'Prohibition On Circumvention Of Technological Measures'
Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: Mi2N/p2pnet.net - October 12, 2002
If you know what this is and you've got something to say about it, you'd
better speak up before December 18. Because that's the cut-off date for
doing so stipulated by the US Copyright Office.
"The initial round of comments (due December 18, 2002) is restricted to
comments proposing exemptions for specific classes of works," it says on its
web page here.
"Reply comments (due February 19) may be submitted in opposition to or in
further support of exemptions proposed in the initial comments.
All of the above refers to the DCMA's (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)
anti-circumvention clause which theoretically stops people from
circumventing (cracking) "measures that control access to copyrighted
works," as well as making and distributing tools that'll do the same thing -
as Norway's Jon Johansen knows only too well.
CSS (Content Scrambling System) is a piece of software which stops people
from copying DVDs. Or it did. But then - along came Jon.
Jon - Jon Johansen - was only 15 when he wrote and distributed DeCSS, a
software app which unlocks DVD's and also lets users fast-forward (through
commercials, for example) or copy for educational purposes. Jon came up with
it so he could view his own DVD's on his Linux box. This was in 1999 and
within weeks, DeCSS was everywhere on the Net.
Ironically, Jon won Norway's prestigious "Karoline Prize," awarded annually
to a Norwegian high school student with excellent grades who makes a
significant contribution to society outside of school. And you don't have to
be a genius to guess what he won it for.
He'd published DeCSS as part of LiVid (Linux Video) aimed at building a DVD
player with consumer-friendly features (more so than existing commercial
product) for the Linux O/S. The MPAA CSS' licensing section, DVD Copy
Control Association (DVD-CCA), flatly refuses to license CSS to projects
such as LiVid, an open source project with collaborators on the Net working
together to build interoperable software tools.
Why won't it? Because LiVid's independently created DVD software would
almost certainly break the movie industry's grip on the multi-million-dollar
DVD player market. Consequently, with its DVD profit-line wobbling, the
movie industry is going blind trying to sue anyone and everyone who's linked
to, or who's posted, the code online and thus told its Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA) to contact the ěKOKRIM - Norway's economic
crime unit - demanding a criminal investigation into Jon and his father,
Per, who owned the system on which the DeCSS software was posted.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) entered the fray because, as Robin
Gross staff attorney says, Jon shouldn't be prosecuted for breaking into his
own property - which is what ěKOKRIM chief prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde is
trying to do. She indicted Jon for violating Norwegian Criminal Code section
145(2), which outlaws breaking into another person's locked property to gain
access to data that one is not entitled to access, says the EFF.
This is the first time the Norwegian government has tried to punish
individuals for accessing their own property, says the EFF. Previously,
Norway used the law only to prosecute someone who'd violated someone else's
secure system in a bank or telephone company system, say.
And Hollywood is still using the law to keep DeCSS software off the Web.
In another case brought under US federal law last year, a New York Court of
Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling ordering 2600 Magazine to remove DeCSS
from its online publication, including hyperlinks. Jon Johansen testified in
this case. This year, it also spurred the FBI to arrest Russian programmer
Dmitry Sklyarov who'd been instrumental in developing technology able to
crack Adobe Systems' e-book protections.
In the meanwhile, if you want to comment, you can do so starting on November
18 by going to go to the Copyright Office website -
www.copyright.gov/1201/ where you'll be able to file your comments
electronically. The Copyright office states: "The format requirements of
comments and reply comments differs from those of the previous (2000)
rulemaking. In the initial comment phase, all initial comments must identify
the particular class of works for which an exemption is proposed, must
follow this identification with a summary of the argument, and must then
provide the factual and legal argument that supports this proposal of a
particular class. For every class proposed, this format of
class/summary/facts/argument should be sequentially followed. Every comment
itself must also contain the name of the commenter and affiliation, if the
comment is submitted on behalf of an organization. The Copyright Office
prefers that all comments be submitted through the Office's website via the
form page during the dates specified below."
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