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MPAA Sues Company For Selling Pre-Loaded iPods 393

Posted by Zonk
from the services-aren't-allowed-anymore dept.
ColinPL writes, "The MPAA has launched yet another 'defensive attack,' this time on a small business that is pre-loading movie DVDs onto iPods and reselling them. The original DVDs of the movies that are loaded are also given to the customer. The MPAA is claiming that the service Load 'N Go Video offers is completely illegal because ripping a DVD is against the DMCA. The MPAA is also suing the company for copyright violation."
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MPAA Sues Company For Selling Pre-Loaded iPods

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  • Double Edged Blade (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tainek (912325) on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:53PM (#16891936)
    While i Feel sympathetic for the Company under fire, this is only good news for consumers, when my mother read this she thought it was shocking and is appauled at the DMCA, having not known what it meant before

    Stories in the press like this only hurt the Big bad Companys, by raising awareness
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      Clearly, this news needs to be shown to as many people as possible then.
    • The mistake people make is to draw a conclusion between this court case and individual, personal use.

      This case is neither applicable nor consistent with personal format shifting, so while it might get someone's attention who'd never considered the issue, it's not really relevant to them.

      If someone wakes up and is appalled by the DMCA because of a snippet s/he reads about this case, then they've been fed some crap by someone, be it a friend, a son, or a reporter. These kinds of suits would have happen
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        But the people are buying the movies. The company in this case is just doing the format shifting for them. If I format shift DVDs for a friend, because they don't know how to do it, then I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Even if I'm not really their friend, and charge them a fee to do the format shift. Just like I can take an NTSC VHS tape I bought, and make a copy in PAL so I can watch it in my PAL VCR. I can even pay someone to do the format shifting for me.
        • It's more nuanced than that because you're not buying the DVDs and asking someone to format-shift them for you. You're buying a preloaded iPod which also includes the original DVDs--they're distributing media to you in two forms, which they're not licensed to do by the content owners.

          It's a very fine point, but an important one. If you take your DVDs to a service which will convert them for you, there's certainly a strong case for that being legal and appropriate. However, if the format-shifting occur
  • and we see again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:53PM (#16891938) Homepage
    The MPAA is claiming that the service Load 'N Go Video offers is completely illegal because ripping a DVD is against the DMCA. The MPAA is also suing the company for copyright violation.

    This is essentially the same way they sued mp3.com into the ground, and yet another example of why the DMCA is such a fucking horrible law. There's no damage being done here except to the iron grip the MPAA exerts over movie distribution.

    They have no problem with the idea of selling movies on hard disc, it's just that they don't want competition.
    • Just to clarify, the DMCA had nothing to do with mp3.com, but this case is a good example of why section 1201 et al are really awful.
    • It's certainly true that the MPAA members don't want competition, but this isn't even competition IMO. If you buy a movie on DVD and then rip it, that doesn't compete with DVD sales.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So I guess the DMCA and MPAA are killing all company's that want to sell, as a service, the exercising of individuals fair use rights.

      The MPAA can keep up this activity till they're blue in the face. The DVD is not going away anytime soon, and as long as movies are rentable on DVD, decss is out there in the wild, and I use Linux, they can fuck off.

      Yes, I admit I'm 'guilty' of what I'm implying above and will continue to do so despite their continued shennanigans. And no. I don't feel any remorse.
    • They have no problem with the idea of selling movies on hard disc, it's just that they don't want competition .

      Um, yeah. I mean, no, they don't want competition. Nor should there be competition. That's what a monopoly means, which is inherent in the term 'exclusive,' which is in the Constitution...

      Art. I, Sect. 8, Cl. 8: . . . securing for limited times to authors . . . the exclusive right to their respective writings . . .

      • by User 956 (568564) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:20PM (#16892688) Homepage
        Competition selling a specific work and competition in an industry are two different things. Copyright law doesn't grant monopoly for an entire sector, nor should it.

        Your computer shop down the street is allowed to sell a copy of Windows pre-installed on a machine, if they include the original CD, right? They can also offer a service to install a legit version of Windows. Neither one is considered a crime, (or a copyright violation).
        • Re:and we see again (Score:4, Informative)

          by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:35PM (#16893166)
          Your computer shop down the street is allowed to sell a copy of Windows pre-installed on a machine, if they include the original CD, right?


          Not because of copyright law that is broadly applicable beyond computer programs, but because (1) the license for Windows specifically grants that right, and (2) there is a special provision of copyright law allowing making a copy or adaptation of a computer programs necessary to run the program in the ordinary way.

          Neither of these is applicable to DVDs.
  • by Kelson (129150) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:58PM (#16891972) Homepage Journal
    The MP3.com case (remember that one) seemed to hinge on the fact that even though the service was trying to verify that consumers already owned the CDs, they were doing the actual ripping from a copy that the service had purchased.

    Now we've heard that space-shifting falls under fair use, as long as you don't distribute the copy. This is the principle under which it's legal to rip tracks from your own CDs and load them on your iPod.

    Now, we've got someone who is oofering (1) a legit copy of the music and (2) a service that will take your DVD and transfer it to your iPod. All copies made under fair use are transferred at the same time.

    Now it may be that circumventing copy protection is illegal under DMCA... but does that make it an infringement of copyright?
    • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@pacbe l l .net> on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:00PM (#16891996) Homepage
      A decrypted copy is made isn't it?

      Imagine this scenario instead:

      Company purchases a DVD
      Company decrypts the DVD and burns to another DVD
      Company sells the decrypted DVD with the original DVD

      How is that different or more legal than this:
      Company purchases a DVD
      Company decrypts the DVD and encodes to MP4 onto an iPod
      Company sells the iPod with the original DVD
      • by DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:07PM (#16892060) Homepage
        Exactly.

        Neither senario should be "wrong."
        Good thing for me, I believe in Moral Relativity. If it's wrong, but not really wrong.

        Guns don't kill people.
        People w/ decrypted movies that portray guns kill people.

        Don't let the terrorists watch the Matrix on their IPOD!

        • by 2nd Post! (213333)
          Funny, I imagine both scenarios as wrong.

          The scenario I think is "right" is as follows:

          Company develops an iPod compatible program that plays DVDs
          The company then provides a program to copy DVDs onto iPods without circumventing CSS
          The company then sells iPods preloaded with this software, to copy and play back

          At no case has the company violated the DMCA nor copyright law.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kelson (129150) *

        I hit submit too early. What I'm getting at is that the decryption and the redistribution of copyrighted material look like two different issues.

        Imagine this scenario:

        Company purchases a DVD.
        Company copies the DVD without decrypting it.
        Company sells the copy and original to the same person.

        Or this one:

        Company purchases a DVD.
        Company pulls the data off the DVD and puts it on a hypothetical device that can play encrypted DVD data.
        Company sells the device with the original DVD.

        If the copy and th

    • by Kelson (129150) *
      Argh... hit submit by mistake. What I'm trying to get at is, the MPAA is trying to slap them for two things: circumventing DRM *and* violating copyright. It seems to me that those are two different issues, as the "copyright infringement" involved is the equivalent of asking someone to transfer songs from your CDs to your iPod. Unless the other person keeps a copy of the music, it takes pretty insane troll logic to decide that it's copyright infringement.

      Not that the MPAA isn't known for using insane trol
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773)
        Unless the other person keeps a copy of the music, it takes pretty insane troll logic to decide that it's copyright infringement.

        No, not really.

        It is prima facie infringement, that's certain. But the argument is that it is a fair use, and thus the infringement is defended against. The problem is that while it may be a fair use for the end user, there is a general principle that one party cannot stand in another's shoes for fair use purposes. Just because Alice could win on a fair use argument when she rips
        • by SQLz (564901)
          One example of how this has cropped up in the past is that students might fairly make xeroxes from reference books for their classes, but copy shops that do it for the students get sued and lose. I've been noticing the first indications that this principle might be on the wane, but it'll be a while yet. In the meantime, those who would want to stand in another's shoes are going to need to make a fair use argument that works with regard to them, rather than borrowing someone else's.

          Not a good example. The

          • The example is of how Alice might have a fair use argument, but Bob acting on behalf of Alice might not. Nothing more.

            Basically, they are just saving the consumer time, doing something they could easily do themsevles.

            Given that the students were using library books they didn't own, the copy shop made the same argument: it's just saving the students' time, doing it for them instead of making them do precisely the same thing themselves.

            This argument hasn't really worked yet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lrodrig (609126)
      IANAL yet, but... Copying a DVD requires circumventing the CSS copy protection technology, and circumventing effective technological protection measures like CSS is expressly prohibited by the DMCA. The copyright infringement issue is not so clear. If copying music to an iPod from a legally purchased CD can be considered fair use, it is likely that copying video to an iPod from a legally purchased DVD is fair use too. Again. What makes copying legally purchased DVDs illegal is the circumvention of the
      • by sqlrob (173498)
        If it's that easy to get around, it's not effective, is it?

        And CSS isn't really copy protection. You can copy it bit for bit and play the resultant copy. You don't have to understand encrypted bits to copy them.

      • by terrymr (316118)
        I think effective is the key word here - encrypting the contents of the disc and then storing the encryption key on the disc seems not to be an effective copy protection measure.
    • by mo (2873) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:42PM (#16892408)
      Now it may be that circumventing copy protection is illegal under DMCA... but does that make it an infringement of copyright?


      IANAL, but I did work at mp3.com. AFAIK, any copying of copywrited work in a commercial setting violates copywright. This would include: Kinko's using their copiers to dupe textbooks for their owners. mp3.com ripping CDs for people who already owned them. Also, I'm fairly certain it includes google's practice of scanning textbooks.

      It's quite likely that the company mentioned in TFA is going to either lose or settle, but I'm interested in how this will pan out for google's lawsuit from the Author's Guild.
    • Now we've heard that space-shifting falls under fair use, as long as you don't distribute the copy. This is the principle under which it's legal to rip tracks from your own CDs and load them on your iPod.

      As far as I'm aware, space-shifting has only really been discussed in the Diamond case (RECORDING INDUSTRY v. DIAMOND MULTIMEDIA SYS., 180 F.3d 1072 (9th Cir. 1999)), which was specific to audio. As such, 'space-shifting' was analyzed under the Audio Home Recording Act.

      Copyright law reserves the 17 U

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:02PM (#16892016)
    Much as this sounds like a convenient service, I think the MPAA is completely legally right here: making copies is an exclusive right under copyright, so this is a regular copyright violation; copies for noncommercial format shifting purposes by the end-user might be "fair use"—IIRC, format-shifting hasn't been conclusively litigated—but that's not what is happening here. And DVD copy protection is pretty clearly covered under the DMCA, and bypassing it is a DMCA violation.

    Should the law be changed to allow this? Perhaps, certainly I wouldn't object to deep sixing the DMCA, or to writing some kind of reasonable express format-shifting protection into the law, though its difficult to craft without undermining copyright entirely (unless you require destruction of the original before transfer.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Phil_At_NHS (1008933)
      "though its difficult to craft without undermining copyright entirely (unless you require destruction of the original before transfer.)" BULLPUCKY. "It shall be legal for the LEGAL OWNER of the original distributed copy of a DVD, CD, or other media, including legally purchased or aquired electronic media downloaded from the interent or other distribution meduim, to make AS MANY COPIES, IN AS MANY DIFFERENT FORMATS as the owner wishes, to support their personal use. Ownership of any of these copies is dep
      • by Lordpidey (942444)
        My only possible qualm with that is that idea is if you copy the original, and the original gets busted, you have no way of selling it since selling is dependant on the original. Aside from that, good job.
      • "It shall be legal for the LEGAL OWNER of the original distributed copy of a DVD, CD, or other media, including legally purchased or aquired electronic media downloaded from the interent or other distribution meduim, to make AS MANY COPIES, IN AS MANY DIFFERENT FORMATS as the owner wishes, to support their personal use. Ownership of any of these copies is dependent upon ownership of the original distribution copy: IF the DVD, CD or other original distributed copy is sold of given away, ALL copies made from

    • by jonwil (467024) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:54PM (#16893824)
      This service is no different to a computer shop offering a service where you give them your computer and your copy of windows (or whatever other commercial software) and the computer shop (for a fee) installs and sets up the software for you so you dont have to.
  • This shouldn't be a surprise after what happened to CleanFlicks
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      CleanFlicks was decided under a completely different set of reasoning.

      Essentially, the Director of the film has the innate right to not get his work edited and sold by someone else.

      In the U.S. this "moral right" applies to visual creations, so artists and film directors are allowed to say "No, you can't do that to my film/painting/picture".

      DRM was an issue, but it wasn't the deciding factor in the case.
      • I agree there's definitely some significant differences between the two cases. I didn't read up on everything but a lot of people on slashdot were making the argument that if it was fair use to create and watch your own edited version then it ought to also be fair use to pay someone to do that for you. The courts disagreed (if they even heard such an argument). It's not surprising that the MPAA would also jump after this kind of service as well. They don't want anyone making money off of any service that g
  • Didn't ask (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) *

    They didn't ask, "Mother, may I?" or Simon didn't say, "Preload movie for consumer." Fair Use be damned.

    In future plans, the MPAA will be suing people who have unauthorised memories of watching movies as that constitutes illegal copying to memory. From then on, brain surgeons will wait outside theaters to scoop out people's brains.

    • by joe 155 (937621)
      The MPAA wants to be the de facto law maker in the US over the whole of copyright law (and the RIAA for the music). They have been allowed to do this by the government, and to some extent by the people who keep buying this shit.

      Fight the laws.
    • by yancey (136972)
      Only for people who have "photographic" memories.
  • by rewt66 (738525) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:15PM (#16892146)
    These people are selling your product for you. In other words, you're suing your own salesmen!

    I can't think of a more stupid strategy for any business.

  • delicate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:21PM (#16892216) Journal

      This case may end up depending on: (answer what you want)

      (1) Does the market allow for the selling of an iPod and a separate DVD disc?
      (2) Does the market allow for someone to buy a movie onto their iPod?
      (3) What is the difference between a movie on a DVD and a movie on an iPod? Are a distributor's rights changed?
      (4) Can a business do for users what they can do for themselves? For example, rip a DVD copy onto a viewing device?
      (5) Can a user pay someone, in any way, to copy their DVD onto any other device they own?

      I bet there are some non-intuitive answers that the RIAA would put up there.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:27PM (#16892272)
    Personally, whilst circumventing copy protection may be deemed as illegal in certain countries, the fact of the matter is that *NOBODY* has ever been incriminated for format shifting a CD or a DVD that they have legally purchased. That particular aspect of the law has yet to be tested.

    Yep, I've no doubt that with these new laws, someone pirating music or movies will get done for both copyright infringement and breaking copy protection. Likewise, I'm sure there are laws that cover the way retailers can distribute media - this is no different to a movie rental company renting out retail DVDs that have "Not for rental" stamped on the back cover.

    All this is about is a demonstration by the MPAA to "scare" people into not format shifting the stuff they've bought - after all, the MPAA/RIAA/BPI etc would much rather you rebought all your movies and music everytime a new format is released, or, even better, have you the consumer treat them (the movie and record companies) like a utility company in as much as you rent what you want for a period that lasts as long as you pay rental.

    I rip my DVDs to DivX and my CDs to MP3 for portability purposes and this case is not going to change that behaviour one iota. In just the same way that nobody has ever been incriminated for lending a friend a CD or a DVD, I defy any court in any country to prove that any of the format shifting I do has caused any big fat corporation to lose any money - which ultimately is what all these laws are about.

    This iPod retailer will be subject to certain rules and regulations meaning that they cannot legally offer format shifted media, even if they hand out the original DVD and that is what the MPAA will get them on.

    But they don't stand a hope in hell of making anything like this stick on a private citizen who has done this with media they've legally purchased.

    There really is *NOTHING* to see here...

    • the MPAA/RIAA/BPI etc would much rather you rebought all your movies and music everytime a new format is released...
      Now THIS is stealing :)
    • by joe_n_bloe (244407) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:28PM (#16892752) Homepage
      Sorry, it doesn't matter whether you're "guilty" or "indicted" when you have to cough up thousands of dollars just to get started with a lawyer - and the MPAA and RIAA takes you to civil, not criminal court. No one needs to prosecute you for ripping a DVD when the MPAA can spend its lawyers' idle time writing up civil complaints against parties who have little ability to defend themselves and often have not even have the foggiest idea how the legal system works. A defendant may not even be the correct party, but if he doesn't have means to make an appropriate motion to have the suit amended or dismissed, the result is a default judgement.

      I don't see the EFF or ACLU or other legal organizations hopping aggressively into these lawsuits or doing anything beyond filing amicus briefs. Anyway, it's difficult (as in impossible) to get part or all of a piece of legislation overturned, or a law reinterpreted, when every case is either settled or dropped.

      I can't characterize this behavior as SLAPP, because strictly speaking it isn't (SLAPP refers to legal maneuvering to dissuade public discussion), but it's one of those cases where it would be nice if there were a government organization, or powerful private interest, whose business it was to intercede in favor of individuals in these cases of imbalanced litigation on controversial rights issues.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:31PM (#16892324) Journal
    Orrin Hatch got this piece of crap introduced and passed and has also taken almost $400K From the entertainment lobby. [opensecrets.org]

    America, best government money can buy®
    • by Dachannien (617929) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:58PM (#16892548)
      Actually, Howard Coble and Orrin Hatch co-introduced this measure into their respective houses of Congress after the relevant treaty was signed by the Clinton Administration's representative at WIPO.

      Sponsors of the original bills introduced into each house:

      Senate:
      Sen Kohl, Herb [WI]
      Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT]
      Sen Thompson, Fred [TN]

      House:
      Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14]
      Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4]
      Rep Hyde, Henry J. [IL-6]
      Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-26]
      Rep McCollum, Bill [FL-8]
      Rep Bono, Sonny [CA-44]

      These folks in the House co-sponsored it after it was amended from its original form, though it still included the anti-circumvention provision:
      Rep Paxon, Bill [NY-27]
      Rep Pickering, Charles W. (Chip) [MS-3]
      Rep Bono, Mary [CA-44]

    • by troll -1 (956834)
      Mod parent up. There's a definite correlation here of money for laws. Here's the long term trend [opensecrets.org].
  • by Alan426 (962302) on Friday November 17, 2006 @07:57PM (#16892526)
    So, if I make a backup copy of my customer's disk before working on his computer -- a service provided for a fee -- have I violated copyright law? What if I use Norton Ghost to make the copy, because some files are encrypted? Have I then violated DCMA as well?

    IANAL, but this makes my head hurt!
  • But I thought it was understood as far as copyright goes that the purchaser (licensee) of a work make a copy for their own use on the understanding that if they resell the original then the copy must be transferred with the original or destroyed.

    The DMCA encryption question is another deal, but I'm sure the argument can be made that CSS is not an *effective* copy protection measure.
    • But I thought it was understood as far as copyright goes that the purchaser (licensee) of a work make a copy for their own use on the understanding that if they resell the original then the copy must be transferred with the original or destroyed.

      This is not generally the case, though there are specific rules very much along those lines for computer programs when either necessary for use or a single archival copy, and somewhat different rules allowing copying by libraries and archives.

  • Better Targets? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:09PM (#16892608) Journal
    This reminds me of mp3.com

    As an "honest" consumer -- I thought it was the best win/win situation ever.
    I whip out my credit card and pay $15 for a CD, and I get to download and
    listen to the songs I just bought right away until the CD itself showed up
    in the mail in a week or so. Everyone gets paid the full amount and everyone
    is happy.

    Yet -- they chose to take mp3.com down to the ground because of it.

    In this case they are marketing the ipod to people who are also paying the full
    price for the physical media......

    This is said....I don't shed tear 1 when they "take down" the criminals that stealing movies
    or music where the content makers don't profit....But to take down the people who are selling
    your product at full price seems pretty stupid to me. The people that suffer the most
    are the honest consumers.
  • Seems like you can choose to "break the law" by trying to get legitimate copies... or you can break the law by getting copies that are not so legit.

    If both are "illegal"... why should someone choose the more expensive method?
  • by Charcharodon (611187) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:11PM (#16893036)
    I like to donate movies to the local library, especially over-hyped crap ones. That way, without piracy, I can "steal" with a nice clear concious from the movie industry along with everyone else in town. Just imagine if everyone went out just once this year and bought one movie and gave it to the library, what that would do to sales and rentals. A simple and effective way to stick it to them and twist. Maybe they'll start paying attention to what we the customers want...

    ...yeh right we all know they'll try to either sue the libraries or get laws passed to make it illegal for libraries to distribute copyrighted material without their permission.

  • by imuffin (196159) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:25PM (#16893720)
    I live in Texas, just a few hours from the Mexican border. I've often wondered what legal recourse the MPAA would have if I opened up a mail-order DVD ripping shop, but circumvented the encryption in Mexico. I figure I could do all the administrative work here, including loading the customer's encrypted DVD to a hard drive. Then drive down to a Mexican border town once a week and, while I sit in a bar sipping Tequila, or passed out in a cheap motel, my laptop furiously (and legally (?)) decrypts DVDs.

    When I return home, hungover, the next day, I send out my customers' backups along with their original DVDs.

    Have I broken any American laws?
  • Under the DMCA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by j0nb0y (107699) <{jonboy300} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:36PM (#16893752) Homepage
    Under the DMCA, ripping a DVD is illegal.
    Making a backup copy of a DVD is illegal.
    Format shifting a DVD is illegal.
    Possessing a tool which can do any of the above is illegal.
    Distributing a tool which can do any of the above is illegal.

    If the DMCA had been around in 1980, the VCR would have been shut down by the MPAA long before it ever hit store shelves.

    The DMCA is a bad piece of legislation. Congress passed it because the movie industry asked them too.

    Congress needs to start thinking for themselves and not passing every single BS piece of legislation that special interest groups ask them to pass.

    We just got rid of a whole lot of congressmen, and brought in quite a few new ones, but unfortunately, I see no indications that the new lot will be any better than the old.

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