Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

California Supreme Court Hears DVD Trade Secret Case

Civil Liberties Groups Seek Internet Publication Protection

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 22, 2002

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the First Amendment Project today asked the California Supreme Court to affirm an appeals court decision permitting publication of software pending a lower court's ruling on a trade secret case. In a tremendous victory for freedom of speech on the Internet, the appeals court had overturned a lower court injunction against publication of the software based on the publisher's First Amendment rights.

DVD-CCA, the organization that licenses DVD technology for Hollywood movie studios, originally filed the lawsuit in December 1999 and obtained a lower court injunction in January 2000 against defendant Andrew Bunner for publishing DeCSS software that decrypts DVDs. When an appeals panel overruled the lower court injunction last November, DVD-CCA then appealed to the California Supreme Court to challenge the appeals panel ruling.

The appeals panel had ruled that the trial judge failed to consider the First Amendment rights of Bunner to republish information readily obtainable in the public domain when it issued the gag order.

DVD-CCA contends that republication of DeCSS software constitutes illegal misappropriation of a trade secret. Bunner had republished DeCSS on his website after reading about it on Slashdot and deciding it was newsworthy.

"Well established trade secret law clearly holds that only those individuals who have undertaken an affirmative duty to treat information as a trade secret are required by law to keep it secret," said EFF Intellectual Property Attorney Robin Gross. "People who obtain information from the public domain have a First Amendment right to republish that information."

"We're confident the Supreme Court will recognize, as the Court of Appeal did, that this is a classic First Amendment case," said David Greene, Executive Director for the First Amendment Project and main author of the groups' legal brief.

DVD-CCA's reply brief is due on June 11, 2002, and oral argument will be scheduled before the California Supreme Court for sometime in the next eighteen months.


For this release:

Latest EFF/FAP brief in the DVD-CCA v. Bunner case:

The 6th Appellate Court's decision overturning the injunction:

The DVD Copy Control Association Petition for Review after Decision by the Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District:

More information on DVD-CCA v. Bunner including legal filings and media releases:

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 and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most-linked-to websites in the world at:

About First Amendment Project:

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:


Robin Gross
Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
+1 415 436-9333 x112 (office), +1 415 637-5310 (cell)

David Greene
Executive Director and Staff Counsel
First Amendment Project
+1 510 208-7744


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