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
    Steve, 22 Jun 2007 @ 9:44am

    Re: control of DVD and TV

    I agree completely - that those who produce the DVDs (and TV programs) have altogether too much control - and an over blown idea of their own importance! They are of the opinion that they are creating works of art (or so it seems). However, about 10% of what is being churned out via DVDs and TV, is any where near original and entertaining. I recently read an article that says that Cable companie will be able to broadcast about 500 HD chanels by the end of the year!!! Good grief - I have satelite TV, and about 100 channels - most of which are duplicats of each other, and the rest are un-reality shows. The only thing worth watching (still) is old Star Treck shows, sports, or Discovery Channel.
    We need to send a message - turn it off for a while, and stop buying/renting remakes of "the Exorcist," and old vampire movies - the originals were OK in their time, but their time has come and gone - so has the Hype of HD DVDs and and TV.

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