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[dvd-discuss] The DeCSS battle is all about the trade secret status
- To: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Subject: [dvd-discuss] The DeCSS battle is all about the trade secret status
- From: John Schulien <jms(at)uic.edu>
- Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 16:34:20 -0500
- Reply-to: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Sender: owner-dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
> While I have to agree on many of Jons points, I'm fairly sure
> on this one: That the DeCSS battle was not won in NY (obviously) and
> neither in California, but on the internet. If you have 15000 download
> locations, what does the opinion of a NY court matter?
The DeCSS battle was won by the studios because you cannot
purchase region-free DVD players with digital firewire outputs
off the shelf in the U.S.
This battle was never about stopping DVD ripping. It was not about
stopping internet movie trading. This battle was fought (and won, so
far) by the studios to ensure that the studios retain control over what
features are allowed and disallowed in consumer DVD players.
CSS is the technical lynchpin of their control. The only thing that
companies from placing region-free DVD players with unencrypted
digital outputs on the market is the fact that in order to physically
construct a DVD player *that works*, you need knowledge of the
CSS algorithm. In order to get the CSS algorithm, you need to sign
a contract with the DVDCCA. Once you sign that contract, you are
contractually forbidden from adding those features to your player.
It doesn't matter if 15,000 copies of DeCSS pepper the internet.
So long as CSS remains legally classified as a trade secret, no one
can manufacture such players. If CSS is legally classified as a
reverse-engineered, former trade secret now in the public domain,
then there is nothing stopping me or you from purchasing DVD-ROM
drives, and constructing region-free DVD players around them with
If this were to come to pass, it would spell disaster for all of the
existing DVD hardware manufacturers. Unlike the newcomers with
no CSS contract restrictions, *they* would still be bound by their
restrictive CSS contracts, and be unable to match those features.
It would be a complete disaster for the established hardware industry.
That's why the industry fought tooth and nail to suppress DeCSS.
Not to stop piracy, but to prevent a complete meltdown of the
mutual agreement to withhold desirable consumer features from the