EFF in the News
Apple claims that jailbreaking the iPhone violates its copyrights and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Digital-rights organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation beg to differ.
The EFF's Fred von Lohman argues that iPhone owners should be free to tinker with their phones, especially when they can add capabilities that App Store programs don't yet provide. He notes that "the courts have long recognized that copying software while reverse-engineering is a fair use when done for purposes of fostering interoperability with independently created software, a body of law that Apple conveniently fails to mention."
As governments negotiating the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) meet in Seoul this week, public interest concern has surfaced over leaked information on internet enforcement.
The leaks “confirm everything that we feared,” wrote Gwen Hinze of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s bad. Very bad,” said Cory Doctorow, at influential blog BoingBoing.
It “provides firm confirmation that the treaty is not a counterfeiting trade, but a copyright treaty,” said University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist.
ISPs around the world may be forced to snoop on their subscribers and cut them off if they are found to have shared copyright-protected music on the Internet, under an international agreement being promoted by the U.S.
Countries including Japan, Canada, South Korea, Australia as well as the European Union and U.S. have been negotiating an anticounterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) over the past two years to combat the growing problem of counterfeit products ranging from designer clothes to downloadable music.
EFF's online " "Hall of Shame" spotlights high-profile examples of what it considers violations of copyright and trademark law.
"Free speech in the 21st century often depends on incorporating video clips and other content from various sources," EFF staff attorney Corynne McSherry said in a statement. "It's what 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' does every night. This is 'fair use' of copyrighted or trademarked material and protected under U.S. law. "
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."