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February 13 at 7:13am

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

I just got tipped to this via MentalEclectic‘s tweet:

a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.

Do you know your online rights? Have you received a letter asking you to remove information from a Web site or to stop engaging in an activity? Are you concerned about liability for information that someone else posted to your online forum? If so, this site is for you.

Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities. We are excited about the new opportunities the Internet offers individuals to express their views, parody politicians, celebrate their favorite movie stars, or criticize businesses. But we’ve noticed that not everyone feels the same way. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence other online users. Chilling Effects encourages respect for intellectual property law, while frowning on its misuse to “chill” legitimate activity.

The website offers background material and explanations of the law for people whose websites deal with topics such as Fan Fiction, Copyright, Domain Names and Trademarks, Anonymous Speech, and Defamation.

In addition, we want your help. We are gathering a searchable database of Cease and Desist notices sent to Internet users like you. We invite you to input Cease and Desist letters that you’ve received into our database, to document the chill. We will respond by linking the legalese in the letters to FAQs that explain the allegations in plain English.

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February 7 at 12:37pm

$2 Billion For Broadband Expansion

The NYTimes reported today the Stimulus Plan expected to pass the Senate has $2B allocated to broadband expansion in underserved areas.  Currently 25% of the country still does not have broadband, but even still their were Senators who were not supporting this aspect of the bill.

As FastCompany pointed out, broadband expansion has a great ripple effect on the economy: 
more broadband access would create a so-called “network effect” stimulus: Consumers can spend more by buying online, businesses can save money by digitizing their dealings, and the overall speed and cost of communications can be improved. The Internet could bring a whole new host of entertainment, service, utility and products to underserved citizens, both saving them money and encouraging new spending.

I doubt the film industry had anyone actually lobbying for this passage, but it should benefit all of us.  Some short sighted folks will see this as giving greater access to pirates in the boondocks eager to grab for free what they weren’t paying for to begin with.  As the media stokes such hysteria, they are missing the real issue: the lack of a functioning consumer-driven model.

Hopefully this will bring greater focus to all in the entertainment industry to come up with a new model. I firmly believe everyone will be willing to pay for access to high quality content as long as it is available where you want it, when you want it, and how you want it.

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