The News Ė 06/21/01
How You Link!
An August 2000 court decision preventing cracker site www.2600.com from linking to the
outlawed DeCSS DVD cracking code has thrown open the whole question of
hyperlinking, the technique that forms the basis of the Web. DeCSS is a
program that allows users to remove the Content Scrambling System (CSS) copy
protection from DVD disks, enabling them to copy the digital information from
hard drive to hard drive. The software has already been declared illegal,
and now a judge has made a criminal of anyone who links to a site that
hosts the program. Hereís the relevant section of the order:
[Defendant is prevented from] knowingly linking
any Internet web site operated by them to any other web site containing
DeCSS, or knowingly maintaining any such link, for the purpose of
Recently, a panel co-sponsored by the Freedom Forum
and the Online News Association discussed the broad implications of this
legal decision. Among these implications are the likelihood that businesses
could get sued for hyperlinks to other sites, and sites could sue other
sites that link to them. Also open to interpretation is making intermediate
links. What if 2600 links to a site that itself links to the DeCSS code,
for example? It is interesting to note that the New York Times, CNN,
the San Jose Mercury News, and many other organizations linked to
the DeCSS code as part of stories, but only 2600 was prosecuted.
This decision cannot be allowed to stand. The whole
fabric of the Web would be irreparably damaged if businesses needed to
assume liability for links off-site. Firms like StratVantage couldnít
directories or other helpful lists of links. The Web, the most
successful information sharing system ever developed, could wither and die
because of one clueless judge.
Business owners should make their opposition to this
ruling known. You can contact the Electronic
Frontier Foundation for information on how to help with the appeal. It
may gall conservative folks to be on the same side as liberal organizations
like EFF, but this ruling is so wrong, everyone has a stake in overturning
it. If youíre into civil disobedience, place this link on your site: http://www.lemuria.org/DeCSS/. Itís
an intermediate link that, if you follow enough threads, will lead a user
to the DeCSS code.
Thanks to alert SNS reader David Dabbs for bringing
this issue to our attention.
- Patent Copycat Case: In another intellectual property case that could
affect businesses, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Festo v.
Shoketsu Kinzoku Koygo Kabushiki, a case in which the appeals
court trimmed a legal principal called the doctrine of equivalents.
Patent holders claim this weakens patents. Festo initially was represented
by Kenneth Starr, and now have retained Robert Bork to manage the
- Disinfect those Disks!†Scientists
in Spain have discovered a Central American fungus that eats CDs. The
fungus from Belize devours the aluminum in the diskís core. In a
wonderful display of denial, Philips, the inventor of the compact
disk, said the case was a freak incident probably caused by extreme
weather conditions. But we bet no Philips employees fly Air Belize
from now on (thereís lots of aluminum in airplanes).
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In the unlikely event
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to Mikeís Take