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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 17:58 GMT
Website silenced over DVD secrets
Unlocking DVDs
Digital piracy is a growing concern for the movie industry
The website banned by a US court from revealing the secrets of making unauthorised digital versatile disc (DVD) copies may appeal against the decision.

In a 71-page document, a three-judge panel ruled on Wednesday that Eric Corley should not be allowed to post details of, or link to, descrambling software on the 2600 magazine website that he publishes.

The 2600 website, which boasts a Hacker's Quarterly guide, had previously posted the details as part of its news section.

The software, called DeCSS for Decoding Content Scramble System, can be used to decode the technology safeguards embedded in DVDs.

There is a "distinct possibility" that the website may appeal, Cindy Cohn, attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which helped represent Eric Corley, told the BBC's World Business Report.

"I think there is a good possibility that we will take this on up to the US Supreme Court," she added.


The case was brought by high-profile movie studios, including Universal Studios Inc and Disney Enterprises.

The second circuit court of appeals in New York ruled that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) did not interfere with the right to freedom of speech.

A Norwegian teenager, Jon Johansen, and two others developed DeCSS in September 1999.

Companies can enjoy the security for their creative works that Congress meant them to have

Charles Sims, lawyer
It then went on to spread to many other sites. Johansen said he created it to allow people using the Linux operating system to use DVDs.

The court said that DeCSS was "like a skeleton key that can open a locked door, a combination that can open a safe, or a device that can neutralise the security device attached to a store's products".

Pirate film copies are already a growing concern for the movie industry.


Earlier this week customs officers in Hong Kong arrested 10 people and seized 200 pirated copies of the Harry Potter film from shops and markets in the territory.

Video CDs (VCDs) of the film have been on sale for 20 Hong Kong dollars (1.80), and have also appeared in other Chinese cities plus Malaysia and Taiwan.

The court ruling marks a victory for the film studios and could have an impact on digital copyright laws of the future.

Charles Sims, lawyer for the film studios, said: "We couldn't be happier that the court of appeals has completely vindicated the DMCA and thereby enabled content companies to enjoy the security for their creative works that Congress meant them to have."

However Cindy John, attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said of the decision: "In the long run...I think it is going to mean that if anybody wants to create a new technology that in some ways enhances our ability to listen to or hear any copyrighted content they are going to have to go and beg permission from the movie industry..those industries are very reticent to embrace new technologies."


The DCMA was brought about in an attempt to strengthen copyright laws with regard to digital formats.

This is the first major challenge to the act although freedom of speech activists and scientists wishing to publish new technology research have argued it infringes on the freedom of speech provisions within the US Constitution.

Two other DMCA-related cases also came before the courts this week.

In San Francisco a lawsuit was filed against a web-publishing group who had posted details of descrambling software online.

Meanwhile in Trenton, New Jersey, a case concerning scientific research into the technology used for preventing music piracy was heard.

Lawyers Cindy John and Charles Sims
discuss the US Court of Appeal's ruling
The BBC's Lesley Curwen
"The man at the centre of the lawsuit is Eric Corley, an internet publisher"
See also:

27 Nov 01 | Film
Harry Potter pirates arrested
27 Nov 01 | New Media
Grinch steals DVD sales record
12 Jun 01 | New Media
Hunting the music pirates
07 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Hollywood faces piracy battle
25 Sep 01 | New Media
DVD players 'to double' in US homes
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