The case involves Arthur and Judie Tenenbaum, whose son, Joel, is facing a RIAA lawsuit. The prof, Charles Nesson, is trying to block the RIAA from forcing the parents to surrender the computer the music industry trade organization claims was used by Joel to illegally download and distribute copyrighted music.

Nesson is expected to argue that the computer was not the one used to download the tunes. The issue gets a little complicated because, while the Tenenbaums currently own the machine, son Joel had possession of it in 2004 – the time period the RIAA claims the downloading occurred.

Nesson made news in November when he challenged the federal copyright law at the heart of the RIAA’s legal strategy in its war against P2P users trading copyrighted tracks. Nesson claims the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is unconstitutional because it allows one private group – the RIAA – to carry out civil enforcement of a criminal law.

A court decision on Nesson’s challenge regarding the Tenenbaums’ computer was expected Dec. 15, but Magistrate Judge Lincoln Almond postponed the hearing until Jan. 9 to give time for lawyers involved in the case, including two from outside Rhode Island, to appear in court.

However, the judge did rule on a request from a music industry lawyer that evidence in the case be preserved. The judge denied the lawyer’s request after Nesson argued it would effectively prevent the Tenenbaums from using their computer.