2001/05/01: DeCSS case back in court on appeal.
2001/02/15: LiViD releases Open Media System DVD Player.
2001/01/18: California court stays proceedings against Matt Pavlovich.
2000/08/17: New York court enjoins 2600 Magazine from publishing or linking to DeCSS; Emmanuel Goldstein Responds.
The Industry's Center for DVD Resources
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a fairly new law that was written with the intention of protecting the rights of content creators, such as musicians and movie makers, while at the same time providing a mechanism to protect the interests of advancing technology.
Unfortunetaly the DMCA falls short of its lofty goal, and there are several important court cases currently pending that will determine its fate. One of the most visible law suits is in regards to the software made by a company called, Napster. Napster software enables music fans to trade MP3 formated music across the internet using the shared computer resources of the people connected. The technology is leading edge and provides a new vehicle for information exchange. Benefits from peer to peer network technology include faster. Unfortunately a large amount of copyrighted material is being transfered without the consent of the owners of the copyright across the Napster "virtual" network. Music from the most popular bands is being sent through this network and no royalty fees are being paid to the owners of the copyright. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is currently seeking damages, and is spreading the idea of banning the software to the musicians it represents. The heavy rock band, Metallica, has taken drastic measures in the fight against Napster software. They ordered over 300,000 music fans to be banned from using the network. On the other hand, up and coming rock bands, such as Limp Bizkit, have embraced the technology and are on a tour supporting Napster and MP3 technology.
The other high profile law suits that are related to the DMCA have to do with DVD movie technology. Member companies of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD-CCA) are filling for the banning of people that post a software application called "DeCSS". DeCSS is a windows program that enable people to copy the locked and encrypted movie data off of a DVD to a hard disk. The plantiffs are claiming that it violates the copy protection sections of the DMCA; however, the DeCSS code has many far reaching uses and is protected under a separate section of the same act that protects the ability to reverse engineer technology for the purposes of interoperability.
Obviously, the confusion and lack of clarity in the DMCA is reason for concern. The law in its current form has already produced a number of high profile law suits and if the DMCA goes unchecked, more will be sure to follow, adding to the confusion and the cost to the tax payer. The current issues regarding the music trading software based on Napster peer to peer sharing technology, and the lawsuits regarding the posting of DeCSS software that aids in the decrypting of DVD movies have many key issues in common. The plantiffs in both cases are moving for drastic measures that limit the use of technology and threaten the fair use rights of consumers. They are following the same logic as "outlawing alcohol will prevent drunk drivers", but fails to identify the individuals as the core of the problem.
Matthew R. Pavlovich - OpenDVD Group
The OpenDVD.org Group