Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

Electronic Frontier Foundation Argues Against DVD Software Ban

Prior Restraint of Internet Publishers Unconstitutional

For Immediate Release: Thursday, August 23, 2001


David Greene, FAP Executive Director / Staff Counsel
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Robin Gross, EFF Intellectual Property Attorney
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San Jose, California - A California appeals court today heard a debate over whether a lower court should have ordered dozens of Internet publishers to "stop the presses" pending the outcome of a California trade secrets trial.

In January 2000, as part of a trade secrets case brought by the motion picture industry, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge William Elfving ordered Andrew Bunner and numerous other defendants to halt Internet publication of DeCSS pending the outcome of the trial. DeCSS is free software that allows people to play DVDs without technological restrictions, such as platform limitations and region codes, that are imposed by movie studios.

Today Bunner, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the First Amendment Project (FAP), argued on appeal that this injunction violates his free speech rights under the First Amendment and the California Constitution. The argument took place in San Jose before three judges of the Sixth District California Court of Appeals.

"It is well-established that publishers of computer code are protected by the First Amendment. In granting the injunction against Mr. Bunner, the Superior Court failed to adequately consider Bunner's First Amendment rights," said David Greene, Executive Director and staff counsel to the First Amendment Project, who argued the appeal on behalf of Mr. Bunner. "The mere invocation of 'trade secrets' does not trump a publisher's First Amendment rights."

During today's oral arguments, the judges clearly appreciated the important First Amendment issues raised and asked probing questions of both sides. Upon completion of the oral arguments, the court took the matter under submission. A decision is expected in approximately 4-8 weeks.

Background on the DVD Copy Control Assoc. Inc. v. Bunner, et al. case:

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression, privacy, and openness in the information society. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to Web sites in the world:

About FAP:

The First Amendment Project is a nonprofit, public interest law firm and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition. FAP provides advice, educational materials, and legal representation to its core constituency of activists, journalists, and artists in service of these fundamental liberties and has a website at:

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