Saturday, October 02, 2004

Swatties serve humble pie to Diebold

Congratulations to Nelson, Luke, the E.F.F., and copyleftists everywhere for their legal victory against Diebold this week.

Despite what E.F.F. staff attorney Wendy Seltzer hopes, it's not yet perfectly clear to me whether this decision will embolden universities and ISP's to stand up to DMCA takedown notices. It certainly raises the bar in some narrow ways, but the DMCA safe harbor provisions still is based on the idea that copyright disputes are between the holders of I.P. and those people they claim have misappropriated their works.

(Alert! Alert! I am not a lawyer.)

Let's hope that the decision discourages corporate lawyers from abusing copyright law like this in the first place. I recall Ken Crews saying that most copyright disputes were resolved at the "angry letter" phase; that copyright holders were reluctant to go as far as litigation. One reason for this was the fear that they just might lose. Now that somebody finally has lost, hopefully the message in the States is that you can't use copyright law to silence free speech and free press. (We have other ways of doing that.) (Sigh.)

If they haven't learned that lesson, then let's hope that they've learned not to challenge Swarthmore students to a battle of wits (or Chicken) when their principles are on the line. To quote a traditional Swarthmore sports cheer: "Fight, fight for the inner light! Kill little Quakers, kill!"

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