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yesh omrim

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A victory for free trade

23 January 2004

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:

  1. not exporting the unencrypted video stream in a digital form, and Macrovision-protecting any analog output from the player
  2. disabling the “fast-forward” and “menu” buttons for certain parts of the DVD, such as the ads that play when the disc is loaded
  3. 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?)