It's that time again when the Librarian of Congress is considering
special exemptions to the DMCA's anti-cicrumvention provisions. One of the key proposals, which we discussed earlier, was Public Knowledge's request to allow people to rip DVDs for personal use -- just as we are all currently able to rip CDs for personal use (such as for moving music to a portable device). The MPAA (along with the RIAA and others) have responded to the exemption requests
(pdf) with all sorts of crazy claims, but let's focus in on the DVD ripping question, because it's there that the insanity of Hollywood logic
Effectively, the MPAA is arguing that there is no evidence that ripping a DVD itself is legal, and since anti-circumvention exemptions are only supposed to be for legal purposes, this exemption should not apply. Leaving aside the sheer ridiculousness of the fact that we need to apply for exemptions to make legal acts legal (I know, I know...), this is quite a statement by the MPAA. While it's true that there hasn't been an official ruling on the legality of ripping a DVD, the fact that CD ripping is considered legal seems to suggest that movie ripping is comparable.
But the bigger point is that the MPAA is arguing that because they offer limited, expensive and annoying ways for you to watch movies elsewhere, you shouldn't have the right to place shift on your own:
Copyright owners include with many DVD and Blu-
Ray disc purchases digital copies of motion pictures that may be reproduced to mobile devices
and computers pursuant to licenses. Blu-Ray disc purchasers can also take advantage of
"Managed Copy" services that are scheduled to launch in the U.S. later this year. Movie
distributors and technology companies are also making available services such as UltraViolet,
which enables consumers to access motion pictures on a variety of devices through streaming
and downloading. Many movies and television shows are also available online through
services such as Comcast Xfinity, Hulu and Netflix, or websites operated by broadcasters or
cable channels, which consumers can enjoy from any U.S. location with internet access. With all
of these marketplace solutions to the alleged problem PK points to, it is unlikely that the
presence of CSS on DVDs is going to have a substantial adverse impact on the ability of
consumers to space shift in the coming three years.
Notice that almost all of these "market solutions" mean you have to pay multiple times for the same content -- and they ignore the fact that these offerings are all very limited and may not have the content on the DVDs people have. Public Knowledge has a quick summary of how these "solutions" are not solutions at all:
The MPAA had two specific suggestions. First, consumers could re-purchase access to a subscription service such as Netflix of Hulu. They did not dwell on the fact that 1) this would require you to pay again to access a movie you already own; 2) these services require a high speed internet connection in order to work; 3) There is a reasonable chance that the movie you own is not available on any of those services at any given time; and 4) MPAA member studios regularly pull videos that were once available on those services off of those same services.
The MPAA’s second suggestion was even less helpful. In their comments, they pointed to Warner Brothers’ DVD2Blu program. This program allows people to use their existing DVDs as a coupon towards the purchase of a handful of Warner Blu-Ray disks. They did not dwell on the fact that 1) this program is limited to Warner Brothers films; 2) the program is limited to 25 exchanges per household; 3) while some Blu-Ray disks include digital copies that can be moved to other devices, it is unclear how many of the disks in the DVD2Blu program include that option; 4) only 100 movies are included in the entire program; and 5) each exchange costs at least $4.95 plus shipping (which, for the record, is about as much as it would cost to buy the digital file from Amazon.).
When you think about it, this is really quite crazy. They're saying because they offer you an option to pay for a way too expensive, very limited option that might not really exist, you shouldn't have the right to rip your DVDs. This would be like the recording industry claiming you can no longer rip CDs because they offer a limited locked down selection of music in an online store. People would revolt at such a claim, and they should find the MPAA's ridiculous claims here equally as revolting.
If the MPAA stopped there, it would be crazy enough... but no, in the mind of Hollywood, they have to take it even further. They claim that because the ability to rip your DVD might take away their ability to keep charging you for the same content over and over again, that it goes against the purpose of copyright law. Seriously. They're actually claiming that their ridiculous "windows" are "new business models" that copyright law is designed to encourage:
In fact, granting PK’s proposed exemption would be directly counter to the purpose of
this rulemaking. It would undermine emerging business models that increase access to creative
works in precisely the manner Congress intended the DMCA to promote.
But that's pure bullcrap. The business models in question do not "increase access." They increase the ways in which you can pay
. If they want to increase access, they would let you rip your damn movie
It is clear that access controls have increased consumers’ options with respect to
motion pictures in digital formats. The Register should not interfere with that progress. Instead,
she should endorse it.
Up is down, black is white, day is night. Controls
have increased consumer options? No freaking way. Controls have limited options... but have allowed the MPAA studios to set up tollbooths and charge people multiple times for content they legally had purchased the rights to.