[linux-elitists] Lisa Bowman on DVD, DMCA, Linux

Heather star@betelgeuse.starshine.org
Mon Feb 28 17:12:13 PST 2000


> Attention Linux elitists:
> 
> More DVD news:
> http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2449300-1,00.html

Thanks, Don.

You know, it would probably be kinda fun to do up the arguments in 
a small, digestible-to-the-press "Facts and Myths" layout.  Note use
of (of DVD) to distinguish from DeCSS for web page de-cruftification.
Btw, I am interested in seeing ReCSS which might regraft detached CSS
into a web page properly?

Anyways, welcome to add and/or shred this stuff, or even post it freely:

The DeCSS (of DVD) program described in the suit aids copying (thus piracy).
	MYTH

	It isn't even -about- copying whole DVDs.  To do that never needed
	a program... just hardware usable for other purposes, and blanks that
	(in the US) are more expensive than store bought legit copies. 

	It allows -viewing- of DVDs, whether legal or not.  More devices 
	able to view DVDs should yield -more- potential users, whether
	legal or not.

	If it allows copying of parts (unclear) not all copying is piracy
	(see copyright, below).  However, for that, there are already laws 
	against piracy; use them against specific pirates.

The DeCSS (of DVD) program violates copyright.
	MYTH

	It -enforces- copyright, specifically, the abilty to view the
	item you purchased (without which you may as well not HAVE 
	the copy, even though it is legal) and -may- enforce subsections 
	on Fair Use which allow excerpts to be used for specific, protected 
	purposes (such as the press quoting it in a movie review, or a 
	teacher showing a fragment to students to illustrate a point, or 
	even making 30 copies of that portion, to send home with the 
	students as a homework assignment).

	Some possible uses may not be protected Fair Use purposes.  There 
	are already laws against piracy; use them against specific pirates.

	Avoid using them on legitimate consumers, however.

The DeCSS (of DVD) program violates patent.
	ARGUABLE - but not the defense selected.

	Patent is about methods, if its method is sufficiently different
	but gets similar results it -may- not fall under patent protection.

	However the Industry is making its claims based on Trade Secret
	which is a different type of defense.

	If the encryption in question were under patent, any inclined
	coder could request a copy of the algorithm (or probably, schematics
	of a device implementing the algorithm) from the Patent Office.
	It wouldn't be a question of Open Source, it would be a question
	of Do We Want To Use This Source?

	Jump to side topics 
		* QT licensing
			We won for some medium value of winning; they 
			changed their license.
		* UniSys (GIF file format)
			The image industry lambasted them and uses JPEGs.
			The web industry is changing to PNGs.
		* and the soon (well, October) to be unencumbered RSA 
		  algorithms.  
			People are already using products that don't need 
			their algorithms, and use newer ones.

	If they want to take this route instead, they will probably take 
	several months to a year to lose in the open market;  other filesystems
	are being developed which more consumers will be able to use.  

The DeCSS (of DVD) program is a representation of (the Industry's) Trade Secret
	ARGUABLE

	The main claim of Trade Secret is that it causes irreparable harm
	to the entity if the secret gets out.  Does the existence of one
	or more open copies of DeCSS (of DVD) cause irreparable harm:
		1) inability to sell DVDs?
			Hardly - see item 1, they should be able to sell
			more of them.

	        2) Or DVD hardware based players already under license?
			As far as I know you still need one of those to
			view DVD on a television set.

	I would wager the sales figures don't show irreparable harm either.

	Now would annoying their otherwise paying customers sufficiently
	cause these harms?  Maybe, if they got the press sufficiently 
	involved.  They seem to be heading that way.

Since Reverse Engineering is illegal, the DeCSS (for DVD) program is illegal.
	MYTH - valid logic based on incorrect assumption.
	
	It may depend on your country but in the US many legal uses of Reverse
	Engineering exist.

	1) Reverse engineering to get to an unprotected idea is perfectly 
	   legal. Ideas, unlike methods (patentable) and specific 
	   representations of information (copyright) are not protected. 
	2) Reverse engineering to create interoperability is legal. (case
	   law, Sega v. a game manufacturer making compatible games w/o 
	   direct agreement.)

	We argue that we fall under case (2) - an onerous license and
	the inapplicability of solutions existing required that we create
	a new, interoperable version.	

* Heather




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