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Earlier this month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the pioneer cyberspace advocacy group, beefed up its legal team by adding two well-known Net lawyers. As intellectual property litigation hits peak levels, the additions could shape not only the direction of the group but the sphere in which it operates. Attorney Cindy Cohn, the EFF’s new legal director, and law professor Pamela Samuelson, a new member of the EFF’s board of directors, both come with extensive IP experience. Cohn gained fame by tackling the Department of Justice on behalf of encryption expert Daniel Bernstein’s “Snuffle” code. Samuelson, an intellectual property scholar at University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, is a former MacArthur “Genius” grant winner and a strong proponent of the open-source model. By drafting defense briefs, the EFF plans to work to fend off well-financed attacks from the movie and music industries against the DeCSS software that decodes DVDs and against Napster’s wildly popular tune-swapping technology. “Civil liberties issues from the growth of the Net will be coming fast and furious,” Cohn says. “The power grab by content holders needs to be resisted.” As the battleground shifts to appellate courts, Cohn says she’s actively seeking allies among those who will be most seriously affected if limits on peer-to-peer file sharing become case law. “Intel, for instance, goes around telling everyone how p-to-p is a superior way to manage information,” she says. “I wish they’d come to us, and we could think about the legal strategy to employ when its p-to-p technology gets sued by rights-holders.” Other plans for the EFF, which was founded by Lotus founder Mitchell Kapor and Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow in 1990, include joining a California class-action suit against the Internet advertising firm DoubleClick over allegations that the company secretly collected data on consumers. The response from the legal community has been mixed. But at least one expert, Eugene Volokh, a constitutional scholar at UCLA, is emphatic about cheering on EFF’s effort and says that one major effect of its actions in court may be to challenge courts’ tendency to defer to big business. “A lot of wonderful things on the Net are the result of the incentives afforded by copyright and trademark and patent law,” Volokh says. “Even so, the industry position usually gets too much attention. The result can be bad law. Effective public interest groups balance that by presenting the strongest possible arguments the other way.” Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

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