California Supreme Court Bought and Sold-out
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By etrigan - Last updated: Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - Save & Share - 4 Comments

Geeks are a twitter because the California Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to free speech Monday. In thier ruling they declare that publishing a piece of code that allows for the decryption of DVDs is illegal.

bq. ??Disclosure of this highly technical information adds nothing to the public debate over the use of encryption software or the DVD industrys efforts to limit unauthorized copying of movies on DVDs. We do not see how any speech addressing a matter of public concern is inextricably intertwined with and somehow necessitates disclosure of DVD CCA’s trade secrets.??

This ruling shows a clear misunderstanding of the issues. The code in question was not stolen from a secret lab. It was developed by a Linux computer user who was not able to watch DVDs on his computer. Due to agreements between “M$”:http://www.microsoft.com and the technology lapdog of the MPAA(Motion Picture Association of America), “DVD CCA(DVD Copy Control Association)”:http://www.dvdcca.org, there were no tools to view DVD movies on Linux. Also, the whole idea that it is illegal to publish a piece of code that will fit on the back of a t-shirt is absurd.

Show your support for free speech (and your detest for the “DMCA(Digital Millenium Copyright Act)”:http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/DVD/1201.html) by “purchasing a t-shirt”:http://www.copyleft.net/item.phtml?&page=product_271_front.phtml at “CopyLeft.net”:http://www.copyleft.net . $4.00 per T-shirt is donated to The Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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4 Responses to “California Supreme Court Bought and Sold-out”

Comment from jank
Time August 26, 2003 at 7:56 am

So what you’re saying is that even though I have properly locked my house, with relatively solid locks, and posted signs stating that unauthorized people can’t come into my house, that some guy who happens to find a key that can fit into my lock has the right to open the door and waltz on in? And that this guy can go ahead and give anyone who asks a key to my house, and that there’s nothing I can do to keep him out?

While I very much support the idea of making DVD’s playable on as many platforms as possible, I don’t see how this is a blow to free speech. A quick survey of my DVD collection shows that, written in plain English on the back of each package, there’s an implied contract stating

Federal Law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition of copyrighted motion pictures.

Playing a DVD or a videotape isn’t a right, it’s a business deal between the user and the studio. The copyright owner has the right to control both the manner and the hardware upon which their intellectual property is displayed.

Much like a translator needs the author’s permission before they can publish an English translation great Spanish literature if a copyright still exists (Sorry, estate of Cervantes), until the MPAA decides to authorize a program to play DVD’s under Linux (which I think they have), folks are SOL unless they want to cough up to Apple or Microsoft.

Even when a Linux player is released, DeCSS will still be an illegal piece of code, unless it becomes authorized by the copyright owner for the DVD’s. The MPAA owns the content, the MPAA can control the distribution of the content. Again, where is the free speech issue?

Looking at the back of the PS2 games I’ve got, all of them say they’re Licensed for play on the Play Station 2 computer entertainment systems with the NTSC U/C designation only. Does this mean that Sony’s infringing on my first amendment rights by not letting me hack my iBook or XBox to play the games?

Comment from jank
Time August 26, 2003 at 9:38 am

Look, I’ll agree that it is kind of absurd to bar the t-shirt, etc, under the First Amendment. This is not a ‘Fire in the theater’ kind of case. But, I think that reasonable people could find that having the code available is akin to other cases in which speech was used to incite people to take illegal actions.

I agree that the DMCA is a terrible piece of legislation. Most of what it did was to establish excessive IMO penalties for minor violations. There are few, if any, reasons why previous copyright law would not extend to digital content (Giving files away over Napster is not exactly fair use), and the DMCA did severely limit fair use. But President Clinton did sign this monstrosity into law, so it’s got to be obeyed, at least until parts of it are overturned.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 26, 2003 at 12:20 pm

Heh. The key analogy doesn’t work. Electronic freedom fighter Emmanuel Goldstein was right when he said (paraphrased) “when you make a copy you aren’t stealing. The original is still there. It is an entirely different concept.” Your analogy only works if you say that I created an exact duplicate of your easy-chair after looking into your house when I paid for the tour. You still have your chair and I have not impacted your ability to sit.

Besides, I do not codone stealing. Long before the DMCA was written it was against the law to sell someone else’s intellectual property. The DMCA (and this MPAA purchased court case) are further evidence of pouring water on a dog’s nose. Prosecute the hundreds of DVD sellers that are selling bootlegs in [insert big city name her]’s Chinatown. Prosecute the bootleg eBay sellers.

Trying to protect a secret software scheme through government intervention (more corporate welfare) is a waste of my tax dollars and it is an insult to humanity and the inherent mental creative freedom God granted us.

I did not sign any agreement with Sony when I bought my DVD player (or my PS2 or my Daewoo) or when I bought a single one of the 200+ DVDs I own. If binding legal agreements can be passed simply through product purchases, then I have a pretty good idea for a get rich quick scheme.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 26, 2003 at 12:22 pm

Heh. The key analogy doesn’t work. Electronic freedom fighter Emmanuel Goldstein was right when he said (paraphrased) “when you make a copy you aren’t stealing. The original is still there. It is an entirely different concept.” Your analogy only works if you say that I created an exact duplicate of your easy-chair after looking into your house when I paid for the tour. You still have your chair and I have not impacted your ability to sit.

Besides, I do not codone stealing. Long before the DMCA was written it was against the law to sell someone else’s intellectual property. The DMCA (and this MPAA purchased court case) are further evidence of pouring water on a dog’s nose. Prosecute the hundreds of DVD sellers that are selling bootlegs in [insert big city name her]’s Chinatown. Prosecute the bootleg eBay sellers.

Trying to protect a secret software scheme through government intervention (more corporate welfare) is a waste of my tax dollars and it is an insult to humanity and the inherent mental creative freedom God granted us.

I did not sign any agreement with Sony when I bought my DVD player (or my PS2 or my Daewoo) or when I bought a single one of the 200+ DVDs I own. If binding legal agreements can be passed simply through product purchases, then I have a pretty good idea for a get rich quick scheme.

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