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Media Release: Diebold Coughs Up Cash in Copyright Case

For Immediate Release: Saturday, October 16, 2004


Will Doherty
Executive Director
Online Policy Group

Wendy Seltzer
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Diebold Coughs Up Cash in Copyright Case

False Accusations Result in Legal Fees, Damages

San Jose, CA - The Online Policy Group (OPG) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) capped an historic victory in a copyright abuse case against electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold yesterday.

The corporation agreed to pay $125,000 in damages and fees. The settlement, a win for free speech advocates, comes after a California district court found that Diebold had knowingly misrepresented that online commentators, including Indymedia and two Swarthmore college students, had infringed the company's copyrights.

"It makes me happy that students in this situation in the future won't have to worry about big corporations breathing down their necks," said Nelson Pavlosky, one of the students.

Diebold is the first company to be held liable for violating section 512(f) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which makes it unlawful to use DMCA takedown threats when the copyright holder knows that infringement has not actually occurred. The section also stipulates that anyone who issues such frivolous threats must pay damages, including costs and attorneys' fees, to those harmed by the misrepresentations.

EFF and the Center for Internet and Society Cyberlaw Clinic at Stanford Law School sued on behalf of nonprofit Internet Service Provider (ISP) Online Policy Group (OPG) and the two students to prevent Diebold's abusive copyright claims from silencing public debate about voting. Diebold sent dozens of cease-and-desist letters to ISPs hosting leaked internal documents revealing flaws in Diebold's e-voting machines. The company claimed copyright violations and used the DMCA to demand that the documents be taken down. OPG refused to remove them in the name of free speech.

"The risk of substantial damages and fees should make companies pause before sending unfounded copyright threats," said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "Plus ISPs can fight back against these false claims without taking a financial hit." "As a nonprofit ISP it's great to have legal recourse when a company threatens us or our clients with frivolous lawsuits," added OPG Executive Director Will Doherty.

EFF is a member-supported nonprofit which represented OPG and the Swarthmore students pro bono. Thanks to the settlement, Diebold will pay the costs of the case.

For this media release:

Online Policy Group v. Diebold case archive:

About OPG:

The Online Policy Group (OPG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to online policy research, outreach, and action on issues such as access, privacy, the digital divide, and digital defamation. The organization fulfills its motto of "One Internet With Equal Access for All" through programs such as donation-based email, email list hosting, website hosting, domain registrations, colocation services, technical consulting, educational training, and refurbished computer donations. The California Community Colocation Project (CCCP) and QueerNet are OPG projects. OPG focuses on Internet participants' civil liberties and human rights, like access, privacy, safety, and serving schools, libraries, disabled, elderly, youth, women, and sexual, gender, and ethnic minorities. Find out more at

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world at

About IndyMedia:

Indymedia is an international network working to build a decentralized, non-commercial media infrastructure to counter an increasingly consolidated corporate media. Indymedia collectives have spread rapidly since the WTO protests in Seattle 1999, with IMC groups now working throughout North & South America, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania, accessible through

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