In our 699th issue:
Every time it looks like patent litigation reform is finally in reach, it suddenly vanishes from the agenda. Meanwhile, patent trolls continue to chill American innovation. We can’t keep waiting for a time when reform becomes politically convenient.
For years, trolls have exploited a rule that lets them file disputes in any court in the U.S., turning differences between courts into unfair advantages. There’s a bill in Congress that would solve that problem, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley recently said that he doesn’t plan to move forward with it.
Join us in asking Sen. Grassley to stand up for comprehensive patent reform and to keep venue reform on the table.
Pakistan’s Senate Gets Smart About Terrible Cyber-Crime Bill
Over the last few months, Pakistan’s Internet community has been fighting to stop one of the world’s worst cyber-crime proposals: the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill. Thanks in part to the hundreds of messages sent to Pakistan’s senators, they secured a major victory this week—public assurances from key members of Pakistan’s Senate that they will oppose the bill in its entirety.
Zendesk and the Art of Trademark Trolling
Who owns Zen? Helpdesk software company Zendesk has been bullying smaller companies into removing the word “Zen” from their names.
New Studies Show How Surveillance Chills Speech
EFF has long held that government surveillance has a chilling effect on people’s activities, choices, and communications. Two new studies show how awareness of surveillance can lead Internet users to self-police their online activity.
Victory: A Sliver of Light to Be Shed on Patent Case
In a victory for the First Amendment and public access to court proceedings, a magistrate judge ruled in favor of EFF’s motion to unseal documents in a patent case in the Eastern District of Texas. This means that the patent owner in that case, Blue Spike, will no longer be able to shield its arguments from the public.
Dear Sony Music: It’s Not “Fee Use.” It’s “Fair Use”
YouTube’s Content ID recently flagged an educational video with very short music clips as copyright infringement. Sony Music—the original recordings’ copyright holder—has now backtracked on its accusation of infringement, but Sony’s response leads us to think that its misuse of copyright and of YouTube’s automated enforcement system will continue.
California’s Legislature Wants to Copyright All Government Works
The California Assembly Committee on Judiciary recently approved a bill to grant local and state governments copyright authority along with other intellectual property rights. EFF strongly opposes the bill. Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain.
Announcing Certbot: EFF’s Client for Let’s Encrypt
EFF is proud to introduce Certbot, a powerful tool to help websites encrypt their traffic. Certbot is the next iteration of the Let’s Encrypt Client. It obtains TLS/SSL certificates and can automatically configure HTTPS encryption on your server.
Stakes Are High in Oracle v. Google, But the Public Has Already Lost Big
Google and Oracle are in the midst of a high-stakes court battle over whether Google’s use of Java API labels qualifies as fair use. This comes after the Federal Circuit ruled that the labels are copyrightable in the first place. No matter which side wins the current case, the public has already lost something important.
When the Mozilla Web browser launched, it disrupted the stalemate between the two browsers that nearly everyone used at the time. Mozilla made bold choices that prioritized users’ needs over those of advertisers. Unfortunately, the World Wide Web Consortium is currently making decisions that could prevent new browsers from changing the game in the future.
In Hearing on Internet Surveillance, Nobody Knows How Many Americans Impacted in Data Collection
A revealing moment came in a recent hearing on the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act. Sen. Al Franken asked the panel of government officials how many Americans had had their data swept up in the surveillance authorized by FISA. The panelists couldn’t even offer a rough estimate.
Machine Bias (ProPublica)
Some law enforcement agencies use “risk assessment” algorithms to predict criminal behavior. ProPublica examines the racial bias in these systems.
Open, Closed, and Demon Haunted: An Internet of Things That Act like Inkjet Printers (O'Reilly)
A world where every product has a digital lock is a nightmare for privacy and security. Watch Cory Doctorow’s OSCON talk.
Shaking My Head (Medium)
Sen. Ron Wyden explains how an obscure rule change is about to dramatically expand the U.S. government’s power to spy on citizens.
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Elliot Harmon, Activist
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