Universal v. Reimerdes

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

01/14/2000

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

New York

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Settled (partial)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
In 2000, several movie studios filed suit against Shawn Reimerdes, Roman Kazan, and Eric Corley after 2600.com published the DVD descrambling program DeCSS, which allowed users to circumvent anti-piracy protections allegedly in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Shawn Reimerdes; Eric Corley; Roman Kazan; and 2600 Enterprises, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Large Organization
Media Company

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Location of Party: 

  • Delaware

Location of Party: 

  • New York

Legal Counsel: 

Martin Garbus, George E. Singleton, David Y. Atlas, Edward Hernstadt - Davis & Gilbert LLP
Description

In 2000, several movie studios filed suit against Shawn Reimerdes, Roman Kazan, and Eric Corley after 2600.com published the DVD descrambling program DeCSS, which allowed users to circumvent anti-piracy protections allegedly in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Judge Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision. 

Near the outset of the lawsuit, the district court granted the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction barring the defendants from posting DeCSS. Despite the order, Corley continued to engage in what he termed "electronic civil disobedience" by posting links on 2600.com to other sites that made DeCSS available. In the spring of 2000, Kazan and Reimerdes reached separate settlements with the plaintiffs in which they agreed to permanently refrain from posting DeCSS or linking to other sites that make DeCSS available. On April 10, 2000, 2600 Enterprises, Inc., was added as a defendant.

In district court, the defendants argued that their conduct did not violate the DMCA and that application of the DMCA to their activities violated the First Amendment.  The court rejected these contentions, reasoning that, while computer code is entitled to First Amendment protections, the DMCA restricts the non-expressive aspect of code -- the functional act of descrambling. The court held that the anti-trafficking provision of the DMCA, as applied to DeCSS code, is a content neutral regulation that furthers an important governmental interest and which does not unduly restrict expressive activities. The court also ruled that it could enjoin and impose liability for linking to websites publishing DeCSS so long as "those responsible for the link (a) know . . . that the offending material is on the linked-to site, (b) know that it is circumvention technology that may not be lawfully offered, and (c) create or maintain the link for the purpose of disseminating that technology." The court found that the defendants' conduct satified these criteria.

On May 30, 2001, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision. 

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text
  • Code

Publication Medium: 

Website

Subject Area: 

  • Copyright
  • Linking
  • DMCA
  • Free Speech
Court Information & Documents
CMLP Information (Private)

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

PACER does not have the case documents.  The important ones probably can be found through searching, since this was a huge case.

Also, any number of new/discussion links are available through a quick search.

 

CaityR editing

7/10/09 - CMF