Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DRM Electronic Frontier Foundation Security

EFF Is Suing the US Government To Invalidate the DMCA's DRM Provisions (boingboing.net) 93

Cory Doctorow, writes for BoingBoing: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just filed a lawsuit that challenges the Constitutionality of Section 1201 of the DMCA, the "Digital Rights Management" provision of the law, a notoriously overbroad law that bans activities that bypass or weaken copyright access-control systems, including reconfiguring software-enabled devices (making sure your IoT light-socket will accept third-party lightbulbs; tapping into diagnostic info in your car or tractor to allow an independent party to repair it) and reporting security vulnerabilities in these devices. EFF is representing two clients in its lawsuit: Andrew "bunnie" Huang, a legendary hardware hacker whose NeTV product lets users put overlays on DRM-restricted digital video signals; and Matthew Green, a heavyweight security researcher at Johns Hopkins who has an NSF grant to investigate medical record systems and whose research plans encompass the security of industrial firewalls and finance-industry "black boxes" used to manage the cryptographic security of billions of financial transactions every day. Both clients reflect the deep constitutional flaws in the DMCA, and both have standing to sue the US government to challenge DMCA 1201 because of its serious criminal provisions (5 years in prison and a $500K fine for a first offense).Doctorow has explained aspects of this for The Guardian today. You should also check Huang's blog post on this.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EFF Is Suing the US Government To Invalidate the DMCA's DRM Provisions

Comments Filter:
  • Although I have no idea why it took this long.
    • Re:Great news (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @11:50AM (#52555145) Journal
      Since you didn't bother reading the article, I will give you the relevant part. Their complaint "builds on two recent Supreme Court precedents (Golan and Eldred), in which the Supremes stated that the only way to reconcile free speech with copyright's ability to restrict who may utter certain words and expressions is fair use and other exemptions to copyright, which means that laws that don't take fair use into account fail to pass constitutional muster."
      • Re: Great news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 21, 2016 @12:02PM (#52555225)

        I wish them well with this and I'm going to give them money, but money of course is a huge problem now. This is a government and a court that finds things Constitutional or not based on what corporations want, and corporations and law enforcement want broad, hard to interpret laws that can be used to put little people in jail for the 'crime' of bothering the powerful. The DMCA is a terrible law that has been abused more than used, just like how the allegedly anti terrorism Patriot Act is mostly used to prosecute petty drug crimes, quell dissent and anti corporate behavior and other things nobody wants to give up a shred of freedom over.

        • a court that finds things Constitutional or not based on what corporations want

          tbh I don't think that's true for the supreme court.....or for most lower courts either. It's not like they need to win a re-election.

        • You should check out SCOTUSblog, you don't have to just think of the Court as the Ebil Gubermint, you can actually follow along everything the Court does, and read their decisions. They give detailed explanations for most of the things that they do. And there are always "corporations" on both sides of any issue, so no need to worry that that prevents them from deciding things whichever way they want.

      • ...which means that laws that don't take fair use into account fail to pass constitutional muster."

        AMEN!!

      • ... the only way to reconcile free speech with copyright's ability to restrict who may utter certain words and expressions is fair use and other exemptions to copyright, which means that laws that don't take fair use into account fail to pass constitutional muster."

        Why would you even need to do that? I don't recall copyright having an amendment. Don't Constitutional rights trump pretty much everything else, period? Remind me when this happened exactly? Copyright/patents are a short term monopoly IN EXCH

        • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Thursday July 21, 2016 @01:56PM (#52556153) Homepage Journal

          I don't recall copyright having an amendment. Don't Constitutional rights trump pretty much everything else, period?

          Copyright is one of the enumerated powers of Congress (U.S. Const. I.8): "The Congress shall have power [...] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." This power is subject to other rights retained by the people, such as freedom from Congressional interference with freedom of speech (U.S. Const. Amendment I).

        • Coke's REAL weapon is trademark law. If somebody started selling a beverage that tasted exactly like Coca-Cola, but never represented it as tasting like Coke or having anything to do with Coke, there's very little Coca-Cola could actually DO to stop them.

          The thing is, it would only be a matter of time until some employee was overheard claiming to someone that it WAS the same as Coke, and Coca-Cola could sue them into oblivion based upon the actions of that employee.

          That said, AFAIK, Coca-Cola is the ONLY co

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            And that's what Regulatory Capture looks like when it grows up. Effective legal monopolies are the dream of every CEO, and we seem intent on making more of that happen under the guise of "protecting the little guy from corporations through additional regulations" (which may even be true for the first few years).

          • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @03:19PM (#52556705)

            That said, AFAIK, Coca-Cola is the ONLY company authorized to buy de-cocanized coca leaves from the federal government's sole authorized supplier. So as a practical matter, even if you downloaded their allegedly secret formula online, you'd never be able to replicate it exactly unless you wanted to risk getting raided and arrested by DEA agents, since there's no legal second source for that key ingredient.

            Tell that to Red Bull [time.com]. You're mostly right -- there are only certain companies licensed to trade in coca leaf, probably because it'd be too easy otherwise to trade coca leaf under the cover of it being de-cocanized coca leaf -- but Stepan can sell to other beverage makers besides TCCC. [google.com]

        • Don't Constitutional rights trump pretty much everything else, period?

          Evidently the 9th circuit court and state of California disagrees.
          Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D): "This is California; we don’t pay too much attention to the Constitution"

      • When did the Supremes start practicing law? When did they reform?

    • Re:Great news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @12:04PM (#52555237)

      Well if you are going to invalidate a US Congressional Approved Law that was Signed by the President of the United States (2 out of the 3 parts of the US Checks and Balances). You better be sure that you have as much data to prove your case to the Judicial System as possible. Poorly presenting your case and if it goes to the Supreme Court and your loose makes it nearly impossible to fight the case again.
      Much like how the conservatives fought over states rights for same sex marriages, in essence caused it to be legal in the entire state, because their defence of their stance wasn't backed up. If they didn't bring the case up, they may had a chance keeping what they perceive as a problem limited to only those LiBeRaL states.

      • Re:Great news (Score:5, Informative)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @01:00PM (#52555719) Journal
        It's worth mentioning that the DMCA has a provision for "fair use" sorts of things, which is that the library of congress (every three years) will review what you want to do, and then approve it or disapprove it. So they had to wait until the Library of Congress actually met, and then disapproved something that is quite reasonable and likely to win a case.

        So finally, in 2015, the Library of Congress met and rejected certain things that seem quite reasonable and defensible under the first amendment. In response, the EFF is not only asking that those things be approved, but also that the entire "Library of Congress as gatekeeper" thing be ruled unconstitutional.
        • The LoC gatekeeping thing is just cannon fodder to placate the masses so that exceptions to the DMCA get temporarily lifted for three years. There is no intention to do anything other than feed the sheep a temporary respite while the vast majority of things keep going indefinitely.

      • Much like how the conservatives fought over states rights for same sex marriages, in essence caused it to be legal in the entire state, because their defence of their stance wasn't backed up. If they didn't bring the case up, they may had a chance keeping what they perceive as a problem limited to only those LiBeRaL states.

        You mean "that thar passage in the bible told me so!" isn't a valid legal argument?

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      Because it is hard to sue the government.

      First, you have to have standing. You can't just go "oh, this law sucks and would affect me so I'm going to sue." You really have to wait for the government or third-party to prosecute you, then defend yourself. Then you *might* have standing to sue the government. Also, you need to have a better case than "I wanna watch anime in my Mom's basement." So far, many security researches have either not been sued, or they haven't stood up to defend themselves.

      It is al

    • Representatives of the MPAA/RIAA inform the US Gov't of the bad news over a free cup of coffee. US Gov't: "Yawns".

  • Dear manishs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 21, 2016 @11:45AM (#52555105)

    You might want to put a link to EFF's donate page [eff.org]. Thanks.

  • Need to get trump on board

    • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @11:58AM (#52555201)
      And then on the foredeck . . .

      and then on the plank . . .

    • Being that the DMCA was signed by Bill Clinton. I bet you can use that as an argument to go against it. However I think (And I am too lazy at the moment to look it up) at the time the Legislative branch was republican controlled, but why let facts get in the way of political postering.

      • A veto from President Clinton could not have stopped the Digital Millennium Copyright Act from becoming law, as it passed both houses through voice vote. A voice vote requires 80 percent assent in each house, a veto override only 67 percent.

        • as it passed both houses through voice vote.

          No. Passed the House through voice vote. Passed Seante by "unanimous consent" (that means everyone, in both Parties, thought it was a great idea.

          Note that one of the "features" of a Voice Vote is that there's no record of who actually voted for/against it in the House.

      • We get stuck on the left vs right thing way too often. There should also be some words that indicates whether the pol is a corporate jackass or not. Bill and Hillary are definite corporatists. So is Trump, but he's also a dangerous idiot.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, the federal government has not, with very few exceptions, ever repealed or reduced any laws.
    I don't expect this to be changed. Lobbyists, greedy congressmen, and the strangely rigid-standing FBI (stick up the ass)
    will fight any change that they see as detrimental to their well-being.... or profit... or perks, whatever.

    • We all agreed to the law (or at least, in theory a majority of us enacted this law). It's a classic demonstration of the weakness of our form of republican democracy - the wisdom of a few who crafted our government included a constitution which prohibits certain activities which the voting majority may wish to permit. Thus, racism and slavery (for example) while once quite popular among voting citizens are no longer permissible, even if we vote for a law which violates that prohibition. Now, we have the
      • > Now, we have the DMCA - a law we must collectively have agreed to, as it is no long merely a bill but a law.

        I call bullshit on this. If we did have representative democracy that time is past. Now it's a charade. I know that the rep for my Congressional district affectively is a representation for ALEC, the US Chamber of Commerce, and other entities that give him campaign cash. I wouldn't say that DMCA is something at this point in history that we collectively agreed to. Supreme Court cases like Ci

        • You're exactly the reason I threw those two words in there. Frankly, I don't believe it either - but it is the ideal state of our form of government. Never mind that it doesn't really work that way.
      • We all agreed to the law

        We certainly did not all agree to the law. I'm one of those who never agreed to it; I'm certain there are plenty more.

        or at least, in theory a majority of us enacted this law

        Closer, but still not accurate. There was no popular vote on this specific issue, and no expression of active support by a majority of the population.

        Now, we have the DMCA - a law we must collectively have agreed to, as it is no long merely a bill but a law.

        Only if by "must collectively have agreed to" you actually mean "supported by a majority of voting representatives, selected in many cases by a plurality (not majority) of voters in their districts on the basis of a variety of issues having not

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @12:13PM (#52555295)

    What about enforcing anti trust and other laws so the DMCA abuse does get as bad as it is? Or you do want an apple car that must do oil changes each 3000 miles at the dealer with an a cost of $100-150 or the car will go in an limp home mode?

  • We're all counting on you!
  • the complaint (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @12:25PM (#52555393) Journal
    Here is the complaint [eff.org], in case anyone wants to read it.

    Their argument in brief: those provisions of the DMCA are preventing people from expressing themselves (free speech) which violates the first amendment. The Library of Congress is supposed to approve various exemptions to the DMCA for the purpose of research (or other), but the LoC failed to do so (in 2015). Even if the LoC had correctly fulfilled their duty, having them as a gatekeeper on what speech is allowed violates the first amendment.

    This is a great lawsuit, I can't wait to see what the government's response will be. Incidentally, there is a third plaintiff besides the two mentioned in the summary, a company called Alphamax (but I've never heard of them).
    • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @12:48PM (#52555593) Homepage

      The government's response? LOL, you Republicans crack me up. We elected President Hope & Change 7 years ago in case you forgot, and we now have the most transparent government in history which works for the *people*, not big Republican-donating industries like the movie industry.

      The government's response will be quite predictable: the EFF is correct and we need to quit enforcing these Republican corporatist crony laws right now!

      I can't wait to see the looks on those Hollywood Republican's faces when Obama tells his Justice Department lawyers to give it to them good and hard! For the People!

      • Re:the complaint (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @12:55PM (#52555689) Journal

        The government's response will be quite predictable: the EFF is correct and we need to quit enforcing these Republican corporatist crony laws right now!

        You're being sarcastic, but the reality is the government does have to respond, and they do have to give an answer that seems halfway reasonable, which actually, in this case is hard. So if you're the kind of person who likes reading legal fights, this is a moment to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

        Especially since the outcome is likely to be so good.

        • They'll probably claim national security or some other bullshit.

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          This is a case when you can only enjoy the show after the show is concluded and you know how everything turns out.

          • Nah, things can only get better or stay the same. It won't be like Oracle vs Google where copyright law will be basically written from thin air.
      • Re:the complaint (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @02:21PM (#52556311)
        Hollywood supports Republicans? Really?
      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Unfortunately, while the Republicans like this kind of law, they don't like it as much as the Democrats do. BOTH major parties are on the take from various groups that support this kind of law.

        But the Democrats are worse, about this, than the Republicans. The sponsors of the MPAA and the RIAA give more to the Democrats.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "And these are your reasons, my lord?"
        "Do you think I have others?" said Lord Vetinari. "My motives, as ever, are entirely transparent."
        Hughnon reflected that 'entirely transparent' meant either that you could see right through them or that you couldn't see them at all."
        -- Terry Pratchett, The Truth

  • by edittard ( 805475 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @12:34PM (#52555459)

    Cory Doctorow, writes for BoingBoing:

    I, write right here: that manishs, does not know, how to use commas.

  • What has got lost is the 'promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts' bit. The 'by securing' bit has become a religious dogma. In the modern world, examples like Free Software show how the current 'implementation' does not fulfil the aim of 'promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts'. In the light of the relatively modern invention of modern computing, the 'by' but (the implementation) needs a serious rethink. But those who benefit disproportionately are economically bound to campaign to move

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @03:52PM (#52556929) Homepage

    So why isn't the library of congress making these exemptions?I usually think of librarians as being pretty good guardians of research and free speech. It seems like the LOC does not follow that spirit.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Not everyone who works at LOC is actually a librarian by training or in job role. Congress has added responsibilities to it which are related to, but not actually what you'd expect a library to do.

      So, it's basically a government agency that happens to have some librarians working for it. Sort of like the Secret Service having been created to stop counterfeiting, which they still have jurisdiction over, but they are much more high profile as bodyguards for the President and related VIPs.

  • DMCAis flawed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by strstr ( 539330 ) on Thursday July 21, 2016 @05:59PM (#52557603)

    It should provide safe harbor protection without requiring content take down notices be processed. For example of abuse look at the Gavin E Long videos on YouTube; he filmed himself and uploaded blog videos as the sole owner of the videos. Then he died after doing a mass shooting. In response provocateurs submitted fake DMCA copyright claims and now all the videos are offline, but only he could access his account to submit counterclaims to have the videos put back up. YouTube follows the DMCA which requires the videos or content to be taken down even if the request is invalid, because without the due process checks of a judge or jury there is no way to know if the content is infringing or not.

    No one but Gavin could defend himself but in the case a judge or jury were involved, they might never issue take down orders because the requests were obviously frivolous.

    obamasweapon.com [obamasweapon.com]

You do not have mail.

Working...