DVD descrambler suit going to appeal
The scourge of on-line information
The Second Circuit US Court of Appeals in Manhattan will hear arguments for and against publishing and linking to a utility called DeCSS which defeats the CSS (Content Scrambling System) of DVDs on Tuesday, 1 May.
Eric Corely aka Emmanuel Goldstein, publisher of hacker zine 2600, was enjoined from posting, then linking to, the DeCSS utility last summer in a decision by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who ruled that distributing DeCSS, even by linking to other Web sites where it might be found, was illegal -- just as heavyweight lobbying outfit the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) desired.
Kaplan's controversial ruling will get a much-needed test this week before the appellate bench, when Stanford University Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan argues on behalf of 2600.com.
In addition to counter-arguments from movie industry shysters, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) will be allowed to stick its nose in the affair as well, to argue the virtues of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which Kaplan said had been violated by posting and linking to DeCSS.
Not everyone would agree that the DMCA requires such a heavy-handed brake on the exchange of information on line -- even when something incalculably precious like a DVD might be in jeopardy of being descrambled for viewing on an unauthorized player.
But considering the current momentum of US courts in finding for the entertainment industry in most purported DMCA violations (e.g., Napster), we await the appeals court's ruling with great eagerness, if not an equal measure of optimism. ®