FC: Federal judge throws out EFF-Felten lawsuit challenging DMCA

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Wed Nov 28 2001 - 15:20:34 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: RIAA exec on dismissal of EFF-Felten case: Told you so"

    "Ed Felten and researchers sue RIAA, DOJ over right to publish"
    Felten legal archive:
    Digital Millennium Copyright Act archive:
    Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 14:55:25 -0800
    From: Will Doherty <wildat_private>
    Subject: EFF: Judge Denies Scientists' Free Speech Rights in Digital Music Case
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    Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
    For Immediate Release: November 28, 2001
    Robin Gross
       Intellectual Property Attorney
       Electronic Frontier Foundation
       +1 415-637-5310 (cell)
    Cindy Cohn
       Legal Director
       Electronic Frontier Foundation
       +1 415 436-9333 x108 (office)
    Judge Denies Scientists' Free Speech Rights
    Electronic Frontier Foundation Argues Digital Music Case
    Trenton, NJ - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
    today represented a team led by Princeton Professor Ed
    Felten in the first skirmish of a case challenging the
    Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Without addressing
    important First Amendment considerations and after less
    than 25 minutes of debate, a plainly hostile Judge Garrett
    Brown of the Federal District Court in Trenton, New Jersey,
    dismissed the case. EFF intends to appeal.
    "This judge apparently believes that the fact that hundreds
    of scientists are currently afraid to publish their work
    and that scientific conferences are relocating overseas
    isn't a problem," noted Robin Gross, EFF Intellectual
    Property Attorney. "This decision is clearly contrary to
    settled First Amendment law, and we're confident that the
    3rd Circuit Court will reverse it on appeal."
    The court granted two separate motions to dismiss the case,
    one brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the
    second by private defendants led by the Recording Industry
    Association of America (RIAA).
    "Since the government and industry could not even agree on
    what the DMCA means, it is not surprising that scientists
    and researchers are deciding not to publish research for
    fear of prosecution under the DMCA," said EFF Legal
    Director Cindy Cohn. "Scientists should not have to ask
    permission from the entertainment industry before
    publishing their work."
    Professor Felten and a team of researchers from Princeton
    University, Rice University, and Xerox discovered that
    digital watermark technology under development to protect
    music sold by the recording industry has significant
    security vulnerabilities. The recording industry,
    represented by the Recording Industry Association of America
    (RIAA) and the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI)
    Foundation, threatened to file suit in April 2001 if Felten
    and his team published their research at a conference. They
    subsequently issued a press release denying having
    threatened the researchers. On behalf of the research team,
    EFF then filed a lawsuit seeking a clear determination that
    publication and presentation of this and other related
    research is speech protected under the US Constitution both
    at this conference and at other conferences in the future.
    Together with USENIX, an association of over 10,000
    technologists that publishes such scientific research,
    Princeton Professor Edward Felten and his research team
    had asked the court to declare that they have a First
    Amendment right to discuss and publish their work, even if
    it may discuss weaknesses in the technological systems used
    to control digital music. The DMCA, passed in 1998, outlaws
    providing technology and information that can be used to
    gain access to a copyrighted work.
    For all of the motions and declarations in the case:
    About EFF:
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
    liberties organization working to protect rights in the
    digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages
    and challenges industry and government to support free
    expression, privacy, and openness in the information
    society. EFF is a member-supported organization and
    maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world:
                            - end -
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