<-- The Filter --> December 2000

December 4, 2000
No. 3.9  .  The Filter  .  12.04.00

Your regular dose of public interest Internet news and commentary from
the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School


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> Tales from the Decryption: The US Copyright Office ruled in October on exemptions from a prohibition in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against circumventing access controls to copyrighted material, exempting only two classes of work. The decision was a daunting blow to members of the legal and technical communities concerned that the anticircumvention provision imperils fair use rights. Now, in a Copyright Office hearing held last week, two other DMCA provisions came under scrutiny—and once again, the issue is whether the law strikes the proper balance between the rights of copyright holders and those of the public. The hearing, part of a review process mandated by the DMCA itself, examined rules governing usage of so-called buffer copies of streamed content and the resale of digital works. Strictly interpreted, the rules could allow copyright holders to charge a licensing fee each time an Internet user creates an ephemeral copy—in the random access memory of his or her computer—of copyrighted content. They could also preclude those who have purchased a digital work from re-selling it—something critics argue clearly impinges on the public's rights under the "first sale" doctrine.


      ht tp://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,40415,00.html


What is the next step? The Register of Copyrights and the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information are due to submit a report to Congress by February that evaluates the provisions' impact on electronic commerce and the relationship between existing and emerging technology.

***EXTRA: The Copyright Office's ruling on exemptions to the anticircumvention provision is now in effect, with a review scheduled in three years. What are its implications? Follow the link below for Filter reporter Cedar Pruitt's summary of the ruling and a conversation with Berkman Fellow Wendy Seltzer about her response to it.

      http://cy ber.law.harvard.edu/filter/decrypt.html

> Entree Interdite: Does the ruling two weeks ago by a French court that Yahoo, Inc. is legally obliged to prevent French Internet users from viewing Nazi memorabilia on its auction site sound the death knell for the Internet as a truly global medium? The answer, according to legal and technical experts, is a qualified yes. On the legal end, the case may set a global precedent for governments taking action against companies located in foreign countries. "To the extent that governments insist on more of these types of control, freedom on the Internet will be restricted," Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig told the Associated Press. The technical feasibility of dividing the Internet geographically, however, is more difficult to assess. While three court-appointed experts testified to Yahoo's ability to censor information with up to 90 percent accuracy, this degree of control may sound more complete than it is. "The best that can be achieved is a rather flaky guess at nationality, using IP address or domain name," writes Ben Laurie, the European expert in the case. "Of course, both of these can be trivially circumvented."



      http://www.apache-s sl.org/apology.html


> Europe Adopts Hands-On Internet Policy: In a development involving similar issues, the European Union last week passed a controversial Internet jurisdiction law giving consumers the right to sue in their home country online retailers located in another EU country. While European officials maintain that the law will speed adoption of e-commerce in the EU by bolstering consumer confidence, industry representatives argue that it will hamper adoption by creating legal uncertainty for small businesses. "You're going to start seeing disclaimers like they have in the United States," warned Mike Pullen, a British lawyer who fought for a less restrictive law. "If I [am operating a business in France and] don't like certain aspects of Greek consumer law, I'm going to say we don't trade into Greece."

      ht tp://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/01/technology/01NET.html


> React Locally, Notify Globally?: Will criminal records one day be posted on the Web? The possibility may not be as remote as it seems. New Jersey, following a national trend, is contemplating extending "Megan's Law" to the Internet. Designed to protect children by providing the means to alert parents when sex offenders move into the area, Megan's Law requires state residents who have been convicted of sex crimes to register with the local police. After the law's passage into federal law in 1996, states began putting registries online—making freely available to anyone via the Internet sex offenders' names, addresses, identifying physical characteristics and criminal histories. In Michigan, Senator Dave Jaye has gone as far as to provide hyperlinked maps marking with a skull and crossbones the home address of every registered sex offender in three Michigan counties. While the ACLU has raised concerns about privacy violations and the risk of inciting vigilante attacks, expansion of Megan's Law online has garnered widespread public support. Now, New Jersey, which unlike some other states must amend its constitution to allow for online registries, is preparing to do just that—a move voters overwhelmingly approved during the November election.

      http:// www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cti569.htm

      http:/ /www.wolfenet.com/~dhillis/sexoffen2.htm#full

      http://www.jaye.org/MACPS OR.html

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Consumer advocacy groups petitioned this week for a Federal Trade Commission investigation into e-commerce bellwether Amazon.com's privacy practices, raising anew the spectre of concern over how safe it is to do business online. This week we're featuring "Sale of Data Raises Privacy Worries," a New York Times piece investigating what happens to "private" customer data when an e-commerce venture goes belly-up.

      ht tp://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/04/technology/04NET.html

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> The Day the Music Died?: What is Harvard's take on Napster? Harvard refused a request by attorneys representing Metallica and Dr. Dre in the Napster case to block student access to the MP3 file-trading service—but will the university stick to that decision? Find out what Harvard had to say at "The Day the Music Died? Harvard's Policy on Napster and Its Siblings—Past, Present and Future," a panel discussion exploring the issues at hand. Follow the links below to access the video recording of the event and Harvard Crimson coverage.

      http://c yber.law.harvard.edu/events/daymusic.html

      http:/ /www.thecrimson.com/news/article.asp?ref=9874

*A Berkman Center Greeting: In September, the Berkman Center welcomed our new Executive Director, Eric F. Saltzman. Now, we greet Sylvie Agudelo, our new Assistant Director. Sylvie, who comes to us from Harvard's Center for Genomics Research, is responsible for the Berkman Center's administration, and will assist the executive director in implementing our programs and developing our organizational structure. Welcome aboard, Sylvie!

* eDev Fully Developed: Did you miss our recent "eDevelopment" conference, exploring solutions to the digital divide? Check out the video recording at the below URL.


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* Reverse Phone Directory

      http://www.reversedirector y.net

A useful tool for looking up information—or an unnerving demonstration of how easy it is to gather personal data on the Internet.

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"Do CEOs get to ask for a recount?"

—Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, during a keynote speech at Comdex after a final count revealed that the company missed expected earnings by almost $200 million this quarter (via Ditherati.com).


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Comments? Questions? Opinions? Submissions? Send a letter to the editor at filter-editor@cyber.law.ha rvard.edu

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Last updated

January 15, 2008