EFF in the News
The number of defendants -- nearly 100,000 -- in P2P cases exceeds previous estimates. For example, in an amicus brief filed last month in support of 500 accused file sharers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) estimated that roughly 75,000 people had been sued in 2010 for alleged copyright violations involving pornographic movies. It noted that nine lawsuits in the Northern District of Illinois alone had collectively involved 4,507 people, meaning that each lawsuit named about 500 defendants.
As mass revolt spreads across Egypt and the Middle East and citizens there demand jobs, civil liberties and an end to police state abuses from repressive, U.S.-backed torture regimes, the Obama administration and their congressional allies aim to expand one right here at home.
“In general, we think arguments that regulating the internet is ‘ancillary’ to some other regulatory authority that the FCC has been granted just don’t have sufficient limitations to stop bad FCC behavior in the future and create the ‘Trojan horse’ risk we have long warned about,” Phillips said.
As the article indicates, you can’t just assume it’s okay to post an image or other material just because you’re using it for noncommercial purposes, you’re giving credit, or you’ve asked for permission and haven’t heard back. The Bloggers’ Legal Guide, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (see eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/IP), includes additional information on what’s permitted and delves into some of the subtleties of intellectual property law.
We recently wrote about the odd situation in which mass copyright letter sender lawyer Evan Stone hastily, but petulantly, dropped a case, after the lawyers representing the defendants (from Public Citizen and the EFF) noticed that he appeared to have totally ignored the fact that the court had not allowed him to issue subpoenas, and had gone ahead and issued them anyway. Rather than respond to any of the questions that Public Citizen lawyer Paul Alan Levy asked Stone, he just dropped the case. Levy has now put up a blog post digging into the details, including why this move was more or less an admission by Stone that he'd made a huge mistake. The key point, though, is that Public Citizen and EFF appear to be planning to continue to pursue the motion to make sure that Stone did not contact any of those sued directly.
Rebecca Jeschke is at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She says some of the sites that have been seized were legitimate businesses that didn't have a chance to respond to allegations that they were violating copyrights. Others were search engines offering links.
Next week will be a busy one in Washington for online privacy as at least two bills are expected to be introduced in the House. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, plans to offer Do Not Track legislation and Rep. Bobby Rush, D- Il, is expected to re-introduce his online privacy bill. There’s activity outside Congress as well.
Also in the House, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-FL, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee, is expected to offer a privacy bill soon.
Consumer Watchdog, and our friends at Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are among the groups making suggestions to Speier on the Do Not Track Bill. It is narrowly tailored to address tracking issues only, rather than the broader question of online privacy.
Earlier this week, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge and the Apache Software Foundation issued their own pro-Microsoft-anti-bad-software-patent position as well. Isn't it ironic that a software vendor known for its large store of patents is the one that open source advocates have rallied behind to end stifling software patents?
Changing the standards of proof "would take an important step toward leveling the playing field, and encourage small software companies to fight patents they believe to be invalid," wrote the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Apache, and Public Knowledge in an amicus brief filed on Wednesday. "At the same time, it would discourage companies from preying on their smaller competitors with patents of questionable validity."
Flip: In April 2010, Facebook decided to widen the set of Facebook user information it classified as public, or sharable with partners or advertisers. Not only was users' basic personal information now public, but so was their current city, education, work, likes, interests, and friends. Privacy groups went into overdrive. In a letter to CEO Zuckerberg, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU of Northern California, and the Center for Democracy and Technology asked that users be required to opt-in to Instant Personalization before their data could be used in it, and that more privacy options be provided, including allowing users to "control every piece of information they can share via Facebook."