EFF Announces Endangered Gizmos List
Project Demonstrates How Bad Law Ruins the Environment for InnovationA new project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) highlights the way misguided laws and lawsuits can pollute the environment for technological innovation. “Endangered Gizmos” (http://www.eff.org/endangered) is a natural history of technologies from the Betamax VCR to filesharing software that have been threatened or extinguished through ruthless litigation. The Endangered Gizmos List gives readers the vital statistics on a host of gadgets, along with steps they can take to save those that haven’t yet been killed off.
The list also includes devices that have been saved by good laws. The VCR, for example, was rescued from extinction by the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Universal v. Sony, which shielded the Sony Betamax VCR from being declared unlawful simply because people could use it to infringe copyright.
Endangered Gizmos debuted the same day that the opening briefs were being filed in MGM v. Grokster, a Supreme Court case the outcome of which could render extinct several currently legal technologies. The public-education project complements EFF’s work defending StreamCast Networks in that case.
“This isn’t about saving one or two geeky gadgets. It’s about fostering technological development by letting products be designed by technologists, rather than Congress and the courts,” said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. “What we’re seeing is the beginning of the extinction of both current and future gadgets, due to a mix of proposed law, litigation and overreaching use of existing law. Lawsuits are destroying future technological progress by killing off today’s best innovations.”
EFF will continue to post new profiles of at-risk technologies on the Endangered Gizmos website on a regular basis. “We hope the ranks of ‘saved’ gizmos will grow faster than the ‘endangered’ list,” said Seltzer. “But until laws stop killing innovation, we’ll be counting the bodies.”