Study On How DRM Harms Free Expression

from the free-speech-or-copyright? dept

We've been seeing a growing realization about the clear conflicts between copyright and freedom of expression -- an issue that has often been brushed aside, but in a world where nearly all communication suddenly is covered by copyright, it becomes a much bigger issue. Michael Scott points us to a UK-based study that doesn't focus on copyright and free expression specifically, but on DRM and how it limits free expression in the UK. While this may not seem directly relevant to copyright law, it absolutely is, especially with the push for global laws that make any circumvention of DRM -- even if for legal uses -- illegal. As such, DRM that prevents freedom of expression is using copyright law to back that up, which can be a violation of First Amendment rights (yes, I recognize the First Amendment is a US issue, and this study is in the UK, but it's likely the results of the study apply to the US as well).

The study says that there hasn't been a catastrophic blockage of free expression, but clearly some had occurred, even though technology measures could have allowed the expression without seriously compromising the purpose of the DRM. More importantly, the study found that those who were stymied from performing legal expression due to DRM rarely used mechanisms provided by UK law to complain. This isn't that surprising, but it does make an important point: gov't officials are probably unaware of how much legal activity is stifled due to DRM, backed via gov't enforcement of copyright laws. While there are many other areas of study to be done around these issues, this is a worthwhile study in looking at how copyright and free expression can conflict.


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(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 4:27pm

    Disclaimer: the views expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 4:32pm

    I call BS on this woman's entire premise. Things like this make me wonder:

    "For example, data collection within the film lecturers and students/researchers community revealed two problems: DRM protection of cinematographic works is leading to difficulties in extracting portions of those works for educational use and those difficulties are triggering isolated acts of self-help for academic and educational purposes."

    If you can play a video / movie, then you can capture it (even if it is with a handheld camera or other). Composite video out from your DVD player will normally end up giving good enough quality for capture. It won't be the original digital version, but it will be pretty good.

    For the most part, if a university professors needs a particular segemtn of a movie, they can contact the studio in question and almost certainly would be given the short segment they need to work with.

    So it isn't like DRM really impedes anything except perhaps lazy professors looking to just lift a movie segment without effort.

     

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  3.  
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    Reedatschool, May 29th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Identify the Issues

    I am hoping that this preliminary study is only one in a long list of future studies around DRM and Copyrights in the digital age.

    Technology should always be designed to encourage human discourse in whatever way is necessary.

    The impact of technology like DRM which is really an extension of copyrights has done little but annoy end users IMHO.

    Is this a problem that could continue to grow and eventually impede our ability to comminucate through art and media? I think that is what is at the heart of the current debate.

    Is ending a bad system now before it causes anymore (or any) real harm is something that should always be considered seriously.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Identify the Issues

    "Is ending a bad system now before it causes anymore (or any) real harm is something that should always be considered seriously."

    So we should shut down P2P networks? They cause at least some harm, it seems.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 7:42pm

    Re:

    apparently you are unfamiliar with macrovision, which, at least in the USA, is required (by law) to be output on composite video from a dvd player which is required (by law) to be respected by capturing devices to... keep you from capturing it (i.e., making a copy)

    and i call BS on you: how is a university professor going to make someone at a movie studio listen to them and produce and mail out some kind of video segment? how long is that going to take? doesnt a prof have better stuff to do?

    sorry, I refuse to live in that world.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Think for a minute. When movies were on film (and not on video) what did the professor do? Did he chop up the movie and duplicate it? Nope.

    Macrovision? Again, once it is decoded to analog, there isn't much left that can be done to stop a copy.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    When did Michael Scott leave Dunder Mifflin?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 12:33am

    Actually there is since that is the whole point of the DMCA in the US.

    If you have a DRMed piece of media (DVD, CD, etc.) and you capture the decoded analog output you have just circumvented the DRM on the media. Per the DMCA, circumventing DRM in any way and for any reason (no matter if it's legal or not) is ILLEGAL. Not a civil offense, mind you. Videotaping you own TV while playing a DVD you have bought is in the same criminal category as stealing from a store. In fact, if you look at the penalties that the media companies will want for your 'crime', you're probably better off trying to steal the goddamn DVD/CD in the first place.

    Begin to see an issue here?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 1:00am

    Re:

    what?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 1:08am

    Re: Re: Identify the Issues

    Not nearly as much harm as all these stupid intellectual property laws. P2P systems can be used for good and they can be misused, just like almost anything else (ie: cars can be used as a weapon).

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 1:17am

    Re:

    "If you can play a video / movie, then you can capture it (even if it is with a handheld camera or other). Composite video out from your DVD player will normally end up giving good enough quality for capture. It won't be the original digital version, but it will be pretty good."

    So we're going to reduce the quality of our education just to make the RIAA and MPAA happy? Nonsense, social welfare is more important than the profit margins of the RIAA and MPAA.

    "For the most part, if a university professors needs a particular segemtn of a movie, they can contact the studio in question and almost certainly would be given the short segment they need to work with."

    So you're going to make professors go through all this unnecessary trouble to educate his students just to make the RIAA and MPAA happy? Again, I call nonsense, for the same reasons as above. Not to mention the RIAA and MPAA may not even respond to the professors (unless laws require it, which might be a good idea).

    Not to mention, if I buy a CD / DVD I want to be able to keep the original in good condition without having to be paranoid about something going wrong. I want to be able to make a copy and keep the original safe somewhere so I can use the copy. If the copy gets scratched to the point where it skips or something I should be able to destroy it and make another copy. That way I keep the original in good condition. This is good for social welfare, but I suppose social welfare is not as important than the profit margins of rich and powerful corporations. Also, when the copyright expires (and copyright should NOT last forever minus one day, perhaps 5 - 7 years AT MOST) I should be able to have a CD / DVD that still works (and hasn't aged so much that half the data is missing) so that it can then be freely distributed and watched and put in museums (many years later) and used for educational purposes, etc... But I suppose social welfare is less important than the profit margins of rich and powerful corporations.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 1:20am

    Re:

    "Begin to see an issue here?"

    I suspect he either works for the MPAA/RIAA (ie: he's getting paid, maybe a lobbyist) or somehow he has something to gain from copyright.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    Re:

    Yes, I exactly see the issue: A professor should just contact the distributor / studio and ask for clips for his use in the classroom instead of trying to rip the DVD. I am sure that most movie makers would be more than happy to help out a professor. No, that doesn't mean handing him a complete unsecured copy of the movie, but perhaps some unsecured clips? After all, he doesn't need the whole movie to teach, now does he?

    Perhaps he should just bring the DVD to class and play the parts he wants to show.

    Considering that most professors use the same material for many years, it would seem that this would be such a minor issue. It certainly isn't an overwhlming stifling of free speech.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re:

    "I am sure that most movie makers would be more than happy to help out a professor."

    So then you wouldn't mind laws requiring this.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why does there need to be a law? Is there some reason why professors (or anyone else) should have unencumbered use of all movies ever made? These are not public goods, they are privately held. Perhaps a law that says I can use your car or sleep with your wife would be good to.

    Sheesh!

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Why does there need to be a law?"

    If you don't like laws then lets remove copyright laws altogether. If we're going to have copyright laws then lets have some requirements to encourage fair use. Why do you want the laws to be so one sided, you want copyright laws to favor the RIAA and MPAA but you don't want any laws to favor the public domain whatsoever. You want laws in favor of rich and powerful corporations at the expense of everyone else but you don't want laws that help the general public. Besides, if you are so sure that the RIAA and MPAA would be glad to give the professors fair use footage then you should have no problems with laws requiring it. If anything, such laws just alleviates the copyright laws.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "These are not public goods, they are privately held."

    There is an agreement between the people and copyright holders that the people (who delegate their authority to the government) will protect copyright laws only to the extent that doing so is best for society. We have ZERO obligation to protect copyright laws or even to have them. If we don't want copyright laws and you don't like it then no one is forcing you to produce anything. If you don't like the laws in place, again, no one is forcing you to produce anything. Or you can produce it and keep it secret or whatever, but it's not our responsibility to protect copyright only to the benefit of copyright holders. If you want you can protect copyright and keep the government out of it (including the courts).

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 11:53am

    "I am sure that most movie makers would be more than happy to help out a professor."

    "Why does there need to be a law?"

    The only reason why you should be opposed to a law requiring them to help out a professor and such is if you know that they won't be happy to do so.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, let's get rid of all the property laws, right comrade?

    Geez.

    One of the problems you guys have is that you fail to connect copyright laws with property laws. The movie is owned by someone. Just like you own your car or your house, you have the right to determine who can ride in your car or visit your house. I am sure you wouldn't be very happy if a law was enacted that told you that a university professor would teach one class a week in your living room, and another one in your car.

    In the end, copyright really creates the rules that allow the owner of a work to grant very specific and limit rights to people to enjoy their product, but not to own it. Sort of like setting up rules for carpooling or renting that extra apartment in your basement. With a collection of understandings and rules, it makes the process simpler for everyone.

    The professors are already taken care of under the current copyright law, they can use a very short clip at any time. If DRM makes it difficult for them, then they can just get off their lazy butts and zip a note off to the studio asking for the clip in question to use. They could also bring the DRMed DVD into class and play it there anyway.

    New laws to cover rare exceptions to a case isn't the answer, and certainly isn't a big enough deal to say that DRM stifles anything other than perhaps lazy professors.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    iyogi (profile), May 31st, 2009 @ 8:48pm

    RE:

    If you can play a video / movie, then you can capture it (even if it is with a handheld camera or other). Composite video out from your DVD player will normally end up giving good enough quality for capture. It won't be the original digital version, but it will be pretty good.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 9:29pm

    Re: RE:

    This does two undesirable things. It reduces the quality of our education (just to make the RIAA and MPAA happy). It puts the professors through more unnecessary work (just to make the RIA and MPAA happy). Social welfare should be considered before the profit margins of rich and powerful corporations.

    "The movie is owned by someone."

    The person who bought it.

    "In the end, copyright really creates the rules that allow the owner of a work to grant very specific and limit rights to people to enjoy their product, but not to own it."

    The creator of a work is not equivalent to the owner of the work. If someone lives in a house that someone else builds, does the person who built the house own the house indefinitely just because he built it? No. He built the house under an agreement. Perhaps he was a contractor building it under a contract. The contract ends, does this mean the house belongs to him just because he built it? No. Copyright is an agreement that if you create a work the public will grant you a monopoly on that work for a limited amount of time. If you don't like the agreement, if you think the amount of time is too short, then don't create the work. We'll have someone else do it. Just like I can hire someone else to build a house if you don't like my terms. In the case of building a house you don't single sidedly dictate the terms, the terms are an agreement between both parties. If we can't come to an agreement that you don't like, then don't build (I can find someone else). Same thing with the creation of a work. You have no right to single sidedly dictate the terms with the public domain, it's an agreement between both parties. If you want a single sided policy and the public domain refuses then no one is forcing you to create anything. We'll hire someone else.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 9:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "then they can just get off their lazy butts and zip a note off to the studio asking for the clip in question to use.

    New laws to cover rare exceptions to a case isn't the answer, and certainly isn't a big enough deal to say that DRM stifles anything other than perhaps lazy professors.
    "

    One sided copyright laws aren't the answer and they are a big enough deal to warrant the assurance of fair laws for everyone.

    You claim that the record companies will be happy to accommodate the professors but then you refuse to have laws requiring this. If the record companies would truly be happy to accommodate the professors then you should have no problems with such laws.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Re: RE:

    err, if we can't come to an agreement that you like....

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 3:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps some record / movie companies would decline to allow their material to be used in the classroom (for whatever reason). I don't think that passing a law to force them to do it is really beneficial to anyone except perhaps the professors. With so many movies and so many recording to choose from, they can just move along and try again.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Perhaps some record / movie companies would decline to allow their material to be used in the classroom (for whatever reason)."

    So then you admit that they won't/may not be happy to help a professor out. I rest my case.

    If specific record/movie companies don't like the terms of the agreement with the public then no one is forcing them to produce and sell anything. If they want to sell to the public they have to sell under fair, non one sided terms. If they don't like it, tough, don't sell. The public can find someone else.

    "I don't think that passing a law to force them to do it is really beneficial to anyone except perhaps the professors."

    It helps students and their education and it helps the general public. I don't think that one sided copyright laws in favor of rich and powerful special interest groups (ie: the MPAA and RIAA) is beneficial to anyone except those special interest groups. The public should not settle for such ridiculous laws.

    "With so many movies and so many recording to choose from, they can just move along and try again."

    Perhaps one movie has a clip that makes a point that the professor wants to make better than all other movies. Should we reduce the quality of our education just because the selfish RIAA and MPAA want one sided laws? Should we force professors to go through the trouble of searching through multiple movies (which means they may have to pay money to rent/buy those movies and spend time watching them) to try and find the next best clip that makes his point from the pool of movies and the to make a request for that clip only to potentially have that denied? Then by the time he does get a company that agrees to give him a fair usage clip, it'll be a clip that doesn't do a very good job at making his point (especially since movies from a specific company may have similar themes and if that company refuses to give a clip to one of their movies, who's to say they will give one to another. Another movie from another company may not have that theme and as such it may not make the point the professor wants to make). You want to substantially reduce social welfare and make professors go through a lot of unnecessary trouble (and to reduce the education of students) just to make the RIAA and MPAA happy and we should not settle for such ridiculous one sided copyright laws.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    "they can contact the studio in question and almost certainly would be given the short segment they need to work with."

    If you are so certain of this, then you shouldn't mind laws requiring this.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 10:15am

    "In the end, copyright really creates the rules that allow the owner of a work to grant very specific and limit rights to people to enjoy their product, but not to own it."

    The person who creates the work sells it to the public under specific terms (ie: a limited monopoly for a limited time). When you sell something, it's no longer yours.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 8:19pm

    Re:

    Not always. It's actually a shiny disc myth, thinking that buying the shiny disc (or the nice digital download) actually bought you something other than a list of rights.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 12:06am

    Re: Re:

    The contract regarding what the public buys should not be one sided. Contracts should be fair for both parties. The public should not settle for a one sided contract that says intellectual property lasts forever minus one day. They should be more assertive in insisting that intellectual property expires sooner and that the agreement allows for things like fair usage (and perhaps if the owner of a product wants to make a single copy for himself he can so that he can store the original product in a safe place and use the copy).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2009 @ 12:13am

    Re: Re:

    "Not always. It's actually a shiny disc myth, thinking that buying the shiny disc (or the nice digital download) actually bought you something other than a list of rights."

    You're missing the point. There is an agreement between the public and the author of a work in terms of what is being bought. That agreement shouldn't be one sided in favor of the author alone. If a potential author (or the RIAA or MPAA) doesn't like the terms then no one is forcing them to create anything. But the public shouldn't settle for ridiculously unfair terms just to make every last potential artist happy (or just to make the RIAA and MPAA happy).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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