Legal constraints on Netizens: DeCSS, Napster,, etc.

FRUUG presentation, Thu 2001-02-15. Notes by Neal McBurnett, available at

Fruug Blurb

Legal constraints on Netizens: DeCSS, Napster,, etc.

It is increasingly the case, especially as the Internet gains increasing attention among lawyers, that the rights of developers and users are being affected. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has been construed to not only prevent people from reverse engineering technology and freely sharing the results, but even from including relevant hyperlinks on their web pages. The success of Napster at allowing individuals to find and share copyrighed music from the big record labels has threatened the ability of emerging artists from using the same technology to promote their work. Giant corporations like Hasbro are claiming ownership of words like "Clue" in the context of ".com".

Thankfully, in this case the courts have ruled that Hasbro doesn't have a clue, or at least this particular clue. We'll hear reports from Eric Robison of about his successful defense of his domain name, legal opinions from Carl Oppedahl about Intellectual Property Rights, and rantings from Neal McBurnett about the freedom to develop and share your own work in the spirit of the Constitution's actual language on the subject. Bring your questions for the panel and we'll have a great time as always.


John Gilmore's Copy Protection paper.

DVD for Linux et al (DeCSS) - Reverse-engineered version of DVD CSS (Content Scrambling System)

DeCSS Central Gallery of CSS Descramblers - excellent exposition of techniques for communicating and hiding information via the Internet (text, pictures, MIDI, steganography, from DVD-CCA's own DNS servers! ...): CSS/Gallery/
See also:

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): effector/HTML/effect13.11.html#I

Napster and peer-to-peer networking: ssroom/001013.html

League for Programming Freedom (patents, user-interface copyrights):'s legal battle:

Considerations for innocent domain name owners:

Neal McBurnett
Last modified: Sat Mar 31 21:07:59 MST 2001