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Studios Win Court Ruling in DVD Hacker Case

29 Nov, 2001 By: Hive News

Hollywood studios scored a major victory Wednesday in their fight against digital piracy when a New York appellate court ruled that a 1998 federal law to protect copyrighted material was constitutional, according to the Los Angeles Times.

New York's 2nd U.S. District Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's injunction that prohibited an online magazine from helping users find a code that unscrambled the encryption on DVDs, the Times reported.

"When the framers of the First Amendment prohibited Congress from making any law'abridging the freedom of speech,' they were notthinking about computers, computer programs or the Internet," Circuit Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the three-judge panel. The case began in December 1999 when the Motion Picture Assn. of America sued Eric Corley and his 2600 Enterprises after hedistributed a code written by a Norwegian teenager that allowed users to digitally copy DVDs.

In the case, Corley argued that his online magazine, "2600: The HackerQuarterly," had done nothing wrong by publishing the code called DeCSS. His lawyers argued that computer code is a language protected by the First Amendment.

But the appellate court agreed with U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who lastyear ruled that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is intended toprotect digitally recorded movies and songs, was a permissible encroachmenton free speech protections.

Publishing the code, Lewis wrote, was akin to handing "the keys to the castle" to copyright pirates, the Times said.

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