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Camera ‘DNA’ May Nab Potter Bookjacker

Posted Jul 19, 2007 1:47 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Add digital cameras to the ever-lengthening list of modern technology that can be used as evidence to help prove a criminal or civil case.

Experts say they have already identified the serial number of the three-year-old digital Canon Rebel 350 apparently used to take bootleg photos of the not-yet-released Harry Potter book and post the entire text on the Internet, reports the London Times. Now, if the owner—probably an American or Canadian—has either registered the camera or taken it in for service, it's only a matter of time until authorities track him or her down.

Telltale "DNA" fingerprints from the camera known as metadata contained in the digital photos posted on the Internet include the camera's serial number, the Times article explains. Similar metadata also can be transmitted along with computer word-processing documents, which has posed an issue for lawyers even when the document is intended to be distributed—computer experts can use metadata, for instance, to find out about earlier draft language eliminated from the final copy.

Scholastic Corp., the U.S. publisher of the book, went to court this week to subpoena an Internet site to remove unauthorized material and seek the identity of the person who posted it, as ABAJournal.com discussed previously.

And further litigation may now be on the horizon, the Times reports: "Bloomsbury, the UK publisher of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the J.K. Rowling series, said today that its lawyers are investigating all potential leaks of material from the book and would take legal action wherever necessary."

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