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ACLU Files New DMCA Challenge

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the breakin-the-law-breakin-the-law dept.

The Courts 249

joeblowme writes "Finally, someone is stepping up to the plate to challenge the DMCA. The ACLU is filing a lawsuit on behalf of a 22-year-old programmer claiming that the law hinders the ability to effectively test internet filtering software. The story can be found here at CNet. Hopefully this will lead to one victory in reducing the scope of the DMCA." The ACLU's press release is available, as is their complaint.

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249 comments

fp for the buzz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951642)

buzz to the dawg pound...my fp 0wns u....

Not First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951646)

This is not the first post so you may read it and then go on with your life.

I'd like to see this succeed (5, Informative)

krog (25663) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951648)

i'm glad the ACLU is stepping up to the plate on this one. good that they're on Bruce Perens' side too. renew your membership today! [aclu.org]

Re:I'd like to see this succeed (1)

Zone5 (179243) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951669)

They've officially aligned themselves with Perens, then? I hadn't heard, but that is indeed good news! I hope they go beyond moral support and really hit the DMCA with both barrels.

Re:I'd like to see this succeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951684)

hear hear! all of us can definitely spare a few $$ to donate it to the ACLU. now more than ever we as Americans need their help in keeping the country free and beautiful.

donate!

so then i says to mabel i says... (-1)

Trolling Stones (587878) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951664)

Trolling Stones' lyrics quiz!
See if you can get them all without using a search engine
You must provide the artist and song title for full credit.

1) it was a monday
a day like any other day
i left the small town

2) you're the one to make vanilla's blood boil
open that hood let me check that oil

3) stop what you're doing
cuz i'm about to ruin
the image and the style that you're used to
i look funny
but yo i'm making money see
so yo world i hope you're ready for me

4) your face is small and your curves are kickin
and i'm thinking bout stick
to the beanpole dames in the magazines
you ain't it

5) well we don't sound like madonna
here we are now we're nirvana
sing distinctly we don't wanna
buy our album we're nirvana
a garage band from seattle
well it sure beats raising cattle

g to the oatse
c to the izzex
fo shizzle my nizzle 7th heaven is an awful show

re: your subject (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951897)

Bart Simpson, fuck if I remember which episode, though.

Re:so then i says to mabel i says... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3952041)

3) Digital Underground - Humpty Dance
4) Sir Mix A Lot - Baby Got Back
5) Weird Al - Smells Like Nirvana

god bless (2, Informative)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951667)

god bless the ACLU. Become a card carrying member here [virtualsprockets.com] .

TROLL WARNING!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951798)

MODERATORS---

Take note of that guy's username = "trollercoaster"

Also, ask yourself --- why would the ACLU set up card carrying membership at Virtual Sprockets instead of their own website?

redundant, as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951822)

look two posts higher on the page -- same thing

Re:redundant, as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951898)

And...
how do you get a...
(Score:0, Informative)

Looks like 0 should be nul and void.

Re:TROLL WARNING!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951925)

Nothing gets past you, Sherlock.

You realize, of course, that the site [virtualsprockets.com] actually is an ACLU membership application.

Good on you for keeping the trolls down, even when they're being informative.

Re:god bless (-1)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951867)


This post is not redundant, nor a troll. The link is to where the ACLU lets you join on-line. I think the ACLU does a great job, and I joined. All I had to do was click that link.

I did, once (2)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951909)

Even sent them the recommended $270 for a year. Almost immediately I got tons of letters practically demanding that I be more generous. I decided they were wasting my money and ignored them from then on. I also was a bit ticked when they supported sending that 17 (?) year old kid back to Russia with his parents after he'd lived here for some time and didn't want to go back, and would be an adult in just a year. But it was the obnoxious dunning letters that got my goat.

Re:I did, once (1)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951954)

I take it you've never given to the Red Cross. They've been hounding me since last september.

I know it's a bitch to be hassled, but you've got to remember that they really don't have a choice. They need money badly, and people won't get off their asses and write a check unless they're constantly pestered. If you want to bemoan something, it should be the reluctance of your average joe to support charities.

Insane Squirrel? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951670)

Outside there was a squirrel. And it made lots of strange squirrelly noises. It was really loud. What was wrong with the squirrel? What does it mean?


This sig is about squirrels

Re:Insane Squirrel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951784)

It means the squirrel is a "friendly," and is desperately trying to communicate to you that there is going to be a mass rodent revolt any day now. They'll chew through the hoses in your car engine, knock over your bicycle, eat the center out of all your bread (leaving just the crusts), and vomit all over the house.

Jesus, get out of there! And take that hero squirrel with you, they'll skin him alive if they find out he ratted!

Re:Insane Squirrel? Better than Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951884)

At least living in a squirrelarchy will be better than living under the rule of George W. Bush.

Do not eat this sig.

ACLU is up to no good? (1, Insightful)

Ryan_Terry (444764) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951671)

I usually cannot stand the ACLU. IMHO I feel like they usually get involved in issues that they really don't belong in because of the publicity they recieve. I hope this isn't the case here. I see their power and finances being a great benefit to the fight against the DMCA. I hope they can help fight for rights that I feel like we should have here in the US.

/me has my fingers crossed.

Re:ACLU is up to no good? (5, Insightful)

mberman (93546) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951736)

Are you sure they don't just get involved in a lot of issues, and the only ones you hear about are the ones that involve publicity?

Re:ACLU is up to no good? (3)

Ryan_Terry (444764) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951776)

GREAT point. That is more likely the case. I admit I do not follow all of what the ACLU does.

Re:ACLU is up to no good? (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951975)

If I had mod points right now and there was a +1 "Well Said" I would gladly mod you up. It takes good character to ENGAGE in a discussion AS a discussion -- not as a battle.

-jhon

Where does the ACLU's funding come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951744)

How does the ACLU get its funding? IIRC, they gave Hillary Rosen (of RIAA fame) an award for protecting free speech rights. Given the ACLU's long history of fighting for free speech rights, I assume they collect quite a bit of money from the media. If this is true, they have a conflict of interest. I noticed they filed a rather mediocre amicus curie brief in the DeCSS case. I haven't seen them involved with the DMCA anywhere else.

On the other hand, the ACLU tends to get lots of attention, so more people should become aware of the DMCA.

Re:ACLU is up to no good? (1, Insightful)

gerf (532474) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951761)

Sadly, it's hard to trust any organization these days, not just the government and businesses. Any org/gov/bus only has one purpose: to live on, to expand, to survive.

Traditionally, we've knocked the big boys, M$, US gov, ect., but only because they've succeeded and have more clout, making us vulnerable. the reality is, almost any business would run the same way as M$, given the chance and the resources.

but, the ACLU has a 'purpose'. to defend our rights. sure, they may not have ideas that correspond to our own, but they don't need to. all they need to do to survive is to be able to use their self proscribed purpose to get donations and support from those who can keep the organization working. Really, they'd do just as much as Worldcom did, if they were pushed to it.

So, while i wouldn't trust the ACLU with everything political, economical, social, ect, i think that they can do a very good deed here in fighting the DMCA. Perhaps, they most likely surmise, they can get some computer geeks to contribute to their causes, and can thus extend their membership and capital.

it's all business when you look at it. that's why i'm in engineering. i hate business ethics

Re:ACLU is up to no good? - what? (5, Insightful)

sugrshack (519761) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951806)

First of all, I think it's good that the ACLU is involved

Second of all, I'm wondering why the ACLU gets such a bad rap here on ./, a place that seems to stand by some of the same basic principles that the organization swears by.

It's interesting how people tend to not like an organiztion which is interested primarily in defending some of the basic tenets of the US constitution.

The ACLU gets involved in many many issues which you do not hear about. Many of these are not "sexy" issues, which make news. For instance, they were recently involved with protecting the rights of Haitian refugess, basically preventing people from being deported into deplorable situations. Sure, many of you don't like the idea of immigrants, even though 99.9% of you (in the US) are descended from immigrants, but it is the basic principles of protection from tyranny of the majority that the ACLU defends.

This particular issue is of direct relevance to /. as they are going after legislation which most here (rightly) hate. However, they exist largely to protect the public from the "mob mentality" that often ignores the rights of many groups whose opinions are in the minority.

Witness their actions regarding the USA PATRIOT act; a ridiculous bill which basically removes many basic freedoms guaranteed in the constitution under the rubrick of protecting us from enemies. Sure there may be a point to trying to be better protected, but I'm of the view that if you remove freedom, there's very little left to protect.

Sure the ACLU ends up getting involved with issues that may end up pissing off some their own constituencies (e.g. Skokie) but it's the principles of freedom that they stand for, not just the rhetoric.

If you're going to bash the ACLU, then provide an alternative.

Re:ACLU is up to no good? - what? (1, Interesting)

Squareball (523165) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951917)

Well you basically pointed out exactly WHY a lot of people hate the ACLU. Protecting HATIANS? Hello, it's the AMERICAN civil liberties union. I am all for immigration.. LEGAL immigration.. not illegal immigration. The ACLU also are race warlords. They like to group people into race/sex/sexual prefrence etc. instead of treating people as individuals. I could go on, but it's time for lunch :)

Re:ACLU is up to no good? (2, Insightful)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951825)

I usually cannot stand the ACLU. IMHO I feel like they usually get involved in issues that they really don't belong in because of the publicity they recieve. I hope this isn't the case here. I see their power and finances being a great benefit to the fight against the DMCA. I hope they can help fight for rights that I feel like we should have here in the US.

Agreed, I usually get suspicious whenever I hear the ACLU has gotten involved in a case. As most of the cases they tend to get involved in are the highly controversial and highly visable cases. And I rarely find myself agreeing with thier point of view.
However, there is the old axiom, "The enemy of my enemy is my ally". So, in this case, I'm happy to have them onboard.
Maybe there will finally be enough money to throw at this law to get it killed.

Re:ACLU is up to no good? (2)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951853)

have you considered getting your news from other sources besides right-wing biased news channels. of course, i can't remember many of those when i lived in america. network news, fox news, cnn and msnbc are all biased to the right.

mother jones and salon are about all i can think of actually.

That's funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3952060)

I was thinking that all othe News Channels, except Fox, were biased to the left...

weird...2 different perceptions of the same thing.

The best place to find out what the ACLU dose is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3952033)

..their own publication: The Year in Civil Liberties [aclu.org] . The 2000 one is not organized as effectively, so you should check out one of the older ones first, like 1999.

Perhaps the most striking thng one notices about the ACLU, uppon browsing these documents, is the large number of cases involving schools and children. I don't know about you, but I remember a very strong undercurrent of civil rights violations from high school. Not necissarily anything as bad as the cases that ACLU takes, but educators and legislators have demonstrated time and again an almost total disrespect for the constitutional rights of minors.

The bottom line about the ACLU is that if the government (including when a person/corperation is using government power) is significantly infringing on your rights, there is a very good chance the ACLU will support your possition. They might not want to send a lawyer, but you can oftin get freidn of the court breifs and simillar things."

Test internet filtering software? (5, Funny)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951672)

You mean that guy is paid to download porn all day?

Re:Test internet filtering software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951727)

With a name like joeblowme he must be. . .

Re:Test internet filtering software? (5, Funny)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951731)

Funny story from my old ISP days. I was a night tech support supervisor. (My first techie job) One of the services we sold was a porn filter. Well we would get cranks who would "test" the filters and send in list after list of sites they got to. Well we in tech support knew the whole thing was bunk and it is impossible to block everything but management wanted us to verify the filters anyway. So long story short we would get list after list of porn sites and asked to make sure that we could get to them through the filter. I would use the porn lists as a reward for doing things the techs did not like to do, for example doing callbacks. So yea we where paid to surf for porn at least part of the night. :)

Re:Test internet filtering software? (5, Funny)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951774)

Hmm I can't imagine getting the full benefit of that from work. I'd be too shy to fully appreciate the porn around other guys. Ahem.

Re:Test internet filtering software? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951885)

Don't worry... it was gay porn...

Hilarious but true... (4, Funny)

catseye (96076) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951735)

Several years ago (pre dot-bomb), I had a friend who worked in Cupertino at Spyglass Software, makers of SurfWatch. While she had a variety of duties, her primary job was to review site-block requests sent in from SurfWatch users, and as time permitted, web surf looking for sites not accounted for in the SurfWatch "blocked" database. She'd sometimes spend four or five hours a day looking primarily for new XXX sites.

I remember she said it was bizarre to walk into an office where everyone was hard at work with hardcore pr0n on their screens.

err, I suppose that was an unforgivable pun. ;-)

-A.

for further info... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951676)

an interview, and more information on Edelman (the programmer/researcher) can be found here here. [corante.com]

Re:for further info... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951953)

Thanks for modding up an AC! You'll be happy to know that your vote of confidence went to a non karma whore!

Re:for further info... (1)

DeltaBlaster (300386) | more than 10 years ago | (#3952058)

And heres a link to past research he has done on Internet filtering systems, Here. [harvard.edu] Interviewed him once as a source for a paper I had to write for school, good guy.

Finally! (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951677)

The site has been semi slashed. Reading now. OK. Sounds like a long shot to mee. The courts haven't helped before. Why should they now? We need to get this thing repealled in it's present form.

ACLU is a joke (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951683)

dear god, if you have to rely on loonies like these to defend your "rights", then you are in serious trouble.

Nobody takes the ACLU seriously anymore.

Great! (-1)

JismTroll (588456) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951703)

It's fantastic for the open source community that the ACLU has done this! This will really put it in the face of Microsoft and the RIAA! Linux rules!

Text of the Press Release (0, Redundant)

geekfiend (448150) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951722)

In Legal First, ACLU Sues Over New Copyright Law: Says Blocking Program Lists Should Be Revealed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 25, 2002

NEW YORK-In the first challenge of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal court in Massachusetts to rule that a computer researcher has First Amendment and "fair use" rights to examine the full list of sites contained in an Internet blocking program and to share his research tools and results with others.

The ACLU said the lawsuit has relevance not only for researchers but for parents and other consumers - including thousands of schools and libraries - who want to know what the software is actually blocking.
Reseacher Benjamin Edelman wants to take a closer look at N2H2's Internet blocking program.

"Current copyright law and blocking software licenses prevent consumers from looking under the hood of the blocking products they buy," said Ann Beeson, Litigation Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program and lead counsel in the case. "These products do not work as advertised, and consumers have a right to know what they're really buying," she said.

The ACLU legal papers filed today seek a "declaratory judgment" from the court on behalf of researcher Benjamin Edelman, who wishes to examine a controversial blocking program manufactured by N2H2 Inc., of Seattle.

The lawsuit challenges provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and the non-negotiable N2H2 license, which forces buyers to accept a "fine print" contract saying they won't attempt to access the list of blocked sites.

"Especially when governments in the U.S. and abroad mandate the use of blocking programs, the public has a right to know what is being blocked, and I believe I have a right to uncover this information without being subject to a corporate lawsuit," said Edelman, a computer expert and consultant who currently works for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA. Edelman is suing as an individual and not on behalf of the Berkman Center or Harvard Law School.

Earlier this year, Edelman provided expert testimony in an ACLU challenge to the Children's Internet Protection Act, a federal law passed in December 2000 that ties crucial library funding to the mandated use of blocking programs on Internet terminals used by both adults and minors in public libraries. The court overturned the law, which is now on direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

N2H2 refused Edelman's request for a list of their blocked sites and intervened in the trial to prevent disclosure of other confidential information in open court. The court granted this request, but later unsealed the testimony, ruling that it did not warrant trade secret protection. Without a court ruling that his continued research is protected under the law, Edelman said he fears the company's aggressive actions make clear that he would be sued.

According to the ACLU legal complaint, N2H2 controls a significant portion of the library market, and its blocking program is used by at least five state governments, including Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that over 65,000 public schools used some sort of blocking program in the year 2001, and N2H2's 2001 annual report claims that over 40 percent of those schools (attended by over 16 million students) currently use N2H2's program, making the company the leader in the education market.

Human rights groups are also seeking information on the lists of Web sites blocked by repressive foreign governments that are increasingly using blocking programs to limit citizens' access to the outside world. Edelman's other research has investigated usage of blocking software in China and Saudi Arabia. N2H2 is one of the blocking program vendors currently competing for the contract to supply Saudi Arabia with blocking technology to prevent its citizens from accessing sites about religion, health, education, humor, and entertainment.

Although the DMCA provides a limited exception for accessing lists of blocked Web sites, Beeson said that it is meaningless because another provision blocks users from writing the software tools necessary to access the lists.

"The copyright law says you can look under the hood under certain circumstances but you can't build a tool needed to open the hood," Beeson said. "This irrational rule is chilling important scientific research in violation of the First Amendment."

The lawsuit, Edelman v. N2H2, Inc., was filed in federal district court in Boston, MA. Attorneys in the case are Beeson, Christopher Hansen and Kevin Bankston of the national ACLU.

The ACLU's legal complaint is online at http://www.aclu.org/court/edelman.pdf

A Web feature on the case, with links to Edelman's research, is online at http://www.aclu.org/issues/cyber/Edelman_N2H2_feat ure.html

A Web feature on the ACLU's challenge to CIPA is online at http://www.aclu.org/features/f032001a.html

Edelman's research on the use of blocking programs by foreign governments is online at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering

Re:Text of the Press Release (2)

silicon_synapse (145470) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951739)

It's tempting to get a new ID just so I can mod down people like you who post the entire article as a comment.

Re:Text of the Press Release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951790)

Why? It saves me time going to another site. Whats wrong with posting a press release?

Re:Text of the Press Release (0, Offtopic)

silicon_synapse (145470) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951851)

Because this isn't the place for it. This section is for comments. It's just that much more I have to scroll though, and it usually (though probably not in this case) involves copyright infringement.

quit your whining (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951920)

quit your whining, bitch

just that much more I have to scroll though (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951961)

Oh goodness me! You have to push the wheel on your mouse two or three more times to get past a posted article. Poor, poor baby!

Someone stop the planet. If there are people like this here, I want to leave.

Re:just that much more I have to scroll though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3952028)

WOOT! well said, brother! If i were a karma whore with mod points, i'd give ya some!

Re:Text of the Press Release (1)

Cleon (471197) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951811)

As often as not, as in this case, people do it because the link has been /.ed. It's actually helpful for those of us who don't get there before the server gets overloaded.

Re:Text of the Press Release (2, Offtopic)

silicon_synapse (145470) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951870)

In that case mirror the site to your own webserver or even your journal and provide a link. There's no reason to put the entire article in the middle of the comments I'm trying to read.

Re:Text of the Press Release (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951903)

But then assholes like you would bitch and want to mod down people who link to mirror sites.

Thats all you really are after all. A karma whore, just like the one you complain about, except you're whoring for the antisocial here on slashdot.

Re:Text of the Press Release (0)

themassiah (80330) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951969)

I would say, as a longtime slashdot reader, that I _APPRECIATE_ when people do this, as it saves me from:
A: Having to click on the link to see the article and then backtrack.
B: Saves the host from whatever percentage of the slashdot effect.

Look behind you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951752)

Watch out DMCA, its a trap!

Not just DMCA. (5, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951753)

This is not just involving the DMCA, but also involves click-wrap the validity license agreements (see paragraphs 62, 70-73 of the complaint).

But, lets extend this a little. There is also issues of consumer protection, where you purchase a product, but then talk about how bad it is, that could violate a term in a license agreement. Or, it could do damage to your hardware and data, but you can get that fixed for a fee. Both these situations could violate a state's consumer protection act.

Re:Not just DMCA. (1)

ultima (3696) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951786)

There is also issues of consumer protection, where you purchase a product, but then talk about how bad it is, that could violate a term in a license agreement.

If I complain to my coworkers that .NET programs are 90% slower than their C++ unmanaged equivalents, am I violating the no-published-benchmarks clause? :)

Important (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951755)

Please post Seth and Michael flames here, so the whole thread can be modded to oblivion. Thank you.

About time they noticed (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951760)

It only took them a decade or so to realize that there were free speech issues online.

Re:About time they noticed (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951829)

You're clearly ignorant of the facts. The ACLU has challenged at least three of Congress' attempts to regulate speech on the Internet, IIRC--the Communications Decency Act (way back in 96), the Child Online Protection Act, and the Children's Internet Protection Act (see a pattern here? "Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?!"). Two of those cases went all the way to the Supreme Court, and the third is on its way.

So how does that constitute ignoring Internet speech issues? Moron.

What's the diff??? (2, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951762)

"I don't want to go to jail," said Edelman, who graduated from Harvard in June, and who plans to study law there this fall. "I want to go to law school."
So, what's the difference???

Re:What's the diff??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951952)

the # of people named bubba

As a former (2, Insightful)

ehorizon (591829) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951780)

card carrying member of the ACLU, (I stopped donating because of their defense of MAMBLA)It's good to see them fight a worthy cause.

Not gonna work (2)

jared9900 (231352) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951819)

In my opinion, this doesn't seem like it'll get too far. They need to apply their energies somewhere with a far greater chance of success (video/audio copyprotection that prevents consumers from viewing/listening to products they purchase). It may just be that I don't read the right news sites, but it seems to me that this area has largely been ignored. People complain about the dmca, but they don't seem to want to challenge it in court on valid points. For example, I bought a dvd, i happen to like freebsd, and I don't own a dvd player up at school except for the one on my computer. What happens when I want to view it? I'm not allowed to? Didn't I purchase the right to view that dvd? I didn't purchase the right to copy it and give it to all my friends, that is illegal, and is made illegal under existing laws. The DMCA is redundant and excessive. They make it illegal not just to copy something but to have the means to copy something. Should photocopiers and printers be made illegal? I can scan in and print out a copyrighted book and distribute it to my friends using these tools.
The problem is that our nation has become a nation of corporations and organizations.
We are a nation of individuals with individual rights.
The government has no business making it illegal to do things that have been legal since the beginning of our nation. We have always been allowed to read books, and until recently we have been allowed to view and listen to movies and music which we purchase.

Hmm, this turned into a bit of a rambling rant, sorry.

Re:Not gonna work (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951876)

The 2nd circuit court of appeals very clearly rejected the argument you're making. The facts of this case look a lot better. The federal gov't is currently forcing public schools accepting federal funds (i.e., almost all of them) to use filters (they would be forcing libraries too, but b/c of an ACLU lawsuit, that hasn't happened--yet). So the DMCA is keeping the public from knowing what these government-mandated automated censors are keeping us from seeing. I think the public's right to know the extent of government mandated censorship is much more compelling than your right to view DVDs on Linux.

Re:Not gonna work (1)

jared9900 (231352) | more than 10 years ago | (#3952068)

My argument isn't simply that I should be allowed to view dvd's on linux, and I agree that goverment mandated censorship isn't necessarily a good thing, but it isn't all bad either. Review of filtering software is necessary, but according to other posts may already be allowed. But saying schools shouldn't filter is also wrong. Schools don't allow students to bring printed pornography into the classroom, and you can't buy it unless you're over 18, so why shouldn't schools with internet access filter porn sites? Granted other sites do get filtered as well, but the concept isn't bad, the technology just needs a little more time to mature.

where i work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951821)

We have a tool that decrypts the n2h2 list. My office is next to the guy that wrote it...He said it took like an hour to figure out how to decrypt it and twenty minutes to get a working prototype of his little program. Of course this is more about the legal side of doing that.

Re:where i work (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951855)

why not post (anonymously) what the decryptor algorithm is? A simple psuedocode description would work.

Card Carrier (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951824)

See, that's why I gave money. That's why I'm literally a card carrying menber of the ACLU.

I actually joined after 9/11 cuz the religious right was freaking me out. This most recent news is just extra. I'll be giving them money again this year.

Better chance (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951848)

I think the ACLU is actually going to have a pretty good chance at this. They have a well informed client who can explain the technology to the court. That is a key aspect to many of the cases involving high tech. If you let the other side dictate the education of the court on the technology, you're hosed. But with the client being an expert witness I'd have to say they're set up pretty good. I'm sure they have also done their research and are in a venue/ court that will be more open to their arguments. Best of luck to them though, its still going to be a dogfight!

Give me a break (-1, Troll)

Kon (134742) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951858)

No-one takes the ACLU seriously.

After all, these are the same people who cry because terrorists are living in harsh conditions in Cuba. The same idiots who were enchanted by communism in the 40's (and then later reniged when it wasn't 'cool to be commie' anymore). The same morons who whined because airports were not recruiting arabs to handle baggage screening after Sep.11.

I honestly don't think we should be taking these clowns seriously.

How to beat the DMCA (1)

pavera (320634) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951862)

It seems to me that the DMCA is going to win on constitutionality... However, what if we the people could sue the US gov't under the DMCA? What if we made some weak encryption, and then passed some copyrighted materials around that happen to be illegal... so the US gov't intercepts our transmission, breaks the encryption and then arrests someone with the "evidence"... and said person countersues under the DMCA saying you can't admit that as evidence, it was discovered by breaking the copy protection mechanism I put on it, and if you admit it it will be available publicly its a copyrighted work. (I don't know what we could encrypt that would be illegal enough to cause all this to happen.. but its a thought.. probably not a good one, so mod it down or whatever..) but the only way I see this law getting overturned at this point is for it to interfere with a gov't investigation/prosecution of terrorism or something. (al quaida should start copyrighting all of their transmission inside the US).

But isn't this exact case already exempted? (5, Interesting)

fizbin (2046) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951871)

I really don't understand the ACLU's strategy here. Aren't people already allowed to do this kind of research thanks to the librian of congress's decision on exemptions to the DMCA's anti-circumvention scheme? [loc.gov]

If he's already allowed to do this type of research, what harm is the ACLU basing their decision on? Won't they just get thrown out of court for bringing an issue that isn't ripe for decision? (i.e. that has no consequences, because the librarian of congress has already crafted an exemption for this research)

Re:But isn't this exact case already exempted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951889)

That exemption only exempts the act of circumvention. Creating and distributing the tools necessary to perform that act are, ridiculously, still prohibited.

Re:But isn't this exact case already exempted? (5, Interesting)

zoombat (513570) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951935)

I'm no legal expert by any means, but from the ACLU press release [aclu.org] :
  • Although the DMCA provides a limited exception for accessing lists of blocked Web sites, Beeson said that it is meaningless because another provision blocks users from writing the software tools necessary to access the lists.

    "The copyright law says you can look under the hood under certain circumstances but you can't build a tool needed to open the hood," Beeson said. "This irrational rule is chilling important scientific research in violation of the First Amendment."

Assuming that's really true, it is a pretty stupid and contradictory law that should be changed, in my oh-so-humble opinion.

Re:But isn't this exact case already exempted? (1)

Zayin (91850) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951939)

From the article:


In October 2000, the Library of Congress ruled that "the case has been made for an exemption for compilations consisting of lists of websites blocked by filtering software applications."

But that exemption explicitly does not permit a researcher to write and distribute software that decodes the encrypted blacklists. Because Edelman wants to do just that, the ACLU argues, the Library of Congress' decision is insufficient.

(insert worn-out joke about slashdot readers not reading the article here)

Re:But isn't this exact case already exempted? (4, Informative)

quantaman (517394) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951977)

From the article,

But that exemption explicitly does not permit a researcher to write and distribute software that decodes the encrypted blacklists. Because Edelman wants to do just that, the ACLU argues, the Library of Congress' decision is insufficient.

Support (2, Interesting)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951880)

Support for this case... how can we support it?

Where do I send an e-mail?
&
Where do I send a hand written letter?

Let me (us) know and I'm lickin' stamps. It's the LEAST I (we) can do, and I'd rather do something than just reading about it. I know, I know, hope and pray for the universe to hit a state of harmony in order for the courts to see the evil-doing(TM) in the DMCA, that'll help too!

Re:Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951946)

Well, maybe you can donate to the ACLU, and request that they use it for this case. Writing letters won't really help--it's not like the judge can take your advice. But you should write your Senator or Representative and tell them how much the DMCA stinks.

House.gov and Senate.gov (5, Informative)

yerricde (125198) | more than 10 years ago | (#3952039)

Where do I send an e-mail? Where do I send a hand written letter?

If you want to contact those 535 Americans who have the power to get rid of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's circumvention ban once and for all, you may contact them here:

Write Your Representative [house.gov]

Write Your Senators [senate.gov]

fucking god damn liberals! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951886)

Fucking god damn liberals, always getting government into our lives.... oh, wait...

The Lessor of 2 Evils... (2)

Razzious (313108) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951915)

I mean honestly who do you cheer for here? The ACLU is notorious for picking extremely foolish topics and going after them like its some pressing political issue.

You know the stories I am talking about. "The ACLU has filed suit on the State of Florida for being called the Sunshine State. Mark Walbourne is allergic to the sun and feels inadiquate that he lives in Florida and people refer to it as the Sunshine State in his presence."

Its probably not popular to the slashdot crowd, but the ACLU is just as weak-minded and lame as the DMCA

Re:The Lessor of 2 Evils... (2, Interesting)

steronz (307926) | more than 10 years ago | (#3952011)

the ACLU sued my high school the year after i left because our district policy was to cancel school if 20% of the students weren't going to be there. it just so happened that the high school was 20% jewish that year, so they closed school on rash hashana and yom kippur. The ACLU thought that was unfair to the goyim who wanted to go to class.

if we give our support to the ACLU when they pick a good fight, and ignore them when they pick a stupid one, they might eventually figure it all out.

Ah, the DMCA (5, Insightful)

smit (164117) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951956)

Corporations already have a remedy if someone misuses protected material--a civil suit.

Of course, that is cost-prohibitive to the corporations. Why sue someone over a $10 CD's worth of music.

But:

A criminal remedy is just a civil remedy that the government pays for.

Ta da.

-- Paul

Question re: methodology (2)

realgone (147744) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951959)

Okay, so we know that writing an app to peek inside the database of restricted domains is verboten under current DMCA rules. What I'm curious about is whether brute-forcing that same list would also run afoul of the laws. (e.g., a distributed effort to hit each domain in turn and note whether or not it's blocked.) Yes, it's reverse engineering, but doesn't involve the creation of "copyright circumvention tools" as such.

I'm sure this has been tried at some point or another. Anyone know what the legal results were?

Re:Question re: methodology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951993)

That's sort of what this Edelman guy did as an expert in the library filtering case--he collected as many URLs as possible and ran them all through the filters to see what was blocked. Guess it was too hit or miss, or too big a job, to accurately reveal the contents of the whole list.

I wouldn't think that would be illegal under the DMCA, or anything else--otherwise, everytime someone got blocked, they'd be violating the law. If it's OK to test an individual URL, there's no reason why it shouldn't be OK for a bunch of people to test a bunch of URLs.

ACLU SUCKS!!!!!! (but i hope they win this one) (0, Flamebait)

1000101 (584896) | more than 10 years ago | (#3951976)

The ACLU is a bunch of ultra left wing liberals (read communists). Blah......

How dare you, michael ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3951990)

I am calling for a boycott of Michael Sims, America's number one enemy in the fight against anti-anti-censorware, until he gives me an apology for his rampant goatse'ing [sethf.com] and [sethf.com] usurping [sethf.com] of the Censorware Project [censorware.net] , my pride and joy.

Frankly, I'm shocked that I am not revered by all of Slashdot. My contributions to the world of anti-censorware research are comparable to the contributions of Jesus Christ to the field of religion. I won more awards from that project than Michael won in his whole damned life.

Do not underestimate me. I will be heard.

Though this message is posted anonymously, I will attest to it and verify it if needed. Other message posted by similar-looking accounts, or not attested, are frauds. - Seth Finklestein, uid#90154

Irony (2)

Reziac (43301) | more than 10 years ago | (#3952034)

Does anyone else croggle at the irony in this? A test-case against an overly-restrictive law, for the benefit of testing software used to restrict access.

Ah, well... we'll take 'em where we can get 'em. ANY ruling that goes against the DMCA is a good start, and even a case that loses can serve to publicise the DMCA's faults.

Not as far reaching as one might hope (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3952044)

Read through the body of the DMCA listed in the complaint. There is a specific loophole incorporated on the recommendation of the Librarian of Congress that makes lists of websites blocked by software a special class of copyrighted works and gives users of those works special rights. (Or rather, gives their rights more protection.)

Seems likely that this case might fall neatly under that section of the DMCA and therefore not be the DMCA-buster we all want it to be. (Although the incredibly restrictive EULA is another matter perhaps...)

Great Test Case, but... (2, Informative)

dreamword (197858) | more than 10 years ago | (#3952059)

I met Ben at the Internet Law Program at the Berkman Center earlier this summer. I was hoping something like this would happen; he'll make an ideal defendant.

In a test case like this, what we're looking for is an unimpeachable plaintiff -- someone whose motives can't really be questioned, who actually has a good reason to want to do what he's doing, who has great credentials, and who's really bright. They've got that in Ben; he basically has the clout of Harvard University behind him. Not to mention the near-total respect of everyone at the Berkman Center; they refer to him as their "boy genius".

There is one potential problem: he's already written software that does nearly what he wants to do without violating the DMCA. For the ACLU's last test case on filtering, he wrote a script that tried to access everything in non-porn categories of Yahoo's directory, keeping track of what it wasn't able to access. This is a reasonably good (though not perfect) method of determining the contents of the blocked-sites list. We have to hope that the court doesn't decide that scripts like the one Ben already wrote are "good enough," and that there is no legitimate research need to create and disseminate a program that decrypts the list itself.
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