Boing Boing: EFF explains the law on AACS keys

published May 03, 2007, last modified Jun 26, 2013

Fred von Lohmann, expert and attorney at law, lays down the law of the land in relation to the HD-DVD decryption key... and it's disheartening:

This is the law of the land, and it stinks. If there was ever an example of why the DMCA needs to die, this is it. The idea that a sixteen-digit number is illegal to possess, to discuss in class, or to post on a news site is offensive to a country where free speech is the first order of the Constitution. The MPAA and RIAA are conspiring to unmake America, to turn this into a country where free expression, due process, and the rule of law take a back-seat to a perpetual set of governmental handouts intended to guarantee the long-term profitability of a small handful of corrupt companies.

I don't mean to sound pessimistic -- I got Fred to sound pessimistic for me. Anyway, to understand the finer legal points, read the linked article. Von Lohmann answers the following questions brilliantly:

  • What is the AACS-LA's argument?
  • Who can sue over the posting of the key?
  • What about just linking to a place where the key is posted?
  • What about the DMCA safe harbors?
  • Is the key copyrightable?

For ecuadorians like me, the situation is "just a little bit" harsher, since there's no takedown procedure -- local "intellectual property" law basically says spread a "technological protection circumvention device", go to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.