Legal Issues

Racist\'s case settled

The lawsuit filed against the Schaumburg Township District Library by Illinois white supremacist Matthew Hale has been settled. Hale sued after the library revoked permission for him to use a meeting room for a speech. He will now be appearing at the library on a Saturday evening, after closing time.

Sklyarov Interviewed by New York Times

The Times caught up with Dmitri in Cupertino, where he\'s awaiting phase two of litigation :)

Dmitri Sklyarov rarely reads electronic books. \"There are almost no e-books in Russian,\" said Mr. Sklyarov, the 26-year- old Moscow cryptographer who was arrested in Las Vegas last month under a 1998 digital copyright law. \"I prefer paper books. They\'re much easier to carry with me, and can be read anywhere.\"

In fact, most people still prefer paper books. Unlike music and film, books have yet to be popularly accepted in digital format. Nevertheless, the nascent market has heightened the publishing industry\'s sensitivity to the potential for digital piracy, enough so that it has initiated the first criminal case under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. And Mr. Sklyarov is the first to be charged.

[More (registration is required.)]

The current state of \'fair use\'

In this interview, Lawrence Lessig, Stanford law professor and supporter of consumer\'s rights, discusses the current state of \'fair use\' in the context of peer-to-peer networks. Lessig is one of the more notable critics of the DMCA. He will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming O\'Reilly Conference on Peer-to-Peer and Web Services.

Academic Face/Off on DMCA

Brian Surratt writes \"This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses two Carnegie Mellon professors who are on opposite sides of the DMCA debate. David S. Touretzky (Anti-DMCA) is notable for maintaining the Gallery of CSS Descramblers at his college at CMU, Michael I. Shamos, was paid $30,000 by the Motion Picture Association to conduct experiments and provide testimony to support DMCA in court. The saga is far from over... \"

U.S. Fair Use Primer

Georgia K. Harper\'s brief and useful introduction to U.S. copyright law, with a focus on fair use and the D.M.C.A.:

The balance that copyright law has achieved between the interests of copyright owners and the interests of the public has evolved slowly and has been only periodically adjusted. Today, however, the pace and the magnitude of change threaten to skew this balance to the point of collapse. Some of these changes -- licenses, access controls, certain provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) -- have the potential to drastically undermine the public right to access information, to comment on events, and even to share information with others.

More from the Journal of Electronic Publishing . Harper\'s earlier article \"Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials\" provides additional information on the tests used to determine fair use.

Canada Considering Modification of Copyright Laws

The Canadian government is considering modifying the Copyright Act to address digital copyright issues:

In order for Canada to be an important player in the emerging digital economy, the Copyright Act may need to be amended to ensure that it continues to be meaningful, clear and balanced. In particular, the examination of key digital copyright issues is necessary to fully realize the government\'s priority of promoting the dissemination of new and interesting content on-line, for and by Canadians. The departments believe it is now an opportune moment to initiate consultation with stakeholders on whether the Act should be amended to:

1. Set out a new exclusive right in favour of copyright owners, including performers and record producers, to make their works available on-line to the public;

2. Prevent the circumvention of technologies used to protect copyright material; and,

3. Prohibit tampering with rights management information.
Another important issue relates to the circumstances under which Internet service providers should be held liable for the transmission and storage of copyright material when their facilities are involved. At present, the Act does not clearly identify the conditions for imposing liability, nor does it explicitly limit such liability. [More]

The public comment period ends September 15th. Thanks to Waterloo Wide Web.

Sklyarov Case Round Up

Brian writes \"For a good review of the case, and a great discussion of \"fair use\" for electronic information, check out the US vs. Sklyarov at FAX the Electronic Frontier Foundation Web Site\"

Other interesting stories include:
When misguided plans go from bad to worse, from CNET. \"That plan never looked more misguided than now, when prosecutors want to close those loopholes around a man\'s neck.\".

Wired has Sklyarov: A Huge Sigh of Release, \"\"We made ourselves heard, so the fact that he was able to get himself free at least shows that the public\'s efforts worked,\" she said.\"

Sklyarov Released on $50,000 Bail

Jailed Russian programmer and international cause célèbre Dmitri Sklyarov was released this afternoon:

Russian software programmer Dimitry Sklyarov, whose July 16 arrest on U.S. copyright charges provoked a firestorm of debate over Internet free speech, was released on $50,000 bail on Monday by a California court. Sklyarov, 26, was released into the custody of Sergei Osokine of nearby Cupertino, Calif., after his Moscow-based company, ElcomSoft Co., put up the $50,000 bond, court officials said. Sklyarov appeared in court for the bail hearing, looking tired and wearing orange prison-issued clothing. Outside the court, a small group of protesters demonstrated, saying his arrest was a violation of free speech rights. [More from Yahoo News.]

Scooped again by Slashdot.

Court denies request to dismiss Internet filter lawsuits

I think I may have posted this before, but James Nimmo passed along This Findlaw story on the lawsuits challenging the Children\'s Internet Protection Act that makes federal funding for library technology contingent upon Internet filtering will move forward to trial.

The Justice Department asked to have the lawsuits thrown out, but a two-paragraph order issued Thursday rejected the government\'s argument that the challengers had no valid First Amendment claim.

Jail Time in the Digital Age

Copyright scholar (and Electronic Frontier Foundation board member) Lawrence Lessing neatly skewers the DMCA:

The D.M.C.A. outlaws technologies designed to circumvent other technologies that protect copyrighted material. It is law protecting software code protecting copyright. The trouble, however, is that technologies that protect copyrighted material are never as subtle as the law of copyright. Copyright law permits fair use of copyrighted material; technologies that protect copyrighted material need not. Copyright law protects for a limited time; technologies have no such limit. Thus when the D.M.C.A. protects technology that in turn protects copyrighted material, it often protects much more broadly than copyright law does. It makes criminal what copyright law would forgive. (More from the New York Times.)

A tip of the pen to Metafilter.

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