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Circuit City Ripping DVDs for Users 467

Grooves writes "Circuit City is offering a DVD transfer service that's sure to enrage the MPAA. For $10 for 1 DVD or $30 for 5, Circuit City will violate the DMCA and rip commercial DVDs for users to put on their mobile players. From the article: 'This should be a viable market. Software and services are losing out to draconian digital rights management philosophies and anti-consumer technologies aimed at increasing revenues stemming from double-dipping--what I call the industry's penchant for charging twice for the same thing.' They note that fair use backups of DVDs have not been tested in court because all of the attention is focused on the circumvention software itself." Update: 08/04 22:40 GMT by Z : Acererak writes "Red Herring reports that Circuit City isn't offering any DVD-to-DVD copying scheme. The Slashdotted sign was an isolated screwup."
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Circuit City Ripping DVDs for Users

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  • countdown (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrSquirrel ( 976630 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:51AM (#15846850)
    And 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... *whistle and confetti!* congratulations Circuit City!!! You just got sued!

    That is, unless Circuit City is giving a cut of the money to the MPAA. Thankfully Circuit City has deep pockets and good lawyers, it should be interesting to see the MPAA go up against them instead of picking on little kids.
    • Re:countdown (Score:5, Interesting)

      by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @02:27PM (#15847927)
      You act like Circuit City is just stupid to get sued. But if they see it as a business opportunity and think they have a case, the cost of settling the issue in court could be well justified. If Diamond Multimedia hadn't successfully defended a similar lawsuit [] from the musuic industry, we wouldn't have anything like the iPod today.
      • Re:countdown (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MrSquirrel ( 976630 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:08PM (#15848199)
        I wholeheartedly HOPE Circuit City gets sued -- because I think they have a good chance of winning. It's about time big business stood up for fair-use rights... even if they're only doing it so they can make a quick buck. The end justifies the means in this case, because I don't see any other chance for fair use rights to be debated by 2 large businesses (CC vs. MPAA). The MPAA always picks on individuals and then sues them into the ground with its army of lawyers -- Circuit City has a pretty good band of lawyers, so it can defend itself and fair-use rights.
    • Re:countdown (Score:3, Insightful)

      "a cut of the money to the MPAA"

      The MPAA have alreay had their money out of this deal. The consumer in question has already paid for their DVD and it's licence to use the content, so all CC are doing is taking the effort out of the consumer's choice to exercise their right to fair use of their legally licenced content. Of course the MPAA don't see this.

      This service is almost identical in nature to the services where you cn ship off a box of your CDs and get them sent back to you all ripped as MP3s to
      • Re:countdown (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrSquirrel ( 976630 )
        It's not fair use according to the MPAA
        • Re:countdown (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:20PM (#15848268) Homepage
          Merely watching the thing isn't fair use according to the MPAA. Despite what they think, want, or say, that doesn't mean they're correct (morally or legally).
          • Re:countdown (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MrSquirrel ( 976630 )
            Which is exactly why I hope they sue Circuit City. Any logical person (apparently no one in the MPAA/RIAA is logical... or their just blinded by their own clout) can see that fair-use is GOOD, it means people can fairly use what they paid for. If they took this issue to court, the MPAA would get their ass handed to them, maybe then they would realize how wrong they are. ...or at the very least, it would cost them large amounts of cash in lawyer fees (particularly if CC filed a counter-suit against them fo
      • Re:countdown (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Friday August 04, 2006 @02:56PM (#15848123) Journal

        The consumer by and large should be able to fully appreciate the benefits of being able to copy material for their own personal and private use, and so one might argue that Circuit City is only doing for the customer what the customer could do for himself.

        If Circuit City was not charging for that service, that argument might hold some water. But they are, making this a commercial endeavor. Show me where any sort of commercial activity is permitted in the "Fair Use" exemptions to copyright infringement.

        • Re:countdown (Score:3, Insightful)

          It's a bit of a grey area given that Circuit City are helping consumers exercise their fair use rights by providing the technology that ordinary users are unable to get their hands on nowadays. A good lawyer could probably argue that Circuit City are helping consumers exercise their fair use rights and charging for such a service is not unreasonable since you have to pay someone to do the actual rip and transfer. It's not like Circuit City are ripping DVDs and selling copies, they're ripping from DVDs that
        • Re:countdown (Score:4, Informative)

          by d34thm0nk3y ( 653414 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:20PM (#15848267)
          Show me where any sort of commercial activity is permitted in the "Fair Use" exemptions to copyright infringement.

          A lot of commercial uses are permitted under the "Fair Use" doctrine. Excerpts used for a commercial review site for example. Show me where commercial use is specifically omitted from Fair Use.

          Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered "fair," such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair: 1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 2. the nature of the copyrighted work; 3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The distinction between "fair use" and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: "quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported." Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work. The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission. When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of "fair use" would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered "fair" nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney. FL-102, Revised July 2006

's formatting is nicer... []
        • Re:countdown (Score:5, Informative)

          by DanLake ( 543142 ) <slashdot&lakepage,com> on Friday August 04, 2006 @03:20PM (#15848271)
          The fact that CC is charging for the reproduction is irrelevant. If I wish to make a fair use photocopy of a book or magazine article, Kinko's is going to charge me for it at 5 or 10 cents per page. Are they charging me for the content? No. They are charging simply for labor, materials. Circuit City is charging for their time and materials (the bank DVD, the storefront, etc). They are not profitting from the content itself, they did that when they sold you the original disk.
  • Its good to see someone that actually matters standing up. It would be even better to see them refuse to sell DVDs without being allowed to rip them for customers. I wonder if Circuit City actually sells enough DVDs for that to make a difference?
    • Re:good to see.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by paranode ( 671698 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:54AM (#15846879)
      I wouldn't make the mistake of assuming they are 'standing up' to anyone. Either they will get sued and desist/settle, strike an arrangement to kick back to the MPAA, or get totally ignored.
      • Re:good to see.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @02:03PM (#15847753) Journal
        >strike an arrangement to kick back to the MPAA

        That's too naked. What they're doing is illegal. They can't just pay someone off without making it blatantly clear that the DMCA is a tax-generating system for the MPAA et al. And, more basically, they can't just pay someone to break a law. US law doesn't (yet) work that way, even though we treat it as if it does. To the best of my knowledge, they're violating a federal law, which means it's a felony. (I may be wrong: this is just what I've been told.) Either the law goes or they do.

        Make no mistake: I think it's a cool idea and if publicized will make a lot of waves when people think "huh, gee, that makes sense: everyone should be able to do that." If it gets publicized before it gets shut down, it's very very bad press for the MPAA. But I don't believe that it will actually happen.
    • Re:good to see.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:03PM (#15846941)
      Hm, it WOULD be interesting to see Circuit City say "ok, ok, we'll quit ripping your stupid DVDs" then replace their entire DVD/CD section with iPod-loading kiosks. Leftover floorspace would go to selling ipods and various accessories. (Ok, ok, they could even throw in a PlaysForSure store and a few players). You could even float this past the shareholders by talking about "embracing the future of electronic delivery of goods".
    • Re:good to see.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @01:08PM (#15847405) Homepage Journal

      The assumption keeps being made that Circuit City hasn't actually been authorized to do this.

      I'd like to know where that assumption comes from.

      The unauthorized circumventing of access controls isn't even just a mere civil offense, it's criminal. People can go to jail for that. Exactly why are people assuming that CC hasn't actually done their homework and at the very least got some kind of permission from the DVD-CCA to go ahead with this project. Given the prices they're charging, and the nature of the service, it looks to me like something the DVD-CCA would approve. All we have is an article from an increasingly dumber Ars Technica (they're not what they were.) which infers that they don't have permission only from the fact that the service exists.

      The high expensive, and the intended use (which may even involve converting DVDs to another DRM'd format, we don't know at this stage) certainly suggests that the service wouldn't have been veto'd automatically on presentation to the DVD-CCA. And we're assuming at this stage that Circuit City aren't pointing a miniDV camera at a plasma TV.

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:52AM (#15846855)
    Did some bean counter had a brain fart when performing the benefit analysis? Make gobs of money by ripping DVDS minus bigger gobs of money paying attorney fee equals a world of hurt.
    • by stecoop ( 759508 ) * on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:58AM (#15846908) Journal
      Like a movies star, there is no such thing as bad press (yeah yeah the mel g thing). Sometimes there isn't a number that can be placed on things like attention and maybe a little PR. If CC spends say, 2 million on lawyer fees for this vs. 2 million in TV adds (which TIVO takes care of alraedy), then maybe that may have a better rate of return. I will hear about it like right now reading it on /. vs being skipped anyway.
    • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:01PM (#15846929) Homepage Journal

      Step 1: Rip DVDs, bring in lots of income
      Step 2: Get sued by MPAA/Jack Valenti/Sony Pictures/Disney/somebody.
      Step 3: Pay lawyers
      Step 4: Get lots and lots of FREE publicity, building public empathy and support.
      Step 5: ????
      Step 6: Profit!

    • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:17PM (#15847044)
      Make gobs of money by ripping DVDS minus bigger gobs of money paying attorney fee equals a world of hurt.

      I think that's an exaggeration. First, you can be certain any corporation the size of Circuit City already has a sizable legal department. It's unlikely this action hasn't already been vetted. To the extent there are issues, and dealing with those issues gets beyond the abilities or capabilities of their legal department to handle (an unlikely scenario), they're already set up for using outside counsel when appropriate and such costs are typically budgetted well in advance.

      The big question here is, given the possible legal issues, What Was Circuit City's reasoning? The article provides no real insight on that question, and the Circuit City website offers no press releases or information on the subject. In fact the article is a scoop from another website (which, in turn contains a photograph and similar speculation), so it's anybody's guess as to what's going on and why.
    • They will likely get a Cease & Desist letter before there is a lawsuit, if CC complies with this (they almost certianly will) there probably won't be a lawsuit.

      The MPAA stands to lose a decent amount of their already declining public support if they try to lay the smackdown here to stop CC from doing something that practially every joe sixpack and their senator will think is a reasonable use. If they make a big deal of this now they may have a harder time fighting the inevitble tools that will come o

  • Good for them (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MonkeyPaw ( 8286 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:52AM (#15846859) Homepage
    I don't care much for Circuit City, but I'm glad they're taking this on. It's going to take companies like this to change the mindset (god knows no one wants to listen to "the little guys")
  • by sisukapalli1 ( 471175 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:52AM (#15846861)
    10 bucks per CD? Better option is to get the DVD Decrypter and donate a few bucks to the developers :)

    • Actually, this seems to be aimed more at the true "consumer" - your thirty-something gagdet freak with his Crackberry and his video iPod who probably isn't inclined to go out and find "illegal" software to get content on his mobile devices. Remember, there are plenty of people out there who pay for VHS-to-DVD transfers.
    • Agreed, but Average Joe is not going to want to bother keeping up in the DRM arms race for casual pir^H^H^HFair Use purposes, and will happily pay a smart techie to do this for him, saving himself from (A) having to learn to do it himself and (B) being directly liable for breaking the DMCA.
    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:24PM (#15847108)
      10 bucks per CD? Better option is to get the DVD Decrypter and donate a few bucks to the developers :)

      Wow, you are more than 1 year behind the times with this post. DVD Decrypter has been dead since early 2005 when Macrovision gave a cease and desist letter to the creator of DVD Decrypter. The reason? DVD Decrypter can be used to remove Macrovision, which is a violation of the DCMA. The creator was forced to stop developing DVD Decrypter and give all source code to Macrovision. I don't know if he was forced to pay a fine to them or not, but he was threatened with legal action and facing the prospect of jail time and/or fines, he accepted their "offer" and gave them the code and removed the software from his website. In fact, the formerly official website now goes straight to Macromedia.

      I have read that certain video forums are regularly monitored by Macromedia to see if the developer ever posts anything that in any way can be said to talk about decrypting DVDs or removing Macrovision and if they ever find him saying anything on those topics, they are going to take him to court and try to get him convicted for breaking the DCMA. Given the legal rulings on the subject to date, this is a very realistic possibility. I think he does still participate to a limited extent in video forums, but only on topics that have nothing to do with decrypting DVDs.
      • As far as I am aware, DVD CCA [] owns CCS [], the 'Content Scramble System' used on DVDs, not Macromedia.
      • by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @01:16PM (#15847446)
        Please, get your terminology right. Halfway through your post you switch from Macrovision [], the company that provides DVD encryption, to Macromedia [], the company that provides Flash. I doubt the latter has a care one way or the other in DVD protection.

        It's the DMCA, not the DCMA. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Not "Copyright Millennium". And, young man, it doesn't fit the music [] as well. "It's fun to violate the D-M-C-A!"

        Finally, he didn't "give all source code to Macrovision." Ignoring the grammatical ambiguity therein, he gave rights to the code, and unfortunately had not previously licensed it under a perpetual redistribution license. If he had simply GPL'd it (or CC-SA or anything), Macrovision would've had all the source code they wanted and couldn't've done a thing about it.
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:52AM (#15846862)
    As the content pushers (Circuit City, Best Buy, Walmart) try to go into these new arenas to sell content. What happens if WalMart goes to the RIAA and MPAA and says "we want to be able to sell the content however we want." Will /. cheer then as they push their weight around to shake up the *IAA monopolies?
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:53AM (#15846868)
    I know they're just looking for another revenue stream, but its great to see big companies (even inadvertently) fighting the system on behalf of individuals rights.
  • WOW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <> on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:54AM (#15846872)
    They must have thought this through. You don't do something risky like this if you're a massive business. They must have talked to a lawyer and have A) a loophole, or B) a license to do this (sharing profits with MPAA?). I mean, million or billion dollar companies are careful to avoid these sorts of lawsuit-risking moves, simply because they're a huge target.
    • Re:WOW (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:09PM (#15846988)

      They must have talked to a lawyer and have A) a loophole

      Fair use is not "a loophole". It's an intended part of copyright. As customers have bought a DVD, part of their fair use rights include space-shifting - moving the film from the DVD to another device. Circuit City are employed by the customer to do this on their behalf.

      It's not like Circuit City are simply giving people illegal copies, they are doing something perfectly legal on behalf of the owner of that property.

  • by egarland ( 120202 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:54AM (#15846877)
    In what way would this violate the DMCA?

    Since Circuit City has the software and tools to do the copy and would presumably not be handing them out to customers the standard "providing tools to circumvent copyright" issue wouldn't apply. Since backups for play on another device are fair use and legal I don't see the issue.

    Obviously, since companies don't like getting sued into non-existence I suspect Circuit City feels they are on sold legal ground as well.

    • by crankyspice ( 63953 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:59AM (#15846918)

      In what way would this violate the DMCA?

      "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.
      17 U.S.C. 1201(a)(1)(A).

      Legally, a corporation is a 'person,' and movies on DVD are almost all protected by copyright.

      • by Suzumushi ( 907838 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:07PM (#15846977)
        I may be wrong on this one, but perhaps Circuit City has purchased a license to the CSS keys, that would allow them to decrypt and re-encrypt DVD's without "circumventing" the copy protection...just a possibility.

        The average consumer can't afford the thousands of dollars it would cost to get one of those licenses, but Circuit City could...

        Oh, and yay for DVD Decrypter and DVD Shrink!!!

        • There's 2 reasons that is wrong.

          First, they aren't saying 'certain DVDs' ... As in 'only the DVDs we've paid for the rights to this'.

          Second, the law doesn't allow circumvention exception for specific reasons. Even if the copyright holder says it's okay to copy the movie, you still cannot legally break the encryption. They'd have to be provided masters without encryption for this to be legal.
        • I may be wrong on this one, but perhaps Circuit City has purchased a license to the CSS keys

          Who says they're doing it digitally? Maybe they've just connected a DVD player to a video capture card. No circumvention, because the DVD player is licensed by the DVD-CCA. No infringement, because format-shifting is protected by fair use. A small loss in quality, but if you're watching it on an iPod will you really notice the difference?

    • by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <> on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:01PM (#15846930)
      In what way would this violate the DMCA?

      They're defeating encryption without permission. Same as if you or I use deCSS to do the same thing. It's illegal whether or not we commit infringement. Dumb Law, needs to go.
      • Now, what I've never understood is, if *IAA can sue a guy who rips one of their CD/DVDs for breaking their encryption, why people can't sue the NSA over breaking their encryptions on their emails without permission?

        The DMCA is an unenforcible, ridiculous law that serves no purpose other than to make most honest Americans into lawbreakers.
    • by smashr ( 307484 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:04PM (#15846950)
      In what way would this violate the DMCA?

      Since Circuit City has the software and tools to do the copy and would presumably not be handing them out to customers the standard "providing tools to circumvent copyright" issue wouldn't apply. Since backups for play on another device are fair use and legal I don't see the issue.

      This is an interesting point. Does the DMCA specifically disallow the sale or distribution of tools that provide for a circumvention, or does it disallow the circumvention itself? If it is the former, then Circuit City is just providing a service that enables the fair use rights of the consumer.

      Now, if the act of circumvention itself is illegal, then CC is up a creek without a legal paddle.
    • They got sued for transcoding user's CD's into MP3's for them, while making a little money off of it.
  • by fragmentate ( 908035 ) * <> on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:54AM (#15846880) Journal

    It's a shame that only Circuit City is challenging the MPAA. Their offering is commercially viable. But I don't think Circuit City has the financial wherewithall to take this to its conclusion.

    I would love it if some large corporations would gang up against the MPAA and RIAA. Power without challenge is a dangerous thing -- evidenced by DRM, and the litigious nature of these two agencies.

    Many years ago Circuit City bravely (but foolishly) pursued the DivX versus DVD issue (the betamax vs. VHS of its time). That battle, which, if it had gone Circuit City's way, would have hurt the consumer. It's ironic now, because DivX was a kind of DRM back then. You bought a movie at a lower price but had to renew via a special player that connected to a site over a phoneline to renew your ability to watch that movie. Or, you could spend more and get "unlimited viewing" -- assuming, of course, the movie studio even offered it. From the initial releases there were only a handful of movies that could be had for "unlimited viewing."

    There was a grass-roots effort to thwart this nonsense (DRM over the phone) and DVD as we know it now won the battle; only to be replaced by another DRM years later. A much more pervasive and restrictive DRM. The irony of Circuit City's current stand is thick.

    This time, however, I'd back 'em up... Is someone up to the cause? Does the grass even have roots anymore? In spite of all of the podders out there, I don't think most of them have the mental fortitude to stand against the MPAA/RIAA. Are they even aware?

    (objectively speaking: this could be a bad idea because you can bring in any number of iPods and copy a single movie to each of them. This, I believe, it's ethically reprehensible; it's also a major flaw behind this service.)

    • by zlogic ( 892404 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:10PM (#15846997)
      Mod me troll (and grammar nazi), but DivX is a MPEG4-based codec that was named after the DIVX you-re talking about. That's why the first versions of DivX was named DivX 3.11 :-) []
    • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:13PM (#15847013)
      Dammit - my mod points just expired.

      You hit the nail on the head. The Circuit City/DivX fiasco should be the textbook business case that we push to the public and Congress whenever the **AA's start trotting out the "piracy is killing us" line.

      There is nothing like pain as a negative reinforcement, and Circuit City took it up the ass (no lube, either) directly due to the overly restrictive controls on their product. They KNOW how much it hurt business, and can point straight to the balance sheet. So I'm not surprised they are looking in the other direction.

      As for pissing off the **AA's, I seem to recall that Disney was their partner in the DivX fiasco, and once things started going sour, Disney hung them out to dry. Maybe that's why Disney never learned from it - they never experiencede teh pain, and so are still in love with DRM. I can't see any love lost between Circuit City and the content producers.
  • The situation is especially frustrating because challenging the status quo in court has been difficult.

    Just you leave those FINE PURVEYORS of three-chord British blues rock out of this, will you???

    What's are you going to do next???

    Slap a curfew on Jethro Tull??? Handcuff Emerson Lake And Palmer??? Or how about you just dig up Led Zeppelin's deceased drummer, John Bonham, and slap a speeding ticket on him???

  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:55AM (#15846885) Journal
    Not every joe sixpack is savvy enough to have backed up his DVD collection. Some of my old original disks are already failing on commercial players. (Stargate season 1, bought when it first came out, is now unplayable.)

    As people find more and more of their disks failing, these services could become seriously mainstream. And at 10bucks a pop, a lucrative source of cash.
  • I'm quite surprised to see this coming from a major retail chain - a mom and pop computer store (yes, one of the three still in existence) I could see having a helpful staff member who was willing to "stick it to the man" and do this for people, but a major corporation making the decision to do this definitely seems to show that the lawmakers of the U.S. need to wake up and stop legislating to keep business models alive past their prime.
  • Quote from clerks... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:56AM (#15846898) Journal
    "This is one of the ballsiest moves I've ever been privy to"

    Does anyone have the numbers on whether or not circuit city can afford to stand its legal ground against the MPAA? I imagine they'll probally settle out of court such that Circuit City can make the copies, provided that they include the same copy-protection stuff on the copied DVD as was on the original. The stakes that Circuit City and the MPAA are gambling are frighteningly high, as they risk setting a legal precident that says that you can't bypass copy protection for your own fair-use rights. On the other hand, a precident the other way would be a deathknell to a lot of the provision of the DMCA.

  • by bbernard ( 930130 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @11:56AM (#15846899)
    This is pretty interesting, especially coming from the company who was one of the original partners in remember, the "pay-per-view" DVD's []. Even if they are only driven by profit, it's nice to see them take a more "consumer friendly" position.
  • Increased DVD sales is the only thing I can think of here... $10/movie doesn't strike me as a major profit center - you've got the cost of the equipment to offset, the customer service rep's time, and then, as others have pointed out, either lawyers or the MPAA payoff. Doesn't seem to me there's much (if any) profit for Circuit City in this. As such, I feel a need to say "Way to go!", and plan a trip to support my local Circuit City.
  • Big Deal (Score:5, Funny)

    by scottennis ( 225462 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:18PM (#15847058) Homepage
    Street vendors in China have been doing this same thing for years at a much lower price.
  • by PurifyYourMind ( 776223 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:19PM (#15847063) Homepage
    Is it just me, or does it sound like CC is doing exactly that, double-dipping? If someone buys the DVD at CC and then pays *again* to rip the DVD...
  • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek@m s c i g a r> on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:20PM (#15847070) Homepage
    The article we are discussing is based on ONE photograph of ONE cheesily printed DVD Copy flyer. This could be nothing more than a prank; it could be one store or department manager trying to increase sales; it could be the real thing (but I doubt it).

    Has anyone checked with Circuit City to see if the speculation is grounded in reality?

    I thought not.

  • It'll soon be "When you do it, it's breaking the law. When a company does it, it's just making lawful money."

    I'll bet you $20.
  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:23PM (#15847099) Homepage
    * Start DVD copy service

    * Cash in on DVD copy service for all it's worth while waiting for the inevitable lawsuit

    * Use lawyers already on retainer to string out the suit against DVD copy service as long as possible.

    * Pay 10% of DVD copy earnings in settlement, promise never to do a DVD copy service ever again.

    * Start unrelated DVD duplication service using equipment already conveniently at hand.()

    () Remember to trademark "DVD Duplication service", "DVD Backup service", "Disc copy service", "Disc Duplication service", "Disk Kopy DudeZ", "Dupe It Man!" ...

  • by file-exists-p ( 681756 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:29PM (#15847137)

    In fact, I am not sure I clearly understand the DMCA. If you play a DVD and shoot the tv with a camera, is that violating the DMCA ? If they legally have a CSS key to read dvds and just transfer them to another support, is that against the DMCA ? What does the DMCA precisely states ?

  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:29PM (#15847138)
    I see this as a sales tool. Buy a new DVD at full price, and get a backup copy for your portable player burnt for 10 bucks. Circuit city wins, and the MPAA wins through increased sales. Have I got this wrong?
  • by Mayhem178 ( 920970 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:30PM (#15847144)
    The best thing we, as consumers, can do at this point is to take Circuit City up on their offer. Use the service they're providing. If the market gets lucrative enough, the other electronics giants (Best Buy, Fryes, etc.) will want a piece of the action. At that point, none of them will want to listen to the MPAA's whining and will do everything in their power to maintain their hold on this new market.

    You want a bunch of bigwig companies to gang up on the MPAA? I think this is the best way to accomplish that.
  • Circuit City Policy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:49PM (#15847282) Homepage
    From Circuit City's policy on CD ripping (they offer ripping services for CDs):

    Can copy-protected CDs be encoded?

    Encoding copy-protected discs is a violation of the record company's copyright protection. Get Digital will not encode any copyrighted discs. Instead Get Digital will notify you of any discs with copyright protection. These discs will be set aside and returned to you with the rest of your collection--without charge.

    Can a DVD-Audio or SACD disc be encoded?

    Both SACD and DVD-Audio discs feature the same copy protection that regular DVDs do. Any SACD, DVD-Audio or standard DVDs will be set aside and returned to you with the rest of your collection without charge.

    Sounds to me like they already know about the DMCA, and that this would violate it. I am now more than a little dubious that this is actually being done with corporate's knowledge.
  • Kinko's Rules (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @12:58PM (#15847348) Homepage Journal
    "Copyright" is the right of a person to copy something. The copyrighted content does not have the copyright, the person does (or does not).

    The "Kinko's Rule" demonstrates how copyright is not transferable, even under fair use. Let's say I have a book I bought. My fair use includes the copyright to photocopy pages, an entire chapter, for my personal consumption. If I'm a teacher, that even includes giving copies of a chapter (though not the whole book) to, say, 30 people in a class I teach. I go to Kinko's; I walk up to a photocopier; I set it to 30 copies; I turn the pages through the chapter on the machine; I collect the 30 copies of the chapter; I pass them out to each person in my class. No problem - I have the copyright to use the book's content fairly that way.

    But if I take that book to the Kinko's service desk, ask the Kinko's employee (or even just another customer with extra time on their hands) to copy the book for an otherwise identical usage scenario, I'm not allowed. Because the employee does not have the copyright to fairly use that book for anything (except maybe reading it as borrowed by a "friend"), because they did not obtain any copyrights by buying the book. The fair use copyrights I have on the book I bought are not transferable to another person - they are not contained in the book I physically pass to the employee, they are contained in the transaction of buying (and thereby owning) the book.

    This rule is the same when I bring a CD or DVD to Kinko's. I could use their burner to copy them for myself. But not for distribution to other people, though fair use of audio and video recordings does allow me to lend a single copy to a "friend", though I'm not allowed to use my own copy while another copy is loaned out. The rule says I cannot leave my CD or DVD with someone else at Kinko's to copy for me. And of course that rule applies to Circuit City, too.

    So how is Circuit City ripping these DVDs for users? In the last five years, several small companies started up to rip CDs for people, violating the Kinko's Rule. They were all told (I heard the warnings personally) by lawyers and copyright owners/"enthusiasts" that they were breaking the law, that their income would be siezed whenever a copyright owner wanted to sue them. That's the main reason why we haven't been able to have our media ripped from the physical media that traps so much value out of play: the small companies that always innovate fast ("entrepreneurs") have been stopped by legal intimidation.

    Now Circuit City is doing it anyway. Will they be stopped by the Kinko's Rule, and kill the whole business for everyone, even those who have been getting away serving with the consumer demand "below the radar"? Or will they demonstrate (in court, perhaps) that the Kinko's Rule is out of business? Or will some kind of "big corporation" collusion between the RIAA/MPAA and Circuit City just leave them alone, while enforcing the Kinko's Rule on entrepreneurs, keeping them (us) from competing?
  • by joabj ( 91819 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @01:30PM (#15847543) Homepage
    I hate to deflate people's expectations, but this looks *very* much like one store offering this service, not a rollout of a new service across the entire Circuit City corporation.

    The sole evidence Ars Technica has for this service is a photograph of a flyer! There is nothing on the Circuit City Web site about the service, nor does it look like the company issued a press release touting the new service.

    More probably, this "service" was devised by some store manager too ignorant of the ways of the DMCA to understand what he was offering. S/He was just looking to bring in a few more bucks (on the other side of the same display case is another advert on a free in-house PC clinic. I bet that's not a Circuit City wide service either, just a local store initiative). I'm sure DVD ripping service will be discontinued as the minute corporate headquarters gets wind of this. Which, thanks to Slashdot, should be right about ... now. ;-)

    I wouldn't blame the ill-informed Circuit City Manager, nor even Consumerist, which first posted the photo (but wouldn't provide a location interestingly enough). Ars Technica should know better though. That's just sloppy journalism.


  • by gfla ( 646171 ) * on Friday August 04, 2006 @06:43PM (#15849401) Homepage
    Haven't seen any quotes from Richmond so I wouldn't get to excited. Store personnel are encouraged to 'think out of the box' regarding alternative revenue streams - esp. those related to exploiting a workforce that is already in place. The signs in the picture were not sourced from corporate... not very flashy is it? For those hoping for a fight, you probably won't see one - they'll just ask the store director to pull the signs. Remember, CC is a major distributor of Hollywood movies, not because they make money on titles but because it brings in customers to buy other stuff. They will not upset their suppliers.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.