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Posted 15 Jan 2000 00:00:00 UTC

Just three weeks after 2600 was named as a defendant by the DVD CCA in a California lawsuit, the Motion Picture Association of America has jumped on the bandwagon. On January 14, 2000 the MPAA filed two lawsuits, one in the Southern District of New York against 2600, dvd-copy.com and krackdown.com, and another in Connecticut against the website for the Connecticut 2600 meeting - ct2600.org. Unlike the DVD CCA who claim that the exposure of weaknesses in their Content Scrambling System violates their trade secret, the MPAA is suing under the yet-untested Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They claim that DeCSS can be used to circumvent anti-piracy measures in DVDs, and thus is a crime to distribute. The MPAA, which includes Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, MGM, Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Time Warner, Disney, and Fox are seeking $2,500 in damages for "each act of circumvention" - whatever that means.

2600 has never even owned a DVD drive, yet the MPAA has attempted to make us out to be bootleggers and pirates. We first became involved in this fight November 11, when we ran a news story on our website standing up for the dozens of individuals who were being forced to take down their websites after receiving threats from the MPAA. The story includes a mirror of the software in question and other information about the encryption used in CSS that was being suppressed. Our stake in this case remains now as it was then, protecting freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and standing up to the bullying tactics of ignorant overpriced lawyers. It is scary to think that the same corporations who own CNN, ABC, CBS, and other "reputable news networks" are so eager to trample these rights. If the media won't defend a free press - who will?

Fear of DVD piracy resulting from the distribution DeCSS is misguided to say the least. There have been tools available since at least November 1997 when we reported on our radio show Off The Hook news of a program that hooks into the device drivers for Zoran's SoftDVD to decode DVDs. Regardless, it has always been possible to copy a DVD without decoding it. The process of copying DVDs is a cumbersome and prohibitive task on the Internet, owing to the huge size of the files that comprise a DVD. It simply doesn't make much sense to go to this much trouble when the DVD itself can be purchased for a relatively low price. Indeed, copying DVDs was never the point; CSS was cracked as part of an effort to allow users of the free operating system Linux to be able to play DVDs on their computers.

There are those who would like nothing better than to establish total control of the technology that enters our homes. If we permit the DMCA to stand unchallenged for the MPAA to abuse, any kind of reverse engineering could be defined as illegal. You would not be able to experiment with hardware or software that belongs to you or figure out how it works, without risking the wrath of some entity that claims you're a threat to their profits. We feel this law is so vaguely written that such ill-advised conclusions could be reached and that this would send a chilling effect throughout all forms of new technology.

Keep in mind that the motion picture industry once claimed that VCRs would destroy the industry. The record companies insisted they would be put out of business by cassette tapes. CD writers enable people to make perfect copies of audio CDs, yet the music industry continues to grow and thrive. We see little difference here, except that the MPAA believed that human ingenuity could be defeated with a dose of encryption and legislation. They need to face reality - as soon as their code was broken, it became useless. By attempting to blame people who figured it out and punish those who spread the news, they are ignoring the simple fact that their "safeguards" didn't withstand the public's desire to defeat them. We feel they need to come to terms with this and move on.

This is a battle that none of us can afford to lose. We began by simply adding our voice in a show of support for people who were being threatened because they figured out something they weren't supposed to. By joining them, we were then targeted as the threat simply by showing people how the technology worked! This has only strengthened our resolve tenfold. We are being deluged with offers of support and many more people are now spreading this knowledge because of the latest MPAA action. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which already has its hands full with the DVD CCA case, has valiently stepped forward to help us challenge the DMCA.

We don't know where this is going to go - whether we will be imprisoned, fined, or put out of business. The one thing that would ultimately be worse than any of that would be for us to back down. We intend to fight until the end. Please let the MPAA know your feelings (their contact info appears on their press release) and e-mail us if you'd like to join the battle.

New York Claim [TEXT]

Connecticut Claim [TEXT]

Connecticut Summons [PDF 1] [PDF 2]

Memorandum of law [TEXT] [PDF]

Order to show cause [TEXT] [PDF]

Rule 1.9 statement [TEXT] [PDF]

Summons [TEXT] [PDF]

Declaration of Bruce Boyden [TEXT] [PDF]

Declaration of Fritz Attaway [TEXT] [PDF]

Declaration of Michael Ostroff [GIF 1] [GIF 2]

Discovery Attached to the Boyden Declaration

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