EFF in the News
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a big fan of naming and shaming... So when it wanted to highlight the overzealous use of DMCA takedown notices on the Web, the EFF went a similar route with its new "Takedown Hall of Shame."
But even after the Yes Men acknowledged the hoax, the press release remained online, and the Chamber couldn't help but toss a DMCA takedown at the pranksters' ISP. Those net watchdogs at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) cried foul over the takedown notice, arguing that parody is protected under copyright law and the US Constitution's First Amendment.
The Net watchdogs at EFF have come out against the Chamber's DMCA tactics, demanding the takedown notice be rescinded. "We are very disappointed the Chamber of Commerce decided to respond to political criticism with legal threats," EFF staff attorney Corynne McSherry said from inside a press release.
"Google will know what pages you read and how often you read it," says Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented authors in the settlement with Google. "Google has come out with a policy saying it promises to protect our privacy, but it doesn't have any specific commitments -- it's pretty thin gruel."
While the largest library organizations are not signatories to the letter, among the signers are the Urban Libraries Council; the networks Lyrasis, Nylink, and BCR; and the Open Book Alliance, (OBA) which includes the New York Library Association and SLA. Among the other signatories are the American Society of Journalists and Authors; the Electronic Frontier Foundation; Microsoft; Yahoo; law professor Pamela Samuelson; and various foreign publishing societies.
The digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation fired back a letter on behalf of the Yes Men, arguing that the site is protected by fair use principles because it "is obviously designed for purposes of criticism and comment."
"Meritless cases brought by law enforcement officers, amounting to little more than publicity stunts with little to no chance of success, do little to address the officers' underlying concerns," Matt Zimmerman , a senior staff attorney with the EFF, wrote in a blog post. "Service provides are not liable because Congress correctly understood that the soap box should not be held responsible for the speech of others. Just as phone companies are not liable for harassing phone calls, or e-mail software providers for deceptive messages, online message boards like Craigslist are in most instances not liable for their users' posts."
But lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation are telling the Chamber to cool off about the whole affair.
What's the furor about? The Yes Men staged a fake press conference this week at the National Press Club in Washington. A "Yes Man" calling himself "Hingo Sembra" actually took to the podium in front of reporters to announce the Chamber's shift on climate change, only to have the whole spectacle turn truly bizarre when a real Chamber official showed up.
There is yet another way that copyright owners could get ISPs to help in their antipiracy efforts, according to Gwen Hinze, international policy director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
While prostitution is a serious problem, targeting websites like Craigslist is simply "a cheap and easy way to score political points," wrote Matt Zimmerman of the advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"Meritless cases brought by law enforcement officers, amounting to little more than publicity stunts with little to no chance of success, do little to address the officers' underlying concerns," he wrote in a blog posting.
"Service provides are not liable because Congress correctly understood that the soap box should not be held responsible for the speech of others."