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eWeek: DVD hacker case ruling sets shocking precedent

Aug 18, 2000, 20:29 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Coffee)

"Source code is speech. Computer networks are the fastest-growing medium of public and private expression; our rights and liberties, as we engage in commerce and in other forms of discourse via that medium, are protected by instructions to computers. Source code is the means by which these instructions are expressed in ways that people can examine and understand. Source code is speech."

"On the Internet, there can be no genuine freedom of speech unless source code is a protected form of speech. This principle is attacked, however, by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in his ruling earlier today that "society must be able to regulate the use and dissemination of code." The judge then enjoined Eric Corley, publisher of 2600 magazine, from assisting his readers in accessing code that unlocks DVD content."

"The Supreme Court has already laid the foundation for reversal of this ruling, in Justice Stevens' majority opinion striking down the Communications Decency Act of 1996. That opinion described the discourse of the Internet as a "dynamic, multifaceted category of communication ... as diverse as human thought," and included the vital statement that other cases involving other forms of mass communication provide "no basis for qualifying the level of First Amendment scrutiny that should be applied to this medium."

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