speaker about copyright, digital rights management, and electronic freedom. As a co-editor of the Boing Boing blog, he highlights critical technology issues for more than a million readers a day. Doctorow has lectured around the globe and has been nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards for his science fiction novels. Doctorow is currently the Canadian Fulbright Chair at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. He was EFF's European Affairs Coordinator until December of 2005. Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist acclaimed for his criticism and commentary on everything from network security to national security. His books -- including the highly influential "Secrets and Lies" and "Applied Cryptography" -- his monthly newsletter, and his security blog have reached hundreds of thousands of people with candid and lucid analysis of security issues. Schneier has often testified before Congress on security policy. "This year's award winners have all provided important analysis and criticism of our digital world, educating the public on how electronic systems really work and what it means to us and our future," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "I'm thrilled to honor Yochai, Cory, and Bruce. They are truly pioneers of the electronic frontier." 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 and to the empowerment of individuals in using computers and the Internet. Past winners include World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Linux creator Linus Torvalds, science fiction writer Bruce Sterling, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, among many others. Benkler, Doctorow, and Schneier were nominated by the public and then chosen by a panel of judges. This year's panel includes Kim Alexander (President and founder, California Voter Foundation), Esther Dyson (Internet court jester and blogger, Release 0.9; founding chairman of ICANN; former chairman of EFF), Mitch Kapor (Chair, Open Source Applications Foundation; co-founder and former chairman EFF), Drazen Pantic (Co-director, Location One), Barbara Simons (IBM Research [Retired] and former presidentACM), James Tyre, (Co-founder, The Censorware Project; EFF policy fellow) and Jimmy Wales, (Founder, Wikipedia; co-founder, Wikia; chair emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation). The Pioneer Awards are sponsored by Gold sponsor Sling Media, the world's leading digital lifestyle company offering consumer services and products. The Pioneer Awards are also sponsored by bronze sponsors JibJab, ( MOG, ( and Six Apart ( Tickets to the Pioneer Awards ceremony are $35. If you plan to attend, RSVP to You can also pay for your tickets in advance at: . Members of the media interested in attending the event should email For more on attending the Pioneer Awards: For this release: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Senate Committee: Broadcasting Treaty Must Be Limited Eighteen months ago, we heard that the controversial proposed WIPO Broadcasting Treaty was not on the radar of U.S. congressional representatives. That has changed, thanks to your letters, and much hard work by a broad coalition of public interest groups, libraries, tech industry groups and consumer electronics corporations. Recently, the Chairman and the Ranking Republican Member of the key Senate Judiciary Committee weighed in. They sent a letter to the Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which make up the U.S.'s delegation to WIPO, expressing their concern with how the current rights-based treaty draft will impact U.S. law and stakeholders, and urged the U.S. delegation to advocate at the next WIPO meeting in June for a revised treaty with a "significantly narrower scope." Read more about the letter here: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Microsoft Attacks Innovators, Not Just Google In a high-profile speech and an op-ed in the Financial Times, Microsoft has gone out of its way to attack Google, claiming that Google's Library Project "systematically violates copyright" and that YouTube "knowingly tolerates piracy." There is something more important here than just the latest spat between these industry titans: the proper relationship between copyright and innovation. In these screeds against Google, Microsoft comes out in favor of "collaboration" -- in other words, asking permission of affected copyright owners before innovating. It attacks Google for "unilateralism" -- in other words, innovating without asking permission first. Microsoft frames the question this way: "should business models that are built on the backs of others' intellectual property choose a path that respects IP, or a path that devalues it?" Of course, that's a loaded question, as it assumes that "respecting IP" is equivalent to "asking permission before innovating." Let's consider all the businesses that are, to a lesser or greater extent, built on the backs of copyrighted content: * MP3 players, iPods * televisions and TV antennas * photocopiers * stereos, speakers, headphones, CD players * audio cassette recorders * TiVo, VCRs * public libraries * reading glasses * art gallery audio tours The common thread between all of them? None of these businesses asked permission from -- or paid a penny in royalties to -- copyright owners. In several of these cases, there had to be lawsuits in order to defend that principle, just as Google is doing now in several of its lawsuits. And it's lucky for Microsoft that prior innovators were willing to go out on a limb and fight for the freedom to innovate without asking permission first -- otherwise Microsoft would have had to ask permission from all the world's websites before it launched Internet Explorer (built on the backs of all the websites, without asking them permission, don't you know). Of course, there's nothing wrong with voluntarily undertaking to do more than copyright law requires, as Microsoft has with its book search product, with the Zune, and with its proposed video service. But it's something else altogether to say that "respect for IP" requires such a thing. In many cases (such as Google's Library Print Project), it does not. Remember, if Google wins the Google Library Project lawsuits, the fair use principle it establishes will benefit everyone, including those who want to scan books to compete with Google. Microsoft's "collaborate" principle, in contrast, will benefit only those companies who are big enough to get big copyright owners to answer their calls -- a world in which Microsoft will have an unfair advantage. So kudos to Google for standing up for fair use. And shame on Microsoft for suggesting that only those who "collaborate" are entitled to innovate. For this post and related links: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * News Round-Up: Sunshine Week Celebrates Public's Right to Know Government accountability supporters throughout the country are preparing to celebrate the public's right to know during Sunshine Week (March 11-17), and it looks like Congress may have the same idea. On Monday, Reps. William Lacy Clay, Todd Russell Platts, and Henry Waxman introduced a bipartisan bill, H.R. 1309, to make several requester- friendly changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which hasn't been significantly updated since 1996. The amendments recently got a thumbs-up from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and could be on the House floor as early as tomorrow. Read more about the bill here: Projects like EFF's FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) project have been working hard to use statutory tools like FOIA and the Privacy Act to uncover the misuse of technology by the state. Josh Richman's overview of FLAG's work in several of Sunday's papers highlights the work our Washington office does, from uncovering the edges of the warrantless wiretapping program to probing the connections between the NSA and Windows Vista's development: EFF's work monitoring Washington developments in the world of technology are helped by many other dedicated sites, like OpenCRS, which distributes the fascinating, but previously restricted, Congressional Research Service reports, and OpenSecrets, which can illustrate Washington connections that are otherwise obscure. (Want to know why Bill Frist was so keen on the audio flag? Inquire within.) Researchers, coalition groups like Open The Government, and the politicians behind H.R. 1309 help keep the tools of exposing government sharp and relevant. Meanwhile, across the Net, hackers and activists have been working to extract, sift, and present whatever information federal and state governments do provide in a way that ordinary citizens can use. There's now a wealth of sources to choose from, from the amazing work by the volunteer-run, to the new OpenCongress that builds on GovTrack's database and more, to the many new APIs that can stitch all of this data together. For more information about these sites: C-SPAN announced last week that its videos of Congressional hearings, White House briefings, and other federal events will be freely available for noncommercial copying, sharing, and posting, so long as attribution is included. According to the C-SPAN press release, the move recognizes that we're in "an age of explosive growth of video file sharers, bloggers and online citizen journalists." This is fantastic news! A considerable helping of the credit belongs to Carl Malamud, who responded to a copyright kerfuffle involving House Speaker Nanci Pelosi's use of C-SPAN hearing footage by writing an open letter to C-SPAN's CEO Brian Lamb challenging him to open up the archives to enable these kinds of public uses of C-SPAN content. Several meetings later, it appears C-SPAN decided to rise to the challenge. Kudos to Carl, and kudos to C-SPAN. This is an amazing bit of public service all around. (Full disclosure: EFF represented Carl in connection with this issue, but we hardly lifted a finger -- all credit goes to Carl.) For more information and related links: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Turkey Takes Away, Then Restores Access to YouTube In January, Brazilian judges found themselves caught in a hailstorm of criticism when attempting to prevent all Brazilians from downloading a salacious video of a celebrity. When a local ISP's only method of obeying the order was blocking all of YouTube from Brazil, Brazilian Net users rose up and complained. The decision was overturned three days later. This week, it was Turkey, whose Istanbul First Criminal Court ordered Turk Telekom to redirect its users away from YouTube to prevent them from seeing a video that poured scorn on Turkey and the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. As in so many cases of government censorship online, Turkey's reaction has affected the free speech rights of thousands of innocent parties. Anti-Ataturk commentary still exists on YouTube and elsewhere, yet the growing legions of Turkish net users were denied access to tools to share their own stories. As one of the four college students who bravely petitioned the court Thursday, Kursat Cetinkoz, said: "Banning access to the Website does not punish those who did that (posted the videos) but the citizens of the Turkish Republic." It looks as if the court will restore access now that one video has been removed. To YouTube's credit, the company did not remove the video. The original poster appears to have deleted it from his or her account. The reaction in Turkey and fear of discovery and retribution to the creator may have played its part in that personal decision. For free speech online to grow, we need to have not only network operators that cannot be intimidated, but also sufficient safety for speakers' anonymity. With Tor and other anti-censorship programs, bypassing the court's censorship was straightforward -- and publishing via anonymizers helps give intimidated speakers the confidence to stand their ground. For this post and related links: : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * miniLinks The week's noteworthy news, compressed. ~ Free Speech Ain't Free Will Franken, RU Sirius, and more appear in an SF EFF benefit. ~ The Hidden Rules of Broadband High-volume users of Comcast find themselves thrown off for breaking an invisible limit. ~ Do the Record Labels Even Have a Digital Strategy? "There's no plan, no sense of direction," one digital retailer executive says. "They're just hoping somebody is going to figure all this out for them." ~ "Pirates" Will Buy Tracks at 20-40 Cents And price analog hole versions of digital tracks as 24 cents cheaper. ~ Who Owns the Live Music of Days Gone By? The New York Times on the licensing morass of live music recordings. ~ The Big Brother State Engaging video of the risks of CCTV and Trusted Computing ~ Idaho Pulls Out of REAL ID, Alaska DMV Sued for Supporting It The rebellion against a national ID system spreads. ~ Cybercrime Treaty: What It Means to Business "Worldwide law-enforcement agencies, in other words, may now avail themselves of the opportunity to outsource their most expensive problems to you.",1540,2100916,00.asp ~ Avi Rubin Demands Verifiable Voting ...on American Idol. : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Administrivia 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) Editor: Derek Slater, Activist Membership & donation queries: General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries: Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent the views 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: This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

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