In the words of MPAA CEO and President Jack Valenti in a press release from the MPAA:
"The MPAA is striking a blow today in defense of the future of American movies. We have filed suit in federal court to stop internet hackers from distributing the software designed to circumvent the encryption technology that prevents the unlawful copying of DVDs."
"This is a case of theft. The posting of the de-encryption formula is no different than making and then distributing unauthorized keys to a department store. The keys have no real purpose except to circumvent the locks that stand between the thief and the goods he or she targets."
Later in the press release, he goes on to state:
"The U.S. movie industry intends to defeat anyone who steals our intellectual property. We are determined to defend the technology that protects artists and intellectual property holder rights... If you can't protect that which you own, then you don't own anything."
Robin offered her comments on this new litigation:
"Clearly, this is how they're trying to portray this. Piracy is their story, and they're sticking to it. Of course, this is a sneaky underhanded attempt to undermine the litigation that they've already filed in California, most likely because they lost at the temporary restraining order hearing. They realize the weaknesses in their trade secrets claim, an so they've decided to file under federal copyright, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This is also an inappropriate harassing lawsuit, because although the DMCA does provide for a general ban on circumventing technological protection, there are explicit exceptions to that general prohibition for the purposes of facilitating interoperability and computer security, among other exceptions. They've realized that their trade secret claim is not going to prevail, so this in Plan B. Quite frankly, this is what we were anticipating the first time around. We were not anticipating a trade secret claim, because it was so weak."
For those following the news about the DVD CCA lawsuit, this new litigation shows us that this matter will take a very, very long time to work itself out, currently with no end in sight. It appears that in this case, the MPAA intends to blur the line between hacking for interoperability and the intent to distribute until it's no longer recognizable.
This is all rather puzzling. From a Showbiz Today segment aired on CNN on January 11th, Jim Cardwell from Warner Home Video said:
"We expected the source code to be broken. We were surprised it wasn't broken earlier. We believe there is no economic incentive to hack this product. The cost of the blank is more expensive than the cost of the finished product, and the amount of time it takes to download is several hours. There's no real economic incentive for anyone to hack this product."
When the topic of DVD writers came up, went on to say:
"Certainly, all the copyright holders, all of the studios, all the rights holders, are not going to sit still to see that -- to allow this to become rampant. We are going to continue to protect our products."
The issues of interoperability and the right to distribute free software are key issues in the Open Source community, and they always will be. How far will the MPAA and the DVD CCA go? One thing is for sure; no matter how long or hard they're willing to fight, the Open Source community will be there to meet them every step of the way.
Update: 01/15 21:31 by michael : John Gilmore adds that the complaints are available online at http://www.mpaa.org/dvd/content.htm. The links are slightly wrong, though, so you'll need to encode the spaces in the URLs:
...and even after you've done that, you'll still need to View Source on the New York page, since they didn't close a TABLE tag. Anyone named in these suits as a DEFENDANT should contact the EFF (Robin Gross, above) as soon as possible.
And while I'm at it, adric submitted that Copyleft now has t-shirts with the CSS-descrambling code on them. Part of the shirt's price gets donated to the EFF! Buy one now, it's the most painless donation you'll ever make.