FC: How to respond to cease-and-desist nastygrams: chillingeffects.org

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 21:31:43 PST

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    From: Donna Wentworth <donnaat_private>
    To: "'declanat_private'" <declanat_private>
    Subject: Chilling Effects.org
    Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 09:47:36 -0500
    The Berkman Center is announcing the launch today of a
    collaborative project that may be of interest to politech
    Conceived by Berkman Fellow Wendy Seltzer, the project is
    intended to serve as a tool for Internet users to understand
    their legal rights in the face of potentially intimidating/
    confusing cease-and-desist letters.
    The website is here:
    Amy Harmon's NYT piece is here:
    Below is our press release:
      Berkman Center Announces Project to Counter Chilling Effects
      of Legal Threats
      ChillingEffects.org Aims to Educate Internet Users About
      Online Rights
      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 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 law.
      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
      The Chilling Effects project website:
      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 EFF:
      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
      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
      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
      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
      Wendy Seltzer
      Berkman Center for Internet & Society at
      Harvard Law School
      +1 212-715-7815
      Diane Cabell
      Clinical Program in Cyberlaw
      Berkman Center for Internet & Society
      Harvard Law School
      +1 617 495-7547
      Cindy Cohn
      Legal Director
      Electronic Frontier Foundation
      +1 415 436-9333 x108 (office), +1 415 823-2148 (cell)
      Jennifer Stisa Granick
      Clinical Director
      Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society
      +1 650 724-0014
      Deirdre Mulligan
      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
      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)
    Donna Wentworth
    The Filter <http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filter>
    Berkman Center for Internet & Society
    Harvard Law School
    Phone: (617) 495-0662
    Fax:   (617) 495-7641
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