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Order bans mirror sites that skirt Cyber Patrol, or does it?
BOSTON (CNN) -- Attorneys disagreed Wednesday as to whether a new court order applies to mirror sites that post a utility to bypass a popular Internet filter. The federal injunction said that those acting "in concert" with the program authors must take down their sites if they include the source code.
Despite the argument, one condition remains certain: the judge ordered Mattel lawyers to use regular mail instead of new electronic subpoenas to notify mirror site operators of the order.
Mattel, ACLU far at odds
A Boston attorney representing the toymaker said the order can include mirror sites that posted cphack, a program that reveals banned sites and passwords for Cyber Patrol, a leading Internet filter.
The order "includes those mirror sites that knowingly aided and abetted (the cphack authors) in publishing that file," said Irwin Schwartz. "It applies to mirror sites that have notice of the court order," he said.
American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, representing three mirror site operators, said the ruling was far too vague.
"We went into court asking Judge (Edward) Harrington if we are bound by the court order or not and he didn't answer the question," ACLU attorney Chris Hansen said in a statement.
"He also appeared to suggest that mirror sites could test that question only by risking a contempt charge that could lead to fines and jail," the ACLU said.
'Peacefire Three' vow to fight
The ACLU clients, all members of Peacefire.org, a Web organization that fights Internet restrictions, vowed to keep fighting.
"We suffered a setback, but the battle is far from over. Certainly there is lots of room to move forward with this. There's a lot of ambiguity in the ruling," said Lindsay Haisley.
Said another of the self-anointed Peacefire Three: "Mattel is going to serve that permanent injunction to every mirror site. Funny, I'm not working with Skala or Jansson, so I guess you could hardly say that I'm working with them."
The third, Bennett Haselton, doubts that one U.S. court order can do much against a growing number of Internet activists copying and distributing cphack.
"At any given moment the program is available. No one can technically get in trouble for it, at least until they get letters from Cyber Patrol's lawyer," he said.
Case spurs new jargon: 'Spampoena'
Schwartz said he plans to send out dozens of copies of the court order to people who posted cphack. The judge specified that the permanent order must be delivered via certified mail. That decision disappointed Schwartz, who hoped to use electronic subpoenas like the ones he sent earlier to mirror site operators about a temporary order.
Critics dismissed that use of mass e-mails, perhaps the first of its kind, as "subpoena spam" and generated a new term on the Jargon Scout Web site:
Spampoena: an overbroad subpoena of dubious validity 'served' by email to unnamed recipients throughout cyberspace.
"I don't see any harm in sending it e-mail, certified mail or Pony Express. The point is people should have notice of a court order," said Schwartz, adding that the messages were not sent "willy nilly. This is not spam in any way."
Cyber Patrol hacker sells out for one dollar
American Civil Liberties Union
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