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Chilling Effects: Weather Reports
May 10, 2013 by Woodrow Hartzog, The Atlantic
A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.
Do you know your online rights? Have you received a letter asking you to remove information from a Web site or to stop engaging in an activity? Are you concerned about liability for information that someone else posted to your online forum? If so, this site is for you.
Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities. We are excited about the new opportunities the Internet offers individuals to express their views, parody politicians, celebrate their favorite movie stars, or criticize businesses. But we've noticed that not everyone feels the same way. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence other online users. Chilling Effects encourages respect for intellectual property law, while frowning on its misuse to "chill" legitimate activity.
The website offers background material and explanations of the law for people whose websites deal with topics such as Fan Fiction, Copyright, Domain Names and Trademarks, Anonymous Speech, and Defamation.
In addition, we want your help. We are gathering a searchable database of Cease and Desist notices sent to Internet users like you. We invite you to input Cease and Desist letters that you've received into our database, to document the chill. We will respond by linking the legalese in the letters to FAQs that explain the allegations in plain English.
Periodically, we issue "weather reports" assessing the climate for Internet activity based on the letters we receive and news reports. What areas (topics, legal categories, jurisdictions) are coolest to online conduct? What activities risk being frozen out altogether? What conduct gets the warmest reception?
The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse contains multiple topic areas. Choose a topic area to view its introduction, Frequently Asked Questions, and annotated Cease & Desist notices, along with reference material and recent news links.
If you are visiting because you have received a Cease & Desist notice, we invite you to input your notice in the database. Questions on the submission form will help to categorize your letter, and then guide you toward topic areas for further information. Once the notice is in our database, clinical law students will be able to annotate it with questions and answers.
Conceived and developed at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Chilling Effects is a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and clinics at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center, Stanford Law School's Center for Internet & Society, Boalt Hall's Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic, and other law schools across the country.
For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions about Chilling Effects.