DVD appeal to tackle copyrights, free speech

2600:The Hacker Quarterly, a telephone and computer hacker magazine, is expected to argue that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) overly stretched its interpretation of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when it ruled last January that the magazine could not publish or provide online links to a source code that descrambles DVD (digital versatile disk) encryption.

The decryption code, called DeCSS (De Contents Scramble System) was originally intended to descramble DVD encryption so that DVDs could be played on Linux-based systems. The MPAA, an umbrella group for eight powerful Hollywood studios, saw the publishing of the code as a direct threat to movies' copyright privileges, however, arguing that by providing the descrambling code, the magazine was virtually giving people the key to steal protected materials.

At the crux of the battle is the DMCA, a 1998 law that prohibits cracking access codes and is designed to protect digitally recorded material such as movies, software and books from illegal use. While the MPAA is crying foul under the DMCA, the magazine, with support from the nonprofit civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is arguing that the Act is being interpreted too broadly and is beginning to elbow aside First Amendment rights.

In the brief filed for its appeal, 2600 argued that it was "providing truthful information about a matter of public significance," which is protected by the First Amendment, and outlawing the circulation of this type of information leads to self-censorship.

DMCA has been at the centre of a maelstrom of debate as opponents argue that the Act inhibits computer science research and steps on the toes of fair use rules, that allow for the public to use copyrighted material for noncommercial purposes.

One of the most recent spats over DMCA came last week when the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) asked a professor who participated in one of the group's hacking challenges not to publish his findings, saying that by doing so, he would be violating the Act. Princeton University professor Edward Felten and his team were just one of only two groups that were able to crack the watermark technology SDMI presented in a hacking challenge. The professor demurred to SDMI's request, and some DMCA opponents are using the case as ammunition to prove that the Act stymies academic research.

The DMCA has also been the thorn in the side of the high-profile online song swapping service Napster, whose case has raised myriad questions as to where fair use begins and copyright protection ends.

Any and all of these concerns could be addressed in the 2600 appeal as the studios stand strong for movies' copyright protection and the magazine touts First Amendment rights.

The appeal, formerly called Universal v. Remeirdes, is due to go before New York's 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scarlet Pruitt

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?