Monday, April 27, 2009, 4/27/2009 10:08:00 AM

Federal Judge Closes Federal Courtroom in MPAA/RealNetworks Matter

By Todd
A federal judge sealed a courtroom last week after attorneys for the Motion Picture Association of America and another Hollywood group claimed that confidential information might be disclosed during testimony about DVD-encryption technology.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel kicked the public out of the courtroom at around 2:30 p.m. PDT, overruling objections from ZDNet Asia's sister site CNET News.com and RealNetworks, which also said it opposed the unusual request.

An attorney for the DVD Copy Control Association, which is involved in a Lawsuit over DVD-backup software sold by RealNetworks, said details about the technology used to encrypt DVDs justified the request to give the public the boot during witness testimony--which, according to legal precedent, should be reserved only for rare cases.

"I find that this does meet the requirements for a trade secret," Patel said. "We're going to protect what needs to be protected. I'm ordering everyone not signed off on a confidentiality agreement to leave the courtroom."

"The MPAA is trying to seal proprietary specifications," said DVD-CCA attorney Reginald Steer. He added: "This is critical to our presentation."

Well - we understand the protestations of RealNetworks and the press that courtrooms are public places. That said, special precautions have to be taken in cases where competitively valuable technology or business information will be examined and discussed because the legal system can never put the advantage back into business advantage once the secret stuff is disclosed, purposefully or by accident. We'll keep an eye on this one for you.

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