Linux Users to Protest Copyright Act

A Linux users' group in Washington, D.C., is planning a protest against parts of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which they say is being used to unfairly restrict the development of DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) software for the Linux operating system.

The group says the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is using the law to threaten Linux developers.

The act, adopted in 1998, gives copyright holders "sweeping legal protection" to restrict access to their property, the group says.

"In effect, it (the act) lets copyright holders write their own arbitrary copyright laws, which are normally enforced by these access control measures (such as weak encryption)," the Linux user group said in a statement on their Web site at http://www.tux.org. "The DMCA then outlaws circumventing these access controls for virtually any reason, even by legitimate paying customers engaged in 'fair use' activities."

The protest will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, March 28, on the west side of the U.S. Capitol Building.

The MPAA has fought the use of de-encryption software, called DeCSS, that can be used to de-encrypt movies or DVD disks normally scrambled by encryption code called CSS (content scrambling system).

"They are basically complaining about our ability to protect our members' products," Mark Litvack, the MPAA's legal director for worldwide antipiracy, said in a telephone interview. He added that there are authorized Linux-based DVD players on the market.

The association won a preliminary injunction Jan. 20, in U.S. District Court in New York that forced several men to remove Internet postings that gave the code for cracking DVD encryption.

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