Tag: EFF

Using Copyright to Quash Criticism

zillow-mcmansion-effElectronic Frontier Foundation

Kate Wagner runs an architecture criticism blog called McMansion Hell, where she posts pictures and opinions of examples of what she considers poor design. Mostly she criticizes big houses that are meant to appeal buyers’ vanities. A company called the Zillow Group sent her a cease and desist order saying the pictures she was using were protected by copyright and couldn’t be used. She did what most people would do when threatened by the lawyers of a big corporation. She shut down her blog.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. The Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) got wind of it and stepped in to defend Ms Wagner against the specious order. They sent a couple of strongly worded letters to Zillow’s lawyers and let them know they weren’t going to get away with their bullying.

EFF staff attorney Daniel Nazer said, “Our client has no obligation to, and thus will not, comply with Zillow’s demands. Zillow’s legal threats are not supported and plainly seek to interfere with protected speech.”

Zillow quickly changed its tune, claiming that they never had any intention of interfering with Ms Wagner’s freedom of expression. They just thought they were protecting the copyright of the owners of the images she was taking from Zillow’s website. The EFF let them know that they were wrong.

EFF’s response called Zillow’s legal complaints “baseless” and its allegations “unfounded and unsupportable” as it laid out a variety of legal arguments for why McMansion Hell and Wagner were not bound by Zillow’s terms of use and why her use of photographs sourced from Zillow are indeed protected by fair use.

The McMansion Hell blog is back up and running and Ms Wagner is breathing easily again. Chalk up another one for the EFF, those heroes who defend our freedoms.

via Zillow drops complaint against ‘McMansion Hell’ blog after backlash over copyright claim – GeekWire

rjb

Patent Troll Sues Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Frontier Foundation – CC-BY

Almost a year and a half ago, Green Comet had a post on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) series called Stupid Patent of the Month, where they call out the bad practises of patent trolls and other miscreants. The stupid patent in our post had Microsoft suing Corel.

A little less than a year ago, the EFF featured another stupid patent held by the Australian patent troll, Global Equity Management (SA,) or GEMSA. This company’s only apparent activity seems to be suing people over patents. It seems GEMSA didn’t like that and is now suing the EFF for defamation. Even though the EFF is based in the United States, where freedom of expression laws protect it, GEMSA wants Australia’s more repressive laws to apply. They are accustomed to abusing people with stupid patents, and now they think they can use national laws to invoke an international chill on freedom.

The EFF is not so easily cowed, and they have a few lawyers of their own. After GEMSA demanded that they take down the article, and every other reference to it on the internet, they launched a countersuit in California seeking a ruling that the Australian injunction should not apply in the US. They should be successful because the US already has a law that makes foreign laws invalid in the US unless they respect freedom of expression.

Here’s the story at ars technica and the Courthouse News Service. Here’s Motherboard’s list of the eleven stupidest patents of 2016.

In its complaints, GEMSA said that the EFF’s article made it harder for them to bring their patent suits in the US. Well, good. Now it seems their injunction has raised the profile of patent trolls, which are coming under closer scrutiny. Also good.

rjb

UPDATE

The ruling has come down in this case and, as I predicted, it is in favor of the plaintiff, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They have every right, in the US anyway, to call GEMSA’s patent stupid.

Kurt Opsahl, EFF’s deputy executive director and general counsel, hailed the ruling as a victory for free speech.

“We knew all along the speech was protected by the First Amendment,” Opsahl said in a phone interview Friday. “We were pleased to see the court agree.”

You can find the Courthouse News article here.

rjb

%d bloggers like this: