The Digital Millennium Copyright Act - DMCA

Also read the article DMCA Revisited


Back until September '99 CSS - Content Scrambling System - was considered secure, at least if the movie industry was concerned. But in late September 99 I read the small note at that CSS had been broken. Although there had been many cryptanalysts telling that CSS was not safe and rather easy to crack it took rather long till it cracking actually happened. Later in '99 the MPAA learned of an utility called DeCSS which allows people to decrypt the vob files to your hard disk. It's important to know that copying DVDs was possible way before that. As soon as you have a software DVD player running you can copy any file on a DVD to your hard disk - but it will still be encrypted. However it might be possible to put the encrypted content on a recordable DVD and play it back without actually having to decrypt CSS. Soon after the MPAA learned of this utility, they started out sending letters like that to sites that were offering DeCSS. They pointed out that the DMCA would forbid circumventing CSS and therefore that utility would be illegal. Many providers complied to their demands and shut down websites offering the utility. On December 27 '99 the DVD-CCA - DVD Copy Control Association - launched a lawsuit in California against about 600 people worldwide who were offering DeCSS for download. In the first instance their motion for a preliminary injunction was denied but later on it was granted. That process made it widely know that CSS could be cracked and it was the first time that this was widely reported in the press. On January 15 2000 the MPAA launched a lawsuit against several website suing under the DMCA for circumvention of a copy-protection scheme. The motion for a preliminary injunction was granted on January 24. Later on the MPAA tried to expand to lawsuit to bar from even linking to DeCSS. 

This case has been reported over and over in the press by now. In March 2000 hired Martin Garbus - a well know and respected First Amendment lawyer - to defend them, thanks to funding of the EFF - Electronic Frontier Foundation. Since then the case looks a lot more favorable for the defendants. This has recently been manifested by the plaintiffs who are frantically trying to slow down the motion by the defendants to disqualify the preliminary injunction.  

Since this site offers tools to decrypt CSS and provides instructions to back-up your DVDs I think it's important to know what this case is all about and what the DMCA really has to say about the issue. Therefore I've compiled a pretty thorough analysis of the relevant paragraphs of the DMCA. I've also included a lot of statements by various people on the subject, etc. If you like to know more then I suggest you visit the sites I've linked at the bottom of this document. If you want to jump all the interesting stuff and go direct to my conclusion feel free to do so but be advised that you may not understand some issues without having read the whole article. Also.. if you have any questions about issues mentioned in this document you should ask somebody who actually has passed his bar exam.

So here we go...

The 105th congress of the United States of America devised the following Act during their 2nd session starting on January 27th 1998. It was ratified by Congress on October 21st and signed into law on October 28th 1998.

The whole act is quite long and I will only make reference to the actual document which can be downloaded on my site and I will only treat the sections which I think are important in this matter.

Chapter 12

Paragraph 1201 Circumvention of copyright protection systems
‘‘(2) No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public,
provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service,
device, component, or part thereof, that-
‘‘(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose
of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls
access to a work protected under this title;
‘‘(B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or
use other than to circumvent a technological measure that
effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;
‘‘(C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert
with that person with that person’s knowledge for use in circumventing
a technological measure that effectively controls
access to a work protected under this title.
‘‘(3) As used in this subsection-
‘‘(A) to ‘circumvent a technological measure’ means to
descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work,
or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair
a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright
owner; and
‘‘(B) a technological measure ‘effectively controls access to
a work’ if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation,
requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment,
with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access
to the work.
‘‘(b) ADDITIONAL VIOLATIONS.-(1) No person shall manufacture,
import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any
technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof,
‘‘(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose
of circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure
that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under
this title in a work or a portion thereof;
‘‘(B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or
use other than to circumvent protection afforded by a techno-logical
measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright
owner under this title in a work or a portion thereof; or
‘‘(C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert
with that person with that person’s knowledge for use in circumventing
protection afforded by a technological measure that
effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under this
title in a work or a portion thereof.
‘‘(2) As used in this subsection-
‘‘(A) to ‘circumvent protection afforded by a technological
measure’ means avoiding, bypassing, removing, deactivating,
or otherwise impairing a technological measure; and
‘‘(B) a technological measure ‘effectively protects a right
of a copyright owner under this title’ if the measure, in the
ordinary course of its operation, prevents, restricts, or otherwise
limits the exercise of a right of a copyright owner under this

‘‘(c) OTHER RIGHTS, ETC., NOT AFFECTED.-(1) Nothing in this
section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to
copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title.

‘‘(4) Nothing in this section shall enlarge or diminish any rights
of free speech or the press for activities using consumer electronics,
telecommunications, or computing products.

‘‘(f ) REVERSE ENGINEERING.-(1) Notwithstanding the provisions
of subsection (a)(1)(A), 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.
‘‘(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and
(b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent
a technological measure, or to circumvent protection
afforded by a technological measure, in order to enable the identification
and analysis under paragraph (1), or for the purpose of
enabling interoperability of an independently created computer pro-gram
with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve
such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute
infringement under this title.
‘‘(3) The information acquired through the acts permitted under
paragraph (1), and the means permitted under paragraph (2), may
be made available to others if the person referred to in paragraph
(1) or (2), as the case may be, provides such information or means
solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently
created computer program with other programs, and to the
extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this
title or violate applicable law other than this section.

You may also want to read pages 11-13 which deal with analog video recorders.

‘‘§ 1203. Civil remedies

‘‘(a) CIVIL ACTIONS.-Any person injured by a violation of
section 1201 or 1202 may bring a civil action in an appropriate
United States district court for such violation.
‘‘(b) POWERS OF THE COURT.-In an action brought under
subsection (a), the court-
‘‘(1) may grant temporary and permanent injunctions on
such terms as it deems reasonable to prevent or restrain a
violation, but in no event shall impose a prior restraint on
free speech or the press protected under the 1st amendment
to the Constitution;
‘‘(2) at any time while an action is pending, may order
the impounding, on such terms as it deems reasonable, of
any device or product that is in the custody or control of
the alleged violator and that the court has reasonable cause
to believe was involved in a violation;
‘‘(3) may award damages under subsection (c);
‘‘(4) in its discretion may allow the recovery of costs by
or against any party other than the United States or an officer
‘‘(5) in its discretion may award reasonable attorney’s fees
to the prevailing party; and
‘‘(6) may, as part of a final judgment or decree finding
a violation, order the remedial modification or the destruction
of any device or product involved in the violation that is in
the custody or control of the violator or has been impounded
under paragraph (2).

et all. This paragraph goes on about awarding damages.

And now for my analysis:

Paragraph 1201a2 clearly states that a device "primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected.." is illegal. 1201b2 states that "No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under this title"

Clearly DeCSS can be considered as such a tool. Therefore it's highly illegal, right? Well... we're not thru yet..

1201b2A/B define what "circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure" means.. Clearly again DeCSS is guilty as charged.

However in 1201c the act states: "OTHER RIGHTS, ETC., NOT AFFECTED.-- Nothing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title.

This is a big one. As you can read in Judge Kaplan's statement about the preliminary injunction against he made it abundantly clear that the defendants were not being charged for copyright infringement but rather for dissemination of a tool that violates 1201a2. However 1201c states that the whole section shall affect fair use. In order to exercise fair use as granted by the US copyright act, you have to be able to copy a movie - in that case the DVD. And in order to do so you need to decrypt the movie or get rid of the analog copy protection mechanism known as Macrovision. So here's the problem: You have the right to copy your own movie for personal use but you're barred from circumventing any copy-protection mechanism. So what can you do? If you want to interpret section 1201a strictly to the letter that would mean that fair use is essentially dead. As soon as content is protected by any any-copy technology fair use rights do not apply anymore. This interpretation has been criticized by numerous law professors throughout the United States.

The question clearly is what do you weigh more: Protecting copyrights no matter what - or allow circumventing of copy-protection schemes for fair use?

Judge Kaplan has made his view clear. Many disagree with him. And many of those are as capable in legal matters as him. It's my firmest belief that fair use rights should be weighed more. I believe it's safe to assume that everyone among us has always considered a product to be his to own forever as soon as it had been acquired. The movie industry has already tried to take that right away from us by launching DIVX - the new defunct Circuit City pay-per-view DVD system. Now they're trying it again - this time by lobbying the congress to pass a law that grants them their desired rights to control a movie even after they sold it. This is completely against the everything mentioned in the Berne Convention - which the US has signed, too.

The Berne convention states in paragraph 9, section B:

(2) It shall be a matter for legislation in the countries of the Union to permit the reproduction of such works in certain special cases, provided that such reproduction does not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.

Now.. does a copy of a motion picture for personal use or backup purposes prejudice the legitimate interests of the author? I don't think so. It would be unfair to force someone to buy a movie twice just because the tape has worn out or the disc was scratched.

For your information I've also included a few statements from several congressmen concerning hit issue.

Chairman Tom Bliley:

Section 1201(a)(1), in lieu of a new statutory prohibition against the act of circumvention, creates a rulemaking proceeding intended to ensure that persons (including institutions) will continue to be able to get access to copyrighted works in the future. Given the overall concern of the Committee that the Administration's original proposal created the potential for the development of a `pay-per-use' society, we felt strongly about the need to establish a mechanism that would ensure that libraries, universities, and consumers generally would continue to be able to exercise their fair use rights and the other exceptions that have ensured access to works. Like many of my colleagues in the House, I feel it will be particularly important for this provision to be interpreted to allow individuals and institutions the greatest access to the greatest number of works, so that they will be able to continue exercising their traditional fair use and other rights to information.

Sections 1201(a)(2) and (b)(1) make it illegal to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in so-called `black boxes'--devices with no substantial non-infringing uses that are expressly intended to facilitate circumvention of technological measures for purposes of gaining access to or making a copy of a work. These provisions are not aimed at widely used staple articles of commerce, such as the consumer electronics, telecommunications, and computer products--including videocassette recorders, telecommunications switches, personal computers, and servers--used by businesses and consumers everyday for perfectly legitimate purposes

Representative Rick Boucher:

"First, the conferees included a provision which ensures that the legislation's prohibition against circumvention of copy protection technologies in digital works does not thwart the exercise of fair use and other rights by all users"

And here are Representative W.J. Tauzin's remarks about the issue:

"We also sought to ensure that consumers could apply their centuries-old fair use rights in the digital age. Sections 1201(a)(2) and (b)(1) make it illegal to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or to otherwise traffic in `black boxes.' These provisions are not aimed at staple articles of commerce, such as video cassette recorders, telecommunications switches, and personal computers widely used today by businesses and consumers for legitimate purposes"


".... consumers generally would continue to be able to exercise their fair use rights.." Fair use includes making copies for your own use!

And now for the legal remedy part:

1203b1: "may grant temporary and permanent injunctions on such terms as it deems reasonable to prevent or restrain a violation, but in no event shall impose a prior restraint on free speech or the press protected under the 1st amendment to the Constitution".

Mr. Kaplan: Linking to another website is free speech! If you order anyone to stop linking to a certain site that offers a certain tool - no matter whether it's legal or not - this is a violation of the first amendment. I hyperlink is no different from referencing to a source in a printed document. If the preliminary injunction was not enough.. the MPAA recently had divxsource shut down just because there was a link to my site.. which contains material that might fall under section 1201 of the DMCA. Just for your information: There's very few countries in the world that actually restrict free speech: China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea... do I need to go on? Your interpretation of the DMCA is unworthy of a democratic nation like the United States of America.

The following was taken out of President Clinton's remark on signing the act into law:

"I am advised by the Department of Justice that certain provisions of H.R. 2281 and the accompanying Conference Report regarding the Register of Copyrights raise serious constitutional concern."

Apparently the president got the point..

‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as otherwise provided in this
title, a person committing a violation of section 1201 or 1202
is liable for either—
‘‘(A) the actual damages and any additional profits
of the violator, as provided in paragraph (2), or
‘‘(B) statutory damages, as provided in paragraph (3).
‘‘(2) ACTUAL DAMAGES.—The court shall award to the
complaining party the actual damages suffered by the party
as a result of the violation, and any profits of the violator
that are attributable to the violation and are not taken into
account in computing the actual damages, if the complaining
party elects such damages at any time before final judgment
is entered.
‘‘(3) STATUTORY DAMAGES.—(A) At any time before final
judgment is entered, a complaining party may elect to recover
an award of statutory damages for each violation of section
1201 in the sum of not less than $200 or more than $2,500
per act of circumvention, device, product, component, offer,
or performance of service, as the court considers just.
‘‘(B) At any time before final judgment is entered, a
complaining party may elect to recover an award of statutory
damages for each violation of section 1202 in the sum of not
less than $2,500 or more than $25,000.

Here's a line of the MPAA's complaint against

"As a direct and proximate result of such violations - posting DeCSS - Plaintiffs have been damaged in an amount to be proven at trial."

If you read the transcript on the New York case it becomes abundantly clear that the defendants have not been charged for copyright infringement. So let me ask you this: How can circumventing a copy-protection scheme result in damages for plaintiffs? This case is not about copyright violations, it's about circumvention. Then how can the plaintiffs demand remedy? DeCSS is a tool that circumvents a copy-protection scheme to enable users to exercise their fair use rights as defined in the Copyright Act. The discussions on Congress made this abundantly clear. Furthermore DeCSS is a part of a Linux DVD player and therefore falls under the reverse engineering exception. There's absolutely no reason to demand remedy or to stop distribution that particular software.



To further my arguments I will now treat the transcript of the hearing on the DeCSS case before the US district court in the southern district of New York.

Mr. Gold: Thank you your Honor. ...... However, the DVDs can be copied of unprotected. And unlike videotapes, where if you run off one copy, you get a substantial decrease in the quality and two, much more so, and it gets worse and worse so you don't really have a copying problem, with a DVD, you can copy an endless number of them and they're just about as clear as the original DVD.

Well Mr. Gold pardon me but did you just imply that copying VHS was not a problem? Why then did your lobby have 2-page section included in the DMCA where it states that every video recorder must incorporate automatic gain control - which is required for the Macrovision copy protection to work correctly. Furthermore what about the billions in "piracy losses" that the MPAA reports every year? If VHS copying was not a problem then why are Macrovision busters illegal in the US according to the DMCA? If it wasn't a problem then why is everybody not entitled to copy his own movies? And to go on about DVD: A DVD contains between 4-8.5GB of data. Of course today's hard disks are way larger than that but what do you want to do with a decrypted movie on your hard disk? Copy it? How? You'd have to take your hard disk to somebody else's house to copy the movie to their hard disk. There's currently no recordable medium that can hold as much data as there is on a DVD, and due to the heavy pressure that the movie industry is applying to manufacturers of recordable devices it's highly unlikely that an affordable format capable offering these kind of storage capacities will be available in the near future. And even it should become available: Certainly the recordable mediums will be treated in a manner making it impossible to copy movies onto it and play them in a DVD player.

Mr. Gold: Then there was a lawsuit that was started in California under a trade secret law. The motion picture companies are not parties and don't control in any way that litigation.

Excuse me, but what companies are members of the DVD-CCA - the entity that launched that particular lawsuit - ? All of the MPAA's members are also members of the DVD-CCA. You certainly don't want to tell me that you had nothing to do with that...

The Court: Your clients are not being sued for infringement of copyright. They're being sued for violation of Section 1201. Right?

This is the section I mentioned before. Copyright violation and circumvention of a protection device go hand in hand. It's impossible to violate a copyright without circumvention, but it remains to be seen whether fair use would not permit circumvention.

The Court: That the programmer's notes are available to whoever has the source code and even if you were enjoined from disseminating the source code itself, as distinct from the programmer's notes, they're not going to vanish.

Mr. Levy: I'm sorry, your Honor. I actually have a technology expert with me. Would the court like to or would they agree to hear a very brief statement on this point from that expert?

The Court: No

Why not? Simply because Mr. Kaplan is well aware that he's going to lose it right here. He is simply not capable to fight on this grounds because he doesn't has the necessary knowledge..

The plaintiffs themselves have, as has been briefly discussed previously, offered conjecture as to why there would be harm. The have offered no testimony that DVD sales have dropped. They have offered no testimony that piracy has increased. They have offered no testimony showing that that is actually what is going on here - that is, that this is a piracy tool - when, in fact, all of information suggests the contrary. It is a Linux tool that was made by individuals who have no interest in piracy. Their exclusive interest is in being able to play DVDs on their boxes.

Interesting point indeed. In fact the MPAA has really failed to show that harm is being done makes the preliminary injunction even more questionable.

The court: First of all, it's three months..... The lawsuit was then brought in California. That provoked an enormous backlash in the hacker community, led to enormous numbers of postings and frenzied efforts to mirror or otherwise disseminate the program in what would appear to be an attempt by your clients and others to get this so widely disseminated that the genie never could be put back into the bottle and that, basically, that last part has happened in the last three weeks."

Well.. what did you expect? Clearly as soon as something is in the media the general public will know about it. Furthermore if it's like in this case about circumcising people's right some actions had to be taken..

Mr. Levy: .... As for the concept that it may be distributed over the web, a DVD holds 5.2 gigabytes of information. The ability to distribute that type of information over the web is nonexistent, that is, in a usable manner. Certainly if one wants to take the 300 hours, it's possible, tough wouldn't one not then just go down to the store and send $20.

The other point I would draw the Court's attention to is the existence of compact disk technology, meaning musical technology is also digital technology. Currently, it's very simple to duplicate compact disk technology. However, there is not massive widespread harm right now. The companies are continuing to function properly, and while certainly piracy is a problem in its large-scale capacities, often in other countries, there are criminal laws that deal with that. And to put forward that this speech that is being posted is what will cause a landslide or barrage of additional piracy issues is, I submit to the Court, simply inaccurate, or as the Court put it, hyperbole.

Nice point Mr. Levy. I especially like the comparison with compact disks :)

The Court: Of course it is. The whole point here is that CSS is designed to protect against even the playing of a copyrighted DVD except with a player using a licensed CSS key. And if you go ahead and put out DeCSS for the purpose of playing it without using a player with the licensed technology, you have done it primarily for the purpose of circumventing the measure. Isn't that true?

Here we go. The judge has just made clear the point that the Open DVD community has stressed so many times. The DMCA give the movie industry to tell us where we can play our legally purchased movies. And since the movie industry has no interest of letting us play our DVDs on the Linux operating systems that could mean we will never be able to. It's not possible to make an open source DVD player if you apply the DMCA this strictly. Imagine what other the DMCA could have on the future of Linux..

The Court: First of all, defendants have submitted no evidence whatsoever that the primary purpose of DeCSS was to enable people in lawful possession of copyrighted DVDs to play them on Linux machines and not to copy them. Secondly, even if there were proof to that effect, there is no doubt that DeCSS was primarily designed or produced for the purpose prohibited in 1202(a)(2)(A) because the definition of "circumvent a technological measure" in 1201(a)(3) makes clear that decrypting or descrambling a copyrighted work without the authority of the copyright owner is the very definition of circumventing a technological measure. Therefore, even if the primary purpose here were to enable lawful possessors of copyrighted DVDs simply to play those DVDs on Linux machines, the primary purpose would have been within the statute.

Once again: The DMCA makes it impossible to create an open source DVD player for Linux..

The Court: The defendants argue that they fall within this exception - the reverse engineering exception - because DeCSS is necessary to achieve inoperability between computers running on the Linux system rather than Windows and DVDs. I reject the argument. Firs, there isn't any evidence in the record to support the assertion. Second, DeCSS concededly runs under Windows, even assuming it runs under Linux. And, third, as the plaintiffs have pointed out, the legislative history makes abundantly clear that Section 1201(f) permits reverse engineering only of computer programs. It does not authorize the circumvention of technological protection that controls access to other works such as movies.

I beg to differ, Mr. Kaplan. A DVD player is basically a computer with a very limited instruction set, but nevertheless it's a computer. It has it's own BIOS, and it's operating system permitting it to play back DVD disks.


Having said all that I can only suggest you read the transcript yourself to get the whole picture..



The following has been taken out of the Memorandum Opinion Document

Irreparable Injury

The requirement of immediate and irreparable injury is satisfied in this case. Copyright infringement is presumed to give rise to such harm. In this case, plaintiffs do not allege that defendants have infringed their copyrights, but rather that defendants offer technology that circumvents their copyright protection systems and thus facilitates infringement. For purposes of the irreparable injury inquiry, this is a distinction without difference. If plaintiffs are correct on the merits, they face substantially the same immediate and irreparable injury from defendants' posting of DeCSS as they would if defendants were infringing directly. Moreover, just as in the case of direct copyright infringement, the extend of the harm plaintiffs will suffer as a result of defendants' alleged activities cannot readily be measured, suggesting that the injury truly would be irreparable.

Hmm... Clearly here they're claiming irreparable injury. Basically they say the defendants are responsible for any piracy that could possibly happen using DeCSS. This appears to me like you'd try to hold a knife manufacturer liable if somebody used a knife to kill somebody. Or to take up Mr. Valenti's favorite example - breaking into somebody's house: Selling a crowbar, or even showing somebody how to use a crowbar does not make you responsible if somebody uses that crowbar and that knowledge to break into another house.

The dissemination and use of circumvention technologies such as DeCSS would permit anyone to make flawless copies of DVDs at little expense.

Need I say more? Flawless copies at 8GB a movie? Please...

Application of the DMCA to prohibit posting of DeCSS appears constitutional also because that posting is part of a course of conduct the clear purpose of which is the violation of law.

Doesn't this imply that if I post DeCSS that I'm a movie pirate? Well... I'm certainly not. Posting DeCSS can be considered helping people to exercise their fair use rights. Clearly abuse can and will occur but that should not lead to a complete ban since this would result in the complete abandon of fair use rights.

The fundamental purpose of DeCSS is to circumvent the technological means, CSS, that ensures that the exclusive rights to make copies-- are protected against infringement. Even assuming that some would use DeCSS only to view copyrighted motion pictures which they lawfully possessed, and thus arguably not infringe plaintiffs' copyrights, the record clearly demonstrates that the chief focus of those promoting the dissemination of DeCSS is to permit widespread copying and dissemination of unauthorized copies of copyrighted work. The dissemination of DeCSS therefore is the critical component of a course of conduct, the principal object of which is copyright infringement. That DeCSS arguably is expressive to some degree does not alter that reality... Application of the DMCA to prohibit production and dissemination of DeCSS therefore does not violate the First Amendment.

Excuse me but did my ears just fail me? DeCSS is primarily used to make illegal copies? Once again that would made me a movie pirate. And once again it's simply not true. All the movies I've ever ripped are my own property.. and those rips don't leave my house. DeCSS is here to help people exercise their fair use rights.

Here are a few other good ones taken from other MPAA press releases:

Film Studios bring claim against DVD hackers:

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 unlawful copying of DVDs.

This is a case of theft. The posting of the de-encryption formula is no different from 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 stolen goods he or she targets.

...Digital Millennium Copyright Act to protect the creators of copyrighted material from seeing their life's work stolen by Internet hackers.

...prevents unlawful copying of DVDs. Mr. Valenti: Most countries copyright laws allow you to make copies of your own movies for personal use. Therefore this is not a case of theft. And besides that it's not the movie industry that owns the movie once you've bought it. It's the buyers own property but it's use is governed by copyright laws. How can you steal something that is already yours? And last but not least many people don't steal creators of copyrighted materials life's work... they simply want to back-up their own movies.

MPAA's Valenti hails New York federal judge's ruling shutting down DVD hackers as major victory in battle against digital piracy

In a major victory for copyright protection, the motion picture industry today celebrated a federal judge's ruling that will force a group of New York-based Internet hackers to stop the posting of software that allows illegal copying of DVDs.

.. I think this servers as a wake-up call to anyone who contemplates stealing intellectual property... This ruling also means that when Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, it gave the creative community a powerful tool to defend our rights.

Once again it's all about piracy.. No mention of potential legal uses of DeCSS. Once again users of DeCSS are called thieves of intellectual property. And as for a powerful tool to defend our rights: What about our rights Mr. Valenti? What about the fair use rights that the Copyright Act grants me? Overruled by the DMCA?

Motion picture studios seek modification of January 20 injunction in DeCSS case

In it's petition to the court, the MPAA member companies noted that although Corley - one of the defendants in the DeCSS case and owner of - is no longer directly posting DeCSS on his Web site,, he is continuing to violate federal law by creating hyperlinks to other unlawful postings.

He is transporting individuals electronically to locations in order to facilitate the illegal copying of DVDs.

Illegal illegal illegal. Aren't you fed up with this by now? I certainly am. I might add tough that hyper linking is a form of freedom of speech and restricting it is a serious breach of the First Amendment.


Last but not least let's have a look as some of the MPAA's FAQs concerning DVDs:

Question: Doesn't restricting the use of hyperlinks infringe the First Amendment's protection of free speech?

Answer: United States law recognizes that freedom of expression and protection of copyrighted material go hand in hand. The MPAA defends Mr. Goldstein's right to criticize the MPAA on his web site, but his right to express his views does not give him the right to use his web site as an engine for distributing an illegal software program that allows unauthorized and illegal access and copying of motion pictures. "Emanuel Goldstein" has no more right to distribute DeCSS in this way than he would to distribute keys to your house and a map because he did not like your furniture.

Why is it that I just don't get Mr. Valenti's analogies? Usually you need not to break into your own house - keep in mind that have you have to be in physical possession of a DVD to make a copy of it. However in some cases you might want to break into your own house because you've lost your key. The DMCA would forbid you to break into your own house...

Question: What is the DVD Content Scramble System (CSS) and how does it work?

Answer: CSS is the copy protection system adopted by the motion picture industry and consumer electronics manufacturers to provide security to copyrighted content of DVDs and to prevent unauthorized copying of that content. CSS is akin to the lock to your house.

CSS allows consumers to enjoy the benefits of digital entertainment because the motion picture industry is able to issue their films on DVD while at the same time preventing massive piracy of their copyrighted works. De-encryption destroys this protection, which is why distribution of de-encryption devices were formally prohibited in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Now this is an analogy that I get. CSS is akin the key to your house. But if you lose your key you can have a locksmith open the door for you. DeCSS is akin the locksmith that opens your door if you lost your key...

Question: What is DeCSS and how does it work?

Answer: In late 1999, a small group of hackers in Europe worked to descramble the CSS encryption system for DVDs and created an unauthorized software utility commonly referred to as DeCSS. A computer that has the DeCSS utility can use it to break the CSS code on DVDs making it possible for motion pictures in DVD format to be decrypted and illegally copied onto a computer's hard-drive for further distribution over the Internet or otherwise, in perfect, digital format. DeCSS is akin to a tool that breaks the lock on your own house.

Exactly my point: DeCSS is the tool that breaks the lock on your own house. This is legal as long as the owner of the house does it.. According to the MPAA copying a DVD to your hard disk is illegal. What about the fair use right to make a backup copy? And distribute a DVD over the internet? Please... 8 gigs over the Internet... I don't know what the guys at the MPAA have for lines but I certainly wouldn't want to download a whole DVD even on my cable..

Question: Why is the motion picture industry opposed to distribution of the DeCSS software:

Answer: ... The motion picture industry similarly always has been opposed to, and has pursued those who distribute devices that break copy protection including illegal "black boxes" to defeat Macrovision and illegal "smart cards" that allow illegal access to satellite television.

Hmm.. Mr. Gold, attorney for the plaintiffs said that VHS copying was not problem. Now the plaintiffs say otherwise... What's true now?

Question: What is the DVD-CCA?

Answer: The DVD Copy Control Association is a not-for-profit corporation with responsibility for licensing CSS to manufacturers of DVD hardware, discs and related products. ....

Non-profit? Then why would you have to pay for a CSS license? If it was for free the Linux community didn't have to hack the CSS encryption to make a DVD player..

Question: Doesn't the DMCA allow reverse engineering for compatibility, for example to allow playing of a DVD on a Linux operating system-driven personal computer?

Answer: The DMCA does allow a lawful user of a computer program to circumvent TPMs to ensure that the program can work with other programs (interoperability); and, with strict limitations, the research may be shared with others, as long as it does not infringe the copyright in the original or related work. However, reverse engineering is not permissible if there is a readily available commercial alternative for that purpose. In this case, there exist MANY commercially available DVD players.

Didn't I tell you? The MPAA doesn't want you to play your DVDs on your Linux boxes. Talk about dictating where to watch your movies..

Question: There seems to be extraordinary concern about piracy at this time. Why?

Answer: ... The development and distribution of DeCSS may lead to widespread digital video piracy.

Once again.. how? Download a 8Gig movie over the internet? Nice try but you definitely need better arguments than that.

Question: If I can make an audiocassette copy of a CD, or a VHS copy of a television broadcast, why shouldn't I be able to make a copy of a DVD that I own?

Answer: .... Most importantly, this concept of fair use does not override specific statutory enactment such as the DMCA, which are intended by Congress to give clear protection to the rights of the creative community to use technological means to protect its product. It is this protection which has enable the motion picture industry to launch new products in the digital format, such as DVDs.

Nobody challenges your right to protect your work.. The question is simply not being answered..

Question: Why are DVDs coded differently for different regions? Why shouldn't I be able to play a DVD that I bought in the U.S. on a player in France?

Answer: Regional coding was devised to protect the theatrical distribution market for motion pictures in international markets. It is simply impossible with present technologies to supply film prints of a movie to all the theaters around the world at the same time.

Are you kidding me? This is a blatant lie. The best counter-example: Take the Bond movies for instance. They're being released worldwide at the same time-frame. There's a 2 week schedule difference at the maximum. I accept that subtitling/dubbing a movie might take some time, but certainly not the 6-12 month it takes for some movies to come oversees.


Should be pretty obvious by now, right? I don't think 1201a/b should apply to backing-up DVDs as long as you own them. The remarks by several representatives in Congress should make that pretty obvious. Clearly the DMCA is not intended to prevent fair use.. that has been made abundantly clear by several Congressmen. Furthermore people in the encryption industry are interested in the dissemination of the DeCSS code. 

If piracy is a concern, copyright infringement is covered by the Copyright Act. It's illegal to copy a movie unless it's done so for fair use purposes - make a copy of your own use for your own personal use only. The movie industry does not need the DMCA to go after movie pirates - there's legislation for copyright infringement in almost every country of the world. 

You might also want to read the following holiday message by Disney boss Michael Eisner. He says:

Our fifth initiative is economic. History has shown that one of the best deterrents to pirated product is providing legitimate product at appropriate prices. In the music industry, we have already seen that people will gladly pay fair prices for legally-produced product even when it can be easily reproduced and unlawful copies can be easily acquired.

Damn right Mr. Eisner. I couldn't say it better myself. 

Keeping in mind that the material provided on this site and the instructions available on this site are for back-up purposes only I don't see any reason why any of the content should be a problem. Therefore I consider it an insult of the MPAA calls my site ".. a site which gives out very detailed instructions how to illegally copy DVDs...". And I shall make sure that they don't violate my right to free speech granted by the constitution by threatening my hoster or anybody else involved in the publication of this site. 


For further information you should visit some of the following sites