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Electronic Frontier Foundation and Stanford Law Clinic
Back To Main Page Sue Electronic Voting Company
by:
Student Publishers and ISP Aim to Stop Diebold's Abusive Copyright Claims
Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
San Francisco - A nonprofit Internet Service Provider (ISP) and two Swarthmore College
students are seeking a court order on Election Day tomorrow to stop electronic voting machine
manufacturer Diebold Systems, Inc., from issuing specious legal threats. The Electronic
Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Center for Internet and Society Cyberlaw Clinic at Stanford
Law School are providing legal representation in this important case to prevent abusive
copyright claims from silencing public debate about voting, the very foundation of our
democratic process.

Diebold has delivered dozens of cease-and-desist notices to website publishers and ISPs
demanding that they take down corporate documents revealing flaws in the company's
electronic voting systems as well as difficulties with certifying the systems for actual elections.

Swarthmore students Nelson Pavlosky and Luke Smith have published an email archive of the
Diebold documents, which contain descriptions of these flaws written by the company's own
employees.

"Diebold's blanket cease-and-desist notices are a blatant abuse of copyright law," said EFF
Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "Publication of the Diebold documents is clear fair use because
of their importance to the public debate over the accuracy of electronic voting machines."

Diebold threatened not only the ISPs of direct publishers of the corporate documents, but also
Click Here for more articles the ISPs of those who merely publish links to the documents. In one such instance, the ISP
Online Policy Group (OPG) refused to comply with Diebold's demand that it prohibit
Independent Media Network (IndyMedia) from linking to Diebold documents. Neither
IndyMedia nor any other publisher hosted by OPG has yet published the Diebold documents
directly.

"As an ISP committed to free speech, we are defending our users' right to link to information
that's critical to the debate on the reliability of electronic voting machines," said OPG's
Colocation Director David Weekly. "This case is an important step in defending free speech by
helping protect small publishers and ISPs from frivolous legal threats by large corporations."

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed by Congress in 1998, provides a "safe
harbor" provision as an incentive for ISPs to take down user-posted content when they receive
cease-and-desist letters such as the ones sent by Diebold. By removing the content, or forcing
the user to do so, for a minimum of 10 days, an ISP can take itself out of the middle of any
copyright claim. As a result, few ISPs have tested whether they would face liability for such
user activity in a court of law. EFF has been exposing some of the ways that the safe harbor
provision can be used to silence legitimate online speech through the Chilling Effects
Clearinghouse.

"Instead of paying lawyers to threaten its critics, Diebold should invest in creating electronic
voting machines that include voter-verified paper ballots and other security protections," said
EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn.

Links:
Online Policy Group v. Diebold case archive
Cease-and-desist letter Diebold sent to OPG
IndyMedia Web page subject to Diebold cease-and-desist letter
Security researchers discover huge flaws in e-voting system
Link to Chilling Effects on DMCA safe harbor provisions
Media coverage of Diebold threats
Contact:
Wendy Seltzer
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
wendy@eff.org

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

David Weekly
Colocation Director
Online Policy Group
david@onlinepolicy.org

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