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Salon.com: Code on trial

Jul 20, 2000, 19:04 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Damien Cave)

"Does the DVD-decrypting DeCSS do for video what Napster did for music, and can copyright law stop it?"

"Eric Corley, better known to his friends as Emmanuel or "Manny" Goldstein, tends to keep his hands in his pockets and his eyes aimed at the floor. The editor of 2600, the hacker quarterly, may be the latest hacker icon -- he is, after all, on trial here this week, sued by eight movie studios for distributing DeCSS, a program that decrypts DVDs so people can play them on Linux-based operating systems -- but outside the courtroom Monday, he was soft-spoken and polite. When one young, black-clad hacker gushed, "I just need to shake your hand," Goldstein obliged quietly, his long, curly hair draping a wrinkled forehead and downward glance."

"Get him talking about the need to protect DeCSS, which a judge outlawed late last year, however, or the public's right to distribute it, and you'll see a pair of burning brown eyes and an entirely more vocal man. Before cameras, critics and supporters this week, Goldstein continues to argue that DeCSS is not a tool for piracy as the studios claim, but rather the only mechanism that allows you to play a DVD on a computer running Linux. And the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the law that appears to make illegal DeCSS technology simply because it circumvents copyright control, is, he says, nothing less than a colossal mistake."

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