Even Movie Industry Execs Seem To Think The DMCA Is Unreasonable

from the do-as-we-say dept

We've pointed out for a long time that the DMCA is bad for innovation and needlessly inconveniences users. It seems the point is becoming so obvious that even senior executives in the movie industry are beginning to tacitly acknowledge (via Ars Technica) that the DMCA is unreasonable. At a conference on DRM last week, Scott Smyers, VP of network and systems architecture for Sony Electronics, admitted that he makes backup copies of his kids' DVDs. For those keeping score at home, not only is copying DVDs illegal under the DMCA, but Sony itself participated in a lawsuit to shut down a company making precisely the sort of DVD-backup software Smyers is presumably using to copy his kids' movies. Meanwhile, Jim Helman, the chief technology officer of MovieLabs, a research organization funded by the major studios, says that one of the most promising new devices on the horizon is a video jukebox that will let you rip your DVD collection onto a hard drive and then stream your movies to all the devices around your house. That is, unless the studio-backed DVD-CCA uses the DMCA to prohibit the creation of DVD jukeboxes. Helman and Smyers are absolutely right. If only their bosses would listen to them. They should point out to their bosses at the major studios that allowing people to create useful hardware and software products could be good for their bottom line, because it would make the movies they sell more useful to consumers.

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Companies: mpaa, sony

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Comments on “Even Movie Industry Execs Seem To Think The DMCA Is Unreasonable”

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RandomThoughts (user link) says:

The question isn’t should consumers be able to make backups or view their purchase on their multiple devises. I think everyone pretty much agrees that is something that should happen.

The question is how to keep someone from buying the content and then making it available to millions via file sharing or the Internet?

DRM wouldn’t be an issue if this didn’t happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

DRM shouldn’t be an issue either way. I mean, even with DRM, everything still ends up being shared across the globe. DRM only stops the computer illiterate who can barely put a DVD into their drive and makes the entire movie-watching/music-listening experience a hassle for those who actually paid for it. How does the following make sense:

-Someone pays for the content, they have problems with the digital media.
-Someone pirates it, they have no problems whatsoever.

drm DRIVES people to pirate media. its an illogical system that perpetuates the problem. this is because the real reason for DRM isn’t to stop piracy… its to force people to buy the same thing more than once.

Blatt says:

Re: Random Thoughts

I think the thinking needs to be shifted. It’s a matter of thinking about maximizing the amount of customers that want your content and are willing to pay for that content.

The idea downloaders needs to be revisited by these companies. Are they downloading the content INSTEAD of buying, or are the people who download the DVDs online those who would NEVER be a legitimate customer in the first place?

There needs to be two different discussions. One about allowing home users the right to backup their movies legally, and another to figure out what the availability of the movies online really means to the bottom line.

Casper says:

Re: Re:

“DRM wouldn’t be an issue if this didn’t happen.”

There is no reason for a movie to cost as much as it does. How can you not expect people to download movies when they cost more then two hours worth of minimum wage work.

The only reason downloading for movies/music is a problem is because the media industries made it such. If they were realistic with the price, the numbers of downloads would drop dramatically.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It happens with or without DRM, so why would a movie studio or record company waste their money on something that does not prevent copying and only decreases the value of a product?

The answer to your question is: You don’t worry about preventing someone from making the content available online.

Despite the availability of ‘free’ music and movies online, people still buy music and movies and the record and movie companies continue to make money. The summer box office wasn’t too shabby. How much did Transformers take in?

Anonymous Coward says:

actually that would be wrong the question is why do they set the price so hi that people will put up with the virus laden file sharing activities in order to see this junk.

when the price is reasonable people gladly pay for a good version unfortunately the only good pricing is on clearance items that no one wants to watch with advertising in front of the actual movie sure it is for other movies but it certainly isn’t why I bothered to pay for it perhaps that is why i not only don’t file share I havent watched a movie in five years.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

“The idea downloaders needs to be revisited by these companies. Are they downloading the content INSTEAD of buying, or are the people who download the DVDs online those who would NEVER be a legitimate customer in the first place?”

Actually, the trick is to keep the second group away from the first group. Kind of like Billy Martin saying that you have to keep the 14 guys on the team who liked him away from the 12 guys who didn’t.

Evil Mike (profile) says:

Re: Gov

“I think the U.S. government should be in charge of this matter”

What, are you effing kidding??!?
The same people who can’t even balance a budget? Who have never disbanded any agency; even after it accomplished its only goal?? The same people who take 30% or more of YOUR paycheck and never bother telling you what they’re doing with it? (Hint: It’s not what you think.)

No, let’s leave this DRM issue up to those who have a legitimate vested interest in all sides being treated to an equally advantageous relationship, thank you.

sam says:


once again… you guys only repeated the parts of the article that suited your view of the world. a key phrase in the article “..few content owners were in attendance…” (or to that effect)

and once again… if there is legitimate content that you don’t want to pay to see/view/listen to, then don’t access it.. but yhou guys have started using logic that says if it costs too much, then i should get it anyway…

if you buy/own it.. you should be able to pretty much do what you need for your personal use, provided you only have a single copy of the media playing at once.. the problem is that there’s no real way of enforcing this.


Overcast says:

Thing is – not everyone puts their movies online. I buy movies, I only make backups of a few. Regardless I don’t put them online.

DRM is a way of smacking honest consumers in the face when they buy content. I’m not for people en-masse bootlegging and such, but regardless of the woes of the industry, there’s no reason to prevent paying consumers from doing what they want with their media.

I soon plan to build a ‘media center’ PC, I want to rig it up with a remote, etc, etc – and then rip DVD to the hard disk. So I don’t have to hassle with loading and unloading DVD’s – I can simply pick the movie and watch. Doesn’t mean for a second I don’t still desire to buy originals.

Actually, it makes my originals MORE valuable to me, as I know they will remain in good shape. My kids won’t lose them or scratch them, nor will I.

If it’s all locked down with DRM, why would I want to buy it? It defeats the ease of use for me. When I can have tons of movies on my PC, do you think I want to get up and switch out DVD’s because one or two media companies lock them down – or perhaps I can just pick from the other 100,000+ movies out there.

I agree that perhaps something needs to be done – but should it be the consumer’s problem at the bank that it gets robbed on occasion?

Why don’t they start offering incentives to purchase? You know – 10 receipts gets you a free movie, or include prize offers like cola? lol


Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not for people en-masse bootlegging

And the facts seems to support that most people do not engage in en-masse bootlegging. Most people just want to be able to make copies of their DVDs so that they can put the originals away, safe from prying hands. A few less people want to convert them to other formats (PSP, phones, PDAs, Divx/Xvid, etc).

Michael Long says:


“There is no reason for a movie to cost as much as it does.”

You mean that film that cost a studio $200 million dollars to make? Besides, they only cost a lot if you’re intent on seeing first run films at the theaters or buying the latest DVD off the shelf. Wait a while, and it’s easy to get DVDs for ten or twelve bucks, or even five or six if you don’t mind previously-viewed. Or just rent the darn thing for $0.99 at your local grocery store. Or wait for it to be on cable.

In short, there are PLENTY of legal options to downloading, at any price point you care to mention.

“If they were realistic with the price…”

I love seeing this line. Translated, it means a price that’s as much as YOU want to pay. While you may think “reasonable” is $10, I assure you that there’s someone else out there that thinks “reasonable” is $5. Or less. Who decides?

Anonymous Coward says:

“I love seeing this line. Translated, it means a price that’s as much as YOU want to pay. While you may think “reasonable” is $10, I assure you that there’s someone else out there that thinks “reasonable” is $5. Or less. Who decides?”

And personally I love seeing people like you, who think you have economics on your side, be destroyed by your own cliches.

Who decides?

The market.

And who’s the market?

The buyers, not the sellers.

But who’s deciding the legitimate price? As evidence by their competition stifling techniques.. the sellers.

😉 Amusing

Anonymous Coward says:

DRM stops legitimate users only. It doesn’t even remotely slow down the tech savvy – it only punishes your customers by making it inconvenient to store/manage their purchased content. And that inconvenience is what drives more people to illegal downloads.

Make the combination of cost, quality and service a better alternative to risking pirated downloads and you won’t have to worry about the pirates. Take care of the customer and the bottom line will take care of itself.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Think about the first thing that pops up when you insert a DVD? Ah yes, the good old Interpol and FBI warnings. Yes, the movies studios, instead of thanking you for spending your hard earned money on their product, want to remind you that they don’t trust you and that copying is a punishable offence. What a way to treat customers.

Hello. says:

Missing the Big Picture

The MPAA sponsored a conference last week with the University of California school system (which, by the way, has completely sold out to the MPAA and is pimping out its students to the industry’s extortion racket). The conference panelists kept repeating how the movie industry isn’t going to make the same mistakes as the music industry. Unfortunately, it looks like they’re poised to make different, but equally destructive mistakes of their own.

The movie industry has come far enough to realize that you can no longer force consumers to buy whatever you choose to push on them. People have more choices, despite the industry’s attempts to crush those choices. So they’ve got to work hard to try to anticipate what consumers want and give it to them when they want it. That’s a basic principle of business and I’m glad the movie industry has picked up on it (finally).

However, they’re missing the oh-so-important cherry on top of that principle. Sure, you’ve got to know what your customers want and give it to them – that’s called service. But whatever happened to service with a smile?

The movie industry hopes to provide consumers with better service, but they’re still doing it while flipping their customers the bird. Flinging dirty names and accusations at consumers and ranting about their lack of morals doesn’t exactly make people want to buy from you.

One other thing – the MPAA had the UC representatives they’d purchased get all teary-eyed as they lamented the sad state of morals in this country. One dean actually said that he threatens students with jail time and threatens the foreign students with immediate deportation. I wonder if he gets that harsh for students who are caught using drugs or accused of sexual assault.

I am so sick of hearing the music and movie industry try to convince us that we are a nation of thieves. They haven’t yet convinced enough people that downloading music and movies is “stealing”, not sharing. And until they do, they’re not going to convince us that we’re all going to hell unless we stop.
If they really wanted to convince us it’s stealing, they’d shove a statute or a court opinion in our faces, instead of that lame attempt to equate downloading an MP3 to stealing a CD from a physical store. Sorry, guys, but we know the difference between an MP3 and a CD, and the difference between a store and a P2P network. You’re going to have to come up with a better guilt trip.

whats the use says:

oh, the irony

It doesn’t look like all this is helping. The Almight hasn’t done anything to stop the proliferation of DVD copying programs, and now, GASP, Blu-ray ripping programs are appearing. It seems that the intent of allowing this, even if some of these companies get sued to oblivion, is to allow the end user fair, flexible, and reasonable choice.

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