EFF in the News
A San Francisco firm that defends free speech on the Web is taking on a Las Vegas company that has filed more than 140 copyright lawsuits this year.
Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a counterclaim this week that calls Righthaven LLC's ongoing copyright battle a sham shakedown operation
These amici argue that plaintiffs often insist that defendants can't prove their patents are invalid unless they get source code that demonstrates invalidity precisely; yet that source code is often unavailable. In this case, i4i argued, and both lower courts agreed—that because of the high "clear and convincing" standard, Microsoft couldn't prove invalidity without the source code of the relevant prior art, which was an earlier i4i product. The problems Microsoft faced in trying to dis-prove the patented i4i invention "are both common and pernicious" in litigation, writes the EFF.
Now the Redmond firm has managed to get briefs filed by the likes of Apple, Google, Dell, HP, Toyota and even Wal-Mart to support its effort. Perhaps surprisingly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Apache Foundation have also publicly supported Microsoft's efforts.
Righthaven, the Las Vegas-based copyright troll, may have sued one website too many. The Electronic Frontier Foundation hit the company with a lawsuit Monday alleging Righthaven is abusing copyright law by suing for excerpting or posting newspaper articles without permission.
“Righthaven demands sums up to $150,000, and uses the threat of these out-of-proportion damages to push defendants into quick settlements,” said the EFF, whose attorneys on Monday filed a counterclaim against Righthaven and Review-Journal owner Stephens Media LLC in one of the Righthaven cases involving the Democratic Underground; and also issued a press release on the case.
“Some attorneys are advising bloggers to simply follow the rule laid down by the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s parent company and refrain from quoting anything more than the headline and first paragraph of news articles. Following this advice essentially allows a newspaper to decide what constitutes fair use, a term they are motivated to construe as narrowly as possible,” EFF said.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation doesn't like the law either. Like Bonanno, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry worries that it could give corporations and public officials a new way to sue their critics into silence. "We're disappointed that the Governor decided to sign this bill, given that it is likely to be used to squelch political speech," she said via e-mail.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that opposes the bill, said there are already laws in place to take down sites that violate the law. The bill would give the Justice Department greater power to block sites, even before a court determines if they are illegally infringing copyright. Through “blacklists” of U.S. and international sites, the bill would pressure Internet service providers to block those Web pages that engage in piracy and counterfeiting, EFF said.
The owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal has for the first time been hit with a counterclaim over its online copyright infringement lawsuit campaign, with attorneys for the Electronic Frontier Foundation accusing the newspaper of entering a "sham" relationship with the Review-Journal's copyright enforcement partner Righthaven LLC — and accusing Righthaven of copyright fraud.
Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, took issue with the move. "This proposal is a drastic anti-privacy, anti-security, anti-innovation solution in search of a problem," he said.
He noted that in an official 2009 review of 2,400 federal, state and local law enforcement applications for wiretap orders, "encryption was encountered during one state wiretap, but did not prevent officials from obtaining the plain text of the communications."
KEVIN BANKSTON, Electronic Frontier Foundation: There are a great deal of new technologies that the Internet has enabled to allow us to communicate with each other.
But the fact is, this proposal would be a drastic and costly anti-privacy, anti-security, and anti-innovation solution to a problem that doesn't exist.