Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Censorship It's funny.  Laugh. Your Rights Online

Seth Schoen Reveals Himself Author of DeCSS Haiku 155

TrinSF writes "The anonymous author of the DeCSS Haiku has written an article revealing his identity and explaining some of the background. The haiku has been featured in the Gallery of CSS Descramblers and attained some notoriety when it was published in 2001. I'm glad to have played a small role in the article; my comment on /. is included in the text." Apologies to Seth for dropping a "c" from his surname.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Seth Schoen Reveals Himself Author of DeCSS Haiku

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:17PM (#8113353)
    This post is not first
    The lameness filter killed it
    it was so painful
  • by Anonymous Coward
    He was always kind of the "nerd" type that was quiet and reserved, but you knew that he was going to make something of himself one day. Now that he's hit the big time I suppose some congratulations are in order.
  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:20PM (#8113376)
    I mean, I wrote this song [], but you don't see me standing up and pontificating, saying that it's now part of "the folklore of the Internet"...
    • because, there is no chance in hell that RIAA or MPAA or any such organization is going to sue you and then you may eventually win and then demand a 22000$ compensation. Get it ?
      • by pb ( 1020 )
        With the RIAA these days, I wouldn't be so sure, but if they did sue me, I'd certainly win.

    • > I mean, I wrote this song, but you don't see me standing up and pontificating, saying that it's now part of "the folklore of the Internet"...

      Didn't you just do that? :)
      • by pb ( 1020 )
        I specifically did not do that.

        But if you think so... then thank you, you're too kind! :)
    • Hope your ISP don't charge too much for the bandwidth (and the trouble)...
      • by pb ( 1020 )
        Not my ISP, but I appreciate the concern. Not that poppyfields and their filk archive is any stranger to /.
    • I Can't (Score:5, Funny)

      by uberdave ( 526529 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:56PM (#8113752) Homepage
      How was that supposed to decode DVDs? I can't even get it to compile.
  • Attention economy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:21PM (#8113379) Homepage
    Some people even seem to risk to get into prison just for getting some media attention.
    And for your next comment: Jorgason just went free out of court because he could prove that he didn't write deCSS. Unlike this guy now.
    • The haiku is not executeable, and the deCSS algorithm is no longer considered a trade secret. While Seth Jorgason may be willing to take risks for attention, there is no evidence in this act to support that supposition.

      There IS evidence that someone did not RTFH. ;-)

    • Jon Johansen went free because there was "no evidence" that he used DeCSS for illegal purposes ( links [], thanks [] google []). Just because DeCSS could be used illegally, the code itself, and it's creation, could not be deemed illegal according to the court.

      "The appellate court holds the opinion, as did the first instance court, that there has not been offered any evidence for anybody else having used DeCSS for illegally acquired DVD movies..."

      Secondly, the DVD CCA sought dismissal in their trade secret case ag

  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaptainAlbert ( 162776 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:21PM (#8113382) Homepage
    I am curious
    just how many syllables
    seth shoen should take up
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:21PM (#8113384)
    When does the prosecution expect to sentence him to the firing squad for his blatent contempt for the DMCA?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:21PM (#8113386)
    I'm glad to have played a small role in the article; my comment on /. is included in the text."

    Well that's great! You really are someone after all. I wouldn't want you going through life never having had your pathetic existence validated by anyone.
  • Haiku (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:22PM (#8113393)
    Slashdot Stable
    Fodder is good

    Descrable DVD
    Now pay your fee$

    Geeks worldwide
    Content adiction

    Freedom comes
    Not from world
    But within one

    Website today
    Slashdotted tomorrow
    bandwidth bill - error 404
  • Getting kinda slow.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:22PM (#8113396)
    I'm herrvinny, posting anon so I don't karma whore, link was getting slow. I lost the links copying this, though

    The History of the DeCSS Haiku

    by Seth Schoen

    Works like Hesiod's Theogony are not just spoken poetic entertainment; they delineate the world view of their culture. In the same way, the DeCSS epic instructs the "listener" in the world view and cultural values of those opposing [censorship of] DeCSS.

    Leigh Ann Hildebrand, slashdot comment, February 25, 2001

    we have only words against

    John Dos Passos, "The Camera Eye (51)", in The Big Money

    I wrote the poem known as the "DeCSS Haiku" three years ago, in 2001. (The poem's full title is "How to decrypt a / DVD, in haiku form / Thanks, Prof. D. S. T.") The 456-stanza work, sometimes described as an "epic", was an anonymous contribution to Prof. David S. Touretzky's "Gallery of CSS Descramblers", which collects a variety of ways of expressing technical information about the decryption of DVDs. My poem has now become a part of the folklore of the Internet.

    The poem includes a traditional opening invocation to the Muse:

    Now help me, Muse, for
    I wish to tell a piece of
    controversial math.

    It proceeds to describe, using only haiku-like verses with lines of five, seven, and five syllables, all the mathematical steps required to convert an encrypted DVD into a usable form.

    Prof. Touretzky created his Gallery shortly after U.S. movie studios began their quest to suppress the publication of such information. The studios had filed a lawsuit captioned Universal v. Reimerdes (later known as Universal v. Corley). Touretzky was concerned about the free speech implications of the case, and the purported distinction between computer software and other forms of expression. As Touretzky explains:

    If code that can be directly compiled and executed may be suppressed under the DMCA, as Judge Kaplan asserts in his preliminary ruling, but a textual description of the same algorithm may not be suppressed, then where exactly should the line be drawn? [The Gallery of CSS Descramblers] was created to explore this issue, and point out the absurdity of Judge Kaplan's position that source code can be legally differentiated from other forms of written expression.

    Touretzky set about collecting a remarkably wide variety of descriptions of the DVD decryption process, with the aim of promoting critical thought about what expression people are prepared to censor, and why. This process resulted in an outpouring of creativity from the Internet community, with the DVD CSS algorithm described and redescribed from an assortment of scientific and artistic angles. Most contributors seemed to view the creation of each new adaptation of DeCSS as a form of political protest. As Touretzky's correspondence with the Motion Picture Association of America made clear, each adaptation was also a thorny new legal question: could this version be called a "circumvention device"? Could the courts suppress its publication? Nobody seemed able to offer a clear answer; a studio lawyer was later willing to opine to the Wall Street Journal only that there were practical limits to the industry's willingness to spend money fighting these works. So when the studios asked Touretzky to take his Gallery off the Internet, he put the question to them directly: which versions did they object to? They told him that they would consider the question "and respond appropriately at the proper time". Professor Touretzky is still waiting.

    Impressed by other people's contributions to the rapidly-growing gallery, I decided I had to make some kind of effort of my own. I had particularly admired Joe Wecker's song "Descramble (This Function Is Void)", and I imagined that my contribution would have to be in the realm of literature rather than of visual art. I toyed with translating a description of the algorithm into Latin (on the theory that this might appeal to lawyers, who readily recognize that Latin is expressive and meaningful
  • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:23PM (#8113398) Journal
    ... if only for the amount of work put into its creation. The term 'creative work' has lost its currency due to misuse in IP disputes, but it truly is a creative endeavour, so I say 'Salud' to the author...

  • Mirror available (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:24PM (#8113418)
    The original is already slashdotted, so I have created a mirror: []
  • It contains a trojan horse which will bork your boxen !
  • I admit it. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:28PM (#8113471) Journal

    I did it. Happy now?

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:28PM (#8113474)
    Here you can see a photo of Seth Schoen receiving a letter from the MPAA lawyers after revealing he's the author of the DeCSS haiku:

    Clicky-clicky []

    (Also, my advice to him, now that he's publicly admitted to be an 3v1l hax0r, is to shave his beard [] as soon as possible. Unfortunate mistakes can happen so quickly these days ...)
  • by The Evil Couch ( 621105 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:31PM (#8113495) Homepage
    Reading back on the other articles, I dug up this article [] where the MPAA went after someone that had made a program to remove CSS from HTML called DeCSS.

    Anyone know what happened to that guy?

  • Seth Shoen? (Score:2, Informative)

    by r_glen ( 679664 )
    Not that I really care, but it's spelled Seth Schoen
  • I wonder if an "I'm Spartacus []" type movement would clear this guy's name if they try to bust him. If everyone claims to have written it, they either have to convict (crucify) everyone who does or dismiss the whole mess.
    • Re:I'm Spartacus (Score:5, Informative)

      by mamba-mamba ( 445365 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:45PM (#8113652)
      There is no way they are going to go after him. He didn't violate copyright, since the poem is original. The poem isn't a circumvention device since it is not executable or compileable. And the algorithm is no longer considered a trade secret.

      So on what basis would they go after him?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        "The poem isn't a circumvention device since it is not executable or compileable."

        Until somebody writes an compiler for haiki (heikii= heikus? heikixen? haikititi? argl).

        I might even throw a Perl script together that does just this...


      • The poem isn't a circumvention device since it is not executable or compileable.

        As opposed to t-shirts?

        • I don't believe the t-shirts were circumvention devices, but at least they contained (or depicted) source code which could be compiled into a binary form.

          The haiku is not compileable, even in an electronic form. Did you read it? I didn't read the whole thing, but it is not even remotely code-like.

  • Epic (Score:2, Funny)

    by Popageorgio ( 723756 )
    Next on the menu: SCO patents the caesura to preempt Beowulf for Linux.
    • Hwaet we garde
      na in geardagum Unixfynncyninga...

      We have heard of the might of the Unix-Finns' kings in the old days...

      My vote - set Grendel on Darl.

  • Final quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <> on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:51PM (#8113712)
    sit mihi fas audita loqui, sit numine vestro
    pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas.

    Allow me to retell what I was told; allow me by your power to disclose things buried in the dark and deep of the earth!

    -The Aeneid of Virgil, Book Six

  • Is it just me, or is the dept. this post is from a Haiku, also? fewer syllables would not communicate as magnificently So what do I win? ;)
  • Epic haiku? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by syphax ( 189065 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @12:55PM (#8113743) Journal
    This was a very clever work, but for an epic like this, I really would have gone with dactylic hexameter [] myself...
  • WTF (Score:1, Flamebait)

    Doesn't even rhyme.
  • The same thing happen to MS's proprietary Word format. You know, the "real code" not that madeup hacked crap that used to be on MSDN. Get it out in the open and copy it to a million servers all around the world. Overnight you'd be able to drop in OpenOffice or abiword and have it work perfectly. Now I like OpenOffice, but let's get real. Besides docs which are simple plain text you end up having to fix the formatting on almost every doc you import. The same goes for any Office suite which isn't made by MS.
  • From the article...

    Now help me, Muse, for
    I wish to tell a piece of
    controversial math.

    The last line has six syllables. For shame.

  • I did not read the Article posted above But this is Slashdot.

  • If he would have written an haiku in ASNI compliant C that compiled, then I would be impressed.
  • My first encounter of a haiku was in a Simpsons episode, when The Simpsons went to Japan. Lisa recited it in her what-im-saying-now-is-very-noble voice. I can't remember what it actually was, but I didn't quite see the point of it. After googling haikus, I found out that Haiku's have three lines, the first and last consisting of 5 syllables and the second of 7 syllables and are usually designed in a cryptic way.

    But I still fail to see why this makes them so great. It seems to me a haiku is just 3 almo

    • Here is a haiku I have made. Explain to me if/why it is flawed, and what makes a good haiku. A bird sits on me, I am walking away now, It shits on my head.

      Since you asked...

      How to write Haiku

      In japanese, the rules for how to write Haiku are clear, and will not be discussed here. In foreign languages, there exist NO consensus in how to write Haiku-poems. Anyway, let's take a look at the basic knowledge:

      What to write about?

      Haiku-poems can describe almost anything, but you seldom find themes whic

  • If code that can be directly compiled and executed may be suppressed under the DMCA, as Judge Kaplan asserts in his preliminary ruling,

    So why not post it as a .GIF file? Then only porn sites [] could decode it.

    My sig line -- enjoy
    Static now for all to see
    Maybe changed soon.

  • It would probably be nice to change the title of this article to use the correct spelling of Seth's last name ("Schoen", not "Shoen").
  • Looking back at the Corley case, I am frustrated. I am frustrated not only that we lost, not only that the censorship continues, and not only that allies of the studio plaintiffs keep on trivializing programmers' speech rights. More than anything, I'm frustrated that public opinion mainly dismisses what happened as a matter of pursuing hackers. Public opinion says the hackers got what was coming to them, because they were hackers. The court of public opinion, with some exceptions, seems to be affirming the
  • I'm not an expert on what makes a haiku, or poetic forms in general, but I'm pretty sure just hitting return every 5 or 7 syllables doesn't cut it. This guy's hardly the creative genius some are claiming.
    • technically a senryu, if I remember correctly and the part where it gets really creative in my opinion is when he gets the syllables to do pi
  • From the article:

    I wish programmers got more worked up about that metaphor. It ought to offend them. Your work, creating new and useful technology, is like an outbreak of cholera or botulism?

    Diseases? Nah. I prefer my analogy:

    The software that I have written makes decisions and performs actions using my thought-processes, like some ghostly echo of my own mind, now embedded in a machine.

    Except when is acts up - then I call it a "poltergeist" instead of "ghost".

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert