The DVD Copy Control Association (DVD-CCA) sued dozens of unnamed individuals who live around the country and the world for publishing DeCSS, software code that decrypts the data on commercial DVDs. The DVD-CCA claimed that defendants misappropriated trade secrets when they published DeCSS.

This case follows two main paths, Bunner and Pavlovich, both of which went before the California Supreme Court. EFF was successful in defending both.

In Bunner, the DVD CCA summarily dismissed its claims after the California Supreme Court ruled that computer programs could be preliminarily restrained from publication only in very narrow circumstances. The California Court of Appeals ruled that those circumstances were not met in Mr. Bunner's case because the program was not a trade secret at the time it was published, but instead was widely available around the world.

In Pavlovich, the California Supreme Court ruled that Matthew Pavlovich, a Texas resident who published DeCSS on the Internet, could not be forced to stand trial in California. The landmark decision laid out clear jurisdiction rules for claims arising from publishing information on the Internet. DVD CCA's attempt to seek U.S. Supreme Court review of the decision was also rejected.

At issue: The First Amendment's protection for technically oriented speech. In Bunner, EFF established that trade secret legal claims cannot be used to censor publication of information that is already available around the world due to publication by others. In Pavlovich, EFF established that internet publishers cannot be forced to defend litigation in California when their publications have "general effects" in industries located in California but the publishers have no other contacts with the state.

EFF's role: Pay for costs, serve as co-counsel and coordinate the defense of this case.

Table of Contents:


California Superior Court

Main Case

California Superior Court




California Supreme Court

California Appeals Court

  • (Aug. 7, 2001) California Appellate Court ruling against Matthew Pavlovich, in Pavlovich v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County and DVD-CCA, (his appeal from DVD-CCA v. McLaughlin, et al.) Pavlovich attempted to remove himself from the case on jurisdictional grounds.
  • (Mar. 7, 2001) EFF/Matthew Pavlovich (2nd) Reply in Support of Petition for Writ of Mandate, to California Appeals Court, 6th Dist. (PDF)
  • (Sep. 21, 2000) EFF/Matthew Pavlovich Reply in Support of Petition for Writ of Mandate, to California Appeals Court, 6th Dist. (PDF)
  • (Sep. 11, 2000) EFF/Matthew Pavlovich Petition to California Appeals Court, 6th Dist., for Writ of Mandate to compel trial court to quash service of process (PDF)
  • (May 15, 2000) Andrew McLaughlin, Andrew Bunner, Matthew Pavlovich, et al., and EFF appeal the preliminary injunction as an unconstitutional prior restraint issued on very slim evidence.