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Salon Interview With Head Of MPAA 492

awaterl writes "Salon Magazine is featuring an interview with MPAA president Jack Valenti, who has never downloaded an MP3, but does 'have staff members who have.' An interesting interview that provides insight into the mind of an aging guy who is honestly doing what he believes to be right, but cannot see why others might consider him clueless. "
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Salon Interview With Head Of MPAA

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Late post, and probably buried in the noise, but oh, well...

    I've been reading the responses on this thread, and IMO a lot of people are missing the point:

    Valenti is there to advocate the positions of the MPAA by using whatever methods work. That's what he's paid for.
    It doesn't matter if he's illogical. It doesn't matter if he's nonsensical. It doesn't matter if he's clueless. It doesn't matter if he stretches the truth. It doesn't even matter what his own opinions are (assuming he has any). And if you think that you can change what he's saying through debate, I've got a clue for you: It doesn't matter, because what he is saying is what he's paid to say. And he'll keep on saying it until his bosses tell him to say something else, at which point he'll flip-flop faster than Bill Clinton with a new opinion poll.

    A few years ago, our state legislature was considering a law to outlaw "blind bidding" for theatrical showings of motion pictures. (Blind bidding== putting up your money before seeing the product== buying a pig in a poke.) And Jack Valenti was there to testify how elininating blind bidding would spell the end of the motion picture business. And earlier, when cable TV was just getting started and the MPAA had mounted a "save free TV" campaign to try to block channels like HBO (!), Jack Valenti was there opining that pay cable would mean the end of the motion picture business. Was he right? No. Did he really believe what he was saying? I have no idea. But, again, that doesn't matter. He was paid to present the MPAA's position, and that's what he did.

    In short, Valenti is an advocate, not a scientist. He's not there to discover the truth, or to test propositions against reality, or to find workable compromises. You can't convince him, because what he's engaging in is not argument, it's advocacy. You won't change his mind, because he's not advancing his own ideas, but those of his employer. So don't waste you time writing him. The time would better be spent writing your congressman.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think this statement is most telling:
    They're making educated judgments about how they're going to fashion the future, but I'm telling you: the future is like walking down some unlit corridor, and it gets darker and darker as you move into it. And after a while you're moving on instinct alone.

    I'd fight technology too if that was my view of the future. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy...

    The point that he misses is that soon nobody is going to care if NFL broadcasts are protected because there will be 5000 other more interesting things available for free. For example, I don't copy commercial software - not because it's illegal, but because I can get everything I need from freshmeat. I spend about as much money supporting various free software causes as I would if I were buying shrinkwrapped stuff, but I'm much happier with the results. I can't wait to see what happens when music and film finally break free from the grip of the marketing departments.

    The real wake-up call is going to come when the public at large gets fast net access and starts to figure out how tragically and cynically the film and music industries have sold them short for the last fifty years. I predict that in twenty years the idea of sitting down and passively watching a movie will seem as quaint to most people as the idea of watching an old silent film does to most of us now.

    miles

  • See subject.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Down at the bottom of page 2, he says he's been meeting with "The Bill Gates..." Like it's not a person, but some kind of mystical entity.

    "The almighty Gates will see you now."

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

    heh heh heh...
  • It seems like the only way some things progress in the world is for some hidebound kurmudgeon to die of old age. Here is a prime example of it. The trouble is, now these buttholes can live a long time.

    Incidentally, Jack ain't no baby boomer. I can't speak for the early boomers but the ones born in the late 50s to early 60s are probably more in tune with the mindset of the geeks than with Valenti.
  • Exactly! His analogy to wanting to sneak into a movie theatre is way off. A better analogy would be that we want access ramps put into the theatre so all patrons can get in equally.
  • Today very few people have T1 links in their basements, but that doesn't mean things will be the same in 5 years. It wasn't even 12 years ago when my bestfriend upgraded his 300 baud modem to 1200. If you had told us then that you could download a 4 Meg file in under 2 minutes from your home, we would have died laughing.

    If bandwidth increases as much in the next 12 years as it did in the last 12, I suspect downloading an entire movie to watch in realtime will seem simple.
  • Note how he talked a great deal (with some degree of plausibility) about what had to happen in order for his products to thrive and do business as usual- but nobody saw fit to ask about the other products _competing_ with the industry products?

    The reason this concept draws a blank is because there basically _aren't_ any in the public eye, because both the music media and film media industries are heavily controlled. However, this is really the best counterargument against the RIAA and MPAA- given enough access to the market, at some point people may be copying indie music and film _more_ than the copyright protected works of the industries.

    There seems to be this assumption that the nature of technological empowerment is strictly to turn good consumers into bad consumers- there's this Berlin Wall between the consumer and the artist, and if you don't live in Hollywood or LA you couldn't possibly be an artist, therefore you must be a pirate. The idea is that there will never be content created except by the industry- so if content piracy gets too out of hand, and the ability to make and duplicate media gets too accessible, the industry will wither and die leaving nothing in its place. And all the industry artists will starve and get regular jobs (pointedly assuming they're making anything with the industry! Which is rather statistically unlikely), and then all the consumers will sit on their butts, with no music and no TV and no films at all, because there will be nobody left to produce them.

    This _is_ fscking absurd, of course.

    The trouble is, there need to be more artists driven to support new media in the same way that some programmers feel obligated to support free software- an ethical decision that furthers a particular agenda, even at the expense of profits or popularity. It turned out that once a certain number of people were using free software things snowballed and we got Linux. There need to be a certain number of people ready to produce MP3 music, to produce some sort of film that can be distributed on mainstream media, to get a similar power base against the media industries- only then can media start to be seriously decentralised, much as communication is now seriously decentralised what with email and the Web and all.

    The trouble is, we're at a point where (intentionally or not) the industries are taking steps to block access to independents. It wouldn't take much to make consumer DVD players refuse to play indie DVDs- they already refuse to play out-of-zone DVDs, which is already an abuse of their power over the new global economy! You can hunt for budget DVDs on eBay, but the players are set to refuse to play such DVDs. BMG has been attempting to introduce a new CD format that is no longer Red Book CD Audio- if things go badly we could not only lose the ability to author our own films on DVD, but even the ability to author our own music CDs on CD-R. This goes beyond having CD-R taxed so that if you author your own music you are forced to pay a tax to the very industry which is fighting you and trying to crush you (which is what already happens)- it goes all the way to attempts to legally forbid you to author media for the public at all, based on the fact that you're using the same recording media as 'media pirates'.

    It is really a shame that the Salon interviewer didn't think to ask Jack Valenti about these issues. Of course, he has been so successful in hurting and blocking other movie producing markets (such as Canada, see Nebular's post) that it doesn't even occur to most people that anything other than the MPAA can make a film- or that anything but the RIAA can make a CD.

    _That_ has to change.

  • He's confused: it's the sun in his eyes that's harming his vision. He's got it backwards.

    Maybe his old eyes can adjust to emerging from his cave and maybe not, but I for one refuse to stay in the cave with him. It's time to come out and look at the real world and not just the shadows on the walls. (thank you, Plato)

    I don't know what the media business will be like, either, in a world where data is so slippery that it's basically everywhere and you can't easily control or channel it. I don't know exactly how people will earn income in such a world, though clearly the middlemen will suffer the worst. I do know that it's happening one way or another, cleanly or messily, and I would like to see for myself what it's like, and fend for myself in it. I'm sorry that Jack Valenti has so firmly identified himself with the middlemen- a class that's destined to lose its present position of authority and control, and take on more of a mediator position. However, that doesn't exempt him from the consequences.

  • "That's how capitalism works."

    Forgive me for being contrary, but this _is_ exactly the same as the claim, "Free software eventually means no software" or "Free writing eventually means no writing" or indeed "Free speech eventually means no speech". In each case, a type of creative behavior that can be worth money is being competed with by the same behavior done freely. This only hurts the commercial offering to the extent that the commercial offering is artificially maintained above its freemarket value. There was a time when engraving was very expensive, and scribes were well paid for their access to pens and paper and ink and their ability to write things down, an ability the regular person did not have. I'm sure they argued that free engraving eventually meant no books would ever be written, and that the written word would die out completely because peasants couldn't write. Of course, Gutenberg yanked _their_ chains even worse- another example of technology destroying culture. Look at the Yellow Pages- do you see a _single_ _scribe_ listed? So, logically, the written word is dead...

    Regarding software, people (perhaps even you yourself, 'Life Blood') made this very argument, that free software would so hurt the profit margins of commercial software that all software would die and there would be no software left. Well, the reality turned out to be this- if you want a free software author to write something in particular, hire 'em. The free market miraculously survives, cutting away the deadwood, shaking loose the dependence on artificially high profit margins and making the capitalists _compete_ as they claim to want to do. It seems that most capitalists would really rather be either the State, and be communists, or the Biggest Stick, and be fascists. I frankly see very little real capitalism in the arguments of capitalists- you'd think they would accept the challenges of further capitalism, but they always want to win and then be protected from ever having to lose again. Only natural I suppose, but the world doesn't work that way.

    With regard to movies, what free movies will mean, what independently-authored movies will mean, is that the studios will have to actually compete for a change. They will have to make special effects so grand that you _want_ to go to a theater to experience them. They will have to hire better writers than the amateurs can (seemingly not a problem, or so you would think). They will have to hire better continuity people, grips and gaffers and the whole crew of people for making serious movies, and actually produce not 'product' but genuine works of art- and then they will have to have the merchandising ready and be able to sell you things based on the chances of their movie being copied from here to Taiwan with _everybody_ watching it and talking about it and being excited about it.

    Isn't that what they _want_?

    Imagine 'Men In Black' being viewed _everywhere_ on release. Now, consider the profitability of a 'flashything!' toy, perhaps with a little strobe. I'm not aware of them ever making one, but this would be an absolute slamdunk of an idea- and potentially as profitable as the movie itself, as you don't _have_ to sell a toy at $8. A sufficiently good Flashything(tm) could go for $30 and still sell like Furbies.

    The clincher is this: MIB developed that mindshare not by marketing pressure, but by being a damned good movie as movies go. In order to be able to do the merchandising and take advantage of people copying your movie, take advantage of 'flash mindshare' and having the world suddenly mad for Flashythings and Will Smith, you not only have to allow the copying, you have to MAKE A GOOD MOVIE. People won't copy it if it sucks! The only way you'll really get that kind of saturation is if you really do a good movie! Only then does it become possible to use the other methods and sell toys and run a Men In Black 'Everquest' clone for money etc. ad creativitum.

    And if you do an equally good movie that's up against the MIB, and you're successfully stopping anyone from copying and MIB is _not_ limiting copying- you lose! You blew it- you saw slippery data as a threat, they saw it as an advantage, _they_ are the ones on top of the big fad movie of the moment and _you_ are out to lunch, your carefully guarded theatre profits in the toilet because everybody spent the money on FlashyThings(tm).

    This is inevitable. It's merely a question of who can figure it out quickest- and what media ends up making it possible. If DVDs do not, then DVDs will go the way of Beta and VHS tapes and vinyl records- eventually the technology will go to the point where it _is_ possible to DL entire movies in a few scant minutes, or send them about in an envelope by third class mail, and this whole scenario of slippery-data as a weapon will play itself out- and the world will never be the same.

    _Text_ used to be only for the rich- until Gutenberg.

  • the other case aims to prevent people from using DeCSS, a program that can unscramble encrypted digital video disks (DVD) and let people copy them.

    1) When the (supposedly) clueful media just can't get it right regarding WHAT DeCSS actually DOES, they CANNOT expect the respect of the clueful community they so desparately seek respect from.

    they've all banded together to try and make it clear to the Congress that if a hosting or thievery or absconding or illegal use, or unauthorized use of the property of all these enterprises -- which, by the way, dominate the world -- is allowed to go untended by some kind of a protective shield, the nation's economy is the loser.

    2) Now THAT's scary. This guy really believes that not only do these mega-entertainment-conglomerates actually "dominate the world" , he says so in a tone that actually screams "and that's the way it SHOULD be, damnit". I'm surprised noone has brought this up yet.

  • so I'm thinking there must be some sort of DVDCCA-like group controlling that technology. If so, then how is buying a DVD player for your television any different from buying a VCR?

    As near as I can tell, the only difference is that the industry lost a court case involving VHS, so they couldn't pull the kind of crap they're doing with DVD. This time around, they've got the DMCA to help them out and serve as a means to eliminate fair use (although, as someone else pointed out, we've only been granted specific permission to create copies of music, not video, but I think they should be considered to be "content" and the same fair use rules applied to both) by technological means aided by the new law. The only reason they've gotten as far as they have is because someone used some clever wording in the DMCA that effectively nullified the reverse-engineering clause by making it only apply to "software" rather than "copyrighted content". Therefore they seem to be arguing that you don't have the right to view the contents of a dvd just because you bought it. You must also purchase a supported operating system and a licensed hardware or software decoder.

    Hmmm...maybe this all will become moot when Creative makes its open-API, licensed decoder card...i'm waiting...

    Damn. I hope not. People should not be complacent about this. Just because you've found an alternate means to obtain what you want, doesn't mean that the MPAA is right or that the legal interpretations or laws should stand as they are. I hope we can fight this until we win.

  • The prosecutor was made aware of the violation of copyright law. But the MPAA doesn't control the Noregian government or their prosecutors; they can only lodge a complaint.

    If the MPAA filed a complaint, then Valenti was lying when he said they weren't involved with his arrest. Saying they weren't involved is like me firing a bullet at someone and claiming that I wasn't involved in his death. It was just between him and the bullet.

    So you do agree that once you've bought the DVD drive and the DVD disk, you have the right to use whatever tools you want to view it on a Linux computer?

    Of course. However, you do not have the right to distribute those tools, or to repurpose those tools to violate studio's intellectual property rights by copying the tracks off the DVD for potential redistribution across the 'net.

    The simple fact that 99% of the 'net using world cannot download a dvd movie from the net due to bandwidth and/or time constraints would seem to signify that the primary use of the DeCSS software is, in fact, something other than just ripping copies of dvds to trade with friends. It has also been demonstrated that you can't watch dvd movies using Linux without a software player that requires DeCSS. Even if a commercial player becomes available, there's no reason anyone should have to purchase it. There's also no reason that the DeCSS creators should have had to distribute it in binary form only. The encryption algorithm is not protected by patent, and no copyright was violated in its creation. The only reason this thing is still in court is because the MPAA lawyers got the judge to look at the DMCA in some backasswards way that effectively removes a consumer's right to fair use. If we aren't allowed to bypass encryption (even a token encryption scheme that is trivial to break) for the purpose of achieving interoperability (in this case, in order to view the contents of a dvd that we purchased on Linux), then the MPAA has effectively granted itself much more powerful copyright protections than the law itself ever did. Therefore, I believe that DeCSS's use (and distribution) should be allowed under fair use guidelines.

  • Primarily?

    That's the real question. I think that since the vast majority of 'net users couldn't possibly download a dvd movie, the primary use must be for simply viewing movies that were legitimately purchased.

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    Thanks. I like that quote. I think I'm going to make it into my .sig.

  • If what you say is true, and I'm not entirely sure it is, then there are a lot of serious legal inconsistencies that need to be resolved. If the courts have ruled that I can make a copy of a CD or tape, then why isn't the same logic applied to DVD or any other format? I believe I also have the right to make an archive copy of a software program, whether this violates a EULA or not. I think I should have this right for any medium, simply because they can all be destroyed relatively easily and I shouldn't have to re-pay for content that I've already purchased simply because the storage media is fragile.

    I'm going to have to find someplace where I can read the courts decisions and rationale in cases related to copyright.

  • That's the small picture view. Is using DeCSS within fair use guidelines? I would personally agree. However, the big picture is one where just about everything movie ever produced can be reproduced and downloaded in the same way we download a tarball today--and pirated just as easily.

    No, that's the current situation, and in the here and now, people are being prosecuted for exercising their rights. I don't give damn if it will be possible for half the net users in the world to download a movie five years from now. It has nothing to do with prosecuting people for publishing or distributing the unpatented CSS decryption algorithm. They had reasons that have nothing to do with what will be possible five years from now. Their acts should be entirely legal. If the government wants to take some real action regarding copyright law in the future, then let it do so, but let's have it be discussed and very visible to the American people. After all, its their rights that are on the auction block.

    _Sprocket_ posted this quote from the Betamax case that seems pretty relevant to the DeCSS case.

    From the Betamax case (US Supreme Court, 1984, Sony Corporation v. Universal City Studios):

    The sale of copying equipment, like the sale of other articles of commerce, does not constitute contributory infringement if the product is widely used for legitimate, unobjectionable purposes. Indeed, it need merely be capable of substantial noninfringing uses.

    By that standard, I think the DeCSS case should be tossed out.

  • Region codes exist on DVDs in order to prevent retail marketers from circumventing their own internal distribution model. That is, the distributors that the studios deal with to distribute materials around the world pretty much demanded that some sort of region code be added so that the distributors can maintain their effective market position, rather than be bypassed by the store fronts who could otherwise buy the materials from a distributor in another country and save money.

    In other words: To screw the consumer. That reason cares no weight, and it shouldn't. I'm very sympathetic to other businesses need to turn a profit (as a fellow business owner), but not when it comes exclusively at the cost to me and is not market driven. Region Codes create an artifical shortage of product, and do not benefit the comsumer. Why would a consumer want to spend more? (Its a rhetorical question - the answer is they wouldn't).

    The prosecutor was made aware of the violation of copyright law. But the MPAA doesn't control the Noregian government or their prosecutors; they can only lodge a complaint.

    Thats only partially true. The MPAA is a very powerful political powerhouse. They may not directly control the Norweigian government, but they also do not directly control the US Government, and yet their wishes become law somehow thru the US Congress. The reason behind this is very simple, they're a very powerful political lobby. Look at what Jack Valenti used to do!

    Its the epitome of niave to believe he couldn't get the Norweigian government to do his bidding. Especially in a case that is hard to explain to the unwashed masses, and is very unlikely to be challeged or questioned by the Norwegians. Don't forget, US courts have bene persuaded by the MPAA to restrict freedom of speech for the MPAA. This is nothing for someone like Valenti to do.

    Need I remind anyone that he used to work for Kennedy and Jonhson? I'm sure he has plenty of political favors owed him, and can walk the halls of congress with impunity. Can you imagine what sort of money the MPAA can bring to bear to support a US political? Imagine having the MPAA help run a campaign against you... the threat of that alone must be enought to cause most polticians to buckle on the spot.

    And you don't think he can pull some strings and ask the Norweigian government to have one insignificant kid arrested for supposedly breaking a copyright law? If you believe that, you don't understand the world of politics. The MPAA has plenty of control over the Norwegians just like its got the entire US Government in its right pocket.
    --
    Python

  • Take a look at this statement:

    Yes, I know that argument. But if you think about it a minute, you will see that the digital world is as far away from the analog world as the lightning is from the lightning bug. For example, in analog you have to go down to a Blockbuster store, then you have to copy it, then it has to be sent physically. Somebody's got to take a truck or a car or DHL and get it to another country. There is a brutish kind of awkward distribution system. Not so on the Internet, where some obscure person sitting in a basement can throw up on the Internet a brand new motion picture, and with the click of a button have it go with the speed of light to 6 billion people around the world, instantaneously. It's totally different, totally different.

    No its not. You still have to get in a car and drive to blockbuster, or where ever and get the DVD or VHS tape in both cases (analog and digital). In both cases you can copy either the VHS or DVD into a digital form or "analog" form (I think he means physical versus non-physical copying), and in both cases (the analog copy of the movie and the digital copy of the movie) you can with the "click of a button have it go with the speed of light to 6 billion people around the world, instantaneously."

    And in both cases, DVD and VHS, you can also pirate them the "old fashioned" way, which doesn't seem to have such a high marginal cost of production either (since its done).

    Additionally, since VCDs and VHS tapes are not protected by CSS, there is a totally unprotected and CHEAP channel (cheaper than DVD) for pirating works into a non-physical form WITHOUT every having to mess with decrypting ANYHING. In short, CSS does not protect the MOVIE, it only protects playback of DVDs. You can still get the entire movie from a totally unprotected source with the full blessing of the MPAA! VHS tapes and VCDs are completely legal and totally unprotected!

    Piracy can still carry on, unfettered, no matter what happens with CSS. Tthe MPAA is talking out of both sides of their mouth. Its OK to not protect VCDs or VHS tapes and make fair use of them and yet its REQUIRED that DVDs be protected, that you not be able to make copies of them and that its not OK for you to make fair use of them. Which is it? They both can't be right, and therefore its logially inconsitent.

    His logic is so fallacious and vapid, but what do you expect from someone that clearly doesn't understand that movies can be copied right now without ever touching a DVD and be put on the net right now. The world passed Valenti by a long time ago. He was dead wrong about VCRs (and has since admitted it) and he is dead wrong now. This is the exact same argument he made about VCRs. Ah yes... its all so clear to me now: "those that can't remember the past are condemmed to repeat it."

    How quickly we forget.

    If someone has found some comments of his from the VCR debates of the 80's, I'd love to see them.
    --
    Python

  • Of course, I man have forgetten to mention that this statement: "click of a button have it go with the speed of light to 6 billion people around the world, instantaneously." is pretty absurd all by itself. 6 billion people are not wired, in fact only a few hundred million people in the ENTIRE WORLD are reportely on the net in one form or another - and most of them on are on slow modems. So its safe to say hist entire statment is nothing but alarmist hog wash.

    Valenti's entire bag of assumptions are probably equally bogus given how aggregious this one was, and some of the others he touts as "facts". Why anyone listens to him is beyond me. He was dead wrong about VCRs and could have cost the Motion Picture industry BILLIONS if he got his way, thankfully he didn't and we are ALL richer because of it.

    In any other industry we would have been fired for such a lack of vision. The sad part is that really important people hang on his every word, and if he says its so, then it must be. This is VCR's all over again. Too bad he's having so much trouble understand it. Honestly, I think he still believes VCR's are a bad idea, and only cause "piracy" (as he claimed only a few years ago). My guess is that he pretends to believe otherwise so as not to look like such a fool in light of the overwhelming fact that he was dead wrong. Wrong to the tune of several billion dollars, while still not understand why he was wrong. I suspect it baffles him personally why VCR's make the industry so much money, when everything he understands about the world tells him they should do otherwise. In short, its probably a fair statement to say that he really does not understand the changes that have taken place in the world of information over the last couple of decades.

    The real question is why is the Motion Picture industry listening to him again when he's clearly been wrong about this same sort of thing before? Is this all part of some plan to stall the industry which the MPAA works up some sort of plan to create YET ANOTHER artificial shortage?

    I say that is exactly what this is all about. Make your mouth piece someone that doesn't get it, will say what you want him to say, and buy yourself some time so you can engineer the public into paying for a product that they used to be able to get for free (no pay per view!). The sad thing is the American people will go along with it and the world will probably follow along in lock step.

    The MPAA and RIAA are all trying to create the same thing: a world where every song, movie, TV show and other form of entertainment is a Pay Per View event. A headlong rush to take the world back to the days where there were no TVs and you had to go to a movie theater to watch a movie. The master plan I suspect is to turn every TV, radio, CD player, computer and so on into the virtual equivalent of a Movie Theater. Pay for your ticket or else!
    --
    Python

  • It costs $8 less to copy a DVD to a pack of CD-R's. $20 less to downsample the DVD to 1.5Mbit/sec and store it on CD-R. On modern computers it's just like ripping audio tracks. Any process of copying involves a decode step and an encode step to segment the files into 650 meg chunks. The decode step is only possible with deCSS.
  • In this case, you can reverse engineer a piece of proprietary, licensed software whose license terms prohibit that activity, and you can make your own DVD player. But you don't necessarily have that right under our current set of laws and are technically in violation of the license agreement and probably several intellectual property laws as well.

    Show me the clause is a DVD's license which says you have to use a licensed player, as I have yet to see one. (I'm not trying to be argumentative here; I honestly haven't seen one.) If the license doesn't require this, how can the MPAA and the DVD CCA require it and have a legal leg to stand on?

    --Troy
  • Why then, do you charge different prices in different countries?

    Because of different distribution costs in those countries. Different markets have different markups because each market has it's own distribution system which requires different markups so that the people along that distribution chain can be paid for their work.

    (This is the standard reason given by most hardware manufacturers as to why PCs cost about 50% more in certain parts of the world than in others.)

    Region codes exist on DVDs in order to prevent retail marketers from circumventing their own internal distribution model. That is, the distributors that the studios deal with to distribute materials around the world pretty much demanded that some sort of region code be added so that the distributors can maintain their effective market position, rather than be bypassed by the store fronts who could otherwise buy the materials from a distributor in another country and save money.


    This is at best a specious argument. If a retailer can legally get the product for lower cost than the distributor will sell it, then the cost that they pay is the distribution cost. Exactly what gives the middleman the right to be inefficient. He has made no input to the creative process, which is the sole claim studios have for their copyright monopoly. Indeed there will be different prices in different countries, but these should be determined by the market and taxes.

    Closer to the truth is the fact that US filmakers release films overseas later than the US release to be able to recycle film and save on marketing costs. They don't want to compete with DVDs of their own movies.

    So you do agree that once you've bought the DVD drive and the DVD disk, you have the right to use whatever tools you want to view it on a Linux computer?

    Of course. However, you do not have the right to distribute those tools, or to repurpose those tools to violate studio's intellectual property rights by copying the tracks off the DVD for potential redistribution across the 'net.

    First of all, copying a track off a DVD for my personal use is my right. I may want to watch my DVD on my laptop which doesn't have a DVD drive. In the case of TV and CDs courts have said that time shifted viewing and viewing on a different device is ok under the principle of fair use. Distribution, not copying is illegal, therfore tools to enable copying should not be illegal (and certainly not ones needed for viewing).

    One thing that Mr. Valenti does get is the explosive nature of bandwidth over the Internet. That is, while now it is impractical to download a 10gb movie file, tomorrow better compression technology and higher bandwidths will make it trivial to do. Just as 10 years ago, the thought of storing one record album for playback on your computer was seen as completely impractical--while now, people are routinely storing dozens of CDs on their hard disk for convenient playback.

    While this is true, the fact of the matter is, if I can view a file in any way on a PC, I can copy it (with potentially reduced quality). Are you going to insist that CSS be put in every video card and that frame capture cards should obey Macrovision? (I wouldn't be surprised).

    You can't win by fighting the ability to copy, only by stopping mass distribution. One of the best ways to stop mass distibution is with reasonable pricing. Copying inevitably costs more in time, materials and/or bandwidth than the initial production. If it doesn't than the producer should be using different technology. Make the price reasonable and people will gladly purchase the real deal.
    --
  • > Jack Valenti
    > They're not at all. I don't follow you're logic there.

    Me to Mister Jack Valent:

    Then you and your whole parasitic distrubution industry are DEAD, and there is nothing you can do but stall and look stupid in the process.. Evolve or die your castles in the sky are coming down..
  • They've been selling $2.50 DVD bit-for-bit copies for over a year now (well predating DeCSS you'll note). Anyone with pro DVD mastering equipment can trivially make bit-for-bit copies, and that's exactly how the HK guys do it.
  • What do you mean when you say "ole' boys network"?

    The currently operating franchise practice that pumps out the pockets of the average user outside the US via intentional artificial regionalization.

    Actually, the US is quite similar. If you recall how many millions did PaperView make out of subscribtions for the early Tyson fights in the beginning of the 90's. It was the only channel to show the fights in 90-91 (excuse me for my bad memory) and was not on the base subscriber list almost everywhere. So lusers hastily subscribed over one week.

    This is one big informal and sometimes formal monopoly. What they are afraid of is a new kid on the block breaking the monopoly agreement.

    Sorry. You saw the gig. You did not see the reasons for the gig. As well as why the gig generates so high revenue.

  • Sorry, you read wrong.

    Actually all the copying crap presented on both injunctions is wrong. As a result all the injunctions are on false basis and false premises and based on lies, lies and again damn lies.

    Reread the article. What they are afraid of is not that it will be copied. What they are afraid of is that someone will start broadcasting it from a place they cannot control and hence undermine their whole revenue stream, estableshed policies and ole' boys networks (reread the stuff about site in Afganistan).

    I appload the Salon reporter that made Valenti spit what he actaully is afraid of. And what he actually wants.

    Round of applause to Salon for this one.
  • "The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world,"

    Yet they are encoded with region codes that prevent this from happening. The MPAA is directly preventing a method (DeCSS) that would actually allow this to happen.

    Sorry, but he IS clueless. At least about his own lawsuits and practices.

    Finkployd
  • Watching a DVD on an unapproved Linux player is like...

    A) Stealing the keys to a department store
    B) Sneaking into a movie theater without paying
    C) Car jacking
    D) Murder
  • Never mind that there are also sociopolitical issues with releases that staggered release dates, DVD region coding, etc. help to alleviate as well. For example:

    • You can't show pubic hair at all in Japan. In the US, a brief flash of pubic hair in context may not be sufficient to push you from PG-13 to R.
    • Certain films are deemed too sensitive for certain countries by the local government. As I recall, A Clockwork Orange has been banned in the UK (is it still?). Can you imagine the issues associated with making The Killing Fields available in Cambodia, or The Year of Living Dangerously in Indonesia?
    • A lot of investment is required to do i18n on films. Foreign-language films in the US are dubbed and/or subtitled, what makes you think similar measures aren't required when releasing English-language movies in Italy, Norway, or Uzbekistan? It takes time and money to employ reasonably talented actors who speak Spanish, Farsi, and Swahili to produce dub versions of Tom Cruise's next film... and these production constraints, on top of things like local censors, all but guarantee that it really is impossible for Mission Impossible 2 to open simultaneously in Ithaca and Islamabad.

    So, perhaps we are the ones who need to step back and evaluate whether we are being short-sighted WRT the realities of their business model, before we commit to stringing the MPAA up by their thumbnails for trying to control what physical jurisdictions their content is being viewed in.



    This is my opinion and my opinion only. Incidentally, IANAL.

  • One quote I like is this: .... the other case aims to prevent people from using DeCSS, a program that can unscramble encrypted digital video disks (DVD) and let people copy them.

    "The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world," .... says Valenti, defending the cases.

    Wouldn't the best way to make movies move freely and unhobbled around the world be to unencrypt the movie, or atleast allow others to? That way they can be copied and distributed to everyone.

    Note: I'm joking, but you can see my point.

    ---

  • I'm a little confused. If consumers have no right to duplicate a video, then dual-deck VCR's have no legitimate use, correct? Moreover, why is it that I am allowed to make a copy of an entire video program that is distributed via broadcast? This would certainly count as "the right to make an archival or alternate-format copy of a video work". I am also allowed to make an archival copy of any software I buy, in addition to making "alternate format" copies.

    I am 99% certain that these are all cases which have been explicitely allowed by the courts. It may be that, due to their private and non-commercial nature, they are considered outside the scope of what copyright prevents. The examples that you give are all times when fair-use allows re-distribution of a copyrighted work (either commercial or non-commercial.)

    Now, the DMCA is truly an evil beast. It allows the copyright holders to place any type of lame, ineffective, or imaginary system of "access control" in place and then harass any customer who dares to try and enjoy any of the fair use rights that the courts have recognized as being part of societies half of the copyright balance. It gives the copyright holder all of the benefits of copyright, while outlawing virtually all of societies half of the bargain. Truely amazing.

    However, the DMCA also requires the copyright office to determine if any classes of copyrighted work should be exempted. They are accepting written comments right now about what things should be exempted. Please go take a look at this [loc.gov] to get more information. Please read over the comments they have already received in order to get an idea of how to (and how not to) write your letter.

    Remember, this is not about DeCSS per-se. It is to determine which types of copyrighted work will not be protected by the DMCA. It should be easy for us to make the argument that any work whose access control system prohibits the fair-use and private copy allowences that the courts have recognized should not be protected. The deadline for comments is Thursday. Check it out, and please try and find the time to write a well thought out comment. This is an excellent opportunity for us to make our voice heard!

  • You have to understand the MPAA's POV though, If they dont control the way the media is distributed, they cant profit (enough) from their product and wont be able to make it anymore.

    Personally I think that's crap, but that's going to be the position of someone in the movie industry. They are an industry, they want to get paid. Controlling the way content is distributed is the only way to maintain profitibility when content can be easily duplicated and distributed. (Again, their opinion, not mine)

    -Rich


  • This question nags me:

    Interviewer:

    But in terms of the iCraveTV and DeCSS injunctions, (which the courts handed down in January), both are keeping people from accessingt he product of the Motion Picture Association.


    Jack Valenti
    They're not at all. I don't follow you're logic there.

    He doesn't seem to get it at all. Surely he must understand that all we wish to do is watch DVDs under Linux, why is that a crime?

  • Nope, you have to remember he's also concerned about the future implications of decisions made today. Whilst I'm not on his side, I can see his point, which is that he is concerned that DeCSS and packages like it can decode his product and allow people to set up Warez type sites for movies. This is obviously not a problem at current internet transfer rates, but his argument is that in a few years time we will all have connection rates that make such transfers technically feasible. Similarly it is not economic to dedicate the storage to save decrypted movies to hard disk, but again in a few years time, when mass storage costs have come down one or two of orders of magnitude, it will be economic to save movies to such storage.

    The MPAA is aiming for long term protection of its product and therefore want laws in place [and associated legal decisions] which enforce such protection.

    There are lots of other reasons why I don't agree with him, hence the sig line.....
  • My main reason for wanting to bypass cable scrambling is so that I can get rid of that stupid converter box. I certainly don't want to have to get a box for every TV and computer.

    I also find it interesting that cable companies try to charge an additional outlet fee (at least mine does). That sounds a lot like back when AT&T only let you use AT&T phones before they were broken up.
  • "What about the arrest of Jon Johansen, the Norwegian teenager partly responsible for DeCSS: did the MPAA have anything to do with it?
    That was done by Norwegian prosecutors. We were not involved in that.
    And your reply to the prosecutor who said they did it at your request would be?"
    Ummm...

    Ooh! Did I miss some big story about the Norwegians claiming that the MPAA told them to make the arrest? Why wasn't it on Slashdot? Will the Norwegians next open an embassy in Hollywood? Will Janet Reno prosecute anyone making a Qt front-end to DeCSS? Will Bill Clinton admit that he used Chinese political donations as a means to launder AOL/Time/Warner payoffs?
  • Then why don't use use the licensed software you already have?

    The problem is not the licensing, the problem is that someone violated the CVD license by reverse engineering the decryption. The same people who are condemning the MPAA would be the first ones to call for lawsuit if I distributed a Qt front-end to the GPLd DeCSS.
  • Frankly, Valenti strikes me as the kind of person that only opens his mouth to switch feet. He doesn't seem comfortable being reminded that in the past he was clueless, but why learn from past mistakes? I wouldn't call him a Luddite as much as simply a knee-jerk reactionary for anything that wasn't fostered by his precious consortium...

    just my two Lira

    z
  • Actually, the best real analogy I've found to watching a DVD in linux is buying a Slim Jim to get into your own car because you locked your keys inside.

    You're using a tool that is legal for a legal purpose -- the only thing is that the tool also makes it much easier for people to illegally break into cars. Thus the tool is seen as an instrument for criminals and part of that rubs off on you.

  • What the hell is the point of having a huge mass of encrypted, usless, data? If you can't decrypt the data, you can't ever watch it. If you don't take the decryption keys when you copy (witch you can not do with a normal DVD-ROM drive)

    The only way to watch a movie after you have the encrypted file is by decrypting it. A licensed player can't play a file without they keys (although a lot of people on slashdot don't seem to understand this). So, in order to watch the movie, you need to decrypt it. This isn't hard; because DVD encryption is amazingly shoddy. But, you still need to use something to do it... something like... (say it with me, people) DeCSS.

    You need DeCSS on one end of the equation, or you haven't copied anything. DeCSS makes doing a pure digital copy of a .VOB file possible. (Yes, there other means, but almost all require at least some kind of special hardware (MPEG encoder cards, or huge, 140gig hard drives at the least). What the hell is the point of having a huge mass of encrypted, useless, data? If you can't decrypt the data, you can't ever watch it. If you don't take the decryption keys when you copy (witch you can not do with a normal DVD-ROM drive)

    The only way to watch a movie after you have the encrypted file is by decrypting it. A licensed player can't play a file without they keys (although a lot of people on slashdot don't seem to understand this). So, in order to watch the movie, you need to decrypt it. This isn't hard, because DVD encryption is amazingly shoddy. But, you still need to use something to do it... something like... (Say it with me, people) DeCSS.

    You need DeCSS on one end of the equation, or you haven't copied anything. DeCSS makes doing a pure digital copy of a .VOB file possible. (Yes, there other means, but almost all require at least some kind of special hardware (MPEG encoder cards, or huge, 140gig hard drives at the least).

    But if you don't want to believe me don't. It doesn't matter what you think at all.

    [ c h a d o k e r e ] [dhs.org]
  • by debrain ( 29228 )
    Valenti speaks of "instinct" in the dark, that he is completely unaware of the direction this is all taking. In essence, he is admitting that he does not know what is going on or the effects of his actions, that he does not know what is going to happen, and at the same time is involved in legal cases that he pointedly does not understand the "logic" behind.

    This man has done some great things, perhaps, but in this particular circumstance he appears not only over his head, to be making ill-informed decisions that will affect you and I. Is there a "right" answer about DVD and copy protection? Not really; both side appear guilty of instinctive responses, but one is constructive (DeCSS), the other destructive (Injunctions). Judge it as you will. I seem him, Jack Valenti, bureaucrat, full of non-answers and faithful illusions.

  • They are an industry, they want to get paid. Controlling the way content is distributed is the only way to maintain profitibility when content can be easily duplicated and distributed.

    Which brings us to the crux of the problem for both ther MPAA and the RIAA, the Internet. Both industries have spend the better part of the century building distrubution networks to leverage their position. Now, a new technology has arrived that has totally undermined their entire operation. I don't need their multi-billion dollar network to see movies or listen to music, nor do I need to subsidize it or their profits. Because I don't need them, I don't want to pay for them. I'm all for paying for good media, but why pay highway robbery prices when there is no need for the highway?

    --
  • Finally, a thread that looks forward. Reading Mr. Valenti's statement about his purpose here "The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world," you'd think he'd listen to his own points "But if it was on the Net, 6 billion people would have access to it."

    The problem here is that they want to make money the old fashioned way in media, licencing it and selling it directly. That's not going to work. It works fine when the natural way for it to be distributed backs this up (i.e. The producer makes a physical copy, trucks it to me, I buy a copy, there is a media cost, on which I pay a small mark-up), but that's not the way distrubtution works now (i.e. I am already paying for the physical media and distrubution system, (bandwidth and diskspace), all the physical costs are mine) so all I am paying for is a license. But they don't make much money on the license, at least not when compared to the mark-up they get after coupling it with hard media, so the idea is not to sell it that way.

    Unfortunately I don't see a need to buy a CD, or a video, or any hard media, BECAUSE I DON'T NEED TO. The market forces have changed. So where is the value? They can't sell hard goods, so they have to sell soft. Suffice it to say, that they value they get from their media should not be the face value of the stuff its printed on (which I already paid for and won't again), but the value they get from the attention paid to they media. By maximizing distrubution and its ease, they will be able to leverage this attention for profit, all the while paying no distrubution and minimal advertising (if they have a good prouct) costs.

    Unfortunately before this can happen they 1) need to realize that fighting/sueing consumers isn't in their best interest and 2) realize that their old networks are not worth what they once were and, basically, get with the times.

    No it won't be easy, but having an entire new medium appear that makes value disappear is not something most companies deal with on a regular basis.

    The unfortunate part is Valenti's close ties to the Gov't. I have no doubt he had a HUGE hand in crafting the DMCA, as well as getting it to pass.

    --
  • In order to maintain his products value he needs regulation.

    hence the DMCA, do you wonder if Jack, being in Washington and all, had anything to do with its passying?

    Can anyone here think of a good way to license movies over the internet that works with the MPAA system?

    First off, you need to realize that an Internet distrubution system most likely will NOT support 10 freakin' 30+ million dollar movies a week. No system should. If you don't think that Hollywood is already out of control (Waterworld!?!), then this solution won't make sense (I wonder how much they spent on the DMCA?). However, what the Internet will support is massive parallel distrubution (i.e. Napster) and, someday, ubiquitous presence across socioeconimc barriers. The trick is to leverage the public in to doing your job for you.

    So what does that leave? Yep, you guessed it movie theatres. See it on the big screen or wait a couple years and see it at home. A couple years!!! what! Movies come out on video in a matter of months now, but that's because there is a home market. Uh, oh I just scared you. The home market changes just a bit in this plan, you add an -ing to it. Home marketing. The industry needs to do what Domino's has done, use personal property as a means of distrubution. Who does your promotion? I do. Why? 'Cause I love your movies and want my friends to see them. Who does your distrubtion? I do. Why? 'Cuase I love your movies and want my friends to see them.

    You see, the studios have painted themselves into a corner by making their product so available. Now consumers are considered having "seen" a movie, even if it's one their 13 inch. What the industry should move to is a more classis approach, control your content in the only forum now possible, the theatres. You make it valuable by controlling scarcity. You do that by not publishing it publicly (which is what VHS, DVD are) until it's full value has been realized, I'm propsing two years. It is then used as good will, brand building, marketing, that can be freely distributed in the home market(ing). The movies sare distributed digitally from the company's web site after logging in and giving your demo and working e-mail. This allows cross-promotion of that new movie, as well as extremely valuable consumer data.

    Woah, you're saying, give up the home market? Yep, because it's not worth fighting for. To create any type of secure format viewing area will lead to countless battles like this, each one alienating more and more consumers. Also because it can't be won. The Internet makes control of digital media impossible (or at the very least economically, politically, socially difficult), realzie this and try to go back to what first made seeing movies great, the Motion Picture Theatre Experience (oh yeah, and making good movies).

    So what happens. A new movie comes out, people like it, they tell their friends. The friends now have a choice, pay to see it now, or wait (years) to see it later. Some friends wait, some don't. Those that wait see the movie two years later, realize how cool it was, that this company/director/actor makes good movies, and later pays to see the movie in the theatre. Did I mention ticket prices go up? During this time the friends have also been watching tons of free movies (since network TV still sucks in the future) and are then that much more likely to see a hit movie at the theatre.

    The other thing. Persecute the shit out of piraters. Now it's easy. One if they're selling movies, everyone know they're cheating and since movies are free anyway, why buy 'em (that's cut out the demand, which is always a better plan than attacking supply). If they are viewing them and them haven't been "released" yet, they are obviously *stolen* and worthy of prosecution. I think that would simplify things tremendously.

    Yes, this whole thing is drastic and half-baked. But it focuses on using the technology and existing rules to reach a suitable settlement. I don't have a full business plan worked out, but there will always be money to be made in good movies, but not on a per copy basis. Per seat, yes, but only if that seat is valuable. Fighting the tide of the 'Net will NOT work. Most of us already see its power and are working/advocating keeping it as open and free as possible. The only way any licensing system will work is to remove that freedom or obliterate privacy, two things I won't stand for. There ya have it, butcher at will.

    --
  • And exactly what was the value added by DeCSS? Couldn't you do exactly the same thing without ripping the movie to disk? Couldn't you still copy the movie to disk by D to A and A to D, with only a trivial loss of quality, if MPEG output was your goal?
  • He's talking about playing the DVD (i.e. converting Digital to Analog), taking the video out, and then re-encoding it (i.e. converting Analog to Digital), in an unencrypted form. While not as perfect as a bit-for-bit copy, this will probably generate good quality. And then you can make a bazillion perfect bit-for-bit copies of your unencrypted version, using publically available hardware.


    Yes, precisely. Especially if you could avoid staging the data on an analog medium, your copy would be free the noise inherent in reading an analog signal off of iron oxide glued to plastic tape. It would be more than good enough for almost any conceivable purpose.

    The argument seems to be not DVD copying, but possible Internet based piracy. This is not practical today, but in ten years this could be a real headache for MPAA. In this sense, Mr. Valenti is not a clueless as people think (although his argument about sneaking into the theater is pure hogwash).

    However, as right as Mr. Valenti is to be concerned about future Internet based piracy, I don't think that is the business case for pursuing DeCss. Unfortunately, DeCSS while not very essential to Internet based movie piracy, would indeed be useful if such a thing were practical. On the other hand while DeCSS is essential to playing DVDs on Linux, it is not currently useful since there is no DVD player software at this time as far as I know.
  • ....will this guy stand up to his words? I quote from the article:

    "So what constitutes fair use of a DVD in your eyes -- besides simply buying a DVD and using one of the MPAA's authorized players?
    Any use by which you buy it at a price. "


    I guess that's what most of us want: go out and buy our DVD's to watch on whatever player we find convenient....My respect for MPAA just grow significantly :)

    It could be most interresting if someone could get to talk to this guy, and ask him fair and square questions to have him elaborate on this. Questions such as "How do you suggest that we play the DVD's we've paid good money for using alternative systems such as Linux, *BSD and Solaris?"

    He definitely must have a good solution to this, considering his other statement in the article:

    "The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world,"

    Am I just clueless, or aren't the "region codes" and the combatting of DeCSS counterproductive to the "principle occupation of the MPAA" ????

  • The powers that be could largely wipe out the video pirates market overnight by releasing worldwide at the same time (ok I know there are translation problems etc.)

    You're looking for a technical problem where you should really be looking for an economic one. The reason why they don't release movies worldwide at the same time is that it's economically unfeasible to do so -- under the current system, the studios can see which movies succeed and which movies flop in the domestic market, and having figured out which ones are winners (or at least figured out how much they expect each to make), start marketing them on the international market. Releasing them everwhere simultaneously would add a lot more risk to the equation, although there are ways around it -- more sampling, etc.
  • by / ( 33804 )
    The movie and TV industries? Of course they're filled with geniuses, look at the brilliant and informative programming that they create.

    Just look at the audience, why don't you? It takes a clever person to spoonfeed an entire nation horseshit and convince them it's caviar. If you're depressed by the results, then it's because the American People (tm) are not demanding enough of the producers. You can say the same thing about Congress.
  • What the MPAA is trying to do is prevent the user from using the legally purchased dvd even if he's willing to assume all the technical/other risks inherrent in doing so. Two of your justifications are legal/political burdens, which could just as easily be assumed by the user who imports and uses the disc. Your third reason doesn't account for the enormous number of English-speaking foreign nationals.

    There is still a buck to be made in catering to backwardlooking governments (of which the US is still one) and to value-added products like translated versions. But none of this is any reason to prevent the willing user from using his legally purchased item. Their current business model may be the most profitable for them under the current circumstances, but we just changed the circumstances -- they'll scream and kick before submitting, but they'll still go home with gads of money.
  • The plain, simple fact is that there are all sorts of regulated, metered, for pay content out there. DVDs happen to be one form. Complaining that you have "rights" to watch it any way you please is simply unfounded, given the ample precedence for other forms of content with controlled playback mechanisms.

    Except that DVDs are not a "regulated, metered for pay content". DIVX was, but everyone rejected that format because people do not want to live in a world where everything you want to do costs you nickles & dimes (Or Dollars actually, in the DIVX case). DVD is a recording media. By buying the DVD, you are allowed to view the movie. No-one should care if you do it on a DVD player, on a windows box or a linux box, because the rightful copyright owners gets their cut regardless of how you watch it, or even if you stick it on a shelf and never watch it or if you decide to make microwave DVD's.

  • And hammers & crowbars CAN BE(and indeed ARE) used to break into homes.

    I've never seen a prosecutuer arrest Bob Vila because he sells hammers.

  • Years ago many cable TV systems charged per outlet. "Cable ready" TVs and VCRs existed, but you had a pay a modest premium to avoid the hassles of a separate set-top box.

    Laws and technology changed, and now most cable TV systems charge per household and most TVs and VCRs are "cable ready." My household has a couple TVs and a video card which I often use to keep a small video feed on my computer monitor.

    So why am I paying $10/month for HBO which I can't view? Because TCI/AT&T decided to get eliminate hardware cable scrambling when it rebuilt my neighborhood for digital cable. My big TV has a digital cable box so it can also handle software decryption of the analog premium channels, but I can't do that upstairs with the TV/VCR/BTTV/camcorder setup. (The camcorder is an occasional webcam on the adjacent bikepath, you pervs! :-) If I put the BTTV upstream of the cable box, I lose the ability to watch or capture from my VCR or scrambled channels. If I put the BTTV downstream I lose the ability to watch monitor two channels at the same time, or play with geek toys like a program that scans a dozen channels and displays snapshots of each.

    A software bttv decoder won't allow me to view the digital cable TV channels I can legally view, but it might allow me to view the analog premium channels that I've paid for.
  • my point remains: DeCSS CAN BE(and indeed IS) used for copying DVD content.
    That's a valid point. And it seems to be the angle the MPAA likes to push: DeCCS copies intellectual property.

    The MPAA, and their bretheren media industry organizations, hate that.

    They also hate "fair use". They've taken the issue to court. They lost.

    There have been legal precidents set that support the copying of intellectual property for personal use AND the movement of this property from one media to another.

    Distributing illegal copies of intellectual property is a different matter. The fact that DeCCS may aid in this is a moot point.

    From the Betamax case (US Supreme Court, 1984, Sony Corporation v. Universal City Studios):

    The sale of copying equipment, like the sale of other articles of commerce, does not constitute contributory infringement if the product is widely used for legitimate, unobjectionable purposes. Indeed, it need merely be capable of substantial noninfringing uses.
  • The baby boom era is called that because people returning from WWII had babies in large numbers. Hense this demographic "boom."

    However, Jack Valenti flew a plane in World War II. That means he was born well before the baby boom era, and so is no boomer.
  • The simple fact that 99% of the 'net using world cannot download a dvd movie from the net due to bandwidth and/or time constraints would seem to signify that the primary use of the DeCSS software is, in fact, something other than just ripping copies of dvds to trade with friends.

    Today that's 99.9% or some such.

    Tomorrow, that's 90%.

    And the next day, it's 50%.

    I think I'm going to show my age. However, when I first started serious programming, the idea of storing more than a couple of pages of > on a computer seemed like an outrageous problem. (I remember sitting around with my friends discussing how cool the future will be when we can store an entire 100+ page book on our computer.)

    When I first started college, the notion of storing an entire track of a song at resolutions high enough to compete with the audio fidelity of an album was unthinkable. (Hell, such a creature would completely fill up that $800 20 megabyte hard disk I bought to hang off my MacPlus.) And the idea of *downloading* such a file was just completely outrageous--given the fact that if you were even on a BBS, you probably were hooked up at 300 baud. The same goes for pictures--the idea of digitizing a picture and storing it on-line sounded completely outrageous.

    Today, we connect fast enough that pictures are routinely inserted into web sites because they look cool as icons. (Borg Bill, anyone?)

    And sites like MP3 are doing quite well. And people are storing *hundreds* of songs on their hard disks.

    The worry of the MPAA is not that people *today* can pirate movies freely. The worry is that *tomorrow*, there will be so much bandwidth that downloading an entire movie at DVD video quality will just take a few minutes.

    And don't tell me that it sounds completely outrageous that someone will be able to download an entire movie off the 'net in a few minutes. It's just a matter of time.

    Therefore, I believe that DeCSS's use (and distribution) should be allowed under fair use guidelines.

    That's the small picture view. Is using DeCSS within fair use guidelines? I would personally agree. However, the big picture is one where just about everything movie ever produced can be reproduced and downloaded in the same way we download a tarball today--and pirated just as easily.
  • This is at best a specious argument.

    I know that. However, it is the argument that is given by various manufacturers to include region codes into their products.

    That is, they do it because it's cheaper for a manufacturer to include region code technology and keep the distributers in a particular country happy than it is to try to bypass those distributors.

    If a retailer can legally get the product for lower cost than the distributor will sell it, then the cost that they pay is the distribution cost.

    And the distributor that store front bypassed will never do business with that store again, causing that store's supply of products to effectively dry up.

    To an American like me this sounds shocking, surreal, and extremely anti-competitive. However, it is the current reality through most of the world, where anti-trust laws are totally non-existant.

    Closer to the truth is the fact that US filmakers release films overseas later than the US release to be able to recycle film and save on marketing costs. They don't want to compete with DVDs of their own movies.

    While it may be true, it doesn't completely track with "region code" technology that is used in other tech products such as video games. The reality is the manufacturers are trying to play nice with the regional distributors rather than bypassing them. By the way, this is extremely important if you are trying to export to Asia, where established distribution channels can effectively make or break your product--because of a tightly interwoven distribution channel.

    While this is true, the fact of the matter is, if I can view a file in any way on a PC, I can copy it (with potentially reduced quality). Are you going to insist that CSS be put in every video card and that frame capture cards should obey Macrovision? (I wouldn't be surprised).

    Actually, if you bothered to read the bottom of my original post, you would have found where I said that I don't agree with much of the arguments I'm echoing. What I am doing is presenting the other side of the argument; that's all.

    Personally, what I think the MPAA needs to do is to figure out a value-added proposition which adds value to a DVD movie in much the same way the software industry adds value by providing printed manuals and other things to software products. That is, make it so that even if you *could* pirate a DVD movie, you probably won't, simply because you'd rather have the non-digital value-added materials that accompany the DVD movie.

    You can't win by fighting the ability to copy, only by stopping mass distribution. One of the best ways to stop mass distibution is with reasonable pricing. Copying inevitably costs more in time, materials and/or bandwidth than the initial production.

    The problem is that this is changing. There are companies who are trying to figure out a way to put fiber into your home, with T3 speeds, in about a dozen years. I tried ripping my South Park DVD with DeCSS; it resulted in about 10 gig of data. If we have fiber at T3 running into your house, I could send you the South Park movie in about 30 minutes--a lot less time than it takes me to drive to the local shopping mall, and a hell of a lot less time than it takes to wait for a shipment from DVDExpress.com.

    There's the problem. A dozen years ago 1200 baud was considered fast, and 100 megabytes was considered a lot of hard disk space. Today, MP3.com succeeds, and an 18 gig HD can be bought from Frys for about $200. In a dozen years? If you could store 3Tb on your disk, you could download 10 movies in an afternoon and stick them in your "Movie Warez" directory in the same way I can download MP3s today.
  • You're equating a potential redistribution with an actual violation of intellectual property rights.

    Actually, I'm just parroting the other side of the argument. But you're right--just because I can potentially copy something doesn't mean that I will.

    In any event, plain reading of the DMCA would seem to indicate that fair use is dead, and that if you view a DVD on a non-sanctioned player of any kind, you are "circumventing an access control device" without the authorization of the copyright holder. Distributing the tools to others is a separate offense. This is clearly insane, but that's the way it is.

    And I hope the DMCA is eventually rulled unconstitutional.

    Look, I don't agree with the MPAA; said something to that effect in my original post. But the MPAA does have a problem--within our lifetimes we'll be able to download the data to play back a movie at full DVD resolution off the 'net in the same way we download MP3s now.

    And that has the MPAA worried sick.
  • Jack Valenti:
    They're not at all. I don't follow you're logic there.

    He doesn't seem to get it at all. Surely he must understand that all we wish to do is watch DVDs under Linux, why is that a crime?

    Valenti's point is that no one is keeping you from watching the DVD you just bought. That you have chosen to try and play it on a computer running an operating system with no industry-supported play back software is your fault, not the MPAA. That you are using an operating system without a commercial organization behind it to effectively lobby software manufacturers to license and implement a player for your operating system is your fault, not the MPAA's.

    For all of the rhetoric spewing from both camps, the Linux faction is just as guilty of ignoring reality as the MPAA and its minions. The simple fact is that DVDs are designed to be played by licensed DVD players. That you don't have one is something that can be easily rectified by switching operating systems or buying a stand-alone player.

    Arguing that you shouldn't have to use their player is like arguing you shouldn't have to have a DSS receiver to watch DirecTV broadcasts or you shouldn't have to buy your cable company's cable modem to hook up to their net.

    The plain, simple fact is that there are all sorts of regulated, metered, for pay content out there. DVDs happen to be one form. Complaining that you have "rights" to watch it any way you please is simply unfounded, given the ample precedence for other forms of content with controlled playback mechanisms.

    The MPAA is certainly within their rights to claim their control over the playback mechanism for DVDs. Whether the markets and the courts uphold that claim is a completely different issue. But don't say the man is clueless when he says that no one is preventing you from watching a DVD.

    The truth is this. You didn't buy a DVD prior to the existence of DeCSS for play on your Linux box. And I'd be willing to bet that no one rushed out to buy DVDs once it was released either. It makes for a great story, but the reality is something different than what the Linux community is trying to portray to the general public.

    The reality is that some smart guys reverse engineered a piece of software. Some other not-so-smart guys decided they didn't like that and are trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle. EVERYONE is obfuscating the issue with crys of "fair use", "free speech", "piracy", etc. when the real issue is simply one of market economics.

    Specifically, some people think buying a DVD should be a sufficient license to enable playing the DVD. The creators of that format and the playback algorithms feel differently, resulting in a closed system with a small number of licensees. If this seems too proprietary for you, then use your market muscle to switch to some other format (tape, direct broadcast, etc.)

    The bottom line is that no one is forcing you to buy DVDs and the DVD playback software is a licensed product. So don't expect unrestricted access to playback technology. You're misinformed if you think it's your "right" to have it.

  • Aren't copyrights and patents for the good of the society not of the owner? That is the reason they expire right? They are merely an incentive for people to invent and produce new things. They are given exclusive rights to those things for a period of time, after which they become property of the society which enabled them in the first place to create such things. This may seem like reverse tyranny, but corporations do not DESERVE profits, they are not GUARANTEED a market. If that sounds unfair...well, the answer is TOUGH. Nobody has guaranteed corporations that somebody in some other company will not rip off their product. That is a matter of diplomacy and international law. NOT local, or even national law. When the playing field changes it is _corporations_ that are forced to adapt. Society and technology is not here for their sake. When it changes, so must they, and if they don't that's just tough. Then need to get up, dust themselves off and head in a new direction. Not cry and whine that falling hurts and is unfair. I really have no sympathy for the corporate mentality that the world owes them something and must act "fairly" to them. Their existence is incidental to society, not the other way around. And if the world changes so much that corporations must cease to exist...so be it. The world does not mold itself around corporations. Corporations in a free country and free market should be grateful for what they get, not whine that technology is impairing their ability to lock up markets.

    My DeCSS shirt from Copyleft.net should be arriving soon. I would like to see them dare to come down and haul me away.

    Jazilla.org - the Java Mozilla [sourceforge.net]
  • The person you're responding to isn't talking about bitwise copies.
    I'm sorry, you're right, I meant to include a disclaimer about that. It wasn't clear to me whether or not that was what he meant.

    Yes, you can make analog copies fairly easily, although there are a few obstacles. (Macrovision copy protection, loss of quality, and the fact that analog output jacks will be dissappearing in the distant but foreseeable future.)

    At any rate, while I don't know the legal details involved, I suspect that the MPAA is much more concerned about legal precedent than about DeCSS. They're afraid that their ability to prevent copying in general might be impaired if they don't fight DeCSS. (I can see the /. comments now: "Why is the MPAA so hung up on Bob's Analog DVD Copier? You can already copy DVDs perfectly, just use DeCSS!")
  • You cannot make a bitwise copy of a DVD with publically available hardware.

    I and a few others have been pushing this point since this fiasco started, so I won't rehash the details here. A cursory investigation of the CSS system should show why it is true.

    At this time, the only feasible way to make a digital copy of a DVD is with DeCSS, or a similar program. (And granted, similar programs were around before DeCSS. Ironically, the only thing that makes DeCSS different is that it is less clearly illegal; unlike the others, it does not contain a stolen player key.)
  • I don't know why nobody has mentioned this, but what dose any one know about the subject matter of the following quote:

    We formed what is called a copyright assembly just two weeks ago, in which every single enterprise in this country to which copyright protection is vital -- professional baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, NASCAR, NCAA, broadcasters, television stations, cable systems, music songwriters, movies, television programs -- they've all banded together to try and make it clear to the Congress that if a hosting or thievery or absconding or illegal use, or unauthorized use of the property of all these enterprises -- which, by the way, dominate the world -- is allowed to go untended by some kind of a protective shield, the nation's economy is the loser.

    I assume this means a more consered lobing effort. What is the best way to discredit these lobiests? I mean when I call my congress person should I specifically ytalk about how bad this orginisation is for the future of the internet and how they don't really have a clue? Or should I focus on specific issues?
  • AFAIK, Jon Johansen is going to be tried in Norway. There is another DeCSS trial going on in the US against some websites.

    But note how this MPAA tough-guy is afraid of admitting he even made a polite request for a teenager's arrest. He implies they did nothing at all, when the Norwegian prosecutor says otherwise.

    I think it would be quite an unwelcome precedent if a Norwegian citizen were to be extradited to the US for breaking a US law while physically located in Norway. IANAL, but extradition treaties are all about returning fugitives, not extraterritorial law enforcement. Even wire fraud is prosecuted in the home country unless the fraudster willingly travels to the victim country.

    Put it this way: There are some neoNazi groups in the US whose writings are illegal under German law. Do you think the US police could turn them over to the German police even if they wanted to? But it might not be too smart for them to travel to Germany. (But no-one has ever accused them of being smart).

  • i got DSL, and with my 128Kbit upload, im gonna be spreadin all these decrypted DVDs all over the internet

    Given the broadly available connection technology you are correct, DVDs are not really instantly distributable. But he has a point: it won't stay that way forever. It probably won't stay that way for more than ten years.

    What they're doing is trying to forestall the problem in the future. This is forward-thinking and exactly what they need to do to protect their businesses. It's really hard to have a beef with that.

    Where they're missing the boat is that they can't stop the technology from being published no matter what they do. There are just too many jurisdictions and everyone with a connection is a publisher. It's a battle they lost the day DeCSS was published. Maybe if it had happened earlier in the life of DVD players they could do something about it, but now they have the choice of wimpering about it or making everyone buy new DVD players. The latter won't happen now that DVDs have exceeded critical mass.

    Rather, they're going to need to come up with approaches to track down the offenders, just like they do for existing analog piracy. Nothing new here.

    Now, he's right that digital distribution is going to make it a lot easier for the thieves to distribute their stuff. But -- and this is really important -- it's going to make it easier for the content producers to distribute it too. The cost of distribution is falling through the floor, and economies of scale will still work in their favor just as they did with videotape.

    They're still going to make money in a world where instantaneous distribution is possible. They just have to find ways to make it worth the consumer's while to buy it rather than steal it, and by and large that means they have to keep it affordable.


    jim frost

  • You make good points, but there are some people who aren't interested in purchasing DVD's until there's a reasonable Linux player for them. And you're right, we don't have a `right' to use their playback software. But don't we have a right to build our own?

    What he and you are saying is that we can't look at another piece of software and reimplement our own with the same functionality. How many DOOM/Quake clones have there been, functionality the same as the origionals? That's the issue of look&feel all over again.

    I won't reboot into windows just to play DVD's. Nor can I afford the money to get a multimedia system. (TV, VCR, stereo, dvd, cd, speakers) My computer, specifically linux, fulfils that role for me.

    So, I will sit around with the DVD drive in my new computer, waiting for a good linux player. When it comes, I will start purchasing DVD's. Unless the other equipment comes down in price, I don't see myself purchasing it.

  • I have never used a windoze DVD player (yet) but..
    I would think it would be easy to create a virtual DVD drive, that looks like a normal DVD drive to a licenced DVD player but actually stores everything
    on a harddisk.

    Would the MPAA jump up and down about this? It does not break the encryption. You could argue that it does not even circumvent the copy protection/access control.

    This would allow all the evil things that deCSS supposidly does, and probably be legal?
    (or which bit is illegal - reading the disk? storing the disk? playing the disk?)
  • This quote from the article says it all:

    But in terms of the iCraveTV and DeCSS injunctions, (which the courts handed down in January), both are keeping people from accessing the product of the Motion Picture Association.

    They're not at all. I don't follow you're logic there.


    For another public figure to not understand the question would be understandable. But he is the head of the MPAA. It is with his sanction that the lawsuits have been filed. The first sentence of his answer is simply not true, but is the policy of the MPAA. For him to ave said otherwise would have been incredible. The second appears to be willful ignorance on his part, prehaps a disavowal of responsibility for understanding.

    This one answer and the context in which it was given speaks volumes. Whether he doesn't know, doesn't understand, or is pretending ignorance isn't particularly relevant. He is publically stating that the central issue of the lawsuits is irrelevant and is trying to shift the focus.

    This isn't even about profits. In the end, DVD will be opened up to the world or it will die. There are too many bright people out there who will be happy to replace it with something that the MPAA doesn't control. And that is the central issue. These two lawsuits are about the MPAA defending the illusion that it is still relevant. Over the next few years, it will change or it will disappear. These lawsuits, if they are won, can only serve to delay that for a moment.
  • I pay for TMC, Showtime, HBO.. If I want to watch them on my PC with this software, I damn well will. My local cable company has had a long standing policy of 'if you pay for it, we don't care', because everytime they tried to seize the descrambler some paying customer was using to watch HBO on another TV elsewhere in the house, they got their ass removed from the property and lost the civil suit. If I want to lease my cable box from the company, fine. If I already own one, or own a cable-ready TV, I will certainly not lease one.

    iCrave is doing nothing wrong according to Canadian law, which governs it. Just because it has questionable legal standing in the States doesn't mean it is illegal! Additionally, iCrave has yet to even make it to trial. You cannot say whither or not the first of its kind is illegal before a trrial. Just because paid-corp-puppet Valenti says it's illegal doesn't mean a damn thing.

    Why shouldn't the MPAA be able to use these boneheaded measures? Gee, it constitutes illegal restraint of trade, violates any number of goods treaties, elimination of fair use, exercizing a monopoly standing to crush ones opponents. Pick one and run with it.
  • I suppose the question would be how far the statement had to be away from the letter of the truth to be considered untrue, or how intentional the untruth had to be to count as a lie. For certain venues, what I say can be radically different from the letter of the truth and still be correct. Say I choose to explain networking to one of my [l]users. I say to him 'See those big phone wires plugged into the back of the PC? The computer sends information over them to that big stack of equipment, called a switch, which sends it to all of the other computers. The switch is hooked up to a bigger switch, and so on until you reach the switch at Sprint. Once you reach that top switch, your data can go anywhere.' Now all of us can see that is a box truck of manure, but it is closer than anything in the [l]user's head, so it can be called the truth.
  • I won't rehash the tired arguments along the lines of "A dual-deck VCR can be and is used to pirate movies, but that's not it's main use", etc etc, because by the manner of your speaking, you're clearly smart enough to realize that DeCSS and it's derived works have an important and legitimate use that falls completely under the protection of fair use legislation, which makes any illegal role they may play in piracy completely irrelevant.

    You also seem bright enough to know that DeCSS is completely pointless in any operation to actually duplicate DVDs for distribution and public consumption, that decrypting the DVD doesn't figure into the piracy process at any stage. The astute pirate just duplicates the bits that are on the disc, and doesn't give two damns if they're encrypted or not. The ONLY reason anybody could EVER want to decrypt CSS is to view it, not to copy it. Period.

    And, since you're well read, you also know that there is not now, nor is their likely in the immediate future to be, an economically viable way to duplicate DVD movies for the purpose of piracy. The files are ridiculously large to be moved over the internet, and to store and distribute them on other media (burned CDs, Jaz discs, etc) is not economically viable (costs more than the legit DVD)

    This isn't aboot piracy, it's aboot maintaining a stranglehold on the industry... it's aboot a monopoly... it's aboot... it's aboot....

    What's so goddamn funny ?
  • > In short, though, DeCSS can be used for piracy, and has been. So can we just shut up about how this Windows program "is only useful for playing DVDs under Linux" please?

    But that's just the point... it CAN'T be used for any PRACTICAL and economically viable form of piracy. You can put the file on your hard drive and you can send it across the net. If you have a clean OC-3, and are sending to someone with a clean OC-3, you can do this in a reasonable amount of time. BUT, the percentage of the population who has access to a clean OC-3 is not enough to comprise a problematic pirating network. Furthermore, even the biggest hard drives that anybody really has right now, the Maxtor 40gb jobs, can hold 9 or 10 movies. And that's a $300+ drive. It's just NOT PRACTICAL. It's cheaper to buy the movies. There's no financially viable way to pirate DVDs that in any way involves DeCSS/css-auth decryption.
  • > This would appear, IMHO, to be DeCSS's primary use (after all, there ARE other WINDOWS DVD players).

    You are in error. Johansen and company started out with DeCSS to provide a player for Linux. That was their express purpose from the getgo. The reason that DeCSS is for windows and not Linux is that when the project begun, Linux lacked support for the UDF filesystem. Read the interview [slashdot.org] with Jon for this and other clue-inspiring facts, brought to you by Slashdot.
  • First off, I'm definitely NOT on Jack Valenti's bandwagon - I don't agree with a lot of what the MPAA has tried to do in recent years. However, ... he DOES have several valid points. Comparing the internet to the SONY BetaMax lawsuit is comparing apples to oranges. They are NOT the same thing. It >couldanyone had a few hundred, let alone a few million people over at their house?

    Let's be realistic here, people - and Valenti should take note of this too - it's not the people who use DeCSS to make a copy of a DVD for a friend - or even for those warezers who download them - that percentage is small. It's those who use it to mass produce illegal DVDs (in the same manner that some illegal outfits mass produce counterfeit MS software), that is the real problem. Right now, VCDs proliferate the net - however, since they are primarily of poor quality, most people use them only for a quick look before shelling out the cash to see the flick in the theatre (consider how many box office bombs there have been lately) - it is still a LOT easier to wait for a title to be released on VHS, then dupe a copy for yourself. I have a feeling that the DeCSS case will be handled in the same manner as the SONY BetaMax case was.

    Perhaps the internet issue might be solved by the formation of companies/organizations who LEGALLY relay/re-broadcast events under secure, subscription channels. Sure, those will probably be hacked too (like the "live" adult website channels are), but those losses will only have a minimal impact.

    This issues of copyright and licensing are legitimate and serious ones. Again, just because it's the internet, does NOT mean that you should get something for free.

    We can only hope that the MPAA and other involved organizations look on the brighter side of the Net - as a way to expand their product audience - and that the internet community suport them in this, rather than vilify them.
  • [With conventional media,] somebody's got to take a truck or a car or DHL and get it to another country. There is a brutish kind of awkward distribution system. Not so on the Internet, where some obscure person sitting in a basement can throw up on the Internet a brand new motion picture, and with the click of a button have it go with the speed of light to 6 billion people around the world, instantaneously.

    Do you realize that it's not necessary to break the encryption to distribute the contents of a DVD over the internet?

    Um....

    I don't know [how we'll stop 'pilfering']. All I know is that 18 months from now the technology today will seem very primitive. Technology is just baffling everyone in the celerity with which it's looping, so the answer is, I can't give you an answer. But by God, we're going to find one. We're devoting a lot of resources, with our kinsmen in the copyright arena.

    We formed what is called a copyright assembly just two weeks ago...

    Do you realize that it's logically impossible ever to have a digital media that's possible to playback but not record? That as long as the information has to pass through my hardware at any point, I can capture it losslessly, and no amount of resources or number of assemblies can change that?

    Um....

    And that therefore, since there's no way to prevent copies from being made if the users so choose, and there's no way to unmake the internet, that you're entrenching yourself more and more firmly into a completely untenable position from which you'll alienate most of your customers while not making a dime of profit, not to mention trampling on consumer rights that have been established by law?

    Um....

  • > To spell it out for you - these people are just
    > that, people. Not some cartoonish corporate
    > supervillians sitting around trying to think of
    > ways to screw the public out of their god-given
    > rights.

    Well this is very true...however...you should
    be reminding THEM of this as well.

    What scares me the most about this article:

    "We formed what is called a copyright assembly
    just two weeks ago, in which every single
    enterprise in this country to which copyright
    protection is vital [big list with NFL etc] --
    they've all banded together to try and make it
    clear to the Congress..."

    Yes, these are only men. Yes there are issues
    they may know alot about, and issues they are
    dumb about. They have fammilies and probably
    kids.

    However, they also have big money and they KNOW
    how much power they have. They know that they
    can lobby congress and get what they want.

    This makes them very dangerous. We can argue
    about whether it is legal to do this or that. We
    can argue about whether it is moral to break the
    law...these men can have the law changed in ways
    that can effect all of our lives.

    We can argue until we are blue in the face
    about whether my reality (which is decidedly
    anarchistic) or your reality are better. However
    this man and his "friends" have the ability to
    actually inflict their reality upon us.

    -Steve
  • *sigh*. Everyone on slashdot seems perfectly willing to babble on about Valenti being clueless, even though he's clearly a savvy businessman. (working for the minions of evil, but still reasonably intelligent)

    I don't recall saying he was clueless, just a liar. And his lies need to be addressed. We still have to await our real day in court.

    I'm doing my part. I've written editorials to my local paper and to CNN online.

    I even wrote Michael Moore trying to educate him ont he issue in the hopes that he'd put it on his Bravo-TV show, THE AWFUL TRUTH.

    It gets to the point where the criticism becomes even more inane than the original point. Seriously, how long will it take until you *are* able to send a DVD in just a few minutes to millions of people. Five years? Ten? Two?

    First, he said BILLIONS, not millions.

    And who knows how long it will take, that's not the issue.

    He implied (if not outright SAID) that it could be done now. For the billions of people he's describing... it can't. With my unstable 56K dialup connection it would take days to Xmit one full length DVD film, probably weeks.

  • I doubt he's stupid, but he's certainly woefully out of touch.

    The MPAA have a "theft protection system" that is broken and useless. It prevents an acknowledged legitimate use (GPL player for Linux) and it doesn't prevent bulk piracy (it was broken by a teenager). I sincerely weep bucketloads for the lost profits of studios, but if they want to prevent piracy, then damn well invent a copy protection system that isn't so inept as to disqualify perfectly legitimate usage of a disk that you've paid money for. Don't blame Johansen for the DVD's bad implementation.

  • I agree his analogy is horrible there's really no good analogy here - it would be more like requiring people to buy a one time "access" pass to enter a theater, and then pay for each ticket.

    Our argument would be that, since you've paid for the ticket, it's OK to sneak into the theater without paying the one time "access" fee.

    The difference here, though, is that by buying the ticket, the MPAA related content providers (the movie companies/distributors) are getting their money, so the MPAA has no right to complain on the theater's behalf. And, in a sense, you are not ripping off the theater, either...you are creating your own theater to view the content, and still paying for the ticket.

    But, as far as I know, there's no "real" analogy. Analogies with computer technology and other fields often fail to really capture the nuances of each situation. Computer technology is just too vast to be "dumbed down" to make it easy to compare with something people already know about (like cars, which is often used).

    Jack Valenti makes a really bad analogy, with respect to DVD and DeCSS, and therefore doesn't give one bit of credibility or understanding to the situation. Analogies are the first sign of really weak argument.

    To be fair, though, these two issues - iCrave and DeCSS - should not be lumped together. His reply was more appropriate to the iCrave situation.
    ----------

  • Seems to me Mr. Valenti has a surprisingly good head on his shoulders. Of course he doesn't seem to understand DeCSS doesn't prevent pirating material (look at all the Chinese DVDs out there), but he seems to have some clue.

    Valenti seems to have some valuable points. The regional lockout is technically meant to protect individual companies regional distribution licenses. Disabling it devalues those licenses. Likewise, I doubt the legality of iCraveTV. Sure it may be legal to purely rebroadcast a signal under Canadian law, but is internet transmission really broadcasting and are they putting adds with their signal which would invalidate it as a pure rebroadcast?

    I think Valenti would love to make money off the internet. He just can't figure out how without destroying the current regional licensing system the MPAA uses. He's just having backward compatibility problems. He can't figure out how to regulate it so he can't figure out how to sell it. In order to maintain his products value he needs regulation.

    Many slashdotters think all information should be free and given away. This is actually kind of stupid, because if studios can't make a buck somehow they won't make a movie. That's how capitalism works. Free movies eventually mean no movies. The truth is distributed efforts like Open Source work well of some things and badly for others. /. doesn't seem to grasp this very well.

    Don't get me wrong, I hate the inflated price of DVDs. Studios could widen their market and make more money by offering them for less, but they don't because they're short sighted and greedy. DVD is the future. The MPAA is a lot like the teamsters, they're protecting the good and the bad indiscriminantly.

    Can anyone here think of a good way to license movies over the internet that works with the MPAA system? Please post if you can. If not seriously consider that before you start rampantly criticizing the MPAA.

  • The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world,"

    this statement is utter crap. DVD Is specifically hobbled. They have taken away any ability to USE the product without purchase of another product which can enable playback. IE, the product is disabled/hobbled without a player.

    Comparing iCrave to DeCSS and MP3 as well is apples and oranges and strawberries. None have anything to do with the other. iCrave may actually be criminals, MP3 is hardly criminal any way you look at it. it's just a compression method. DeCSS's is not proven to be criminal activity either. Not for nothing but this guilt by association thing upsets me quite a bit.

    Overall the article was bland. There is a lot more which any seasoned interviewer would have used to provide a better view of all situations.


    They are a threat to free speech and must be silenced! - Andrea Chen
  • "with the click of a button have it go with the speed of light to 6 billion people around the world, instantaneously."
    - Jack Valenti
    Hmm. Let's say 5 gigs for a movie. That's a very conservative estimate given that a commercial DVD disk can hold 17, but let's assume 5.

    Now, that's 5,368,709,120k for the movie.

    Multiplied by 6,000,000,000 people.

    That's 32,212,254,720,000,000,000k total.

    Assume that a movie is 2 hours long, that's 120 minutes, times 60 seconds, is 7200 seconds.

    Divide the data by the time and you get 4,473,924,266,666,666k/second. That's 4,266,666,666 gigs/second.

    Anybody got a really fast net connection?

  • PHB responses only. Seemed rather dry and really unknowing of the bigger picture and provided very PC answers. Too bad.
  • I don't know. All I know is that 18 months from now the technology today will seem very primitive. Technology is just baffling everyone in the celerity with which it's looping, so the answer is, I can't give you an answer. But by God, we're going to find one.

    Sort of sums it all up in one little package. The guy, remided me of an Andy Rooney look alike, "Did ya ever wonder why the technical industry is so, well technical?"

  • Apparently, he is too stupid to realize he's in direct contradiction to what his lawyers are saying in the courtroom.

    I think no secret should be claimed as "intellectual property". How am I to know what's your property otherwise?

    If I buy a DVD and don't want to buy the decoder, the "intellectual property" is just an apparently random collection of bits. If I apply some mathematical function to those bits and a motion picture appears, then that movie is *MY* property, because I created it using *MY* mathematical function. Of course, I did use their bits, but it's the same thing as using ink to write a book. The ink manufacturer cannot claim property rights over the book I wrote with the ink I bought from them.

    You cannot claim copyright over a text you keep in secret. To claim copyright, you have to publish it in a publicly understandable way, not in a way that can be understood only by some people who bought a secret key.

    From the /. moderator guidelines: If you can't be deep, be funny

  • by emerson ( 419 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @03:10AM (#1277324)
    The man seems intelligent, well-spoken, and thoughtful. Just because you or I or the Andover editorial staff disagree with him is no reason to resort to character assassination. That's the argument ad hominem, it was discounted as invalid as long ago as the Greeks. Slashdot certainly should know better.

    Mr. Valenti has a good head on his shoulders, and all SORTS of clues. It's just that his universe rests on different assumptions than this community's, assumptions about the superiority of propriety and profiteering over freedom and sharing. This man seems to be very clueful at working with these assumptions to come to conclusions that are clearly thought out, self-consistant, and intelligent. And totally disagreeable to this crowd.

    If you want to change the man's mind, work on changing his assumptions.

    If you want to call him names, feel free, but don't expect anything to come of it.

    --
  • by kuro5hin ( 8501 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @04:17AM (#1277325) Homepage
    Someone released an app Sunday called fscktv, which descrambles NTSC cable signals in software. It's a modified bttv kernel module. See the story [kuro5hin.org] on kuro5hin.org for more info. Is descrambling cable signals any different from swiping network signals and redistributing them? Whether you think the law is right or not, it seems like what iCraveTV is doing is illegal. Using this software cable descrambler in doubtless also illegal. And it seems pretty clear that even if the intent was not to illegally copy DVD's (which I actually kinda doubt, having seen some of the early announcements of DeCSS), decrypting them is also illegal, at least in the US.

    So, all moral righteousness aside, how do people here defend their stance that all of these things should be legal? Basically, my question is, why shouldn't the MPAA have the right to use whatever boneheaded methods they want to prevent people from seeing their media?

    --

  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @05:16AM (#1277326) Homepage
    I agree with you on that, but that is not how he wants to come across. He seems to be saying that he is all for the spread of movies through the world, with no mention of the control they build into the system. Now we know better, but the average Joe looking at salon is only going to see a nice old man, trying to distribute movies to everyone, and some mean old hackers trying to copy his stuff and sell it themselves. That is distinctly NOT what this is about. But that is how it has been portrayed.

    Finkployd

  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @10:17AM (#1277327) Homepage Journal
    As self-contradictory as this is, I'll stab at it anyway. Reverse engineering is not illegal. And, you don't have to agree to the license to reverse engineer something.

    But if the license says you can't reverse-engineer, then you are breaking the license if you do so. Now, different countries have different laws regarding whether a license can forbid reverse-engineering or not. I have no idea what laws Norway has on this. I can only assume that they are much more severe than in the US, since Johannsen was *arrested* and *jailed*. The same thing in the US would merit only a subpeona to a civil trial.

    Be that as it may, I once argued that the wording of the GPL was not identical to how people used it. I got a stern reply from GNU that no matter what the GPL or the law said, ignoring the wishes of the author was extreme rudeness. In the case of DeCSS, Johannsen exercised extreme rudeness by reverse engineering DeCSS when he knew full well that the MPAA did not want him to do so.

    About your point with QT... I believe that would all depend on how you interfaced with DeCSS. If you linked to some GPL'd libraries, then you'd be in big trouble. However, if you used a fork or a pipe...then you'd probably be ok. (IANAL)

    RMS concurs for the most part. But that's beside the point. What if the GPL license were violated? What if I did statically or dynamically link DeCSS with Qt? What if, GNU forbid, I actually included DeCSS code in a non-GPL application? Why are we spending so much energy condemning the MPAA for trying to enforce their license when we would be the first to enforce a GPL violation?

    Is it just because the MPAA is a corporation? Just because they are big? Just because they are not part of the tribe? What if the DVD encryptions were licensed from a small mom-and-pop shop instead? Would we condemn them for filing a lawsuit on Johannsen? If we would defend him in such a case, would we also defend the MPAA if they did exactly the same thing?

    We are spending way too much time bad mouthing corporations, and not nearly enough time trying to get the DMCA repealed.
  • by RNG ( 35225 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @03:12AM (#1277328)
    I udnerstand that the MPAA is trying to secure the rights to it's content. Unfortunateley, I don't think their content is worth much. Take my situation: I live in Europe, have 25+ cable channels, most of which are filled with b-grade movies most of the day. Every once in a while someone schedules a decent movie (this is seldom enough that I'm almost convinced that this only happens by accident) but most the time it's bad movies mixed with Jerry Springer and game shows. The MPAA can control this stuff as much as it wants because I don't really want it.

    Of course they are fighting a loosing battle: just look at what technology did to music. You can today, at a reasonable expense (that is, if you're on a decent computer geek salary) buy recording equipment which will allow you to put your music on CD with a decent sound. Not professional studio-quality sound, but good enough. Well the same thing will happen to the movie business and once it does, their monopoly on the means of productions (my, I sound socialist today :-) ) will evaporate. And once that happens, their content will dramatically decrease in value.

    I think the internet could well have the effect of splintering society and removing the dominance of the current media mogules. Once that happens, there will be nothing left for them to control because the market will be too fragmented. Now if we could only make this concept clear to the 99% of the population who are not geeks ...

  • by gorilla ( 36491 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @04:52AM (#1277329)
    As people from Canada keep on telling Americans, it's not illegal in Canada to rebroadcast a broadcast signal as long as it's live & unmodified. It's no different to a cable TV company doing the exact same thing except over their private network.
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @03:06AM (#1277330)
    "The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world," says Valenti

    "I did not have sex with that woman," says Clinton.

    The latter statement is -- let's be polite and call it "contraindicated" -- by the DNA evidence. The former statement is similarly contraindicated by the region-coding crippleware which protects, not intellecutal property, but market cartelization.
    /.

  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @10:54AM (#1277331)
    It's those who use it to mass produce illegal DVDs (in the same manner that some illegal outfits mass produce counterfeit MS software), that is the real problem.

    Yes, and if the MPAA went after them, instead of erecting artificial barriers to reading legally purchased DVDs, they would have a legitimate case.
    /.

  • by Crixus ( 97721 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @10:18AM (#1277332)
    Man, I had NO IDEA that you could pirate a DVD and INSTANTLY send it to 6-BILLION people all around the world... INSTANTLY

    Man, I must have one REAL slow connection.

    And when did everyone on the planet get connected?

    This man's lies need to be corrected.

  • by BeBoxer ( 14448 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @05:54AM (#1277333)
    It would clearly be illegal to use a software descrambler to view content that you had not paid for. However, suppose that I've paid my subscription fees to the cable company for the content? Is it then illegal for me to use a software descrambler? I can imagine an almost infinite variety of fair-use possibilities for software like this.

    Here is one example for possible uses. I could have a Linux box at home that acts as a VCR, saving selected TV shows as MPEG streams. I then transfer them to my laptop so that I can watch them on the plane or during a daily train commute. Since some of the things I want to watch are scrambled, it's necessary to use the software descrambler. Is this illegal? Does it benefit anybody for this to be illegal? Certainly not the consumer.

    Similar examples are possible to think up with DVD. Suppose I buy one of the new ultra-light laptops which don't have DVD drives. It seems perfectly legitimate that I should be able to copy the contents of a DVD that I own onto the harddrive of a laptop, allowing me to watch my legally purchased movie on the plane or whatever. This is quite feasable. Sony, for example, makes a laptop with a 12GB hard drive and a 500MHz processor, but no DVD or floppy drive. However, the MPAA seems to think that this is a crime.

    Here another example from the not-so-distant future. Suppose I buy a DVD-Audio disc since I now have a DVD-Audio player in my house. I also have a CD-R. It would be perfectly legitimate for me to rip the MPEG stream off of the DVD-Audio disc and convert it to a redbook format and burn a CD to play in the car. This is clearly an example of fair use. After all, I'm allowed copy a CD so that I can keep a copy in the car. Why shouldn't I be allowed to copy a DVD-Audio disc?

    The reality is that copyright is a misnomer. It is not about copying, it's about distribution. It is also not a right, it's a temporary privledge granted by the government. It is also not absolute. There are many things which we are allowed to to with copyrighted material under fair use provisions. One example is to tape things using a VCR. Using a VCR to shift our viewing of a program temporally is a recognized fair-use. That doesn't mean I have the right to re-distribute what I've taped. But, I can use it myself. Another example is copying a music recording for personal use. It is a recognized fair-use for me to make a copy of a tape, CD, or LP to keep in my car. I don't have to buy a second copy, I'm allowed to make one.

    The question isn't really whether or not the MPAA or whomever is allowed to use boneheaded techniques to control access. The question is whether or not it should be illegal for use to bypass said boneheaded measures in order to enable a legitimate fair use of content that we have legally purchased.
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @03:05AM (#1277334) Homepage
    If this man flew 51 missions in WW2, he's no baby boomer (usually considered the cohorts born 1946-1965). More like one of their parents, most likely born before 1927.

    Regardless, he seems scared of being implicated with the arrest of the Norwegian teenager who authord DeCSS (Johanssen?). Most of his replies were evasive, as is customary among PHBs. But that one wasn't. I infer he's feeling some heat.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @09:04AM (#1277335)
    Valenti:
    > > "The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world,"

    SteveB:
    > "I did not have sex with that woman," says Clinton.

    I think you picked the wrong Clinton quote. Clinton's memorable "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" would be more appropriate.

    Valenti's definition of "freely and unhobbled" is based on axioms so wholly different than ours that he comes across as being clueless to us.

    To us, content is content - a movie on film or a movie as a bitstream are the same thing. There's no difference between buying a DVD and playing it in a dedicated DVD player, or using DeCSS and playing it on our Linux boxen. We've "paid for our content" (the physical disc upon which the bitstream resides), and can view it using whatever mechanism we see fit. The medium upon which it resides or the source from which it's transmitted are immaterial.

    Valenti doesn't see it that way - there are two types of content in his world; blessed content whose distribution and use is under his control, and unblessed content, which must be stamped out. The NFL/SuperBowl analogy was a good one -- to the MPAA (and in music, to the RIAA), content that moves without the rituals of payment and licencing is Bad Content, and must be eliminated. Content that moves after someone pays for it is Good Content, and (the unstated assumption in his argument) only Good Content should be able to "move freely and unhobbled". Of course, any movement beyond what's prescribed by the licensing restrictions renders it into Bad Content. (See the earlier Slashdot thread on "Is SDMI a consumer nightmare", and the discussion of domains through which a user is allowed to move files.)

    To us, that's hogwash - "freely" and "unhobbled" are meaningless if they mean "only through Valenti's distribution channels". What's "freedom" if it's only "freedom to agree with Valenti's view of the world"? But to an MPAA exec, "through approved distribution channels where our sales reps have sold ad time or licencing rights" are the only imaginable ways in which content can be distributed. Anything outside of that ceases to be "Good Content", and must therefore - a priori be "piracy" and worthy only of extermination.

    Valenti's not as clueless as he looks - he's merely arguing from an axiom set that's wholly alien to us.

    It's a bit like the old Zen koan: the man who meditated on the ox for a year, asked to leave his room, replying "But my horns won't fit through the door". Valenti's notions of "free and unhobbled" are circumscribed by the licensing/distribution restrictions of his own making. I have no doubt that he's being sincere when he says "free and unhobbled" - but just like Clinton, it depends on what the words mean to him.

  • by w3woody ( 44457 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @09:31AM (#1277336) Homepage
    Why then, do you charge different prices in different countries?

    Because of different distribution costs in those countries. Different markets have different markups because each market has it's own distribution system which requires different markups so that the people along that distribution chain can be paid for their work.

    (This is the standard reason given by most hardware manufacturers as to why PCs cost about 50% more in certain parts of the world than in others.)

    Region codes exist on DVDs in order to prevent retail marketers from circumventing their own internal distribution model. That is, the distributors that the studios deal with to distribute materials around the world pretty much demanded that some sort of region code be added so that the distributors can maintain their effective market position, rather than be bypassed by the store fronts who could otherwise buy the materials from a distributor in another country and save money.

    And the total number of arrests in Hong Kong would be?

    They're working with the PRC in order to raise awareness of copyright issues in Hong Kong. However, the MPAA does not control China, and so negotiations are necessarly on-going.

    And your reply to the prosecutor who said they did it at your request would be?

    The prosecutor was made aware of the violation of copyright law. But the MPAA doesn't control the Noregian government or their prosecutors; they can only lodge a complaint.

    So you do agree that once you've bought the DVD drive and the DVD disk, you have the right to use whatever tools you want to view it on a Linux computer?

    Of course. However, you do not have the right to distribute those tools, or to repurpose those tools to violate studio's intellectual property rights by copying the tracks off the DVD for potential redistribution across the 'net.

    One thing that Mr. Valenti does get is the explosive nature of bandwidth over the Internet. That is, while now it is impractical to download a 10gb movie file, tomorrow better compression technology and higher bandwidths will make it trivial to do. Just as 10 years ago, the thought of storing one record album for playback on your computer was seen as completely impractical--while now, people are routinely storing dozens of CDs on their hard disk for convenient playback.

    I personally see a time in the near future where downloading a movie over the net will be nearly as fast as downloading a picture is today. And when that happens--when it is possible to download "Star Wars" off the 'net in a few minutes--either some form of infrastructure needs to be in place to protect the intellectual property rights of studios, or "Star Wars" will make the top "MPEGWAREZ.COM" download for 30 weeks running.

    So I personally suspect if you ask the MPAA the above question about Linux, that they'd respond that as soon as they get a request from a closed-source developer who will develop a DVD player for Linux gives them a viable request to build such a beast, they'll gladly license the CSS algorithms. And I suspect given the flap over Linux, they'll even do it at a discount, just so they can prevent the open-source community from producing tools that could be easily repurposed for piracy.

    And don't give me the "we won't repurpose the code" bit--remember, the biggest strength in the open source community is it's biggest weakness: that when source is open and free, programmers are able to reuse the code for whatever purpose strikes their fancy.

    Final Question: You can even ask the audience or call a friend. Has anyone ever sucessfully used DeCSS to copy a DVD movie to another PC and then play it back?

    http://www.dvd-copy.com [dvd-copy.com]

    Duh.

    You know, if you are going to ask hardball questions, try to ask questions that are more hardball than this. Because most of these questions have already been asked and answered elsewhere.

    Personally I think that the MPAA has a problem. And I personally think their approach to solving this problem is the wrong approach. Alienating the very technical community they will need in the future to help them maximize the value of their properties is not a good thing to do.

    And personally I don't agree with some of the answers I gave above: using technology to protect monopolies is just plain wrong IMHO. But in industries where technology can be used to protect distribution monopolies, it's being used. And that includes country codes in digital media such as Sega games and DVD movies.
  • by bons ( 119581 ) on Monday February 14, 2000 @03:19AM (#1277337) Homepage Journal
    ""The principle occupation [of the MPAA] is to make sure that American movies move freely and unhobbled around the world."
    Why then, do you charge different prices in different countries?
    Ummm...

    "And in the last several years, we have been intentionally, seriously and energetically concerned with combating theft of our intellectual property."
    And the total number of arrests in Hong Kong would be?
    Ummm...

    What about the arrest of Jon Johansen, the Norwegian teenager partly responsible for DeCSS: did the MPAA have anything to do with it?
    That was done by Norwegian prosecutors. We were not involved in that.

    And your reply to the prosecutor who said they did it at your request would be?
    Ummm...

    So what constitutes fair use of a DVD in your eyes -- besides simply buying a DVD and using one of the MPAA's authorized players?
    Any use by which you buy it at a price.

    So you do agree that once you've bought the DVD drive and the DVD disk, you have the right to use whatever tools you want to view it on a Linux computer?
    Ummm...

    Final Question: You can even ask the audience or call a friend. Has anyone ever sucessfully used DeCSS to copy a DVD movie to another PC and then play it back?
    Ummm...

    well, that was a fun show, any comments from the audience?

    "Is it true that when President Kennedy was gunned down, Valenti was six cars behind him."
    Yes.
    Now that's an alibi. Oh well, so much for that theory...

    -----

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