EFF is looking for Tor DMCA test case volunteers

Roger Dingledine arma at mit.edu
Wed Oct 26 20:55:36 UTC 2005

Fred asked me to forward this to the list. If you have legal questions
(and probably most questions about this count as legal questions), you
should contact Fred and Kevin directly (fred at eff.org and bankston at
eff.org). Fred also reminds us that any correspondence you have with me
or others here would be discoverable, so that's an added incentive to
go to them directly.

Please look through this checklist, and decide if you match the profile
they're looking for. I'd like to encourage you to contact them even
if there are a few points you don't match so well -- I'd rather have a
big pile of pretty-good volunteers than have everybody hold off because
they are not perfectly suited -- then Fred and Kevin can make their own
decisions from there.



If record label and movie studio representatives continue sending
infringement notices to Tor node operators and their upstream ISPs,
it will become increasingly important to set a clear legal precedent
establishing that merely running a node does not create copyright
liability for either node operators or their bandwidth providers. In
order to establish such a precedent, it will be necessary to bring or
defend a test case. EFF is actively seeking clients willing to be the
test case.

Picking the right client is half the battle in any test case.
Accordingly, we cannot promise that we will be able to defend any and
all Tor node operators. There are several factors that are relevant
in finding the right test case client. Here are some of them:

1. You must have received a complaint from a copyright owner about
operating a Tor node. Complaints from your ISP about running a proxy
do not count, even if they mention copyright infringement as the
reason for their objection -- that's a contractual fight between you
and your bandwidth provider. We are looking for node operators who
have either received copyright complaints directly, or forwarded to
them from their ISPs.

2. You should not be an infringer yourself, or be engaged in any
other kind of unlawful activity. In litigation, the copyright owners
will want to examine every hard drive and email message in your
possession or control, looking for evidence that you are running Tor
because you want to encourage people to infringe copyright. So if you
are a big file-sharer, warez trader, or are involved in any other
unlawful activities (even if unrelated to Tor), you are probably not
the right person.

3. You should have a legitimate reason to run Tor. If you are the
client for the test case, you will be deposed under oath and asked
why you run Tor. You should be able to truthfully respond in a way
that does not suggest that you are doing it to encourage any illegal
activity, including copyright infringement. For example, running it
because you value free speech is a legitimate reason. Same if you are
running it for research purposes. Any documentary evidence from your
past (e.g., emails, papers presented, etc) should not contradict your
story. Most Tor node operators will qualify under this criteria, but
if you wrote a bunch of emails and bulletin board posts describing
how great Tor will be for the coming copyright revolution, you are
probably not the ideal client.

4. You should be willing to see the case through. Litigation takes
time -- often several years. The process will occasionally involve
some inconvenience, including depositions and allowing the other side
to go through most documents in your possession or control (including
email, hard drives, etc). EFF will provide the legal services for
free. But there is some risk of personal liability for damages,
perhaps amounting to several thousand dollars, if we lose. We will do
everything to minimize the risk, but cannot eliminate it altogether.

5. You should be located in the United States. Your Tor server should
also be located in the United States.

6. You should have an upstream bandwidth provider who will stand by
you. It would be less than ideal if your upstream ISP terminates your
account before we ever get to court.


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