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Linux Journal: Crackers and Crackdowns

Jan 27, 2000, 22:36 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jason Kroll)

[ Thanks to Edward Marsden for this link. ]

"From Kevin Mitnick to Jon Johansen, the Empire strikes back."

"DeCSS author Jon Lech Johansen's home was raided by special police forces at the whim of the Motion Picture Association, an organization which affectionately refers to itself as "a little State Department". Jon's Linux box, his FreeBSD/Win2k box, as well as his Nokia cellphone (which we are sure played a large part in helping him to provide a DVD player for Linux, and is likely to harbor dark and mysterious secrets) have been confiscated. Although Jon was questioned for seven hours and then released, he and his father are charged and could face fines and up to two years in prison. The GILC, a coalition of civil rights groups throughout the world (notably including the EFF), has condemned the action as a violation both of the Human Rights Accords of the United Nations and the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Almost ironically, Jon's reverse-engineering rights are specifically protected by the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act (which itself is probably unconstitutional)."

"DeCSS has been the source of much contention between the Linux community and government/industry (it's hard to tell government and industry apart these days). Linux hackers wanted to play DVDs on their Linux boxes, while the movie industry wanted to prevent people from being able to copy DVDs. Although currently the sheer size of DVDs is a better copy restriction than the most elaborate encryption, the techno-ignorant industrial lawyers probably expect increased bandwidth and some new compression scheme to make DVD distribution possible some day, as is currently the case with mp3s (a fair expectation). Still, encrypting DVDs hasn't any effect on whether or not they are easy to copy, so it's not clear what the industry's line of thinking was (most likely typical techno-ignorance)."

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