Scientific American: DVDs: Cease and DeCSS?

“Back in 1990, organized Net activism began with an unfair
prosecution when, as one of a series of raids on (mostly) teenaged
hackers, federal investigators swooped down on a small publishing
company based in Austin, Tex., that produced role-playing games.
The Steven Jackson Games case was one inspiration behind the
founding of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the coming
together of the Net as a community that believed itself and its
values to be under threat. So when news broke late last year that a
16-year-old Norwegian boy named Jon Johansen and his father had
been arrested at the behest of the movie studios because of a bit
of software they had posted to the Net, it all seemed awfully

“The software is known as DeCSS: it makes it possible to view
DVD movies on computers running the free operating system Linux.
Johansen didn’t write it, but he was among the first to post it, on
the Web site owned by his father….”

Although it makes sense to prosecute wholesale piracy, it
makes no sense whatsoever to refuse to produce software to allow
people to play legally acquired discs on devices they own and then
prosecute them if they write their own software. It makes even less
sense to prosecute people for doing what the Web was built for:
posting and linking to useful information.