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  (Source: Erin/Sunny Side Up)
Big media petitions Library of Congress to refuse ripping allowance

"Let them eat cake!"
-- traditional French "spoiled princess" tale

The above quote was often misattributed in the French Revolution to Marie Antoinette, whom the French revolutionaries sought to villainize as cruel and aloof.  Today, amidst a sweeping digital revolution, seemingly equally cavalier quotes are flying around, attributed to big media.  But this time around, they're the real deal -- big media literally wants you to repay for content you already own.  

The Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America's homage to "let them eat cake" began with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) [PDF], which modified Title 17 of the U.S. Code.

The law was an uneasy compromise by the Clinton administration between big media who was clamoring about how rampant copyright abuses were ruining their bottom line, and by internet service providers, who feared big media's well heeled lobbyists would install financially ruinous legal responsibilities on them.  In the end big media received stiff copyright protections on creative works, while ISPs gained a level of immunity from their users' actions (piracy).

But it also installed some Orwellian provisions, making it a crime to remove copyright protection software on content you legally own -- even if that software caused harm to your computer (which in some cases it, in fact, did).

Between 1998 and 2006, the prohibition on burning CDs stood.  Of course a bootleg industry flourished, but makers of burning software had to watch their backs for fear of prosecution and/or imprisonment.

But in 2006 the U.S. Library of Congress added a key exemption, that allowed the practice, including circumventing copy protection schemes for personal use on CDs you legally owned.  The public actually has Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) to thank for that.  Sony BMG's dangerously defective rootkits convinced the LoC that maybe it shouldn't be illegal to allow people to remove unwanted copy protection on content they legal own.

DVD Burning
The MPAA has fought hard to make DVD burning illegal. [Image Source: MiNDFOOD]

However, making backup copies of DVDs and Blu-Ray movies protected by copyright protection software (virtually all of them are) remains illegal.  To be clear, it's the act of breaking the digital rights management (DRM) that's illegal, not the physical act of writing optical media.  But since virtually all movies carry DRM, essentially all creation of backup copies is illegal.  

That premise is a key topic of debate as the LoC mulls a proposal by consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, to allow DVD/Blu-Ray ripping for personal use of content you own.

The proposal is ardently opposed by the MPAA.  They write [PDF] to the LoC:

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.

In other words, they're essentially saying that you should repay for content and/or accept inferior versions of the content that already own (UltraViolet and their ilk often lack the "extras" of a full-fledged ripped DVD) -- if you're lucky.  Of course, if they choose not to support your platform of choice with their locked down content, you're simply out of luck; too bad.

Public Knowledge lambasted the MPAA's claims, stating:

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.).

The Association of Research Libraries has also back the request for exemption, stating that it would help them replace damaged works. [Ed. - You KNOW how evil libraries are.]

But wait, in MPAA-speak banning customers from fully using their content they legally own "increased customers' options".  They write:

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.

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.

Well, they may be half truthful here as it does increase customers options -- their options to pay twice for the same content.  Although, perhaps that useage is a bit disingeneous too, as option typically implies a voluntary choice, not having digital rights management shoved down your throat.

If the RIAA had their way, CD rippers could be sued and fined, and the authors of burning software shipped off to prison.  Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG -- the same company that installed those malicious rootkits on users computers -- stated in the 2007 RIAA lawsuit against working mom Jammie Thomas, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'."

RIAA police
Stop citizen! Drop the backup copy, you are under arrest. [Image Source: Sodahead]

In the RIAA and MPAA's world everything would have rock-solid DRM, and if you tried to break it you would be sent to prison.  In this world, you would only rent the rights to see the content for the short time.  Then you would have to repurchase it again, and again.  And if you sang in public, or invited your friends over to watch/listen?  Well, that would mean more fees of course.

Meanwhile the RIAA and MPAA merrily exploit a series of laws in the U.S. and abroad that allow them to steal hundreds of millions of dollars in independent artists' work, by calling the work "unclaimed" and then (legally) pirating it for profit.

Last time the LoC register didn't buy the RIAA's argument to prohibit user rights.  The LoC also sided against big media in allowing YouTube montages and other "fair use" works, consisting of short clips of copyrighted materials.  It should be interesting how things play out this time around, in the very similar debate regarding DVDs/Blu-Rays.

The LoC is also contemplating a proposal by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to allow jailbreaking of consoles, smartphones, and other devices.  Surprise, surprise Sony is among the prominent members of a big media coalition opposing this idea.  The company has legally harassed PS3 jailbreakers, in some cases even looking to send them to prison.  Their harassment attempts, however, have been met by defiance from the tech community.  

States one prominent PS3 jailbreaker to Sony, "If you want me to stop then you should just kill me because I cannot live without programming, HV and Linux kernel hacking You know who am I and where I live, so come and get me !!!"

Sources: MPAA, Public Knowledge [1], [2], Association of Research Libraries



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Can we just...
By Motoman on 2/16/2012 5:51:09 PM , Rating: 5
...declare the MPAA/RIAA/et al illegal already and get it over with? I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any organizations more wildly anti-consumer than those people.




RE: Can we just...
By MarkHark on 2/16/2012 6:27:15 PM , Rating: 5
That must be why they became collectively known as MAFIAA...


RE: Can we just...
By Wolfpup on 2/18/2012 2:26:43 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, hadn't heard that.

This is just crazy. I mean I assume I'm like most people-I don't want to steal. I'm perfectly willing to pay to own or rent something. But when I own something, I want to use it without checking with big brother, and I want to be able to watch it on any device I choose.

That would be FANTASTIC if they'd finally make it legal again to rip DVDs and Blu Rays and the like. Criminals wouldn't benefit-they're already stealing them. Just us actual consumers WHO WANT TO BUY THE DISC will be affected.

Heck, software companies will benefit too as you'd be able to sell programs that can take a Blu Ray and spit out a format for your iPod or whatever.

Customers would win. Conversion companies would win. The film studios would at worst be in the same situation they are now, selling the same number of copies as before. Or at best it might actually benefit them, as certainly being able to do more with a Blu Ray I buy will make me more inclined to buy more Blu Rays.

What's crazy is they're trying to use the law to force us to re "buy" things we actually did buy...


RE: Can we just...
By JediJeb on 2/16/2012 6:25:20 PM , Rating: 5
Instead of clogging up the law books with more laws making them illegal, why don't people just stop buying any and all music and movies from them for a few years. By that time the record/movie companies will be out of business, which in turn will cause the RIAA/MPAA to be out of business and all the good/savvy artists will have figured out how to self publish and self promote and we will be rid of the crap that the bloated studios have been producing for years now.

Of course we have people so brainwashed now that they think if they go a few minutes without their music/video fix they will curl up and die, so I imagine the above has no chance of happening :( I guess maybe we should go the legal route and have the FDA declare that music and videos are addictive and destructive to health (like they are trying to do with sugar now) and just ban it all, or make the entertainment companies have to pay for cessation classes and stop all advertising (like for tobacco companies). I'm sure we can break then one way or another that makes it look like the right thing to do :)


RE: Can we just...
By ClownPuncher on 2/16/2012 6:57:19 PM , Rating: 2
Music, movies, media - all part of culture. Thinking everyone could ever go a couple years without is insane.


RE: Can we just...
By GotThumbs on 2/16/2012 7:41:37 PM , Rating: 4
Ever heard of a book? How about board games....deck of cards?

This is how families used to entertain themselves...and share quality family time. Now families are in the same room, but don't acknowledge each others presence.

It make be impossible for weak minded people like you...but its not impossible for people with character and a resolve to NOT be bullied.


RE: Can we just...
By StevoLincolnite on 2/16/12, Rating: -1
RE: Can we just...
By tastyratz on 2/17/2012 10:25:25 AM , Rating: 1
Cute, you should be a politician.
A complete ban would not ever work,. Hell I bet a lot of people already are banning them. Those same people are lumped into the lawsuits as "lost revenue" I am sure. It's almost counter intuitive at this point, screwed either way.

Now what about people who have the "character and a resolve" to not insult others and say they are weak minded. Do you not see the painful irony in calling someone both weak minded and crying bully in the same paragraph?

Maybe you want to be Amish, but I don't... and the rose colored glasses you have thinking it is even a possible solution really are distracting to realistic solutions to the cause. We likely have a better shot at dissolving the monopoly alliance than a worldwide band on modern entertainment. The chance is not strong, but it sure as hell is better.


RE: Can we just...
By ClownPuncher on 2/17/2012 1:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
Pardon me? All I said was that expecting everyone to be able to quit cold turkey just because you can is a fucking retarded notion.

Lay off the personal insults while you're at it.


RE: Can we just...
By NellyFromMA on 2/17/2012 2:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny,because after reading your comment, you sound like you could be bullied quite easily... maybe stop trying to bully this guy for having a different opinion than yours?


RE: Can we just...
By Motoman on 2/17/2012 1:13:06 AM , Rating: 3
It'd be pretty easy for me, actually. I used to buy lots of CDs back in the day - the past 10 years or so though I've probably bought about 3-4 CDs. And I don't buy anything digitally either.

I buy movies on occasion on disk - usually when they're in the $5 bin. But again, I could easily go a year or two without buying any.

Radio is free. TV is free. You can get all the music and TV/movies you want (albeit not necessarily on your schedule) without directly buying anything.


RE: Can we just...
By acer905 on 2/17/2012 11:59:43 AM , Rating: 2
Also, anyone know where DVR's play in. Last thing i knew was you can record any broadcast for your own personal use. Essentially, anything broadcast is free for your use whenever you want it. But that could be out of date now...

But, computer with a good video input, recording software, and a mass array of multi-terabyte hard drives can catch you a large amount of TV and Movies


RE: Can we just...
By The Raven on 2/17/2012 12:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
This really wouldn't be that hard to do given that people already have sizable collections of entertainment (especially when you count dogs wearing hats or something on Youtube). Plus you can crack into the public domain for a few years no problem. Hell people might just start writing/producing their own music/movies/both. (Though most of it will probably remain commercial I'd imagine this would give a needed boost to the opensource entertainment community. That would be sweet. Like a global jam session!)

Also, you I and whoever have a good chance of seeming more funny/smart/attractive to the ladies around you because you are no longer competing with Will Ferrell/Watson/Brad Pitt.

You wouldn't be able to listen/watch advertisement sponsored programming because that is a form of payment to them. And you probably shouldn't talk at the watercooler about the movies in your collection for fear that it would encourage someone to buy them. lol

It is funny that we had an opportunity for a complete overhaul like this in the blink of an eye with the auto industry...but them we bailed them out. :-(

(And this is coming from someone in the auto industry BTW)


RE: Can we just...
By The Raven on 2/17/2012 12:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and I know this isn't that hard because I have given up on the MAFIAA for a few years now and don't care much to go back to the old ways.


RE: Can we just...
By ClownPuncher on 2/17/2012 1:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
It would be easy for me, too. But what bearing does that have on expecting an entire world full of people to follow your lead is naive and unrealistic.


RE: Can we just...
By ClownPuncher on 2/17/2012 1:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, that was a butchered post.


RE: Can we just...
By Jalek on 2/17/2012 11:56:42 PM , Rating: 3
Many people did stop buying CD's, I canceled two of those monthly-mailing "clubs" I'd had for years in 2003 while the lawsuits were bypassing due process.

They simply blamed any reduction in sales on piracy and used that to convince Hatch and his ilk in Congress that immediate action was needed to save their profits.


RE: Can we just...
By jabber on 2/18/2012 8:51:14 AM , Rating: 2
OK let's do it then?

Why not set a week aside for folks to not buy CDs/DVDs/Blu-rays and also not visit the cinema?

A total boycott for a week.

Pick a week towards the end of a quarter for extra effect. Or maybe 4th of July week?

Start a Facebook/Twitter campaign


RE: Can we just...
By corduroygt on 2/16/2012 9:16:32 PM , Rating: 3
No need to get the government involved. Anti-consumer companies eventually go bankrupt since they forget the fact that they depend on those consumer dollars, and consumers can only put up with so much.


RE: Can we just...
By Motoman on 2/17/2012 12:55:40 AM , Rating: 2
The problem being, with these guys, is that there's not any practical way for consumers to avoid them. Either you buy music and movies, or you don't. It's not like there's another RIAA-like organization that's distributing CDs to BBY or authorizing the downloads from Amazon.com.


RE: Can we just...
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/17/2012 7:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, but you have brought up a very interesting point. As it stands physical media makes the MAFIAA largely an iron clad setup. But, once BBY goes out of business in the next 5-6 years and places like Amazon/Wal-Mart rule the world it will be quite easy for either Amazon or Wal-Mart to start dictating to the MAFIAA. Don't wanna play ball with us? no problem, we won't stock your products and have fun trying to sell it anywhere else! I'd be good money there will be lawsuits to that effect in the next 20 years.

Perhaps I should write that up and sell it as a book on the future of the American Economy?


RE: Can we just...
By Motoman on 2/19/2012 9:35:11 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah sure. Prolly get a spot on the Daily Show.

Obviously there's a lot of places besides BBY that sell physical CDs.

And lots of people that prefer to have their music on CD. I want to have the original disk that I can file away...naturally I rip the CD to the digital format that I want - but a hard drive can always fail and you lose your stuff. And if I want to re-sell or give away the CD later I can always do that. You really have no ownership rights on digital purchases...


RE: Can we just...
By gorehound on 2/17/2012 8:22:36 AM , Rating: 3
The MPAA/RIAA needs to just die and go away.Leave us alone and we will all be better off.
Join in my Boycott Big Content !
No theater going, no buying of new MAFIAA products, only purchase used MAFIAA products, and purchase only non-MAFIAA INDIE products.


RE: Can we just...
By arazok on 2/17/2012 8:37:33 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
think you'd be hard-pressed to find any organizations more wildly anti-consumer than those people.


I found three. Congress. The Senate. And the office of the President.


RE: Can we just...
By The Raven on 2/17/2012 12:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
^This!


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings














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