Threat Level:

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel’s contempt for the media is widely known by the San Francisco tech press. Patel, a Carter appointee, presided over the Napster trial in one of the smallest courtrooms in the San Francisco federal building – despite unsuccessful press pleas that the high-profile case be moved to a substantially larger courtroom that perpetually sits vacant. Hence, many reporters were excluded for lack of space.

Fast forward to Friday. Patel excluded several reporters from

Some audiences are okay
Some audiences are okay

the same courtroom in a case testing Hollywood’s lock on the DVD. The press, including Wired, CNET, Reuters, Bloomberg News Service, The New York Times, and The Associated Press and other outlets were ordered removed as the guts of the case got underway.

. . .

That said, Patel labeled the CSS a “trade secret” after only a few moments of public discourse. Greg Sandoval, a gonzo scribe for CNET, stood up and objected to the MPAA’s move for closure. The judge, however, said she wasn’t about to waste the court’s time and parse, “bit by bit,” which pieces of the code have been cracked and published on the internet and which parts have not.

So she closed the courtroom, despite every crack and hack of the code having already  been slathered on the internet, on shirts and ties. Let’s not forget about all the underground software programs, free or cheap, that allow for the copying of DVDs. (Check out’s how-to wiki for DVD copying instructions.)

Funny way to run a railroad, huh.

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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