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Jon Johansen's Answers to Your DeCSS Questions 337

Posted by Roblimo
from the fighting-the-goood-fight dept.
Jon Johansen has gone from obscure teenage Norwegian computer hobbyist to international sysmbol of freedom in the last few months as a result of his involvement in developing DecSS, the famous (infamous?) program that allows DVD movies to play under Linux. Monday you asked him questions. Today he answers. (Read below.)

1) About the cops...
by ronfar

Did the arresting officers say or do anything that blatantly hinted that they were doing this because of pressure from the MPAA or the United States government? What kinds of questions did they ask during the interrogation? Were they looking for other

The MPAA filed charges and the police was forced to investigate. There was a debate program on TV [ Redaksjon 21 ] where judging from the district attorney's comments, she meant that there was no doubt that I was guilty [ and this was before they had actually started investigating ]. She also compared me with an old case where a guy had sold "pirate-cards" for decoding paytv channels, and had earned tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily the biggest inet/computer guru [ Gisle Hannemyhr ] was there too, and the district attorney and the MPAA's lawyer were left biting the dust. Just one thing: if the police actually had any competence, they wouldn't have brought charges against me, because they would have known that they're plain lies. During the interrogation they asked all kinds of questions. Every detail, no matter if it was important or not, was to be included. IMHO, the only reason they seised my computers was in order to try to track down the two other members of MoRE.

2) Support in Norway?
by cetan

Have you found any support from people (aside from family) in Norway? Has the public reaction to the arrest been favorable (i.e. in support of you) or negative?

The public reaction has been in support of me. Almost the entire norwegian press supports us. The norwegian computer community, "led" by Gisle Hannemyhr, also supports us. Several norwegian computer companies have sent their support [ and told horror stories about the police' computer competence ] and offered me jobs. Last Friday I accepted WAPFactory's offer. WAPFactory works with WAP and interactive/digital tv. They recently bought wap.com for 0,5 million USD

3)Question
by JamesSharman

Now you know about all the hassle that has resulted from your posting DeCSS, the arrest, the press attention etc.. If you could go back and change your mind about posting it, would you?

All the press attention has been quite a strain. There have been times where I disconnected my phone just to get some peace. I can't remember doing much homework last week. I do not regret posting DeCSS. It's very important that we stand up against these multibillion corporate interests who seek to dominate with their proprietary standards. It's in consumers interest to be able to make a free choice from whome or where to buy products. Last, but not least, I've never really "fought one" for Linux. I guess this is my way of getting back at Gates for those GPFs ;-)

4) Programming background
by jstepka
Where did your original programming experience come from? I'm speaking in terms of your ability to reverse engineer the encryption and apply the key in a useful manner.

Well, first of all, the reverse engineering was done by our german member who wrote the decryption code. My programming days started when I was 11-12 years old. Started off with basic and then moved on to c, c++ and assembler. I've learnt a lot by working with others over the Internet. Greetings go out to all my friends in "you know which coding channels" ;-)

5)Why Windows?
by Kupek

I think that the charges you are facing is rather ridiculous, but I have to wonder: Why Windows? If the motive of you and the group you worked with was to have a DVD player for Linux, why release this program that works only under Windows?

While this was being worked on, Linux did not have UDF [ the filesystem used on dvds ] support. It was thus natural to implement it under Windows in order to test if it actually worked. [ Yes, I've used Windows, nobody's perfect

6) Is there a legal defense fund? Can I contribute?
by Anonymous Coward

It seems like the MPAA has just about unlimited amounts of cash, and I'm guessing you don't. Do you have somebody taking care of funding your defense (i.e., the EFF), or can I send some money to a legal defense fund for you?

The EFF is currently putting together a team of lawyers. It's hard (very hard) to get pro-bono lawyers in Norway, and whether they'll be picking up the bill themselves, or setting up a fund, has yet not been decided. Sorry for not being able to give any more specific info at this time. EFN [ Electronic Frontier Norway - "the norwegian EFF" ] have also been discussing whether or not they should set up a fund.

7)Public Reception
by Wah

In discussing this topic with "regualr people" (those folks who don't live and breath tech) I've found general support for the people and very little for the MPA(A).

What, IYHO, is the general reception you have felt about this issue? Have you been able to explain your position and have it understood? What are some of the stranger assumptions you have come up against?

It seems as if we've got strong support from the whole public, with a few exceptions. While many ordinary people do not understand the technical aspects of the case, they do understand that this is a "corporate interests vs. consumers"-fight. The biggest problem has been trying to explain non-tech people that encryption does not prevent copying.

8) A question of laws in your country.
by Vladinator

Are "Shrink wrap" agreements enforcable in your country, and are you as a 16 year old subject to contract law? In the us, 16 year olds cannot enter into a contract, I'm wondering if it's the same with you.

Shrink wrap agreements are enforcable only if they are in accordance with norwegian law. You have to be 18 years old to sign [ agree to ] a contract in Norway. Your right to reverse engineer can not be taken away by contract. License agreements during software installation, however, would not hold up in Norwegian court (AFAIK). Not like this is a problem anyway, just decompile the installation package and there you have the files.

9)What Should We Do?
by Syn.Terra

As is a (thankfully) usual reaction to such a blatant injustice, the Slashdot community (and many others) have been scrambling to figure out ways to help you and others prosecuted in the name of this whole DeCSS fiasco.

As one (if not the) most persecuted individual as a result of DeCSS, what do you think the rest of the supporting world should do to help you out? What should the people who want to help do, besides the obvious posting of the DeCSS source and the general badmouthing of the MPAA?

As many as possible should write their local newspapers [ + other media ] and inform them about this injustice. It's also important to get every computer professional to understand that this is a case of freedom of speech. If the MPAA wins this one, I think DeCSS will become the first computer program in the history to be declared illegal. Banning a combination of assembly instructions... Imagine that!

mvh/Regards,
Jon Johansen
jlj@linuxdvd.org

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Jon Johansen's Answers to Your DeCSS Questions

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  • by JustShootMe (122551) <rmiller@duskglow.com> on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:09AM (#1304944) Homepage Journal

    Thanks for the informative answers.

    What we shouldn't forget is that Jon is just one of the most highly visible scapegoats for the MPAA and their Police subdivision. We must help Jon with his fight, or it will be us, next.

    If there's a fund set up for his defense, I will be one of the first to contribute.


    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • Er, I meant "company domain". Sorry.
  • by sparkes (125299) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:10AM (#1304946) Homepage Journal
    I think /.ers should definatly give point 9 some carefull consideration.

    We can never win a fight if our side of the story is never heard, don't forget these people are scared of hackers they can't tell whose a hacker, whose a cracker and who is a cival rights fighter with a pocket protector.

    sparkes

    *** www.linuxuk.co.uk relaunches 1 Mar 2000 ***
  • by Mr Krinkle (112489) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:13AM (#1304947) Homepage
    When you do, if you do, write something to your local paper to be published be sure to have it proofread by someone who is a nontechie. What we may all understand on here could very easily fly right over the head of the public we need to persuade to be on our side in this issue. Also if it sounds inflammatory or rash lots of little local papers, mine included, will not print it. If anyone has a great writing on this topic try getting it sent to one of the bigger papers. If we can explain the position on this issue to the public then the judges will start to come around. In conclusion good luck Jon and I wish you the best of luck with this legal junk.

  • by finkployd (12902) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:14AM (#1304948) Homepage
    This could have happend to any one of us. I'm glad the person it happend to is a smart, level headed, guy who can express himself effectivly and doesn't seem to be doing stuff "just for the attention".

    I'm afraid to imagine what this whole DeCSS fight would be like if the one responsible for starting it was a 3133t cracker dude who's only goal is to fsck the system. Joe had the right motives, did it the right way, and we should all be thankfull that he is not buckling under the threat of punishment.

    PS: I'm wearing my DeCSS source code shirt to work today, and if I have to explain it means one more time, I'm going to go nuts.

    Finkployd

  • This just sucks. They targeted him as an example from the beginning. Nothing like actually investigating first.

    There was a debate program on TV [ Redaksjon 21 ] where judging from the district attorney's comments, she meant that there was no doubt that I was guilty [ and this was before they had actually started investigating ]

    I wonder how much leverage he has as this whole thing eventually winds down. I would think he would have some recourse, either way the issue plays out.

    Never knock on Death's door:

  • by GnrcMan (53534) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:17AM (#1304951) Homepage
    I got to thinking. If fiction is protected speech, and source code may not be, what if you combined the two. So here [sarahandcasey.com] is a story about two intrepid programmers, Dick and Jane.

    Feel free to distribute this or run it through any Perl scripts you have lying around.

    --GnrcMan--
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This whole argument does not stand up to critical thinking. Suppose they used an arbitrarily simple 'encryption' method, like putting an extra '1' in front of the binary to screw up the decoding process. If this was discovered, and someone put this info on the net, would they get arrested? I don't think so. So at what point does an encryption scheme become complex enough to be illegal to talk about?
    Basically, encryption is no different than 'security through obscurity'. If someone has figured a way through your obscurity, than tough luck!!!
  • 7th Post!

    Here's my problem with the whole thing. Who gave the US the power so it can just go into Norway and have Jon arrested?

    And why does Norway bend over and take it up the ass from the US?

    It's time for countries to stand up for their citizens rights instead of kissing the ass of the MPAA and other corporate interest entities.

    Thanks for your response Jon, best of luck.
  • by Evan927 (15553) <evan@nOSpam.canonical.org> on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:20AM (#1304954) Homepage Journal
    I think one of the things that makes us (the tech community) look bad here is that the writers of the program won't stand up and say "I did it." It's great that John is standing up to everyone like this, but where are the other members of MoRE? If DeCSS isn't wrong, why are they hiding? I call for those two to stand up and say "I wrote it, I'm proud of it, and I have the write to keep writing software like it."
  • That is awesome.
    Course now you have to only worry about a plagarism case on your hands.
    You should have footnoted the story:)
  • IMHO, the lawyers should be paying -him-!

    Personally, I think Jon's best bet (after the EFF's fiasco in the US), is to study law and fight this himself. (Treat it like a computer problem! The output doesn't have to make sense, just the logic.)

    I'd give good odds that, if he did that, he'd win. His comments here, and elsewhere, show that he's got a sharp mind (as if DeCSS didn't prove it).

    Personally, though, if I'd got the entire movie industry out for my blood, I'd be asking for Asterix and Obelix. They may be fictional, but so are the movie industry's arguments, so there shouldn't be a problem there.

    Mind you, I don't think Jon Johansen would say no to some of that potion, if anyone has the recipe. :)

  • by FFFish (7567) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:22AM (#1304958) Homepage
    ...that people have chosen to make CSS pointless by doing things that are illegal. The laws--European and American--clearly state that the copyright holder has the right to dictate the means of playback. If MPAA doesn't want to license your machine, it doesn't have to and you can't legally do anything about it.

    Now, like most of you, I agree that it's a stupid law and that the MPAA is acting like pricks. Doesn't bear on the il/legality of what's being done, though.

    It would have been far more appropriate to challenge the MPAA in court. It would have put them on the defense.

    But, no, instead, we have a bunch of ill-informed, self-righteous crackers who are not impressing the judges in any positive manner. At the rate things are going, MPAA will win and retain its right to tell you that you can't play back your DVD on unlicensed equipment.

    Damn shame, but maybe there's a lesson to be learned: maintain the high road.

    --
  • I got to thinking. If fiction is protected speech, and source code may not be, what if you combined the two. So here is a story about two intrepid programmers, Dick and Jane.
    Novel approach however what if I do something like this:

    Once upon a time there was a little lizard and he crawled upon a piece of paper that said

    "Dear GnrcMan

    I will plan to attack torture, rape, and murder you on the 22nd on this month. Before that I will play subtle mind games with you until at such time you will fold and collapse from the strain. This is protected speech so there!"

    As the lizard crossed the paper he started thinking about all the flies he would eat that day.

    =========================================

    Ok so it's a little extreme but it still is protected speech because it's totally fiction rigtht? Not that I don't think that your example is pretty much but you have to admit that it can eventually get problematic.

    One final note; you probably should run that story through a word wrap or similar. This is something that will make it easier for people to "read" your story.
  • by Maul (83993) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:31AM (#1304960) Journal
    Well, this has given us all a lot of things for us to consider.

    First off, the response to the ninth question is the most threatening to our rights. If one computer program is declared illegal, it will set precendent for large corporations with more legal power than software writers to be able to sue the software writers and make the software "illegal." This is a pretty clear violation of the 1st. amendment, possibly the 4th. amendment (which in this century has been interpreted to support a right to private use of certain things). Furthermore, it will enable large companies to smash software that is a possible source of competition. There is a lot more at stake here than just being able to watch DVDs in any format you want.

    Also, what happened to Jon is very bad. Non-american law enforcement fell under pressure of the Movie Industry of America and arrested him. He's not even within our borders, and these guys can influence his arrest. The kind of influence they weild is pretty intimidating, and they can afford the kind of lawyers that can trick non-technical judges (read: most judges) into believing whatever they tell them.

    This is a bad thing. The rights of consumers are being violated, and most consumers don't even know it. I actually think most people in the US have been duped to be on the Movie Industry's side.

    Basically, it doesn't look good, but we still need to stand up for what we know the truth to be. Tell your families, tell all the NON-TECH people you know about how the Recording Industry is trying to screw over their rights by blocking software that could take them out of the loop of every movie/player ever made.

    "You ever have that feeling where you're not sure if you're dreaming or awake?"

  • by technos (73414) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:32AM (#1304961) Homepage Journal
    Duly snagged and added to my mirror. I'm also adding a bit of C++ code I wrote to strip single-quote delimited entries from a database and write them to a cr delimited text-file. Not sure who'd have a use for it, but perhaps someone has some 'quoted' data they need extracted ;P..
  • Duly snagged and added to my mirror. I'm also adding a bit of C++ code I wrote to strip single-quote delimited entries from a database and write them to a delimited text-file. Not sure who'd have a use for it, but perhaps someone has some 'quoted' data they need extracted ;P..
  • by gormanly (134067) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:34AM (#1304963)
    The biggest problem has been trying to explain non-tech people that encryption does not prevent copying.

    I find an analogy helpful: "Just because something's written in a foreign language you don't understand, doesn't mean you can't photocopy it."

    I'd like to contribute to a defence fund too...
  • PS: I'm wearing my DeCSS source code shirt to work today, and if I have to explain it means one more time, I'm going to go nuts.

    Please don't go nuts, calmly and rationally explaining our position to laypeople is the best way to garner widespread public support. Taking the "you're too stupid to understand it anyway" route, and getting frustrated hurts the cause, if you don't have time to advertise, don't wear a billboard.
  • The good news is, it seems that at least somewhere in Scandinavia, there are places where the general populace won't let itself be taken by the mass hysteria regarding "hackers" and "piracy". However, I can't help but ask myself, considering the hegemony of the US in the global media, how long will it last - how much corporate effort will it take to make it so that all you know is what AOL-TimeWarner-EMI-WhoEverElse tells you - all over the world? If you ask me (and I know you didn't), this is a scary thought.

    And please don't try to tell me that the answer is more government regulation. Any sentence with "more government" in it is automatically evil :) Seriously, government control is, in the end, no better than corporate control, democratically elected or not. The real question is, are there any other means to try and preserve our freedoms from a certain group, that do not involve giving more power to another group that - history has taught us - will eventually turn around to stab us on the back and push an even more opressive regime upon us? Or is it by definition impossible (Individualists unite! and all that)?

    (Yes, I am aware that Slashdot is hardly the right place for this kind of discussion. If I have interrupted your daydreaming about chipping Natalie Portman's underwear off, forgive me.)
  • This is awfully cute, but of course doesn't change anything with regards to DeCSS being protected or unprotected speech. For one thing, if, say, Tom Clancey wanted to include in his latest book--all in the name of realism, of course--some illegally obtained blueprints for a neutron bomb, that wouldn't be protected by the 1st Amendment; or rather, his 1st Amendment protections would be overruled by national security concerns. (Indeed, IIRC he was asked to change several of his books because his informed guesses about certain top-secret weaponry were too accurate for the Navy's comfort...)

    For another, courts have sometimes drawn the line as to whether code is speech or not by whether it is machine readable. As you point out in your post, your story is--it can be run through a Perl script and then compiled--and thus fails the test. Of course, with scanners and OCR, just about everything is machine readable these days, so that's just yet another corner of the law that technology has made obsolete.
  • "PS: I'm wearing my DeCSS source code shirt to work today, and if I have to explain it means one more time, I'm going to go nuts. "

    http://www.2600.com/news/2000/0130-flyer/

    I've already passed out several at work and Have posted them at the school. I even got one of my buddies to take them to a Microsoft technology meeting that was being held on campus, and he ran out(of about 30!) of them.


    mcrandello@my-deja.com
    rschaar{at}pegasus.cc.ucf.edu if it's important.
  • Yes, I realize this is a legal grey area, but I was just trying to illustrate a point.

    I know it needs to be word wrapped and spell checked, and I'm not even positive that there are no errant single quotes. (Writing without contractions is hard).

    Everyone: Feel free to correct, improve, or update the story. I spent very little time making it, and there is much room for improvement in all areas, including plot and style!

    --GnrcMan--
  • the fund for now should be supporting EFF, both monitarily and memberwise.

    www.eff.org [eff.org]

    donfede

  • by javilon (99157) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:40AM (#1304972) Homepage
    I'm glad the person it happend to is a smart, level headed, guy who can express himself effectivly and doesn't seem to be doing stuff "just for the attention".

    We are very lucky

    First, the MPAA lawyers forget to seal the exhibit that holds the code to DeCSS, so _everyone_ can link to it _legally_. I cracked myself laughin at that!

    Second, they choose the wrong country (a country that actually cares about privacy, consumer rights and freedom of speech) and the wrong guy (a teenager that didn't even do the reverse engineering himself!) for their crusade.

    Third, they try to sue the whole internet and try to make linking (basically telling somebody where he can find something) illegal.

    The whole thing is bound to backfire. People is starting to pay attention to the legality of country codes and a protection squema that takes away legal "fair use" rights from the user.
    On top of that, the business model holliwood companys base their operations (selling content as opposed to content serving) is been questioned.

    Holliwood's stupidity is infinite!
  • by skelly (38870) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:40AM (#1304973)
    This was rather interesting. A lot of people were making this youg man out to be some kind of hero/martyr, when he is only someone who got trampled under foot of the MPAA. He only helped to develope and post the code, he is not the great hacker that the MPAA wanted to demonize. What amazes me is that the MPAA had enough economic clout in Norway to have false charges filed and have the police arrest him. An American organiozation having a Norwegian citizen arrest!. Does anyone fear that kind of reach? Especially since Americains are notorious for trampling over other people's rights in the pursuit of their own agendas? That is the scariest issue of all in this scandal. Corpporations have always exagerrated the "losses or damages" wrought by computer crackers like Kevin Mitnick. The police in every major city has always looked like the Keystone cops when it comes to computer crimes. I have seen police carry off toasters, rotary phones, and even Music CD's in an effort to gather evidence. We all know how prompt the cops have been about returning these items too. The only way to keep the pressure up is to inform the average consumer that their rights are being trampled. Remember DIVX and how it was a proprietary format that would only allow a person to play a DIVX-DVD on one player at a time. It was tremendously diffucult to take your copy of Blade Runner over to your friends house and watch it if that person had a DIVX player. That person would have to pay for the movie as well. Heaven forbid that your friend only had a DVD player, then the formats were incompatible. That format died, but now thesame idea zoning DVD players has been taken on an international scale. A DVD bought in Australia won't play in the US because it has been zoned with an encryption for Australia. This is not like VHS where different tape speeds and hardware were developed in Europe and the US. All DVD players are the same. The MPAA only wants to restrict consumer choice in the name of profit since American movies release here are relased on DVD(and VHS) at the same time they debut in theatres overseas. Like most people are going to rush to order DVD movies from the US and pay expensive shipping charges? A few might, but most consumers won't. What surprises me is that the major retailers and small shops who rent and sell movies haven't said anything? They stand to lose if they wereunable to import movies on DVD like Ma Vie en Rose from france because they had to wait for the MPAA to license its release here form France. That is not freedom of choice. We consumers will only get hurt. I plan to petition my representatives, senators, govenor and local media distributors about this issue. The WTO treat made this kind of harrasment by the MPAA illegal and recognized reverse enginering as legal. This is not a piracy issue. Who wants to download 6.2 GB of info for a movie anyway? I would rahter buy the disk. The encryption does not prevent copying anyway. Look at it this way: If I had a jigsaw puzzle of the Mona Lisa scatter as pieces and placed into a box, I could still copy each individual piece of puzzle and make multiple copies even if I did not have the key (i.e. the picture on the box) as a guide to its contents. A little patients and plug&chug would eventually get me the right results. It's the same with encryption on DVD's. I can copy the encryted info onto other blank DVD's without having to bother to try to read it. It would be like copying a Sanskrit text my hand. Painstaking but easy. Our consumer rights are being trampled in the name of big business. I for one plan not to buy DVD's until they can be played on any player, in any country, and on any OS. The young Norwegian lad is just someone who was lucky enough to be caught in the spotlight. Even he says thta he is not the one who cracked the DVD zoning Encryption.
  • "Your right to reverse engineer can not be taken away by contract. License agreements during software installation, however, would not hold up in Norwegian court (AFAIK). Not like this is a problem anyway, just decompile the installation package and there you have the files." And he's only 16, folks!

  • Nice troll. I submit it is you who are ignoring the facts. IP is not a license to step over people. IMO (and because IANAL that probably makes it more right) if I pay for content I should have the right to listen to it any damn way I want. You can keep your head up your ass all you want, enjoy the view, but at least for me and many people like me, this is not about IP, rather, this is about a large consortium of companies, as George Carlin says, "SERVICING *thrust* THE *thrust* ACCOUNT!"

    Your rant has not moved me in the slightest.


    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • Oh, I'm pretty sure you can consider things like the Internet Worm, some of the more malicious/virulent viruses, etcetera as illegal already.

    Actually, there is nothing at all illegal about them as long as you don't actually use it! You can post the source to the worm on your website without any fear of civil or criminal liability. You can feel free to deploy it on your own network. The same applies to any other nasty virus/worm out there. Nobody I know of has done time solely for writing and making the code available, only when they let it loose or give it to sombody knowing that they intend to use it maliciously.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What if it were read aloud, recorded and then gnapstered?
  • Dunno about anyone else, but I'd sure like to hear what Stallman has to say about this whole debacle!

  • No, I'm happy to explain it, it's just I never thought it would generate so much interest. I guess that is a good thing :)

    Finkployd

  • [Moderators, if this comes out formatted correctly, please down my first attempt at this as redundant. I guess something in the /. code got changed, and so my tags showed up all of a sudden.]

    Well, start here:

    1. Get familiar with the issues in the cases. Study them and look for every possible angle which will probably not hold up in court.
    2. One of the reasons we lost in the New York case is that the defense attorneys basically got their butts kicked in court because they weren't prepared with the specific details they needed. So based on the facts presented, the judge had little choice but to make what we all believe to be a bad decision.

      As you find things which can come into play (other court cases which help our cause, loopholes or interpretations in the DCMA, etc.) correspond (politely) with the EFF attorneys who will be the point men in the fight. Equip them for the fight. This includes financial support, if you can come up with it.

    3. Write calm, lucid commentary about how your local Users group is supporting the
      fight to free the deCss code. Send it to local media outlets (all types: newspaper, tv stations, radio). Make noise, people!!
    4. Most importantly, vocally and frequently announce and follow through with a personal boycott on the purchase of DVD movies until the movie studios back down, or alternatively, the CCA offers an open license (LGPL would be fine) to the rest of the world allowing us to develop non-industry controlled players.
  • They got their results, they pick someone, then send in the storm troopers. The MPAA got their headlines to scare others. The MPAA don't care about facts

  • Cool, I'm curious, does it strip properly? I haven't had a chance to check.

    --GnrcMan--
  • The last answer was the most interesting. Banning a specific combination of assembly code.

    Very interesting. Since we all have the source code by now, what if we recompiled it? Binary would be different if say we added an extra print statement. Would this invalidate MPAA and cause them to have to charge people for the new PlayDVDnow programs?

    Btw, Now one asked the simple question: How does your parents feel about this??

    16 years old is still a minor.
  • Does anyone remember the CDA? It was tossed out because it was unconstitutional.

    All we need is a friendly judge and POOF DMCA goes bye bye.

    It is a perfectly valid response to a "bad" law.

    In the US it was illegal to help slaves escape, good people willingly broke that bad law.

    This is a BAD law. It doesn't protect copyright holders anymore than the "war on drugs" helps drug addicts. This is about MONEY, pure and simple. It's a law that gives a copany the ability to extort money from their customers with the US government acting as their hired gun in a legal shakedown.

    It must be stopped, if we break this law enough and they haul us into court we will get a friendly judge who will throw the case out.

    I'm not even going to get into jury nullification.

    LK
  • by Booker (6173)
    If MPAA doesn't want to license your machine, it doesn't have to and you can't legally do anything about it.

    True, they don't have to license it. But I don't think it's clear that it's illegal if you just do it without a license. That's what the case is all about, right?

    Regarding L33T crackers and such, there are people out there who are not helping in the least. Look no further than "DVD-Copy.com," one of the defendants in the MPAA case. "Trade movies with your friends on the internet!"

    Nice move, buddy. Thanks for taking us down with you.
    ----
  • The good news is, it seems that at least somewhere in Scandinavia, there are places where the general populace won't let itself be taken by the mass hysteria regarding "hackers" and "piracy". However, I can't help but ask myself,
    considering the hegemony of the US in the global media, how long will it last - how much corporate effort will it take to make it so that all you know is what AOL-TimeWarner-EMI-WhoEverElse tells you - all over the world? If
    you ask me (and I know you didn't), this is a scary thought.


    Someone has to gather and process the data. Specialist magazines are always out there. Did you know that most of the intelligence data that we currently have is actually compilations from standard news sources. If you really want to know something there is nothing stopping you from being able to just go there yourself.

    And please don't try to tell me that the answer is more government regulation. Any sentence with "more government" in it is automatically evil :) Seriously, government control is, in the end, no better than corporate control,
    democratically elected or not. The real question is, are there any other means to try and preserve our freedoms from a certain group, that do not involve giving more power to another group that - history has taught us - will eventually
    turn around to stab us on the back and push an even more opressive regime upon us? Or is it by definition impossible (Individualists unite! and all that)?


    Just for kicks:

    MORE GOVENMENT is a bad thing! :)

    Governments can actually do a better job because they need to care about what their voters think. If I am say a monopoly I dosn't have to care about anyone because I am the only supplier. I think it is largely impossible because people have greed and avarice. All these things make it quite interesting to deal with. You would have to have a group of people who try to enforce anarchy and that will eventuall turn into a form of government.

    Theoretically you could have metamoderation of government and a peer review process which could make it a little better. However the constitution of the US was largely created so that things like the Third Reich will not as easily happen against a unpopular and small group.

    (Yes, I am aware that Slashdot is hardly the right place for this kind of discussion. If I have interrupted your daydreaming about chipping Natalie Portman's underwear off, forgive me.)

    I am not really impressed by good ol' Natalie I can think of dozens of different models and cartoon characters who are better than her any day of the week :)

    I think that it has revelence due to the nature of the beast.
  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Friday February 04, 2000 @08:53AM (#1304988) Journal
    The laws--European and American--clearly state that the copyright holder has the right to dictate the means of playback. If MPAA doesn't want to license your machine, it doesn't have to and you can't legally do anything about it.
    They do? Does this apply to books, CD's, video and audio tapes too?

    I am aware of NO law which dictates how I can "play back" the content of those media, or which allows someone else to dictate it to me. Copyright law dictates how I can or cannot distribute it, but I can project the book on an overhead or point my camcorder at it and display it on my 50-inch TV if I want to, and nobody can tell me not to. I can OCR the book in order to grep the text (archival copying is fair use). I can play a CD or an audio tape through anything that can read it. Ditto for a videotape. If I want to sample the CD or frame-grab and edit bits of the video, I can as long as I don't go beyond the bounds of fair use... and anything that does not transmit copies of the content to someone else or keep copies after I have sent the original to someone else is most assuredly fair use.

    We're just out to get the use of what we've paid for, without illegal product tying to a list of "approved" players. This is about interoperability, fair use and the free market. We are on the high road. What other road could it be?
    --

  • Yes, but noone asked him when he's going to move to the US, join a startup, and sell out for the IPO ...

  • At least once, and you should do it. Agence France Press (3rd largest press agency) wrote a strangely biased news release on their "multimedia" wire, calling Jon a "pirate", etc ... I got an acknowledgement from AFP that they had sent my letter to the editor .. but no reply since then.

    (I think I know why they are so one-sided on this issue: despite the fact that AFP is very liberal (I worked there), they are very supportive of IP "rights", as they think everybody is trying to rip them off. They don't seem to realize that their articles are worth their price mostly because of the news delivery SERVICE they provide, not so much because of the paranoid protection offered by violent IP laws and lawyers).

  • Økokrim (the part of the norwegian police force that is responsible for investigating economic crime (and computer crime) has something like 10 persons responsible for investigating computer security related cases like industry espionage through computers and such.

    Norway _is_ a small country (4 million souls or something) but just ten persons responsible for all the computer crime investigation in Norway is... hmm... too little. There are many computers in Norway.

    Besides, an article in the norwegian tech magazine "Teknisk Ukeblad" stated that only one or two of those persons actually have computer/information technology related education, the rest of them are normal police or "legal people"... I'm wondering if they did at all understand what they were embarking on when they started investigating this case...

    Anyway, I have to agree with Jon, the lady from Økokrim really made a fool of herself when she appeared in "Redaksjon 21"! I enjoyed it!


    -- Anders Morken (I forgot my password and I don't want the hassle of retrieving it...)

    amrkenatonlinedotnospampleasedotno - go figure...
  • by nmos (25822) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:00AM (#1304995)
    The laws--European and American--clearly state that the copyright holder has the right to dictate the means of playback.


    Could you tell me which US law states this? In the RIAA vs. Diamond Rio case the 9th circuit court said


    [10] In fact, the Rio's operation is entirely consistent with the Act's main purpose -- the facilitation of personal use. As the Senate Report explains, "[t]he purpose of[the Act] is to ensure the right of consumers to make analog or digital audio recordings of copyrighted music for their private,
    noncommercial use." S. Rep. 102-294, at *86 (emphasis added). The Act does so through its home
    taping exemption, see 17 U.S.C. S 1008, which "protects all noncommercial copying by consumers
    of digital and analog musical recordings, " H.R. Rep. 102-873(I), at *59. The Rio merely makes
    copies in order to render portable, or "space-shift," those files that already reside on a user's hard drive. Cf. Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, 464 U.S. 417, 455 (1984) (holding that
    "time-shifting" of copyrighted television shows with VCR's constitutes fair use under the Copyright Act, and thus is not an infringement). Such copying is paradigmatic noncommercial personal use entirely consistent with the purposes of the Act.


    Now, in fairness, this case was not about the DMCA since no encription was envolved, but was it really the intention of the DMCA to completely reverse the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992?
  • by smack.addict (116174) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:01AM (#1304996)
    Jon notes that one of the hard things is explaining why encryption does not prevent copying. I have found the easiest way is to use an analogy.

    Most people are aware that they can password protect their MS Money/Quicken files so no one else can read them. They are also aware they can copy those files and move them to other machines. I explain that the situation is the same (if a litte bit more complex) with DVDs. Namely, the fact that the stuff on the DVDs is encrypted does not prevent the stuff from being copied. It is like copying a Money file. The encryption simply prevents people without approved players from viewing. In other words, I can view a bootlegged DVD on my Sony DVD player, but I cannot play a DVD I legitimately bought on my Linux box. The reason: the Sony player has the password, without DeCSS, my Linux box does not.

    You could, of course, avoid technology all together. The fact that I do not speak Norwegian does not prevent me from copying books written in Norwegian. It just prevents me from knowing what they actually say.

  • I think one of the things that makes us (the tech community) look bad here is that the writers of the program won't stand up and say "I did it." It's great that John is standing up to everyone like this, but where are the other members of MoRE? If DeCSS isn't wrong, why are they hiding? I call for those two to stand up and say "I wrote it, I'm proud of it, and I have the write to keep writing software like it."


    I have a problem with that argument. If the other members have chosen to remain anonymous, how can this poster know what their reasons are? Do they run legal risks? Are they employed in a situation where knowledge of what they did might get them fired from a job they want or need?
    It is great when someone is willing to attach his name to an accomplishment, but without knowing why the others have not come forward, I find it difficult to criticize them for not doing so. Is it not more important what they did than who they are?

  • Yep.. Strips fine (haven't compiled the code it produced, however) except for the lost comment blocks that used to be in front of the GPL statement and authors name... But it scans fine visually..
  • As much as I hate most of the politics of the AM radio crowd, they ARE highly receptive to hacker-ish issues. AND they have a MAJOR audience. A local newspaper may be able to target a small percentage of potentially interested people, but AM talk shows have a near-captive audience of people who are highly sympathetic to people that are getting stepped on by "the Man."

    So if you have a chance, listen to people like Art Bell, Michael Medved (sp?), G. Gordon Liddy, Mike Gallegher, et al. and if an opportunity presents itself, try calling in. If enough of us try, even if we don't get on right away, it may push them to discuss the whole situation on the air.

    One warning about G. Gordon Liddy, I tried to call about Mitnick one time and Liddy vetoed me, even though the program director wanted to put me on the air. I still don't know why. But he seems like he'd be willing to listen to this issue.

    funtax
  • As you point out in your post,
    your story is--it can be run through a Perl script and then compiled--and thus fails the test.


    Actually, if you were to run it through the Perl script in question, it would not compile. Human intervention would be required in order to get a compilable file.

    This brings up another muddy area. This story shows just how fuzzy the line is. In order for this to be compilable machine instructions, you not only have to run it through a perl script, but you have to manually make changes to the output of the script. You also must have another file present.

    Where is the line? Who knows!

    Another point: If you told the typical man on the street that you were being legally enjoined from distributing a computer program, I suspect the typical response would be, "so? That's piracy, right?". When you frame it within a story like this, it's easier for someone with no knowledge of computers to relate.

    Pass out paper copies, announcing to each person you give the story to, "I may be breaking the law by giving you this story on this piece of paper. It contains a secret that the movie industry does not want you to see."

    --GnrcMan--
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:15AM (#1305007)
    This "fight against multibillion dollar corporations" is impotent at best.

    The bottom line is that just about everyone--and 100% of people with web access--want and enjoy what multibillion dollar corporations produce. Movies. CDs. CPUs. You can't make a stand against giant corporations unless you're willing to do without them. "Oh, yes, we hate the corporate interest that drives anti-piracy measures for DVDs! But we love the giant corporations that pour money into action movies and million-dollar-an-episode animated TV shows!"

    In the end, this protest comes out looking dumb. We've shown that we're not willing to stand for measures that keep us from pirating movies, but we most certainly still want hundreds of million of dollars to be poured into movies so we can pirate them.

    If you're really against multibillion dollar corporations, then you should be buying all your music CDs from local indie bands. You should be running Linux (though I have no idea on what CPU). And you shouldn't be watching Hollywood movies or TV *at all*.
  • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:15AM (#1305008)
    You DO know the difference between having the plans and implementing them, yes?

    Plans for nuclear weapons circulate the web quite regularly. And the physics textbooks you's need to suplament these are availiable at any (good) library. Except for obtaining the enriched uraniu or plutonium, a nuclear bomb could be built in just about any well equipped university!

    And it's perfectly legal to tell people how. The actual implementation is the part that's illegal.

    Or, take illegal drugs. The Anarchists Cookbook contains the recipe for making LSD. It sells in any well-stocked Barnes&Nobles. Certianly not illegal. I can buy the book, read the recipie, distribute if I want, and that's all protected by free speech. Only if I actually cooked up a batch of acid in a lab would I be in violation of the law.

    Or pick locksmithing files, or phone phreaking howtos, or explosives howtos. All describe actions that would be illegal, but the description itself is protected free speech.

    I can't see how the source code should be looked at any differently than the "how to make a nuke" or "how to make acid" files. These, and the source code, should all be protected. Only the actual nuclear bomb/LSD/compiled binary is an actual product that could potentially cause harm.

    At least that's the only intrepetation that makes any sence to me.

    Oh and Tom Clancy was never TOLD to change his books. You're probably thinking of two instances:

    1)
    In the preface to The Sum of All Fears, Clancy mentions that he has modified the nuclear bomb production process to be inaccurate. He did this of his own volition to satisfy his own conscience. The DoD did not force him to.

    2)
    After The Hunt for Red October was published, he was brought in to be debriefed by the navy. He had guessed so accurately in that book (on things like SOSUS and the operating patterns of fast attack subs chasing soviet boomers for example) that the DoD thought he might have had access to classified information. Clancy was able to demonstrate that he deduced his guesses from a wide variety of non-classified sources that had already been released to the public. Again, he did not edit his book to appease the DoD. In fact THFRO caught the DoD by suprise BIG TIME!

    john
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:17AM (#1305009) Homepage Journal

    How would you like it if you worked for years on something, and spent millions on it? Then some moron comes along and basically gives it away to anyone who wants by allowing it to be copied? I sure as hell would be.

    I bet MoRE spent more manhours on reverse engineering and then writing their own expression of the algorithm, than Xing spent writing their expression of the algorithm. I don't think MoRE has treated their competitor, Xing, unfairly. If Xing spent additional money buying a CCA license instead of reverse-engineering it themselves, then that was just a bad business decision. Too bad.

    And if DVD CCA spent millions of dollars developing this 40-bit encryption algorithm, then they were defrauded and should complain to their programmers. I could have come up with something just as good for far less money. Heck, I could have just repackaged 56-bit DES.

    And keep in mind that whatever effort DVD CCA spent on developing this algorithm was effort expended in bad faith intended to hurt consumers. It is in direct conflict with fair use.

    What DVD CCA did may even be illegal. Some people have pointed out that the region encoding is illegal in some parts of the world. And there's definately some anti-trust issues regarding product-tying involved here.

    If I were to spend a lot of time and money developing The Perfect Scam, and someone were to expose me and ruin all my work, would you jump in to defend me, and accuse the person who exposed me of spreading socialist bullshit?

    Take a good look at who the crooks are, and whose rights have been infringed.


    ---
  • Even winning a case like this can be very expensive. Lost workdays and travel can quickly amount to a lot of money, and a lot of problems. The media attention could be very uncomfortable for these individuals. Their reasons not to expose themselves have probably been carefully considered.

    -----

  • by BranMan (29917) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:20AM (#1305011)
    One of the comments I'd seen so far observed that Jon might mount a good defense by himself - by treating it as an engineering problem and figuring out the logic to convince the judge. I'm not advocating that - Jon needs the best lawyers WE can afford him (I joined the EFF - seems the best way to help).

    However, that got me to thinking... Could the EFF use some help in reviewing old cases/decisions that MIGHT be relevant? Could a junior legal researcher just throw up a few hundred case names that all of us (the 1,000 eyes) could "read up on" and try to distill the points in the case and the decision to a few paragraphs? Then rate that information as to how useful we *think* it might be? Would that help the EFF lawyers to pinpoint the cases they need to look at while forming their strategy for the DeCSS cases?

    I hope a lawyer out there is reading this and can advise us all on how pratical (or useful) such a thing might be. Free/Open Source software has always prided itself on the idea that 1,000s of eyes on the source makes for better code. Why don't we use that same idea to place 1,000s of eyes on our own legal system to make it better?

    I for one would be willing to look at a few hundred pages of case records, devote a weekend or two (or 10) in directed law research, if it will help. The MPAA will spend millions (conceivably) on legal fees, so a hundred lawyers can spend a 1,000 hours each on preparing its cases.

    We can do them one better - 10,000 technically astute hackers putting in 100 hours each. Even if we are only 1/10th as effective, we'd match their efforts.

    Is is possible to Open Source the Defense of DeCSS? Most of us are frustrated that we can't do anything directly to help besides mirroring the code. If the EFF can use a few thousand hands I think most of us are willing and able to lend them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...boycott on the purchase of DVD movies until the movie studios back down...

    Close. Boycott everything associated with the MPAA. That means:

    • Don't buy DVDs (already noted) or movies on any media
    • Don't rent DVDs or movies on any media
    • Don't go to the movies (except as noted below)

    With all that new free time: you should find plenty now free to write letters to editors, do a little clothes shopping [copyleft.net], talk to your friends and colleagues about the situation, send a contribution to EFF [eff.org], or maybe even join the Call to Action [2600.org].

    Personally, despite a number of titles being on my wish list, I have neither purchased nor rented a single DVD since this started. Nor have I purchased or rented any tapes. Nor have I gone to any movies.




    I wonder: do you suppose slashdot defaults to "flat" mode these days to improve its hit count?

  • In an ideal world I'm sure they would. However, given the resources of the MPAA it's nothing to them to expand their suit to two more people, while for two more people it is a major drain on their funds and their time.

    The lawsuit is bogus, why should they endanger themselves to satisfy hubris? Far smarter to have one guy be the stalking horse and let the other two continue to write the software we like.

    Nothing the tech community does in regard to this case will ever make us look bad in comparison to the arrogance and stupidity of the MPAA.
  • > The laws--European and American--clearly state
    > that the copyright holder has the right to
    > dictate the means of playback

    Actually... Thats not entirely true.

    There is debate over whether "Fair Use" covers
    making personal copies of copyrighted works in
    differnt mediums.

    In fact, the question was so hotly debated that
    it was decided that a law needed to be made to
    clarify the issue wrt audio recordings. The
    new law granted specific rights to make copies.
    (of course...that new law was vague enough that
    new debate came over whether it is legal to make
    a copy for a friend)

    The law is clearly vague on the issue of personal
    copies and use.

    > If MPAA doesn't want to license your machine,
    > it doesn't have to and you can't legally do
    > anything about it

    Not necissarily. Again, this applies to audio and
    I am unsure if it applies to other areas but...
    copyright holders in some specific circumstances
    are required to provide mandatory licencing..even
    for distribution (usually it requires paying of
    royalties) - of course...in this case that
    may or may not be aplicable... IANAL.

    > Damn shame, but maybe there's a lesson to be
    > learned: maintain the high road

    Which begs the question...why is the legal high
    road the only high road?
    I, and others, believe that "when the law is wrong
    it is right to break the law".
    Your viewpoint is very legalistsic. You must
    remember that not everyone is a legalist.

    -Steve
  • by Duxup (72775) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:25AM (#1305018) Homepage
    "DeCSS isn't wrong, why are they hiding?"

    I'm a healthy single guy with a good job but still some time on my hands so I would probably take the flack. However I can't say the same about the others. If I had a family with kids and/or a big time consuming job taking the flack would not be such a simple decision. It wouldn't just impact me but others who depend on me as well. For all I know I'm in a country that could react quite negatively toward such actions. Also if there is no legal defense fund or not a big enough one, it could get quite expensive too. It's hard to say why they're hiding, but I can't blame them.
  • > (Indeed, IIRC he was asked to change several of
    > his books because his informed guesses about
    > certain top-secret weaponry were too accurate
    > for the Navy's comfort...)

    That fact disgusts me to no end.
    I certainly hope he didn't change a word.
    Or better yet I changed it...the tells all
    about what he was asked to change in detail.

    > For another, courts have sometimes drawn the
    > line as to whether code is speech or not by
    > whether it is machine readable.

    I don't think JUST being machine readable is
    a problem. In this case it IS a story and
    source code.

    I would think that is human readable enough to
    be protected. The fact that it is machine readable
    does not change the fact that it is a story and
    is human readable "fiction".
  • I was just thinking about steganography with images. But you can certainly do the same thing with a story.

    Find a very large and unrelated text. At random intervals introduce "typos" which are the correct character shifted by the ascii code of the desired character (or, where this makes unprintable characters restrict your destination alphabet to printable characters). Given a sufficiently large text, the typos should be pretty unnoticeable on the whole, but if you know what you are doing you can rediscover the hiddend text. Or run an intelligent program with the output text against a dictionary, or original document, looking for typo's.

    Does anybody have a large manifesto in which to hide the code? ;]

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • by SuperJ (125753) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:31AM (#1305025) Homepage
    Sued by the MPAA
    by Justin Osborn
    To the tune of: Back in the USSR by the Beatles
    Reverse engineering that DVD
    Hacking out the code last night
    The cops came in and arrested me
    Said I didn't have the right
    I'm sued by the MPAA
    I gave the source code away boy
    Sued by the MPAA

    Posted the source on my web page
    They told me to cease and desist
    The Slashdotters are so enraged
    They won't stop 'til this case is dismissed

    I'm sued by the MPAA
    I gave the source code away boy
    Sued by the MPAA

    Well the MP double A is slow no doubt.
    They're obviously out of their minds.
    And John Valenti makes me pull my hair out
    He's technologically blind

    I'm sued by the MPAA
    I gave the source code away boys
    Sued by the MPAA

    You can't get no DVD on your Linux box
    It's ludicrous can't you see
    They want you to pay them the big bucks
    I deenctrypted for free

    I'm sued by the MPAA
    I gave the source code away boys
    Sued by the MPAA

    From one 16 year old to another, Go Jon!

  • Once upon a time, there was a dwarf, who in a forrest, collected two branches and put them into a very minimal stack. After collecting the branches, he returned home, telling his friend to go to the forrest, and for each of the branches in the stack, create a new stack with one branch more than there where branches in the original stack, and then return and tell his friend to do the same, and so on, until all of the sitzens of the small village had done his or her duty.

    The story above is _totally_ fiction, but describes correctly how to calculate the faculty of the number of dwarfs. This should be possible for all algorithms.

    Is this protected speach, even for, say, a crypto alogrithm?
    --The knowledge that you are an idiot, is what distinguishes you from one.
  • Imbed it in the complaint filed by the CCA. :)

    --GnrcMan--
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday February 04, 2000 @09:36AM (#1305035) Homepage Journal
    The association of research libraries has a web page on DMCA [cni.org]. This is a little library-centric, but generally quite informative.

    Be prepared not to like what you read.

    It appears that DMCA make simply "gaining access" to copyrighted material you already own illegal if it involves defeating technological protection measures. Note that this says nothing about having to make illegitimate copies.

    There is a "reverse engineering" exception which might apply. I don't know, but I suspect that was slipped in to allow reverse engineering of file formats (e.g. to be able to read ms word documents). It is not clear whether this applies in the case of DeCSS, which allows you to gain access to copyrighted program material (albeit mainly useful for purposes most people would consider legitimate).

    With regards to how this effects Norway, the technological protection method (TPM) parts are apparently laid out in Title 1, which implements the World Intellectual Property Organization Performance and Phonograms Treaty of 1996. If Norway is a signatory to this treaty, then the same rules apply there.

    Frankly, as a US citizen, I think these measures are an affront to the spirit of our constitution (although given how far the technical niceties of the law are from the spirit of the constitution, DMCA may be literally constitutional while at the same time trampling on the intent of the Constitution). Congress is given a limited right to establish copyright to incent creators. While it would be absurd to say that DMCA is not in the interest of the members of the MPAA, it's also absurd to suggest that the MPAA members don't have sufficient incentive to create without it. And DMCA restricts ordinary users from using copyrighted material that any reasonable person.

    For example -- suppose in a few years DVD is overtaken by a different optical disk standard. You can't buy an optical disk player that understands Css, and there is no software DVD player for Windows 2010. According to this unjust law, you cannot play your DVDs, even if you have a DVD compatible drive, because it would require that you work around Css.

    We really need to get a congressional letter writing campaign going against this terrible law.
  • Actually.. no. They are not illegal in and of themselves.

    In the case of the Morris Internet worm, the code itself was not illegal in any way. The charges deal with the fact that Morris *intentionally* releaesd it into the internet *specifically* to break into computers.
  • "Governments can actually do a better job because they need to care about what
    their voters think."

    In theory I'd agree but look at the DMCA and the hearings & discussions leading up to it (try a google search of DMCA and fair use). You'll find all sorts of discussion of the rights of the recording industry, educational institutions, libraries, and many more groups but virtually nothing about the rights and of individuals or the public under the law.
  • And where does it say that once I've purchased a copy of some bits or analog waves that I can't do what I like with it? (Other than redistribute)

    It says that on the package, if at all. It's the shrink-warp license problem, which AFAIK, has never gone to court.

    Besides, He's already said that licences/contracts don't apply to him.

    He also stated that he wrote the code based on someone else's crack of the encryption. Has he even been charged with using it?
  • If you're really against multibillion dollar corporations, then you should be buying all your music CDs from local indie bands. You should be running Linux (though I have no idea on what CPU). And you shouldn't be watching Hollywood movies or TV *at all*.

    I, for one, am seriously considering not paying to see movies anymore. (Haven't gone to see one for quite awhile anyway, and have decided not to go see some I was hoping to see shortly, like "American Beauty", "Galaxy Quest", and "Stuart Little". Yeah, quite a range of "taste" there, I realize.)

    But my main interest is no longer "contributing" my $$ to the MPAA or any organization that pays it $$.

    I'm not sure whether there might be movies I could pay to see that aren't MPAA-related, but doubt it.

    More to the point, I don't think my watching TV helps the MPAA at all. But paying my cable bill might. In the meantime, when I can see those movies for "free", i.e. no cash changes hand because of my personally viewing them, I don't have a problem with watching them. E.g. when/if "Galaxy Quest" shows up on NBC, broadcast over the airwaves, I'm not going to purposely avoid watching it. I am going to avoid paying to watch it, which means I'll happily wait months/years to see it, if ever.

    Is there a site where I can find out how to best avoid rewarding the MPAA for its vicious, immoral assault on individual rights (e.g. by having an innocent 16-year-old Norwegian student arrested)?

  • Why not just comment out the story elements?
    --------------------------------------- -------------------
  • I have to disagree with you.

    There is nothing about DeCSS that allow any kind of commercially viable pirating of DVD movies. The only practical means of distributing a pirated DVD movie is by exchanging entire hard disks -- not hard to do, but also impractical, as the hard disk costs more than the DVD, and probably will for the forseeable future (e.g. capacities will go up before hard disk prices go south of $30).

    No, ipso facto, DeCss is against the commerical interests of the MPAA, but not for reasons of piracy. It is more for reasons of (1) maintaining a monopoly on access by artists to DVD medium; (2) maintaining a monopoly on the DVD player market and (3) preventing consumers from reading legitimately purchased DVDs from countries where DVD prices are lower. However, absent any or all of these capabilities, there is little reason to think that we'll be seing Jack Valente applying for food stamps anytime soon.
  • If not more government, it has to be a highly organized (and large) entity of common people. Government is not inherently evil, if we make them do what we ask, and are truly accountable, they can work for us. Now, what I have just mentioned most certainly is not the case in the US and never has been. It requires levels of citizen participation that we don't have. As long as the media is controlled by those in power, it's pretty tough to get a large portion of the population to go against what they are spoon feeding you. Exceptions occur when they do something incredibly dumb (vietnam war) or start taking away a lot of our rights (WTO).

    It's really too bad that since our government is so bad that many people here think that ANY government is bad. While getting rid of government COULD be good, it definatly WILL NOT BE as long as there are corporations. Most Libertarians here argue that corporations don't exist without a government, and they are right: they become totalitarian institutions. Not exactly any better.

    Lets face it, we have to have some sort of power structure, it will always be this way. How much power it has is the question, which goes hand in hand with accountability. We simply can't allow a tiny group to make life and death decisions. Yet we still need a group of people who can act when needed to respond to any other highly organized group with power who threatens freedom. Acheiving that balance is what is so incredibly difficult in today's world.
  • Yep, notied that too actually last night, right after all that porno started showing up in the DeCSS thread. I'm guessing there was some hole that ./ had that was exploited by someone who was able to link to images while posting using Extrans.

    Extrans is also my default and used to work very nicely in accepting HTML tags but now the tags show up verbatim and I've started using HTML Formatted.
  • >(and am therefore not lame).

    Not so, you are beyond lame.

  • Actually, what the MPAA did in this case was a clever dirty trick. They ignored the original posting of the software and hand picked the people to sue for distributing DeCSS to maximize shock value. This allows them to make the case that DeCSS is "for piracy" even when the original intent had little to do with piracy and everything to do with the legitimate interoperability of DVD with Linux.

    I think that "dvd-copy.com" probably doesn't represent the mainstream. Unfortunately, it is pretty clear to me that their website (unlike LiViD, et. al) is clearly advocating the stealing of MPAA copyrighted material.

    This raises an interesting legal question. Is it possible that dvd-copy.com has violated the DMCA while other groups (eg 2600.com) that post DeCSS have not? Whose intent controls the granting of the reverse engineering exception: the author's or the poster's? If it is the poster's intent, shouldn't each defendent be sued separately?
  • I added a note to the beginning explicitly licencing the story under the GPL 2.

    --GnrcMan--
  • I started thinking about writing a letter to my local newspaper, and then I thought that it would be an awful waste of time and effort if someone much better at such things had already done so. Has anyone out there written any kind of letter to the media yet? If so, why not post it here, and we can modify it a bit if necessary, and then ship it off to all our local newspapers. This would also give the appearance that we are an organized community supporting a common viewpoint. Maybe we can submit this letter to 60 minutes or Dateline and convince them to do a segment on it. It would reach more people that way. We can call it the Open Letter project.
  • [initial note: I pretty much agree totally w/the first reply to this comment, I just had a little more to throw in]

    Due to the wonders of modern technology and old-fashioned bureaucracy, anyone can get the method for making LSD, without even buying the Anarchist Cookbook. If anyone's actually looked (I did in high school, years ago), the formula written in that book is a direct quote from the U.S. patent that was filed way back when... It's an interesting thing that the formula for an illegal (in the U.S.) substance is locked in the public record...

    Just thought I'd throw that in...

    -cicatrix

  • HTML ignores repeated whitespace. Make every tenth or so space in the original text two spaces to indicate one, one space to indicate zero, \n to indicate EOF. Invisible to a browser, and just looks like source typos to the casual reader. Tee hee :)

  • There are two letters of support for you, to be found there. None in opposition.

    The LA Times is, of course, no small venue. I was shocked to see it there.
  • but was it really the intention of the DMCA to completely reverse the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992?

    Yes, that was its intention. That is why it should pilloried, mocked, fought in court, shredded, and mounted on a pointed stick so that all may see it as an example of what happens when industry and government conspire to take away our freedoms.

    Well, I just found this:

    The following is the floor debate in the Senate before passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It was reported in the Congressional Record on October 8, 1998.

    SNIP

    Lots of senators had their say but I though this quote was especially telling in light of the NY judge's interpretation of the DMCA.

    It thus should be about as clear as can be to a judge or jury that, unless otherwise specified, nothing in this legislation should be interpreted to limit manufacturers of legitimate products with substantial noninfringing uses--such as VCRs and personal computers--in making fundamental design decision or revisions, whether in selecting certain components over others or in choosing particular combinations of parts.
    Another quote from this same senator says:
    I trust that the Librarian of Congress will implement this provision in a way that will ensure information consumers may exercise their centuries-old fair use privilege to continue to gain access to copyrighted works.
    Both of these quotes are from Mr. Ashcroft and the whole thing can be found at: [hrrc.org]
  • "PS: I'm wearing my DeCSS source code shirt to work today, and if I have to explain it means one more time, I'm going to go nuts"

    Yes, I'm at work too, sporting my new shirt that just arrived yesterday from Copyleft. And I can understand why you are going nuts. Everyone has been pestering me too. However, as posts above point out, we must explain to everyone (well, all who ask) what it means! Don't shrug them off!

    But I did get some heat from it. A co-worker of mine asked what the back of my shirt said. I told her "It's the source code, well part of it, to the DeCSS program. In a nutshell, it allows you to decrypt the data on a DVD which in turn allows you to actually play the movie. Without the decryption process, the movie data is scrambled and useless."
    Her response, "Oh, so that the thing thats for pirating DVD's. I read about it"
    I felt like banging my head into the nearest wall.

    Now, she's about as an average Joe (or Jane) as you can get. And if the average Joe (or Jane) thinks of us as pirates, then we definately need to do more to educate those who aren't "in the loop". Lots of us (myself including) rant and rave about what's going on, yet who are we ranting and raving to?!? It's like preaching to the choir. We need to convince the average person out there, say ones who either have home DVD's, or DVD players running under Windows, or even people who don't yet own DVD players, that what the industry is doing is wrong. It's affecting them, even though not directly.

    We aren't pirates. We aren't ripping movies and selling them on street corners. DeCSS isn't used for copying DVD's. We are simply people who purchased DVD movies legally who want to watch them on their DVD players.
  • Ok so it's a little extreme but it still is protected speech because it's totally fiction rigtht?

    I think the real world answer is clearly not. The case of Jake Baker at the University of Michigan demonstrates this. Mr. Baker wrote a piece of sadistic "erotica" involving the eventual rape and murder of the woman in the story, and posted in in alt.sex.something-or-other. So far, protected speech, right? Wrong. The name of the "fictional" woman in the story just happened to be that of one of his classmates.

    Somebody noted this, alerted Michigan authorities, and Mr. Baker was proscecuted for having issued a threat. Successfully too, IIRC.

    Remember, even with the First Amendment free speech guarantee, free speech has never been held to be an absolute right in US law. Shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater, slander and libel, obscenity, and death threats have never enjoyed protection.

    The Constitution admittedly has a few defects and blemishes, but it still seems a hell of a lot better than the system we have now.
    -- Robert Anton Wilson
  • The laws--European and American--clearly state that the copyright holder has the right to dictate the means of playback.

    That must be fairly new because, for the European part at least, we still have a right of fair use that allow us to view the copyrigthed work we bought by any mean we want. Furthermore what the MPAA/DVD-CCA are doing looks a lot like product tying, givne that DVD's are tied to the licensed players. It wouldn't be so if we were allowed to make our own players, but given that they are enclined to sue anobody who do so they are tying DVD's to players, which is strictly forbiden.

  • http://www.cs.nmsu.edu/~joshagam/css/
  • However, putting Mickey Mouse's face on it is just asking for disrespect on the issue. If your going to violate... existing, established intellectual property laws in your flyer...
    Satire and parody are allowed under copyright and trademark law (else Mad magazine would have been sued into non-existance long ago), and sticking Mickey's head on the famous Uncle Sam "I want YOU" image is clearly satire. There's absolutely no dilution of trademark and no chance of anyone confusing the image with a genuine Disney product.
  • This may be a little off-topic, since it relates to the injunction, not to the police action against Jon.

    I noticed that the prosecution entered selected inflamatory Slashdot postings into evidence, to show the intent of the members of the software community was to flout the law, and the judge took notice of this.

    ANYONE can post to Slashdot. The PROSECUTION can post to Slashdot, and create as many such inflamatory postings as they wish.

    Seems to me that in the absense of any showing that the authors of the postings were bonifide members of the software community, rather than agents of the prosecution, and that their opinions were representative of the community as a whole, the judge should take no notice of them.
  • Hmmm. Take a long document, spellcheck it with the standard dictionary in some distro of Linux. Then after fixing any errors noted, run the stenography program, introduce 'tpyo' errors to the text. Check with the dictionary to make sure that the typo-ed word is close enough to point to the original word, if not, skip to the next word, or make a different error.

    The receiver takes the file, runs the decrypt, which basically spellchecks the file, finds all the modified words, and notes how they were changed. Based on the distance between words, and the typo made, the program retrieves a small bit of the hidden file, and goes to the next word.

    Typos can carry a lot of information. The specific character in the word which is typoed can give a couple bits, as can the way the letter is modified.

    I can see a few ways... take 'help' as the base word. 'hhelp', 'hrlp', 'heklp', 'helo', etc. are all seemingly normal typos.

    I'm going to write something to find my typo patterns, see if I double-up on characters, hit the wrong one, or what. It's involve spell checking all my email, but it'll be useful info for programming this. When I get something done, I'll mention it to /.

  • > He could have been "courageous" and put in more
    > material that was classified, but he understands
    > that sometimes things get classified for a
    > reason, like to protect our soldiers in the line
    > of fire. I can respect that.

    I have 2 real problems with this line of thinking:

    A) There are no soldiers in the line of fire
    In times of peace, there is no reason to have
    soldiers in the line of fire.

    B) Taxpayers paid for these things, they have a
    RIGHT to know. Security be damned! They have no
    right to take my money and not tell me exaxtly
    what they did with every single dollar of it.
    (actually they have no right to take my money
    in the first place, but I wont argue that one now)

    -Steve
  • Given the choice of those two defences, I'd send the second one to the dungeons and I'd offer the key to the first. That way, I could go back to sleep.

    My understanding of legal defences comes more from Henry Cecil than the courts, so I've only limited resources to draw upon.

    Having said that, Henry Cecil paints a fairly clear picture, albeit in a rather dryly humerous way. Judges are depicted as people (which is true!) and intolerent of arrogance (which is understandable - that's their job).

    Given that, any argument which appeals to people (simple, coherent, to the point) whilst not being condescending or snobbish is likely to do well.

    Tell the Judge that you're God's Gift to Humanity and he'll probably tell you that Humanity isn't in need of Gifts right now, but that cell block 4 has some room spare, whilst you're waiting.

    Tell the Judge that you're sorry for any distress you've caused, that any actual harm was completely unintentional, that your understanding of the law said that DeCSS was perfectly legal, that you had believed you had complied with every request the movie people had made and that you are sad that this matter had to trouble the courts, you're in a strong position.

    For a Judge to fault you on that would be like kicking a puppy, and most people just aren't going to do that. In addition, just about any argument by the plaintiffs is going to sound harsh and arrogant by comparison, which the Judge is just going to =LOVE= beating into the ground.

    Last, but not least, who's going to look better to the Judge? A =LOCAL= "hero" lost puppy, or a =FOREIGN= band of loud-mouthed, obnoxious thugs? If the difference is extreme enough, it should be a no-brainer to get a good decision. Even the most "enlightened" of people has -some- streak of national pride. Seeing a local getting kicked around by foreigners is a great way to stir that up.

    Trust me on this, if the MPAA isn't VERY careful about who they send, the judge'll wipe the floor with them, however good their arguments sound at face-value.

  • Hmm, I think if the EFN ever does set up a fund to donate money to Jon's case, I'll have to donate money to that, too. I wonder if they'll have any trouble with currency conversions? Anyway, here's the link:

    Electronic Frontier Norway [www.efn.no]

    Of course, I'm not sure if they've set up the fund yet, but I plan to keep on checking back on their page to see how it is going, and I figured other people would be interested in the link too. (I think I can send an International Money Order, or something. I need to look into it.)

    Oh, and thanks, Joh, for a thourough and informative answer to my questions.

  • by milliyear (132102) on Friday February 04, 2000 @01:12PM (#1305168)
    What DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) says
    The DMCA allows copyrighted-content providers to encrypt their content to protect their property from unauthorized duplication. Notice that the law does NOT set any standards for the quality of the encryption, nor does it require it to be hardware or software. The DMCA makes it ILLEGAL to create anything that breaks this encryption for the purposes of copying. Again, no distinction is made between hardware or software.

    My opinion on what MPAA's game plan was
    It seems they had a four-pronged approach:
    1.Some level of encryption to meet DMCA's definiton of encryption, and use of region codes to control DVD distribution.
    2.Licensing of the decrypt-codes and region codes necessary to decode and play DVDs to DVD player makers.
    3.Put the decrypt-codes and region codes on a specific track of authorized DVDs.
    4.Getting all blank DVD makers to write all zeros to the track on the blank DVDs that would normally hold the decrypt-codes and region codes on authorized DVDs.

    We all seem to be amazed at how relatively easy it was to crack the CSS. My opinion is that MPAA didn't care and probably expected it to be cracked eventually; their only concern is that it meet the definition of encryption in the DCMA. The use of region codes was just plain greed on the part of MPAA, and since it appears to be in violation of multiple international trade agreements, I expect they will go away at some point.

    MPAA's MAJOR SCREW-UP
    As we all know, you don't even need to decrypt the DVD to copy it, which is why MPAA didn't put much effort into the encryption scheme, IMHO. You can copy DVDs without decrypting them now, but since the decrypt-keys track is pre-written to zeros on all blank media, you can't play it on a DVD player. BUT, if you wrote the decrypt-code track to some pre-determined ALTERNATE track that wasn't written with zeros, and it was LEGAL to make players that looked for it on the alternate track, the whole scheme of pre-writing zeros on blank media would fail, without any violation of the DMCA, since the COPYING drive is not decrypting the source, and the PLAYING drive is not circumventing the encryption for the purposes of copying!! How did they plan to get around this? By licensing the DVD players, and as part of their license, prevent the DVD player makers from making players that look for the decrypt-codes on alternate tracks. And this is where MPAA's MAJOR SCREWUP comes in. They ASSUMED that anybody who would crack the CSS code would be motivated by profit, and would copyright their code and try to license it to player makers. Then, MPAA would go after the CSS crackers and stop them from licensing the cracked CSS code with the DMCA decryption laws. IT NEVER OCCURRED TO THEM THAT SOMEBODY WOULD CRACK CSS AND PUT THE CODE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. With DeCSS in the public domain, there is nothing stopping DVD player makers from using the DeCSS code, and without the MPAA license, nothing to stop them from looking for the decrypt codes on an alternate track!! And nobody to stop from distributing the code.

    So, in spite of MPAA's legal mumbo-jumbo, their real fear is that they will lose control of licensing DVD players, and therefor the ability to restrict DVD players from looking for de-crypt codes on an alternate track. So MPAA may have already lost the war. And this is why MPAA is now trying to put the Fear of God into anybody who has ever HEARD of DeCSS. The cat is out of the bag, they know it, and they are fighting for their very existence. If Jon had GPL'd the code, or any license that prevented commercial use (i.e.: DVD player makers), the only thing MPAA would probably be going after him for would be an agreement to NEVER sell or license the code or allow it's use in DVD players. I don't think the MPAA would scream much if Jon licensed his code, as long as it had the same provisions as the MPAA license. In fact, if Jon could still copyright his code, that might be his best bet for bringing this whole thing to an end.

    Am I right?
  • Wow, what appealing lyrics.

    Hash include, left angle bracket
    stdio dot aitch, right angle bracket
    Newline!
    Hash include, left angle bracket
    string dot aitch, right angle bracket
    Newline!
    Hash include quote see-ess-ess dash
    Descramble dot aitch, quote.
    Newline!

    Typedef unsigned char byte
    semicolon static byte
    csstab one left bracket
    two hundred fifty-six right bracket
    Equals left brace

    Then it turns into a techno beat as a voice begins chanting hex numbers.
    --

  • If the RIAA approached you with a team of lawyers and they had a reason to think that you were not adhering to the personal/private terms of fair use, then they certainly could require you to demonstrate that you are, in fact, obeying copyright law.

    If they think I'm doing something, then they have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in court. I'm not required to prove myself innocent.

  • by w3woody (44457) on Friday February 04, 2000 @02:48PM (#1305187) Homepage
    What it boils down to is a rather common principle in US law where *intent* is 9/10ths of the law.

    That is, it is up to the court to determine the *intent* of the developer based on the developer's activities if the reverse engineering effort was done in order to properly achieve interoperability, verses the developer using the reverse engineering efforts to promote piracy.

    Personally I find these sorts of distinction a little irritating, in that the court is left attempting to read people's minds to determine if a crime was committed or not. But it's not all that uncommon: most rape cases (for example) basically boil down to a "he said/she said", and factors such as what she was wearing and what he was drinking are used to assess the state of mind of the folks involved to determine if it was a rape or a misunderstanding. Or here in California, the difference between someone getting the gas chamber and someone getting 15 to 25 years is the "state of mind" of the murderer, often inferred by the type of magazines he read or the music he listened to. (That's the difference between premeditated homocide and the non-premeditated "heat of passion" variety.)

    Unfortunately for the DeCSS folks, things like the logo "Masters of Reverse Engineering" at the bottom of the screen, or the web site www.dvd-copy.com proclaiming "How to find/trade FREE DVD Movies online" or the less skillful comments by folks here on /. don't exactly help convince the judge that the original intent by the developers of DeCSS was "cross-platform compatability."

    What is interesting in all of this, however, is that while the DeCSS code itself may go down the drain, it's quite likely that offshoots of the software, such as LiViD may wind up being found quite legal. That's because while the DeCSS program circulating around does little more than copy the VOD data to a hard disk, the LiViD software actually plays the movies. Thus, one could argue that even though LiViD makes use of the ill-gotten reverse engineering efforts of DeCSS, the intent of the developers of LiViD was to create a movie playback system which does fit within statue.

    Further, even if all of the DeCSS stuff goes down the drain, we now have a roadmap on how to repeat the DeCSS effort in a way which would be construed as legal: by making sure that the intent of the development process is clearly outlined from the start to do nothing more than provide interoperability between Linux and DVD hardware on Linux boxes to play DVD movies.

    (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know the mantra: copying DVD movies is impossible because DVD burners don't hold enough data to copy a movie and because blank DVD-R disks have the CSS track prewiped to zero. But this is a week argument at best in that it is possible to play a naked .VOB file, so while it may be difficult to duplicate a DVD Movie Disk, it's not difficult at all to duplicate the .VOB files so a friend can play them back. From there, it's not a huge leap for someone to define an informal standard for a DVD playback engine which plays naked .VOB files as well as DVD Movie disks, a'la the plurality of MP3 players out there. And just wait for the day when they're stringing 10Mb internet wire to your house...)

  • no idea what exactly your art is, since the URLs don't work, so here's some stuff i made last month.

    http://drowned.cx/decss/ [drowned.cx]

    There are a couple of GIFs at that URL. They were created by opening the decss code as raw rgb values and overlaying text on them.
    The interesting thing is that they contain, inside their standard GIF comment block, the vertabrim source code to DeCSS. So this would mean that anyone who looks at these images has broken the law, because their web browser caches have become illegal mirrors of the DeCSS code.

    Just some thought. read the page if you're bored.
  • because I can't beat the government alone. Try it by yourself if you'd like.
  • I have 2 real problems with this line of thinking:

    And I one a piece for each of yours.

    A) There are no soldiers in the line of fire
    In times of peace, there is no reason to have soldiers in the line of fire.


    Really. And did some crystal ball tell you during the cold war (This happened during the cold war, remember) that the soldiers in question were never going to be in the line of fire? Or are you saying that as long as a future enemy learns about something during peacetime they will magically be unable/unwilling to use that against the same or later soldiers?

    B) Taxpayers paid for these things, they have a
    RIGHT to know. Security be damned! They have no right to take my money and not tell me exaxtly what they did with every single dollar of it.


    Oh I get it. You're a taxpayer. Congrats, welcome to the club. So you're saying if you are a witness to a mafia crime, and you are put in the witness protection program, then any taxpayer has the right to your address; so they can see exactly what's happening with their money. I'm sure the mafia has some taxpayers :-)

    (actually they have no right to take my money in the first place, but I wont argue that one now)

    Good.

    Chris
  • <i>Thus, while technically true that DeCSS does not prevent making usable copies (witness solution (a)), it is not feasible except with very expensive equipment. Solutions (b) and (c) are very cheap-- and require DeCSS-- and so it is, I believe, fair to say that DeCSS is what enables illegal copying to occur.</i>

    I have to dispute this for reasons of pragmatism. The MPAA know that domestic piracy will happen on a small scale. But they've lived with this kind of piracy on VHS for so many years and they know it's not a significant threat. The only real piracy threat is from large-scale commercial piracy which they cannot defeat (yet) by technology alone.

    While it may be possible that DeCSS makes copying a little easier it doesn't make it easy enough to form a significant threat to the MPAA.

    DVD copying on domestic players (or PC-DVD drives) is too slow and expensive for you to make and distribute hundreds of copies. And there is no way that they've gone to all this trouble just to stop you from making a single copy of one DVD for your friend down the road.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the reason they are panicking is because they intended to control the player market and regional distribution of titles. The argument about domestic piracy simply doesn't stack up.


    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • I could spend all day giving you actual case histories of people who have their rights trampled by Americans or the Amenrican government. Here are a few: American Indians, Black-listen screenwriters accused of being communists, homosexuals in the military, the Vietnamese, Panama, Grenada, Cuba... Gosh, the list goes on and on. I am honored. You called me talented and wise. You however failed to do a little quick research into my URL or even email address to see where I lived. Also, how did I spell incrrectly? I am sorry if I don't spell in "Uhmericain" or that my typing is really bad. It was difficult to type on the diminutive IMAC keyboard. Anyway, I was not knocking Americans I was merely piinting out the hypocisy of one goverment which is exhibited in all governments- greed. Europeans, Asians, and Africans are just as bad as the good old US of A.

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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