Seth Schoen: The History of the DeCSS Haiku

I wrote the DeCSS Haiku because I was angry at the attempts by lawyers for the entertainment industry and the government to trivialize the free expression rights of programmers and other people engaged in technical communication. I believe, and I said repeatedly in my poem, that one of the reasons courts and others have countenanced the censorship of software is that they do not understand it.

[…] An observer might be shocked to compare the Bernstein and Corley cases. She would perceive that the courts have concluded that it’s wrong to censor software in the name of preventing terrorism, but it’s all right when what’s at stake is the ability to copy movies.

posted January 27, 2004 08:42 PM (Politics) (2 comments) #


Shorter State of the Union
Liberate Libertarianism
Visiting Libertopia: The Magical Power of Property
Aaron Swartz: The Interview
Why Raise Children?
Freedom of Speech, or The DeCSS Haiku
The Media vs. The Facts
Trippi Dumps Dean
The Trippi Story
The Furious Rise of the Anonymous Writer


You’re being unfair, and an observer should not be so clueless as to decide that this is an issue of right and wrong. Our stupid legislators passed specific laws infringing our rights of free expression when it comes to movies, but they didn’t create similar infringements in the name of terrorism. (They created other infringments, one of which has just been declared unconstitutional.)

Court cases appear to decide right and wrong but they generally decide (at best) what’s consistent with law.

The simplest conclusion to draw is that judges don’t understand software. Otheriwse they would gradually force the wildly off-base laws passed by politically motivated legislators to become more consistent.

- The Precision Blogger

posted by Precision Blogger at January 29, 2004 12:20 PM #

No, Seth is talking about the specific Bernstein case. The government made it illegal to publish certain software that could aid terrorists. The Ninth Circuit said that this was unconstitutional and overturned the law. The First Amendment is more important that national security in this instance.

But when the government made it illegal to publish certain software that could aid pirates, the Eleventh Circuit said it was OK!

posted by Aaron Swartz at January 29, 2004 01:08 PM #

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