A Princeton University computer scientist chose not to present and publish a paper on how his research team broke security on digital music after the record industry threatened a lawsuit.
Edward Felten, an associate professor in Princeton's computer science department, issued a statement saying: "Litigation is costly, time consuming and uncertain, regardless of the merits of the other side's case. Ultimately, we, the authors, reached a collective decision not to expose ourselves, our employees and the conference organisers to litigation at this time."
He added that he and his colleagues would "fight another day, in another way, for the right to publish our paper". He did not say how or when that would happen.
The research group, which included students and professors from Princeton and Rice Universities and an employee of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, had initially planned to present its findings at a conference on information security.
It was then threatened with legal action by Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), the Recording Industry Association of America and Verance, the maker of one of SDMI's encryption technologies.
The groups claimed that the disclosure of the findings could undermine the industry's efforts to prevent unlicensed copying of music.
SDMI had written to Felten urging him to refrain from disseminating his findings or face potential legal action if he released information on how 'watermarks' encrypted into digital music files could be broken.
In September, SDMI launched a $10,000 contest challenging people to hack into copyright protection technologies. Felten's group claimed they had defeated four of the group's proposed watermarking technologies which try to guard against hacking.
Felten's group was not among the winners because it had pulled out of the contest before the end claiming that the final round was unfair.
SMDI was formed to develop a standard for secure digital music distribution. Founding members include the world's biggest labels, such as Vivendi Universal Music, Sony, Warner, EMI Group and Bertelsmann AG's BMG.
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