Universal City Studios v. Reimerdes (Section 1201 issues)
111 F. Supp. 2d 294, 55 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1873 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)
Lewis A. Kaplan, District Judge: [*303]
Plaintiffs, eight major United States motion picture studios, distribute
many of their copyrighted motion pictures for home use on digital versatile
disks ("DVDs"), which contain copies of the motion pictures in digital
form. They protect those motion pictures from copying by using an encryption
system called CSS. CSS-protected motion pictures on DVDs may be
viewed only on players and computer drives equipped with licensed technology
that permits the devices to decrypt and play–but not to copy–the films.
Late last year, computer hackers devised a computer program called DeCSS
that circumvents the CSS protection system and allows CSS-protected motion
pictures to be copied and played on devices that lack the licensed decryption
technology. Defendants quickly posted DeCSS on their Internet
web site, thus making it readily available to much of the world. Plaintiffs
promptly brought this action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(the "DMCA") to enjoin defendants from posting DeCSS and to prevent them
from electronically "linking" their site to others that post DeCSS. Defendants
responded with what they termed "electronic civil disobedience"increasing
their efforts to link their web site to a large number of [*304]
others that continue to make DeCSS available.
Defendants contend that their actions do not violate the DMCA and, in
any case, that the DMCA, as applied to computer programs, or code, violates
the First Amendment.(1) This is the Court's
decision after trial, and the decision may be summarized in a nutshell.
Defendants argue first that the DMCA should not be construed to reach
their conduct, principally because the DMCA, so applied, could prevent
those who wish to gain access to technologically protected copyrighted
works in order to make fairthat is, non-infringinguse of them
from doing so. They argue that those who would make fair use of
technologically protected copyrighted works need means, such as DeCSS,
of circumventing access control measures not for piracy, but to make lawful
use of those works.
I. The Genesis of the Controversy
Technological access control measures have the capacity to prevent fair
uses of copyrighted works as well as foul. Hence, there is a potential
tension between the use of such access control measures and fair use.
Defendants are not the first to recognize that possibility. As
the DMCA made its way through the legislative process, Congress was preoccupied
with precisely this issue. Proponents of strong restrictions on circumvention
of access control measures argued that they were essential
if copyright holders were to make their works available in digital form
because digital works otherwise could be pirated too easily. Opponents
contended that strong anticircumvention measures would extend the copyright
monopoly inappropriately and prevent many fair uses of copyrighted material.
Congress struck a balance. The compromise it reached, depending upon future
technological and commercial developments, may or may not prove ideal.(2)
But the solution it enacted is clear. The potential tension
to which defendants point does not absolve them of liability under the
statute. There is no serious question that defendants' posting of
DeCSS violates the DMCA.
Defendants' constitutional argument ultimately rests on two propositionsthat
computer code, regardless of its function, is "speech" entitled to maximum
constitutional protection and that computer code therefore essentially
is exempt from regulation by government. But their argument is baseless.
Computer code is expressive. To that extent, it is a matter of First Amendment
But computer code is not purely expressive any more than the assassination
of a political figure is purely a political statement. Code causes
computers to perform desired functions. Its expressive element no
more immunizes its functional aspects from regulation than the expressive
motives of an assassin immunize the assassin's action.
In an era in which the transmission of computer viruses—which, like DeCSS,
are simply computer code and thus to some degree expressive—can disable
systems upon which the nation depends and in which other computer code
also is capable of inflicting other harm, society must be able to regulate
the use and dissemination [*305] of code in appropriate circumstances.
The Constitution, after all, is a framework for building a just
and democratic society. It is not a suicide pact.
As this case involves computers and technology with which many are unfamiliar,
it is useful to begin by defining some of the vocabulary.
A. The Vocabulary of this Case
[The court takes much of its discussion of basic computer, software and
Web terminology from the findings of fact in the well-known antitrust case
against Microsoft, United States v. Microsoft Corp., 84 F. Supp.
2d 9 (D.D.C. 1999). Citations to the record and to this case, quotation
marks, and discussions of basic terms that are generally known are omitted.]
1. Computers and Operating Systems
* * *
Microsoft Windows ("Windows") is an operating system released by Microsoft
Corp. It is the most widely used operating system for PCs in the United
States, and its versions include Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT and
Linux, which was and continues to be developed through the open source model
of software development,(3) also is an operating system.
It can be run on a PC as an alternative to Windows, although the extent
to which it is so used is limited. Linux is more widely used on servers.
2. Computer Code
* * * [*306] * * *
[The court here explains the difference between source code, which programmers
write and which is relatively easy to read and modify, and object code,
which is in binary form (long blocks of 1s and 0s and nothing else) and
is therefore much harder to read or modify. See Software
as "Speech": Notes and Questions.]
* * *
The distinction between source and object code is not as crystal clear as
first appears. Depending upon the programming language, source code may
contain many 1's and 0's and look a lot like object code or may contain
many instructions derived from spoken human language. Programming
languages the source code for which approaches object code are referred
to as low level source code while those that are more similar to spoken
language are referred to as high level source code.
All code is human readable. As source code is closer to human language
than is object code, it tends to be comprehended more easily by humans than
3. The Internet and the World Wide Web
* * * [*307] * * *
A Web client is software that, when running on a computer connected to the
Internet, sends information to and receives information from Web servers
throughout the Internet. Web clients and servers transfer data using
a standard known as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (‘HTTP). A
‘Web browser is a type of Web client that enables a user to select,
retrieve, and perceive resources on the Web.
4. Portable Storage Media
* * *
A CD-ROM is a five-inch wide optical disk capable of storing approximately
650 MB of data. To read the data on a CD-ROM, a computer must have a CD-ROM
DVDs are five-inch wide disks capable of storing more than 4.7 GB of data.
In the application relevant here, they are used to hold full-length motion
pictures in digital form. They are the latest technology for private
home viewing of recorded motion pictures and result in drastically improved
audio and visual clarity and quality of motion pictures shown on televisions
or computer screens. [*308]
5. The Technology Here at Issue
CSS, or Content Scramble System, is an access control and copy prevention
system for DVDs developed by the motion picture companies, including plaintiffs.
It is an encryption-based system that requires the use of appropriately
configured hardware such as a DVD player or a computer DVD drive to decrypt,
unscramble and play back, but not copy, motion pictures on DVDs. The
technology necessary to configure DVD players and drives to play CSS-protected
DVDs has been licensed to hundreds of manufacturers in the United States
and around the world.
DeCSS is a software utility, or computer program, that enables users to
break the CSS copy protection system and hence to view DVDs on unlicenced
players and make digital copies of DVD movies. The quality of motion pictures
decrypted by DeCSS is virtually identical to that of encrypted movies on
DivX is a compression program available for download[ing] over the Internet.
It compresses video files in order to minimize required storage space, often
to facilitate transfer over the Internet or other networks.
Plaintiffs are eight major motion picture studios. Each is in the
business of producing and distributing copyrighted material including
motion pictures. Each distributes, either directly or through affiliates,
copyrighted motion pictures on DVDs. Plaintiffs produce and distribute
a large majority of the motion pictures on DVDs on the market today.
Defendant Eric Corley is viewed as a leader of the computer hacker community
and goes by the name Emmanuel Goldstein, after the leader of the underground
in George Orwell's classic, 1984. He and his company, defendant
2600 Enterprises, Inc., together publish a magazine called 2600: The
Hacker Quarterly, which Corley founded in 1984, and which is something
of a bible to the hacker community. The name "2600" was derived
from the fact that hackers in the 1960's found that the transmission of
a 2600 hertz tone over a long distance trunk connection gained access
to "operator mode" and allowed the user to explore aspects of the telephone
system that were not otherwise accessible. Mr. Corley chose the
name because he regarded it as a "mystical thing," commemorating something
that he evidently admired. Not surprisingly, 2600: The Hacker
Quarterly has included articles on such topics as how to steal an
Internet domain name, access other people's e-mail, intercept cellular
phone calls, and break into the computer systems at [*309] Costco
stores and Federal Express. One issue contains a guide to the federal
criminal justice system for readers charged [*19] with computer
hacking. In addition, defendants operate a web site located at
(2600.com), which is managed primarily by Mr. Corley and has
been in existence since 1995.
Prior to January 2000, when this action was commenced, defendants posted
the source and object code for DeCSS on the 2600.com web site, from which
they could be downloaded easily. At that time, 2600.com contained
also a list of links to other web sites purporting to post DeCSS.
C. The Development of DVD and CSS
The major motion picture studios typically distribute films in a sequence
of so-called windows, each window referring to a separate channel of distribution
and thus to a separate source of revenue. The first window generally
is theatrical release, distribution, and exhibition. Subsequently, films
are distributed to airlines and hotels, then to the home market, then
to pay television, cable and, eventually, free television broadcast. The
home market is important to plaintiffs, as it represents a significant
source of revenue.
Motion pictures first were, and still are, distributed to the home market
in the form of video cassette tapes. In the early 1990's, however,
the major movie studios began to explore distribution to the home market
in digital format, which offered substantially higher audio and visual
quality and greater longevity than video cassette tapes. This technology,
which in 1995 became what is known today as DVD, brought with it a new
problemincreased risk of piracy by virtue of the fact that digital
files, unlike the material on video cassettes, can be copied without degradation
from generation to generation. In consequence, the movie studios
became concerned as the product neared market with the threat of DVD piracy.
Discussions among the studios with the goal of organizing a unified response
to the piracy threat began in earnest in late 1995 or early 1996. They
eventually came to include representatives of the consumer electronics
and computer industries, as well as interested members of the public,
and focused on both legislative proposals and technological solutions.
In 1996, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. ("MEI") and Toshiba
Corp., presentedand the studios adoptedCSS.
CSS involves encrypting, according to an encryption algorithm, the digital
[*310] sound and graphics files on a DVD that together constitute
a motion picture. A CSS-protected DVD can be decrypted by an appropriate
decryption algorithm that employs a series of keys stored on the DVD and
the DVD player. In consequence, only players and drives containing the
appropriate keys are able to decrypt DVD files and thereby play movies
stored on DVDs.
As the motion picture companies did not themselves
develop CSS and, in any case, are not in the business of making DVD players
and drives, the technology for making compliant devices, i.e., devices
with CSS keys, had to be licensed to consumer electronics manufacturers.(4)
In order to ensure that the decryption technology did not become
generally available and that compliant devices could not be used to copy
as well as merely to play CSS-protected movies, the
technology is licensed subject to strict security requirements.
Moreover, manufacturers may not, consistent with their licenses,
make equipment that would supply digital output that could be used in
copying protected DVDs. Licenses to manufacture compliant devices
are granted on a royalty-free basis subject only to an administrative
fee.(5) At the time of trial, licenses had
been issued to numerous hardware and software manufacturers, including
two companies that plan to release DVD players for computers running the
Linux operating system.
DVDs have proven not only popular, but lucrative for the studios. Revenue
from their sale and rental currently accounts for a substantial percentage
of the movie studios' revenue from the home video market.(6)
Revenue from the home market, in [*311] turn, makes up a
large percentage of the studios' total distribution revenue.(7)
D. The Appearance of DeCSS
In late September 1999, Jon Johansen, a Norwegian subject then fifteen
years of age, and two individuals he "met" under pseudonyms over the Internet,
reverse engineered a licensed DVD player and discovered the CSS encryption
algorithm and keys. They used this information to create DeCSS,
a program capable of decrypting or "ripping" encrypted DVDs, thereby allowing
playback on non-compliant computers as well as the copying of decrypted
files to computer hard drives. Mr. Johansen then posted the executable
code on his personal Internet web site and informed members of an Internet
mailing list that he had done so. Neither Mr. Johansen nor his collaborators
obtained a license from the DVD CCA.
Although Mr. Johansen testified at trial that he created DeCSS in order
to make a DVD player that would operate on a computer running the Linux
operating system, DeCSS is a Windows executable file; that is, it can
be executed only on computers running the Windows operating system. Mr.
Johansen explained the fact that he created a Windows rather than a Linux
program by asserting that Linux, at the time he created DeCSS, did not
support the file system used on DVDs. Hence, it was necessary, he
said, to decrypt the DVD on a Windows computer in order subsequently to
play the decrypted files on a Linux machine. Assuming
that to be true,(8) however, the fact remains that
Mr. Johansen created DeCSS in the full knowledge that it could be used
on computers running Windows rather than Linux. Moreover, he was
well aware that the files, once decrypted, could be copied like any other
In January 1999, Norwegian prosecutors filed charges against Mr. Johansen
stemming from the development of DeCSS. The disposition of the Norwegian
case does not appear of record.
E. The Distribution of DeCSS
In the months following its initial appearance on Mr. Johansen's web site,
DeCSS has become widely available on the Internet, where hundreds of sites
now purport to offer the software for download. A few other applications
said to decrypt CSS-encrypted DVDs also have appeared on the Internet.(9)
In November 1999, defendants web site began
to offer DeCSS for download. It established also a list of links
to several web sites that purportedly "mirrored" or offered DeCSS for
download. The links on defendants' mirror list fall into one of
three categories. By clicking the mouse on one of these links, the
user may be brought to a page on the linked-to site on which there appears
a further link to the DeCSS software. If the user then clicks on
the DeCSS link, download of the software begins. This page may or may
not contain content other than the DeCSS link. Alternatively, the
user may be brought to a page on the linked-to site
that does not itself purport to link to DeCSS, but that links, either
directly or via a series of other pages on the site, to another page on
the site on which there appears a link to the DeCSS software. Finally,
the user may be brought directly to the DeCSS link on the linked-to site
such that download of DeCSS begins immediately without further user intervention.(10)
F. The Preliminary Injunction and Defendants' Response
The movie studios, through the Internet investigations division of the
Motion Picture Association of America ("MPAA"), became aware of the availability
of DeCSS on the Internet in October 1999. The industry responded
by sending out a number of cease and desist letters to web site operators
who posted the software, some of which removed it from their sites.
In January 2000, the studios filed this lawsuit against defendant Eric
Corley and two others.(11)
After a hearing at which defendants presented no affidavits or evidentiary
material, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction
barring defendants from posting DeCSS. At the conclusion of the
hearing, plaintiffs sought also to enjoin defendants from linking to other
sites that posted DeCSS, but the Court declined to entertain the application
at that time in view of plaintiffs' failure to raise the issue in their
Following the issuance of the preliminary injunction, defendants removed
DeCSS from the 2600.com web site. In what they termed an act of
"electronic civil disobedience," however, they continued to support links
to other web sites purporting to offer DeCSS for download, a list which
had grown to nearly five hundred by July 2000. Indeed, they carried
a banner [*313] saying "Stop the MPAA" and, in a reference to this
"We have to face the possibility that we could be forced into submission.
For that reason it's especially important that as many of you as
possible, all throughout the world, take a stand and mirror these files."
Thus, defendants obviously hoped to frustrate plaintiffs' recourse to the
judicial system by making effective relief difficult or impossible.
At least some of the links currently on defendants' mirror list lead the
user to copies of DeCSS that, when downloaded and executed, successfully
decrypt a motion picture on a CSS-encrypted DVD.
G. Effects on Plaintiffs
The effect on plaintiffs of defendants' posting of DeCSS depends upon
the ease with which DeCSS decrypts plaintiffs' copyrighted motion pictures,
the quality of the resulting product, and the convenience with which decrypted
copies may be transferred or transmitted.
As noted, DeCSS was available for download from defendants' web site and
remains available from web sites on defendants' mirror list. Downloading
is simple and quick–plaintiffs' expert did it in seconds. The program
in fact decrypts at least some DVDs. Although the process is computationally
intensive, plaintiffs' expert decrypted a store-bought copy of Sleepless
in Seattle in 20 to 45 minutes. The copy is stored on the hard drive
of the computer. The quality of the decrypted
film is virtually identical to that of encrypted films on DVD. The
decrypted file can be copied like any other.
The decryption of a CSS-protected DVD is only the beginning of the tale,
as the decrypted file is very large–approximately 4.3 to 6 GB or more
depending on the length of the film–and thus extremely cumbersome to transfer
or to store on portable storage media. One solution to this problem,
however, is DivX, a compression utility available
on the Internet that is promoted as a means of compressing decrypted motion
picture files to manageable size.
DivX is capable of compressing decrypted files constituting a feature
length motion picture to approximately 650 MB at a compression ratio that
involves little loss of quality.(12)
While the compressed sound and graphic files then must be synchronized,
a tedious process that took plaintiffs' expert between 10 and 20 hours,
the task is entirely feasible. Indeed, having compared a store-bought
DVD with portions of a copy compressed and synchronized with DivX (which
often are referred to as "DivX'd" motion pictures), the Court finds that
the loss of quality, at least in [*314] some cases, is imperceptible
or so nearly imperceptible as to be of no importance to ordinary consumers.(13)
The fact that DeCSS-decrypted DVDs can be compressed satisfactorily
to 650 MB is very important. A writeable CD-ROM can hold 650 MB.
Hence, it is entirely feasible to decrypt a DVD with DeCSS, compress
and synchronize it with DivX, and then make as many copies as one wishes
by burning the resulting files onto writeable CD-ROMs, which are sold
blank for about one dollar apiece.(14) Indeed,
even if one wished to use a lower compression ratio to improve quality,
a film easily could be compressed to about 1.3 GB and burned onto two
CD-ROMs. But the creation of pirated copies of copyrighted movies
on writeable CD-ROMs, although significant, is not the principal focus
of plaintiffs' concern, which is transmission of pirated copies over the
Internet or other networks.
Network transmission of decrypted motion pictures
raises somewhat more difficult issues because even 650 MB is a very large
file that, depending upon the circumstances, may take a good deal of time
to transmit. But there is tremendous variation in transmission times.
Many home computers today have modems with a rated capacity of 56
kilobits per second. DSL lines, which increasingly are available
to home and business users, offer transfer rates of 7 megabits per second.
Cable modems also offer increased bandwidth. Student rooms
in many universities are equipped with network connections rated at 10
megabits per second. Large institutions such as universities and
major companies often have networks with backbones rated at 100 megabits
per second. While effective transmission times generally are much
lower than rated maximum capacities in consequence of traffic volume and
other considerations, there are many environments in which very high transmission
rates may be achieved. Hence, transmission times ranging from three
to twenty minutes to six hours or more for a feature length film are readily
achievable, depending upon the users' precise circumstances.(15)
II. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act
At trial, defendants repeated, as if it were a mantra, the refrain that
plaintiffs, as they stipulated, have no direct evidence of a specific
occasion on which any person decrypted a copyrighted motion picture with
DeCSS and transmitted it over the Internet. But that is unpersuasive.
Plaintiffs' expert expended very little effort to find someone in
an IRC chat room who exchanged a compressed, decrypted copy of The
Matrix, one of plaintiffs' copyrighted motion pictures, for a [*315]
copy of Sleepless in Seattle. While the simultaneous
electronic exchange of the two movies took approximately six hours, the
computers required little operator attention during the interim. An
MPAA investigator downloaded between five and ten DVD-sourced movies over
the Internet after December 1999. At least one web site contains
a list of 650 motion pictures, said to have been decrypted and compressed
with DivX, that purportedly are available for sale, trade or free download.
And although the Court does not accept the list, which is hearsay,
as proof of the truth of the matters asserted therein, it does note that
advertisements for decrypted versions of copyrighted movies first appeared
on the Internet in substantial numbers in late 1999, following the posting
The net of all this is reasonably plain. DeCSS is a free, effective
and fast means of decrypting plaintiffs' DVDs and copying them to computer
hard drives. DivX, which is available over the Internet for nothing, with
the investment of some time and effort, permits compression of the decrypted
files to sizes that readily fit on a writeable CD-ROM. Copies of
such CD-ROMs can be produced very cheaply and distributed as easily as
other pirated intellectual property. While not everyone with Internet
access now will find it convenient to send or receive DivX'd copies of
pirated motion pictures over the Internet, the availability of high speed
network connections in many businesses and institutions, and their growing
availability in homes, make Internet and other network traffic in pirated
copies a growing threat.
These circumstances have two major implications for plaintiffs. First,
the availability of DeCSS on the Internet effectively has compromised
plaintiffs' system of copyright protection for DVDs, requiring them either
to tolerate increased piracy or to expend resources to develop and implement
a replacement system unless the availability of DeCSS is terminated. It
is analogous to the publication of a bank vault combination in a national
newspaper. Even if no one uses the combination to open the vault,
its mere publication has the effect of defeating the bank's security system,
forcing the bank to reprogram the lock. Development and implementation
of a new DVD copy protection system, however, is far more difficult and
costly than reprogramming a combination lock and may carry with it the
added problem of rendering the existing installed base of compliant DVD
Second, the application of DeCSS to copy and distribute motion pictures
on DVD, both on CD-ROMs and via the Internet, threatens to reduce the
studios' revenue from the sale and rental of DVDs. It threatens
also to impede new, potentially lucrative initiatives for the distribution
of motion pictures in digital form, such as video-on-demand via the Internet.
In consequence, plaintiffs already have been gravely
injured. As the pressure for and competition to supply more and
more users with faster and faster network connections grows, the injury
A. Background and Structure of the Statute
In December 1996, the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"),
held a diplomatic conference in Geneva that led to the adoption of two treaties.
Article 11 of the relevant treaty, the WIPO Copyright [*316]
Treaty, provides in relevant part that contracting states
shall provide adequate legal protection and
effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological
measures that are used by authors in connection with the exercise of their
rights under this Treaty or the Berne Convention and that restrict acts,
in respect of their works, which are not authorized by the authors concerned
or permitted by law.(16)
The adoption of the WIPO Copyright Treaty spurred continued Congressional
attention to the adaptation of the law of copyright to the digital age.
Lengthy hearings involving a broad range of interested parties both
preceded and succeeded the Copyright Treaty. As noted above, a critical
focus of Congressional consideration of the legislation
was the conflict between those who opposed anti-circumvention measures as
inappropriate extensions of copyright and impediments to fair use and those
who supported them as essential to proper protection of copyrighted materials
in the digital age.(17) The DMCA was enacted
in October 1998 as the culmination of this process.
The DMCA contains two principal anticircumvention provisions.
The first, Section 1201(a)(1), governs "the act of circumventing a
technological protection measure put in place by a
copyright owner to control access to a copyrighted work, an act described
by Congress as "the electronic equivalent of breaking into a locked room
in order to obtain a copy of a book.(18) The
second, Section 1201(a)(2), which is the focus of this case, supplements
the prohibition against the act of circumvention in paragraph (a)(1) with
prohibitions on creating and making available certain technologies . . .
developed or advertised to defeat technological protections against unauthorized
access to a work.(19) As defendants are
accused here only of posting and linking to other sites posting DeCSS, and
not of using it themselves to bypass plaintiffs' access controls, it is
principally the second of the anticircumvention provisions that is at issue
in this case.(20)
B. Posting of DeCSS
1. Violation of Anti-Trafficking [*47] Provision
Section 1201(a)(2) of the Copyright Act, part of the DMCA, provides that:
No person shall . . . offer to the public, provide or otherwise
traffic in any technology . . . that
(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing
a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected
under [the Copyright Act];
(B) has only limited commercially significant
purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that
effectively controls access to a work protected under [the Copyright
Act]; or [*317]
(C) is marketed by that person or another
acting in concert with that person with that person's knowledge for
use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls
access to a work protected under [the Copyright Act].
In this case, defendants concededly offered and provided
and, absent a court order, would continue to offer and provide DeCSS to
the public by making it available for download on the 2600.com web site.
DeCSS, a computer program, unquestionably is technology
within the meaning of the statute.(21) Circumvent
a technological measure is defined to mean descrambling a scrambled
work, decrypting an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass,
remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority
of the copyright owner,(22) so DeCSS clearly
is a means of circumventing a technological access control measure.(23)
In consequence, if CSS otherwise falls within paragraphs (A), (B)
or (C) of Section 1201(a)(2), and if none of the statutory exceptions applies
to their actions, defendants have violated and, unless enjoined, will continue
to violate the DMCA by posting DeCSS.
a. Section 1201(a)(2)(A)
(1) CSS Effectively Controls Access to Copyrighted
During pretrial proceedings and at trial, defendants attacked plaintiffs'
Section 1201(a)(2)(A) claim, arguing that CSS, which is based on a 40-bit
encryption key, is a weak cipher that does not "effectively
control" access to plaintiffs' copyrighted works. They reasoned from this
premise that CSS is not protected under this branch of the statute at all.
Their post-trial memorandum appears to have abandoned this argument. In
any case, however, the contention is indefensible as a matter of law.
First, the statute expressly provides that a technological measure
‘effectively controls access to a work if the measure, in the ordinary
course of its operation, requires the application of information or a process
or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access
to a work.(24) One cannot gain access
to a CSS-protected work on a DVD without application of the three keys that
are required by the software. One cannot lawfully gain access to the
keys except by entering into a license with the DVD CCA [*318] under
authority granted by the copyright owners or by purchasing a DVD player
or drive containing the keys pursuant to such a license. In consequence,
under the express terms of the statute, CSS effectively controls accessto
copyrighted DVD movies. It does so, within the meaning of the statute,
whether or not it is a strong means of protection.(25)
This view is confirmed by the legislative history, which deals with precisely
this point. The House Judiciary Committee section-by-section analysis
of the House bill, which in this respect was enacted into law, makes clear
that a technological measure effectively controls access to
a copyrighted work if its function is to control
The bill does define the functions of the technological measures
that are coveredthat is, what it means for a technological measure
to ‘effectively control access to a work . . . and to ‘effectively
protect a right of a copyright owner under this title . .
. . The practical, common-sense approach taken by H.R. 2281 is that if,
in the ordinary course of its operation, a technology actually works in
the defined ways to control access to a work . . . then the ‘effectiveness
test is met, and the prohibitions of the statute are applicable. This
test, which focuses on the function performed by the technology, provides
a sufficient basis for clear interpretation.(26)
Further, the House Commerce Committee made clear that measures based
on encryption or scrambling effectively controlaccess to copyrighted
works,(27) although it is well known that what may
be encrypted or scrambled often may be decrypted or unscrambled. As
CSS, in the ordinary course of its operationthat
is, when DeCSS or some other decryption program is not employedactually
worksto prevent access to the protected work, it effectively
controls access within the contemplation of the statute.
Finally, the interpretation of the phrase effectively controls
accessoffered by defendants at triaviz., that the use of the
word effectively means that the statute protects only successful
or efficacious technological means of controlling accesswould gut
the statute if it were adopted. If a technological means of access
control is circumvented, it is, in common parlance, ineffective. Yet
defendants' construction, if adopted, would limit the application of the
statute to access control measures that thwart circumvention, but withhold
protection for those measures that can be circumvented. In other
words, defendants would have the Court construe the statute to offer protection
where none is needed but to withhold protection precisely where protection
is essential. The Court declines to do so. Accordingly, the
Court holds that CSS effectively controls access to plaintiffs' copyrighted
(2) DeCSS Was Designed Primarily to Circumvent CSS
As CSS effectively controls access to plaintiffs' copyrighted works, the
only remaining question under Section 1201(a)(2)(A) is whether DeCSS was
designed primarily to circumvent CSS. The [*319] answer is
perfectly obvious. By the admission of both Jon Johansen, the programmer
who principally wrote DeCSS, and defendant Corley, DeCSS was created solely
for the purpose of decrypting CSSthat is all it does. Hence,
absent satisfaction of a statutory exception, defendants clearly violated
Section 1201(a)(2)(A) by posting DeCSS to their web site.
b. Section 1201(a)(2)(B)
As the only purpose or use of DeCSS is to circumvent CSS, the foregoing
is sufficient to establish a prima facie violation of Section 1201(a)(2)(B)
c. The Linux Argument
Perhaps the centerpiece of defendants' statutory position is the contention
that DeCSS was not created for the purpose of pirating copyrighted motion
pictures. Rather, they argue, it was written to further the development
of a DVD player that would run under the Linux operating system, as there
allegedly were no Linux compatible players on the market at the time. The
argument plays itself out in various ways as different elements of the DMCA
come into focus. But it perhaps is useful to address the point at
its most general level in order to place the preceding discussion in its
As noted, Section 1201(a) of the DMCA contains two distinct prohibitions.
Section 1201(a)(1), the so-called basic provision, aims against
those who engage in unauthorized circumvention of technological measures
. . . . [It] focuses directly on wrongful conduct, rather than on those
who facilitate wrongful conduct . . . .(29)
Section 1201(a)(2), the anti-trafficking provision at issue in this
case, on the other hand, separately bans offering or providing technology
that may be used to circumvent technological means of controlling access
to copyrighted works. If the means in question meets any of the three
prongs of the standard set out in Section 1201(a)(2)(A), (B), or (C), it
may not be offered or disseminated.
As the earlier discussion demonstrates, the question whether the development
of a Linux DVD player motivated those who wrote DeCSS is immaterial to the
question whether the defendants now before the Court violated the anti-trafficking
provision of the DMCA. The inescapable facts are that (1) CSS is a
technological means that effectively controls access to plaintiffs' copyrighted
works, (2) the one and only function of DeCSS is to circumvent CSS, and
(3) defendants offered and provided DeCSS by posting it on their web site.
Whether defendants did so in order to infringe, or to permit or encourage
others to infringe, copyrighted works in violation of other provisions of
the Copyright Act simply does not matter for purposes of Section 1201(a)(2).
The offering or provision of the program is the prohibited conductand
it is prohibited irrespective of why the program was written, except to
whatever extent motive may be germane to determining whether their conduct
falls within one of the statutory exceptions.
2. Statutory Exceptions
Earlier in the litigation, defendants contended that their activities came
within several exceptions contained in the DMCA and the Copyright Act and
constitute fair use under the Copyright Act. Their post-trial memorandum
appears to confine their argument to the reverse engineering exception.
In any case, all of their assertions are entirely without merit.
a. Reverse engineering
Defendants claim to fall under Section 1201(f) of the statute, which provides
[*320] in substance that one may circumvent, or develop and employ
technological means to circumvent, access control measures in order to achieve
interoperability with another computer program provided that doing so does
not infringe another's copyright and, in addition,
that one may make information acquired through such efforts available
to others, if the person [in question] . . . provides such information solely
for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created
computer program with other programs, and to the extent that doing so does
not constitute infringement . . . .(30) They
contend that DeCSS is necessary to achieve interoperability between computers
running the Linux operating system and DVDs and that this exception therefore
is satisfied. This contention fails.
First, Section 1201(f)(3) permits information acquired through reverse engineering
to be made available to others only by the person who acquired the information.
But these defendants did not do any reverse engineering. They
simply took DeCSS off someone else's web site and posted it on their own.
Defendants would be in no stronger position even if they had authored DeCSS.
The right to make the information available extends only to dissemination
"solely for the purpose" of achieving interoperability as defined in the
statute. It does not apply to public dissemination of means of circumvention,
as the legislative history confirms.(31) These
defendants, however, did not post DeCSS "solely" to achieve interoperability
with Linux or anything else.
Finally, it is important to recognize that even the creators of DeCSS cannot
credibly maintain that the "sole" purpose of DeCSS was to create a Linux
DVD player. DeCSS concededly was developed on and runs under Windowsa
far more widely used operating system. The developers of DeCSS therefore
knew that DeCSS could be used to decrypt and play DVD movies on Windows
as well as Linux machines. They knew also that the decrypted files
could be copied like any other unprotected computer file. Moreover,
the Court does not credit Mr. Johansen's testimony that he created DeCSS
solely for the purpose of building a Linux player. Mr. Johansen is
a very talented young man and a member of a well known hacker group who
viewed "cracking" CSS as an end it itself and a means of demonstrating his
talent and who fully expected that the use of DeCSS would not be confined
to Linux machines. Hence, the Court finds that Mr. Johansen and the others
who actually did develop DeCSS did not do so solely for the purpose of making
a Linux DVD player if, indeed, developing a Linux-based DVD player was among
Accordingly, the reverse engineering exception to the DMCA has no application
b. Encryption research
Section 1201(g)(4) provides in relevant part that:
Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(2), it is not a
violation of that subsection for a person to
Paragraph (2) in relevant part permits circumvention
of technological measures in the course of good faith encryption research
(A) develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological
measure for the sole purpose of that person performing the acts of good
faith encryption research described in paragraph (2); and
(B) provide the technological means to another person with whom
he or she is working collaboratively for the purpose of conducting the
acts of good faith encryption research described in paragraph (2) or
for the purpose of having that other person verify his or her acts [*321]
of good faith encryption research described in paragraph (2).
(A) the person lawfully obtained the encrypted copy, phonorecord,
performance, or display of the published work;
(B) such act is necessary to conduct such encryption research;
(C) the person made a good faith effort to obtain authorization
before the circumvention; and
(D) such act does not constitute infringement
under this title . . . .
In determining whether one is engaged in good faith encryption research,
the Court is instructed to consider factors including whether the results
of the putative encryption research are disseminated in a manner designed
to advance the state of knowledge of encryption technology versus facilitation
of copyright infringement, whether the person in question is engaged in
legitimate study of or work in encryption, and whether the results of the
research are communicated in a timely fashion to the copyright owner.(32)
Neither of the defendants remaining in this case was or is involved in good
faith encryption research. They posted DeCSS for all the world to
see. There is no evidence that they made any effort to provide the
results of the DeCSS effort to the copyright owners. Surely there
is no suggestion that either of them made a good faith effort to obtain
authorization from the copyright owners. Accordingly, defendants are
not protected by Section 1201(g).(33)
c. Security testing
Defendants contended earlier that their actions should be considered exempt
security testing under Section 1201(j) of the statute. This exception,
however, is limited to assessing a computer, computer system, or computer
network, solely for the purpose of good faith testing, investigating, or
correcting [of a] security flaw or vulnerability, with the authorization
of the owner or operator of such computer system or computer network.
The record does not indicate that DeCSS has anything to do with testing
computers, computer systems, or computer networks. Certainly defendants
sought, and plaintiffs' granted, no authorization for defendants' activities.
This exception therefore has no bearing in this case.(34)
d. Fair use
Finally, defendants rely on the doctrine of fair use. Stated in
its most general terms, the doctrine, now codified in Section 107 of the
Copyright Act, limits the exclusive rights of a copyright
holder by permitting others to make limited use of portions of the copyrighted
work, for appropriate purposes, free of liability for copyright infringement.
For example, it is permissible for one other than the copyright
owner to reprint or quote a suitable part of a copyrighted book or article
in certain circumstances. The doctrine traditionally has facilitated
literary and artistic criticism, teaching and scholarship, and other socially
useful forms of expression. [*322] It has been viewed
by courts as a safety valve that accommodates the exclusive rights conferred
by copyright with the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The use of technological means of controlling access to a copyrighted
work may affect the ability to make fair uses of the work.(35)
Focusing specifically on the facts of this case, the application
of CSS to encrypt a copyrighted motion picture requires the use of a compliant
DVD player to view or listen to the movie. Perhaps more significantly,
it prevents exact copying of either the video or the audio portion of
all or any part of the film.(36) This latter
point means that certain uses that might qualify as "fair" for purposes
of copyright infringementfor example, the preparation by a film
studies professor of a single CD-ROM or tape containing two scenes from
different movies in order to illustrate a point in a lecture on cinematography,
as opposed to showing relevant parts of two different DVDswould
be difficult or impossible absent circumvention of the CSS encryption.
Defendants therefore argue that the DMCA cannot properly be construed
to make it difficult or impossible to make any fair use of plaintiffs'
copyrighted works and that the statute therefore does not reach their
activities, which are simply a means to enable users of DeCSS to make
such fair uses.
[*66] Defendants have focused on a significant point. Access
control measures such as CSS do involve some risk of preventing lawful
as well as unlawful uses of copyrighted material. Congress, however,
clearly faced up to and dealt with this question in enacting the DMCA.
The Court begins its statutory analysis, as it must, with the language
of the statute. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides in critical
part that certain uses of copyrighted works that otherwise would be wrongful
are not . . . infringement[s] of copyright. Defendants,
however, are not here sued for copyright infringement.
They are sued for offering and providing technology designed to
circumvent technological measures that control access to copyrighted works
and otherwise violating Section 1201(a)(2) of the Act. If Congress
had meant the fair use defense to apply to such actions, it would have
said so. Indeed, as the legislative history demonstrates, the decision
not to make fair use a defense to a claim under Section 1201(a) was quite
Congress was well aware during the consideration of the DMCA of the traditional
role of the fair use defense in accommodating the exclusive rights of
copyright owners with the legitimate interests of noninfringing users
of portions of copyrighted works. It recognized the contention,
voiced by a range of constituencies concerned with the legislation, that
technological controls on access to copyrighted works might erode fair
use by preventing access even for uses that would be deemed "fair" if
only access might be gained.(37) And it struck a
balance among the competing interests. [*323]
C. Linking to Sites Offering DeCSS
The first element of the balance was the careful
limitation of Section 1201(a)(1)'s prohibition of the act of circumvention
to the act itself so as not to apply to subsequent actions of a
person once he or she has obtained authorized access to a copy of a [copyrighted]
work. . . .(38) By doing so, it left
the traditional defenses to copyright infringement, including fair
use, . . . fully applicableprovided the access is authorized.
Second, Congress delayed the effective date of Section 1201(a)(1)'s prohibition
of the act of circumvention for two years pending further investigation
about how best to reconcile Section 1201(a)(1) with fair use concerns.
Following that investigation, which is being carried out in the
form of a rule-making by the Register of Copyright, the prohibition will
not apply to users of particular classes of copyrighted works who demonstrate
that their ability to make noninfringing uses of those classes of works
would be affected adversely by Section 1201(a)(1).(39)
Third, it created a series of exceptions to aspects of Section 1201(a)
for certain uses that Congress thought "fair," including reverse engineering,
security testing, good faith encryption research, and certain uses by
nonprofit libraries, archives and educational institutions.(40)
Defendants claim also that the possibility that DeCSS might be used for
the purpose of gaining access to copyrighted works in order to make fair
use of those works saves them under Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios,
Inc. But they are mistaken. Sony does not apply
to the activities with which defendants here are charged. Even if
it did, it would not govern here. Sony involved a construction
of the Copyright Act that has been overruled by the later enactment of
the DMCA to the extent of any inconsistency between Sony and the
Sony was a suit for contributory infringement brought against manufacturers
of video cassette recorders on the theory that the manufacturers were
contributing to infringing home taping of copyrighted television broadcasts.
The Supreme Court held that the manufacturers were not liable in
view of the substantial numbers of copyright holders who either had authorized
or did not object to such taping by viewers. But Sony has
no application here.
When Sony was
decided, the only question was whether the manufacturers could be held
liable for infringement by those who purchased equipment from them in
circumstances in which there were many noninfringing uses for their equipment.
But that is not the question now before this Court. The question
here is whether the possibility of noninfringing fair use by someone who
gains access to a protected copyrighted work through a circumvention technology
distributed by the defendants saves the defendants from liability under
Section 1201. But nothing in Section 1201 so suggests. By
prohibiting the provision of circumvention technology, the DMCA fundamentally
altered the landscape. A given device or piece of technology might
have a substantial noninfringing use, and hence be immune from attack
under Sony's construction of the Copyright Actbut nonetheless
still be subject to suppression under Section 1201.(41)
Indeed, [*324] Congress explicitly noted that Section 1201
does not incorporate Sony.(42)
The policy concerns raised by defendants were considered by Congress.
Having considered them, Congress crafted a statute that, so far as the
applicability of the fair use defense to Section 1201(a) claims is concerned,
is crystal clear. In such circumstances, courts may not undo what
Congress so plainly has done by "construing" the words of a statute to
accomplish a result that Congress rejected. The fact that Congress
elected to leave technologically unsophisticated persons who wish to make
fair use of encrypted copyrighted works without the technical means of
doing so is a matter for Congress unless Congress' decision contravenes
the Constitution, a matter to which the Court turns below. Defendants'
statutory fair use argument therefore is entirely without merit.
Plaintiffs seek also to enjoin defendants from linkingtheir
2600.com web site to other sites that make DeCSS available to users. Their
request obviously stems in no small part from what defendants themselves
have termed their act of electronic civil disobediencetheir
attempt to defeat the purpose of the preliminary injunction by (a) offering
the practical equivalent of making DeCSS available on their own web site
by electronically linking users to other sites still offering DeCSS, and
(b) encouraging other sites that had not been enjoined to offer the program.
The dispositive question is whether linking to another web site containing
DeCSS constitutes offering [DeCSS] to the publicor providing
or otherwise trafficking in it within the meaning of the DMCA.(43)
Answering this question requires careful consideration of the nature
and types of linking.
Most web pages are written in computer languages, chiefly HTML, which allow
the programmer to prescribe the appearance of the web page on the computer
screen and, in addition, to instruct the computer to perform an operation
if the cursor is placed over a particular point on the screen and the mouse
then clicked. Programming a particular point on a screen to transfer
the user to another web page when the point, referred to as a hyperlink,
is clicked is called linking. Web pages can be designed to link to
other web pages on the same site or to web pages maintained by different
As noted earlier, the links that defendants established
on their web site are of several types. Some transfer the user to
a web page on an outside site that contains a good deal of information of
various types, does not itself contain a link to DeCSS, but that links,
either directly or via a series of other pages, to another page on the same
site that posts the software. It then is up to the user to follow
the link or series of links on the linked-to web site in
order to arrive at the page with the DeCSS link and commence the download
of the software. Others take the user to a page on an outside web
site on which there appears a direct link to the DeCSS
software and which may or may not contain text or links other than the DeCSS
link. The user has only to click on the DeCSS link to commence the
download. Still others may directly transfer the user to a file on
the linked-to web site such that the download of DeCSS to the user's computer
automatically [*325] commences without further user intervention.
The statute makes it unlawful to offer, provide or otherwise traffic in
described technology. To trafficin something is to engage
in dealings in it,(44) conduct that necessarily involves
awareness of the nature of the subject of the trafficking. To providesomething,
in the sense used in the statute, is to make it available or furnish it.(45)
To offeris to present or hold it out for consideration.(46)
The phrase or otherwise traffic in modifies and gives
meaning to the words offerand provide.(47)
In consequence, the anti-trafficking provision of the DMCA is implicated
where one presents, holds out or makes a circumvention technology or device
available, knowing its nature, for the purpose of allowing others to acquire
To the extent that defendants have linked to sites that automatically commence
the process of downloading DeCSS upon a user being transferred by defendants'
hyperlinks, there can be no serious question. Defendants are engaged
in the functional equivalent of transferring the DeCSS code to the user
Substantially the same is true of defendants' hyperlinks to web pages that
display nothing more than the DeCSS code or present the user only with the
choice of commencing a download of DeCSS and no other content. The
only distinction is that the entity extending to the user the option of
downloading the program is the transferee site rather than defendants, a
distinction without a difference.
Potentially more troublesome might be links to pages that offer a good deal
of content other than DeCSS but that offer a hyperlink for downloading,
or transferring to a page for downloading, DeCSS. If one assumed,
for the purposes of argument, that the Los Angeles Times web site
somewhere contained the DeCSS code, it would be wrong to say that anyone
who linked to the Los Angeles Times web site, regardless of purpose
or the manner in which the link was described, thereby offered, provided
or otherwise trafficked in DeCSS merely because DeCSS happened to be available
on a site to which one linked.(48) But that
is not this case. Defendants urged others to post DeCSS in an effort
to disseminate DeCSS and to inform defendants that they were doing so. Defendants
then linked their site to those mirrorsites, after first checking
to ensure that the mirror sites in fact were posting DeCSS or something
that looked [*78] like it, and proclaimed on their own site that
DeCSS could be had by clicking on the hyperlinks on defendants' site.
By doing so, they offered, provided or otherwise trafficked in DeCSS, and
they continue to do so to this day.
* * *
[The court rejected defendants' First-Amendment arguments, and the Second
Circuit affirmed the rejection.
See Universal City Studios v. Corley (First-Amendment
Accordingly, plaintiffs are entitled to appropriate injunctive and declaratory
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1. [court's footnote 2] Shortly after
the commencement of the action, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion for
a preliminary injunction barring defendants from posting DeCSS. Universal
City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes, 82 F. Supp. 2d 211 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).
Subsequent motions to expand the preliminary injunction to linking
and to vacate it were consolidated with the trial on the merits. This
opinion reflects the Court's findings of fact, conclusions of law and
decision on the merits.
The Court notes the receipt of a number of amicus submissions.
Although many were filed by defendants' counsel on behalf of certain
amici, and therefore were of debatable objectivity, the amicus
submissions considered as a group were helpful.
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2. [court's footnote 3] David Nimmer,
A Riff on Fair Use in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 148 U. Pa.
L. Rev. 673, 739-41 (2000) (hereinafter A Riff on Fair Use).
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3. [court's footnote 6] Open source
is a software development model by which the source code to a computer
program is made available publicly under a license that gives users the
right to modify and redistribute the program. The program develops
through this process of modification and redistribution and through a
process by which users download sections of code from a web site, modify
that code, upload it to the same web site, and merge the modified sections
into the original code.
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4. [court's footnote 60] The licensing
function initially was performed by MEI and Toshiba. Subsequently,
MEI and Toshiba granted a royalty free license to the DVD Copy Control
Association (DVD CCA), which now handles the licensing function.
The motion picture companies themselves license CSS from the DVD
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5. [court's footnote 63] The administrative
fee is one million yen, now about $ 9,200, for each membership category
selected by the licensee. Twelve membership categories are available,
and one or more are selected by a licensee depending on the use which
the licensee intends to make of the licensed technology. The membership
categories are: content provider, authoring studio, DVD disc replicator,
DVD player manufacturer, DVD-ROM drive manufacturer, DVD decoder manufacturer,
descramble module manufacturer, authentication chip manufacturer for DVD-ROM
drive, authenticator manufacturer for DVD decoder, integrated product
manufacturer, and reseller.
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6. [court's footnote 69] Revenue from
the distribution of DVDs makes up approximately 35 percent of Warner Brothers'
total worldwide revenue from movie distribution in the home video market.
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7. [court's footnote 70] Distribution
in the home video market accounts for approximately 40 percent of Warner
Brothers' total income from movie distribution.
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8. [court's footnote 79] Substantial
questions have been raised both at trial and elsewhere as to the veracity
of Mr. Johansen's claim. See [Exhibit to Record] (Our
analysis indicates that the primary technical breakthroughs were developed
outside of the Linux development groups.).
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9. [court's footnote 82] Some
of these programs perform only a portion of what DeCSS does and must be
used in conjunction with others in order to decrypt the contents of a
DVD. Some of defendants' claims about these other means proved baseless
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10. [court's footnote 88] As Mr. Corley
testified, the download process generally begins with the appearance of
a dialog box, or small window, prompting the user to confirm the location
on the user's computer hard drive where the downloaded software will be
stored. The actual download does not begin until the user provides
the computer with this information. It is possible also to create
a link that commences the download immediately upon being clicked.
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11. [court's footnote 91] The other
two defendants entered into consent decrees with plaintiffs. Plaintiffs
subsequently amended the complaint to add 2600 Enterprises, Inc. as a
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12. [court's footnote 107] DivX effects
what is known as lossy compression-it achieves its reduction
in file size by eliminating some of the data in the file being compressed.
The trick, however, is that it seeks to do so by eliminating data
that is imperceptible, or nearly so, to the human observer.
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13. [court's footnote 109] Defendants
produced an expert whose DivX of a DeCSS decrypted file was of noticeably
lower quality than that of plaintiffs' expert's DivX'd film. The
reasons for the difference are not clear. The Court is satisfied,
however, that it is possible to make high quality 650 MB DivX'd copies
of many films.
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14. [court's footnote 111] The copies
do not require resynchronization of the sound and graphics.
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15. [court's footnote 119] It should
be noted here that the transmission time achieved by plaintiff's expert,
Dr. Shamos, almost certainly was somewhat skewed because the work was
done late at night on a university system after the close of the regular
school year, conditions favorable to high effective transmission rates
due to low traffic on the system.
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16. [court's footnote 128] WIPO Copyright
Treaty, Apr. 12, 1997, Art. 11, S. Treaty Doc. No. 105-17 (1997), available
at 1997 WL 447232.
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17. [court's footnote 17] There is
an excellent account of the legislative history of the statute. Nimmer,
A Riff on Fair Use, 148 U. PA. L. REV. at 702-38.
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18. [court's footnote 131] H.R. Rep.
No. 105-551( Part I), 105th Cong., 2d Sess. at 17 (1998) (Judiciary
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19. [court's footnote 132] Id.
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20. [court's footnote 1] Plaintiffs
rely also on Section 1201(b), which is very similar to Section 1201(a)(2)
except that the former applies to trafficking in means of circumventing
protection offered by a technological measure that effectively protects
a right of a copyright owner in a work or a portion thereof
whereas the latter applies to trafficking in means of circumventing measures
controlling access to a work. See generally 1 Melville B.
Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright (Nimmer) § 12A.03[C]
(1999). In addition, as noted below, certain of the statutory exceptions
upon which defendants have relied apply only to Section 1201(a)(2).
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21. [court's footnote 135] In their
Post-Trial Brief, defendants argue that at least some of the members
of Congress understood § 1201 to be limited to conventional devices, specifically
‘black boxes, as opposed to computer code. However,
the statute is clear that it prohibits any technology,
not simply black boxes. 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2) (emphasis added).
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22. [court's footnote 136] 17 U.S.C.
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23. [court's footnote 137] Decryption
or avoidance of an access control measure is not circumvention
within the meaning of the statute unless it occurs without the authority
of the copyright owner. 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(3)(A). Defendants
posit that purchasers of a DVD acquire the right to perform all
acts with it that are not exclusively granted to the copyright holder. Based
on this premise, they argue that DeCSS does not circumvent CSS within
the meaning of the statute because the Copyright Act does not grant the
copyright holder the right to prohibit purchasers from decrypting. As
the copyright holder has no statutory right to prohibit decryption, the
argument goes, decryption cannot be understood as unlawful circumvention.
The argument is pure sophistry. The DMCA proscribes trafficking
in technology that decrypts or avoids an access control measure without
the copyright holder consenting to the decryption or avoidance. See
Judiciary Comm. Rep. at 17-18 (fair use applies where the access
is authorized). Defendants' argument seems to be a corruption
of the first sale doctrine, which holds that the copyright holder, notwithstanding
the exclusive distribution right conferred by Section 106(3) of the Copyright
Act, 17 U.S.C. § 106(3), is deemed by its first sale of a
copy of the copyrighted work to have consented to subsequent sale of the
copy. See generally 2 Nimmer § § 8.11-8.12.
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24. [court's footnote 138] [17 U.S.C.
] § 1201(a)(3)(B).
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25. [court's footnote 139] RealNetworks,
Inc. v. Streambox, Inc., 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1889, No. C99-2070P,
2000 WL 127311, *9 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 18, 2000).
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26. [court's footnote 140] House Comm.
on Judiciary, Section-by-Section Analysis of H.R. 2281 as Passed by the
United States House of Representatives on August 4, 1998 (Section-by-Section
Analysis), at 10 (Comm. Print 1998) (emphasis in original).
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27. [court's footnote 141] H.R. Rep.
No. 105-551( Part II), 105th Cong., 2d Sess. at 39 (1998) (Commerce
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28. [court's footnote 142] Defendants,
in a reprise of their argument that DeCSS is not a circumvention device,
argue also that CSS does not effectively control access to copyrighted
works within the meaning of the statute because plaintiffs authorize avoidance
of CSS by selling their DVDs. The argument is specious in this context
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29. [court's footnote 145] 1 Nimmer
§ 12A.03[A], at 12A-15 (1999 Supp.).
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30. [court's footnote 149] [17 U.S.C.]
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31. [court's footnote 151] Commerce
Comm. Rep. at 43.
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32. [court's footnote 152] 17 U.S.C.
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33. [court's footnote 154] In any
case, Section 1201(g), where its requirements are met, is a defense only
to claims under Section 1201(a)(2), not those under Section 1201(b).
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34. [court's footnote 157] Like Section
1201(g), moreover, Section 1201(j) provides no defense to a Section 1201(b)
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35. [court's footnote 159] Indeed,
as many have pointed out, technological means of controlling access to
works create a risk, depending upon future technological and commercial
developments, of limiting access to works that are not protected by copyright
such as works upon which copyright has expired. . . .
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36. [court's footnote 160] Of course,
one might quote the verbal portion of the sound track, rerecord both verbal
and nonverbal portions of the sound track, and video tape or otherwise
record images produced on a monitor when the DVD is played on a compliant
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37. [court's footnote 162] See, e.g.,
Commerce Comm. Rep. 25-26.
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38. [court's footnote 163] Judiciary
Comm. Rep. 18.
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39. [court's footnote 165] 17 U.S.C.
§ § 1201(a)(1)(B)-(E). The rule-making is under way. 65 F.R.
14505-06 (Mar. 17, 2000); See also
(visited July 28, 2000).
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40. [court's footnote 166] 17 U.S.C.
§ § 1201(d), (f), (g), (j).
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41. [court's footnote 169] RealNetworks,
Inc., 2000 WL 127311, at *8 (quoting 1 Nimmer § 12A.18[B], at 12A-130)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
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42. [court's footnote 170] Section-by-Section
Analysis 9 (The Sony test of ‘capability of substantial non-infringing
uses, while still operative in cases claiming contributory infringement
of copyright, is not part of this legislation . . . .).
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43. [court's footnote 171] 17 U.S.C.§
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44. [court's footnote 176] See 2 The
Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary 3372 (1971).
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45. [court's footnote 177] See 2 id.
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46. [court's footnote 178] See 1 id.
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47. [court's footnote 179] See, e.g., Strom
v. Goldman, Sachs & Co., 202 F.3d 138, 146-47 (2d Cir. 1999).
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48. [court's footnote 180] See DVD Copy
Control Ass'n, Inc. v. McLaughlin, No. CV 786804, 2000 WL 48512, *4
(Cal. Super. Jan. 21, 2000) (website owner cannot be held responsible
for all of the content of the sites to which it provides links);
Richard Raysman & Peter Brown, Recent Linking Issues, N.Y.L.J.,
Feb. 8, 2000, p. 3, col. 1 (same).
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