The bill recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee is a reckless attempt to attack online streaming by focusing on the "unlawful public performance" area of copyright law. By increasing the criminal penalties for certain online public performances, the bill will impose a chilling effect around the posting and creation of online video. Moreover, it will hamper the pace of innovation as users, websites, and investors cope with the uncertainty of running afoul of one of the more vague sections of copyright law. If you're in the US, act now and tell your Senators to oppose this shortsighted bill!
EFF has urged a federal court to block the government's attempt to force a woman to enter a password into an encrypted laptop. During the investigation, the government seized the device from the home she shares with her family, and then asked the court to compel the woman to type the password into the computer or turn over a decrypted version of her data. But EFF told the court that the demand is unconstitutional, violating her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Citizens seeking freedom in Syria are relying on digital tools to organize and communicate—so much so that the Syrian government temporarily shut off Internet access. Yet while the U.S. Treasury Department amended trade restrictions on personal communications tools in the case of Iran, Sudan, and Cuba, it remains silent about Syria. This must change. It's time for the Obama administration to make clear that the U.S. government will not block Syrians' access to the digital communication and information tools they need to help them build a more free society.
A coalition of content industry players and ISPs recently announced a "six-strikes" effort that gives warnings, notices, and penalties to users thought to be involved in unauthorized copying. But the PR materials put out by the group are more telling for what they don't say than what they do.
Two major American companies—Microsoft and Cisco—appear to be choosing to become little tech helpers to China's repressive regime, rather than choosing to be a force for good. The decisions to favor the Chinese government over its own people are wrong, and we urge both companies to reconsider.
EFF and other public interest groups have responded to concerns about the impact of privacy regulations on businesses, explaining to prominent Senators that helping consumers feel confident in their privacy will encourage greater participation and innovation in the online economy.
EFF has long opposed the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty, which would harm consumers, citizen journalists, and the free flow of information on the Internet by giving broadcasters an additional, copyright-like layer of rights on content they transmit. After a long period of hibernation, the treaty has returned, threatening to create new rules that will stifle the distribution of information on the Internet.
Spotify is a music service (like Rhapsody, Rdio, or Mog) that allows users to stream unlimited music from multiple devices, make and keep playlists, and store music on mobile devices. EFF is glad to see more choices for music fans—and hopefully more ways for artists to be paid—but there are still concerns, like users' rights to port their data. Because streaming customers generally do not "own" their music, they cannot take it with them. We urge these new content companies to continue innovating for the user with better tools, more data portability, and smoother interoperability.
The patent reform legislation that continues to snake its way through Congress makes one thing clear: many in Washington don’t like business method patents. But now that the House and Senate have each passed their own version of the bill, the two will need to be reconciled. The big issue standing in the way is whether the Patent Office will be allowed to keep the additional fees it brings in that exceed its budget (as in the Senate bill), or whether Congress can use that money to fund other government programs (as in the House bill).
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and several other organizations released documents from a FOIA lawsuit that expose the concerted efforts of the FBI and DHS to build "Next Generation Identification"—a massive database of personal and biometric information. Despite promises from the agencies, the government's continuing efforts to collect, store, and track the biometric data for so many Americans and foreigners cannot bode well for a society that values privacy.
Paley's film "Sita Sings the Blues" was unavailable on YouTube in Germany, even though she paid for—and possesses—worldwide rights to the music in contention. ("Sita Sings the Blues" has since been restored, largely thanks to the buzz generated by Paley's protest video.)
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If you have concerns about security research you plan to present in Las Vegas during Black Hat please contact us by Friday, July 22. If we can't assist you, we'll make every effort to put you in touch with an attorney who can.
EFF is in the OSCON Dot Org Pavillion at booth 916! Stop by to say hello and learn about our latest work. You can even take advantage of event-only offers and sign up as a member on the spot!
Location: Portland, OR
Date: July 25-29, 2011
DEFCON is the world's largest annual hacker convention, held each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. EFF will be there again this year! Our staff members always have interesting presentations, talks, and panel discussions, and this year will be no exception!
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Date: August 4-7, 2011