A utility called DeCSS is currently floating around on the Net that will read a DVD movie disc and save the file on a hard disk, minus the encryption. All that's required is a DVD-ROM drive -- since CD-ROM drives can't read the 4.7GB DVD movie discs -- and a lot of disc space. The faster the CPU, the faster it will process the file. It takes around 10 minutes to process a .VOB file on a 500MHz Pentium III. Read more in Wired.
I used to mirror the file on this web site, but on 2001-3-23, had to remove the file after my ISP threatened to shut the entire site down unless I did so. This was prompted by an e-mail from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the movie studio's hatchet man for this blatant violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech.
Of course, the MPAA's attempt to 'stamp-out' this software is an massive exercise in futility. My mirror was up for almost 9 months before the MPAA found it and forced me to remove the copy. There are numerous mirrors still operating, many of them outside the U.S. DeCSS is also available on the Gnutella peer-to-peer network (Limewire is a nice multi-platform client - search for DeCSS). You can also find DeCSS on Freenet, a multiplatform, decentralized, censorship-resistant file distribution network. There are several keys that can be used to retrieve the file; "freenet:KSK@DeCSS.zip" worked for me. Freenet key indexing sites (such as tartlhuQ's Freenet Key Index) can help you find additional keys.
Cuecat is a barcode scanner that the company is giving away for free. The stated purpose is to let you scan codes embedded in print ads for products which will automatically take you to relavant URLs. There is also a cable that will connect to your TV so that audio codes embedded in TV commercials can do the same thing. What they fail to tell you is that each Cuecat has a unique serial number. Since you give the company your name and address when you either order one from the web site or get one from Radio Shack, they can track every single ad that you scan and (if you connect the TV cable) every commercial that you watch.
Fortunately, the device's protocol was reverse engineered within a few days, and people have written drivers/applications for Windows and Linux that can use the device without sending the serial number to Cuecat's servers. The company decided (approximately 2000-8-31) to get a law firm to send vague, threatening letters to the authors of the code. So now there are a bunch of mirrors (including mine). Hope the folks at Cuecat enjoy play whack-a-mole.
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