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DeCSS in court - Part I
While everyone was preparing to celebrate the New Year, the boys at the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association) were planning a whole entire party of their own. Just 4 days before the end of the year, the DVD CCA filed a legal suit against 72 named and un-named defendants, and a further of up to 500 defendants, against the publication and distribution of DeCSS. Many of these defendants are from overseas countries where US law do not apply. DVD Digest, as well as a few of its redirection addresses, were amongst the 72 named in the case.
DeCSS is a software that can be used to copy over DVD movie/audio files from a DVD disc, bypassing the encryption on the disc. It was developed to also allow DVD playback on the popular Linux platform, which the DVD/computer industry has negelected by not supplying any playback tools. It is argued that trade secrets were stolen by the original programmers of DeCSS, but there is no prove of this. The programmers of DeCSS claims they reverse engineered the XingDVD player to obtain the codes needed to write DeCSS. Reverse engineering is legal in most jurastictions for research and development reasons - and since DeCSS was used in the development of a DVD player for Linux, it can be argued that DeCSS itself is also legal.
What was strange about the legal suit was that some sites, like DVD Central (which is now part of DVD Digest), merely provided links to sites that had their own direct links to DeCSS. This practice is quite common for news sites like DVD Central. Wired.com, ZDNet news and many other online news sites also featured links to sites with DeCSS, but none were named in the lawsuit. Even Deja.com, a site that collects newsgroup messages from around the net, was named in the case because someone had posted a message up there detailing links to DeCSS. It seems that the DVD CCA had concentrated on bringing this case to the courts during the holiday period to avoid too much (negative) public awareness, but neglected to do some proper research and to make sure that all documents were up to date and correct - a error that could cost them the whole case.
A temporary restraining order (TRO) was first filed against these 72 sites owners. On the 29th of December, 1999, the superior court of Santa Clara declined the request for this TRO. Over 50 supporters of DeCSS showed up, as well as stop-gap legal defence provided by the EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundation).
Althought this has signaled the first step to victory for the defendants and freedom of speech on the net, but the war is far from over. The next court case is scheduled for the 14th of Janauary, 2000. You can support the free distribution of DeCSS by showing up at the court :
191 North First Street, San Jose, California
and donate anything you can towards the EFF, who are doing everthing they can to help the DeCSS cause.
JANUARY 28th, 2000|
DeCSS in court - Part III
JANUARY 18th, 2000
DeCSS in court - Part II
JANUARY 12th, 2000
DeCSS in court - Part I
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