This Week In Techdirt History: November 21st – 27th

from the as-it-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, we learned more about the disturbing scope of the NSA’s leaks of hacking tools, the IRS decided to demand information on Coinbase customers, and one federal judge was taking a closer look at “reputation management” libel lawsuits. Trump picked two net neutrality opponents to head the FCC transition, while cable’s broadband monopoly was becoming stronger than ever and AT&T was singing the supposed benefits of zero rating. As expected, China was using America’s concern about fake news to push for more control of the internet, and we we looked at the slippery slope caused by that and Facebook’s efforts to comply with China’s demands. Also, we saw an especially ridiculous hot news and copyright battle over chess moves.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, we took a look at how the rest of the world viewed SOPA, and how the bill wasn’t actually about copyright but rather about regulating the internet. Even the copyright-happy BSA backed down from supporting the bill, apparently in large part because of Microsoft’s cold feet (and they weren’t the only strong copyright defenders who had issues with the bill). We applauded the senators who were willing to stand against PROTECT IP/PIPA (the Senate version of the bill) while Ron Wyden promised to read the names of public opponents as part of a filibuster if need be. We rounded out the week with a long, definitive post on how bad SOPA was.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, Universal Music decided to threaten Bank of America over a parody song, while EMI did the same thing over a parody lyric booklet created by some sports fans. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that trying to play nice with labels like these was hamstringing Microsoft’s Zune device too. Despite the hype around mobile video, the iPod was still primarily a music device for most people — though that didn’t stop Steven Spielberg from worrying about people watching movies on iPod screens. An important ruling in California upheld Section 230’s protections, though it did not (as some believed) make it impossible to sue bloggers. And the latest round of DMCA anti-circumvention exceptions was announced, with nothing much that benefited consumers.

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Comments on “This Week In Techdirt History: November 21st – 27th”

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8 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

"that didn’t stop Steven Spielberg from worrying about people watching movies on iPod screens"

I brought this up again recently, but a lot of directors do need to understand that people aren’t always going to watch movies in ideal conditions. Whether it’s a noisy cinema with bad projection (no, guys, being on the big screen does not automatically mean competent projectionists or respectful audiences) or less than ideal viewing afterwards, you can’t do much about it, and trying to do something to mandate such things won’t guarantee results.

I developed my own love of cinema largely via a 12" black and white TV screen in my bedroom in the 80s with very fuzzy reception, typically with panned and scanned and censored screenings. If you could put up with that back then, you can put up with people deciding to watch your movie for the first time on their phone or iPod on their commute, which might mean a better quality second viewing you make more money from.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hilarious that you post something about "Censorship"...

Let me remind you what Aaron Swartz said about Censorship.

"All censorship should be deplored. Bits are not a bug. We should create communications technologies that allow people to send whatever they like to each other.

"And when people put their thumbs on the scale and try to say what can and cannot be sent, we should fight back – both politically through protest and technologically through software."

Aaron Swartz, 2007

Meaning, for those who can’t understand what he said (which I suspect is most of the people here), that censorship is censorship, even if it’s from a private entity.

After all, Aaron Swartz rightfully worried more about private companies censoring people than he did about the government censoring people.

charliebrown (profile) says:

Legal Yet?

Here we are, at the tail-end of 2021, and, as far as I know, it is still not legal to copy your DVD’s or Blu-Rays to your phone or tablet. There is software out there that let’s you do this. But not legally.

For some reason you are allowed to format shift music but not video. Why should you have to pay for it twice? And that is assuming it is available, which a large part of my DVD collection is not.

Obviously the alternative option would be to get a portable DVD player – which is no good for Blu-Rays. (Do they even make portable Blu-Ray players?) This would mean I would have to carry around another device. And the discs. I only have so much ability for carrying things. So I would probably have to leave something else at home. Not to mention I would have to always make sure it’s charged. Not that easy: I usually forget to charge my phone until it is dead. Plus that is also another charger I have to try to not lose. Also, on a different note, I have discs from three different regions in my collection, so I would have to make sure the player is region unlocked.

Oh sure, there’s streaming. Again, assuming what I want is even available. Plus then I have to pay for my mobile data. And hope the signal stays strong. Which, when I commute, is virtually dead (one patchy bar at best, often not even that) for 45 minutes on a 95 minute trip.

So ….. I break the law. Fuck ’em. I’ve paid for my discs. And I’ve paid for the software to copy it over. Make it legal for personal use. It won’t lead to rampant piracy. It’ll just lead to happier consumers, which will likely result in a fatter bottom line. And, if I don’t watch out instead of just watching, it’ll also result in a fat bottom on me!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Legal Yet?

"For some reason you are allowed to format shift music but not video."

Well, this one’s quite simple – the music industry fucked up the implementation of DRM so badly that they realised their insistence on it had handed over an inordinate amount of power over to Apple, and they agreed to remove DRM from music files. This not only led to much greater competition in where you can buy digital music, but also made cracking the DRM on a CD a moot point – sure, it’s technically illegal to do so, but nobody’s really going to come after you for it for personal use and DRM is not present anywhere you buy music now anyway.

Nobody’s coming after you for ripping your own DVDs either, unless you distribute the resulting file of course, but that’s the main reason for the difference – the movie and TV industries are still heavily invested in anti-consumer practices like DRM, format and region windowing that oppose common sense activity like format shifting. If you’re not distributing the end result then nobody’s coming knocking, it just means that the relevant tools might be a little harder to find or use at times.

"Oh sure, there’s streaming. Again, assuming what I want is even available. Plus then I have to pay for my mobile data. And hope the signal stays strong. Which, when I commute, is virtually dead (one patchy bar at best, often not even that) for 45 minutes on a 95 minute trip."

Well, a couple of thoughts here. First off, nearly all of the streaming services I use have an offline download function – Netflix, Prime, Arrow, Mubi, etc. let you download something locally to your device to watch when a signal is not available, something I use regularly when I fly. As far as I know, of the services I use, only Shudder doesn’t have this feature. So, take a few minutes to prepare yourself before your commute and get some things downloaded and the signal on your journey is not relevant.

Then, something worth noting is that this goes both ways now. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff that’s available on DVD that isn’t streaming, but when something is released to streaming now it’s not always accompanied by a physical release. It’s fair to say that nowadays neither format type allows you a full library.

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