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The Courts Government News

New DVD Lawsuits Filed by the MPAA (UPDATED) 602

This afternoon, Robin Gross from the EFF called me with some disturbing new information for anyone interested in DVD litigation. The MPAA has filed two lawsuits against three defendants in two separate states for the "illegal hacking of the DVD encryption system 'CSS'." The plaintiffs in the case are Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros.. UPDATE: The complaints are available online. See below.

In the words of MPAA CEO and President Jack Valenti in a press release from the MPAA:

"The MPAA is striking a blow today in defense of the future of American movies. We have filed suit in federal court to stop internet hackers from distributing the software designed to circumvent the encryption technology that prevents the unlawful copying of DVDs."

"This is a case of theft. The posting of the de-encryption formula is no different than making and then distributing unauthorized keys to a department store. The keys have no real purpose except to circumvent the locks that stand between the thief and the goods he or she targets."

Later in the press release, he goes on to state:

"The U.S. movie industry intends to defeat anyone who steals our intellectual property. We are determined to defend the technology that protects artists and intellectual property holder rights... If you can't protect that which you own, then you don't own anything."

Robin offered her comments on this new litigation:

"Clearly, this is how they're trying to portray this. Piracy is their story, and they're sticking to it. Of course, this is a sneaky underhanded attempt to undermine the litigation that they've already filed in California, most likely because they lost at the temporary restraining order hearing. They realize the weaknesses in their trade secrets claim, an so they've decided to file under federal copyright, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This is also an inappropriate harassing lawsuit, because although the DMCA does provide for a general ban on circumventing technological protection, there are explicit exceptions to that general prohibition for the purposes of facilitating interoperability and computer security, among other exceptions. They've realized that their trade secret claim is not going to prevail, so this in Plan B. Quite frankly, this is what we were anticipating the first time around. We were not anticipating a trade secret claim, because it was so weak."

For those following the news about the DVD CCA lawsuit, this new litigation shows us that this matter will take a very, very long time to work itself out, currently with no end in sight. It appears that in this case, the MPAA intends to blur the line between hacking for interoperability and the intent to distribute until it's no longer recognizable.

This is all rather puzzling. From a Showbiz Today segment aired on CNN on January 11th, Jim Cardwell from Warner Home Video said:

"We expected the source code to be broken. We were surprised it wasn't broken earlier. We believe there is no economic incentive to hack this product. The cost of the blank is more expensive than the cost of the finished product, and the amount of time it takes to download is several hours. There's no real economic incentive for anyone to hack this product."

When the topic of DVD writers came up, went on to say:

"Certainly, all the copyright holders, all of the studios, all the rights holders, are not going to sit still to see that -- to allow this to become rampant. We are going to continue to protect our products."

The issues of interoperability and the right to distribute free software are key issues in the Open Source community, and they always will be. How far will the MPAA and the DVD CCA go? One thing is for sure; no matter how long or hard they're willing to fight, the Open Source community will be there to meet them every step of the way.

Update: 01/15 21:31 by michael : John Gilmore adds that the complaints are available online at http://www.mpaa.org/dvd/content.htm. The links are slightly wrong, though, so you'll need to encode the spaces in the URLs:

...and even after you've done that, you'll still need to View Source on the New York page, since they didn't close a TABLE tag. Anyone named in these suits as a DEFENDANT should contact the EFF (Robin Gross, above) as soon as possible.

And while I'm at it, adric submitted that Copyleft now has t-shirts with the CSS-descrambling code on them. Part of the shirt's price gets donated to the EFF! Buy one now, it's the most painless donation you'll ever make.

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New DVD Lawsuits Filed by the MPAA

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    here [cnet.com]
  • I just joined (right now) with a $20 donation. I'm sorta poor so I couldn't afford much more than that. They have an online, secure signup form and they take credit cards.

    The EFF *is* our defense in cases like these. Support their efforts!

    - A.P.
    --


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Whenever a long dominant beast is finally bested by a larger beast, it will fight and fuss until it is silenced. The corporate beast which is (MPAA/RIAA/ABC/NBC/CBS/MTV/takeyourpick) is steeped in deep, deep denial of the future, of bandwidth and access to the media they have dominated so well for the last 30 years. Of course they will file frivolous, arrogant, amazingly void lawsuits against small, weak people (in the financial sense). The best way to make this quick and (relatively) painless is to expeditite the death of the behemoth. There are 2 ways to do this, and they must be done in tandem to be effective: 1) Openly defy their illegal assertions as much and in the most high-profile way possible. 2) Get the word out to anyone who will listen. The Swindle [theswindle.com]
  • I don't know about you, but I don't have a 139 gigabyte hard drive laying around...

    About $800 worth of IDE drives. OR you could do it in 5 minute intervals (or any compromise between the two). The interval method could be automated as well so that for all intents and purposes you stick in a disk, click the 'crack' button and come back hours later. I used a similar method many years ago to index (quicksort) data files from a 1gig WORM drive back when 120Meg HDs were about the best you could get. To speed up the process, I used multiple indexing machines (all in DOS with Lantastic and some batch files no less). Although the data and the operation performed was different, the problem is the same. I'm not trying to claim that DeCSS doesn't make life simpler for unauthorized copying, just that there are other ways to remove CSS that DO exist, and have for some time. Apparently they are in use since VCD and other formats existed as bootlegs (from DVDs) before DeCSS came out.

  • DeCSS was not written for the sake of interoperability. From looking at the README, it looks like it was cracked for the Hell of it, then passed to a contact in the Linux scene.

    The cracking for the hell of it happened in Norway. No matter how hard the US courts try, they have no jurisdiction there. The distributors promote it as a tool to play DVDs in Linux (interoperability). As for the Windows dlls, iot's still interoperabiolity. It allows software that plays mpeg and other files from VCD or hard drive to interoperate with the DVD storage format.

    That leaves only USE. Use will have to be handled on an individual basis. If someone uses DeCSS for unauthorized copying, MPAA is within their rights to sue that user for that particular use.

  • Well, that will work great for the video, but you'll loose frames if the VSinc isn't right (60fps movie on a 75hz monitor=bad), and you'll also have to manualy sync the audio.

    Actually, movie = 24fps and NTSC is 30fps (60 FIELDS per second 1 odd field + 1 even field makes a frame) every fourth frame of a movie is shown twice in the video to make up the difference (you can verify this by frame advancing a video tape and watching for duplicates). Since the 75hz of the monitor is more than twice the rate of the movie the problem is removing half updated and duplicate frames rather than missing frames. That is quite possable to do after the fact, it need not be real time.

  • You can't save mpeg in real time, just like you can't record directly to MP3.

    Actually, both of those are possable with a hardware encoder board. Such boards ARE available (the MPEG is available as a PCI card, an MP3 encoder PCI is not yet available AFAIK but the chips are). Cost is under $1000.

  • This is true, but how many people have the technological know-how ot do that?

    All it takes is ONE person. In many countries, the software would be perfectly legal under fair use. With the net, it will soon enough be used elsewhere. As I understand it, there are already SEVERAL such programs in existance that pre-date DeCSS by a year or two. There are also people who are either using those programs or their own version of DeCSS for purposes of piracy. It's hard to tell how many are using them for fair use.

  • I don't think many 'leet haxors are going to spend "Under $1000" to share movies with there frends.

    Or they could just do the compression non-realtime, not worry about it, and save the $$$. It can be done without DeCSS, and it can be done reletivly easily.

  • Do you have to arrange a license agreement with the MPAA? What happens to these kids who just happen to code 10 times more than the suits? Is there something special about a business suit that says these guys can offer a DVD player and the kid who does the equivalent work using 1/1000000 the venture capitol can't offer anything?
  • The cose of the media is one issue. The cost of the equipment to do a bit by bit is much bigger. Apparently those things are extremely expensive.
  • Here's a permanent link for theDigital Millennium Copyright Act [loc.gov].
    --
  • I'm afraid that DeCSS's primary (only?) purpose is to provide access (defined as to decrypt or descramble in the law) copyrighted materials. It does not matter in the eyes of this law if the end user has purchased the material.
    --
  • Publish the source in the LA Times... What a LOVELY idea.
  • You probably can't sue them back. I did some browsing around when the code was first released and when it was yanked. Proprietary code was leaked so DeCSS wasn't really a feat of reverse engineering. In an attempt to make things legit somebody went through the effort of rewriting the code. Unfortunately any such attempt by anybody who has had access to the code results in... tainted code.

    In order to legally reverse engineer something a clean room approach has to be taken, otherwise you're plaguerising and not reverse engineering.

    This is pretty well documented in courts by the early days of cloning the IBM PC BIOS. IBM really wanted to nail Phoenix technologies (I think it was Phoenix, its been quite a while and I was pretty young) but Phoenix was pretty smart. They had two groups of engineers, one group who would characterize what results they saw from a BIOS and would explain it for the second group of engineers. The second group of engineers had the task of coding.

    If the code was truly reverse engineered the lawsuit would probably still happen but it would have a lot less teeth. They could point at any patented technology but not trade secrets.

  • But if commercially available writers don't allow you to write to the special sectors then it's impossible to create "pirate" copies of DVDs even if one *does* possess the decryption key, so the DVD piracy claims are 200% bogus either way.

    Talk about a weak case. The judges are going to have to be deaf, (very) dumb and blind to let this action succeed.
  • A question for the lawyer types ...

    Are there grounds for a countersuit anywhere here?

    I guess you can't sue someone for being technically clueless, irritating and regressive, but how about at least seeking punitive damages for them willfully wasting the time of the court and of hundreds of defendents while in full possession of the knowledge that the DeCSS crack *cannot* lead to the production of "pirate" copies of DVDs?
  • I don't think that what you say is the case, because small-scale cracked copying (as opposed to commercial-scale replication or cloning) of DVDs is an *exact* counterpart to personal copying of music on cassette tapes as practiced extremely widely over the last two decades. The studios took great exception to that as well, yet in practice it didn't decimate the music industry at all. In fact, it probably stimulated it. [Eg. it's very common for folks to later buy CDs of the artists that they had recorded on cassette in earlier days when they were much poorer, especially at school or university. Nostalgia is a very powerful force.]

    But then, it's pointless to point out the flaws in anti-copying arguments and the counter-lessons of history to a bunch of deaf, short-termist money grabbers with closed minds.
  • A cracked DVD written onto media without encryption is not a duplicate of that DVD, and being different to the original it isn't going to lead to the huge market losses that they are alleging will happen. It's not mainstream. It won't be sold in the high-street as a forgery of the original product.

    If you don't distinguish between this kind of enterprising but limited-market stuff and mass-volume copying then it's no surprise that you can be led by the nose by those who base their attempts at consumer control on the fiction of rampant piracy.
  • Actually, you can copy the contents of the DVD to the hard drive without decryption,
    But not without authentication. If you don't authenticate to the drive, it won't give you all of the encrypted bits. It will return errors for some sectors. After you authenticate, it will return any or all of the encrypted data.

    This is relevant because it means that without using reverse-engineered code (such as that in DeCSS), it is NOT possible to make a copy of an encrypted DVD using readily available consumer or commercial equipment. The people who assert that it is trivial to make bit-for-bit-identical copies of encrypted DVDs without decrypting them have obviously never tried to do so.

    AFAIK there's nothing that would prevent a skilled engineer from extracting the modulated data directly from the read channel of a DVD player or DVD-ROM drive, and feeding that stream "directly" to the write electronics of a DVD-R drive. This would require the construction of a moderate amount of custom electronics, and possibly some alteration to the firmware of the DVD-R drive.

  • 2600 [2600.com] have been hit by a preliminary injunction [2600.com] about the DeCSS, basically banning them from thinking about it.
  • Exactly. History repeats itself, folks. I remember waiting 8 hours with bated to download fscking Wolfenstein - the 3D graphics were supposed to be jaw-dropping (At the time, I guess they were.) Things will get cheaper, and better, and faster, and soon we'll all be shooting DVDs across the net. As is typical, this will first happen at colleges, the same place that MP3s first became big, simply because they have no money and the fattest pipes around. I wouldn't count on any compression advances for DVD (they're already compressed; compressing a compressed file is meaningless), but there comes a time in the foreseeable future when transferring an 11gb DVD image and burning it ain't that farfetched. I'd give it three years. And oh, whaddya know, I'm going to college next year :)

    --
  • Ok, we all know that this is definitely a Bad Thing. Now, what do we do about it? If all of the intelligent slashdotters got together and helped these guys argue their case in court, I'm sure that the MPAA wouldn't win the lawsuit.Ok, we all know that this is definitely a Bad Thing. Now, what do we do about it? If all of the intelligent slashdotters got together and helped these guys argue their case in court, I'm sure that the MPAA wouldn't win the lawsuit.

    I believe the EFF is helping the defendants and that a defense fund will be (is?) set up. Things should not be that hard from the legal side.

    On the front of public opinion, however, there is a lot to be done. If everyone who reads this article would phone or mail their local newspaper and tell them what's up (or just point them to the right sources), then we'll be able to make an impact.

    Just point your local journalists to this site and explain them (politely and patiently) that the movie industry is (illegally) trying to take away consumer's rights. Your rights, their rights!

    And remember, nobody will be interested in the story until you can show them that it is relevant to them too. In this case it is, so please use that facet of the story to get publicity...

  • This is a very bad plan. It will only encourage more lawsuits and sillyness. If we can convince a judge that PIRACY IS NOT A PROBLEM, we can go on with our lives. If piracy is a problem, espcially due to DeCSS or other "hacker programs," we will lose. Not only will we lose in the DVD case, big buisness with then have a case to cite in other areas. Remember, American law is precedent based. If we lose here, we lose everywhere.

    No, the best course of action is not to thumb our nose at authority and say "Dare Ya to Crack down on us HARD", but rather to show our good and peaceful intentions through legal means.

    However you look at, piracy is wrong. You can rationalize all you want about how the man is screwing you over, but when it comes down to it, you are commiting a crime if you pirate movies. Even RMS, one of the staunchest anti-IP advocates does not advocate piracy. Circumvention through legal means, yes (winning these lawsuits). Piracy, no.

    If on the other hand, we lose these lawsuits, there are still measures that can be taken. In a number of countries it is still legal to reverse engineer for the sake of compatibility. Wait till a Linux player comes from one of them.

    No matter what happens, we will win in the long run, it is impossible to prevent the free flow of information forever, as any spook will tell you. But how we conduct ourselves in the short run is key to how the long run will look. I urge anyone considering piracy as a "solution" to this problem to count to ten and reconsider.

    --Nick
  • Could someone in Asia pick up one of these counterfeit discs and send it to the EFF legal team? I'm sure it would be appreciated in court as evidence supporting our position.

    Schwab

  • While the goal behind css-auth was to unlock the damn things so that they could be played under Linux, the fact remains that once unlocked, they can be copied. It's not economically feasible to make a true DVD-quality copy at this point, because of storage expense. However, downsampling them to mpeg-1 for VCD's is now possible.

    On the other hand, this isn't that much different from people making crappy copies of VHS tapes by doing a tape to tape copy...

    But I agree with you that if we pretend that NO form of piracy exists as a result of this code, we will get burned.
    ----
  • Ok, we all know that this is definitely a Bad Thing. Now, what do we do about it? If all of the intelligent slashdotters got together and helped these guys argue their case in court, I'm sure that the MPAA wouldn't win the lawsuit.

    Is it possible for the best comments and suggestions to be picked out and forwarded to the lawyers? Are the defendands going to have a lawyer? Can they possibly do anything to fight the MPAA without a virtually unlimited supply of cash?

    There must be a way Slashdot can help... besides spreading the truth around - this is already obvious...

    (I can't provide any answers, so I threw up some questions instead...)

    --

  • Yes, but each time they pull this trick, the masses believe their propaganda more and more. If you repeat a lie over and over again, you will eventually take it for the truth.

    The problem is that they have the resources to pull publicity stunts like this all the time, and most people only hear one side of the story.

    --

  • one of the poison ivy series (I really don't know which one.. I saw it at the video store) had the R rated version, as well as the unrated version.

    Not quite on the lines of what you're talking about, but kinda close! :)

  • No, the Poison Ivy I saw had both versions on the same disc.

  • In HK, some people at the dorm I was staying at had some DVD's (no, they weren't video CD's, they were DVD), which they were watching on a regular player, which were obviously pirated.

    By whatever method, some clever Chinese pirates have figured out how to create pirate DVD's that can be played on regular DVD players without the approval of the DVD consortium. This was the case even *before* DeCSS.

    I only wish I knew exactly how they had done it (whether they had modified a DVD writer to do bit-for-bit copies, or some other method).

  • It's not the same thing all over again; at least not legally. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act puts this into a whole different category.

    Copyright law in the US is almost totally defined by a few Supreme Court decisions; but occasionally the Congress does act. They have created the abortion called the DCMA (my humble characterization). It prohibits the circumvention of copyright protection devices if they have been put in place by the lawful copyright owner in order to control access to a copyrighted work. It also prohibts the manufacture or making available of technologies, products, and services that are intended to be used primarily as a means of defeating access controls and anti-copying devices. While the first prohibition (on actually doing the circumvention) doesn't go into effect until later this year; the prohibition on manufacture went into effect on October 28, 1998.

    So, unlike almost every other interesting copyright lawsuit, this one actually has a law that can be pointed to; that actually specifies pretty closely what is the case here. The decss program is almost certainly a device to break encryption.

    On the other hand, it would be hard for the MPAA to hold that the production of a Linux DVD player would be a device to break copyright. It would be interesting to see what the response would be to simple players. It's interesting enough that I might try and see myself.

    thad

  • It seems that these guys have found some good "bad sheeps" to go after. It seems that they are afraid of making a direct face-to-face with the whole community. However their claims don't go over the Defendents "sins" (proclaiming piracy, links to pirated films and such). They are trying to use these "bad sheeps" to get a chance to come over us all. So, no matter who these Defendents are or did I think that we should defend them because they are just paws in a bigger game. However we should be careful to divide "the black sheeps" from the "real matter".

    Some people talk about "export zones" on distribution of DVDs. Some years ago there was a similar feature with software. Even some Microsoft licenses strictly showed where you could or could go, sell or use software you bought in one country/region/continent. There were even some stories about customs agencies getting ready to control "import/export" of software. As far as I know these things went mostly into oblivion with Internet and WTO. Now DVD is a piece of data software. Ho matter the content. So how such export/import regions may still exist for films/music on such media?

  • I have noted this on a previous slashdot article and once again I can confirm this. In Eurasian region there is already a market of pirated DVDs and it its taking momentum. Most DVDs come from China. And *NOTE CAREFULLY* these DVDs started to appear a few monthes before this DeCSS hype. And by looking at them there are a few methods to break or pirate DVDs
  • http://dvdpiracy.com


    With sites of such kind one THINKS A LOT about the real purpose the big corps are following...
  • It seems that the large corporations are doing everything in their power to piss me off.

    What amazes me about this whole thing is how amazingly the 'geek' community is dealing with this issue, finally having the critical mass to stand up against corporate abuses. I predict many more suits like this in the area of patents and copyrights in the near future.

    Hopefully this will remind us that the power of the corporations are eroding our individual rights, and that this appears to be on the rise in the near future. I'm sounding like Chomsky here...

    Note to self: don't by anything DVD related. Encourage all of my friends to stay away from the technology. VCD2.0 is looking better all the time.



  • This will be much more important when we start to get one to one encryption. It is within fair use to purchase a CD and lend it to a friend, but what if an EvilCD (TM) will only play on your EvilCD player. This law makes it illegal to tell somebody how to modify the EvilCD (or the friend's EvilCD player) to play the EvilCD on a friend's player, even though it is legal to modify the EvilCD or the player under fair use.

    This has already happened with DVD technology. It was called DIVX. It was cooked up by Circuit City and some a group of lawyers. They reportedly had lost over $200M before pulling the plug last year.

    After 'purchasing' a DIVX disk, you had one 24 hour period (many have been 48 hours, but jist of this is correct) of unlimited viewing. After that, if you wanted to watch it again, you had to pay an additional one time fee. The initial purchase price was ~$5 and the one time fee to unlock it forever was ~$15 - $20.

    The 'EvilCD' feature was that the disk would only play in the machine it was registered to. The machine was connected via phone line to the DIVX center which checked to see if it could be played on that machine. So if I bought a DIVX disk, I could play it on my living room DIVX player, but not my bedroom player, unless I paid for it again.

    Now while DIVX is dead, the same technology has been incorporated in the only high definition DVD player I am aware of, which was shown as a demo unit at last years CES show. So the EvilCD threat is still out there.

    Steve M
  • Industrial hardware for copying entire dvds is 'commercially available' for large pirates, and the claim is made (though I have not verified it) that hardware-hacking a dvd player to write all sectors is relatively trivial.

    So, while maybe not 'anyone' can copy DVDs, people who want to make money at piracy can get from here to there.


    --Parity
  • Yes, you're right, but public defenders are overworked, underpaid, and hence often not very skilled. -Some- of them are very good, since it's more a matter of idealism that makes people become public defenders than anything else, but none of them have enough time per case. The state is in the business of providing enough legal counsel that you understand why you're about to lose your case, basically, to be utterly cynical about it. A public defender just doesn't have the time, money, or assistance to run a case the way that a private attorney does.

    Also, I don't think the state pays for associated costs under any circumstances - costs involved for filing an appeal, requesting/subpoenaing documents from the plaintiffs, - even simple -photocopying- costs can get up there if you have to copy hundreds of pages.

    IANAL, but that's the situation as I understand it.
    --Parity
  • Yes, that's exactly what we need to do. Mass public education. Well, why not write an open letter to them to tell them exactly what our view is and why their standpoint is faulty?

    Write something soo straight forward and easy to undestand that they'll be branded as the evil ba^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hliars^H^H^H^H^Hfools that they are if they don't directly address it.

    Make it short. Make it quotable. Make it linkable. Mirrior it everywhere possible. Get a few big names in the open source community to stand by it's truth and authenticity. With a bit of help from the right people (you know who you are), it's sure to circulate around to big name tech news companies, and then on from there.

    Open source got us this far. Open source can take us farther.
  • The thingie of it is, they couldn't institute a better encryption scheme on DVDs.

    Why? Why good ol' Uncle Sam's "strong encryptions are munitions, heh heh heh" laws, of course!

    In order for DVD technology to remain exportable to foreign shores, the level of encryption embodied within it had to be very weak. Undoubtedly they would gladly have put something it would have taken the NSA to crack on it if they could, but they legally couldn't and still be able to sell it overseas. They were, thus, relying on security through obscurity, and, as it ever will, it came around to bite them on the arse.
  • is it even -feasible- to pirate DVD's? ... aren't DVD's in the many-gigabyte range?

    Actually, I should point out that many-gigabyte storage methods that are capable of holding a DVD's worth of content are available -- and for a price in the same ballpark as the price of a new DVD!

    Before anyone starts yelling, "Bullshit, Sloppy!" I'll point out that the media I'm referring to does not support random access. But how important is that when watching a movie anyway?

    120m DDS-2 holds 4 Gig for about $9. 125m DDS-3 holds 12 Gig for about $20. 150m DDS-4 holds 20 Gig for about $40.

    It's not really feasible to pirate this stuff over networks (today), but copying your DVD content to cheap rewritable media, so that you can put your DVDs away some place safe where they won't get scratched, certainly seems within the realm of possibility.

    Or is it an easy argument for our side to make that given the lack of feasibility of pirating DVD's efficiently, the main motivation for DeCSS is for other purposes

    I would be careful about trying that argument, given the rate at which peoples' bandwidth is increasing. In 5 or 10 years, pirating DVDs may become practical.


    ---
  • You are right there are no such thing as a writer that may write the "hidden" sectors of a DVD. Actually, there are quite few DVD writers at all. DVD RAM, yes, but not real DVD. And those that are able to burn DVDs can burn the hidden sector, altough not by normal IO. But to modify the writer is not harder than modifying your PS to play games from all areas or from home-burned CDs. In fact, decrypting will not help you copy the DVD at all, since you will have to encrypt it with some valid key, too, to make it playable by "normal" players. Just modifying the writer hardware to accept all sectors is much easier.
  • No, the defense made the entirely trythful statement the one does not need DeCSS to pirate DVDs. The real point is that DeCSS does not really lower the bar to DVD pirates. Bandwidth and storage constraints remain.

    The California case is already dead. It was based on a trade secrets argument and the court laughed when they asked it to stop the dissemination of the trade secrets. The MPAA understands this which is why the new cases were filed in Federal courts.
  • In order to legally reverse engineer something a clean room approach has to be taken, otherwise you're plaguerising and not reverse engineering.

    Actually, that's not the case. The big problem with the IBM BIOS was that IBM released commented assembler code listings to the BIOS. The clean room was necessary to have a defense against having copied IBMs source code. It provided a defense against copyright infringement.
  • [...] but if I were the MPAA, I'd certainly try tactics like this to protect my business.

    Yes, and if I were Bill Gates....

    The only difference I can see here is that there is an oligopoly instead of a monopoly, tied together by common interests, trying not to loose their position they owned for a long time.
    _And_ their actions seem not to fall under a law which forbids that.
    Ok, so it seems legal what they do.
    In my opinion this is a hole in the law, caused by the fact the in former times there were "natural" barriers stopping other, smaller companies stepping in markets like movie and music production and distribution.
    What we have now is that these barriers have fallen, i.e. production techniques have become cheaper and infrastructure matters less.
    The big players are panicing and seeking nervously ways to gain their oligopoly and my feeling is some cluefull (hmmm) politians should see this and recognize how some interest groups try to prevent the usefull impact of new technologies in their markets, because it would make their biggest sources of income and power redundant and superfluous.
    In order to do this they use their financial power and their combined market influence.
    In my eyes there is a big analogy to case like MS's, what's the difference in forcing schemes like CSS into the customers throat and to do the same with proprietary "hooks" in an OS or fileformats in an office suite, which both lock out potential competitors if you have 90% of the market.







  • Well, the key wasn't in the software, it's on the DVD disk.

    The DVD player will give it to you (not through a regular read() though) once your software has "authenticated" itself to the DVD drive. The point of this is to only allow you to view the content using "their" proprietary software which will respect their various big brotherisms.

    The process of your system "authenticating" itself to the drive is what had to be reverse-engineered. It's some hash function thing; the DVD drive gives you some random data, and you perform some "secret" hash on it which, if you get it right, proves you're "in the know".

    I can't believe how weird this whole DVD copy-protection scheme is. It rests entirely on proprietary software not being reverse-engineered and proprietary hardware not being tampered with.
  • Here's what to do if you are a Linux user or distributor:

    Get together with a large group of other Linux users, distributors and so forth, and file a countersuit against the MPAA for restraint of trade. A good lawyer could argue that by refusing to make DVD decoder software available for the Linux operating system, the motion picture cartel are harming the Linux market. I'm not a lawyer, nor am I familiar with American laws, so for all I know this wouldn't work, but something tells me that this sort of action is more likely to succeed than the "trade secret" attempt that we have recently seen.

    The MPAA is also working on the big assumption that stopping it in America will stop it everywhere. It won't. All it would do is drive DVD decoder technology to countries with less restriction on reverse-engineering. A decoder for Linux will be available, regardless of the outcome of the panic-mode lawsuits now being filed by the motion picture industry.
  • How about defamation, libel, restraint of trade, malicious prosecution ... ? I'm sure a good lawyer can think up lots more :)

  • >> Let us design a little ribbon of our own - an annimated gif type thingy. Let us get it posted all over the web. Let us have it linked to an URL which shows the truth, and has space for a faq, a q&a as well as a petition of people supporting this cause.

    If someone wants to write up a FAQ for a preferred link, I've actaully embedded the DeCSS source into two .gif files... everyone who visits a site with either of these graphics copies the DeCSS source to their cache. People can easily download the source by right clicking and hitting "save as...". Visit http://www.cheshirehall.org/DeCSS/ [cheshirehall.org] for them. I just threw up the webpages at that domain... I actually got the domain just for this and mp3php.

    --
    Evan

  • 1) good point on the CD thing..... though it doesn't mean they are 'admitting' anything. They just 'permit' it (or rather, choose not to fight it.. permission isn't up to them)

    2) No. CSS doesn't inhibit your rights. There is nothing saying they have to make it POSSIBLE for you to make an archival copy, they simply cannot prosecute you for doing so.
  • Furthermore, commercially available DVD writers will not allow you to write to that sector.

    So you modify the recorder.

    The cost of media and recorders makes home copying unattractive to the man in the street. A completely different picture emerges if you are going to sell 100,000 pirate copies. Such pirates will have the resources to buy or modify recorders to make bit-clone copies.

  • These cases are much more sensible than the previous one. The specific targets of these cases (as opposed to the DeCSS 'community' as a whole) seem to have specifically promoted DeCSS as a means/aid to copying DVDs.

    If this is so then they are no friends of the legitimate users of DeCSS. What is at risk here is that all DeCSS users/distributors are tarred with the same brush, and what needs to be decided is how can we avoid this?

    Do we turn up mob handed at court supporting people who perhaps do not deserve our support? It certainly seems difficult to defend them by saying that DeCSS has a legitimate use if they were openly promoting an illegitimate one.

    Do we distance ourselves from them, stating loudly that while there may be illegitimate uses of DeCSS, for many people there are very legitimate and completely legal uses?

    Whatever happens, it must be made very clear that the people targetted by this case are not 'typical' DeCSS users/distributers and that a loss for the defendants in these cases does not set a precedant for all DeCSS users/distributors.
  • No commercially available DVD players will allow you to read or write the section that holds the keys. So, your copy will not have the keys, and other normal DVD players can't play the encrypted contents.

    If no commercially available DVD hardware will read or write the keys, then what good does DeCSS do? If I cannot write to that area, then I cannot make a copy of that DVD no matter what I do, right? Because DVD players will not play a DVD without the proper keys, correct? The DVD CCA made sure that I cannot have an "unencrypted" movie, right?

    Also: I have heard of DVD copying machines. They don't attempt to play the movie. They simply read in the DVD data bit-for-bit, and write an exact copy of it to the new media. We're talking about a relatively straight-forward extension of CD-R technology. So I don't think you need the keys to copy a DVD after all. Just because such machines aren't available through "normal channels" doesn't mean they don't exist.

    Disclaimer: No, I haven't attempted to locate a supplier of DVD copying machines just to verify they exist. I am simply reporting reasonable information which I have heard. Yes, that makes it hearsay, but this is Slashdot, not a court. :)
  • Actually, piracy isn't an issue at all, as has been said many times.

    You don't *need the key* to do a bit-for-bit copy of the DVD media. The only thing you need the key for is to play it, not to copy it.
  • An on topic comment for a change.

    Perhaps the these corporations really do feel that piracy IS the issue here. They see this DeCSS thing on a website and instantly can only think of one way to use it. Perhaps some education in the courts is in order. If it could be proved that A) the code was written to support playing on unsupported platforms and B) You can copy dvd's just fine without it then you've effectively poked
    some pretty large holes in their arguments.

    On the other hand large industry organizations have some pretty good spin-miesters and will start to get legal-technical on our asses. Something needs to be done. I know *I* have
    a copy of the css-auth source on my system. I also know that it's not there for pirating movies. I'm quite happy to rent dvd's and watch them. It's there for me to read and learn how it was done. So 20 years down the road when i'm done my time in the trenches as a coder and have moved on to become a pointy haired boss I know what *NOT* to do.
  • This isn't a one-time cost. Each tape large enough costs $20. a DVD costs $15. sure, you can burn the movie for 20 friends, but you would save $100 if you bought the movie for 20 friends instead.

    "Suble Mind control? why do html buttons say submit?",
  • OK, so your company produces software. You've chosen to make drivers for non-Linux systems so you're not in my market. Some hardware and content companies will get income from me if I start buying DVD products, even if I'm using a free driver. It's the content companies which are playing games with DVD instead of selling the content. If they really wanted to protect against theft they wouldn't be selling movies on VHS.
  • I've wanted to buy DVDs for a year, and I have nine screens in home and car which I'd like to view DVDs on. But most of those are on Linux machines, and I'm not going to get discs in a format which I can not use. I've emailed studios to let them know they're losing customers.
  • Oh, I will be buying DVD players also, if I will be able to use DVD discs on my screens which are driven by Linux. Otherwise if I use video it will be from other sources, and those sources probably produce less income than a high-priced DVD produces. As it is, they've lost some of the extra income from the higher prices which DVD products had a year ago.
  • (troll-redundancy warning)
    *RANT*
    I just want DVD on my Linux machine. Is that too much to ask? What have I ever done to these people? I have given them lots of money by viewing their movies, and is this how they reward my sacrifices of real culture?

    And all this legal blitz, why does that exist? The plantiffs consistently self-contradict, as in "it is of no economic incentive to [produce DeCSS]", and yet it is apparently of economic incentive to engage in legal action to undermine it's existence. Why does this apply to me, anyway? Most people involved in DeCSS are outside US legal jurisdiction, thereby making most of the plantiff's claims invalid.

    And should I ever decide to copy DVD's, which is possible, however unlikely, it will probably be to my hard drive, and I can do it just as well in Windows as I can in Linux, but seeing as I can't even view the damned things in Linux yet, I'm deprived of the satisfaction of entirely obviating Windows, and thus might as well take advantage of it's presence on my hard drive, and use the abundantly available Windows software to copy DVD's.

    Now, it is of particular interest to me, these so called law abiding people, where they get the necessary ignorance to sue advocates of open development, in stark raving legal and media lunacy: in the face of clear & obvious benefit to everyone. Everyone that is, except those behind these bizarre scapegoat legal actions.

    In my humble but correct opinion, there is no sign of intelligence in these actions. It is the "established" staving off change.
    */RANT*

  • IIRC, you can't. The area that has decryption keys is either "burned out" or contains data there, such that it is impossible to record there.

    So you have to hack the movie and hack the player to store the data...
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @07:04AM (#1370717) Homepage Journal

    This is the real piracy concern currently, not a bit for bit copy of a DVD.

    CSS won't stop that. Just use an authorized window$ player, and grab the frame buffer out of the video card with a driver hooked into the vertical blanking interrupt. From there, it's just a matter of softwere re-encoding into MPEG and re-sampling the framerate (trivial) to exactly reproduce the unencoded contents of the disk.

    The only substantial difference is that DeCSS can be used for making DVD movies inter-operate with computers/OSes that do not have official player software (such as Linux).

    For large scale bootleg operations, the development cost of that software is unimportant when compared to the profits from sales.

    It should also be noted that the framebuffer grabber is not necessarily a piracy only tool. In many countries individual people still enjoy the right to make backups and to transfer content into a more convieniant medium for personal use (fair use).

    As an amusing note on the new US law, we have a doctrine of fair use, and a doctrine that makes it illegal to circumvent copy protection even for a fair use of the content. Therefor, the law grants copyright holders the right to be unfair.

  • by Robin Hood ( 1507 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:50PM (#1370718) Homepage
    Do you think you could give some advice to someone who hasn't gone to law school on how to start educating myself about the law? I suppose I could just go to the library's U.S. Government Documents section, get down the huge book of laws, and start reading, but that would take far too much time for the little return I would get since I don't even have the basics yet.

    So, what are some good books, websites, and/or other media that you would recommend to start out educating myself about law, defending oneself against a suit, and other such topics?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
    -----
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • To clarify a bit. The big Linux distributors are the real targets but not in the way you may think.

    1st you need to asses what the DVD-CCA and the MPAA etc... hope to achieve with these law-suites. The stated goal is to stop the spread of this software. However after something appears on a thousand FTP sites in a hundred jurisdictions actually making it disappear becomes a fantasy at best. So they have set the goal a little lower.

    They accept that any savvy SlashDot reading netaholic will be able to find install and use this software on all "unsupported platforms". However that defeats the purpose of making money selling players. This lawsuit is looking farther ahead to the day when Linux box makers are shipping millions of PCs per month to home users. If each of those clueless users who can only make KDE run because it doesn't ever "break" was faced with the choice of a download and install from something other than a "name brand" site then another DVD player is sold.

    You see this software is only a danger to Sony and the like if it's an option in the RedHat install and Mandrake updates lists the latest version. It doesn't matter if Sunsite, ftp.cdrom.com, Downloads.com and freashmeat.net all have to stay away to avoid the legal implications.

    In that light the concept of getting a court somewhere to say that "the very existence of this software is a criminal offense" should make some kind of sense. Even if it's only banned in one small state the logistics of ensuring that your products with it don't officially go there costs too much.

  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @07:50PM (#1370720) Homepage
    "b) the linux community is generally open source oriented. We predicted that piracy would be more prevalent -- as users are more technically oriented, and most of our deals are OEM's sold to large computer manufacturers selling to end users.

    That's a load of bull and you deep-down know it. Piracy is, surprisingly enough, more rampant on the Windows platform that you're writing to. It's not due to things you think it is. Outrageous pricing of media and applications is a motivating factor, but it's because there's a lot of people out there that just don't give a damn about you making money- they just want their "stuff" and they'll do just about anything they can to get it. A substantial portion of this crowd on computers, use, you guessed it- Windows . Please don't use "piracy" as a cop-out; it's not very believeable these days.

    Oh, it also sounded like you were trying to imply that it was the technically oriented crowd that's more inclined to pirate with that statement; I'd be working to be much more careful in the future about statements like that- you represent your company even when you make unofficial statements about something. You could very well alienate a LOT of people that are reccomending your product to those so-called end-users that you're selling the stuff to.
  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:39PM (#1370721) Homepage Journal
    Cant you copy any ENCRYPTED movie, just do a byte for byte clone of it?
    Not easily. A DVD-ROM drive won't even let you read the encrypted data unless you use the reverse-engineered algorithms to authenticate to the drive.

    And to the best of my knowledge, even if you have the encrypted data, DVD-R drives will not allow it to be written to a blank in such a manner that a normal DVD Video player can handle it.

    However, if you negotiate with the DVD-ROM drive, get the bits, decrypt them, and THEN write to a DVD-R, you will have an unencrypted copy. Of course, you've now spent more money than an original DVD movie costs.

    But what the studios are afraid of is that the media prices will eventually drop to under $2, just as happened with CD-R.

  • by HomerJ ( 11142 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:48PM (#1370722)
    Is there anyone out there that can set up a legal defense fund to defend open source interests? I have no problem giving a $20 donation to a fund that can fund the legal fees for the authors of DeCSS, and other causes that not only affect the defendants, but affect me personally.

    There are many legal cases out there, DeCSS vs. MPAA, Napster vs. RIAA, and others that I can't think of off the top of my head. Their outcomes will all affect the path ot technology, and most importantly, open-source technology.

    Can and does the FSF offer legal help to authors of GPL'ed software? Are there any other groups that offer legal help to authors of free software?

    As the open-source movment moves into the main-stream, we need a group to represent our interest in court. We need a voice in the legal system so people like the MPAA and RIAA can't walk all over free software by getting laws passed and getting court decisions to favor them.

    Movie productions have the MPAA, the Music Industry has the RIAA, who do we have? If there is a group out there that supports OUR interest(the interests of open-source), they need to have legal counsel there in each courtroom in both sates.

    If there such a group, they need to post where we can send donations to. If not, we need to start one. We can scream all we want, but if we aren't in front of people such as congressmen and judges who have the POWER to change laws, we are wasting our breath.

  • by Royster ( 16042 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @07:06AM (#1370723) Homepage
    Do you understand what bit-to-bit copy means? it simply means: dd if=/dev/hdd of=mydvd_backup This will be an ***exact*** (bit-to-bit) copy of the content of the disk.

    You are wrong. You don't understand how a DVD drive reads a DVD disk and consequentially you don't understand that this method does not return all of the data on the disk. The keys to unencrypting the data will not be read with a dd and so your carefully preserved file is worthless.
  • by kvajk ( 18372 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:59PM (#1370724)

    The consumer own his or her copy of the DVD. Copyright law already allows the owner of a copy to make copies for personal use, including copies necessary TO VIEW THE MEDIA.

    Exactly. Well said; this is the entire point.

    Anyone can copy encrypted DVD media to a blank DVD and play it anywhere.

    It's worrying me that everyone has this impression, since it's just not true.

    Commercially available DVD hardware will neither directly read nor write the section of the disk which holds the decryption keys. So, prior to DeCSS, it was not possible for consumers to copy encrypted DVDs.

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @06:02PM (#1370725)
    I don't know if you are right or wrong.
    The analogy doesn't hold up completely.. and can't be taken at face value. Whereas the key to a department store is a very tangible, physical thing, encryption keys are intangible.

    Decryption is not a criminal act.

    Now.. as for the keys, I can relate a similar story, though I don't know how it bears on this one.

    In the late 80's (or was it early 90's? I dunno.. I think it was late 80's..) a similar thing happened in the satellite decoding business. This was very grey-area in Canada, I don't know about the US of A. At any rate, what it consisted of were two steps.

    1) the modification of the standard satellite decoder board.. this involved basically new proms, and a new software load that allowed the manual (or later automatic, via modem) entry of decryption keys for the various audio streams (only audio used encryption, though video was scrambled in ways similar to TV, ie: by moving the sync pulse around...)
    2) Black market for valid keys. Keys were obtained by an assortment of methods, one being the acquisition (usually illicit purchase from a legal owner for a fairly nice sum of money) of master chips, containing master codes, and then custom software to scan the satellite channels and discover the acutal decryption codes (I may not have this exactly right.. I never got that involved, but it was roughly like this).

    In order to combat this, and I wish I could site the case, but I don't know it, the industry tried to claim copyright on their keys (these were rougly 32 byte keys... I think...), so they could prosecute anyone shipping them around for copyright infringement. Didn't work. Judge said no way, you can't just blanked copyright 32 byte hexadecimal strings. Period.
  • by irh ( 27628 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @05:21PM (#1370726) Homepage
    As a law student, this is a great question - and I'd love to give you suggestions. Unfortunately, as a -Canadian- law student, any specific suggestions wouldn't be much use.

    There are no "what do I do if I get sued" books - obviously this would have to include every area of civil law imaginable: it depends on what legal rights of the other party you are purported to have traversed. (The answer is always, by the way, "consult a lawyer"). It's also never obvious to the layperson (or even the lawyer) precisely what legal area or discipline is raised by a given legal conflict. Take this one, for instance, it raises copyright issues, trade secret issues (both independent branches of intellectual property), remedies, etc. As one professor said the other day: "your client never comes to you and says 'I have a Rule Against Perpetuities problem!'".

    So to educate yourself about the law isn't easy, because you'd never really know where to start. HOWEVER - In Canada there are a number of good book series on various topics. One is an 'essentials of Canadian law' series of books (Tax, Intellectual Property, Trusts, Evidence, Computer Law, Criminal, etc.) Some of these are quite good, and quite accessible to the intelligent but legally inexperienced reader. My guess is that there are such series available at US bookstores.

    I.
  • by w3woody ( 44457 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @07:31PM (#1370727) Homepage
    Now, what do we do about it?

    Buy a T-shirt! Not only does it donate a few bucks towards The Cause, but the T-shirt also comes with the source code on the back. I got mine, in XXL.

    Now if we could just get everyone who reads /. to get a T-shirt, then we could create the first "inverse class-action lawsuit", where an entire class of people are named as the defendant in a lawsuit, instead of the plantiff... :-)
  • by www ( 58894 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @08:00AM (#1370728)
    NO! In 1997, 2600 reported a driver intercept crack for DVD. Replacing the graphics driver with a spoofed driver, one could captured the decrypted stream. There is no way to get around this, unless you add DVD decryption in EVERY graphics card!

    But this makes it easy to copy DVDs on Linux, which is, of course, the only reason a person would want to use linux, right? I can't possible see why somebody would not want to reboot their computer halfway through watching a movie inorder to see the other half - a superb feature provided by everybody's favorite OS......Winblows!

  • by dennisp ( 66527 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @11:52AM (#1370729)
    "I work for a company that produces software DVD players for 9x/NT"

    So do I.

    "We determined that it would not be viable at this time because:"

    Same here. Except for different reasons. Number one is paranoia of management. Number two is lack of experienced people to actually do the porting. Number three being that we would have to overhaul our tech support staff and systems to include linux. Number 4 and last being market size, as you had already stated.

    "b) the linux community is generally open source oriented. We predicted that piracy would be more prevalent"

    That's a stupid comment to make. Any commercial software that people like will be pirated to some degree. Just keep the price within reasonable limits, and you might reach better economies of scale.

    "c) constantly changing systems that would be hard to support"

    Yep, we've been monitoring for profit closed source software developers such as Lokisoft for a while. The cycle of change is slower than you think.

    "There are also potential technical support nightmares helping new linux users through a non-standardized system."

    Yes this is true. Although, you can take the stance of only supporting more prevalent distributions. Even IBM does this.

    "There is potential in the future -- but I don't see it being soon"

    Just wait for XFree86 4.0 and specialized multimedia interfaces. They will be here soon.
  • by G27 Radio ( 78394 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @10:24AM (#1370730)
    So, my theory is (this is assuming that the MPAA isn't just stupendously dumb...which is a rather large assumption), the reason they're suing now isn't to get DeCSS taken off the net, because they know that it's quite a bit too late for that. Instead, it's to get a legal precedent, so that any company thinking of making a "universal" DVD player like the one I described above would know that they'd lose in court.

    I doubt that they're stupendously dumb, but my bet is that your conspiracy theory is true. Of course, I think there are probably additional reasons as well.

    Undermining fair use precedents is probably a big goal. You know, I know, and they know that there is always a way to make a pirated copy (whether it's an exact duplicate or not.) Maybe they've just been waiting for an excuse to go to court to make sure that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act would be able to be used to circument those pesky rights we've been given that allow for fair use copying. At any rate, I wouldn't be suprised if they haven't been planning for a case like this since before the DMCA was passed into law.

    ESR has a nice essay on this case as well; avaiable here [opendvd.org]. Here's an excerpt:

    Why is the DVDCA lying? That's easy -- because the lie sounds a lot better than admitting that DVD is a fraud designed to line the pockets of a few selected players in the consumer-electronics industry. The DVDCA's real issue isn't protection of the market for DVD films, it's control of the market for DVD *players*.


    numb

  • by jkorty ( 86242 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @05:16PM (#1370731) Homepage
    The EFF [eff.org] fulfills this function beautifully. I and many other /.'ers sent in our $65 after their recent TRO victory in California.
  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <dirk@one.net> on Saturday January 15, 2000 @05:39AM (#1370732) Homepage
    If the movie industry had implemented a security system that prevented unauthorized copying that would be one story. But they don't even attempt this. Anyone can copy encrypted DVD media to a blank DVD and play it anywhere. This encryption does nothing to stop bootleggers. What it does do is stop authorized viewers from accessing the media in a legitimate manner


    This is very true, but there is a lot more to piracy than just making copies of DVDs. There is a growing market on the internet for downloading movies. These are usually in MPEG format. Currently, most of the movies come from people sneaking a camcorder into a theater and recording the movie as they see it, which returns a fairly poor quality video. Now imagine if you could rip the movie directly from the DVD into MPEG format. It would be almost flawless quality, which would make the "market" for pirated movies on the net huge. Sure a movie is a large download, but with cable modem and DSL becoming more and more prominent, a 500 Meg download isn't all that big of a deal. This is the real piracy concern currently, not a bit for bit copy of a DVD.

  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:53PM (#1370733)
    Does MPEG2 playback allow for branching in a video stream? What I mean is, with every player/movie combination I have seen, you can't change the angle during playback...only from the main menu.

    Example...Mulan DVD has both widescreen and standard versions on one disc. They make you pick every time you initiate playback. There is now way to set it to default to one or the other (since DVD players all seem to forget everything the second you eject a disc). Nor can you start playback in one mode (like widescreen) then decide to switch to standard half-way through. You have to stop playback and then start over with the new stream.

    Is this a limitation with software or with the DVD design? The main reason I ask is that one of the features being advertised back in the early DVD days was the idea of having several different ratings on a single disc. You could have a movie with both "R" and "PG" ratings.

    In looking at over 5000 DVD titles, I have NEVER seen a single disc that does this...I would love to be able to have my younger siblings watch certain movies with me, but I often have to wait for them to come out on TV with badly-editted patches and scene cuts.

    So, my question is...are multi-rating discs simply not being sold, or is it technically impossible for a DVD stream to switch right in the middle (to cut out a nude scene, for example).

    - JoeShmoe

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:33PM (#1370734) Homepage Journal
    Okay is it me or did the slashdot article not tell us who the defendants were?
    Before we get all knee jerk-y and pissed, how do we know they are not genuine bootleggers being sued and instead of hackers like the DeCSS folk?
    According to this C|NET article [cnet.com], they were advertising the software on their website as DVD cracking software...This Wired article [wired.com] names sites like krackdown.com and dvd-copy.com which sound like piracy sites to me. It seem they advertised the DeCSS software as DVD copying software. I expect this to be fodder for the DVD-CCA's lawyers next week.
  • by seaportcasino ( 121045 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @10:16PM (#1370735) Homepage
    Lawyers don't go around memorizing books of law. Memorization is for doctors. Lawyers learn a way of thinking. Any logical programmer type is already 90% of the way there. Go to any law school or college book store and pick up the "Nutshell" book on the particular subject you're focusing on. That is a good start. Much of law research today is done through large volumes of books, but rather through large databases storing every existing case. Go to one of these databases (warning, it can be pricy) and pull every case related to what you are looking for. The success of your research will be based mostly on the skill of your queries (hmm, I think any techie could run circles around a lawyer here). Read all the cases, look for a precedent that favors you, win the case, and home for dinner in time for your mom to tuck you in. All geeks do still live with their mother right? :)

    Good luck, and remember don't ever back down, even if you aren't sure. One thing you always have to remember is that nothing is black and white in the courtroom. Everything is in shades of gray and if you can convince someone you are 51% right, then you'll probably win.

  • by seaportcasino ( 121045 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:30PM (#1370736) Homepage
    What we need is are free basic law classes offered for all techies. This is the only way we can truly protect ourselves in this day and age. Speaking as some who has gone to law school, but is not a lawyer, I can say it is VERY useful to understand the law. I no longer live in "fear" of a lawsuit. In fact, If I get sued, I get excited because I know I'm going to make them PAY. Pay through a counter lawsuit, pay through legal fees, pay through wasted time. Nothing is more dangerous to a large corporation then a sharp individual who stands up to them and says, "Bring it on! Bring it on more!" It will keep their legal fees mounting, it will make them sweat. The bigger their room full of lawyers, the more sympathy "David" gets and the harder "Goliath" falls in the end.

    Stand up for your rights! Stand up for your rights!! Don't be afraid of Big Corporations! Tell them to go fuck themselves and then study the laws yourself because YOU really fucking do more than them or their fucking lawyers!

  • by 348 ( 124012 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:04PM (#1370737) Homepage
    "This is a case of theft. The posting of the de-encryption formula is no different than making and then distributing unauthorized keys to a department store. The keys have no real purpose except to circumvent the locks that stand between the thief and the goods he or she targets."

    Here we go again. This is just as weak as the first go 'round. Remember all the yada yada yada that the movie industry put out on the VHS and BETA tapes when they first became popular. It's the same argument, just different media.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:34PM (#1370738)
    Most people who view these posts are on the consumer side of the MPAA and RIAA's lawsuits. Many don't realize both sides of the argument.

    True, the MPAA is going after the wrong ideal here. They do want to create a monopoly here. They have every right to do so, because no other motion picture association exists to help promote and defend the motion picture industry in this fashion. Think of the MPAA as the EFF of motion pictures.

    Just as the EFF protects online users' freedoms online, the MPAA protects the business and industry of movies. The EFF's clients are pretty much anyone online, which is primarily endusers and casual browsers. The MPAA, million/billion-dollar businesses.

    So here's my valid point, on behalf of the MPAA. If the movie industry and businesses lose their hold on the ability to charge fees for their "encryption" technology, which they push, even in this lawsuit, as a means to keep people from copying the media. Those who do not know the technology of DVDs, will not realize that the encryption technology just keeps DVD-ROMs with computers and unlicensed DVD players from playing their discs.

    But to do this, they must crack down hard on those who wish to create new methods to play these discs. The MPAA doesn't own the patent on DVDs nor digital media, and can't enforce anything on their behalfs. So they promote a simple "encryption" method in which movie makers can enjoy "piracy-free" home use. Sounds more like a rehashed Macrovision.

    So here comes some people who "decrypt" the CSS technology, and make it available as an interoperability tool. Perfectly legal, and definitely good for the computer community. The MPAA, though, sees this, perhaps, as a threat that now anyone can make DVD console players able to play CSS-encrypted discs, without paying a fee for it, and have computers all over the world play DVDs without licensing the software or technology that so many others have invested money and time in developing and licensing.

    So just like EFF protects the rights of people online, the MPAA is out to protect the investments and money of the businesses they are assisting. They can't do it through patent infringement or unlicensed technology, so they're out to provide a "case" that says this will promote piracy. Those who are unsure of how things work for the open sourcing of this technology, might believe this. What other reason is there to provide this but to easily crack discs?

    Now, onto the other side, the side that most everyone reading this is on. Now that "DeCSS" exists, it's possible that that DVD-ROM you have can play these discs. Regardless of who made it and the platform your computer runs on, you can now enjoy these discs. What's the use of copying them? I've seen DVDs that are 2+ gigabytes. Even with a very fast SCSI burner, it may take several hours to burn a single copy. Or to take the information on the disk and put it on the web, that's still GIGABYTES of info. I hardly have the want to download ISOs of Linux to burn onto CD, let alone want to burn DVDs.

    Plus the cost. A normal DVD costs $30, $40, sometimes a bit more. Blanks, that I've seen, cost about just as much. And I don't see the cost of these going down for a few years, due to the extremely high chance of misburns and the new technology.

    So the threat of piracy should be near-nil. A software CD that costs $50 is easier and more wanted to copy, because CD blanks cost mere dollars, and take half an hour on slow burners to copy.

    My point, then, is that DeCSS is actually doing the movie industry more good. Much like MP3s help the music industry by allowing small bands and indie labels to produce music without much cost, DeCSS will allow more people and software companies the ability to play DVDs.

    Which means more sales for DVD movies. DVD movie sales equals profits for the movie companies. But to those who spent time and money researching DeCSS, and those who paid for the licensing of it, it's a loss of money if others get it for free.

    But promote it as piracy, and the movie industry, which would profit from the explosion of DVD players, both software and console, fear loss of sales, where there would actually be an increase in sales.

    If you were the MPAA, I think you'd attempt the same thing. Protect your money and licenses any way you can, or you lose business and money. I say we let the movie industry know exactly what DeCSS does. If everyone who buys a computer gets a DVD player and the ability to play DVDs, one would think most of them would wany to buy DVDs to try.

    Anyways, sorry for the long wind, but often people don't see both sides of the problem. I don't agree with the MPAA, because I'm an enduser of DVD movies, but if I were the MPAA, I'd certainly try tactics like this to protect my business.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2000 @11:30PM (#1370739)
    The fact is, DeCSS does make DVD piracy easier

    NO! In 1997, 2600 reported a driver intercept crack for DVD. Replacing the graphics driver with a spoofed driver, one could captured the decrypted stream. There is no way to get around this, unless you add DVD decryption in EVERY graphics card!

  • by copito ( 1846 ) on Saturday January 15, 2000 @02:22AM (#1370740)
    While most comments I have seen on /. have rightly pointed out that DeCSS does not promote piracy, the suit does not mention piracy, only the distribution of an unauthorized viewer.

    From the Connecticut suit [mpaa.org]

    23. The Copyright Act, Title 17 U.S.C. 1201(a)(2), provides that:

    [n]o person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that --

    (A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;

    (B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title; or

    (C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person's knowledge for use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

    (emphasis added)

    This is a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [loc.gov] enacted in October of 1998.

    The choice of this section of the law is important. There is a parallel provision (1201(b)(1)) covering actual harms to the rights of the copyright holder, but this was not chosen, since allowing a user to view a DVD they have purchased clearly does not harm the copyright holder.

    I believe 1201(a)(2) is unconstitutional since it restricts free speech and limits the options of fair use without clear harm to the copyright holder. It also makes any distributor of any decryption software, reverse engineering system, or security bug information vulnerable to malicious lawsuits.

    That being said, as the law stands I believe the DeCSS creators and anyone else that distributes their code is in violation of 1201(a)(2), since their code allows access to 'effectively controlled' copyrighted material. Note that here 'effectively controlled' only means that there is some attempt at encyrption or scrambling, not that the encyrption is strong in any way. In fact it appears that this section is specifically designed (with the input of the MPAA and RIAA no doubt) to criminalize the distribution of third party viewers for weakly encrypted digital media.

    Whatever the MPAA says about piracy, I doubt that is their main concern since there are many other avenues for piracy. I suspect that they are mainly concerned about royalties on viewer sales and control of the ease of which a user can exercise his fair use rights, such as buying a DVD and viewing it in another country.

    This will be much more important when we start to get one to one encryption. It is within fair use to purchase a CD and lend it to a friend, but what if an EvilCD (TM) will only play on your EvilCD player. This law makes it illegal to tell somebody how to modify the EvilCD (or the friend's EvilCD player) to play the EvilCD on a friend's player, even though it is legal to modify the EvilCD or the player under fair use. It's an end run around fair use and a clear violation of free speech. I hope the courts will see it for the farce it is...and soon.
    --
  • by Rik van Riel ( 4968 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:45PM (#1370741) Homepage
    The legal basis for this latest attack is as absent as in the other lawsuit. It is clear that the movie industry is trying to win this one by intimidation and public opinion.

    Help the DVD defandants, help defend your consumer rights! Spread awareness of the OpenDVD.org campaign!

    http://www.opendvd.org/ [opendvd.org]

  • What bothers me is this "freedom on the internet" genre of posts which makes it sound like us techies are being "oppressed" by big corporations. How is it that big corporations can control the 'net?

    Have you read your ISP's Terms of Service contract? Check out this passage from RCN.com's Service Contract [rcn.com]:

    6. Subject to the provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and any other applicable laws and regulations, RCN reserves the right to remove or block access to, either permanently or temporarily, any files which RCN
    suspects or which a third party alleges are associated with a violation of the law, this Agreement or RCN's Online Policies or with the account responsible for such violation. This includes but is not limited to blocking access to Usenet news articles. [emphasis mine]

    Note: Proof is not necessary; suspicion is all that's required to get your account pulled. If you've just bought a year's worth of DSL service, you could be out a few thousand dollars.

    Movie makers make movies for the sake of making money.

    Then they're in it for the wrong reason.

    If you're in this solely to make money, then you're a mercenary, not an artist.

    If we want them to use our standard (assuming we wrote one), then we would have to offer them assurances that their works could not be copied en masse and distributed without them making a profit.

    We cannot offer them that assurance. The fundamental nature of digital media will thwart all attempts to do so. It was designed to copy bits infinitely and cheaply. Welcome to the real New Economy. Deal with it.

    You see, they wrote the software - it is theirs.

    Uh, no. Those two guys in Norway wrote the software. The DVD CCA created the keys. But keys are not protectible under IP laws (nor should they be).

    For us to claim that hindering the distribution of DeCSS is restricting our freedoms is ridiculous - it has the ability to destroy the very foundation for profit upon which the MPAA stands.

    Absolutely correct (you get a cookie). We will have to develop new foundations for compensating people for their work. I encourage people to start thinking about them.

    1. Say someone discovered your debit card number; You wouldn't want them to post it on the internet.
    2. But say that someone did post it. Now, you could lose everything in that account.

    You are conflating concrete property (my bank account) with sales projections ("We might have sold this many DVDs if it hadn't been for those Commie-pinko pirates!"). Analogy fails.

    Investors have placed lots of money in the development of DVD technology - and stand to lose a lot in the face of DeCSS.

    Forgive me, but what utter nonsense. DeCSS is absolutely no threat to the sales of DVD players or discs. Even if you had a T3 into your home (at $5K/month), unsanctioned copying of DVD movies over the Internet is not going to happen; do the bandwidth math to see why. "Piracy" is simply not a problem.

    The appeal of DVD to the movie makers is that it prevents unauthorized copying.

    Inaccurate. The appeal of DVDs to movie studios is that:

    • The image quality is much higher, making their product look better and more appealing,
    • Their manufacturing costs are a mere fraction of videocassettes, vastly increasing their profit margins.

      To destroy someone else's business investment for the sake of "freedom" is unethical, to say the least.

      At the risk of completely torpedoing my credibility here, would your theorem apply to slavery as well? There were a lot of businesses in the American South 200 years ago that relied on slavery. Those businesses were killed (or, as it finally turned out, completely restructured) in the name of "freedom".

      Real people like you and me invest in technology. We risk our hard earned money. And when something like DeCSS comes along, it threatens to nullify the investment that real people have made in technology, and make people more reluctant to accept new technology.

      150 years ago, real people spent a lot of money digging holes in the ground looking for gold. None of them labored under the delusion that, just because they had invested a considerable sum into a hole, they were entitled to find gold at the bottom of it.

      If you walk into the Digital Universe and honestly think you can prevent copying, then you've failed your fiduciary duty to yourself and your shareholders by not doing your homework.

      Digital bits are -- and forever shall be -- easily copied at zero cost. Period. It is possible to do healthy business within this reality (NASDAQ:RHAT). Denying the reality only makes you look foolish and sets you up for one heck of an ulcer.

      Schwab

  • by kvajk ( 18372 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:39PM (#1370743)

    Actually, piracy isn't an issue at all, as has been said many times.

    As has been said incorrectly many times.

    You don't *need the key* to do a bit-for-bit copy of the DVD media.

    No commercially available DVD players will allow you to read or write the section that holds the keys. So, your copy will not have the keys, and other normal DVD players can't play the encrypted contents.

    The fact is, DeCSS does make DVD piracy easier. Repeating otherwise over and over again doesn't make it any less true.

    Let's not cloud the issue with the piracy issue. Whether or not DVDs are easy or hard to copy has no bearing on this case, which is really about our rights as consumers.

  • by crt ( 44106 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:04PM (#1370744)
    "The keys have no real purpose except to circumvent the locks that stand between the thief and the goods he or she targets"

    ..except that it isn't the case -- one of the main uses of the decryption "formula" is to allow the use of DVDs on "alternative" operating systems like Linux. Piracy is NOT the only use.

    A better analogy would be "someone making keys to a department store that locks their doors and only gives keys to whites (because they are the majority!)"

  • I think this is a case of the industry attempting to wish a problem away with litigation rather than properly addressing the problm (as they see it), adequate copy protection.

    Since it is not illegal to sell "glass water tobacco" pipes, even though *nudge, nudge. wink wink* they are obstensibly used for currently, illegal recreational purposes, this case should be tossed.

    It is not, in my mind, the responsibility of the public to give any quarter to industries who have failed to insure their own well-being.

    That said, I think a lot of this comes down to public posturing, since the industry feels they have to say *something*. Judge tosses first request, message of "Just say no!" still not strong. Refile with new claims.

    Though I'm happy to see the defendents crack a fairly crappy algorithm in the name of Linux interoperability, I'm shocked the industry hasn't taken action against Xing for having the crappiest implimentation, and allowing the work-around to take place.

    Now, if only the industry can get past those pesky First Amendment issues. . .

  • by PurpleBob ( 63566 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @08:26PM (#1370746)
    And they're probably going to try and get us with this. In one of the other articles about this, someone pointed out this useful fact: some DVD players can be tricked into playing from a directory on the hard disk instead of the DVD drive. So it's not necessary to break the encryption or to write it to a DVD to make a copy of a DVD.
    --
  • by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @08:33PM (#1370747)
    The big thing to remember about this lawsuit is, you don't need DeCSS to copy a DVD to *any* format.

    I'll say again, for the slow-witted. You don't need DeCSS to copy a DVD.

    To *any* format.


    Think about it. All DeCSS does is unencrypt the data on the DVD.

    The same thing every DVD player in existence already does before it sends it to your video card drivers.

    Before it sends it unencrypted to your video card drivers.

    Or alternatively, before it sends it to one of several hacks which have been available for the past two years which sit at the video card driver level and save the damn stream for you. In plain old VCD, exportable to any format you want.

    This suit has nothing to do with piracy, and everything to do with control over DVD player licensing. Yeah, you may say, maybe that was what the earlier lawsuit, brought by the DVD Consortium, was about. But why does the MPAA care if anyone can make a DVD player without paying silly licensing fees?

    Glad you asked. Answer: export zones.

    As y'all may or may not know, every DVD player around these days only includes the key to decrypt DVD's made for a certain "export zone"--a geographical region, like North America or Europe. The point being, this way the studios can release a movie on DVD in America before the film has come out in theaters in Europe, and not have to worry about Europeans mail-ordering the DVD from the states and therefore not paying the extra cash to see it in the theaters.

    So, if DVD CSS works, then the only way you can make a player is by doing it according to their rules, which means only including the key to one export zone. Of course, now that DeCSS is out there, anyone can come along and play a DVD--a DVD they buy, that they pay good money that goes to the studios and all--encoded for any region, right on their computer.

    Furthermore--and this is where my conspiracy theory of the night comes in--any company can look at the source code, copy it to firmware, and make a stand-alone DVD player which will play DVD's for every region. Probably won't make too much of a difference in the States, but over in Europe/Asia, where DVD's will regularly be released up to a year behind their release in the US, lots of people would want such a player.

    So, my theory is (this is assuming that the MPAA isn't just stupendously dumb...which is a rather large assumption), the reason they're suing now isn't to get DeCSS taken off the net, because they know that it's quite a bit too late for that. Instead, it's to get a legal precedent, so that any company thinking of making a "universal" DVD player like the one I described above would know that they'd lose in court.

    Or maybe not. Best I could come up with, tho...

    Anyways, it's been said before, but if you haven't already, make a donation to the EFF [eff.org]. This is important.
  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:45PM (#1370748) Homepage Journal
    every time they go after someone X set up a mirror .... "in support of X" ....all over the world, in as many different jurisdictions as possible ... once they realise they are making things worse by suing people thay'll have to think twice.

    If they come after your mirror - shut it down - make a big stink - remember there are an awfull lot more of us than them (DVD lawyers) - we're angry - and they get paid a lot by the hour.

    The parallels between this case and the Scientology vs. the net cases (see www.xenu.net [xenu.net]) are amazing .... who's going to be the first person to have the source read into the record in the Swdish parliament? or have it published in the LA Times classifieds?

    It's very hard to force a large group of people to keep a secret - esp. if they don't want to

    PS: the MPAA page is full of broken links to the legal documents - does anyone have a copy they can web?

  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:45PM (#1370749)
    I'd like to know if there is someway I can modify the content of a DVD disc to get rid of those annoying copyright notices.

    They used to be a minor irritation back in the VHS days because you had to fast-forward through them, but now it seems that part of the requirement for being a licensed DVD decoder is that you block people from fast-forwarding or skipping these #@$@!#$ notices. The worst offender is Disney, who makes you sit through about five minutes worth of crap in both French and Engligh EVERY TIME YOU USE THE DISC. My Toshiba player automatically shuts off after 20 minutes (as do many others) so I have to sit through this crap every time I turn on the player (since it autoplays discs).

    Can DeCSS pull out just the A/V content and leave all the copyright/menu crap behind? If so, that's another reason to use DeCSS. There is not damn reason why I should have to endure that for the "privaledege" of watching a movie I paid $30 to own.

    Thank god Warner Brothers movies just go right to the main menu when they turn them on. Bravo!

    - JoeShmoe

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
  • by BOredAtWork ( 36 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @06:04PM (#1370750)
    Well, you're right, this isn't about piracy. But you make no real argument to support this. I'm gonna try :-).


    Regarding the quotes above:

    Ok, I've seen swiss cheese with less holes in it that this bullshit theory. I should be an attorney, yes indeed...

    "This is a case of theft. The posting of the de-encryption formula is no different than making and then distributing unauthorized keys to a department store. The keys have no real purpose except to circumvent the locks that stand between the thief and the goods he or she targets."

    This is NOT a case of theft. First and foremost, nothing has been "stolen". Nobody is being prosecuted for stealing a DVD. That would be theft, and this is NOT what the suit is about. Nobody is being prosecuted for copying a DVD, or illegally distributing a movie. This is would be a grey area; the law says it's theft, some people feel it's not. Either way, this is NOT what the suit is about.

    Next, the above analogy is piss poor. I've seen middle school students do better. If this analogy were considered valid, then another valid analogy would be "By making tools to remove car stereos from the dash, Crutchfield is in effect making and distributing keys to department stores." Sure, one CAN use a Crutchfield tool to steal a car stereo. But it's primary intent is to make installation and removal of systems easier for the owners. Mark this: primary intent of a product is vital. If someone can *shudder* "prove" that decss's primary purpose is pirating, we're screwed twice over, and three times on Saturday. BUT, there is NO evidence of decss's primary purpose being pirate activity. None. Not a bit. Not a single site has a "377373 h4x0r guide to DVD ripping". Look at the author's pages. They say "Hey, use this to watch your movies in Linux!" This is not a pirating tool. One does not sue Crutchfield for making those awesome stereo tools. One should not sue the decss folks for making theirs.

    "The U.S. movie industry intends to defeat anyone who steals our intellectual property. We are determined to defend the technology that protects artists and intellectual property holder rights... If you can't protect that which you own, then you don't own anything."

    Oh, I like this. A lot. I completely agree with that last sentence. Furthermore, how about this: If you can't use that which you own, then you don't own anything. If I purchase a DVD legally, I have every right in the world to do with it what I will, so long as I don't redistribute the contents. If I want to put it in my toaster oven and cover it in peanut butter and mayo, dammit I should be allowed to. If I want to watch it under Linux, then dammit I should be allowed to. Make no mistake; if I own something, I have every legal right to do with it what I please, however I see fit. This has been established time and time again (see the backups-of-nintendo-cartriges cases, for one). So long as an individual doesn't use decss to pirate, they are free and clear.

    Basically, this whole thing reeks of bullshit. The DVD folks are making every effort to shift focus from the real issue of right-to-view-what-you-own to this pirating crap. I really hope the EFF attorneys don't allow this to happen; precident has already been set - once you have bought something, you can do what you want with it. I can copy my CD's to tape. I can back up my copy of MS-Office. I can put my DVD in a toaster oven, use it as skeet, or anything else I want - including play it under Linux. So long as I own the disc, I have every right to view the contents, and decrypt them. I'm not supporting any pirating here (because it's not a cost effective move at all, as the DVD folks admit), but if I've got money to spend, and I'll keep hoarding it until the day I can do whatever I wish with MY movies.

    In summary, don't bend over. They have no case, and they seem to know it. Fight.

    --

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @06:54PM (#1370751) Homepage Journal
    ...and I'll fight mine (to paraphrase Dylan. No, _Bob_ Dylan...)

    I don't buy that at all. Invalidate their position by becoming their worst nightmare and the fullest possible justification for their most psychotic excesses? Somehow I miss the logic in this action sequence ;)

    Do what I do, what I am doing. GET THE TECHNOLOGY and then work for free with other geeks and artists who are in line to be cut off from access to media. Make CDs and work for free with artists who will release mp3s. Make video and movies and start an indie movie subculture, get the 3DSMax guys and the owners of linux rendering farms into it. CREATE. Spend your own money and your own goddamn sweat and blood and CREATE and get the work out there into the underground! Do it for free, give it away because the alternative is equally to make no money but to not have access to the media the world runs on!

    I'm still waiting on my next-gen ADAT but I've been putting the rest of my studio through its paces, the hopped-up mixing board, the vast monitors, the custom low-capacitance shielded-strand snake, and I remain convinced that I can (cartman) club the industry's quality levels in the head and make it cry like Nancy Kerrigan(/cartman) >;)

    Furthermore, I will not only record open-source oriented geek musicians (i.e. mp3-liking unsigned rebel sorts), I will not only do it for free, but I will provide the tape on top of that. I'm debating whether my next buy should be electronic parts for building submixers and hopping up the adat, or a Color Quickcam for showing pictures of the studio to you slashdotter rugrats ;) The more the media industry follows this scorch-the-earth path, the more determined I am to say 'hell with it!' and simply dump everything I have into an all-out assault on the status quo, using the popularity of formats like mp3 and the irresistable appeal of the free as weapons.

    I consider cries of 'pirate everything the studios do!' to be pathetic wussy childish attempts to 'fight'. Exactly how does your redistribution of THEIR MEDIA! help matters? Exactly how brave do you have to be to take something at no cost to you, and give it to someone else? Unless the MPAA literally beat down your door you're risking absolutely squat. You're not DOING anything, except being a 'bad consumer' instead of a 'good consumer'. Either way you are a luser. You are sacrificing nothing and creating nothing.

    If you want your fight to matter, CREATE media and get it out there as free data, to underscore the idea that in the 21st century data is too cheap to meter! Create AMAZING media. Do the most amazing music, the most incredible movie, outdo the industry at its own game and then have the guts to stand up for your convictions and keep that data free, make it possible for people to buy T-shirts or some damn thing so you can get by, so it can subsidize what you're doing. Apply for grants, I don't know- the point is, if the traditional media (being progressively concentrated in ever-fewer hands) is a magic circle, we need content creators outside the circle. We need _genius_ outside the circle. And we need it now, and we need it fast. And we can get it- if people are ready to face the situation and start pulling together.

    "The revolution will not be televised" - Gil Scott-Heron
    Isn't it ironic- now that digital globalisation has made any person techically capable of expressing their message to the world, surprise- the revolution will still not be televised- because MS owns this television station, AOL/Time Warner owns that, and so on, a merry game of media restriction with no loopholes! There will be no shortcut to the real digital age- so we will just have to actually do the work. Cry me a river- then roll up your sleeves. If you can't actually sing or play or create media of some kind, then go forth and scour mp3.com or some such place (it is one huge 'slush pile', but no worse than what the industry has access to), and hunt down some band, some artist who is committed to a future of mp3 and free data. Buy one of their t-shirts. If they don't have any, buy them _a_ t-shirt ;) tell the people you meet offline about the great band you found, and how you found them, and then tell them 'It's free, this is the digital underground. It lives.'

    I will confess: I have wanted to be the great breakout hit from mp3-land. This, without even having stuff up yet, while still building and assembling the gear (in some cases, literally building it out of parts). And not breakout as in 'crossover', not as in getting signed with a major label- breakout as in making it completely separate from the labels, the industry, making it big enough and hitting hard enough that you wind up on the cover of Rolling Stone or Time because the story _cannot_ be ignored any longer- and still remaining a completely free-data, internet phenomenon, with no ties to the standard distribution chains. The money or lack of same isn't even important- I think done right you could be quite upper-middle class with all the tech toys you wanted, but I'm talking about being a massive breakout hit as a paradigm shift, about changing people's expectations of where you get music/movies/etc. Only that can truly fight the studios. Only that will win the war.

    I still want this- who wouldn't? But I'm becoming increasingly convinced of one thing- it's not about who does it, the important thing is that someone must do that, must break the paradigm, for the benefit of all us artistic types who want to be able to control our own destinies. If it's not me, and hey, it wouldn't have to be, then it will just have to be somebody else- and I mean to throw everything I have behind that person, whoever they might be, if I get the chance. I'll record 'em for free. I'll give them the benefit of 20 years of audio hacker experience and producer savvy. I'll coax their ultimate performances out of them... anything, everything, to get someone who can break the paradigm.

    When your 'wares people' are finally spending most of their time copying off free data with the blessings of the artists to distribute among the consumers... because nothing the recording or movie industries produce is anything near as good... THEN we will have won.

  • I have been asking this since the case came up and I still havn't herd a response from anyone who shuld know.

    These lawsuites are being filed in a maner which sugests they can't realy stand on merit and the idea is to spread the limited resorces of the defendants as thin as posible in order to get somebody "convicted" because they simply culdn't put up a defence.

    That wold then become a precident to wave at RedHat and Caldera. The real targets of this lawsuite dispite all the bullS##t from everyone.

    Now what if a lawsuite is filed on behalf of the many plaintifs with a stipulation of damages to be awarded as folows.

    10,000,000 to be shared betwean the legal teams in all the suites on an eaven basis ( no negotiation or puling of rank ).

    15,000,000 to be shared betwean the plaintifs on similar even terms.

    100,000,000 to be kept in the EFF's kity and invested so we will have a war chest the next time something like this hapens.

  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:19PM (#1370753) Homepage Journal
    The purpose of DVD encryption is not to prevent piracy. Instead, it is to comfort the groundless paranoia of the MPAA.

    There is a very big difference between encrypting an application on a demo CD and encrypting DVD media. In the first case a legitimate intellectual property is being protected. It is a demo CD and the application has not yet been purchased. However, in the second case, rights to the DVD media have already been purchased. The consumer own his or her copy of the DVD. Copyright law already allows the owner of a copy to make copies for personal use, including copies necessary TO VIEW THE MEDIA.

    If the movie industry had implemented a security system that prevented unauthorized copying that would be one story. But they don't even attempt this. Anyone can copy encrypted DVD media to a blank DVD and play it anywhere. This encryption does nothing to stop bootleggers. What it does do is stop authorized viewers from accessing the media in a legitimate manner.

    Imaging if you purchased an ordinary paper and ink book, but discovered that you could only read it by the light of a specific light bulb. You would be pretty upset at the publisher. It's no wonder that people are upset at the MPAA for doing exactly the same thing.
  • by kjj ( 32549 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @05:48PM (#1370754)
    Check out this link to copyleft [copyleft.net].
    I am think I am about to make my first purchase from them. I wonder will a cop bust me if I walk down the street with this T-shirt on ;)
    By the way part of the profits from this go to the EFF for their defense.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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