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ERIC Number: EJ1082052
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Apr
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1368-1613
Intellectual Property Rights vs. Public Access Rights: Ethical Aspects of the DeCSS Decryption Program
Vaagan, Robert; Koehler, Wallace
Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, v10 n3 Apr 2005
Introduction: In 1999-2000, a Norwegian youth cracked a DVD-access code and published a decryption program on the Internet. He was sued by the US DVD Copy Control Association (DVD-CCA) and the Norwegian Motion Picture Association (MAP), allies of the US Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), arrested by Norwegian police and charged with data crime. Two Norwegian court rulings in 2003 unanimously ruled that the program did not amount to a breach of Norwegian law, and he was fully acquitted. In the US, there have been related cases, some with other outcomes. Method: Based on a theoretical framework developed by Zwass, the paper discusses these court rulings and the wider issues of intellectual property rights versus public access rights. Analysis: The DVD-Jon case illustrates that intellectual property rights can conflict with public access rights, as the struggle between proprietary software and public domain software, as well as the SPARC and Open Archives Initiative reflect. Results: An assessment of the DVD-Jon case based on the Zwass framework does not give a clear information ethics answer. The analysis depends on whether one ascribes to consequentialist (e.g., utilitarian) or deontological reflection, and also which side of the digital gap is to be accorded most weight. Conclusion: While copyright interests are being legally strengthened, there may be ethically-grounded access rights that outweigh property rights.
Thomas D. Wilson. 9 Broomfield Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, S10 2SE, UK. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Norway; United States
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A