DVD hack distributors face court threat

DVD hack distributors face court threat

Feature Clinton wants $2 billion to fight cyber-terrorism John Sterlicchi President Clinton proposed in January that the US allocate more than $2 bil...

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Clinton wants $2 billion to fight cyber-terrorism John Sterlicchi President Clinton proposed in January that the US allocate more than $2 billion in its fiscal 2001 budget to continue to fight the threat of cyber-terrorism. When the president presents his final budget plan on February 7 there will be a number of new pro-security initiatives but there will be no calls for new laws kin the detailed proposals. The $2.03 billion the president is asking for is up from the $1.75 billion allocated in this year’s federal budget. Among the new measures to combat the hacking of US computer networks would be a subsidized training program for up-and-coming cyber-sleuths. There is a $25 million proposal to subsidize students who pursue Information Security degrees, in return for a commitment to work for the federal government for a number of years. The US military operates similar programmes. Another proposal is to create an institute that would gather what President Clinton called “the finest

computer scientists and engineers” from universities, research organizations and private enterprise to advance computer technology and security. The biggest portion of funding, $621 million, is earmarked for R&D to fill in gaps not fulfilled by market-driven research to develop computer security for federal systems. The president’s call for more money has already struck a nerve in the Republicancontrolled Congress, which is not as keen as the Democrats on initiating government programmes and is also more interested in protecting individual privacy. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Georgia) wrote to Clinton after the announcement saying: “I share your concern about the need to protect American lives and property from terrorist attack. However, I cannot support such a large funding request without

DVD hack distributors face court threat Ed Wehde A legal battle was continuing in the US in January pitting suppliers of DVD-enabled content against a group of Web sites that are distributing the software which enables people to break the technology’s security and then copy the DVD’s content. The owners of the Web sites are making a number of claims as to why they are not committing any offences in distributing the software, for instance, that the distribution is protected by the US First Amendment of its Constitution, which allows free speech. Second it claims the hack was an example of ‘reverse engineering’ which 6

US courts, over the years, have allowed as a legitimate exercise. The DVD companies are organized under the auspices of the DVD Copy Control Association to license out the DVD Content Scrambling System, which movie studios use to prevent the piracy of DVD versions of copyrighted materials.

guarantees that it is truly necessary and will not result in a system that threatens the privacy of American citizens.” It was the concern of Barr and others that forced the Clinton administration to alter its plans for Federal Intrusion Detection Network, or Fidnet, which is a system to monitor computer activities in search of intrusions and other illegal actions. The original proposal had to be reworked and restricted the monitoring to government computers and not those in the private sector. To stress the dire straights of the current situation, Commerce Secretary William Daley said: “This is the first time in American history that we in the federal government, alone, cannot protect our infrastructure. We can’t hire an army or a police force that’s large enough to protect all of America’s cell phones or pagers or computer networks.” The president in his speech said: “We live in an age when one person sitting at one computer can come up with an idea, travel through cyberspace and take humanity to new heights. Yet someone can sit at the same computer, hack into a computer system and potentially paralyze a company, a city or a government.”

In its motion, the Association skirts those issues and says simply the case is about protecting trade secrets. Said Jeffrey Kessler, the Association’s lawyer: “If someone steals the formula to Coca Cola, and three other people get the formula and post it on the Internet, they can be shut down through an injunction for knowingly disseminating a trade secret.” He said the Web site operators knew — or “should have known” — they were posting protected DVD technology. “You can’t say, ‘I put it on the Web, it’s now speech’”, he added. The hack was originally written by a Norwegian teenager to enable Linuxbased systems to access DVD content. The teenager ceased distributing the hack but it was too late to stop it from being distributed across the Internet.