"On Wednesday I attended a hearing in Felten vs. RIAA,
the lawsuit filed by Professor Felten, other Princeton researchers,
and USENIX against the RIAA, SDMI, Verance, and the Department of
Justice. As you already know, the judge dismissed the case. But
taking a look at the hearing might provide some insight into how
the judicial system works.
An incredibly brief review of the case: SDMI created an open
challenge to break various forms of technical restrictions they had
designed to allow music publishers to control how people use
legitimately purchased music. A team led by Felten participated and
was mostly successful at breaking them. The team wrote a paper,
intending to publish it at a scientific conference. The RIAA/SDMI
sent a letter to Felten, his employer, and the conference
threatening them with legal action. Private legal discussions and a
very public flap broke out. Felten filed a pre-emptive lawsuit,
seeking to have his right to publish vindicated without waiting for
a suit from the RIAA or SDMI. Immediately afterward, the RIAA
publicly and repeatedly withdrew their threat to sue. Eventually
the paper was, in fact, published, but the suit has continued.
...On to yesterday's hearing. The judge has before him a request
from the defense to dismiss the case - they state that there is no
real issue since the threat has been withdrawn. The Plaintiffs
oppose this - they feel the threat is real, even if the RIAA has
now withdrawn it."
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