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DVD Hearing Today - Are You Ready to Rumble? 652

You've almost certainly heard that the DVD CCA [Copyright Control Association] is trying to get a restraining order that would force hundreds of Web sites to remove all links to information about DeCSS. Slashdot is one of the named sites. The hearing is today, in San Jose, California. If you can get there, we urge you to go and help "show the flag." You won't be alone. If you can't make it in person, stay tuned. We'll have updates throughout the day. Meanwhile, click below now for news, opinions from various members of the Slashdot crew, and a long list of links to other resources and stories elsewhere about the DVD CCA's attempt to not only stop DeCSS, but to stifle anyone who publishes or links to information about DeCSS. Update at 1:20 p.m. EST. (Please see bottom of the story.)

Leading up to Today's Hearing
- by Emmett Plant
Emmett Plant is Slashdot's newest author.

Monday, DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. filed for a restraining order in a California court. The targets of this cease-and-desist order were individuals and organizations who had made DVD decryption source code freely available on the net, by hosting the code themselves or linking to a website that did. Commmunity response has been fast and furious, with a deluge of Slashdot comments and submissions, and the immediate organization of Open Source community members to attend the hearing this morning.

Technically, the argument boils down to the issue of reverse engineering. Ideologically, the argument challenges the ideals of free speech, freedom of information, and the ability to innovate on behalf of computer users, hardware engineers and software developers all over the planet.

On Monday night, I spoke to a gentleman who had received the order just minutes prior, and although he didn't want his name mentioned, he provided with me with his thoughts.

"It should be legal when you've got people reverse engineering this kind of stuff. But a small minority in the business community want to lock down the information, citing that it's a trade secret. It's sort of like being busted in math class for passing answers around. [The code] is basically a mathematical equation that decrypts poorly encrypted DVD data. I support the free human right to freedom of thought. That's how civilization has gotten to where it is today, without lawyers heading innovators off at the pass."

Would he be willing to go to court to defend himself?

"Probably not. There are a lot of sites that are mirroring [the code], and they'll keep the program alive. I'll sleep easy at night knowing I did my part."

In many ways, the cease-and-desist only made it easier for people to get their hands on the code. As soon as the community heard about the order, many people posted the code on their websites as a sign of protest. Many community members have made the code available on overseas servers that don't face the possible legal repercussions associated with sites located in the United States.

Another interesting point of this case is that anyone who linked to a site that contained the information is also being held liable in the case. This is particularly frightening. This means that in the spirit of the cease-and-desist order, almost everyone on the web with a site that links to anywhere else falls into the legal maelstrom, as long as it eventually leads to a site with the code posted on it.

The legal ramifications of the case are extremely influential. The DVD CCA lawyers are fighting a battle against reverse engineering, an engineering process that enables the computer industry to utilize powerful tools like the IBM-compatible personal computer and countless hardware device drivers.

The hearing will take place this morning at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, California.


Funny and Sad at the Same Time
- by Hemos

The particularly humorous section of the lawsuit, at least for me, is that what they are trying to do is make linking illegal. That's right. Linking. Is. Illegal. Once we cross the the bridge of dictating what can and cannot be linked to, than we open ourselves up to a world of people being able to sue whenever something they don't want linked is linked. Without linking, the Web is dead.


Shaky Legal Grounds
- by Michael Sims

The legal standing for the DVD companies is so shaky it's not even funny. The danger is that they can effectively paint the opposition as a bunch of crooks and the judge will feel that *justice* requires a ruling in their favor despite the law - that can be averted if the defense makes a strong competent showing tomorrow, presumably. The second danger is that they will inflict sufficient costs on the defendants that others will be dissuaded from doing even perfectly legal things. That can't be prevented.


Planning to Join the Protest in Person?

The best source of information on how to help out at the Santa Clara County Courthouse is this page from Chris DiBona's Web site. It tells you where and when to be, what to wear, and what to expect. Worth reading even if you can't make it. Nice to know that Chris and others, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are doing a great job for all of us on this!


Update by Emmett @ 1:20 p.m. EST:

Chris DiBona called me at 8:30 a.m. PST from right outside the courtroom, letting me in on the scene. The Open Source community has about 25 people there, as well as a lawyer or two of their own. The community members present are busy distributing the DeCSS source code on floppy disk as well as leaflet hard copy. No pictures will be taken of the interior of the courtroom, and there wasn't enough time to apply for the permit to record what happens inside.

Chris will be calling me as soon as they let out with up-to-the-minute information and notes from the community members inside the courtroom.


Links to Other DVD CCA Stories and Sites

Boston Globe
Washington Post
Wired News
Chris DiBona's excellent page
PZ Communications DeCSS Resource Site
Lemuria.org DeCSS Defense page
Dan Gillmor (SV.com columnist)
Santa Clara County Superior Court info
EFF to the Rescue!


Please send additional links to roblimo@slashdot.org so we can add them to the list. Thanks.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DVD Hearing Today - Are You Ready to Rumble?

Comments Filter:
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:40AM (#1436151)
    But a small minority in the business community want to lock down the information, citing that it's a trade secret.

    The difference between a trade secret and a copyright or patent is that a trade secret is not disclosed to the public -- but if it leaks, the owner is just SOL. If they're taking the position that their decryption is a trade secret, then they have no case.

  • Perfect place for steaming WEB CAM!

    I guess that can't be a "live steaming WEB CAM", because if it got hot enough to actually steam that would probably kill it.

  • What do you mean?
    If the people show up on the court steps and are protesting, then they can get media to show up and get some attention. If they have good spokespeople then they can spin it for the media to show the truth about the whole thing. Hopefully ESR won't show up dressed like Obi-Wan again.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <<imipak> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:49AM (#1436163) Homepage Journal
    It's less like someone passing the answers round to a maths test, than it is for the same person to pass around a list of page numbers which -say- how to calculate the answer.

    As for the links, I'd compare that with passing round a list of names of people who pass around lists of pages. I'm sorry, but when you start to get -that- far removed from the source, WHATEVER justification there may have been for the original case is thrown right out the window.

    Either that, or I deem the entire Universe guilty of conspiring to cause explosions, as a result of containing links to the Big Bang. If this case ends with sites like Slashdot losing, this case will be precident of links being sufficient to be proof of guilt. More than adequate for me to sue the cosmos for a few trillian dollars.

    Anyone want to join in? I don't mind splitting the winnings.

  • by SLOfuse ( 68448 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:50AM (#1436164)
    Listening to NPR this morning, I heard a very brief story about "DVD copying software" being posted on the internet and a "lawsuit being brought against dozens of websites". Two points here. First, DeCSS is not "copying software". Second a restraing order is not a "lawsuit". I think it is a pretty crappy tactic to pursuade the news media to report such things. I don't blame NPR, I blame the movie industry for feeding them the story in such a form. BTW, there was now mention of breaking encryption or Linux development, etc. It just sounded like all the posters were a bunch of pirates and thieves.
  • by Zurk ( 37028 ) <zurktech@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:50AM (#1436165) Journal
    to have a look at this : http://www.sirius.com/~casp/welcome.html ..it may be possible to get it thrown out without a trial.
    SLAPPs -- strategic lawsuits against public participation -- are civil complaints or counterclaims (against either an individual or an organization) in which the alleged injury was the result of
    petitioning or free speech activities protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. SLAPPs are often brought by corporations, real estate developers, or government officials and
    entities against individuals who oppose them on public issues. Typically, SLAPPs are based on ordinary civil tort claims such as defamation, conspiracy, and interference with prospective
    economic advantage.
  • by mathboy ( 10519 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:51AM (#1436167)
    This is a very frightening case. If this passes through, and reverse engineering is made illegal, then Richard Stallman's story (grrr, cant find
    link on Gnu.org! anyone?) about how debuggers
    will be allowed only in 'guarded research labs'
    will come true alot faster than we'd like.

    This is a monumentally important case for our rights to explore and investigate technology, and if we are stopped from doing so, only hackers will be doing it (and if you decide to do it, you are an instant hacker, and now a criminal). [I've given up on cracker/hacker debate, btw. I use words common folk can understand, since thats who Im preaching to.]

    Unix and Linux has a long history of being hacked on and taken apart, and if it wasnt for this ability, I dont think we'd be where we are now with Linux.

    We should all put in as much effort as possible to make people aware of whats at stake. I can imagine its only a few steps before you're not allowed to fix your own car! THen we'll have the general populace interested.

  • by Hiawatha ( 13285 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:52AM (#1436168)
    I talked to an attorney for the DVD side. He certainly thinks it's a lawsuit....
  • by PureFiction ( 10256 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:52AM (#1436169)
    A copy of the DeCSS software source code for linux and a zip file of the dll's for doze are available here for those interested: http://cubicmetercrystal.com/decss/ [cubicmetercrystal.com] Fight for copyright / patent sanity. Perhaps once companies realize that strong arm tactics to silence information will not work on the net, all of these intimidating law suits will stop.
    • What if the whole thin is legal in Norway?
    • How can a copyright/patent infringement lawsuit issued in the USA can be enforced on a European defendent?
  • I think that slashdot should put all the information in one handy location, so that we can all mirror it on our personal sites... What are they going to do? Sue the world?
  • by nevets ( 39138 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:53AM (#1436176) Homepage Journal
    If DVD CCA doesn't point the finger at someone, then it must be their fault (which I believe it is). Just because you code and compile something, doesn't make it a trade secret. Someone else mentioned Coca Cola's secret formula. If you figure it out, you can use it. Reverse engineering is the same thing.

    Didn't this once come up with a case of Ford against a Nissan or Honda. Where the Japanese company bought a Ford and dismantled it to find out how it worked. When Ford tried to sue, the judge ruled that they didn't do anything wrong. Since they bought the car, it was theirs to do what they pleased. I think this is the same thing.

    Now as for linking. That is getting out of hand. If you do business on the Web, you should be prepared to be linked to. Altough, this is slightly different, But as for free speech, not being able to link to something is a definite form of censorship. Yes, you can complain about content, but how can you complain about someone else linking to them. IANAL, but if you hear someone that shows bootlegged movies, and tell someone about it, and if someone asks who is doing it, and you tell them, are you just as guilty at bootlegging the movie. Now you are not related in any way to that bootlegger, and did not profit in telling someone about it. You just shared information that you knew about.

    Unfortunately, I'm in NY and won't be able to go. I would love to see this trial!

    Steven Rostedt
  • Just a query - are they trying to ban mirrors of the actual binary code for DeCSS and the associated links to these sites or is it the underlying algorithm that is the target. If the injunction is against a specific binary application, then would publishing an "abstract" pseudo-code of the core of the binary engine be affected by the ban? If this was done then how long do you think it would be before many, many different implementations of the code in different languages started appearing on the web? Would it be necessary to start a new injunction against each one?
  • by Darth Yoshi ( 91228 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:55AM (#1436181)
    ...would be to print out the source code to DeCSS (and neatly bind it, if possible) like they did with the PGP code. It might illustrate more clearly to the judge that the censorship of non-copyrighted material is a violation of first amendment rights.

    The judge will probably be highly intelligent, but non-technical. Having a concrete, readable example of what they're trying to censor may help put things in perspective, and bring out the first amendment issues (which I'm sure the corporate lawyers are going to try to gloss over).
  • Please don't blame Hiawatha Bray for his column's crummy title. Newspaper headlines are usually written by copy editors, not by the people who actually write the stories. (Hiawatha Bray is one of my personal favorite "mainstream" tech columnists in the whole world.)

    - Robin

  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:59AM (#1436185) Journal
    Remember that a link is a pointer to a location not to content.

    Based on what these lawyers seem to be arguing: If the contents of a link changed to something illegal, all the existing links would become illegal.

    Were all search engines with links to challenged sites also mentioned?

  • Technically, the argument boils down to the issue of reverse engineering.
    And still, judges don't really understand this. If a car manufacturer A can take apart say, a competitor B's carburettor, they can reverse engineer it. There's nothing preventing them doing this, in reality, and no judge would hold this case up. Because there are _manufacturing_ considerations to making the carburettor. Exactly the same applies with software- you can see what it does, but you must still figure out how to "make" (pun intended :) it.

    Ideologically, the argument challenges the ideals of free speech, freedom of information, and the ability to innovate on behalf of computer users, hardware engineers and software developers all over the planet.
    Hmm, think you're pushing it a bit there about the whole planet. The USA is mostly a nice place, but there are other continents

    ...without lawyers heading innovators off at the pass."
    Sadly, this is my impression of corporate America these days. If you can't win by market forces, crush them with your legal team.

    There are a lot of sites that are mirroring [the code], and they'll keep the program alive. I'll sleep easy at night knowing I did my part."
    Yep. And when one gets hit with the Cease & Desist, another will take it's place. I really hope this goes high profile. Once corporations get the message that when it comes to the net, winning in court is not absolute, then they may consider their legal actions more carefully. And I find it heartening (hey, I'm British, I always root for the underdog! :) that the "underground" can fight back in this manner - corporate pigs may win the battle, but who is winning the war?

    Another interesting point of this case is that anyone who linked to a site that contained the information is also being held liable in the case.
    That scares the piss out of me. Where does it end? Say if I link to a site that links to a site with the contentious code, am I liable? Reminds me of a rhyme I was taught as a kid - "Big fleas have little fleas upon their back to bite them, little fleas have tiny fleas, and so ad infinitum...". Surely a judge somewhere _must_ realise the complete and utter stupidity of this... I think it's a plot by the lawyers... If they can sue everybody on the net, then everybody requires a lawyer... :(

    Maybe the soothsayers are right... Maybe this is the armageddon coming for Y2K. A poor decision by the judge here could badly hurt the whole internet...

    By the way, if you're wondering who this Emmett Plant bloke is (I doubt he's related to Egg Plant, but I bet he's heard that before... :), I think this may be the chap here... [timecity.org]... If it isn't, my apologies... Would the real Emmett Plant stand up...
  • i read most of the legalese the other day, but didn't follow the 1000 or so messages here, so i'm wondering if someone can clear this up for me: why aren't the DVD people suing xing? that's where the breakdown in the trade secrets happened (decss supposedly happened because xing was negligent with their key & from my reading of the legalities of trade secrets, they're the ones negligent in letting it slip out -- they're the ones who signed the agreement, etc.) xing should be suing the decss authors because they "broke" the (bogus, imho) "no-reverse engineering" clause in their license. and that doesn't even start to get into the linking legalities issue...
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:04AM (#1436192) Journal
    Excuse me, fellows, but is Slashdot a member of The Press or not? Are these lawyers trying to suppress press activity in bothering Slashdot?
  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:05AM (#1436194)
    While we're divulging trade secrets, the coke recipe isn't too complicated. The only secret part are the flavors added to it (the "vegetable extracts" as they term it in Europe)...

    And those are simple -- they're kola nut extract and coca extract. That's why all the other colas taste like Pepsi, not Coke. Coke is the only company allowed to use the coca plant extract. From my understanding, they purchase it from some company in New Jersey which has an exclusive arrangement with the US Government to import something on the order of 500 tons of coca leaves which are chemically processed to destroy the cocaine. The extract is sold to Coke in some exclusive arrangement.

    So there you go, now we all know how to decrypt DVD's and make Coke.

    Of course, when you say you can use coke's formula if you figure it out, that's not the case because no one else can import the coca leaves, or you rot in jail for the rest of your life.
  • since lawyers representating the plaintiffs could be reading Slashdot.org

    I hope they are, they might learn something.
    As for pulling slashdot, that is as likely as deja.com losing it's domain because of slanderous comments on usenet.

    If, in some strange twist of fate that does happen, I would not want to be in the plaintiff's shoes. They would be pissing off a lot of intelligent, computer savvy folks. Not to mention our growing script kiddie population :)


  • How many of you really watch movies on your computer?

    Maybe I am weird, but I would much rather have the comfort of my couch.

    A quality DVD player is available nowadays at $300 dollars... is that outrageous?

    While I fully support and side with the individuals being threatened here, I tend to think both sides are over-reacting. Obviously, pirated DVD's are not the advent of a social apocolypse as the industry claims... but neither is this quite the "fight to save our individual freedoms" as many on this site so loudly proclaim.

    As someone pointed out yesterday: We could never watch VHS tapes on our computers... what is the huge deal!?
  • by dieMSdie ( 24109 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:07AM (#1436203)

    Every article I have read about this makes me grind my teeth. The DeCSS is always referred to as either a "DVD Copy Program" or a "DVD Pirating Program". Never is any mention made of the project to bring DVD to Linux. We all come across as a bunch of evil pirates out to destroy the All-American Movie Industry.

    Here is a suggestion to put the Slashdot Effect to good use: everyone write your favorite media outlets. Tell them what this is really about. This has nothing to do with piracy, it has everything to do about freedom. The same freedom that allows them to publish their websites and newspapers.

    I think the purpose of this legal action is to frighten everyone into submission. I don't think the DVD Consortium knows what they have stepped into, however :)

    I can't be at the courthouse, but I am there in spirit anyway!

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:11AM (#1436212)
    I'm increasingly disappointed in how many governments treat freedom of information issues like this. The methods of controlling this information (namely, the legal system) are out of date and largely irrelevant to today's internet community. The internet's scope is international and the laws of one country do not extend to another. There are efforts underway to control this massive amount of freedom - the government likes it's information control and many have shown a willingness to give up some of their soverienty(sp?) in exchange for control over their citizenship.

    This is disappointing, if only because it is doomed to fail. How many people here will change their computing habits if a decision were made outlawing DeCSS? Infact, how many people might start a development effort outside this country? The legal system is largely ineffective in dealing with this - witness the huge crypto debate. There is none: the world has crypto, and the US looks like a bunch of jackasses for trying to stop it. They didn't even put a dent in the flow of information out of this country. China isn't doing much better either - and they have thousands of firewalls and even more people dedicated strictly to censoring the internet. Information still gets out. There solution seems to be "kill anyone exhibiting independent thought online!" - history has, and will again, show that such tactics are ineffective.

    This trial will be of no consequence to the community at large.... nothing will change except the amount of money exchanged over the matter. however, there is a question of moral obligation: should we help these people? Do we have an obligation to support people who risk their livelyhood to give us our freedom? This is, in my mind, the heart of this matter.

  • by Rob the Roadie ( 2950 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:12AM (#1436214) Homepage
    Having read the cover letter and the text of the complaint I was wondering if the DVD CCA peeps have cited themselves in their complaint for producing such an excellent resource for people like us who wish to mirror the source code and other material.

    Thank you.
  • by emmons ( 94632 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:13AM (#1436216) Homepage

    We are not pirates, nor do we encourage the illegal duplication and/or distribution of copyrighted works. We are, however, citizens of a country based on the principles of personal freedom and trust of common man. We believe that it is morally and legally acceptable to have the right to manipulate digital media, media which we have bought and paid for, in the ways we see fit. We believe that it is within our rights, and is morally acceptable, to view and store this media in the ways we choose; be in on a DVD disk, our computer's hard drive or recorded to a VHS tape; from a hardware DVD player, the Windows operating system or the Linux operating system. These are the rights we are fighting for. We believe that the authoritarian acts of the RIAA and DVD CSS should not be stood for, they are immoral and unjust. We do not believe that anyone should be able to tell us that we can only view a movie from a computer which they have choosen, or save that movie only in the way they dictate. We also believe that if there is a tool which allows such freedoms, we should have a right to use it, to tell others about it and to distribute it. We do not believe that someone should be able to command that we cannot tell or distribute this tool simply because it is not within their corporate strategy.

  • by DragonHawk ( 21256 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:18AM (#1436227) Homepage Journal
    How many of you really watch movies on your computer?

    That is not the issue here. The issues are:

    - Can we legitimately try to implement such a player if we want to?
    - Can we talk about that implementation?
    - Can we link to it?

    By posting about it here, by the way, you are covered in the restraining order. You just involved yourself in the legal fight.

    Now do you understand why this is so serious?
  • The mirror list at http://www.humpin.org/decss/ [humpin.org] is about twice the size of when this legal fiasco started.

    Consider setting up a mirror! I emailed 'humpin@humpin.org' to tell them of mine. One advantage for me is I included the DVD code & mirror in my online class materials at UNC - hopefully this will be a more defensible position, if the poop hits the fan.
  • ...but I still think it's a bad thing when a man is threatened with death for writing it.

    In other words, it's about a point of principle. It's about making sure the precedents go our way. It's about speaking out for the DVD people so they'll be there to speak out for us, and establishing now that we want the freedoms they're trying to take away from us, whether we were going to use them for watching DVD movies or for something else.

    In that sense it is precisely a fight to save our individual freedom and no scare quotes are needed. It's a little disturbing to see how rare understanding of the very idea of a point of principle is.
  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:20AM (#1436232)

    They don't have a reasonable case or position. They can threaten - they are threatening, but the threat is much more of a bluff than a threat. If you back down the instant that someone says, "Boo", then what value does your right to speak up have?

    Ben Tilly
  • ...lawyers representating the plaintiffs could be reading Slashdot.org. Any potentially damaging and/or slanderous comments could get the plaintiffs to ask for a court order for NSI to pull the registration of http://slashdot.org...
    If something like that happened it would be a definitive sign that corporate interests have completed their takeover of the government, and that it was time for the people to forcefully revolt and take it back.

    But that's pretty unlikely; the corporate takeover hasn't preceded that far yet. Of course, the bastards want us to fear that it could happen. They want us to be afraid to speak against them, lest we be crushed beneath high-powered legal teams.

    In fact, this smacks so heavily of FUD I must question the poster's motives. Are you involved with one of the plaintiffs?

  • by DragonHawk ( 21256 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:24AM (#1436243) Homepage Journal
    Like most of the people in the world, I do not live anywhere near California. So I cannot go to the court house to protest it.

    So, I want to know: Is there anything the rest of us can do to support the opposition to the repression of the DVD Forum? Can we start an Internet petition to indicate our support? Something along the lines of the Blue Ribbon Campaign of the EFF?

    Are people contacting their local news agencies, and explaining why the DVD Forum is in the wrong?

    Is there an address (snail mail) at the DVD Forum we can write to complain? (I want snail mail because email is ignored too easily.)

    The DVD Forum will only win if this stays small. A hundred thousand angry consumers will fold them right quick.

    We need to move on this, people.
  • I actually watch a lot of films on my computer. Last night I watched both "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and John Cassavetes' "A Woman Under the Influence."

    Tonight, I'm planning on watching the first volume of Chaplin's Mutuals and Renoir's "Grand Illusion".

    But I'm watching the films to study them (I'm a screenwriter) and not to kick back and relax.

    I find that if I try to watch "good" films in the comfort of my home theater, I generally doze off.

    The computer (and 17" monitor) lends itself to pretty close scutiny. I'm not a DVD purist either -- I mean, I'd rather watch a film and understand its story than worry about whether DTS sounds better than DD 5.1. Likewise, I'd rather have a so-so print of a film (any DVD released by Madacy) than to not have the film at all. But I digress...

    Watching a film on a computer/monitor combo is like reading a book in a library at one of those wooden library desks and hardwood chairs -- you're kinda forced to stay focused because you don't have a lot of creature comforts.

    I agree, though, in theory: if I want to watch, say, a crappy film -- "Shawshank Redemption," for example, or any Star Trek film -- I'll go downstairs, sprawl out on the sofa, unplug my mind, fire up the DVD, and wonder aloud more times than I care to count why crap like this continues to be made. (I know the answer of course -- because it makes money and because it's the sort of crap the film-going public likes -- but again, I digress...)

  • by Nafai7 ( 53671 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:30AM (#1436255)
    I know, perhaps slightly off topic, but I want to know something.

    Why do people always start off a statement with IANAL? It seems to me that we as a society have become dependant on lawyers to tell us what is right and what is wrong. When dealing with the very technical, aren't WE the ones who know "right vs. wrong"? WE are the ones who know what is best technically.

    Now, imagine a government where all people were created equal. You didn't have a class of citizens that had "special powers" within the power structure that is the government. (talking about the lawyers here)

    The internet is equalizing these powers by making information FREE and EASILY ACCESSABLE. There are going to be battles (like this DVD thing) between those who want to keep the freedoms of speech and information exchange we enjoy, and those with money and power who stand to loose it by free exchange of information.

    My point? Don't be afraid to learn about, interpret and question law. The lawyers hold special power in government because the citizens let them. If smart people (like us programmers) learn how the system works, there is no reason we cannot deal with the system ourselves, rather than having lawyers as an "intermediary" between us and government.

    Thank you, I'll step down now...

  • What facts exactly were screwed up? Other than the headline I thought it was an excellent article. And IIRC DeCSS is a windows program and has nothing to do with linux. One more thing, have you ever heard the expression, "You catch more flies with honey than vinager"? It's true. Sending a newspaper an angry letter, especially one ranting about linux is very likely to get you ignored. Sending a polite, but firm, letter is more likely to get some attention.
  • An article on this subject at EE Times [eetimes.com] mentions Slashdot and the debate over this hearing. The article also has some good links to the DVD CCA's arguments. You can read the article here [eetimes.com]
    Gregory J. Barlow
    fight bloat. use blackbox [themes.org].
  • Freedom of expression is not reserved to The Press alone. Everyone's "speech" is protected under the U.S. Constitution. Here's the full text of the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  • Are they named? That'd be way too funny. It was only up there for a coupla days, but long enough for a boatload of people to download it.

    Ah, CNet, great distributor of contraband.

  • Hey car companies are already working on making it impossible to fix your own car, but not through legal measures, but design ones. Have you looked under the hood of a new car? Half of them anymore have stuff in place that needs to be removed before you can even see the engine, let alone work on it. Also, ever wonder why your oil filter (the most often replaced part of your car) is in such a crazy and hard to reach location?
  • or seriously deluded if you think that I or any other free thinking adult will be intimidated by these tactics.

    What you are suggesting is to play right into the hands of the Thought Police and self censor.


    The battle lines are being drawn for the last great struggle for freedom. The genie is out of the bottle, the internet has connected minds in a way that could not have happened previously in the history of humankind, and the Power is feeling very threatened indeed. They are attempting to put the genie back in the bottle, and kill the internet, kill the (dare I say it) freedom to inovate, the freedom to share and the freedom to think.

    Use this freedom now to stop this madness from spreading, and start at home now, with your own thoughts.

    This attempt, and a whole lot of WIPO must be resisted, and a large dose of Public Disobedience, coupled with strategic law suits, political lobbying and just plain old Writing Code is needed.

    Stay strong.

  • For some interesting information about linking in relation to copyright violation read the following article [kayescholer.com]. That I am proud to say was co written by a friend of mine.

    It talks about the speed of current laws in relation to the speed of the internet and legal precidents.

  • How many of you really watch movies on your computer?

    Maybe I am weird, but I would much rather have the comfort of my couch.

    People also watch movies in bed. People often have computers in their bedrooms. A good-sized monitor is about as big as the TVs many people have in their bedrooms. (My 17" monitor has a larger screen than the TV in my bedroom.)

    I don't have a DVD player, but I know at least one person who watches DVD movies on the computer in their bedroom.

  • How many of you really watch movies on your computer?

    I built a CD/MP3 player out of a cheap CPU. It has an ethernet adapter. It has it's own IP address on my home network. It's not a workstation--it's part of my entertainment system.

    And of course, it runs Linux. I haven't bought a DVD player because I intend to replace the CD-ROM drive in my MP3/CD player with a DVD-ROM drive. The problem has been that software to use the equipment hasn't been available for Linux. I was thrilled when I found out that the DeCSS guys were making headway. Now greedy corporations are trying to undo their work. This means I have to wait that much longer before I spend any money on DVD's and related technology.

    BTW, I don't want to buy a DVD player. I'm building it because I want to build it. If I wanted to buy one premade I would already have one.

  • by Artagel ( 114272 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:44AM (#1436288) Homepage

    IIRC, the complaint talks about "improper" means or motives for the decryption. A trade secret is protected if reasonable measures are taken to protect it.

    "The protection accorded the trade secret holder is against the disclosure or unauthorized use of the trade secret by those to whom the secret has been confided under the express or implied restriction of nondisclosure or nonuse. The law also protects the holder of a trade secret against disclosure or use when the knowledge is gained, not by the owner's volition, but by some 'improper means,' Restatement of Torts s 757(a), which may include theft, wiretapping, or even aerial reconnaissance. A trade secret law, however, does not offer protection against discovery by fair and honest means, such as by independent invention, accidental disclosure, or by so-called reverse engineering, that is by starting with the known product and working backward to divine the process which aided in its development or manufacture." (from Kewanee Oil Co. v. Bicron Corp., a 1974 Supreme Court case.)

    Obviously, the DVD brigade wants to make what has been done an "improper means" under the law as opposed to "fair and honest means." (California Law is California Law, and as Professor Froomkin has pointed out, there may be any number of wierdnesses in it. YMMV.)

  • Andover owns the slashdot.org domain, and it is not the subject of debate. NSI won't even give the blood-sucking lawyers the time of day if they attempt something like that. At most, 'The Management' will be forced to pull all current posts relating to where the DeCSS code can be found under the terms of a preliminary court order.

    As no such order currently exists, we can all post as we wish.
  • by ar32h ( 45035 ) <jda@tapod i . n et> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:45AM (#1436291) Homepage Journal
    from the PDF of the request for an injunction(http://www.2600.com/news/1999/1227-mot. pdf)
    PDF Page 8
    "29. DVD CCA is informed and believes, and based thereon alleges, that each of the Doe defendants 55 through 72 operate Internet web sites, at the below address, which provide "links" to other web sites which disseminate confidential proprietary CSS information:"

    doe#60 www.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=547600297.

    so sense deja is just a web interface for USENET are they in effect trying to control USENET?

    i mean deja is the closest thing to a sue able entity related to USENET right?
  • Here's the funny thing about encryption. People use encryption because they want to put the security of their data in their own hands without having to get uncle scam involved, right? Now if the DVD forum had done their job and had a decent encryption algorithm created for DVDs they wouldn't be in this mess right now. But they used an incredibly poor algorithm, and they got bit. Deal with it. If someone breaks into my house with a lock pick, I'm not going to go after the company that made the lock pick, I'm going to go after the guy who used the lock pick to commit a crime. Also, if my version of a lock is a dead bolt that goes into a weak wooden door frame, it's pretty much my fault when someone kicks my door in.

    I really don't see how publishing information on how to bypass any security protection is any different than publishing information in say, a lock smith magazine (I'm sure they must exist somewhere) explaining how to open the latest and greatest lock. Sure the information can be used for criminal purposes, but it can also be used for perfectly legal purposes, such as when you lose the key to your house and you want to get in without having to break a window.
  • NPR has a web site [npr.com]. How about some Polite letters of concern to morning edition (morning@npr.org) or All Things Considered (atc@npr.org) or Talk of The Nation (totn@npr.org) concerning Fair Coverage of this most important Free Speech issue. My email is going to Talk of the Nation with copies ot the other 2 explaining the smearing of the issue by the DVD Consortium.
  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:48AM (#1436298) Homepage
    Trade Group Files Suit Against All Identifiable Posters of or Linkers to
    Linux DVD Hack

    EFF Assembling Legal Team to Defend Targets

    The movie industry, through its recently activiated Digital Video Disc
    Content Control Association (DVD CCA), a trade organization
    controlling DVD patents, has filed a lawsuit in California against
    dozens of people around the world. who have published information, or
    links to information, about the DVD Content Scrambling System (CSS),
    on the Internet. As many as 500 defendants could eventually be named.
    The DVD CCA claims that the defendants are violating the association's
    trade secrets and other intellectual property rights by posting the
    source code of (or simply having links to other sites with the source
    code of) a legally reverse-engineered means of decoding DVD discs. An
    important hearing in the case has been scheduled for tomorrow, Wed.,
    Dec. 29, 1999.

    Tomorrow's hearing is on whether the judge should issue a temporary
    restraining order against the defendants, who have been publishing
    information about the DVD content scrambling system in various
    locations in the US and worldwide. Any such order, if issued, would
    only apply for a few weeks, while the parties argued in court about
    whether a permanent injunction should restrict these defendants from
    publishing this information for the duration of the court case.

    It is EFF's opinion that this lawsuit is an attempt to architect law
    to favor a particular business model at the expense of free
    expression. It is an affront to the First Amendment (and UN human
    rights accords) because the information the programmers posted is
    legal. EFF also objects to the DVD CCA's attempt to blur the
    distinction between posting material on one's own Web site and merely
    linking to it (i.e., providing directions to it) elsewhere.

    These defendant individuals have been publishing legitimate, protected
    speech, including software, textual descriptions, and discussions of
    the DVD CSS. This speech is in no way copied or acquired from the DVD
    CCA's trade-secret documents. Copyrights do not give anyone any rights
    in "ideas", only in the exact form in which they are expressed.
    Trade-secret law only controls people who agreed to keep it secret and
    have been told the secret; other people remain free to independently
    discover the secret. The ideas being discussed and implemented were
    apparently extracted by having an engineer study a DVD product
    ("reverse engineering it"), which is a legal activity that is not
    restricted by any laws in most jurisdictions.

    The DVD CCA is trying to shut these speakers down by starting with the
    false assumption that reverse engineering is illegal. It is not. If,
    for example, the DVD reverse engineering had been done in Santa Clara,
    it would be legal under the 9th Circuit Court case Sega v. Accolade.
    See also the 1998 US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides
    specifically in section 1201(f) that reverse engineering of an
    copy-protection encryption system is legal for "interoperability",
    which is why it was done in this case.

    The case itself is organized as a "theft of trade secrets" case; it
    doesn't use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and doesn't appear to
    rely otherwise on copyright law. The root of the case is their
    allegation that the original reverse-engineering of the DVD CSS system
    was "improper" (paragraph 18), "unauthorized" (para. 20), "wrongfully
    appropriating proprietary trade secrets" (para. 21), "unauthorized use
    of proprietary CSS information, which was illegally "hacked" (para.
    22). However, they provide no proof of these allegations, and they are
    unlikely to be true. If the original reverse-engineering was legal,
    which we believe is true, then the subsequent republication of the
    information is also legal, and the case is merely a tool to harass
    people exercising their legal rights.

    EFF's interest in the case is to protect reverse engineering as part
    of First Amendment protected speech. EFF legal counsel Robin Gross,
    and pro-bono counsel Allonn Levy of Huber, Samuelson will be at Santa
    Clara Superior Court tomorrow morning to represent at least two
    defendants, Chris DiBona and Andrew Bunner. EFF co-founder John
    Gilmore will also attend at the hearing tomorrow. EFF will at minimum
    provide "stop-gap" defense to avoid a temporary restraining order
    against the defendants. Following the hearing, EFF will assess the
    situation and the level of our involvement.

    EFF is committed to ensuring that individuals rights are protected,
    and free speech is a fundamental right. It would be a poor public
    policy to allow intellectual property owners to expand their property
    at the expense of free speech -- particularly when the speech in
    question elucidates how companies constrain the distribution of other
    free expression.

    The technology at issue here is the DVD Content Scrambling System
    (CSS), a technical effort to prevent people who have legally purchased
    a DVD from making completely legal copies of it for their own use. It
    is legal ("fair use") for people to make personal copies of
    copyrighted material available to them. (See, e.g., the Supreme
    Court's 1984 decision in the "Betamax" case, Sony Corp. v. Universal
    City Studios. In that case a movie studio was trying to have all VCR's
    banned from the United States because of the potential to "pirate"
    valuable movies -- just as in the current case they are attempting to
    have all reverse-engineered decoders of DVDs banned. The Supreme Court
    ruled that if VCR's have even a single non-infringing use, they cannot
    be banned. It is clear that the reverse-engineered DVD CSS has a
    non-infringing use, the viewing of DVDs on the Linux operating
    system.) The underlying technology is for censorship, for control over
    who can communicate what to whom. The DVD CSS prevents people from
    making illegal copies -- and also prevents them from making LEGAL
    copies, by preventing them from making ALL copies. The publishers are
    trying to take away, by technical means, the rights guaranteed to
    citizens under the copyright laws of many jurisdictions, including the

    The decoder source code at the center of the case, called "DeCSS", was
    created (by third parties, not the defendants) to enable Linux
    computers to utilize DVD drives and content, since the industry itself
    failed to produce the necessary drivers for this operating system. DVD
    CCA alleges rather unbelievably that the source code's real purpose is
    to enable illegal duplication of DVD discs. The industry association
    also misleadingly suggests that the DVD medium is simply a vehicle for
    commercial content delivery, when in fact it is a read-write medium
    intended to be used as computer storage by computer-using consumers,
    just like hard drives or writable CDs.

    We believe that the industry is mounting this legal attack merely as a
    charade to discourage the widespread adoption of the legally
    reverse-engineered information into popular open source software
    programs. They knew that their "encryption system" was weak and that
    it would not withstand scrutiny, so they kept it secret as long as
    possible. Now that it's out in the open, they are wielding legal clubs
    against anyone who attempts to write about it or use it, to delay the
    inevitable. If they wanted to keep their information secret, they
    shouldn't have made millions of copies of it and sold them all over
    the world. Instead their tactics have been to follow the inevitable
    disclosure by swift oppression, using large bankrolls to send lawyers
    against little people. But the little people are part of the Linux
    community and the Internet community, which have made billions of
    dollars recently, and are not kindly disposed toward oppression.

    More information, including case documents, is available at Chris
    DiBona's site: http://www.dibona.com/social/dvd/index.shtml

    WHAT YOU CAN DO: Show up!

    If you're in the SF Bay Area and can make it to the hearing, consider
    it "Netizen's Dress-Up Day" on Wed., Dec. 29. Meet at the front of the
    Santa Clara County Superior Court, 191 N. 1st St., San Jose, CA, at
    8am PST, dressed sharp, to personally attend the DVD case hearing. It
    is important that the judge see an unexpectedly large and intent
    attendance. The hearing will begin at 8:30 in one of Departments 2, 9
    or 12 (uncertain at this time).

    We will follow the hearing with a press conference outside the
    courthouse, and many attendees will do a group lunch at nearby Havana
    Cuba Restaurant.

    Watch the wheels of justice grind! Shake hands with the intrepid
    lawyers who are working hard to protect our rights! Meet interesting
    defendants risking a lot to excercise their rights!

    Please make a positive impression on the judge. Don those expensive,
    semi-formal duds. Show the court -- by showing up -- that this case
    matters to more people than just the plaintiff and defendants.
    Demonstrate that this decision will make a difference to society. That
    the public and the press are watching, and really do care that the
    issue is handled well.

    We'll have to be quiet and orderly while we're in the courthouse.
    There will be no questions from the audience (that's us), and no
    photography there, but the session will be tape-recorded and
    transcribed, and you can take notes if you like. Remember that courts
    have strict security these days, so don't bring cameras, or even small
    pocket knives unless you want them held by entrance guards while
    you're in the courthouse.

    We realize this is very short notice, and that only locals are likely
    to be able to attend, but this case is moving rapidly toward filing
    and there is nothing we can do to delay it.

    For more information on this gathering, see:
  • DVD Copy Control Association
    225 B Cochrane Circle
    Morgan Hill CA 95037
    EMAIL: john.hoy@lmicp.com
  • I support your view entirely. I remember when DeCSS first surfaced and on web page it clearly expressed that the program was not intended for illegal use. In a way, I see DeCSS much like L0pht Crack...the program is not intended for an illegal or malicious purpose, but it *can* be used that way. However, you do not see Microsoft coming after L0pht Heavy Industries because they were able to crack Microsoft's weak password scheme. I do not believe that the film industry has any right to sue these people because they were able to uncover this half-assed form of encryption in a DVD player program that did not protect its key properly. In fact, I believe the film industry should be grateful because they have shown them how bad their encryption scheme really is and how a software vendor can screw up the implementation with a simple mistake. The other disturbing issue here is the fact that people are being sued over simply linking to sites that have DeCSS or even writing anything about the program. In this respect, the industry has *totally* overstepped its boundaries. Suing over this is simply suing against the public's right to information. This is a clear violation of everything our country stands for and should not be tolerated by the courts. However, I fear that the large political influence of the studios and their cut-throat law departments may be able to convince the judge otherwise. In my opinion, this whole matter shows us one thing. The industry really needs to learn something about life in the "computer age" (and life in general)...if people want to do something, they will do it. No matter how secure your encryption scheme is (unless you are using quantum encryption), it can be broken, it is based on an algorithm, and someone will eventually be capable of breaking it. Good luck to you and your colleagues in this hearing. May justice prevail on the side of those who are truly right.
  • I'm not a lawyer, but I CAN say that nearly every country in Europe has an agreement regarding copywrite/patents, in which they respect each others rights, aka, a patent in the US is still valid in the UK, etc..
  • by jammer ( 4062 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:50AM (#1436305) Homepage
    The DVD CCA people have picked up one of the best law firms in the business for this kind of thing, from what I have heard. People should not assume that they are stupid or foolish; the default assumption should be that everything is being done for a reason.

    Part of this can be seen in the hoops we defendants are having to go through. This sort of temporary restraining order is made to be used in cases where immediate damage is imminent unless the order is passed; this means that it can be rushed through the courts in rapid fashion. The notice of hearing was given only two days before the hearing itself. The hearing was set for 8:30 in the morning there, making it even harder for people acting on short notice to get there in time to defend themselves. This is compounded by the fact that some of the court offices there do not open until 9am; I have been trying all morning to get in touch with the Clerk of Court for reasons which I won't specify here, and have been unable to. Now, I will have to wait to act upon some advice I have received until *after* the hearing has started; and I will not even be allowed to be present in person, because of the short notice given.

    Fortunately, we are receiving legal support from numerous people volunteering their services, including one prominent group whom I'll avoid naming here. People are bending over backwards to help us. But it will probably be a long road, as can be seen from the evidence I cite above.

    I shall say no more now, to avoid letting something slip that I shouldn't. It's so much fun being under the gun. ;)
  • I represent the National Weasel Association. My clients are unhappy about being compared to lawyers and are considering court action.
  • No, that's a matter of whether or not something is user servicable. If you've tampered with something, they have every right to refuse its return. That would be like opening up your Microwave, sticking a fork in the coils (does a Microwave have coils?) and then returning it. Maybe the fork didn't break the system, but it's still not the same as when you bought it.

    Reverse engineering is fundamentally different idea. Although the metaphorical "box" is still being opened, you're not trying to return it or anything, just use the information you gain by doing so. And yes, you can open a Microwave oven and play around with the insides to your hearts content... That's what the DVD people are trying to take away from us: Our right to free usage of something that we've already paid for.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMkrwtech.com> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:55AM (#1436321) Journal
    This is the legacy of the 90s....

    Some 40 years ago, cigarettes were found to be carcenogous and a label was put on the pack saying they were harmful to your health. People ignored the fact and smoked anyways only later to sue saying they didn't know it was bad for them. They won. States sued saying that it cost billions in health care even though they made billions by taxing cigarettes. They sued. They won.

    The Second Ammendment protects the right to ban arms, as in military armaments. After trying to nullify the Second Ammendment and failing, the executive branches, federally and locally, are now trying to sue the manufacturers out of business by claiming they make a defective product even though it does exactly what it was designed to do.

    Everyone is now seeking to patent everything in sight regardless of how much it took to actually "innovate" it and blatently lying about how unique and "non-obvious" it was to come up with. Now everyone is sueing everyone else over patent infringement involving patents anyone familiar with the area could have thought up in minutes.

    If you can't get your way via conventional methods, arm your lawyers and fire away at everything in sight. After all, what do the companies/government have to fear? All of their lawyers get paid whether they bring a case or not... They risk losing quite little in the hopes of winning big... I can't remember the last time I heard of a corporate lawyer being disbarred for bringing a false/misleading case. The corporations government can control public influence with their marketing budgets or by buying up their favorite media outlet( whether outright buying it or making enticing offers like an exclusive interviews). Not to mention our heading towards a plutocracy

    Is this what we've come to? Have we become slaves to our corporate masters only to bow down to their orders? How many average people actually understand the gravity behind serious cases like this? Hell, depending on some polls, 20% more people think Clinton should have been impeached last year. A large part of the problem today is the general apathy of the public towards anything that doesn't affect their daily personal lives and the ignorace that the mass have because of their apathy.

    How do we get the public at large to wake up and see what's going on around them if they don't care? How do we stop the lawyers from trampling over everyone's rights in sight? How do we remove the bias that the media inevitably has since they're owned by big corporations? What of the precidents these cases set? While important, protesting this single case is just fixing the symptom and not going after the real problem.

  • Lets boycott the CCA, the RIAA and the assorted other odious associations with similar names. Let us all agree to refuse to do any work for them and to refuse to hire anyone who ever has worked for them. Lets see how far they get with every tech person on the planet refusing to take a job with them.
  • So decrypting information that a company wants to keep secret is now illegal? If I send information that I've rot13'ed and someone I don't want to read it rot13's it, can I sue them? Does that mean that I can post a zip file to an anonymous ftp site and specify that nobody unzip it and sue them if they do?
    Basically, the consortium is trying to sue someone for creating a tool to read information that they own.
  • did you ask for the colonel?

    Well, if you want the source code, you can't just ask for the colonel. Make sure you ask for "The Colonel's Secret Recipe"
  • by KnightStalker ( 1929 ) <map_sort_map@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:02AM (#1436338) Homepage
    From the complaint, pps. 45, 46, and 47, , for your convenience: "....The DeCSS program ... is a substantial derivation of confidential proprietary information which DVD CCA licenses pursuant to the CSS Agreement....On information and belief, this proprietary information was obtained by willfully "hacking" and/or improperly reverse engineering software created by CSS licensee Xing Technology Corporation ("Xing"). Xing's software is and was licensed to users under a license agreement which specifically prohibits reverse engineering."

    This case is not fundamentally about DVD, not about CSS, not about linking, not even about reverse engineering. This is really about the legitimacy of "shrinkwrap" software licenses, and IMO it should be treated as such.
  • by adraken ( 8869 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:06AM (#1436342)
    Alright, I'm pissed.

    My name is splashed over a 20 page legal document stating this and that and that and a whole load of bullshit. DVD cracking will not cause a significant financial burden onto the consortium. They must think these underground crackers have immense resources to market and inform the average consumer of their ability to copy DVDs. Oh wait. People are already doing it anyway. It's called a VHS VCR and an RCA jack. Record -> Play.

    What's worse is that since the letter was sent so late (2 days before the legal date!), I was financially unable to travel to Santa Clara, CA to attend said hearing. How the hell am I supposed to get to Santa Clara, CA in 2 DAYS?!!?!? FLy?!? and pay $700 for one-way since it is so close to the day I want to fly??

    Second, I never received any hard-copy confirmation of my legal travesty. Hello? Isn't this law somewhere? What if my e-mail account was shut off for the duration of winter vacation? I probably would've had no idea that I might get a TRO against me. They're supposed to send this stuff through the USPS!!!!

    Thirdly, I don't know WTF to do! I've removed the files off of my school's site per advice from a friend. And apparently, on the final draft, my name is still on the list of defendants.

    Section 2 of DVD CCA vs. McLaughlin, et al. states : "2. The named defendants, and certain Doe defendants, continue their unauthorized posting of proprietary information -- which they either obtained by improper means or knew or should have known was obtained by others by improper means -- despite the fact that cease and desist letters were sent to their web sites demanding that such proprietary information be taken down from their sites..." If this was filed half an hour ago today, and I've had my site down since Tuesday, shouldn't I be exempt from the action?

    I don't know what to do. Can someone with a legal background tell me what I _can_ do?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:10AM (#1436348)
    OK, I personally think your argument is a strong argument for fair use, to which you are entitled.

    I think a stronger argument is that you really don't need DeCSS to copy DVD's. This is what they are aledging by calling DeCSS "DVD Copying/Pirating Software".

    You can copy the DVD by downloading the raw data from the drive to the hard disk. Don't need DeCSS for that. Need DeCSS to read the file.

    If we had burners of sufficient capacity, we could just burn the raw image to the drive with the encryption entact.

  • This shit really pisses me off. I'm normally pretty restrained when I'm posting here, but these are just fucked up tactics that were used on us in like 2nd and 3rd grade. I'd like to think that as a society we've gotten past them, but things like this keep getting dragged out again and again. "The hackers and/or crackers are ruining things for you. We will single them out and you won't get your new media format as quickly." This way the uninformed (which is the vast majority of the American populace) will believe that they're missing out on something, and distrust us.

    The thing that really burns my toast here (ow, quit scraping) is the idea that we're somehow missing out on something by waiting for DVD Audio. Great, another digital audio format, just what we've all been begging for.

    This gets into the real reason why MP3 and digital music in general scares the crap out of the music industry -- they can't ream us for new media anymore.

    I have a couple of CD's that I also have on cassette and also on Vinyl. Hell, I even have a couple of 8-tracks that match other formats. What does this mean? It means that every 4 or 5 years the recording industry gets to sell you the same product *again*. The electronics industry gets to sell you an expensive player for a new format as well. Big, repeatable, mass-industry bucks for changing formats every couple of years.

    The delay of DVD audio, to me, is a good thing. It gives the rest of digital formats time to mature, and may even be delayed long enough for the first DVD audio devices on the market to be recordable.

    The first ones won't be recordable, though, since selling player-only units for a few years will generate revenue, then everyone will have to replace those units with recordable ones. That should keep the revenue streams pretty solid for a few years while the latest, hottest new formats are developed and we have to start all over again.

    Meanwhile, for decent quality digital audio files we've got MP3 and SHN... And look, these data files don't become obsolete... "You mean I can archive this stuff? I won't have to buy a new cassette/CD when this one gets scratched? How will the recording industry survive?"

    Well, their greed is limitless, and they'll never starve. They'll manage to bleed billions from the actual artists who create the recordings and the fans who enjoy the sounds.

  • YAMS (yet another mirror site). http://everest.debian.net/dvd. Get the bits while they're hot. I'm not afraid of lawyers.
    Andrew G. Feinberg
  • I understand that there are agreements on such issues between countries, however, I can imagine that they must include provisions for fairness of trials. And how can it be fair when the suing party files the suit in California, for example, and the defending party is in Austria? Besides, in criminal cases, I know that most countries won't extrade (sp?) the convict if he's a national.
  • I don't know about copyrights, but regarding patents your statement is completely false. A patent in the US is not valid in the UK. A UK patent must be obtained separately. For example, RSA is patented in the US but not elsewhere.
  • I get an itchy feeling at the base of my skull every time I see trade secrets mentioned in these discussions.

    I went to look at The EFF's Announcement [eff.org] and they, too say that "The DVD CCA claims that the defendants are violating the association's trade secrets and other intellectual property rights...".

    The distinguishing characteristic of a "trade secret" is that it is a secret! The only protections for trade secrets are that a company may require the signing of a non-disclosure agreement before giving someone access to information that contains trade secrets. All this does is provide a mechanism to penalise that signatory if by overt act or negligence on his/her/its part the information is disclosed and therefore no longer secret.

    The "owner" of the secret information has a cause of action in this case against the party who violated the NDA, but it ends there. There are other mechanisms (copyright, patent) designed to allow information to be publicly disclosed but still protected. Once a company chooses to go the route of trade secrets, they have to accept that in the case of breech, they have no lasting claim on exclusive use of the information.

    So, if the DVD CCA pushes this aspect of their case, they should fail miserably. As to their "other IP rights," they'd better have patents or be able to demonstrate copyright violation if they want to get traction.

    A failure of the judicial system to uphold the partitioning of IP protection schemes that has been put in place (as would be the case if the DVD CCA prevails) would be a serious breech of public trust, and would have far-reaching implications for IP in the USA in general. Since much of law is based on precedent-guided interpretation, a judgement in favor of the DVD CCA would essentially destroy the old meaning of trade secret and install in its place a new tool that behaves like a trade secret until/unless illegally disclosed and then behaves like a combination of copyright/patent thereafter. Very dangerous, indeed!

    I believe it was said elsewhere on Slashdot, but it bears repeating here: The only trade secret defendant the DVD CCA should be permitted to pursue is the company that did not take reasonable steps to keep the information secret (presuming that can be demonstrated).

  • Has anyone noticed that the media keeps referring to those who wrote this software as "hackers?" Yes, this does meet our definition of hacker, but at the same time portrays them in a bad light. Last night I spoke to Mike Mussgrove, the Washington Post reporter linked above. His article is no better than any of them, even after we discussed the whole reason for the software existing. Even after we agreed that it was not for piracy but for watching DVDs with Linux, he only stated that at the end of his story after numerous references to "allowing people to copy DVDs" and "cracking the encryption that prevents piracy". How can we trust the media if they always spin the story against us?
    Andrew G. Feinberg
  • They still link [cnet.com] to it, though.
  • Yes, this is a "fight to save our individual freedoms." The way I see it is we have several concurrent issues:

    1) The legality of reverse engineering.

    2) The legality of linking to information that's "questionable."

    3) 1st ammendment protection of code.

    This isn't simply about watching a movie on our Linux boxen (the only reason I would is because my TV is 13" while my monitor is 17" :) it's about not letting this case set a seriously horrible precident.

    What that means: if this injunction is granted, and the court decides to grant it permanantly it opens up the possibility that other big-business types could bar other free software projects (for example: Microsoft could get an injunction against the reverse-engineering efforts of the WINE authors.)

    The other, much more frightening IMO, possibility is that linking could become illegal. Imagine a worst case scenario: You post a link to a buddys site from yours, your buddy posts a link to a porn site, that porn site has a link to child-porn. You could be held liable. Yes, that's an extreme example, but that seems to be what could happen if this precident is set.

    So yes, while on the face of it it may seem petty, it's a bit deeper than what you seem to think it is.

  • You sound like some gun loving wacko spouting off what some dead white guy said.

    All that stuff isn't revelant in today's world. Safety is the most important thing we can have. I'm refering mainly to safety from ourselves, not oppressive govermments (that way we can dismantle the armed forces and still sell weapons to countries that hate us)

    Besides, if you are trying to claim some "essental liberty" it's only because you have something to hide.


  • And if you've bought a new car recently, you hear such things as "You have to have the oil changed here, because the local grease monkey can't do it right without our company training" and "don't be tempted to give anyone a jumpstart - a power surge could destroy all your onboard computers causing thousands of dollars of damage".

    Soon you won't even be able to lift the hood without the special company certified and distributed key. Reminds me of the special "case-cracking tool" Apple/Mac repair shops had to use to open the one piece beige toasters of yesteryear.
  • On the other hand, if you were to actively advertise for someone who was distributing bootlegs (enough so that Judge could rule that you were helping his business), you would easily be held as an accessory to that bootlegging.

    I don't agree with what's going on, but it's certainly some interesting food for thought.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • However, there is a counterpoint to your argument - the dreaded "shrink wrap" license (which you pretty much "agree" to upon using the software); it prohibits reverse engineering (maybe this case is about contractual breach?)

    None of the defendants named wrote the DeCSS software. Hell, several of them aren't even distributing it.

    This is simply a case of the big guy trying to stomp the little guy. I'm really not sure of the intent of this case. Are they really stupid enough to think you can put the cat back in the bag? Get real...

    Anyway, the simple position that should be taken is that the software itself was written with the intention of furthering development of DVD player software on other platforms (which is true). Just because a thing can be used for an illegal purpose doesn't make the thing itself illegal. It's the act of using it for that illegal purpose that is illegal.

    In other words, you shouldn't arrest a person for having a gun for hunting, you should arrest him for intending to shoot a person with it.

  • by d_o_g ( 89052 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:42AM (#1436406)

    The Courts need to be made aware of the true motivation behind this lawsuit, which seems to me to be about protecting the regionalization of DVD, and keeping a stranglehold on who is allowed to manufacture a DVD Player, and not about copying at all. After all, all it takes to copy a DVD is to burn the exact same bits onto another disk. But, then you'd need an approved player for it to do you any good. What DeCSS is doing is allowing anyone to manufacture a DVD player (most specifically in software, for Linux) without the permission of the Powers That Be.

    This needs to be made clear. The reason that DeCSS is being targetted, is that it would destroy the monopoly on DVD playback Hardware and allow people to obtain DVD players that would play back DVDs made for any Region. This would, of course, force down DVD prices, as cross-region competition would be possible.

    Had to comment...

  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:44AM (#1436410) Homepage Journal
    I try to let everyone I know be aware of the kind of bullshit that's going down around us, but it's frustrating: nobody wants to listen. The only people that don't completely ignore me are the people that already know about the issues and have already made up their mind one way or another, but those people are few and far between.

    People will only wake up, I'm afraid, when it's far too late to do anything. It may be past that point now. Big business has such a foothold in government (even on the international level -- look at Chevron) and is so, so good at manipulation of the public, the media, and public officials now that the situation seems almost hopeless. How can people be made to know of what's really happening when they're conditioned to accept as canon what they read in the newspaper and see on the local and national news programs? Will they really believe the ramblings of some kooks on the internet, no matter how many of us there are? Hell, even I take everything on the Web with a grain of salt, and I consider myself an open-minded person. What the vast majority of people that will only ever put their faith the old-fashioned media?

    The revolution will not be televised, because it isn't going to occur.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Think about it: Linux hackers didn't crack CSS, it was originally a Windows program (IIRC). So what would you assume they were creating it for?

    To copy DVDs of course. The fact that it has a beneficial purpose to the non-Windows users is incidental to them.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:49AM (#1436416) Homepage
    ...The DeCSS program ... is a substantial derivation of confidential proprietary information which DVD CCA licenses pursuant to the CSS Agreement....

    This is why DVD CCA cares about DeCSS. They don't really care about copies of DVDs, or whether a few Linux geeks meddle with DVD content. They care that DeCSS hits them where they live: their licensing fees.

    Admittedly I'm speculating here, since I have no particular knowledge of how the DVDCCA licenses that weak cryptosystem to the DVD player manufacturers and DVD content providers. But let's assume that they get some (per copy?) royalty - or certainly at least some annual licensing fee - from the manufacturers and media companies. Now appears on the scene compatible encrypting/decrypting software that is free of DVDCCA's encumbrances. Kiss those licensing fees goodbye.

    The company is going after the hackers, web site owners, et alia now because (a) they're seen as a softer target and (b) to preempt any abandonment of licensing by their existing customers. You can bet that if they waited until clients started switching to DeCSS code to sue (possibly for violation of contract terms?) they'd have a much tougher time of it (or think they would -- I don't think this is going to be as easy as they thought).

    I don't know if this angle has been considered by anyone yet, and the hearing is going on right now, but it helps to have a good idea of your opponents real goals when getting involved in something like this.
  • by vigi ( 130768 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:53AM (#1436420)
    It seems this time european legislators have been smarter than their US counterparts.

    Directive 91/250/EEC [eu.int] approved May 14, 1991 contains explicit provisions (look for "Decompilation 1", the document isn't formatted nicely) stating that reverse engineering is absolutely legal when done:

    1. by someone holding the right to use or licensed to use a software product, and
    2. as long as reverse engineering is needed to ensure interoperability with other systems or software (even if developed in-house).

    So, it seems that reverse engineering that XING player in order to ensure interoperability with Linux was perfectly legal (in EU), and all the obscurity called for by DVD CCA was just a means to make it difficult for anyone to exercise this right.

    As for all European Directives, 91/250 had to be accepted by the various national parliaments before becoming effective. The Italian variant [mclink.it] of the directive, D.Lgs. 29/12/92 n. 518, is quite explicit on this respect (see Art. 5, modifications to Art. 64-quater -- in Italian!); I don't know about Norway, though.

    Moreover, any contractual clause seeking to limit the rights to "observe, study, and test the software in order to understand its working principles" are deemed void by the law, so even calling that the original license agreement prohibited reverse engineering should not be a valid defense line. This, obviously, holds for Europe. I doubt an US court has any jurisdiction on the people writing DeCSS...

  • CNN Link:
    http://www.cnn.com/1999 /TECH/ptech/12/28/dvd.crack/index.html [cnn.com]

    http://ww w.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2414488,00.ht ml?chkpt=zdnntop [zdnet.com]

    These actually are not bad stories.. They don't say what NPR did (that DeCSS is a means of "copying" DVD's and so on). Instead, mostly they say that the suit is BS, since they're nailing sites that reported the news. Not bad reads.

  • Many posters seem to think this attack will be trivial to defeat. That is a stupid attitude, and will get us crushed faster than anything short of insulting the judge (who is a lawyer). It is not the case that if a trade secret is revealed, it's "game over, man!" for the secret-keeper. Theft of trade secrets is illegal. If the judge decides we improperly acquired the trade secret, we're outlaws and can be criminally prosecuted.

    From Nolo Press:

    The most important point to understand about trade secrets is that there is no crisp, clear definition of what they are. Rather, the context in which a dispute over ownership of information arises will determine whether a court will treat the information as a trade secret. As a general rule, information that has commercial value and that has been scrupulously kept confidential will be considered a trade secret; the owner of the information will be entitled to court relief against those who have stolen or divulged it in violation of a duty of trust or a written nondisclosure agreement.

    In most states, a trade secret may consist of any formula, pattern, physical device, idea, process, compilation of information or other information that both:

    • provides the owner of the information with a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and
    • is treated in a way that can reasonably be expected to prevent the public or competitors from learning about it, absent improper acquisition or theft.

    Trade secrets often comprise customer lists and other sensitive marketing information. Other specific items that may be trade secrets include:

    • biological inventions (unpatented)
    • chemical inventions (unpatented)
    • computer hardware
    • computer software
    • cosmetics
    • electrical inventions (unpatented)
    • electronic inventions (unpatented)
    • fabric
    • food inventions
    • formulas--chemical
    • formulas--cosmetic
    • formulas--food
    • machines
    • machines--internal parts
    • magic tricks or techniques
    • manufacturing processes
    • mechanical inventions
    • medical devices--mechanical
    • movie plots (not written)
    • movies--script
    • movies--treatment
    • musical composition
    • odors/processes
    • photographic processes, and
    • project designs.

    The one element that these items of information have in common is that they have the potential to make money for their owners if they are kept secret from would-be competitors and are used to make money in the marketplace.

    As mentioned, a trade secret is any information that both benefits a business commercially and is kept a secret. More specifically, when deciding whether something qualifies as a trade secret, courts will typically consider the following factors:

    • the extent to which the information is known outside of the particular business entity
    • the extent to which the information is known by employees and others involved in the business
    • the extent to which measures have been taken to guard the secrecy of the information
    • the value of the information to the business, and
    • the difficulty with which the information could be properly acquired or independently duplicated by others.

    Information that qualifies as a trade secret is subject to legal protection (against theft and misappropriation) as a form of valuable property--but only if the owner has taken the necessary steps to preserve its secrecy. If the owner has not diligently tried to keep the information secret, courts will usually refuse to extend any help to the trade secret owner if others learn of the information.

    Some activities that the courts will commonly treat as trade secret theft--which means the owner will be afforded some judicial relief, such as damages or an order preventing use of the stolen information--are:

    • disclosures by key employees (current and former managers, scientists and others occupying positions of trust) in violation of their duty of trust toward their employer
    • disclosures by employees (current and former) in violation of a confidentiality agreement entered into with their employer
    • disclosures by suppliers, consultants, financial advisors or others who signed nondisclosure agreements with the trade secret owner, promising not to disclose the information industrial espionage, and
    • disclosures by any person owing an implied duty to the employer not to make such disclosure, such as directors, corporate offices and other high-level salaried employees.

    When a disclosure is considered wrongful, the courts may also consider use of the information wrongful and issue an order (injunction) preventing its use for a particular period of time.

    If the court finds that trade secret theft has occurred, it may issue an order (injunction) requiring all those wrongfully in possession of the information to refrain from using it or disclosing it to others. The court may also award the trade secret owner money damages to compensate for any monetary loss suffered as a result of the theft. In cases involving willful or deliberate theft, the court may also award punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer. Finally, in extreme cases, criminal antitheft laws may be invoked and the trade secret thief subjected to criminal prosecution.

  • Host it on several (dozens, hundreds) machines outside the jurisdiction of the United States (and other countries with similar fascist laws.)

    This is what had to be done with SSH. Why not make this the de-facto standard way of handling crap like this?

    My point being: it's not illegal, apparently, to *download* the software in the U.S.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Just how big are the core bits of DeCSS? I remember when the "Munitions T-shirts" with a perl implimentation of DSS came out (Still have mine) some guy went so far as to tatoo the code on his body.

    I'd love to see them put a restraining order against someone's tatoo :)

  • ABC News [go.com] has a similarly slanted story on the DVD lawsuit.

    Read the article, and then go complain about it [go.com].

  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @07:13AM (#1436458)
    Be sure to include, in the "bound book", all of human-readable the articles about DVD encryption, how it works and how it may be defeated, that the DVD Forum is also trying to suppress.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @07:34AM (#1436489) Homepage Journal
    To me, it's a matter of making sure people have some vague pretense of control of the means of distribution. I'm a musician- I frankly don't give a damn about whether I can make backup copies of movies I own. I mean, it sounds reasonable, I'm not arguing against it, but that's a very trivial thing in some ways, comparable to not being able to make backup copies of my toaster in case it breaks.

    The bit that gets my attention is the continued, relentless emphasis on authorization. I mean, in some articles (typically on mp3, naturally) you'll see terms like 'authorized music'! I'm in the process of upgrading my recording studio to record a new album, and at that point I've been planning to release an older album as well, plus some experimental music here and there. I'm more and more convinced I should call the newer album 'Unauthorized Music'! Probably will- there are actually topical songs that would be of interest to slashdotgeeks in there, but more significantly, my releasing this stuff is directly opposed to what the entertainment industry would allow...

    And that is where I fit in this equation. It's not about being able to make a backup copy of the matrix (yeesh, as if you can't spring for another copy years down the line if the first one breaks). That's a total smokescreen. What's going on here is a powerplay to control the media, as in physical media. We already pay record industry taxes on blank tapes- purportedly because of copying, but it just so happens that if you're some smalltime musician trying to promote your own music, you're going to pay taxes to the music industry for the privilege of competing with them. Part of your expenditure for tapes goes to the same people you're up against.

    This isn't good enough? Apparently not. What I'm seeing with mp3 and the wish for a 'secure' format (and who, pray tell, is to feel this sense of security?) and DVD and the struggles over that 'secure' format (and how secure are they entitled to feel?), is the powerful desire to entirely withhold access to the (hoped-for) mainstream physical media by the 'unauthorized'.

    That's me. I am unauthorized.

    There was a time when access to the media (vinyl records, reel-to-reel tape recorders) was pretty costly and inaccessible, but it was strictly a matter of price- if you bought the gear, you were good to go, you could try wrestling with other players for distribution and sales just like you were an equal citizen.

    Then it was cassette multitracks and the Philips cassette taking over from records. Suddenly, every musician in the world was flooding record company agents with tapes. Most were ignored- but I'll tell you, I've walked down the street and heard a random car drive by with a tape I've produced blaring out the windows. It's a hell of a feeling, that is. You get to produce art that is _used_ and enjoyed by people. At the same time, if you get tapes from stores, they are taxed and the industry's cheap bulk tape is not- below a certain level, you'd have the deck stacked against you financially.

    Then it was the CD. At first this was just as forbidding as the vinyl record to produce- you'd pay a lot to get digital mastering done, you'd have to buy CD pressings in lots of 500 or 1000: but startlingly, the technology advanced to where we can now press CDs on our computers just like making cassette tapes one at a time. Anybody who's had a dual cassette deck running for days making 20 copies of their album will recognize what this means. And again, there's the desire by the industry to tax this- purportedly to recoup losses from not selling you the same music 6 times, but also effectively handicapping 'unauthorized' artists and putting a spoke in the wheels of anyone trying to get a competing organisation started. We've come a long way from when you could save up to get an LP mastering lathe and try to be a record company, haven't we?

    And now we have DVD. Now we have an increasing emphasis on 'security'. Whose? Well, considering that the direction is toward a world where script kiddies can still copy anything they want, but you can't legitimately start a record company and distribute media without either coughing up millions to a conglomerate for a 'security key', or pirating one for original material and being liable for stealing that key, we are talking about security for monopolists.

    We're not talking about the script kiddie being unable to copy the Matrix and never have been- who will prosecute, the same ones who arrested you for making a mix tape for the car? Instead we're talking about a very intentional spoke in the wheels of anyone who wants to be in the business of media. It doesn't affect you, the script kiddy- or even you, the consumer. (you're out maybe 20 bucks in the worst case, having to buy an extra copy of the Matrix. Oh horrors, call Reuters and MSNBC.) It affects anyone who wants to produce original content, or distribute it, or help people do that. It's a roadblock- the ideal end situation here is to have all the DVD players require truly uncrackable encodings that only licensees have access to.

    People hear things like that, follow the logic, and then mysteriously can only see how it affects them as consumers. But the direction is clear as day, and there are certain implications I'm spelling out here.

    My question is, what exactly gives the recording/movie/etc industry (who are not a government the last I heard) the right to openly, upfront and with the approval of society, set up a situation where anyone wishing to make media for the public can only go through them, or be forced to become a licensor by spending a comparable amount of money for a security key normally sold to huge corporate conglomerates?

  • by scumdamn ( 82357 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @07:38AM (#1436497)
    I propose a new acronym:
    I am not a smart man.
    IANASM, but I do know what love is.
    IANASM, but maybe Bill Gates isn't so bad.
    IANASM, but I prefer the GPL because I don't want this software I've created to ever becom proprietary.
    IANASM, but I believe the benifits of BONOBO (sic? IANASM) are worth the extra wait.
    IANASM, and therefor, I still use Windows exclusively.

    An alternative would be TWBMDB.
    This Will Be Moderated Down But
    TWBMDB I prefer the BSD license. It's more free.
    TWBMDB I like KDE. I prefer the OO approach to the desktop.
    TWBMDB I like karma and I don't care if you don't.
  • My credential: A UK based /. linux using, IP lawyer.

    the best answer as another correspondent has said, is that a patent is enforceable only if the subject matter is covered by an enforceable UK patent. If another country, US, grants a patent they enforce it we dont. neither do we enforce their patents, it must be patented in the UK to be enforceable. ergo, naf US software/business method patents arew unenforceable. hence the Microsoft campaign to get the European Union to permit easier software patents.
    the DVD consortium may have patents elswhwere than the US and their enforceablility depends on the validity of the subject matter in those jurisidictions. Im sorry but "it depends on various factors"

    The issue of reverse engineering/trade secrets is also rather fraught with uncertainty as well. Prima facie their case is a poor one but it will hinge on the facts. vague but thats the best any lawyer can say.
  • by vectro ( 54263 ) <vectro@pipeline.com> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @08:51AM (#1436587)
    I discussed this with my father, who has done trials in this particular courthouse, and he had the following things to say:

    1) It's OK for them to send the notice by e-mail as long as your interests will be sufficiently represented at the courthouse, which appears to have been the case. In fact, as long as your interests are sufficiently represented, they don't need to give you any notice at all!

    2) The TRO would not affect you until you were served by a process server. Until then, you can keep serving up that program!

    3) A TRO only lasts for 10 days. It's supposed to only be put in place if the plaintiff would suffer irreperable financial harm if the TRO is not given, and the judge thinks the plaintiff is likely to win. However, my father also said that many judges in this court take more the perspective of granting a TRO unless the defendant would suffer financial harm as a result.

    Hope that clears this up.
  • by youngsd ( 39343 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @08:59AM (#1436594)

    I just got back from the hearing. During the hearing I did a head count. There were 40 individuals in the spectator area of the court-room, and it appeared (from conversations, T-shirts, etc.) that all were showing support for the good guys. In addition, there were a gaggle of lawyers for the DVD-CCA (I counted five, but they were flitting about so much it is hard to be sure), two lawyers for the defendants (one from the EFF), and one named defendant.

    The judge said he'd try to make his decision by this afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed.


  • by Alphix ( 33559 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @09:01AM (#1436596) Homepage
    The problem with the bank scenario is that there is:
    A) Probably no legal way for the first guy to get the code so that he can disclose it to you
    B) The code can only be used for unlawful activities....that is....opening the vault even though youre not authorized to do so
    C) Considering he is an employee he has probably signed a deal not to tell anyone the banks secrets

    A better scenario would be:

    Youre walking around in your own home town listening to some music and eating some ice-cream. A nice looking person walks up to you and asks you where the gun store is, you tell him/her where it it and he/she buys a gun thats used to rob a bank later....

    Now the person telling the criminal where the shop is would be the person with a link to DeCSS on his/her homepage. The shop (assuming they didnt break any laws selling the gun in the first place) is the server that actually holds the code and the criminal is the person that downloads DeCSS and uses it to rip and sell illegal copies...

    In my scenario....why should you or the shop be held guilty?

    Remember the DeCSS code isnt ONLY used for pirating....its used to *play* DVD's on Linux systems...
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @09:26AM (#1436617) Homepage Journal

    The drive will not physically read all of the sectors present on the media until it has been authenticated.

    That is only true for consumer units. Professional units can read/write anywhere on the disk. The content had to be put there somehow in the first place.

    The upshot is, the consumer gets no fair use, and the professional pirate just has to be sure to sell enough bootleg copies to make back the $30,000 cost of a professional unit (unless it's stolen).

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @09:53AM (#1436632) Journal
    Regardless of the number of laws and restraining orders and judgements one acquires. The item in question will still be legal somewhere on the planet. Can we agree on this? And since a site in Brasil/Taiwan/Nauru whatever is *just* *as* *readily* *accessible* as any other, how can the DVD consortium have any *reasonable expectation* of stopping distribution of DeCSS and its ilk?

    No number of asterisks in a /. posting can prevent the extraterritorial application of IP law where permitted. Conduct, even though it may have been legal abroad, may result in an action or criminal cause domestically in many cases. This is a deep and complex body of law -- do not try to do this at home. Though the data may live abroad, always ask this question, where's the beef?

    At the end of the day, you can move your data anywhere in an instant, and serve it from anywhere you like. Nevertheless, serving that data into (or exporting it from) the U.S. (and its damned hard to avoid doing that) creates a basis for liability if jurisdiction can be obtained, whether by treaty or otherwise. If any of your property or body (the beef) lives in the U.S., they'll have you for lunch.

    There is quite a bit of case law in copyrightland, in particular, concerning whether a defendant can be liable for authorizing infringing activity abroad from some transaction (like a phone call) made from inside the U.S.

    EVERY scenario in this arena is highly law- and fact-dependent, and there are some things that can be done that may avoid liability or criminal responsibility. But most people don't want to export their meat (and any property they'd want to keep) as well as their data. Failing to do at least that, it would be highly foolish to undertake any such conduct without solid advice of counsel. And even if you did, it would still be a fine idea to get advice to make sure you are liability- and responsibility-clear.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @09:57AM (#1436635) Homepage Journal

    doe#60 www.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=547600297.

    More to the point, they want the court to order doe#60 to alter a site he has no lawful control of. How's that supposed to work?

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @10:56AM (#1436666) Homepage Journal

    Just link to the court documents! Let their lawyers do your legwork for you. They cannot make it illegal for you to post a public document of the court!

  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @12:04PM (#1436701) Homepage Journal
    At the bottom of this page [optusnet.com.au] is the set of three DVD files. Note the .au domain. Nothing in the US. Enjoy. (Please ignore the rubble, this copy was put up rather hastily.)
  • by slashdot-me ( 40891 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @01:02PM (#1436717)
    Hi all. I just got back from the hearing in San Jose. There were about 35 of us in a courtroom with 56 seats. The dvd lawyers seemed quite suprised by the turnout. I brought a bag of 60 floppies which included decss, the source, the letter, and pointers to various online news articles (including /.). Everyone got a floppy (or three), including the dvd guys. The dvd lawyers got a few laughs when they requested that one of the floppies be entered in to evidence, SEALED. Apparently they didn't want copies of the floppy available from the county clerk, as that would surely bring about the ruination of the movie industry. Paper printouts were also circulated and were entered as evidence, again sealed.

    The judge said almost nothing during the hearing once the procedural bits were taken care of. He'll send his ruling to the lawyers on both sides sometime this afternoon.

    There were a couple reporters at the hearing. Chris Oakes from Wired showed up early and sat through the hearing. His story is here [wired.com]. He misspelled my name though, it's Salsbury. I also chatted for some length with Deborah Kong from the San Jose Mercury. I explained the difference between bit-for-bit copying and decryption and why decryption is not necessary for piracy. Her article will probably be in tomorrow's paper.
    There was also a reporter from kcbs 740, I don't remember his name.

    After dinner we had lunch at the Habana Cuba. Mmmm, bananas and sheep.

    BTW: I forgot my bag of floppies and a blue jacket in the back of someone's car when we went to Habana. If you find it, please email me at stickman AT altavista DOT net. We can arrange a mutually convienent place to meet, like the hearing on the 14th.

  • by rickmoen ( 1322 ) <rick@linuxmafia.com> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @01:52PM (#1436732) Homepage

    Hot off the press (from Robin Gross, the EFF's counsel on the case):

    The judge has denied the motion for a temporary restraining order. More to come soon.

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth