Prof Who Broke SDMI Code Sues To Reveal Findings

A group of university professors and a computer science association have filed a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) to

A group of university professors and a computer science association have filed a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) to ensure that a paper on how to circumvent watermarking technologies can be presented at a scientific conference in August. The suit, filed yesterday (June 6) in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey, also names technology company Verance and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as defendants, Billboard Bulletin reports.

Princeton University professor Edward W. Felten and his colleagues are due to disclose their findings Aug 13-17 at the USENIX Security Symposium in Washington, D.C., but they fear that the RIAA and SDMI will attempt to stop the presentation.

Felten and his colleagues cracked four watermarking technologies after SDMI posed an open challenge last year. Felten cancelled an April presentation of the findings at the Information Hiding Workshop in Pittsburgh after receiving a letter from RIAA senior VP Matt Oppenheim, which said that revealing the research would be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The RIAA has since toned down its stance, and says the letter was intended to open a dialog with Felten. "Professor Felten's decision to sue the RIAA and the SDMI foundation is inexplicable," RIAA senior executive VP Cary Sherman said in a statement. "We have unequivocally and repeatedly stated that we have no intention of bringing a lawsuit against Professor Felten or his colleagues."

USENIX and the professors are seeking a declaration that a revelation of the research does not violate the DMCA and is protected under the First Amendment, as well as an injunction that prevents the defendants from taking legal action against the plaintiffs.