October 28th, 2003

Cease-and-desist from Diebold

Today MIT got a cease-and-desist letter from Diebold about the documents I've mirrored here. It seems they really don't want people to learn how untrustworthy their election equipment is.

As a temporary measure, I've taken down direct links to the lists.tgz archive. The BitTorrent tracker is still up, at http://cscott.net/Activism/lists.tgz.torrent --- this is not a hyperlink because of some braindead legal precedent in the 2600 DeCSS case. The torrent file will still work, although no actual content is hosted at cscott.net. Magic! [BitTorrent peers are still very welcome, though: everyone who downloads the file and leaves bittorrent running can contribute to ensuring this content remains available at this link. Let me know if you decide to help out this way.]

My pgp/gpg key is available at pgp.mit.edu; email me if you're interested in helping maintain this mirror.


It has been brought to my attention that there is excellent precedent to refuse Diebold's claims in the "Tobacco papers" case, as described in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle and in more depth in a profile of defendant Stanton Glantz.

I'm still looking for more definitive legal reference, but here is the "layman's" version of the relevant argument. Glantz received an anonymous package of internal tobacco company documents and published them. Then, as described in the profile above:

When Brown & Williamson filed suit to force the return of the documents in February 1995, the stage was set for a First Amendment fight. Suddenly, the very freedom of a researcher and a university to disseminate information was on the line. "Basically, they were trying to keep books out of the library, and universities are here to spread information, not suppress it," Glantz says. He was summoned to a meeting at the university counsel's office, across Parnassus Avenue, which runs through the UCSF campus. "I was riding the elevator down and I was thinking, 'Time to walk the plank. They're going to toss me overboard.'"


But saying they'd rather fight than quit, the UC administrators backed Glantz. The university lawyers argued that the documents were a legitimate subject of study and that they were already public records because they had been written about so extensively in the New York Times and elsewhere. In June 1995, the California Supreme Court ruled in the university's favor. To spare strain on the library, the university published them on the Internet and sold copies on CD-ROM.

In the case of the Diebold memos, these documents have been extensively published on the web (see citations at http://www.why-war.com/features/2003/10/diebold.html) and elsewhere, including a book and at least one widely-syndicated AP article. More coverage will surely follow. I think the precedent holds.