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DVD DeCSS and how we solved the Twitter censorship problem

January 19, 2021 at 5 A.M. Eastern Time

The Digital Versatile Disc, known in some popular forms as DVD-Video, is a high-capacity data storage system that can hold gigabytes of multimedia, including text and HTML. Do you remember stores full of DVD movies? Many people do.

In 1999, DVD C.C.A., the entity that provided the encryption system for the aforementioned DVD-Video standard, sued a bunch of named internet users (including myself) and they also sued a long list of anonymous 'John Doe' users. We were providing network mirrors, or redundant distributed copies, of a source code decoder for DVD-Video discs that a developer had created known as DeCSS. His software enabled DVD movies to be played on Linux computers. Before this, if you wanted to view a DVD movie on your PC, you needed to purchase Microsoft Windows and DVD Player software to view the movies on these discs, even if you already paid for and installed a DVD-ROM reader.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, then under the direction of John Perry Barlow, provided free legal defense for us because, at that time, many of us were just starting work in technology or education. (I was then 21 years old. I'm typing this now at age 42. Barlow passed away aged 70 a few years ago, so given that I started learning internet activism at age 17, I'm looking forward to a future full of old code and data to support.)

As I reload more of my old website information that was censored by the passage of time and surely all of those other unnamed yet politicized forces in life, I'd like to present to you a look at my old DeCSS web page at the link below. Keep in mind that other than some re-linking and titling to fit this web server, the linked page has not been changed from its final revision while the trial was in progress. I consider this a belated victory in Hollywood vs. Winslow:

Not to interrupt, if you're busy reading, but it seems that the problem of censorship vs. centralization doesn't have an easy answer if everyone is trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. After the profoundly offensive "Twitter vs. Government" censorship problems, followed by all of the usual microservice-as-a-microservice services again popping up for investors to bet micromoney on, I do need to note that this is an age-old problem.

If I could just convince you to hold on for quite a while..

(Disclosure: Mr. Zuckerberg, myself, and many others were on a 2010 donation list supporting a decentralized open source social networking system named Diaspora. I also supported Eben Moglen's FreedomBox Foundation in 2011. It helps to support software and services with real money. Whoever's running Twitter probably won't learn this before they decentralize into the post-Valenti-industry's bankruptcy-fueled paradise.)

Please understand that I've been holding firm and steady on my technology stances for the past 25+ years to make sure you can eat. We did push this internet thing up for a reason; it's not theft. Another piracy-behind-an-icon startup such as Google isn't going to solve things, whoever the new Mark is going to be this time.

Copyright © 1996-2024 Douglas Rice Winslow III. All Rights Reserved. E-mail Address: <>