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DVD Hearing Victory: We Won - For Now 443

Open Source community members breathed a sigh of relief at 4:50 PST today when Santa Clara County Judge William J. Elfving rejected the DVD Copy Control Association's request for a temporary restraining order that would keep Web Sites from linking to information about DeCSS.

Open Source community members breathed a sigh of relief at 4:50 PST today, as Santa Clara Judge William J. Elfving rejected DVD Copy Control Association, Inc.'s request for a restraining order.

Robert Jones was Defendant #15 in the filing, and he shared his thoughts after hearing the decision:

"It's good to hear that some sort of sanity won today. I'm sure we're all very appreciative to the EFF and everyone else who showed up to help and advise. I wish to personally thank, especially, all the lawyers who volunteered their advice and services pro bono to the defendants. There is still the hearing on the 14th, so the war is far from over, but the first battle has been won."

In the middle of the day, SVLUG President Chris DiBona called in, letting us know what happened after the courtroom's doors opened this morning:

"The courtroom opened up, we all filed in. we had about 50 people in there, two reporters inside, two waiting outside. [The Plaintiffs are] claiming it's a trade secret thing. They're claiming that to get the Z-key, they had to click on a license agreement. There's no reason why that's true. They inserted their arguments and they said that the hacker in Norway had to use the player, sign the agreement, and therefore it's an illegal thing. There's a law on the books in California that says if you publish a trade secret that is known to be stolen, or could only become available through theft, you have an obligation not to continue with the distribution of the trade secret."

Daniel Silveira, a student at San Jose State University, was also in the courtroom. He said:

"The expression on the judge's face looked rather enlightened when the point was made that you don't need the encryption key in order to make illegal copies of movies or DVD discs."

According to an E-mail we received from Defendant Andrew Bunner, there is no question that Allon Levy, Robin Gross and the rest of the team from the Electronic Frontier Foundation made major contributions to the good fight, but this was a strong community effort. Some of the characteristic playfulness of the community came through during the plaintiff's testimony; when the plaintiff's attorney tried to assert that DeCSS's only purpose was to promote piracy, the gallery laughed out loud.

Hopefully, the community will be able to stage yet another fantastic show on January 14th, the day slated for the hearing during which the DVD CCA will try to get a permanent restraining order preventing Web sites from publishing information about DeCSS.

The time between the recess and the judgment trudged on, as concerned Open Source community members everywhere waited impatiently. Many were hoping for a decision earlier in the afternoon, especially those in Europe who were staying up late to hear the decision.

Fortunately, those who went to sleep before the Judge made his decision will wake up to good news tomorrow. The never-ending war for the recognition of free speech in source code has won a battle today, while championing the efforts of Open Source aficionados the world over.

To be continued January 14th...

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DVD Hearing Hictory; We Won... For Now.

Comments Filter:
  • by slashdot-me ( 40891 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:47PM (#1434176)
    Heh heh. I brought the floppies. I made 60 copies using the many aol, ms office, and macintosh disks I've accumulated over the years. I was mentioned in the Wired article [] (yippee). I'll show up on the 14th with even more disks. Email me interesting articles that you want included. My address is stickman AT altavista DOT net. The courtroom is small, only about 50 seats. Let's fill it on the 14th! And the rest of the floor, and the lobby, and the street below. :)

    Ryan Salsbury
  • "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

    The words that follow that statement are not law. They are not legally binding. But I still believe that this is truth: that "all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights".

    In general, legally-guaranteed rights are not subject to contracts. Many neighborhoods here in Phoenix, Arizona, are deed-restricted with wording along the lines of "you may not sell this property to those of Spanish blood, or to Negros, or Irishmen." This is a contract that is agreed to when you buy the property, and that before the passing of various civil rights laws was enforced regularly. But a contract cannot be enforced if it violates the Constitution or the laws of the United States of America, such as the 1st Amendment right to freedom of the press as was exercised by Slashdot's editorial staff when they posted links to the DeCSS program.

    We once had an institution in this country called slavery. It was legal. Most slaves had been legally sold to slavers under the laws of their home country, and the slavers then legally re-sold those slaves to landowners in the Americas. I mention this fact to go one step further than the legalistic argument, which is to say that there ARE rights granted to us by our Creator, and among those are freedom of speech and of thought, freedoms which are being violated every day via "contracts" in which we voluntarily enter servitude in exchange for a livelihood. I could be working for twice the money today if I were willing to sign contracts granting my employer ownership of all ideas and software written while I am in their employ (even ideas thought at home, and software written at home, on my personal time). I will not do that, thus I work for small businesses that are grateful for quality people (grateful enough to overlook my refusal to sign such contracts) but which cannot afford to pay real money.

    Enough meandering. But the point is this: That laws and contracts which violate the rights and freedoms granted to us by our Creator exist, and that we are right and just when we protest and try to overturn these laws and contracts, whether they be deed restrictions which prevent Hispanics from buying houses in choice neighborhoods, or a frivolous lawsuit intended to impede free speech on the Internet.


  • They named Slashdot as a party in the restraining order because Slashdot reported on the event, Tom, including telling where the "illegal" software was located. If this isn't a case of freedom of speech, what is?

    This is not unusual. Corporations regularly infringe upon our rights either by buying legislation that grants them rights at our expense (usually under the guise of "tort reform", insurance companies love this, they want us to have no legal recourse if an incompetent doctor kills a loved one, for example), or directly, by refusing to give people jobs unless these people agree to give up all rights to their thoughts and speech (by which I mean those employment contracts that give your employer the rights to all ideas and software that you come up with during your term of employment -- even those ideas thought at home, and software written at home).

    Unfortunately, it appears that business interests have managed to brainwash the majority of Americans into believing that giving up their rights is in the best interests of the country. This reasoning reminds me of the reasoning of Southern politicians during the 1950's, when they raved and ranted that the rights of states were more important than the rights of the people who lived in those states. Except today, it's the rights of corporations that are held as being more important than the rights of the people who work for those corporations and the rights of the consumers who buy products from those corporations.


  • There is nothing usefull to do with the darned program!

    Playing DVDs under Linux/*BSD/et al isn't useful?

  • Hybris isn't a word AFAIK (And my dictionary knows for that matter) I belive the word you're looking for is "hubris."
    First of all, "hybris" actually *is* a word. It's in the OED as a synonym for "hubris". Four citations are given:
    1. 1920 Public Opinion 27 Aug. 195/2 - During one of these the oppressor, possessed of place and power, imagined in his hybris, that he might extend his arm across the ocean.
    2. 1929 Encycl. Brit. XXII. 53/1 - Themis is the servant or companion of Zeus... Her opposite is Hybris, insolent encroachment upon the rights of others.
    3. 1949 Horizon Aug. 87 - Hybris means believing that you are a god, i.e., that you cannot suffer; pride means a defiant attempt to become a god.
    4. 1969 Commonweal 22 Aug. 524 - America, like all earlier empires, is going to march to the brink of hybris and plunge in.
    The reason for the confusion is that the Greek letter upsilon was sometimes transliterated into the Latin character set as a "u", sometimes as a "y". Thinking of words like "hygiene", "chyme", "neophyte", "hyacinth", "phylum", "psychology", "physics", "gynecology", and "halcyon", and you'll see why "hybris" is not an unreasonable spelling.

    I note that the citations for "hubris" extend back only through 1884.

  • I wrote an editorial on this subject entitled, By Reading This Article, You Agree to Subscribe to This Magazine for 25 Years [], detailing why shrinkwrap "agreements" are legally and ethically indefensible. No one should take such documents seriously.


  • That was a good thing to do.

    It would be great if someone could organise lots of T-Shirts (or ties?) with the code printed on them.

  • Unfortunately, this is only a short-term win. Two years after the enactment of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [], its "anti-circumvention" provisions become effective. "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.". This section takes effect January 27, 2000. There is an exception for reverse engineering for the purpose of obtaining interoperability, so the Linux issue can be argued. Note that this act contains criminal sanctions.

    So expect a Federal lawsuit to be filed shortly after January 27.

  • No, the point is that it is the coperations right to make money, but not in exchange for the freedoms of society.. duh.
  • by KOHb ( 16682 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @03:54PM (#1434212)
    I was one of those who woke up early, donned nice clothing, and showed up. Wonder if it helped.
  • I paid my $65 today to join the EFF today, and I would encourage everyone else who is able to do the same.

    As I was reading about this yesterday and today, it hit me how much the EFF has actually done for the internet community as a whole. From the CDA to DeCSS, the EFF has provided pro-bono legal support for a wide variety of online issues.

    Join now []. It is the least we can do to say thanks for the way they have supported us in the past.

  • I had gotten into an argument with Jon Johansen of MoRE fame, about this very issue on the Sigma Design's Newsgroup. At first I contested that this was not the same as bypassing the CSS. After several exchanges with him, I realized that capturing the Direct X stream would do exactly that. This technique really opend my eyes. It could take any software decoder that uses Direct X, and turn it into a CSS work around for making MPEG copies of a DVD.

    Anyone who pays attention to the VCD sceen knows that DVD Ripping to VCD has been common for some time now. This is accomplished using the program DVDRip. DeCSS isn't any better than that. DeCSS really doesn't promote pirating at all. The decrypted VOB still retains multiple audio streams. The potential pirater would still need a way to rip the video and audio streams from the VOB in order to convert it to MPEG1.

    DVDRip should be a much greater concern to the MPAA than DeCSS. I think that they are just upset that their "trade secrets" were so easily rendered useless.

    Time flies like an arrow;
  • The freedom to use things we paid for in ways we want?

    I admit, I did at first agree with you - I didn't think it was correct to say it was restricting our freedom.

    The more I think about it, though, the more I think it is at least somewhat about freedom.

    Firstly, we should be free to link to sites run by others, and if their material is found to be illegal they should be prosecuted, not us.

    Secondly, if I buy something, I should be free to do what I want with it (within certian bounds - not injuring other, for instance). I admit this might be a little contravrsial, but I think I have at least something of a point here.

  • ...and they struck out, against two EFF lawyers with nothing but 48 hours to prep and a strong sense of justice.

    This is exactly why community based actions, including open sourced software, are so successful:

    1. People want to help. There is no incentive to help a multi-national "machine". But individuals feel like they can make a difference in situations like this, so they do.

    2. When people do help, they can make all the difference in the world. This is personal empowerment at its(thanks d betamax) best, for example, this [] comment from Rick Moen:

    Credit goes to Bay Area Linux activist Deirdre Saoirse for noticing that the plaintiff was getting away uncontested with claiming that DeCSS was a tool for copying DVDs (which it isn't) as opposed to playing them.

    Deirdre got the attention of defence attorney Robin Gross, during a court recess, and made sure they understood the very vital point that DeCSS has nothing to do with DVD copying, which was possible (but uneconomical) before DeCSS was written using other tools entirely. The defence team then explained this to the judge, who was visibly surprised by the news.

    The plaintiffs may well have lost the day, right there.

    When is the last time you heard of an individual stepping forward like this for a corporation? Open source isn't just about free software, it's about personal empowerment!

  • by adraken ( 8869 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @07:29PM (#1434242)
    By the way, I just want to make a few comments:

    1) I do not own any DVD related devices. As a result, I cannot pirate anything related to this DVD junk. I just find it humorous to make that assertment.

    2) I have put the files back up at []. The Weil guys got it wrong in section 20. (heh)

    3) We better have an even better showing on January 14th. If they thought that this was incredible, they should be surprised come the 14th and we have every major media outlet in the nation out there plus 400+ supporters littering the concrete with source code.

    "David M. Chan, an Individual;"

  • Boy, was I glad that the injunction didn't come down.

    As I said earlier, if the injunction was enforced, the consequences could have been too ugly to contemplate. It could have given the DVD CCA lawyers carte blanche to start going after individual web sites with a vengence, and its effects on could have been a bit on the terrifying side.

    Given the unfortunate experience of the Church of Scientology versus several web sites and the versus controversy, I was extremely concerned what could have happened to if the injunction went into force.
  • When the Nazis came for Gypsies,
    I did not speak up, for I was not a Gypsy;
    when they came for Jews,
    I did not speak up, for I was not a Jew;
    when they came for homosexuals,
    I did not speak up, for I was not a homosexual;
    and when they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak up for me.

    -- German pastor, Martin Neimmeller

    you'd better get worked up...

    if you need more hints:

    - it is not about DVDs

    - even if it were, sooner or later you will have DVD (so you will be influenced by what's happening today) [unless you get lucky and die...]

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:58PM (#1434257) Homepage Journal
    Tom, it's not primarily about 'the freedom to make a backup copy of the Matrix'. You're responding to the constant surface diatribes, and yes, they are trivial and rather embarrassing.

    What is more important is where all this is leading, and to understand that you need to look at it from the perspective of a content creator, not a consumer. There may be an argument that consumer rights mean being allowed to keep personal copies- there's also an argument that it's as silly as trying to make a copy of your toaster- either way, it is not a major issue, it's a smallish financial hassle if you have to buy multiple instances of a product for whatever reason.

    From the perspective of a content creator, we are rapidly moving towards a world where I (a musician) have no access to the popular media formats at all, unless I go through the DVD or recording industry. This, not the consumer angle, is a serious, serious problem.

    I'd just made this point in another thread so with your pardon I'll simply copy over the relevant points...

    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. (After posting this I was reminded that in Canada there's a stiff tax on CD-recordable blanks for just the same reason. This is not history, this is now and it continues to get worse)

    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?

    I hope this answers some of your questions, Tom. You're right that it seems a lot of fuss to make just to get to watch The Matrix on a linux box, or make a backup of it. But it's not really about consumer rights at all- the real damage is done by delivering control of the media itself over to the corporations, who then withhold access to media.

    As far as I know it is still possible to produce non-CSS DVDs, ones with no encryption, and play them on mainstream consumer decks. For how much longer will that be true?

  • Exactly... ANYONE can be called in for the gusto, but its important to remember two things:
    1.) Linux is the "hip new happening thing"... that has a certain value in the court of public opinion
    2.) Linux users tend to be more willing to DO the types of things we're talking about. Sure, anyone could be called as an expert witness (and if their testimony is relevant, they SHOULD be), but the Linux community probably will be more readily available to offer up speakers than, say, the Windows community.
  • I am trying to understand why the ability to play a disc on the operating system of one's choice suddenly became some inalienable right, an essential freedom guaranteed by Creator and Constitution--as some seem to think it.

    Why would I say that this is not *desirable*? Of course it is. I desire a lot of things to run on my Unix systems that don't. But to pin the banner of freedom on it, as though it were some Bill of Rights thing, like the right to free association or freedom of religion or freedom of the press--well, I just don't understand.

  • How about the freedom to link to things without being held liable?
    How about the right to "fair use"?
    The freedom to reverse engineer?
    The freedom from EULA's you must agree to AFTER the transation to purchase a program has been made?
    The freedom from rediculous EULA's at all?(I mean, give me a break.. you paid for this crap, and you should have certain liberties with it, especially ones the courts have already granted..)

    The EFF evidently thought this case had enough potential to set precident to throw togeather a legal team in 24 hours for a preliminary hearing that hardly has any impact on the actual trial, so I assume they think there's a lot to lose here also.

    Also, Tom, I believe we should call all attempt to take away our liberties as such, and not reserve such words for "big things", lest they take away so much only a very few "big things" are left.
    Call all your freedoms as they are, and you should be able to enjoy them much longer....
  • Okay.

    Isn't this just a little bit childish? You're basically saying that because they don't conform to how you view the software world should be, and they want to secure their intellectual rights, the technology isn't worth using? "They won't play my way, so I won't play with them at all"? Surely you can come up with a more productive method of protest than sulking, as that's all this would be, sulking.

    And...I really hate to say it, but I doubt the DVD consortium would care about the buying habits of a reasonably small segment of the DVD-buying population. I mean, there's a lot more people out there than just the collection of open-source advocates who don't have home-theater systems. They're not going to care if you stop buying. I doubt they'd notice. All it would accomplish would be to keep your segment of "protestors" out of the next wave of technology, something that I'm reasonably sure you don't care to be identified with.

    If you want to take action, fine. Protest, do whatever it is that you need to do. But a boycott of DVD technology is idiocy and counter-productive, I'm sorry.

    (And to the moderators: I'm not trying to gather flames, nor am I looking for a load of responses. These are my opinions, and although completely negative, do not necessarily merit downward moderation just for my ideas.)


  • I'd like to see DVD's go the way of 8-track tapes. The whole idea was wrong from the start.

    I disagree. The idea of DVD is a good one. Put a whole movie in high-quality digital format, with professional sound and interactive features, on a high-capacity compact disc that can also hold arbitrary data for computers. Sounds like the Compact Disc, Stage Two. Great idea!

    Then a bunch of blood-sucking lawyers and money-grubbing corporations got wind of it, and decided that they could Make The World A Better Place (for them) by loading it up with cheap copy protection schemes. Rather like those annoying key disks from 1980s IBM-PC software, it didn't do much to stop copying, but made everything a whole lot more difficult for the people who actually want to legitimately use the thing.

    If DVD had turned out like the original CD -- just a media, not a copyright law enforcement agency -- I think everyone would have been better off, the DVD Forum included.
  • Copying isn't illegal. Only the use of a copy can be illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @08:00PM (#1434279)

    The DVD Copy Control Association lawyers made a big mistake by relying on trade secret agreements instead of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (WIPO treaty) or other intellectual property law.

    But I predict that in desperation (otherwise they go out of business) the DVD CCA will eventually raise the DMCA issue. It is especially pertinent since DMCA enforcement will begin a week after the trial resumes, and the DMCA was passed for the exact reasons that the DVD group is suing, to lock up and control software and all digital property.

    I quote from the complaint (emphasis added): "DVD encryption technology was (and is) critical to the adoption and utilization of the DVD format. Without such copy protection, the motion picture companies would not have allowed their copyrighted motion pictures to be available in this new digital video format. Without motion picture content, there would be no viable market for computer DVD drives and DVD players, as well as the related computer chips and software necessary to run these devices. Accordingly, the Defendants' continued misappropriation of proprietary CSS technology will have a devastating effect on DVD CCA and many other California businesses in the motion picture, computer, and consumer electronics industries, who have invested substantial amounts of money and resources in the development of the DVD video format."

    It is exactly this sort of logic that Open Source advocates need to overturn. Computers and the Internet were not invented so Hollywood movie studios could have a convenient avenue for e-commerce. We have many other valid reasons for needing high-capacity disc drives and recording devices than to copy Hollywood movies.

    The Constitution allows for Congress to establish copyrights and patents, not to protect the private property rights of these studios and the music conglomerates, but to "encourage the progress of Science and the Useful Arts."

    It really boils down to control. Will these monopoly giants be able to use the technology we invented to control not only their expression of our ideas, but our very ideas themselves--or will we free software people regain control of our technology in the service of freedom for the people?

    If the DVD CAA does not raise the DMCA as a central point in its argument, we should. We should file a suit in federal court asking for relief from enforcement of the DMCA because of this case. The issue of reverse engineering here is too important. It needs to be argued in court and the DMCA should be overturned. The law when passed in October 1998 provided for some discussion of the issues before enforcement began. Have you noticed signs of any such discussion?

    We should use this occasion to band together and seek to overturn the DMCA. We will never get a better chance. Note that only a few nations have signed the WIPO treaty so far. If the case goes with us, no others will, since it is intended mainly to protect intellectual property of the rich nations against the poor ones.

  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:08PM (#1434292)
    The reference to cracking code available for DVD back in 1997 is very interesting and relevant to the case.

    I couldn't follow the links either, but the way that it worked (apparently) was to capture the information put out by the usual commercial program. It would be extremely good if the exact reference could be tracked down and the DVD response (or lack of it) to that situation. This is extremly relevant to the DeCSS case. Particularly since the main thing that DeCSS makes possible which the previous break did not is to run DVD without an official decoder (eg on Linux where there is no such decoder).

    So if piracy is the concern, what was the response before?

    If it is not, then why are they going after DeCSS?

  • Although other replies have suggested it, I thought there should be at least one post just suggesting that you can help fight this battle by joining the EFF [].

    There's no way I can personally be there to show support, but hopefully this will help. It's probably something we all should do anyway to help protect our freedoms as other lawsuits like this arise - a suggested membership is $65 but there's also a basic $34 membership and a $20 student membership (that's only 100 packets of Ramen, which means only one month without food!).

    And of course, it's Tax Deductible - if you need to drop your income by only a few 100k to lower your income tax bracket after cashing in those options, what better way to burn the cash! It sure beats some stinky 'ol monkey infested island.
  • Seems as though you've hit it pretty close to the mark here. Very much keep these ideas clear in your mind, you who wrote this, and you who read this, for they foreshadow the end game of capitalism, which we enter at the end of the 20th century.

    Here, in these words, we see the fabric of democracy ripped by capitalism. The prudence of justice for the many undermined to protect individuals. The chief human invigilator: imagination, stifled by the self-indulgence of few.

    Lots of big words, to paint a clear picture. I wish you well in spreading of this knowledge. It would do us all well to know what you have said.

  • Something like "So you're saying that someone *stole* the money you left in the street?"

    Leaving money (or your bike, or your car, or whatever) in the street doesn't give someone the right to steal it. Regardless of the ease of doing so, taking something that does not belong to you is both illegal and wrong.

    Now, coming across a pile of money in the middle of the street is a questionable situation -- it may have been lost and you might want to make sure the rightful owner has a chance to claim it. But coming across a pile of money on someone else's kitchen table is another story entirely.

    Isn't there a burden of due care in protecting a trade secret?

    One might say (and plaintiff's council seems to be arguing) that they did exercise due care to protect their secret, and that the authors of DeCSS took extreme measure to violate their protections.

    So yes, this has a bearing on the case, but not for the defense.

  • The idea of DVD is a good one. Put a whole movie in high-quality digital format, with professional sound and interactive features, on a high-capacity compact disc that can also hold arbitrary data for computers. Sounds like the Compact Disc, Stage Two.

    For the record, I assumed you understood that. The idea of digital media is always good. It's just that digitial media need have nothing to do with video or audio, per se. Digital media is for storing data. Period. Digital video is just another kind of data. The only things we should be worried about are: reliability; cost; availability of sufficient storage; availability of sufficient read bandwidth; availability of some method of writing.

    If DVD had turned out like the original CD -- just a media, not a copyright law enforcement agency -- I think everyone would have been better off

    What makes you think the original CD was well-designed? Even then the thinking was: entertainment first, computer storage second. I'm not intimately familiar with the internal details but suffice to say that writing an audio-copying program that works reliably is no mean feat - because the storage format is all screwed up. For some reason, it was thought to be good for audio players. I seriously doubt it was even good for them.

    Obviously what you want in digital media is nothing more than a simple, robust track layout that does nothing more than store data. If it's as good as it can be for storing data, then it will also be as good as it can be for storing digital audio and video.

    We've tried it too many times, and it has never worked well: from now on, we should never let the RIAA lawyers design digital media.
  • I am a little tired of those who shamelessly promote hacks of encryption codes as a triumph of good versus evil. You are not the champions of the oppressed that you think you are - you're simply providing the means for people to steal what is not rightfully theirs.

    Your explanation of how an tool for creating a Linux DVD driver comprises "the means for people to steal what is not rightfully theirs" vanished somewhere between your keyboard and my screen. Would you care to repost it?

    Be that as it may, the possible use of DeCSS to bootleg DVDs is no more relevant than the possible use of a Swiss Army Knife to burgle or murder.

    You understand the technology well enough to realize that the hack will allow the illegal DVD factories in Asia to thrive.

    As has been repeatedly pointed out on /., the illegal DVD factories in Asia (or any of the other six continents where they may happen to reside) simply copy the DVD bit-by-bit, encryption keys and all, without using DeCSS.

  • I do not believe that law is retroactive.

    Regardless, the person who actually did the reverse engineering is not even in the US.

  • You know what? Fuck it. I'm tired of stupid ass slashdot moderators and stupid ass slashdot articles. This is the moderation that broke the camel's back. I tried to always make intellegent or funny comments. But most of the moderators are flatout dumbfucks.

    I'm tired of the stupid ass articles, and the fucked up moderation. Goodbye slashdot.

  • The RIAA was set up to make sure musicians got royalties from jukebox companies whose big sales pitch to bars was that they could fire their live players and still have music -- and make money every time a "nickel song" was played on the juke.

    Yes, and now the problem is that the RIAA is getting all the money that should be going to the musicians, plus pissing off the customers. It's time to redraw the map yet one more time. This is between us and the musicians; I'm sure we can work things out. The RIAA is a dinosaur past the end of it's life and what we are seeing is the beginning of the last act for them. They couldn't possibly act in a way more carefully calculated to hasten their demise.
  • Absolutly to the point, the big picture behind all that dvd/mp3 stuff is that the big corporations have held a monopoly on the production and distribution chain in the past.

    That was their power, and with the outcome of i.e. mp3 and the internet the see their empire falling. I resort to mp3 for a moment because this is a more appropriate example today.
    The motivation behind their actings is mainly that they will not be able to force artists into very bad contracts. While you can produce music cd's relativly simple today, you have no chance in distributing and promoting your music the conventional way, cause that's what is expensive.
    Use the internet and mp3 and e-commerce, and the big corporations are out of business.

    OTOH the case with movies is nearly the same, while you need more money to produce a movie, there's still the potential to crush the business of coorporations, who earn money just because they hold the distribution chain, both at the end consumer and at the cinema level.

    They will face a new competition, because there's enough potential money around today to finance the making of a movie, what we miss is a way to get it to the public independantly.

    For instance, I would have never heard of a movie like PI if it wasn't for the internet. And without the web I doubt it would have got enough publicity to be shown anywhere in my town, it just isn't enough "mainstream".

    And this shows that Tom Christiansen's reasoning is wrong, if you look behind the whole thing you see that also the freedom of the individual is hurt, because I for one think movies and music are also a kind of information, and my freedom to get that information is hurt when it has to pass a "big coorporation"-filter before coming to my attention. And that shouldn't be necessary with today's possibilies of electronic information exchange.
  • by jammer ( 4062 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @03:57PM (#1434322) Homepage
    Thank you to everyone involved in helping us make such a strong showing today. This makes me feel much more positive about our future chances in this case. Several people are considering making donations to the EFF [] for their help in this, you may wish to consider this yourself. I strongly urge the EFF to continue their support and provision of legal counsel for us in this matter.

    One must wonder if the lawyers for DVD CCA Inc expected to be stood up to in this manner. You mess with the bull, you get the horns, or somesuch.

    We can't relax now; plans must be laid for the next hearing. I hope to be able to be there this time, but I'm not sure it will be possible. We have two weeks to plan, now, so we can be sure to have an even stronger oupouring of support.

    Eternal vigilence, and all that.

    Anyway, I'm tired and babbling. Thanks, guys.

    "Robert Jones, an Individual"
  • There could be flaws in this mechanism. For example, a CD-R cannot make an exact bitwise copy of a CD. This is because a CD has more than can be recorded on a CD-R. There are pre-recorded parts of a CD-R and recorded places in a CD that cannot be recorded on a CD-R. A DVD and DVD-R could (and most likely does) have a significant difference.

    However, a well equipped CD or DVD production facility can make bitwise copies using the same kind of equipment used to make the originals. If the data can be read, at this level you can make something that will end up reading the same exact thing. It's equivalent to being able to record mispositioned tracks and long sectors or a floppy.

    If in a DVD player application all of the decrypting takes place in the program (and none in the DVD device) then all you need to do is trace exactly what the device driver gets from the device, and make something (a different device or a differently recorded DVD with an emulating driver) that gives the application exactly the same thing. Then you see the same thing.

    If the device does the decrypting, less than a bitwise copy would not fool it. However, a data DVD could have simple raw data (perhaps lightly encrypted to prevent any detection mechanisms in the device from seeing what is going on) that allows an emulating device driver to fool the application into believing it has a motion picture DVD.

    Illegal copying may or may not be trivial or easy, but almost certainly it can be done. And once done, the tools are likely to be software and will spread faster than a virus. The copies might not work on consumer grade audio/video only devices, but certainly could be done in a computer.

    The movie and music industries almost surely know that their goals cannot be met. Why would they go to all this trouble to suppress DeCSS if the replacement CSS they are now delaying DVD-video for will work just fine. They clearly are depending on obscurity, and trying to take legal measures to bring about that obscurity.

    Yet at the same time, they (at least their lawyers) are coming across as rather ignorant. I don't expect a lawyer to know the mathematics of encryption algoriths, or the details of coding a device driver, but I would at least expect lawyers from a large corporation to have access to smart technical advisers that know that a CD with an application can be read without ever seeing (or clicking "agree" on) the user agreement.

    But they will be better prepared for the next round.
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @03:58PM (#1434327) Journal
    I haven't seen that mentioned before. Am I correct that the statement in court refers to being able to simply copy an entire DVD bit-by-bit is all that's needed to copy a DVD?

    So the decrypting method is only needed to use the contents of a DVD, while copies can be made without understanding the contents of the data.

  • Short story first. I do computer animation. At my previous company, we made a short film, just for the fun of it. Then, we made a video describing in detail exactly how we did the various animation effects.

    We were contacted quite quickly after that by Brigham Young University, because we said in the 'making of' film that we had used a particular technique published by a professor at BYU. He didn't mention in the paper, of course, that he'd patented the technique. Because we had been so candid and detailed in our 'making of' tape, we had no choice but admit infringment.

    Since then, all 'making of' videos have been practically content free. And, frankly, people just want to see the pretty pictures anyway.

    The offense in this case would have been remarkably hamstrung if the code had just appeared; with no description of how it happened. I know that the temptation is well-nigh irresistable; but the kernel that people really want is the code itself, not a description of the hacking process. I think that the people involved in this project are incredibly bright and insightful, and I marvel at their technique...but in 20:20 hindsight it would have been better not to know how it was done.

    In the most similar case to date, source code for RC4 was published about 7 years ago. It was published anonymously, and to this day nobody knows who did it; or how they found it. This left RSA Inc (the keepers of the trade secret) with nothing to do at all to stop its spread. All they could do (and did do) was claim a trademark on the name you couldn't call it that. RC4 remains a spectacularly useful, fast, unbreakable cipher -- and now anybody can use it.

    So -- next time -- maybe a little discretion.


  • by Col. Panic ( 90528 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @03:58PM (#1434335) Homepage Journal
    when the plaintiff's attorney tried to assert that DeCSS's only purpose was to promote piracy, the gallery laughed out loud.

    God I wish I had been there.

  • Don't be surprised that the guy's wrong. He's probably just a dumb American. :-) But that begs the question: what nationality is Tom Christiansen? Danish?
    Not all Americans are "dumb", you know. They're often just a bit "under-educated" by classical norms still occasionally found in some places in the world, some families, and some schools. And I actually mean standards somewhat more modern than the venerable trivium and quadrivium. :-)

    But yes, I do hold an American passport, as have my dad's family since they came over from Denmark much earlier this century. (My mom's family used to hold British passports while they lived here in America -- way back in the early 1620s. :-)

    So yes, I'm an American. Always have been. (Although I haven't always lived in America.) I'm just, um, "over-educated" by today's norms, at least in certain areas. Languages are one such area; it's a hobby of mine. Of course, I'm also under-educated in other areas considered normal, but this is also by choice (more or less).

    In this case, I happened to know the etymon whence we derive our modern word in English, and realized immediately that the Y made complete sense. I checked the OED (it pays to have first-rate reference books) and found that both forms were admissible and documented.

  • The remaining question: what movie clip would be most appropriate?

    Although it is tempting to answer "the longest one you can find", this has the negative side effect of making part of their point for them.

    Don't get me wrong, though - this is extremely useful information for the Defense Lawyers to have in their posession.

    • The cost of the DVD
    • The cost of the CDs needed to copy the DVD (Using low-cost CDs and maximum lossless compression!)
    • The cost of the blank VHS tape needed to copy the DVD movie.

    If the defense never uses the information, you lose the time spent calculating the answer. If they need it to counter a plaintiff's claim, they have it at their fingertips. The VHS tape cost is what will kill the suit.

    Just my two bits, of course...

  • by penguinicide ( 73759 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:19PM (#1434343)
    Don't be scared away by the $65 price tag. That is for the standard membership. $35 gets you a basic membership. There also is a student membership available for I think $15. Every little bit helps (there are also membership tiers above $65).

  • Congratulations to the EFF and the other defendants on their victory. However, let's keep in mind that this is a small blow for free speech. In fact, there are still significant issues before the court. To wit:

    • Does a private individual have the right to make a program that executes a proprietary algorithm, if they used a clean-room method to find this algorithm?
    • Do individuals or companies have the right to keep data formats private?
    • Here's an important question: can you sue for damages, a person or group who released a product using your patents, if they gave that product away for free?

    Let's hope that the good guys win this fight. Between this and the dropping of the etoy vs. eToys lawsuit, this has been a good day for free speach.

  • So, if it was shown in court that CSS does not stop bit-for-bit copying, and therefore does not stop content piracy, what was CSS designed for? It would seem that its only purpose is to control the fair use of the content. The only other plausible possibility is to control entry into the DVD player marketplace...

    Or am I missing something here?
  • Digital media is for storing data. Period. Digital video is just another kind of data.

    I agree with you here, but I feel it is is important to point out that for some things, digital media should go beyond simply storing data. Again, use CDDA (Compact Disc Digital Audio) as an example. Without some sort of standard for how to encode the audio, we might have to deal with mutually incompatible music CDs and players. Oh, what joy that would be! Likewise, a universal file system format (i.e., ISO-9660) is a Good Thing. Standards are good, and the people designing digital media should look beyond simply storing the data.

    Things that do not belong are things that have nothing to do with the presentation of the data. Copy protection being a good example. Copy protection is the job of the police, not the media format.

    What makes you think the original CD was well-designed?

    It seems to do the job very well. What makes you say it was not well-designed?

    Even then the thinking was: entertainment first, computer storage second.

    I think that is/was a reasonable call, especially when you consider the technology at the time: The Compact Disc was being designed when the IBM PC/XT and Apple //e were still the standard home computers, and most people didn't have home PCs. If you had come in screaming about multimedia, people would have gone, "Huh? What's that?"

    Even more recently, when the DVD was being designed, home video had a much broader market. We've only been seeing anything like convergence the past couple of years. And the DVD did end up including standards for pure data storage. There just has not been enough demand for it. A CD-ROM stores a lot of data; the practical difference between CD and DVD is far less then the difference between CD and floppy is.

    I'm not intimately familiar with the internal details but suffice to say that writing an audio-copying program that works reliably is no mean feat - because the storage format is all screwed up.

    Here your lack of knowledge gets you. The CD is designed to be a cheap way to accomplish mass distribution of identical bulk data. Mass production is accomplished by stamping the CDs using a press. This works very well, but it means that small-use applications -- that is, recordable CDs -- get tricky. You have to sustain a continuous data stream to to write laser, or you will stall and ruin the disc. This is a trade off you have to make if you want cheap mass production (of both software and music). It is not a design error.
  • What's all this about trouble getting Brazil distributed?

    Basically, there was a big fight between Gilliam and the studio who wanted to ruin the movie. At one point Gilliam went into their offices, holding a lighter up to the reel. He's got quite a flair for the drama. []

    There's lots more information about it in various places as well. Most of it not as "pretty" as in the link I provided. The fight got really nasty.
  • Congratulations to all those who were there, and were a part of such action. It is high time we of the community presented ourselves as a very critical part of the world we live in, and not as somehow a different entity altogether. The notion of Cyberspace has made a deep and lasting impression on many of us, as though once we stepped onto our computer, we are somehow not bound by the rules and laws of the real world.

    The truth however is very different. Much like the wild west of american brought together a society whose rules were less the result of tradition and more rules applicable to the world they existed in, we have the chance to reach out from Cyberspace with all the community, freedom and sharing that so many of us have created here and break down some of the traditional insanity much of the law and society in the real world represents, and to share with thsoe who haven't seen the incredible possibilities large scale generosity, sharing and collaboration gives us.

    Thankyou all those who were there, for being a crucial part of the steps that so many advocates have been chanting for for so long, and which all this year we have been seeing play out in front of us.

    The world will be a better place because of the people who saw a better place on the 'net, we are not withdrawing, we are, in the best spirit of open source, sharing everything we have found.

  • Even though we won the battle today we will be always be attacked by corporations who think that it's their right to make money at the exchange of freedom.

    For a long time this has been the case and I sincerely hope they will realize their wrongdoing. However nothing can correct the bad name the plantiffs have made for themselves in the open-source community. If they can make a name for themselves and support our efforts our lives may be made a lot better.

    Moral of the story: there will always be greed and greed affects people's judgement.
  • I remember posting a reply to the story when this thing first became a problem. Basically the way I reason is that if you want to do something like this just to it in secret or with an alias. Just get a crap e-mail account at hotmail and a homepage at xoom or geocities and then have it up on the web all with aliases pointing to various random fake addresses and such.
    Then when the goombas try to get the people who actually did anything (the writing of the program) then all they have to go on is just an alias and nothing else there.
    I may be over simplifing the problem but I would rather have the feeling that I had accomplished something good in relative secret then have fame at the cost of a law suit. What exactly are the fines for this offence if these individuals are found guilty? Most likely not too harsh but still.

    I would have to disagree with some of the sentiments about the sixties being manifest in any large scale. California has been for quite a while a very "progressive" area in terms of ideology. Politically things are quite boring compared to previous times in the history of the world. All wars that are currently fought in are usually just one sided scrimishes with petty thugs and nothing more. Most people don't engage in forms of civil disobedience that are likely to go nowhere. The only reason Winston Smith survived so long was because he didn't act out immediately and get vaporized.
  • Chris DiBona (better known to CNN reporters as "") has put up a page [] reporting on the hearing. Not much you don't see elsewhere, but some of the comments are priceless.

    My favorite:

    Probably the best part was when they did "Big lawyer fu" and tried to make it seem like unless they acted now, more and more people would take the code and put it on their sites. And that a TRO would stop it. Which, if you were a bunny rabbit who had been eating carrots in a salt mine for a decade and hadn't ever seen much less used a mouse, would make sense. But I mean -jeez- the judge had obviously seen that mahir guys web site or something, because his eventual ruling to quash the TRO showed he understood the velocity of information on the net.

    Ah yes, the juxtaposition of the DVD crack and Mahir. Don't think too much about it, you might get sick at your stomach...
  • Make sure that you file the paperwork to get cameras in the courtroom for the next hearing.

    I gotta see this :)

    P.S. Someone try to stream it too
  • For at least several reasons.

    1. DVD technology is quite expensive for me on the PC
    2. I really can't upgrade this machine with said hardware
    3. I don't really watch that many movies and I also have a little thing that I believe that in a nutshell says that since I am only basically guaranteed at most on the average about 70-80 years of total life that dosn't count good years (unlike the last year) and I only read a (non technical book) once and watch movies only once because I want to watch them all
    4. DVDs don't interest me as a medium
    5. There are usually very effective intelligence countermeasures that work against even the best surveylance techniques that the evil ones might think to use.
    6. Display technology hasn't reached an affordable level where I would need to use linux to actually watch DVDs on my PC with my monitor
    7. Every time I usually do anything in my extensive life experience it has usually not gone anywhere of any significance.
    So basically I don't have any bread and butter issues that are affected.
  • I have that book somewhere here in my library, Tom. It's rather poorly written, and his ideas of the outcomes are rather far-fetched. I do think that we are approaching an age when nanotechnology and other advances make it possible to literally produce anything for almost nothing, but I also think we've seen the future already and it's staring us in the face -- i.e., the information economy that we are all participating in here on this board. When physical goods are cheap, what will sell is the ideas and notions in our heads. This is one reason why the big corporations are going headlong into the intellectual property business, and also one reason why the patent office and government policy favor the granting of intellectual property patents, they see these as the basis of the new economy that will come about when manufacturing is no longer a major goal of any advanced economy.

    Daemon Knight really cannot be faulted for overlooking the impact of computers and the possibility of patenting intellectual property back in the '50's when he wrote that book. But it does make the book, when read in today's nascent information economy, a rather laughable read. It, alas, like so much of 50's science fiction, fails the test of time.


  • Many subdivisions here in Phoenix, Arizona, have deed restrictions that you must agree to in order to buy a home in said subdivision. Many of those deed restrictions have clauses similar to the following:

    "You shall not rent or sell this property to anybody of Spanish origin, or to Negros, or to Irishmen."

    You are stating that this contract is legal and valid?

    I don't think so! There is a law which prohibits such clauses in housing contracts, and thus any such clauses in housing contracts are null and void.

    The Constitution generally protects us against government, BTW, not against private parties. The rule of law is supposed to protect us from private parties (e.g., someone who mugs us is NOT violating our Constitutional rights, rather, he is violating rights guaranteed by rule of law, specifically, the right to be free of assault).


  • Reminds me of a copy protection scheme used on a game program for the Apple ][

    The copy-protected disk had been scratched with a pin so that track 3 was damaged. The game would try to write on track 3, and if it got an error it would consider the copy OK.

    If it succeeded, it would run ONCE, and erase the disk as it went. So copiers would make their copy, try it out, and take it home, only to find out it didn't work.

    A problem came up when it went to distribution, however. There were three revs of the Apple ][ firmware in the field. Two of them would give the correct indication of write failure to the game, but the third would not. So a legitimate original would run once and self-destruct when run on such a machine.

    Needless to say the game company got a very bad rep very quickly.

    This and similar incidents may have been significant factors in the decisions of most game manufacturers to abandon copy-protection schemes.

  • A TRO's the initial step placed in a lawsuit that you plan to carry through on- it's to stop someone that is damaging you in a civil manner from carrying on with the same damage while you prepare for the actual trial.

    Thing is, they never grant one unless there's a substantial show that they've got a substantive case. Simply put, at this point, the DVD Forum couldn't prove damages via trade secret "theft" (Wrong tack if I've ever seen one- trade secrets are only such so long as they stay secret; if they didn't breach an NDA or stole it from them or their licensee's own facilities, they're exonerated of that charge.).
  • The "circumvention" provision, as soon as it goes to any higher court, will be invalidated, or, at least, effectively modified, as it is in conflict with a long tradition of Fair Use Doctrine decisions.


  • Decompressing it to a raw bitmap and then recompressing it is going to cause it to lose another generation in quality (due to lossy compression).

    That's not necessarily true. Information was lost in the original compression because there was more information than the compressed form could hold. The expanded form contains exactly the same amount of information as the compressed form, and if it's intercepted as a digital stream (so it hasn't been distorted) the original compressed form (or another that would produce exactly the same output) can in principle be regenerated.

    Now that might or might not happen with stock compression code. But if the stock stuff doesn't work well enough, a hack could be written that would do the job.

  • Even though we won the battle today we will be always be attacked by corporations who think that it's their right to make money at the exchange of freedom.
    I get the feeling that you would have been happier to stop the sentence after the word "money". As written, that's a remarkably broad and needlessly emotional statement that you have there--wouldn't you agree? What would the American founding fathers say about this "freedom" you refer to? What would Adam Smith say?

    I can't quite pin my finger on why, but I really do get the feeling that the word "freedom" is taking a beating here that it is doesn't deserve. Or if not a beating, then at least a stretching and distortion -- a spin. It's as though the word were being impressed into service for a job it was not really cut out for.

    This is the kind of talk that gets people shaking their heads in confusion, if not, in fact, in abject disbelieve. Let us not thoughtlessly coöpt so important a word into our service without just and severe cause. There's been more than enough of that kind of despicable word games and devisive spin doctoring in our community already.

    Maybe this use it justified. It really does seem extreme, even if the other side is whacked out (and yes, of course they are). But if we use the word "freedom" so lightly, we run the risk that,in the end, it may mean nothing much at all.

  • Substitute freedom for unrestrictiveness. Even RMS said he could find no more suitable word. The problem with the word unrestrictiveness is the same as with GNU/Linux: too many syllables.
  • Perhaps for the hearing on the 14th the 'our' lawyers should be provided with a linux laptop that plays DVD's thanks to DeCSS code to show the judge.

    I really hope to be there on the 14th, and I have a relatively new laptop with a PII-400, 160MB RAM 14.1" Screen, DVD Drive, 8MB Video Ram, and a blank 10GB hard drive waiting to load linux [] on it.

    If someone wants to give me a hand setting it up (I've been short of time lately) and getting DeCSS running, I'd be happy to bring it along to show on the 14th. (Along with the stack of (legally purchased) DVD's [] I got this solstice.)

  • The person you responded to will never be troubled by anything. Or, more accuratly, he will never trouble himself to do anything. Some people wear apathy as a badge of honor, just like many teenagers go to allot of trouble to appear less smart than they are for social acceptance while in high school here in the USA. Of course, given the poster's comments insinuating all germans were/are nazis, perhaps in his case he didn't need to pretend stupidity. Next he'll probably be insinuating that all Americans are capitalists, all Russians communists, all Arabs terrorists, all blacks criminals, all whites devils, and so on.

    In any event, I doubt the person you responded to will even be troubled when they do kick in his door and take him away (a la' Brazil[1]). After all, chances are the same television shows filling up his empty life will be viewable from within his prison cell, albeit in a smaller format. And should they kill him instead, the world will be as apathetic about his death as he pretends to be about his life.

    [1]The best movie ever made. :-)
  • by /ASCII ( 86998 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:17PM (#1434437) Homepage
    I find it strange that the DVD consortium are taking such extreme meassures against DeCSS. I mean, step back and look at the big picture:

    No copyprotection on a widespread media has EVER lasted for long. Remomber the Copy2PC option board, that could copy the copy-protected PC-games? How many DAT-stations have the copy protection enabled? How hard is it to rip a CD? I am not embracing this tradition, but these are plain facts. All a copy protection can do is slow down pirating, not halt it.

    There is nothing usefull to do with the darned program! HOW are you going to fing 5 GB of random access storage that cost less than the 20 dollar DVD you just ripped? Yes, this WILL come, but not for another year or two year. So DeCSS is meaningless today. And when it comes, it won't come in easy to swallow capsules. Only hackers need apply.

    Did they really think they where safe? That they could win? That reverse engienering CSS whould be more difficult than rewriting UNIX. There is a word for that. Hybris.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I also dressed up and showed up. Yes, I am sure our attendance helped a lot. The hearing otherwise would have seemed to be a very standard case of copyright infringement against a bunch of rogue crackers. When the judge saw the number of people, I could tell that he immediately realized that this was not such a simple case by the fact that he immediately suggested scheduling the preliminary injunction hearing on a day that was clear of other business. Having everybody attend helped establish the legitimacy of our side. I think it actually was a deciding factor in who won this hearing. I also think it was probably helped the lawyers who were working pro bono or on a favorable rate realize that they are allocating their pro bono time well by giving attention to this case.
  • The folks dressed as pirates might balance out the men in suits and dunce caps on the other side of the aisle. (But when the judge enters the caps come off and you can't identify a dunce until he opens his mouth)
  • It's not just that moderation. That moderation in particular was questionable at best. Did it really deserve a zero? I mean I self moderated it down to a one. Lets compare that moderation with my above post. That was a rant, pure and simple. Unquestionably deserving of a downward moderation. I left it at a two on purpose. No one has touched the thing.

    Moderation has gotten appaulingly bad lately. The stories have gotten worse and worse. I think it's time for me to, at the very least, take a break from /. The fact is, I think the Slashdot system is now breaking down. (Too many people?) I would like to think I've contributed something good in the past, but it's no longer worth my while.

  • Brazil.

    Get the Criterion disk and use that. Terry Gilliam fought very hard so that people could watch that movie. There's an interesting documentary about the whole fiasco on that DVD as well.

    It parallels so neatly. How could you not use it?
  • Right. You could make a bit-by-bit copy of a DVD without the slightest idea of its contents. You'd need the decrypting method to view the contents. However, the manufacturers of all "licensed" DVD players/software conveniently provide the decryption for you.
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @05:48AM (#1434456) Journal
    I also do not own any DVD devices. But that is because of the encryption. I have nine screens in my house and I tried buying DVD a year ago, but I won't until my Linux boxes can also be used to view the content. It would be particularly nice to be able to use my car's Linux screen to show movies to the kids on long trips...

    Yes, I have been scattering notes to the film and hardware makers whose products I have considered to let them know of their lost sales.

  • by GnrcMan ( 53534 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:19PM (#1434457) Homepage
    Here [] is the Wired article anouncing the denial.

  • 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?

    I seem to remember a number of times that a story will be posted here on slashdot that is given only superficial or even completely biased coverage in the mainstream newsmedia.

    I saw no mention of this (DeCSS) issue on the evening news here in San Francisco.

    What would life be like if our only source of news was from the major newspapers and television/radio companies? Pretty sad I think! That's why there are lots of little local newspapers all over the place. The low cost of of a cheap printing press allows nearly anyone to have their say.

    But what if Hearst and co. came along and said that these little presses could be used to make copies of the SF Chronicle or NY Times, and therefore should be outlawed? What if Wired or MSN got an injunction against Slashdot to prevent /. from telling any news they might cover?

    What if the movie companies said you can only watch the movies that include their (expensive, not-sold-in-stores) "copy" protection?

    So much for that classic Freedom From Fear production of Boog or the light-hearted romp from Tesseract Studios called Kung Fu Spiders from Outer Space. But, you can watch all the You've Got Mail your stomach can handle.

  • Could someone please explain the difference between region encoding and DVD encryption. I'm realise that they have different purposes, but I'm hazy as to exactly what the differences are. My understanding is:

    Region encoding - allow the DVD to be only viewed in the appropriate geographical location. The region code is stored on the DVD and is checked by either the DVD drive, decoder card or the software player.

    DVD Encryptipon - encrypts (duh) the DVD data so that it can't be copied.

    Okay so here are my questions (in no particular order):

    • On certain DVDs I can copy the contents to my hard drive and play them. On other DVDs I can't copy it to my hard drive - is the DVD encryption stopping me?
    • If I do copy a DVD to disk using DeCSS, does this remove the region encoding as well?
    • I don't understand the purpose of DVD encryption since I can already copy some DVDs straight to disk with DeCSS and even then, I can just copy a disc to VHS tape from my TV-out. Am I missing something?
    • Is the region encoding encrypted as well?

    Thanks for any assistance.


  • by Rik van Riel ( 4968 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:21PM (#1434465) Homepage
    > I was one who ... showed up. Wonder if it helped.

    The battle isn't over. The Open Source community will have to continue showing up. On the Internet, in the traditional media and in the strangest places imaginable.

    Our story must be heard and made clear to the press, the general public and everyone else.

    At [] the Open Source (OpenDVD) community will continue to "show up" for the next weeks, probably months. Please visit the site and point others at the site. Contact me if you're interested in helping out with the site.



  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sounds like any number of other institutions that have been perverted to perform a different function than they were originally intended. Seems to happen wherever there's money to be grabbed, and "protective institutions" are a prime example.

    For instance:

    The patent office was set up to foster innovation, rewarding the inventor for SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT in bringing an invention to market. These days it's used as a 'roadblock' business weapon.

    The stock market was meant to be a way for companies to attract investment so they could expand their operations. That still happens, but there is as much sheer gambling, now, especially by day traders and mutual funds. If the money is in there less than a year, (perhaps a quarter) it's not investment, it's gambling.

    Trade unions were meant to secure decent working conditions and wages from ruthless companies. Especially during the 50's and 60's they overachieved, and got a bad name. We're starting to need them again, for their original purpose. I hope they can still perform it.

    Do musicians get higher royalty payments for a CD than a tape? Consider that a CD costs a fraction to make compared to a tape, but is marked at twice the price. Yes, it has a higher value to the consumer, but who's raking in all the cash. If it's the recording companies, what are the barriers that prevent competition from bringing prices down? (Is the RIAA part of the problem?)

    DVD is more expensive than VHS at the stores. I can see how we're paying to put infrastructure in place. But I don't see prices coming down as the same CD/tape changeover occurs. (MPIA?)
  • by rickmoen ( 1322 ) <> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:21PM (#1434477) Homepage

    Credit goes to Bay Area Linux activist Deirdre Saoirse [] for noticing that the plaintiff was getting away uncontested with claiming that DeCSS was a tool for copying DVDs (which it isn't) as opposed to playing them.

    Deirdre got the attention of defence attorney Robin Gross, during a court recess, and made sure they understood the very vital point that DeCSS has nothing to do with DVD copying, which was possible (but uneconomical) before DeCSS was written using other tools entirely. The defence team then explained this to the judge, who was visibly surprised by the news.

    The plaintiffs may well have lost the day, right there.

    -- Rick M.
  • Yes, if you can copy it, you don't need to read it.

    However a lot of piracy concerns would be over other formats (eg MPEG) that are more easily copied/downloaded, and you do need to decrypt to put the data into those formats.

    But the kind of professional thieves that they have to worry about for the most part won't need to decrypt a thing.

  • by WebMistress ( 72354 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:22PM (#1434488) Homepage
    Yes, I think it did help!

    No, we did not have picket signs or a lot of press, but I think it helped in the following ways:

    1. The judge and council seemed quite surprised at the number of people in the gallery and interested in this case. Because such a majority of the onlookers were wearing Linux shirts, it gave creedence to the defense's arguement that the DCCS is more important to Linux users than to piraters. (The Linux users felt it was important enough to actually show up en masse and pay attention to even a preliminary hearing.)

    2. Whoever was resourceful enough to spend the time passing out the source code on paper and floppies (yes, he sat and copied dozens of his own floppies), rattled the plaintiff enough that they asked to admit this into the evidence for the case. This action will obviously have *some* affect on the outcome of the case. Had he not done this, and had we not been there to receive the code and stand in the hallways, that evidence would not be part of the trial. Do I think this will help us? Yes! It will support the argument of the futility of attempting to regulate the net (because the Court will see, firsthand, how data can spread like wildfire!)

    Just my two cents! :)
  • Congrats on the Win! This is just the first in a line, I hope! But this whole fight is just one theatre of an ongoing battle that we are fighting over intellectional property, privacy and free speech in a planetary context.

    Many organizations are running into this problem, through the Internet there are no borders. What may be a death sentence in one country may be perfectly legal in another. National Laws are being laughed at. And it is the whole globalization challenge again.

    Organizations, companies and nations have to realize there is a big blue planet we all live in, and that in the end, unless something must remain secret for the public good, it is going to come encryption is unbreakable, esp. when the human factor comes into play. All it takes is one lone protestor in a government or company that feels that something shouldn't be secret, and suddenly, it is in the public domain.

    All groups must consider how their actions will be interpreted in other countries, esp in regards to electronic information. And we
    need watchdogs to prevent others from hiding vital information from us.

    That is the challeng ofthe next 20 years...and it may come down to the old Cyberpunk battle of Hackers on one side, and MegaCorps on the other.

    I hope not. But then again, I retain some sense of optimizism about the highest primate inhabitants of this planet.

  • Read EFF's summary (as posted in EFFector) -- they make the case quite well that as source code is protected speech (see the Bernstein decision), and all the code written sofar (DeCSS, css-auth, et al) was written by the OSS community, the norwegian reverse-engineers, and so forth, it's their speech and it's protected under the first amendement. Accordingly, it's protected against BS injunctions like this one.

    I would also infer that in a courtroom, freedom of expression likely takes a higher precedence than protection of trade secrets, which would tilt the case in our favor with minimal effort, and give the prosecution a much harder case.

  • I see how my post could be read to imply a literal failure return from the write service itself, rather than a failure indication on a later attempt to read. Sorry 'bout that.

    While I'm at it, I also see that I wasn't clear that this is a story told me by someone else, not something I have personal experience with.

    Thanks for the correction.

  • The money is, indeed, not in holding copyright- if you have a lot of clout and write a 'Yesterday' or 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' (i.e. pretty darn mainstream if you think about it!) then it may be possible to earn money on your songwriting. In both cases note the songwriter was already a star...

    You're right that touring is important: bear in mind, though, how prevalent 'pay-to-play' is, it's frankly pretty uncommon for a band to earn any significant amount touring unless they are quite a big act.

    The serious money is where it's always been: merchandising. How many of you have a vi mug, or slashdot T-shirt, or copyleft T-shirt? From Elvis to the Beatles' cut-up hotel sheets and pillowcases to entire Jackson 5 fan kits to KISS figurines to Lion King electronic picturebooks that beep 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' (beeep beeep beeep beep beeeeeeeep bebeeep...), it's _stuff_ that brings in the actual money.

    Yes, I'm making fun of this to some extent, but it's still true- and it's very good advice. If you're a band, making friends with some T-shirt printer (if you're a techno act have 'em make you mousepads or something) might be a tremendously useful move. Basically, it's a matter of being a businessman as well as a musician- and those who can do this are the ones who aren't starving, to some extent regardless of their actual talent. When I look at a band like Hootie and the Blowfish (so often mocked) I see a marketing machine, but unlike so many who think it's the record company's machine, I figure it's Hootie's machine- that Hootie got a management team together and started earning so much money and moving so much _stuff_ that the record companies came to him. I could be wrong- but that's how it's done these days, plain and simple.

    It's interesting to reflect that none of this _requires_ the distributed music to be a commercial product. I strongly suspect this battle for attention and merchandising will extend into mp3 territory quite naturally- the first people to realize that they can work very hard to make music to give away over the net for free and make money on _derivative_ stuff will be positioned very well- because most acts still think the money is in selling the music itself, and it's not, and never has been, especially not to the extent that some think.

    And it might seem like making a few extra cents by controlling the music and distribution and charging for it is a no-brainer... what could it hurt? But this is a business of exposure and popularity- and the most popular word in the English language (as a selling point) is 'free'. Ignoring that is setting yourself up to be at a disadvantage.

  • If the DVD Consortium starts honest work on players/decoders for linux, then I will remove my mirror of the css-auth tarball.

    Please don't. As funny as this is going to sound... you Linux people have it so damned soft, being such a huge mainstream movement.

    Ok, quit laughing. My point is that there are a lot of other unsupported platforms besides Linux, and we want DVD players too. I am glad that the DVD Consortium has not distributed a x86 Linux binary for playing DVDs, because it would have taken a lot of the energy out of the Linux users' fight. If someone writes a Linux DVD player, I want it to be Open Source so that it will eventually get ported to the platforms that I use. I dread the day that Linux starts getting lots of "support" in the form of x86 binaries; that's gonna hurt us people who are really on the fringes.

    Please don't ask for Linux support. Ask for total openness. You'll get your precious Linux support as a direct result of that. If you compromise and meet them half way, you'll doom the rest of us.

  • The players I've used on Windows usually crash soon afterward."

    MS-Windows crashing can not be evidence of anything being unusual.

  • by chazR ( 41002 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:27PM (#1434513) Homepage
    IANAL but....

    Does a private individual have the right to make a program that executes a proprietary algorithm, if they used a clean-room method to find this algorithm?

    Yes, unless the algorithm is patented.

    Do individuals or companies have the right to keep data formats private?

    Yes. They can keep it secret (trade secret). It's unlikely that they could copyright or patent a data format.

    Here's an important question: can you sue for damages, a person or group who released a product using your patents, if they gave that product away for free?

    Depends. If it's your patent, nobody can use it without your agreement. If they do, you can get your lawyers to point this out to them. With big sticks if needed.

    The key points (as I understand them) are these:

    A trade secret is yours until it leaks, then it's everybody's. Tough.

    You have a copyright on anything you create, without having to register it. But anyone can "clean room" reproduce it. They can't just copy it.

    If you get a patent, then it's yours. Your competitors will just have to smile sweetly until the patent expires. If they use your patented stuff without your approval, then they're stuffed. Unless they're richer than you.

    Please remember that all court cases are determined by the judge examining the wallets of the opposing parties. The heavier wallet always wins.

    Feed the hungry. Save the Whales. free() the malloc()s.

  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:32PM (#1434533) Homepage
    I have much to write about this topic, but I'll say this much for now:

    The DVD Consortium sent in a serious legal strike team...and they struck out, against two EFF lawyers with nothing but 48 hours to prep and a strong sense of justice.

    This is amazing.

    When I say a serious legal strike team, I'm talking two lawyers flown in from New York, a local lead counsel, and a senior counsel that didn't even speak--she showed up, looked important, and charged a couple hundred bucks an hour. These guys didn't mess around--their level of preparation was astounding, and they attempted to turn every action of the Open Source community against us. Fortunately, their arrogant use of more than a few smoke and mirrors / straw man tactics was likely seen for what it was.

    We don't know yet why the judge ruled the way he did--the ruling basically consisted of three large X's through the plaintiff's proposed order and a blunt denial of any such order.

    Most interesting thing of the day? Can't tell you. Second most interesting thing of the day? We won over the sheriff's department. I'm serious--not only were they immensely cooperative(though they did request us to move when we were creating a fire hazard by sheer numbers ;-), but the ones I spoke to were genuinely interested in why so many people were converging on their usually much quieter workplace and on the issues that we were there to support.

    This was a good day, people. If you plan to come on January 14th, be civil--we stood in marked contrast to the disturbingly insistent lawyers for the plaintiff, and shined beautifully.

    A great time was had by all.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:36PM (#1434543) Homepage
    Regarding the RIAA, MPIA, etc. as monopolies, you are exactly right. IIRC, there was legislation back in the 30s or 40s legalizing them because they were considered to be necessary.
  • by adraken ( 8869 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:36PM (#1434548)
    Yes, I (named defendant in section 20) would like to personally thank the EFF attorneys who helped represent me in that ominous Santa Clara courtroom.

    I don't know what we would have done without the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I am elated with the fact that we have such a fine organization designed to protect the rights of those unable to find representation.

    Thanks also goes to the numerous people who spent so much of their time and effort to support the effort. Even though the few of us were specifically named, you many made the effort. (Especially the disks and paper sources)

    This comes from me and all of the people named that were unable to represent themselves.

    Personally, I hope to make it on the 14th.

    David M. Chan, an Individual;

  • What a wonderful world it is when a controversial posting that disagrees with our pet little religious philosophies get plonked as flamebait. The Jesuits would not be please.

    Wait. I shall redeem myself....

    Thanks be the FSF! All glory, love, and honour to them! All praise to Richard Stallman, Our Lord and Saviour. He has sacrified His wrists to deliver us from bondage! He is the way, the truth, and the light -- no man cometh unto Free Software save through the FSF! Bill Gates is Lucifer Incarnate, who enslaves the minds of children and rapes the bank accounts of the parents! Those who have touched Windows are ritually unclean. Let them be cast from the highest precipice into the deepest pit. Maybe Saint Richard smite the Archdevil Bill on Judgment Day.

    There, is that good enough for you rabid lunatics? Now that I've blathered my absolutions, may I please speak up now?

    The word "freedom" is too important to be watered down into a rallying cry for every single cause célèbre that occurs. And thwapping anyone who mentions this fact is about as far from freedom as you can get.

    And go read the moderator guidelines.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:05PM (#1434551)
    "If you plan to come on January 14th, be civil--we stood in marked contrast to the disturbingly insistent lawyers for the plaintiff, and shined beautifully."

    One way to make a favorable impression on judges, legislators, law enforcement, and other authorities is by not living up to the stereotypes we've all been exposed to for years.

    Just ask anyone from Seattle who tried to raise serious, rational objections to WTO policies and practices a few weeks ago. Acting like an unwashed and out-of-control wacko plays right into the hands of our opposition. Acting like a civilized human being is more likely to get your argument heard where it counts.... as long as the aforementioned wackos aren't drowning you out, that is.

    This preliminary hearing was an excellent case in point.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:07PM (#1434553)
    Credit goes to Bay Area Linux activist Deirdre Saoirse for noticing that the plaintiff was getting away uncontested with claiming that DeCSS was a tool for copying DVDs (which it isn't) as opposed to playing them.

    Perhaps for the hearing on the 14th the 'our' lawyers should be provided with a linux laptop that plays DVD's thanks to DeCSS code to show the judge.

    (bonus points for also bringing a typical Windows one that tends to give a blue-screen-of-death every time you touch a player control during the movie - as several of the ones I tested did)

    And in the might be good but would require thought department, how about a personal backup copy of the DVD on some current technology media, such as 60 zip disks or even 10 CD-roms to show the fallacy of the piracy argument. Along with the sales receipt for the far cheaper bonafide DVD.

    The remaining question: what movie clip would be most appropriate?

  • by agravaine ( 66629 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:09PM (#1434555)
    I have to admit, I've known about the EFF for a while, and while I agreed with what they were trying to do, for one reason or other I was never, I dunno, impressed enough by what they were doing to get involved.

    This victory changed my mind. I guess this was an issue that I cared enough about, and one that I thought for sure the 'bad guys' were gonna squash us here, too, but they didn't. I just took the plunge and joined EFF, and made a $500 donation besides. [don't worry, I won't starve :^)

    They are doing good work, they are doing important work, and they need and deserve our support. You don't have to give big $$ - heck, student memberships are only $20 (== 1.5 large pizzas.) And they have lots of ways you can help by donating time, or getting involved in letter-writing campaigns, etc.

    Get involved. It affects us.

  • by ikluft ( 1284 ) < minus cat> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:41PM (#1434561) Homepage
    I was also one of the 40-50 who attended. When I went this morning, I knew that one purpose of attending was just to let the DVD CCA know what they were getting themselves into.

    When we discussed this at lunch, I realized there was more. For Andy Bunner, the one defendant who was able to attend on such short notice, we were a morale boost he really needed. And he was thanking people at lunch just for showing up.

    Looking forward to the January 14 hearing on the permanent injunction, I think our support has strengthened EFF's credibility.

    But did we have an effect on the judge's decision? In an ideal world, one would hope a judge should be 110% impartial to such influences. And Judge Elfving may have been that impartial. But if it's possible that we contributed in any way, then our presence added some power to EFF's well-researched presentation. After all, as several people there pointed out, there isn't usually much attendance for a hearing on a temporary restraining order!

    So let's make sure to be there again on January 14 at 1:30PM.

  • by RyanGWU82 ( 19872 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @04:45PM (#1434569) Homepage
    OK, let me see if I understand the facts and law here correctly... please correct me if I'm wrong on any of this. This could be the basis of a comprehensive defense.

    1. Given sufficient resources, the data stored on a DVD can be copied to hard drives or DVD-RAM discs. However, this raw data is in encrypted format, and it is useless without being decrypted.

    2. Ignoring media incompatibilities (i.e. "stand-alone players can't play data stored on a hard drive"), these copies can be played using commercial DVD players (stand-alone players or computer software) because these commercial products include the appropriate decryption mechanisms.

    3. No member of the DVD CCA has produced DVD player software for Linux. As such, the open source community began developing open source DVD player software for Linux. In order to play these DVDs, though, they needed to decrypt the data. This decryption portion of the overall project was known as DeCSS.

    4. Following a traditional Unix/Linux programming habit, the DeCSS code is "modularized" -- it can be run without the DVD player running. A side effect of this modularization is that it becomes extremely easy to save the unencrypted movie data to your hard drive, rather than just show it on your monitor/speakers.

    5. DeCSS developers used published information to learn the encryption algorithm used on DVDs. However, the encryption keys were considered "proprietary" by the CCA, and not published or previously disseminated to the public in their raw form.

    6. Xing Technology Corporation was licensed by the DVD CCA to ship software to decrypt and play DVDs under Microsoft operating systems. Xing was under a non-disclosure agreement, barring them from sharing the encryption keys with third parties.

    7. Standard practice is to encrypt the encryption keys, to prevent users from copying the keys from legal, licensed applications. However, Xing departed from standard practice when they shipped their DVD-playing software with the encryption keys in their raw format.

    8. Users of Xing software entered into a "shrinkwrap license agreement" which prohibited "reverse engineering."

    9. Certain users of Xing software found the raw encryption keys within the Xing product. They may or may not have breached their agreement with Xing when doing this.

    10. Given this one key, it was extremely simple to find many other keys. These additional keys were found by examining the code on a DVD. DVDs do not require you to enter into a "shrinkwrap license agreement" before using the disc.

    Given these facts, the DeCSS people seem to have generally acted ethically, and should be in pretty good standing legally. Potential legal issues therefore include:

    A. Should "finding the raw encryption key" be considered "reverse engineering"?

    B. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act says reverse engineering is legal for purposes of interoperability. Given the above facts (and the conclusion that DeCSS was therefore designed for interoperability), was it outside of Xing's authority to prohibit this type of reverse engineering? If this is inside Xing's authority, then (for example) Microsoft also has the ability to prohibit Corel from reverse engineering Word file formats to enable WordPerfect to read Word files.

    C. Users of Xing software were not asked to agree to the license until after the transaction was completed. Is this even legal?

    D. Assume that Doe #200 did not directly participate in the reverse engineering, was not an licensee of the Xing product in question, can he still be prohibited from posessing or distributing keys obtained via reverse engineering?

    E. Is anyone other than Xing allowed to pursue this lawsuit? It seems that the only contract the DVD CCA had was with Xing, and the only contract the users had was also with Xing. Under this logic, the DVD CCA should be suing Xing, and Xing should be counter-suing the users of their product who performed the reverse engineering.

    F. Are the encryption keys "trade secrets"? Are they "stolen"?

    What do you all think? Have I forgotten anything? Will this summary of facts and legal questions be useful to anyone?

  • by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:20PM (#1434575)
    Yes, if you can copy it, you don't need to read it.

    However a lot of piracy concerns would be over other formats (eg MPEG) that are more easily copied/downloaded, and you do need to decrypt to put the data into those formats.

    Yes and no. Perhaps the funniest thing about this whole story (although with a story as absurd as this, it's hard to choose) is that according to this article [] over at 2600, a program already exists precisely to save DVD video in other formats. In fact, it's been around since 1997.

    Of course you're right that the data has to be decrypted before this can happen. But, of course, the data is decrypted before it's sent off to your video driver, which is exactly where this hack sits. So even without DeCSS, pirates can make both bit-for-bit copies and format conversion copies of any DVD they want, provided they have a licensed DVD decrypting player to begin with.

    On the other hand, I can't seem to find a copy of this program (in 5 minutes of searching), but the point is that, just like with all those SDMI proposals to steal back digital long as it has to be sent to open hardware--your video card in this case; your sound card in the case of digital audio--it can be copied. When they start getting closed hardware inside your box--like they have with the advent of DVD players--then it's time to start worrying.
  • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:29PM (#1434592) Homepage Journal
    The RIAA was set up to make sure musicians got royalties from jukebox companies whose big sales pitch to bars was that they could fire their live players and still have music -- and make money every time a "nickel song" was played on the juke.

    The MPIA was formed to keep theaters (and other businesses) from showing illegally copied movies. Movie piracy was once as rampant as software copying is today.

    Intellectual property disputes are not new. I bet prehistoric storytellers fought over who the rights to tell which sagas. ;-)

    - Robin

  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:27PM (#1434597) Homepage Journal

    Hollywood made their intentions clear today: Your computer no longer belongs to you, but to the corporations that provide "content" for it.

    Today, in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Judge William J. Elfving presided at a preliminary hearing in the case of the DVD Copyright Control Association versus... well, everyone. The judge heard arguments to determine if a Temporary Restraining Order should be imposed on the entire Internet forbidding the dissemination of the now-famous DeCSS decryption code.

    I woke up this morning at 06:10, an abhorrent waking hour for a software geek. I then proceeded to do something which, if you know me at all, is completely out of character: I put on dress slacks, shirt, and a tie. I hadn't tied a tie in several years, so it took a couple of tries before I got it right. The drive to the courthouse in San Jose was amazingly uneventful. Highway 101 southbound during rush hour is ususally a complete mess.

    I was one of the first to arrive at the courthouse. After having my bag X-rayed and depositing my set of screwdrivers with them, I found myself joining a growing group of people waiting for the court offices to open so that we could find out to which courtroom the case had been assigned. Some of the people present were well-known names to most Slashdotters, including Bruce Perens and John Gilmore. I imagine we were a bit of a conundrum for the law enforcement officers present, no doubt used to parades of well-dressed lawyers who, unlike us, know exactly what to do and where to go.

    At 08:15, the offices opened, and counsel for the plaintiffs filed their complaint, which was assigned a case number. We then made our way to courtroom two on the second floor, awaiting the doors to open. By the time the doors opened, we numbered about thirty people. Plaintiff's counsel pretty much kept to themselves, while we made a slight racket talking to each other. One individual (don't know who) started passing out copies of the DeCSS code, both in printed form and on repurposed Microsoft Office setup floppies. One such set was handed jovially to plaintiff's counsel.

    Interviews were also being conducted by, among others, a reporter from WiReD Magazine, and Tracy Romine for KCBS radio.

    Eventually, the doors opened, and we all became quiet as church mice and filed into the courtroom. Once counsels for both sides were ready, Judge Elfving was announced and entered, and court was in session.

    Appearing for the plaintiffs were three lawyers from the law firm representing the DVD CCA. Appearing for the defense were two lawyers from the EFF. Of the fifteen or so named defendants and the 500 John Does named in the DVD CCA's complaint, only one appeared in court, summons in hand, whom the EFF were representing.

    The hearing was to hear the filing of the complaint, and to consider imposing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which would forbid everyone named in the complaint (basically the entire Internet) from further distributing the DeCSS code. If imposed, this order would be effective until the date of the next hearing, at which will be considered imposing a much longer-lasting Preliminary Injunction.

    The first order of business was to set the date for the next hearing, and the dates for the filing of notices, papers and arguments prior to that hearing. The next hearing to consider the Preliminary Injunction will be at 13:30, 14 January, 2000.

    Finally, we got to oral arguments for and against imposing a TRO. At this point my report gets hazy, as I didn't start banging out notes until after the recess. Basically, plaintiff's counsel repeated the main thrust of the complaint arguing that, if left unchecked, irreparable, serious harm would befall the DVD CCA, numerous Silicon Valley firms, the movie industry and, presumably, the American way of life. Counsel also produced the copy of the DeCSS code which he'd been handed earlier, and asked that it be admitted into evidence, and requested that its contents be sealed. This request drew polite laughter from the gallery. The Judge nevertheless agreed to the request, in the interests of not prejudicing the case, and admitted the exhibits and sealed them.

    EFF counsel then began, and proceeded to characterize this case as hinging on freedom of speech. They drew upon numerous citations, including a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that code is speech. Defense made note of the fact that, in free speech cases, prior restraint of speech is presumptively invalid unless extraordinary circumstances are present.

    The EFF also noted that the true original source of the DeCSS code is not known, therefore characterizations about its origins are speculative. Plaintiffs assert that it was obtained illegally; defense asserts there's no evidence or inference to that effect.

    The EFF then went on to debunk the plaintiff's claim of irreparable, serious harm. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that sales of DVD discs, DVD players, and DVD encryption licenses have suffered due to the release of DeCSS. Defense made the revealing statement that DVD discs may be copied without the use of DeCSS.

    Defense also drew notice to a similar case in Chicago concerning door locks being reverse-engineered by locksmiths; the lock manufacturer attempted to sue for theft of trade secrets, and lost.

    Plaintiff's counsel then rebutted the EFF's arguments, claiming that this case had nothing whatever to do with free speech; that in no way were the plaintiffs seeking to quash discussion about this case. They asserted that this was a clear-cut case concerning misappropriation of trade secrets, and that all they claimed they were interested in was halting further dissemination of their trade secrets. They asserted that all parties "know, or should have known," that the DeCSS code was obtained illegally.

    DVD CCA's arguments seem to hinge rather pivotally on the license "agreement" that accompanys the Xing player. CCA states that, in order to be able to use the software, you must become a party to an "agreement" that, among other things, forbids reverse-engineering. If the "agreement" is binding, then the Xing keys were extracted in violation of it, and thus the DeCSS code is illegal. (I wrote a long editorial on the subject of shrinkwrap "agreements", and why they are ethically and legally indefensible. It may be found here [].)

    The plaintiff then went on to assert that, if a TRO was not granted, a campaign would ensue on the Internet to spread the DeCSS code as far and wide as possible, until it finally reached the hands of an "innocent person" who could not reasonably be shown that they "should have known" the code was illegal, at which point CCA's trade secrets would be lost forever.

    The EFF took the floor again, and cited the recent cryptography case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it was found that computer code is speech, and thus protectible under First Amendment auspices. They reasserted that there was absolutely no evidence to suggest that the disputed material was obtained improperly.

    EFF also made the point that the Xing player may be inspected and analyzed without ever seeing the "license" that purports to govern its use. CCA tried to claim, "Hacking around the license is itself improper," but the EFF lawyer corrected him, saying, "I did not suggest hacking was employed."

    Finally, Judge Elfving retired to his chambers to consider the arguments, and court was adjourned.

    Our group filed out of the courtroom, and eventually ended up in the courtyard outside. There were some members of the press conducting additional interviews, including Tracy Romine of KCBS [] radio, who interviewed Bruce Perens, John Gilmore, and also snagged a soundbite from me.

    Most of the group then wandered off to have lunch at a Cuban restaurant selected by Chris DiBona, which I couldn't find, so I settled for the nearest Hobee's for a very late breakfast. Afterwards, I headed back to the courthouse, made another trip through the metal detector (they didn't take my screwdrivers this time), and went upstairs to courtroom #2 to see if there were any new developments. No one knew if the judge had rendered his decision yet, so I sat down in the hall and started to write this report.

    As I did so, at around 14:30, Judge Elfving walked past. I asked if he had rendered a decision on the TRO yet. He said he was still studying the issues and would have a decision by the end of the afternoon.

    Sometime later, Dan "Karma Whore" Kaminsky ( :-) ) walked up, and we got to chatting about the case, the Internet, the nature of digital media and its social and economic implications, the legitimacy of shrinkwrap "licenses", and so on. Around 16:30, we were joined by a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News [], and asked us about what had brought us there.

    Dan focused on his desire to play DVDs on his Linux box, asking the question, "Why shouldn't I be able to do that? More important, why should a movie studio have the power to tell me I can't do that?"

    I preferred to focus on preserving the freedom to explore. "I taught myself about computers by taking apart other people's stuff, understanding how it works, and using that knowledge to build new stuff. I have a good job today because I had the freedom to make those explorations and gain the knowledge and skills I now have. They're trying to tell me that's illegal. I don't buy it."

    The reporter also asked what possible reason, other than copying, could there be for DeCSS to exist? I tried (probably unsuccessfully) to draw a parallel to that neato display hack, Cthugha []. Since the images generated by Cthugha are the direct result of the copyrighted digital data coming off the CD, are the generated images therefore covered by the same copyright? Since the publishers of the CD didn't explicitly grant the right to use their CD in this particular way, does that make it illegal, or even unethical, to do so?

    While we were discussing this, around 16:30, one of the court employees emerged from the judge's chambers and informed us that the request for the Temporary Restraining Order had been denied. We got a brief look at the document issued from the judge. No reason was given for the denial; it was simply the proposed order written by the plaintiffs, with the TRO sections crossed out, effectively turning it into a notice as to when the next hearing would occur. Judge Elfving was unavailable for comment.

    And thus ended an unusually long and interesting day. The San Jose Mercury reporter left, and Dan and I parted ways. I headed home and finished this report. Traffic on Highway 101 was, once again, astonishingly good for five PM.

    The next hearing is at 13:30, 14 January, 2000. It's a Friday afternoon. I expect the session to be packed.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:29PM (#1434599)
    There are two levels of protection used on DVD. First, individual sectors can be marked as protected. The DVD drive will not let you read those sectors unless you prove to it that you are authorized. Authorization is proved by receiving an 80 bit challenge from the drive, hashing it with a certain hash function, and then sending that back to the drive. That you know the hash function tells the drive you are authorized. You also send the drive an 80 bit challenge, and it hashes it with a related hash function, proving to you it is a legitimate DVD drive. (I may have swapped the order of these events).

    After you both have the hashes of the challenges, those hashes (which are 40 bits, by the way) are combined to make a new 80 bit number, which is hashed by a third related hash function into a 40 bit number called the bus key.

    Once all that stuff is done, you can ask the drive for the "disc key", and it sends back a 2048 byte data structure, xor'ed with repeated copies of the bus key.

    Once you ask for the disc key, the drive will let you read any sector. This is almost all you need for pirating. Once you can read any sector, you can copy the movie data (/mnt/cdrom/video_ts/*), and you've got it all, baby.

    The problem is getting something to play that copied data. Althugh DVD player software access the movie data through the file system, before it gets there, it wants to do that authorization dance. If it can't find something to do the authorization stuff with, it is likely to conclude that you don't have a DVD drive, and not even bother to notice you've got those nice juicy .vob files sitting there ready to use.

    The second problem is the second level of protection, which is what the court case was about. The data in the .vob files is encrypted. That 2048 disc key that we got as part of authentication contains 409 copies of the key used to encrypt the .vob files, each copy encrypted by some manufacturers key. To play the .vob file, the player software needs that key, and it expects to get it by finding it in the disc key.

    So, what I'm saying, in a long winded and probably confusing way, is that you can make perfect copies, but most DVD player software won't play them.

    However, it is not hard to rig up a device driver that pretends to be a DVD drive to the extent of being able to do the authentication dance to pass a disc key to player software. You can then kludge up something so that player software plays out of a directory on the hard disc, but thinks you've got a DVD drive for authentication. When you rip the DVD, just make sure to save a copy of the disc key (and the title key...something I decided to leave out of this post for clarity) so you can feed it back to the player software.

  • by spinkham ( 56603 ) on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @05:35PM (#1434603)
    Define "standard hardware".
    Perhaps the consumer hardware we can get in the US is crippled thusly.. Does that mean hardware can't be created without this limitation? I believe that hardware to make a perfect copy is avalible now, at a price of $4000 or so. This is quite a bit higher then the $100 or so most DVD drives go, but not out of reach for commercial pirates.
    The issue addresed here is that CSS isn't really copy protection, as exact copies can be made with the CSS intact that are indistinguishable from the original to the player, and can be distributed to all. CSS is a limiter on free use of the product, and not an anti-copying device at all.

    (the above hardware discussion does not take into account that every time such tricks have been tried with keeping drives from accessing parts of the media, a mod chip has been made avalible to get around it. There are chips to mod DVD players to get around region locking, and chips to mod Playstations to get around the same sort of "you can't access this part of the disk, but I can" garbage. However, the legality of such devices is uncertain.)
  • by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <> on Wednesday December 29, 1999 @06:38PM (#1434611) Homepage
    I saw some of this touched on, but I think there are some things we should have:

    A 'demonstration' of how to copy a DVD, complete with a source DVD (The Matrix or something popular) and the appropriate hardware to copy it to a blank DVD disk, as well as a commercial DVD player and TV. Keep receipts, to show that the cost is "X dollars" where X is significantly higher than the SECOND receipt, that being for the cost of buying the DVD at Fry's. You might be able to get DVD production houses (ones that bill out their time and such) to loan the hardware, since the long-term benefit to THEM is that the price on future hardware will probably go down if the DVD industry doesn't get to charge huge tithes for the "trade secrets".

    To contrast that, we have a Linux machine, which we use DeCSS (on that same movie whatever it is), to "make the DVD disc usable."

    The practical upshot of which is:

    • You show that any "copying of DVD's" argument is bunk. No DVD player can read the unencrypted data, so the "only" way to copy DVD's is to use expensive media, expensive hardware, etc.
    • You put the DeCSS code in its intended environment - using an existing, purchased DVD disc, and playing it on a Linux machine.

    Now, as I understand it, there is currently no means of directly streaming through the CSS-encoded data watching it in real-time. A coder I am not, but this is definitely something we should, as a community, devote some time to having ready to fly in two and a half weeks.

    The psychological factor of us "simply wanting to play the DVD we just bought at the store" and showing what it was intended for can (and will) go a LONG way, I think.

    Some things I think did NOT do us any favors today:

    • The diskettes and source code. Yes, I think they were a great idea, and a good wy of showing "the genie was out of the bottle", but I think the potential for damage was greater. (Allowing the plaintiffs to show that "we are turning into a cause, sending the DeCSS code everywhere we can") That made it easier for them to show a reason for trying to "do anything possible" to get the TRO (unsuccessfully, true, but it DID give some credence to their side).
    • We need more people. The gallery was only half full. Granted, we did great for 30 hours notice, but we definitely want SRO on 1/14
    • We should investigate what needs to be done to have Linux people called as "expert witnesses". You can be sure that the DVD folks will pull people out from all over, affidavits from various and sundry showing how evil DeCSS is. We need to be able to counter that. Prospective candidates must own a suit (rules me out *G*), be good public speakers, and be well learned on the topic at hand. --- Is ESR doing anything on 1/14?

    I'm sure there are other things we should do, and I'm certain people will add them, but I think this represents a good starting point. We did great today, but this is a minor skirmish in what will probably be a moderately sized war.

"It's ten o'clock... Do you know where your AI programs are?" -- Peter Oakley