Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
The Courts Electronic Frontier Foundation

US Drops Link Sharing Charges Against Barrett Brown 40

In a followup to our story yesterday, Bismillah writes "It seems US prosecutors agree that just publishing a link doesn't amount to transmitting actual files. Brown is not out of the legal woods yet though, and still faces further charges. The EFF released this statement about the decision: 'We are relieved that federal prosecutors have decided to drop these charges against Barrett Brown. In prosecuting Brown, the government sought to criminalize a routine practice of journalism—linking to external sources—which is a textbook violation of free speech protected by the First Amendment. Although this motion is good news for Brown, the unnecessary and unwarranted prosecution has already done much damage; not only has it harmed Brown, the prosecution—and the threat of prosecution it raised for all journalists—has chilled speech on the Internet. We hope that this dismissal of charges indicates a change in the Department of Justice priorities. If not, we will be ready to step in and defend free speech.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Drops Link Sharing Charges Against Barrett Brown

Comments Filter:
  • Obvious move is obvious.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:06PM (#46414329) Journal
    A precedent might have been set had the case been heard and tried.

    IANAL, but I doubt the dismissal will become case law.

    • by Raul654 ( 453029 )

      I'm not a lawyer either, but FYI even if the judge had agreed to dismiss the charges, that would not be binding on other courts either. It would not have become binding unless one side or the other appealed and the circuit court and got a decision there. That decision would then become binding on *only* that circuit.

    • Re:Too Bad. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SpankiMonki ( 3493987 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:26PM (#46414495)

      A precedent might have been set had the case been heard and tried. IANAL, but I doubt the dismissal will become case law.

      Well, if the judge actually had the time to rule on Brown's attorney's motion for dismissal, [freebarrettbrown.org] the ruling would've made it into case law. As it happened, the US prosecutors *dismissed* the eleven counts related to the linking charge before the ink on Brown's motion was dry.

      I wonder why the US prosecutors would do such a thing? [rolleyes]

      • "TIN FOILLL!!!!!"!!!!!!""

        In all seriousness...you hit the nail on the head. But what do you expect from those who would perpetuate such an egregious lawsuit in the first place? That our rights are being tested and eliminated so flagrantly is in and of itself absurd.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        NOTHING that happens at the District Court level can be considered "Case Law".

        Only decisions at the Appeals Court (or higher) can be considered Case Law and only then if the decision is "published" by the court (most decisions are not).

  • I know I'm probably gonna get seriously hammered for this, but what more could we ask for?
    Do we want them to "take it back" and apologize, with a promise never to do something like that again?
    Seriously, the prosecutors bit off way more than they could chew here. Maybe they realized failure would be bad for their careers and success would have huge negative ramifications on the Internet (at least in the US) so they decided the prudent course of action was an advance to the rear...
    • What's wrong with them taking it back and apologizing?

      • by mmell ( 832646 )
        Nothing. And as soon as Brown counter-sues for having to answer a frivolous lawsuit, the courts will have the responsibility of determining what apology is appropriate and ensuring that it is implemented.
      • What's wrong with them taking it back and apologizing?

        If it was a real apology they'll never file similar charges against anybody else. I wouldn't take that bet.

    • Yup - a promise about future behaviour would be good.
      Perhaps formal guidance to prosecutors that posting an http link should not generally be seen as 'republishing'

      In the UK, there has been controversy around various twitter cases (particularly the bomb joke case).
      The end result is that the director of public prosecutions has issued new guidance on how and when to charge people with crimes based on what they say on Twitter.

      new guidelines:
      https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a... [cps.gov.uk]

      relevant section:

      "... [they are] l

  • Witness the dearth of comments to this post. This administration is assaulting free speech more severely than Mao.

Forty two.