Misleading Arguments In The Latest DeCSS Trial

from the how-much-do-you-not-understand? dept

Sometimes it’s a bit scary when you realize just how much some people don’t understand what they’re talking about – especially when it’s a topic they should understand. Such appears to be the case with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer in his arguments before the California Supreme Court about why Andrew Bunner broke the law by mirroring the DeCSS code that let users view legally purchased DVDs on their Linux boxes. The charge in this case (different than other cases on this topic) is that Bunner is guilty of revealing “trade secrets”. The defense is arguing that (a) this is a violation of free speech and (b) the information was so widely available everywhere (Bunner, after all, just copied the info from one of many sites hosting the code) that it was hardly a “trade secret”. However, Lockyer’s arguments have nothing to do with that. He claimed, “the program we are talking about is a burglary tool,” and “it makes no sense for the law to create a safe harbor for hackers.” First of all, what the program itself did has really no bearing on the questions at hand – which is whether or not it’s protected free speech and if it’s a “trade secret”. If it’s a “trade secret” then how is it a “burglary tool”? Second, and perhaps more importantly, DeCSS is not a burglary tool. It had plenty of non-infringing uses – such as the one it was written to do: watch legally purchased DVDs on Linux boxes. SecurityFocus has some more details on what else was said in court.

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Comments on “Misleading Arguments In The Latest DeCSS Trial”

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Ed Halley says:

No Subject Given

It has nothing to do with whether the lawyers *understand* the issues. Lawyers persuade and advocate for their side. The Judge has to understand the issues, and decide from the arguments given. For the prosecution to even acknowledge the trade secret vs available information issue is to weaken his own arguments that the defendant broke the law. If he can’t refute them crushingly, he’ll just skip it so as not to draw attention to it.
Even more chilling is that unless you’re in the state or fed Supreme Court, the Judge can’t even give much credence to Constitutional issues raised by the defense (unless it’s egregious), and must focus on the more specific and mundane laws that are being referenced by the prosecution.

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