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It's official: the First Amendment may guarantee free speech but it is not an appropriate defence when the livelihood of copyright owners are threatened.

In a New York court yesterday, US district judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favour of the Motion Picture Association's of America's (MPAA) copyright violation suit against 2600.com.

And as expected, Hollywood haswidely-expected in the DVD copyright violation case against hacker site 2600.com.

He acknowledged there was a First Amendment dimension to the case, but he said this did not give the defendant maximum protection under the Constitution. Neither did it give the defendant the right to be exempt from government regulation.

"Computer code is not purely expressive any more than the assassination of a political figure is purely a political statement," he said, AP reports.

The judge also ruled that 2600.com violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a controversial piece of legislation, enacted in 1998, by distributing the software code.

The MPAA filed suit against 2600.com, after the Webzine posted code for DeCSS, a DVD crack which unscrambles the CSS copy protection facility on disks. The MPAA regard this as an invitation to piracy.

2600.com currently links to more than 500 sites that have also posted DeCSS on their sites. This show of defiance will now have to end following Kaplan's ruling. It says it will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. ®

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