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DeCSS Trade Secret Case Comes to an End - Again 193

Posted by michael
from the fat-lady-now-singing dept.
Andrew Bunner writes "We asked the courts to rule on our appeal of the DeCSS preliminary injunction (even though the DVD CCA dropped the case) and... we won! No more preliminary injunction. Here's the official ruling (pdf)." This is the last gasp of this case, which we've been following for some years now. This ruling goes into some depth analyzing the trade secret claim, gets the ruling "right", and should be helpful in future cases on similar topics.
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DeCSS Trade Secret Case Comes to an End - Again

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    • It's foolish, of course. Trying to protect silly "trade secrets" behind a poorly conceived law is the worst thing to happen to digital media (and the internet). It's like being a restauranteur and crying "No fair" and refusing to sell desserts to customers who taste a dessert and ask, "Is that cinnamon?"

      If people are going to buy your product, and be exposed to it, they will naturally have to gain some familiarity with it. It's silly to want a food critic taste your food so he could publish a glowing review and then get upset when he writes what he (correctly) believes to be your ingredients.

      The DVD-CAA wants the DVD format to be adopted and for it to be widespread and popular, but they complain about anything that comes from people using it and that would help distribution.

      It's been said, but if they want their DVD encryption to be impenetrable (and hence popular with the MPAA) they should actually try to make it tough to crack instead of hiding behind a flimsy law that has apparently been dismissed in this particular case.

      It's just like any software (i.e. IE) being lackadaisical about security and then complaining about people breaking the law by writing viruses. Yeah, it's a law, and people shouldn't do it, but then some people also don't care.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2004 @06:55PM (#8412643)
    you must acquit!
    • That reminds me of when Coolio (the hacker, try to find the song by chunkk) was arrested for defacing the D.A.R.E website and was suspected of DDoSing eBay and some other site which escapes me:

      Coolio WILL find the real hacker. :P
      yeah, just like OJ WILL find the real killer :P
      OJ IS INNOCENT.
      bahahah
      THE JUICE IS LOOSE!
      ahahaaah, Coolio's going to have Johnny Cochrane in his trial. :P
      hahaha
      if the packet don't fit, you must acquit!
      ahahahha
      hahahaha
      ahahahahaha
  • by holizz (737615) on Friday February 27, 2004 @06:56PM (#8412647) Homepage
    that people can press Ctrl when they put their DRM-CDs in now?

    Oh I've waited to press that key for sooo long.
  • by squarefish (561836) * on Friday February 27, 2004 @06:56PM (#8412651)
    /* efdtt.c Author: Charles M. Hannum <root@ihack.net> */
    /* Thanks to Phil Carmody <fatphil@asdf.org> for additional tweaks. */
    /* DVD-logo shaped version by Alex Bowley <alex@hyperspeed.org> */
    /* Usage is: cat title-key scrambled.vob | efdtt >clear.vob */
    #define m(i)(x[i]^s[i+84])<<

    unsigned char x[5] ,y,s[2048];main(
    n){for( read(0,x,5 );read(0,s ,n=2048
    ); write(1 ,s,n) )if(s
    [y=s [13]%8+20] /16%4 ==1 ){int
    i=m( 1)17 ^256 +m(0) 8,k =m(2)
    0,j= m(4) 17^ m(3) 9^k* 2-k%8
    ^8,a =0,c =26;for (s[y] -=16;
    --c;j *=2)a= a*2^i& 1,i=i /2^j&1
    <<24;for(j= 127; ++j<n;c=c>
    y)
    c

    +=y=i^i/8^i>>4^i>>12,
    i=i>>8^y<<17,a^=a>>14,y=a^a*8^a<<6,a=a
    &nbs p; >>8^y<<9,k=s[j],k ="7Wo~'G_\216"[k
    &7]+2^"cr3sfw6v;*k+>/n."[k>>4]*2^k*257/
    &nbsp ; 8,s[j]=k^(k&k*2&34)*6^c+~y
    ;}}
  • Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustinXB (756624) on Friday February 27, 2004 @06:56PM (#8412653)
    Who would have thought a simple CSS remover [pigdog.org] would create such news ;)
  • But no DVD X Copy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday February 27, 2004 @06:59PM (#8412675) Homepage Journal
    DeCSS ok, but not DVD X-Copy. Why is that? Because DeCSS doesn't do anything by itself, but having X Copy demonstrates criminal intent?
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:18PM (#8412813)
      DeCSS ok, but not DVD X-Copy. Why is that? Because DeCSS doesn't do anything by itself, but having X Copy demonstrates criminal intent?

      Yep. That's an apparent contradiction. This is why we have appeals courts. When contradictory rulings start happening at the first-levels, the appeals courts have to sort them out. If the appeals courts can't get their act together, that's what Supreme Courts are for.
    • by fishbowl (7759) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:22PM (#8412849)
      I still don't understand how anyone can allege criminal intent: My church produces a DVD of original music and stage acts. I copy the DVD using DVD X-Copy. Not only is there no criminal intent, but the mere allegation of criminal intent actually treads on my rights to freedom of speech, and it could infringe on my relgious practice. It's getting close to claiming a hold on my copyrights, or even the public domain.

      • by Lurks (526137)
        And you might just as easily use one of the many packages which don't contain DeCSS.

        The point of DeCSS is single fold, to decrypt commercial DVDs.

        • by fishbowl (7759) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:40PM (#8412960)
          So I can't use CSS on my products? Why not? Why are other producers allowed to use dvd encryption and I am not? Now we're getting into 14th amendment territory as well.

          Don't tell me it's okay for someone to abridge my rights just because you don't think "I need that".

          I don't personally care about the DVD X-Copy folks, but I do care deeply about the implications when it's been alleged that their product which has other, plainly legal uses, has been deemed wholly illegal.

          The more the big media companies control the means of production, the harder it becomes for independent producers.
          • by Kenja (541830) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:47PM (#8413015)
            You cant use CSS on your product without a license and more then I can use the contents of your videos in mine. If you are making a DVD you do not need DVD X Copy to make copies of it. Period.
            • If I'm making a backup copy of a DVD I bought I certainly do need something like that though.

              • by Kenja (541830)
                "If I'm making a backup copy of a DVD I bought I certainly do need something like that though."

                Under the DMCA you are not allowed to make a backup of a DVD you bought if that DVD is CSS or otherwise encrypted to prevent copying. Sucks but its true.

                • by Arker (91948) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:21PM (#8413276) Homepage

                  If Congress passed a law tommorrow that said it was illegal to breath, would you stop?

                  The DMCA is invalid on its face, just as a law prohibiting respiration would be. It may take some time for the courts to affirm that, but it's still no law, as the courts have ruled many times before that an invalid law is null and void - not from the moment they say it is, but from the moment it was passed. Besides which, I'm currently fortunate enough to live outside that jurisdiction anyway.

              • According to Jack Valenti, if you want a backup of a DVD you bought, you buy another one.
                • by angle_slam (623817) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:44PM (#8413418)
                  Here is the source of the quote [gnutellanews.com]:
                  Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, has suggested that consumers have no legitimate need for such software, telling The Associated Press in November, "If you buy a DVD you have a copy. If you want a backup copy you buy another one."
                  • by zcat_NZ (267672) <zcat@wired.net.nz> on Friday February 27, 2004 @10:54PM (#8414094) Homepage
                    For a long time I have avoided buying CD's, DVD's, DVD players, or even DVD computer drives in protest to the RIAA, MPAA and related 'pigopolist' organisations and companies.

                    However I recently made the following resolve. In the event of Jack Valenti's death, I will celebrate by buying a decent quality DVD writer at the first available opportunity.

                  • by nsingapu (658028) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @01:12AM (#8414644) Homepage
                    Why is parent modded as funny?

                    Our rights have been trampled here, the innocent have not only been assumed guilty and lumped into a guilty mass, but to add insult the best response by the MPAA is that we should perhaps shell out more dough; and its FUNNY? - RTFL

                    It is apprehensible that some token jackass with a triple digit income suggests I pay a red cent in order to obtain what I have already purchased...such wisdom is what has limited the amount of dvd's I own to literally a handful.
            • by roystgnr (4015) <roystgnr@t[ ]m.utexas.edu ['ica' in gap]> on Friday February 27, 2004 @10:35PM (#8414019) Homepage
              You cant use CSS on your product without a license and more then I can use the contents of your videos in mine.

              The contents of his videos are protected by copyright law, so although you can use a legally acquired copy however you want, you're right that you can't make more copies without a license.

              CSS is an algorithm (and thus uncopyrightable), it isn't patented (if it had been nobody would have had to crack a DVD player's keys or reverse engineer the algorithm to begin with), and now it isn't a trade secret anymore. What exactly do you think he needs a license for?
        • And you might just as easily use one of the many packages which don't contain DeCSS.
          The point of DeCSS is single fold, to decrypt commercial DVDs.


          So, just to make sure I have this correct...

          If I use a standalone DeCSS implementation to rip the disk, then use a remastering program that lacks any concept of CSS, I can make my fair-use-rights backup without violating the DMCA?

          Somehow I doubt so obvious a solution would work, but that does seem like the only logical conclusion we can get from combining
        • The point of decrypting commercial CDs is (almost) singlefold, to watch them.
        • The point of DeCSS is single fold, to decrypt commercial DVDs.

          I hope you're not implying that that is illegal. We have a deal with a local news station to take their news broadcasts and put them on the web. We wanted to use a TiVoDVD to make this easy. Unfortunately, TiVo creates CSS'd dvds.

          We ended up just using Quicktime Broadcaster and Darwin Streaming Server.

          The good news is, we've got a TiVoDVD in the office that isn't doing anything... time to put it to nefarious use.
      • by Kenja (541830)
        Is the DVD in question encrypted? If so then you need to get permission from the author to copy it. If not then you dont need DVD X Copy to duplicate it. What your saying is like me claiming that I need all these kilos of crack to prop up my desk so I can write letters to the editor. Taking away my crack is infringing on my freedom of speech! If you are making legal copies of a DVD you do not need DVD X Copy. This will continue to be true as long as the DCMA is around.
        • I thought that was what fair-use laws were all about. I *can* make *legal* backups of my purchases.
          • by Kenja (541830) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:51PM (#8413043)
            "I thought that was what fair-use laws were all about. I *can* make *legal* backups of my purchases."

            This is why the DMCA is a bad law. You can make legal backups, however you cannot circumnavigate teh copy protection on the DVD. So while you have the rite to make a copy, you do not have legal access to do so. If a DVD is NOT CSS encrypted (and yes, there are some of those out there) then you can just treat the DVD contents like any other data when making a copy. So as long as the DMCA stands, DVD X Copy has no legal use.

            • You can make legal backups, however you cannot circumnavigate teh copy protection on the DVD.

              But what if I somehow obtain a DVD writer that actually copies the entire DVD. Now I can make a backup copy without bothering to decrypt anything. I suppose buying a DVD writer that actually works or fixing a broken one is illegal too.

              • You can't make a backup copy that way. It is impossible to write CSS keys on the kind of recordable DVD available to the general public, so you would have to use DeCSS to play the backup!
      • Actually, you don't need to use DVD-X Copy to duplicate a non css encrypted dvd, most good burning applications will copy an unencrypted dvd. The reason why people buy DVD X Copy is to duplicate encrypted dvds. Criminal intent? i doubt it, but that's the logic.
      • by arivanov (12034)
        That is not the interesting part. RTFA. The interesting part is that the case foundation is based on the fact that Xing had a valid shrinkwrap contract which was violated. It is the usual claim to apply US laws to the rest of the world and the world shall comply. In fact, such shrinkwraps at the time were not valid in the country where it was reverse engineered - Norway (and possibly Germany). So the entire case is fundamentaly flawed in first place, but proving that it is flawed will mean an american judge
  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:00PM (#8412680) Homepage Journal
    ...that he uses in his CS classes to explain the impact of these cases on the average student, their family, their friends, and society in general.

    It seems that back in the late 1800's in America (mentioning this for non-U.S. /.ers) there was this saloon in the West that was kind of a run-down, ramshackle joint that was frequented by a few loyal patrons and not too many others. Basically, while the saloon didn't go out of its way to publicize itself to out-of-towners (not much point given that it was in a remote area) it managed to do a fairly steady trade despite the occasional brawl that caused property damage and the persistent requests from a particular fellow for free drinks.

    More nights than not, the proprietor of the saloon would watch this drunk come wandering in through the doors, sit down, and lay a line on him about how he's trying to pull things together and how he'd just make enough to keep himself in beans and couldn't the bartender just pour him a shot or two to fuzz the edges and whatnot. And again, more nights than not, the bartender would take pity on the poor guy and pull out the whiskey.

    Now, mind you, this went on for some time, and while the bartender was an easy mark even he had his limit. So one night, after the bartender already gave the fellow three shots on the house, he decides to cut the guy off.

    "Look," he says, "while I'm really sorry to hear that things still aren't working out for you I don't think that I can keep giving you free drinks. I've got to make ends meet too, you know."

    So the drunk says, "I don't suppose you've got anything I can do to get another drink tonight?"

    The proprietor, not particularly wanting this fellow to hang around all night and certainly not expecting him to take him up on his proposition, says "Well, you see that spittoon over there? If you take a swig out of that I suppose I could give you a drink to wash it down."

    No sooner did he finish his last sentence than the drunk walked over to the spittoon and hefted it off of the floor. Before the bartender could stop him, the fellow put the rim to his lips, tipped the bottom of the metal container up into the air, and began to swallow. To the bartender's dismay, the guy continued to slowly chug the thick contents of the spittoon. When he had finally gulped the final remnants of the container, he threw it to the ground, wiped off his lips with his shirt cuff, and gagged, "So, do I get the drink?"

    "You can have the bottle!" exclaimed the bartender, immediately pouring the first shot. "But tell me, why did you swallow the whole damn thing? You only needed to swig it to earn the drink."

    And the drunk replies: "It was all one long string."

    This is why the law should embrace both free enterprise and fair use; the average person will draw from both, the average business can profit from both, and the content creators are encouraged financially to continue to create without becoming discouraged financially by 90-year royalties.

  • libdvdcss (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dwonis (52652) * on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:04PM (#8412700)
    So does this mean Debian can now distribute libdvdcss in main?
  • what about 2600? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrisopherpace (756918) <cpace@hnsg . n et> on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:04PM (#8412701) Homepage
    I recall a while back about 2600 losing their case on which they were linking to DeCSS, wonder if they can get it overturned by a judge. Probably won't though, knowing the government (after all, they are evil hackers!).
  • wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:05PM (#8412707) Homepage
    Page 7:

    "The court stated that trade secret status should not be deemed destroyed merely because the information was posted on the Internet..."

    Holy crap, what exactly *would* destroy trade secret status if posting to the internet doesn't do the job?
    • Re:wtf? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:16PM (#8412797)
      Page 7:

      "The court stated that trade secret status should not be deemed destroyed merely because the information was posted on the Internet..."

      Holy crap, what exactly *would* destroy trade secret status if posting to the internet doesn't do the job?


      Bringing in a server log or two that show that a few million people downloaded the former trade secret.

      Posting to the Internet alone is an attempt at publication. However, if nobody knows it's there, it's not a very damaging one to the secret. So, if only four people downloaded the "secret", those four people could just be told to keep quiet and the trade secret is still in tact.

      However, if four million people saw it... oops, secret's out of the bag. At that point, the owners of the former trade secret can go after the source of the leak, but they've lost control of their secret and it now longer gets its protection from further spreading. That secret is now public information, sorry.
      • Re:wtf? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)
        Bringing in a server log or two that show that a few million people downloaded the former trade secret. (...) So, if only four people downloaded the "secret", those four people could just be told to keep quiet and the trade secret is still in tact.

        As if things don't spread from small. Four people that each share it with four people and so on... By the time a court would even look at those four, it's all over the net. But, if they want to keep their reality distortion field...

        Kjella
        • As if things don't spread from small. Four people that each share it with four people and so on... By the time a court would even look at those four, it's all over the net. But, if they want to keep their reality distortion field... If you want to be the leaker of a trade secret, go ahead. However, you'll be bankrupt a million times over if you get identified as the one who did it...
        • Four people that each share it with four people and so on...

          Then it's a chain letter - aren't they illegal too? :-)
  • slashdot quotes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by benna (614220) <mimenarrator@g m a i l .com> on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:07PM (#8412722) Journal
    Interesting the decision quotes slashdot. Maybe the people that were saying not to joke about MyDoom were right. (or maybe not)
    • Re:slashdot quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:43PM (#8412978)
      In NYS vs. 2600 the judge's decision made use of an analogy I posted to Slashdot. This isn't to say he got it from me, it was a fairly obvious analogy, but it was known at the time that both parties were reading arguments on Slashdot and I believe incorporated some of them into their arguments.

      Sometimes we are watched.

      Oh yeah. The analogy?

      Buying a DVD is like buying a book locked in a safe, where the seller won't give you the combination unless you pay him additional money.

      This is as far as the judge took it in ruling against 2600. My analogy went on to point out that DeCSS was like getting the combination from some other source to open the safe you own to read the book you own. And there's certainly no law against cracking your own safe, or providing instruction to someone on how to do it.

      KFG
      • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Buying a DVD is like buying a book locked in a safe, where the seller won't give you the combination unless you pay him additional money.

        (Parent comment is almost as strange as the utterly pointless spitoon comment earlier...)

        If you bought a book locked in a safe to which you did not have the combination you would not be able to read it. So the only way this analogy makes sense is if the "additional money" you speak of is the money the DVD forum collects from manufacturers who create DVD playback systems
        • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kfg (145172)
          Ah, but in this case you have purchased all the tools to play it, except for the CSS key.

          And just as in the case of a safe, you have even payed for, and thus own, the locking mechanism itself. It is built into your computer's DVD drive.

          KFG
    • Re:slashdot quotes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:45PM (#8412998)
      My personal favorite:

      Second, the evidence in this case is very sparse with respect to whether the offending program was actually created by improper means. Reverse engineering alone is not improper means. (See footnote 7 ante.) Here the creator is believed to be a Norwegian resident who probably had to breach a Xing license in order to access the information he needed. We have only very thin circumstantial evidence of when, where, or how this actually happened or whether an enforceable contract prohibiting reverse engineering was ever formed.

      There were dozens of slashdot comments to this effect when the whole shebang was going down the first time.

      I wonder if I should be happy that our voice is heard worldwide and effecting the very body of law, or scared shitless that AC's like me (an International AC, I should add) could be making ripples in court decisions that effect merely the state of California.

      The Internet really bends/breaks the legal system, and this brief is a great example of it.
      • Re:slashdot quotes (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bwt (68845)
        In fact, Johansen was acquitted in Norway and so there is strong evidence to suggest that NO enforceable controct prohibiting reverse engineering was ever formed.

        Really I thought this was the reason why DVD CCA gave up -- in order for them to win they would have had to actually trace the misappropriation back to Johansen. But his act was ruled legal (twice), so that is a dead end. Once he placed DeCSS into the public domain, nobody downstream can be any more liable that he was.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:09PM (#8412745)
    The preliminary injuction fell out of force when the original case that caused the injunction to be issued got dismissed. Afterall, a preliminary injution is a request for the court to implement some of the relief that is going to be the result of winning the trial because its needed right away and can't wait that long. In order to get one, the court has to be convinced that it's pretty likely that the plantiff is going to win. If the case is dismissed, there's no chance left the plantiff can win that case, so the injunction goes away.

    But, this issue over whether the injunction should have been granted in the first place got appealed and hadn't been decided yet. Well, actually, it had been already decided that this violated the free speach protections in the US Constitution by the appeals court, but the CA Supreme Court overturned that ruling. However, the CA Supreme Court returned the case to the appeals court to let them rule on the argument that the injunction was an improper use of the CA trade secret laws.

    That's where the appeals case was when the DVD CCA abaondoned the original case that generated the injunction and the appeal. Now, normally, such an appeal automatically dies as a moot point when that kind of thing happens, but the appeals court rejected the DVD CCA's request to dismiss because this was such a novel argument, it really needs an appeals ruling to guide future cases.

    And here comes that ruling... that the injunction shouldn't have been granted in the first place. That's now on the record as an appeals ruling and can be cited in other future cases.

    The DVD CCA balled out of the original lawsuit fearing that they were going to lose, and furthermore lose in a way that'd get them in trouble in future cases. Well, guess what, their worst nightmare came true. A declarative ruling that the preemptive injunction that they got was one they shouldn't have, so that set of legal paper goes in the "Don't try that again" pile. The key arguement to their case has basically been shot down... CSS doesn't appear to be a trade secret anymore in CA.
    • by inc_x (589218) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:43PM (#8412980)
      IANAL But what this case seems to point out is that it is important to stress that information is obtained by proper reverse engineering. If you can show a court that you had reasonable grounds to believe that the information in question has not reached you via illegal means but was legally obtained through reverse engineering you are under no obligation to keep it secret.

      Maybe a statement along the lines of "This information is believed to have been legally obtained by means of reverse engineering." could take away much of the uncertainty in future cases.

      Combined with rapid internet wide distribution, this seems a solid way to publish information obtained through reverse engineering in the public domain.

  • by shaark78 (157917) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:10PM (#8412754)
    Can I use Cascading Style Sheets on my websites now?
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:36PM (#8412938)
      Can I use Cascading Style Sheets on my websites now?

      Of course, and that's not what this decision was about. This was about *De*CSS, which means that you can now *remove* the style sheets from your website.

      I bet there are a lot of web sites where people tried style sheets once but then realized it was illegal to remove them.

      • I'm sorry, but there has been an evil(TM) program out there for a while that not only removes style sheets, but also breaks them. Something called IE? I think....
  • does this mean (Score:4, Insightful)

    by r5t8i6y3 (574628) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:11PM (#8412760)
    that debian distros will now be able to include working DVD players?
  • by grogzilla (688149) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:13PM (#8412778)
    "It is important to stress that our conclusion is based upon the appellate record filed in this court. It is not a final adjudication on the merits. The ultimate determination of trade secret status and misappropriation would be subject to proof to be presented at trial." So how does this mean the case is over? It just means the injunction before trial is over, doesn't it?
  • by IchBinDasWalross (720916) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:18PM (#8412807)
    I have never appreciated this until I met a friend at work. Let's meet "Nikki". She's 21, works in the seafood department of a crappy grocery store (and #%$! makes more money than I do as a cashier) and makes a lot of money on the side selling all of us at work pirated DVD's. This is a Good Thing. She said, when she doesn't make rent, she burns DVD's for kids. What she used to do in the past was buy alcohol for kids under 21.

    Simply put, by supporting CSS, you support underage drinking.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:46PM (#8413005) Homepage Journal

    It seems my report and analysis [slashdot.org] from August 2001 was closer to the mark than I dared believe. To wit:

    ...the evidence in this case is very sparse with respect to whether the offending program was actually created by improper means. Reverse engineering alone is not improper means. (See footnote 7 ante.) Here the creator is believed to be a Norwegian resident who probably had to breach a Xing license in order to access the information he needed.
    -- Court ruling, page 12 [emphasis mine]

    I essentially said the same thing in my analysis: That DVD CCA's entire case hinged on whether the end-user "license" was valid and binding.

    My opinion remains unchanged: end-user "licenses" are unethical, and should not be allowed to stand. See my old-ish editorial [vwh.net] on the subject for more detail.

    Schwab

    • they are not just unethical, they are unenforcable, making a copy for the purpose of installing or using something is clearly under fair use, you don't need a licence to rip CD's to your hard drive and play them in winamp, you don't need a licence to play CD's in a CD player with skip protection, the basis of the EULA is that installing software or loading software into memory for use is normally a violation of copyright, which is Pure and Complete Bullshit in fact installing software on multiple PC's that
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:52PM (#8413049)
    Amazingly clear and well-reasoned ruling. It's so refreshing to see members of the judiciary actually grasp a technical issue correctly, few and far between though they may be.

    I'm also developing an enormous amount of respect for those judges whose opinions manage to be very readable, even when discussing arcane technicalities of law (and, in this case, technology) -- many of us engineers could learn a thing or three from these folks about clear writing.

    -Brian

    • Rest assured, these members of the judiciary, whose "actions have created confusion," [humaneventsonline.com] will be replaced at the earliest opportunity with new, better-trained judges, who will bravely ignore this and similar heinous, anti-American rulings as they assist us in better understanding this "issue that requires clarity." Be steadfast and be proud; your unwanted freedoms will be removed as soon as we can get to them.
    • Yep, the ruling was really clearly written. In addition to demolishing the lower court's argument, it even added a few bitch-slaps -- 3 "[sic]"s on a single page. I love it when judges spice their legal correction with grammatical correction.
  • Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by flossie (135232) on Friday February 27, 2004 @07:54PM (#8413059) Homepage
    Summary: the code was distributed widely enough that it doesn't matter how it was obtained

    Lesson: next time this happens, *everyone* post the code on their website

    • Re:Summary (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Balthisar (649688)
      obligatory SCO reference: doesn't this mean the "trade secret" parts of their claim can no longer apply?
      • Re:Summary (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dasein (6110) *
        Nope, they can still go after the leak of the trade secrets just not the people distributing the information (code) now. Since they are accusing IBM of doing the leaking, this ruling doesn't isn't applicable.
  • 321studios (Score:2, Redundant)

    by sumdumass (711423)
    I wonder if there would be anything of value here that 321 Studios, the makers of DVDXcopy could use in thier defense. It apears the ruling made what i think could be usefull especialy since they are going after them from the dmca standpoint. maybe the difference is the actual distrobution?

    On the other hand maybe this would open another can of worms and possibly alow another set of attacks on the Decss teknoligy?
    • Re:321studios (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bob(TM) (104510)


      Probably not.

      Though the appellate court found that the CSS is not really a trade secret anymore, that doesn't have very much to do with the issue of why DVDXCOPY exists - to make copies of CSS encrypted media.

      The DMCA prohibits the distribution of a means to circumvent a method used to restrict access to copyrighted material. This issue remains regardless of the trade secret status of the algorithm.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:06PM (#8413159)
    Richard R. Wiebe, San Francisco;
    Hopkins & Carley, Arthur V. Plank,
    Allonn E. Levy, San Jose;
    First Amendment Project, Oakland,
    James R. Wheaton, David A. Greene;
    Tomlinson Zisko Morosoli & Maser,
    Thomas E. Moore III, Palo Alto;
    Electronic Frontier Foundation, San
    Francisco, Cindy A. Cohn

    You are now on the protected list.

  • by CaVi (37216) on Friday February 27, 2004 @08:23PM (#8413289) Homepage
    (IANAL but)

    As stated at the end of the PDF:

    It is not a final adjudication on the merits

    As far as I understand, this decision doesn't mean anything about DeCSS being legal or not, it is just about the fact that the injuction for stopping publication on Bunner's site was an abuse of the trial's court discretion.

    It doesn't even say that distributing it is legal. As I understand, it does just say "Bunner distributed that when it was already public knowledge, so an injunction against that was innapropriate".

    Now, he could be sued for distributing it, no?
  • I have come to know on a first-hand basis what effects that ordinary people here on /. can have.

    I posted the original story [slashdot.org] about deCSS back in November of 1999. It probabally would have been brought up eventually here on Slashdot, but it was amazing to me to see just how quickly this legal action (originally against Jon Johansen) spawned a whole battle cry from readers here on this site. I was an active participant on the LiVID discussion group back then and this was one situation where I knew that this really needed to be seen by a much larger audience. I had absolutely no idea just how far the /. community would go with this, but on the whole I'm fairly pleased with what has happened. It has helped to define the attitudes of a whole generation of programmers and set legal precedence that I hope is going to, in the long run make it easier to freely express myself in software. Yeah, my part was real tiny but it doesn't take much to get everything moving. I also deliberately tried to lay low during this entire controversy because I already saw the legal mess that everybody who came in contact with this whole affair went through. I made it through without one single problem.

    My only regret is that similar actions haven't happened against the DVD Consortium (formerly DVD Forum and prior to that... well, does it really matter?) in regards to the DVD-Video specification. Although some of it is patented (mainly the MPEG-2 portions), for the most part that DVD-Video spec is protected by the same trade secret laws that the CSS algorithms were also protected by. The only problem is that the DVD-Video spec is much more complicated and won't simply fit on the back of a T-shirt.

    I had the good fortune of actually being able to read the formal DVD-Video specs (as an employee), and implemented a multiplexor/authoring system following those specs. It is from this experience that I am absolutely committed to open specifications. There was so much I wanted to disclose to the other LiVID members information I knew about those specs, but I deliberately stayed on the sidelines and simply said "Yeah you are going in the right direction" or "No, I think you got that model wrong. Try something else."

    The full potential of utilizing the DVD-Video still has yet to be realized, and unfortunately I don't think it ever will be. I'm talking a genuine "hacking" of the capabilities of a standard DVD-Video player like you have in your home entertainment system, not just the Linux box that you also want to play some DVD movies on (although knowledge of the spec can also help that effort). The DVD/optical disc format is a totally different medium of delivery from video tape, but unfortunately most movie studios simply treat it as only a glorified version of a VHS cassette (DVD extras on a typical release not withstanding). Worse yet, people who consider DVDs to be just another version of VCDs.

    I also wouldn't mind trying to put something together right now, as I'm currently unemployed, but that is another story altogether. I can't afford the current specs even if I was fully employed right now.
  • Whats the big deal? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zaunuz (624853)
    Of course, DeCSS lets you copy DVDs. But on the other hand, DeCSS lets those with bad support for DVD-playback view them in their favourite OS.

    DeCSS can be compared to this:
    If you use a lamp to light through the mail, and see the contents.. is that illegal? yes!
    But what if it is your own mail? still illegal? No!

    Too many focus on the anti-piracy concept of CSS, but it seems to me that nobody (atleast not many enhough) even conciders that CSS locks out some of the potential users of DVD.
  • While this decision is a very good thing, it's important to recognize that this was a case in a state, not federal, court involving specifically California's Uniform Trade Secrets Act and as such the decision isn't binding on other jurisdictions.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS

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