Hacker magazine 2600 has filed a request for the reversal of an earlier US court ruling prohibiting the publication of the DeCSS DVD decrypting software. The move comes just days after Norwegian authorities indicted Jon Johansen, the creator of the DeCSS tool.
With the backing of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 2600 is claiming that "free speech principles should not turn upon newly minted distinctions between pen-and-ink and point-and-click".
EFF legal director Cindy Cohn noted: "By permitting publication of code in an online magazine, the Second Circuit [Appeals Court] would recognise that internet speech is fully protected by the First Amendment as established by the US Supreme Court."
2600 lost a court case against the motion picture industry last year and, as a result, has been prohibited from publishing or linking to the source code for DeCSS.
But in a separate case in November, the injunction granted to the DVD Copy Control Association preventing the publication of Johansen's DeCSS was overturned on First Amendment free speech grounds.
As a result 2600 is requesting that the US court reverse the earlier ruling prohibiting publication of the code "which permits DVD owners to view DVDs on players that are not approved by the entertainment industry", such as those based on the Linux operating system.
"The most egregious part of the previous decision prevented even linking - the lifeblood of the internet," said Cohn.
During the 2600 trial the three-judge panel rejected pleas from 46 intellectual property professors, 17 top computer scientists, eight top computer security experts, the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Library Association, and the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press, among others.
A court decision on the request is expected later this spring, but DeCSS related court cases have been far from consistent.
In November webmaster Andrew Bunner appealed on First Amendment free speech grounds and won. Only last week Norwegian authorities indicted Johansen. If found guilty he faces a two-year prison sentence.
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