[linux-elitists] thoughts in knots.

Heather star@betelgeuse.starshine.org
Sun Feb 13 15:16:45 PST 2000

I've been reading increasingly legalese descriptions of preceding cases
to the current DVD goings-on.  

The fascinating one looks to be the video game machine makers vs. their
(otherwise) potential licensees, the game makers.  
  1) Sega vs. Accolade.
     License available is too onerous, not only not free but desperately
     encumbering.  They reverse engineer just enough to make their games 
     compatible;  Sega throws a tantrum^H*16sues for copyright infringement
     and damages re lost sales.  

     Although 3 points out of 4 were shot down, point 3 was upheld as a 
     reasonable description of Fair Use; fair use of the sort described
     is explicitly stated as a good defense even if otherwise actionable;
     Accolade wins.

     (a side note about semiconductor masks not being considered to be
     directly under the Copyright Act and needing their own rules is 
     interesting too.  I wonder what the Open Firmware people will have
     to go through if they try to go there.)

     If I understand the article I'm reading correctly:

     ...ruled that the critical portion which made games able to work was 
     unprotected, and had to be revealed this way.  SEGA games remain works
     under copyright, SEGA machines under patent.  It'd be pretty cool if the 
     courts ruled that the DVD encryption^H*10encoding(*) scheme is an 
     unprotected part.

(*) At what point does really weak encoding become encryption?  XOR, rot13,
    newspaper cryptoquizzes... ... ...diffie-hellman, blowfish, twofish, and
    "state secrets".

  2) Nintendo vs. Atari.
     The case looks the same but apparently Atari made the mistake of 
     not buying their own copies of the games in normal fashion; they
     lied to the Copyright Office to get at the code which generated the
     defenses.  Oops.  Losers.

So if I understand correctly: reverse engineering = good, asking nicely 
(but illegally) and getting = bad.  Beyond that, the DVD CSA's assertion 
that they should be the only authority to license players actually 
strengthens the case; there was no other way to get the means to view 
movies (at the time; claims that now there are licensees are forever
tainted by the likelihood there would not have been, if we hadn't shown
ourselves to be a market by making a fuss).

How'm I doing so far? :)

-* Heather Stern * Starshine Technical Services * star@starshine.org *-
Too much of a good thing is WONDERFUL.  -- Mae West

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