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This is a copy of the C2Net Press Release from 24 Oct 1996


Oakland, CA - In an ongoing attempt to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to monitor their customers' web pages, the Software Publisher's Association (SPA), acting on behalf of three member software companies, dropped a lawsuit against Community ConneXion, Inc., dba C2Net, but reserved the right to bring the suit again if C2Net failed to adopt a policy of monitoring their users' web pages for copyright infringement.

The three plaintiffs, Adobe Systems, Inc., Claris Corporation, and Traveling Software, Inc., seemed surprised to find that they had filed the lawsuit, and sought to distance themselves from the action. For instance, Adobe's PR department maintained that Adobe has definitely not filed any such lawsuit. (Contact Carol Sacks -- (408) 536-4033)

C2Net, a small, Oakland-based ISP and software company, has always forbidden illegal activity on its servers. This includes copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement. "We're very aware of the problems that software companies face from piracy; most of our revenue comes from software and we have our own problems with people pirating our software," said C2Net President Sameer Parekh. "I just don't think that bullying hard-working ISPs into embracing a highly questionable set of policies does anything constructive about the problem of piracy."

The Software Publishers Association wants ISPs to sign a 'Code of Conduct' which would force ISPs to actively monitor users. Under current case law, this greatly increases the ISP's liability, in addition to being extremely expensive, time-consuming, and distasteful to users.

"The telephone company isn't required to monitor all their users to make sure they're not saying illegal things," said Parekh. "How can we be expected to do that for our customers' use of the Internet?"

Of the over twenty ISPs contacted by the SPA, many caved in and signed the 'Code of Conduct', fearing a lawsuit from the SPA more than the future expense and liability problems that result from ongoing monitoring. A coalition of ISPs and other concerned parties, the ISP Defense Coalition, has formed to oppose these bullying tactics by the SPA.

"The SPA thought they could bully small ISPs, but they didn't realize we had principles and couldn't be cowed," said Parekh.

Mike Godwin, Staff Counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, "My personal view is that the Software Publishers Association has forgotten that it is the legislature, not the courts, that is the primary avenue for seeking changes in copyright policy. What we see here is a perversion of the notion that the courts should be used to seek justice -- SPA seems to have picked defendants in the hope that they'd be too weak to resist. I find that decision morally objectionable. Speaking as a lawyer, I have to say that this is the kind of tactic that justifiably confirms in people's minds whatever low opinions they may have of lawyers."

The suit alleged that C2Net users were providing tools to get around copy protection in the plaintiffs' software, and were providing pointers to other sites that actually contained pirated software. The SPA provided no examples, and did not allege any direct copyright infringement on C2Net machines.

"Despite our best efforts to get specific information," said Parekh, "the SPA did not provide us with any specifics about our customers engaging in infringing activity. We suspect that they had no evidence of infringement, but acted merely on vague reports of questionable conduct on the part of a few users."

C2Net provides high-security encryption solutions for the Internet worldwide. More information about C2Net's products are available at https://stronghold.c2.net/. Information about the forming coalition may be found at https://www.c2.net/ispdc/.