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10.18.2002
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Hollywood loses bid to limit representation in ReplayTV case

A federal court ruled against 28 motion picture and television companies last week in its attempt to restrict the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) from participating in a lawsuit brought by ReplayTV owners.

The case stems from a lawsuit that seeks to clarify the rights of ReplayTV owners to record television programs and to skip commercials using digital video recorders (DVRs). Hollywood content owners have publicly stated that skipping commercials is “stealing.”

The entertainment companies had tried to prevent EFF attorneys accessing most of the documents that the court identified as part of the legal discovery process. EFF attorneys sought access because they believe these documents are critical to preparing the ReplayTV owners' case.

The entertainment companies claimed that EFF is a “competitor” with Hollywood because of its public statements about copyright law policy and advocacy to Congress on pending and current technology legislation, including the proposed Consumer Broadband Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). If the Hollywood companies had won, it would have effectively disqualified EFF attorneys as legal counsel for the ReplayTV owners in this case.

The court ruled that the EFF has the right to access the documents in question, and the entertainment companies “have failed to demonstrate a sufficiently significant disclosure-related risk or danger” from disclosure of their confidential information.

The Hollywood media companies have not yet indicated if they intend to appeal the court’s ruling. However, public advocacy media groups were relieved by the decision.

“The restriction sought by the entertainment companies would have set a very disturbing precedent for the many organizations, like EFF, which engage in both public interest litigation and public advocacy," said Gwen Hinze, an EFF staff attorney.

For more information visit: www.eff.org/Cases/Newmark_v_Turner/20021015_motion_denied.html.

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