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MPAA UPDATE - FEDS JOIN IN CASE AGAINST 2600
Posted 26 Feb 2001 11:12:16 UTC

We have a new cast of characters facing off against us in court: the federal government.

Following last summer's DeCSS trial, 2600 was barred from publishing or linking to sites that publish the DeCSS code. For the last six months this website has continued to operate in spite of the restrictions. The MPAA's victory so far has only been symbolic. Long before the MPAA ever took action against 2600, DeCSS was already so widely distributed on the Internet as to be irrevocable. Thus, we need only mention search engines (Disney-owned search engines included) to point readers towards the contraband.

In the meantime, the decision is being appealed to the 2nd Circuit federal appeals court. Last month, the EFF filed a brief on our behalf. It was followed by numerous amicus briefs by supporters of the appeal, including the ACLU, the Digital Future Coalition, librarians, journalists, computer scientists, law professors, educators, and cryptographers.

Whenever a case calls into question the constitutionality of a law in federal court, the Department of Justice has the option of intervening for the purposes of defending the law. Last week the government was admitted to the case and filed its own brief in support of the DMCA in response to our appeal. There is no question whose side they are on - not only do they support the ban on linking, they go out of their way to engage in the same name-baiting defamation as Judge Kaplan and the MPAA, describing the case as being "really about computer hackers and the tools of digital piracy."

By repeatedly pointing out that "defendants publish a magazine for computer hackers" (as if that somehow had any bearing), it is made painfully clear that the US Attorney would have the court believe that hackers are somehow entitled to a lesser level of First Amendment protection. The Department of Justice is representing the US Congress and the American people in this attack. It's important that those in charge be made aware of the repercussions not only of banning DeCSS but of banning links as well. We've found that many legislators who took part in the passing of the DMCA are clueless as to how it is affecting consumers' rights. So, if you're in the United States, these are your tax dollars at work. Make your voice heard and let Attorney General Ashcroft and your representatives know how you feel.

The film studios have also filed their reply brief - oral arguments before the court are expected to occur sometime in April.

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