Today in CSE291 class, Edward Felton of Princeton came to give a talk on spam, P2P and the DMCA. While he was talking about some popular cases of DMCA violation (including DeCSS, Lexmark vs. Static Control and Chamberlain vs. Skylink), he mentioned something really scary—he was involved in one of the more famous DMCA violation cases. It was a scary story—for although they won, he said a lot of bad things did happen.
I mean, they were doing research for God’s sake! And they just wanted to publish the results. Just because the technology they investigated was lousy, doesn’t mean those companies had to shift to such high gear and file a serious law suit.
What is the future of research in cryptography and IP protection technologies if such things continue to happen? Are researchers going to have to ask their lawyers for every little experiment they do? These are bad examples, and they scare innovators away.