Tag: freedom of expression

The Free Speech of Fools

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Photo: StockSnap. CC0/Public Domain license.

I’ve posted on free speech and freedom of expression before here on Green Comet. I talked about how people confused the right to free speech with the right to freedom from criticism for what they say. Some people think that their right to freedom of expression means that they get to say whatever they want and no one can challenge them on it. But there is another way that the idea of freedom is perverted: when it is used to justify hate speech and bigotry. This article on The Seattle Star does a good job of looking at that.

Over the past year, the far right has held a number of “free speech” rallies that are, in reality, testing grounds for how many people they can publicly assemble and launch violent attacks on people …

It really shouldn’t be that hard to tell the difference between free speech, as in the fundamental democratic right; and free speech, as in the amoral, we’ll-attack-whoever-we-want manifesto of the far right.

We’re living in a time when actual free speech rights are as precarious as ever–consider, for example, the autocrat in the White House who orders professional football team owners to fire players who take a knee during the National Anthem. Or the FBI targeting supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement as dangerous “extremists.”

We look back on the foolish things people have allowed to happen in the past and shake our heads. “How could they not see?” we ask. Who will be shaking their heads at our foolishness?

via The Free Speech of Fools – The Seattle Star

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

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