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<nettime> Fwd: Global Internet Liberty Campaign Member Statement
panix on Wed, 2 Feb 2000 17:51:08 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Fwd: Global Internet Liberty Campaign Member Statement


Summary: Eighteen international GILC member organizations released a
statement opposing the DVD Copy Control Association's (CCA) suit against
people who have posted information about the DVD Content Scrambling
System. The letter points out that the controversial DeCSS software is
legal reverse-engineering needed to provide interoperability of DVDs on
different computer systems. The statement also explains that DeCSS does
not enable the practical duplication DVDs and that DVDs can already be
copied through other available means. 

Global Internet Liberty Campaign Member Statement January 14, 2000 In
Defense of Free Speech on the Internet: GILC Releases Statement Opposing
DVD Suit

We, the undersigned members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign -- a
coalition of more then 50 civil liberty groups worldwide -- believe that
the lawsuit of the Digital Versatile Disc Copy Control Association
[DVD-CCA] against dozens of people worldwide may have a severe and harmful
impact on free expression. 

We believe that intellectual property owners should not be allowed to
expand their property rights at the expense of free speech, legal
reverse-engineering of software programs for interoperability reasons and
discussions of technical and scientific issues on the internet. 

DVD-CCA's lawsuit is in direct conflict with United Nations human rights
accords and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. 

THE CASE

Just after Christmas the Digital Versatile Disc Copy Control Association
(DVD-CCA) filed a case in California against people around the world who
published information about the DVD Content Scrambling System (CSS), or
links to such information, on the internet. 

The root of the case is the allegation that the reverse-engineering of the
DVD CSS system was "improper" (paragraph 18), "unauthorized" (para. 20),
"wrongfully appropriating proprietary trade secrets" (para. 21),
"unauthorized use of proprietary CSS information, which was illegally
"hacked" (para.  22). The DVD-CCA have yet to provide substantial proof of
these allegations, and they are unlikely to be proven true in a court of
law. 

In their lawsuit, they claim that the defendants are violating the
association's trade secrets and other intellectual property rights by
publishing and discussing the source code of (or simply linking to other
sites that publish or discuss) a legally reverse-engineered means of
decoding DVD discs. 

On the contrary, the individuals targeted by the DVD-CCA have engaged in
legitimate, protected speech, which includes software, textual
descriptions, and discussions of DVD CSS. This speech is in no way copied
or acquired from the DVD-CCA's trade-secret documents. 

Copyrights do not give anyone any rights in "ideas", but only protect the
exact form in which they are expressed. Similarly, trade-secret law only
controls people who agreed to keep it secret and have been told the
secret;  other people remain free to independently discover the secret. 

The ideas being discussed and implemented were apparently extracted by
having an engineer study a DVD product ("reverse engineering"), which is
legal in most countries. Indeed, the 1998 United States Digital Millennium
Copyright Act provides specifically in section 1201(f) that reverse
engineering of a copy-protection encryption system is legal for reasons of
"interoperability" between computer systems. 

The decoder source code at the center of the case, called "DeCSS", was
created (by third parties, not the defendants) to enable Linux computers
to utilize DVD drives and content, since the industry itself failed to
produce the necessary drivers for this operating system. 

In the DVD CCA's claim, the DVD-CCA have made the highly questionable
suggestion that the source code's real purpose is to enable illegal
duplication of DVD discs. 

Experts such as Eric s. Raymond have concluded that CSS does nothing to
prevent piracy. In fact DVDs can be copied already by using other means,
so nobody needs DeCSS to duplicate DVDs and DVD-CCA knows this very well.
The notion that DeCSS could play a role in the distribution of pirated
movies via the internet is absurd. At the speed most users currently use,
a movie would take over a week to download. 


THE REAL BACKGROUND

The real objective behind CSS technology and this law suit is to prevent
movies sold in one zone of the world from being played on DVD players in
another zone. The movie industry simply fears to lose revenue, if a film
released in the US can be viewed on DVD players in Europe, Asia, or South
America, before it is shown in theaters there. (The motion picture
industry have recently demanded that manufacturers stop producing and
selling "world" zone players able to play movies sold in any zone.) 

DVD-CCA also licences player manufacturers and software vendors who have
produced DVD player software for use on Mac and Windows systems. DeCSS and
related work enable the creation of new "rogue" DVD players in the
freeware realm, that compete with controlled commercial products. This,
DVD-CCA fear, would cut into manufacturing and licensing profits. 

OUR POSITION 

We, the undersigned members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign
believe that this lawsuit may have a harmful impact on free expression. In
our opinion, the DVD CCA's actions are in direct conflict with United
Nations human rights accords and the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution, because the information that the programmers posted is
legal.

We also object to the DVD-CCA's attempt to blur the distinction between
posting material on one's own web site and merely linking to it. If the
original reverse-engineering was legal, as we believe, then the subsequent
re-publication of the information is legal as well. 

DVD-CCA's tactics have created the perception that the DVD-CCA believes in
swift oppression, using large bankrolls to send lawyers against little
people. 

We believe that intellectual property owners should not be allowed to
expand their property rights at the expense of free speech - particularly
when the speech in question explains how companies have prevented the
dissemination of new scientific ideas. 

We believe the DVD CCA is using intellectual property laws to subvert free
speech in cyberspace. 

SIGNATURES

American Civil Liberties Union

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) 

Derechos Human Rights

Electronic Frontiers Australia

Electronic Frontier Canada (EFC) 

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 

Electronic Privacy Information Center

FITUG e.V. 

Fronteras Electronicas Espaņa (FrEE) 

Index on Censorship

Internet Freedom

IRIS (Imaginons un reseau Internet solidaire, France) 

NetAction

Privacy International

quintessenz

VIBE

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