Hackers object to ham-fisted movie business

In recent months, the MPAA has filed several lawsuits against Websites and programmers who posted a formula that allows decryption of DVDs' content-scrambling system, called CSS.

Some civil liberties groups and hackers objected to the MPAA's legal blitz, saying the posting of the de-encryption software is protected by free speech entitlement.

"The Motion Picture Association, the organisation that plays a major part in nearly every movie made, is shutting down thousands of Websites worldwide and suing countless individuals simply because they offer information on DVD technology that the MPAA wants to keep out of your hands," a notice posted on the Website of 2600 Magazine said yesterday, announcing the protest.

Calling itself the "hacker's" magazine, the publication said protests will take place and leaflets handed out outside movie theatres and video stores in 74 cities in North America and 26 cities in other parts of the world. No specific protest sites were named and efforts to contact 2600 Magazine were unsuccessful.

In its legal actions, the MPAA has cited the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which prohibits unauthorised use of copyrighted materials.

"The copy-scrambling system is there so you can't make illegal copies," said Emily Kutner, MPAA's manager of public relations for worldwide antipiracy, referring to the MPAA's most recent legal action. "Whether or not these people actually took the next step and made copies is not part of our complaint. Our complaint said it is illegal to traffic in anti-circumvention devices."

Joining the MPAA as plaintiffs are Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Time Warner Entertainment, Disney Enterprises and Twentieth Century Fox.

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