Internet law news blogs:
12/19/03 -- Reuters reports that the Dutch Supreme Court has affirmed the lower court ruling dismissing music copyright owners' lawsuit against KaZaA, reportedly holding developers of the software cannot be held liable for how individuals use it.
12/9/03 -- Cookie recipes are HERE
11/24/03 -- ...thanks to S. 877, the CAN SPAM Act, passed by the Senate in October, in a slightly amended form by the House on Saturday, and expected to be passed by the Senate again this week. The CAN SPAM Act will prempt all those pesky little CAN'T SPAM laws enacted in states like California and Michigan. Read Declan McCullagh's story for News.com
12/16/03 UPDATE -- President Bush has signed the CAN SPAM Act. Read all about it on the Whitehouse blog.
11/21/03 -- Presidential candidate and Congressman Dennis Kucinich has expressed his concern over Diebold's attempts to use copyright to suppress distribution of internal company memos that cast doubt on the integrity and reliability of Diebold voting machines. Kucinich is upset that
10/28/03 -- Diebold, the leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines, is leaning hard on the copyright law to preven the dissemination of internal memos demonstrating that the company was aware that its machines had security flaws that made them alarmingly vulnerable to hackers. (If the memos have disappeared from that site, you may have better luck clicking on one of the links listed here.) A group of Swarthmore College students started a campaign of civil disobedience, enlisting students at other colleges and universities in efforts to ensure that the memos remain available on the Internet notwithstanding the efforts of Diebold to ensure their removal. The students, and EFF, insist that what they're doing is fair use. So far, students at more than 20 schools have joined the effort. Read Kim Zetter's story for WIRED News.
10/28/03 -- The Copyright Office has released the Librarian of Congress final regulation in this round of the triennial anti-circumvention rulemaking, exempting from the anti-circumvention laws four narrow classes of access-protected material. The tone of the regulation is surprisingly whiny for a government document destined for publication in the Federal Register. Read John Borland's story for c|net.
10/8/03 -- c|net's John Borland reports that the MediaMax copy-protection technology accompanying BMG's newly released Anthony Hamilton CD can be disabled by pressing the shift key when loading the CD into a computer CD ROM drive. Alex Halderman, a Princeton University computer science student, posted his research paper describing the technique on his website earlier this week. Whoops, looks like I've just violated section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
10/9/03 Update -- Reuters reports that Suncomm, the maker of MediaMax CD copy protection, has announced that it will indeed sue Mr. Halderman for violating the DMCA by posting his research paper. This presumably pleases Mr. Halderman's advisor, Professor Ed Felten, the computer scientist once threatened by the RIAA over an academic paper disclosing the weaknesses in a previous generation of CD copy-protection. Felten's suit against the RIAA challenging the DMCA was dismissed after the RIAA announced that, on second thought, it wouldn't sue Felten after all.
10/10/03 Update -- The Daily Princetonian reports that Suncomm has decided to back down. Perhaps someone at Suncomm got a phone call from the RIAA's Matt Oppenheim, whose threat against Felten so embarrassed the recording industry.
10/8/03 -- Vonage.com is a telephone company that eschews conventional telephone wires for VoIP -- voice over the Internet. When Vonage sought to persuade Minnesota residents to exchange their conventional telephone service for Vonage's VoIP alternative, the state of Minnesota sought to subject Vonage to the same regulations it applies to any other phone company. Vonage sued the state's Public Utilities Commission, seeking a declaration that the state lacked regulatory authority over Vonage's VoIP service. On Monday, federal district court Judge Michael J. Davis entered an injunction prohibiting Minnesota from regulating Vonage's service. Read the c|net News.com story by Ben Charny and Evan Hansen
10/8/02 -- The Recording Industry has issued a new batch of subpoenas seeking the names of more ordinary people to sue. Reuters reports that Charter Communications, a cable ISP, filed suit on Friday to quash 150 newly received subpoenas for the identities of its customers.
10/7/03 -- Versign blinked.
After a cascade of complaints about Sitefinder, ICANN demanded, not quite so nicely, that Verisign discontinue the new "service" or be deemed in breach of the agreements that allow it to operate the .com and .net domains. Verisign then agreed to suspend SiteFinder "temporarily." At a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the havoc SiteFinder caused, Versign insisted, however, that it intended to resume SiteFinder soon. Read Declan McCullagh's story for News.com.
9/30/03 -- At 10 am this morning, the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is holding a Hearing on Privacy & Piracy: The Paradox of Illegal File Sharing on Peer-to-Peer Networks and the Impact of Technology on the Entertainment Industry, pitting the testimony of LL Cool J against that of Chuck D. You can watch the live webcast or listen to the audio feed.
9/29/03 -- The enforceability of the Gnu General Public License is headed for its day in court. IBM, the target of a copyright infringement lawsuit by SCO, which claims that the open source operating system Linux contains infringing code stolen from SCO's copyrighted Unix, has filed a new counterclaim accusing SCO of copyright infringement for violating the General Public License under which it distributed Linux. SCO responded that it did not believe the General Public License would stand up in court. Read David Becker's story for News.com.
9/29/03 -- The ACLU has intervened in the RIAA's effort to subpoena the information to identify a Boston College student the RIAA says used P2P software, charging that the subpoena process prescribed by section 512(h) violates due process. Read John Schwartz's story for the New York Times.
According to the SF Chronicle's Benny Evangelista, 52 of the original 261 defendants have now settled. An additional 12 subjects of RIAA subpoenas have settled before the RIAA brought suit. Of the 59,999,727 or so remaining peer-to-peer file sharers in the US, 861 have signed up for the "Clean Slate" program. That means there are only 59,998,866 to go...
9/29/03 -- Meanwhile P2P United, the newly formed lobby for peer-to-peer technology companies has finally got its website up, and is proudly announcing that its members have adopted a code of conduct, in which they agree to respect consumers' privacy and forbid consumers who use P2P software to infringe intellectual property laws. P2P United is headed by Adam Eisgau, formerly a lobbyist for the American Library Association and the Digital Future Coalition. Read Declan McCullagh's story for News.com.
9/28/03 -- EFF has posted the amicus briefs filed in the MGM v. Grokster appeal. MGM has online music services, entertainment industry groups, international rights owners and a group of law professors and treatise authors filing briefs in its favor. Grokster has the Consumer Electronics Association, library associations, the ACLU, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and a different (and more numerous) group of law professors filing briefs on its side.
9/23/03 -- In response to the furor over Verisign's SiteFinder service, ICANN asked Verisign very nicely to suspend the service voluntarily, while it consulted ICANN's Stability Advisory Committee and the Internet Architecture Board about the impact of the service on the DNS. Verisign declined to suspend its service. The Internet Architecture Board issued a Report concluding that the SiteFinder service had disasterous effects for Internet users. ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee concluded that Verisign's implementation of its SiteFinder service had "considerably weakened the stability of the Internet, introduced ambiguous and inaccurate responses in the DNS, and has caused an escalating chain reaction of measures and countermeasures that contribute to further instability." Presumably, the next step is for ICANN to ask Verisign to reconsider very, very nicely. Will Versign thumb its nose? Will the Department of Commerce pick up the telephone? Will the House Commerce Committee schedule a hearing? The guys at ICANNWatch are keeping track.
9/19/02 -- On Monday, Network Solutions ("a Verisign Company") introduced its new SiteFinder service, which redirects browsers who misspell or mistype the .com or .net domain name they are looking for to a Network Solutions search page that features pay-for-placement top links. The new service disrupts the operation of common spam filtering software, and, on Wednesday, a number of firms issued "patches" to block it. On Thursday, Netster, a search engine company, sued Verisign on Sherman Act and Lanham Act claims. Read Elinor Abreu's story for Reuters.
9/19/03 -- Reuters and AP both report that Britain has adopted a law criminalizing spam.
9/8/01 -- As promised, the Recording Industry Association announced that member labels had filed 261 lawsuits against people who use peer-to-peer file networks. As rumored, the RIAA simultaneously launched a confession-is-good-for-the-soul "amnesty" program for people it has not yet identified as possible lawsuit targets under the name "Clean Slate". To participate in the program, you need to wipe any downloads off your computer and submit a notarized affidavit containing your name, address, telephone number, email address, the name of your Internet service provider and the signature of your parent or guardian. Read John Borland's story for c|net.
In a related development, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it will hold a Hearing on Tuesday, September 9 on the use of peer-to-peer file trading networks to distribute pornography.
9/4/03-- In the catalog of cases suggesting that Congress may have enacted overbroad legislation in response to the threats posed by the Internet to conventional copyright, one of the most egregious has been the Chamberlain Group's attempt to invoke the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to prevent a competitor from manufacturing a universal electronic garage door opener capable of opening Chamberlain's garage doors. Last week, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer denied Chamberlain's motion for summary judgment on its DMCA claims. IP Justice.org maintains an archive of information about the case.
Thanks to USC law student Andrew Sitzer for alerting me to the decision.
9/3/03 -- As I promised in today's class, I've posted links to tools to help reduce your exposure to popup ads and spam HERE. Meanwhile, Katie Hafner and Michael Falcone have an article in today's New York Times that explains how adware and spyware can infect your computer.
9/1/03 -- Slashdot reports that Sharman networks, the source of KaZaA and the KaZaA Media Desktop, has invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to require the Google search engine to remove or disable links to sites hosting downloads of a program that goes by the name of "KaZaA Lite" -- a modified version of KaZaA Media Desktop that omits advertising and spyware. Sharman complains that KaZaA Lite is an infringing unauthorized derivative work.
9/1/03 -- The New York Times's Amy Harmon reports that the recent epidemic of computer viruses has spurred calls for increased government regulation of the Internet. At least one security expert suggests that a large part of the problem is that Microsoft uses its software licenses to shield it from liability for defects and vulnerabilities in its software.
8/29/03 -- Section 2802a of the Vermont criminal code, signed into law by Governor Howard Dean, prohibits the dissemination of pornographic material to minors. On Wednesday, the Second Circuit held the law unconstitutional (*.pdf file) as applied to the dissemination of sex-related information over the Internet. Read the AP story.
8/29/03 -- According to the Recording Industry Association of America, we can expect the first of "what could ultimately be thousands of lawsuits" charging individual consumers with copyright infringement to be filed within a few days. (For those of you who believe you may have something to worry about, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a variety of resources that should either confirm or assuage your concerns.) Meanwhile, one Jane Doe, a.k.a. nycfashiongirl@KaZaA.com, is seeking to challenge the validity of the RIAA's subpoena to her Internet service provider. The RIAA, calling Doe's submissions "shockingly misleading", has responded with a detailed analysis of the MP3 files on Doe's hard disk. Read the Ted Bridis's story for AP. If you want to catch up on the story so far, you can browse a collection of earlier news reports from c|net's News.com or Wired.
8/29/03 -- Meanwhile, the Webcaster Alliance, a trade association for small webcasters, has filed an antitrust suit against the RIAA and the major record labels. The suit claims that the RIAA conspired with Yahoo and with the Voice of Webcasters, a shortlived, ad hoc webcaster group, to set terms and royalty rates for webcasting designed to drive small webcasters out of business and to extend the five major labels' monopoly of the US sound recording market. Read John Borland's story for c|net.
There are hundreds of Internet-related bills pending in Congress. The Center for Democracy and Techology is keeping track of many of the more important ones. Here is a sampling:
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