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Friday, January 19, 2001
EFF on DeCSS: Hackers' rights at stake

"...The Electronic Frontier Foundation says a lower court failed to consider that the DVD-cracking technology known as DeCSS could be used for legal purposes. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that banned a Web site from posting and linking to a software program that can crack DVD security, saying the decision did "great violence" to the First Amendment.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is representing 2600 Enterprises, wants the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reject the lower court's ruling as an "unconstitutional restraint on free speech" because it blocks people from using DeCSS for purposes that aren't illegal, such as criticism or reverse engineering for educational purposes. Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favor of the movie industry, calling the posting of the code a violation of copyright law and saying that linking to the code amounted to "trafficking."

That ruling has emboldened other companies to try to stop postings related to their products. For example, Sega has tried to shut down forums where hackers can review and trade information about the company's products, arguing that the forums let people get information about pirated products. In its filing Friday, the EFF argued that Kaplan failed to take into account the First Amendment rights of news sites. It also says the ruling prohibits people from exercising their fair use rights, including using small sections of a movie for criticism or reverse engineering to create competing DVD players..."

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