EFF in the News
Neither the Chamber's copyright nor its trademark claims have legal merit, countered Matthew Zimmerman, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the Yes Men. "It seems rather clear that this is a fair use of copyright material," he said. "This is for fair comment and criticism."
But it isn't just Comcast that says that the FCC is out of bounds. The Electronic Frontier Foundation calls the agency's proposed rulemaking a "Trojan Horse" which is "built on a shoddy and dangerous foundation." Since Congress didn't give the FCC specific authority in this area, what's next, worries EFF—an "Internet Decency Statement" pushed by conservatives, or an "Internet Lawful Use Policy" urged on the agency by the Hollywood studios? That's why the group calls the move "a power grab that would leave the Internet subject to the regulatory whims of the FCC long after Chairman Genachowski leaves his post."
But Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the decision to invoke the state secrets privilege represented a continuation of Bush administration policy. He said it is a sharp contrast to the promises of greater government transparency and accountability made during the Obama campaign.
"It turns out that 'change we can believe in' hasn't really resulted in any change at all when it comes to government secrecy," Bankston said.
“It’s disappointing that they campaigned for a return to the rule of law, and have them turn around and say that courts can’t even look at these cases,” said Cindy Cohn, legal director at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group that has challenged the warrantless wiretap program in court.
You might think that an organisation boasting as long a history and as much accumulated savvy about how the American political system works as the US Chamber of Commerce would know better than to pick a fight with satirical hoaxsters who will only gain from more publicity. This is not the kind of behaviour we expect from such an august institution. As Corynne McSherry, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the Yes Men in its legal battle with the Chamber, told Salon, "We are surprised and disappointed that the Chamber of Commerce has chosen to go to court over obvious political criticism."
"The Obama administration has essentially adopted the position of the Bush administration in these cases," said Kevin Bankston, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "even though candidate Obama was incredibly critical of both the warrantless wiretapping program and the Bush administration's abuse of the state secrets privilege."
Kevin Bankston, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco that is pursuing a similar lawsuit against the government, called Holder's decision "quite disappointing."
"The Obama administration has essentially adopted the position of the Bush administration in these cases, even though candidate Obama was incredibly critical of both the warrantless wiretapping program and the Bush administration's abuse of the state secrets privilege," said Bankston.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest effort to call out what it considers violations of copyright and trademark law comes in the form of a mock-awards page, complete with “honorees,” called the Takedown Hall of Shame.
“Nothing would stop Netflix from renting titles under First Sale, other than the risk of losing the discount,” said Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"It feels to me like the alumni meeting of the framers of the US Constitution," Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow said as he addressed the gathering.
"There are a lot of people in this room who are honest to god uncles and aunts of the Internet. What you did is conceivably the most important technological event since the capture of fire."