MPAA: DVD Ripping Hurts Users, Cuts Their "Options" (to Repurchase Content)
February 16, 2012 5:30 PM
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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.
Recording Industry Association of America
Motion Picture Association of America
's homage to "let them eat cake" began with the
Digital Millenium Copyright Act
(DMCA) [PDF], which modified
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. (
) 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.
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)
. 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
[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.).
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'."
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
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
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 !!!"
Public Knowledge 
Association of Research Libraries
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
How about some evidence...
2/16/2012 6:31:41 PM
...to back up the claims these idiots keep making?
They claim "financial loss" - prove it with real numbers, not speculative figures based on sales that never happened.
They claim that it hurts the artists - prove it - show a direct (or even indirect) correlation between FILE SHARING and a detrimental effect on the artist whose work is being shared. I would wager that an artist who is popular enough to have his/her work shared by many is also enjoying a wealthy lifestyle.
There is no REAL evidence to back up anything they present as a grounds for creating these moronic laws...so why the hell are these laws even being passed in the first place?
Copyright law needs to be REFORMED and fair use needs to be expanded. Less restriction, not more. These people feel entitled to make billions each year by rehashing the same tired content over and over, then complain about declining media sales when the media offers little value to the consumer.
RE: How about some evidence...
2/16/2012 7:13:51 PM
They're so used to manipulating numbers to make them say what they want that I suspect even they don't really know if they're making or losing money.
RE: How about some evidence...
2/17/2012 7:34:17 AM
Exactly, they are the kings of manipulation very often used to rip off artists and writers, there has been a few cases of artists that were entitled to a % of the
from a movie and they just manipulated the numbers to make sure there was little to no profit from it, and since artists can't really check the accounting or would cost them a lot, and if the things get messy they settle it with a paycheck that it's probably much lower than what they would have to pay anyway. It's a win-win situation for them and if they always win there's of course someone that always lose!
"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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