Decrypting DVDs Okay, Talking About Decrypting DVDs Not Okay

Fake News written by Dink Meeker on Saturday, March 17, 2001

from the first-amendment-what-first-amendment? dept.

Last month, the United States filed a legal brief in support of the MPAA's argument that posting the DeCSS source code is not protected by the First Amendment.

"Sure we didn't do any actual research into the case or anything," admitted Larry Jo Black, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, "We just went by which side could give us the most campaign contributions and tax revenue. But golly if we didn't make the best argument against free speech since Machiavelli."

2600 Magazine is on the wrong end of an MPAA lawsuit after they posted the DeCSS source to make a political argument.

The DMCA has specific provisions allowing the use of 'circumvention devices' for 'fair use' purposes, as well as for cryptographic research, but none for political or journalistic purposes. 2600 Magazine "neither circumvented plaintiffs' protective measures nor used plaintiffs' films for any purpose, and are therefore not appropriate parties to press a fair-use claim," according to Mr. Black.

"If they had actually used the program," he added, "then their conduct would be legitimate. But because they included the program in a political argument, they are evil, rotten, freeloading, immature, communistic DVD pirates."

The cryptograpic research defense also didn't fly with the government. "Legitimate cryptographic research is conducted between small secretive groups of government-approved peers. Posting such 'research' on the internet 'for all the world to see' is irresponsible and illegal".

MPAA Attorney Leon Gold, while appreciative of the govenment's support, expressed concern over the government's brief.

"We've tried very hard to keep our ridiculous overblown false analogies to a certain level of quality, but calling DeCSS a crowbar... that could undermine our entire case. If people realize that crowbars aren't illegal and have several legitimate uses, we're sunk."

Despite this setback, Gold maintains high hopes for winning the appeal.

"We want to send a firm message to magazine publishers and T-shirt sellers everywhere that talking about anti-piracy laws will not be tolerated."

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