Former Justice Dept. Prosecutor Joins Defense in MySpace Suicide Case | Threat Level
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties
11:25 pm EDT, Oct 21, 2008
A former federal prosecutor has decided to take on his ex-employer in defending a woman against charges that she violated federal laws in allegedly creating a MySpace account used to bully a teenage girl who committed suicide.
Orin Kerr, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, was a criminal trial attorney in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the Department of Justice as well as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
But earlier this year when federal prosecutors in Los Angeles indicted a woman named Lori Drew with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act — an anti-hacking law — for allegedly violating the MySpace terms of service in providing false information to set up the MySpace account used to harass the teen, Kerr didn't hide his disagreement with the charges.
Kerr wrote on the Volokh Conspiracy blog that the government was essentially charging Drew with criminal trespassing on MySpace's server for allegedly providing false information to open a MySpace account under the false identity of a nonexistent teenage boy. Kerr said this essentially made it a federal crime to violate any online terms of service contract.
"Since everyone who uses computers violates dozens of different [Terms of Service] every day, the theory would make everyone who uses computers a felon," he wrote at Volokh Conspiracy.
Today Kerr announced he's joined Drew's defense team as pro-bono co-counsel.
Kerr didn't want to discuss the pending litigation too much, but told Threat Level he decided to take on the case with Drew's current attorney, Dean Steward, because, "The stakes here are very high."
"If the government succeeds in this case," he said, "they can pretty much bring charges against anybody who uses the internet. And Congress never intended that. This is a case with really important civil liberties stakes for anyone who uses the internet."
A federal judge so far has refused to dismiss the case, though many legal experts agree with Kerr that the federal charges are based on an alarming premise and constitute a misuse of the federal hacking statute.
Barack Obama's team is briefed by Bush staff on after warnings about a terrorist attack - Telegraph
Topic: Politics and Law
1:09 am EDT, Oct 20, 2008
Mr Obama is also planning executive orders that do not require legislation on his first day in office, which could include plans to promote renewable energy resources and create jobs.
His transition team, which is reportedly much more extensive and active than Mr McCain's, features 10 working groups in different policy areas to convert campaign promises into concrete legislation. It is chaired by John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former White House chief of staff who runs the Centre for American Progress, a think tank long seen as a Democratic administration in exile.
Mr Podesta is working closely with Michael Signer, a former foreign policy aide to John Edwards in charge of homeland security affairs. Mr Podesta and Jason Furman, one of Mr Obama's two most influential economic advisers, have already held talks with sceptical conservative Democrats to line up the votes to pass a stimulus package.
Obama's transition team meets, candidate pushes on
Topic: Politics and Law
2:13 am EDT, Oct 19, 2008
Under the direction of John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, the transition effort includes a dozen separate groups divided into different areas of responsibility, these officials said. One added that Cassandra Butts, a longtime associate of Obama, is in charge of the group dedicated to personnel for a new administration.
The effort is largely separate from the campaign structure that helped plan and execute Obama's remarkable rise to the position of front-runner in a race in which he is bidding to become the first black president.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss any post-election planning that might be under way.
YouTube to McCain: You Made Your DMCA Bed, Lie in It!
Topic: Intellectual Property
9:17 am EDT, Oct 17, 2008
YouTube on Tuesday rebuffed a request from John McCain s presidential campaign to examine fair-use issues more carefully before yanking campaign videos in response to DMCA takedown notices.
Lawyers and judges constantly disagree about what does and does not constitute fair-use, YouTube s general counsel Zahavah Levine wrote in a letter Tuesday. No number of lawyers could possibly determine with a reasonable level of certainty whether all the videos for which we receive disputed takedown notices qualify as fair-use.
We hope that as a content uploader, you have gained a sense of some of the challenges we face everyday in operating YouTube, she added. Mccainyoutubead
The McCain campaign on Monday fired off a letter to YouTube complaining that the company had acted too quickly to take down McCain s videos in response to copyright infringement notices. McCain campaign general counsel Trevor Potter argued that several of the removed ads, which had used excerpts of television footage, fall under the four-factor doctrine of fair-use, and shouldn t have been removed.
But citing the DMCA, a controversial copyright law that McCain voted to approve a decade ago, Levine pointed out that YouTube risks being sued itself if it doesn t respond PROMPTly to takedown notices.
If … service providers do not remove the content to such notice, they do so at their own risk because they lose their safe harbor, she wrote.
Further, Levine argued, the fair-use analysis is complicated, and the creators of the videos are better equipped to perform it. The uploader can then issue a DMCA counter-notice if they believe they re on solid legal ground, and YouTube will restore the video.
YouTube does not possess the requisite information about the content in user-uploaded videos to make a determination as to whether a particular takedown notice includes a valid claim of infringement, Levine wrote. The claimant and the uploader, not YouTube, hold all of the relevant information in this regard, including the source of any content used, the ownership rights to the content, and any licensing arrangements in place between the parties.
The real problem here is individuals and entities that abuse the DMCA takedown process, she added.
We look forward to working with Senator or President McCain on ways to combat abuse of the DMCA takedown process on YouTube, including by way of example, strengthening the fair-use doctrine, so that intermediaries like us can rely on this important doctrine with a measure of business certainty.
In late 2005, cardiac researcher Doris Taylor revived the dead. She rinsed rat hearts with detergent until the cells washed away and all that remained was a skeleton of tissue translucent as wax paper—a ghost heart, as Taylor calls it. She injected the scaffold with fresh heart cells from newborn rats. Then she waited.
What she witnessed four days later, once the cells had a chance to make themselves at home, was astonishing. "We could see these little areas that were beginning to beat," says Taylor, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Cardiovascular Repair. "By eight days, we could see the whole heart beating. The first time that happened, it was like ‘yes!' "
I still figure the machines will get us before zombies will walk the earth, but it's always nice to see parallel tracks to the apocalypse.