EFF in the News
Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for tech companies and Internet users, defended Real's pursuit of the case. He said Real could have provided real benefit to consumers, if not with RealDVD, then eventually with a DVD player that would have incorporated some of the software's copying abilities. Real was working on a player, codenamed Facet, which would have created copies of DVDs and stored more than 70 films on its hard drive.
"(Real's testimony) made it clear that Real was out to deliver to consumers a product that people wanted to see," von Lohmann said. "I think the message this sends is if you get into the business of enabling consumers to do with DVDs what they've long done with CDs, you'll get sued out of the business. I think that's bad news for consumers. What that means is that if you want to create a digital back-up of your movies, you have to pay for that a second time on iTunes."
The ruling highlights tensions between the U.S. and Europe when it comes to privacy standards, said Eddan Katz, international affairs director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. And it could to lead to the U.S. being unable to let similar legislation pass, he said, given that "this was an experiment that was tried and as a matter of constitutional law rejected."
Performance issues aside, Apple has registered its formal opposition to jailbreaking under the cloak of copyright, claiming the act is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This claim has been disputed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and open source Web browser developer Mozilla, which has called Apple’s restrictions both harmful to innovation and an improper application of DMCA rules. Apple has thus far taken no legal action against users who jailbreak their phones, nor against any jailbreak-enablers, including the iPhone Dev Team, which has managed to jailbreak every iPhone OS update to date.
Meanwhile, the EFF and Mozilla have asked the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption specifically permitting installation of legal apps on iPhones. The Office listened to arguments on both sides in a May 2009 hearing, but has missed its own October projection for a decision and has yet to issue its opinion.
Corynne McSherry, an EFF lawyer representing Lenz, called the ruling a victory.
"I think what's important here is that someone who's had their speech chilled can move forward and bring a lawsuit under 512(f)," said McSherry.
Lenz then teamed with online free-speech advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation to get a judge to declare that her video was a "fair use" of the song. She then sought damages against Universal, the world's biggest record company, for sending a meritless takedown request.
"This isn't about who won the Olympic gold yesterday; this is for sharing what happened to me as well," said Michael Barclay, a California patent attorney and a fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"That is pretty broad. I would not be surprised if someone had been doing just what is in this patent before 2006."
The National Coalition Against Censorship and the Electronic Frontier Foundation both chimed in this week in support of Greenfield.
"If a user community video is flagged as inappropriate, YouTube should at least have an appeals process to allow an artist to explain the artistic merit," EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl wrote on the organization's blog. "While we understand YouTube's desire to keep pornography off its servers, it must also understand that not all nude art is pornographic."
This and other intelligence-activity disclosures appear in heavily redacted documents that were released to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They came in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act project the organization is conducting to obtain oversight information from intelligence agencies.
EFF received more than 800 pages from intelligence oversight reports created by the Defense Department inspector general that examine actions, conducted by various branches of the department, that are believed to be illegal.
"There are physical and economic safety risks when you're publicizing to the world where you are," says Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It's obviously a treasure trove of information for criminals. PleaseRobMe is a good demonstration of how easy it is."
Regardless, Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who focuses on privacy, said the message of Please Rob Me is still important.
"There is clearly a privacy issue here _ one they are trying to shed light on," he said.