The Supreme Court's recent decision in Packingham v. North Carolina struck down, as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, a state law making it a felony for registered sex offenders to access social media websites. The decision has wide-ranging potential implications for technology law, especially on matters of rights to access the internet, which are particularly important for marginalized and disenfranchised voices in our society. Below, Harold Feld reviews the Packingham decision and explores its implications for one area of law: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's provisions regarding termination of Internet access for accused copyright infringers. This post was originally posted on Harold's personal blog, "Tales of the Sausage Factory," on wetmachine.com.
Last Friday, Public Knowledge filed comments with the Copyright Office as part of that Office’s ongoing studies on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The Office is currently conducting studies of Sections 512 and 1201 - the notice-and-takedown and anticircumvention provisions, respectively - of the DMCA. Public Knowledge has been a leader in calling for reform of Section 1201, and fighting for stronger user protections in Section 512. We filed our comments to ensure that the Copyright Office gives due consideration to the public interest on these issues.
When I was in elementary school, I noticed that students always lost their pencils so I began decorating personalized ones and handing them out. It took up so much time that I decided to sell them. My profits bought me an extra cookie at lunch and a trip to the principal’s office. The school closed down my shop. I was devastated, but what was a seven-year-old going to do against a school principal? The next year, I came across a table labeled “School Shop.” It was selling pencils. I stared at it, confused and heartbroken as to why the school would bar me from my idea, take it, and then profit off of it.
Last weekend, The Sunday Times, a UK newspaper, released a front-page article entitled “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.” The article claimed that Russia and China accessed the classified files leaked by Edward Snowden. The article went on to state that UK intelligence agency MI6 was forced to remove agents from active operations in Moscow because of this leak.
Shortly after the recent Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao boxing match, Re/Code published an op-ed that I wrote discussing some of the copyright implications of live video apps like Periscope and Meerkat. In that article I made two points: first, that we should hit pause on a collective panic over Periscope and Meerkat signaling the latest assault on copyrighted video, in part because rightsholders can bring the powerful DMCA notice-and-takedown provisions to bear on the problem, and in part because video streaming live events does not necessarily implicate copyright law.