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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: December 2008

December 22, 2008

Dismissal of Federal Lawsuit Brought by MBTA

Boston - Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) officials and three MIT student researchers announced today that, following the dismissal of a federal lawsuit brought by the MBTA against the MIT students, the parties agreed to work together to identify and help improve security in the MBTA's Automated Fare Collection System.

Pleased with the outcome, MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said, "This is a great opportunity for both the MBTA and the MIT students. As we continue to research ways to improve the fare system for our customers, we appreciate the cooperative spirit demonstrated by the MIT students."

"The best way to fix these problems is to approach them head on," said one of the students, RJ Ryan. "Now that we are on the same page, I am confident that we will be able to resolve the issues we discovered."

"We've always shared the goal of making the subway as safe and secure as can be," said student Zack Anderson. "I am glad that we can work with the MBTA to help the people of Boston, and we are proud to be a part of something that puts public interest first."

The MBTA and the researchers are working to make improvements to the fare collection system that will be as straightforward and inexpensive to address as possible.

The MIT students were represented in the lawsuit pro bono by the Coders' Rights Project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF was assisted in this case by the ACLU of Massachusetts Legal Director John Reinstein and Fish & Richardson attorneys Adam Kessel, Lawrence Kolodney, and Tom Brown.

For more on MBTA v. Anderson:
http://www.eff.org/cases/mbta-v-anderson

Contact:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

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December 4, 2008

EFF Urges Court to Reject Appeal in Tiffany v. eBay

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with Public Citizen and Public Knowledge urged a U.S. court of appeals Wednesday to reject jewelry-maker Tiffany's attempt to rewrite trademark law and create new barriers for online commerce and communication.

Tiffany sued the online marketplace eBay, claiming that eBay should be held liable for trademark infringement when sellers offer counterfeit Tiffany goods on the eBay site. The evidence in the case showed that eBay quickly takes down listings when Tiffany sends notice that it believes a specific item is not genuine. However, Tiffany wants eBay to police listings on its own and to be held responsible for any counterfeit items it missed.

"Millions of Americans use sites like eBay and craigslist to buy and sell goods," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Michael Kwun. "If Tiffany had its way, sites like eBay would be responsible for figuring out whether items its users are selling -- items eBay itself never sees -- are authentic or counterfeit. That's an impossible task."

A judge correctly rejected Tiffany's claims earlier this year. In an amicus brief filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, EFF asks the court to reject Tiffany's new attempts to expand trademark law.

"The Internet has created new opportunities for communication, and trademarks are an integral part of this exchange," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "But if intermediaries have to take on the burden of policing trademarks, many Internet service providers will take the easy route and remove any posting that is even remotely suspicious. That would effectively quash the extraordinary growth of online commerce and speech."

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/tiffany_v_ebay/effamicus.pdf

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/tiffany-v-ebay

Contacts:

Michael Kwun
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
michael@eff.org

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

December 2, 2008

EFF Seeks Exemptions for Video Remixes, Cell Phone Unlockers

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed three exemption requests with the U.S. Copyright Office today aimed at protecting the important work of video remix artists, iPhone owners, and cell phone recyclers from legal threats under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The DMCA prohibits "circumventing" digital rights management (DRM) and "other technical protection measures" used to protect copyrighted works. While this ban was meant to deter copyright infringement, many have misused the law to chill competition, free speech, and fair use. Every three years, the Copyright Office convenes a rulemaking to consider granting exemptions to the DMCA's ban on circumvention to mitigate the harms the law has caused to legitimate, non-infringing uses of copyrighted materials.

One proposal filed by EFF is aimed at protecting the video remix culture currently thriving on Internet sites like YouTube. The filing asks for a DMCA exemption for amateur creators who use excerpts from DVDs in order to create new, noncommercial works. Hollywood takes the view that "ripping" DVDs is always a violation of the DMCA, no matter the purpose.

"Remix is what free speech looks like in the 21st century, which is why thousands of noncommercial remix videos are posted to YouTube every day," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The DMCA wasn't intended to drive fair use underground."

Another proposal requests a DMCA exemption for cell phone "jailbreaking" -- liberating iPhones and other handsets to run applications from sources other than those approved by the phone maker. Hundreds of thousands of iPhone owners have "jailbroken" their iPhones in order to use applications obtained from sources other than Apple's own iTunes "App Store."

"It's not the DMCA's job to force iPhone users to buy only Apple-approved phone applications," said von Lohmann. "The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement, not competition."

EFF's third proposal asks for a renewal of an exemption previously granted for unlocking cell phones so that the handsets can be used with any telecommunications carrier. Carriers have threatened cell phone unlockers under the DMCA to protect their anti-competitive business models, even though there is no copyright infringement involved in the unlocking. Instead, the digital locks on cell phones make it harder to resell, reuse, or recycle the handset.

"Millions and millions of Americans replace their cell phones every year. EFF is representing three organizations that are working to make sure the old phones don't end up in the dump, polluting our environment," said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. " Also, renewing this exemption will continue to help people who want to use their phones while traveling and will promote competition among wireless carriers."

The rulemaking proceeding will accept public comments regarding proposed exemptions until the deadline of February 2, 2009. The Copyright Office will then hold hearings in Washington, DC and California in Spring 2009. The final rulemaking order will be issued in October 2009.

For more on EFF's exemption requests:
http://www.eff.org/issues/dmca-rulemaking

For more on the anti-circumvention rulemaking:
http://www.copyright.gov/1201/

Contacts:

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jennifer@eff.org

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

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December 1, 2008

Unconstitutional Law Cannot Shut Courthouse Door on Americans' Privacy Claims

San Francisco - On Tuesday, December 2, at 10 a.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will challenge the constitutionality of a federal law aimed at granting immunity to telecommunications companies participating in illegal domestic surveillance.

At Tuesday's hearing, EFF will argue that the flawed FISA Amendments Act (FAA) improperly attempts to take away Americans' claims arising out of the First and Fourth Amendments, violates the federal government's separation of powers as established in the Constitution, and robs innocent telecom customers of their rights without due process of law. Signed by President Bush earlier this year, the FAA allows for the dismissal of the lawsuits over the telecoms' participation in the warrantless surveillance program if the government secretly certifies to the court that the surveillance did not occur, was legal, or was authorized by the president. Attorney General Michael Mukasey filed that classified certification with the court in September and is demanding that the cases be dismissed.

EFF is representing the plaintiffs in Hepting v. AT&T, a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of millions of AT&T customers whose private domestic communications and communications records were illegally handed over to the National Security Agency. EFF has been appointed co-coordinating counsel along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for all 46 outstanding lawsuits concerning the government's warrantless surveillance program.

Also Tuesday, in the afternoon, the court will hear the arguments on the future of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Bush, a case alleging that the government illegally wiretapped calls between the charity and its lawyers.

For more information about attending the hearing, please contact press@eff.org.

WHAT:
Hepting v. AT&T and other NSA telecommunications records lawsuits

WHEN:
Tuesday, December 2
10 a.m.

WHERE:
450 Golden Gate Ave., Courtroom 6
San Francisco, CA 94102

For more on EFF's case against AT&T:
http://www.eff.org/nsa/hepting

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

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