Press Releases: July 2018
Government Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg Keynotes September 27th Ceremony, Dedicated to EFF Co-Founder John Perry Barlow
San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is honored to announce the winners of its 2018 Pioneer Awards: fair use champion Stephanie Lenz, European digital rights leader Joe McNamee, and groundbreaking content moderation researcher Sarah T. Roberts. The ceremony will be held September 27th in San Francisco.
This year’s Pioneer Awards will be dedicated to Internet visionary and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, who died earlier this year. EFF has renamed the statuette awarded to winners the “Barlow” in recognition of the indelible mark he left on digital rights. The keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony will be one of Barlow’s many friends, Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation with Barlow, and is known for his years of work advocating for government transparency, including his release of the Pentagon Papers. Tickets for the Pioneer Awards are $65 for current EFF members, or $75 for non-members.
Stephanie Lenz’s activism over a home video posted online helped strengthen fair use law and brought nationwide attention to copyright controversies stemming from new, easy-to-use digital movie-making and sharing technologies. It all started in 2007, when Lenz posted a 29-second YouTube video of her then-toddler-aged son dancing while Prince’s song “Let's Go Crazy” played in the background. Universal Music Group used copyright claims to get the link disabled, and with the assistance of EFF, Lenz sued UMG for the bogus takedown. After more than 10 years of litigation, the case finally ended earlier this year, with many wins along the way establishing fair use as an affirmative public right. Lenz lives in western Pennsylvania with her family, and is the managing editor and a founder of Toasted Cheese, one of the earliest exclusively-online literary journals.
Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights (EDRi), claimed a space in Brussels and the heart of the European Union for digital fundamental rights to be heard. EDRi has fought excessive copyright regulations in the EU—most recently against Articles 13 and 11. EDRi has also worked for Europe’s net neutrality rules, against privatised law enforcement, and was instrumental in the bruising lobbying battle over the GDPR, the “General Data Protection Regulation” that increased digital privacy for people in Europe and beyond. McNamee joined EDRi in 2009, at a time when there were no digital rights advocacy groups based in Brussels, despite the importance of EU decision-making for global digital freedom. During the nine years since, EDRi has grown to become an established part of digital rights policy-making. Prior to joining EDRi, McNamee worked for eleven years on Internet policy, including for the European Internet Services Providers Association. He started his Internet career working on the CompuServe UK helpdesk in 1995.
Sarah T. Roberts coined the term “commercial content moderation” (CCM), and her research has been key to understanding how social media companies farm out content takedown decisions to low-wage laborers globally. Roberts has spent the past eight years identifying, describing, and documenting how people from Mountain View to Manila screen user-generated Internet content to see if it meets various platforms’ often opaque guidelines, demonstrating the effect that this work has on free expression as well as the on the mental and physical health of the screeners. Currently a researcher and Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, Roberts is preparing a monograph for Yale University Press based on her findings due to be published in 2019. She is also the recipient of a 2018 Carnegie Fellowship to support her ongoing work.
“We need an Internet that is free for us to discuss, debate, share, and celebrate what’s going in our lives and around the world,” said EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn. “Over the years we’ve seen this freedom threatened by bad laws, terrible corporate policies, and invasive tracking. Stephanie, Joe, and Sarah have all worked many years to make the Internet a better place for us all, and we are thrilled to honor them this year.”
Awarded every year since 1992, EFF’s Pioneer Awards recognize the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Previous honorees have included Chelsea Manning, Vint Cerf, Laura Poitras, and the Mozilla Foundation.
Sponsors of the 2018 Pioneer Awards include Anonyome Labs, Dropbox, Gandi.net, and Ron Reed.
To buy tickets to the Pioneer Awards:
Law Is Causing Online Censorship and Removal of Protected Speech
Washington, D.C.—On Thursday, July 19, at 4 pm, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge to put enforcement of FOSTA on hold during the pendency of its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal law. The hold is needed, in part, to allow plaintiff Woodhull Freedom Foundation to organize and publicize its annual conference, held August 2-5.
FOSTA, or the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, was passed by Congress in March. But despite its name, FOSTA attacks online speakers who speak favorably about sex work by imposing harsh penalties for any website that might be seen as “facilitating” prostitution or “contribute to sex trafficking.” In Woodhull Freedom Foundation v. U.S., filed on behalf of two human rights organizations, a digital library, an activist for sex workers, and a certified massage therapist, EFF maintains the law is unconstitutional because it muzzles constitutionally protected speech that protects and advocates for sex workers and forces speakers and platforms to censor themselves.
Enforcement of the law should be suspended because the plaintiffs are likely to win the case and because it has caused, and will continue to cause, irreparable harm to the plaintiffs, EFF co-counsel Bob Corn-Revere of Davis Wright Tremaine will tell the court at a hearing this week on the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. Because of the risk of criminal penalties, the plaintiffs have had their ads removed from Craigslist and censored information on their websites. Plaintiff Woodhull Freedom Foundation has censored publication of information that could assist sex workers negatively impacted by the law. FOSTA threatens Woodhull’s ability to engage in protected online speech, including livestreaming and live tweeting its August meeting, unless FOSTA is put on hold.
What: Hearing on plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction in Woodhull Freedom Foundation v. U.S.
When: Thursday, July 19, 4 pm
Where: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Courtroom 18, 6th Floor
333 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington D.C. 20001
For more on this case:
For the motion for preliminary injunction:
Industry Groups Want to Control Access to Legal Rules and Regulations
San Francisco – A federal appeals court today ruled that industry groups cannot control publication of binding laws and standards. This decision protects the work of Public.Resource.org (PRO), a nonprofit organization that works to improve access to government documents. PRO is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the law firm of Fenwick & West, and attorney David Halperin.
Six large industry groups that work on building and product safety, energy efficiency, and educational testing filed suit against PRO in 2013. These groups publish thousands of standards that are developed by industry and government employees. Some of those standards are incorporated into federal and state regulations, becoming binding law. As part of helping the public access the law, PRO posts those binding standards on its website. The industry groups, known as standards development organizations, accused PRO of copyright and trademark infringement for posting those standards online. In effect, they claimed the right to decide who can copy, share, and speak the law. The federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the standards organizations in 2017, and ordered PRO not to post the standards.
Today, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed that decision, ruling that the district court did not properly consider copyright’s fair use doctrine. It rejected the injunction and sent the case back to district court for further consideration of the fair use factors at play. “[I]n many cases,” wrote the court, “it may be fair use for PRO to reproduce part or all of a technical standard in order to inform the public about the law.”
“Our mission at PRO is to give citizens access to the laws that govern our society,” said PRO founder Carl Malamud. “We can’t let private industry control how we access, share, and speak the law. I’m grateful that the court recognized the importance of fair use to our archive.”
This is an important ruling for the common-sense rights of all people. As Judge Katsas wrote in his concurrence, the demands of the industry groups for exclusive control of the law "cannot be right: access to the law cannot be conditioned on the consent of a private party." Based on today’s unanimous ruling, EFF is confident we can demonstrate that Public Resource's posting of these standards is protected fair use.
“Imagine a world where big companies can charge you to know the rules and regulations you must follow,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “The law belongs to all of us. We all have a right to read, understand and share it.”
For the full opinion:
For more on ASTM v. Public.Resource.org: