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Friday, January 04, 2008

Freedom for IP Goals for 2008

1. Increase our blogging - Last year we had 150 blog posts ranging from on site blogging at legal and technology conferences to issue statements on DRM and Fair Use. This has been one of our most successful outreach tools and will continue to grow over the next year. At the end of 2007 Riana Pfefferkorn a 2L at University of Washington Law and , has joined our blogging effort as a guest blogger. We hope to find more guest bloggers in 2008.

2. We would like to add a section on FFIP for videos while experimenting with a monthly video cast on current issue related to IP. My personal strength is public speaking, and I want to try capturing that for an online medium.

3. Move from Blogger to WordPress - Blogger has served us well but does not fit our mission. Open source community based tools represent the values of FFIP better. Both Sarah and Brian have transitioned to WordPress for our personal blogs and the process has been very positive.

4. Improve Case Law and Philosophy sections - We need to add cases like KSR International v. Teleflex, INS v. AP, and Michael Savage v. CAIR. We have decided not to internally host a case law database, but instead to link to outside resources like AltLaw and Wikipedia while adding our own comments and resources on the FFIP site. On the philosophy side we need to add Wealth of Networks, Infringement Nation and a pleathera of other writings on the topics to the list. We may even start a wiki to take suggestions for resources to add.

5. More Partnerships - Last year we worked with Defective By Design, CC and EFF with great success. Defective by Design runs the best protests while CC and EFF have been extremely useful for providing educational materials for teaching people about their rights and options to opt out of copyright. We will be reaching out to more organizations to help educate more people about the need to expand Fair Use and reform patents.

6. New logo - *holds head in hands* this is long over due. I fail at graphic design. I can give public speeches, code and even write Fair Use defense legal letters, but when it comes to artistic online skillz we need help. We need a new logo.

I should stop here before going making the list too long... These goals are manageable and can be accomplished with your help.

FFIP has been running for two and a half years now, I am grateful for all the help we have had from law professors, other orgs and volunteers. I look forward to another year bring the copyfight to the people who will fight for our rights in the digital age.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Public.Records.org helps free caselaw

"Public.Resource.Org and Fastcase have reached an agreement for the release of a totally unencumbered repository of 1.8 million pages of federal case law, including Courts of Appeals decisions back to 1950." Carl Malamud Public.Resource.org

This is a huge win for open access law. For too long case law, which is in the public domain, have been locked away by Westlaw and Lexis (Wexis).

Last Summer when we (Sarah and I) visited CC this was one of our major topics we discussed with Jon Phillips. I am ecstatic to see CC and EFF involved in the process of liberating case law. Although I do find it a bit odd that the press release lists a "brand-new Creative Commons mark—CC-Ø—which will allow us to affirmatively certify that this information is public domain." It is more accurate to say they are resurrecting an old CC mark with possibly an new look. The upper left hand of Freedom for IP has been sporting a CC PD mark for the last 2 years.

To illustrate how important it is that this case law is in the public domain one can look to CC description of what can be done with materials in the public domain the case law "may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and in any way, including by methods that have not yet been invented or conceived."

The next major challenge for the public and the legal community it to find the best way to make these 1.8 million pages usable. Having all the case law in the world online is only a start, the one thing that Wexis has done well is make case law usable with internal links, head notes summaries and cross references.

Here is my first thoughts on how make the case law usable:
1. XML it - Mark it up in a open format that allows other to repurpose it easily
2. Wiki it in a way the preserves the text- Wiki style case summaries
3. Tag it for current precedence - create a tagging system marking which cases are still good law and allow users to comment and change these tags as new decisions are made.
4. Cross reference it - add internal links or a way to easily move from one case to another within the documents
5. Add a uniform index of issues.
6. Add an index of facts.

The players best suited to do these things are the old guard of Wexis, the new juggernauts of Wikimedia and Wikipedia, and the new academically supported Altlaw. I am curious who will step up to the plate and how. There is so much ground to cover in making this case law usable that several groups could work together. Wexis can probably get 5-10 more years out of the locked system, but if one of them wants to open there systems they could dominate a new open market place based on alternative revenue. Ultimately I think the usability solutions will come from whoever is able to harness the power of law students, public interest lawyers and the general public in one collaborative forum.

Past articles on these issues:
Findlaw - Westlaw kills FindLaw, Remove your links
Altlaw = public domain law database

External press coverage:
Boing Boing
Official Press Release

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

University of Oregon stands up to the RIAA

University of Oregon and the Oregon's Attorney General are fighting against RIAA subpoenas for student names in alleged file sharing cases. This is great news. It is nice to see a university standing up for the privacy rights of students and not enabling the RIAA to harass students with unsubstantiated claims.

EFF has done a great job summarizing the arguments of the college.
In its brief, the University makes 5 arguments:

1) The University is already preserving information, so there is no need for ex parte subpoenas;
2) the subpoena imposes an undue burden because the University cannot tell who the file-sharer was without additional investigation;
3) the language of subpoena is overbroad;
4) the FERPA bars disclosure of the identifying information; and
5) Section 512(h) of the DMCA provides the exclusive mechanism for ex parte subpoenas to ISPs in these circumstances.

The last argument, if accepted by the court, could radically change the nature of the RIAA's 4-year litigation campaign against music fans. Currently, the recording industry's strategy relies on pressuring universities into handing over student targets, either by having the university deliver "pre-litigation settlement letters" to students or, failing that, forcing universities to respond to subpoenas obtained after filing a "John Doe" lawsuit. If these avenues are blocked, the recording industry would have to undertake its own investigatory efforts to determine who to sue.

More at EFF

Znet also has a good article on U of O and the AG's reasons for fighting the subpoenas:

The AG’s office says the RIAA is engaging in unethical behavior towards the court. Despite the fact that deputy AG Randolph Geller told RIAA counsel Katheryn Coggon that the school would preserve all the relevant data, the RIAA said in its subpoena request that:

there was a “very real danger the ISP will not long preserve” the data it wanted.

Having just taken the California Bar’s professional responsibility exam I can tell you such a misrepresentation could result in disciplinary action, IMO.
Since it would take so much effort to ID the students, the RIAA is essentially shifting its own investigatory burden onto the state.

“In short, the subpoena requires the University to create discoverable material to assist Plaintiffs in their litigation rather than merely disclose existing documents,” argues the school, citing case law that indicates that non-parties “are not required to create documents that do not exist, simply for the purposes of discovery.”

More from ZNET

Go Ducks!

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Monday, October 08, 2007

EFF and CC Big Wigs in Seattle, Kahle and Lessig

TO SPEAK OCTOBER 9 (in less than 24 hours)

Title: Universal Access to All Human Knowledge
Date: October 9, 2007
Time: 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: UW Main Campus, Henry Art Gallery, Auditorium 301
Cost: Free

The UW Information School is pleased to welcome Brewster Kahle, the
"internet librarian," to speak about the past, present and future of
digital librarianship during his lecture, "Universal Access to All Human
Knowledge." He will discuss the roles, rights, and responsibilities of
our libraries and archives in providing public access to digital
collections of human knowledge. He sees a near future where the promise
of the digital age-to make all of human knowledge available to students
and scholars all over the world-is a reality.

About Brewster Kahle:

Brewster Kahle is a U.S. internet entrepreneur, activist and digital
librarian. Kahle graduated from Massachusetts IT in 1982 with an SB degree in Computer Science & Engineering.

Kahle was an early member of the Thinking Machines team, where he helped
develop the WAIS system, a precursor to today's internet search engines.
He later started WAIS, Inc. (sold to AOL), and the nonprofit Internet
Archive. He is currently Director of the Internet Archive. He is also a member of
the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a key
supporter of the Open Content Alliance. His stated goal is "Universal
Access to all Knowledge."

Also, Lawrence Lessig is coming to
University of Washington in November

Title: Is Google (2008) Microsoft (1998)?
Date: Nov . 2, 2007
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: in room 130 of Kane Hall.
Cost: Free

Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Lessig represented web site operator Eric Eldred in the ground-breaking case Eldred v. Ashcroft, a challenge to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. He has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award, and was named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries, for arguing "against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online."

Professor Lessig is the author of Free Culture (2004), The Future of Ideas (2001) and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (1999). He chairs the Creative Commons project, and serves on the board of the Free Software Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Public Library of Science, and Public Knowledge. He is also a columnist for Wired.

Professor Lessig earned a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, contracts, and the law of cyberspace.

Mark your calendars! More information here:


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Monday, September 17, 2007

EFF Seeks Staff Intellectual Property Attorney

EFF is seeking an intellectual property staff attorney for its legal team. Responsibilities will include litigation, public speaking, media outreach, plus legislative and regulatory advocacy, all in connection with a variety of intellectual property and high technology matters.

Full post at EFF: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005441.php#005441

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Collective Licensing for Universities

Fred Von Lohmann, of EFF, just released an article responding to congresses letter to universities. He advocates for collective licensing through universities and unlimited file sharing. I have to agree that this is a much better solution than expelling students.


Copyright Silliness on Campus
By Fred von Lohmann

"The only solution is a blanket license that permits students to get
unrestricted music and movies from sources of their choosing.

At its heart, this is a fight about money, not about morality. We should
have the universities collect the cash, pay it to the entertainment
industry and let the students do what they are going to do anyway. In
exchange, the entertainment industry should call off the lawyers and
lobbyists, leaving our nation's universities to focus on the real
challenges facing America's next generation of leaders."

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

EFF is defending conservative blogger Michelle Malkin's right to criticize a profane non-god-fearing hip hop artist... How long until her corporate overlords ostracize her for fraternizing with the enemy?

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