EFF in the News
Viacom had contended that most of the "safe harbor" provisions in the DMCA did not protect Google from Viacom's infringement claims. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that if Viacom's arguments prevailed, they would severely compromise the viability of online content providers both huge and small, and would gut the DMCA's protections for sites that host or transmit other people's content. eBay, Facebook, Ask.com, and Yahoo! similarly weighed in on the case.
Facebook, owner of the world's most popular social-networking site, introduced simpler privacy settings last month after U.S. senators and officials in Europe raised concerns about how the company handles personal information. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., consulted with Facebook on the new privacy settings. The company also worked with privacy groups including the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Without a definition of critical infrastructure there are concerns that "it includes elements of the Internet that Americans rely on every day to engage in free speech and to access information," said the letter, signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups.
"ACTA is the predictably deficient product of a deeply flawed process," according to the statement signed by several members of the European Parliament as well as public interest groups from around the world such as the African Commons Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Frontiers Australia and Public Knowledge.
"Studios have a tremendous tool in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows them to send a notice and get the relief they desire," said Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights advocacy group that backed Google in the case. "Whether you are Viacom or a small rights-holder, that tool remains available."
It's not just Google and Twitter who think the concept is impractical in today's Internet world: the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that the hot news doctrine tramples core principles from the First Amendment.
But civil rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation is not convinced the fight against piracy is its prime motivation.
"The USCG attorneys bringing these suits are not affiliated with any major entertainment companies, but are instead intent on building a lucrative business model from collecting settlements from the largest possible set of individual defendants," said a spokeswoman for the body.
"We've long been concerned that some attorneys would attempt to create a business by cutting corners in mass copyright lawsuits against fans, shaking settlements out of people who aren't in a position to raise legitimate defences," it added.
"This Court should recognize that the hot news doctrine implicates core First Amendment principles: an injunction issued under the hot news doctrine plainly contemplates restricting publication of newsworthy facts," wrote the EFF in its own amicus brief. "Applying heightened First Amendment scrutiny in hot news cases, particularly in the online context, will help ensure that the doctrine serves that purpose. It should not be used to stifle common journalistic practices and new forms of commentary, curation, and information sharing online."
KEVIN BANKSTON: How protected is the data that these companies, be it your cell phone company or a location-based service such as a mapping company or a friend-finding service, how long are they keeping this data? And what legal protections apply to this data?
It's also a service that better resonates with the Web's natural aversion to censorship, far more than Fertik's original offer to "destroy" online content. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Kevin Bankston told us when we first wrote about ReputationDefender and MyEdge in 2007, "the best answer to bad speech is always more speech."