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Why Watching DVDs on Linux is Illegal in the USA (howtogeek.com)
216 points by vilgax 1484 days ago | hide | past | web | 130 comments | favorite



We continue trying to find ways to create new outlaws. 6 strikes came into effect and nobody is bothered. The govt does not represent the people. What is said is not meant. We live and are expected to live chasing things we don't want and as slaves to masters, hoping to be masters someday. It is extremely disturbing to be able to think about all this and live life. It is no wonder that some people choose to ignore all of the negativity and live whatever is left of their lives.


"6 strikes" doesn't make any new criminals. It's a voluntary deal with certain ISPs that doesn't (directly) involve criminal charges or civil lawsuits.


doesn't DIRECTLY involve criminal penalty AS OF NOW.


Logical fallacy: Slippery Slope.


You're misrepresenting the slippery slope fallacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope).

  A slippery slope argument states that a relatively small
  first step leads to a chain of related events culminating
  in some significant effect.
6 strikes is neither a relatively small first step, nor is prosecuting people under it a grand leap (it's the next logical step). Slippery slope isn't a tool for dismissing any claims of cause and future effect, it is an informal rule for when claims of cause and future effect are permitted, namely when one can "demonstrate a process which leads to the significant effect". In this case, "language of the agreement between ISPs and the entertainment industry" (http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Six-Strikes-Official-Says... and http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Will-ISP-Six-Strikes-Incl...) clearly states that ISPs have the full authority to report 6 strikes offenders to copyright owners, should they choose to prosecute them:

  The Participating ISP will, however, continue to track and
  report the number of ISP Notices the Participating ISP
  receives for that Subscriber’s account, so that information
  is available to a Content Owner Representative if it elects
  to initiate a copyright infringement action against that
  Subscriber.
No demonstration of said process is necessary because the right by IPSs and copyright holders to engage in this very process has been clearly reserved. Not a slippery slope.


If you come into a debate that's been running for years and observe one extrapolation by one commenter, sure that may appear to be a slippery slope fallacy. In reality, the slippery slope is being actively implemented by the various media companies in a decades-long campaign of copyright maximalism. The periodic copyright term extensions, the DMCA, ACTA, TPP, lawsuits against end users, etc. are evidence of an ongoing effort to shift public perception and behavior.

So no, it's not a fallacy in this case to expect the MPAA/RIAA to keep alternating between mild and extreme tactics, just as they have been doing.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window


I fully agree with you. I remember reading an article about how democracy is for ideal world which does not exist.

In a perfect situation, we wold have representatives who understand people. But what we have is a large group of selfish people who take money from businesses and pass such stupid laws.

They censor everything they can't understand or tht threatens their power in any way. Internet is one such medium as it increases information flow and power of people and decreases their!


those that want power aren't fit to wield it, those fit to wield it don't want it.


Spot on!

I observe this thing in my university too. All the top students who have caliber to do something won't touch it because it involves too much bureaucracy and as a result, everything is done by, well, incompetent people who spread corruption!

I guess it only grows when we go up in the chain.


To live the American dream, you need to be asleep.


In Poland you can make a backup copy of a DVD circumventing "security" measures where necessary. More, you can share that copy with members of your family and people in your social circle. It's considered fair use.

Anyway, while this law seems completely and horribly broken, technology allowed us to escape it a bit. I don't even have optical drives in my computers any more.

Of course, this means that watching any movie or tv show on a computer requires downloading it from... a source because popular online players (some offer content for free, like TVN, a large private broadcaster; and not just a clip here and there — full episodes, even whole films) usually require Silverlight which doesn't really work on Ubuntu. Luckily, that — downloading copyrighted materials for personal use — is, again, legal†.

† some exceptions apply.


> which doesn't really work on Ubuntu

It's nothing official, but Erich Hoover [1] patched wine so that it could run silverlight, and created a package that allows streaming netflix via wine+firefox+silverlight [2]. Since Steam and this, I haven't had a single reason to boot my old windows partition. It's nice.

It's possible that this same solution could work for your problem sites.

[1] http://www.compholio.com/ [2] https://launchpad.net/netflix-desktop


> a package that allows streaming netflix via wine+firefox+silverlight

I've tried this, and the performance is pretty bad. I'll stick to torrents + MPlayer until that's fixed.


It might be legal from criminal law POV but you can still be sued in a civil court for most of those use cases. Of course that rarely happens.

For those interested how a post-communist country criminalizes copyright violations, here's a link to the relevant section of our Copyright Act:

http://prawo.legeo.pl/prawo/ustawa-z-dnia-4-lutego-1994-r-o-...


"It might be legal from criminal law POV but you can still be sued in a civil court for most of those use cases."

You can get sued for anything, but the court will throw it out if the civil case is unfounded. I don't know how you have it in Poland, but the Czech copyright act stipulates that private copies ("copies for sole personal use") of everything except software and "electronic databases" (telephone directories etc.) are completely outside the purview of copyright protection, up to and including the disregard for the legality of the source of the copy (confirmed by a verdict of the Supreme Court in 2006) If something similar is the case in Poland, what basis could a civil case possibly have?


The OP wrote "† some exceptions apply." and you could drive a truck through those exceptions to fair use.

For instance, "copies for sole personal use" that you mentioned, in Poland are "single specimens shared by people in a personal relationshiop" (link to this specific rule: http://prawo.legeo.pl/prawo/ustawa-z-dnia-4-lutego-1994-r-o-...) which literally indicates that the digital transmission between people who don't know each other is excluded from its scope.

Also, the fait use section ends with a limitation clause: http://prawo.legeo.pl/prawo/ustawa-z-dnia-4-lutego-1994-r-o-... - which is a totally unclear ruke but means something similar to "fair use cannot hurt author".


It's all about distribution ("rozpowszechnianie"). If you download copyrighted material - the people that made it available without permision offended tha law, but you had not.

I think it's very useful distinction, and the only one that makes sense.

Also there are exceptions for short excerpts from copyrighted material, satire, etc (considered fair use).

That's why Poles were so infuriated when USA tried to enforce ACTA on us.


What about Moonlight?


Equally weird is that watching PBS content online is blocked if you're not physically sitting in America. For those who don't know, PBS is a US non-profit TV network, partially funded by the federal government and to varying degrees the states. Yet their website actively blocks would-be viewers outside the US, including US citizens (who are required to pay US taxes wherever they live).

Oh, and when I took my Korean-made but US-bought TV to the UK, guess what? Its Netflix feature stopped working completely.

Whether buying a DVD or streaming video online, I'm tired of not getting what I pay for.


The PBS geo-blocking is reasonable to understand. Video streaming can get expensive and international delivery almost certainly isn't in the foundation's stated mission at this point. Things also get complicated when you consider that PBS is not just one non-profit, but many "member stations", each operated as a separate non-profit. It's not their main objective navigate through the difficult task of making international streaming pay for itself (i.e. through correctly targeted ad partnerships or additional fund-raising). It's easier to just block it.

But back to the numbers: I'd estimate that PBS is paying around $0.05 per show to stream. I'm basing this on CDN costs in the range $0.10/GB - $0.20/GB, the size of 30 minute shows weighing in between 125MB and 250MB, plus storage and admin overheads. I might be wrong, but it looks like they're delivering their bits via CloudFront[1] and so those costs basically double for viewers outside of the US and Europe[2]. Even if it's not CloudFront, the basic cost structures stay the same. Why on earth would they want to serve content to users who mostly aren't giving them money and are costing twice as much to serve?

One last point: the link below are for Downtown Abbey, for which PBS certainly doesn't have international streaming rights.

[1] http://video.pbs.org/videoPlayerInfo/2335534842

[2] http://aws.amazon.com/cloudfront/pricing/


>I'd estimate that PBS is paying around $0.05 per show to stream. I'm basing this on CDN costs in the range $0.10/GB - $0.20/GB, the size of 30 minute shows weighing in between 125MB and 250MB, plus storage and admin overheads.

If they actually own the rights to the show they want to distribute to the public for free and the primary thing stopping them is the cost of a CDN, why aren't they using BitTorrent? At least as an option that says "no CDN in your country, international users use this"?


My guess it that PBS still needs to control distribution of their content because it is still a valuable source of fund-raising revenue. Revenue from DVD box sets [1] and international licensing deals goes back into producing new shows. Setting their content free on BitTorrent would quickly erode the revenue generating potential of that content.

[1] http://www.shoppbs.org/home/index.jsp


The purpose of PBS is to take donations and public money and produce free content. I have a hard time believing that there are a lot of people who would buy a PBS DVD box set but decide not to because it was available on the internet -- especially since it's already available for free on the internet in their primary market, just not world-wide. Moreover, if they distribute using BitTorrent, they can include the usual "if you enjoy this program, please support it with a financial contribution" message, in which case the wider the programs are distributed the more people see the message and the more money gets donated.


The example I linked in another comment (www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-stonehenge.html) is blocked in Europe, despite your pricing data showing that it would cost PBS the same to deliver there as in the US. So I'm not convinced it's about delivery cost.

For clarity, let's not talk about Downton Abbey--that's a more complicated topic because it's not PBS-produced content as far as I know.


>Price Classes let you reduce your delivery prices by excluding Amazon CloudFront’s more expensive edge locations from your Amazon CloudFront distribution.

Sounds to me like it's completely trivial to restrict streaming to the cheap servers and everyone else will just have to cross more of the internet to get there. I seriously doubt that this is a notable part of their reasoning.


> Video streaming can get expensive

Then they should put their work in the public domain so people willing to support distribution costs could do so.


PBS does not get a lot of money from the federal government.[1][2]. Don't buy the republican talking points. But more importantly how is the geo blocking different from the blocking that the BBC does?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation_for_Public_Broadcas...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PBS


I explained in another comment why BBC is different: when British citizens leave the country, they stop paying for the BBC (via taxes and via TV license). When US citizens live abroad, they keep paying, but stop receiving.

I have no idea what republican talking points you're referring to. Let's just stipulate that if the republicans say the same thing I say, it's a coincidence. I don't even live in the US.


"When US citizens live abroad, they keep paying, but stop receiving."

You keep referring to PBS as if it is a service provided by the government. PBS is not a government service, it is a private entity. Why do you think paying taxes entitles you to universal acces to PBS? My local university and the local fire department received some federal funding. A miniscule slice of your taxes paid for that funding. Do you expect to enroll in classes at Syracuse University for free now? Do you expect the Syracuse Fire Department to come help your cat out of the tree whereever you are?


The irrational fake-libertarian does not care for such arguments. They freak out if minuscule amounts of their money go to something they don't support, and expect loads of control in exchange for this transaction. Did you know if I buy a burger at McDonald's I can totally boss around that entire company? Except it's not really the price of a burger that entitles me to do so; I can just leave some change in the take-a-penny tray.


That's because you're not paying to buy a copy of the content. You're leasing it from them, apparently.


I'm not really sure what you mean here. In the PBS case, I cannot possibly (legally) access the content my tax dollars pay for, because they block it on their site, and I don't live in the US now. It hardly seems like a lease if there's no way I can ever access the assets...it's more like I'm paying for something but getting nothing.

In the Netflix case, the problem is that LG sold me a TV which unbeknownst to me always advertises itself to Netflix as being "in the US." This means that when it is not physically in the US (according to its IP address), Netflix sees a discrepancy and blocks it from accessing any content--US or otherwise. Apparently LG fixed this bug within the last year, but there's no update available for my TV (despite it having online firmware updates for other reasons).


In the PBS case, I cannot possibly (legally) access the content my tax dollars pay for, because they block it on their site, and I don't live in the US now.

According to http://www.pbs.org/funding, tax dollars pay for about 15% of the budget across all PBS stations. And a large part of that money goes to ensuring that local stations can exist in places that they otherwise couldn't. While tax dollars are helpful, in no way are they paying for that content in the same way that the BBC is funded by people in England.

In any case the reason for that geographical restriction is that PBS makes money from selling access to popular shows like Sesame Street worldwide. They could not make that money if organizations in that area had no incentive to pay for it.

...it's more like I'm paying for something but getting nothing.

My taxes help to pay for the system of embassies and consulates that provide a support network for people like you. Since I live in the USA and have no plans to travel, I'm getting nothing from that tax money.

Welcome to a fundamental fact of taxation, most of what our taxes pay for does not directly benefit us. Nor do we individually have any say about how that is spent. Once it has been taken by the government it is in no real sense "ours". Get over it.


> Welcome to a fundamental fact of taxation, most of what our taxes pay for does not directly benefit us. Once it has been taken by the government it is in no real sense "ours".

That makes sense for things that are targeted at a particular audience, geography, etc. But television? They had to spend money to implement the blocking feature, and seemingly for no additional money they could let people in Europe watch. I'm not asking for special treatment. And I'm not interested in watching Sesame Street, but rather programs which are not offered for sale (I'd even pay $0.99 per episode, if I could).

As a side note, if you want services from a US embassy, you often have to join a days-long waiting list, and then pay rather high rates for the services. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a place you just walk into because you're a citizen and they do things for you. It's more like a state-owned Kinko's plus law office in a prison-like setting. I appreciate your point about your taxes paying for them, but you should know they aren't giving me anything for free in there.


You still don't get it.

PBS is not a government organization. It is a private non-profit organization that is free to do what it wants. In this case you have a classical problem. Developing quality programming has a fairly high fixed cost and low marginal costs. Yes, they could cheaply give it to you, but if they did then they would lower the incentive for non-US organizations to absorb some of the fixed costs.

The fact that they do not sell it to individuals who want it is a sign that they are missing a great business opportunity. It is stupid. But again it is not government stupidity. (And for the cost of an EC2 instance to use as a proxy, you can get around the geographic restriction.)

And what about the tax money? Tax money that goes to PBS stations largely goes to the geographical problem of supporting local PBS stations in locations that do not have a sufficient donation base to pay for it themselves.


Welcome to the new Internet. Now featuring borders.


Yup, that is a feature and for our own "good".


The clean technological solution to roaming US citizens is national ID with a federal government CAS API. I'm guessing people opposed to intellectual property would appreciate that even less.


I'm in Tokyo, and streamed an episode of PBS' FrontLine from pbs.org only last week/the week before last.


Try this: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-stonehenge.html . It is blocked in both London and Singapore; if it's available in Tokyo then perhaps you have an odd IP address (giving wrong geolocation), or PBS likes your islands better than mine.


That is also blocked in Tokyo: "We're sorry, but this video is not available in your region due to right restrictions."


The PBS thing is roughly the same situation as the BBC outside the UK, AIUI.


The BBC is different, actually. If you're a UK citizen, you do not have to pay income tax while you live and work abroad. And the BBC is funded partly by an explicit "TV license" payable by any household that has a TV in Britain. So again, if you leave (or just get rid of your TV), you stop paying for it. So maybe it's OK if you can't watch it then (bollocks still, but justifiable bollocks).


How much money do you think PBS gets from federal tax dollars?


Just enough money to keep it under control


Im sure the BBC had some way of enabling licence paying Brits abroad to still use iPlayer. Could be completely wrong, but some bell relating to this is ringing in the back of my mind.


This is nothing to get in a tizzy about. DMCA is stupid, we know, but the reality is that laws are made all the time that have some asinine edge-case side effect that makes a totally innocent action a criminal offense. The important question here is, are you likely to be prosecuted for such a dumb thing. I think it's relatively safe to say you won't. Obviously we can't say the same for those of us who'd be inclined to build our own DVD playback software but to use it to view a DVD is, in reality, not going to get you in trouble.

I'm not saying I support this. I absolutely don't. My question is, what's the point here? To me, this comes off as another article meant to get all the anti-copyright, anti-DMCA people to all come together and pat each other on the back for how smart they are for being against such silly laws. This stuff is good to know and interesting but I'm still a little disappointed its on the front page of HN. It seems like exactly the kind of thing the guidelines say not to post. It's an easy up vote - who can't get behind the idea of DVD playback on Linux being illegal being, well, ludicrous.


>The important question here is, are you likely to be prosecuted for such a dumb thing.

That is not the important question. The important question is whether people engaged in legitimate activity will modify their behavior in order to avoid the possibility of being prosecuted for such a dumb thing. Which has already happened. Ubuntu doesn't include DVD playback support. Nobody makes a DVD jukebox like what Real wanted to make when the courts shut them down. The amount of innovation that hasn't happened because nobody can sell it in Walmart without risking a lawsuit or criminal prosecution is unthinkable and we are all poorer for it.

The point of articles like this is to get more people behind doing something about it. There is no legitimate reason that circumventing DRM when there is no underlying act of infringement should be illegal. The entire concept of criminalizing circumvention is a failure and a farce, but criminalizing circumvention without infringement is (as you rightly point out) just plain ludicrous. So let's fix that at the very least.


> The amount of innovation that hasn't happened because ...

I've mulled this over many times while waiting for my (licensed) DVD player to boot - there's no economic pressure for DVD player manufacturers to compete, since there's such a large barrier to entry. Sure, the hardware is cheap, but the software is both terrible (crashes, odd UI behavior, dictates work flow) and slow, slow SLOW.

DVDCCA is clearly a cartel, at least in terms of behavior, if not actual legal definition, and we see it in terms of lack of innovative UX on DVD players. I see this as akin to the Windows experience vs Linux experience. Windows boots slowly, apps start slowly. Linux boots rapidly, and gets speedier over the years, not slower. Apps start fast, windows open instantly (instead of showing a dern splash screen for 30 seconds). Microsoft is something of a market-fixing cartel. The Linux market has a lot of competition, pain points get addressed quickly, the experience changes.


This is, believe it or not, not even the dumbest part about DMCA. However the legalese is worded, it seems mostly focused towards trying to prevent mass copyright infringement in a digital age.

If you're someone who just wants to use your legally-acquired media then IMO (and IANAL!) you should fall into the "Reverse Engineering/Interoperability" exception of 1201(f) http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap12.html

They word it as the exception being granted for "programs exchanging information with programs" but I see no reason why that would not mean, in practice, libdvdcss <=> foo_player.

Going back to what I said at first, a far dumber part of DMCA is that they actually ban the manufacture and import of analog video playback equipment (VHS, Beta, etc.) that doesn't obey "automatic gain control" copy control features. How many electrical engineering students might have run afoul of that in the course of their studies? (Edit: 1201(k) for those who want the reference)


Before I read this article, I didn't know exactly why Ubuntu comes without a DVD player, and I didn't understand CSS encryption. The article also offers interesting historical notes. Thanks to the OP for posting.


Three points:

Laws are made by people who in theory represent us. Democracy requires us, the sovereign citizenry, to pay attention to how well the law is functioning.

This is not an asinine edge case effect. This is at the heart of the DMCA. The goal was a global system of control by a relatively small number of media executives over the watching of all video everywhere. It is worth asking whether that's how we want the world to work.

When totally innocent actions are criminal offenses, everybody is at risk of capricious prosecution. Or, worse, targeted prosecution for political reasons. Do we really want anybody considering a political act or statement to be scared out of it by realizing that they could do serious jail time for some innocent act?


Forgot Aaron Swartz already?

Indeed, 99% of the time these edge cases won't affect you. But there's still that 1%...


There really is no point putting up a "fight". The content creators do not want to give their hardwork away. The content creators have to do whatever it takes to live. If the measures that they take legally bugs us, then we should create our own content and distribute it the way we want to or approach the courts. Talking about how a proprietary format is taking away our freedom will do nothing. And yes put your money where your mouth is. Support companies that do it the right way.


Your argument is that if we disagree with a preposterous law, we should have to opt out of the law by opting out of popular culture. Why shouldn't we just fix the law?


We can ask courts to allow reverse engineering. We can ask them to exempt personal use and backup. We can hope to remain invisible. But even after all of that we are still beholden to these content creators who hold us in contempt(their actions prove that). And if the courts and luck don't smile on us we end up being criminals too. Look at the music industry, even if lossy, the mp3s now available do not have drm. So things will change if we want to and we won't have to shun pop culture.


OK sure, stop giving Hollywood money until they change their ways. Don't buy DRMed media. But fix the law too. They aren't mutually exclusive.


Who's asking for content creators to give their hard work away?


This is why this was posted on HN: "This stuff is good to know and interesting". I did know some of it but there might be some people who don't. Specially people that are new to linux.


Guys, the best way to react to this is to create our own content (music, films, books, theater, whatever...) then share and appreciate with friends. We dont need those companies to invent our life.


That would be great, but I can’t imagine living without all the pirated books. You can replace entertainment, but how can you replace everything else?


Sorry, I dont know. I always bought my books since I am a student (spending lot of money into them btw). Unfortunatly, books that worth the money, and my time reading them are not so numerous.

Anyway, I guess internet is still a good place to find publicly available information not yet copyrighted by some doomed organisation.


I was a little taken aback to realise that a new generation of hackers that doesn't remember a world without the DMCA is now here. DVD Jon isn't a kid anymore... he'd be pushing 30 by now.


I just realized the other day that public projection of a DVD in an oil rig is illegal (yes, they appear explicitly in the banner). Funny: hospitals, schools, ..., oil rigs!

Unbelievable.


What's not allowed is the screening of retail copies in oil rigs. There's public screening licenses available for such situations, which of course cost a bit more than $14.95.

If you look at prospectuses for film production companies, you'll often see a section on distribution to what are known as "ancillary markets" such as tv, hotels, airlines, prisons, and yes, oil rigs.

All it really means is that there's a different license fee structure in each of those cases.

Not unlike different sorts of license fees for using software in different situations, or even some types of Creative Commons which require separate negotiation of a license in certain commercial situations.


They're just getting new ways to make money. Soon, they will narrow down to personal licenses for media. You watch it, fine, but show it to your 4 year old kid and you're in for a big fine!


You can't use iTunes in the production of nuclear weapons either. I suppose they're just covering all bases.


You're not allowed to use JSLint for evil! Except IBM, who got a license. No, really https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5138866


Speaking of Apple products. Try watching a DVD over AirPlay. WT actual F. It's unbelievable that something this crappy has happened.


I'm guessing that's because some of the software libraries iTunes is built on has that clause as one of its licence agreements


Just an easter egg from Apple, not an actual dependency.


Why is it illegal? Just because the DVD FUDscreen says so doesn't mean it is.


No, I just wanted to point out that they do include the rigs in the banner. Like they were obsessed with rigs or something. Why not inlcude 'shareholders' meetings' or 'space stations' as well?


Haha, yeah I always wondered about that. Like they've got something against riggers or something. I imagine there must have been a case decades ago of people on oil rigs showing movies and then claiming exemption from the rules due to being out at sea.


Likely because they hope you're still within the 12 mile zone of some country. Outside of those I really wonder what their legal position is. The blurb telling you it is illegal is probably not all there is to it.


It would be contributory infringement, at least, for the buyer in the country they "bought" the DVD in.

I wonder if there's a clause disallowing transport of the DVD to a non-Berne Convention country (or non-TRIPs or whatever).


I'm guessing that oil rigs are i) profitable and ii) places where lots of people watch a lot of DVDs.


It shouldn't be allowed to say things in doesn't mean though.

A government is failing badly in it's duty to the populus if they allow large companies to make known false claims (or indeed unknown claims) as to the legal position of a buyer.

Sure you could sue for fraud or some-such but it strikes me this sort of situation is where government needs to use a strong hand to keep corporations in line.


US copyright law considers a performance of a work to be a copy that must be authorized by the copyright holder. For example, a songwriter is entitled to royalties if an orchestra plays the song, and singing Happy Birthday at a birthday party is illegal but you're allowed to hum it (the tune is out of copyright, the lyrics are not), and that is why restaurants have invented their own birthday songs. Back to the subject at hand, the playing of a recording for an audience has been considered a performance since recordings were first invented, so it's illegal whether you're on an oil rig or not.

If the rig is in international waters, the story might be different.


I don't love in USA but I have an impression that laws like this are made just to put more money in pockets of RIAA and other similar ass.es.

Most of the copyright laws are standing on the line of sanity and one small change can make them appear like creation of a kindergarten kid.


The way I look at it the problem is a bit more subtle than that. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a US-citizen either.

Recent technology is making several business models (of which the RIAA is a great example) obsolete. These businesses are powerful enough not to die the way the typewriter or the analog photo film did. These laws (like the DMCA) are a cry for help, a last resort from a dying industry. This is why their side of the argument has always appealed to emotions and not reason. ("How would the world be without movies?" - a complete straw man).

I don't believe it's a conspiracy to make the rich even richer, it has more to do with the difficulty of renewing oneself when technology makes you obsolete. The problem is that a few (or more) innocent casualties are going to get hurt as the Hollywood Titanic (yay, a metaphor!) goes down, but ultimately this whole "technological protection measures" shenanigan is going to disappear. Hollywood is doomed and it knows it.

That being said, I think the US is ahead of other countries when it comes to finding a solution to this problem. The effects of the SOPA/PIPA protests had on Congress is the obvious example, but more broadly, the constant ongoing debate looks promising. This debate is always avoided or dismissed as nonesense in France (where I currently live) and it cannot possibly be held in the Middle East (where I'm from).

I just wished the judiciary system wasn't so harsh on the scapegoats of this whole mess. Because let's face it, the victims (again, obvious one is Schwartz, but there are many others) are scapegoats and everybody knows it.


We have anti-copyright-theft trailers in cinemas, and they employ similar straw men. "Imagine a world with all cinemas... gone". As if piracy will stop people going to the cinema for films they really want to see.


Yes, 99% agree. But a word for the BBC and its iPlayer. Well ahead of the game. I remember years ago chatting with some Americans who were literally gob smacked that we has such a thing, not only that, the bandwidth to make it generally usable. TV wise, the UK has been brilliant. So good that its almost not worth downloading UK TV shows at all. OK, if you want shows from pay channels you have to be paying, but I suppose that counts as fair enough. Not perfect, but, um, industry defensible, ish.

Movies and music are still a mess though.

Also, not so sure the technology is entirely responsible for the difficulties these businesses are having. I think it partly an excuse. One of the big things they have against them, is that our money now has more places for us to chose for it to go. There is a lot more to spend our money one, and many chose not to spend money on TV, movies and music. Especially when a huge opinion is that the quality had lowered to a lowest common denominator.

In the past they (TV, music, movies) had a monopoly over our spare cash. They could dictate. I think history will see the last 50 years as a weird anomaly where the media had a disproportionate amount of control over the market. Look at the 70's, no competition from out side the industry. Total control. Cartel like pricing. The whole period was a joke in favour of these industries. It work and they liked it.

Now, not only as you say the technology has over taken them, but there are now other things to spend money on. If they were to completely secure their medium, and we had no way round it, many would just do with out, still spending money on other things. Worse now in a recession as spare cash tightens up. Might even hurt them because the free advertising of illegal down loading would cease. For example, I might down load a movie, and tell others how great it was. I might never buy it, but some of my friends might. Well, I know that is true. Several movies I've torrented have been since bought on DVD or watch on a legit online paid for service as a result of me illegally seeing it and raving on about it to others. Heh, right now my son is paying to watch 24 online because I went on about how good it was.

What is appalling about the whole thing is the governments colluding with the dying dinosaurs to use the instrument of law to keep the rotting failed businesses in business. If the US, etc, were really capitalists they would let capitalism work, supply and demand, and allow these businesses if necessary to go bust. Then people would have to innovate and create something new to move on. But this is strangled while the deluded government and businesses struggle on by criminalising and terrorising people with heavy handed laws that ruin lives. Its a complete abuse of power and democracy, leaving capitalism limp and useless.

Oh. Too much. Sorry.... Hope no one has lapsed in to a coma. :)


The weirder thing on Linux is that you can watch Amazon's streaming videos in Firefox, but not in Chrome. Apparently the Flash plugin for Chrome on Linux removed drm for some reason, so Amazon killed it as a supported platform.


It's even weirder than that because you can watch Amazon videos just fine using Flash in Chrome Google TV. In fact, until the most recent Google TV update that was the only way to take advantage of this high-profile, remote control button-worthy feature.


Yet another marginalization of freedom serving the interests of a the few well-lobbbied rightsholders.


In France using VLC to watch a DVD is illegal too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DADVSI http://www.videolan.org/press/eucd.html


Curious to hear whether these weird Linux-asymmetries apply to Blu-Ray or online digital media (e.g. Hulu/Netflix) too.

I would be willing to accept the fact that DVDs were invented so long ago that some of their restrictions are a little archaic.


These issues absolutely apply to Bluray, and to basically any other format with copyright restrictions. It is not an issue of DVD being invented long ago; the DMCA is what is obsolete here.


This isn't even close to correct.

What the DMCA says is that you can't strip and redistribute the content, not that you can't strip and watch it. This is an old false stalking horse.

And even if this is correct, this wouldn't make you a criminal; since nobody knows, this does not rise to the level of intent.

Notice how if this was true, people would be making a fortune going after TiVo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Panic

Notice that he's also saying that it's legal to jailbreak a phone (it isn't, anymore,) and that the reason it was legal was an exemption to the DMCA (which is completely incorrect.)

Notice that the thing he's claiming is illegal is a link to a thing that's actually about a completely different topic - space shifting, ie they claim, taking the DVD, decoding it, then transferring that decoded version to another device.

Oh, and that place he's citing is also wrong. This isn't what the problem is in the eyes of the copyright office. Space shifting is perfectly legal, and is done on large consumer devices all the time. iTunes can do it, your Archos can do it, the SlingBox can do it, the high end TiVo can do it, I think the Hopper might be able to, et cetera.

Quoting the source he claims said this was illegal:

> "And the RIAA and the MPAA agree with you. In > 2005, their lawyer (now the Solicitor General of > the United States) assured the Supreme Court that > “The record companies, my clients, have said, for > some time now, and it’s been on their Website for > some time now, that it’s perfectly lawful to take a > CD that you’ve purchased, upload it onto your > computer, put it onto your iPod." > > Movie executives agree as well. Mitch Singer, the > Chief Technology Officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment > explained to author Robert Levine that the idea for > the movie industry’s UltraViolet program evolved out > of Singer’s own frustration with transferring movies > between PCs in his home.

And, of course, the Fair Use clause of the copyright act makes it perfectly clear that you're allowed to do this as long as you aren't transmitting it to other people. Have fun. Go nuts.

There was a point at which it was, briefly, illegal to decode DVDs under Linux, but it had nothing to do with any of this, and it's long since undone. What was actually going on was that the MP3 decoder is under patent by Fraunhofer AG, and back in the mid-1990s, before most people understood what Linux was, but when MP3 players were starting to become popular, Fraunhofer started to assert their patent to take money from device manufacturers.

A few MP3 makers protested that they were using the MP3 stuff built into Linux, and as such they weren't the ones using the tech, Linux was, and Fraunhofer ought to go after Linux. Fraunhofer fell for this, and in response, the community removed MP3 stuff to insulate itself from legal nonsense. A couple months later Fraunhofer figured out what Linux was, and issued a free use license like decent people, but the community was so long since neckbearded out over the topic that they never put any of it back in.

And then the legends of what was going on began.

This is why you don't take legal advice from random programmers on the internet.

This is a bunch of moral panic over a misunderstanding of the copyright system. There's absolutely no reason that it's illegal to watch a DVD in America. This just isn't true at all.


You're wrong.

> What the DMCA says is that you can't strip and redistribute the content, not that you can't strip and watch it.

No, the law is clear that circumventing a copyrights protection measure is illegal. Similar laws got passed in many countries.

Here's a case from the US: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RealNetworks%2C_Inc._v._DVD_Co...)

> The court decided that RealDVD is primarily designed or produced to circumvent CSS technology. In particular, the court found that the removal of crucial CSS technology in DVD drive-locking, secure storage of content keys on DVD, CSS authentication and CSS bus encryption during the playback of copied DVD content from the hard dive is a circumvention of CSS, even though they are not needed when playback from the hard drive. The court further explained that even though RealNetworks is a licensee of CSS technology, it does not shield RealNetworks from DMCA claim because the removal of CSS technology is a violation of DMCA.


And in that case, what made that software product illegal was that the court found that it was for breaking the DVD, not for playing it back.

It's important to actually understand the case.


> what made that software product illegal was that the court

No. Some laws are not enforced, but that doesn't make the regulated activity legal.

Someone who owns the original DVD and who wants to play it back (with no storage or format shifting) is breaking the law, because there's no authority from the copyrights holders.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-circumvention)

(http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/1201)

> “circumvent a technological measure” means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner;


Doesn't the authority of the copyright owner to descramble, decrypt, or otherwise bypass a technological measure extend to those who own a legal copy of the copyrighted work? That is, the rightsholder implicitly transfers the authority to decrypt the work when he issues a license to view the decrypted material, even if the medium of transfer stores the work in an encrypted format.

Under this interpretation, the authority would extend to viewing the material on any platform or player, but it wouldn't extend to saving a permanently decrypted copy (as you had a license to view the decrypted material, but not to keep a permanent decrypted copy) as in a rip of the DVD to one's hard drive.


I enjoy how you cut my sentence mid-way through to make it look like it said something very different than what it actually said.


I think that was unintentional. What a I read from DanBC's comment was that it was referring to the fact you stated the court found that it was for breaking the DVD, not for playing it back.. Just because the court said that the problem was something else, and not the playback, does not make the playback legal.


No, the fact that nothing makes it illegal is what makes it legal.

I'm sort of confused where this is coming from.


To watch a DVD you need to get around the CSS.

There is no authorised method to do this on Linux. Thus, anyone watching a DVD on Linux is circumventing an effective rights protection measure without authorisation. That's a crime in the US. (And similar actions are crimes in other countries too.)


"To watch a DVD you need to get around the CSS."

No, you don't. You just need to decode it. What's illegal is leaving it decoded and redistributing it to others.

.

"There is no authorised method to do this on Linux."

One, there doesn't need to be.

Two, of course there is. Have you ever even tried to look?

.

"Thus, anyone watching a DVD on Linux is circumventing an effective rights protection"

Luckily, the Supreme Court, the RIAA, the MPAA, and the current Attorney General of the United States disagree with you, as does a casual familiarity with the law.


This is baffling. I really don't understand what you don't get about this.

To watch a DVD you need to decode the CSS.

You either have authorisation to do this, or you don't.

On Linux there is no authorised method to do this, and thus it is illegal.

Whether anyone is interested in prosecuting that illegal use is irrelevant to this discussion; and it's not been what you've claimed.

> What's illegal is leaving it decoded and redistributing it to others.

Let's examine this sentence.

i) circumventing the rights protection without authorisation is illegal.

ii) distributing copy right material without permissions is illegal

Thus, your sentence "What's illegal is leaving it decoded and redistributing it to others" covers 2 illegalities, the circumvention and the distribution.

> Two, of course there is. Have you ever even tried to look?

Yes, I have tried to look. I can't show you what I have not found. Have you tried to look? Feel free to provide a link to any rights holder anywhere giving authorisation.


"This is baffling. I really don't understand what you don't get about this."

The part where the Supreme Court and the US Attorney General say you're wrong is probably your first hint.

.

"To watch a DVD you need to decode the CSS."

Yep.

.

"You either have authorisation to do this, or you don't."

Authorization is a function of whether you paid for it.

.

"On Linux there is no authorised method to do this, and thus it is illegal."

1) There doesn't need to be. Authorization is not about what technology is in use.

2) There are actually Linux DVD players which have paid for their Fraunhofer license; I don't know why you keep claiming otherwise, when a simple Google search can straighten this out.

3) Again, authorization has nothing to do with what software you're using, and everything to do with whether you plonked five dollars on the till at Walmart. It's called the First Sale Doctrine.

.

"Whether anyone is interested in prosecuting that illegal use is irrelevant to this discussion"

Why do you keep bringing up something nobody else is talking about, then saying "but that's irrelevant?"

.

"i) circumventing the rights protection without authorisation is illegal."

Yes, this is the piece you keep repeating, like just saying it a bunch of extra times will change what authorization is.

.

"Thus, your sentence "What's illegal is leaving it decoded and redistributing it to others" covers 2 illegalities"

(sigh)

.

"Yes, I have tried to look"

Try harder. There's Fluendo, LinDVD, the codecs in Ubuntu have been licensed from Cyberlink since 2008, Boxee is legal, your TiVo (which is Linux) can give you a legal remote viewer as a .deb, et cetera.

You're too busy feeling correct to check the things being said to you.

.

"I really don't understand what you don't get about this."

Which is commonly the case for people who don't consider what it means that they think someone citing the Supreme Court and the US Attorney General is wrong about the law.

(cough)

Please have a nice day; I'm bored of this.


> Authorization is a function of whether you paid for it.

No it isn't. Authorisation is a function of whatever rights you're given, normally at the point of purchase but not necessarily.

> 2) There are actually Linux DVD players which have paid for their Fraunhofer license; I don't know why you keep claiming otherwise

I have never said that there are no Linux distributions that do not have a valid Fraunhofer licence. This is not about patent restrictions. We agreed that earlier in the thread, and I thought that you understood that point, but perhaps I was mistaken.

Taking just one example from your list: Boxee uses libdvdcss to circumvent the CSS encryption on DVDs and thus it's possibly breaking the DMCA. Again, just because no-one is going to prosecute doesn't make it lawful.

> someone citing the

None of the cites you've made have supported your various changing positions.


But you MUST, as a logical prerequisite, "break" the CSS protection to view the content.


"What the DMCA says is that you can't strip and redistribute the content, not that you can't strip and watch it."

I don't think that's right. The DMCA forbids circumventing access controls, which would include decrypting a DVD; you have to decrypt a DVD to watch it as well as to copy it, so both potentially infringe the DMCA. At least, that seems to be confirmed by the FAQ at Chilling Effects[1], which is an advocacy site, but one run by lawyers. What's the source for your understanding of the DMCA?

[1] http://chillingeffects.org/anticircumvention/faq.cgi


"I don't think that's right. The DMCA forbids circumventing access controls, which would include decrypting a DVD"

I'm not sure where you get the idea that decoding a DVD is a form of circumventing access controls, since as an owner, access is controlled not for you, but for others.

This means you can't redistribute it, not that you can't watch it. Access control means keeping unauthorized people out, not keeping legitimate purchasers out.

Maybe you should ask a lawyer.

.

"At least, that seems to be confirmed by the FAQ at Chilling Effects[1]"

And dis-confirmed by the Supreme Court, the US Attorney General, the RIAA, the MPAA, et cetera.

I bet you can guess who I believe.

.

"an advocacy site, but one run by lawyers"

Lawyers who are ignoring black letter law to make their advocacy site seem important.

.

"What's the source for your understanding of the DMCA?"

Already cited.


> I'm not sure where you get the idea that decoding a DVD is a form of circumventing access controls, since as an owner, access is controlled not for you, but for others.

> This means you can't redistribute it, not that you can't watch it. Access control means keeping unauthorized people out, not keeping legitimate purchasers out.

DVDs are sometimes region encoded. Bob visits EU (from US) and buys a region-encoded DVD. He goes home, and tries to view this DVD, but it doesn't work on his machine. He looks online, and finds a hack to turn his machine from a region X machine into a region 0 ("all regions") machine.

Do you agree that Bob is breaking the law here? Specifically, the DMCA anti-circumvention bits of the law?

>"What's the source for your understanding of the DMCA?"

> Already cited.

I've tried to find it in the thread but I'm having trouble. Please, would you mind citing it again? Thanks.


>Notice that he's also saying that it's legal to jailbreak a phone (it isn't, anymore,) and that the reason it was legal was an exemption to the DMCA (which is completely incorrect.)

Wikipedia says it was a DMCA exemption (and cites a source). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_unlocking#United_States


Jailbreaking != phone unlocking. Phone unlocking means unlocking the SIM to be able to use different carriers. The DMCA, strangely, doesn't let people unlock their SIM slot to use it with different carriers. (FWIW, this seems like a strange thing to make illegal, but it's what happened.)

Jailbreaking still is legal, and is unrelated to this DMCA exception.


Good point. But the reason jailbreaking is legal is because of a DMCA exception.


The only citation you gave regards unlocking phones.

There is no jailbreaking exemption under DMCA. There doesn't need to be; it was never illegal in the first place, thanks to the first sale doctrine (in some states reinforced under the name "doctrine of first ownership.")



Did you read that link? It doesn't argue with me.

That's two in a row.

Don't stop reading at the first half of the sentence, please.

What that actually is about is the Copyright office saying "yes, you can edit your own phone to remove the restrictions that allow you to take it to another carrier, then take it to another carrier."

The decision is not about jailbreaking; it's about editing the software then putting it on a network. The issue was whether that was seen as a form of sharing of the edited contents. The decision says "of course it isn't, but we're going to put it in black letter law, so that Apple can't take this to some podunk court in Texas, and spin them until they don't understand the issue."

Jailbreaking has never been illegal in the United States.

If you just make it to the middle of that same paragraph: "Apple's request to define copyright law to include jailbreaking as a violation was denied as part of the 2009 DMCA rulemaking."

Please actually read the links you give when arguing. It's especially important because the links you're giving should be your first hints that you're wrong. However, you're so certain that you're right that you aren't even checking.


>If you just make it to the middle of that same paragraph: "Apple's request to define copyright law to include jailbreaking as a violation was denied as part of the 2009 DMCA rulemaking."

Wikipedia's wording isn't very clear (although it would be clearer if you didn't quote a single sentence out of context), but that sentence is talking about a DMCA exemption, not saying the Library of Congress made a statement that jailbreaking was never a violation. Here's the EFF discussing the jailbreaking exemption created by the 2009 DMCA rulemaking: https://www.eff.org/cases/2009-dmca-rulemaking


> but that sentence is talking about a DMCA exemption

No, that sentence, which talks about things that happened while the DMCA was being written, before it was a law at all, is not in fact talking about an exemption.

Apple tried to have this made illegal; they got laughed at.

And now you've posted a third link which agrees with me as evidence that you're right.

I think I'm going to stop responding now, because you're pretty obviously on auto-pilot.


>which talks about things that happened while the DMCA was being written, before it was a law at all

"as part of the 2009 DMCA rulemaking" is talking about something that happened before the DMCA was passed? Hint: the DMCA was passed in 1998.

>I think I'm going to stop responding now, because you're pretty obviously on auto-pilot.

I don't know if you're projecting or trolling.


Ah, personal attacks.


What part of "the DMCA was passed in 1998" is a personal attack?

It's not like he said:

"Please actually read the links you give when arguing. It's especially important because the links you're giving should be your first hints that you're wrong. However, you're so certain that you're right that you aren't even checking."

OR

"I think I'm going to stop responding now, because you're pretty obviously on auto-pilot."

Are you in a manic phase or something?


"What part of "the DMCA was passed in 1998" is a personal attack?"

The part where he says projecting or trolling. I guess I have a pretty similar reaction to you, where when I say I'm walking away because he's not listening to me, you infer mental illness.

Sometimes it's best to keep it a little calmer. Someone doesn't have to be mentally ill to walk away from someone accusing them of being a troll.

I hope you'll consider whether that phrasing was actually appropriate. Please have a good day.


> Notice that he's also saying that it's legal to jailbreak a phone (it isn't, anymore,)

Except that it is (in the US at least, the country that is the subject of this article). Carrier unlocking on newly purchased locked phones is no longer legal in the US, which may be what you were thinking of, but he addresses this in the paragraph following the one you cited:

"As of January, it’s not legal to unlock your phone without the permission of the carrier that you bought it from, assuming they locked it in the first place."

> and that the reason it was legal was an exemption to the DMCA (which is completely incorrect.)

"the U.S. Copyright Office explicitly recognized an exemption to the DMCA to permit jailbreaking in order to allow iPhone owners to use their phones with applications that are not available from Apple's store"[1]

> This is why you don't take legal advice from random programmers on the internet.

You said it.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOS_jailbreaking#United_States


> And, of course, the Fair Use clause of the copyright act makes it perfectly clear that you're allowed to do this as long as you aren't transmitting it to other people. Have fun. Go nuts.

Absolutely wrong. Nothing about fair use is perfectly clear. Fair use is a guide for courts to determine if the individual case fits within fair use.

The whole outrage over the DMCA is that it can prevent fair use, because fair use doesn't allow circumventing the DMCA.


It is legal to jailbreak an iphone. However it is illegal to UNLOCK one.


The carriers claim it is illegal, and there is no longer a DMCA exemption stating that it is not a violation of the DMCA.

That does not make it illegal to unlock a phone. Is there any case law supporting the notion that unlocking a phone actually is a DMCA violation, or just the carriers claiming that it is (possibly in settled lawsuits)?


> The carriers claim it is illegal

Also the POTUS, the US Attorney General, and the law.

.

> Is there any case law supporting

Yes.

Neither uninformed skepticism nor demands for us to do your research for you while holding up zero evidence of your own validate your position.

.

> or just the carriers

Seriously, try hitting Google once or twice. This is hard to watch.


This EFF article on the state of DMCA and cell phone unlocking does not mention any case law validating the idea that unlocking is actually a violation: https://www.eff.org/is-it-illegal-to-unlock-a-phone

It does cite case law that points in the direction that the DMCA is only triggered when the lock protects a creative work, which cell phone access may not be. Considering how carefully the EFF tracks these things, if there was case law supporting the carriers' (and possibly executive branch's) position, they would mention it.


This is not limited to Linux but affects all players that use libdvdcss. For example, Windows and OSX versions of VLC come bundled with the library.


Minor quibble with the article. Handbrake is not illegal. It does not break encryption, it merely transcodes. It, by design, does not come with a copy of libdvdcss, and you have to download it through other means. It will also, on a mac, go find VLC's copy and use it.

The people behind Handbrake are somewhat touchy about this, for good reason.


Who are these people who want to play DVDs on Linux? I have Windows and I have played a DVD on my computer exactly "never" times in the past 20 years.

If you want to play a DVD on Linux, boot Windows for that. Or use a DVD player. Or don't watch DVDs any more. Or crack it in the comfort of your own home for only your own use, and noone will ever prosecute you.


It's also illegal to do so in Germany.


In principle, circumventing DRM does indeed violate copyright law (or rather the German version thereof).

However, there's also the right to make private copies, and I'm not aware of any relevant case law.

Keep in mind that this is civil law, and "Wo kein Kläger, da kein Richter" ("No plaintiff, no judge").


Whaaaaaat? This is the oldest news ever. I'm going back to sleep, and when I wake up, this site better not be a throwback to 2002, OK?




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