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Kucinich Requests House Judiciary Committee Hearing On Diebold’s Abuses Of Digital Millennium Copy Right Act
Sends Letter to Chairman Sensenbrenner and Ranking Member Conyers
Nov 21, 2003 -
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), today, sent a letter to the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee requesting that the Committee hold a hearing to investigate abuses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by Diebold Inc., one of the nation’s largest electronic voting machine manufacturers.
Recently, Diebold has waged an intimidation campaign to repress circulation of employee e-mails that raise concerns about the security of its electronic voting machines. Since early October 2003, Diebold has sent more than a dozen cease-and-desist letters to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and universities that host websites that either posted Diebold employee e-mails or merely hyperlinked to other websites with the e-mails.
Diebold invoked the DMCA to pressure many ISPs and universities into removing websites and hyperlinks. These cease-and-desist letters were inappropriate.
Kucinich states in his letter,
“There is a compelling argument that the fair use doctrine precludes copyright liability for posting the e-mails. The archive is predominantly factual and was reproduced to inform the national public debate on election reform, specifically, on the machines used to count our votes. The e-mails do not harm any market of Diebold’s, except in the sense that admitted problems may cause municipal and state purchasers to subject the machines to greater scrutiny.
“Furthermore, numerous letters were sent to ISPs whose users only hyperlinked to other sites where the Diebold employee e-mails, were posted. Hyperlinks do not qualify for copyright protection, and their use does not incur copyright liability. In cases where ISPs complied with requests, they have often shut down entire websites for weeks at a time, instead of removing the alleged infringing activity. The safe-harbor driven 10-business-day takedown period can remove non-infringing websites during a critical interval of discussion.
“Diebold’s actions abuse the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, using copyright to suppress speech rather than fulfill the Constitution’s purpose for copyright, to “promote progress.” These abuses raise a fundamental conflict with the First Amendment, diminishing the Internet’s tremendous value as a most free medium of expression. Diebold’s actions are representative of a growing body of abuses through which large and powerful parties unfairly intimidate ISPs to remove information those parties do not like. In other examples, the claims are not really about copyright, but about not showing the parties in a negative light, or not allowing consumers to compare prices, or quieting religious critics. Powerful parties should not be permitted to misuse copyright as a tool for limiting bad press and barring access to legitimate consumer information.”
Yesterday, Kucinich unveiled a new section on his website at www.house.gov/kucinich to educate the public on the perils of the current electronic voting systems, and Diebold in particular.