The DVD cracking lawsuit now also makes T-Shirts its target

Copyleft, the maker of a T-shirt displaying code to a DVD-cracking program, has just been added to the high-profile piracy lawsuit surrounding the cracking of DVD’s CSS protection encryption. The retailer who has printed the source code for a DVD decryption program on T-shirts has become the latest target of a lawsuit claiming defendants co-opted the secrets behind DVD encryption. The DVD Copy Control Association on Monday added Copyleft LLC to a California lawsuit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, taking Copyleft founder Steve Blood by surprise. According to the subpoena he received Monday, the DVD CCA had trouble locating him, despite the fact that the organization’s Web site is easy to find.

The lawsuit, filed in December, charges almost 80 defendants worldwide with misappropriation of trade secrets. The association added more than 400 “Doe” defendants to the complaint; they will be named later. Copyleft replaces “Doe No. 74.” Each of the defendants posted the code for a program known as DeCSS, a program that breaks the Content Scrambling System on digital video disks.

Cracking the encryption can be the first step to turning a large DVD file into a much smaller MPEG-4 or DivX file. A user could legally copy the file to a CD-ROM for playback on a PC since changing the format of a file is considered fair use under the Audio Home Recording Act. A user who trades the same file on the Internet or at a swap meet — or even shares the file with a friend — violates the fair use provision. In its lawsuit, the association claims that has already occurred. What is not clear is whether copying the code violates a separate law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The association’s lawsuit claims it does.

For full court protocols of this case please check here.

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