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News.com Links to DeCSS Program 289

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the whats-the-dilly-yo dept.
zorglubxx writes "In less than a week News.com has published 2 articles ([Oct 3] and [Oct 7]) talking about copyright law and the DMCA where they LINK to DeCSS. Not source but compiled Windows version called DeCSS.exe. News.com know that 2600 lost their fight for linking to DeCSS so I wonder why they are doing this. Trying to make a point? Civil disobedience? An honest mistake?" Update: 10/08 02:51 GMT by T : An anonymous reader writes "In the time between when I read the first and second referenced articles, the links were updated to point the DeCSS gallery rather than DeCSS.exe"
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News.com Links to DeCSS Program

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  • Laws only work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pyman (610707) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:24AM (#4402489) Homepage
    if people want to keep them...
  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by LPetrazickis (557952) <leo.petr+slashdo ... minus physicist> on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:24AM (#4402492) Homepage Journal
    MPAA is probably tired of suing people by now.

    I wish.:(

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:24AM (#4402500)
    Slashdot [slashdot.org] links to News.com article that links to DeCSS.
  • by RailGunner (554645) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:26AM (#4402517) Journal
    Could it be that news.com is simply pointing out the obvious double standard given to "hacker" sites like 2600.com and "reputable news sites" like news.com?

    Seriously, if CNN.com would have originally linked to DeCSS do you think it would have gotten sued? (I know, pretend for a moment that it wasn't part of the AOLTimeWarner conglomerate though, and you'll get my point.)

    Hopefully, a court case WILL come of this, and maybe we'll get a Judge with a clue that realizes the DMCA restricts your First Amendment rights.

    • More likely News.com will be notified that they are in violation of the DMCA, and asked to cease and desist. Upon recieving notification, the author of the article that linked to DeCSS will be fired and blacklisted. (Or whoever created the link. The author might have nothing to do with it being a link.)

      I really believe that if the Most Important Person in the World(tm) himself, ie: the head of the RIAA, were to post a link to DeCSS, the rest of the RIAA would go after him like a herd of rabid bunnies on crack.

      That said... Yes. News.com is a more 'valid' publication in the eyes of many than 2600 ever will be, and thus harder to go after for posting legitimate news... But "harder" doesn't mean "impossible". Remember, the RIAA is well-funded by all the CDs they overprice, and all the artists they rip off.

      -Sara
      • by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:35AM (#4402596)
        yes but news.com.com.com is well-funded by all the extra .com's! I think it's an even fight.
        • An even fight where one party is backed by a law (even one as shifty as the DMCA) and the other is backed by...?

          A financially-even fight is a losing fight if one party is backed by legislation. It's dubious that News.com would want to fight that fight, unless they're seeking to overthrow the DMCA. The "Freedom of speech" argument wouldn't really fly here, as they could have just as easily made that link into one that leads to a page DESCRIBING DeCSS. (I would have actually found that more appropriate. I clicked on the link in my needing-caffiene stupor, and was quite surprised to find out that I had just downloaded the software. Imagine my mother following the link. ;)

          Either way, it's a bit inappropriate for a mainstream publication to provide a direct link to software and not specifically state that it is a direct link to software, and not just a link to a page describing software. Particularly when the software performs an illegal activity. Imagine the panic that someone could feel when they're reading the article, click the link, and are confronted with the fact that they just downloaded something that the article clearly identifies as illegal, and (like most computer users) cannot figure out how to remove it from their system. ;)

          -Sara
          • by JWW (79176) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:50AM (#4403199)
            The DMCA is a bad law, and as citizens of this country we can choose to disobey bad laws.

            That's really the definition of "Civil Disobedience".

            I choose not to obey the DMCA every time I watch a DVD on my Linux machine at home. It takes a pretty shitty law to make watching a movie that I bought on my computer a crime. Its also a really pathetic act of civil disobedience, I mean come on I'm just watching a movie. Arresting people for doing this would be absolutely ridiculous.

            These corporations that are pushing this crap better start watching themselves. In the war against the consumer the consumer is just beginning to understand how much control over what they buy that they are losing. If the restrictions being talked about for HDTV (copy bits and all that garbage) come to pass I think that will be the last straw.
            • by Dr. Mu (603661) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:45PM (#4403677)
              The DMCA is a bad law, and as citizens of this country we can choose to disobey bad laws. That's really the definition of "Civil Disobedience".

              Well, you're half right. The half you left out is that you do it in a publicly conspicuous manner, so as to attract the attention of law enforcement, and be willing to pay the consequences of arrest and apprehension. Disobeying bad laws in the privacy of your parents' basement doesn't really count as "civil disobedience".

            • Its also a really pathetic act of civil disobedience, I mean come on I'm just watching a movie. Arresting people for doing this would be absolutely ridiculous.

              Actually because being arrested for watching makes it a "good" act of civil disobedience because it is so rediculous.

              The stupider the thing you are arrested for under a law the more ridiculous the law looks
            • by Guppy06 (410832) on Monday October 07, 2002 @02:04PM (#4404399)
              "That's really the definition of "Civil Disobedience"."

              Nah, that was the definition 100+ years ago. Today it involves chaining yourself to things, overturning cars, smashing windows, generally blocking public right-of-ways and using/damaging private property and then claiming that the First Amendment protects all this. None of it actually involves breaking a specific law that you're protesting.
          • Or maybe it's something as simple as "MY lawyer can beat up YOUR lawyer" on CNN's part.

            Which is really what's needed to overturn the DMCA -- bigger, badder lawyers than those owned by its proponents.

          • where one party is backed by a law and the other is backed by...?

            The constituion, other laws, and (hopefully) judges that can see the problems with the DMCA.

            The "Freedom of speech" argument wouldn't really fly here, as they could have just as easily made that link into one that leads to a page DESCRIBING DeCSS.

            They could have declined to run the story as well. "Freedom of speech" means they have the right to report on a newsworth item pretty much any way they see fit. The link to the file was relevant to the article. Arguing they could have written the story differently is a direct attack on their freedom to speak. It's no different than saying that blacks could have simply sat in the back of the bus.

            I would have actually found that[DESCRIBING DeCSS] more appropriate.

            That is a reasonable oppinion, but you were not the author or the editor. Apparently they had a different oppinion.

            it's a bit inappropriate for a mainstream publication to provide a direct link to software and not specifically state that it is a direct link to software

            I don't know how you expect links to work, but when I see a link that ends in ".exe" I reasonably expect it to point to a piece of software. Both links were labeled "DeCSS.exe".

            the software performs an illegal activity.

            That makes about as much sense as saying a can of spraypaint preforms an illegal activity.

            Imagine the panic that someone could feel when they're reading the article, click the link, and are confronted with the fact that they just downloaded something ... illegal

            Which highlights the stuipidity of making "possession of information" a crime. Even if you delete it, it is still on your hard drive and you are still guilty of possession. Putting you in prison for your "crime" is blatantly unjust. Someone should only be a criminal when they actually do something, and only when that action actually harms or endangers someone.

            -
      • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:42AM (#4403136) Homepage Journal
        Remember, the RIAA is well-funded by all the CDs they overprice, and all the artists they rip off.

        It's silly nitpicking, I suppose, but you're wrong. The RIAA is well-funded by all the fools who buy the over-priced CDs. The distinction seems important, because it shows where to attack their funding: not by going after the CDs or the ``artists'', but by educating the fools.

        HAH! So much for hope on that front ...

      • More likely News.com will be notified that they are in violation of the DMCA, and asked to cease and desist. Upon recieving notification, the author of the article that linked to DeCSS will be fired and blacklisted. (Or whoever created the link. The author might have nothing to do with it being a link.)
        Actually if the sub-editor fired him, I suspect verry heavilly that the union and every other journalist on the planet would blacklist the subbie and refuse to ever work for him again. You'd be suprised at how far journalists break the rules on a daily basis. Anyway RIAA can't afford the bad publicity on suing a "real" publication. That might just cause cosmic fury upon congress and get the law bounced. Or a judge might rule the story was unwritable minus the link and rule the DMCA a dud.
        It's pretty gutsy tho. More power to em.
      • by Treeluvinhippy (545814) <treeluvinhippy@A ... inus threevowels> on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:47AM (#4403180)
        I really believe that if the Most Important Person in the World(tm) himself, ie: the head of the RIAA

        If Hillary Rosen ever reads this, she's gonna be pissed.

        • by benwb (96829) on Monday October 07, 2002 @12:22PM (#4403484)
          With apologies to Mike Meyers:

          Basher: I'm sorry, I thought she was a man.

          Sycophant: Damn it, man! You're talking about the head of the RIAA!

          Basher: You must admit, she is rather mannish. No offense, but if that's
          a woman, it looks like she's been beaten with an ugly stick. Look at her hands, baby! Those are carpenter's hands. I think if everyone were honest, they'd confess that the lady looks exactly like a man in drag.
      • Keep in mind that Declan McCullagh is the author of this article. He isn't exactly a spring chicken in tech news reporting circles--he's been writing for Wired for quite a while.

        Declan--savvy writer that he is--very likely did this for a particular reason. Keep in mind that people who make a living out of (hopefully) careful observation of a situation, as well as grammar, do not make "mistakes" like this.
    • by monkeydo (173558) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:34AM (#4402591) Homepage
      Seriously, if CNN.com would have originally linked to DeCSS do you think it would have gotten sued?

      Of course not. CNN would have taken down the link when they got the cease and desist letter. Their lawyers would have told them, "Sure you can fight it, but does that link actually have any value?"
    • by ravi_n (175591) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:38AM (#4402618)
      cnn.com did link to DeCSS at one point. When people noticed, and pointed out how hypocritical this was the link was taken down, of course.
    • 14th Amendment? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FreeUser (11483) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:51AM (#4402732)
      Hopefully, a court case WILL come of this, and maybe we'll get a Judge with a clue that realizes the DMCA restricts your First Amendment rights.

      Perhaps 2600.com could file suit under the 'equal protection under the law' clause. Technically, this sort of double standard is unconstitutional:


      No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [emphesis mine]


      Now, a literal reading might allow the federal government to be unfair, while requiring fairness from state governments, but I cannot imagine even our frighteningly corrupt supreme court interpreting the clause in such a fashion.
      • Right. That's the point everyone was making when the feds went after Dmitri. Adobe said "Oh, nevermind, don't bootfuck him."

        But the feds had to keep on keepin' on, 'cause supposedly the law has nothing to do with the desires of the copyright holder. If they behaved differently, and made a habit of it, the entire law could get thrown out by the 14th Amendment. It was my understanding that laws have been removed by the courts due to the 14th Amendment when they are unfairly applied to racial minorities, but not anyone else. I don't have any examples.
      • Re:14th Amendment? (Score:2, Informative)

        by bkocik (17609)
        This'll be a little off-topic I suppose, but what the hell. Karma is pretty useless anyways.

        Now, a literal reading might allow the federal government to be unfair, while requiring fairness from state governments, but I cannot imagine even our frighteningly corrupt supreme court interpreting the clause in such a fashion.

        Why not? They've done it before (well, the opposite, actually). In 1873, as part of the Slaughter-House cases (independent butchers sued the city of New Orleans over the granting of a monopoly on slaughtering rights to some company) the Court declared that national citizenship and state citizenship are two different things. They further stated that national citizenship only had bearing on matters such as interstate travel, and use of waterways. In effect, they removed the protection that was granted to everyone (specifically, this was intended for freed slaves, but it applied to all citizens) by the 14th amendment for almost all matters.

        The very next day they used the same arguments to deny a female attorney's right to practice law in the state of Illinois. The state disallowed her, she asserted her 14th amendment rights, and the Supreme Court stripped them away, alluding to a woman's "traditional place in the home".

        It gets worse. In 1876 they overturned the conviction of a group of white supremacists that had violently attacked an assembly of blacks, stating that the "equal protection" clause of the amendment didn't apply at the federal level. Only the states could enforce it (it goes back to that national vs. state citizenship thing).

        So, yeah, the Supreme Court has shown a willingness to interpret the Constitution in pretty much whatever way will best serve it's political objectives of the day going back a long ways. In the late 19th century, those objectives included white male supremacy.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:13AM (#4402885) Homepage Journal
      Seriously, if CNN.com would have originally linked to DeCSS do you think it would have gotten sued?

      You bet they'd get sued. CBS, ABC, NBC, et al get served on a regular basis, sometimes for being unwitting, others for a clear display of corporate disobedience. 60 Minutes, a CBS program, has been the target of many such. Sadly, they've toned down their desire to lock horns (probably advice from their legal department to the producer, i.e. "The show is getting expensive to defend, stop revealing damning things about people and businesses.")

      Regarding the original post:

      Trying to make a point? Civil disobedience? An honest mistake?"

      Yes, Declan makes clear his position:

      he copyright clause, which gives Congress the power to create copyright laws for a limited time, and the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from curtailing speech or expression.

      The Appeals Court didn't pay sufficient attention. This time, let's hope the justices do.

      I don't think a clue-by-four could make his position anymore clear.

    • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:45AM (#4403159) Homepage
      Could it be that news.com is simply pointing out the obvious double standard given to "hacker" sites like 2600.com and "reputable news sites" like news.com?

      Absolutely. The judge in the 2600 case said as much. 2600.com was not viewed as disseminating free press, or providing a link point for people interested in fair use, or providing a service for linux people who wanted to view DVDs on their computers.

      Instead, the judge saw them as anarchists who thought movies should not be protectable simply because someone somewhere cracked the crypto. He then ruled accordingly.

      Defendants, on the other hand, are adherents of a movement that believes that information should be available without charge to anyone clever enough to break into the computer systems or data storage media in which it is located. Less radically, they have raised a legitimate concern about the possible impact on traditional fair use of access control measures in the digital era.
      Lewis A. Kaplan
      United States District Judge

    • "Seriously, if CNN.com would have originally linked to DeCSS do you think it would have gotten sued?"

      No. Wired [wired.com] has done it too.
    • Could it be that news.com is simply pointing out the obvious double standard given to "hacker" sites like 2600.com and "reputable news sites" like news.com?

      Go back and read the decision. It is not a double standard. 2600 had been distributing decss.exe as well as linking to it, and in its page of links, made clear the purpose of said links was to disseminate the program, not merely to provide news. There is precedent for enjoining speech to a greater degree against parties who have been found to abuse free speech in the past. This is all discussed in great detail in both Judge Kaplan's decision, and in the 2nd Circuit court decision.

      Let me be quite clear, I do not agree with these decisions, but that was their reasoning.

  • Free Jon Johansen! (Score:4, Informative)

    by RPoet (20693) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:27AM (#4402520) Journal
    Here in Norway, DeCSS co-author Jon Johansen has become somewhat of an icon in the fight for rights in the digital age. There's an interview with him here [linuxworld.com], in which he speaks about how he got involved with DeCSS, and the whole thing about the controversion trial. Also, the EFF [eff.org] has supported him tremendously with legal assistance. Their official Jon Johansen page is here [eff.org].
  • 3 reasons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:27AM (#4402523) Journal
    Because News.com.com has more resources/clout than 2600?
    Because the author didn't know better?
    Because the author loves freedom? (and will soon be unemployed)
    • Re:3 reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

      by neuroticia (557805) <neuroticia@yahoo ... m minus caffeine> on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:38AM (#4402616) Journal
      I doubt that News.com encourages their writers to break laws, even stupid ones like the DMCA. No company wants a writer who is a liability.

      I think it's most likely that the author didn't know better. I mean- hey. How many people can keep up with what is and is not a permissable link? You'd think that an author writing about something like that would know, but... Stranger things have happened.

      Another possibility is that Author emails article in to work, article is handed off to low-level drudge HTML markup person who enters it into the system and link-ifies anything that looks like it could be a link. Sees "DeCSS.exe" and thinks "Oh. what's that?" does a search for it on Google, finds a link, and enters the link.

      I mean... Most authors can't even handle their own proofreading. Who says they create their own links?

      -Sara
      • I think it's most likely that the author didn't know better.

        Declan McCullagh [politechbot.com] wrote both articles. I'm sure he knew what he was doing.
      • I mean... Most authors can't even handle their own proofreading. Who says they create their own links?

        Actually, most authors do handle their own proofreading. Editors (whose time is usually spent doing far more administration than "galley slavery") love writers who submit clean copy. It saves them time, and it makes the author in question look like a real pro who actually knows what they're doing, instead of yet another no-neck yahoo who thinks they can write.

        Likewise, a lot of [stc.org] authors [acm.org] can and do create their own links. I should think that Declan McCullagh [google.ca], with his tech-related tearsheets as thick as the average encyclopedia, would be better-suited to defending his ability to write a simple hyperlink (and to opine on the deliberateness -- or not -- of the DeCSS link) than I, but I'm here.

        Also, low level process note: For any web-based print medium for which I've written (several, by now), the author generally includes his or her own hyperlinks, if not actual markup. Editorial commentary and/or low-level drudgery only come into it if the links don't work for some reason, in which case the author usually gets an e-mail from the editor advising him or her to change the link and resubmit the revised version. YMMV, especially if the link leads to actionable content...

      • (...)
      • Because the author loves freedom? (and will soon be unemployed) (...)

      Look around. What do you see? An author that loves freedom, and wants to tell the truth to readers no matter what he needs to do, even if he needs to break the law.

      Of course he won't be soon unemployed, if something happen news.com will cover his case exclusively and will push this to the media as hard it can. Then, after all the spreading around this subject, they will use this slogan: "The truth, whatever it takes..."

      Realists have the world in his hands. Optimists own the world.

  • It is civil disobience, via exercise of the 1st amendment people. Its one publisher supporting another. If every new organization does the same whats gonna happen...I doubt everyone one of them is going to court.
    AT least I hope thats what their link is all about. I suppose we shall see if it disappears later or not.
    Hey does /. become an acessory because they link to a story that links to DECSS?
    • Once they have established precedence in one case, I believe that the following court trials will become more ceremonial than trial-like since the evidence would be overwhelmingly in favor of the prosecutor.
      • Precedence only holds in courts with the same geographical scope. Precedent in a state court only applies to other courts in that state. US Circuit court precedents only apply to other courts in that circuit. Only the Supreme court sets precedents that affect every US Court.

        However, just because a particular precedent doesn't apply to a particualar court, that doesn't preclude the judge from taking it into consideration when making a ruling.

        • Okay, IANAL (big surprise), but I thought there was a principle in american law, something about "competent jurisdiction," which means that all US courts are bound to recognize decisions of all other "competent" courts. In other words, lawyers in a case may cite case law from other jurisdictions. A judge is ALWAYS free to make his/her own decision, even if the Supreme Court has set a precedent in the other direction. It is just that a state or district judge who does so should fully expect to be reversed by a higher judge citing the higher court's precedent.

          It is easy for any judge to create new law. It is much, much harder to make it stick.

          My impression (once again, IANAL) is that there are no hard and fast rules about precedent. Merely tradition. So, in your example, a judge handling a criminal case in New York state is much more likely to give credence to a predent from their Federal Circuit Court than from another Federal Circuit Court, but they are not obligated to do so. In fact, a judge might believe that other court's judgement was right, and their own circuit court's judgement was wrong, and could, in that case decide based on the other court's decision and expect the whole mess to be resolved by a higher court. Furthermore, I would think our New York state court judge would give a case from ANY federal court more credence than a decision from another state court, but there is nothing to say our judge could not consider another state court decision, especially if that state court says something about an issue that New York statute and case law says nothing about.

          Once again, IANAL. So I'm really just flapping my gums. But that's the impression I have about law in these here parts. Any lawyers out there to set me straight?
  • by Otter (3800) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:29AM (#4402542) Journal
    This falls under the "How the hell could we know the answer?" category.

    But given the statement "But when Linux programmers wrote the DeCSS.exe utility to play DVDs on their computers.." with a link to something clearly labelled as a Windows app and the absence of any reference to 2600 or linking, I'd confidently guess that it never occurred to the writer or editor that there could be anything illegal about such a link.

    • Somebody time it! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thatguywhoiam (524290)
      I give it 2 hours until they carefully de-link that DeCSS, max.
    • I've read a number of items on Politech -- the writer's mailing list -- dealing with the DMCA and DeCSS lawsuits, so I'd guess that he's at least somewhat aware that this is a thorny issue. On the other hand, journalism has traditionally been about 'Damn the torpedos; full speed ahead' in our country (something that's easy to forget when mainstream journalism has become as neutered and insipid as it is today).

      On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't have been such a bad idea on his part to actually link a Linux version instead of or in addition to the Windows one to make the point a little clearer.

    • I'd confidently guess that it never occurred to the writer or editor

      Bad guess. The author has been covering the case for ages, for a non-lawyer he's pretty much an expert on the topic.

      -
  • by moc.tfosorcimgllib (602636) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:30AM (#4402546) Journal
    From the "whats-the-dilly-yo dept."???

    Someone get Taco coffee, quick.
  • Note Bene (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jsprat23 (148634) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:30AM (#4402549)
    Note that both articles are written by Declan McCullagh, and may not have been passed by legal. If they were passed by the legal department, then they probably think they can win in court based on something along the lines of news.com.com being a news site and not a hacker site. This would further emphasize the double standard already mentioned in a previous post.
  • by bwt (68845) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:31AM (#4402562) Homepage

    Sometimes I wonder if, for all the extensive coverage of the 2600 trial, if people have any clue what exactly happened.

    2600 and 2600 only are not allowed to link to DeCSS, not because of the DMCA directly, but because of the judicial injunction. It is a punishment for the specific defendent. The appeals court explicitly noted that the 2600 linking ban could withstand scrutiny only because it was specific to the defendent and occured after a trial.
  • One Idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LawGeek (104616) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:34AM (#4402586)
    Not having read the DeCSS case, I've got one theory as to why News.com is linking. I believe that their news reporting purpose probably means that they are much safer from copyright related claims than was 2600 magazine.

    The whole "guilty by linking" idea relies upon CONTRIBUTORY copyright infringement, which involves at least some sort of encouragement by the entitity/person hosting the link for people to use the linked-to software to infringe copyrights. 2600 has a hard time convincing anyone that they're on the right side of that equation because they're a magazine dedicated to hacking, and because of the particulars of the way in which they were liking to DeCSS-hosting sites.

    When the press is involved, First Amendment concerns get very heavy -- heavy enough to outweigh copyright law. More importantly, though, is the thought that contributory infringement (a judge-made doctrine, mind you) probably was not intended to apply to situations like news reporting agencies referring to sites for the purpose of reporting news. If News.com had to worry about things like that, technology reporting would be heavily chilled.

    Then again, it could just be a News.com oversight. --- Checkout Greplaw [harvard.edu]

  • Any bets how long... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AB3A (192265)
    ...it will take before they retract the link?

    Seriously, I think this was just something that got past certain editors. It goes to prove that editors don't ALWAYS understand what their writers put out.

    I'd like to think an organization such as Ziff Davis would take the lead and fight this battle; but somehow, I doubt they really care about this issue one way or the other.

    My guess is that an editor didn't. And now that we've caught them, I wonder what they'll do.

    • Seriously, I think this was just something that got past certain editors. It goes to prove that editors don't ALWAYS understand what their writers put out.

      It's CNet. If there was any kind of quality control the homepage would be half blank. My bet is though that the link won't be removed until someone officially starts legal action against them.

  • Nonsense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drhairston (611491) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:34AM (#4402594) Homepage
    The MPAA will not sue news.com for linking to DeCSS. Their new pet law is still wet behind the ears, and they will not 'sic' it on anything but defenseless targets. 2600 was a perfect target because their profile is such that they could be hauled into a New York court accused of nearly any crime and convicted solely on appearance and reputation. The MPAA has not sued the "DeCSS Gallery" hosted at Carnegie Mellon because they fear sic'ing their new pet on Academia or the Press until it has grown up a bit and sharpened its teeth.

    Once the DMCA stands up to the U.S. Supreme Court, news.com may be a suitable target. But not yet.
  • by haplo21112 (184264) <haplo@epiGAUSSthna.com minus math_god> on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:38AM (#4402621) Homepage
    http://jult.net/dvd/
    Chop a few words off the end and go browsing...have fun....:>
  • innocent? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    if this binary is so innocent, why has the author used PEShield ?

    -= PE-SHiELD v0.2 -- (C) Copyright 1998 by ANAKiN [DaVinci] =-

    $ od -A x -vs DeCSS.exe
    0001d0 PESHiELD

    maybe its not as innocent as it looks?
    • Re:innocent? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Arker (91948) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:16AM (#4402915) Homepage

      I don't know why it's PEShielded, that is odd. But if you're worried you can just use the source [jult.net] instead.

  • by UrGeek (577204) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:39AM (#4402625)
    ...the Fed was busting Abbie Hoffman for wearing a shirt made from an American flag when at the same time, Raquel Welch was dancing in Vega in an outfit that matched it.

    Double standards, indeed.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:40AM (#4402637)
    The reality is that internet based journalism relies on linking as part of its very character. And there are no analogs in the "established" media from which judges can extend precedent. Right now judges are floundering, as judges generally are not real eager to set precedent. So linking will keep occurring, and judges will keep saying it's illegal until some good caselaw develops consistent with the 1st amendment and new realities.

    Remember, TV news had trouble too.
  • They'll probably remove the link if they get a letter from the MPAA.

    Really, who cares? This artical is like chilish taunting "HE DID IT, HOW COME HE CAN DO IT WHEN I CAN'T!!!"
    • "Really, who cares? This artical is like chilish taunting "HE DID IT, HOW COME HE CAN DO IT WHEN I CAN'T!!!""

      So... you're saying that the 'equal protection' clause of the 14th amendment to our great Constitution is "childish"? Simply stated, laws must apply to all citizens/groups equally. Bill Gates couldn't get walk away from a murder without liability just because he's a billionaire with friends in high places, nor could a 4-star general engage in espionage without being tried for his crimes just because he's in command of thousands of troops.

  • by ageitgey (216346) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:43AM (#4402661) Homepage
    There is no law in the US against linking to DeCSS. News.com is a news organization and is reporting the news as they see fit. If the DVD-CCA decides to bring suit against News.com and got a judgement forcing them to to stop linking, then they would have to remove the links.

    But it is unlikely that the DVD-CCA would try something like that. They already have enough bad press in the tech sector, the last thing they need is bad press in mainstream news channels.

    This is the same reason slashdot doesn't get raided by some government agency everytime a poster puts a link to DeCSS in a comment. There is no "don't link DeCSS law" and there is no legal ruling (yet...) preventing slashdot from posting DeCSS links in discussions.
  • Numbers. (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) <mark AT seventhcycle DOT net> on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:46AM (#4402688) Homepage
    Binaries are no fun.

    I won't be happy until they air commercials on the TV of Illegal Prime Numbers [utm.edu]

    I hear if you use a lossy compression algorithm the number shrinks down to 42.

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:52AM (#4402734)
    This is totally irresponsible of a major news site to link to the DeCSS code. After years of hard work, the content producers had almost finished the task of putting that genie back in its bottle.

    Its simple: if there are no links to DeCSS, then there is no way to reach it. DeCSS would effectively cease to exist in this universe. (It might still technically exist, like a physical object that falls within the event horizon of a black hole, but that distinction is only of interest to philosophers). Some would argue that you could reach DeCSS via non-hyperlink text URLs. Give me a break - that's comparing apples and oranges. It doesn't count as a valid way to pierce the event horizon.

    Now, by placing this valid hyperlink, they've created a huge leak in the carefully constructed containment barrier. We might be back almost to square one.

  • Not a mistake (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Betelgeuse (35904) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:56AM (#4402765) Homepage
    An honest mistake?

    I think it's pretty clear that there is one thing this is not: a mistake. Even if they only did this once, I don't see how it could be a mistake. I mean, when was the last time you saw a news story from a legitimate news outlet that linked DIRECTLY to an executable file?

    News.com is, perhaps, setting up for a court battle ('cause they want to challenge the DMCA) or this guy is trying to make some sort of point.
  • "Jaszi is talking about a November 2001 decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled 3-0 that it was illegal to distribute a DVD-unlocking program called DeCSS.exe."

    The "DeCSS.exe" was a hyperlink to a DeCSS W32 executable file.

    Gee, think he knew...? ;)

  • by sklib (26440)
    news.com gets sued for deep-linking straight to DeCSS.exe.
  • by nuxx (10153) on Monday October 07, 2002 @10:58AM (#4402777) Homepage
    I'm willing to bet that the reason news.com linked to a copy of DeCSS is because one would commonly expect that it would be all right to do so. Most laws are based on common sense and common morality. The DMCA goes against these tenants and tries to get one to do things that go against human nature and reasonable expectation of sharing of information.

    News.com just did what makes sense. The DMCA doesn't.
  • Has anybody asked Declan yet if he's smoking rock? Maybe he's positioning news.com for a swing at the DMCA...

  • windows?? (Score:2, Troll)

    by zoombat (513570)
    Does anyone else find it peculiar that they have a windows (.exe) file linked, but describes it as a program "Linux programmers wrote... to play DVDs on their computers"? What's the deal? Just a non-tech reporter mixing things up? (Sure, once you have the source you can compile it any way you want, but...)
  • by fmaxwell (249001) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:14AM (#4402893) Homepage Journal
    This is like the Napster lawsuit. Napster would be alive and thriving today had it been started by Microsoft or AOL rather than by a college student. No court would ever have held that a major corporation was responsible for copyright violations of its customers/users.

    News.com is in no real danger because they are part of the "establishment." If sued, they will go to court, wave the flag, use variations of the same arguments that 2600 did, and, unlike 2600, prevail. Although it sucks, I am coming to believe that the judicial branch has been bought off just like the other branches of government -- or have been stocked with appointees that value the interests of major corporations with much higher regard than the rights of individuals and small businesses. Just look at the 180 degree turn the Justice Department did with regards to the Microsoft lawsuit when the Bush administration came into office.
  • /. user points to where the source [jult.net] is (and hopes the site stays up for a little bit at least...)
  • Civil Disobedience? As stated above it's not illegal to link to DeCSS for anyone but 2600 (by way of court injunction.

    Freedom fighter? Maybe, but links to DeCSS are all over the place as more than one informative /.'er as noted above.

    How about:

    1. Post link to DeCSS.

    2. Wait for /. to notice.

    3. Smile gleefully during /. effect.

    4. Profit!!!! (from advertising revenue)

    You think?

    • Re:Obvious Ploy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Soko (17987)
      Almost, but not quite.

      News.com does a whole lot better if there's controversy happening somewhere in the IT world. IOW, if it's getting boring, nothing new happening, same run-o-the-mill Microsoft announcements on the front page, most people spend less thatn 30 seconds looking at it. Now, if they get sued, they get to play hero to the geeks and "stand up for user's rights", and in doing so become the centre themselves of a big (they hope) news story. Traffic galore - including getting /.ed regularily. Very clever.

      IMHO, it's a case of the news reporters manufacturing news. I say let them whore all they want. I'm sure they can bring some bigger legal artillery to a court case - hopefully thier journalistic bretheren. I'll be happy when the DMCA is smacked down no matter who, what or how it's done.

      Soko
  • by ksw2 (520093) <obeyeater AT gmail DOT com> on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:23AM (#4402970) Homepage
    DeCSS is just proof of concept code. libdvdcss accomplishes the same end-result, and it actually works. It's embarassing how many people involved in the DeCSS issue don't realize this fact. libdvdcss is just as illegal (according to the MPAA's gestapo) as DeCSS was/is. Maybe it's a good thing that nobody realizes it...
  • by phorm (591458) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:31AM (#4403032) Journal
    If we could get this is enough "physical" magazines or newspapers it would be a lot more effective. I know some magazines do provide URL's, I'm not sure about newspapers. If the RIAA sends them a "cease and desist" then what? They can stop printing, perhaps even pull copies of the article, but by then it's already out. It's a lot harder to stop something in live print than in online news, too bad it's probably not going to happen.

    Every time an article mentions RIAA it should be linked, slashdot them every chance we get! - phorm
  • by dmouritsendk (321667) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:36AM (#4403081)
    Back in 1999, a whole bunch record companies(including sony, virgin, warner etc.(their Danish departments)) sued two Danish guys for maintaining a list of links to MP3 files from their web site.

    The weird thing about this case was that all the focus was on the guys maintaining a link list, none of the sites who actually committed the crimes was sued(meaning the sites who actually did the ripping and hosting of the music).

    I can understand why they sued the linking guys, BUT(huuuuge but) they should have went for a site shutdown plus maybe a minor fine. They didn't, they sued them for lost profit. Which is the exact same paragraphs that you would get sued by if you copied/ripped the music.

    The whole case was build around they where linking directly to the mp3 files(hosted on various warez sites), and they eventually got them convicted(to pay 100000 DKr(roughly 12500$)) on this fact. This of course, effectively meaning that linking directly to illegal files is, here in little old Denmark, considered as serious a offences as making the files available.

    So if CNET was doing this in Denmark, they could be in trouble.

    If any of you read Danish, you can find the complete court transcript here:
    http://sql.dklaw.dk/vl-dom/
  • by declana (214275) on Monday October 07, 2002 @11:41AM (#4403131)
    First, the Corely DeCSS injunction is limited to the plaintiffs in that case. Second, the author of both articles is none other than the EFF's Declan McCullagh. How much you wanna bet he's itching to become a name defendant . . . ?
  • I'm guessing that most of you have the DeCSS source already, if not the t-shirt, but if you truncate the link, you get a source tree for 1.2.

    There's also something about WMA in there. I have not looked at it, but I suspect that it's a way to circumvent the DRM that's built into the WMA format.
  • Regardless of the decision of Judge Kaplan in the 2600 case, DeCSS is protected speech, so long as it is posted for reasons recognized as protected speech. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Posting DeCSS as journalistic material as part of a news article.
    • Posting DeCSS as a form of political protest.
    • Using DeCSS as educational material.
    It's unfortunate that 2600 dropped the case. BTW, personal favorite DeCSS site is here [cmu.edu].
  • I still have this old DeCSS source mirror online [cubicmetercrystal.com] from way back when this fight started.

    I think they have quickly come to realize that the more they persue this software the more it spreads. Remember when 2600 was forced to remove their copy of the software? It immediately sprouted up on hundreds of hundreds of sites, all listed in a number of different forums (including /.)

    The DMCS provides some nice protections against liability for ISP's, but the anti-reverse engineering aspects of it relating to copyright content controls are rediculous and need to be nullified ASAP.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    uh...... all this speculation as to why news.com posted a link to the DeCSS program is all fine and good. But has anyone bothered to actually email the site, or the articles' author to find out why they put the link into the story?

    .....Or shall we just continue speculating?


    dan.

  • Why haven't they been sued/restrained yet?
  • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Monday October 07, 2002 @05:38PM (#4406141) Homepage
    A .EXE file *is* source code - for the language known as "Intel x86 machine code" (linked to a Win32 library). Sure, it's a bitch of a language to understand by just reading it, but it still IS a langauge. So exactly what definition are they using of "source code" when they say you can't post DeCSS source code? Did they ever bother getting a legal definition so you can tell, because after all, the algoirithm implemented in Intel x86 machine source code is distributed all over the place in DvD software. My PC from IBM came with a tool that had DeCSS in x86 machine code inside. Most PC's sold today do. Is the definition that the code must be in it's executable form to not be "source"? Then what about Perl, or python, or any other such interpeted language where the human readable source code IS the executable form?

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