January 15, 2000

Film Industry Escalates Legal Attacks on Technical Community: New Lawsuits Over DVD Security Filed in Federal Court

SAN FRANCISCO -- Filing suit at the last possible moment before a federal holiday, the motion picture industry has brought an action against several publishers of Web sites containing information on the weak encryption built into DVDs. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is leading the defense in a similar case brought in California, believes that the industry continues to inappropriately label speech about the technical insecurity of DVD as if it involved stealing digital copies of movies.

"These cases are not about piracy or hacking," said EFF Executive Director Tara Lemmey, "they are about censorship of speech critical to science, education, and innovation. Reverse engineering of DVD security is legitimate and important for systems interoperability, and a right that we must preserve for a healthy, open, and democratic society in the information age."

"EFF is leading the defense in a similar case brought in California," added EFF Staff Attorney, Robin Gross. "However, these new federal cases focus on the recently enacted Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which EFF commented on in Congress and has been preparing to litigate for some time."

EFF is continuing to move forward in challenging the industry's first attempt to censor Web sites discussing DVD technology, an action brought by the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD-CCA), an industry trade group, in California. In that case, EFF is sponsoring the legal defense of Andrew Bunner, the sole defendant to come forward.

Lemmey said, "The EFF DVD Legal Defense Team will argue next week that DVD-CCA's request for a preliminary injunction would essentially stop a public discussion about how DVDs work, which would constitute a prior restraint of an important public conversation -- something the First Amendment expressly forbids."

EFF launched the Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression (CAFE) last summer to address complex societal and legal issues raised by new technological measures for protecting intellectual property rights, as illustrated by these cases over DVD security. See for more information.

The preliminary injunction hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday, January 18, 2000 (13:30pm PT) at Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose, CA. EFF's brief and supporting documents are available on the Web at:

The EFF DVD Legal Defense Team consists of the following attorneys, all of whom are working on a pro bono basis:

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation ( is the leading global nonprofit organization linking technical architectures with legal frameworks to support the rights of individuals in an open society. 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.