Predatory Websites

The Infamatorious Nachash of Doxbin

 Predatory Websites
by Susan Basko, Esq.

Most predatory websites take advantage of  47 U.S. Code § 230, which immunizes an ISP from tort liability for statements of its users.  What the makers of this law obviously did not foresee was that predatory entrepreneurs would set up websites that invited and encouraged users to post horrific defamation of others, and also would shield the identities of those users.  This glitch in the law does not apply to federal criminal law or to intellectual property laws, such as copyright or trademark.  Therefore, the owners or admins of a  predatory website might still be held criminally liable for running a site that contains child pornography, obscenity, cyberstalking, cyber harassment, doxing, and other illegal cyber stuff.   Note: The people posting such materials can always be held responsible for tort or criminal liability, if (and it's a big if) they can be located.

47 U.S. Code § 230 was written in the early days of the internet, with the idea of ISPs and website owners being basically good people who might be set upon by wrongdoers posting inappropriate things on their sites.  In fact, this loophole in the law was noted by the most malicious of the entrepreneurial  predators, who created websites that earn a steady living in advertising revenue and "reverse extortion" payments by encouraging deranged members of the public to post horrifying defamation, invasions or privacy, pornography and obscenity, and other such attacks on innocent third parties. 47 U.S. Code § 230 was dubbed the Good Samaritan clause.  Now it can rightly be called the Predators Loophole.  There are many predatory websites. Below are a few examples.


 Encyclopedia Dramatica: This is a predatory website run by people in their 40s and 50s who imagine themselves to be above the law. They lack in human decency and common respect. They are known to be racist and misogynistic. The owners of the site have it set up to draw in the most mentally deranged, deeply socially sick internet users that crop up with each new generation.  Those sick people are encouraged to use the site to post pages about innocent victims, with the aim being to harm the victims' reputations, their businesses or job, and their families or relationships.  

The Encyclopedia Dramatica owners, admins, and users victimize these innocent people with outlandish lies and defamation which is made to look real.  The site does not contact the victims or fact check, and is simply a collection of the most injurious lies imaginable.  Photos of the innocent people are photoshopped to created obscenity.  

These defamation tactics are used against the victims to harm them in many ways, including coercing some into internet crime, punishing others for refusing to participate in internet crime, forcing the victims into doing things they would not otherwise do, silencing the victims about crimes they have witnessed, shaming, humiliating, destroying their reputations and businesses, and harming their families and relationships. 

Encyclopedia Dramatica is the henchman, the enforcer used by many internet predators to coerce, force, harm, and damage those who might stand in their way.  The site is like the gang members on the street corner, there to stomp on the rights of the law-abiding and those who just want to be left alone.

Encyclopedia Dramatica is a crime website of major proportions that masquerades as "parody," except that parody does not include obscenity, cyberstalking, defamation, invasions of privacy, and other crimes and torts.  People known to be involved with Encyclopedia Dramatica include Brian Zaiger of Boston, Chris Jones, Jaime Cochran of Chicago, @Gwennyrah, and Tawnie Knight aka @Anoccam, of Arizona.  I have been told by an ED admin that the site admins run a meth ring that they use to support their activities.  The whole victimizing operation of Encyclopedia Dramatica seems criminal, and you can read about that HERE and read about 5 of its victims HERE

Cheaterville: This website is owned by Via View, a Nevada LLC owned by James McGibney. Via View is also registered as a Delaware corporation.  Cheaterville is what is known as a "revenge porn" site.  The site encourages people in the public to get revenge, mostly against young women, by posting compromising photos of them and posting horrific sexual statements about them.  The purpose, obviously, is to destroy the lives of these girls and women.  Cheaterville works hand in hand with a company called Truth in Posting, or TIP, of Henderson, Nevada.  The website's victims are supposed to pay hundreds of dollars to TIP to get the revenge porn removed.  I have coined a term for this: "reverse extortion."  Feel free to use that term: reverse extortion.  At this time, McGibney and Cheaterville are engaged in filing lawsuits, restraining orders, and subpoenas against a hodgepodge of individuals who have objected online to the Via View revenge porn business.   The Via View twitter handle is @Bullyville, which is apt, since bullying it does.   You can read a legal analysis HERE.

RipOffReports: This site works just like Cheaterville, but instead of posting revenge porn, this site allows anyone to post any lies about any business or professional. It works on the same economic model as the revenge porn sites.  After a posting is made, the victim is sent numerous reverse extortion letters, offering to lessen the harm for hundreds of dollars.  A legal analysis is HERE.

Doxbin:  Doxbin is the king of predatory websites. It is above ground and also on tor.  Doxbin is used by the same psychos that post on Encyclopedia Dramatica, as well as by others. The site works by allowing anyone to post invasive information or materials on others, such as name, address, social security number, bank info, accounts, and on and on.  The object is to make the victims vulnerable to crime, as well as to "aid and abet" the commission of such crimes as identity theft, robbery, rape, home invasion, and assassination.  And - the whole thing is criminal, top to bottom.  You can read about that in a legal analysis HERE , in a closer look HERE.

Barrett Brown Plea Deal Charges

Is that tie an Accessory after the Fact?
  Barrett Brown Plea Deal Charges
by Susan Basko

The same people who charged Barrett Brown with 11 counts for the imaginary crime of posting a link have now charged him with being an "accessory after the fact" and "giving comfort" to someone named "o." Oh.  Lest you think an "accessory after the fact" is a scarf you add to your ensemble as you dash out the door,  it is a crime.   The superseding indictment alleges that "o" hacked Stratfor and that Barrett not only gave this hacker "comfort," but also "caused confusion" in his dealings with Stratfor.  Imagine a hacker named "o" and Barrett Brown causing confusion. Unthinkable.

The Unsinkable Mister Brown has had two new charges lodged against him.  These 2 charges are said to be part of a pending plea agreement.  Therefore, we can assume these two new charges are the ones that are the dream charges for the prosecutor and FBI agent involved in this case. These two charges are the ones that will make the prosecutor and FBI Agent feel fulfilled, happy, thrilled, if Barrett will plead guilty to these two and (presumably), the rest of the other seven still-pending charges are dropped.

Count One is for dallying with "o" and causing irreversible confusion and befuddling.  

Count Two hails back to the March 6, 2012 FBI raid on his place when Barrett allegedly hid his laptop computer in his mother's dish cabinet.  

See the Superseding Information below.

These are the 2 criminal charges concocted as a potion for a plea deal:


1030(c)(4)(A)(i)(I) ACCESSORY AFTER

And the law on this is:

 18 USC §§ 1030 (a) Whoever— 5 (B) intentionally accesses a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, recklessly causes damage; shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this section.

And... What does that section say the punishment is? 

18 USC §§ 1030 (c) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) or (b) of this section is—
(A) except as provided in subparagraphs (E) and (F), a fine under this title, imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, in the case of—
(i) an offense under subsection (a)(5)(B), which does not occur after a conviction for another offense under this section, if the offense caused (or, in the case of an attempted offense, would, if completed, have caused)—
(I) loss to 1 or more persons during any 1-year period (and, for purposes of an investigation, prosecution, or other proceeding brought by the United States only, loss resulting from a related course of conduct affecting 1 or more other protected computers) aggregating at least $5,000 in value.

18 USC §§ 1501 and 2 OBSTRUCTING 


And the laws on this are below: Note, we don't know what "extradition agent" this refers to, but the indictment states this is with regard to the Dish Cabinet Caper.  Perhaps one of the agents involved was actually an extradition agent poking around in Barrett's mom's cabinets to make some extra spending money?  

18 U.S. Code § 1501 - Assault on process server  

Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs, resists, or opposes any officer of the United States, or other person duly authorized, in serving, or attempting to serve or execute, any legal or judicial writ or process of any court of the United States, or United States magistrate judge; or 

Whoever assaults, beats, or wounds any officer or other person duly authorized, knowing him to be such officer, or other person so duly authorized, in serving or executing any such writ, rule, order, process, warrant, or other legal or judicial writ or process—
Shall, except as otherwise provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
18 U.S. Code § 1502 - Resistance to extradition agent
Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs, resists, or opposes an extradition agent of the United States in the execution of his duties, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.  

These three likely plea deal charges add up to a total of no more than 7 years in prison. Rumor is a deal has been struck for no more than 30 months.  Under U.S. law, federal prisoners get 54 days off their sentence for every year they serve.  Barrett has been in jail over a year and a half, which gives him 80 extra days off the sentence, or close to three months.  Under this formula, Barrett has already served about 21 months.  If the deal is for a 30 month sentence, that would put his release date at about Christmas 2014. That would be a nice Christmas present for Barrett and his family.  

Basic Venue Safety
for Festivals, Concerts, Shows, Protests, Parties

Basic Venue Safety
for Festivals, Concerts, Shows, Protests, Parties, and More
by Susan Basko

When you gather a large group of people for an event, your top most priority should be their safety.  Disasters happen very quickly and are almost always avoidable.  The conditions that cause a disaster are almost always the result of those running the event taking a shortcut, not thinking things through, being lazy, or being cheap.   By "disaster," we mean something that causes multiple deaths or injuries. In a venue disaster, the deaths will usually be from smoke/fire, trampling, or crushing.

The place where the event is being held is the venue.  The venue may be indoors or outdoors. Disasters happen at outdoor venues, too.  Different types of events have different purposes, but the safety factors on all of them are quite similar.   Here are some basics:

Capacity:  Every venue, indoors or out,  has a maximum legal capacity of how many people are to be allowed in.  Exceeding the capacity is extremely dangerous.  The capacity of an indoor venue may be stated as one number if standing and another number if seated.  If a venue is such that patrons are flowing in and out, then you must use counters and see how many are inside before letting more in.

At most venues, the legal capacity is posted on a sign on the wall.  If you make a habit of looking at these signs, you will see that most venues have a much lower legal capacity than you might expect.  The legal capacity is based on square feet, purpose, whether patrons will be standing or seated, and if seated, at chairs or at tables, number of exits, number of toilets, and other factors.  It is great for an event to draw a crowd, but if the crowd exceeds the capacity of the venue, it is dangerous.

Permits/ Inspections:  Almost every locale requires any venue to be inspected and licensed as a permanent venue or permitted as a special venue.  These permits and inspections go a  long way in providing for safety. Most locales will inspect the layout of the space, the exits, the smoke detectors and sprinklers, lighting, electricity, platforms and stages, structures, props and hangings, sanitation, and any food service.  Many locales have written laws, rules, or policies that spell these factors out in detail.  You should work with people who know the rules and follow them.  Buy the guidebooks and have your staff use them.

Layout:  The floor layout for an event should be done in advance to scale with a computer rendering.  It should be done according to the local laws.  By law,  there must be large amounts of space between two tables.  By law, there must be a very wide open space in front of and around any exit or pre-exit.  A pre-exit is the exit from a room to another space that is not the outdoors.  A venue may have 5 or  6 pre-exits from the event space to the outdoors.  Each pre-exit must be carefully planned and the space around it must be laid out properly.   At set-up time, the floor is measured and marked with chalk, so the layout matches the rendering.

Exits:  Disasters often happen because there are inadequate exits or exits have been blocked or locked. Even if a place has been inspected and licensed, if a manager or security guard gets it into their heads to lock exits, for their reasons of "safety," they can invalidate the license, invalidate the insurance, and endanger lives.  Never allow anyone to lock or block an exit.  If a venue has been licensed or permitted based on  a certain number of exits, if one of those exits is not functioning, at any time or for any reason, the entire venue becomes unsafe and usually also is invalidating its license and insurance and well as endangering lives.  If a venue needs to hire an extra set of people to stand by a door to make sure people do not sneak in, or whatever the concern is, then that is what must be done.  An exit cannot be locked or blocked for any reason.  

Never allow any item to be placed in front of an exit. Items that some may be tempted to place in front of an exit include a ticket table, merchandise table or booth, autographs table, coat rack, etc.   Laws in most places require wide aisles or spaces between tables or between banks of chairs, and at least 10 feet of clearance in all directions at any exit.  Most places require lit "Exit" signs.  Venues should have emergency light systems that go on if the other lights fail, or in case of smoke or fire.

Exit Path:  The exit path should be designed so that each succeeding exit space is bigger and wider than the last.  This is equally important at an outdoor venue as indoors.  There was a terrible crushing disaster a few years ago at an outdoor festival where the exit gates led to a wide space that then led to a narrower tunnel.  Too many people got into the tunnel and people were crushed to death.  In an indoor venue, make sure the exit bath is not made narrower by lines to bathrooms, furniture, a snack bar, magazine racks, etc.  If the lights are out and the place is dark and filled with smoke, anyone walking or crawling to an exit should meet no obstacles.  Turn out the lights and try it.

Fire Hazards:  Disasters have been caused by such things as sound insulation that was not fireproof, use of pyrotechnics, decorations that were not flameproof, patrons using lighters to see, and other such things that, in hindsight, were easy to detect.  Absolutely any item that is used as a structure, decoration, prop, or furnishing in a venue should be flameproof or highly flame retardant.  Hold a lighter to it for 10 minutes and see if it burns.  Curtains, insulation, table cloths, upholstered chairs, decorations, etc. must all be flameproof.  Pyrotechnics or flame should never be used indoors and if outdoors, should only be run by licensed professionals in a space that has been inspected by a fire marshal.   Venues that bend these rules are the ones where a disaster is more likely.

Structures:  Collapse of stages or structures is sure to be disastrous.  Hire only a licensed, bonded, insured company and have the structures inspected by an outside source.  If a stage or structure appears to be top heavy, flimsy, off-balance, shaky, etc., it probably is.  Such situations may occur because those holding the event are trying to cut corners, save money, do things cheaply.  This is unacceptable.

Crushing: Crushing disasters happen when too many people get into one space at one time.  That's simple and logical, but preventing it is a fine art.  At outdoor venues with open lawn area, venues still often have the area just in front of the stage as a seating area, often with tickets. This is to prevent stage crush.

Even if an entire venue has seating, there can be crush if open seating, first-come, first in, is used.  This is sometimes called "festival seating," a term that makes no sense.  At festivals, the audience does not sit, but walks around.  This type of ticketing has been outlawed in some places.  It is much safer to assign tickets to seats.

Rowdy Patrons:  Patrons who are intoxicated or agitated can present a danger, obviously.  The usual techniques of screening at the entry and a good security force work well to prevent fights.  However, rowdy people are also the ones likely to cause a panic that leads to a rush to the exits.  A rush to an exit can happen quickly.  Security should be trained to isolate and contain any incident, so it does not result in a rush of people, with danger of a crush.  Making sure the venue is laid out properly and that it is not over capacity also helps avoid crush or rush.

Valentines - Free Cards

Valentines - Free Cards
By Sue Basko

Happy Valentines Day!  I designed these cards you can send to your online friends.  Just pull them off the page or click and download.  These don't have the blue border - that is just on the site. - -Sue   

Pete Seeger's Songs (a list)

Pete Seeger's Songs (a list)
list compiled by Susan Basko


WATER IS WIDE Peter Seeger, Traditional


ABIYOYO Peter Seeger, Traditional





FOOLISH FROG Charles Seeger, Peter Seeger




GET UP AND GO Pete Seeger



THIS OLD CAR Peter Seeger

LETTER TO EVE Peter Seeger

OLEANNA Pete Seeger








SNOW, SNOW Pete Seeger

VISIONS OF CHILDREN Peter Seeger, Traditional

















OLD FATHER HUDSON Peter Seeger, Traditional




AS THE SUN ROSE Peter Seeger


SOUR CREAM Pete Seeger



ARAN Pete Seeger



OLD HUNDRED Peter Seeger, Traditional


DE COLORES Pete Seeger






EMPTY POCKETS BLUES Lee Hays, Peter Seeger

HOLD THE LINE Lee Hays, Pete Seeger

BACH AT TREBLINKA Yuri Suhl, Pete Seeger


THE BURNING OF KINGSTON Pete Seeger, William Gekle

THE FIRST SETTLERS David Bernz, Pete Seeger

FIFTY SAIL ON NEWBURGH BAY William Geckle, Pete Seeger

THE BELLS OF RHYMNEY Pete Seeger, Idris Davies

HE LIES IN THE AMERICAN LAND Andrew Kovaly, Peter Seeger

ARIRAN Arthur S Kevess, Peter Seeger

BRING 'EM HOME Jim Musselman, Pete Seeger
 IF YOU LOVE YOUR UNCLE SAM Jim Musselman, Peter Seeger

BLESSED BE THE NATION Jim Musselman, Peter Seeger

BALLAD OF JACKHAMMER JOHN Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie

IF I CAN'T BE REDUCED Pete Seeger, Martin Bourque

ANDORRA Malvina Reynolds, Pete Seeger

JARAMA VALLEY  Lee Hays, Woody Guthrie, Peter Seeger

GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN Lee Hays, Millard Lampell, Peter Seeger

JESUS JOY OF MAN'S DESIRING Peter Seeger, Johann Sebastian Bach, Datemi Un Martelo 

IF I HAD A HAMMER Sergio Bardotti, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays

JACOB'S LADDER  Add'l., Peter Seeger, Traditional

FISHERMAN'S SONG  Anonymous, Adapt., Pete Seeger

IT'S A LONG HAUL Jeffrey Travis, Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax, John A. Lomax

DELIVER THE GOODS Lee Hays, Millard Lampell, Bess Hawes, Peter Seeger

I DON'T WANT TO GET ADJUSTED Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger

BENONI Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger

EVERYBODY LOVES SATURDAY NIGHT Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman

GUANTANAMERA Jose Marti, Pete Seeger, Julian Orbon, J. Fernandez Diaz

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger, Lee Hayes

BAY OF MEXICO Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger, Tom Geraci

DARLING COREY Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger

FOLLOW THE DRINKIN' GOURD   Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, Lee Rays, Pete Seeger

HUSH LITTLE BABY Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger

JUSQU'A LA CEINTURE (WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY) Eng. Lyric, Music By, Pete Seeger, French Text:Graeme Allwright

Human Rights Defenders Risks

Human Rights Defenders Risks
by Susan Basko

I was recently asked to assist in an international Consultation of Human Rights Defenders. In the consultation, we were making recommendations for the protection of people who are seen as Human Rights Defenders. I was asked to participate in the consultation because I actively defend the Human Rights of association, assembly, protest, speech, press, media, and technological use of media  (such as live streaming, wifi, etc). The consultation was conducted by ODIHR (Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) of OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). There are 57 OSCE participating nations, and the U.S. is one of them. The Recommendations will be published in 2014. I have been invited to assist OSCE ODIHR with several major activities over the past couple years, based on my assistance to protest planners and media activists in the U.S. and worldwide. I distributed the consultation form to many others in the U.S.

Once the Recommendations have been compiled, they will reflect trends of risks that are faced by those who defend Human Rights. The OSCE has 57 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, fYR Macedonia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan.

BELOW I AM POSTING MY REPLIES TO THE QUESTIONS. The compiled Recommendations from the 57 nations will be available some time in 2014. I could have spent my entire reply on the shocking hate launched at me by disturbed sociopaths on twitter, but decided those sort of attacks by people with that type of social/ mental disorder are likely to be covered by others.

I feel greatly honored to be invited to assist in improving society within the 57 nations. My experiences with OSCE over the past two years have been meaningful and important. There is a great connectedness and commonality nation to nation between those of us protecting Human Rights. There is an energy of truth and goodness that can be felt when these people gather.

Question 1: Risks, threats and challenges
Which are the specific risks, threats and challenges you (or your organization) face as a result of your human rights work?

Please provide a brief summary of the specific risks, threats and challenges (e.g. physical and verbal attacks and threats, legal persecution and harassment, restrictive NGO legislation, restrictions to freedom of expression, assembly and association etc.) you or your organization experiences and you consider should ideally be addressed in the OSCE/ODIHR Recommendation. If available, please also provide concrete examples of incidents or documented cases of abuses you/your organization faced. Please do not exceed the given word limit. For further details about specific incidents or cases you may want to include references to published documents or materials if available.

In your response, please also include if you or others belong to a group of human rights defenders that is at particular risk and whether you see specific gender-related challenges in relation to your work and the risks and obstacles you face.

Summary: Description of main risks, threats and challenges you/your organization face/s [MAXIMUM 700 WORDS]
(e.g. physical and verbal attacks and threats; lack of effective remedies and impunity; legal persecution and harassment, criminalization, defamation campaigns; restrictive NGO legislation, obstacles in receipt of funding, burdensome administrative requirements and informal pressure; restrictions to freedom of expression, assembly and association; surveillance and undue interferences in private life; restrictions on freedom of movement and access to carry out human rights monitoring and reporting; lack of opportunity for participation in public affairs; impediments to access and communicate with international bodies and reprisals; etc.):

Answering on behalf of self as lawyer and many organizations and individuals to whom I give assistance:

1) Activists are having Child pornography emailed to them in tricky ways, to set them up for legal troubles and prosecution. It is unknown who is doing this, probably individuals outside the government. Govt needs to be aware of this practice and beware of prosecuting. There is one known prosecution at this time of media activist in North Carolina.

2) The U.S. government is sending National Security Letters to activists and freezing assets. The NSLs state that the person or organization or someone else is under investigation, cooperation is demanded, and not even the letter can be revealed. I am not allowed to give details, but I am aware of several of these that have had the effect of stopping participation.

3) The U.S. government and its contractors are using Twitter personas to stalk, harass, belittle and demean others. This is obvious to regular twitter users and has a chilling effect.

4) U.S. government is prosecuting journalist Barrett Brown for posting a link online to materials that were hacked. Raises dangerous practice of prosecuting people for posting links and puts HUGE damper on press freedom and communication freedom. This is a giant issue and entire US and world should be in opposition to this prosecution. Brown was writing about US govt using private companies for surveillance and linked to online info about the companies. Indictment has about 12 counts for one link with potential of decades in prison.

Specific examples of incidents and documented abuses (please add references to published materials as may be required) [MAXIMUM 400 WORDS]:

1) Activists being emailed child pornography to set them up for prosecution:
Happened to Luke Rudkowski, Dan Johnson, Stewart Rhodes, and about 12 other people that I am aware of as a lawyer. There is one known federal prosecution based on possession of a Child porn image, of a man who is a media activist. Case is federal and in Middle District of North Carolina, but I am not at liberty to write the man’s name yet, but it is a fed case on

Info and Video about Dan Johnson et al:

Info on Luke Rudkowski:

2) National Security Letters: By law, cannot give details. But I am aware:

3) Persona Mgmt:

4) Barrett Brown prosecuted for posting a link:

Question 2: Recommendations
Based on the protection gaps and needs identified above: What measures should OSCE participating States take in order to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders and guarantee an enabling environment conducive of their work, both domestically as well as across the region?

If relevant specify by which state actors (e.g. government, regional and local authorities, public officials) the measure(s) should be taken. Also include: (a) what specific mechanisms and procedures participating States should put in place domestically to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders (recommendations concerning domestic processes/mechanisms for implementation); and (b) what participating States should do to support the protection of human rights defenders and promote an enabling environment in third countries (recommendations concerning protection of human rights defenders abroad).

Measures participating States should take in order to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders and guarantee an enabling environment conducive to their work, including recommendations concerning (a) domestic processes/mechanisms for implementation; and (b) protection of human rights defenders abroad.

1) Governments and people and organizations should be made aware of this new practice of tricking people into downloading Child pornography images onto their computers in order to set them up for later legal troubles. Some of the images are being sent embedded in pdf files. Governments should set up a specific and obvious protocol for anyone to whom this has happened. Awareness, education, training.

2) The U.S. practice of sending National Security Letters in what appears to be a misuse of their purpose should be addressed. The NSLs are supposed to be used for important anti-terrorism purposes and are now being used to thwart protesters, media, etc. Awareness, education, training, legal challenges.

3) Practice of using social media for COINTELPRO and harassment of activists should be forbidden.

4) Governments should be barred from prosecuting the use of links/ hyperlinks by anyone online, including activists, journalists, independent media, researchers, or ANYONE. Links should not be treated as a wrongdoing or crime in any way.

National Security Letters: Help!

National Security Letters: Help!
by Susan Basko

Someone delivers a document of many pages to your home or office.  It does not look like anything you've ever seen before.  It says you or someone else is under investigation by some Department of the U.S. government and that you must cooperate.  It also says that you are ordered not to tell anyone about the letter or its contents.  You are alarmed and afraid, likely terrified.  Congratulations, the government has just treated you to a National Security Letter.  Here's a few things to know:

1) You can always show the letter to a lawyer.  The letter says you cannot disclose it to anyone, but that does not include that you cannot show it to a lawyer.   In fact, you should show it to a lawyer so they can help you understand what it is and what it means. The lawyer is also under the gag or nondisclosure order and cannot reveal the letter to the press or public.  It is good to have someone else know about the letter, and legally, you cannot tell anyone, not even  your spouse, that you received the letter, or anything about its contents.  So, show it to a lawyer.   

2) National Security Letters include a gag order, also known as a nondisclosure order.  The recipient is  supposed to tell no one about the letter or about what is being investigated.  They are not even supposed to tell that they got a Letter.  The National Security Letter may go into rather extreme detail, for many pages, listing off what it means by "don't tell anyone."   

3) A National Security Letter may be issued to a person or to a company.  The most likely sort of companies are those that deal in internet communications or finances.  Larger companies are more likely to have a lawyer on staff and to be familiar with the Letters.  Individuals or small companies that receive a National Security Letter are more likely to be baffled and frightened by the letters.  

4) A Judge in the Federal 9th Circuit (California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona) has ruled the gag orders unconstitutional, but has given the government time to gets its act in order.  We'll see what happens.  As of now, recipients of a National Security Letter must comply with the gag order.

5) National Security Letters can be used by many federal government agencies.  In some instances, the main purpose in using a letter seems to be the gag order, rather than the investigatory portion. In other words, the letters appear to be used to shut people up.   Sometimes this may be a valid purpose.  It helps, in assessing a letter, to judge whether the purpose appears to be more investigatory or more to keep the person from going to the media or to the public about a particular topic.

6)  A National Security Letter is supposedly issued for purposes of investigating terrorism or topics of concern to national security.  "National security" has become a broadly-used term that can mean almost anything involving the public or the government.  The governmental agencies are now issuing a huge number of National Security Letters.  That's a lot of intrusion into peoples' lives with no judicial oversight. 

7) If a National Security Letter requires its recipient to hand over information, that information is supposed to be non-content.  For example, if the letter is demanding email information, it is only supposed to be asking for who was contacted and when, not the contents of the emails.  Content-based materials are supposed to require a subpoena or warrant.

8) To send a National Security Letter, the government agency does not need probable cause or to go before a Judge, as is the case with a subpoena or warrant. This makes National Security Letters much more of a fishing expedition and opens them wide for abusive use.  The letters are seen as stepping stones to creating probable cause.   

9) National Security Letters contain a gag order that may be the main purpose of the letter.  If you worked for a government agency and were investigating something sensitive, and if you had an easy tool where you could order everyone involved to keep quiet, would you use it?   Likely so.

10) Tens of thousands of National Security Letters have been issued each year since they were instituted. The Letters are considered by many to be abuses of Constitutional rights.

11) A National Security Letter has 4 main parts.  First, it will tell which agency is investigating.  Many U.S. agencies have been given authority to send National Security Letters. Second, the Letter will tell who or what is being investigated. It may be the recipient, in which case the main purpose is likely to gag the person from speaking privately, publicly, or to the media about the topic or about the letter.  Or the letter may state that someone else is under investigation and may demand that the recipient hand over the requested information about that person, company, or organization.   Third, the letter will state what materials, if any, must be handed over.  Fourth, there will be a detailed gag or nondisclosure order.  If this is highly detailed, then the recipient may assume the main purpose of the letter is to force the recipient to keep quiet because an investigation is ongoing.  

12) A National Security Letter has the force of law.  For example, if the recipient talks to people or to the media about the letter, the recipient can be charged with a crime.  Likewise, if the recipient fails to comply with the demand for information, the recipient might be jailed.  This is very important to know.   

13 ) If you plan to violate the demands of the Letter, discuss first with a lawyer.  Several business owners have closed down their services rather than compromise the future privacy of their clients.   One such business owner is Ladar Levinson of Lavabit, an encrypted email service.  It is believed that Lavabit received either a National Security Letter or a secret subpoena.  Rather than comply, he closed the service.  He was immediately threatened with jail, but it is dubious the government could force him to keep running his business so they could use it to spy on people.   You can read Mr. Levinson's letter about this HERE, or below:

My Fellow Users,
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC
Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.

Can a Songwriter Prevent a Cover Song?

Can  a Songwriter Prevent  a Cover Song?
by Susan Basko

This question was sent to me today by email: 

Hey Sue,

I am a student and in my Entertainment Law Class I asked the question was it possible for a songwriter who has recorded a song to block it from be recorded again.

Example - Taylor Swift writes and records a song, then a year later a heavy metal band wants to record it but she doesn't want her song to be associated with that type of music, can she block it?

I read your article,, and it states like we have learned in class that anyone can record a song after it has been recorded.

Is there a case in history where someone has gotten around the compulsory license and was able to block someone from recording the song...if it possible?

Thank you so much for any information you can give me.


First, the compulsory license laws apply only to songs that are part of the U.S. Copyright system (either registered or subject to it) and only applies to recordings produced and sold in the US.  So if you will note, songs that are kept out of the US system are not subject to it.  For example, if someone in Australia writes a song and does not register it with the US Copyright office, and neither does their publisher, then they are not in on this system.

Second, the compulsory license does not include songs that are part of a musical or opera.  That is why there are so few covers of songs that might otherwise be hugely successful, such as songs from Les Miserable, Oliver, the Romeo and Juliet movies, songs from Wicked or Hair , and on and on.  To record these, the artists wishing to cover them would be required to deal directly with the publisher.  The publisher can say no and if they say yes, they can set any terms and any price.

Third, the compulsory license allows a cover, or copy of the song to be made. It does not allow a derivative work.  So, if the heavy metal band is creating a cover that substantially changes the tone of the song, Taylor Swift might sue.  There HAVE been lawsuits like this, as I recall.  To actually be a cover or copy, the lyrics cannot be changed, the arrangement cannot be changed, etc.  For the most part, disrespect or changing the meaning will come from changing the lyrics, and that is not allowed.

For the most part, most songwriters and their publishers would look foolish if  they are suing for copyright infringement because someone is making a metal or reggae or blues version, or changing the tempo.  And keep in mind, the publisher and songwriter will be making money for each copy that is made.  It is hard to argue with money.

Fourth, synch licenses are not compulsory.  So, say a heavy metal band makes a cover of the Taylor Swift song and it does not change the lyrics or arrangement -- so it is a legal cover.  But say they want to make a music video or appear on a television show where they perform or use their recording of the song, but they want to be vulgar or violent in some way in their visual interpretation of the song.  They NEED a synchronization license to use the song in any way.  The publisher can deny the synch license.  Smart publishers carefully check out the artists that want a synch license and look at what they plan to do with the song. look at how they present themselves, look at their past work.  The contract will also specify what can and cannot be in the synch, such as violence, porn, drugs, guns, etc.  A visual representation is where abusive connotations to a song are most likely to be made, and this can be avoided by not giving a synch license.

Be Kind to the Receptionist

Be Kind to the Receptionist
by Susan Basko 

Years ago, I produced and directed a series of TV shows for an organization in Chicago that was founded and run by a man who was very wealthy.  He was a billionaire, born into a family of billionaires.  This organization was one of his babies. It educated people and ran seminars on national strategy and security.  To protect the man's privacy, let's call him Mr. J.

If you've watched Hollywood movies about very wealthy people, you might expect Mr. J to be wearing a fancy suit, riding in a limo, and being snooty to the office help.  Not Mr. J.  He walked by himself down Michigan Avenue, his messenger bag slung over his shoulder.  He wore a simple outfit of dark slacks, a button-up shirt, sometimes a tie.  He wore a simple dark jacket.  I walked the same route, and would sometimes see him and say hello.  He always said hello back and seemed friendly and very kind.

Mr. J told me that on weekends, he would ride his bike to a pancake house.  For him, this was an adventure of doing what he wanted to do, of mixing it up with the variety of everyday characters that are found at a pancake house.   I admired that, although the idea of pancakes topped with strawberry goo and whipped cream did not appeal to me.  

I told Mr J about some people I knew that had an incredible collection of historic bicycles.  He was interested because he loved bikes. He helped them get a nice museum started. That is what having lots of money can do.  Dreams can become reality.  Worthy projects can be funded.

At the office of the organization, Mr J often acted as receptionist.  He sat at the front desk, answered the console phone, and greeted the visitors.  It was interesting to see how people treated him when they thought he was a male receptionist, and then how they treated him when they realized he was the billionaire founder of the organization.  How the tones of voice and the demeanor of the visitors did change, softened, became deferential.

One day, I brought my good friend with me to the organization's office.  She met Mr. J and chatted him up about her favorite topic, the Middle East.  Later, talking with me, she called him an "office lady."  "He has all that money, why is he an office lady?" she asked.   It was just how he was, a person who liked to do  regular things.

A man came into the office saying he had an appointment with Mr J.  Mr J, manning the reception desk, asked the man to sit next to him and tell him what he wanted. The man became brusque. He wanted to be ushered in to speak with Mr J and did not want to be kept waiting and most certainly did not want to chat with the receptionist.  "I just  talked with Mr J on the phone and he said to come in, he would be expecting me."  The visitor was rather rude to the receptionist.  Mr. J, who was very sensitive to peoples' levels of kindness, looked hurt. Whatever good impression the visitor had hoped to make was now dimmed.

And the moral of the story is:  Be Kind to the Receptionist.  The receptionist may not always be the billionaire founder you came to see, but the receptionist is always a direct pipeline to the people in charge.

Scoop: Doxbin Arrested

Scoop: Doxbin Arrested
reported by Susan Basko

According to highly reliable sources, Doxbin has been arrested.  As it turned out, Doxbin was three Finnish teens ages 15 - 16.  The case is being handled by the FBI and Finnish authorities.

Doxbin was the name of a criminal enterprise that urged the public to put personal information of the victims onto a website and also onto a tor node.  This is called "doxing."  The information that was gathered and posted opened the victims to further crimes, such as stalking, assault, assassination,   rape, robbery,  credit card fraud, bank account hijacking, and many other such crimes.  Doxbin opened up onto a Twitter account, which provided a link to the site and a portal to the tor.  Although the account was suspended several times, Twitter kept allowing it back on.  The last Twitter handle was @therealdoxbin, which is now suspended.

 Many of the participants in the crimes, who placed information onto Doxbin, appeared to be Americans, as did many of the victims.  It is unclear at this time if the Doxbin co-conspirators, people who posted materials of others onto Doxbin, are being pursued for arrest.

Doxbin was one of several websites that engage in extortion and endangerment of others.  These websites are used by the attackers to stalk, bully and harm others.  These acts are felonies under US federal law as well as under the laws of various states. 

The investigation into Doxbin has been ongoing for at least several  months.  In addition, numerous individuals in the public were trying to discover the identity of Doxbin.  That Doxbin was three people, rather than one, came as a surprise.

Cyberstalking: Illinois

Cyberstalking and Other Internet Crimes: Illinois
by Susan Basko

Cyberstalking and harassment are prohibited by Federal Crime statutes, but most states also have laws.  This is about the Illinois laws.  Illinois criminal laws will apply if the victim is in Illinois, or if the perpetrator is in Illinois, and may apply in other circumstances.   This is not a complete listing, at all. It simply lists some common transgressions made by cyberstalkers and internet harassers.

Good Illinois Protection:  If you are in Illinois and anyone posts your name or photo on a creepy website, you are in luck -- there is a criminal law against this.   If you are in Illinois, and anyone secretly records a phone call with you, they are committing a crime.  If you are in Illinois, and anyone is repeatedly contacting you on the internet to cause you distress, there is a criminal law to protect you.

If you are victim, go to the links here and make a copy of the law.  When you go to make your police report, politely hand the officer a copy of the laws.  Internet crime is new territory to many police and prosecutors.  Persist.  Internet stalkers and bad websites tend to harm many people, so you will be helping many others, as well as yourself.

RECORDING A PHONE CALL: It is illegal to record phone call without the consent of all parties.  Example:  I am in Illinois.  If you call me and record the call without my permission, you are violating the Illinois Eavesdropping Act.  The first offense is a Class 4 Felony.  The second or further offense is a Class 3 felony.  If you were to place such a recording online, or transcribe it, or otherwise make it available, each time you do, it is an additional felony count.

RECORDING AN IN-PERSON CONVERSATION:  It is illegal in Illinois to record any conversation without permission of all parties. This includes using a video camera or cellphone camera to record a conversation.  This also violates the Illinois Eavesdropping Act and is a felony.

MAKING OR POSTING OBSCENE PICTURES:  If you use someone's photo to create an obscene picture or video, this is a violation of the Illinois Obscenity Act and is  a Class A Misdemeanor or a Felony.  If you put such a picture or video online, you are distributing obscenity and distributing obscenity to minors.  These are very serious crimes under the Illinois Obscenity Act that can land you on the Sex Offender registry.  Illinois has a very broad and conservative definition of "obscenity."

REVENGE PORN, POSTING NAME OR CONTACT INFO OR PHOTO ONTO A WEBSITE THAT CONTAINS ANY OBSCENITY:  If a person posts an image of a person, or posts any identifying information, such as name, address, telephone number, or email address,  about any person on a pornographic site, without the person's permission, that perpetrator is guilty of a felony under 720 ILCS 5/11-23.  If the victim is under 17, he or she cannot give permission and the act is a felony.  A site is considered pornographic if it contains any obscene material as defined under Illinois law, which is very broad and conservative.  These crimes can land a person in prison and on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry.  Also, see the Cyberstalking Law below - creating a website that harasses another person is against the Illinois Cyberstalking law.

So what does this mean? It means that if anyone posts your name or other information or any photo of you on a site that contains any obscene photos, the person is committing a Class 3 or Class 4 felony.  Even if the site is held offshore, and even if the person is in a different location, if you are in or from Illinois, you can and should report this crime.

Example 1: Suppose a site is used by a group to make fun of people they don't like.  Suppose the site has photos on it that show such things that are obscene, such as photos of an anus or of sexual parts.  Anyone that posts any other person's name, contact information or photo on that site without permission has committed a felony. If the victim is under 17, there is no permission possible.  Depending on the situation, this crime may also fall under Cyberstalking, Child pornography, creating obscene materials, distributing obscene material to minors, etc.  MOST LIKELY, the person running or owning the site is also committing a violating of the Illinois Cyberstalking law (below) provision against maintaining a website that harasses any person.

Example 2:  Someone posts your name and writes about you on a website that contains graphic photos and you are under 17 or you are older than 17 and did not give your permission. This is a felony.  If the person is convicted, they can be sentenced to prison and be forced to register on the Sex Offender registry.

Example 3: Someone posts a photo of you on a website that contains graphic photos. This is a felony if you are under 17 or if you are over 17 and did not give permission.  If the person is convicted, they can be sentenced to prison and forced to register on the Sex Offender registry.

CYBERSTALKING: Cyberstalking is when on 2 or more occasions, a person makes unwanted communication to or about another person online, on their own or through a third party, in a way that they know or should know places the victim in fear for their safety or the safety of someone else, or that causes the victim distress.  If the victim is in Illinois, or if the perpetrator is in Illinois, the crime falls under the Illinois law.

Examples 1 - 6: Posting 2 or more taunts at a person via Twitter or Facebook, sending taunting or threatening emails, sending 2 or more @ tweets at a person who has you blocked, posting 2 or more nasty comments at or about a person, posting 2 or more nasty photos or videos of or about a person, having any third party doing any of this for you.

Example 7: Posting 2 or more threatening tweets, messages, or comments saying such things as that you will post a person's name or photo on an undesirable website.

Example 8: Creating a website that harasses another person.

You can download a handout on the Illinois Stalking and Cyberstalking laws, prepared by the research staff of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan HERE.

 720 ILCS 5/12-7.5 Cyberstalking

(a) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she engages in a course of conduct
using electronic communication directed at a specific person, and he or she knows or
should know that would cause a reasonable person to:

(1) fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person; or

(2) suffer other emotional distress.

(a-3) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful
justification, on at least 2 separate occasions, harasses another person through the use of
electronic communication and:

(1) at any time transmits a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault,
confinement, or restraint and the threat is directed towards that person or a family
member of that person, or(2) places that person or a family member of that person in
reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault,
confinement, or restraint; or 3) at any time knowingly solicits the commission of an act
by any person which would be a violation of this Code directed towards that person or a
family member of that person.

(a-5) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful
justification, creates and maintains an Internet website or webpage which is accessible to
one or more third parties for a period of at least 24 hours, and which contains
statements harassing another person and:

(1) which communicates a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault,
confinement, or restraint, where the threat is directed towards that person or a family
member of that person, (2) which places that person or a family member of that person
in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault,
confinement, or restraint, or (3) which knowingly solicits the commission of an act by any person which would be a violation of this Code directed towards that person or a
family member of that person.

(b) Sentence. Cyberstalking is a Class 4 felony. A second or subsequent conviction for cyberstalking is a Class 3 felony.

(c) For purposes of this Section:

(1) "Course of conduct" means 2 or more acts, including but not limited to acts in
which a defendant directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method,
device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, engages in other non-consensual contact, or interferes with or damages
a person's property or pet. The incarceration in a penal institution of a person who
commits the course of conduct is not a bar to prosecution under this Section.

(2) "Electronic communication" means any transfer of signs, signals, writings,
sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire,
radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric, or photo-optical system. "Electronic
communication" includes transmissions by a computer through the Internet to another

(3) "Emotional distress" means significant mental suffering, anxiety or alarm.

(4) "Harass" means to engage in a knowing and willful course of conduct directed
at a specific person that alarms, torments, or terrorizes that person.

(5) "Non-consensual contact" means any contact with the victim that is initiated or
continued without the victim's consent, including but not limited to being in the
physical presence of the victim; appearing within the sight of the victim; approaching or
confronting the victim in a public place or on private property; appearing at the
workplace or residence of the victim; entering onto or remaining on property owned,
leased, or occupied by the victim; or placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by the victim.

(6) "Reasonable person" means a person in the victim's circumstances, with the
victim's knowledge of the defendant and the defendant's prior acts.

(7) "Third party" means any person other than the person violating these provisions
and the person or persons towards whom the violator's actions are directed.

(d) Telecommunications carriers, commercial mobile service providers, and providers
of information services, including, but not limited to, Internet service providers and
hosting service providers, are not liable under this Section, except for willful and wanton
misconduct, by virtue of the transmission, storage, or caching of electronic
communications or messages of others or by virtue of the provision of other related
telecommunications, commercial mobile services, or information services used by others in violation of this Section.