Florida Governor Signs One Bill Protecting Free Speech... And Another That Undermines It

from the i-guess-they-balance-out?!? dept

On Thursday, Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed 44 bills into law, but two of them are particularly interesting to us. The first we wrote about back in March, SB 604, is a very problematic bill that undermines some basic free speech rights. It's the latest in a new push by Hollywood to undermine anonymity online as a backdoor attack on copyright infringement. Basically, it says that if you're distributing any sort of audiovisual work, you need to reveal who you are.

The implications here are massive. There are lots of cases where someone may wish to post certain audiovisual works without having to post their full name, address, phone number and email address -- as the law now requires. And the First Amendment has long protected the right to be anonymous. And yet, the Florida legislature and Governor Scott signed it without much serious concern about how it's stripping away the First Amendment anonymity rights of their citizens.

Oddly, however, in that very same batch of signed bills... is another bill that protects free speech rights: SB 1312, which expands Florida's (very, very weak) anti-SLAPP law. Like too many states, Florida's anti-SLAPP law originally only protected people in cases where they were sued over speech concerning government actions. The new bill expands that to "public issues" which is similar to many other anti-SLAPP bills. Considering the number of crazy defamation threats and lawsuits that seem to come out of Florida, this bill could be very, very useful in protecting free speech.

Getting the anti-SLAPP bill is really important, but losing anonymity seems really dangerous. These aren't just the sort of things that "balance out" either. Either you support the First Amendment or you don't. I'm glad that Florida has a better anti-SLAPP bill, but Governor Scott shouldn't have taken away basic First Amendment protections with the same stroke of his pen in signing the "true origin" bill at the same time.

Filed Under: anonymity, anti-slapp, copyright, first amendment, florida, free speech, rick scott, true origin


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 2:23pm

    Aside from the fact that the True Origin of Digital Goods Act is likely unconstitutional, it notably excludes "video games, depictions of video game play, or the streaming of video game activity." But video game play videos can include audio recordings, such as GTA V's soundtrack playing in the background of the video.

    Also, the injunctive relief part only mentions "an owner, assignee, authorized agent, or licensee" as being able to be aggrieved by a violation of the act. So no one has to identify themselves if they post their own material unless they're afraid they're going to sue themselves.

    This indicates clearly that the supposed consumer protection justification for this act is bullshit because consumers can't be aggrieved by a violation, only IP owners can.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Carl, 23 Jul 2015 @ 7:59am

      Not All recordings

      This law only applies to those who display recordings they don't own; people who are either pirating video or who are showing copyrighted works. The law does not say that if you're displaying stuff you recorded with your iphone that you have to comply.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Barry Friendly, 22 May 2015 @ 2:26pm

    Just an illegal post

    I'm posting this while humming a tune and thinking of electric sheep. Guess that makes this post an 'audio visual' work that must be banned since I'm posting anonymously.

    Rick Scott isn't the sharpest tool in the drawer, but he is a tool.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 2:42pm

    so what did he get in the way of 'encouragement' then, to turn him into yet another entertainment industries stooge? they must have a 'political agent' in just about every state by now. i wonder when the 'BIG' push is going to come and they try to take complete control of the internet? it's exactly what they have been working towards all the time, making sure there are no come-backs on it and new laws covering almost every possible angle that they want!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 2:46pm

    All the anonymity bill does is waste Florida taxpayer money. It will be challenged in court, and it will be ruled unconstitutional. It is pretty well established precedent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 2:52pm

    How the hell...

    ...can any governor know what all 44 bills are about if they're signing them in one day?

    (If Florida is like my area there's a time limit that the governor has to either sign or veto the bill once it gets to them. Sometimes I think that time limit is too short.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 3:07pm

      Re: How the hell...

      He should be well aware of the bills long before the arrive on his desk for signing, as reps cannot vote on 44 bills in one day either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 3:18pm

    Ya, um I think my response to this bill is "Fuck you Florida"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 22 May 2015 @ 3:20pm

    Since nobody in Florida makes movies anyway...

    Perhaps the real intent is to make sure the cops know who to come down on when a Floridian posts a video of police abuse.

    No more anonymous YouTube for you, buddy!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 5:04pm

      Re: Since nobody in Florida makes movies anyway...

      Fortunately, the law doesn't cover that since cops aren't copyright owners of video taken of them, only video taken by them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 5:17pm

    Thankfully the state can't strip first amendment rights

    What a waste of a law. There must be hundreds of laws passed each decade which seek to undermine the first amendment in a variety of ways. Good hung that constitutional rights cannot be stripped away through legislation. Can't wait to hear the gnashing of teeth from Hollywood, California to Hollywood, Florida when google and others get this crappy law invalidated as grossly unconstitutional.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    drjimmy (profile), 22 May 2015 @ 5:45pm

    Rick Scott is an ALEC controlled fraud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 6:11pm

    Do they actually read what they sign? Doubt it

    Aid: "Sir, sign here please"
    Sir: "Uh OK."
    Aid #2: "Sir, sign here please"
    Sir: "Uh OK"
    Other Sir: "Which do you believe in, A or B?"
    Sir: "Uh OK. Say, when's lunch, since I'm not paying for it..."
    Other Sirs: "Ha, anytime we want, as long as we want, as much as we want"
    Sir: "Uh OK."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LPA, 24 May 2015 @ 7:31am

    FL SLAPP Victim

    As a FL SLAPP victim, I can tell you first hand that our First Amendment rights are being trampled on. Thomas Jefferson & James Madison would be rolling over in their graves if they saw my FL SLAPP. My SLAPP specifically states it is to "silence me." It took four attorneys to get it dismissed. I felt like a walking ATM machine. I am one of the lucky ones. Most of the FL SLAPP victims are up against billionaire developers. One of my fellow FL SLAPP victims is in his mid-80's. He's already spent over $300,000 and will probably spend the rest of his remaining life using his money to get out of Judicial Jail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tanner Andrews (profile), 19 Jun 2015 @ 4:48am

    Anti-SLAPP Bill Has Surprise Buried Therein


    The court shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in connection with a claim that an action was filed in violation of this section.

    From Ch 2015-70, Laws of Florida.

    File your anti-SLAPP motion. Lose, perhaps because the judge is reluctant to grant judgment that early in the case. The SLAPPer is now entitled to fees.

    Not the first time, and probably not the last, but I have to remind people how close Tallahassee is to Chattahoochee. Or maybe, with work product like this, I do not have to remind people because it is fairly obvious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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