Legal Issues

FBI Given More Latitude

New Justice Department guidelines to be unveiled today will give FBI agents latitude to monitor Internet sites, libraries and religious institutions without first having to offer evidence of potential criminal activity, officials said yesterday.

Full Story from the Washington Post.


1 woman\'s war on the DMCA

From the Wall Street Journal:

For more than 15 years, [Pamela] Samuelson . . . a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has been fighting what she sees as overzealous and innovation-stifling expansion of copyright laws in the high-tech arena . . .

Now she is taking on one of her biggest challenges so far -- attacking the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, an anti-piracy law backed by the entertainment industry. Ms. Samuelson thinks the law protects intellectual-property rights at the expense of technological research and innovation, as well as the broader public interest . . .




Eldred v. Ashcroft Web Site

Matt helped put together a new Eldred v. Ashcroft Site with Lawrence Lessig.

This site collects material related to the constitutional challenge of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended by 20 years both existing copyrights and future copyrights. It includes a Section on how you can help.


Fair Use Is Getting Unfair Treatment

BusinessWeek has This Story that points out Hollywood has been on a remarkable legislative and legal winning streak in its campaign to win increased protections.
\"first sale\" and \"fair use\" are threatened by the development of digital media and they way Big Media\'s has been able to completely control it, and this has destroyed the delicate equilibrium that is copyright law.


Supreme Court Says Internet Porn Law Not Too Broad

James Nimmo sent over This One that says by an 8-1 vote The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a federal law that makes it a crime to put on the Internet sexually explicit material that can be viewed by minors was not unconstitutional just because it relied on community standards.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that reliance on community standards to identify material harmful to minors does not by itself render the law too broad under the First Amendment.

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said community standards would not work in cyberspace. He said \"the community that wishes to live without certain material not only rids itself, but the entire Internet of the offending speech.\"


Web radio stations shut down to protest LOC/Copyright Office ruling

From the Radio and Internet Newsletter, more evidence of the widespread impact of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act:

Hundreds of Internet radio stations and channels across America are shutting off their music streams on Wednesday, May 1st, in a \"Day of Silence\" to highlight their concern over the upcoming U.S. Copyright Office ruling on royalty rates that may shut down or bankrupt the vast majority of the nascent Internet radio industry.

The Librarian of Congress is required to set \"sound recordings performance royalty\" rates for Internet radio stations by May 21st — and an arbitration panel (a \"CARP\") working for that office has recommended a rate of $.0014 per listener per song (or $.0007 for broadcast simulcasts). Many webcasters say the proposed royalty rate is the equivalent of 200% or more of their revenues . . .

More information here and here.


Court strikes down child porn ban

Salon is Reporting The US Supreme Court struck down a congressional ban on virtual child pornography, The court said language in a 1996 child pornography law was unconstitutionally vague and far-reaching. \"The First Amendment requires a more precise restriction,\" Kennedy wrote for himself and Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately to agree with the outcome. O\'Connor, Rehnquist, and Scalia filed the dissenting opinions.

Still think CIPA stands a chance?


Ruling Expected Today in E-book Copyright Case

From NewsBytes...

\"U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte is expected to rule today on motions to dismiss the government\'s case against a Russian software firm. Attorneys for Elcomsoft, a company charged with violating U.S. copyright laws by selling computer software capable of bypassing the security in Adobe\'s eBooks, are slated to appear before Whyte in a San Jose, Calif. court. They earlier argued that the government did not have jurisdiction to prosecute the firm, which published the eBook software product from Russia, and that the controversial copyright law used against Elcomsoft is unconstitutional.\" More


Bookstore Records Remain Private in Colorado

The San Francisco Gate reports

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects the privacy of both bookstore owners and their customers when it refused yesterday to force a Denver retailer to turn sales records over to police.

The decision was based on Colorado\'s constitution, this is not binding for any other state. This issue is bound to come up in other states, though, becasue subpoeneas for reading records are on the rise.Read the full story.The LA Times coverageAnd finally the story from the Boston Globe


Proposed copyright law raises controversy

SF Gate has a Look At The Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act of 2002, introduced by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. This law would give the entertainment idustry the ability to legislate technological standards that would halt the spread of unauthorized copying of digital video and audio.

\"This pending legislative mandate is one of the most serious threats the high-tech industry has ever had to deal with,\" said Donald Whiteside, Intel\'s vice president of legal and government affairs. \"We want government support of solutions we think are workable, not for government constructing a guillotine over our heads.\"

Politechbot Has Some More Info.



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