Skip to main content
Podcast Episode: Open Source Beats Authoritarianism

EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 5 - EFF Warns ABC to Back Off Blogger


EFFector - Volume 20, Issue 5 - EFF Warns ABC to Back Off Blogger

EFFector Vol. 20, No. 5  January 30, 2007

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 411th Issue of EFFector:
  • EFF Warns ABC to Back Off Blogger
  • Sen. Rockefeller Promises Scrutiny of NSA Spying Program
  • Worst Practices for Online Service Providers
  • The Right Way to Respond to Parody
  • Record Labels: Licensing File Sharing Isn't So Crazy After All
  • HDCP, Screwing Fans in More Ways Than Ever
  • The Broadcasting Treaty Creeps Forward Despite Disagreement
  • Roll Call Op-Ed: E-Voting Transparency Needed Now
  • Maine Rejects Real ID
  • Andy Griffith for Attorney General!
  • DMCA Reformist to Speak at Stanford This Friday
  • miniLinks (10): DMCA for China?
  • 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 

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* EFF Warns ABC to Back Off Blogger

Bogus Copyright Infringement Claims Violate Law

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
warned ABC, Inc., last week not to pursue its bogus 
copyright infringement claims against 'Spocko' -- a blogger 
who sparked nationwide debate over a San Francisco radio 
station -- and asked the media giant to retract its 
baseless threats.

The free speech battle began when Spocko posted audio clips 
of what he deemed to be offensive talk-radio rhetoric from 
ABC-owned and San Francisco-based KSFO-AM on his blog at In response, ABC, Inc., sent a 
threatening letter to the blogger's hosting company, 
claiming that copyright law prevented Spocko from posting 
the clips. The hosting company responded by shutting 
Spocko's website down, forcing him to move to a different 
provider. In a letter sent to ABC, Inc., last Thursday, EFF 
warned that further false copyright claims could compel 
Spocko to take action to protect his free speech rights.

"Copyright law is not designed to silence speech that you 
dislike," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "ABC and 
KSFO know that their legal threats were absolutely 
groundless. Their time and efforts are better spent 
explaining why they think Spocko is wrong, and letting the 
public decide, instead of resorting to thuggish legal 

EFF's letter to ABC is the latest development in its 
ongoing campaign to protect online free speech from the 
chilling effects of bogus copyright claims. In November, 
EFF reached an agreement with the corporate owners of the 
popular children's television character Barney the Purple 
Dinosaur to withdraw meritless legal threats against a 
website publisher who parodied the character.

For the full letter to ABC:

For more on Spocko: 

For this release:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Sen. Rockefeller Promises Scrutiny of NSA Spying Program

Over five years since it first began, the NSA's massive 
domestic spying program remains shrouded in secrecy. 
Despite the President's determination to dodge meaningful 
oversight, key members of the newly elected Congress may 
soon take steps to rein in this illegal activity.

In an interview with the LA Times, Senator John 
Rockefeller, the new Chairman of the Senate Intelligence 
Committee, "rejected the Bush administration's claim that 
it had brought a controversial domestic spying program into 
compliance with the law, saying he wanted strict new rules 
requiring the government to obtain a separate warrant every 
time it places a wiretap on a U.S. resident."

The article also notes that "the committee recently 
designated eight members of its staff to examine the NSA 
program and to begin drafting new requests for documents 
that the Bush administration had refused to turn over to 
the panel -- including the initial presidential order 
authorizing the domestic surveillance program."

Take action now to support immediate and thorough 
investigations into the NSA spying program:

For this post and related links: 

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Worst Practices for Online Service Providers

In an instant,, including thousands of pages, 
vanished from the Internet this week. And if your online 
service providers have as weak a backbone as GoDaddy, the 
same thing could happen to your site.

Here's the story (as recounted by A list of 
MySpace user names and passwords began floating around 
online weeks ago, including in a post. Rather 
than ask's owner, Fyodor Vaskovich, to remove 
a single offending page, MySpace wrote to his domain name 
registrar GoDaddy, which shut down all 250,000 

Did GoDaddy demand to receive a court order first? Was it 
at any legal risk? No. Apparently all it took was a single 
informal request from MySpace, and was gone, a 
mere 52 seconds after GoDaddy notified Vaskovich.

"I think the fact that we gave him notice at all was pretty 
generous," said GoDaddy's general counsel Christine Jones, 
in what has to be in the running for most ironic comment of 
the week.

All too often, that's what passes for customer service when 
your free speech is at stake. Internet intermediaries owe 
their customers more than that. GoDaddy should have given 
Vaskovich meaningful notice, time, and information to 
respond, and it should have been willing to stand up for 
his rights.

Read the article for more:

Check out EFF's Best Practices for Online Service Providers 
for more on how companies like GoDaddy ought to behave:

For this post and related links: 

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* The Right Way to Respond to Parody

Recently, Darren Barefoot posted Get a First Life, a 
hysterical parody of virtual world Second Life's website. 
Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life, responded with a 
letter that is so right-thinking and clever that it would 
horrify the over-reaching copyright and trademark holders 
whose missives litter the archives of

Instead of a cease-and-desist letter, Linden Labs sent a 
proceed-and-permit letter:

This letter is exactly what we would hope companies might 
do when faced with a parody. Not only does it acknowledge 
that the site is a fair use, it also provides an explicit 
license for trademark use. Kudos to Linden Labs, and shame 
on the rights holders who claim that they have to go after 
anyone who makes any use of their copyrights or trademarks.

For this post and related links: 

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :
* Record Labels: Licensing File Sharing Isn't So Crazy 
After All

Nearly three years ago, EFF published a paper advocating 
voluntary collective licensing for P2P, a system that would 
get artists paid and allow fans to keep sharing music 
however they like for a flat fee. According to this 
International Herald Tribune article, it seems the major 
record labels may finally be coming around to this sensible 

Along with the labels' considering an end to digital rights 
management (DRM) restrictions for downloads, this is a good 
sign, and we hope it's more than just talk. While the 
labels could already be adopting this business model and 
getting artists paid, they have instead continued to drag 
their feet, filing futile lawsuits against ordinary fans 
and seeking restrictive DRM mandates in Congress. Their DRM 
strategy is failing, yet the harm done by the Digital 
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) remains.

It was high time for a better way forward when we published 
our paper three years ago -- let's hope it's not another 
three years before the labels actually head down that path, 
and we can start to undo the damage of this wasted time.

For this post and related links:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* HDCP, Screwing Fans in More Ways Than Ever

In a recent article, Ars Technica explains some of the many 
ways that HDCP DRM restrictions will break compatibility 
with your digital video devices. HDCP restricts connections 
to video displays through DVI (including HDMI) digital 
outputs, so that video content can only be outputted to 
hobbled, DRM-restricted systems. You may have invested 
thousands of dollars in HD displays and receivers, but HDCP 
could force you to throw them out and buy new ones.

Along with intentionally limiting the devices you can use, 
HDCP also produces arbitrary and unpredictable 
incompatibilities. Ars provides a few examples:

For this post and related links: 

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* The Broadcasting Treaty Creeps Forward Despite 

It's been just over a week since the World Intellectual 
Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on 
Copyright and Related Rights met in Geneva with the 
intention of finalizing a new draft Broadcasting Treaty. 
This draft is supposed to be the basis of negotiations at 
an inter-governmental Diplomatic Conference scheduled for 
November. However, after three days of intense meetings, 
it's impossible to say with any certainty what a new 
version of the treaty would say.

The proposed Broadcasting Treaty could take one of two 
approaches (or perhaps fall somewhere unsatisfyingly in-
between). At one end of the spectrum, there's the current 
draft's dangerous "rights-based" approach that would lock-
down devices like TiVos and curtail consumers' rights to 
make use of recorded video and audio. At the other end of 
the spectrum is a signal theft approach that would provide 
for narrower, tailored remedies against intentional 
unauthorized interception and redistribution of a broadcast 

As we've previously reported, there is widespread support 
for moving towards a signal-based treaty that should differ 
considerably from the current draft. That, of course, 
requires agreement on a new treaty text. If WIPO Member 
States can't reach agreement, two things are possible. 
First, there might not be a Diplomatic Conference later 
this year. That was the understanding of WIPO Deputy 
Director General Michael Keplinger at the meeting, and 
would seem entirely appropriate if there is no agreement 
after nine years of negotiations. Alternatively, and 
perhaps more likely, there might still be a Diplomatic 
Conference to negotiate on the current anti-innovation, 
anti-consumer rights-based draft. That would be the worst 
possible outcome for the Internet community.

So where to from here? Read the rest of the post for more:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Roll Call Op-Ed: E-Voting Transparency Needed Now

The Election Assistance Commission is charged with ensuring 
that our voting systems are reliable and secure. Each 
machine is supposed to be subjected to rigorous tests 
before being certified, and the EAC was recently empowered 
to oversee that process.

At least that's the theory. As Aaron Burstein and Joseph 
Lorenzo Hall show in their recent opinion piece in Roll 
Call, however, the revelation that the EAC de-certified a 
major testing company (Ciber) in the summer of 2006 but did 
not notify election officials until long after the election 
demonstrates that EAC suffers from a culture of secrecy.

The EAC recently announced a new policy that not only fails 
to ensure transparency in the future, but also 
affirmatively allows it to shield from the public important 
information about how and why voting systems are tested and 
certified. Manufacturers are allowed to deal with test labs 
privately, keeping communications secret. While the EAC is 
publishing test lab reports, it is refusing to publish the 
test plans it used to certify a voting system -- and 
without that knowledge, the public cannot know whether the 
tests were in fact rigorous or accurate enough.

As Burstein and Hall note, in the case of Ciber, the 
results of EAC's secrecy were that approximately 70% of 
voters in the November 2006 election used equipment that 
had been "certified" by a company that the EAC de-certified 
months before the election. Who knows what the next problem 
will be? As Burstein and Hall put it: "Secrecy isn't 
working for the EAC or democracy -- and there is no reason 
to think it will in the future."

For the editorial:

For this post and related links:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Maine Rejects Real ID

The Real ID Act took a blow last week, when Maine became 
the first state to formally declare its opposition. The 
Maine legislature voted overwhelmingly to refuse to comply 
with the act's mandates, and requested that Congress repeal 
the law.

The Real ID Act essentially forces states to create a 
national ID. Under the law, state drivers licenses will 
only be accepted for "federal purposes" -- like accessing 
planes, trains, national parks, and court houses -- if they 
conform to certain uniform standards. The law also requires 
a vast national database linking all of the ID records 
together. Estimated costs of $12 billion or more will be 
passed on to the states and, ultimately, average citizens 
in the form of increased DMV fees or taxes.

"It's not only a huge federal mandate, but it's a huge 
mandate from the federal government asking us to do 
something we don't have any interest in doing," said 
Maine's House Majority Leader Hanna Pingree.

Meanwhile, opposition in other states is growing. Similar 
measures rejecting the Real ID Act are under consideration 
in 11 states, including Montana, Georgia, Massachusetts and 
Washington state.

For information about the dangers of Real ID:

For this post and related links:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* Andy Griffith for Attorney General!

This YouTube clip from the Andy Griffith Show is the sort 
of civics lesson that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales 
would do well to study: 

Guilherme Roschke from the Electronic Privacy Information 
Center (EPIC) has some background (via

"I shared the video with my colleagues here at the 
Electronic Privacy Information Center. With some digging, 
one of my colleagues figured out that this show aired on 
October 30, 1967. That's two weeks after the Supreme Court 
heard the oral arguments in Katz vs. United States. The FBI 
had tapped a phone booth without a warrant, and convicted a 
gambler based on that. The Katz court overturned the 
conviction, stating that the 4th amendment prohibits this 
sort of a wiretap without a warrant."

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* DMCA Reformist to Speak at Stanford This Friday

Rep. Rick Boucher, who has long proposed legislation to 
reform the DMCA, will deliver a speech at Stanford Law 
School on Friday entitled, "Congress Must Balance its 
Copyright Agenda." More information is available here:

Take action to support DMCA reform now:

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* miniLinks
The week's noteworthy news, compressed.

~ DMCA for China?
A new copyright law would make it an offense in China to 
"break encryption set by copyright owners."

~ Los Angeles AACS to Pursue DRM Circumventors
Says it will use "both technical and legal measures." So, 
will they be suing their own members for leaving the title 
keys in the clear?

~ Vista's New DRM Crumbles
Alex Ionescu bypasses the driver-signing requirement for 
playing Vista premium content. This would mean that you 
could play HD movies using open source hardware, except 
that Alex is cagey about publishing with the DMCA hanging 
over his head.

~ Vista's Fine Print
Michael Geist on the legal agreements buried in Microsoft 
Vista's EULA.

~ We've Got a Warrant Now, Can You Leave Us Alone?
The government seeks to dismiss the ACLU's NSA spying 
program lawsuit after obtaining a secret order from a 
secret court.

~ Gonzalez Claims Constitution Has Fine Print
It doesn't grant habeas corpus, he says, in defiance of the 

~ Hillary Clinton on Privacy
Wants to introduce an EU-style data protection bill and 
suggests that dragnet surveillance might be conducted in an 
"anonymized" way.

~ Pontiac Donates to EFF?
Detroit's local newspaper covers a strange twist to a 
Pontiac Second Life experiment.

~ Diebold Shows How to Make Your Own Voting Machine Key
Diebold's pictures of replacement e-voting keys are 
sufficient to construct them yourself.

~ Publishers Plan Dirty Tactics Against Open Science
PR's "pit bull" gives his ideas for fighting the free 
dissemination of scientific works.

: . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . :

* 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, 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 
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 

Click here to change your email address:

This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

To unsubscribe from all future email, paste the following URL into your browser: 

Back to top

JavaScript license information