[Air-l] DVD encryption vs. source code
scondon at mitre.org
Fri May 24 11:18:52 PDT 2002
I happened across this story on the CMU website and thought that folks on this list who are interested in intellectual property and free speech issues would want to take a look. The press release is at
Here are a few quotes:
The question of whether computer code can be defined
as speech is at the heart of a debate brewing in U.S.
Courts, as well as in academic and research
institutions. A computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon is
helping to make U.S. legal history by presenting a
compelling argument to the courts and to the public at
The backdrop for this legal drama began in January,
2000, when the Motion Picture Association of America
(MPAA) filed a lawsuit against the hacker magazine
2600, charging that the online publication had violated
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by
posting code for decrypting DVDs....
Carnegie Mellon Principal Research Computer
Scientist David Touretzky testified as an expert witness
for the defense. At the trial, Touretzky argued that
computer code has expressive content that conveys
ideas just like other forms of speech...
The Carnegie Mellon computer science faculty
member is now presenting his argument to the public
on the World Wide Web with his "Gallery of CSS
Descramblers," a scholarly publication that
demonstrates there is no difference between ideas
expressed in a computer language or in the English
language. Touretzky created the site to raise important
questions about legal opinions on whether or not
source code is subject to First Amendment protection
against prior restraint of speech.
The Gallery of CSS Descramblers is at
You can even get a t-shirt with one of the descrambling algorithms printed on it, but be careful: the t-shirt vendor is being sued...
Sherri L. Condon, Ph.D.
The MITRE Corporation
7515 Colshire Dr.
McClean, Virginia 22102-7508
E-mail: scondon at mitre.org
NOTE: Fortunately, my words and actions are entirely my own and do not reflect the views or endorsement of The MITRE Corporation.
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