In December, a District of Columbia federal judge dismissed a claim brought by an expert witness accusing two law firms of improperly gaining access to the expert’s password-protected website. Dr. David Egilman, a Boston occupational illness expert, made his website available to his employees and his university students. In a 2001 Colorado trial, Egilman had testified on behalf of a number of workers at a nuclear weapons plant who unsuccessfully claimed that the government and Brush Wellman Inc., a large producer of beryllium products, hid the health dangers of beryllium. Egilman posted critical material about Brush Wellman on his password-protected website, despite a broad gag order made by a Colorado state court judge. The law firms obtained access to the site in order to demonstrate that Egilman had breached the gag order. Egilman then sued the firms, relying on the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibiting circumvention of technology used to control access. The court held that use of a legitimate password provided by another party does not circumvent the technology used to control access.
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