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EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 18 - Spoon-Bending 'Paranormalist' Illegally Twists Copyright Law


EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 18 - Spoon-Bending 'Paranormalist' Illegally Twists Copyright Law

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 18  May 9, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 422nd Issue of EFFector:

  • Spoon-Bending 'Paranormalist' Illegally Twists Copyright Law
  • Corporate Critic Fights to Keep Internet Anonymity
  • Hearing on Electronic Voting Violations in California Election
  • Public Opposition to National ID Floods Government Agency
  • CNN To Free Debate Footage for Remixing, Re-Use
  • Virtual Classes on Cyberlaw
  • Support EFF: New Bloggers' Rights Shirts Now Available
  • EFF at Maker Faire, May 19-20
  • miniLinks (7): The AACS Number and Human Rights Activism
  • 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 

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 Spoon-Bending 'Paranormalist' Illegally Twists Copyright 

Uri Geller Makes Bogus Copyright Claims to Silence YouTube 

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
filed suit Tuesday against Uri Geller -- the 
"paranormalist" famous for seemingly bending spoons with 
his mind -- on behalf of a YouTube critic who was silenced 
by Geller's baseless copyright claims.

EFF's client, Brian Sapient, belongs to a group called the 
"Rational Response Squad," which is dedicated to debunking 
what it calls irrational beliefs. As part of their mission, 
Sapient and others post videos to YouTube that they say 
demonstrate this irrationality. One of the videos that 
Sapient uploaded came from a NOVA program called "Secrets 
of the Psychics," which challenges the performance 
techniques of Geller.

Despite the fact that only three seconds of the over 
thirteen-minute video contain footage allegedly under 
copyright owned by Geller's corporation Explorogist Ltd. -- 
a classic fair use of the material for criticism purposes -
- Geller filed a takedown demand with YouTube under the 
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). That violates the 
DMCA requirement that copyright holders only send takedown 
notices for infringing content.

"Uri Geller may not like it when people question his 
paranormal abilities. However, he is not allowed to stifle 
public criticism by misusing the law," said EFF Staff 
Attorney Marcia Hoffman. "If the publication of a video 
does not infringe his copyright, then he cannot block its 
use -- it's as simple as that."

Because of Geller's unlawful DMCA notice, Sapient's YouTube 
account was suspended, and his videos were not available 
for over two weeks. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, EFF asks 
for damages due to Geller's violation of the DMCA, a 
declaratory judgment that the NOVA video does not infringe 
Geller's copyrights, and that Geller be restrained from 
bringing any further legal action against Sapient in 
connection to the clip.

"We've seen a rash of people abusing the DMCA lately, 
attempting to take down legitimate criticism and commentary 
online," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "To allow 
thin-skinned public figures like Uri Geller to abuse this 
system forces critics to remain silent and creates unfair 
hurdles for free speech to thrive online."

This lawsuit is part of EFF's ongoing work to protect 
online free speech in the face of bogus copyright claims. 
EFF is currently working with Stanford's Fair Use Project 
to develop a set of "best practices" for proper DMCA 
takedowns. At EFF's suggestion, media giant Viacom set up 
an email "hotline" to help users who believe their videos 
have been improperly ensnared in a takedown campaign.

For the full complaint against Uri Geller and Explorogist 

For this release:

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 Corporate Critic Fights to Keep Internet Anonymity

Chemical Company on Quest to Identify Online Speaker

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
and the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) have 
asked a California appeals court to scrutinize a chemical 
company's attempt to strip the anonymity from a participant 
in an online message board.

The participant posted information that H.B. Fuller Co. 
claims could only have been obtained through a company 
"town hall meeting," in violation of an employee 
confidentiality agreement. However, the poster has 
submitted a declaration to the court swearing that he or 
she is not an employee and that the information posted on 
the message board could have been gleaned from any follower 
of Fuller's business practices.

A lower court ruled the message board poster should be 
identified to Fuller. In an amicus brief filed last 
Wednesday, however, EFF and CFAC argue that the lower court 
undervalued the right to anonymity and set a dangerously 
low threshold for stripping Internet users of its 

"Liberal protection for the right to engage in anonymous 
communication  to speak, read, listen, and associate 
anonymously  is fundamental to a free society," said EFF 
Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "That is why courts must 
strike the appropriate balance between the competing 
interests of subpoenaing parties and the anonymous speakers 
they seek to unmask, recognizing that once an online user's 
anonymity and privacy have been eviscerated, they cannot be 

EFF and CFAC urged the appeals court to adopt a test for 
this case and others that would protect the rights of 
Internet critics. That test should include notice to the 
anonymous speaker, an assessment of the merits of the legal 
claims and other alternatives for finding the source of 
harm, and careful consideration of the balance of harms.

For the full amicus brief in Fuller v. Doe:

For more on anonymity on the Internet:

For this release:

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 Hearing on Electronic Voting Violations in California 

Alameda County May Face Sanctions for Failure to Preserve 
E-Voting Data

Oakland, Calif. - Last Friday a California judge considered 
potential sanctions against Alameda County for failing to 
preserve critical voting machine-related data in a lawsuit 
challenging the county's recount procedures following a 
close race conducted on Diebold electronic voting machines 
in the 2004 general election.

Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith ruled last month that 
county officials violated both the Elections Code and the 
California Constitution when they refused to make audit 
logs and other relevant data available for a recount. The 
county also returned voting machines to Diebold Election 
Systems without preserving the corresponding data, despite 
the ongoing the legal battle over the recount for Measure 

Measure R, a citizens' initiative, would have addressed the 
operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley. 
The measure lost by under 200 votes. Americans for Safe 
Access, a medical marijuana group, and three Berkeley 
voters asked to see the copies of the votes stored in the 
voting units, the audit logs from those machines, the 
results of Logic & Accuracy system tests, and the chain-of-
custody records for system components. Although California 
Elections Code provides that a voter may examine "all 
ballots ... and any other relevant material as part of any 
recount," former Alameda County Registrar Bradley Clark 
refused to provide any of this "relevant material." 
Americans for Safe Access and the Berkeley voters filed 

"Judge Smith's decision is potent vindication of the 
people's right to control their elections and a firm rebuke 
of the culture of secrecy surrounding electronic voting," 
said Gregory Luke of Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, attorney 
for Americans for Safe Access and the suit's three other 
plaintiffs. "Having found that the county violated the 
voters' right to a recount, the court must now address the 
shocking fact that the county disposed of the electronic 
copies of the votes while this lawsuit was still pending."

The voter-plaintiffs have asked the court to order the 
county to return the $22,000 they were required to pay for 
the recount and, if the county is unable to locate the 
electronic copies of the votes, to place Measure R back on 
the ballot.

"Requirements to preserve the transparency of the electoral 
process are especially important when electronic voting 
systems are used," said Electronic Frontier Foundation 
(EFF) Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Aside from the 
widespread problems that have been documented with these 
types of machines in the past, without the ability to 
review even the limited evidence that these machines 
generate, the public would lose further confidence in the 
process. The court has flatly rejected the shortsighted 
arguments of the county about its election-related 
obligations. The county should further be held accountable 
for any failures to safeguard the digital record of the 
2004 election."

For this release:

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 Public Opposition to National ID Floods Government Agency

Thousands of individuals fought back against a national ID 
by sending comments to the Department of Homeland Security 
(DHS) this week. The groundswell of grassroots opposition 
is a crucial step towards stopping the REAL ID Act, which 
would force states to standardize drivers' licenses and 
create massive, interlinked databases of your personal 

And that's not the only good news on this front. This week, 
Colorado became the eighth state to officially reject 
implementation of this 23 billion dollar federal 
boondoggle. It also seems that Congress is starting to get 
the message, as the Senate Judiciary Committee held a 
hearing focusing on the privacy and civil liberties 
concerns raised by the Act on Tuesday.

We need your help to keep the momentum going. Visit our 
Action Center and tell Congress to repeal REAL ID now:

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 CNN To Free Debate Footage for Remixing, Re-Use

When the presidential debates are aired by CNN on June 3rd 
and 5th, the public will be able to edit, remix, parody and 
publish the footage -- without worrying about copyright 
violation. CNN has pledged to make debate footage available 
to the public "without restriction":

CNN's decision comes on the heels of an open letter from a 
broad coalition of scholars, public advocates, and Internet 
entrepreneurs calling for the release of all debate footage 
under a Creative Commons license. Several major candidates 
have also joined the call:

This fight isn't over yet, however. Not all future debates 
will be hosted by CNN.If MSNBC's rules concerning re-use of 
footage of the May 3rd debate footage get picked up by 
other stations, some of the important discourse concerning 
the election of our next President will remain locked up by 
big media companies:

For this post:

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 Virtual Classes on Cyberlaw

Learn cyberlaw without leaving cyberspace through the State 
of Play Academy. The Academy offers free classes through 
the virtual world The Spring Semester has 
already started and runs through June 8.

The virtual classes will teach you the sort of fascinating 
stuff your real college never gets around to offering, like 
"Claims of Copyright Misuse based on First Amendment 
Interests," "The Viacom-Youtube Lawsuit," and "Election 
2008 and the Remix Culture." EFF staff attorney Kevin 
Bankston is signed up to teach a class called "Every Move 
You Make: Location Tracking and the Law."

More information, including how to log on and participate 
in SOPA classes, at:

For this post:

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 Support EFF: New Bloggers' Rights Shirts Now Available

EFF's Bloggers' Rights Campaign has scored some big 
victories, and now you can show your support by picking up 
one of EFF's new bloggers' rights T-shirts. Shirts are 
black, available in women's and men's styles, and come in 
all sizes. Buy a shirt for $25 from the EFF shop, or get it 
as part of your membership:

Learn more about the Bloggers' Rights Campaign:

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 EFF at Maker Faire, May 19-20

If you're going to O'Reilly's Maker Faire on May 19-20 in 
San Mateo, California, be sure to stop by EFF's booth. Grab 
some schwag and chat with us about all things digital 
rights -- we look forward to seeing you!

For more on the Maker Faire:

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The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ The AACS Number and Human Rights Activism
Ethan Zuckerman ponders the digital civil disobedience over 
the HD-DVD processing key and spreading other important 
information across the censored web.

~ Secret Court Wiretap Orders Up, Up, Up
Wired makes a link between the growing numbers of wiretaps 
and the new moves on telco immunity.

~ Mooninites, Meet the Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act
Ridiculous fallout from Boston's lite-brite bomb scare.

~ Exporting IP
The New Yorker looks at the restrictive IP laws exported by 
America's "free trade" agreements.

~ Privacy International Announces 2007 Big Brother Awards
Winners: Choicepoint, the UK, and the International Civil 
Aviation Organization. Losers: everyone else.

~ Congress Threatens Colleges With Anti-P2P Law
Sends questionnaire to 20 schools asking entirely loaded 

~ Why the 09ers Are Upset
Ed Felten spells out the outrage at the AACS-LA legal 

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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, Activism Coordinator	       

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