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SIDtoday is the internal newsletter for the NSA’s most important division, the Signals Intelligence Directorate. After editorial review, The Intercept is releasing nine years’ worth of newsletters in batches, starting with 2003. The agency’s spies explain a surprising amount about what they were doing, how they were doing it, and why.
Last Update — May 16 2016
The Intercept’s first SIDtoday release comprises 166 articles, including all articles published between March 31, 2003, when SIDtoday began, and June 30, 2003, plus installments of all article series begun during this period through the end of the year. Major topics include the National Security Agency’s role in interrogations, the Iraq War, the war on terror, new leadership in the Signals Intelligence Directorate, and new, popular uses of the internet and of mobile computing devices.
By Ernesto Falcon
AB 2880 will give state and local governments dramatic powers to chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain.The California Assembly Committee on Judiciary recently approved a bill (AB 2880) to grant local and state governments' copyright authority along with other intellectual property rights. At its core, the bill grants state and local government the authority to create, hold, and exert copyrights, including in materials created by the government. For background, the federal Copyright Act prohibits the federal government from claiming copyright in the materials it creates, but is silent on state governments. As a result, states have taken various approaches to copyright law with some granting themselves vast powers and others (such as California) forgoing virtually all copyright authority at least until now.
EFF strongly opposes the bill. Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain. It is our hope that the state legislature will scuttle this approach and refrain from covering all taxpayer funded works under a government copyright.
What Does the Bill Do?AB 2880 sets out to "clarify" that all works created by public entities are eligible for intellectual property restrictions. This includes trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. As things stand today, works created by California state and local governments (like reports, video, maps, and so on) aren't subject to copyright except in a few special cases. That ensures that Californians who funded the creation of those works through their tax dollars can use those works freely.
The bill would change California from having one of the best policies on copyright of any U.S. state to among the worst. It authorizes public entities to register copyrights in their work. That means that state and local governments will have the power to seek statutory damages that can reach as high as $30,000 per infringement and potentially as life altering as $150,000 for willful conduct against people who use state-created materials. Therefore, if a citizen infringed on a state owned copyright by making a copy of a government publication, or reading that publication out loud in a public setting, or uploading it to the internet, they could be liable for statutory damages. The harms felt by this bill's approach are wide ranging because it would take very little to claim that a work is protected by copyright law.
Imagine local officials having the power to issue a DMCA takedown notice of YouTube videos of city council meetings simply because they did not like them (sounds crazy? read on).
Chilling Effect on Free SpeechWe've seen many copyright claims that are in reality attempts to censor speech. California local and state governments are not exempt from the temptation of suppressing disfavored speech under a copyright claim as evidenced by the Teixeira case. In 2015, the city council of Inglewood had filed a lawsuit against a citizen (Teixeira) for uploading video clips of city council meetings to YouTube with his criticisms of the mayor. The lawsuit was dismissed by the court outright because California cities don't have the power to claim copyright. The court went even further to explain how Mr. Teixeira's use of the videos to criticize the mayor was a fair use. So while the litigation ended on the correct note (though it cost Inglewood taxpayers $110,000 in legal fees), it demonstrated how copyright law can be abused in the hands of government.
If all works produced by state and local government from city council recordings to documents that embarrassed a local official become subject to copyright law, the Teixeira case really represents a harbinger of things to come. Citizens concerned with litigation threats will refrain from sharing or copying government works despite the fact that their tax dollars created those works. Worse yet is the perverse incentive for governments to litigate given the substantial money that can obtained through statutory damages.
Restrictions on Open GovernmentIn an attempt to address this obvious potential for censoring the public by exerting copyright controls on state owned works, the bill provides an exemption for all works requested under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) but explicitly reserves all of the powers granted to a holder of a copyright (the holder in this instance being the government). That means a state or local government cannot resist a CPRA request for a document on the grounds of protecting copyright. But by explicitly reserving all of the exclusive rights given to a copyright holder, the state and local governments keeps extraordinary powers to restrain the ability for a citizen to distribute documents they obtain through a CPRA request. Those powers could be used in many ways such as denying a citizen the right to make copies, distribute copies, create derivative works of the original, or to publicly perform or display the work. While fair use might apply, its application can be uncertain and risky, and it's no substitute for keeping copyright out of the mix altogether.
A Massive Loss to the Public DomainCurrently, California has one of the most citizen-friendly state copyright regimes on the books where a vast majority of state created works are free to the public with only five exceptions. All other audio, visual, and written work of state and local govenment employees is in the public domain upon creation and free for the public to use however they see fit. For the most part, this follows the federal model where works created by taxpayer money are by default owned by the public.
The federal approach makes sense when we consider the goals of the intellectual property clause in the Constitution. The purpose of providing a limited government monopoly through copyright was to incentivize creativity and provide a market mechanism to monetize that creative expression. However, governments do not need an incentive because their source of funding comes from taxes and the government employees creating the works are already compensated by the public. The general policy rationale against governments from exerting copyrights over publicly funded works is founded on the premise that public funding means public property and that it belongs to citizens by default.
EFF hopes that the state legislature will recognize the fundamental problems with AB 2880's approach and forgo covering all state and local government works under copyright law. As the LA Times Editorial Board correctly noted at the conclusion of the Teixeira case, "there's something fundamentally outrageous about using tax dollars to sue a taxpayer over the use of a public record that taxpayers paid to create."
by Brett S. Morris
On April 17, 1975, Khmer Rouge (KR) forces stormed Phnom Penh and reestablished Cambodia as Democratic Kampuchea — a supposedly self-sufficient, entirely agrarian society. Resetting the clock to “Year Zero,” the KR forced urban dwellers to the countryside, and began to “purify” Cambodia through a genocidal purge of intellectuals and minority groups. By the time the slaughter came to an end in 1979 — after Vietnam invaded Cambodia and removed the KR from power — some 1.7 million people (21 percent of the population) were dead.
Pol Pot, the leader of the KR from 1963–1997 and prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea, fled to the jungle. He died in 1998 without ever having faced justice. In fact, since the removal of the KR, only three individuals have been convicted for their roles in the genocide (the first conviction was not handed down until 2010; the other two came last year).
But Pol Pot’s rise to power, the Cambodian genocide, and the absence of justice for the KR’s victims are inseparable from broader US intervention policies in Indochina from 1945–1991 — in particular, the US’s vicious bombing campaign waged against Cambodia. Read More
Recycling abandoned and scarred land provides opportunities to restore and repair past industrial uses, while providing much needed recreation, wildlife and other amenities in the heart of many of our urban areas.
As a society, we have proven adept at vigorously using resources and then discarding them. Typically, we refer to cans, bottles, cardboard when we think of recycling. But what about land? There are literally hundreds of thousands of properties across the U.S. and hundreds in Humboldt County that were used intensively during industrial development phases and now sit vacant. These lands are potentially scarred with legacy industrial waste, filled with non-native plants, or exhibit poor water quality; they are ripe for abuse from trespassing, dumping and vandalism. These lands are often the center of social and behavioral issues that stem from drinking, drug abuse and illegal camping near or within our urban centers. One local example of this is Parcel 4, located behind the Bayshore Mall in Eureka.
EUREKA-It's been about a week since those living in the Palco Marsh moved out, and officials continue to patrol the city for illegal camping.
EPD has issued 18 citations and arrested one for illegal camping in Eureka. Citations issued were near Washington and Koster, the foot of Del Norte Street, Bayshore Way, the 2400 block of 2nd street and along Broadway. Since May 2, 248 transient calls have been made to police.
Doctors Without Borders announced that it will not be participating in the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, calling it a mere “fig-leaf of good intentions” that will not actually hold states accountable for their failure to address the humanitarian crisis in the world today.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon previously called on world leaders to attend the first World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), which will be held in Istanbul later this month, in order to send a message to the world that “we will not accept the erosion of humanity which we see in the world today.” The summit aims to help countries, U.N. agencies, and international organizations like Doctors Without Borders prepare and respond to crises.
But news that Doctors Without Borders will not be attending the summit reveals how little faith some international aid organizations have that the summit will bring about true change.
By John Hardin
Every week I rack my brain for an idea to write about, ideally, one that requires no research, phone calls, interviews, or leaving home If it weren’t for the research, phone calls, interviews and driving, I might have pursued a career in journalism. Not because of any burning desire to expose corruption, or inform the public on issues that matter in their lives, but mainly for the paycheck. I coulda used the dough. Now that I’ve seen what has become of journalism, I’m glad I didn’t make the effort.
Not that I think I would do any better. I’m sure that as soon as I discovered that I could cut and paste whole paragraphs from a corporate press release into a story with my byline, I’d be the first one out of the office door on Friday afternoon. Still, I don’t think I could cut it. Journalists have to confine themselves to the facts, and adhere to “journalistic ethics.” That would get old fast.
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