Legal Issues

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.


Godsey: Library records wouldn\'t help FBI much

A Story from IA says it\'s unlikely that investigators would find incriminating information in a patron\'s records.

\"We\'re very conscious of any misperception that we\'re violating someone\'s personal rights,\" Holmquist said. \"FBI agents can\'t go out on their own and obtain whatever records they want. There are checks and balances within the system.\"


Must hush

Karl Siewert QuickSubmitted This Story on a case a lawsuit over silence. John Cage and Mike Batt have both released songs made up of mostly silence, and Nicholas Riddle, director of the firm that owns the copyright to Cage\'s music, has vowed to take Batt to court over royalties to the song.


The fiction behind national security

Here\'s An Interesting Story on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Under that Act\'s provisions, the government may conduct covert surveillance of individuals only after seeking an order from a special government-created secret court. However, that court, in its first two decades, granted every one of the government\'s more than 12,000 requests.


A Couple DMCA Updates

Larry Schwartz sent us This CNET Story that says HP is using both the controversial 1998 DMCA and computer crime laws, and has threatened to sue a team of researchers who publicized a vulnerability in the company\'s OS. reports that Benjamin G. Edelman, a first-year student at Harvard University\'s law school, is the latest academic researcher to challenge the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Mr. Edelman, last month filed a lawsuit against N2H2 Inc., a Seattle-based Internet filtering company, in U.S. District Court in Boston. The suit asks a judge to prevent N2H2 from suing Mr. Edelman under the digital-copyright law should he decide to bypass the company\'s encryption, which prevents him from discovering its complete list of blocked Web sites.



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