Legal Issues

Finally, a Fair Fight with Big Music

Business Week is reporting on a story about telecom giant Verizon refusing to comply with the RIAA to turn over the identity of a subscriber who the RIAA thinks might have illegally downloaded some music. \"The RIAA didn\'t specify why it wanted to know who the user was or what it would do with the information. Perhaps Verizon\'s \"John Doe\" should be charged with bad taste in music, but not with anything else. The RIAA and the music labels believe that if they can fry the big fish, or at least scare them into not supporting the P2P networks, resilient services such as KaZaA and Morpheus will share Napster\'s fate.\" Read More.


9/11 Attacks Mute Cries for Justice & Civil Rights

The Middletown Press is reporting on the fact that since 9/11, civil rights cases are being argued quietly. \"Federal authorities have detained immigrants for months, held secret court hearings, seized computer data from libraries and gathered vast amounts of e-mail and phone records, all in the name of protecting America from more acts of terrorism. But if civil libertarians are grumbling about the possible erosion in individual rights, they are doing it somewhat quietly.\" Read More.


Feds\' Snooping Spurs Critics\' Sniping

This one comes by way of The Pensacola News Journal: \"The FBI won\'t say how many public libraries it has checked to determine who is getting particular books or looking up certain information on computers. But a University of Illinois survey of nearly 2,000 libraries in December and January determined that the agency searched one of every nine of the nation\'s largest libraries for information after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.\" Read More.


Poll shows free speech support down

This AP Story says Support for the First Amendment has eroded significantly
since Sept. 11 and nearly half of Americans now think the constitutional amendment on
free speech goes too far in the rights it guarantees, says a poll released Thursday.

The sentiment that the First Amendment goes too far was already on the rise before the
terrorist attacks a year ago, doubling to four in 10 between 2000 and 2001.

The poll found that 49 percent think the First Amendment goes too far, a total about 10
points higher than in 2001.


ACLU Seeks Information on Government\'s Use of Vast New Surveillance Powers

James Nimmo passed along This ACLU Announcement on the Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU demanding that the Department of Justice provide information about the pervasiveness of domestic spying.
The ACLU made the request jointly with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, which said it was concerned that the new surveillance laws threaten the First Amendment-protected activities of book publishers, investigative journalists, booksellers, librarians, and readers.


U.S. [Un]Patriotic Act Under Fire

Michael Nellis writes \"The Free Expression Network has a story about a number of free speech advocate groups protesting the secrecy legislated into the act. You can read the news release


And a copy of the letter at PEN American,




Cops Swoop, Librarians Prevail

The following appeared in the 8/21 issue of The Seattle Times: \"Child pornography is illegal and anyone who tries to satisfy a despicable appetite via the computers of the King County Library System will be confronted and police called if needed. That fundamental message got lost in a bruising dispute between the library system and the Kent Police Department. The library filed a lawsuit against police when authorities seized two computers last month as part of an investigation that started off on the wrong foot. The library\'s lawsuit blocked police from conducting any computer search. All this morphed in some minds as the library system aiding and abetting and defending child pornography. That is just wrong...\" Read the rest.


Academic-Library Groups Still Oppose UCITA

Jen Young pointed us to where they are Reporting Academic-library groups say they\'re still opposed to a model law intended to make software-licensing agreements uniformly enforceable in all 50 states, even though the legal group that drafted the measure eased some of its provisions this month. The library groups say the changes to the law, called the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, or Ucita, are a step in the right direction, but don\'t go far enough to protect scholars\' interests.

The text of the model law and the revisions are both available online.


University Accused of Setting Textbook Example on how to Violate Student Rights

The University charged the student with possession of stolen property and trespassing for videotaping a speech made by Tipper Gore. The videotaping was unauthorized and resulted in the student being placed on probation and forced to perform community service. The student is suing the University, claiming that his civil rights were violated. Read More.


Everyone Mad at Librarian Of Congress

There are a few stories going around today detailing how both the RIAA and the Internet Radio folks are displeased with the LibrarianOC in his decision about royalties.

Both groups maintain the librarian erred in relying on a single, atypical deal, struck several years ago with Yahoo, to set the rate for an entire industry. Webcasters say it is too high. The recording industry says it is too low.

What do you think of the Librarian of Congress?
Read the full story and then read another one.
In related news, EMI sues AOL for using music it owns.Here\'s the story.



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