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Judge orders movie execs deposed privately to prevent antics

MPAA v 2600 Magazine courtroom stunts wisely anticipated

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US District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan has rejected an MPAA request to keep witness testimony secret in the upcoming court battle between the movie industry and the 2600 Magazine Web site over the distribution of the DeCSS utility which cracks DVD encryption.

MPAA lawyers had argued that media coverage would leave industry witnesses and MPAA employees open to attack by angry 'hackers'.

The judge agreed that the press should not be present during the depositions, but not for the reason the MPAA had in mind. "I have every reason to believe that the presence of the press would....encourage even more grandstanding," Kaplan said.

The judge ordered testimony to be videotaped and then released within ten business days. Eisner's and Valenti's testimony will be released within three days, because they're high-profile witnesses, and because the judge expects them to be well coached by their legal teams.

The Judge will also permit the video testimony to be distributed via the Internet.

Judge Kaplan is hardly afraid to take off the rose-coloured specs; he has already characterised the suit as a "public relations war."

The trial is set to commence on 17 July. ®

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