The music web site MP3.com today removed a song called DeCCS.mp3, in which Joseph Wecker sings a version of the banned computer code known as DeCCS.
In an email letter to Wecker, MP3.com cited the nature of the music lyrics for the song’s eradication. ‘Your song has either a song title or lyrics that are offensive or otherwise inappropriate,’ the company wrote.
The song offers an English language rendition of the banned code. This codes enables users to disable the encryption on DVDs that prevents duplication of the disc’s contents. A federal judge in New York last month banned hacker publication 2600.com from publishing or linking to the code online.
The programmers who wrote the code insist DeCSS was designed to play legally purchased movie DVDs on computers running the Linux operating system–a format not supported by the movie industry. They say the code is a form of speech and is protected by the First Amendment–a claim many DeCSS supporters have rushed to validate by churning out artistic and other non-functioning works based on the DeCSS source code. Protesters have published portions of DeCSS on T-shirts and have recorded dramatic readings of the code. Others have used the code to create images in graphics files. Pro-DeCSS supporters say these demonstrations don’t contain the full source code necessary to decode a DVD.
Wecker said he sang the DeCSS code as a way to attract attention to the issue. ‘It’s gone one step too far,’ Wecker said. “It’s illegal to photocopy a copyrighted poem. But now it’s like it has become illegal to tell someone how the Xerox works. I find it very disturbing that I live in a country where singing source code may be technically illegal–kind of chilling,’ Wecker said. ‘My song is just like the T-shirts. The T-shirts don’t even have enough code to decode a DVD.’
Maybe soon we’ll see a Special Edition DVD containing the dramatic readings of the source code, with proceeds going to support their cause. I wonder how the hackers would feel then if everyone hacked the disc and distributed it freely across the ‘net?