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April 05, 2000 04:00pm
ACLU lawyers appeal Cyber Patrol copyright ruling
Source: CNET News.com
by: Patricia Jacobus

(BOSTON, MA) -- In their ongoing defense of Internet free speech, civil liberties lawyers today lodged another legal attack against a company that filters online pornography.

Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Boston this morning appealed a judge's order that barred three Web site operators from posting code online that cracked into Cyber Patrol's blocking software.

The code allowed people to see which Web sites were blocked under Cyber Patrol's filtering system.

"What these guys were posting was not copyright-protected material," said Sarah Wunsch, an ACLU attorney in Boston. "We don't believe the judge has authority to issue a restraining order at all."

Representatives for Cyber Patrol, a subsidiary of Microsystems Software and toy maker Mattel, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The dispute began late last month, when two computer programmers, one in Canada and the other in Sweden, published on the Internet code that allowed people to circumvent Cyber Patrol's filtering system.

Soon afterward, the program spread across the Net. Cyber Patrol's attorneys sued the two men for copyright infringement, obtained a restraining order, and eventually settled the case.

But the order, they said, also covered others who were posting the code, namely three Web operators all in their early 20s: Bennett Haselton, Lindsay Haisley and Waldo Jaquith.

That's when the ACLU stepped in.

Wunsch says that U.S. District Judge Edward Harrington did not have authority to issue his order in the first place, because the act of copyright infringement occurred in different countries. What's more, she says, her clients did nothing unlawful.

If the judge rejects Wunsch's request, she said she will take the matter up with the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.




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