From: Retired Moderator
SunnComm Technologies, Inc. announced yesterday morning it would sue first-year graduate student John Halderman over his recent critique of the company's new CD copy-protection method, but by the end of the day SunnComm president and CEO Peter Jacobs said he changed his mind.
Jacobs said in an interview late last night that a successful lawsuit would do little to reverse the damage done by the paper Halderman published Monday about his research, and any suit would likely hurt the research community by making computer scientists think twice about researching copy-protection technology.
"I don't want to be the guy that creates any kind of chilling effect on research," Jacobs said.
SunnComm plans to make that announcement this morning.
"I just thought about it and decided it was more important not to be one of those people. The harm's been done . . . if I can't accomplish anything [with a lawsuit] I don't want to leave a wake," he said.
In the increasingly bitter wars between those advocating stronger anti-piracy protections and those who favor less stringent copyright enforcement, the decision against legal action represents one of a precious few instances of companies looking past their bottom line.
"I think it's a sensible decision given the situation, given that what [Halderman] was doing was perfectly legitimate," said computer science professor Edward Felten. "[Jacobs is] to be commended for not wanting to interfere with research."
Felten and some of his colleagues had been in a similar situation in 2001 when the Recording Industry Association of America — the same group that sued Dan Peng '05 last semester for running a campus file-sharing website — strongly urged the research group not to publish their work on another copy-protection technology.
The RIAA said publishing the work would violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
SunnComm's press release threatened to use the same law against Halderman.
SunnComm had also initiatially decided to sue Halderman because the company thought he had unfairly critiqued their product after misunderstanding their intent in designing it. Throughout its development, the company's software, MediaMax, was designed to be a step toward curbing casual copying rather than a silver bullet, Jacobs said.
It isn't a silver bullet it is not even a cap gun, that is the point that Halderman was alerting the industry to. You can read the rest of the article here. It is most informative. I wonder if the real reason that the suit is dropped is because Halderman was right and Jacobs is wrong. He may be pushing the DMCA a bit too far as our readrs have suggested. Freedom of speech you know.
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