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LimeWire judge cuts curious note about EFF lawyer

Federal judge raised eyebrows with note in her LimeWire decision--now removed--that sounded as if she believed EFF attorney was helping execs destroy evidence.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood apparently goofed by suggesting that a prominent pro-technology attorney acted improperly in dealings with the firm that oversees LimeWire.

Two weeks ago, Wood granted summary judgment in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America in the trade group's copyright case against Lime Group, parent of file-sharing service Lime Wire, maker of the LimeWire software. While Wood's decision generated enormous interest from file sharers, as it likely means the end of LimeWire, according to legal experts, Wood's written decision stirred controversy in legal circles by including a short note about lawyer Fred von Lohmann, a well-known champion of technology companies and Internet users.

Wood wrote that some of the executives from Lime Wire gave sealed testimony that von Lohmann, senior staff attorney for advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, advised them to "purge incriminating information about LimeWire users' activities." Many of von Lohmann's critics from the pro-copyright side said it appeared Wood was calling out von Lohmann for offering Lime Wire execs a primer on how to break the law and get away with it.

But on Tuesday, Wood amended her decision after receiving a written request to do so last week by Cindy Cohn, EFF's legal director. In Wood's amended decision, there is no explanation about what she meant with the phrase "purge incriminating information" or why she removed it.

"We believe the materials in the record do not support the inclusion of the phrase 'to purge incriminating information,'" Cohn wrote in her request to Wood for a modification. "As you may imagine, Mr. von Lohmann and EFF are concerned that his professional reputation has been put at risk."

Calls to von Lohmann on Friday were not immediately returned.

Wood's rewrite won't come as a surprise to von Lohmann's colleagues and supporters, many of them lawyers who also tend to defend file-sharing companies and Internet services accused of copyright violations. Some of them said last week that von Lohmann, perhaps best known for being part of the legal team that defended file-sharing service Grokster in the landmark case, MGM Studios vs. Grokster , is a smart, respected and ethical attorney.