EFF in the News
"Studios have a tremendous tool in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows them to send a notice and get the relief they desire," said Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights advocacy group that backed Google in the case. "Whether you are Viacom or a small rights-holder, that tool remains available."
It's not just Google and Twitter who think the concept is impractical in today's Internet world: the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that the hot news doctrine tramples core principles from the First Amendment.
But civil rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation is not convinced the fight against piracy is its prime motivation.
"The USCG attorneys bringing these suits are not affiliated with any major entertainment companies, but are instead intent on building a lucrative business model from collecting settlements from the largest possible set of individual defendants," said a spokeswoman for the body.
"We've long been concerned that some attorneys would attempt to create a business by cutting corners in mass copyright lawsuits against fans, shaking settlements out of people who aren't in a position to raise legitimate defences," it added.
"This Court should recognize that the hot news doctrine implicates core First Amendment principles: an injunction issued under the hot news doctrine plainly contemplates restricting publication of newsworthy facts," wrote the EFF in its own amicus brief. "Applying heightened First Amendment scrutiny in hot news cases, particularly in the online context, will help ensure that the doctrine serves that purpose. It should not be used to stifle common journalistic practices and new forms of commentary, curation, and information sharing online."
KEVIN BANKSTON: How protected is the data that these companies, be it your cell phone company or a location-based service such as a mapping company or a friend-finding service, how long are they keeping this data? And what legal protections apply to this data?
It's also a service that better resonates with the Web's natural aversion to censorship, far more than Fertik's original offer to "destroy" online content. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Kevin Bankston told us when we first wrote about ReputationDefender and MyEdge in 2007, "the best answer to bad speech is always more speech."
In April, the administration released a limited, working draft of the ever-mutating proposal after European Union officials began demanding transparency. Yet the associated documents that go along with crafting and negotiating an international treaty have been kept secret, despite Freedom of Information Act requests from Knowledge Ecology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Wired.com.
EFF lawyer Corynne McSherry, who signed the brief on behalf of all parties, was yesterday admitted to appear in the case (as an out of state lawyer, she needs the judge's permission to appear). The judge today ordered a June 30 hearing, apparently to discuss the issue of joinder.
The digital rights groups Electronic Frontier Foundation, Citizen Media Law Project and Public Citizen also weighed in on the case...The organizations are asking the appellate court to direct trial judges to examine free speech issues when evaluating hot news claims.
"Special First Amendment concerns arise where, as here, a court enjoins the publication of newsworthy information," they argue. They say that the hot news doctrine should not be used "to stifle common journalistic practices and new forms of commentary, curation, and information sharing online."
Last week a consortium of groups -- including the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse -- wrote an open letter to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg [PDF] saying essentially what I (and many others) also said after FB's nominal response to the recent privacy uproar: Nice start, but... not enough by half, at least.