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EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 22 - Action Alert - Don't Let the Senate Stall the OPEN Government Act


EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 22 - Action Alert - Don't Let the Senate Stall the OPEN Government Act

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 22  June 6, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 426th Issue of EFFector:
  • Action Alert - Don't Let the Senate Stall the OPEN Government Act!
  • Senate Panel Rejects Dangerous Spying Bill, Demands Details of NSA Program
  • Major League Baseball Rattles Sabre at Slingbox
  • Campus Lawsuits Against P2P != Stopping File Sharing
  • iTunes Release Reveals New and Old Problems
  • Attention Returns to Orphan Works
  • miniLinks (15): Google Street View -- Where's the Pro-Privacy Technology?
  • Administrivia
For more information on EFF activities & alerts:

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

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* Action Alert - Don't Let the Senate Stall the OPEN 
Government Act!

A single Senator is blocking legislation that would help 
protect the public's right to know. Bipartisan open 
government legislation has already passed in the House, and 
a similar measure was on its way to the Senate floor until 
Senator John Kyl placed a "hold" on it. Don't let this 
stall tactic stand in the way of government transparency -- 
take action now:

The OPEN Government Act would provide some important 
updates to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a crucial 
tool used to compel the release of government documents. 
This bill will give federal agencies, like the FBI and the 
FCC, greater incentive to follow the law and make it easier 
for all FOIA requesters to access government documents. 
EFF's FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) 
project relies on FOIA to expose the government's expanding 
use of new technologies that invade Americans' privacy, and 
this bill would greatly help in our and other 
organizations' efforts to protect your rights.

Please tell your Senators to help advance this bill to the 
Senate floor immediately:

For news about Senator Kyl's "hold":

For more on EFF's FLAG project:

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* Senate Panel Rejects Dangerous Spying Bill, Demands 
Details of NSA Program

The Senate Intelligence Committee has affirmatively stated 
that it will not consider the Bush Administration's 
dangerous "FISA modernization" surveillance legislation 
until critical details about the NSA spying program are 
revealed. Noting that "the Administration's refusal to 
satisfy these document requests span over a year," the 
Intelligence Committee demanded "the President's orders 
authorizing the warrantless surveillance and the Department 
of Justice's opinions on the legality of the program."

As you may recall, we were concerned last month that the 
Administration's proposal could slip into the Senate's 
intelligence budget authorization. The authorization bill 
and the Committee's report were made public last week, and 
we're pleased to see that it decided against legislating in 
the dark about the still-shadowy surveillance program. 
Thanks to everyone who took the time to call the Senate 
Intelligence Committee to oppose the spying bill.

The Administration isn't about to back down, though, and 
it's critical that Congress keeps pushing back and 
conducting with vigorous investigations into the program. 
Take action now to help stop the illegal spying:

For this post and related links:

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* Latest U.S. Free Trade Agreement Contains New Twist

The U.S. Trade Representative's Office has just released 
the text of the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, and 
it includes a number of decidedly disturbing features.

Since 2002, the last nine free trade agreements have 
required America's trading partners to adopt very specific 
intellectual property laws and to provide a higher level of 
legal protection than international standards embodied in 
multilateral treaties. Like those before it, the U.S.-South 
Korea Free Trade Agreement requires South Korea to create 
an anti-circumvention law mirroring the controversial 
Digital Millennium Copyright Act, extend the copyright term 
to 70 years beyond the life of the author, and create a 
pre-established statutory damages regime for potential 
copyright violations that is likely to chill research and 

But this trade agreement also includes several new 
elements. There are three side letters to the Intellectual 
Property chapter, and the third includes the following 

"The Parties agree on the objective of shutting down 
Internet sites that permit the unauthorized reproduction, 
distribution, or transmission of copyright works, of 
regularly assessing and actively seeking to reduce the 
impact of new technological means for committing online 
copyright piracy, and of providing generally for more 
effective enforcement of intellectual property rights on 
the Internet."

This language is extraordinarily broad: it appears to apply 
not just to websites that are directly infringing 
copyright, but also to any site that can be argued to be 
"permitting" certain activities.

For more on this trade agreement:

For more on the recent history of these agreements: 

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* Major League Baseball Rattles Sabre at Slingbox

You probably have heard of the Slingbox, the innovative 
product that lets you enjoy the TV you've paid for from 
wherever you might be. Well, here's what Michael Mellis, 
senior VP and general counsel for Major League Baseball 
Advanced Media (MLBAM), had to say about the Slingbox in 
last week's issue of The Hollywood Reporter Esq., a weekly 
newspaper for entertainment industry legal eagles:

"Of course, what they are doing is not legal.... We and 
other leagues have formed a group to study the issue and 
plan our response. A lot depends on ongoing discussions. 
Plus, there's no guarantee that Slingbox will be around 
next year. It's a startup."

Apparently MLBAM is upset because a Slingbox might allow 
baseball fans to "circumvent geographical boundaries 
written into broadcast rights deals." (Read: watch games 
that are blacked-out in their areas.) The argument appears 
to be that watching games remotely, even games you've paid 
to watch and that are not blacked out at home, violates the 
contractual fine print that comes with cable and satellite 
sports packages.

In other words, MLBAM thinks that it's against the law for 
baseball fans who have paid for premium sports packages to 
watch while away from home. Once again, the fans that are 
paying their bills are treated like the enemy.

This should sound familiar: an entertainment company 
targeting an innovator by arguing that otherwise law-
abiding fans who use its products are thieves for doing so. 
This same argument was leveled at ReplayTV digital video 
recorder and XM's Inno satellite radio recorder. As usual, 
the "content owner" here appears to believe that innovation 
should be halted until paranoid fears can be allayed. 
(Read: until the innovator pays MLBAM and redesigns the 
product to its specifications.)

For the original version of this post and related links: 

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* Campus Lawsuits Against P2P != Stopping File Sharing

The NPD Group's latest music stats provide yet another 
reason that the RIAA's war on college students is 

"The 'social' ripping and burning of CDs among friends -- 
which takes place offline and almost entirely out of reach 
of industry policing efforts -- accounted for 37 percent of 
all music consumption, more than file-sharing, NPD said."

This data suggests offline sharing is growing, and that's 
to be expected. Along with burning CDs and DVDs for each 
other, fans can swap hard drives, share USB drives, and use 
many other technologies to share music without hopping 
online or installing P2P software. It's only going to get 
easier to share mass volumes of music in this way -- these 
tools are increasingly ubiquitous, with ever-growing 
capacity and ever-diminishing price.

Sure does make the RIAA's recent litigation rampage against 
college students seem silly, doesn't it? The kinds of 
university network surveillance being pushed by the RIAA 
won't make any difference, either. After all, even if 
university administrators unplugged the student body from 
the Internet altogether, that still wouldn't stop students 
from walking out of their dorm rooms with a stack of burned 
DVDs filled with music. In fact, the more the RIAA attacks 
P2P, the more likely fans will simply migrate to these 
alternative channels.

So, short of ubiquitous surveillance (including hand-to-
hand swapping), stopping fans from sharing music is doomed 
to failure.

Isn't it about time we start focusing on the real question: 
how do we ensure that artists and rights holders get 
adequately compensated for the unrestrained copying that is 
an inevitable fact of digital life?

For this post and related links: 

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* iTunes Release Reveals New and Old Problems

Apple released its latest version of iTunes last week and 
started offering DRM-free music through the iTunes Store. 
At the same time, Ars Technica highlighted that Apple is 
embedding personal information, such as the name and email 
address of the purchaser, in the Store's downloads. This is 
true for both the new DRM-free downloads, as well as past 
and current DRM-restricted ones:

For our commentary:

We got curious and wondered whether Apple might also be 
watermarking the underlying audio data in these tracks. 
Read on to learn what we've turned up so far:

Meanwhile, Playlist reports that the latest iTunes breaks 
the "buy-burn-rip-to-MP3" procedure that users have long 
relied on to convert the DRM-restricted songs they buy from 
the iTunes Store into unrestricted MP3s. Apparently, this 
is the result of a bug, rather than a deliberate Apple 
design decision:

Regardless, previous iTunes "upgrades" have resulted in 
deliberate "downgrades." Whether it's breaking the Internet 
streaming feature, restricting the number of streaming 
users per day, or reducing the number of burns permitted 
for songs purchased from the iTunes Store, Apple is among 
the worst offenders when it comes to messing around with 
stuff you've already paid for. 

For more related links:

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* Attention Returns to Orphan Works

An "orphan work" is something currently protected by 
copyright but with an owner who can't be found even with 
diligent searching. Currently, making a copy of an orphan 
work (say, for archiving or republication) or using it to 
create a derivative work (like a compilation or montage) 
could put you at risk of huge statutory damages if the 
owner ever appears and exercises his or her rights. 
Unsurprisingly, many choose not to take that gamble, and 
works with potential useful value are left to languish.

This problem got a lot of attention last year, when the 
Copyright Office issued a report concluding that "the 
orphan work problem is real" and suggesting legislative 
solutions. An Orphan Works Act was introduced last May and 
eventually incorporated into the problematic Copyright 
Modernization Act (CMA). The CMA stalled in September, but 
Congressional attention may yet return to this critical 

In the New York Times last week, U.C. Berkeley professor 
Hal Varian revives the issue, highlighting the economic 
waste it creates:

"The orphan works legislation from the Copyright Office is 
still on the back burner in Congress. Let us hope that it 
soon gets the attention it deserves. Information plays a 
crucial role in today's economy. Making it easy for 
creators and users of information to find each other should 
be a high priority for policy makers."

Read the whole thing here:

For this post and related links:

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* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ Google Street View -- Where's the Pro-Privacy Technology?
Even EFF attorneys get their privacy invaded by street-
watching tech.

~ Face Non-Recognition Technology
An example of what privacy-protection in Google Street View 
might look like.

~ What Google Is Doing With Your Data
The secretive company reveals part of what it does with 
your search term history.

~ On the Receiving End
Ron "Electric Slide" Silver talks about his settlement with 

~ MySpace Seeks Court Order to Release Predator Emails
MySpace asked a Pennsylvania court for advice on how it can 
legally provide local authorities with private email info 
belonging to convicted sex offenders.;_ylt=AlBXonqH4P0koKnla_qd2xEE1vAI

~ FBI Arrests Filesharer
Government goes after pre-release uploader.

~ Facebook v. ConnectU
Blogger Eric Goldman on Facebook's suit against ConnectU 
for harvesting personal info.

~ Software v. Software
A software manufacturer claims that an anti-malware system 
surreptitiously deletes its innocent application.

~ AP Looks to "Protect Copyright Online"
But what practices and which publishers will be targeted 
remains to be seen.

~ YouTube Snags Another Deal
Gets the last of the four major labels.

~ FCC Moves in on the Internet
The FCC claims it has jurisdiction to design "social 
policy" for anything using Internet Protocol.

~ Where the Real Advantage Lies
Real finally wises up and provides stream recording software for Windows.

~ ISPs Make Money From P2P?!
IFPI's Ten Conveniently Uncorroborated "Truths" About 

~ AACS Sued for Patent Violation
Oh, the irony.

~ A Library of Privacy Law
Legal firm Morrison & Foerster produces a free guide to 
privacy law inside and outside the U.S.

~ Open Shakespeare
The Open Knowledge Foundation is providing the complete 
works of Shakespeare in an open form, so that anyone can 
use, share, or comment on the Bard's words freely.

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* 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)	

Derek Slater, Activism Coordinator	

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