Declaration of John McHugh
in Felten v. RIAA (Aug. 13, 2001)
Grayson Barber (GB 0034)
Frank L. Corrado (FLC 9895)
(Additional Counsel listed on signature page)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
I, JOHN McHUGH, of full age hereby declare:
1. I am the general chair of the 4th International Information Hiding Workshop (IHW) which was held in Pittsburgh, PA on April 25th through 27th 2001. The Information Hiding Workshops provide a forum for practitioners and researchers to discuss a variety of non-cryptographic approaches to hiding or disguising information. As indicated in the following quotation from the call for papers for the 2001 workshop, a wide variety of topics are covered: "Many researchers are interested in hiding information or, conversely, in preventing others from doing so. As the need to protect digital intellectual property grows ever more urgent, this research is of increasing interest to both the academic and business communities. Current research themes include: copyright marking of digital objects, covert channels in computer systems, detection of hidden information, subliminal channels in cryptographic protocols, low-probability-of-intercept communications, and various kinds of anonymity services ranging from steganography through anonymous communication to digital elections. An international workshop on Information Hiding held in1996 at the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge (Springer LNCS 1174) brought together these closely linked areas of study. The workshop proved to be a success, and the research community followed it up with a second one in 1998 in Portland (Springer LNCS 1525) and a third one in 1999 in Dresden (Springer LNCS 1768)."
2. Unlike many technical conferences, IHW does not have a sponsoring organization but rather has been convened by an ad hoc group that consists primarily of researchers in the field. When I was asked to propose Pittsburgh as the site for the fourth workshop, I discussed the matter with my management at the CERT/CC, a computer security research group within the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University ("CMU") where I am a member of the technical staff. I arranged to make use of the SEI's conference organization group on a reimbursable basis, and was permitted to devote some time to the workshop as "service to the professional community," but it was clear that the SEI was not serving as an official sponsor of the workshop. This is consistent with the way previous workshops have been organized and managed.
3. Among the papers submitted to the workshop was the paper "Reading Between the Lines: Lessons from the SDMI Challenge" by Scott A. Craver, John P. McGregor, Min Wu, Bede Liu, Adam Stubblefield, Ben Swartzlander, Dan S. Wallach, Drew Dean and Edward W. Felten. After review by the IHW program committee, the paper, which was highly ranked by the reviewers, was accepted. Notifications were sent to the authors early in the second week of February, along with instructions for preparing their papers for the conference pre-proceedings (the final proceedings are published by Springer as part of their Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) series and contain papers revised as a result of feedback received during the workshop).
4. On April 9, the RIAA sent a letter to Ed Felten that contained language that appeared to threaten legal action if the paper were presented at IHW as planned. I became aware of the letter because the program chair, Dr. Ira Moskowitz, was sent a copy. Copies were also sent to the commanding officer of the Naval Research Laboratory where Dr. Moskowitz works as well as the general counsel and computer science department chair at Princeton University where Dr. Felten is a faculty member.
5. Dr. Moskowitz faxed me a copy of the letter and I informed my management of the possibility that the workshop could become controversial. The SEI management felt that the CMU counsel should be made aware of the situation and he, in turn involved the CMU provost. During the subsequent discussions, CMU remained supportive and placed no obstacles in the way of the presentation of the Craver (Felten) paper.
6. By the end of the week, the issue had still not been resolved and on Friday, April 19, Dr. Moskowitz took it on himself to alter the program, placing the two SDMI papers in the last session and requiring that everyone with an interest in the paper, including SDMI and RIAA, certify to the workshop organizers that the paper could be presented without objection. In effect, this gave RIAA and SDMI veto power over whether the paper would be presented. Copies of this were sent to the program committee, the authors and to counsel at the RIAA, Xerox, Princeton, and Rice (where several of the authors of the Craver paper reside). Ross Anderson, organizer of the first workshop arrived in Pittsburgh on Saturday with proxies from a number of the European members of the organizing committee. We discussed the issue in person and via email with other members of the committee and on Tuesday morning April 24 held a meeting attended in person by Ross, Mike Reiter and me. This resulted in the following email sent to the committee authors of the Craver paper and the other interested parties:
To: IHW 2001 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You may be interested to hear that, at a program committee meeting held this morning in Pittsburgh, it was decided to reinstate the original program of Information Hiding 2001.
The program committee's job is one of technical evaluation of the submitted papers. We do not have the authority to make legal judgments about the content of presentations, and are not prepared on our own initiative to take any act that might be construed as censorship.
Should professor Felten or colleagues wish to give their talk at the originally advertised time of 10.00 - 10.30 on Thursday, they will be welcome to do so.
7. I followed this up shortly in my capacity as general chair of the conference:
Date: 24 Apr 2001 17:13:59 -0400
From the earlier e-mail of PC member Ross Anderson you see that the IHW2001 program committee has overruled the program chair Ira Moskowitz with respect to his changing the IHW2001 schedule and asking for agreements from all parties involved with respect to the Princeton paper by Felten and team. The program committee states that Ira Moskowitz did not have the authority to act unilaterally in this matter and that, in the absence of a prior consensus by the committee we feel that returning to the previous schedule and conditions is in the best interest of the workshop. The conduct of IHW2001 is under the control of the general chair John McHugh and the committee as a whole, whether on site or otherwise contacted.
If Prof. Felten and team wish to present their paper Thursday morning as currently scheduled, they are welcome to do so. Because there was some question as to the releasability of the camera ready copy submitted by the Felten group, it does not appear in the pre-proceedings, but we have urged them to make copies available at the workshop, if they can, and to ensure its inclusion in the final proceedings.
8. Meanwhile, on Monday evening, the NRL administration removed the conference web pages from their server. Although we were able to restore the pages at an alternative location within an hour, they remained relatively obscure until NRL posted a redirection some days later.
9. As a result of the controversy over the Craver paper, IHW attracted substantial press coverage with numerous articles appearing in both the electronic and print media. The conference started, as scheduled, on Wednesday morning, April 25th. I made it clear to Scott Craver that the conference would not put any obstacles in the way of his paper being presented. He told me that the decision was up to Dr. Felten who would arrive later that evening.
10. On Thursday morning, Dr. Felten informed me that he did not feel that he could give the paper and we adjourned the conference for its morning break early so that Dr. Felten could read a statement to the press in the lobby of the conference facility. I had chosen this approach because I did not feel that it was proper for the press to interfere with the presentation of the other papers by setting up and removing their equipment in the meeting room. At the end of the scheduled break, the conference resumed and ended on Friday with the presentation of the other SDMI paper (which had drawn no objections) and a planning session for IHW2002.
11. Up to this point, I have attempted to provide a factual accounting of the events surrounding the non-presentation of the Craver paper. The remainder of the declaration reflects my opinions and speculations. I am pleased that CMU placed no obstacles in the way of the presentation, but I am concerned that the controversy required the University to spend resources that should have not been necessary. In the planning discussions that followed IHW2001, there was a general consensus that the US might not be a suitable venue for future workshops. Since the EU seems to be in the process of imposing legislation similar to that invoked by the RIAA, it is not clear whether there will be any venue in which this sort of research can be performed or reported. As academics, we must perform good research and report the results. If we are prevented from doing the later in a given area, we are likely to choose to do research in other fields.
12. At the same time, our previous experience with research in the cryptographic area indicates that good cryptographic systems are seldom, if ever, developed as proprietary efforts and that the cycle of development followed by attack followed by redevelopment, etc. has played a major role in the strength of current systems. There is no reason to expect information hiding to be different in this respect.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct and was executed at Pittsburgh, PA on this the 18th day of June, 2001.
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
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