WOS 3 / Programm / Specials / Exhibition / David S. Touretzky et al., Gallery of CSS descramblers

David S. Touretzky et al., Gallery of CSS descramblers


The American "Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)" of 1999 has, for the first time in history, outlawed technologies which crack copy or playback restriction schemes of media. European legislation has, in the meantime, adapted this reform. Since then, it's not just illegal to use circumvention technologies for illegal purposes, but the technologies themselves are illegal even if they can serve legal means.

The Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen was one of the authors of the small decryption program "DeCSS", created to allow PCs running under free operating systems such as GNU/Linux to play DVD movies. After others were charged under the DMCA for distributing DeCSS, Johansen was himself charged in Norway as a result of pressure applied by the Motion Picture Association.

Civil rights and internet activists considered Johansen's criminal prosecution an attack on the constitutional freedom of expression. After all, it was a chunk of computer source code - and thus a piece of writing - that was declared forbidden and withdrawn from the public.

Computer science professor David Touretzky created a "Gallery of CSS descramblers" to show how the DeCSS decryption algorithm could be expressed in many forms, convincing an American court that the distinction between "code" and "speech" was false. Other activists printed the DeCSS code onto t-shirts, and created a variety of artwork, and even a lengthy poem in haiku form, that encoded the algorithm. These were added to the Gallery as well. The t-shirts shown in this exhibition were subject to a court action filed by the "DVD Copy Control Association".

Creative Commons License
All original works on this website unless otherwise noted are
copyright protected and licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License Germany.