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The DeCSS Haiku 195

xueexueg writes: "Dr. David Touretzky has posted a new piece of DeCSS art here, as well as his response to a threatening letter from the MPAA. Both are triumphantly good, one an epic haiku with the most intelligent and beautiful commentary I've heard in months, the other a response to the MPAA lawyers who evidently told Touretzky that his entire home page is a 'circumvention device.'" Both are good reads. I realize that posting this sort of thing on Slashdot is simply preaching to the choir, but some part of me hopes that in the end we'll still have a freedom of speech, a freedom to reverse engineer, and a freedom to watch the media we purchase. Sure seems less likely these days.

Comment: 02/25 2:35 PM EST by J : My favorite source for CSSdescramble() is the DVDCCA's own DNS server.

Do dig ns to verify that their DNS servers are (as of right now) and

Then, to pull the gzip'd code straight off their servers, this will work on any vaguely sh-like shell:

for DVDs in Linux screw the MPAA and ; do dig $ ; done | perl -ne 's/\.//g; print pack("H224",$1) if(/^x([^z]*)/)' | gunzip > myfile.c

This trick is number nine on's 42 ways to get DeCSS. You're actually requesting data which resides on's DNS server, but it's being delivered to you by the DVDCCA's DNS server.

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The DeCSS Haiku

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The district court granted a permanent injunction against ... (2) linking any Internet web site, either directly or through a series of links, to any other Internet web site containing DeCSS.

    And I guess anyone who links to Slashdot can now be shut down as well. AND anyone who links to anyone who links to Slashdot is done. And so on. That is a ridiculous ruling.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    DVD CCA considers it protected by trade secret.

    MPAA considers it illegal by DMCA.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They don't have to go to court to shut down Xerox. Xerox is in the process of shutting itself down. Seems that too many other companies copied their copiers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Spreading decss.c is futile.

    Newer dvds are altered so this algorithm will have NO EFFECT.

    Download DeCSSPlus source [] to get a version that brute forces the disc. That way, as long as you can authenticate to the drive, you can decrypt a dvd. No more of the MPAA's lock-out bullshit.

  • DeCSS rocks,
    But his haiku is the best.
    MPAA not pleased.

    Alex Bischoff
  • If you are a programmer, you should care. If you're tired of these political fights "getting old," why not get your news from USA Today instead of Slashdot.

    Without our fighting this, we are aquiescing that a computer program is essentially a device in and of itself and needs to be regulated by the US Government. This is simply not true, and I would rather my government didn't think it was.

    Your credit card example--while better than Judge Kaplan's assassination example--is flawed in that there are no legal uses for that information as presented. That already falls under anti-fraud laws.

    While I would like to retain the right to protect my copyrights, I would like much more to retain the right to write the content which I wish to copyright. By the current rules, there is code I am not aloud to write. There might as well be recipies I'm not allowed to write; or plays; or books, and so forth.

    Shameless Plug:

    (sourceCode == freeSpeech) []
    Fight corporate greed... buy my t-shirts.

    -the Pedro Picasso


  • It's not really the algorithm itself they're protecting. It's their exclusive right to sanction devices that decrypt it that they wish to protect.

    DMCA [] 1201(a)(1) is absolutely all it takes to legally keep you from writing a few lines of your own code on a napkin and passing it to a friend. This is the first bit of legislation that does this. It was lobbied by the MPAA, recommended by the Congressional sub-committees, and passed unanimously by legislators who likely thought they were acting in the interests of the American people. Would you vote against a bill with such a trendy name and so few powerful antagonists? What bills will follow this one in regulating computer programs? If this sort of thing continues, we could even end up with a Federal Source Code Review Agency. Sure it sounds stupid, but there's enough money involved to do it.

    Protect your rights as programmers:

    • Learn what you can about the case. Keep up with the news, and don't get bored with it. This isn't about DVDs, it's about whether or not we are allowed to write and copyright our own code.
    • Support the fight in the courts by donating to the Electronic Frontier Foundation []
    • Support the fight in legislation by sending a hand written letter to your congressional representatives [] expressing your digust with the law and your request for one that dismisses it.
    • Support those fighting on the front lines by reading 2600, the Hacker Quarterly []. (They will ask you to donate to the EFF.)
    You could also support me personally by buying one of my (sourceCode == freeSpeech) T-shirts []. It won't help the actual issue. In case you thought otherwise, wearing T-shirts rarely ever helps an issue. But it will help me get through college. (/shamelessPlug>

    -the Pedro Picasso


  • This, folks, is the best reason to actually go through that crazy academic process so many of gave up on for one reason or another. As a proper professor with all the societal respect that engenders, Dr. Touretzky can take a position against these creeps and have a chance in the courts and the media. All of us scruffy hacks that didn't have the patience for more college should tip our hats to this guy in thanks.

    And I can't help but wonder if he's teaching the birds to sing the source. :-)

  • All your base are belong to me.
    I ported DeCSS to Qbasic with the immense help of the "Plain English" version of DeCSS (I had no clue that >> shr or ^ meant XOR etc..)
    Anyways, here it is: []
  • Definately not a haiku, considering a haiku is three lines long. More like an epic poem, and a good one considering.

    Brian Seppanen

    Minister of Information and Propaganda

  • How do you know it isn't the undercover cops who are the ones destroying the property in order to discredit the protestors?

    Because that's the job of the so called "astronauts" when they aren't prancing around secret NASA soundstages pretending that they are in space. The black helicopters take them to riot areas when needed.
  • Why on earth do our protests have to be non-threatening to the average citizen!?

    Um... maybe because it is actually helpful to *encourage* support for your cause if you want it to succeed? Terrorists and rioters only serve to harm their own causes.
  • They state under penalty of perjury "We have received information that ... ". If they've received misinformation, but genuinely believe it to be accurate, is that enough for them to not be committing perjury?

  • by Orp ( 6583 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:43AM (#404258) Homepage
    Reading that page makes
    my head hurt; haiku is more
    than five seven five
  • Making fun of Scientologists doesn't exactly require a lot of effort (they more or less do it for you), but getting picketed when you're not even there is indeed a triumph :)
  • by m0nkyman ( 7101 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @12:03PM (#404260) Homepage Journal

    However, our protests have to be intelligent, well thought out, and above all, non-threatening to the average citizen, which is who we're supposedly trying to get on our side. Tattooed rioters smashing windows and attacking cops to 'send out a message against corporatism' is simply counterproductive. Kudos to Dr. Touretzky.

    Why on earth do our protests have to be non-threatening to the average citizen!? I don't give a hairy rat's ass if the average citizen agrees with me. If we are doing something that is within our rights, even if it is unpopular, then it is still within our rights.

    [off topic rant] My allegiance lies a lot closer to the tattooed rioters than the 'average citizen'. Having been involved in various 'riots' over the last fifteen years, I have yet to see a single instance where the protesters spontaneously started attacking cops or property. In each instance, the police instigated the issue with heavy handed tactics. [end off topic rant]

    My main problem with the attitude you seem to have is that we all have to be moderate and well behaved to have an effect. Debates are always defined by the extremes. The radicals on the street are pulling the center of the debate towards their position, and that allows people like Touretzky to look like moderates. If the radicals weren't there being radical, then it would be a lot easier to silence people like him.

    Walk softly and carry a big stick

  • For the university's freshers' week, I designed some fliers for the Computer Society [] on my old Atari ST (running Papyrus and NVDI 4, incidentally...) The fliers looked perfectly innocuous, but the background consisted of a large number of faint, grey ones and zeros, grouped into 8-bit bytes. These of course made up the most important function of the DeCSS code - difficult to read, but it was all there.

    Hundreds of copies of the fliers were made and handed out at the freshers' fair - I imagine most of them have been thrown out by now, but somewhere there'll be fliers nestling among other papers, forgotten but still holding the secrets of DeCSS... :-)

    You can see a version of one of the fliers here [] - some of the digits are hidden, but it would probably be possible to figure out what they are, helped by some of the other fliers based on the same background.

    Original 300dpi GIF produced entirely on an Atari ST, BTW - printing to image files is a really useful feature. :-)

    Ford Prefect
  • IANAL but I like the responce... it was funny. I've never seen such a gallery before. Amazing...

  • As someone who has read science fiction for much of my life, I must say it never ceases to amaze me how some of what reads as unrealistic turns out to have a profoundly prophetic view of the world a scant decade or two later.

    Faranheit 451, a story in which "firemen" burned books (books make people think critically, something the state can't allow) leads to people memorizing novels and great works of literature to preserve it for future generations in a world where every last book has been burned.

    Ironic indeed, that our own cheap whores of a congress, a sleazy president, together with one of the more corrupt Copyright Cartels (the MPAA) have managed to conjure the beginnings of such a world in a remarkably short time.

    Memorizing the DeCSS algorithm is one of the most sensible and effective methods of protest I've heard to date ... short of lobotomizing you, or directly and blatently abridging your right to speech in its purest form, there is nothing they can do. And should they chose such a direct abridgement, even the most blindly passive television enamoured sheep could not fail to see it as a violation of one of our most highly prized constitutional rights.
  • The main problem in the DeCSS case is that EFF, 2600 are all daft. Obviously violating the law has never been a wise idea. Especially if there is a way around it. In detail: It is very easy for the RIAA and MPAAA to fight now. Reason is that was is actually published is the decryption device. Which is illegal according to the current laws. It would have been much harder for the MPAA to remove all articles that describe in exruciating detail the encryption scheme (not the decryption). And from there on any clueful indvidual can scribble the decryption in half a day using a standard RSA toolkit or something as daft as the and java.encryption. And at the same time there is no law violated. There is no "circumvention" device described. So legally (IANAL) this should be a much harder target.
  • by Carl ( 12719 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @12:01PM (#404265) Homepage
    You might want to read the following:

    What's Wrong with Copy Protection []

    It is the answer of John Gilmore to a question that Ron Rivest asked: "If the customer is willing to buy extra, or special, hardware to allow him to view protected content, what is wrong with that?"

  • Why on earth do our protests have to be non-threatening to the average citizen!? I don't give a hairy rat's ass if the average citizen agrees with me. If we are doing something that is within our rights, even if it is unpopular, then it is still within our rights.

    Your rights are what your government tells you they are. One of the greatest dangers of democracy lies in that the rights of the few can be abridged at the will of the many.

    We have only the same avenues to send our message as does the average citizen. Go beyond that, and you're breaking the law and undermining the movement. To mold public opinion to sympathize with our message, we have to present information in a manner easily digested. Dr. Touretzky understands this and does it well.
  • Um, except that fire occurs naturally in the real world. Crypto doesn't. Not that I think reverse engineering should be illegal, but your analogy doesn't make even an ounce of sense.

  • that's not crypto...that's just patterns. Like language. Just because we don't understand it doesn't mean it's crypto.

  • Hmm, I really have to bash them in some kind of semi-public way. This sounds like fun.
  • and yet you posted AC
  • by grappler ( 14976 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:51AM (#404271) Homepage
    Check out some of this guy's other stuff. He's got a section where he makes fun of scientologists (they've threatened him of course). They even came and picketed his office one day.
  • Frankly, I'd rather that the courts avoided the First Amendment entirely in favor of determining what copyright actually applies and does not apply to. For example, ruling that the copyright on something doesn't cover discussions about or descriptions of that something that do not copy it, or ruling that you cannot use technical means to deny people rights to use the material that they would legally be entitled to under copyright law.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @05:34PM (#404273) Homepage

    I don't know about triumphant. I think what he's doing is making them jump through the legal hoops they helped create. He's saying "The DMCA says you have to include this information in your notice, so provide the specified information for each and every single URL you want taken down, individually.". If they fail to comply and push it, you can then cite their own law back at them in court, claiming as a defense that they simply didn't notify you as specified in the very law they're trying to use against you. More importantly, it makes them spell out their reasons in writing, which makes them more vulnerable to having those reasons refuted since they can't keep rewriting their demands to suit the moment.

    It also lets you make them respond in your terms, as he does by bringing up the scholarly research and journal aspect of things. A judge might be influenced by a group trying to force scholars not to publish research when they weren't under NDAs or other agreements not to discuss it, for instance.

  • by Hesperus ( 16733 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @12:16PM (#404274) Homepage
    Some of you may remeber a story from *last* February about one Mr. Bad, at who wrote an interesting little program for stripping cascading style sheets out of an html page.

    The program of course was named DeCSS, and was meant to lure the MPAA into filing false suites.

    For a while it looked like the MPAA was going to ignore this other DeCSS, but it looks like they've finally gone for the bait:

  • by shambler snack ( 17630 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @10:32AM (#404275) Homepage
    The power of the press is very great, but not so great as the power of suppress.
    Lord Northcliffe

    And for those who believe in mirroring -

    One has to multiple thoughts to the point where there aren't enough policemen to control them.
    Stanislaw Lec
  • The FBI must be paying their young undercover cops a lot to get pepper sprayed in the face.

    Though without protesters, police would not be able to play with their expensive guns or, worse, some of them might lose their jobs. A peaceful world is NOT in police's interest; they would lose their jobs.
  • How many lawsuits would you attract and how
    many charges would you get nailed with if
    you wrote a Outlook virus that dropped a copy
    of the DeCSS source on every machine it touched?

    Just a thought.
  • So the MPAA want to "close down" DeCSS because they believe is allows copying of copyright materials.

    The RIAA to close down Napster because they think it promotes copying of copyright materials.

    So why the hell don't they both gang up and close down Xerox - They've DEFINITELY allowed people to copy copyright material for YEARS!!!

  • This is GREAT!

    The MPAA lawyers filed against the WRONG DeCSS under penalty of perjury. If we can get enough of 'em disbarred, no more attorneys will work for the MPAA!

  • by villoks ( 27306 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @10:31AM (#404280) Homepage Journal
    As a way to protest MPAA's latest action against Dr. David Touretzky, I included the source code
    of Derek Fawcus's version of CSS-descrambler as an appendix of the my Master Thesis. (The title of my thesis is "Legal Protection for Computer Software" so there's really a relevance). And of course I cited Dr. David Touretzky's Gallery of CSS Descramblers few times. The printed version will be soon in the library of the faculty of law of the University of Helsinki, unfortunately only in Finnish..

    Anyway DeCSS should be fully legal in Europe as long as the new copyright directive isn't in force yet (Decompliation is "fair use" and can't be denied in the license).

    Ville Oksanen

    My DeCSS archive:

  • It's nice to see someone with some stones standing up to this kind of corporate strongarming.

    It's also nice to see a school with the same. Dr. Touretzky isn't fronting the major legal risk here, his employer is for letting him put it on the school Web site. This is not to discount Dr. Touretzky at all, but also note that an institution is standing up for what's right and not just shutting him down. This is even cooler.

  • Are regionless and CSS-less DVDs possible with the current format?

    Yep. I believe some anime DVDs are regionless, and 2600 plans to release Freedom Downtime on a regionless, probably CSS-less DVD.
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:32AM (#404283) Journal
    Download [], mirror, maybe even use to watch movies on Linux and BSD [].
  • MPAA: Motion Picture Association of America, the organization up in arms over the fact that someone implemented the CSS decryption algorithm without their permission.

    RIAA: Recording Industry Association of America, the organization up in arms over Napster, some bootleg and live traders, and a few million cheapskates:)

    Divx: A failed pay-per-view DVD format pushed by Circuit City and Thomson Electronics. Lasted just over a year before it was killed due to the overwhelming popularity of vanilla DVD.

    DivX ;-): MPEG-4-based movie codec, supposedly developed from a hacked Microsoft MPEG-4 implementation; the video equivalent to MP3.

    Copyright law: body of law dealing with creators' control over works they've created, and how such works may be distributed.

    Patent law: body of law dealing with exclusive rights to inventions.

    Feel free to correct me on any of these if I've also blown it.
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:55AM (#404285) Journal
    Just so I'm clear for future discussions on this subject...

    What does the DVD CCA claim protection for the CSS algorithm under? Is it copyrighted, patented, or considered a trade secret? Do they even claim any protection? They try to force player manufacturers to pay a license fee to use the algorithm in their hardware or software. I notice that the copyright infringement charges laid against Jon Johansen didn't stick, because he apparently didn't violate anyone's copyright. I don't recall anyone ever digging out a patent number for the algorithm. That leaves trade secret, and unless the algorithm was leaked by someone under NDA, the implementation MoRE and/or Derek Fawcus developed is nice and legal. As the story goes, some keys were found in the open in Xing's DVD software player, from which the entire algorithm was unless that's a complete fabrication, and someone under NDA did something they shouldn't have, I really don't see where the CCA is coming from.

    Oh, that DMCA thingy, section 1201(a)(1)...yeah. "Circumvention of an access control." Not "copy control", because you can still copy DVDs even with CSS enabled. Interoperability apparently isn't a defense. I thought there was a provision for reverse-engineering something to let a piece of media be used on platforms the vendor doesn't support, but I recall Judge Kaplan throwing out that defense during the original case against 2600 and the others.

    Hrm...I started with a question, I came up with half an answer...does anyone know the full answer? Is section 1201(a)(1) the only club the CCA can use against DeCSS holders and users?
  • Crypto doesn't.

    tell that to those silly folks that did all that work on the human genome project.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • grog full name rmsgrog. rmsgrog wants people to call file by its rite name: GNU/FIRE. rmsgrog made cave weed first so that there would be an alternative to that propri... other weed made by the small foreheaded folks. without cave weed and other cave products (cave meat, cave woman, cave stove, etc) gnu/fire would be useless. so rms grog would like for you all to refer to its as gnu/fire.
    rmsgrog thank you.
    RMSGROG THANK YOU... now rmsgrog must find the capslock key so that the lameness filter will not stop my message: gun/fire

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • more to the point. math is the language of nature. our representation might seem complex but it pales in comparison to the complexity of nature. one might argue that by trying to understand nature we are trying to decrypt it's hidden secrets and thus curcumventing the copy protection imposed by god (if you believe in such a beast-i for one do not).

    back to the origional posters comment. encryption is found in nature-scientific fields are deadicated to decrypting those secrets so that we might be able to manipulate nature. this can be seen in physics, chemistry, biology, etc.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • While you can copy a DVD without DeCSS, it will be of no use to you. You can't bit-for-bit copy a CSS-protected DVD with a consumer DVD-RAM drive. There's some area on the DVD-RAM disc that's not writable by a DVD-RAM drive, and that is required for a CSS-protected DVD. To actually do a bit-for-bit copy, you need a professional DVD writer, which is not something that's widely available.

    DeCSS does have legitimate uses, but it can be (and is) used to "rip" DVDs and convert them to DivX ;-) format or other formats that are easily distributable across the net.

    In other words, DeCSS is a device/algorithm that allows for the comprimise of access control mechanisms in such a manner as to allow illegal copying of DVDs. Furthermore, this form of copyright infringement holds the potential to decrease the commercial value of works protected by CSS. As broadband access becomes commonplace, piracy of movies could start to happen in a "Napster-like" fashion. This would interfere with the ability of movie studios to sell their content on demand over the internet.

    The MPAA isn't as stupid as we like to think. They know that they have to stop this now to avoid future trouble. They're already experimenting with selling content online. They've learned from the mistakes of the RIAA.

    There are legitimate uses for DeCSS (such as making a Linux DVD player), and that's why it should be legal. We shouldn't lie and claim it can't be used for piracy.
  • Unless you either have a hacked player that does software decryption, or some other DeCSS-like program, you can't copy and play CSS-protected DVDs.

    I'm guessing you're either decrypting them without realizing it (how are you copying the data to your hard drive?), you have a player that's been hacked to read data from anywhere, or you just have unencrypted DVDs.
  • While you can copy a DVD without DeCSS, it will be of no use to you. You can't bit-for-bit copy a CSS-protected DVD with a consumer DVD-RAM drive.

    Assuming that a "consumer DVD-RAM drive" cannot be modified; all such devices have this limitation or that major pirates will mess around with these in the first place, rather than simply bribing the people in a DVD factory.
  • Medium to large scale pirates do have machines which allow bit-for-bit copying DVDs and had them almost as soon as the format hit the market (probably before; the equipment probably came from a pressing plant somewhere).

    Assuming they actually need ownership of such machines in the first place. Unless the pressing plants are highly secure and running at 100% capacity then there is an easier solution.
  • Unless you either have a hacked player that does software decryption, or some other DeCSS-like program, you can't copy and play CSS-protected DVDs

    If you are a pirate operating in any kind of commerical way then it's most likely that you have access to the relevent copying equiptment.
  • It's from an old NES game that was translated from Japanese to English...*badly*.

    It looks like a "mechanical" translation. Even though it may have been done by a person with a phrasebook.
  • ...memorize DeCSS, is my mind a circumvention device?

    If the answer is yes, when will we be petitioning the courts for an amendment to the Consitution that protects our Freedom to Think?


  • >> told Touretzky that his entire home page is a 'circumvention device.

    Wouldn't, then, someone who memorized the entire DeCSS source be a circumvention device in themselves? Touretzky has other non-DeCSS stuff on his site, much like anyone who memorizes the code has non-DeCSS stuff in their heads.

    This scares me. MPAA lobotomies to get rid of the memorized code---oh wait, that's what Battlefield Earth was for. And who, of all people, would be interested in a crappy sci-fi movie? The same people who would memorize the DeCSS source! It's all making sense, now! ;-)

  • Depends on your pronunciation of pissed or pleased (both of which can sound like a single syllable word).
    Wha? Under the assumption that "pleased" has at least one syllable (reasonable, I think), the line "MPAA not pleased" has too many. Unless you have a funny way of pronouncing "MPAA."


  • All of your base are belong to us...

    All of your movies
    (In the DVD format)
    Are belong to us.


    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • However, our protests have to be intelligent, well thought out, and above all, non-threatening to the average citizen, which is who we're supposedly trying to get on our side. Tattooed rioters smashing windows and attacking cops to 'send out a message against corporatism' is simply counterproductive.

    Which is exactly why the corporate media focus on thet very very tiny number of l4m3rs who smash windows, etc., and do not present the more reasoned and articulate voices of protest.

    "See what a threat these activists are to your Cherished American Values? They are bad, bad people. But do not fear...your corporate masters will protect you.

    "We need your help, though. We just need you to give us a few little things you weren't using anyway...unimportant things. You don't need that `freedom of speech' bit to talk with your buddies at the office about watching `Temptation Island'. You don't need to be able to reverse engineer to figure out how to work the remote control.

    "So don't worry! Just sit back and watch our 12-hour Survivor marathon instead!

    "The megacorps are your friends. Trust the corps."

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • Is that a bet?

    Think "Natural Camouflage"

    By modifying reflected light though colored fur/scales/skin, predators are unable to separate the image of prey from background noise.

    Certain flowers shine brightly in the UV spectrum, making them stand out from the background noise only to insects who can see in that spectrum.

    People lie to each other to mislead, getting to the truth requires analysis. Last time I checked, no one has been making artificial people.

  • Six syllables in
    last line; try replacing with
    "MPAA pissed"
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @01:08PM (#404307) Homepage Journal
    Here is a letter that I sent to my congressman - Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks). I doubt that anything will happen from it, but at least I said something...

    -- cut here --

    Dear Congressman Sherman,

    I had the pleasure of meeting you on the evening of 2/23/01, at Temple Judea. I was the man with the two young daughters who was sitting behind you.

    If you may recall, I took the opportunity to discuss the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and patent reform with you. I realize that time was short, and I was perhaps less than fully comprehensible, for which I apologize.

    I am writing to express my dismay at the Department of Justice filing a brief in Universal City Studios, et al. vs. Eric Corley aka 2600 (See the link This is a free speech matter wherein the government should be filing on behalf of the defendants, not the plaintiffs.

    Essentially, Mr. Corley published a program called "DeCSS" on his website. The Motion Picture Association of America successfully sued under the DMCA to have it removed as a "Circumvention of Access Control". However, the MPAA often refers to the Content Scrambling System (CSS) on DVD movies as "copy protection", and an attempt to protect their copyright on movies.

    I have no objection to copyright holders protecting their interests -- that's another debate for another time -- but in this situation, they are using a sledgehammer to swat a fly, and missing the mark (if you will excuse the confused metaphor).

    Essentially, what CSS does is scramble the digital data on the DVD so that it cannot be read without descrambling it. The MPAA claims that this is to prevent copying. However, a DVD is nothing but a stream of ones and zeros, with the only meaning to those ones and zeroes that which we give it by interpretation.

    Consider a book written in Swedish. I do not read Swedish, and cannot use the book without a Swedish-English dictionary. However, I can copy the book either mechanically or by hand without interpreting it. Similarly, I can copy a DVD without interpreting those ones and zeroes that make up the data on the disk.

    DeCSS is a program that descrambles the CSS coded video stream on the disk. In the analogy given above, it functions as a Swedish-English dictionary. It allows me *FAIR USE* of the DVD which I have purchased, and under the doctrine of first sale, the MPAA has absolutely no rights to tell me what I may or may not do with said DVD.

    Now back to the point. I am distressed and dismayed by the intervention of the DOJ in this case, as I believe that the lower court ruling was incorrect, and the attempted restraint on free speech is unconstitutional.

    I ask you, as a voting constituent, to ask the Administration to remove itself from these proceedings.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  • Depends on your pronunciation of pissed or pleased (both of which can sound like a single syllable word).
  • It is legal to own a gun, but it is not legal to shoot someone with it. Guns have fair uses: hunting, self-defense, etc. But using the gun to murder someone with it is not a fair use, and is thus illegal.

    Similarly we have the DeCSS program. Most of us here run Linux, and want to use DeCSS to watch movies on our operating system of choice. We are willing to legally buy a DVD-ROM drive, as well as legal copies of movies on DVD's, and the DeCSS program is a device that facilitates our watching these movies on computers that we have legally purchased. In the privacy of our own homes, we should be able to do whatever we want with things that we have legally obtained.

    That argument understandably stops, however, the moment we begin making illegal copies of said material or upload it to the internet. But just having DeCSS on my computer does not necessarily imply that I am going to infringe on the copyrights of the things that I have purchased. Under our constitution, it is legal for me to do what I wish with things I own in the privacy of my home. This protection stops when I do illegal things with it.

    In our land, people are innocent until proven guilty. The current ruling on the DeCSS case, however, implies the presumption of guilt, namely, that by having this software, you are automatically going to use it for illegal purposes. I just hope our judicial system at some point realizes that there are people like me, who wish to use DeCSS for legal purposes, and that the people who use it for illegal purposes are going to have to be brought to justice one at a time, just like murderers are caught one at a time.

    The Constitution protects my right to privacy, and it presumes that I am innocent until I am proven guilty. The DeCSS ruling directly violates both of these constitutional tenets, and therefore cannot stand.

  • I fail to see how this guy's response email is "triumphant". He doesn't make any outstanding points. He just says "here, each of these urls are "bad". can you cut and paste your previous email with each of these urls instead of just one?" Hardly poignant.

    I'm glad he's putting up a fight, but this is hardly a "triumphant" response.

  • The NY lawsuit against 2600 was based on the DMCA (1201 et al.), and is currently being appealed at the NY appellate court.

    The CA lawsuit against 500 or so people (including John Does) hasn't completed yet, and is much more about trade secret. Trade secret is a different body of law, but there are some DMCA components.

    The content on DVDs is copyrighted, but the "normal" (pre-DMCA) aspects of copyright aren't an issue since nobody's been charged with illegally copying DVDs. It's the new aspects of copyright - the DMCA - that is at issue. The problem is, the new copyright takes away rights that people used to have. This is the crux of the 2600 appeal.

    The current issue of 2600 magazine has an opening editorial mentioning that thanks to high-definition TV (coming Really Soon Now), regular TV broadcasts will enjoy the same protection that DVD's are getting, thanks to the DMCA. This could easily remove our right to time-shift by videotaping content, as well as make enforcable whatever restrictions the content owners want to dream up (for example, what if bars need to pay a big license fee for showing sports shows? The DMCA could make this enforceable).
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @02:02PM (#404316) Journal
    Haiku is more than just three lines with 5,7,5 syllables - classically there's supposed to be some nature or seasonal allusions. Also, while the first stanza of a longer haiku was 5,7,5, it was common for people to build shared compositions, adding sets of 7,5 after the initial 5-7-5 following the theme of the original

    D E C S S
    no decrypting in winter
    or we'll sue your ass
    the region code from Finland
    says you can't watch it
    cherry blossoms blooming in spring
    don't watch Anime
    a tree in a golden forest
    no Chinese movies
    Disney movies in summer
    watch the commercials

    On the other hand, the poem had great use of European poetic forms - invoking the muse on occasion, analogies to Paradise Lost, and it was altogether good stuff.

  • by ArtDent ( 83554 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @10:35AM (#404317)

    Oh, that DMCA thingy, section 1201(a)(1)...yeah. "Circumvention of an access control." Not "copy control", because you can still copy DVDs even with CSS enabled. Interoperability apparently isn't a defense. I thought there was a provision for reverse-engineering something to let a piece of media be used on platforms the vendor doesn't support, but I recall Judge Kaplan throwing out that defense during the original case against 2600 and the others.

    Actually, you came up with the whole answer. Three years ago DeCSS would have been perfectly legal. It just took a little lobbying (read, "money") from the MPAA to make it a crime to access information that you have purchased.

    The exemption that you mention allows...

    ...a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.

    In other words, it allows for circumvention for the purposes of enabling interoperability between two programs, but Judge Kaplan decided that it does not apply to interoperability between one program and one piece of recorded media.

    Overly narrow exceptions, anyone? You betcha!

  • It's really hard to take seriously a letter coming from a PacBell dialup email address. ? Whatever. Give me a break. All that money and the MPAA doesn't have their own domain name for sending email. Can you say hoax?
  • Oh please.

    If we are doing something that is within our rights, even if it is unpopular, then it is still within our rights.

    Sorry, but destroying other people's property isn't within your rights. Whether it's owned by a person or a commercial entity, be it a corporation, or a limited partnership, or an LLC, or a single proprietorship. Somebody worked hard to put that building/store/whatever there. Destroying it is not within your rights.

    Now I'm not telling you we should all bend over for corporations. I just want honesty about what you ARE within your rights to do and what you AREN'T. Furthermore, the excuse about police provocation may be true sometimes, but that STILL doesn't excuse destroying somebody else's property or rioting. If a cop hits me, I'll fucking slam him over the head. But I won't burn some poor sod's car because a cop hit me over the head.

    It just makes you into a mindless crowd follower if you get sucked into frenzied mob action. I find it utterly distasteful, and it polarizes me strongly again whatever bullshit thing a bunch of rioters are rioting over.

  • There's also the possibility that the stresses of the job shape the person. And as for the 'homicidal' rant of this one officer, have you ever heard a sysadmin say he wants to throw the Sexchange server out the window or something?
    A Catholic police officer once told me that he wished the Crusades would come back, and that he'd like to give his life fighting for Christianity. Now, this statement could raise a few eyebrows in today's culture, but I think what he was really expressing was a wish for a straightforward battle where the enemy is well defined. This would be quite a relief from the reality of police work.
  • However, you're missing an important point. Many people are willing to accept suppression of source code because they do not see it as speech. The average reporter is techno-illiterate and sees DeCSS as a bunch of greasy machine parts used by vandals. However, the average reporter would be outraged if the MPAA were silencing speech critical of itself.
    Touretsky's various translations of DeCSS help bring source code into the realm of speech.
    The US establishment (media/congress/judges) is very supportive of people's fundamental rights. When they fail to protect those rights, it's frequently because they don't understand the situation. If the MPAA manages to suppress all of Touretsky's expression, this will help make the case interesting to the establishment.
  • First of all, Nigam is probably a fictitious name invented by the MPAA's attorney's. If he's real, he's probably a hapless intern or paralegal whose name they stuck in their Perl script that auto-generates these letters. That way the 'under penalty of perjury' bits won't hurt a real lawyer. Did I say Perl? Visual Basic for these lamers.
    Second, is obviously a throwaway account. The MPAA sees the people hosting DeCSS as dangerous, unscrupulous characters and wants to keep them at arm's length. If you want real emails, they're probably at and at Now, if you were a real jerk, you'd exploit an open relay to start sending forged takedown letters from Mr. Nigam to lots of ISP's regarding lots of web sites. I don't recommend this.
    Anyhow, if you really want to put sand in these people's gearboxes, start by realizing that they are not like you! They don't live on the internet. Email is not important to them. They live in the world of cell phones and fax machines. Now if everyone could fax them a bannerized version of DeCSS - oh never mind.
  • I see now three versions of this software... How about porting it to your favorite language?

    (psst.. Wouldn't it be cool to write something illegal??)

  • by avij ( 105924 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @12:07PM (#404332) Homepage
    Have you considered releasing your master's thesis at e-thesis [], an electronic collection of doctoral dissertations and master's and licenciate's theses from the University of Helsinki?

    Of course they're not going to publish anything you throw at them, check out their rules [] (in Finnish) before you proceed.

  • Was it sent via email, fax, or snail mail?

    Email is ignored, faxes are trashed, snail mail is opened, read, and discussed. Please tell me you used the latter.
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • It suprises me that some freaks haven't gotten a tattoo of decss yet.

  • by Mr. Adequate ( 138862 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:48AM (#404349) Homepage

    But still not bulletproof: A proper haiku must incorporate some kind of seasonal reference.

    (Of course it would be ludicrous for Valenti to try and have fair use protection thrown out for this reason. But no more ludicrous than calling DeCSS a piracy tool in the first place.)

  • I realize that posting this sort of thing on Slashdot is simply preaching to the choir

    Every post on slashdot is preaching to the choir.
  • I know, I know, sometimes I do it to-- just read the summary and comments. But seriously, READ THE LINKS from that story. All of 'em. They're funny as hell. The response is particularly hilarious, but his own home page with bits about scientology and amway sprinkled amongst course descriptions is truly something to be seen.

    Schools shut down student pages with scarcely a second thought. It's gotta be a lot harder to shut down a professor.
  • I was checking out Dr Touretzky's testimony and in one section, he refers to the "new compiler":

    Section 1088...

    8 So, when you feed the C source code to a C compiler,
    9 let's say GCC, the new C compiler, it's a very commonly-used C
    10 compiler.

    Anyone know where I can get that? ;)
  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @10:44AM (#404363) Homepage

    In the email sent to CMU the MPAA writes:

    DeCSS is a software utility that decrypts or unscrambles the contents of DVDs (consisting of copyrighted motion pictures) or otherwise circumvents the protection afforded by the Contents Scramble System (CSS) and permits the copying of the DVD contents and/or any portion thereof.

    Then the MPAA goes on to say:

    Also pursuant to DMCA, we hereby state, under penalty of perjury under the law of California and under the laws of the United States, that the information in this notification is accurate and that we are authorized to act on behalf of the owners of the exclusive rights being infringed as set forth in this notification.

    Since the first identified paragraph is inaccurate, they openly admit to perjury!!

    A) DeCSS is NOT a software utility, it is an algorithm
    B) DVD copying does NOT require the unscrambling of the data

  • by Ig0r ( 154739 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @11:51AM (#404367)
    You're not a citizen, you're a consumer.
    Remember that.

  • by aed ( 156746 )
    Broadcast message from aed (pts/2) Sun Feb 25 22:38:48 2001...

    The internet is going down for system halt NOW !!
  • by OOG_THE_CAVEMAN ( 165540 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @12:51PM (#404372)
  • Medium to large scale pirates do have machines which allow bit-for-bit copying DVDs and had them almost as soon as the format hit the market (probably before; the equipment probably came from a pressing plant somewhere). DeCSS is of use for piracy, sure, just as a video recorder is, but no serious pirate is going to spend the time using DeCSS to decrypt and save when they can just press multiple copies at a time.

    Also, I'm under the impression that some DVD players can be hacked to get at the digital output so that can become a source for net-distributed movies.

    Finally if a DVD-Napster ever appears let it be dealt with as a piracy-ring (which is what Napster was all about) and squash it with the relevent legislation, not stupid rulings which extend copyright into areas it was never meant to cover (and which the written law of the US still says it can't, Digital Millenium Dohicky or not)


  • by TrinSF ( 183901 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @11:26AM (#404382)
    What I find particularly elegant about the work is how well informed it is by classical models. It's not just that it's 5-7-5 "verses", but that the whole thing is built around the Greek epic poem model. It's written to evoke Homer and Hesiod, complete with initial invocation of a muse and subsequent references to that muse. It includes traditional asides, stops frequently to praise its heroes, and closes with a prayer (of sorts).
    It's also similar in more than just form. Works like Hesiod's Theogony [] are not just spoken poetic entertainment: they delineate the world view of their culture. In the same way, the DeCSS epic instructs the "listener" in the world view and cultural values of those opposing DeCSS.

    It's a lovely thing to wake up to this morning.
  • is my little cache of tools. (And yes, I actually use them to view DVDs I've purchased.)

    It was mildly uplifting to see DST's mention of the Scheme version I hacked together :)

  • by mad_clown ( 207335 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @10:06AM (#404395)
    It's nice to see someone with some stones standing up to this kind of corporate strongarming.

    Now... I live in Eugene, OR, which is one of the hotbeds of 'anti-corporatist anarchism' and such... and though I'd venture to say that a very, very large percentage of the people involved with such groups are just there to wreak havoc, the small portion that does actually beleive in their goals are, in my opinion, going about it the wrong way. Dr. David Touretzky is going about it the right way. Instead of rioting and breaking windows and throwing bricks at cops to make his point, he's going about it in a fashion that not only makes him look clever, but makes the MPA look absolutely stupid. We have to stand up for our rights, or else, eventually, someone is going to ride roughshod over us all, and then it's all over (read Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago for a more detailed description of what happens when people don't voice a word of protest when they're being opressed). However, our protests have to be intelligent, well thought out, and above all, non-threatening to the average citizen, which is who we're supposedly trying to get on our side. Tattooed rioters smashing windows and attacking cops to 'send out a message against corporatism' is simply counterproductive. Kudos to Dr. Touretzky.

  • Well, anybody who's geeky enough to memorize the entire DeCSS source code and like the movie Battlefield Earth, probably isn't going to mating anytime soon, so that problem should be corrected in a generation or so.
  • by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:36AM (#404399)
    You know its bad when the people with all the money are the ones making and influencing the rules.

    Ah yes. Because today the rich are in charge, as opposed to all of the previous great eras when all of the people of the world controlled everyth-- Hey! Wait a minute! [The rest of this sarcasm is left as an exercise to the trol^H^H^H^H reader.]

  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:39AM (#404403)
    /. just linked to decss...dammit, now it's gonna get shut down
  • MPAA bumper sticker: Guns don't kill corporations. DeCSS does.

  • Furthermore, the excuse about police provocation may be true sometimes, but that STILL doesn't excuse destroying somebody else's property or rioting.

    How do you know it isn't the undercover cops who are the ones destroying the property in order to discredit the protestors?

  • Okay, so DeCSS is considered a copyright circumvention tool. However, my understanding is that it was primarily designed to allow Linux users to play DVDs (which they already paid for) on their systems. But incidentally, the program will also allow a DVD owner to make a copy of the DVD, without permission. The latter is what has the MPAA so concerned.

    How is this different from a CD burner? Sure, one could argue that it's primary use is for archiving one's own material, but the hardware and it's bundled software can also quite easily be used to pirate audio or data CDs. Why hasn't the RIAA gone after every manufacturer of CD burners, CDRs, CDRWs and burner software? I mean, come on, pirating a 4 minute song and distrubuting it over the net is a heck of a lot easier than pirating a DVD! Seems to me that pirated CDs (and MP3s that you can make with the bundled software) represent more of a threat to copyright than DeCSS does.

    First of all, programs like EasyCD Creator make copying a CD child's play. Nearly any idiot can do this as the software gives you explicit instructions and does all the work for you. But to pirate a DVD using DeCSS is a much more complicated process and it's unlikely that Dick and Jane Jones are going to go to all that trouble or will even know how to do it. Second of all, audio and data CDs are far more common in the average consumer household than DVDs are. You can play audio disks nearly anywhere, and MP3s are not far behind. But a DVD can really only be used in a PC or your home theatre, not in your car, not in your discman, not on your cellphone, etc.

    When the RIAA says it's trying to protect the artists, don't believe them. If a CD sells, the artist might get 3 or 4% in royalties. The record company will get over 80%, and the rest is retail markup. No artist makes as much on a record as the company that produced the record. That's simply not how the industry works. Record companies are a lot like venture capitalists - they'll front you the money to get going, but in return they want that capital back and they'll strive for controlling interest in your assets. So they're really protecting their own interests, not those of the artists. They're after Napster because it is a distribution system far superior to their own in many ways. But they've done nothing against the distrubution methods like CD burners and MP3 encoders. I don't understand why. Why hasn't Warner Brothers sued Panasonic and Acer for making burners that can be used to circumvent copyright and royalties on their releases? Why haven't they sued Maxell and others for producing the media that allows illegal copying of their CDs? Nobody has sued Adaptec for making software that allows any Joe to copy an audio or data CD.

    If DeCSS is a copyright circumvention method, so too is a CD burner. If this is true, then why has the MPAA come out with their guns blazing at nearly everyone and the RIAA has gone after Napster alone?

  • ..Belong To Us!.

    I'd like to see the DeCSS code scrolling on one of those stock tickers =). Or perhaps written into hillsides by placing stones or something (DeCSS visible from the ISS =) ?)

  • We need a brainfuck [] port.
  • by swagr ( 244747 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:51AM (#404413) Homepage
    Re: various ways to distribute the code.

    How about a "compression algorithm" who's output when "decompressing" the MPAA's threat letter is DeCSS code? That way perhaps the MPAA would have to threaten themselves.
  • by KrunZ ( 247479 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @11:25AM (#404416)
    Can I order the source on DVD?
  • Sir, do you not see Despite your good intentions They'll troll anyway?
  • by suwain_2 ( 260792 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:35AM (#404423) Journal
    ...I've snagged a copy. Maybe I'll save it to multiple, off-site computers, just to be safe...

    I have no interest in getting DeCSS to work, at least not right now. (One major reason is that I don't have a DVD drive...) But the fact that the RIAA is trying to keep me from seeing it -- a violation of the first amendment, IMHO -- inspired - no, forced - me to download it.

    BTW, if you're the RIAA... I'm just kidding. I'd never do anything that didn't please you.

  • Why is no-one reading the words here. MPAA are claiming that CSS is a copy-protection mechanism. According to DMCA, circumventing an access control mechanism is illegal. DeCSS circumvents a copy control mechanism (by MPAA's own admission) and so does not violate the DMCA.

    What MPAA are trying to hide is the real wording of the DMCA. Whatever your opinions of the WIPO treaty that started all this, the DMCA goes much further. The US has enacted a law that benefits MPAA (and others) under the guise of implementing a WIPO treaty.

    Let's hope the rest of the world's lawmakers aren't bought so easily.
    • MPAA - Just plain evil
    • RIAA - See MPAA
    • Divx - See RIAA
    • DivX - Doesn't belong in this list
    • Copyright law - See Divx
    • Patent law - See Copyright law
    Now, what's the difference again?
  • by sagacious_gnostic ( 319793 ) on Sunday February 25, 2001 @09:44AM (#404436)
    I just realised what is wrong with the IT industry. We have a new technology and people seem to think that this creates new 'laws'. New fangled keywords such as 'reverse engineering' which (as far as i see) translates to 'let's see how this works' suddenly become issues. Where would we be now if Mr Grog Caveman said 'It's against the law to reverse engineer my heat generating device (fire(tm))?

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.