posted Jul 18, 2001

Case highlights law's threat to fair-use rights DMCA7/18/2001; 12:39:49 PM 'The music industry is no longer threatening computer science professor Ed Felten with civil lawsuits for his research into one of the industry's digital copy-protection schemes. He doesn't have the same assurance, however, that the United States government won't launch a criminal prosecution if he proceeds.'That uncertainty grew more pronounced this week when the FBI arrested a visiting Russian computer scientist Monday in Las Vegas, charging him with violating the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act by distributing software that cracked a system for encrypting electronic books. It was one of the first criminal prosecutions under a bad law that was designed to protect copyright owners from unauthorized copying but is having all kinds of other negative effects....'Felten and his colleagues then filed suit, asking a federal judge in New Jersey to specifically allow them to publish -- to allow them their First Amendment rights -- and declare the DMCA unconstitutional. 'But the U.S. Justice Department, also a defendant in the Felten suit, hasn't responded. And after Tuesday's arrest, it's no wonder that Felten -- and programmers and researchers everywhere -- should be feeling considerably more nervous. A federal prosecutor in San Jose told me Tuesday that the law under which was Sklyarov charged wouldn't apply in Felten's case, but why should he take the risk?'


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