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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: November 2009

November 13, 2009

Anyone Can Track National Copyright Laws Globally with 'Copyright Watch'

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL.net), and other international copyright experts joined together today to launch Copyright Watch -- a public website created to centralize resources on national copyright laws at www.copyright-watch.org.

"Copyright laws are changing across the world, and it's hard to keep track of these changes, even for those whose daily work is affected by them," said Teresa Hackett, Program Manager at eIFL.net. "A law that is passed in one nation can quickly be taken up by others, bilateral trade agreements, regional policy initiatives, or international treaties. With Copyright Watch, people can learn about the similarities and differences in national copyright laws, and they can use that information to more easily spot patterns and emerging trends."

Copyright Watch is the first comprehensive and up-to-date online repository of national copyright laws. To find links to national and regional copyright laws, users can choose a continent or search using a country name. The site will be updated over time to include proposed amendments to laws, as well as commentary and context from national copyright experts. Copyright Watch will help document how legislators around the world are coping with the challenges of new technology and new business models.

"Balanced and well-calibrated copyright laws are extremely important in our global information society," said Gwen Hinze, International Policy Director at EFF. "Small shifts in the balance between the rights of copyright owners and the limitations and exceptions relied on by those who use copyrighted content can destroy or enable business models, criminalize or liberate free expression and everyday behavior, and support the development of new technologies that facilitate access to knowledge for all the world's citizens. We hope that Copyright Watch will encourage comparative research and help to highlight more and less flexible copyright regimes."

"Details of copyright law used to be important only for a few people in creative industries," added Danny O'Brien, International Outreach Coordinator at EFF. "But now, with the growth of the Internet and other digital tools, we are all authors, publishers, and sharers of copyrighted works. Copyright Watch was created so citizens of the world can share and compare information about their countries' laws."

Funding to create Copyright Watch was generously provided by the Open Society Institute.

Copyright Watch:
http://www.copyright-watch.org

Contacts:

Gwen Hinze
International Policy Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
gwen@eff.org

Danny O'Brien
International Outreach Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
danny@eff.org

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November 12, 2009

Partial Document Release from Government Posted on EFF's Website

San Francisco, CA - Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted thousands of pages of records detailing behind-the-scenes negotiations between government agencies and Congress about providing immunity for telecoms involved in illegal government surveillance.

The documents include drafts of legislation and communications between Congress and the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) about amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). They were released as a result of litigation that started back in 2007, when Congress first debated granting immunity to the telecommunications companies for taking part in massive, unchecked surveillance of Americans' telephone and Internet communications. EFF used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request information about communications between the DOJ, ODNI, Congress, and telecom lobbyists.

"The government has finally given up its battle to hide this information from the public and has released a significant portion of the records we've been fighting for," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "We hope that these files include some answers about what happened when the DOJ and ODNI pushed Congress to pass the law getting telecoms off the hook for their role in illegal government surveillance."

The government has said it will continue to try to block the release of additional documents, including communications within the Executive Branch and records reflecting the identities of telecoms involved in lobbying for immunity. The government's appeal will be heard before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2010.

"This case isn't over yet -- there's still more information about the extensive lobbying campaign by the telecoms that helped them get immunity last year," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "The government continues to hide important documents from the public."

FOIA Release: Draft legislation to amend FISA:
http://www.eff.org/fn/directory/4800/360

FOIA Release: Correspondence about amending FISA, bill summaries, and other documents:
http://www.eff.org/fn/directory/4800/359

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/issues/foia/cases/C-07-05278

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

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November 11, 2009

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Also Joins in Free Speech Fight

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, will defend the Yes Men and other activists in a lawsuit filed against them by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over political criticism of the Chamber's stance on climate change legislation.

In mid-October, the activists staged a "press conference" in which the Chamber of Commerce ostensibly reversed its position and promised to stop lobbying against strong climate change legislation -- a stance that has caused numerous Chamber members to leave the organization. As has been widely reported, before the press conference was even completed, a Chamber of Commerce representative rushed into the room and revealed that the Chamber's position on climate change legislation had not in fact changed.

"The action was a brilliant piece of political theater, but it had a serious purpose: calling attention to the Chamber's political activities," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "This is core political speech, protected by the First Amendment. We're very pleased that Davis Wright Tremaine -- with its long, successful history of protecting free speech rights of Americans -- has joined us in helping these activists battle a transparent attempt at censorship."

"U.S. courts have recognized that political parody lies at the heart of the First Amendment," said Davis Wright Tremaine LLP partner Bruce Johnson. "Even if the party parodied refuses to giggle--or even panics and sues--free speech will ultimately triumph. We look forward to a prompt dismissal of this case and a reaffirmation of the rights of all Americans to poke fun at the pompous and powerful."

The Chamber has pulled out all the stops in its effort to silence the activists. First, it sent an improper copyright takedown notice to the Yes Men's upstream provider, demanding that a parody website posted in support of the action be removed immediately and resulting in the temporary shutdown of not only the spoof site but hundreds of other sites hosted by May First/People Link. Next, the Chamber filed suit against the activists in federal court, claiming among other things the activism infringed their trademarks.

"Trademark rights do not encompass the right to silence criticism," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "It is our hope that the Chamber will rethink its lawsuit and take a position more consistent with its past support of First Amendment rights."

A response to the Chamber's complaint is due later this month in the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia.

For more on this case:
http://www.eff.org/cases/chamber-commerce-v-servin

Contacts:

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

Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

November 4, 2009

Join EFF in San Francisco Monday for Discussion on Hollywood vs. Consumers' Rights

San Francisco - Please join the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for a panel discussion on "The Future of DVD" at the Varnish Gallery in San Francisco on Monday, November 9, at 5:30 p.m.

Panelists include Kaleidescape CEO Michael Malcolm, Real Networks Vice President and General Counsel Bill Way, and EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The Future of DVD" will examine the legal battles over DVD rentals, ripping, backups, home media servers, and portable media players. The current legal battles involving RealDVD, Kaleidescape, and Redbox underscore the continuing struggle between Hollywood, consumers, and innovators over the future of the DVD.

"The Future of DVD" panel is free and open to the public, and includes a hosted bar. EFF would like to thank Real Networks for helping to make this event possible.

WHAT:
"The Future of DVD" Panel and Happy Hour

WHEN:
Monday, November 9
5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

WHERE:
Varnish Gallery
77 Natoma St.
San Francisco, CA

RSVP:
For more information or to RSVP, please email events@eff.org.

Contact:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

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