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DVD CCA Applies for Restraining Order

As seen on /.:

From a /. post:
   Here's the nastygram [0] (was sent in MS-Word format, HTMLized
   [more-or-less] for your pleasure) that I got via email this afternoon.
   Expect my css-auth mirror [1] to close by midnight tonight. On the advice
   of legal counsel, I'm not at liberty to discuss matters further.
   Douglas R. Winslow

[0] http://douglas.min.net/~drw/css-auth/legal-info/
[1] http://douglas.min.net/~drw/css-auth/

Linked from [1] is Chris DeBona's site, which looks pretty good. It's at:

The letter basically says `Hey, you reverse engineered some software
which specifically said you weren't allowed to reverse engineer it, thus
stealing our trade secrets, which in turn enables widespread piracy and
seriously harms the reputation of DVD, so stop it and give us money.'

Interestingly, they don't seem to invoke the Digital Millenium Copyright
Act (DMCA), which I'd have thought would give them a fairly open and shut
case. From a quick glance though, the DMCA seems to both not particularly
apply to this, and apparently invoking copyright too heavily would bring
all sorts of dangerous (from their point of view) fair use grounds.

Their case seems to have a bunch of other flaws too:

	* reverse engineering for interoperability purposes is
	  generally considered fair use, or reasonable, or legal
	  (I don't know if that's the case in Norway, though)

	* shrinkwrap agreements, which this presumably was, aren't
	  necessarily considered binding everywhere, either.

	(either of which would presumably mean the trade secret was
	 discovered legitimately anyway)

	* arguments can be made that illegal copying [2] was already not
	  particularly difficult (if you can do a `bitwise' copy without
	  actually decrypting it, this is irrelevant; and similarly if
	  you've got a `colour correcter' or something, you can record
	  using a normal VCR. I vaguely recall that my legitimate DVD
	  software has an option to disable that anyway). They also don't
	  seem to offer any evidence that widespread illegal copying is
	  actually occuring thanks to this hack.

	* similarly, there's case law about (although I forget which
	  jurisdictions) that indicates that just because a technology
	  makes illegal copying *possible*, that's not enough to make its
	  distribution a crime.

	(either of which would presumably be enough to limit the amount
	 of damages claimed by the plaintiffs)

[2] `illegal copying' as opposed to `piracy'. ie, changing ones and zeroes
    as opposed to pillaging, rape and murder on the high seas.

Also mildly amusing is that this seems to be a perfect example of big
business versus `the little guy'. There aren't any corporations listed
as defendants, just a bunch of individuals. The plaintiffs, on the other
hand, are a (not-for-profit!) association of all the big movie companies.

And with the added bonus that the defendants are generally categorised
as a bunch of guys who just want to be able to watch videos they've
legitimately bought on players they've legitimately bought, on an
operating system they've (more or less) written themselves?

Presumably I'm just being naive, but this seems to be a *much* weaker case
than I'd have expected the DVD consortium to come up with. Of course,
maybe the point is that with enough money, it doesn't matter how unjustified
your claim is.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't legal advice. Et cetera.

aj, who suggests you buy a grain of salt with these here two cents...

Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG encrypted mail preferred.

 ``The thing is: trying to be too generic is EVIL. It's stupid, it 
        results in slower code, and it results in more bugs.''
                                        -- Linus Torvalds

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