ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Be a Hero to 79 Wayward Cubes (Update: A Hero Arrives) —

Let me explain what this is:

DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff

What you’re looking at is what happens when things get a little out of control with all the computer history, with a dash of major miscommunication.

Let’s take a better look:

DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff

What you’re looking at is a collection of 79 cardboard boxes, extra-strength, that contain every legal document held by the Electronic Frontier Foundation regarding the cases DVD-CCA v. Bunner and DVD-CCA v. Pavlovich.  Here’s the EFF’s summary page on these cases. Many people who consider themselves hacker activists or electronic civil libertarians or what-have-you usually call these the “DeCSS Case”. 2600 magazine made a huge noise about this, because they were one of the defendants.

These 79 boxes contain all the legal documentation, that is to say, evidence and related materials, as well as procedural documents and all else what have you. Everything associated with the case, all the little confidential documents gotten by request and reams of writings from both sides. It’s a lot of material. Some of it is online. A ton (literally a ton) of it is not.

Right now, the boxes are wrapped in plastic and up against the side of the house. They’ve been here 4 days, and have been through 3 days of rain and one day of snow. They’re doing pretty ok.

DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff

How did this come to be? Well, I was contacted about this stuff back in August… seems that the storage costs for them were getting problematic for the EFF, so they had mailed 2600 about what to do, and maybe they should shred them or toss them out. I was brought in because I save stuff. Would I take them? Sure, I said – let me know when they would be coming, and I would make arrangements. Arrangements being, by the way, finding a proper home for them – I have too much stuff on my plate to sit here and digitize these things, and I am currently almost full of storage and in need of some consolidating/cleaning – 79 boxes, I could not keep long.

5 months passed.

A UPS truck came up at 5pm (which is darkness, now), just as I was leaving for New York City, to say they had 79 boxes to deliver.

This couldn’t be… I thought. But it was.

With a recent back issue, I couldn’t actually lift these items up – they had to be placed on some pallets I had around from when the GET LAMP documentaries were delivered. They stacked them up – I gave the UPS guys a tip.

The boxes were wrapped in plastic as best I could, and then I had to leave, really late for my appointment. I ended up missing most of that appointment.

And then it rained. And then it snowed.

DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff

So here they are. I’ve taken one of the boxes so you can see what’s in them:

DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff DeCSS Legal Files Dropoff

Here’s the deal. I curate and collect, I write and I administer, but I also broker. And what I’d like to do is broker a proper home for these.

A home, ideally, that will scan them or at least the good parts. That will get these documents out of the snow and rain and into a dry place, even for storage while looking for the next home. These boxes are about 50 miles north of New York City. I dream of a law library that will archive them and put the case up. Failing that, a hackerspace taking on the project of storage and putting them somewhere. Perhaps a kind soul who wants to pay for dry storage somewhere close to here while the next step is figured out – I don’t currently have the funds to pay this myself.

In another few years, I’d likely be able to absorb contributions like this, but I don’t have a job that supports such things yet. My income is actually rather strict. And my time is really taken.

So I ask you, who wants to be a hero? Contact me. Your help, any help, would be appreciated.

UPDATE: A home has been found, the files will be digitized, and kept safe. Thanks for all the concern.

Categorised as: computer history | housecleaning | jason his own self

Comments are disabled on this post


  1. L M says:

    sounds like another kickstarter project: Raise the funds to pay for digitation.

  2. marius says:

    I doubt you’d be willing to mail them to Romania where I live :)) I would otherwise be willing to scan a few thousand sheets of papers.

    Anyway, as long as I write this…. I’ve emailed you regarding the Geocities torrent but got no answer from you (maybe you’re no longer monitoring that email) so I’m posting directly:

    Can we work something out so that I can get the files through some other means and then seed the torrent then for the world?

    I have the bandwidth (hundreds of TB) but the torrent is stuck at around 45% and even when someone pops up with a bit of data it’s very hard to download it on the server running Windows 2003 because of all the conflicting file names (uppercase and lowercase versions of same name in a folder – Windows makes no distinction), causing the client to fail and re-check the whole torrent for hours.

    I’d appreciate at least if you could get back to me to the email on this comment.

  3. Hey – just in case whoever sent them happens to see the blog comments – how the CHRIST do you not make ABSOLUTELY SURE the guy taking these documents was ready for them?? It’s December. You’re shipping them to New York. Do you see the fluffy white snow in the photos up there? That snow’s not going anywhere. It’s going to be at jscott’s place till March. It’s simply going to become dirty, filthy and grey, like an old man’s sad and dying testicles. The fucking Pennysaver comes burrito-wrapped in a goddamn plastic bag, when its sent to denizens anywhere in New York.

    Yes, you did the right thing in getting those documents to somebody else. But you *can not* ship irreplaceable documents like that in the middle of winter without warning. Jason is not particularly difficult to get ahold of. I understand you can also pass messages to his talking cat. But dude, you messed up here. Hundreds of years from now, those documents will help well-behaved little fascists plot the exact moments America began devolving into a miserable corporatocracy. Those documents are priceless. Please, **please**, if you ever ship anything like this again, get the recipient on the telephone and let him or her but probably him know it’s coming.

  4. kevin says:

    If I were Italian this would be giving me agita right now!