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Who Posts DeCSS and Why?: A Content Analysis of Web Sites Posting DVD Circumvention Software

Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 56, 2005

14 Pages Posted: 31 May 2005 Last revised: 12 May 2014

Anuj C. Desai

University of Wisconsin Law School

Kristin R. Eschenfelder

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Robert Glen Howard

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 18, 2010

Abstract

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.

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

Suggested Citation

Desai, Anuj C. and Eschenfelder, Kristin R. and Howard, Robert Glen, Who Posts DeCSS and Why?: A Content Analysis of Web Sites Posting DVD Circumvention Software (July 18, 2010). Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 56, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=729943

Anuj C. Desai (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-7605 (Phone)
608-262-5485 (Fax)

Kristin R. Eschenfelder

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Robert Glen Howard

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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