DeArt - DeCSS Art Contest (et al)
Tom Vogt and Various Authors

In January and February 2000, in the case of Universal Studios vs. Reimerdes, et al., a US District Court judge prohibited distribution of the source code to DeCSS - software that reads encrypted DVD's. In doing so, the judge indicated that computer source code was too utilitarian to be entitled, as an "expression," to the usual First Amendment protections on free speech.*

Various authors took issue with the court's interpretation (and the motion picture industry's subsequent lawsuits against people who posted the code on their websites) and have expressed their opposition and defiance by creating works of "Art" from, or based on, the forbidden DeCSS code. Tom Vogt** organized this art contest to showcase some of them; there have been other contests and exhibitions of DeCSS art as well.***

* See:

in which Judge Kaplan writes,
"And while the prior restraint doctrine has been applied well beyond the sphere of political expression, we deal here with something new altogether---computer code, a fundamentally utilitarian construct even assuming it embodies some expressive element."

Other courts have since come up with different and opposing interpretations - the issue is still legally murky.

** Tom Vogt found himself sued for distributing DeCSS despite not being a US citizen/resident nor distributing DeCSS from a server within the US.

*** Other projects in a similar vein include:

which includes examples like:

feature about this project: DeArt - DeCSS Art Contest (et al)

project homepage:
keywords: lawyer_resistant-speech-political-passionate-criticism-
text_manipulation-open_source-ironic software for the Internet
category: political and activist software/cease-and-desist-ware
uploaded by amy, 20 Feb 2003

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