US courts kowtow to entertainment industry
2600 DeCSS appeal denied; Felten SDMI suit rejected
Wednesday was a bad day for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a watchdog group involved in several suits challenging the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on behalf of consumers, researchers and publishers.
First up, 2600 publisher Eric Corely aka Emmanuel Goldstein, who was barred from posting or linking to the DeCSS DVD descrambling utility last summer by a US district court, has lost his appeal. EFF, which represented Corely, received word Wednesday that the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's ruling, but has not yet received a copy of the decision. EFF says it will publish it as soon as it can, probably within a few days' time.
Second, Princeton Computer Science Professor Edward Felten, who brought suit with EFF representation seeking a declaratory judgment which would guarantee his freedom to present and publish findings from the HackSDMI public challenge of last September, has seen his case dismissed.
The controversy began last year, when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent him a nastygram hinting that he could be sued under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for making public his research showing that the SDMI watermarking technologies were weak.
Felten later presented his findings at the tenth annual Usenix Security Conference in Washington, DC this past August, but continued to press for the declaratory judgment against the RIAA. EFF says they will appeal the judge's decision to drop the suit.
Incidentally, EFF is working on behalf of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, though not representing him. Sklyarov is facing stiff criminal charges under the DMCA for his part in developing the Advanced eBook Processor which cracks the access controls on Adobe's eBook Reader.