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NFL, musicians urge court to uphold DeCSS ruling

A mixed cast of characters, including the National Football League and Major League Baseball, is backing the movie industry in its fight against an underground hacking magazine.

    Saying a lower-court ruling does not restrict free speech, a mixed cast of characters, including the National Football League and Major League Baseball, is backing the movie industry in its fight against an underground hacking magazine.

    Both the NFL and MLB have signed on to a brief to support the Motion Picture Association of America's crackdown on 2600 Magazine for posting DeCSS, a program that can crack DVD security.

    The MPAA sued 2600 last year, claiming the magazine violated copyrights by publishing code that could potentially let people copy movies. A federal judge agreed and banned 2600 from linking to or posting the code. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents the magazine, appealed the case last month. The appeals court is collecting information from both sides before deciding whether the lower-court ruling should stand.

    In its brief filed Tuesday, the NFL and MLB, along with 24 other organizations, argue the appeals court should uphold the lower-court ruling because it supports the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law that expands copyright claims in the digital age. The groups say the law prevents people from stealing copyrighted works.

    "Unchecked, such piracy threatens to destroy the legitimate marketplace for works of art, music, film, software, literature and other video programming (including sports programming), and will deter the development and distribution of new works in state-of-the-art digital media," the brief says.

    The MLB already has signed on to a brief in the Napster case, making similar arguments against the company's free music-swapping service. Other groups signing on to the brief in favor of the MPAA included the NCAA, the National Hockey League, the Business Software Alliance, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

    The MPAA also has landed the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, which last week filed a brief in support of the industry. The DOJ filed as an intervener, meaning it's hoping to take a greater role in the case, and it asked to participate in oral arguments, which are expected to take place in April.

    Supporters of 2600 filed their briefs in January, arguing that the lower-court ruling tramples First Amendment rights. Backers of the magazine include a group of world-famous programmers, the American Library Association and the ACLU.