All posts by Adam

New Laws and Guidelines Help Secure Your Right to Tinker

It’s Copyright Week

It may seem odd to say so during Copyright Week, but copyright in itself isn’t very important. Sure, EFF expends a lot of time and energy arguing about copyright law, and some of our adversaries spend even more. But we don’t do so because copyright has any independent value. Rather, its value is derived from its ability to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” (in the words of the US Constitution), as well as to promote other important values such as the rights to freedom of expression, privacy, education, and participation in cultural life.

Conversely, the menace of copyright law lies in its potential, when enacted or applied without due balance, for it to subvert those very values. When copyright monopolies are misused to attack the rights or hinder the freedoms of users, we often instinctively turn to copyright law for a remedy—but just as often, we may not find it there. (Fair use, although important, only goes so far.)

That’s when we need to turn to other areas of law for recourse, including competition or antitrust law, consumer protection law and privacy law. We can also look outside the law altogether, to norms and technology that can also help rebalance the interests of copyright owners with those of users; for example open access policies, and (so far as the law allows) circumvention tools.

Where Copyright Fails, New Laws and Guidelines Help Secure Your Right to Tinker | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Who Will Own the Internet of Things? (Hint: Not the Users) | Electronic Frontier Foundation

It’s copyright week…

From phones to cars to refrigerators to farm equipment, software is helping our stuff work better and smarter. But those features come at a high hidden cost: the rapid erosion of ownership. Why does that matter? Because when it comes to digital products, owners have rights. Renters on the other hand, have only permission.

The source of the problem is simple: copyright. You may own your device, but your use of the software in it is usually governed by the terms of an End-User License Agreement (or EULA). And that license agreement is likely to restrict your ability to tinker with your stuff. Typical clauses forbid reverse-engineering (e.g., figuring out how the software works so you can adapt it), transfer (e.g., giving it to a friend or selling it on the secondary market), and even using “unauthorized” repair services at all.

Further complication: the software may be saddled with digital locks(aka Digital Rights Management or DRM) supposedly designed to prevent unauthorized copying. And breaking those locks, even to do something simple and otherwise legal like tinkering with or fixing your own devices, could mean breaking the law,thanks to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

And then there’s repair-manual lockdown, which happens when manufacturers refuse to publish crucial repair information (including the manuals themselves, but also things like diagnostic codes for cars)—and then threaten to sue anyone else who tries to do so with a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

The end result: fair uses are impeded, users are disempowered and trained to go hat in hand to the Apple store just to change a battery (rather than doing it themselves). Users are forced to make do with DRM-crippled devices that are fundamentally defective and compromise our security.

Who Will Own the Internet of Things? (Hint: Not the Users) | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It’s Copyright Week: Let’s Take Copyright Back

[The EFF is] taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of the law, and addressing what’s at stake, and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation.

All around the world, copyright policy is on the agenda. In the United States, lawmakers are nearly two years into a process that promises to lead to the “Next Great Copyright Act.” In Europe, parliamentarians are re-examining some of the basic elements of the “Information Society Directive.” In Australia, the Law Review Commission and the Attorney General are butting heads about which direction to take reform. And through all this, courts and companies are changing the way we think about our relationship to media and technology.

Internet users need to be part of that discussion.

It’s Copyright Week: Let’s Take Copyright Back | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program

The Senate released a 528-page executive summary of its study on the CIA’s detention program, more than eight years after the secret overseas prisons were shut down. The report rejected many of the agency’s claims on the effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques.

Read it yourself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program – Washington Post.

Why “Big Data” is a Civil Rights Issue

On October 30, 2014, the Data & Society Research Institute, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and New America’s Open Technology Institute hosted the first annual conference on Data & Civil Rights on October 30, 2014 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. This year’s conference focused on why “big data” is a civil rights issue. The event convened a diverse group of people from the civil rights community, government, industry, philanthropy, and research.

via Data Civil Rights.