Some brief notes in response to this letter:

> PHONE: (818) 728-8127 
> Email:                                       
> Anti-Piracy Operations
> Jeanne Smythe
> Vice Chancellor
> Finance/Administration
> CB#3420, 101 Abernethy Hall
> University of North Carolina at 
> Chapel Hill
> Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3420
> Fax: 919-962-5334
> Date: March 16, 2000  
> RE:     Illegal Provision of DeCSS/Circumvention Device
> Site/URL:
>                 MPAA File#: 5-671-294
> Dear Jeanne Smythe:
> The Motion Picture Association of America is authorized to act on
> behalf of the following copyright owners:
> Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
> Disney Enterprises, Inc.
> Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
> Paramount Pictures Corporation
> TriStar Pictures, Inc.
> Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 
> United Artists Pictures, Inc.
> United Artists Corporation
> Universal City Studios, Inc.
> Warner Bros., a Division of
> Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P.

These organizations hold various copyrights, but are not the 
copyright holders of CSS, the encryption scheme used on DVDs.
They presumably hold copyrights to some movies encoded on 
DVDs, but I have not posted any such items on the Internet.

The Licensor of CSS technology is the "DVD Copy Control Association"
(see and
There do not appear to be any copyrights related to CSS filed
with the US Copyright Office.

There are several patents relating to DVD encryption and playback,

	US5917914: DVD data descrambler for host interface and 
		   MPEG interface
	US5915018: Key management system for DVD copyright management
and	US5923754: Copy protection for recorded media

None of the above listed organizations are holders of these

> We have knowledge that the above-referenced Internet site is providing
> a circumvention device commonly known as DeCSS.  DeCSS is a software
> utility that decrypts or unscrambles the contents of DVDs (consisting
> of copyrighted motion pictures) or otherwise circumvents the
> protection afforded by the Contents Scramble System (CSS) and permits
> the copying of the DVD contents and/or any portion thereof.  

The above paragraph is essentially correct, except that DeCSS has
nothing at all to do with copying a DVD.  Copying a DVD does not
require decryption or unscrambling, it simply requires a very
expensive DVD writer and writable DVD disc.  DeCSS enables decryption
of the data on a DVD in order for the content to be viewed on a

> As such,
> DeCSS is an unlawful circumvention device within the meaning of 17
> U.S.C.  1201(a)(2),(3).  Providing or offering DeCSS to the public on
> your system or network violates the provisions of 1201(a)(2) which
> prohibits the "manufacturing, importing or offering to the public,
> providing, or otherwise trafficking" in an unlawful circumvention
> device.

The above paragraph is speculation, based on an interpretation of
U.S.C. 1201(a)(2),(3) that has not been tested in any court.

> On January 20, 2000, the United States District Court for the Southern
> District of New York granted a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the
> Internet posting or other provision of DeCSS, 

This Preliminary Injunction was filed against 3 defendents, "Shawn
C. Reimerdes, Eric Corley a/k/a "Emmanuel Goldstein" and Roman Kazan,
their officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys and all
persons in active concert or participation with them who receive
actual notice of this order by personal service or otherwise be and
they hereby are enjoined and restrained."  It has no mention of other
parties.  Only the defendents are prohibited from "trafficking in

> having found that DeCSS
> was a prohibited circumvention device within the meaning of
> 1201(a)(2) and that the offering, providing or trafficking of DeCSS
> on the Internet violated 1201(a)(2).  

The court made no such findings, either that "DeCSS was a prohibited
circumvention device" or that DeCSS "violated 1201(a)(2)."  In fact,
the Preliminary Injunction makes no reference at all to 1201, to
U.S.C. Title 17, or to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (which
added U.S.C. 1201 to Title 17).

The Preliminary Injunction simply defines DeCSS as "any computer
program, file or device that may be used to decrypt or unscramble the
contents of DVDs that are protected, or otherwise to circumvent the
protection afforded, by CSS and that permits the copying of the
contents or any portion thereof."

As defined by the NY court, "DeCSS" also applies to ANY software,
produced by ANY method or manufacturer, for playing or copying DVDs.

> That court thus enjoined:

Note again, it is the 3 defendants who are enjoined, only.

> Posting on any Internet web site, or in any other way manufacturing,
> importing or offering to the public, providing, or otherwise
> trafficking in DeCSS, and (b) posting on any Internet web site, or in
> any other way manufacturing, importing or offering to the public,
> providing, or otherwise trafficking in any technology, product,
> service, device, component, or part thereof, that: (i) is primarily
> designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing, or
> circumvention the protection afforded by, CSS, or any other
> technological measure that effectively controls access to plaintiffs'
> copyrighted works or effectively protects the plaintiffs' rights to
> control whether an end user can reproduce, manufacture, adapt,
> publicly perform and/or distribute unauthorized copies of their
> copyrighted works or portions thereof. . .

> The Superior Court of Santa Clara County, California also recently
> granted a Preliminary Injunction against the Internet posting of
> DeCSS.

The CA case is completely separate.  The Preliminary Injunction in
that case was less specific than the NY case, essentially arguing that
losses to the defendents would be minor if they are found to be
innocent of wrongdoing.

> If you are bound by an injunction, maintaining the DeCSS utility on
> your system or network violates the above injunction[s] and risks
> court sanctions for contempt.

This is a key statement.  Only the 3 defendents mentioned above
are bound by the NY injunction.  Another list of defendents
may be bound by the CA injunction (the list includes 501
Does, and a number of people, organizations and entities who
do not reside in California).  

I am not mentioned or refered to in any injunction, and no
NC or US Federal court has made any sort of injunction regarding
DeCSS.  The software in question on my Web page was placed there
AFTER both the NY and CA motions for injunctions were filed.

> Even if you are not bound by this injunction, we submit the legal
> rationale of these opinions would apply to the activities complained
> of herein.  Thus we still request you comply with this request.

Another key statement.  The MPAA is making a request.  We have no
reason to comply with the request; there have been no legal rulings
related to their claims.

> We hereby demand that you:
> 1) take appropriate steps to cause immediate removal of DeCSS from the
> above identified URL, along with such other actions as may be
> necessary or appropriate to suspend this illegal activity;

The legality of the activity has not been determined yet.

> 2) provide appropriate notice to the subscriber or account holder
> responsible for the presence of DeCSS on your system or network,
> advising him/her of the contents of this notice and directing that
> person to contact the undersigned immediately at the e-mail address
> provided above;

The full contact information for me and my department is linked from
the same page they are complaining about.  In contrast, there was no
contact information for the person the letter is addressed to.

> 3) advise us of the name and physical address of the person operating
> this site; and

Again, this information is readily available.

> 4) maintain, and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the
> destruction of, all records, including electronic records, in your
> possession or control respecting this URL, account holder or
> subscriber.

Even if the Preliminary Injunction in NY or CA applied to me, the
Preliminary Injunction deals with distribution, not possession.  There
is no indication that removing materials from locations such as backup
tapes, disk drives, password-protected Web pages, libraries, or other
areas is included in "trafficking in DeCSS," which is what the
Prelimary Injunction refers to.

> By copy of this letter, the owner of the above-referenced URL and/or
> email account is hereby directed to cease and desist from the conduct
> complained of herein.

I have received no copy of this letter from MPAA.

> Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.  Your immediate response
> is requested.
> The information in this notification is accurate, and we declare,
> under penalty of perjury, that the Motion Picture Association of
> America is authorized to act on behalf of the owner[s] of exclusive
> rights described above.
> Should you have any questions, please contact us at the above listed
> address.
> Respectfully,
> The Motion Picture Association of America

// Gregory B. Newby, Assistant Professor in the School of Information
// and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
// CB# 3360 Manning Hall, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3360  E:
// V: 919-962-8064 F: 919-962-8071  W:

Copyright 2000