The DVD Copy Control Association has finally admitted that CSS, the encryption system built into DVD players, is not a trade secret, and therefore DeCSS, an open-source program that cracks the code, can be redistributed without any legal penalty.
Before the DVD CCA caved on this issue, you could only manufacture a DVD player with the studios’ blessing if you signed a blood oath pledging that, in exchange for a license for the decryption system, you would frustrate your customers by:
- not exporting the unencrypted video stream in a digital form, and Macrovision-protecting any analog output from the player
- disabling the “fast-forward” and “menu” buttons for certain parts of the DVD, such as the ads that play when the disc is loaded
- enforcing the “region coding” system, so you can’t play cheap Indian DVDs, newly-released American DVDs, and obscure European DVDs on the same player
Update: According to ZDNet, the DVD CCA says they may file patent infringement suits to keep DeCSS underground. (First it’s a trade secret, now it’s patented. Neat trick, eh?)