EFF in the News
The Times even recalls a widely publicized case five years ago in which Apple attempted to subpoenaed AppleInsider's Kasper Jade and the PowerPage's Jason O'Grady to force them to identify sources who provided accurate details of an unreleased hardware product code-named Asteroid. The journalists refused to cooperate and instead enlisted the services of the Electronic Frontier Foundation as their counsel.
"Most of these curriculums paint the copyright issue in a very singular way and talk about it as something that only benefits the industries," said Richard Esguerra, an activist for EFF, which champions the public interest in digital-rights issues. "Copyright infringement is a real issue, but there's also a 'know your rights' angle and a right way to use copyrighted materials" legally.
Some privacy advocates are wary of how electronic medical records will be used. Lee Tien, a senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, agrees that patients should have more access to their records, but not at the expense of security.
Copyright expert Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted in a recent blog post that under a Supreme Court precedent, the justices have concluded that punitive damages, generally, should be no higher than nine times the actual damages. The case is not squarely on-point with Thomas-Rasset’s, where the award was based on the statute, and not an arbitrary number intended purely to punish a defendant. But assuming each download in the Thomas-Rasset case is valued at $1, her judgment is at a ratio of a stunning 800,000-to-1.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes the dicey nature of this claim. For starters, public performance royalties are generally due only when there is a "direct or indirect" commercial advantage to playing music, such as in a bar or restaurant. Comparing ringtones to such a use is like claiming car companies should pay the performance royalties when people listen to their car stereo with the windows open.
The EFF's Fred von Lohman, who analyzed the filing, argues that the brief ignores some well-defined areas of precedent and the legal code. In short, he concludes that, if a ringtone constitutes a public performance, then so does playing the car radio when the windows are down.
"I think it's indefensibly invasive and likely illegal as a violation of the First Amendment rights of job applicants," EFF attorney Kevin Bankston told CNET News earlier this week. "Essentially, they're conditioning your application for employment on your waiving your First Amendment rights...and risking the security of your information by requiring you to share your password with them...Where does it stop? How about a photocopy of your diary?"
"I think $2 million for downloading 24 songs strikes almost everyone as being a little disproportionate," says Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "According to people who were in the courtroom, almost everyone inside uttered an audible gasp when that verdict came in."
"It's always a good development when a civil liberties perspective gets injected in a corporate culture," said Kevin Bankston, senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Instead of advocating for the general public, he's advocating for Facebook users, which is quickly becoming synonymous with the general public."
I decided to track down some experts and get some perspective on different proxy servers and the laws surrounding them. In this entry, I speak with Andrew Lewman, the Executive Directory of the Tor Project about Tor and I also get some legal guidance from Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.