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
2/17/2012 1:52:09 AM
Lol....eventually people will become interested in the names of these individuals, and start stocking up on Dragunovs, M-24,s and M85s and shit.
RE: Enough !!!
2/17/2012 6:24:37 AM
Yeah, Call Of Duty and derp. :/
No one's going to go postal over some movies and music. It has to be a joint effort by artists and consumers to essentially starve them of the money they need to lobby for additional regulation. These guys are lawyers; once they stop getting paid enough, they move on.
Artists will hopefully realise, some day, that record labels are now a defunct business model (so long as things like ACTA and SOPA are held at bay). You have a direct artist to customer relationship via the internet, you can record music in your own home with relatively cost effective tools that will sound just as good a studio produced muck (as long as you're ACTUALLY talented) and all the advertising in the world. The difference is that you will have to rely on the quality of your work and your either your own ability to sell your works or the dedication of your fan-base to promote your talents rather than established media strong-arming.
Movies, on the other hand, are much more difficult. Box offices still pull in HUGE money, and that's not likely to change. Cinemas aren't going anywhere. Home release sales (DVDs, Blu-Rays), on the other hand, are much less lucrative than they once were. I see services like Netflix as being much more pro-consumer; a sensibly priced flat-rate subscription to all-you-can-eat content is an excellent compromise. They just need to start allowing content to flow more easily and become more readily available internationally to prevent counterfeiting/illegal copying.
RE: Enough !!!
2/17/2012 12:05:27 PM
Just see how it can be done.
Louis C.K. was able to make a profit while actually saving his fans about 75% on the cost of acquiring his DVD versus what a large studio would have charged. If more artists would take the initiative it would start to put the scare into the big studios. Though then they would probably try to push some legislation that would make it illegal for people to produce their own works and sell them independently.
What needs to be done is change the copyright laws so that only the artist can hold the copyright to a piece of work, and make it non transferable even upon death. Authors should own the copyright to books, song writers should own the copyrights to songs they write, performers should own the copyright to their performance of a song, after obtaining permission from the song writer to perform it. A movie company could own the rights to their production of a script, but the copyright should belong to the script writers.
Some would argue that this would kill the industry, but I don't believe it would. You would have a streamlining of how things work, and the talent of the artists would be better rewarded with the middlemen being the ones now competing in the cut-throat portion of the business seeing how they can make the best deals. How much would say Sony try to wring out of the consumers if the artist could simply switch to another company who would offer a better deal to their fans? If Sony(or any and all Major Labels) charged $20 for a CD and another company was streamlined enough to produce it for $10, would Sony still be able to charge the excessive prices and stay in business? If the big companies did not "own" the content, but merely distribute it, they would have to be leaner companies to stay afloat, instead of holding all the cards as they do now and being able to control the market.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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