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Posted 1 Mar 2001 09:48:14 UTC

In a somewhat surprising turn of events in the ongoing DeCSS lawsuit, some new entities have signed on to oppose us.

We honestly didn't think that publishing the DeCSS code in November 1999 in any way went against the best interests of baseball. Major League Baseball disagrees. On Tuesday they officially signed onto a brief in support of the Motion Picture Association of America.

It gets better.

The National Football League, the National Hockey League, and the NCAA have also decided to face off against us. So far no word from the National Basketball Association.

A grand total of 26 organizations have signed onto the MPAA's brief in support of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which prohibits a program like DeCSS from being distributed or even written, except under controlled circumstances.

For those who aren't familiar with the case, DeCSS enables DVDs to be decrypted so that they can be played on other DVD players. The CSS algorithm, which DeCSS decrypts, exists to prevent DVDs from being played on "non-compliant" players. In other words, if you want to make a DVD player, you have to pay an entity known as the DVDCCA a huge sum of money and agree to play by their rules. CSS is also what prevents DVDs from being played in foreign countries. DeCSS was not written to facilitate copying of DVDs, despite the hype the MPAA has succeeded in perpetuating. An encrypted file can still be copied and every DVD player has the means to decrypt an encrypted DVD. Copying has never been the issue - this is a case about control.

Imagine not being able to play a CD or read a book from another country. The DMCA makes it completely legal to impose such controls and penalize anyone who attempts to get around them.

According to the misguided brief which now seems to have been endorsed by every major American conglomerate in existence, "Unchecked, such piracy threatens to destroy the legitimate marketplace for works of art, music, film, software, literature and other video programming (including sports programming), and will deter the development and distribution of new works in state-of-the-art digital media." At least now we know why the sports leagues have taken an interest.

We also can't be surprised that such entities as the Screen Actors Guild, the Business Software Alliance, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, bought into this nonsense. It's rather hard to find artists and musicians who really believe these organizations have any interest in protecting their rights. It's about maximizing profits and getting away with as much as you possibly can before the consumer finally snaps.

So we're now apparently going to play in some massive Corporate Super Bowl as the beleaguered underdogs. But we've got the EFF, the American Library Association, the ACLU, and a whole lot of individual artists, writers, musicians, programmers, and people in the street on our side.

We wouldn't trade teams for the world.

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