October 28, 2004
Nintendo Legal Warms Up to Fans

BoingBoing has been following the story of Nintendo's cease-and-desist letter to the Suicide Girls website and now brings us this good news: Nintendo apologizes to Suicide Girls!.

Nintendo's lawyer-gram had demanded the removal of Nintendo trademarks (Zelda, Metroid, Nintendo) from the text and metatags of a SuicideGirls profile page. SuicideGirls is a cross between Playboy and LiveJournal, and one of its members had mentioned Nintendo among his hobbies -- protected speech, not a consumer-confusion-inducing trademark infringement. Nintendo should be congratulated for not only recognizing that one of its letters had gone astray, but then acting quickly to reverse the chill.

We would like to apologize to you and to those who frequent the suicidegirls.com website for inadvertently contacting you about a fan posting on the website.

We know that many of our fans are old enough to make their own choice about what they want to view on the Internet. We value the support of our fans and we respect their decisions. The letter was sent as part of an ongoing Nintendo program to aggressively protect our younger consumers from the hundreds of sexually-explicit sites each year that use Nintendo properties to attract children. We are proud of our efforts in this area. Unfortunately, the site posting identified in our letter was targeted by mistake.

As a gesture of goodwill, we would like to offer you (and RuneLateralus) a free Nintendo video game system and game of your choice. (...)

If more companies showed this willingness to admit and correct errors, the web would be a much friendlier place for speech.

Posted by Wendy at 10:50 PM
October 27, 2004
Access Denied: Let's send GWB home with a 403

Access Denied.  You don't have permission to access http://www.georgewbush.com/ on this server.

Access Denied. That's the message W's campaign is sending to visitors attempting to reach his website, http://www.georgewbush.com/, from out of the country.

Heaven forbid any furriners (or Americans abroad, not to mention those involuntarily so) should want to see what the U.S. President is running on. (More on BoingBoing; this screenshot obtained using the tor anonymizing proxy with a German exit node.)

The American public should send the same message to G.W.Bush this November 2. He wants four more years in the White House? Access Denied. Please get out to vote and help replace Bush with a team that can help bring this country forward.

Posted by Wendy at 09:08 PM
October 16, 2004
Eleventh Cir: Terror Fears No Excuse to Search Protestors

The Eleventh Circuit ruled Friday that vague fears of terrorism do not justify blanket searches of people protesting the U.S. Army's "School of the Americas" military training program. The court found the searches violated protestors' Fourth Amendment reasonable expectations of privacy and their First Amendment speech and assembly rights. In particular, the court took issue with the city's assertions that it needed to engage in "mass, warrantless, suspicionless searches."

Indeed, it is quite possible that our nation would be safer if police were permitted to stop and search anyone they wanted, at any time, for no reason at all. Nevertheless, the Fourth Amendment embodies a value judgment by the Framers that prevents us from gradually trading ever-increasing amounts of freedom and privacy for additional security. It establishes searches based on evidence—rather than potentially effective, broad, prophylactic dragnets—as the constitutional norm.

As a bonus, the court cites to Wikipedia on the DHS color-coded "advisory" system. An "elevated" threat level, where the gage has been for almost all of its sorry existence, cannot justify abrogating our constitutional rights.

Via IP

The opinion also offers a virtual hornbook catalogue of ways these searches violate the First Amendment:

The City’s search policy also violates the First Amendment in five ways. First, it is a burden on free speech and association imposed through the exercise of a government official’s unbridled discretion; restrictions on First Amendment rights may not be left to an executive agent’s uncabined judgment. Second, the searches were a form of prior restraint on speech and assembly; to participate in the protest, individuals had to receive the prior permission of officers manning the checkpoints. Third, the search policy was implemented based on the content of the protestors’ speech. Fourth, even assuming the searches were implemented exclusively for content-neutral reasons, they were impermissible because they did not constitute reasonable time, place, and manner limitations, which are the only permissible content-neutral burdens that may be placed upon free speech and association. Finally, even putting aside First Amendment analysis, the search policy constitutes an “unconstitutional condition;” protestors were required to surrender their Fourth Amendment rights ... in order to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Posted by Wendy at 01:23 PM
October 12, 2004
Supreme Court Denies RIAA's Cert. Petition: DMCA not a fishing license

The Supreme Court today denied cert. to the RIAA in RIAA v. Verizon, leaving the D.C. Circuit's opinion as law. Good. Bad as much of the DMCA is, it was never meant to give the RIAA blank fishing licenses to issue subpoenas for Internet users' identities. As we've been establishing in this case and in subsequent "Doe" suits, it takes more than a bare allegation of copyright infringement to overcome Internet users' privacy and First Amendment rights.

Posted by Wendy at 10:46 AM
October 04, 2004
Barlow: Election 2004 Is Not for Prom King

John Perry Barlow gets it exactly right in his latest missive, BarlowFriendz: Supporting Kerry Anyway...:

Right here, right now, somewhere over the Atlantic, I'm having a moment of clarity. I realize the obvious. I realize that, along with a lot of other people, I have fallen prey to the peculiar American frailty which has given us so many bad presidents. I refer to our national tendency to treat presidential elections as though we were all high-schoolers choosing a Prom King.
We all need to get a grip and quickly. Whatever it has been traditionally, this Presidential race should not be a personality contest. I say this as much to myself to myself as I do to you. I have to snap out of it and remember we are not electing our new best friend here. We were electing a set of ideologies, cultural predispositions, policies, practices, and beliefs - many of them religious - that may literally affect the fate of life on earth. And one thing I will say for George Bush, he has disabused me of my old belief that it doesn't really matter who's President.

Please, vote for a president who won't rush headlong into unconsidered wars, alienate our allies, and eviscerate our Bill of Rights. Vote for Kerry because it's the only way to keep this country free for the next four years.

Posted by Wendy at 07:38 PM