Macrovision Forces Consumer Electronics Shop To Stop Selling Copy Tech

from the lot-of-good-that-will-do dept

In yet another move that will do little to actually stop people from copying, Macrovision (makers of anti-copying technology) have convinced (you have to assume via legal threats) a UK consumer electronics to remove offerings for three "video enhancers", which apparently could be used to get around Macrovision's copy protection. I don't know much about video enhancers, but they appear to be tools that let you make backup copies of movies that you have. Macrovision points out that, under a new EU law, such products are now illegal. Note that the actual products are considered illegal - and not the misuse of these products. Once again, we seem to be criminalizing a technology that has legitimate uses, rather than focusing on illegal actions done via the technology. Meanwhile, the folks who actually make large runs of copied movies to sell on the street won't be effected by this at all, as you can be sure they're not using off-the-shelf "video enhancers" to run their operations.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Chris Wuestefeld, 3 Feb 2004 @ 7:57pm

    Ageless argument

    Note that the actual products are considered illegal - and not the misuse of these products. Once again, we seem to be criminalizing a technology that has legitimate uses, rather than focusing on illegal actions done via the technology.

    Isn't this the same argument as "guns don't kill people; people kill people"? If people can see the absurdity of these laws when applied to copyrights, they'll need to reevaluate any ideas they have about gun control and self defense rights.

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

  2. identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, 4 Feb 2004 @ 7:24am

    OK in the USA?

    I bought one of these several years ago, back before the DMCA, and I thought they were still available.

    They are a signal booster that allows you to duplicate tapes with minimal loss of quality.

    Macrovision works by intentionally messing with a part of the signal that doesn't affect playback on the original, but when you try to copy the signal on a different VCR, mandatory "quality enhancement" electronics try to chase the bogus signal on the original tape resulting in a copy that is horribly degraded.

    You'll see the same if you try to run your DVD player through your VCR (as happens to many people who have older model TVs without RCA input jacks, my sister, for example). The brightness will go up and down and up and down and the image will distort and discolor.

    The Video Enhancer systems, which sell for $50 and up, stabilize the signal and allow you to copy Macrovision protected tapes. Their intended use is to stablize video signals and produce high quality copy - which makes them legal, not defeating copy protection, just a pleasant bonus feature, which could make them illegal.

    They are intended for use with VCRs which are analog systems, which should make them exempt from the DMCA - unless someone got the crazy idea to hook it up between their DVD player and {gasp} VCR and copied a DVD movie to VHS (ugh, who would want that?).

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

  3. icon
    Wklink (profile), 4 Feb 2004 @ 7:26am

    Legitimate Uses

    There are definitely legitimate uses. DVD players only have RCA and/or S-video outputs. If you have an older TV that doesn't have such inputs, the natural alternative would be to plug it in through a VCR. But you can't do that with MacroVision!

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

  4. identicon
    Rick Colosimo, 4 Feb 2004 @ 3:26pm

    Re: OK in the USA?

    You're right, the fair use doctrine should protect *certain* uses of these types of devices, in much the same way as copy machines, scanners, and CDRWs are still legal even though you can steal a book that way.

    The EU and the UK have a very different conception of free speech and why it might be useful. Of course, we have free speech in the US exactly because of England's former distaste for that sort of rubbish.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

Introducing the new Techdirt Insider Chat, now hosted on Discord. If you are an Insider with a membership that includes the chat feature and have not yet been invited to join us on Discord, please reach out here.

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.