Le Monde on the Gallery of CSS Descramblers

Le Monde is one of the largest newspapers in France.

Original article (in French), dated March 16, 2001, appears here.

The translation below was done by Babelfish, with some post-tranlation editing.


The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), which gathers all the Majors of Hollywood, fights without slackening against the diffusion of DeCSS, pirate software making it possible to unlock DVD-videos, in order to view films on all types of computers and to make illicit copies. However although it won several lawsuits against sites distributing DeCSS, it did not know to prevent its proliferation on a large scale. In addition to the hackers of the whole world, it must from now on face professors of the largest American universities, which consider that freedom of movement of scientific information must take precedence over the interests of the multinationals of show business.

David Touretzky, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), is one of the leaders of this informal movement. lawsuits of a group to hackers continued by the MPAA, he created on the server of hius university a "gallery" where he "exposes" DeCSS in all the conceivable forms. Its goal is simply to recall that software is nothing but a sequence of characters, a "text" protected by laws on freedom of expression. In addition to the code-source in various data-processing languages, Mr. Touretzky publishes about thirty representations written of DeCSS on inert support: books of students, tee-shirts and greeting cards on which the code was printed; graphs and logos carried out starting from the characters which make it up; poems in which it is mixed with free verse; mathematical description of the algorithm, English description running of the commands to process of attack of the DVD... To vary the pleasures, DeCSS is also available in sound version: read, sung a capella or with accompaniment, and even directly transposed into numerical music.

Mr. Touretzky also proposes the code-source in encrypted forms: in bar-codes, in paper tape, inserted in the code of a digital image or another technical document. Lastly, he publishes the code of Qrpff, a new program performing the same functions, but comprised of only seven lines of code - a tiny message that one can easily insert anywhere.

February 5, after long hesitations, the MPAA sent a letter of warning to Mr. Touretzky. He answered them the following day, by challenging them to present the legal arguments for censoring scientific documents published on a university server.

Yves Eudes

Dave Touretzky
Last modified: Sat Mar 17 01:41:14 EST 2001