Why Does The MPAA Get To Approve DVD Players?

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

In discussing a recent ruling against a Chinese manufacturer of DVD players who wasn’t implementing approved DVD DRM technologies, News.com notes in passing that the ruling allows the MPAA to review and test any new or re-engineered products that use CSS technology before going to market. It’s difficult to see what sort of rationale there is for this. Once again, we see a situation where the MPAA seems to think that it gets to decide what innovations are allowed, and which are not. And, unfortunately, we have a court which has agreed, basically giving the MPAA full control over what kinds of DVD players can be sold in the US.

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Companies: mpaa

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Comments on “Why Does The MPAA Get To Approve DVD Players?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yea, like the player might “unexpectedly” play your disc. I’ll bet you wouldn’t expect it, and I’m sure the MPAA wouldn’t expect it. The MPAA and RIAA want to restrict on which devices you can play your legally purchased content, because even after all this time, they think that it somehow leads to MORE sales. The truth, as we all have seen, is that all of this restrictive BS leads to LESS sales. And the longer it goes on, it leads to even LESS sales, and LESS sales, until there is no MPAA any more, because there is no market for their trash.

Spectere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your ignorance is staggering. It might be a good idea to do a bit of Googling before accusing people of working for the **AA (seriously, that accusation is just tiring at this point…grow up).

DVD menus and features basically use simple programs. DVD players utilize a virtual machine to allow discs to do special things. That’s how DVD games and such work.

Skipping around would be like skipping chunks of code in a computer program; the end result might be fine (like skipping over the chapters that hold the FBI warnings) but in other instances, chapter jumping might lead to incorrect or undesired behavior.

Yes, the severity of what happens depends on the disc and bytecode in question, but it is possible for reckless skipping to break menus.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re: Misunderstanding DVD

Spectere wrote:

DVD menus and features basically use simple programs. DVD players utilize a virtual machine to allow discs to do special things. That’s how DVD games and such work.

Correct premise, but …

Skipping around would be like skipping chunks of code in a computer program; the end result might be fine (like skipping over the chapters that hold the FBI warnings) but in other instances, chapter jumping might lead to incorrect or undesired behavior.

… wrong conclusion. Yes, there are programs running on a simple virtual machine, triggered by selecting from menus. That has nothing to do with disabling skipping over certain sections: that’s done by flag bits set within those sections telling the player things like “disable the fast-forward and skip buttons in this section”. Having the player ignore such obnoxious restrictions isn’t going to break the programs one bit.

PaulT (profile) says:

The RIAA has lost a lot of money over the years thanks to its attempts to “protect” its content. First, was the CSS debacle which, while pitifully weak, did manage to successfully make it a very grey area to play legally purchased DVDs on legally installed Linux computers. It made DVD devices increasingly expensive to manufacture up to the present day – supposedly the reason the Wii can’t play DVDs is because of the licencing for CSS – so that’s a large number of potential players unused and not everyone had both machines connected to their TV.

Then, region coding lost a lot of sales. As the DVD format was growing, region coding severely stunted sales of DVD players in the UK (region 2 discs were often far inferior to region 1 release thanks to the insistence of putting 15 languages on the movie. Smart people imported, but had to jump through hoops to do so). Even today, I come across visitors from the US and other regions who decide not to buy DVDs because they can’t play them when they return home (I currently live near a tourist region in Spain).

So, that’s part of the problem. If you buy a legal DVD, you get unskippable copyright notices, trailers and insulting “don’t pirate” ads and then get restricted as to how you can play your DVD – want to play that DVD you bought on holiday on your XBox 360 instead of your multiregion player? Tough sh*t.

If, however, you buy a pirate DVD or download a copy, you get skippable ads (or the ads removed entirely) and no restriction on which device or location you choose to use the DVD. As is often said here, the MPAA needs to work on making their products *more* valuable, not less. If people are insulted every time they start a DVD and can’t use it where they want, they simply choose not to buy to begin with.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

Actually the Wii and Gamecube won’t play DVD’s because the drive mechanism itself won’t read DVD media because that would then open up to being able to load copied games. Think of it as Nintendo’s own form of hardware based DRM. There are hacks to get a Wii to read DVD media but AFAIK they won’t play store bought movies or the like.

Adam says:

Amen to that PaulT! I stopped buying DVDs because of the unskippable content and region protection. I’ll buy disks again if I can get to the movie in under 5 seconds from disk insertion without being bothered and forced to view crap I didn’t want and not worrying about whether the disk will play in may player/computer.

**AA has no one else but themselves to blame.


Paul Rios (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah same here. I watch my copies so the originals can stay in their cases and avoid being damaged. Especially useful if you have kids or in my case young nephews, and of course my niece loves to pull out her Dora the Explorer discs and insist on watching them any chance she gets…lol. For the kids I keep the copies in the cases and store the originals in a sleeve in my room.

So, yes I still buy DVD, but don’t want to have to replace them after a couple of years due to damage either controllable or not 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Makes you wonder...

Why Does The MPAA Get To Approve DVD Players?

That’s funny, I’d think it’d be the DVD CCA that’s doing this.

After all it’s the DVD CCA that licenses the CSS keys.

I assume that a DVD player manufacturer has to go to the DVD CCA to get the keys. I’d imagine the license stipulates the use of the CSS. It also shouldn’t be too hard to imagine that the CSS keys are under copyright.

That’s my guess. Not sure why the MPAA is involved here.

Thomas (profile) says:

They don't have a clue.

Why in the world shouldn’t you be able to copy your DVD to a hard disk on a laptop so you can play it while traveling? It takes less power to run the hard disk than an optical drive. They would really prefer to go to a ‘pay per view’ mode, where you had to pay each time you watch the movie, even if you only watch part of it. I think that must be their dream goal. And why shouldn’t you be allowed to download your DVD to an iPod Touch? You still have the DVD. They are so obsessed with piracy that they don’t really give a shit about their customers. Why should they?

Anonymous Coward says:

The Secret

Just don’t mess with all their crap.. I own one dvd and Im pretty sure its a copy (albeit a good one but a copy non the less)(Scarface). If I want to watch something new, I just hax0r the nearest “secure” wireless network and download the torrent. End of the story. Don’t buy their crap or go to the movies to watch their crap and maybe, just maybe (not really but we can always hope right) they will get the msg. Don’t fuck with us or we’ll burn your shit down!

(everything I just said is a lie!)
(in case they are watchn me!)

Mike says:

who needs a dvd player?

I haven’t even taken mine out of the box since I moved two years ago, I watch all my movies straight from the PC (on my 42″ LCD) and generally if I feel like seeing a movie I can download it in an hour or so and be watching it. I don’t feel the slightest guilt for not paying for them, and that can be directly attributed to the satisfaction I get knowing the MPAA can’t do squat about it. Worst case scenario concerning pirated movies: The industry collapses, and new talent fills in the gaps. 🙂

elduderino (profile) says:

Re: who needs a dvd player?

> …and that can be directly attributed to the satisfaction I get knowing the MPAA can’t do squat about it.

dude do you live in anarchyland? cause the laws in my country (united states)is that they bust you and sue you for like a bajillion bucks, do you actually read techdirt or just troll the comment sections?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: who needs a dvd player?

Perhaps he is knowledgeable enough to know that there are more ways to download copywritten content than Torrents & other P2P filesharing programs. Most of these “other” ways are significantly harder to track who has actually downloaded the content, and unlike P2P/Torrent only needs to be shared once.

NullOp says:


Why does the M?AA get to approve the DVD stuff? Duh! It closes the “Circle of Greed.” Realize this…in the U.S. it is not enough to be “doing well” in a business. You must try, at least, to have a monopoly on your market. There are basically no rules about how to do this. You can buy anyone you want, cheat, lie and steal, whatever. Profit it not enough, not enough by any means. A business must have “Obsene Profits” or its not doing its job. Its what caused the entire “Dot Com Bubble” to burst. Suddenly, companies were caught lying about revenues and a huge number of them had to “restate earnings” which is accountant speak for taking back the lies. Which is exactly what the doctored books were, lies!

Just remember, greed is the prime motive in business.

Rekrul says:

download VLC media player, use it to play DVD’s : It can be configured to go straight to the movie skipping warnings and previews etc. I understand not everyone can connect their PC to a HDTV via DVI/HDMI, but if you can, this is the way to go.

I agree about using a software player, because they can often do things that a hardware player can’t. I strongly disagree about VLC being a good player to use. Here’s a picture of VLC playing a cheap DVD with the full-screen controls open. Can you spot the problem?


Admittedly this is an older version, but it clearly illustrates the cluelessness of the authors about how to design a proper program. Something like that should have never made it into any publically released program.

My recommendation would be to use either DVD Region & CSS Free or AnyDVD in conjunction with a proper DVD player program. I believe both programs can be set to ignore prohibited user operations and allow you to skip directly to the menu.

drockhead says:

Re: Re:


VLC is probably the best DVD player out there to-date. What you are seeing in that snap-shot is the GUI front end to the progam player on a windows machine and provides an extremely poor example of the software’s capabilities. You can duplicate this exact same behavior as seen in the snapshot with virtually any windows based DvD player out there … commercial or free. In fact, I would construe his post as direct obfuscation and I would suspect that this person have an entirely different agenda. Do you work for AnyDVD perhaps?

For the rest of you, don’t listen to this clown (Rekrul) his post and his statements about VLC are complete rubish.

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