California supremes hear DeCSS case

Friday, 30 May 2003, 11:51 AM EST

California's Supreme Court on Thursday heard oral arguments in a case that pits the motion picture industry against a man who distributed a DVD descrambling program through his website, until he was forced by a court order to remove it.

Andrew Bunner, now 26, was one of hundreds of people who mirrored a copy of the open-source DeCSS program on the Web in 1999, after learning about the controversy surrounding the program on the "news for nerds" community site Slashdot. Shortly thereafter he was named in an injunction ordering him to take down the program, as part of broadly targeted lawsuit filed by the DVD Copy Control Association -- a motion picture industry group -- under a 1979 state law designed to protect trade secrets.

DeCSS was written by Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen, in part based on information Johansen reverse-engineered from a commercial DVD-playing program that included a click-wrap license agreement that barred reverse engineering.

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