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EFF.org: DVD Update: EFF Detonates Mind Bomb in Court on Final Day of DVD Trial

Jul 26, 2000, 20:18 (5 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Bryan Taylor for this link. ]

"EFF's DVD defense team rested its case on Tuesday in litigation over the movie studios' attempt to ban DeCSS software that enables people to play DVDs on their computers. David Touretzky, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University testified for the defense explaining the inherently expressive nature of computer code. Touretzky created a "Gallery of CSS Descramblers" on his university Web site illustrating a multitude of ways that the idea of DeCSS can be expressed using various languages - from plain English to source code to assembly language, etc. He walked the court through a step by step illustration, demonstrating how a series of 1's and 0's taken from one rendition of the code actually communicate a specific idea expressed in the English or C-source code versions of the software."

"Touretzky informed the court that computer code is the means by which programmers communicate to one another with precision so banning DeCSS will inevitably have a chilling effect on his ability to express himself. Touretzky explained how source and object code really convey the same idea - only expressed differently, and cautioned the court against differentiating between different forms of speech (including computer code) for purposes of First Amendment protection."

"Visibly moved by the compelling testimony, at one point Judge Kaplan got out of his chair and paced back and forth, listening intently to the professor's mind blowing explanation. When Touretzky was finished, the judge thanked him for his testimony, saying it had been "illuminating", "important", and that he was "hoping to hear it" during the course of the trial. After both parties rested their case, Judge Kaplan said that his DMCA analysis had likely not changed since he issued the injunction in January. However, "I think one thing probably has changed with respect to the constitutional analysis," Kaplan stated, "I really find what Professor Touretzky had to say today extremely persuasive and educational about computer code."

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