Hollywood has won its legal battle to prevent the spread via the
internet of software that facilitates the decryption and copying of
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favour of action taken
by several movie studios against the publisher of 2600, a magazine
and website for hackers, after it posted on its website a software
program, called DeCSS, which allows DVD movies to be decoded and
played on Linux-based PCs.
Judge Kaplan said: "There is little room for doubting that broad
dissemination of DeCSS threatens ultimately to injure or destroy
plaintiff's ability to distribute their copyrighted products on
DVDs. And, for that matter, undermine their ability to sell their
products to the home video market in other forms."
Kaplan's 93-page ruling against 2600 is one of Hollywood's
latest attempts to prohibit digital video piracy.
A Scandinavian programmer created the DeCSS software program
which allows computers running Linux to play copy-protected DVDs.
One compression technology, called DivX, included instructions for
copying films and named DeCSS as a useful tool.
The studios sell DVDs that run on Windows-based PCs but did not
develop the encryption technology for Linux, which spurred the
development of DeCSS.
The judge also ruled that if website workers know the offending
code is accessible at linked sites and supply the links to ease the
spread of the code, they are in violation of the anti-trafficking
provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The judge called the publication's posting of the computer code
"baseless" and at times compared it to a political assassination.
Judge Kaplan said: "Computer code is not purely expressive any more
than the assassination of a political figure is purely a political
statement." The magazine had argued that posting of the DeCSS was
protected under the First Amendment, an American's legal right to
freedom of speech.
Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of
America, said in a statement that the court's ruling is a victory
for consumers and for legitimate technology.
"Today's landmark decision nailed down an indispensable
constitutional and congressional truth: it's wrong to help others
steal creative works," he said.
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