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Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Why Does The Entertainment Industry Get To Decide Whether DVD Copying Is Legal?

from the thank-you,-DMCA dept

Back in April, a court found that Kaleidescape's high end DVD jukebox was perfectly legal, despite complaints from the entertainment industry. The DVD jukebox clearly was not for pirating materials. It would rip DVDs and store them on a hard drive, but it included all kinds of copy protection and cost $27,000. This wasn't for kids ripping DVDs in their bedrooms. When that lawsuit came out, the group in charge of the DVD spec, DVD-CCA whined that the lawsuit would delay the rollout of the latest DVD specs -- though it wasn't clear why. Now we know. PC Magazine has reported that the group has proposed a new amendment that would ban any product from making DVD copies or allowing DVD content to be watched without the actual DVD present. This is getting some attention on various tech sites, but it seemed pretty strange. How could an industry association, rather than the government, create the laws by which legally purchased DVDs could be used? However, as the EFF explains, it's the DMCA's fault. The DMCA effectively allows the industry to define what's acceptable innovation.

It's a little confusing how this works (and most of the initial reports aren't getting into the details). Obviously, the DVD-CCA can't change the laws and really "ban" DVD copying. DVD copying for personal use is protected fair use. However, in order to read a DVD you have to license the technology from DVD-CCA. So if you want to create a product that reads/copies/plays a DVD, you're supposed to agree to DVD-CCA's license terms first. The DMCA, with its anti-circumvention clause, means that anyone who ignores the license terms is guilty of violating the DMCA. Therefore, all the DVD-CCA needs to to in order to hinder innovation is change the terms of their license -- and ignoring it would breach the DMCA... even if all you're doing is providing tools for perfectly legal purposes (outside the DMCA). History is littered with examples of what happens when you put in incumbent industry to determine what kind of innovation is "allowed" and it never turns out positively. The incumbent industry is interested in protection, not innovation.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2007 @ 12:25am


    While I agree politicians are corrupted by the industry, the entire idea of copyright is that the OWNER sets it.
    Its a basic tenet that government endorses copyright and makes it legal for people to restrict use of their work.
    It's a basic tenet that I should have the liberty to enjoy the fruits of *my* work too. That includes the liberty to purchase the type of DVD equipment *I* choose.

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