|EFF DVD Update: July 18, 2000
Universal City Studios v. 2600 Magazine
Movie Studios Admit DeCSS Not Related to Piracy
The cyber trial of the century began this morning with testimony by Frank Andrew Stevenson the Norwegian cryptographer who first published an analysis of the CSS security cipher. Stevenson explained it was necessary to independently build a Linux DVD player because Linux users had no way to watch their DVDs on their computers the way Microsoft Windows users could. Stevenson also explained why DeCSS, a Windows program, is necessary for the development of a Linux DVD player. According to Stevenson, Linux does not read a DVD's UDF files so the project had to be tested on Windows - which is able to read the UDF file format.
The movie studios next called to the stand Robert Schumann, who owns a company called Cinea that receives more than 50% of its yearly income from the MPAA and the Proskaur Rose law firm. Schumann stated his expertise comes largely from being the chief architect of the DiVX security system, which he claimed was a "better way to rent movies to consumers." Last year, DiVX failed when the public rejected its anti-consumer features. Schumann's affidavit and testimony that DeCSS was created to be a tool of piracy was severely undermined on cross-examination by EFF's defense team when asked about a report he submitted to the MPAA concluding that members of the Livid mailing list (where DeCSS was published) were attempting to build a Linux DVD player.
After the defense asked Schumann whether the studios have found any infringement at all related to DeCSS, they agreed to stipulate that they have no evidence of a single instance of illegal copying attributable to the software which they are demanding the court ban. The studios' argued infringement of copyrights is irrelevant to whether anyone has violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Jon Johansen, the Norwegian who co-wrote DeCSS when he was fifteen is expected to testify on behalf of the defense on Thursday. The teen created the software to play the DVDs he had bought on family vacation in France that wouldn't play on his DVD player which was "region coded" for another area. The studios have also been pursuing a criminal case in Norway against Jon and his father Per Johansen for publishing the software on the Internet in October 1999.
On Wednesday, Marsha King a vice-president of Time Warner's pay-per-view division will testify about the studios' anti-piracy efforts. Transcripts of Monday's and Tuesday's court proceedings are now available in the EFF archives.
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