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November 9th, 2001 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Hollywood has a better lobby than France

Maybe it’s just me, but I see a major mental disconnect here between these two stories:

Yahoo Gets Break in Nazi Case (November 9th)

In an important Internet policy case, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that Yahoo does not have to comply with a French order that it keep users in France from seeing Nazi-related content on the website.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that the First Amendment protects content generated in the United States by American companies from being regulated by authorities in countries that have more restrictive laws on freedom of expression.

Fogel pointed out that many Internet users in the United States often make postings or create content that would violate laws in other countries, such as China.

“It means that the ability of people in the United States to make information available on the Internet is ultimately going to be governed by the First Amendment, regardless of where it’s accessed, not the lowest common denominator of accepted content in all countries,” said Yahoo’s deputy general counsel, Greg Wrenn.

Silly French people! In the United States, we have the first amendent, and we can say whatever we want!

Unless…

Russian Adobe Hacker Busted (July 17th)

FBI agents have arrested a Russian programmer for giving away software that removes the restrictions on encrypted Adobe Acrobat files.

Dmitry Sklyarov, a lead programmer for Russian software company ElcomSoft, was visiting the United States for the annual Defcon hacker convention, where he gave a talk on the often-flawed security of e-books.

This would be the second known prosecution under the criminal sections of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, (DMCA) which took effect last year and makes it a crime to “manufacture” products that circumvent copy protection safeguards.

Vladimir Katalov, Elcom’s managing director, told PlanetEbook that Sklyarov was arrested for distributing the company’s Advanced eBook Processor as he was on his way home and that he is being held in a Las Vegas jail while awaiting transfer to California.

This is the latest round in an increasingly nasty battle between Elcomsoft and Adobe, which fired off a stiff letter to the Russian firm a few weeks ago claiming “unauthorized activity relating to copyrighted materials,” and requesting that the $100 eBook decoder be taken off the market.

At the time, Katalov replied on the comp.text.pdf newsgroup by dismissing Adobe’s complaints as specious: “We’ll just move our site to another ISP, in another country (where there is no Digital Millennium Copyright Act). And/or make our software available for free, under the GNU license.”

Silly Russian! We don’t care where you host your evil software! We will arrest you and punish you! Our laws cover the world!

Because software isn’t a form of expression, right? Oh, and don’t forget, talking about security holes in software is also illegal too, including publishing a paper in a research journal. And linking to people who talk about unauthorized software, even if that software has a valid and legal purpose. The first amendment doesn’t cover that, because, well, people might copy music, movies and ebooks and stuff! Can’t have that!

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