Scientists to present controversial paper

After being quelled by the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) organization and the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) earlier this year, a research paper on how to crack digital music encryption is due to be presented at the USENIX Security Conference in Washington D.C. Wednesday.

The controversial paper, written by Princeton University Professor Edward Felten and his research team, was previously withdrawn from another conference last April after Felten came under pressure from the SDMI and the RIAA. The groups claimed that by presenting the findings, the team would be in violation of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The DMCA states that it is illegal to provide technology that bypasses industry controls limiting how consumers can use music they have purchased.

Felten and his team filed suit against the SDMI, the RIAA, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and Verance Corp., a company that made one of the watermarks Felten's team cracked last June, requesting First Amendment protection to present the research without fear of reprisal.

While the suit is still underway, and the defendants have filed a motion to dismiss, Felten and some members of his team are preparing to present their findings despite the fact that they could be held in violation of the DMCA.

Felten confirmed Monday that he would be attending the USENIX conference, saying "our peers have been very supportive of our efforts to get this work published." He added that their peers were watching the lawsuit very carefully"Felten is taking his chances and being very brave," said Robin Gross, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the civil liberties organization that is representing the scientists in their case.

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