Danish Anti-Piracy Group Tells DVD Ripper Who Turned Himself In That It Won't Sue Him

from the how-nice dept

A bunch of folks have submitted the story of Henrik Anderson, a Danish man who ripped a bunch of DVDs for personal storage, and then turned himself in, noting that even though Danish law says it's okay to make a backup copy of content for private purposes, it also forbids circumvention of DRM, such as the DRM found on DVDs. We had avoided posting anything on the story until the Danish group responded, and while it missed the original deadline, it has now stated that it will not go after Anderson, so long as he's only using the content for private use:
The main purpose of the rule is to ensure against abuse of films and music being illegally copied and distributed further. The Association of Danish Videodistributors certainly have no interest in suing consumers who like you have purchased legitimate products -- quite the contrary.
Of course, if that were true, then wouldn't the Danish Antipiratgruppen push to change the anti-circumvention law that makes this particular process illegal? After all, shouldn't they stand behind what they claim?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 3:35pm

    Okay, WTF??

    So, they trust this guy to make copies of his stuff, but what about me? My neighbor? Either they trust everyone, or they trust no one.

    Why do they bother with DRM at all then? All DRM says is "We don't trust any of you."

    Change the law then, I say. It seems to me they just want to avoid the issue going to court.

     

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    Bubba Gump (profile), Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    i'm not clear on something

    Is this guy not guilty of a criminal violation by breaking the DRM? Shouldn't the state be charging him?

    I see why the Danish Antipiratgruppen choose not to file civil suit against him, but he still broke a law and the Danish government should prosecute, no?

    If they choose not to prosecute, then doesn't that invalidate the law if they choose to only enforce it in certain circumstances?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 3:56pm

      Re: i'm not clear on something

      Nope, they are enforcing the law when the intent is to steal. It isn't any different from a cop pulling you over for doing 32 in a 30 zone just to hassle you, and then lets you go without a ticket (in some areas, it is also called DWB).

      It's the amazing thing of the law, there is flexibility inherent in the system.

      Actions would have been different if he was handing out copies to all his friends, or uploading the files to a torrent site.

      It's amazing that everything here needs to be black and white. The real world has many colors betweeen the two.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:02pm

        Re: Re: i'm not clear on something

        Too bad nothing in the law against circumventing DRM requires intent to "steal."

         

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:38pm

        Re: Re: i'm not clear on something

        People should not be (and other than you, generally are not) okay with a law just because they trust the discretion of law enforcers and the courts. If a law has disagreeable consequences, it should be amended or eliminated. Leaving it up to the "flexibility inherent in the system" also leaves it open to manipulation by various parties over time, and a law that is carefully and judiciously applied now might be strictly enforced in a few years.

         

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        Bubba Gump (profile), Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 6:04pm

        Re: Re: i'm not clear on something

        I do find it interesting that the "flexibility" you speak of is in the hands of the authorities or the rich (i.e. corporations) and not in the hands of the individual citizen.

         

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      vivaelamor (profile), Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 6:38pm

      Re: i'm not clear on something

      "Is this guy not guilty of a criminal violation by breaking the DRM? Shouldn't the state be charging him?"

      If they do not wish to press charges then the state has no say in the matter.

       

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        The eejit (profile), Dec 4th, 2009 @ 1:09am

        Re: Re: i'm not clear on something

        Not quite. In the EU, the state can still charge a person with criminal activity *IF* there is a case to back up with good evidence. It doesn't happen often that one person doesn't press charges and the State does, AFAIK, but it can still happen.

        Still, it's more encouraging than suing the hell out of people when they're being honest.

         

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    Simon, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    I don't feel safe, knowing that he's out there, doing these things, and no one is even trying to stop him.

     

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    Michial Thompson, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 3:58pm

    Publicity Stunt Gone bad

    They knew obviously that they guy was looking for publicity out of his actions, and was trying to bait them.

    They chose the path that little mikee m is always complaining about here. They chose the path that would bring the least amount of publicity to the guy. Basically he will fade away until he tries to push the laws just a little further next time.

    Basically if he never sees his day in court then he can never challenge the legitimacy of the Anti Circumvention laws.

    Besides again in the spirit of the law the Anti Circumvention laws are not for going after individuals making personal copies, it's really there to add teeth to the copyright laws in cases of Piracy.

    Think about it this way, Piracy in most cases is nothing more than a civil case, and is rarely ever a criminal case. So for someone to copy a dvd and sell the copies the only teeth the law has is civil. BUT with the Anti Circumvention laws there is both a Civil AND criminal case giving the copyright holder two different directions for punishment, one financial and the other criminal.

     

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      Yeah, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:56pm

      Re: Publicity Stunt Gone bad

      Lets all thank little mikee t for his simplistic rationalization.

       

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      hegemon13, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 10:53am

      Re: Publicity Stunt Gone bad

      Yes, but they also chose a path in which they made a public, published statement about the purpose of the law. Though it is not binding, I think it could certainly sway a jury if it were brought up in future legal cases.

       

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    Anonymous1, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    Besides again in the spirit of the law the Anti Circumvention laws..

    @Michial Thompson: I didn't know that the hip new thing was to follow the "spirit of the law" and disregard the letter (actual written) part, when it's convenient. It must be the wave of the future.
    I'm so behind the times....

     

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      Rasmus, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:51pm

      Re:

      Following the spirit of the law, and not the letter, is a common praxis in Scandinavia.

      Sentencing people to jailtime, without real evidence of any crime because the judge and the prosecutor are members of the same freemason lodge as the person claiming to be a victim, is another fine tradition. Pro-copyright associations seems to have become similar to freemason lodges in this regard.

       

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    robin, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:24pm

    individual rights, sit down

    "The main purpose of the rule is to ensure against abuse of films and music being illegally copied and distributed further."


    demonstrating very clearly that individual rights ain't nothing (indeed must be stamped out) compared to protecting a collapsing business model.

    and no to td's in-house content-shill a.c., selective enforcement does not excuse any assault on individual rights.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:54pm

      Re: individual rights, sit down

      Individuals don't have the rights to distribute copyright material without permission. No rights are being "stamped out".

      Have another swig of koolaid and try again.

       

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    Mr. CD (profile), Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:45pm

    Listen

    It all degrades - all headed to rust.
    Analog, digital, virtual; all of it.
    Nothing lasts; Lasting means fewer jobs.
    Recycling, reinvention and timing are the keys.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 4:57pm


    Besides again in the spirit of the law the Anti Circumvention laws are not for going after individuals making personal copies, it's really there to add teeth to the copyright laws in cases of Piracy.


    No, the purpose (in both letter and spirit) of the anti-circumvention law is to prevent people from making and distributing tools that can be used for infringement, even if they can also be used for making personal copies (and other fair use).

    Given that the presence of DRM means such tools are absolutely needed in order for consumers to be able to exercise their fair use rights but that releasing such tools would likely lead to some people using them for piracy, there is indeed a genuine conflict here in the spirit of the law.

    This is hardly the first example of someone being willing to testify against himself to test a law in court. (My personal favorite example is the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, in which the defendant was a high school football coach and the evidence was actually fairly weak that he managed to teach any evolution successfully, but the jury went along and convicted him.) The problem with this is that you need a judge and prosecutor who are sympathetic to your cause and willing to spend the time and resources needed to give you a jury trial so that you can appeal, and sadly it's not at all clear that Anderson has that.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 5:46pm

    Henrik Anderson has massive balls, and I respect him more than he'll ever know.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    The law needs resolution because the base conflict between the DMCA and personal use prevent legal software from doing ANYTHING except pure playback. This is not a grey area or a "spirit of the law" thing, anyone without rocks in their head can see that they never want this to see the inside of a court room for many reasons. Mostly because as it currently works, they get to try and charge people multiple times for the same thing because there is no "legal" recourse to assert your right to backup/personal use.

    RealDVD, sued and injunction. They even "added" DRM to make it even better than a raw DVD.

    Kaleidescape, I believe were sued and won, currently tied up in appeals last I heard but still able to sell products for the moment.

    Handbrake, free and never been sued to my knowledge. Hmmmmm...

    Of course they like this grey area because the common things people use such as iTunes, Windows Media Player etc would ALL instantly implement DVD ripping and transcoding (of course for "personal use only") if this were ever resolved in the publics favor.

    Honestly, if I were this guy, I'd get with a lawyer and think about the following:

    1. Work out a deal with the developers of Handbrake to package and sell it as a product. Make the price nice and low, like $5 and I'd buy it just to fund the fight.
    2. Make a non-profit and all proceeds would go directly to let's say the EFF.
    3. Market it as "the legal way to back up your DVD's for personal use", and of course say "because they said so".
    4. Wait for the lawsuit.

    The arguments in the lawsuit should be obvious from there and hopefully would lead to resolution of the conflicting laws one way or another.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 7:22pm

      Re:

      It wouldn't work.

      There is enough case law that the lawyers for the copyright holders won't have to work very hard. There is no way to control the use of the software, piracy is rampant, and it distributes to the public tools to bypass DRM. All of those things pile up and you still never get to the point that this guy was trying to get to.

      The money also couldn't be used to "fund the fight" as it would probably get locked up in short order, and held until the case is resolved. An injunction against distributing or selling it would likely be a slam dunk.

      Sorry, nice idea, but fail.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 8:39pm

    Probably all true. But, it is maybe the best way, maybe the only way, that the guy can actually escalate to the fight he seemingly wants. Case law will solve only one thing for the copyright industry in this, they get an injunction on selling a branch of Handbrake. It will still have to go to court and as such, it is hard to say where that would go but law generally stands on his side *IF* he can get past the initial DMCA (or equivalent) arguments to present the personal use exceptions.

    Given that he stated he used X software and admitted it, tried to turn himself in etc. They basically signed off on his behavior, why can't he make a "here's how you do it legally" kit based on their response?

    That seems like it should be the fight *if* you can get past the DMCA etc contradictions in the law.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 5:33am

      Re:

      No, they didn't sign off on his behavior, they just decides not complain about it. They could have, but they chose not to. Mostly, the chose not to so that they didn't get into a legal fight with a zealot who would take a case all the way to whatever their version of the supreme court might be. It's a wise choice, and they made his look like an ass in doing it.

      Nothing stated says that they couldn't go after him in the future, or go after someone else who did the same thing. Not the copying (which is acceptable) but rather breaking DRM to make the copies.

       

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    Tor (profile), Dec 4th, 2009 @ 1:15am

    People making copies for themselves is not a problem for the industry. However, the copyright industry will never support an exemption in the anti-circumvention laws for the purpose of making private copies. There are two reasons for this:

    1) If people could break the protections legally the industry would perceive that as increasing the risks of unprotected works being spread on the internet (since the source supply would be greater). This doesn't make much sense of course, but I think it's the way they think about it.

    2) If people are allowed to break the protection in order to make copies for personal use, then it's difficult to argue that the tools used to break the protection should be illegal. After all, how can a tool be illegal if it has significant legal use?

    The industry will always act as to maintain as much unclearity of how the laws should be interpreted as possible (if it's to their advantage), while at the same time minimizing bad publicity. For that reason I think it's difficult to draw conclusions about how they view the laws from their behaviour.

     

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    freestar, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 3:45am

    freeware

    This software is okay. But I much prefer Free DVD Ripper. It more fast.

     

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