(from an email sent on dspsrv; it's possible it'll turn up on StateSecrets when AjD gets around to running it again)

On September 8, said:
> And now the t-shirt company is being taken to court for the same thing.

To clarify:

a case last week or the week before ruled that the first amendment doesn't cover copyright infringement, which is what DeCSS is, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The fact that the DMCA is a bucket of cowdung is irrelevant; it is, for now, the law, and someone's been found in breach of it. This has essentially opened the avenues for the DVD people to go after other copyright infringements, using the ruling in hand as justification.


The fact of the matter is that DeCSS itself isn't copyright violation. No source code was illegally copied, which is about the only way it /could/ be a copyright violation. Some Norwegian kid trying to write a DVD player for Linux discovered that Xing, part of the DVD's "chosen few", had failed to encrypt the magic that unlocks a DVD in their Windows DVD player. Using this, he was able to break the encryption system, which, it turns out, is a heap of crap. He wrote a program to do this, and that's the program that's doing the rounds as DeCSS.

The reason it's a copyright violation in the US (note: only in the US) is that the DMCA says you're violating copyright if you break a copy-protection scheme, i.e. if you circumvent the means that someone has put in place to copy whatever it is. You don't actually have to copy the work in question.

Furthermore, you don't actually have to decrpyt a DVD to copy it, nor would anyone in their right mind bother, since you'd have to reencrpyt it to put it back on the DVD, and it costs more for a blank DVD than it does for your average DVD movie, AND unless I'm sorely mistaken there's a blank region on recordable DVDs that prevents you from writing a movie to the disk, or vice versa, or something like that. Obviously I'm shaky on the third point.


The DVD guys don't stop at claiming that this is what's happening; they further contend that 3v1L hax0r d00dz everywhere are using DeCSS to decrypt DVDs and are then uploading the resulting files (approximately 1.8GB for _Easy Rider_, using some very dubious math) to the Internet in much the same way as we're all ripping off the Recording Industry Association of America with those pesky MP3 files. Which, let's face it, is a little bit unlikely - I'll wait 20 minutes or so for a single 4MB track to download, but, uh, 1.8GB? I'll buy/rent the movie, thanks.

So, to summarise: the DVD guys are suing a tshirt manufacturer for printing on a shirt some code written by a guy outside the jurisdiction of the relevant, and flawed, law which allows you to view a DVD on a system other than one blessed by the DVD folk, because a New York judge has ruled that said code breaks the primitive copy-protection system on DVDs and is thus in violation of said relevant, flawed law. *No actual copyright violation is being sued over*.

Incidentally, the New York ruling was that it's illegal for the defendants to have links on their website to other sites hosting the DeCSS code. Amusingly, one report on this story had a link to DeCSS at the bottom. The story appeared on AOL, which is in the process of becoming Time Warner/AOL. The Warner there is Warner Brothers, the studio. Who are part of the DVD group. So after a few awkward questions, that particular link vanished without trace.

If you've read this far, cool. I'd like to think that the above is a clearer picture than you're likely to get off the pro-DVD side (hackers are evil! jail them all!) or the anti-DVD side (DVD's want to be free! overthrow the empire!). More genuinely useful information can be found at the 2600 website, which I don't seem to have a URL for right now, dammit.

Waider Dammit, Jim, I'm a hacker, not a lawyer.