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The News Ė 06/21/01


Watch 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 disseminating DeCSS.


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 maintain resource 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.


Information Week




Briefly Noted

  • 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 high-profile case.
  • 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).
    The Telegraph

Canít Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, Iíve started a Weblog. Itís the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and Iím doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If youíd like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from www.blogger.com. This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.


Iíve dubbed my Weblog entries ďStratletsĒ, and they are available at www.stratvantage.com/stratlets/. Let me know what you think. Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.




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