Last month, Eliot House resident Raefer C. Gabriel '00 found himself the target of a cease-and-desist letter from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for his involvement with a controversial DVD copying program.
In January, Gabriel made a program on his computer called DeCSS available for download via the Internet. DeCSS allows a user to copy an entire movie from a DVD to a computer.
Gabriel said that within a week of posting the files and advertising them on an online message board, he was contacted by Eliot House Senior Tutor Margaret Bruzelius '74, who informed him that University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr. had received a cease-and-desist order from the MPAA on Feb. 8.
"We hereby demand that you take appropriate steps to cause immediate removal of DeCSS from [your servers]," the order read.
After a week of correspondence with Gabriel and time spent evaluating the case, Ryan asked Gabriel to immediately remove the program from his site.
"I have concluded that the posting of the DeCSS program on your site is prohibited by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA], and I ask that you remove or disable it at once," Ryan wrote in an e-mail message to Gabriel.
The DMCA, passed in 1998, makes acts such as circumventing access control measures and distributing technology that does so illegal.
Ryan wrote that Harvard makes decisions on such matters after investigating the claims itself.
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