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FW: EFFector 19.04: Action Alert - Stop Congress from Mandating Secret Technology!]

Many of you doubtlessly already get this mailing, but several probably don't as well, so here it is.
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EFFector Vol. 19, No. 4  January 27, 2005  editor@xxxxxxx

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
ISSN 1062-9424

In the 365th Issue of EFFector:

 * Action Alert: Stop Congress from Mandating Secret 
 * Supreme Court Tackles Dangerous Patent Ruling
 * Nevada Court Rules Google Cache Is Fair Use
 * MPAA: Copying Movies OK for Our Families, Not Yours
 * Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2006 Pioneer Awards!
 * Staff Calendar
 * miniLinks (15): Logging and the Law
 * Administrivia

For more information on EFF activities & alerts:

Make a donation and become an EFF member today!

Tell a friend about EFF:

effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired 

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* Action Alert: Stop Congress from Mandating Secret 

The Digital Transition Content Security Act (H.R.4569) - or 
Analog Hole bill - would force every video player or recorder 
with an analog output in America to watch for and obey a 
proprietary signal embedded in video broadcasts called a VEIL 
watermark. But how would such a detector work? What would be 
its cost? And how secure is the watermark? Security 
researchers don't know - because the company behind VEIL 
won't let them look at the technology without first obtaining 
a "license." A license to examine the VEIL specification 
costs $10,000 and requires signing a non-disclosure agreement 
that forbids revealing the details of the technology to 
others. Congress is choosing a technology that must be built 
into your systems, and it's not giving non-entertainment 
industry experts the opportunity to check out the technology 
first to make sure it doesn't break your systems, or, even 
worse, leave those systems vulnerable to attack.

A technology that is a basic component in almost every audio-
visual device, from camcorders to VCRs to TV cards - analog-
to-digital (A/D) converters - is about to be encumbered with 
mysterious and proprietary black box watermark technology. 
Congress is highly unqualified to mandate specific 
technologies for us; tech mandates like this are even more 
dangerous when there's no chance for independent review.

Oversight is impossible when third parties hold the keys to 
the law.  Write to your Representative now, and demand that 
Congress reject outright this bill with its undisclosed, 
proprietary provisions.  

Visit our Action Center now:

More Info:
Full text of the bill:

Ed Felten's attempts to examine VEIL:
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* Supreme Court Tackles Dangerous Patent Ruling 

EFF Asks Justices to Consider Critical Free-Speech 

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 
filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States 
Supreme Court Thursday, asking justices to overturn a court 
ruling in a patent case with dangerous implications for 
free speech and consumers' rights.  The Public Patent 
Foundation, the American Library Association, the American 
Association of Law Libraries, and the Special Library 
Association joined EFF on the brief. 

At issue is a case involving online auctioneer eBay and a 
company called MercExchange.  Last year, the Federal 
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that eBay violated 
MercExchange's online auction patents and that eBay could 
be permanently enjoined, or prohibited, from using the 
patented technology.  But as part of the ruling, the court 
came to a perilous conclusion, holding that patentees who 
prove their case have a right to permanent injunctions 
under all but "exceptional circumstances," like a major 
public health crisis.   This radical rule created an 
"automatic injunction" standard that ignored the 
traditional balancing and discretion used by judges to 
consider how such a decision might affect other public 
interests--including free speech online. 

"As more and more people use software and Internet 
technology to express themselves online, the battle over 
software patents has grave implications for online speech," 
said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry.  "Courts must 
work harder than ever to ensure that technologies like 
blogs, email, online video, and instant messaging remain 
free and available to the public." 

The lower court's ruling stems in part from a misperception 
that patents are just like other forms of property, with 
the same rights and remedies.  However, Supreme Court 
rulings have repeatedly emphasized that patents are a 
unique form of property, designed to achieve a specific 
public purpose: the promotion of scientific and industrial 

"Part of the court's duty in patent cases is to make sure 
that the system helps the public's right to free speech 
instead of hurting it," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason 
Schultz.  "If this ruling is allowed to stand, courts won't 
be able to do what's right." 

For the full brief: 
<http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/ebay_v_mercexchange/eff_amicus_brief.pdf >

For more on patents and how bad law can hurt the public: 

For this release:

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* Nevada Court Rules Google Cache Is Fair Use

Important Milestone for Digital Copyright Law

San Francisco - A federal district court in Nevada has
ruled that Google does not violate copyright law when it
copies websites, stores the copies, and transmits them to
Internet users as part of its Google Cache feature. The
ruling clarifies the legal status of several common search
engine practices and could influence future court cases,
including the lawsuits brought by book publishers against
the Google Library Project. The Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF) was not involved in the case but applauds
last week's ruling for clarifying that fair use covers new
digital uses of copyrighted materials.

Blake Field, an author and attorney, brought the copyright
infringement lawsuit against Google after the search engine
automatically copied and cached a story he posted on his
website. Google responded that its Google Cache feature,
which allows Google users to link to an archival copy of
websites indexed by Google, does not violate copyright law.
The court agreed, holding that the Cache qualifies as a
fair use of copyrighted material.

"This ruling makes it clear that the Google Cache is legal
and clears away copyright questions that have troubled the
entire search engine industry," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF
senior staff attorney. "The ruling should also help Google
in defending against the lawsuit brought by book publishers
over its Google Library Project, as well as assisting
organizations like the Internet Archive that rely on

Field v. Google ruling:

For this release:

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* MPAA: Copying Movies OK for Our Families, Not Yours

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Motion Picture 
Association of America (MPAA) made unauthorized copies of a 
new documentary, This Film Not Yet Rated, that is critical of 
the organization.

The copies were apparently made when the film was submitted 
for an MPAA rating. The film got an NC-17, a somewhat ironic 
outcome for a film that exposes the unfairness of the MPAA 
ratings system.

The MPAA made the copies because they "were concerned about 
the raters and their families," according to Kori Bernards, 
the MPAA's vice president for corporate communications. The 
identities of the MPAA ratings board have been a closely 
guarded secret, at least until This Film Not Yet Rated did 
some amateur detective work to sniff them out. Now that the 
word is out, the MPAA apparently is afraid for "their 

So copying movies is OK when it's done to protect the 
families of the MPAA ratings board, but not OK when it's done 
to protect the families of movie fans. After all, the MPAA 
and its members have said it's "theft" and "piracy" for you 
to copy your own DVDs -- whether to make a back-up copy to 
protect your DVDs from being scratched by your toddler; or to 
edit out the annoying, unskippable commercials that open many 
DVDs; or to skip strong language, nudity, and violence that 
you think is inappropriate for your family.

Complete Los Angeles Times story:

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* Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2006 Pioneer Awards!

EFF established the Pioneer Awards to recognize leaders on 
the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and 
innovation in the realm of information technology. This is 
your opportunity to nominate a deserving individual or group 
to receive a Pioneer Award for 2006.

The International Pioneer Awards nominations are open both to 
individuals and organizations from any country. Nominations 
are reviewed by a panel of judges chosen for their knowledge 
of the technical, legal, and social issues associated with 
information technology.

This year's award ceremony will be held in Washington, DC, in 
conjunction with the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 
conference (CFP), which takes place in early May.

How to Nominate Someone for a 2006 Pioneer Award:

You may send as many nominations as you wish, but please use 
one email per nomination. Please submit your entries via 
email to pioneer@xxxxxxxx We will accept nominations until 
February 1, 2006.

Simply tell us:
1. The name of the nominee;
2. The phone number or email address or website by which the 
nominee can be reached, and, most importantly; and
3. Why you feel the nominee deserves the award.

Nominee Criteria:

There are no specific categories for the EFF Pioneer Awards, 
but the following guidelines apply:
1. The nominees must have contributed substantially to the 
health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based 
2. To be valid, all nominations must contain your reason, 
however brief, for nominating the individual or organization 
and a means of contacting the nominee. In addition, while 
anonymous nominations will be accepted, ideally we'd like to 
contact the nominating parties in case we need further 
3. The contribution may be technical, social, economic, or 
4. Nominations may be of individuals, systems, or 
organizations in the private or public sectors.
5. Nominations are open to all (other than current members of 
EFF's staff and executive board or this year's award judges), 
and you may nominate more than one recipient. You may also 
nominate yourself or your organization.
6. Persons or representatives of organizations receiving an 
EFF Pioneer Award will be invited to attend the ceremony at 
EFF's expense.

More on the EFF Pioneer Awards:

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* Staff Calendar
For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with
locations and times), please visit the full calendar:

February 1
Ren Bucholz speaking at Hamilton Linux Users Group in 
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at 7pm

February 2
Ren Bucholz speaking at Social Tech Brewing in Toronto, 
Ontario, Canada at 6pm

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* miniLinks
miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the 

~ Logging and the Law
Representative Markey proposes a bill to regulate search 
engine privacy.

~ No Results Found--Did You Mean "Sorry?"
MSN's search team gives their reasons for handing over user 
data to the DOJ, and none-too-happy users comment.

~ United States Versus Google Over Search Data
Danny Sullivan's useful guide to the legal documents on 
Google's fight with the DOJ.

~ The Sausage Factory--Live!
Senator Obama introduces a law that would put the details of 
pork barrel projects and last minute amendments online for 
all to see before a vote.

~ Derek Slater to Join EFF
You can look forward to his work in the next few weeks.

~ Hint: Users Vote Too
Canadian MP Sam Bulte, days after railing against "pro-user 
zealots" and "EFF members," is kicked out of office.

~ Stereophile for Fair Use
The influential hi-fi magazine gapes open-mouthed at the 
broadcast flag legislation.

~ Your Face Is Ours Forever
Lauren Gelman notes that Facebook sneaks itself an 
irrevocable, perpetual non-exclusive license to all of its 
student users' content.

~ Video iPod Revolutionaries
Think your video iPod is hard to fill? Blame the DMCA. Declan 
McCullagh shows the growing movement to reform it.

~ The Brin Defense
Sergey Brin gives his justification for censoring Google in 

~ State of the Anonymous Web
The New York Times notes the increasing interest in anonymous 
Net access and gives Tor top marks.

~ Fact-Checking and the Fourth
Glenn Greenwald spots that in June 2002, the Administration 
declined to accept from Congress the powers that they now 
claim they have, worrying that it might be unconstitutional.

~ Hacking a Bit of Google Privacy
If you worry that Google is tying your searches to your 
cookie, Don Marti has a Perl script for you. (FYI, we've 
recently started doing similar proxy filtering on EFF site 

~ Evaporating Watermarks
Ed Felten takes a close look at CD DRM--in this case, the 
watermarking used by SunComm's MediaMax.

~ The Several Hundred Banned Words
Wikipedia, banned in China, shows you what is banned in 

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* Administrivia

EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
+1 415 436 9333 (voice)
+1 415 436 9993 (fax)

Rebecca Jeschke, Media Coordinator

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General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries:

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Press releases and EFF announcements & articles may be
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