Since its founding in 1990, EFF has consistently taken critical cases, challenged tough opponents, and achieved landmark victories. EFF has prevailed in lawsuits against the federal government, the FCC, the world's largest entertainment companies, and major electronics companies, among others. EFF has also beaten bills in Congress and pressured companies to respect your rights.
Learn more about some of EFF's key victories below. To support our continued success, consider becoming a member and donating to EFF.
EFF fought for open, transparent governance of the domain name system.
Karl Auerbach began asking for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers's (ICANN) corporate records in November 2000, shortly after he was voted as the North American Elected Director of ICANN. ICANN management proceeded to obstruct his access to these records. Represented by EFF, Auerbach successfully sued to gain his rightful access under the law.
EFF helped convince the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate a dangerous patent law precedent that threatened free speech and consumers' rights.
The court unanimously held that issuing automatic injunctions in patent cases improperly removed discretion from trial judges to weigh competing factors, including the effect that enforcing the patent would have on the public interest. This followed the reasoning outlined in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by EFF, which urged the justices to overrule the lower court and protect the public interest in free speech, innovation, and education.
EFF fought for bloggers' rights, defending the anonymity of an online speaker. In two messages from September of 2004, someone writing under the alias Proud Citizen criticized Patrick Cahill, a member of the Smyrna Town Council in Delaware. Cahill and his wife sued for defamation and sought to unmask the critic. In the first state supreme court decision considering "John Doe" subpoenas and bloggers' rights, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to meet the strict standards required by the First Amendment to breach a speaker's anonymity. The statements at issue were "incapable of a defamatory meaning."
EFF defended anonymous online speakers from frivolous subpoenas. After suing Internet users who had allegedly made critical comments about him on message boards and blogs, a Utah man asked the court to let him subpoena the names of the anonymous "John Doe" critics. The Utah District Court agreed with EFF and the ACLU of Utah that the plaintiff had not submitted sufficient justification.
After EFF intervened in the case, an Oklahoma school superintendent dropped his attempt to unmask the identities of a website operator and all registered users of an Internet message board devoted to discussion of local public schools. The superintendent sued anonymous speakers who criticized him on an online message board. As part of the case, he filed a broad subpoena seeking to identify the site's creator and everyone who had posted or even registered on the site, violating First Amendment protections for anonymous speech and association. EFF filed a motion to quash the subpoena on behalf of the site's operator and a registered user, and the superintendent responded by dismissing the case.
"Digital Betamax": Replay TV Owners Stand Up to Hollywood to Defend Digital VCRs
View Newmark v. Turner frequently asked questions.
What Is the ReplayTV Case About?
Trademark law at its heart is intended to protect consumers from confusion -- for example by preventing Pepsi from passing off its cola as Coca-Cola. Increasingly however trademark owners are trying to use their trademarks in ways that actually harm consumers by restricting their access to information from and about competitors.
EFF helped preserve the legal protections for actually private websites while protecting your right to read public websites.
This case involved a lawsuit against DirecTV for accessing the public website of anti-DirecTV activists run by plaintiff Michael Snow. The website had a banner and purported Terms of Service forbidding DirecTV representatives from entering the site or using its message board, but it was configured such that anyone in the public could enter the site, create a profile, and use the board. Setting aside a privacy-destroying lower court decision, the Eleventh Circuit agreed with EFF's arguments and ruled that web sites are protected by the Stored Communications Act, except when they are configured to be readily accessible to the general public.
To protect your privacy, EFF supported the prosecution of an email provider who illegally copied his customers' incoming mail to his own email account. After a federal court misinterpreted the Wiretap Act and dismissed criminal charges, EFF and several other groups filed briefs endorsing the federal government's request for a rehearing of the case. The First Circuit Court of Appeals obliged and overturned the previous ruling, making it criminal for email providers to snoop on your email during transmission.