ZDNet Publishes Article On Important Free Speech

We at The Mac Observer holds the principles of Free Speech rights to be among the most important issues of our time, and it is with dismay that we see the continuing erosion of those rights, especially on the Internet. The most recent stunning development came when an appellate court upheld a ban on *linking* to DeCSS, the decryption code for decypting DVDs. We ask you to think for a moment about the idea of it being illegal in the United States of America to simply link to a piece of controversial code that actually have a modicum of legitimate use. This is a remarkable infringement on Free Speech on the Internet, and one that should make you sit up and take notice.

ZDNet has published a very good article on the subject, and we would like to encourage you to read it. It recaps many of the recent developments and includes additional information. From that article:

A one-two punch handed down this week by U.S. courts to free-speech advocates may signal that the freewheeling days of unfettered speech on the Internet are numbered, First Amendment experts said.

The decisions in two lawsuits testing controversial copyright legislation on Wednesday upheld the ability of content owners to restrict access to their works and showed that U.S. courts are more than willing to limit what can be published online.

Along with the governmentis push for more surveillance powers on the Internet, the judgments could herald the end to the "untouchable" status of free speech on the Internet, legal experts said.

"Unfortunately, I am not one of the optimists on this front," said Allonn Levy, a partner with the HS Law Group and the lead attorney defending a group of Web sites against a California lawsuit brought by the DVD Copy Control Association. "There is a great deal of policy being created to differentiate between analog media and digital media, between the Internet and the real world."

A few years make a difference. In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court readily struck down the onerous Communications Decency Act, ruling that it would hinder free speech on the Internet. Yet four years later, the judiciary seems ready to limit the publishing of information across what the high court referred to as the "new medium of worldwide human communication."

Most of the controversy revolves around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA), a law designed to protect copyright holdersi ability to put digital fences around their content and placing restrictions on what can be published online and what people may access.

The latest rulings support the DMCA, championing those who aim to own information, Levy said. "I think the direction that policy-makers are going is toward less free speech on the Internet."

There is more information in the full article, and we encourage you to read it, and anything else on the subject, and think about it.