Professor decides against presentation on foiling music security

Thursday, April 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A Princeton University computer scientist decided against presenting a paper on how he and his colleagues broke security on digital music, citing a threatened lawsuit by the recording industry.

For several days, Edward Felten had refused to say whether he would present the paper at the International Information Hiding Workshop, which is being held in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, Felten announced he would not make the information public because threats of legal action had been made against the authors.

``Litigation is costly, time-consuming and uncertain, regardless of the merits of the other side's case,'' Felten said. ``Ultimately, we, the authors, reached a collective decision not to expose ourselves, our employers and the conference organizers to litigation.''

Early this month, the Secure Digital Music Initiative Foundation, which has ties with the Recording Industry Association of America, sent Felten a letter suggesting he could be sued if he released information on how ``watermarks'' encrypted into digital music files could be broken.

The letter suggested some of the information was confidential.

The foundation had held an open challenge some months ago, asking people to see if they could break the security measures. Stung by the Napster phenomenon, the recording industry is struggling to develop technology for protecting copyrighted music distribution on the Internet.

Felten said Thursday the group will continue to fight ``for the right to publish our paper.''

``We believe that people benefit from learning the truth about the products they are asked to buy,'' he said.

Organizers of the Pittsburgh conference had said they would allow Felten to present the information if he wanted to do so.