Under the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), breaking the encryption on any software program is a federal crime. In 1999, the hacker magazine 2600 posted DeCSS on its website, 2600.com; this code, which breaks the encryption on DVDs, enables Linux computers to play DVDs (when encrypted, DVDs can only be played on Microsoft products) and also allows DVDs to be copied. The movie industry sued 2600's publisher, and although the court ultimately ruled against the magazine, the case inspired hacktivists to create art that incorporates the code. In so doing, the artists argue that computer language is speech and should be protected under the First Amendment. For more examples, see Gallery of CSS Descramblers, from which these were taken.

Anonymous
Web page, circa 2000
CLICK HERE

This DVD logo, formed from the characters in the CSS-auth source, was generated by an anonymous hacker using the MosASCII tool created by Robert DeFusco. To view the entire source code, click "Select All" on your browser's Edit menu.
Anonymous
"DeCSS Haiku"
Text, 2001
CLICK HERE

This poem is both a commentary on the DeCSS situation and a correct and complete description of the descrambling algorithm. As its anonymous author told the Wall Street Journal, "A program is a literary work. The idea was to show how strange and difficult it is to classify computer programs and technical information as something other than speech." Although the vast major of readers can't make use of the haiku, programmers are likely to know how to translate the poem back into software code.