San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and four major law school legal clinics announced the launch today of a project and website to empower Internet users with detailed information about their legal rights in response to cease-and-desist letters designed to restrict their online activities.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and four major law school legal clinics announced the launch today of a project and website to empower Internet users with detailed information about their legal rights in response to cease-and-desist letters designed to restrict their online activities.
Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: A Unique Collaboration:
The project brings the EFF together with Internet law clinics at Harvard, Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of San Francisco, and is expected to grow to include additional law schools.
Called Chilling Effects in reference to the way legal threats can freeze out free expression, the project invites Internet users to add their cease-and-desist letters to an online clearinghouse at ChillingEffects.org. Students at the participating law school clinics will review the letters and annotate them with links to explain applicable legal rules.
“The Internet makes it easier for individuals to speak to a wide audience, but it also makes it easier for other people and corporations to silence that speech,” said Berkman Center Fellow Wendy Seltzer, who conceived the project and programmed the website. “Chilling Effects aims to level the field by helping online speakers to understand their rights in the face of legal threats.”
The Chilling Effects project works by publishing cease-and-desist letters received by Internet users and providing detailed information about the relevant legal rules. For example, if an Internet user receives a letter demanding that she remove a synopsis of a “Star Trek” episode from her website, members of the Chilling Effects team would post the letter online, embedding it with links to information about basic copyright protections, the rules governing synopses, and the fair use doctrine.
“EFF receives hundreds of requests for help and information from recipients of cease-and-desist letters,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “This project should help individuals gain access to greatly needed information as well as allow us to track who is sending these letters and research larger trends.”
The project currently provides basic legal information on issues like fan fiction, copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, trademark and domain names, anonymous speech, and defamation. New topics will be added as new issues arise. In addition to publishing cease-and-desist letters, the Chilling Effects team will offer periodic “weather reports” assessing the legal climate for Internet activity. The reports will seek to answer such questions as what types of Internet activity are most vulnerable to the chilling effects of legal threats.
The Chilling Effects project website:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression, privacy, and openness in the information society. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most-linked-to websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/
About Berkman Center for Internet & Society:
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development:
About Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic:
The Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at Boalt Hall was the first clinic in the country to provide law students with the opportunity to represent the public interest in cases and matters on the cutting-edge of high technology law. Since January 2001, students participating in the Clinic have worked with leading lawyers in nonprofit organizations, government, private practice, and academia to represent clients on a broad range of legal matters including Internet free speech and online and wireless privacy.
About Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society:
The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School. The CIS brings together scholars, academics, legislators, students, hackers, and scientists to study the interaction of new technologies and the law and to examine how the synergy between the two can either promote or harm public goods like free speech, privacy, public commons, diversity, and scientific inquiry. The CIS strives as well to improve both technology and law, encouraging decision makers to design both as a means to further democratic values.
About University of San Francisco Internet and Intellectual Property Justice Project:
This University of San Francisco School of Law program provides legal services to parties who require help with intellectual property matters. The project is currently available to help parties in domain name disputes under ICANN online dispute resolution proceedings as well as with other trademark and copyright work that the faculty supervisors feel is appropriate. Legal work is performed free of charge by students under the direction of faculty members.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
+1 415 436-9333 x108 (office),
+1 415 823-2148 (cell)
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
Jennifer Stisa Granick
Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society
+1 650 724-0014
Acting Clinical Professor and Director
Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic,
Boalt Hall School of Law,
University of California at Berkeley
+1 510 642-0499
Clinical Program in Cyberlaw
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard Law School
+1 617 495-7547
Professor Robert Talbot
Professor of Law and Director of Internet and Intellectual Property Justice Project
University of San Francisco School of Law
+1 415 422-6218 (office),
+1 415 717-2826 (cell)
News Service: TheExperiment Network