Foundation Teams With Law Schools to Create 'Cease & Desist' Archive
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Foundation Teams With Law Schools to Create 'Cease & Desist' Archive

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), has teamed with Berkeley, Harvard, University of San Francisco and Stanford law schools to create a comprehensive "cease & desist" letters sent to web masters called Chilling Effects.

Created as a resource for individuals who have received cease and desist letters from copyright holders in relation to web content they have posted, the site is building an online clearinghouse of cease and desist letters sent to webmasters. The site is encouraging visitors who have received such letters to add them to the archive. Each of the cease and desist letters will then be reviewed by law students and annotated with links to explain applicable legal rules. Personal and/or identifying information regarding the precise sender and recipient is redacted from the posted letters.

The law students' annotations point to plain English definitions of legal terms, as well as online legal resources available at other sites, and specific US code sections, among other information. The annotations displayed on-screen resemble highlighted text in a printed document – underlined with yellow highlighting.

"EFF receives hundreds of requests for help and information from recipients of cease-and-desist letters," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn in a press release. "This project should help individuals gain access to greatly needed information as well as allow us to track who is sending these letters and research larger trends."

Currently, the site provides basic legal information on issues including:

  • fan fiction
  • copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  • linking
  • trademark and domain names
  • protest, parody & criticism
  • anonymous speech
  • defamation

The name Chilling Effects refers to the "the way legal threats can freeze out free expression," according to the press release.

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