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DeCSS Litigation Update 231

Winston Smith writes "Law News Network has posted this article on the current status of DeCSS litigation and how a Connecticut intellectual property attorney, with the help of Yale, Harvard and Quinnipiac law students, is fighting the MPAA." For more background on this issue, read our last news posting on the MPAA DVD issue.
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DeCSS Litigation Update

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    "is produced for the purpose of circumventing
    a technological measure that effectively
    controls access to a copyrighted work."

    if it's so effective, how can it be circumvented?

  • I am so sick of hearing how VHS is 'dead'. What are *YOU* recording off the air stuff with? Hey! I need my dose of Futurama, but can't be in front of the TV at that time. My rights had better be protected when the DVD-RW/RAM/whatever recorders finally do come out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Which is why we all need to support the EFF [eff.org]. As long as we keep them well armed, they can continue the fight.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hell i've yet to see previews for OTHER movies on a dvd yet.

    I take it you haven't picked up a copy of DisneyTarzan yet? (A Disneyfied story that maintains only a few similarities to the original story, like the inclusion of characters names "Tarzan" and "Jane".) It's annoying enough that you can't skip past the FBI "no sh*t" segment but then you have to sit through a bunch of Disney ads for DisneyDVD(tm) ( = "Oh crap, we nearly missed the boat by backing DIVX, thereby telling the public that we think they're a bunch of drooling morons, so let's try to make it sound like there's something special about our DVDs. They'll buy that, after all, they're a bunch of drooling morons.") before getting to the Feature Presentation. I'd love a way to bypass all the BS and just get to the movie that I paid for in the first place.

    Now if there were just a way to smack the real morons who, unfortunately, have the money to shovel at lawyers who'll do anything for a buck, upside the head...
  • Yes, but it's entirely true.

    Anyone who doesn't think that DeCSS is about piracy has never read the README file that is distributed with DeCSS:



    - The Truth about DVD CSS cracking by MoRE and [dEZZY/DoD] -
    ------------------------------------------------ ------------

    Date: 4th of November 1999.
    By: [dEZZY/DoD], [MultiAGP & German dood of MoRE]

    This document is written cooperatively by the two groups that independently and simultaneously cracked the DVD Content Scrambling System, in order to straighten out mass media confusion.

    DoD -> Drink or Die: "warez bearz from Russia and Beyond"
    MoRE -> Masters of Reverse Engineering

    [dEZZY/DoD] alone is the author of DoD DVD Speed Ripper. MoRE is a new group and they are the authors of DeCSS. Lately, Jon Johansen of MoRE has been pretty much all over the news in Norway, though he had NOTHING to do with the actual
    cracking of the DVD CSS protection. Yes, it was MoRE who did DeCSS, but the actual crack was not a team effort, MoRE didn't even exist back when the anonymous German (who is now a MoRE
    member) cracked it...

    Most of the papers chose a headline very similar to this: "15-year old Norwegian cracked the DVD-code". They probably did this because they wanted to make a big Norwegian "Wooohoooo" out of it. This was also pretty much the contents of the TV show "Vestfold-sendingen" where they brought up matters from Vestfold, Norway where Jon Johansen
    lives.

    In most newspapers they vagely included the name MoRE, and that DeCSS was a team effort, but neither MoRE nor DoD liked the headlines. Jon's comment on this matter is: "I never told the media that I had cracked the dvd encryption.
    What I told them, was that we (MoRE) had made an app called DeCSS which would decrypt dvd movies and let them be played off your hd, or off dvdrs if you have a dvd burner. I always used _we_ and _MoRE_ when talking to them. I never said anything
    about me or my position in the group.
    Now that the storm is over, I see that all they were after, was to get a big story. They even included some of "my" quotes, which I never said. When media starts making up stuff, it's really sad. I know that this has been done before in Norwegian media, regarding the cooperation between a computer group at my school and the school people in charge of the network. All I can say is that I'm very sorry that the media twisted my words, and even lied, to make it appear as I had done the cracking myself. I'm pretty sure that I will do everything to avoid the media in the future, but if I'm forced to talk with them, I'll have to get them to sign an agreement. Again, I apologize on the behalf of Norwegian
    press, and I hope that this document will make everything clear. The truth shall set you free."

    DoD DVD Speed Ripper was developed by [dEZZY/DoD] at the same time as DeCSS. The first release of DoD's app (which came out a couple of weeks before the first release of DeCSS) did not work with all (WB) titles, like The Matrix. This was
    known by [dEZZY/DoD] at the time of his release. MoRE decided to wait until they could fix this. In short time, [dEZZY/DoD] solved the problem and MoRE's top coder/disassembler from Germany used that information to get DeCSS working with every
    movie before they released it, along with a GUI. DeCSS was then the first application which decrypted ALL dvd titles, since DoD had not released a new version to the public. How MoRE got
    their hands on the information by [dEZZY/DoD], seems to have something to do with the Linux community...

    Why Drink or Die didn't want to release a new version so soon, was because warez sites nuke programs that are too close in release (minimum 2-3 weeks). Meanwhile when DeCSS came out, it
    caused DoD to delay any Windows release until a GUI version of their Speed Ripper was done. However, they released a Linux version of their ripper late October 1999. As for the new Windows
    version of the Speed Ripper, [dEZZY/DoD] has been very busy with his education and hence the ripper is extremely delayed.

    [dEZZY/DoD] already got the idea of reverse engineering a DVD player for the CSS code back in late summer 1998. He was not able to do it at the time since he did not have access to a DVDROM. In
    the beginning of 1999, MoRE's German member also got the idea. [dEZZY/DoD] and MoRE's German member got CSS decryption code working at the same time (middle of September 1999), without
    having shared info (although they knew about each other). After [dEZZY/DoD] solved "the problem", MoRE's German member, as stated above, implemented these changes and added them to DeCSS for release.

    Before DeCSS was developed and released, MoRE had already sent the source for the decryption to their contact in the Linux DVD community, Derek Fawcus . This is the reason
    why one of Wired's news reporters was put on the case.

    [dEZZY/DoD] also had relations in the Linux DVD community (who does not want to be mentioned), but decided not to release the source code publicly (at least not for the moment).

    Enjoy the software!

    - Jon Johansen [MoRE]
    - anonymous German cracker [MoRE]
    - [dEZZY/DoD]


    Now, it seems pretty clear to me that a couple of big warez/cracking groups did not sit down one day and go "Gee, I think we should be able to play DVDs on our Linux boxen." No. The Linux development was just a cover to make the real reason...distribution of VOB files.

    DeCSS is a pirate's tool because without it, you need to do bit-for-bit copying of DVD media and then distribute it in physical form. Extracting to a VOB lets you serve the file on FTPs and FServes, or better yet...convert it to a more bandwidth-friendly format like nAVI or the mentioned Div-X.

    Face it people, warez and cracking groups are not out to spread Linux technology. They spread copyrighted materials. That's exactly what DeCSS helps people like the AC marked FlameBait do.

    AC runs the world!
  • Get it? DVD's at retail stores (read "where most will buy them") all hover arount $30/disc with $20/VHS for the same movie. The cheapest DVD player is $160ish. The cheapest VCR is $70.

    I know this is shocking to hear on this forum, but many of us are on a tight budget where every dollar counts. I don't need 12.4 sound and 5000 lines of resolution. I just wanna see phantom menace in the comfort of my own home without throwing lots of money away. VHS is 30-50% cheaper than DVD. Movie studios will not "stop making VHS" because they don't want to stop the flow of $$$ from a large chink of the people buying their movies. When DVD gets really cheap and VHS player/movie sales taper off *BECAUSE*FEWER*CONSUMERS*ARE*BUYING*VHS* then I will expect to see VHS production drop and eventually cease.

    The consumer market drives the decision of what format to stay with, *not* the MPAA/movie studios. Otherwise, why are new titles still being made in the US on VHS? Why are new titles still coming out on LaserDisc in Japan? Why are new titles still coming out on VCD in HK and Singapore? Hint: The local market (i.e. consumers) dictate what video formats will continue to exist and be supported.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    HOT GRITS.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Great analogy Dave. I would probably then write a second code down "h3110 w0rld" in order to demonstrate that with a little work, a couple of intelligent programmers could crack the code really easily.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Didn't the home recording act uphold this? Making copies for personal use is legal

    This is all about control. The record companies want to tightly control their market. They don't view the Linux market as large enough, nor viable to develop a player. They won't develop a player as they believe it must be open source, when in fact, a closed source player would be legal and somewhat acceptable.

    Remember the golden rule: He Who Has The Gold Rules

  • A fucking RCA VCR $120 can do the ad filter for you, uses dead cheap media (.8 to 1.0 for 2 hours, how much that consume your hard drivein compatable quality?)

    I can write to cheap CD-Rs for $1/hour of MPEG-1 video, that's pretty comparable. The setup cost (computer+capture card+CD writer) clearly is more expensive, although it does have extensive abilities beyond simply recording programs.
  • I am so sick of hearing how VHS is 'dead'. What are *YOU* recording off the air stuff with?

    Although I don't do it yet, if I didn't have a VCR I'd probably use a video capture card and a hard disk -- say an ATI All-In-Wonder 128...
  • Well, I suppose in practice it's no worse than the NTSC/PAL problems, but at least that technological conflict was the result of historical accident, not because greedy broadcasters wanted to control access to their shows.

    In practice, as well as in theory, you can buy machines that will play tapes both in PAL and in NTSC format, and output it to whichever format you desire.
  • Since the release of DeCSS, I have noticed a tremendous increase of pirated DVDs translated via VCD on this internet.

    If I wanted to make a VCD out of a DVD, I would take the standard video output of my Apex AD600-A, feed it into an MPEG card, and create the VCD with that. No DVD necessary. Even with a cable modem, transferring MPEG-2 just isn't worth the extra bandwidth.

    You've seen growth in pirate VCD files because of more people with cable modems, nothing more. DeCSS might allow perfect copies, but pirates have been selling off-quality for years. VHS quality is a step up for them.
  • There is nothing inviolable about the "intellectual property rights" of the MPAA to control how and when someone may view the property that appears on a medium. Any rights they claim exist only in so far as they can be enforced... their "rights" are effectively mythical and are there only because we collectively "buy in" to this myth.

    We "buy in" to the idea that we should not engage in mass duplication of the program and distribute it far and wide. However, no matter what kind of legal claim a company may have to dictate how, precisely, I may use the data for my personal business is something that I have no reason to "believe in." Thus, their rights do not exist and pretty much end at the door to my apartment.

    The "property rights" that the MPAA are claiming are rights that amount to breaking into your house and telling you how you may or may not use your DVD. You can argue all you want about how the contract in their license gives them these rights and we only buy a license to use the DVD in a specific way, but their "rights" are a legal fiction that are only followed by those who believe them. And I disbelieve.

    If a television station said that it was illegal for you to record their programs, would you claim you were interefering with their intellectual property if you recorded the program on your VCR? Of course not, because you would regard it as an interference in your personal business, and such a claim by the TV station was inherently unenforceable and their right to tell you not to record it was a myth. The same goes for the MPAA in their claim that only "authorized" players are allowed to play DVDs.

    -Dean
  • Sorry about the "Slashdot effect"

    That's what happens when your article is mentioned on http://slashdot.org a site which should have been a defendant but wasn't chosen for reasons I will soon discus. I would guess this is message number 130 or so :).

    OK. Let's get down to business. 1st there is the piracy claim. There is one little thing nobody you interviewed mentioned. Right now there are pirated DVDs for sale on the street in Taiwan. Those copies were produced without the use of DeCSS ( which isn't really complete yet ). The people selling the ~$3,000 DVD copying machines have not been attacked by the DVD-CCA or the MPAA yet. Never mind that the coping will soon spread to the US.

    Then we have the functionality issues. The encryption on DVDs is only used to limit playing of the movies not not copying of the disks.

    Finally there is the choice of defendants. 2600.com and slashdot.org did basically the same thing. post discussions of the code and links to download sites. Slashdot is more popular than 2600 and is frequently quoted in the mainstream media. However it is also part of a publicly traded company.

    2600.com by contrast has the image of a rogue site which for the last 5 years has been screaming about the injustice of Kevin Mitnic's arrest for cracking computer systems. In other words an easy target. The idea of this case is to have some court somewhere rule the DeCSS is an illegal technology. Once that is done it will prevent the likes of VA Linux and Diamond Multimedia from selling less expensive players which use that code rather than the code from the CCA.

    In short they are trying to retroactively patent something which was previously protected as a trade secret. This is exactly like the case of the Playstation emulator ( look it up ) except that they get to pick a target.

    PS : You will be flamed fewer times if you do more fact checking and don't appear to slant your story in favor of the bad guys ( prosecution in this case :)
  • If this is true, we need now to get Joe Consumer to know that open-sourced dvd playback will allow them to skip over being forced to watch the commercials and FBI announcement!

    To the average user, this is MILLIONS of times more persuasive than any argument about freedom or copyrights or the studio's money or Linux or anything. The masses will instantly be on our side, in forces you cannot comprehend!

    Yes, it can't be said officially, but this has to become public, common, knowledge!. It closely resembles the freedom we desire, but in a form that directly affects joe user and a way they can understand trivially.

    If necessary, figure out the worst things the DVD consortium can do (force you to watch a half hour? I dunno) and threaten the masses with it.

  • If a device existed that allowed you to do that, then yes you would have a good copy. But as I understand it, all currently available DVD-RAM devices zero out a certain header field to indicate they are not pressed discs. I assume devices that true movie "pirates" have circumvent this measure.

    Therefore, yes, CSS is just to prevent playing by unlicensed devices.

    Once again I think the author should have called the utility playDVD or something similar instead of DeCSS.

  • The article mentioned that DVD audio was adversely impacted by deCSS, which is so typical.

    Here's my question: what advantage to consumers, aside from larger capacity, is DVD audio going to offer over a CD? Isn't it all just PCM data anyway? I don't understand why the hell anyone is going to get excited about buying an audio disc (that's encrypted, no less) just because it has a larger capacity. The quality isn't going to improve any, from what I understand.

    Mankind has always dreamed of destroying the sun.

  • It doesn't matter how lame my TPM is. If I encrypt something by XORing it with the the string "12345", it is illegal for you to produce a program which
    decrypts it.


    Actually, It does matter how lame your TPM is. Because of the word of the law says that you cannot circumvent a technological protection measure that effectively controls access to blah blah blah. Which means your lame XORing 12345 could be argued as not being an effective means of access control because it is dumb.

    Which is also why it matters if copying is practical without defeating TPMs because then the TPM could be considered ineffective and therefore not protected by the DMCA.

    The problem is that it is now up to the courts to define effective. A broad interepretation could make the XOR 12345 method effective. A narrow interpretation could make any currently feasible TPM totally ineffective.

    Dastardly
  • to make it illegal to make copies presupposes the purpose of the individual making them

    They haven't made it illegal to make copies. That, after all, would fuel the fair use argument. They've made it illegal to circumvent access control measures, and impractical to make copies (by ensuring that only crippled DVD-R devices and media are widely available).

    Hamish

  • Ay, fair enough. I was far quick to judge you. It was the sequitur that I objected to (Its ... illegal ... Therefore ... I ... will never do the same.) - if you feel that this cause is not worth going to jail over, that's a different matter.

    Hamish

  • This Case should be about one thing and one only.
    The fair use of DVD I am glad that is what is
    happening. If someone pirated a DVD they should be
    prosecuted but using DeCSS to play a legal copy of
    a DVD you have that is something different. All we
    want is to use your DVD with the operating system
    of our choice.

    http://theotherside.com/dvd/ [theotherside.com]
  • There is no way that they can force you to watch the commercials. They can prevent you from skipping/fast forwarding past them, but (assuming the same format as VHS tapes with advertisments prior to the main movie) cannot prevent you from leaving the room (making a coffee, using the toilet or whatever) while the commercials are playing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Insert a clause into future open source licenses:

    The user of this software agrees to allow the creation of open source software to access any data that is created using this software and either sold to the public or made available for free. The user will place no licensing restrictions on software that is created in compliance with this clause. The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless such software in all claims of intellectual property infringment involving software to use the data or media. This clause does not apply to copying the data or media itself.

    If a clause like this had been in the GPL prior to Titanic being made .... You do the math. The idea is to point out to them that we are valuable to them as both suppliers and as customers. MPAA, are you listening? You are suing the same community that made the special effects in Titanic possible [digital.com]. Be careful. We bite. Imagine filing for an injunction to prohibit the sale, distribution, marketting, rental, and merchandizing of an extremely popular and profitable movie.
  • It sounds like there is only one licensee of this technology, the MPAA. They use this licensing to artificially harm consumers with inflated prices and or deny access to legally licensed copyrighted works.

    IANAL, but I really hope some of the DOJ lawyers, fresh with the Micro$loth kill, would be interested in going after another monopolistic industry with lots of $$$. ('Cuz that's what it's
    all about in the end.) I believe the anti-trust laws apply to 'collusion' as well. And the MPAA certainly exhibits all the behaviors of a collusion whose sole purpose is to artificially manipulate the market price of a good or service to the financial (and accessibility) detriment of consumers.

    If not the anti-trust laws, then certainly RICO statutes might also apply. But, then again, IANAL, and they are certainly smarter than me. I do not venture to guess why this has not occurred to them. :}
  • If, by this definition, DeCSS is illegal, then the DVD players you get from department stores are just as illegal!

    The movie vendors have explicitly licensed the DVD players, or rather the player manufacturers, which is why the players are legal. DeCSS was not licensed.


    ...phil

  • what about taking it, reducing the quality and size, putting it on a CDR and selling it for $4. That's a legitimate worry of the movie people.

    How is that any more of a danger than people recording DVD movies onto VHS tapes? You end up with a much inferior product. Same with recording CDs onto cassette tapes. These things can and will be done. These copies are legal to make, as long as you don't distribute them. It didn't hurt CDs. It won't hurt DVDs. The movie industry will continue to make money hand-over-fist regardless of whether you can copy DVDs onto some other media.

    The only danger they've pointed out so far that seems credible is the fact that people will be able to offer decoded DVD movies for download at some point in the future when we actually have enough bandwidth to download one in some reasonable amount of time. Perhaps that will be the case a few years from now. I currently can't even get a DSL line though, and most of the people in my city are in the same situation. I think this illustrates the fact that DeCSS was not developed for the purpose of ripping and distributing DVD movies, but for the legitimate purposes of making DVDs work with Linux and other "alternative" platforms that the movie industry wouldn't give the time of day to. In which case, it should be considered a legitimate tool and not made illegal. What it comes down to is that I should have the right to make the DVD I bought legitimately work with my hardware and software. I don't care who created the DVD in the first place, I paid what they asked and I now own a copy for my own personal use and enjoyment. As long as I'm not distributing copies (which is ALREADY a crime), or facilitating public viewings (which is also a crime), they shouldn't have any right to tell me what I can or cannot do with my DVD.

  • Actually, it never says anything about modifying the info on the disc. It says that it modifies the information. It does this after it has been read from the disc, so the article is technically correct. I suppose I can understand someone misinterpreting what they said though. It certainly wouldn't help matters either.

  • by jd ( 1658 )
    The assumption is that if you've paid for a decryption system, you're honest enough to not want to pirate the DVD's.

    By implication, if you haven't handed over vast quantities of green bits of paper to the movie industry, you are a closet Blackbeard, ready to filch those DVD's at the slightest opportunity, irrespective of the fact that there are no DVD writers available to Joe & Jane Public that could record a feature-length movie.

  • People under the age of 18 aren't real people and don't have real rights.

    This is so when you are over 18 you are exceedingly happy with the limited rights you have.
    --
  • The MPAA and the RIAA have been in and out of the courts for years. If you go to the DOJ website you can find pending lawsuits regarding price fixing by "copyright societies" in Europe, and Time Warner was slapped a while ago for offering kickbacks to dealers who keep CD prices high.

    Copyright isn't just a mechanism to ensure that authors get paid. It's also a way to ensure monopoly pricing by middlemen, for services like distribution which should be a commodity.

  • Now, of course to get rid of a pirate market, there would have to be one. I haven't seen it.
    I think I have, there are VCDs of movies on sale at computer markets for $10. I presume they are pirated.
  • Someone would have found a way to override the fucking copy protection scheme, and you would have had to pay less to 'buy' a movie ... LOL ... well I'm not even kidding, that's what would have happened!

  • Its been proven illegal in a court of law

    Therefore you are taking the law into your own hands so I admire you but will never do the same.

    Not spoken anonymously, but nonetheless like a true coward. Never say never, for come the revolution your life will have changed.

    Hamish

  • The player's who can buy? If you seriously believe the big pirates have any trouble getting ahold of writers that will copy the keys, you're seriously mistaken. The only people who'llhave any trouble getting hold of such things are private individuals, most of whose copying is either fair use anyway, or would probably not constitute a sale if copying were impossible.

    Copying using deCSS is impractical with current technology because their simply is no other random access digital medium big enough to hold a movie.

    CSS may been intended as a copy protection system, but in fact the only thing it can ever do effectively is protect the monopoly on the production of DVD players.
  • There can be no dispute that DeCSS is not required to copy a DVD. You could purchase a DVD writer and make perfect copies, completely ignoring the CSS. Of course, you'll need a DVD player that can decrypt CSS to play your copy.

    But the MPAA isn't worried about that, because a professional DVD copying setup costs many thousands of dollars.

    They're worried that you will remove the copy protection and dump the movie onto your hard drive. You could then take a week or two and upload it to the internet for others to download.

    All sarcasm aside, (sarcasm is my life!), the thought is that soon, hard drives will be big enough to hold multiple movies (how many gigs on a roll of scotch tape?) and that DVD writers will be cheap enough (like CD-R drives) for people to make copies of movies for their friends.

    But just as 500GB hard drives will soon be $50, and DVD-writers will be $25, so will the professional DVD-copiers fall in price.

    The fact of the matter is that what CSS does is not prevent copying, but controls how I access the movies that I've purchased.

    I am currently ripping my CD's into MP3's and putting them on my network file server so I can listen to them from anywhere in the house, on any platform (Mac, Windows, Linux, etc -- We've got 'em all.) Now I don't have anywhere near enough disk space to put even the few DVD's I have on the network, but I would like the opportunity to view them on whichever machine I like.

    But the MPAA/DVDCCA wants me to only be able to view them with a player that can decrypt CSS -- that is, one from a company that has paid them a hefty fee.

    Now, if I wanted to, I could write a CD player program with whatever features I want. I could write an image viewer that lets me look at jpeg's upside down. But I can't write a program to let me look at my own DVD's. (Unless I pay the DVDCCA.)

  • If, by this definition, DeCSS is illegal, then the DVD players you get from department stores are just as illegal!
    The movie vendors have explicitly licensed the DVD players, or rather the player manufacturers, which is why the players are legal. DeCSS was not licensed.

    Bingo! It's the exact same reason why AOL let other companies use their IM service but not MS. The other companies licensed the service from AOL. Microsoft didn't. So until they do, they'll have no right to use the service.

    It's the same with DVD. It's not Linux that's the problem. The problem is licensing. No one wants to license a player for Linux. And until someone does, it will be illegal to have a Linux-based DVD player.

    -Brent
  • Congrats, you are smarter than nearly everyone in the media who has written about this. Yes, you are right.

    Finkployd

  • It is funny though, that DVD's cost less to manufacture in quantity than VHS tapes. I'd guess that the cost to manufacture players are probably about even, or maybe DVD players cost more because of all the chips in them, but still. It is nearly identical to the record industry in the move from cassettes to CD's: Sell something that costs less to produce for a higher price.

    At least in both cases the digital formats quality (especially across multiple listenings).

    Consumers didn't really have much say in the transition from records and cassettes to CD's. The record companies decided to stop allowing stores to return unsold records but let them return unsold CD's for new inventory. No stores wanted to left holding a bunch of records they could do nothing with, so they swapped over to CD's.

    And remember how CD's came with extra "bonus" tracks unavailable on the cassette or record versions? Kind of like how DVD's give us toys like multiple picture aspect ratio's, multiple language subtitles, etc...
  • The movie vendors have explicitly licensed the DVD players, or rather the player manufacturers, which is why the players are legal.

    All you have to do is make your own movie, and protect it with the unpatented CSS algorith. Since you have not licensed those manufacturers to defeat the access control on your movie, all those players instantly become illegal.

    Please forward 1% of your settlement with those manufacturers to me. Thank you.


    ---
  • From the article...

    The movie and software industry DVD Copy Control Association is the legal license holder of the Content Scrambling System, or CSS, which is supposed to make the disks copy-proof.

    Ignoring, for the moment, the obvious error where they say that CSS was supposed to make the disks copy-proof, I am curious about something. What's this about "legal license holder"? Is there actually a basis (it's definately not in DMCA) for DVD-CCA exclusively owning that algorithm? Is there a patent which no one has mentioned yet?

    Unless there's a secret patent (is that an oxymoron?), no one needs a license to do anything with CSS. (But interestingly, when DMCA goes into effect, DVD-CCA will lose its right to sell such licenses.)


    ---
  • A bit-for-bit copy would be identical to the original. No player could tell the difference. This is exactly why "deCSS is a pirate tool" is either false or misleading. Anyone with access to the (expensive) equiptment to duplicate DVDs in this manner can make as many copies as they wish. Most consumers do not. CSS controls how you access the content (and where - region codes). It also keeps you from decrypting the video and saving it, say, on your hard drive.



  • Most likly both, he is obviously an idiot, no argument about that. And just maby all he has seen is the De Cascading Style Sheets program. Most likly though, he/she is just an idiot
  • An obvious attempt at trolling generally doesn't deserve a reply, but I just wanted to go over the point that you made.

    destroy the economy of the South and turn the war into a Moral Crusade.

    Accually the war wasn't a moral crusade untill it was over, the war really had absolutly nothing to do with slavery, but the nice thing about a war is you can made the surendering side do just about anything you want.

    The real problem with Jim Crow Laws was that the North raped, robbed, and pilliaged the South, taking ALL THEY COULD in the Great Stealing

    I honestly have no idea what your talking about so I'm not going to comment

    The South has NEVER RECOVERED! Many down in the South lost all and their families NEVER recovered (black and white).

    Tension between the races have yet to recover, but maby its just me, but the south seems to be doing just fine, now that we are starting to get over our hangups about eachother.

    The Slavery/Jim Crow analogy breaks down when you realize you are talking about human rights versus DMCA/UCITA and large corporations.

    Well yea it is a stupid analogy, but whats your point

    Corporations have ALWAYS wanted more power. Now they are getting it (at our expense).

    See, we can agree oon somethings.

  • 1.) DVD = Digital Versitile Disk, not Variable Disk

    2.) ct2600 does not offer info on 'hacked' webistes nor am I sure when he means about 'software tools and repairs'.

    3.) ct2600 does not offer the theme he mentions. Obviously he went to both my personal site and ct2600 and got them mixed up.

    This reporter did not talk to me at all. He did talk to my lawyer, but maybe he should have talked to someone else or at least he should have gotten the damn DVD ref. correct.

    Oh well...
  • I would be busting a gut to see that there was no way to home-copy with the new equipment that will accompany HDTV.

    What do you think they are doing? This is the major hold-up for implementing a spec for Digital TV. The major copyright holders (you know the acronyms) are pushing for hardware layer copy protections. The makers of the sets (and pretty much everyone else) doesn't want that, as it adds both an additional layer of expense and complexity that is unnecessary. Here's a good place to start [google.com], if you are curious. The government get's involved, esp the FCC, because we give broadcasters their entire spectrum (for free!!)


    --
  • One thing that confounds me is why they are trying to stop DeCSS on the grounds that it "is produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work." If, by this definition, DeCSS is illegal, then the DVD players you get from department stores are just as illegal! DeCSS decrypts the information stored on the DVD. A DVD player decrypts the information stored on the DVD.

    Nope. A DVD player converts a DVD into an analog video signal; at no point to you get access to the unencrypted program material. What you get is good enough for pirating movies, though.
  • by / ( 33804 )
    Am I being wrongfully arrogant here?

    No.
  • The average home user who currently would have to pay more for the media to put the pirated film on then the film would cost to buy! Okay, so in 5 years time black DVD-R's will cost a quarter of their current cost, but for your average person who might pirate a film, paying $20 for the film on DVD or $10 for the media and then finding someone with both the film and the DVD-RAM/R/RW drive to give them a copy... not worth a lot of peoples time.

    Lets not forget, the tracks on which DVD players expect to find the CSS keys and region info is also pre-burned with 0's. I have no idea how you'd get a movie on there that would actually play in a DVD player...

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Why should publishers be able to ignore the parts of the law that they don't like?

    This is the sort of question that cannot be answered because everybody is guilty of the same thing at any given point in their own lives. For instance, when was the last time you were speeding? Your question applies here; why should you get to do what you want at the expence of the other drivers? Granted that IP and speeding laws are two different kettles of fish, however the philosophical principle is the same.

    I'm not trying to defend the CSS in this case, I'm just trying to point out that the argument is basicly null. A better argument in my opinion is this: If company X can profit off of me, why can I not turn that around and profit off of company X? Applying that here would mean that if that company can get me to pay for what it is selling (the content of the DVD disk) why can't I enjoy that product (the content of the same DVD disk) as I choose? It's not like the DVD is a replacable good. I can't go out and choose a diferent format of digital media to view the same movie on. I have to buy a DVD if I want that "quality" that it is supposed to provide. I can buy a "lesser" product, the VHS version, but it is not the same thing (or so we are told).

    So it comes down to that one basic idea that nobody can truly define for everybody else. Fair. What that can mean to the consumer is different from what it means to the company that is doing the selling. So what is fair in this case? Can we use the argument that the DVD player and the content is like a car and that we can take it apart and alter it as we see if? Do we have to treat it differently because it is a different technology? Does the consumer have the ability to comprehend the complexity of the situation here, and what impact does that have ultimatly on the decisions of the parties involved? There is alot to consider here, and none of it is very simple at all.

    So far my guide thoughout all of this has been that the consumers will, in the end, make the decision about what is fair and what isn't. And being a consumer, I know that I have to tell other people about what I feel to be right and wrong. This is what I have done. I have told my friends and family. I have written my newspaper's editoral column. I have explained things to people that were curious and I have explained things to people who were not curious. And most importantly I have voted with my dollars. If you can come up with something that is more fair than that, you are a better person than I.
  • I think we should have a court decision or law that states that copyrights will not be enforced by the courts when technical means, such as the DVD CSS, have been used to infringe the fair use rights of purchasers

    Far, far better to have a law that states that technical means for securing copyrights must not infringe your right of fair use. Keeping your rights is much better than stripping them of theirs. The alternative is giving government the power to remove rights on a whim. They are not called rights for nothing.

  • What I don't understand is why they haven't been going after utilities such as Remote Selector that allow people with DVD-ROM drives to play movies from any region.

    Because they can't figure out a way to scam anybody into thinbelieving king that there's a bootlegging issue involved.
    /.

  • Of course, a bit-by-bit copy of the entire disk would work just fine without any need for the copier to break the encryption.

    It's not possible to do such a bit-by-bit copy with commercially available DVD blanks, because they have a track (where the CSS keys are stored) pre-burned. However, anyone with access to completely blank DVD disks can make playable bit-by-bit copies. The effect is that the large-scale bootlegging problem (mass production in see-no-evil jurisdictions) is unaffected by CSS.

    The real issue here is that an open-source CSS player could allow consumers to circumvent region coding, playback restrictions (e.g. disabling fast-forward), etc. For obvious reasons, the industry prefers to wave the bloody shirt of "piracy" rather than admit that it doesn't want to let you play imported Japanimation DVD or zip through the ads at the beginning.
    /.

  • CSS doesn't prevent professional piracy, but it is (was) a barrier to copying and distribution by a casual home user.

    The average home user who currently would have to pay more for the media to put the pirated film on then the film would cost to buy! Okay, so in 5 years time black DVD-R's will cost a quarter of their current cost, but for your average person who might pirate a film, paying $20 for the film on DVD or $10 for the media and then finding someone with both the film and the DVD-RAM/R/RW drive to give them a copy... not worth a lot of peoples time.

    Now, when DVD-R's cost $2 each to buy, and DVD-R drives are $80... there will be a problem then, and that time will come. A time will come when people have 8Mbit links into their home, a DVD will take 4000-8000 seconds to download (1 - 3 hours roughly) and then it can be recorded. This is 10 years away at most, and it will happen and the MPAA and movie studios can do nothing about it - unless everyone in the country is sent to prison!

    Okay, so for the meantime people must fight for their rights, but whoever selected a 40-bit key anyway - in 5 years time an average home computer will be able to crack that before you can say "I like Kylie Minogue"... :-)

  • The article contains a common error - 'a computer program which removes DVD copy-protection'. As I understand it, DeCSS has nothing to do with copying. It removes the playback 'protection'.
    True, but they are not doing too badly for a law- rather than techie-orientated piece. More importantly, the MPAA are *not* claiming copy protection, but that they are circumventing ACCESS CONTROLS which is of course what it does. If this is a reasonable restriction is debatable, of course. The exact paragraph is:

    In its Hartford complaint, the movie industry invoked a section of the copyright law that provides that no person shall offer "any technology, product, service, device, component or part thereof [that is] produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to" a copyrighted work.

    --
  • The movie vendors have explicitly licensed the DVD players, or rather the player manufacturers
    Translation: been paid by / got their slice of the action from

    which is why the players are legal. DeCSS was not licensed.
    Translation: they aren't getting paid by them, so get mad
    --

  • You don't need any export license because all the players are made in Japan.
    true - but the MPAA aren't - and exporting source code and/or compiled programs was just as illegal as hardware.
    --
  • oh - in case anyone is wondering, it says "hello world" :+)
    --
  • Great analogy Dave. I would probably then write a second code down "h3110 w0rld" in order to demonstrate that with a little work, a couple of intelligent programmers could crack the code really easily.
    Nah - if I did that, I would get arrested as I am obviously that "c00l Hax0r" that defaced all those websites :+)
    --
  • This WIRED story [wired.com] says the APEX AD-600A DVD/cd/mp3 player (as well as at least 13 other DVD players) is also 'guilty' of the same thing. I don't understand the distinction between decrypting the disc and just playing it back, unless there is some sort of copy-protection watermark included in the playback, as with VHS tape that inserts annoying lines over the picture if you try to do a tape-to-tape copy.

    However, with the VHS copy-protection scheme there are plenty of legal 'clarifying' devices that strip off these lines. These can only be sold for home use (yeah right, wink wink). If these are legal, then how can DeCSS or the APEX player be illegal, as long as they are not used for commercial copying?

    The only theory I have is that the Digital Copyright Protection Act applies a new, tougher standard for digital works than apllies to analog works. If this is the case, then does a different standard apply for making a VHS-to-VHS copy of
    • Toy Story
    (a digital work) than a VHS-to-VHS copy of say
    • Gone with the Wind
    ?

    A final thought, I used to live in Philadelphia where bootleg videos (mostly of current release films) were sold openly on the street and even in some stores. As a result, this DeCSS mess unfortunately has me using the same line as the gun lobby: What we need is better enforcement of existing laws, not new laws.

  • CSS has to decode the video signal in the DVD-ROM, and then send that signal, unencrypted, to the framebuffer for display on the monitor. In other words, a hack sitting at the driver level could rip the DVD content and save it as an MPEG (or whatever), and there's absolutely nothing CSS can do about it. Indeed, such programs have been around since 1997. There are quite a large number of them, and they're much more advanced and easier to use than deCSS in its current form.

    Now, having said that, the copy they make, while fully digital, is technically slightly inferior to what could be made by the direct bit-for-bit copying that deCSS helps facilitate, but only because the signal has been degraded by the pass through your computer's electrically noisy innards. In other words, the copy is no worse than the best output you could get watching a DVD on your computer anyways!

    Furthermore, it's always been easy to copy a DVD--again fully digitally--from a normal home DVD player; you can just route the digital output into a video capture card. You may have to deal with that Macrovision thing, which is this funky strobe-light effect that's somehow sent into the DVD out signal in such a way that it doesn't show up when you're just watching a DVD on your TV (as long as you have a new TV...), but does when you plug your DVD output into your VCR and press record. Luckily, though, Macrovision is as easy to disable as region encoding: most DVD players have a "hidden" setup mode--accessible through a combination of buttons on the remote or on the player itself (directions widely available on internet)--which lets you turn Macrovision and region encoding off. Just like the "hack" to turn region encoding off on the PS2 a few days ago.

    Anyways, the point is, the only thing deCSS brings to the table as far as ripping DVD's goes is *publicity*. That is, most anyone could have ripped a DVD years ago with tools that have been readily available, and are indeed easier to use, but with all the publicity surrounding deCSS, it's a bit easier to find on the internet than those other tools. On the other hand, by the time you actually find the other programs required in addition to deCSS to successfully rip a DVD--i.e. a program which converts from VOB to MPEG--then you'll probably run across these other rippers as well. Yes, deCSS theoretically allows for rips which are closer to bit-perfect, but considering no one is going to be able to distribute the bit-perfect rip in a reasonably efficient manner (4.7 gig files over the internet?), it really makes no difference.
    1. One thing that confounds me is why they are trying to stop DeCSS on the grounds that it "is produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work." If, by this definition, DeCSS is illegal, then the DVD players you get from department stores are just as illegal! DeCSS decrypts the information stored on the DVD. A DVD player decrypts the information stored on the DVD.

    Nope. A DVD player converts a DVD into an analog video signal; at no point to you get access to the unencrypted program material. What you get is good enough for pirating movies, though.

    Nope. A DVD player converts its signal into a video signal, but it certainly doesn't have to be analog. Witness DVD players with digital output, or any DVD-ROM. Indeed, such digital output can be recorded (digitally); there have been DVD rippers around for years which operate this way. So no, it's technically not a copy of the unencrypted program material; it's only as good as what actually shows up on the screen. =)
  • I liked their comment about how they've already suffered damages from DeCSS because they decided to postpone the release of DVD-audio because of the release of DeCSS. That's sorta like ford suing someone [for damages] who wrote a bad review of the Pinto a few months before the Pinto(2) was to be released because NOW they have to postpone the Pinto(2) to redesign it.

  • Geez. The more I hear about DVD, the less I want one. That's just obnoxiuos.
    ---
  • CSS isn't about copy protection. CSS is about undermining ownership, about limiting it and converting it into something less.

    It's amazing to me that someone this clueless still gets to write - or *can* write.
  • While it is true that CSS does not prevent a bit-for-bit copy of the DVD, which would be indistinguishable from the original (and thus playable in any player), the average home user does not have the ability to do this.

    Let's face it, the "average" computer user is running Win95 on a PC and cannot define any of the following terms: "compile," "DeCSS," "source code" or, for that matter, "MPAA." Even with the DeCSS source freely availible, printed on t-shirts, broadcast on Oz TV and tattooed on Emmanuel Goldstein's supple pink butt, the "average" computer user is exactly where he/she started.

    CSS was never about stopping the average joe from copying squat-- it was about making the average joe, jose and jinku buy DVDs where, when and for how much the Motion Picture Industry chooses.

  • The "real" purpose is to make sure that anyone who wants to play a DVD has to pay the DVDCCA for a license. It's all about the money.

    This statement gave me a nasty thought. Granted VHS will most likely die one day anyway of natural causes due to superior technology. But with the fact that currently you have to pay to get a licence to make a DVD player, what happens when the movie companies just stop making VHS. Not because people don't want them, but because they can get more money out of a DVD. They make money twice. Once for the license on the player, then once again on the DVD media itself. It gives me a funny feeling that we are being set up here.

  • If you're a professional movie pirate, with thousands upon thousands of dollars of duplication equipment and a DVD press, you can create as many perfect copies as you want.

    If you're just an average guy with a DVD-RAM, it won't work becasue the DVD-RAM (or DVD-RW or whatever writable DVD format) blanks have zeroes written to the area which normally stores the CSS keys. Unless you decrypt the bitstream before copying, you will have just made yourself a $30 coaster.

    This sort of protection appears to be designed to prevent the average user from making a casual copy to give to his friends rather than shutting down overseas pirates, keeping in mind that the cost of a writable disc will be negligible in a few years.
  • This is a pretty good article - it presents both sides, although it doesn't attempt to represent the damage to OUR community should DeCSS become illegal while it DOES talk about the potentially "devastating" effects on the MPAA. Oh, like the devastating effect on the RIAA of MP3. And the devastating effect on the MPAA when people figured out you could copy VHS tapes. And the devastating effect on Microsoft when pirates started distributing their OS. And the devastating effect on the tobacco industry when 15-year-olds steal smokes from vending machines and get addicted... and the devastating . . .
  • ... the movie industry invoked a section of the copyright law that provides that no person shall offer "any technology, product, service, device, component or part thereof [that is] produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to" a copyrighted work.

    So if the deCSS includes a quicksort routine, that quicksort, by virtue of being a part of a technology used for the purpose of circuventing the copyright, is now illegal.

    What will they claim next? That the law of gravity is illegal?


    Gonzo
  • I don't understand the MPAA - and I don't mean that I don't understand greed, I mean their argument doesn't work logically for me.

    Putting aside for a minute the finer points of law, freedom, the Constitution (which doesn't apply on this side of the Atlantic anyway) and all the rest of the very valid points made to date on this subject.....

    We have had VHS for many years, and the VHS market is very lucrative. A great deal of good films are made and a certain amount are surely pirated, but in essence, we have two points, one is protected by law, established practice and common sense, and the other is borne out as evidenced by the behaviour of the major film-making companies over time:

    1. We can copy our own purchases. No-one is allowed to stop us making copies of work that we have legitimately purchased provided we don't go round selling or exchanging or giving those copies away. (Please don't drown me in the legal rephrasing of what I just said - I know the law but I'm trying to remain in cleartext here).

    2. The various companies that make up the MPAA have been making interesting and lucrative profits from the sale of videotapes for many years. It is well known that many films that bomb disastarously at the movies end up breaking even or better by virtue of video rentals and sales. The presence of a certain number of illegitimate copies has not prevented the market from being lucrative, and even though it is child's play to make copies of videotapes, sales have remained buoyant and even grown year-on-year.

    The arrival of CSS on DVD is an attempt to reverse the current ability that people have to make copies, but to make it illegal to make copies presupposes the purpose of the individual making them, and that has been covered in a previous case where it was clearly established that people had a legal right to make copies for their own purposes.

    Now I know that almost everyone reading this already knew all of that, but for some reason, it never seems to come across clearly in the articles that I read on this subject. People allude to it, journalists almost certainly know it if they have been doing their research, and yet the point is never clearly made.

    That pisses me off, because it's a freedom that I want protected, even if I don't use it for films, because I have every intention of making digital quality audio compilations for my car and my walkman/discman/whatever.

  • It seems like the only real use of CSS is to make sure people in Japan can't play the movie if they buy it in the [States], or some such nonsense.

    What governmental body could resist the temptation to help the DVD CCA with that goal. Whether by maintaining national borders or keeping certain movies in or out of certain regions, the conflict created by maintaining these obsolescent political boundaries is what gives the 20th century nations their power.

    They feel that they need to restrict the flow of information, just as they restrict the flow of people. Only by keeping people afraid of some unknown external "enemy" can today's governments hold onto power. They built their nations on force and bloodshed, on top of the corpses of their foes, and it's coming back to haunt them.

    (Preaching to the choir?: )

    The global Internet gives us an incredible opportunity to erase xenophobia and decentralize information. Corporations and national governments, especially the large, abusive kind, are terrified of this idea.

    They realize that the unrestricted flow of information could create the kind of world they've always feared: a world run by people, not artificial constructs like corporations and governments (that is, the kind of government that is called "the government", instead of being thought of as the true representative of the popular will).

    --

  • Assuming that we had to

    a) protect the rights of the content creators to make a FAIR buck from their movies. This would be mainly implemented by preventing mass quantities of content from being made WITHOUT paying royalties to the original content creator.
    b) Allow owners of media who HAD paid proper royalties to view the content on THEIR choice of dedicated players, computer systems, hand-held devices, or anything else that technology could come up with.

    Very simply- don't try a technological solution, try a legal one. Don't put any kind of anti-copying gizmo into the media being distibuted.

    Instead, put effort into tracking down people who are illegally attempting to copy the information we want to protect. Build a super-duper web crawler that looks for bootleg movie sites. This shouldn't be too tough. For a web-site to support an economically meaningful level of bootleg copying, it would have to have hundreds of GB of traffic per day, and that cuts down on the number of sites to look at drastically. When you find one, use your existing rights under copyright law to nail the perpetrators. Track down illegal copying rings that sell bootlegged physical copies. When you find the people, prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

    In general, wait until after somebody breaks the law before punishing him. Customers should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. When they're found to be guilty of copying illegally, go ahead and nail them to the wall. But give them a chance to obey the law before you take away their rights.

  • Far, far better to have a law that states that technical means for securing copyrights must not infringe your right of fair use. Keeping your rights is much better than stripping them of theirs. The alternative is giving government the power to remove rights on a whim. They are not called rights for nothing.

    This sounds good, but it's going to be hard to implement. The problem is that fair use rights a) are very broad and b) can only be determined legally after the fact.

    Take criticism as a good example of a). It's generally accepted that it's acceptable to use short excerpts from a copyrighted work as part of criticism of that work. The video reviewer on your local TV station can include clips from the video he's reviewing under fair use. But how long is reasonable for critical purposes? If you let people copy short clips, how long will it be before someone creates a utility that cuts the movie into clips of the decided upon length, copies them, and pastes them back together to create a non-protected version of the movie?

    More problematic, IMO, is that fair use is subjective and decided by judges after the fact. The key example here is Parody. Parodies have been ruled by the Supreme Court to be a form of criticism, and hence fair use. Furthermore, that decision stated that the parody must be allowed to use enough material from the original to be an obvious parody. The question then is how much copying is allowed. Is it OK to make a "parody" of The Matrix which uses the complete original footage but a replacement humorous sound track? How about taking the original sound track and using it with new, homemade footage? How about cutting out the individual scenes and pasting them together in a new order? All of these things might be protected fair use, and it would be up to a judge to decide. How in hell can you create software that is smart enough to tell if what you want to do is fair use, lets you do it if it is, and is still capable of preventing comparatively easy illegal copying?

  • 40 bits of encryption. i.e. export-grade encryption before the encryption controls were lifted.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • This is an interesting argument with the advent of always on worldwide networks.. If the MPAA and RIAA have to pay lawyers to try to track down every copy of a small program, and threaten ISP's and Web site owners- They may find that the amount of energy sunk into this effort only brings more attention to the issue.

    In the long run it may bring more attention than they want, when people start saying "hey.. Wait a minute.. This "protection" keeps me from playing a disk I legally bought in another country, but does nothing to stop huge bootleg manufacturing plants from creating bit by bit copies."

    -
  • I just had another thought. Is it possible that Microsoft has a hand in this suit somewhere? Think about it. Right now, barring DeCSS, about the only way you can play a DVD on your computer is if you do it under Windows. Maybe they spent a large sum of money for a license with the DVD people. Maybe they have even started a project on THE player for DVDs under Windows, so they could dominate the new domain.

    Just a thought. Maybe I am too paranoid. Then again...

    Luck is skill supplemented by chance. ~Ketriva

  • One thing that confounds me is why they are trying to stop DeCSS on the grounds that it "is produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work." If, by this definition, DeCSS is illegal, then the DVD players you get from department stores are just as illegal! DeCSS decrypts the information stored on the DVD. A DVD player decrypts the information stored on the DVD. They will have to come up with something better if they expect this to stick.

    Luck is skill supplemented by chance. ~Ketriva
    Luck is what others call skill when they have none themselves. ~Phelan Kell

    Luck is skill supplemented by chance. ~Ketriva

  • Cryptome [cryptome.org] has an article [cryptome.org] on upcoming hearings to reassess the copyright circumvention clause of the DMCA. It has an email address for comments until Mar 31. This is a chance to chip away at the excessive controls on IP by the commercial sector. One could submit suggestions and ideas, especially from bigger groups and experts (relevant testimony to the advantages and drawbacks). Please be responsible and reasonable, though - this looks like a pretty formal process.


    ... . . .
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @08:51AM (#1186503) Homepage
    I've been guilty of hoisting the "CSS is not copy protection!" banner, but it's important to be completely honest about such matters...

    While it is true that CSS does not prevent a bit-for-bit copy of the DVD, which would be indistinguishable from the original (and thus playable in any player), the average home user does not have the ability to do this. Large scale piracy operations probably do.

    So, CSS doesn't prevent professional piracy, but it is (was) a barrier to copying and distribution by a casual home user. However, it also restricted the user in other ways, such as limited support for various operating systems, and region coding.

    ---

  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @09:41AM (#1186504) Homepage Journal
    What I don't understand is why they haven't been going after utilities such as Remote Selector [visualmagic.net] that allow people with DVD-ROM drives to play movies from any region. After all, those would seem to do the same thing, right?
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @10:30AM (#1186505)
    > It doesn't matter how lame my TPM is. If I encrypt something by XORing it with the the string "12345", it is illegal for you to produce a program which decrypts it.

    I hereby declare that I am using a code, ASCII, to hide the content of all my postings. Anyone who translates it into plaintext is in violation of US law, and can expect a nasty message from my lawyers.

    Yes, even people who live in Norway.

    --
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @09:18AM (#1186506) Homepage Journal
    but when you weren't paying attention, Congress took your rights away.

    Yes, you are right that you can get your own DVD press and fabricate your own DVD disks, and press as many DVDs for your private use as you like.

    However, what the Digital Millenium Copyright Act does is make illegal the defeating of technological protection mesasures, or TPMs.

    It doesn't matter how lame my TPM is. If I encrypt something by XORing it with the the string "12345", it is illegal for you to produce a program which decrypts it.

    It doesn't matter whether it makes copying practical. You can't make movie DVDs with a DVD writer.

    It doesn't matter whether copying is practical without defeating the TPMs. For example, what the MPAA is really concerned with is the ability to broadcast pirate movies over the Internet, not making knockoff DVDs which is imposisble with consumer equipment. However, it is easy enough to redigitize the very clean analog signal to create a secondary master on disk without DeCSS. This doesn't matter.

    DMCA title 1 makes defeating TPMS illegal. Period.

    The only exceptions are:
    1. Encryption Research.
    2. Software interoperability.
    3. Possibly library archiving.


    As far as encryption research goes, its hard to argue defeating CSS advances the state of cryptography.

    Software interoperability for Linux is the strongest argument, but is undermined by the fact that DeCSS was written on Windows, which already has a DVD player, but that it doesn't allow you to actually physically play DVDs on Linux. It's just an intermediate step. However, it is not clear that even if it did make it possible, that the courts would rule that this is "interoperability" in the statute's sense of the word. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not. If I reverse engineer the Word file format to allow my wp to read the customer's files, then that is interoperability. I'm not giving them access to the copyrighted material, but to their own files. DeCSS by contrast opens up the copyrighted materials, albeit almost soley for uses the average person would consider legitimate.

    The library exception was something congress couldn't figure out and left to the executive branch to sort out.

    The bottom line: MPAA is going to win this one, because of the DMCA. DMCA is bad law, in that in practice it makes illegal things that are reasonable to do, and does not provide any real practical protection against things that are unreasonable uses of copyrighted materials. It is against the public interest, but unless there are constitutional grounds for overturning it.
  • by markt4 ( 84886 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @01:28PM (#1186507)
    Something to keep in mind - Corporate charters are granted to companies by the citizens of the state (or the government operating - in theory - on their behalf). These charters give the owners of the company certain legal protections that are not afforded to other types of businesses. Incorporation is not a right (it's not mentioned in the Constitution at all). It is a privilege granted by the citizens of the state at their discretion. This privilege can be revoked.

    The citizenry can request that the attorney general of their state revoke the charter of a corporation for failure to operate in the public interest. I know it is highly unlikely that any charters would actually be revoked (after all the companies' money probably helped to get the attorney general elected), but it might get the companies' attention, or at least the attention of the press.

    For example, an effort is currently underway in California to revoke the charter of Unocal Corporation for repeated polution and violation of environmental laws. So all you /.ers living in Deleware (where all of the members of the MPAA are chartered) start writing/phoning/e-mailing your attorney general. Start a petition drive. Show these bastards that they only exist because we say they can, and if they want to abuse us that we are going to take our ball and go home.
  • by tycage ( 96002 ) <tycage@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @08:38AM (#1186508) Homepage
    As I understand it, copy protection is a bad phrase to use here also. If I copy what's on the DVD to another DVD, what's to stop it from working in any DVD player that can decode the CSS stuff. It seems like the only real use of CSS is to make sure people in Japan can't play the movie if they buy it in the Sates, or some such nonsense.
  • Otherwise, publishers will use access controls to rewrite the copyright laws, without an act of Congress.

    This is actually a very important point that has been made before. A particularly good example of this is copyright expiration (though the current trend suggests that you shouldn't count on any copyright exiring any time in your life). Suppose, for instance, that a movie studio releases a DVD version of a very old movie that is no longer under copyright. They should have no right to control your ability to copy it, since it's now in the public domain. But if they release it as a DVD they still get protection. Why? Because you can't legally remove the DVD copy protection; any tool that can remove it from a public domain work can also remove it from a copyrighted work, and hence is illegal. The result is that your rights have been curtailed without you being able to do anything about it.

  • by Fishstick ( 150821 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @09:36AM (#1186510) Journal
    >Is it really true that some DVDs contain commercials that standard DVD players won't let you skip or fast-forward over?

    I've only encountered one such situation that seemed really bad: the Disney release of Tarzan on DVD. Normally, you pop a disc into the player and you sit thru a few seconds of "FBI WARNING" screen that you cannot skip, then the interactive menu screen comes up to let you pick subtitles, alternate languages, special features and play the movie.

    But this damned Tarzan disc shows about 3 minutes of ads and movie trailers that you can't skip past. When I hit the menu, skip or FF buttons, I just get the little red circle with the slash through it just like if I try to skip the FBI warning. Damn annoying. I think I heard someone say that they did this by putting this crap on the same track as the FBI stuff which the player is pre-programmed to always play. Seems pretty shifty to me and if Disney makes a habit out of this, then they will really piss consumers off.
  • by redskeye ( 161948 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @08:46AM (#1186511)
    Something I'd like to add: copying isn't illegal. There is nothing illegal about making a copy. Its the distribution which is illegal. Figure I can make as many copies of something I've bought as I like. Its when I start distributing those copies that I get into trouble.
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @10:07AM (#1186512)
    There's a Matrix event this Thursday: http://www.warnervideo.com/matrixevents/

    This will be with the some of the editors and the special effects people. They might not be the most relevant people, but they are in the industry and their opinions might matter in the future. Besides, I'm sure that there will be other execs from Warner there too.

    Bombard them with questions about CSS and deCSS. Keep it clean and intelligent. I tried at the last event with the Wachowskis, but obviously my questions were filtered. Enough people asking questions will get noticed, even if nothing gets through.
  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @08:59AM (#1186513) Homepage
    I think we should have a court decision or law that states that copyrights will not be enforced by the courts when technical means, such as the DVD CSS, have been used to infringe the fair use rights of purchasers. Otherwise, publishers will use access controls to rewrite the copyright laws, without an act of Congress. Why should publishers be able to ignore the parts of the law that they don't like? The recent discussion of electronic books illustrated the disregard some publishers have for fair use.
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @09:25AM (#1186514) Homepage Journal
    is at the end of the article

    "When they charged $79 for a VHS movie, it created a clear incentive to make pirated copies,"
    he said. "When they charge a fair price, the market for pirated copies disappears."


    Now, of course to get rid of a pirate market, there would have to be one. I haven't seen it. And they know they aren't against "piraters" out for a profit, they are against "sharers" who are against draconian control of the media. The Internet makes control of digital media impossible. The longer is takes the major copyright holders in the U.S to realize that, is the longer that lawyers will be making money off them. And the longer they WON'T be making money off us.


    --
  • by homebru ( 57152 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @09:29AM (#1186515)
    Granted VHS will most likely die one day anyway of natural causes due to superior technology.

    By 2006, TV as we know it (and the attendant VCRs and DVDs) will be replaced by the new HDTV. This, in turn, will obsolete our present VCRs and DVDs and require that we buy all new video players and all new copies of our favorite movies.

    Think back: 78rpm, 33 1/3rpm, reel-to-reel, 8-track, casette, CDs.

    If I were in the movie business, I would be busting a gut to see that there was no way to home-copy with the new equipment that will accompany HDTV. And I would use the present generation of DVD to perfect lawsuit responses so as to remove the incentive to hack/crack open protection schemes.

    MPAA et al says they are concerned about the loss of sales of DVD-Audio because CSS is broken. Maybe. But you can bet that they're really pissed about the potential loss of a completely controlled, wholly new market in HDTV-DVD (DVD-II?) if they can't con the courts into stomping on DeCSS and friends.

  • by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @03:01PM (#1186516)
    I was having some thoughts about the inevitable conclusions of this whole mess (and the related mp3/SDMI mess), and realized that the MPAA and the RIAA truly have their work cut out for them in the future. What no one has really mentioned yet is that technology is constantly improving in all ways, not just in ways that require things to be hooked up to other things with little wires. What I'm trying to get at is this: what happens when a (digital) camcorder comes out which is good enough to record without any picture degredation (visable to the human eye)?? How can the MPAA stop me from renting the new HDTV-DVD of The Matrix: Part 6, playing it on my new HDTV, recording it with my new kickass digital camera, editing the result on my PC to remove everything in the picture outside of my TV screen, remove ambient noise, *downsample* to HDTV resolution, compress it down to 15 gigs or so, and pop that sucker off to the rest of the world via Napster v2.0 BETA 38??

    Now, of course, there are a couple ways to attack the process I just outlined, but they're all pretty damn scary to think about:

    First, they could use some sort of Macrovision thing--Macrovision is this funky strobe-light type thingy stuck on all current DVDs that screws up the picture if you try to videotape your screen with a camcorder, because the ugliness pulses are synced up in such a way that you don't notice them when watching on TV, but they create interference with the frame rate of your camcorder. Sort of like how computer monitors have that awful refresh interference when you see them on your local news. Of course, they look just fine when they show up on your national news, because there's a way around that problem--you just have a video camera which operates at the same refresh rate as the computer monitor; in other words, your camera has an adjustible frame rate. So, the MPAA could "mandate" that this feature not find its way into future camcorders. Of course, that would mean that you wouldn't be able to make a video with your computer in it without getting funky lines. Plus it would mean that the camcorders of tomorrow would have a different frame rate than the TV's of tomorrow, which also seems like a pretty bad outcome and thus doubtful.

    Next, there's the bit about uploading the result to my TV and editing it. They could try to get in the way of digital video editing on the consumer level. (It would be impossible on the professional level, so they wouldn't even try; unfortunately for them, that means the equipment to do this sort of thing will necessarily be available, just perhaps more expensive.) Of course, now that Apple has invented desktop video editing a couple months back with the release of those new iMacs (note: sarcasm), this is probably too mainstream a technology for them to put back in the bottle without several people noticing.

    Then there's the bit about all the edits we made to improve the quality--removing ambient noise, especially. The best the MPAA could hope to do is to make these tools available only on a professional level; still, with the inevitable advance of computers, and with the probable advance of open-source software, it seems quite doubtful that the average person 10 or 15 years from now won't have considerably more video editing capability on their desktop than the average movie-editing studio does now.

    On a related note, there's the bit about downsampling to HDTV resolutions. The MPAA could try to limit (consumer-targeted) digital camcorders to HDTV resolution. However, doing so would mean a loss of quality for any video which was recorded and then digitally edited in any non-trivial way. Plus, it would mean an arbitrary limiting of available technology; cheap digital cameras already beat HDTV resolution (just 1024 x 768 IIRC), and it's certainly not too hard to just "do that" 60 (or whatever) times per second. (Yeah, storage concerns, but this is the future. Let the thing have a high speed wireless connection to the internet and use your home server for storage.) The bottom line is, if the MPAA tried to stop piracy here, lots of people would notice and would be very justifiably angry.

    Finally, there's the bit about posting it to something sorta like Napster. Now, I'm not going to buy any arguments that 15 gigs is too much; we all know that in 10 years or so 15 gigs of hard drvie space will be about equivalent to the 5 MB an mp3 takes up now; even if it's not quite there, you have to remember that a movie is 2 hours of entertainment whereas a song is just 5 minutes. You might have a slightly better argument when it comes to bandwidth, but there will be a whole whole lot of people, including the MPAA, working very hard to ensure that HDTV quality video can be streamed into consumers' homes over the internet.

    So the only avenue of easy attack is Napster. Of course, Napster is just a protocol; at this point I don't think anyone much cares about whether the RIAA wins their suit against Napster (except Shawn Fanning), because it's far far too late for that. Like it or not (and a lot of the old fogeys around here seem not to), Napster and Napster-like protocols are inevitably part of the internet now, just as much as ftp or irc. There may be some wrangling over the next couple years before we see which protocol will actually win out, but rest assured that one will. Now the question becomes, what can the entertainment cartel do about it? Obviously there's no way they can keep it off the computers of any geeks. Of course, geeks could trade pirated stuff years ago, because they knew how to use irc and ftp, and BBS's before that. What about the average consumer? Well, assuming that open-source software succeeds in making its way into the consumer's consciousness--which it appears that it will--then suing everyone in sight won't accomplish much. So it looks as though the only chance they have of success is some sort of large scale regulation of the internet. We all know it can't be done without completely changing the character of the internet, drastically for the worse. Whether it can't be done at all is still too hard to tell.

    So, while I seriously doubt anyone has actually read this far, I'd like to ask those of you who have: what do you think the MPAA is trying to accomplish here? Do they have any plan to block universal sharing of movies in the not-so-distant-at-all future? Have they even thought about it yet??
  • by Green Monkey ( 152750 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @10:06AM (#1186517)
    Let's face it -- your average joe doesn't know anything about encryption or reverse engineering or the DMCA, and doesn't care to listen to a complicated explanation of why DeCSS is in the clear. But he does root for the little guy, and will probably side with DeCSS if he understands what's going on.

    Rather than simply sitting back and refuting the MPAA's claims ("We're not pirates!"), we need to take the initiative and grab people's attention. First impressions count a lot, and most people haven't heard about DeCSS yet. Explain the issue in simple terms first to catch their attention. Then the people who want to know more can read up on how the whole situation started.

    The piracy issue is a lost cause -- most people associate piracy with being wrong. But pick a different viewpoint (huge corporations are trying to control who can watch DVDs), and suddenly the MPAA appears to be picking on a bunch of innocent people. Forget the technical explanations; present the case in ways the technologically-uninformed can understand.

    As long as the MPAA is defining the terms of the debate, DeCSS is always going to end up looking like the bad guy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @09:01AM (#1186518)
    DVD players are crippled to stop you playing discs in countries where the movie studios don't want you to.

    They claim this is to prevent people in other regions from watching a DVD from a region where the film already played its run while the film is still coming to or hasn't yet hit local theaters. I might agree with this if the region lockouts expired after a resonable amount of time but, WHY ARE FUCKING 50+ YEAR OLD MOVIES COMING OUT WITH REGION LOCKOUTS ENABLED? Kinda lays waste to the distribution-scheme argument, eh?

    Or maybe it's to prevent competition with licensed local distributors/translators. Well, when these local distributors "port" a DVD to their region, they often cut out the extras, change the audio format (5.1 -> 2ch stereo), muck with the screen formatting, add in hard subtitles, edit for content, ..., in short, IT'S NOT THE SAME PRODUCT ANYMORE, so how can it 'compete' with the local version.

    Third, lots of films NEVER SEE A LOCAL RELEASE in other regions. How long is reasonable for me to wait "in case" the title is picked up locally? 5 years? 10 years? 50 years? forever? I import a lot of anime from Japan to the US that will never see the light of day here.

    Region coding violates fair use, IMO, and I am doing everything in my power to circumvent it. And not through lobby efforts or other bullshit that'll take decades to never to happen. Region coding is wrong now. So I have DeCSS, as well as several hacked PC and stand alone players.

    I pay for all my DVD imports. They're legitimate copies. The original IP holders got their fair cut of the sale. Isn't that what all this region coding stuff is supposed to protect? I am following the spirit of the law. So what's the problem? Fuck you MPAA. Am I being wrongfully arrogant here?

  • The American Libraries Association's comments [loc.gov] point out an even better rebuttal of the MPMA's case. Access control refers to prevention of acquisition of a copyrighted work, not use of that work once it has been acquired. Access and use are separate and distinct terms in copyright law. As CSS is not an access control mechanism, but a use control mechanism, bypassing it isn't illegal. Anyway, under the "first sale" principle, the copyright holder has no right to control the use of a work once it has been sold to a customer, and the DMCA has a get-out clause that says that no existing rights should be considered to be revoked by the DMCA.
  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @08:34AM (#1186520) Homepage
    The article contains a common error - 'a computer program which removes DVD copy-protection'. As I understand it, DeCSS has nothing to do with copying. It removes the playback 'protection'.

    DVD players are crippled to stop you playing discs in countries where the movie studios don't want you to. However, in most countries copyright law does not allow them to impose such restrictions (IANAL), so use of DeCSS is not illegal. In fact, it is just letting you exercise rights granted by law.
  • In my view, the deCSS and DCMA battles are more like the civil rights battles of the late '50s and the '60s than we might realize. Here's my comparison:
    • Slavery was outlawed and supposedly equal rights based on race were guaranteed by constitutional amendments during and shortly after the Civil War. However, for the next 100 years, the local, state, and federal governments and courts allowed the so-called "Jim Crow" laws to deny legal equality.
    • The movie and recording industry via the DCMA )and the software companies via the UCITA) are seeking to create and enforce rights that are ultimately anti-consumer, telling me what I may view /listen to / analyze /reproduce data and how I may view / listen / analyze / reproduce data -- not based on technological patent, but on copyright.
    • This is a fundamental change, because if I buy a book which is copyrighted, I am free to read it whenever, however, and for whatever purpose I can think of. Within "fair use" limits I can quote from it, skip pages, cross out sections, etc.
    But if that wasn't bad enough, the industries are attacking the Net citizenry as if we are citizens with lesser rights -- by the broad based attacks on the freedom to disseminate information via the web.

    But if the critical mass of people do not move the political forces to protect our rights, we may spend the next 100 years fighting for personal vs. corporate rights.

  • by DaveHowe ( 51510 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @09:39AM (#1186522)
    You're right, of course... but why the heck is this fact going completely unrecognized by both the media and the court? I realize I'm a geek, but the idea that you can't protect against somebody copying a disc bit-by-bit doesn't seem that complex to me.
    So far, it appears to be because the lawyers have tried to fight it on free-speech grounds, where it is a thorny and borderline problem. even the densest judge would start to get a glimmer of sense if you presented him with the following:
    1. show him piece of paper with the letters "y3oo9 294oe" on it
    2. tell him it is a message in code - that without the secret key, you can't decode it
    3. get a second blank sheet, and write on it "y3oo9 294oe"
    4. show him that, without understanding the code, you have successfully copied it to a blank sheet - so that the copy can be used to decode the message as well as the original could
    Mind you, judges can be pretty stubborn if they want to be :+)
    --

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