Who Posts DeCSS and Why?: A Content Analysis of Web Sites Posting DVD Circumvention Software
Anuj C. Desai
University of Wisconsin Law School
Kristin R. Eschenfelder
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Robert Glen Howard
affiliation not provided to SSRN
July 18, 2010
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 56, 2005
This study explored why web authors post the DVD decryption software known as DeCSS - specifically whether authors post DeCSS to protest changes in copyright law. Data are drawn from content analysis of websites posting the software. Most DeCSS posters did not include any content explaining why they posted DeCSS; however, no authors presented DeCSS as a piracy tool. Of sites containing explanatory content, many argued that DeCSS is legitimate tool to play DVDs on free/open source computers. Other sites asserted that current copyright law is unjust, and that DVD related corporations are engaging in undesirable behaviors.
Based on the data, and theorizing from rhetoric and the collective action literatures, we assert that much DeCSS posting is protest, but it may not be copyright protest - numerous posters protest related issues such as freedom of speech. More research is needed to determine the significance of DeCSS posting to broader copyright policy debates including its relation to off-line protest, and the development of shared identities and cognitive frames. Also, the complexities of circumvention issues raise concerns about whether policy debate will be limited to elites. Finally, data point to the need to understand both international and local laws, norms, and events when studying copyright protest activity.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: DeCSS, DMCA, circumvention, digital rights management (DRM), Internet regulation, fair use, copyright, protest, freedom of speech, global data flows
JEL Classification: K30, K42, O34
Date posted: May 31, 2005 ; Last revised: May 12, 2014