I Parody You, You Sue Me..EFF says go F U..

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a federal court Wednesday to protect the free speech rights of a website publisher who has suffered years of baseless legal threats over his parody of the Barney and Friends television show.

Since 2002, the Lyons Partnership has repeatedly sent meritless cease-and-desist letters to Stuart Frankel because his website pokes fun at Barney the purple dinosaur, the well-known children's television character. Dr. Frankel, assisted by EFF, responded to these letters in 2002 and 2005, but Barney's lawyers have continued to harass him. The lawsuit filed by Dr. Frankel asks the court to finally resolve the matter by declaring that his parody does not infringe Barney's copyright or trademark rights.

"Barney's lawyers are sending out intimidating lawyer letters to parody websites that are clearly protected by the First Amendment and fair use," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "It's time for Barney to call off his lawyer armies and get back to entertaining children."

Barney's lawyers have a history of using copyright and trademark laws as a pretext for censorship. In fact, EFF itself received such a warning in 2001 after archiving a copy of a different Barney parody on its site.

"The misuse of intimidating cease-and-desist letters for censorship is a growing problem online," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "We hope this lawsuit sends a message to Barney's owners and other corporations to think twice before sending baseless threat letters."

EFF has long defended digital artists' rights to build upon other creative works. During the 2004 election campaign, EFF helped protect JibJab Media, Inc., and its animation "This Land" after Ludlow Music claimed the work infringed the copyright of Woody Guthrie's song "This Land Is Your Land."

EFF is being assisted in this case by Elizabeth Rader, an attorney with the San Francisco office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, which is defending Dr. Frankel's free speech rights on a pro bono basis.

For the full complaint:

For more on Barney's copyright abuses:


Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Posted at 12:07 AM

August 23, 2006
Dangerous Patent Law Ruling Threatens Free and Open Source Software

EFF Asks Supreme Court to Protect Open Source Innovation

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn a dangerous patent law ruling that could pose a serious threat to Free and Open Source Software projects.

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed its own "suggestion test" as the main method for determining when a patent should be found obvious over knowledge in the public domain. Under this test, even the most obvious incremental advances and add-ons can be patented unless the Patent Office or a defendant in court produces a document that shows someone else suggested it prior to the patent being filed.

"The Federal Circuit's suggestion test forces litigants to search through reams of technical papers for a document in which someone, somewhere, bothers to state the obvious," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry, who co-authored the amicus brief. "This is inefficient and burdensome, and contrary to the principles, policies, and standards the Supreme Court has upheld."

In its amicus brief filed Tuesday, EFF shows how this "suggestion test" has led to a massive surge in bogus patenting, especially in software. These bad patents then become weapons against legitimate innovators -- especially those working on Free and Open Source Software projects.

"Free and Open Source Software projects have become an integral part of the software industry and our nation's economy," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, a co-author of the brief. "They often lack the resources or formal documentation to fight against bogus patents under the suggestion test, so it is principally important that the Supreme Court set the appropriate standard to prevent the approval of bogus patents."

The case, KSR International Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., and Technology Holding Co., is scheduled for oral argument in front the Supreme Court this fall.

For the full amicus brief:


Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Posted at 12:16 AM

August 14, 2006
EFF Demands FTC Investigation and Privacy Reform After AOL Data Release

Internet Company's Publication of Search Logs Exposes Customers' Private Lives

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate America Online (AOL) and require changes in its privacy practices, after the company recently released search history logs that exposed the private lives of more than a half-million of its customers.

Last week, news reports revealed that AOL published to the Internet three months of search queries from about 650,000 users. In its complaint, EFF argues that the release of this data violated AOL's privacy policy and the Federal Trade Commission Act and should be investigated. EFF further requests that the FTC require AOL to notify customers affected by the disclosure and to stop logging search data except where absolutely necessary.

"Search terms can expose the most intimate details of a person's life -- private information about your family problems, your medical history, your financial situation, your political and religious beliefs, your sexual preferences, and much more," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "At the very least, AOL should notify every customer whose privacy has been jeopardized by the company's careless handling of this incredibly private information, and AOL should not store this kind of data in the future when it doesn't have to."

While AOL has removed the data from its own web site, the data is still freely available from other sites on the Internet. And although specific AOL screen names were not released, the data is associated with unique ID numbers, allowing each user's search terms to be grouped together. Whether because of users' searches for their own names or MySpace profiles, or searches related to their cities and neighborhoods, these search histories can expose -- and in some cases, already have exposed -- particular users' private searches to the world. In support of its complaint, EFF confidentially submitted examples of search queries containing personally identifiable information and search histories that could likely be tied to particular AOL subscribers.

"We've asked the FTC to make sure that AOL rectifies the damage that's been done and improve its privacy protections for the future," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "But this problem isn't limited to AOL -- every search company stores this kind of data. Hopefully, AOL's shocking violation of its users' privacy will spur Congress to clarify that the same law that prevents these companies from disclosing our personal emails also applies to our search logs."

For the FTC complaint:

For more on the AOL data release:


Kevin Bankston
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation




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