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Chilling Effects Cease & Desist Clearinghouse 192

Posted by Hemos
from the good-idea dept.
Wendy Seltzer writes: "The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, EFF, and other major law school clinics have launched ChillingEffects.org to combat the chilling effect of Cease & Desist letters with ungrounded legal threats. (Slashdot readers got a site preview in the story on the Bnetd Cease & Desist, already in our database.) If you have received a Cease & Desist, we invite you to add it to the database, where law students will analyze the legalese and annotate the C&Ds with Frequently Asked Questions and answers. The site already offers several sets of general legal FAQs."
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Chilling Effects Cease & Desist Clearinghouse

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  • FuckedCompany.com has plenty of them!
  • This is wonderful. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daunting*Alligheri (215036) <bitbitch@@@sbcglobal...net> on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:22PM (#3065980) Homepage
    Hey slashdot crowd, you all should be excited about this. We finally have a place to go check out what the laws really mean (and how they're really applied), as opposed to talking out our asses all the time. This is indeed a Good Thing (tm) and I only hope the best for the affiliated schools.
    • You Mean... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      watching 200 episodes of "Ally McBeal" doesn't make me a legal expert? I'm flabbergasted. Gotta go have to have a hallucination about a dancing baby...
  • by wiredog (43288)
    Your just gonna love Jack Valenti's latest rant [washingtonpost.com].

    digital movies on the Internet can be pilfered and hurled at the speed of light to any spot on the planet. This is what gives movie producers so many Maalox moments.

    ...

    Congress must step in to protect valuable creative works on the Net


  • Very quick reply (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tulare (244053) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:22PM (#3065984) Journal
    because I am working :)
    At first glance, this looks like a great thing. In fact, what the internet was supposed to be. My only question is - how long will they remain available and maintained? Operations like this tend to get their funding mysteriously cut. Sounds like a job for the EFF to fund?
  • How Long.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Heem (448667) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:22PM (#3065986) Homepage Journal
    How long until this site itself gets it's own Cease and Desist for whatever unfounded reason?

    Lost his faith in democracy,
  • excellent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by prizzznecious (551920) <hwkyNO@SPAMfreeshell.org> on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:25PM (#3065997) Homepage
    This is exactly what the internet is for: obscure information easily available to the masses. Be sure to tell your friends etc., as the only way the internet can remain a free place is through active individual self-education. A disturbingly low number of people actually read things like the DMCA or cease and desist letters; we need to be smarter and more aggressive if we want to stay free.
  • by syzxys (557810) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:26PM (#3066005)

    If the "Clearinghouse" manages to stay up, it will certainly become very useful. One of the worst things about cease-and-desist letters is that the lawyers throw all kinds of threats at you, which you then have to spend time checking into. If you're a small operation, this means a big company can basically bludgeon you to death with cease and desist letters. In fact, we've seen this happening a lot more in the past year.

    I'm glad to see this site go up, IMHO it's a victory for the little guy. It'll be interesting to see what happens to the cease and desist climate after word of the site gets around; maybe people will stop throwing cease & desist at everything they don't like. (Heh, that's probably a pipe dream.) Anyway, just my $0.02.

    ---
    Crash Windows XP just by viewing a simple text file! [zappadoodle.com]
  • by Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:27PM (#3066011) Homepage Journal
    To do my best to prove to the Movie Industry that their attempts at scaring everyone is futile, I am proceeding on a path of complete and total Civil Disobedience:

    • I have obtained a DVD copier (at great expense) and I frequently rent movies and copy them so I can view them later, like so:
    • I use DeCSS-derived software to copy DVDs to my Hard Drive and later to DVD, only this time encoding free!
    • I hand out free copies of DVD movies everywhere I can to as many people as I can, along with a 2600 flier about how bad the DMCA is
    • .


    • Join me in protesting for our freedoms! Remember, information (and especially movies like Good Will Hunting) want to be free!
    • by renehollan (138013) <[ten.eriwraelc] [ta] [nallohr]> on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:46PM (#3066137) Homepage Journal
      I have obtained a DVD copier (at great expense) and I frequently rent movies and copy them so I can view them later, like so:

      O.K., cool!

      I use DeCSS-derived software to copy DVDs to my Hard Drive and later to DVD, only this time encoding free!

      Also cool, sounds like traditional fair use to me. I too use CSS-defeating software so I can view DVDs I purchased under [GNU/]Linux.

      I hand out free copies of DVD movies everywhere I can to as many people as I can, along with a 2600 flier about how bad the DMCA is.

      Unless these are movies you made, this is uber-uncool. You should be fighting for fair-use, and reductions of copyight protection terms, not blatently fueling the flames of oppression. Such piracy just proves "them" right. Handing out the 2600 flyer is cool. I wear my anti-DVD/CCA t-shirt proudly, too, and explain what it means when people ask.

      I realize that you posted in jest, but civil disobedience isn't about completely ignoring bad law, just orderly refusal to obey those parts of the law that are ill-concieved.

      • I have obtained a DVD copier (at great expense) and I frequently rent movies and copy them so I can view them later, like so:

        O.K., cool!

        No, not cool. When you rent a movie, you are borrowing it. (albeit for a fee.) part of the mechanism that renting works on is only one copy is out there at a time. Only one (set of) viewer(s) can watch it at once. When you copy a rented film and keep it for yourself, it is the same as any other sort of piracy. Fair use is fair use of the owner. The owner can loan a copy out, but can't duplicate for others.

        This is the exact same as the example "I hand out free copies of DVD movies everywhere I can to as many people as I can," except the loanee is doing the copy, not the loaner.
        • No, not cool. When you rent a movie, you are borrowing it. (albeit for a fee.) part of the mechanism that renting works on is only one copy is out there at a time

          I can envision the scenario where someone rents a movie, time and space-shifts it to a DVD (because there is no VCR in the media room, but there is a VCR and DVD writer in, say, the computer room, watches the movie from the DVD in the media room later (still possessing the video), destroys the DVD or erases it (DVD+RW), and returns the movie.

          Contrived, admitedly, but perfectly fair use. Who am I to presume this is not what the troll meant ? ;->

          • The line "I have obtained a DVD copier (at great expense) and I frequently rent movies and copy them so I can view them later, like so: " pretty well puts that theory to rest. He wanted to copy them and watch them later. if ou have the media, there's no reason to copy it for time shifting, so he obviously wants to watch them after returning the original DVD.

            Besides, he mentioned using a DVD recorder on rented DVDs. Media-shifting isn't an argument here either!

            So, it's not fair use. Your example may have been, but the original poster was definitely not.
      • I realize that you posted in jest, but civil disobedience isn't about completely ignoring bad law, just orderly refusal to obey those parts of the law that are ill-concieved.


        Unfortunately, copyright law is almost entirely bad at this point. Mainly due to incredibly long terms and overly broad protections. By refusing to obey those portions alone, you've pretty much tossed copyright out the window. Should we just adhere to the original copyright terms? Anything more than 28 years old is fair game? Do what you like with what you own, regardless of what the DMCA says? How would you propose to handle it?

        • by renehollan (138013)
          How would you propose to handle it?

          Well, for starters, I wouldn't presume that there should be no such notion as copyright, as suggested by our trolly friend above. But, neither would I suggest that ideas and writings with essentiually zero cost of reproduction be an indefinite gravy train for the author.

          The original copyright terms would be a good start, but even those are too long when it comes to the usefulness of things like software. Five years protection after first deployment sounds better. And, if you produce derivative works, each gets a brand new five year copyright term. So, at worst, the public domain is five years behind the bleeding edge.

          • One small point: Work is rarely an infinite gravy train for the author. Thanks to "work for hire" agreements, it's more like an infinite gravy train for the corporations that employ him/her.
      • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Monday February 25, 2002 @06:40PM (#3067497)
        You should be fighting for fair-use, and reductions of copyight protection terms, not blatently fueling the flames of oppression.

        I'm curious.

        The issue of term limits and fair-use seems like a crucial one, but I'm not sure that it is. Wouldn't the DMCA be just as bad if copyright terms were only 75 years? 50? 14? Isn't the issue really the draconian laws that are being put into place to enforce copyright protection, and not the term of the protection itself?

        Would any of us be satisfied with a world in which Skylarov and Johansen could be persecuted as they have been, in which the DMCA, WIPO regulations, and the SSSCA are enforced laws, but copyright terms were shortened to something reasonable?

        I wouldn't be. I don't think fair use and copyright protection terms are the issue. I suspect the issue is that copyright laws simply can't effectively be applied to current and future technologies without draconian enforcement procedures being applied.
        • Would any of us be satisfied with a world in which Skylarov and Johansen could be persecuted as they have been, in which the DMCA, WIPO regulations, and the SSSCA are enforced laws, but copyright terms were shortened to something reasonable?

          Certainly the DMCA and SSSCA are seriously brain-dead even without effectively indefinite copyright terms. However, let's stick to one issue at a time: excessive copyright protections are bad on their face, with or without these other laws.

          Furthermore, even with the DMCA as it stands, I think the cases against Sklyarov and Johansen are without merit. Repeat after me: "interoperability". You are right to use the word "persecuted" and not "prosecuted". And, persecuted for what? Exercising simple fair use! Which brings up back to basic copyright law.

          So the response to these bad laws should be three fold:

          1) Fight excessive copyright terms. Part of the civil disobedience approach to this is to reproduce and redistribute material that has essentially been abandoned by the copyright holder -- so called abandonware.

          2) Exercise and defend your right to fair use. Use deCSS, certainly, and openly, but only for interoperability reasons.

          3) This addresses the valid issues you raised: fight for the ability to engage in fair use. Technological means to prevent it should not be tolerated.

        • You should be fighting for fair-use, and reductions of copyight protection terms, not blatently fueling the flames of oppression

        The poster was quite clear: this is quite deliberate civil disobedience. If you check your history (US in particular), you will find that significant changes in society come about through mass civil disobedience or armed insurrection, not through debate or polite lobbying by individuals. War of Independence, Civil War, anti-slavery, anti-prohibition, coloured rights, anti-Vietnam draft protests. All of these involved large groups of people who stood up and said "Boo sucks to the law", and we got a better society out of it.

    • by smack.addict (116174) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:47PM (#3066148)
      This is not civil disobedience, it is common thievery.


      Civil disobedience would be to copy your DVD's and store them in a safe space as backups.


      Civil disobedience would be to use Microsoft Office on your laptop and desktop.


      In other words, civil disobedience is doing things that might be illegal but still carry the full force of morality. Your acts are both illegal and immoral.

      • Absolutely. Handing out copies of the intellectual property of others is a BAD THING. Shame on you for mistaking civil disobedience with breaking the law. How can I get a copy?
        • actually civil disobedience is breaking the law. But what he is doing goes far beyond the law he is trying to defeat. He is disobeying copyright law in all

          big difference.
      • Copyright infringement is NOT theft.

        Yes it is a crime or at least a civil violation (tort). It may or may not be immoral - but it is NOT THEFT. Calling it theft does not make it so.

        Theft involves obtaining something, and taking it away from someone else - not illegally using, making or distributing a copy.
        • Copyright infringement is NOT theft.

          Well, since we're talking about chillingeffects.org [chillingeffects.org], it seems appropriate to quote their FAQ:

          The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creative work by granting a temporary monopoly in an author's original creations. This monopoly takes the form of six rights in areas where the author retains exclusive control. These rights are:
          1. the right of reproduction (i.e., copying),
          2. the right to create derivative works,
          3. the right to distribution

          ...and it goes on from there. But it looks pretty clear to me that these legal experts suggest that copyright infringement steals at least the right of reproduction, if not the right to distribution as well. So you may not like the word theft, but I think it was fine for the original post to use that term.

          • But it looks pretty clear to me that these legal experts suggest that copyright infringement steals at least the right of reproduction, if not the right to distribution as well.

            I don't buy it. Then we could call murder "theft" as well, on the grounds that you've just "stolen" my right to life. Or why not call "driving while under the influence" "stealing", after all you've "stolen" my right to travel public roads in relative safety. No, IMHO that doesn't work.

            And no, I don't buy into the usage in many cases of "theft of service" either. I think most speakers of English takes "theft" to mean that you deprive someone of something, as in they cannot use said thing any more. And that's not the case here. You can still copy all you want, or broadcast your cable TV or whatever. Nothing's been "stolen" in this case.

            It's still a crime, but it's another crime.

      • Your acts are both illegal

        True.

        and immoral.

        Whether or not the action is immoral is questionable at best.
      • Sounded like a joke to me, but you can never be too sure, Mr. Valenti.. I think you should 'disappear' him just to be on the safe side.
      • In other words, civil disobedience is doing things that might be illegal but still carry the full force of morality. Your acts are both illegal and immoral.

        wrong.
        acts of civil disobedience are often illegal FOR a moral purpose.
        Blocking traffic is illegal, the reason your doing so may be moral, but the act(sitting in traffic)is illegal, but seldom why your protesting.
        The more injust the law, the more extreme we must go to get attention to the law.
        "playing within the rules" and waiting to do something the "right way" is ont the only solution.
        If you where on a plane, and some bozo pulls a knife would you:
        go to the back of the plane and wait quietly because "its the way its done", or would you try and kick his ass?
        they are changing the rules on us, and if we keep playing by them they will when.

        Is the time here to start doing what this guy is doing? I don't think so, but if something isn't done soon, it will be the next step we will have to take to raise awareness.

      • Civil disobedience would be to use Microsoft Office on your laptop and desktop.


        How is this different from copying DVDs? In both cases you're depriving the corporation of potential additional sales, which is what you consider to be theft.

        • This is not civil disobedience, it is common thievery

        The instigators of the American revolution were common (pun intented) traitors.

        The civil war tramped all over property rights and turned brother against brother.

        Speakeasies were both illegal and immoral.

        Coloured rights protestors were thugs and vandals.

        Anti-Vietnam draft dodgers were... well, insert your own pejorative term from the period. Cowardly traitors?

        The single lesson: society changes. Morality changes. Legality changes. Most protestors are technically wrong when they start out, and are only viewed as having the moral high ground when they win and write the history books.

        Every time those in power no longer agree with the populace, civil disobedience or armed insurrection follows. Read some history.

        • This is the mantra of every criminal wishing to disguise their actions as civil disobedience. You could argue the Sept 11th hijackers were practicing civil disobedience using your flawed logic.


          No, civil disobedience does not involve acting immorally. Your examples are very poorly chosen for a variety of reasons.


          Morality does not change; perceptions of morality change. And if you are suggesting mine and others perceptions of morality on this issue need to change, you need to be more specific what it is that needs to change.

    • I hand out free copies of DVD movies everywhere I can to as many people as I can, along with a 2600 flier about how bad the DMCA is.

      Do you do it publicly and openly? Or do you hide behind nicknames when you do it? If you're doing it while attempting to remain free of repercussions, that's not civil disobedience, it's simply petty theft. Civil disobedience is standing up and saying, "I believe this is wrong, and I'm not going to obey it. You'll have to keep arresting me until the law is changed." What you claim to do is a disgrace to all those who practice true civil disobedience.

      But that's okay, I realize now that you're a troll. Trolling to one story a day is one thing, but right after replying to you in the multi-player game thread I see this post, and it made me check your posting history. Something I recommend everyone do before any significant replies.
        • What you claim to do is a disgrace to all those who practice true civil disobedience

        History by Mel Gibson. Actual history is replete with examples of those who contributed to civil disobedience anonymously, and gave moral support to those who were prepared to stand up and take the big risks.

        Declining to pay taxes to the British crown during the American revolution was common theft at the time, right? I'm not sure how that's significantly different from someone refusing to pay the Movie Tax, a significant part of which goes to "royalty", e.g. movie stars, producers, and bought policians, most of whom are thoroughly corrupt in every moral and legal sense.

        I'm not suggesting that we should celebrate the anoymously disobedient, just that we shouldn't flame them.

        Incidentally, what's your contribution?

  • Why do I have the feeling that some featured organization will issue a C&D onto ChillingEffect.com?
  • Shocking! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cutriss (262920) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:31PM (#3066033) Homepage
    The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, EFF, and other major law school clinics have launched ChillingEffects.org to combat the chilling effect of Cease & Desist letters with ungrounded legal threats.

    Yeah, those lawsuits hurt me a lot too when they're not grounded - They build up lots of static.

    How about groundless?
  • by rootmonkey (457887) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:32PM (#3066040)
    Slashdot effect is stronger than the chilling effect.
  • It's Nice To See (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lblack (124294) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#3066043)
    It's nice to see that after all the talk and jokes about open-sourcing the law, that it is happening.

    Is this that much different from submitting a patch to a peer-maintenance group and having it reviewed by various persons of various qualifications? Or from submitting an Ask Slashdot, for that matter.

    I've been involved with businesses that have been threatened by letters about various things. Upon receiving the first of those letters, I started expanding my knowledge of legalese, law application, etc. A lot of google and a few dead trees later, and I'm much more informed... and can now spot the bullshit much easier than I once could.

    This database should provide a short circuit, so that people can quickly learn about things that pertain to them, and get assistance on resolving them.

    I think this sort of idea is important to free speech in an increasingly corporate medium. It's heartening to see that people care enough to actually devote their time to it.

    -l
  • by return 42 (459012)
    How about the chilling effect of putting up a site and being instantly slashdotted?
  • by geckoFeet (139137) <gecko@dustyfeet.com> on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:33PM (#3066047)
    Join the eff [eff.org] already. No more excuses.



    /. readers have had another prequel to this with the attack of Barney [slashdot.org], the purple Tyrannosaurus rex.

  • by tenzig_112 (213387) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:34PM (#3066055) Homepage
    I've seen them in my http logs a few times over the past few weeks. Their site says that they "empower our clients to retain control over their names and brands on the web." I may be wrong, but that sounds a lot like marketing-speak for "corporate bully."


    Their tag line: "monitoring and protecting your brand equity."


    Check the connotations of the individual words:

    • Monitor is a fancy way of saying "invasion of privacy," but don't worry, we're invading someone else's privacy.
    • Protect carries images of military campaigns and gunning down burglars in "self-defense."
    • Brand is a corporate identity, an entity bigger than [and therefore above the laws of] governmental institutions.
    • Equity = money.


    Again, I may be [and probably am] wrong.

    • Yup. You got it. These kinds of people are the Pinkertons of the twenty-first century, hired goons in the service of corporate bullies.

      Fortunately, at least now, they can't keep the news of their actions localized. Now let's just hope people pay some attention.

      And with that name, they're easily confused with a laxative company--Bran Dimensions. Of course, now I'll probably be named in a lawsuit.

  • Argh (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Raunchola (129755)
    Too bad the site appears to be slashdotted. :(
  • For Senders Too?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by volsung (378) <stan@mtrr.org> on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:35PM (#3066061)
    If you go look at the site, you'll see that there are forms for entering your Cease & Desist letters if you are the receiver or if you are the sender. I expected to see the receiver form, but was surprised to see the sender form. How many businesses can you think of who would want to advertise that they are trying to indimidate people with C&D letters? I would imagine most businesses would be rather annoyed, actually, to have their letters end up in this thing and come back later to be a PR headache.

    Along that line of thinking: How long do you think it will be before C&D letters contain language specifying that you cannot publish them? (And even if you say that is not possible/legal/whatever, how many will try anyway?)

    • Re:For Senders Too?! (Score:2, Informative)

      by volsung (378)
      And for the spelling Nazis out there: "intimidate" is the correct spelling.
    • Copyright may already apply.

      But as a defense, you could argue that publishing these threats with analysis are of public importance.

    • HAHAHA!

      Unless the sender and recipient are under NDA, this would be laughed so far out of court it would land in the ocean. And not just in the Ninth Circuit.

      Of course, some unscrupulous shark might push Congress for a law saying C&D letters are confidential, but I can't imagine that passing 1st amendment scrutiny.

    • That way if an Evil Empire Corporation sends me a cease and desist letter, I can craft one of my own and volley it back:

      Dear Evil Empire,

      After extensive research, I discovered that your website contains a reference to "Widgetmitalls" on its third page. Please note that all discussion of Widgetmitalls are to be considered a trade secret on the grounds that Widgetmitalls form the foundation for my business / religious movement. Please remove all references to Widgetmitalls, or replace them with the more generic "Widget".

      Sincerely,
      The Little Guy

      I could then run that through this database and have people comment on it. That will allow me to improve on it, so that by the time it actually reaches Evil Empire Incorporated, it looks ominous enough that they might pay it heed.

      I assume, at any rate, that that is what the functionality exists for. Quite subversive.

      -l

    • This isn't going to happen. If someone sends me a letter, it becomes my property, to do with as I see fit, unless I have signed a prior aggreement, specifing what I may or may not do with it. At the very least, I would consider it an unsolicited gift, but more reasonably, if someone is threating legal action against me, I have the right to seek legal advice from any source to include a public forum. I wouldn't even need a Lawyer to fight that one, though it would probably wise to get one anyway.
    • Re:For Senders Too?! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DennyK (308810)
      Not all C&D letters are neccesarily evil or unwarranted. I am sure that there are many companies and individuals out there who have perfectly legal and valid reasons to send C&D letters to someone. Although I haven't seen the sender's form on ChillingEffects myself (darn Slashdot DOS... ;-D ), I would think it would be a great resource for someone with a legitimate complaint to post a draft of their C&D and ask for comments and advice. ChillingEffects doesn't just have to teach people about BS threats; they can also educate visitors on what really are legal and valid reasons for C&D letters, and how to word these valid letters appropriately. Of course, if some company is stupid enough to post something like "Hey, Person X gave my product a bad review, what do you think of this C&D letter?", then they deserve the flailing they are sure to receive... ;)

      As for the legality of publishing the letters...IANAL, but as others have said here, and as far as I've ever heard, unless you have entered into a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement with the party sending you a C&D letter, you are free to show that letter to anyone you please. It doesn't matter if the letter says "This letter is confidential and cannot be shared with third parties." You have made no such agreement with the sender, so you cannot be bound by any "terms" in that letter. Until you do enter into such an agreement or are ordered by a court of law to keep such correspondence confidential, AFAIK, you are free to share it with whomever you wish.

      I've actually seen C&D letters with similar phrasing before. It's just more BS to try and scare people into capitulating without a fight.

      DennyK
    • Dear Sirs or Madams:

      I recently received a communication from you and/or your organization or business regarding some matter. As is my usual procedure for all email and paper mail, I have performed initial machine scan. This machine scan reported with high confidence ranking that this communication fell under one or more of the following categories:

      • Unsolicited commercial advertisment.
      • Promotion of an illegal scheme.
      • Copyrighted material.
      • Terrorist threat.
      • Blackmail attempt.
      • Misdialed FAX.
      In order to save my own valuable time and/or avoid legal risk accessing content I am not authorized to access, I have not attempted to read or otherwise use this communication. If you wish to repeat this communication, or communicate with me about any other matter in the future, be sure these communications do not fall into any of the above categories. Otherwise, remove me from your mailing list as I wish no further communications from you and/or your organization or business. The original communication you have sent has been dutifully destroyed or erased.
  • Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nick255 (139962) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:35PM (#3066063)
    Unforunately I think it would only be helpful for those living under US law. Therefore not applicable to many people. Getting law students involved from many other countries would be a good thing.
    • Also note that the U.S. currently has the most stringent laws, especially in regards to IP and copyright, which seems to be the cause for most C & D letters.
      • Re:Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

        by smack.addict (116174) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:51PM (#3066164)
        That's actually quite false, though it is a common European misconception. Our problem is that we are a country that too quickly moves our problems into the courtroom. A C&D letter does not actually imply that the person sending it has any legal case; it simply means they took the time to try to intimidate you into believing they do.
        • To many companys have change our "Right to sue anyone for anything" to our "Requirement to sue anoune for everything"

        • That's actually quite false, though it is a common European misconception. Our problem is that we are a country that too quickly moves our problems into the courtroom.

          More the lawyer's office than the court room.

          A C&D letter does not actually imply that the person sending it has any legal case; it simply means they took the time to try to intimidate you into believing they do.

          Also to convince them that they have no way to defend themselves in an actual court, Let alone the possibility to counter sue the plaintiff.
    • Unforunately I think it would only be helpful for those living under US law. Therefore not applicable to many people.

      The way things are going that will soon be the entire planet anyway. The US is quite happy to try and impose US law on Canadians, hassle people in Europe and abduct a group of people from Asia.US citizens are also bound by US law wherever they might be.
      You also have various things such as the WIPO treaty and ideas of "globalisation" and "harmonisation" of laws. (When it comes to copyright laws the typical result appears to be more to put some of the worst bits of various copyright laws together. From the customer and quite often the actual producer POV more a "disharmonisation".)
  • It's kind of funny how the relationship between technology and the law have changed. Four years ago, who would have expected to see an archive of legalisms as a /. front-page story? I mean, this is a tech news site, right?

    Ah well, at least there are still white hat lawyers on our side, for the moment at least.

  • So how many, rough percentage-wise are written by rank amateurs pretending to be Dewey, Cheatham & Howe?

    Assuming you got one, and I'm pretty sure I know someone who did, if they aren't signed by a member of a state bar or plaing fantasy, any recourse, other than telling them where to shove it?

    Examples may include, "Dear Sir/Madam, our attorney has advised us that what you are doing violates etc etc etc...", which, IMHO is hardly a C&D rather wishful thinking.

  • /.'d (Score:5, Informative)

    by Asikaa (207070) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:37PM (#3066080) Homepage
    It's /.'d already. Try Google's cache [google.com].

    I wonder if EFF et al will be sending /. a Cease & Desist letter for a premeditated DOS attack on their web server? :)

  • A centralized place to hold corporations accountable for their negative actions against members of the community is something that's been needed.

    The legal analysis is a bonus.

    Now, I wonder how long it will be before chillingeffects.org itself receives a C&D demanding that it remove someone's "confidential" C&D letter they sent, after realizing the whole world will see what their legal thugs have done.

  • by cperciva (102828) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:38PM (#3066091) Homepage
    Dear Sir,

    It has come to our attention that you maintain a web site operating under the moniker "chillingeffects.org" and through that service are engaged in the provision of legal services.

    Since you are not licensed to provide legal services, we respectfully ask that you cease and desist from providing such services.

    Respectfully yours,
    Joe Q. Lawyer and associates.
    • by raresilk (100418) <<raresilk> <at> <mac.com>> on Monday February 25, 2002 @04:44PM (#3066756)
      cperciva meant to be funny, I think, but this issue could actually be a concern. Posting legal advice on the internet is a very touchy thing, because no lawyer I've ever known is licensed to practice in every US jurisdiction in which the postings could be read. (Hence, e.g., my disclaimer.) I suspect that's the reason the site is set up to allow only comments from law students rather than lawyers. Couching it as a community-service-based educational project for law students (who by definition are not practicing law yet) might help the site avoid such attacks.

      That being said, I wholeheartedly wish this site the best: a little knowledge about the law can go a long way in shielding oneself from abusive practices. I'm pleasantly surprised, also, to see that /.ers are not flaming the hell out of the idea, given the prevailing "why should I need a professional to explain my legal rights to me - life is supposed be simple, obvious and unfailingly fair" world view often expressed here.

      • by Danse (1026) on Monday February 25, 2002 @07:13PM (#3067730)

        It'll probably get whacked down by the big boys if it becomes a nuisance. I remember reading a while back about the law firms for some big industry types getting some law passed to prohibit law students from helping low-income families deal with legal paperwork and filings in order to save their homes from being destroyed to make way for factories and industrial plants. The students were making it too easy for the families to fight the big companies, so they just got the practice outlawed. Suddenly the resistance dropped dramatically and they could move in a their leisure.

  • so i cant see it right now - but if the eff is involved i say kudo's to them. im glad to see more sites (anit-dmca.com, fuckedcompany.com, eff.org, etc) popping up against the dmca. this way people will have a better voice rather than just the usual "thats shitty - burn the goverment anarchy - yay" statements made from people who complain and contribute nothing to the movements. i hope this site and the likes continue to grow.
  • Looks like the slashdot effect has put a cease and desist on their site.

  • ah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icejai (214906) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:44PM (#3066133)
    I stumbled across this on the site:
    Question: Are there exceptions that allow the circumvention of technological protection systems?

    Answer: There are seven exemptions built into section 1201 of the DMCA, some of which permit the circumvention of access and copy controls for limited purposes, some of which allow for the limited distribution of circumvention tools in particular circumstances. These seven exemptions are for:
    • Libraries, archives, and educational institutions for acquisition purposes; [1201(d)]
    • Law enforcement and intelligence gathering activities; [1201(e)]
    • Reverse engineering in order to develop interoperable programs;


    This is something i feel would be a strong argument for all things decss. I was a bit weary of defending 'fair use' of a dvd by descrambling it ... but this exception in the DMCA just seals the deal. If they had only developed a dvd player for *nix, then the *nix guys would have no chance in hell for defending the development and use of stuff like decss. But since they didn't, they left this gaping hole available for the *nix guys and decss supporters to come crashing through.

    They ignored a chunk of their customers, and now those customers are going to use this claus to bite them in the ass for their ignorance.

    Oh well.... more power to the people!

  • Great timing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday February 25, 2002 @02:59PM (#3066211) Homepage
    This comes in just as I'm dealing with a cease and desist letter from an outfit that's annoyed that I reported their phony-invoice scam to their web design firm.

    Now as soon as the Slashdot effect fades, I can use the site.

  • Copyright question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tlk nnr (449342) on Monday February 25, 2002 @04:00PM (#3066502) Homepage
    It it legal to put C&D letters on a public website, or could the sender claim copyright infringement?

    In Germany, there is something similar to C&D letters ("Abmahnung", slightly worse because you must pay a few hunderd dollers, or they'll go to court).
    There is a database about it, but you must never quote the Abmahnung on a website - you'd get another one for copyright infringment.
  • by yumyum (168683) on Monday February 25, 2002 @04:22PM (#3066649)
    Check out the link here [princeton.edu] to a letter Grouch Marx wrote to Warner Bros. in response to one they sent demanding that the Marx brothers change the title of their new film, "A Night in Casablanca".

    Don't try this at home kids: apparently even Groucho's humor was lost on those dour lawyers.

    BTW, does anyone know which Marx Brothers movie has something like the following exchange?


    Woman: it's a gala day for you!
    Groucho: well a gal a day is enough for me. I don't think I could handle any more.

  • Nice but.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaptainSuperBoy (17170) on Monday February 25, 2002 @04:32PM (#3066696) Homepage Journal
    It's a great idea, but you really can't call it annotated. There are links in each C&D letter to a FAQ, but it's all boilerplate stuff - for example, the EnronOwnsTheGOP C&D and vivendiuniversalsucks.com C&D basically have the same annotation, such as "what constitutes trademark dilution."

    It's a great introduction to those who aren't familiar with the difference between copyright and trademark, for example. It'd be nice to have some actual annotations by lawyers. A good site with this kind of content is Consumer Affairs [consumeraffairs.com]. They have Real Live Lawyers who read consumer complaints and give their opinion on who's at fault, what the relevant laws are, etc. I'd love to see one of these C&D letters ripped apart by a lawyer, e.g. 'this is clearly a parody that falls under fair use.'
  • by Pvt_Waldo (459439) on Monday February 25, 2002 @04:43PM (#3066748)
    I'm part of the Day of Defeat [dayofdefeatmod.com] development team. A few days ago we got hit with the following email...


    From: FmlyTreenutATaolDOTcom
    To: (various DoD developers), cssupport@vuinteractive.com
    CC: hovatterg@emh1.ftmeade.army.mil, LanhamP@tioh.belvoir.army.mil, haasw@tioh.belvoir.army.mil, HonoringVets@aol.com
    Subject: Day of Defeat
    Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 11:11:16 EST

    Dear Sirs:

    Due to the fact there are laws protecting the use of military insignia and
    due to the fact your membership has shown absolute lack of respect for those
    laws and to the veterans and current military personnel who have earned the
    right to wear those insignia, I am asking that you implement the following:

    1) That, in the future, if any of your members or players choose to
    participate in your on-line combat game, that, as a rule, they will be barred
    from playing if they use the official names and insignia of military units
    and divisions.
    2) That a disclaimer appear on your website making it clear the use of these
    insignia and names are in violation of the law.
    3) If any member or player has used your game to discredit, disrespect or
    misrepresent any of these military units and divisions, that they also be
    barred from participating.

    These requirements will only enhance the on-line game experience and will
    also eliminate any possible law suits that might be filed against your
    company for the illegal and unauthorized use of military insignia. They will
    also enhance the on-line experience in that they will further educate and
    honor those military units that you represent in your game.

    I thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Marsha Sears


    So what she's basically saying is, she wants us to make the players of our game stop using any kind of military insignia/unit name in their online names. She's also been emailing various DoD "clans" asking the same thing. As you might expect of flame ready teens, some have started bombarding her with some pretty interesting (as I'm guessing) responses.

    Now she's writing to us (the DoD Team) and Sierra (who we have ZERO connection with) asking us to make them stop emailing her.

    Sheesh!

    So - thank GOD for that website. I feel like we're not alone anymore after having it to read!
  • by cluge (114877) on Monday February 25, 2002 @05:10PM (#3066959) Homepage
    I sure would like to issue quite a few Cease & Desist letters myself. What legal footing do I have to stand on if I send a spammer a Cease & Desist for harrasment?

    My Cease & Desist

    Dear Sir,

    My penis is already too long, and I already know everything about my neigbor and don't need a net detective. I am already married so I don't care about finding a perfect mate, and my mathematical skills make it extremely unlikely that I will visit your on-line casino. I don't need your on-line porno, or your Nigierian.

    Your repeated attempts to market to me are it harassament. If you were doing this over a phone I would already be seeing your sorry but in jail. Since you are hiding I must send this to everyone that has helped you in your endeavour.

    Please remit 1,000 dollars to my swiss bank account or I'll sick my laywer on you.

    Sincerely
    Penis is to large and doesn't need to add another inch.

  • by hooded1 (89250) on Monday February 25, 2002 @08:25PM (#3068082) Homepage
    First of all many of you have commented on the possibility of some large law firm trying to shutdown the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse. I find this highly unlikely. It is run by divisions of the Harvard, Standford and Berkley Law Schools, whom have incredibly power. I doubt its possible for any law firm to intimidate Harvard. Its current alumni consist of 5 of the 9 supreme court justices and many members of Congress. So needless to say if any legal action was attempted against this site it would be met with a very powerful defense.
  • Does this only look at how american law would interpret the evidence, or international law. I know that many countries share that same policies, but if I live in Australia, and get a cease and desist, can I post it to this forum and get a response showing what rights I have avaliable to me based on Australian or international law.

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore

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