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The Courts Government News Your Rights Online

USA Gov. Brief in MPAA vs. 2600 case Online 317

Posted by michael
from the petition-your-government-for-a-redress-of-grievances dept.
The U.S. Government plans to enter the MPAA vs. 2600 case on the side of the movie studios, arguing in court that the District Court's injunction against distribution of or linking to DeCSS was correct and that the Court of Appeals should not overturn it. The legal brief the government filed is available, as are some news stories. In general, the government supports all of Judge Kaplan's "best" positions in his decision: linking is not speech, linking is equivalent to distributing banned content yourself, etc.
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USA Gov. Brief in MPAA vs. 2600 case Online

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I link to goatse.cx, you don't have an ass pic until you--yes, you--follow the link.

    If I link to DeCSS, you do not have DeCSS until you follow the link.

    If I tell you that someone's selling cheap crack three blocks from you, you don't have crack until you go and buy it.
    If I tell the police where the murderer is holed up, they still haven't caught him until they actually go and arrest him.

    Question for you: the net is constantly changing. What happens if I post a link which right now contains pictures of someone's pet kitten, but which they later modify to contain the DeCSS source without my knowledge? Am I still responsible for the linked content?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sure all the slashdot folks will either moderate this poorly, or it'll get jumped on, because heaven forbid if someone out there thinks differently about this stuff...
    Anyways... Sure linking is akin to distributing, that's what you're doing, plain and simple. The question we have to ask is: Is the right to free speech allowed when it directly infringes the rights of another? Sometimes yes. I know, people will say that there can be no exceptions, but if this argument was about linking to child pornography, there'd be no argument. No law can be absolute. And yes, many people will argue that we're just giving more power to the big bad giant multinationals, but tough. The law (if it works) doesn't differentiate against the little guy. Now, I will agree that in reality this often isn't the case, but you can blame the current state of the American legal system for that. Forcing people to pay for their own attorneys if they are sued... In many other countries, if you initiate a law suit and lose, you pay both sides legal fees...
    In any case, I'm starting to ramble. Sorry.
    I would like to hear some intelligent replies to this thread. Is linking to something that is not necessarily kosher alright?
  • But the real issue here is that the court is trying to censor what should be protected speech - the decss program itself.

    Exactly. The linking issue is a red herring in this entire case.

  • Oh wait! I hear you now: INTENT. Intent is the keyword here. Somehow, the judges and juries are supposed to read the vict.. criminal minds. What a nice curtain to hide behind when you've lost the argument, isn't it?

    Whoa, boy. Take that shovel out of my mouth. The rest of my post (after the first sentence) is pointing out (though perhaps not as clearly as I would have liked) that linking should be protected for the very reason that one would have to judge intent, a legal nightmare.

    And why the heck are you rambling about violence and starting wars? One rant per post, please.

  • The deal with the U.S. is that it's an oligarchy with a blow-by valve in the form of regular elections. So when the oligarchy gets up to something that would get it overthrown in a bloody popular uprising, it simply gets voted out of office for a few years instead. And it works pretty well -- since most people would rather have a long vacation than their head on a pike.

    There are many other factors to the equation of power distribution in America, but that is a primary one.

    Don Negro

  • If it's dropped now, and then we wait until copy protection is ubiquitious and present a stronger case, sure we'll have a better chance of winning.

    However if we wait till then, copy protection controls WILL be ubiquitious. The US SC will state that the studios and hardware producers will need to remove or alter their hardware and software to allow fair use. How fast do you think RIAA, MPAA, and the others will move on this? They'll pull the Microsoft arguement then; the cost and time to 'fix' the problem will be huge, just like IE was so embedded in Windows that it couldn't be removed without great cost (a fallacy, I know, but...). Certainly people will have the option after such a decision to buy new equipment, but most people will not want to change, and some might even be 'brainwashed' by RIAA/MPAA and think that copy protection is the only way to fairly pay the artists.

    In other words, if we wait for the next better case, it will be practically impossible to go back to how it is now without SDMI.

    The DeCSS case is a very strong case, maybe not as strong for trying to remove provisions in the DMCA, but is very strong in terms of free speech in regard to linking, etc. However, it needs more lawyer-speak power, and I'm wondering if Lessig and other law professors that have stood out for 2600 and DeCSS aren't trying to figure out how to get onto this case.

  • Well, how do they handle this on Star Trek Voyager? I mean, why don't we ever see Paris going over to the replicator, looking over his shoulder, and asking for a fattie, then sneaking down to the holo-deck and loading up the "lava lamp land" program?

    I mean, everyone else seems to be replicating alcoholic beverages, even the Cap'n is a caffeine junkie (ever notice how caffeine doesn't obey the law of i before e?) - could her caffeine addiction negatively impact her performance as a captain? Put people's lives in jeopardy? Is it a banned substance? I mean, sure, maybe it's some kind of synthetic caffeine, but she sure gets bitchy before she gets her coffee, so it looks like addiction to me - so whatever 23rd century substitute they have, it's still addictive.

    Then what about patented drugs? Does the federation have to beam payments to the drug companies any time a replicator makes something to help a sick crew member (who then, in the line of duty saves the company's home-planet from assimilation by the Borg? All in a day's work ma'am). Is it against the law to hack a replicator? What if the Voyager's replicators stop working after a few years because the licenses weren't updated? THEN they'd be fucked.
  • Well, why do you think it is, then, that most Cable service agreements forbid operation of a server? Or why is it that DSL companies HATE to give out static IP addresses.

    What if someone makes a news site with fake information? I've got news for you. . . The public WOULD be misled, IS misled, and has been misled for decades.

    The crackdown on "anyone can have their own server" has already begun. What content you can host is determined by your ISP, likely a Very Large Corporation (or soon will be bought by one).

    It won't be long before most personal web pages are "this is my car this is my dog" pages. (um wait) hosted on Geocities, and the tools required to start a viable web business (ecommerce software, web design expertise, hardware, connectivity, partnerships with search engines and filter companies and huge OS vendors, etc) are so expensive, that the bar is too high for the general home user, and only Very Large Corporations will be able to do it.. Just the realities of market economics.
  • I send regular love letters to my congresscritters every six months. I gave $1000 to Congressman McCain (which he returned because he quit campaigning two weeks later).
  • Don't delude yourself that VHS is going anywhere anytime soon.

    There are WAY too many home video libraries out there - I know guys who have thousands of tapes of shows and movies, shows they never watch - wifey asks, "what are you going to do with all of those tapes?"
    "I'm going to watch them when I retire - especially if the quality of programming keeps going the direction it's been going."

    Well, at least the vintage commercials will be funny. (people bought THAT?)

    I don't know one single person who has a DVD player, and not a VHS player. Until DVD becomes writable, and economically writable, there's no way VHS is going away. (My wife tried to talk me into buying one of those combo DVD/VHS machines, and I convinced her 'no' because then, there is no way to circumvent macrovision. I like my Apex).
  • a philosophy of personal responsibility is fine and dandy, but distill it down a bit more and it's nothing more than survival of the fittest, and basically anarchy.
    It sounds like the libertarian party's aim is to just let the people with all the money and power do whatever they want to those who don't have money and power. (please, please, stop interfering with my right to dump nuclear waste on MY land! please, please stop making me pay taxes for a police department I don't need because I hired my own private armed security force!)

    It puts way too much faith in the personal responsibility of individual humans who basically only display personal responsibility when they are compelled to by social contract.
  • Why oh why doesn't SOMEBODY start a political party?

    I mean, I know the libertarians have a strong online presence, but they're just whacko, and the Greens, well, they're too strongly associated with failed socialist policies of Europe (whether that's true or not, that's just how we Americans view the Greens, just a fact, not an opinion - and if that doesn't kill the Greens, Jello Biafra, though I LOVE the guy, will), and the Reform party, well, it was a nice idea until the fundy freaks usurped it.

    Democrats $
    Republicans $

    So it looks like lobbying an existing party to get onto their platform is not a viable option.
  • no, 80's was greed, 90's was apathy. . .
  • "BTW, we started to lose our freedoms in 1861 when Lincoln decided that states didn't have the right to secede."

    I think this is probably a key point in American History that's glossed over - because that notion, is bundled with slavery, at least in the propaganda that's pushed.

    Now, everyone, please, raise your hands, who's for slavery? Anyone? Buelher? Anyone?

    So basically, the way the US Civil war is taugh in US History classes, is that giving the Federal Government THAT much power was a GOOD thing, and if you don't believe that, you're for slavery, and a Nazi racist skinhead trenchcoat mafia member! (erm- Godwin's law?)

    A masterstroke of social engineering, I might add. Propaganda, before propaganda became fasionable.

    Hey, all that time I wasted reading Robert A. Wilson books had to be good for *something*!
  • I think that the argument in favor of limiting a corporation's "free speech" that finally hit home was the fact that the shareholders had no voice in how a corporation spends it's political bribery fund.

    So the law will be changed to make sure that the shareholders get to vote on corporate political donations. (instead of being forced to "vote with their feet").

    The Republicans accepted that argument as long as Unions were similarly restricted by the will of their members. (which seems fine to me, why wouldn't Union members want to give money to the party that stands up for their rights?)
  • That's all we need, the ACLU on our side.

    The ACLU has such a bad reputation of political bias (whether that's deserved or not), it won't help our case on bit. In fact, it will harm it. In America (if you haven't noticed) if the ACLU is defending it, then it's part of the international communist conspiracy. . .

    I think that organizations like the EFF and ACLU are fine and dandy. Legal guns are necessary, but die mensche, the people, need to be educated. They need to know and understand these issues. Especially the people who are in law school right now, who will be prosecuting and defending and judging these cases in the future. Right now, the legal environment consists mainly of people who "came up" during the greed-infested 80's. It's only going to get worse as corporate propaganda in the educational system (yet another money-making machine), gets more and more entrenched.

    It's the dental students who have to pay for the damn necessary book every 180 days, it's the animation students who don't get to view as course materials, one of the seminal works of the art (Steamboat Willie) because it's still not public domain, and luckily, it's the 70 million dorm rats who are being chased off of napster.

    Since this Napster debate started, I've heard the opinions of a lot of deluded self-rightious morons who have been listening to record company propaganda saying that copying is stealing and that it's illegal. Well, that was bullshit from day one, and more effort should be put towards educating these people that we had (until recently) a legal right to copy music - until the record companies bribed the politicians and judges to take away that right. Whether it SEEMS right or wrong is a moral exercise for any individual, but what is CLEARLY wrong is telling someone that what they are doing is illegal when it's not, and then bribing politicians and judges to change the law. Once people realize that, they should understand that this issue isn't just about copying Brittney Spears songs, it's about our basic rights and our political system, control of our very lives - economic slavery. The right/wrong issues are staggering when you take that into account. A 136 Gig MP3 collection is a tempest in a teacup by comparison. That is what the lawyers and judges and politicians of tomorrow NEED to know.

    The internet is the greatest information dissemination tool that humankind has ever devised. And still, we can't get the word out.
  • > I really can't see the justification for linking > as speech.

    Then you effectively ban me saying to someone: "Hey, I hear you can pick up a hooker on 8 Mile and Woodward". I'm allowed to do that now under the Constitution -- but I'm not allowed to do the technical equivalent on the Web?

    No way. If this decision stays as a piece of prior case law, I'm all in favor of taking up arms and staging another revolution.

    (Oh, I'm allowed to say that too... Nice thing, free speech).
  • It strikes me that, perhaps, the US government has just about finished its transformation from a government of the people, by the people, and for the people into a government of the businesses, by the businesses, and for the businesses.

    ClayJar's item seems both insightful and very nicely written. The fact that, as he says later, he's dismissed as a radical merely by mentioning that our freedoms are being usurped by big business really does highlight the key problem which underpins the whole DeCSS/MPAA and DMCA issue --- the majority of the public seems to be blindly accepting or oblivious of what's going on, and therefore government and big business can proceed with whichever agenda suits them best with impunity.

    Yes, in what's allegedly a democracy, that's definitely the key problem.
  • I'm afraid you're right. Relying on courts, governments and lawyers was a mistake from the start. I guess we can all see that now, with the benefit of hindsight.

    We're good at technology, so let's apply a technological solution that isn't at the mercy of people who's minds are rooted in the past.

    Instead of trying to get the single DeCSS guinea pig accepted, with all the room for litigation and corporate control that that implies, many alternative implementations could be developed by different groups, and made available as plugins.

    This would allow generic players to be created and published safely on websites, supplied only with a plugin for accessing unencrypted content. Meanwhile, an unstoppable rain of alternative plugins would be available over Usenet.
  • They should plug into the OS, at the filesystem level.

    Yes, a very good point, as a plugin for a player wouldn't normally be usable in any other any application. Plug into the OS, by all means! Write once, use many places.

    The plugins must not be kernel modules though, for obvious security/stability reasons, but should attach to the kernel as clients --- a Unix domain pipe or SysV IPC would do fine as the means of communication.
  • I suppose it's natural to be forever hopeful that the government of one's country is going to do the right thing for its citizenry, but if you remove the rose-tinted spectacles, that hope turns into wishful thinking.

    Given the realities of the situation, the online community went about the DeCSS problem in the wrong way. Instead of hoping for sanity from the courts and government, dozens of alternative mechanisms should have been created by different groups, and made available as plugins.

    This would allow generic players to be created and published safely on websites, supplied only with a plugin for accessing unencrypted content. Meanwhile, an unstoppable rain of alternative plugins would be available over Usenet.
  • If I link to an "illegal" site, does that make my site "illegal" too? If so, what happens when you link to my site?
    It depends. I think the pertinent criteria is intent. If it is demonstrable that your link is designed to helppeople get hold of copies of DeCSS, then you can be done for it. That's why google.com is not in violation, but a link to http://www.google.com/search?q=decss&btnG=Google+S earch [google.com] or whatever probably is. Note that I'm not making any right/wrong judgements here, just trying to inject some sanity in a world gone mad.
  • Nope, they don't have full rights to determine how it's distributed & presented. We have this little law called Copyright (derived from the constitutional right granted to congress to promote progress in the useful arts & sciences). One of it's features is that copyright is, well, the right to create original copies. What people do with the copies (aside from creating new copies to distribute by sale or giving away) is not restricted.

    Which, of course, explains used book stores, used CD stores, libraries (who give them away), your right to sell the works at a garage sale, etc.

    BTW: Back early this century, book publishers tried to pull some restrictions on resale of books. The Supreme Court ruled that they may want it, but they couldn't have it - feel free to sell that book for $.01 if you want.

    (All of the above for US folks - non-US, check your laws for what rights you have. Also, IANAL, etc).

  • and the term "banned content". why does this just give me the shivvers?

    Hmmmm... just a guess, but maybe it's because you're not a Nazi boot-kisser?

    The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion.

  • Reagan left the Democrats at the behest of wealthy California land owners, who wanted someone to push their agenda through as Governor of California. Charleton Heston on the other hand...I'm not exactly sure what made his transition to "conservative," except that he strikes me as a pro-censorship jerk. Running the NRA is his only presently redeeming quality.

    If the Democrats lost the moderate white vote by supporting civil rights and equal opportunity laws, and further alienated male voters by trying to ban guns, they are now about to lose the liberal vote under the direction of the corporate-ass-kissing Democratic Leadership Council. 25,000 people voted Green in Florida in the 2000 Presidential election. Nobody can make a credible case that fewer than 2% of those Green voters were swayed away from the Democrats. The number is probably more like 40%.

    What's the solution? I'm not sure there is one. The fact is, the nation is swinging right for now, and the United States is going to get more repressive under the Republicans and the Loyal Opposition before it becomes better. It could be decades.

    ObJectBridge [sourceforge.net] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

  • If someone claimed that one of your laws was unconstitutional, you'd intervene too! Notice that the brief only goes so far as to argue that the law is constitutional, not that the MPAA should win, or anything like that.
  • What happened to all those DeCSS links? Did they dissappear?

    I would really like to see the DeCSS Source Code [cubicmetercrystal.com] published by those who care about the chilling implications this has on your personal rights.
  • I got my takedown letter for This DeCSS Site [cubicmetercrystal.com] via a word document attached to an email.

    I guess they dont want to send certified snail mail to tens of thousands of people who post the information.
  • You mean, if I were to Post a Link to the DeCSS Source Code [cubicmetercrystal.com] online then I could be charged with distributing illegal content?

    Well, you know what? If no one posts links and provides the content then they have already won without a battle.

    I may or may not suffer severe repercussions from my actions, but it will be worth providing the information, and perhaps showing my disdain for severely unconstitutional laws passed in congress.
  • Here's an actual case of exactly what you described.

    An undercover agent drove by Terri White on the street and yelled out the window asking where he could buy drugs. Terri called over to someone around the corner who came out and sold $30 worth of drugs to the agent. The person who sold the drugs was a known drug dealer with a juvenile drug trafficking record. However, he was still five months away from his eighteenth birthday. Terri was charged with aggravated drug trafficking. In court the juvenile said that the drugs were Terri's.

    Sentence: 12 years

    Link to the article on FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) [famm.org]
  • We have Pat Schroeder telling us Libraries are a communist plot.... and narly a voice is heard from informed Open Sourced people.

    Pat Schroeder is a Democrat. Therefore, she can do no wrong.

    Remember kiddies...

    Democrats GOOD
    Republicans BAD

  • How can choosing your player for a DVD be a free speech issue? Watching a DVD is consuming speech, not producing it.

    The right to Free Speech is meaningless if I'm required to speak into a sound-damping device run by a corporation with a lot of money^H^H^H^H^Hpolitical influence so that others can't hear me, even if they want to. In short, the right to CONSUME (listen to/watch/read) speech freely is a fundamental aspect of "free speech" in general.

    (At the same time, I need to have the right NOT to listen to/watch/read whatever I want, e.g. advertisements at the beginnings of videotapes and DVD's.) Freedom of speech "production" and freedom of speech "consumption" are both fundamentally necessary for "free speech".


    ---
    "They have strategic air commands, nuclear submarines, and John Wayne. We have this"
  • I'm not terribly familiar with European law, but I do recall it was not many years ago that my fellow Americans were mocking the Brits for having a horribly restrictive copyright act which reads damn close to the way the DMCA reads, so, at least in GB the same arguments against DeCSS could be made.

    You might want to check your country's copyright code -before- the MPAA finishes here and goes around the world trying to establish precedent in other countries...

    Parity None

    --Parity
  • well, if the government wants to stand behind this draconian provision of the DMCA, I say we help them be model citizens.

    Lets wget the entirety of government websites, grep them for links to DMCA banned speech, then prosecute. Once we've identified the offending links, we can track them, and then we can seek damages for every instance of their being followed.

    Maybe if we can get this archive of links, and a cost estimate to our representatives before the case reaches it's next big phase, the government may change it's tune. A sword isn't anywhere as nifty a toy when you're looking at the pointy end.

  • The amateurish "according to my reading of the Constitution" analysis of people who don't know shit about the case law is embarrassing, unhelpful, and only raises the overall signal/noise ratio

    Amateur analysis is more important than professional indoctrinated analysis, and the written constitution (which is available to everyone to read) is more important than case law. Why? Because everybody, including all us amateurs, are expected to obey the law. If ignorance of the law is not a defence, then the establishment's strategy of keeping people ignorant, is unfair and immoral.

    The legal establishment's reliance on case law and obscurity, only serves to keep law within the realm of the elite. Its purpose is to make legal knowledge scarce, artificially increase the pay rate of lawyers, and reduce Joe Schmoe's ability to influence the society that he lives in. It also has the side-effect of making it so that the rich can bully the not-rich, by outspending them in order to get them to surrender/settle an argument in order to avoid a legal judgement.

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see someone who plays a lawyer, advocate keeping amateurs and laws written by legislators (as opposed to judges), out of the argument. If you find amateurs discussing law to be embarrassing, it is probably because it is potentially a threat to the profession.


    ---
  • ..as others have pointed out; the government brief slings mud at the defendents which is not relevant to the issue at hand
    i.e
    Defendants publish a magazine for computer hackers, which "has included articles on such topics as how to steal an Internet domain
    name, access to other peoples e-mail, intercept cellular phone calls, and break into computer systems at Costco stores and Federal
    Express."


    I think the defendents submissions should include some derogatory terms also, and I'd like some suggestions.

    As a starter I propose:
    Plaintiffs use the DMCA and associated copyright laws to fix absurdly high prices for their products ?
  • After reading streetlawyers user info, I'm responding to this as a sincere post.

    Whilst the opinion in the parent of this article was interesting, I don't think Corley should drop the case.

    The plaintiffs have claimed that the primary purpose of DeCSS is to rip DVDs, which it isn't. In any case, at the time the case was bought, use of DeCSS was uneconomic.

    DeCSS has made a GPL Linux DVD player possible; nothing else would have done so.

    DVD is currently a minority format, but I predict within 5 years that tape will be dead or dying, replaced by one or more forms of random access media such as DVD, TiVo type devices etc.

    Therefore I think we do have to fight now.
  • > To do this, there are only two (legal) solutions I can think of:

    Equally important, or perhaps more so, is for us to learn to control our appetites. So long as the short-term gratification of being able to watch TPM in all its digitized glory is more valuable to us than the long-term decrement in our constitutional/traditional rights and privileges, then we'll keep making the trade until we don't have any rights or privileges left.

    Learn to say 'no' when corporations start peddling goodies with strings attached.

    That's not to say you shouldn't support the EFF too: I got my cap & T-shirt last week.

    --
  • Actually I personally don't think they give a damn about the MPAA, I think what they care about most is the fact that this case can make linking to banned matterial be against the law. A boon for the federal governments and their attempts at trying to enforce land laws on cyberspace.
  • No, the version written by that norwigian kid was written for windows. Some of his intent was to have it ported by someone else to linux, but he wrote it for windows, I guess he didn't know linux ro something shrugs. But I digress the first version of DeCSS was for Windows.
  • Because the Supreme Court has an excellent record on making decisions based on the law, and not what feels good. If you had actually stopped to read the Supreme Courts rulling on the elections case, you might understand.
  • And its fully supported now???? snicker
  • So your saying I can just stick a CD-RW disk in my CDRW drive format it, and start using it as a RW drive?? don't know if I believe it..
  • I have written a seminar paper about the legality of DeCSS in Finland (which btw. got the highest possible grade) so I know quite well what the situation is at least here. In EU the copyright for computer programs is harmonized so the same should apply for other EU-countries, too.


    MPAA is on my behalf free to establish a precedent in Finland, there's no way they could win with current legistlation... :-)



    Ville, INAL but pretty damn close
    My DeCSS archive:

  • Well,

    If you a lucky enough to live in one of the EU- countries, there's third legal option. A mirror of DeCSS. As long as new the EU copyright directive isn't in force there shouldn't be any (legal) problems.


    Of course it is quite likely that MPAA & DVD CCA will still try legal harassment, for example your ISP will be most certainly receiving harassing letters from their lawyers. That's something that one should be prepared for. But, it's definately worth of the hassle.



    Ville




    My DeCSS archive:

  • I have had the Source in my homepage since the first court case last December. So far I haven't heard anything from MPAA or DVD CCA, they seem to do anyway some monitoring (I've seen some hits in the log).


    Anyway the positive side is that in EU it should be pefectly legal to publish DeCSS. The situation may change after the new copyright directive comes in force, which will still take some time...



    Ville
    My DeCSS archive:

  • >>linking is equivalent to distributing banned content yourself

    so by his thinking, if I link to a picture of a pot plant, its the same as distributing that same pot plant?


    I'm not sure that its a fair analogy.

    In your case what he's saying is that you are distributing the picture of the pot plant.

    The main problem with Digital Media is that it is Digital Media. You can (so far) double click on a new monitor, and download the new monitor into your home. You CAN double click on a song and get a perfect copy of it indistinguishable from what you would hear off of a CD. You can even get a whole album and burn your own CD if you want.

    I don't agree that linking is equivalen to distributing the content yourself, but that is whats freaking out the RIAA and MPAA more then anything else. They survive by having the best distribution channels in place. The internet just obsoleted that.

    If everyone had a machine that, when fed a chemical formula, could reproduce any chemical, and all you had to do was double-click on the formula for Pot and the computer would retrieve that formula, download it into this device, and the device what output processed pot, would you consider linking to that formula "distribution"?

    You may laugh, but thats the way it works now for MP3, WAV, AVI and MPG files.
  • You know, it is kind of funny to watch the United States of America slowly erode the rights of its citizens.

    Personally, I think it's terrifying to watch. Whether I like it or not, my own country is directly affected by what goes on the US: economics, manufacturing, software, trade agreements, international patent enforcement and US multinationals are all factors which have a direct bearing on my quality of life and day-to-day existence. This includes:

    • what movies I can watch and when
    • what multiple I have to apply to convert from dollars
    • what computer hardware is available
    • what technology is coming down the pipe
    • what clueless legislation my own government think would be a good idea here as well

    Yes, my own clueless government often take the lead from US legislation on issues like intellectual property. Luckily there's no real law enforcement here and the country has a famous history of civil disobedience. But it's still disheartening to watch US citizens who should know better do nothing - yes I'm talking to YOU - John Q. Geek sitting there reading this post. When was the last time you wrote to your Representative? Voted in an election? Publicly protested against a company you didn't like? Boycotted a company's products and told them why you were doing so? Contributed to the EFF? Engaged in civil disobedience and were prepared to take the consequences? Great - we need more like you :)

  • One aspect of this which I do not remember seeing justified is why a DVD player should need authorization from the MPAA. Or to put it another way, what gives the MPAA (and others) the right to dictate how their content should be enjoyed?

    Every artist has a right to determine how their art is distributed and presented to the public. In the music and movie industry, the artists sign over the distribution rights (and often the copyrights) to consortiums like the MPAA. Therefore, the MPAA is acting like an 'artist', and has a right to determine how 'their' content is enjoyed. If they wanted to exclude blue-eyed left-handed people from seeing Titanic, they have every right to do so.
  • If I give you the name of something, I have not given you the thing itself. Isn't that clear enough?
    -russ
  • Pretty much everybody in the world knows that USA is responsible for more deaths than Nazi Germany during WWII,

    There is no evidence for this -- neither that "everbody knows", nor that it is true.
    -russ
  • All the DeCSS links are gone??

    What fantasy world is this person living in? Perhaps they have a list of the links in the civil action. Perhaps all of those links are gone. That doesn't mean that it's become difficult to get a copy of the DeCSS code.
    -russ
  • I've heard that a corporation can be de-chartered, the equivalent of a death sentence. I've never heard of it being applied.

    It has been applied in the past, but not for around 100 years give or take. The legal mechanism to do this is still available. I've come across some campaigns to impose a "corporate death penalty" on various businesses here and there on the web.

    For a general primer on the history and evolution of corporate power, along with a call to arms to fight back, check out the Corporate Crackdown [adbusters.org] at the Adbusters [adbusters.org] website.

    Trickster Coyote
    The power of illusion. The illusion of power.
  • They're called "taxes," and the cut that Senators and Representatives get of those taxes is what the employer - the people of the US - pays to their elected employees. Any other money or gift given to those employees to influence a decision is bribery, pure and simple.

    Would a corporate employer tolerate their employees taking money to perform actions detrimental to the employer's well-being? Then why do the public employers tolerate it? Campaign finance reform will probably never be passed by the people that live off graft and bribery; perhaps a rather loud uprising might finally force Congress to do the Right Thing?

    *rant mode off*
  • MIT, IIRC, used this technique to get around US export restrictions on the PGP program. They published it in a book, with instructions on how to run it through an OCR system. Gov't couldn't touch them because books are protected by the 1st amendment.
  • The amateurish "according to my reading of the Constitution" analysis of people who don't know shit about the case law is embarrassing, unhelpful, and only raises the overall signal/noise ratio.

    Well, yeah, us poor dumb hicks who don't know nuthin' 'bout bein' a fancy lawyer take a real exception to the whole concept of case law trumping the Constitution. It seems pretty obvious that it's real easy to build a road, one 'case law' brick at a time, that takes you from "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech" to "Certain politically disapproved speech is not allowed in certain forums" to "Say what we allow you to say and don't say anything else"

    And code isn't protected speech
    Neither is email
    Nor wireless transmissions
    Nor any kind of digitally encoded data

    And yes, it CAN happen here. "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" "Identify your associates within that organization, and we'll go easy on you..."

    Or, for a even more divisive example from today's news: from "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" to "five days later, maybe, but you can't take it with you anywhere---and be sure not to store it in such a way that it would actually be useful as protection against an intruder..."

    It seems that on occaision, one MUST return to the core principles---"according to my reading of the Constitution..."---otherwise, the United States as a Constitutional Republic is doomed. One 'case law' brick at a time. If people can't be expected to understand their rights without a law degree, what good are they?

  • A healthy balance must be found... business needs can't be entirely ignored.

    For instance, consider the case of the government enacting a bill that makes ISP's liable for any pornography that a minor can access through the ISP. In cases such as this, that industry must be able to argue its case to the congress, informing them of the technical and practical limitations of what can and can't be done.

    Other than that clarification, I wholly agree. There's a big difference between corporations having a voice, and corporations drowning all the individuals' voices out.
    --

  • Well, the DMCA was written to encourage the use of copyright access controls:
    • In response to this threat, the consumer electronics and computer industries have developed technologies that protect from infringement copyrighted works in digital format by denying individuals access to such materials absent some special key or descrambling code, and by disabling users with access from making copies of a work without authorization. ... Joining an international effort to make the Internet a more secure business forum, Congress enacted the DMCA to uphold the integrity of copyright protection in cyberspace
    Due to technical limitations, it isn't feasible to implement these copyright protection mechanisms for every device, platform, application, or protocol. As such, the copyright holders get to choose all of these for you.
    --
  • If this scares you, then send $100 to the EFF [eff.org].

    My check will be in the mail this evening.
    --
  • >"Computer code is not purely expressive any more than the assassination of a political figure is purely a political statement," Kaplan wrote in his opinion today.

    Wasn't there this controversy recently about the good old US of A wanting to legalize assassination of foreign political leaders?

    //rdj
  • You get what you pay for.
  • (ital is streetlawyer and bold is either quotes of me or where I get hot under the collar)
    "is there some such work which I literally could not produce without something like DeCSS?".
    Um, I think you're depending on a too-literal interpretation of "literally" below (sorry - couldn't resist). Sure, lots of time, money, expense, and you don't need DeCSS. But that's analogous to saying "No copy machines, because you can hand-write anything you need". And it ignores the fact that a new medium, a new information technology (like DVD) changes the kinds of information available. There weren't many books running around before the printing press. No novels either. Prose fiction (as opposed to epic poetry) was enabled by the printing press.
    The trailer(s) for the film itself
    Available on other videotapes. If you're genuine about producing a fair use work, you'll get hold of them.
    They may be available, they may not. I can't generally find out without buying or renting the tape and finding out - studios don't tell you what ads are on the tape. So in order to obtain this material any other way, I have to go through a prohibitive amount of work.
    Alternate language soundtracks
    You can simply record the sound made by your Windows DVD player
    The sound made by my what? I'm sorry, I don't do Windows. I'm using a Mac right now, right next to a Linux box I bought when I still worked at Sony that I never booted to Windows - I wiped it first thing. So I must go and buy some proprietary thing or otherwise gain access to it in order to do this? Prohibitive, again.
    by conventional means and add it to your fair use work. You don't need a digital-perfect copy for scholarship, satire or parody.
    Since when? Ever see an art student painting a copy in a museum? Or a film student at a repertory theater? Scholars always want the best materials to work from. It's the nature of scholarship. Do you expect a paleontologist to study less-than-perfect reproductions of fossils? No, a paleontologist studies the actual fossil if possible and the best reproduction available if not (and may go to the trouble to make a reproduction if one isn't available).
    Subtitles, both in other languages and for the hearing impaired
    Screenplays are not hard to get hold of in paper form, or on the internet
    And often differ from what is actually said in the movie (it's called a "shooting script"). Further, many movies do not have published screenplays (and how many of those Internet scripts are in fact published?). Sure, Taxi Driver and Blue Velvet do, but how about Chicken Run? You may be able to buy it on the streets of New York (like you could buy a video of Phantom Menace the day it was released), but I doubt the street vendors have legal permission.

    Soundtracks are often reordered on records or CDs when they're released (if they are released). Director's commentary may be available in an interview, but that isn't keyed to the film the way it is on a DVD.

    Fair use exists to ensure that copyright does not stifle free speech. It can't be worked up into a right to have your kewl DVDs available in exactly the form you want. There is no such right.
    Start from why copyright (and patents) were created instead: to promote speech, to stimulate discourse (and to promote innovation in the case of patents) by giving you a (temporary) legal monopoly. Fair use came about to make sure that legal monopoly didn't get in its own way, stifling the point of copyright in the first place.

    I'm a published author. Addison Wesley mails me a check once a quarter. A small check, but it is a check. Do I want people to be able to copy my book wholesale and resell it without paying me? No. Do I want other authors to be able to build on it without restriction? Damn right I do - it's a textbook and I want people to learn from it. Copyright enabled me to make money from the book, but isn't there to prevent anyone else from building on it.

  • Actors and Artists are typically in the Democratic camp, while Recording and Movie Executives are typically in the Republican camp. I say typically; there are obvious exceptions, such as Actor turned President Ronald Reagan.

    Your typical example does hold in the case of Ronald Reagan (as well as, for example, Charleton Heston) as they WERE democrats until the 1970s. As Reagan put it: I didn't leave the democratic party--the democratic party left me.

    Food for through, neh?

  • "The question we have to ask is: Is the right to free speech allowed when it directly infringes the rights of another?"

    That is completely false, linking DOES NOT DIRECTLY infringe anything. Linking is telling someone where something is, nothing more. Further more, what RIGHTS are being infringed. DeCSS is a program that can be used for many things, and it is not even the best tool to use for "pirating" movies. Add to that the fact that copyright law today is completely unconstitutional in that in the constitution it allows for LIMITED (limited cannot mean longer than the average lifespan) copyright to FURTHER PROGRESS (NOT TO MAKE AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE FOR THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER!!!).
  • by volsung (378) <stan@mtrr.org> on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:13AM (#408334)
    I really can't see the justification for linking as speech. However, the worse issue is that when you link to a site, you have no control over the content of the site you linked to. If you become legally responsible for someone else's content when you link, you have big problems. The slippery slope gets ugly when you have to sort out whether the "intent" was to aid in the distribution of "illegal information" (a phrase that makes me shudder), whether search engines are responsible, and whether you can legally tell a search engine to avoid a known "bad" site.
  • One aspect of this which I do not remember seeing justified is why a DVD player should need authorization from the MPAA. Or to put it another way, what gives the MPAA (and others) the right to dictate how their content should be enjoyed?

    When you purchase copyright a copyright work, be it a book, picture, DVD, CD, VHS or cassette tape, you are purchasing the right (or a licence) to enjoy the copyright work. I do not disagree with the copyright owners wishing to control the copying of the work, broadcasting and public showing, but I fail to see why they should also have (or claim) the right to dictate the environment in which the work may be enjoyed in private. If you purchase a book or painting, the copyright owner does not tell you where you are allowed to read the book or hang the painting. Once we purchase the DVD, it should be no business of the copyright owner what equipment we use to view the content. The US DCMA states that none of its provisions remove the "fair use" use rights given by other copyright laws but recent events make this claim rather suspect.

  • by jms (11418) on Friday February 23, 2001 @09:00AM (#408336)
    When you buy a CD, or book, or DVD, you are buying a piece of plastic. You are not licensing a thing. The entire "licensing" phenomenon is an anomoly that arises because the computer industry was able to convince the courts that when you run a program, you are making a "copy" into the computer's memory, and therefore need a license to make that copy (and use the software.) This has absolutely no application to anything except software, and there's a school of thought that says that Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 117 [cornell.edu] eliminates this "requirement", in essence allowing you to freely use any software for which you own a legally made copy without any license whatsoever:

    Title 17, Chapter 1, Sec. 117. Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer programs

    (a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy. - Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
    (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner ...


    Also, more to the point of this particular message, as an example of how artists do NOT have the right to control how their works are distributed and presented after first sale, for instance, it is completely legal for you to buy an art book, cut out each page, frame it, and sell them individually. Once you purchase a copy, you then have the right, not under some license, but under copyright law, to resell and/or dispose of your copy as you see fit.

    Those who don't know your rights, might as well not have them.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:40AM (#408337)
    It is doubtful that the Bush folks would have put something like this just since the swearing in, or even since the election, since they were so distracted with other business.

    This simply isn't true. Beurocracies chug along just fine during political transitions and have for the last century (at least). You are probably right in that the foundation was almost certainly laid under the Clinton administration, but you are wrong to assign innocence to the Bush administration.

    Hollywood has its claws into both parties. Actors and Artists are typically in the Democratic camp, while Recording and Movie Executives are typically in the Republican camp. I say typically; there are obvious exceptions, such as Actor turned President Ronald Reagan. In any event Hollywood and the Copyright Cartels hold a great deal of influence over both parties.

    Remember, it was a Republican congress who passed the DMCA into law, and a Democratic president who signed it.
  • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:24AM (#408338) Journal
    That is why this case should keep going straight to the Supreme Court, where they will reaffirm the fair use doctrines

    You know, there's this Slashdot assumption that 69th Amendment to the Constitution grants "Fair Use" rights that can't be overruled by some little ol law.

    Well, it isn't true: Fair Use is a concept defined by copyright law. And if the copyright law (the DMCA) says that "bypassing an access control device is illegal and not Fair Use", then that's the way it is. So the real solution is 1) Mass Civil Disobedience, which will lead to 2) The repeal of the DMCA or (more likely) the passage of the Digital Millennium Consumer Fair Use Act.
    --
  • Fair Use is a concept defined by copyright law

    Fair Use is a legally inherent part of the Constitutionally authorized Copyright laws (at least that's what the Supreme Court said when they allowed "Fair Use" to be a defense).

    So no, Congress cannot legislate Fair Use away (short of a Constitutional amendement). This is one of the arguments the EFF has been using -- that Congress simply CANNOT restrict the fair use of material even if they 100% wanted to with the DMCA (and of course, they DIDN'T intend to, which is one of the other major arguments).


    ---------------------------------------------
  • by maroberts (15852) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:35AM (#408340) Homepage Journal
    Distribution of DeCSS certainly advanced my state of knowledge of encryption technology; so much so that I was able to understand from it how the encryption method worked and submit suggested improvements to the algorithm.

    So how do I submit a paper contradicting the opinion in the Governement brief?
  • by sterno (16320) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:45AM (#408341) Homepage
    It is terribly risky to put your faith in the Supreme Court. This court has had a tendancy to be very activist, and could do something really dangerous with this case. I guarantee that this will go before the Supreme court because neither side can afford to lose, but that doesn't mean 2600 will win it.

    I think that 2600 has very valid legal ground and the release of open source players for Linux validates the very useful application of this technology. But the Supreme Court could decide that this laws was within the jurisdicition of congress and that Kaplan's interpretation is accurate. Then where would we be?

    We need to find a louder voice in the place where the bad laws get made. We need to have greater control over our destiny than hoping that we get lucky with the Supreme Court. It's too late now for 2600 to take a different approach, but if this goes badly, we need to be ready with a backup plan (besides moving to countries with well written laws).

    ---

  • Sounds good - maybe a book on encryption techniques both successful and unsuccessful and why the bad one fail, and maybe even a chapter on the implications to the Joe Public of encryption. Of course as suggested CSS and DeCCS should be one of the case studies on the book. The advantage of a book, is that even if it can't be published in the US, at least it could be published in Europe, or anywhere else that feels that people have rights - heck it would be ironic if we saw this being published in China.
  • by kramer (19951) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:41AM (#408343) Homepage
    Fair use doesn't allow it, but the right of First sale does. Essentially, it states that once a copyright owner *SELLS* (not licences) a work, anything the consumer does with that work short of copying it is their own business. The owner cannot mantain restrictions on the work. This principle dates back to the early 1900's.

    Further, my understanding is that the reason that DeCSS was orginally written for windows was because the code the borrowed from the Xing player
    was easier to port to windows than linux. It should be noted that within a week there was a linux utility based on DeCSS available.
  • With each DeCSS shirt, Copyleft also provides a printout copy of the entire css-auth/DeCSS code. If hardcopy is the limiting factor between "speech" and "not speech", then I'd just love to see the MPAA try to get a flyer with the code banned.

    The css-auth song was removed from MP3.com as "objectionable" material. I suspect there's a lot of material on MP3.com that depicts violent or misogynistic acts, or contains various forms of hate speech. I bet that material never gets touched.

    In fact, the code is now public record; the MPAA's lawyers entered the code into evidence, and forgot to have that exhibit locked away from the public!

    If we're playing the "intent" game, then posting the code with the intent of allowing others to download it and rip DVDs can be blocked. Posting the code with the intent to protest the MPAAs actions can easily be considered speech; rather like abortion protestors busting out the pictures of aborted fetuses at clinic rallies (then decrying violent images on TV, but that's another issue, and if you think I'm getting into that one right now, you're nuts).

    What if I post the code on an HTML page [24.42.105.140], not in a tar.gz or .zip archive? The code is public record, as well as a form of protest; can it still be blocked? Especially if the page also explains why the code is being posted?

    Once again: MPAA lawyers, you don't like it, come get me . I have a lot of time, and the will to defend my right to protest, and to view my legally-purchased movies on a platform of my choice.
  • by werdna (39029) on Friday February 23, 2001 @12:06PM (#408345) Journal
    The government isn't hopping so much on the side of big business, as it is defending the constitutionality of a legislative action. In a meaningful sense, a constitutional attack on a statute *IS* an attack on a legislative act, and thus the government tends to file, sometimes even lukewarm, briefs in support of statutes -- even when the policy of the statute is unconcionable.

    In otherwords, a government brief in support of the constitutionality of a statute is a pretty routine act.

    Still, I wish they had stayed out of this one. Their silence would have been deafening.
  • by Kefaa (76147) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:32AM (#408346)
    I would have expected this in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. It is also very likely that 2600 will lose. MPAA chose an excellent target, a magazine which provides information to "hackers". Hackers who are typified to mom and dad as heroin addict looking individuals who are destroying their email, stealing from their bank accounts, and compromising national security for "fun".

    Now, if we consider the simplest case where OS company "M" asks video card vendor "V" to stop anyone attempting to write a driver for another OS. Ingenious in a way that it would prevent anyone from expanding say OS "L" to include the newest technology.

    We can add that anyone caught linking to the new "illegal" driver as guilty of a crime (based on the ruling above) and the rest is history... If you find this unlikely, consider your favorite video card and on which OS they sell the most. In the name of "quality" they want to ensure that only the best drivers, code, programs, data, links, etc. are available to their customers.

    Now consider the experience level of the average PC user who has gotten 50 ILOVEYOU messages (and probably opened five), who do you think they will believe?
  • by Pogue Mahone (265053) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:50AM (#408347) Homepage
    Here's something from the DMCA (as quoted in this article) that I didn't notice before:

    "(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act];

    If a "technological measure" can be circumvented, there's no way it can be described as "effective".

    Kill 'em with their own words. ;-)

    PS Sorry about the subject line. Something must be interfering with transmission.


    --

  • by VValdo (10446) on Friday February 23, 2001 @09:05AM (#408348)
    I'm probably posting this too late in the day for anyone to see it, but in their argument, the government says:

    Computer programs are "essentially utilitarian" works. Computer Assocs. Int'l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 982 F.2d 693, 704 (2d Cir. 1992). Simply put, they are articles that accomplish tasks." Sega Enterprises, Ltd. v. Accolade, Inc., 977 F.2d 1510, 1524 (9th Cir. 1992). DeCSS -- the computer program "[a]t the bottom of this case" -- is no different. Brief for Defendants-Appellants ("Appellants' Br.") at 2. As the district court found, "DeCSS, like any other computer program, is a series of instructions that causes a computer to perform a particular sequence of tasks which, in the aggregate, decrypt CSS-protected files." Universal City Studios, 111 F. Supp. 2d at 328-29; see also Appellants' Br. at 2 ("DeCSS decrypts the data on a DVD and stores it."). This function is entirely nonexpressive, and thus does not warrant First Amendment protection.

    Fine-- computer programs are simply "articles that accomplish tasks." They are not speech, says the government.

    In order to be a candidate for copyright protection, however

    In no case does copyright protection of an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, ... design, and three-dimensional works, while not protected by copyright, may be protected by a patent.

    See http://www.acs.ttu.edu/documentation/laws/lpc5.htm l#205 [ttu.edu].

    If a program is not free speech, and it's not copyrightable, then it seems the government is saying that the DCMA does NOT cover any kind of software, and that any copyright notice on (non-content) with regards to software is misapplied.

    The DMCA doesn't cover patents (does it?) so I guess it's still legal to use DCSS-like programs for the purposes of copying/accessing any copy-protected software.

    W
    -------------------

  • by FreeUser (11483) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:05AM (#408349)
    This is just the sort of ridiculous position I've come to expect from the US government, and with Bush in office I'm sure we can expect alot more "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" play with big corps.

    As much as the Usurper annoys me, and as opposed to his notions as I am on several issues, it is IMHO unfair and inaccurate to imply that he will be engaged in any more quid-pro-quo money for politics behavior than his Democratic counterparts. The difference mainly lies in who the parties of the transaction will be (e.g. Big Oil vs. Big Law Firms), not the quantity of sleazy bargaining engaged in.

    As far as this particular issue is concerned (Copyright Cartels stealing our rights through corrupt legislation bought and paid for), both parties are equally reprehensible. It was a republican congress that passed the bill, but a democratic president who eagerly signed it into law. The same is true for encryption and a number of other issues that concern technology folks BTW -- on the issues many of us really care about, there is no difference between the two major parties, and hence no real choice.
  • by ScottBrady (60469) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:21AM (#408350)


    I think these opening sentences sum up their views quite clearly:

    The Internet and its supporting technologies have wrought a paradigm shift in the means of conducting trade. With its valuable potential for global product distribution at far lower transaction costs, electronic commerce has also created new business challenges, particularly for vendors of intellectual property.

    To them the Internet is nothing more than a new distribution platform for commerce.

    Think about it: we don't let anyone run a Television station nor do we allow anyone run a Radio station (reinforced recently by the veto of low power radio licenses). These are two mediums, distribution channels, owned and operated by Very Large Corporations. Suddenly the Internet comes along and allows anyone to speak their mind. Not only in text but in sound and video. What a scary thought.

    What if someone makes a news site with fake information? The public would be mislead. What is someone makes an audio recording with hateful or vulgar speech? Can't let the children hear Bad Words. What if someone makes a video with naked boobies? Shock, horror and shame.

    I believe the first part of the Internet to be regulated will be Medical Information. Doctors are already bitching when patients learn about alternative therapies. "We can't have them reading that voodoo. You have to help us Uncle Sam." It seems logical to me. You're dealing with Public Health which is an issue that tugs at emotions almost as well as "Save the Children."

    The systematic destruction of Freespeech on the Internet has already begun. It's simply a matter of where the Government and Corporations will strike next.

  • by nellardo (68657) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:58AM (#408351) Homepage Journal
    and all the material you might want to use is available elsewhere.
    but in fact, often it isn't. Most DVDs these days include extensive "Added Features!" These typically include:
    • The trailer(s) for the film itself (never on VHS, only trailers for other films the studio wants you to buy).
    • Alternate language soundtracks (often never released in the US - I mean, really, "South Park" in French is not on the shelves in Blockbuster in the US (maybe in Quebec, maybe not), but it is on the DVD).
    • Subtitles, both in other languages and for the hearing impaired (you can verify that line you can't quite hear, and oh, that's [rhythmic farting] during the "Uncle Fucker" song on "South Park").
    • Director's commentary (never on VHS).
    • Music-only soundtrack (never on VHS).
    Now, add in the features you get on a better DVD release. How many of us bought a DVD player just to see all the groovy stuff they put on "The Matrix" DVD? I mean, you simply can't jump back and forth between behind-the-scenes and released footage on video - it's tape! it's linear!

    Okay, I'm clearly getting overwrought :-) Time for some coffee and happy pills.

  • by ravi_n (175591) on Friday February 23, 2001 @06:42AM (#408352)
    Actually fair use is what is required to reconcile copyright law with the First Amendment. Having a copyright on something includes the right to forbit others to speak it. Without the limitations on copyright that have been codified as fair use, copyright law and the First Amendment could not be reconciled.
  • by Alien54 (180860) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:44AM (#408353) Journal
    But what the &^$%^%*$%(has this to do with the issue at hand or the first ammendment ?

    What is interesting is that there are books like The Anachists Handbook, that are printed legally in the USA. There is an interesting FAQ here [righto.com]. This passage is relevant:

    Lyle Stuart (the auther)published the book (The Anachists Handbook) for a number of reasons. At the time Librarians across the US were being intimidated by the FBI and CIA who wanted to get names of people checking out books they felt were subversive. Lyle Stuart felt that publishing this book would make those efforts meaningless since people could simply buy the book without signing for it. Anyway Lyle did publish the book.

    In my opinion the event of publishing the book was important. The contents are garbage. This was a very dangerous and brave publishing act for the 1960's.

    People obviously do not want this info (found at 2600) spread around for reasons of their own profits. But somehow publishing on the internet is different than putting out a book?

  • by MrBrklyn (4775) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:47AM (#408354) Homepage Journal
    We really deserve everything we get. How many people sit in here whining about the violations of our rights under the guise of Copyright Protection, and then do NOTHING to influence Congress on the issue. We now have DMCA protected books critical to Dental Education which can be aquired only under a limited license for 180 days at a time. Our basic ability of read infomration is under attack by the printed publishers, using the DMCA as it's stick. We have Pat Schroeder telling us Libraries are a communist plot.... and narly a voice is heard from informed Open Sourced people. Where is the Open Source Lobby on capital hill? http://www.nyfairuse.org
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Friday February 23, 2001 @05:15AM (#408355)
    Has anyone published a DeCSS book? I think it would be a very interesting end-run around the DMCA. Publish a book, which includes the source code to DeCSS, details the algorithm, and perhaps includes some background information on what has happened. Include an "e-book" CD containing the exact text of the book, in ASCII or HTML format, for online reading.

    I for one would pay as much as $50 for such a book (even though I have no use for DeCSS and already have a copy of the code in text format, printed out before it was banned). I would probably be wiling to pay twice that if some portion of the profits were to go to the EFF and/or 2600's legal defense fund.

    It might be interesting to publish such a book and donate it to a number of libraries around the country as well ...
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:47AM (#408356)
    If I link to an "illegal" site, does that make my site "illegal" too? If so, what happens when you link to my site?

    The whole internet is supposedly within 7 hops of any page. It looks like the courts have just ruled the internet illegal.

    Ah, well. Free speech was a nasty ideal anyway. You could end up with people criticising their governments or something. Maybe even going so far as to criticise a corporation or a consortium.

    --
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:49AM (#408357) Homepage Journal
    Ladies and Gentlemen, I guess it's time for us to show where we stand on this question.

    To do this, there are only two (legal) solutions I can think of:

    Support the EFF [eff.org]
    Support 2600 Magazine [yahoo.com]

    Please do it now. I know I will.

  • by ClayJar (126217) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:47AM (#408358) Homepage

    It strikes me that, perhaps, the US government has just about finished it transformation from a government of the people, by the people, and for the people into a government of the businesses, by the businesses, and for the businesses. Of course, since a corporation is a legal person in this country, perhaps they've just misplaced part of their heads.

    The scary thing is that almost nobody sees what's going on. When those that do see the dangers have the audacity to talk about it, they are branded as conspiracy theorists et al. I can hardly put forward the idea that our freedoms are being usurped by big business before I'm dismissed as a radical. If eternal vigilance is indeed the price of freedom, I'm afraid that the days of freedom are limited. Perhaps there are still many left, but at the rate we're progressing, we're getting dangerously close to the point where nothing short of a full-fledged revolt will have any chance at producing change.

    We're precipitously close to an Orweillian society run, not by governments, but by big businesses who all but own the governments. If such a dystopia comes in to power, I'm afraid it may be extremely difficult to break the bonds of socio-economic tyrrany. At our current progress, such a system will at the very least attempt to take over; I can only hope that we can work fast enough and be strong enough to topple it in its infancy.

  • by Alien54 (180860) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:31AM (#408359) Journal
    I guess it is expected that the US gov would enter a brief on the side of big business, but in this case it is slightly disturbing. heck, it is plainly disturbing.

    These Things take a while to prepare, so I wonder if this is something that was developed under the Clinton Administration, and then now has the blessing of the Bush. It is doubtful that the Bush folks would have put something like this just since the swearing in, or even since the election, since they were so distracted with other business.

    This then presents the picture of both political parties supporting the people with deep pockets. Again not unexpected. But upsetting, since you would hope that *someone* was not corrupt.

    This separate from the merits of the debate to begin with.

  • by CaptainZapp (182233) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:48AM (#408360) Homepage
    can certainly use it as a judgement against their moral character pertaining to anything else they can get 'em on. If the defendants look like bad guys to the general public then they must be bad guys.

    It's the same tactic as sleazy ambulance chasers use in rape cases.

    Jury, look at this women: she drinks, she hangs around bars and she dresses in skimpy skirts. Dear jury: Anybody can see that she actually wanted it

    The strategy is to get somebody convicted (or vice versa) simply on moral grounds which are not whatsoever related to the cause

    This, in my book is blattant abuse of the judical system.

  • by Syllepsis (196919) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:09AM (#408361) Homepage
    ...that free speech and intellectual property are mutually incompatible in a society where people speak in a language such as html.

    I think that it is clear: A Corporate Republic will always choose IP, a Democracy will choose freedom. Enjoy the extra 0.0004 cents squelching DeCSS just might bring to shareholder dividends in a few years. You will not be able to link (speak, what's the difference?) freely because of it.

  • by theDigitizer (239913) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:44AM (#408362) Homepage Journal
    The core fundamental defense that 2600 has on its side is the fact that DeCSS is a player for Linux boxes, where there was no player provided by the industry. The MPAA didn't believe that Linux was an "authorized" system for use of their property.

    That is why this case should keep going straight to the Supreme Court, where they will reaffirm the fair use doctrines, since after all, it is not illegal that you use whatever player you wish. Truly, it is the movie industry with their DVD region coding, and their "authorized player/use" that violates fair use and infringes on the rights of the users

    Regarding the DMCA, I would have to say that I hate this legislation. It was done quickly, and with little regard for the actual consumer and rights of individuals. It's doubtful that the Supreme Court could overturn the DMCA based on this case. We will have to wait for another case that clearly infringes on the rights of the consumer(and believe me, it will come), and uses the DMCA as the wonderful law that is being broken in the case. Until then, we should find ways in which to use content within fair use, and wait to be challenged by the powers that be. Then we'll take them to the top.

  • by Prophet of Doom (250947) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:15AM (#408363)
    The US legal system was siezed by corporate interests quite some time ago. The branch of government that was supposed to be beyond corruption, above all others, is now no more than a glorified legal team for its corporate benefactors. Decisions like this one only serve to reinforce that thinking.

    Someone who posted earlier wrote that all of the amateurish "as I read the first amendment" interpretations of the Constitution are meaningless. While I'm sure that the sentence wasn't intended to be a commentary on the state of our country, it actually is an excellent observation. Our views, the views of average citizens, no longer matter. The only views given any consideration are those that come from a source that can provide something in trade for that consideration. Be it campaign contributions, consulting fees, a partnership, whatever, you must have something to offer if you wish to be heard.

    Sadly we have no one to blame but ourselves for the current state. We have allowed these circumstances to envelop us one small step at a time. We have done very little to become actively involved determining the direction of our country. Our freedoms have fallen slowly, often for the 'greater good'. Each one brought us closer to today. We look at issues one by one: copyright violations, reverse engineering, hate speech, guns, privacy violations. Each one of these is examined individually, often in times of crisis (the RIAA says "They're stealing our music!"), and a decision is made without really understanding how it might effect the rest of our lives.

    I'm not sure of the solution to this problem. Far too many place far too much stock in the word of the mainstream media. That media presents stories in such a way that moves public opinion in the direction they choose, they have had years of practice. The common citizen needs to wake up and see the direction we are heading with each of our choices. Only then can we begin to right the system that has strayed of our course.

  • by ooze (307871) on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:10AM (#408364)

    No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that --

    • (A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act];
    • (B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act]; or
    • (C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person's knowledge for use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act].

    alternative:

    No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that --

    • (A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a legal measure that effectively allws access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act];
    • (B) has only commercially significant purpose or use to circumvent a legal measure that effectively allows access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act]; or
    • (C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person's knowledge for use in circumventing a legal measure that effectively allows access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act].
    • And you are definitely allowed to make a copy of any content for personal use. And you are definitely allowed to watch any content whereever you are. And silly DVD region codes and encryption is attempted to prevent both. Just imagine you are not allowed to read an original Shakespeare in a non English speaking country. There are so many movies on DVD only available in one region code. Or you are not allowed to cite from a book, as this is prevented by a copy protection.

      That commercial thing just should not be the base of every decision. This gonna be much more dangerous than any cracking tool. This type of content protection is even used in agriculture! There are manipulated cereals that only germ if they are treated with some chemicals only available from the seeds company!

  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Friday February 23, 2001 @04:33AM (#408365) Homepage Journal
    I'll show you justification....

    http://slashdot.org/

    The above isn't a link. It is just a URL. It's trivial to automatically make a link of it, though. Something many systems and applications (such as gnome-terminal) do automatically.

    Should that be considered linking, or speech?

    What about "You can find it on Slashdot". Is that linking, or speech? It would be trivial with gnome-terminal for instance to define a regex that matches any such reference, and creates links to slashdot.org/.net/.com.

    The effect is the same. And with the help of applications, it will in many cases be indistinguishable for the end user.

    The critical part is that if you are legally obligated not to link to sites containing illegal material, many will not dare link at all, since a site may change at any point, and it may be impossible for you to prove later that the illegal material weren't there when you linked.

    Also, for you Americans, your courts has time and time again defended news sources rights to publish material that was either aquired by illegal means (the Pentagon papers spring to mind), or to paraphrase libelous material or other material where the original publication was deemed illegal, because censoring it would prevent the free dissemination also about criticism about the work.

    What if free sale of Mein Kampf were forbidden, as it is in Germany (you can get hold of it, but you are required to have a "legitimate" interest in it, for instance for research purposes), and you were not allowed to quote even to illustrate your arguments against nazism? It would strike not only the publishers of the book and those supporting it, but also those opposing the banned work.

    In this case the work in question has been deemed illegal by the lower court. And even those opposing it and it's use will risc breaking the law if they link to it even for the purpose of illustrating what they are talking about.

    Linking in this respect is akin to quoting, or to giving an ISBN number, or tell that "you can go to that store, and they will have it", all of which is legal.

    The really interesting part of this, is that judge Kaplans justification for banning the linking is so thin that there's a good chance a printed newspaper could publish all the links it wanted to decss without the risc of any repercussions, while a website can not (at least not in the form of an actual link).

    But the real issue here is that the court is trying to censor what should be protected speech - the decss program itself.

  • by OpenSezMe (311686) on Friday February 23, 2001 @03:41AM (#408366)
    Mark Twain was right, we have the Best Governement Money can Buy.

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