Hollywood Can't Sue Texas Resident
The US Supreme Court has upheld a California Supreme Court decision
ruling that the entertainment industry can't force a Texas resident who
published a software program on the Internet to stand trial in California.
Its decision reversed an earlier temporary hold on a case involving DVD
DeCSS is free software that allows people to play DVDs without
technological restrictions, such as region codes and forced watching of
commercials imposed by movie studios.
Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen originally published DeCSS on the
Internet in October 1999. Under pressure from Hollywood, he underwent
criminal prosecution in Norway.
On November 25, 2002, the California Supreme Court ruled that Matthew
Pavlovich, who republished DeCSS online, won't have to defend a trade secret
lawsuit simply because he knew his publication could cause "general effects"
on the motion picture and technology industries in California.
And in the process, the court laid out clear jurisdiction rules for
claims arising from publishing information on the Internet.
The Pavlovich decision is one piece of a larger legal struggle over
Internet publication of DeCSS by thousands of individuals in fall 1999.
European open source developers created DeCSS so they could play their
DVDs on Linux computers among other uses. DVD CCA, the sole licensing entity
for a DVD-scrambling technology called CSS, sued hundreds of named and
unnamed individuals and entities in the case on December 27, 1999.
The decision also impacts other defendants named or served in the legal
struggle, all but one of whom are located outside California. The appeal of
the preliminary injunction entered against the sole California resident
named in the case, Andrew Bunner, is awaiting an argument date before the
California Supreme Court.