Wendy Seltzer

Wendy Seltzer

Law professor
Joined on July 2, 2003
Total Post Views: 300,049

About

I am a Visiting Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School and a fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.  I came to Brooklyn after three years as a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I founded and developed the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a project to study and combat the ungrounded legal threats that chill activity on the Internet. In conjunction with the EFF and law school clinics across the country, we invite recipients and senders of cease and desist notices to submit these notices for analysis in issue-spotting FAQ-style memos and inclusion in our database. Chilling Effects offers resources for Internet users who face legal threats, and, through its collection of data, we hope to analyze the out-of-court effects of those threats to chill legitimate activity, or, conversely, the extent to which unlawful activity on the Net proves resistant to legal action. Chilling Effects has been featured in the New York Times and Boston Globe.

My work at the Berkman Center focuses on the legal issues and intellectual property questions surrounding Free Software. I helped to start and now lead the Openlaw project, an experiment bringing the methods of open source and Free Software development to legal argument in the public interest. Openlaw's first case, Eldred v. Ashcroft was argued before the Supreme Court October 9, 2002. The Openlaw DVD forum has developed arguments in defense of 2600 Magazine's posting of DeCSS code, arguing that technological protections for digital media must accommodate free speech and fair use. Openlaw participants filed an amicus brief in the Southern District of New York in the DeCSS case Universal v. Reimerdes, and I drafted the cryptographers' amicus brief to the Second Circuit on appeal. Finally, I have been working with the Creative Commons project to offer the public a range of open licenses to promote sharing of creative non-software works.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Wendy Seltzer on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

Stopping SOPA's Anti-Circumvention

The House's Stop Online Piracy Act is in Judiciary Committee Markup today. As numerous protests, open letters, and advocacy campaigns across the Web, this is a seriously flawed bill. Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa's proposed OPEN Act points out, by contrast, some of the procedural problems. Here, I analyze just one of the problematic provisions of SOPA: a new"anticircumvention" provision more

ICANN: The Stakes in Registrar Accreditation

Law enforcement demands to domain name registrars were a recurring theme of the 42d ICANN public meeting, concluded last week in Dakar. The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) took every opportunity at its public meetings with GNSO and Board, and in its Communique to express dismay, disappointment, and demands for urgent action to "reduce the risk of criminal abuse of the domain name system." more

Deceptive Assurances of Privacy?

Earlier this week, Facebook expanded the roll-out of its facial recognition software to tag people in photos uploaded to the social networking site. Many observers and regulators responded with privacy concerns; EFF offered a video showing users how to opt-out. Tim O'Reilly, however, takes a different tack... O'Reilly's point - and face-recognition technology - is bigger than Facebook. more

Editorials Against PROTECT-IP

First the Los Angeles Times, now the New York Times have both printed editorials critical of the PROTECT-IP bill. Both the LAT and NYT support copyright - and announce as much in their opening sentences. That doesn't mean we should sacrifice Internet security and stability for legitimate DNS users, nor the transparency of the rule of law. more

Debugging Legislation: PROTECT IP

There's more than a hint of theatrics in the draft PROTECT IP bill that has emerged as son-of-COICA, starting with the ungainly acronym of a name. Given its roots in the entertainment industry, that low drama comes as no surprise. Each section name is worse than the last: "Eliminating the Financial Incentive to Steal Intellectual Property Online" (Sec. 4) gives way to "Voluntary action for Taking Action Against Websites Stealing American Intellectual Property". more

In DHS Takedown Frenzy, Mozilla Refuses to Delete MafiaaFire Add-On

Not satisfied with seizing domain names, the Department of Homeland Security asked Mozilla to take down the MafiaaFire add-on for Firefox. Mozilla, through its legal counsel Harvey Anderson, refused. Mozilla deserves thanks and credit for a principled stand for its users' rights. more

Super Bust: Due Process and Domain Name Seizure

With the same made-for PR timing that prompted a previous seizure of domain names just before shopping's "Cyber Monday," Immigration and Customs Enforcement struck again, this time days before the Super Bowl, against "10 websites that illegally streamed live sporting telecasts and pay-per-view events over the Internet." ICE executed seizure warrants against the 10 by demanding that registries redirect nameserver requests for the domains to 74.81.170.110, where a colorful "This domain name has been seized by ICE" graphic is displayed. more

Personalized Search Opacity

Google announced Friday that it would now be "personalizing" all searches, not just those for signed-in users. If your browser has a Google cookie, unless you've explicitly opted out, your search results will be customized based on search history. Danny Sullivan, at Search Engine Land, wonders why more people aren't paying attention. more

The Freedom to Innovate Without Permission

In a speech this morning, widely heralded (and criticized) as a call for "network neutrality," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski: "Why has the Internet proved to be such a powerful engine for creativity, innovation, and economic growth? A big part of the answer traces back to one key decision by the Internet's original architects: to make the Internet an open system." Now "open system" doesn't mean anarchy. The Internet has rules, technical standards codified in the unassuming sounding "Requests for Comment." more

Susan Crawford to the White House on Ada Lovelace Day

Just in time for Ada Lovelace Day comes the news that Susan Crawford (Wikipedia, CircleID) is headed to the White House as special assistant to the president for science, technology, and innovation policy... more

ICANN's New gTLD Process: Hype and Reality

At its 32d International Junket Meeting last week, ICANN's Board approved the GNSO Council's recommendations for the eventual addition to the root of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). This means that eventually, when the staff drafts, community comments upon, and Board approves implementation processes, those with deep pockets will have the opportunity to bid for new TLD strings... more

The FCC Stumbles Into Internet Filtering

What could be bad about free wireless Internet access? How about censorship by federally mandated filters that make it no longer "Internet." That's the effect of the FCC's proposed service rules for Advanced Wireless Service spectrum in the 2155-2180 MHz band, as set out in a July 20 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Acting on a request of M2Z Networks, which wants to provide "free, family-friendly wireless broadband," the FCC proposes to require licensees of this spectrum band to offer free two-way wireless broadband Internet service to the public, with least 25% of their network capacity. So far so good, but on the next page, the agency guts the meaning of "broadband Internet" with a content filtering requirement. more

WHOIS Redux: Demand Privacy in Domain Name Registration

Doc's post and the impending comments deadline for the next iteration of ICANN's never-ending WHOIS saga finally pushed me to write up my thoughts on the latest iteration of ICANN debate. As Doc points out, much of the current debate is very inside baseball, tied up in acronyms atop bureaucratic layers. Small wonder then that ordinary domain name registrants and Internet users haven't commented much, while the fora are dominated by INTA members turning out responses to an "urgent request" to "let ICANN know that Whois is important to the brand owners I represent"... more

Lawyer-Impersonator Pleads Guilty over False C&Ds

As if there weren't enough problems with lawyers sending out improper cease-and-desists, Wired News reports that a Nevada man has pleaded guilty to impersonating a lawyer to extort domain registrants to turn over their domain names. "A Nevada man pleaded guilty Thursday to his plotting to steal domain names from their legitimate owners by impersonating a California intellectual property lawyer and send threatening letters to domain name owners in hopes of convincing them to turn over the domains to him..." more

Aging the Internet Prematurely, One PDP at a Time

After blogging about ICANN's new gTLD policy or lack thereof [also featured on CircleID], I've had several people ask me why I care so much about ICANN and new top-level domains. Domain names barely matter in a world of search and hyperlinks, I'm told, and new domains would amount to little more than a cash transfer to new registries from those trying to protect their names and brands. While I agree that type-in site-location is less and less relevant, and we haven't yet seen much end-user focused innovation in the use of domain names, I'm not ready to throw in the towel. I think ICANN is still in a position to do affirmative harm to Internet innovation. more

ICANN: Keep the Core Neutral, Stupid

ICANN's travelling circus is meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico this week. One of the main subjects of discussion has been the introduction of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), after a GNSO Report [PDF] proposed 19 "Recommendations" for criteria these new domain strings should meet -- including morality tests and "infringement" oppositions. ...It's important to keep ICANN from being a censor, or from straying beyond its narrow technical mandate. The thick process described in the GNSO report would be expensive, open to "hecklers' vetos," and deeply political... ICANN should aim for a "stupid core"... more

ICANN's At-Large Process: Exit, Without Voice

ICANN seems to be out to re-prove Hirschman's theories of exit, voice, and loyalty by driving all of its good people to exit rather than giving them meaningful voices. Thomas Roessler, a long-time advocate of individual users' interests on the interim ALAC now suggests it's Time to Reconsider the structure of ICANN's At-Large, as he feels compelled to promise himself not to get involved with ICANN again... more

If ICANN't Keep a Contract, Let the Public Enforce It

Earlier in the Registerfly controversy, ICANN Vice President Paul Levins posted to the ICANN Blog: "ICANN is not a regulator. We rely mainly on contract law. We do not condone in any way whatsoever RegisterFly's business practice and behaviour." This is disingenuous. ICANN is the central link in a web of contracts that regulate the business of domain name allocation. ICANN has committed, as a public benefit corporation, to enforcing those contracts in the public interest. Domain name registrants, among others, rely on those contracts to establish a secure, stable environment for domain name registration and through that for online content location. more

Spamming the News Cycle: Spamhaus Non-Story Goes Viral

Google News now shows more than 300 stories about Spamhaus, most about a proposed court order following a district court default judgment. To me, the most interesting is the meta-story -- why the non-event of a proposed order has the blogs scrambling with claims of constitutional crisis and even the notoriously close-lipped ICANN issuing an announcement "in response to community interest expressed on this topic." more

Fighting Over the Scraps from ICANN's Table

I've finally recovered from another ICANN meeting, frustrated as ever. 700 or so people flew halfway around the world to hear canned presentations, dueling-monologue public form sessions, and resolutions that left major issues unresolved, and to gripe in the hallways about how little was being done. more

WIPO Crowing Again About "Cybersquatting"

Most of us would be put off if a court issued a press release cheering the number of prisoners its judges had put behind bars or the number of tenants it had helped landlords to evict. That seems antithetical to the neutral adjudication of disputes, and ethical rules regularly decry such "appearance of bias." Yet WIPO seems to think it perfectly natural to crow about its arbitrators' favoritism for complainants against "cybersquatters" in UDRP proceedings. It issued a release that reads like a solicitation for trademark claimants' business, not a promotion of neutral arbitration services... more

How to Listen to the Individual Internet User

The recent ICANN meeting in Vancouver touched upon many issues important to ordinary Internet users: privacy in domain name registration; the cost and terms of .com domain names; internationalized domains; introduction of new domain suffixes. But there were few "ordinary Internet users" at the meeting. Few people can roam the globe to keep up with ICANN's travels, and not many more participate in online forums. more

ALAC Meets the ICANN Board

For three years, I've been a member of ICANN's "Interim" At-Large Advisory Committee, ALAC. At this Vancouver meeting, for the first time, the ICANN Board met with us, and Bret captured it on mp3 for podcast. ALAC criticized ICANN's proposed settlement with VeriSign, and then spoke about the problems with the current structure for at-large participation. more

ICANN on Closing Off Port 43

ICANN has launched three task forces on WHOIS restructuring...It sounds innocuous enough -- nobody likes spam -- but the restrictions being discussed reach further than marketers. Pushed by registrars who feel that WHOIS amounts to forced disclosure of their customer lists, the task force is seriously discussing closing off port 43's straightforward access to WHOIS information, replacing it with GIF-based barriers or similar access restrictions. more

Why WIPO Does Not Like the UDRP

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) -- the same organization whose head recently equated intellectual property infringement with terrorism -- has been pressing ICANN to add domain name monopolies on the names of countries, and the names and acronyms of inter-governmental organizations, into the Uniform Domain Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). Despite the fact that no-one but WIPO seems to want these new exclusions, a working group has nonetheless been convened to study their recommendations. more

New TLDs, Swiftly: This Is No Beauty Contest!

In response to ICANN's request for proposal (RFP) for the selection of new sponsored Top-Level Domains, Wendy Seltzer for the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) urges ICANN to move quickly beyond "testing" to more open addition of a full range of new gTLDs in the near future and offers some general principles to guide that expansion. more

New TLDs: Can You Say .Never?

ICANN continues at its snail's pace on introduction of new top-level domains. At the Montreal meeting, staff sprung this RFP for new sponsored TLDs. As if "a few" and "sponsored" weren't limitation enough, it further narrowed the applicant pool to those who had applied unsuccessfully as sponsored TLDs in November 2000. more

Topic Interests

DNSNew TLDsICANNWhoisDomain NamesDomain ManagementCybercrimeLawUDRPPrivacySpamMultilinguismInternet GovernanceCensorshipPolicy & RegulationNet NeutralityAccess ProvidersWirelessTelecomBroadbandWebIntellectual PropertyCybersecurity

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Popular Posts

ICANN on Closing Off Port 43

WIPO Crowing Again About "Cybersquatting"

Spamming the News Cycle: Spamhaus Non-Story Goes Viral

WHOIS Redux: Demand Privacy in Domain Name Registration

Why WIPO Does Not Like the UDRP