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DVD judges want free-speech arguments

Is DeCSS 'expressive'?

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Judges hearing the appeal of 2600 publisher Eric Corely aka Emmanuel Goldstein, who was barred from posting or even linking to the DeCSS utility last summer by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, have asked for additional written arguments on whether the lower court violated Corely's First Amendment rights.

The Second Circuit US Court of Appeals in Manhattan heard arguments for and against publishing DeCSS, which defeats the CSS (Content Scrambling System) of DVDs back on 1 May.

The appellate court has asked both sides to answer eleven questions dealing in large part with how the First Amendment might apply to computer code.

During the hearing the court appeared skeptical -- even hostile -- toward the idea that computer code has expressive value. However, hard questioning from judges can't always be taken at face value, as they may play devil's advocate to explore more rigorously those issues they're most concerned about.

The First Amendment question here is so significant that the court is soliciting arguments which it might not imagine on its own, for added confidence when it issues its decision.

Written briefs are due by 30 May. The court may rule, for better or worse, at any time after. ®

Related Link

transcript of 1 May hearing

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