Computing Research Association

Declaration in

Felten et al. v. RIAA et al.

August 2001

On August 13, 2001, the Computing Research Association filed a Declaration in the case brought by Princeton University computer science faculty member Ed Felten and others against the Recording Industry Association of America and others.

RIAA et al. had sought to prevent the publication of a paper by Felten et al. which described flaws in a digital music watermarking technique, by threatening suit under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Felten et al. filed suit, claiming a First Amendment right to present the results of their research.

The Computing Research Association believes that the action by RIAA et al. represents a clear and immediate threat to the healthy conduct of computer systems research. Much of computer systems research involves the analysis of existing systems to reveal their shortcomings, and the publication of these analyses, which stimulates the invention of improvements. This pattern of research is no less viable -- no less essential -- when the system under consideration is one that is used to protect copyrighted works.

CRA was represented pro bono by Eric Saltzman, Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, by HLS graduate and Berkman Center Fellow Wendy Seltzer, and by another HLS graduate who desires to remain anonymous, with assistance from plaintiffs' attorney Gino Scarselli. We are tremendously indebted to them for their assistance. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (represented by Cindy Cohn, Robin Gross, and Lee Tien) and USENIX are doing the heavy lifting in this case, and taking the significant risks; our thanks to them for their leadership and guidance. It has been a great pleasure working with all of these individuals and organizations, and with our sister society ACM, on this important issue.

-- Ed Lazowska for the Computing Research Association