The Internet has enabled the emergence of a collective consciousness that is unprecedented in human history. We are coming together as a hive, and the intelligence of the swarm is being mined and utilized like never before.
Knowledge is power, information is a cash commodity, and who decides how these resources and benefits are distributed? The latest controversy about Facebook's Beacon advertisements is one of many examples that suggests that the issue of user control over his or her own information is reaching a tipping point. We, the online masses, are developing a new sense that our own information is sacred and worth protecting, and not to be indiscriminately broadcast, or blindly exploited for someone else's commercial gain.
Beyond a "right to privacy" that might have meant "secrecy" in the past, we need to think about the right to control our information when it comes to:What I say about myself What others say about me, and How that information is used
I see these issues coming up time and time again in a thread that runs through everything from Internet safety, to social networking, creative artists' rights, consumer/patient rights, all the way up to government wiretapping and surveillance.… Read more
Everybody knows that copyright owners can demand that YouTube and other Web sites remove unauthorized copies of their work under the law. But what happens when the owners of intellectual property err in their claims?
On Wednesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that advocates for the rights of Internet users, issued six principles that copyright holders should consider before trying to remove a piece of content.
EFF has represented several individuals who have seen their videos removed from Web sites after a copyright owner erroneously claimed that their copyright was violated. EFF recently filed suit against Prince on … Read more
Prince can't push this mother around.
The pop star wanted YouTube to remove a clip of an infant boy dancing to his 1984 hit song "Let's Go Crazy." When the clip got scrubbed, the baby's mother cried foul and filed suit asking for damages. The woman's lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) say the dancing-baby clip is the poster child for fair use.
Corynne McSherry, the EFF attorney representing the baby's mother, Stephanie Lenz, said the music on the clip is barely audible and that Lenz, from rural Pennsylvannia, posted the video … Read more
I got an email from Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation yesterday. It began, "Half the companies you blog about have copyright or privacy legal issues simmering just under the surface. Since most of them are thinly capitalized, when they get into trouble, they're likely to call EFF for legal advice. Several already have."
I called von Lohmann right away, since I've had a nagging feeling for months that too many of the interesting products I've been seeing were legally shaky. So I talked with him to come up with this list: 9 Fun Ways Web 2.0 Startups Can Commit Legal Suicide.
For more information than can fit in a blog post, you might want to check out the EFF's upcoming Compliance Bootcamp on Oct. 10 in Mountain View. I told von Lohmann I'd link to the event in exchange for this preview.
1. Ignoring the rules of Safe Harbor Many media sharing sites, like SimplifyMedia, exist in a narrow legal framework carved out of the DMCA. But you can't take advantage of the Safe Harbor provisions of the DMCA if you don't register as a "copyright agent." All that's required is filling out a form and paying an $80 fee. You can't get protection without registering. As von Lohmann said, "The difference between you and Napster might be this form."
2. Ignoring the Terms of Service chain This applies to sites that collect or aggregate data--like Mint, which collects its users' financial information. The sites where the data are coming from may have terms of service that prohibit their users from sharing them with third parties. Sites that collect this information may be seen as encouraging breech of contract, which is a legal exposure.
3. Falling for a sob story If you're collecting personal information from or about people, there will be other people who want it. They may call up your company and give someone there a convincing story to get it. If your team falls for this "pretexting," or social engineering, users can sue you for exposing their information.
We all heard the stories about the Recording Industry Association of America lawsuits and the mostly college students who found themselves in the crosshairs several years ago.
Many people are opposed to music piracy, but far fewer actually agreed with the RIAA's heavy-handed legal approach.
Among dissenters is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against RIAA member Universal Music Publishing Group after the company asked that a home video be removed from YouTube due to copyright infringement. The video features 18-month-old Holden Lenz dancing to Prince's "Let's Get Crazy" and runs for a total of 29 seconds. Following Universal's complaint, the video was removed by YouTube and remained offline until recently.The EFF points out that, "Under federal copyright law, a mere allegation of copyright infringement can result in the removal of content from the Internet." This legal framework mandates that services take down material that may actually be completely lawful or protected under fair use, and this situation is the impetus for the suit.
As expected, the Electronic Frontier Foundation plans to file a friends-of-the-court brief in support of TorrentSpy, the search engine accused of copyright violations.
The top motion-picture studios filed a lawsuit last year against TorrentSpy and other search engines that locate torrent files. The studios allege in their suit that these companies simplify the illegal sharing of copyright content.
The magistrate judge hearing the case recently ruled that computer RAM or random-access memory, is a tangible document that can be stored and must be turned over in a lawsuit. If allowed to stand, the groundbreaking decision may mean that anyone defending … Read more
Up for a do-it-yourself project this weekend? Rarely does Web site swag get as intricate as the Digg button from Adafruit Industries. The $20 kit gives you everything you need (sans soldering tools) to put together a slick, working Digg button that has a three-digit counter on it to keep track of Diggs. Every time you click the tiny, red button, you get a nice "dug" message on the LED display, and the count goes up by one. The real-world possibilities for this are endless.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has dropped a lawsuit that it filed against Viacom on behalf of a group that posted a parody video of The Colbert Report on YouTube, which Viacom demanded be removed citing U.S. copyright law.
The lawsuit, filed in March in federal court in San Francisco, accused Viacom of misusing the law and infringing on the free-speech rights of the makers of the video--activist group MoveOn.org Civic Action and Brave New Films. When contacted by CNET News.com last month, Viacom claimed that it had not asked YouTube to remove the video. However, Viacom later … Read more